In terms of doing an oil change, the Yamaha 1100 Drag Star is probably the least Japanese on planet Earth. Why, simply because you need to remove the exhaust to access the oil filter… I mean, you could simply not bother about the filter and just change the oil – job done. Except that’s not my style. If I’m going to do it myself, I’m gonna do it as good as possible.
After changing the air filter, the next step would be to put new spark plugs in this ride. Spark plugs are usually changed once the respective mileage prescribed by the manufacturer is over. On my Drag Star, I change them every 10’000 km. I use the original NGK BPR7ES units. The procedure is pretty straightforward.
Okay, the air filter is part of the expendable materials on a motorcycles. Now that I’m servicing my car, I figured I’d go down the same road as on my Peugeot RCZ and replace the old standard air filter with a K&N sports air filter. It does fit in the original compartment, hopefully make it sound a bit better and last ‘a lifetime’.
The old filter was literally covered in engine oil, which as far as I know, can only mean that there is too much oil in the engine! Perfect time to get that cleaned up, changed and obviously also conduct an oil change..!
Okay, once you are done with the oil change, what the next thing to look after while servicing your RCZ? The spark plugs, of course! They have to be replaced every 30’000 km. I replaced the original NGK with the equivalent from Bosch (Ref.: 0 242 135 518). Not that I wasn’t satisfied with NGK or that I hoped that the Bosch ones would miraculously increase the engine’s performance, I just wanted to try something else from a well known brand – as long as it was compatible, of course. 🙂
Anyway, (1) pop the hood, (2) release the ignition coil, (2) pull it out, (3) unbold and remove the old spark plug, (4) insert a new one and proceed in the opposite order for the rest. Now repeat this for the remaining three spark plugs.
NOTICE: If you need an extension for your 14 mm spark plug socket, make sure all of the elements of the wrench are taped together, as the spark plugs might be a bit stuck even when unbolt. Fishing out the socket can be quite tedious, trust me…! 😉 It’s a simple solution to a really annoying problem.
Today is the day I’m gonna give you a close and detailed tour of my 2000 Yamaha 1100 Drag Star Classic or V-Star, for the Americans. For those of you who know the stock model, you can see it doesn’t look anything like it anymore. Those of you who have been following my channel, have probably watched the three videos that document the conversion from the stock, all the way to the current bobber look. I had been looking to get a bike on which I could work on a little, and I’ve always liked choppers. So I decided to stay with the Japanese ones, because I then already owned a Yamaha FZ6 N. They are easy to work on and super reliable. Let’s start with the beginning: I bought this bike in July 2014 from its second owner and it had always been well looked after. It only had around 24’000 km on the clock when I got. And since then, I have put a massive, wait for it, 3’000 km on it. Mostly because I spend the first summer converting it to a bobber, and then in 2015 I spend a good time of the summer abroad.
Tour around the bike
Anyway, as you can see, it is now a one seater only motorcycle. While it has stayed completely stock regarding the technical components (yes, even the exhaust pipes…), I changed the seat, both fenders, the handle bar, the handle grips, the rear lights and the turn signals. Oh and yes, I had it resprayed from its original black to this pearl red. A lot of people who do a bobber conversion take off one of the front disk brakes, to make it look even more vintage, but that’s not me – I want solid brakes. Besides, there is no way I would be able to register the bike like that here in Switzerland.
The handle bar is a pretty short drag style bar made by “Highway Hawk”. I also had to install the corresponding risers in order for the handle bar to be high enough and not to touch the fuel tank when turning. I got them at Cycle-Tech.ch, which is where I also got the new handle grips. Those are “Highway Hawk” as well. The rest of the instruments, switches and mirrors are all stock.
The original front indicators were massive lollipop style ones. I got the new bullet style ones, as well as most of the bobber conversion parts, from Blue Collar Bobbers in Utah, USA. They make outstanding complete conversion kits for Japanese motorcycles. Although these indicators have the same shape as the ones that came from Blue Collar Bobbers, they are actually different ones, because they have to meet the European regulations. So what I essentially wanted from Blue Collar Bobbers, was the steel mounting bracket, but I couldn’t get it separately, so I had to buy the indicators as well.
The front fender is an all-aluminum part. It came primed with the black powder coated steel mounting brackets. Hence, all I had to do, is to get it painted. Many bobber conversions skip the front fender altogether, but I prefer having one. To me, it just looks more balanced with it.
Seat & seat pan
Now let’s go over and have a look at the seat and the seat pan. They too are from Blue Collar Bobbers and come as a set. You can get it in different sizes and leathers. I got the 11” spring seat kit with the tarnished brown black pleats. Although it looks very basic, it is actually very comfortable, even on longer rides of over two hours. Fitting the seat pan is the part of the conversion where you have to be the most accurate and careful, because you have to saw the rear part of the frame off. And once it’s off, it’s gone forever, so pay attention to it and cut straight. Once that’s done it’s pretty much just a bold on procedure.
Rear lights & indicators
Moving on to the rear lights. I got these on Amazon.com. These are the ShinYo Colorado LED lights and match the front ShinYo Bullet indicators. I just love the steel housing. Because they are LED, you either have to change the corresponding relay or just integrate some resistance into the system, in order not to get the LED lights burnt out – Evidently, they need far less energy than the original light bulbs. The cool thing about the Colorado is that it’s an all in one package: tail and brake light in the outer circle, yellow indicator light in the center. It doesn’t show that good in the video, but the indicator light actually is yellow.
License plate bracket
Let’s get a quick look at the license plate bracket. This is actually the one and only part I made myself. I was looking at a couple of license plate brackets online, but I found them to be really overpriced, especially if you want one that fits Swiss plates. So I figured, why not make one myself? How hard can it be? And it really wasn’t that hard; an LED light, some metal plates I bended and cut, a prefabricated frame, some paint and voilà. It does look self-made, but that’s what it’s supposed to, isn’t it?!
Just like the front fender, the rear one is from Blue Collar Bobbers. Contrary to the stock one that was bolted on the part of the frame that has now been sawn off, this new bobber style one is entirely bolted to the swing arm. In the rear, it’s bolted to existing holes on either side, so there is really nothing that can go wrong there. It is a pretty straightforward process, just be sure to use a cloth or something similar, and wrap it around the various parts as you are tightening the bolts – just so you don’t scratch anything. In any case, I strongly recommend to bolt it on once before getting the fender painted. This way if you do scratch it, you’ll know how to handle it once it is painted. To attach it to the front part of the swing arm, you get a custom metal plate, which you put around the swing arm and on which you then bolt the fender.
Engine & oil filler cap replacement
Although I didn’t change anything on the mechanical side, I still want to give you a look of the engine. It’s got 1100 cm3 unit, obviously, 62 hp and a five speed gearbox, which transmits the power to the rear wheel via a cardan-shaft; a comfortable, reliable and really maintenance friendly concept. The only thing I changed here is the oil filler cap. I removed the plastic one and put this RR metal one with integrated temperature gage. Obviously, I can’t see it while riding. I just think it looks good on it. And if you ask me, replacing some dull plastic parts with shiny metal ones is always a good choice.
Exhaust and fuel tank
Now, moving over to the exhaust. This is where I usually get nice comments for the looks, but surprised looks for the sound of it. Yes, I mentioned before, it’s stock as well. Hence, you can barely here any noise. But at least it’s got exhaust wrap on it. J I might change the exhaust eventually, but I haven’t yet found a legal one that looks and sounds nice. You might have noticed the decals on the tank – I made them myself out of some film you’d usually use to decorate your windows at home. It’s not entirely waterproof, but then I only ride it on dry weather.
Click on the following YouTube video if you want to see it in action:
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.