How it all started
When I stop for the inevitable stop at the gas station, I often often people asking me about my red motorcycle. “Hey, is that a Harley Davidson?” or “I don’t know this Harley, which one is it?” The answer usually makes them shake their heads in disbelief. “What? It’s a Yamaha??! I would have sworn it was a Harley Davidson.” Obviously, my bike wasn’t all stock and looked a lot different compared to its original specifications. The picture on the left gives you a little teaser if you daren’t scroll all the way down.
I had owned a Yamaha FZ6 N since 2004; A nice, super reliable, very handy naked bike. By 2014 I wanted a project bike; start with a relatively cheap and transform it into something really nice – something I could get my hands dirty on. 🙂 The FZ6 was comfortable, sleek, fast, easy to maintain and it loved high revs and corners. The main downside: After having changed the seat upholstery and the license plate bracket, there was nothing I really wanted to change on it. So long story short, I wanted a bike I could work on, learn how a motorcycles is put together while giving it my personal touch. This is why I wanted a chopper. They are all relatively simple and there are virtually no limits to what you can personalize on them. Furthermore, as they say: “there is no replacement for displacement”.
I had been watching bobber conversion videos on Youtube for quite some time. By the end of the spring in 2014, when I heard one guy talking about Blue Collar Bobbers while commenting on his freshly converted bike, I took a look at their website, shop and some more reviews I could find and decided to get their bobber conversion kit for my bike.
Getting the beast
Anyway, my first choice (or shall I say my almost first choice) was the obvious one: A Harley Davidson. I had rented a Sportster Forty Eight for a weekend in the Spring. I liked it, but I didn’t think it was worth its money: The gas tank was way to small for the mileage I wanted to get out of it: Run for 100 km / 62 mi and the fuel warning light comes on… Second of all, the brakes are a absolut joke. If you’re riding on an American Interstate that’s perfect; you can see any obstacle way before you might crash into it. But here in tiny Switzerland (yes that’s where I live), you need two front disks and they’d better work, ’cause pedestrians just walk over the crosswalks without watching for traffic.
Anyway, I decided to stick with what I knew and liked best: Yamaha. The XVS Drag Star 650 Classic had always caught my attention. But hey, if I’m gonna put time, money and elbow grease into a motorcycle, I might as well go all the way and get its bigger sister: the XVS Drag Star 1100 Classic, which is exactly what I did. I found a 2000 model year with about 23’000 km near Lucerne; it was in mint condition. The price was right, so I bought it and drove it home.
Time for a striptease
As soon as I got home I started taking taking off all the parts I wanted to change. The stock version is a two seater. The bobber conversion however, is a single seater. Take a good look at the original version, because it will be the last one. It’s okay, but this super large seat makes it look like and old man’s motorcycle. And by the way, it isn’t even that comfortable. On the two hours journey home I constantly slided back and forth, as well as from side to side.
You can watch the disassembling process on the the following video. I took pictures all along the conversion process, some elements might miss, though. You’re welcome to comment and ask me any question about it.
The whole conversion is basically a bolt off, bolt on process. However, as you may have noticed, the rear part of the frame, were the original fender and the passenger seat used to be, did have to be cut off. Once that’s done, there is NO WAY BACK. This is the POINT OF NO RETURN!
The first assembly
After it got disassembled I could start bolting the new stuff on it. Obviously, the aluminum fenders were primed but not painted yet. But by the time I got everything disassembled, I’d received the new drag style handle bar, which I had to buy in Switzerland in order to be allowed to register the motorcycle after the conversion was completed. Blue Collar Bobbers offer very cool handle bars, but I got mine from Cycle-Tech.
The new rear fender is much closer to the rear wheel than the original. People sometimes ask me whether the wheel hits the fender when riding over bumps. No no no, the new fender is mounted to the swing arm, not to the frame. Hence, it’s always at the exact same distance to the wheel.
Here you can see a short clip of the temporarily assembled bike running:
The final assembly
I had to be very careful while doing the final assembly. Obviously, the tank, fenders and side covers had just been (re)painted. So here’s a little tip for those who want to do this as well: Take your time, keep your workspace clean and have some cloths ready to put those parts on before assembling them, in order to prevent them getting scratched. This is particularly important for both fenders, as silicon has to be applied where the brackets are mounted.
One other important thing: You probably saw that there was one taillight originally and that it ended up having two – one on either side with integrated turn signal lights. How can one do that? When you disconnect the original cables, label everything (P-Touch anyone?). You now have combined four cables coming from the new light and only two cables to connect them to. Just take a connector, put one of the cable coming from the motorcycle in it and then the corresponding two cable from the lights together into the other end. Processed like this for the other cables and voilà, you’re done! As far as the turn signals are concerned, I integrated resistance, because the new lights are LED and would blink to quickly as well as burn out quite soon if I hadn’t. You can do that or change the turn signal relay. For me, the resistance do the job perfectly.