Sunday, October 13, 2013

From LTD to rat turd in a few easy steps

 I was looking for a bike to commute to work that would be cheap to operate in terms of maintenance and fuel. There were a lot of bikes on Craigslist and after weeding out the junk I settled on an old Kawasaki. I ran it much of last year and decided it was reliable enough to keep around.
The victim. A stock 1984 Kawasaki KZ550LTD

 I wanted to do something to this bike to make it comfortable and have the ability to haul stuff. I knew my vision of a utilitarian rack was going to be ugly and I wanted to do some things to distract from that. I had an idea for a "crest" for the rear fender so I knew the I had to build it strong enough for the added weight. This meant using 3/16ths steel which was a real pain to bend by hand.

I knew I wanted a hugger fender but wasn't sure yet how long to make it. Stock tail section still hasn't suffered the wrath of my cut-off wheel.

Here you can see where I cut off the tail section.

Rear fender build. The right side remains open.

New rear section should be big enough to haul my stuff. The Aprilia in the background has a single sided swingarm and inspired the single sided rear fender strut.
This whole project started because I wanted a seat that could soak up the bumps.

Sure the seat is hard but those long travel shocks smooth out the roughest roads.

 I had to chop the front side sections off the seat. My feet couldn't reach the ground with the seat in stock form. Farmers sat on these things forever and they are more comfortable than they look. I did try putting a 1" thick gel pad on it but my ass wouldn't fit with the extra padding. I can't sit on a bleacher for an hour but I can sit on this all day.
Kinda cool but as it turns out...not very practical in the rain.
Lots of room for stuff!

Wiring LED stop, tail, turn and plate lights.

 I like these LEDs. The outer six on each end are orange turn signals. I want to use LEDs up front but I plan to make some big changes in the forks/suspension so I'm kinda waiting on finishing that up.
 The crest (and the seat) are painted with Rustoleum Hammer coat. The bike and deer are made from bent rod. To secure the pieces of rod to the plate I drilled holes in the plate and plug welded the rod from the back side of the plate.

The gear is a leftover from my Aprilia. The deer kinda looks like a seal with horns.
Tied down wrenches because my ideas are often bigger than my capabilities. Skull gearhead just seemed cool. Bike verses deer represents a crash. I earned a week in the hospital after hitting a deer. The whole thing is shaped like the US interstate symbol because I actually enjoy superslab travel. Hey, even a crappy day on a bike is better than any day at work.

One day I decided the right bar should go to the left grip and the left bar to the right grip. The object in the middle is GPS. The gizmo on the left is speedo, tach and idiot lights.

cup holder!

The bike is painted with truck bed liner. Many times I have welded something on this bike, hated it, cut it off and welded something else on...and slapped more bed liner over the top.

  Its not done yet, they never are. I have an idea for replacing the front forks with something home built. I was also thinking a tractor hood fuel tank might compliment the tractor seat. We'll see. Stay tuned for more updates on the rat turd.