Info on Featherbed Replica Frames

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by ArcticBlast, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. ArcticBlast

    ArcticBlast I Am the Street Dream

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    Hey all,

    Well i've been lurking here for a while, and finally decided to ask my questions.

    I'm starting to gather parts for a project i've been thinking of for a while, and was wondering if you guys would look over the idea and see where i'd hit any snags.

    The original idea was to get an original slimline featherbed from a domi or an atlas and stuff a combat engine in it. Well, its been done before, and to be honest, its kind of expensive. Now, i'm not into making an exact copy of a cafe racer or whatever, i just want a fun bike that's not too bad on the eyes either. I love the british styling from the 60s-70s, but i wanted a more modern powerplant.

    Thats when i thought of Honda. Now, before anyone has an anyurism, I've seen ALL types of crazy shit go into a norton frame, so dont give me that purist crap!:lol3 I figure, why not have a new powerplant that's relativly cheap with widely available performance and maintenence parts available? So i decided on the honda rc51.

    Any problems so far?

    So, after i thought of such sacrelige, i couldnt go out and aquire a vintage frame that someone might need for a REAL resto, so i started researching replica frames and whatnot.. well i'm no millionaire, and i cant afford $15K for just a frame... So is there anyone other than Unity Equipment that makes these featherbed style frames?

    Also, i can MIG and TIG, so i thought, well why not just build it yourself. All i need is some steel (or if i decided to get crazy i could get some chrom-moly :evil )... so i started more research to find the blueprints/plans to do such a build. I had a friend in school that bought some plans for an old Bonneville buildup, and it turned out fantastic. Well, no such luck. I could barely find any good pics of original dominator frames without all the shit on it. So i guess another question would be where the hell do i get these plans or dimensions or specs or blueprints or an original factory drawing at least?

    And lastly, the dressup. With these old bikes, you can fabricate just about anything to fit ON TO anything, right? Like if i wanted to put a vincent tank or something (i dont) onto this bike, with basic fab work this would be feasable right? I dont want to sound like an ass, but this is going to be in the style of a "ratbike" with "caferacer" tones....I like the features of many many bikes, so i figured i'd just add in all the parts that i like into this bike, have some fun with it. I wouldnt badge it a norton, ya know?

    Anyway, whoever dares to read through that mess, help me out with some advice! Thanks again to anyone who gives this a glance :deal

    ArcticBlast

    ps Sorry if this is the wrong forum, it seemed most appropriate here!
    #1
  2. RetroGrouch

    RetroGrouch Renaissance Man

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    I'm pretty sure there's someone who builds featherbed replicas in the Toronto area. I saw a batch of his frames once at my powdercoater.

    Ask this builder, Denis Curtis: http://www.cmrracingproducts.com

    He should know where you can get info.
    #2
  3. roadholder

    roadholder Long timer

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    Featherbed frames have been used in some nice projects, but keep in mind that it is a near 60 year old design and you can't just drop anything in it...with new materials or not. It was arguably the best of it's era but does not cope well will powerplants putting out a lot more then 50-60 hp and/or the vibes a bigger, later model 750-850 twins which had rubber mount type frames that worked better with larger, stronger engines.

    It works great with early 500-650 twins of various origin and racing singles of course. The Rob North style frame (see pic) was probably the next best step forward prior to aluminumn perimeter or triangulated tubular steel frames of today.

    Rocket_3.jpg
    #3
  4. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    I like your dream and enthusiasm Pittsburgh. There is a place that sells 'new' featherbed frames for about $1700, 'OldbritParts' or something like that, check it out on Google. I too have followed this dream and researched this aspect of motorcycle for a long time. I have seen a Harley Sportster shoved in a Featherbed. Also a Yamaha 650 twin, (my favourite). I like the idea too of a NEWER more reliable powerplant than a Domi or Bonnie. That being said it's awfully hard to mate running gear to the old frames. You will have to get forks and wheels to match the Featherbed, which is expensive. I'd suggest starting out with a complete bike and modify that. You could make a really cool cafe out of a Harley Sportster without too much trouble. The later the bike the better. The frames look pretty cool and with wire wheels and right tank/seat combination you are halfway there. A lot of bike survivors are around that have nice frames also, the Suzuki bandit 600 is a really nice frame, tank, wheels combo for instance, the frame not unlike a featherbed in fact. If you can find a Suzuki Bandit 600 with a blown motor you would have a good basis to build from. Measure up and choose a motor to slot in and you have a one of a kind cool Cafe. I made a Cafe back in 1968. I had a BSA A10 with a blown motor, so stripped it to the paint and started over. I plonked a Triumph 500cc GP motor in there, clip ons, alloy wheels, race gas tank, the works! BUT, it was a piece of crap really, just not reliable. I have been dreaming since then, and have owned literally HUNDREDS of motorcycles, but yearn for the 'old style Cafe'. Get yourself a 1200 Sportster and stick some custom alloy 19" wires on it with nice brakes, an alloy Manx tank, an old style Manx bucket seat, clip ons, alloy mudguards. Shorten up the fork travel in front, stick some longer rear shocks on there. A chrome headlight. Chuck away and grind all the shit off you don't need. Fab some rear set footrests, a groovy exhaust, pretty soon you are going to have an Egli Vincent look alike for about a tenth of the cost.
    I have a book on old Nortons, I am pretty sure the Featherbed frame dimensions are in there, I'll take a look. If you do build your own frame you ought to build it around your motor anyway and fudge on the actual dimensions. Pick a front fork and swing arm when you pick your motor, to have it all to build around.
    I hope you do it, I still have the memories of the TRIBSA I built in my bedroom 40 years ago, the building it was as much OR MORE fun than riding it.
    james
    #4
  5. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Why make your own?
    #5
  6. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Take your pick
    #6
  7. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    cagiva six fiddy
    #7
  8. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Pic a Part
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  9. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Just get ONE of these
    #9
  10. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    old mans substitute
    #10
  11. Yad

    Yad yet another dave

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    I agree with what Tuckers says - you probably have all the skills to pull this off if you can keep up the momentum, but you will save yourself a boatload of tedium and trouble by not having to re-invent and re-engineer absolutely everything. Unless that's your goal, then have at it, but i'd read at least one good motorcycle frame building book first. Lining everything up to be safe and handle reasonably well so you can really happily ride it when you're done is a significant challenge, especially when you're keeping to a budget. Another very boring but important point that I learned the hard way: starting with a titled frame will save you headaches if you ever plan to license it.

    that wet blanket aside, I say go for it and POST PICS HERE!
    #11
  12. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Wifes substitute for cool cafe
    #12
  13. RocketJ

    RocketJ Been here awhile

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    #13
  14. ArcticBlast

    ArcticBlast I Am the Street Dream

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    I'm blown away with all the responses, give me some time to work my way through all of the ideas and thoughts that i now have after talking to you experienced folk :freaky

    thanks so much for all the pics and links and advice, this might take some time to get back at you all with a response!

    ArcticBlast
    #14
  15. vfxdog

    vfxdog Been here awhile

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    UK eBay is a good place to look for Featherbed frames, real or replica. There's a Unity one there right now for around US$2300. Be careful you don't end up with a Manx replica- if made properly the tubing is thin wall and the twin motor with the extra torque and vibration may well cause some issues. Good thing about your project is that it's been tackled before so there are plenty of places you should be able to get decent advice from, and you should be able to buy a lot of what you need rather than have to fabricate it.
    #15
  16. ROSKO

    ROSKO The Dirty Knacker

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    Not to discourage you but I have seen more than one featherbed go on craigslist for $1000-, you'd be hard pressed to assemble good fixturing for that.
    #16
  17. ROSKO

    ROSKO The Dirty Knacker

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    Tucker,
    Harley campaigned a Manx framed 883 on the european GP circuit in 1965-66. The manx featherbeds were manufactured by reynolds and the framebuilder was rider of the Harley GP machine. Anyone know who it was? One more hint... Laverda tuning legend.
    #17
  18. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    Ken McIntosh has been making Featherbed frames and associated parts here in New Zealand for many years - they are considered as the real thing for Classic racing.Go to catalogue and click featherbed.

    http://www.manxnorton.co.nz/home/
    #18
  19. Beemerboff

    Beemerboff Long timer

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    It is probably easier cheaper and better using a Rickman frame .

    They are reasonably priced and are made specifically for late model Jap engines, including the Yamaha 650.

    They do everything from a basic frame to a rolling chassis including wheels and suspension.

    www.rickman-motorcycles.co.uk
    Icant edit the link but it should be
    www.rickman-motorcycles.co.uk
    #19
  20. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    A friend of mine put a combat motor into a Featherbed. The vibration was unbelievable. Why not just put a Triton together? There are so many making quality upgrades for the Triumph engines you shouldn't have any issues with reliability. Once you have completed it you would have something worth good money.

    These guys are the people to speak to - http://www.unityequipe.com/html/home.html They have a range of new frames from £1300 to £1650.

    I saw a beautiful bike a while back - Triton styling but fitted with a Harley sportster engine.


    I found another Harley engined one. This one's a bit messy but theres room for improvement - http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2007/08/08/nortley-fartster-cafe-racer-for-sale/

    More bikes here http://www.caferacer.net/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6706
    #20