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Old 02-23-2012, 04:55 PM   #1
Slowhand Montenegro OP
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Location: Utrecht - The Netherlands
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Converting a street honda CB1000 BIG 1 to RTW Enduro

Fellow riders,

A big salute from the Netherlands. My name is Marko, I am originally from Montenegro, but for some half year now I have moved and live in the nice and flat Netherlands.

I have been driving bikes for a couple of years, but especially for the last 3 years a very lovely Honda CB1000 Big 1 built in 1995.
I travelled around 50,000 km in the last 2,5 years on this reliable and fun bike.



It is a interesting bike, I have not seen many of them rolling through the Balkans, neither EU. I was told it is somewhat more common on US and Japanese streets, but still a bit rare bike.
A bit heavier machine, around 230kg ready to roll, but a bit higher weight center makes it sluggish to get on to, but all that disappears at 10km/h. I bought it with intention to sell it a couple of months afterwards, but fell completely for the bike and decided not to part.

I may be a noob judging to the number of posts, but I have been very actively lurking and following many rides here on ADVrider for the past 2 years. They have been the inspiration behind most of the 50k of kilometers I have zig-zaged the EU and the Balkans for the last couple of years. I am amazed how the travels are reported here, especially Sibirsky Extreme’s travels, the Crazy Poles, RTW Doug, Radioman, and many more. I even have some close friends that have completed a similar RTW voyage in 2010 – http://www.theridearound2010.me ,
Not to bore, just to show some nice pictures of the bike in nice places, I will write (translate) RRs for most of these trips as soon as I get to it.


Somewhere in Eastern Germany


Town of my birth, Podgorica


Montenegrin mountains


Beaches of south Montenegro – this is one of the cleanest the bike has ever been –


Mountains in south Serbia


Tirana


Just getting it out of service from Split – and for the record, I am a Star Wars geek, the R2D2 license plate is intentional…


Fully loaded with lumbal support and added padding for my wife during our honey moon last year.


My favourite modd on this bike – worked like a charm for a 2 week honey moon trip


Meteora, Greece


Meteora, Greece


Having fun somewhere in Albania

Disclaimer: A couple of previous owners have tried to make a streetfighter mod out of this bike, pushing the tail up, changing the lights and the exhaust. I tried to restore it to normal, which results in this Honda having – a Suzuki GSXR1000 Titanium exhaust, Yamaha XTX600 front headlight, Yamaha R6 license plate holder, etc…- this was mostly done due to non availability of original parts - I loooove that everything fits

And now the big one, I am planning a round the world trip for summer 2013, with a shorter preparation trip (or trips) this summer. The big trip will be the real McCoy, Russia, Mongolia, and the prized Magadan, than through the States to New York.

I will be planning the trip – and sharing your vast resource of advices – what where, etc, but before that I have to get the motorcycle and gear ready – I am in nerdy heaven just by the sheer amount of work on that.

I will have one more person on this trip, most probably on a BMW F650gs – the sensible choice.
I cannot think anything else but traveling on my bike. Call it what you like, but after a couple of good years, and basic evolution of my riding skills, I want to have a good send-of of my Honda, before transiting on something more sensible.
For that to be possible I will have to make some changes on the bike, would like to run them and see what you think about it.

Wheels

This bike has a pretty non-standard wheels and tires – both rims are 18” and the tire dimensions are
Front 120 70 18
Rear 170 60 18

There are a couple of possible tires for the front – mostly I buy BT023, but only ONE possible tire (atleast in EU) for the rear –BT54 , they are Bridgestone. Good tires, but extremely rare, I usually pre order them for a couple of months.

I want to change the wheels for a couple of reasons – firstly to have a dimension for which I can mount a knobbly tire, secondly to have I tire I can theoretically find more easily.
Maybe put a 21” wheel on the front to improve handling on rougher terrain. What would be the wheel you suggest – a spoked or normal cast wheel.
The spoked wheel is perhaps better while banging your wheel through Mongolia, but it is a drag to repair tube tires. I have seen many posts here arguing the benefits of both.
Does anyone have a suggestion regarding what wheel to put eg, from what bike. The rear is not a problem, there are many 17” wheels. But if I want a 21” on the front, it is hard to find a similar bike in weight terms from which a wheel could fit.
I would need to take care of the brake discs – to see if I can migrate the brake discs from the old one to new – or use the new brake discs on the new wheel.

Engine guard
I will manufacture some custom (as there is nothing aftermarket that fits this bike) engine guards and maybe a skid plate - suggestions

Lights
Due to some previous customization, this bike has a front light from a Yamaha XTX600 bike. I would like to up the bulbs to a HID. Mostly by reading advices and suggestions from the thread by Walter Colebatch, I think I know what is to be done, but does anyone have an idea how to fit 2 hid lights – I do not want to have one bixenon, there is to much risk one will go dead.

Suspension

The current suspension is almost dead, I need to change it. The front forks have been a little bent – for the last 50,000 km, I did not have a problem, but will change them and possibly modify if needed due to the larger front wheel.
The rear suspension is something sexy looking – not so sexy performing SHOVA (part nr. 52400-MZ1-871).
What would be your suggestions for the shocks – both front and back. Today at the Moto Show Utrecht, I got some good quotes from a UK company HAGON shocks – are they any good.

Electrics

The most I need to know is the power output of my alternator (part nr. 31130-MZ1-000
And 31133-MZ1-000) I did not have trouble connecting heated grips, GPS, extra stuff, but with the HID I would need to know the output and how much do I have in reserve for the blingggggg.

Luggage

I have installed Givi Monokey luggage rack, will consider on what type of cases I will bring.


In a nutshell this is the situation. I will update you as the situation progresses, and post the trip planning thread as soon as that situation crystallizes.
Here I would also like to discuss the gear to be taken on such a trip and many more stuff.
Hope this would be interesting and that you can share some insight, do not hesitate to call me a nutcase for going through this – I know it.

All the best
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:19 AM   #2
sailah
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I have done a couple projects similar to yours, but never rode round the world so take that into consideration.... Here's my advice.

If the suspension is crap and you want a new front wheel, just buy a KTM 950 front end. Yes, it will cost the most, however it is the easiest to setup, parts sourcing is easy, comes with 2 front rotors, the suspension is miles better and it already has a fairly stout front wheel. However, most would recommend that you go with a new front rim made by Excel or Sun that is better for resisting rock dents.

Doing this conversion to your bike is fairly straightforward, however is may have a few unintended consequences. It will most likely raise the front end of the bike due to the increased suspension travel. You can offset this and keep your geometry by fitting longer shocks to the rear (make sure this will work with clearances), or you can have one of many qualified suspension tuners shorten the travel on the forks to more closely match the original CB travel.

You will in all likelihood need to have some simple machine work done to fit the front end either by welding in cups to the original Honda neck, making a custom steering stem or conversion bearings.

I have fitted KTM forks to a Honda CBR and since the steering tube was so short, I had to lengthen it with a custom cup to hold KTM bearings so that the triple clamps would sit in the correct place in the forks. I have pics in my build log below that will explain better.

The other advantage of going with the KTM stuff is the availability of heavy springs. You could also choose to fit a dirt bike KTM fork setup, run a 320 mm rotor with a single caliper. That would probably reduce your initial costs by 50%, but add back in a supermoto brake setup if you can't find one used and it starts to quickly add back up to the initial cost of the 950 setup, ask me how I know

For the rear, I'm not much help. For simplicity sake I would retain the swingarm. Remove the shocks, cycle the swingarm with a wheel in and see what type of clearances you have. If you can afford to go longer, have longer shocks built to compensate for the increased travel in the front. To adapt a 17" wheen shouldn't be difficult. Your issues will be axle diameter, brake rotor (both diameter and lateral spacing to clearance the caliper) and the sprocket clearance but most important is the chain alignment. All those issues can be worked around with a machinist making spacers etc.

It's a fun project to do, I've done it myself twice now. I can honestly tell you, if you go this route, it isn't cheap. You will spend a substantial sum on fitting a front end and getting custom shocks made. I spent ~$4000 on my FZ1 suspension that included a complete 950 front end, brakes, swingarm, rear shock, rear wheel, new front wheel made by Woodys, and a full respring and revalve. You might get by with half of that, but your Hagon shocks wont be $500 most likely.

Just a thought. You might find it more economically feasible to sell your bike in current form and buy a used bike with this kit already fitted. I had no idea the costs on my bike would be so high and I did 98% of the work included welding. Looking back it was a very satisfying project, I'm glad I did it, but I could have bought a KTM 950 Superenduro for what I spent. If you love your CB, and it sounds like you do, go ahead with sourcing parts and get cracking

Lukas, a member on here, is quite knowledgeable about these things having done similar projects, and he's in Austria. He always seems to have a line on KTM suspension parts if you don't have any luck with ebay etc start with him. Let me know if you have any specific questions about fork swaps.

Peter
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Old 02-24-2012, 02:39 PM   #3
Slowhand Montenegro OP
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Hi Peter,

Thanks for your suggestions, very to the point

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post
If the suspension is crap and you want a new front wheel, just buy a KTM 950 front end. Yes, it will cost the most, however it is the easiest to setup, parts sourcing is easy, comes with 2 front rotors, the suspension is miles better and it already has a fairly stout front wheel. However, most would recommend that you go with a new front rim made by Excel or Sun that is better for resisting rock dents.
Yes, this is the best option, will go with the KTM WP shocks and front wheel -
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post

Doing this conversion to your bike is fairly straightforward, however is may have a few unintended consequences. It will most likely raise the front end of the bike due to the increased suspension travel. You can offset this and keep your geometry by fitting longer shocks to the rear (make sure this will work with clearances), or you can have one of many qualified suspension tuners shorten the travel on the forks to more closely match the original CB travel.
It seems that the easier way to solve this is to have the back shocks higher, it is good issue to raise the bike a bit

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post


The other advantage of going with the KTM stuff is the availability of heavy springs. You could also choose to fit a dirt bike KTM fork setup, run a 320 mm rotor with a single caliper. That would probably reduce your initial costs by 50%, but add back in a supermoto brake setup if you can't find one used and it starts to quickly add back up to the initial cost of the 950 setup, ask me how I know
I googled a bit, it seems that the KTM weight makes these springs suitable for my honda

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post

For the rear, I'm not much help. For simplicity sake I would retain the swingarm. Remove the shocks, cycle the swingarm with a wheel in and see what type of clearances you have. If you can afford to go longer, have longer shocks built to compensate for the increased travel in the front. To adapt a 17" wheen shouldn't be difficult. Your issues will be axle diameter, brake rotor (both diameter and lateral spacing to clearance the caliper) and the sprocket clearance but most important is the chain alignment. All those issues can be worked around with a machinist making spacers etc.
Oh, definitely I am retaining the swing arm. The problem is just what wheel to find - that I will have to find

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post

It's a fun project to do, I've done it myself twice now. I can honestly tell you, if you go this route, it isn't cheap. You will spend a substantial sum on fitting a front end and getting custom shocks made. I spent ~$4000 on my FZ1 suspension that included a complete 950 front end, brakes, swingarm, rear shock, rear wheel, new front wheel made by Woodys, and a full respring and revalve. You might get by with half of that, but your Hagon shocks wont be $500 most likely.
I just got a quote for 2 rear shocks for around 220 USD from Hagen. Sounds ok, but I am just starting to look and work on the suspension.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post

Just a thought. You might find it more economically feasible to sell your bike in current form and buy a used bike with this kit already fitted. I had no idea the costs on my bike would be so high and I did 98% of the work included welding. Looking back it was a very satisfying project, I'm glad I did it, but I could have bought a KTM 950 Superenduro for what I spent. If you love your CB, and it sounds like you do, go ahead with sourcing parts and get cracking
If I at the end do not modify it, I will find something else and complete the RTW on a F800 GS or something, but the CB stays, just love that bike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post

Lukas, a member on here, is quite knowledgeable about these things having done similar projects, and he's in Austria. He always seems to have a line on KTM suspension parts if you don't have any luck with ebay etc start with him. Let me know if you have any specific questions about fork swaps.

Peter
Peter thank you very much for your input, it will help me a lot. I just red your RONIN build, found it excellent!!!.
All the best,

Marko
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:15 PM   #4
sailah
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Marko,

the KTM forks are essentially the same, the dirt bike stuff is much easier to find, problem (??) being that the dirt bike forks come with only one brake caliper mount. So you would most likely want a 320mm supermoto rotor and matching caliper & master cylinder. www.motostrano.com has an extensive selection to wrap your head around. It simplifies brakes as you only have one caliper to worry about, one brake line etc. But if you have to buy new, they are not cheap.

The 950 setup is about as bolt on (although it is far from that...) as you can get with a system that works together. You'll find that the springs even in the 950 are not stiff enough for most riders, myself included. I am running 0.68 springs in the FZ1 and 0.59 in the CBR. The nice thing about the KTM stuff is that it is all stock items vs trying to fit a Honda XR fork or something where you need custom springs made.

Depending on your expectations you might find that a single rotor is plenty for your intended riding, hell it might even be more stopping power than you are used to. Quite a few guys with 950s drop a rotor for dirt use or go 320 to save unsprung weight.

Finding a 17" cush drive spoked wheel, I'm not totally sure about. RAD makes billet hubs that you can get laced to any rim you want so 17 or 18 makes no difference, but the sprocket and rotor bolt pattern will need some careful consideration. A dr650 wheel would get you 17" spoke and cush drive, but I don't know the specific dimensions. It would probably be the closest you will find to a Honda as I have to imagine the axle diameter is close to 20mm or similar.
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:13 AM   #5
Slowhand Montenegro OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post
Marko,

the KTM forks are essentially the same, the dirt bike stuff is much easier to find, problem (??) being that the dirt bike forks come with only one brake caliper mount. So you would most likely want a 320mm supermoto rotor and matching caliper & master cylinder. www.motostrano.com has an extensive selection to wrap your head around. It simplifies brakes as you only have one caliper to worry about, one brake line etc. But if you have to buy new, they are not cheap.

The 950 setup is about as bolt on (although it is far from that...) as you can get with a system that works together. You'll find that the springs even in the 950 are not stiff enough for most riders, myself included. I am running 0.68 springs in the FZ1 and 0.59 in the CBR. The nice thing about the KTM stuff is that it is all stock items vs trying to fit a Honda XR fork or something where you need custom springs made.

Depending on your expectations you might find that a single rotor is plenty for your intended riding, hell it might even be more stopping power than you are used to. Quite a few guys with 950s drop a rotor for dirt use or go 320 to save unsprung weight.
The intended RTW has 80% normal roads and 20% dirt roads, mostly because of that I would like to have both rotors. The CB has quite bad brakes in my opinion (having been on other bikes), so I am sure that one rotor will be different, but will go with two. I am definitely in the market for a KTM 950 front end - anyone that has one can PM me. I will contact the aforementioned inmate Lukas from Austria.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post

Finding a 17" cush drive spoked wheel, I'm not totally sure about. RAD makes billet hubs that you can get laced to any rim you want so 17 or 18 makes no difference, but the sprocket and rotor bolt pattern will need some careful consideration. A dr650 wheel would get you 17" spoke and cush drive, but I don't know the specific dimensions. It would probably be the closest you will find to a Honda as I have to imagine the axle diameter is close to 20mm or similar.
Yep, that is a the biggest brainer in terms what to find. What do you think about a rear wheel from the KTM 950 - it is a 17 spoked wheel. Could think that would work?
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:39 AM   #6
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The ktm 950 is an 18" wheel
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post
The ktm 950 is an 18" wheel
I just checked, I missed that option. In that case is there a good 18" like TKC 80 that could fit my wheel (the standard is 170 for my rear wheel, I see that the TKC 80 goes max up to 150 - can that work - maybe with a tube ???

Regards,
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:25 AM   #8
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Great shots! Looks like you had a great time.
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