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Old 02-14-2015, 09:20 PM   #1
DSM
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82 Virago Cafe Build

I know the Virago has been cafe'd to death ever since Greg Hageman's build debuted on Cafe Racer TV, but I'm going for it anyways.

When I first saw Hageman's Virago 750 I thought it was a cool bike, but wasn't particularly drawn to it. A few years passed and I sold my current bike to catch up on finances while I finished college. I turned my last bike into a cafe racer. It wasn't the right bike for it and it got some negative feedback on caferacer.net, but I think it turned out pretty cool regardless. So now here I am, bikeless and longing to ride again. While cruising the web one day I saw the Virago pop back up and there was something about it that caught me this time. Maybe it was the rugged nature of the v-twin fused with the sleek nature of the narrow body and rear monoshock. Whatever it was, I decided to go for it and snatched up the cheapest one I could find. I bought a 1982 Virago 750 complete with title for $350 in non-running yet decent shape.

I am going the cafe racer route again, but I will be leaning more on the modern side. The bike will have the typical modern sport bike front end upgrade, but will have some retro cafe racer styling. I don't want it looking too modern.

Here it is now with a little photoshop work done. The seat, tank and fender are drawn in using Autodesk sketchbook on my phone. The sub-frame is a PVC mockup that I built to get the design and dimensions figured out. The actual sub-frame is being built by a local metal shop and will bolt right on with some minor modification to the frame at the stock tank mount.
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Old 02-14-2015, 10:47 PM   #2
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Looks pretty good so far!
Keep posting up as you progress.
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:27 AM   #3
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More work

Thanks bumblebee.

I have built a custom wire harness using some help from a post over at the Viragotech forum. I have also drawn up the complete schematic for the wiring.

I have also successfully swapped the front end with one from a 2005 R6. I was pleasantly surprised to find that no machining was needed. I was able to use the stem from the new forks, just added new bearings and put it all together.

I rebuilt the carbs and starter clutch prior to attempting to fire her up. After numerous start attempts, some almost starts, and some backfiring, it seized up. Thoroughly disappointed, I proceeded to tear down the motor. To my surprise, the cause for what I thought was a seizure was really the starter clutch gears. The spring had somehow gotten jammed up in the gears. It turns out I had the idler gear on backwards :\ and I suspect the assembly was not seated properly. Anyways, I tore down the motor regardless. I cleaned everything real well and replaced all wearable parts (rings, gaskets, etc). Upon reassembly I found that the camshafts would not slide back into place freely. The bored bearings in the heads must have been warped :( frustration seeps in. I grabbed one new head off eBay for cheap, and the cam slides right in. So suspicion confirmed, I now need another head, and then I can start reassembling the motor.

Sorry about the upside down photo... phone formatting issue.
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:36 AM   #4
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Original Bike

Thought I'd throw this photo in too. Here's the bike when I brought it home. It'll be cool to see the before and after photos when I'm done.
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Old 02-22-2015, 05:44 PM   #5
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bad cant wait to see how it turns out
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:54 PM   #6
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I've finally settled on the overall design and color scheme. Here's one more Photoshop render.

I've also got the new heads. I'll start reassembling the motor this weekend.
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Old 03-21-2015, 02:36 PM   #7
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Progress

Finally, some visible progress!

-photo without seat showing the subframe that I built
-photo with temporary cafe seat I built for a different bike, and cafe mirrors.
(Trying to get a feel for the seat look, and decide what mirrors I will go with)
-last photo has the Mac 2 to 1 exhaust installed

Next up- Dynojet the carbs and fire her up.

Still got a ways to go before she's ready for the streets, but it seems a lot closer now that she's back together and looking more like a bike and not a pile of parts.
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Old 03-21-2015, 03:03 PM   #8
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parts pile

Sorry for the backwards posts here. Every time I go to add photos of my process, they upload upside down from my phone. I never get around to doing it on the computer.

Here are some process shots.
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Old 03-21-2015, 03:09 PM   #9
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more photos

Here are some more process photos. The foot pegs were an eBay find. Won them for $1.00, $9.00 shipped! They are from a 90's FZR 600.
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Old 03-21-2015, 04:06 PM   #10
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Looking good so far!
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Old 03-21-2015, 04:12 PM   #11
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Wow! You're really putting in a lot of work but it looks awesome!
Nice job on the subframe and tank.
What did you do to protect the fiberglass from the gas?
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:43 PM   #12
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The tank is still a Styrofoam form, but when I fiberglass it I will use a resin which will hold up against the fuel and additives. It's a vinylester resin I believe.
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Old 03-21-2015, 06:52 PM   #13
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You've done a nice job shaping it. It'll make a good looking tank.
Can I give an unbiased opinion?
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Old 03-21-2015, 06:56 PM   #14
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Sure.
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Old 03-21-2015, 08:54 PM   #15
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It looks good,nvm
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Last edited by bumblebee; 03-21-2015 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 03-21-2015, 09:02 PM   #16
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Lol, I appreciate the honesty. You are right though, it does look a bit big. I am technically not finished refining the shape. I intentionally made it big because it is easier to remove material than to add it. Also, I believe the gray paint makes it look bigger. The final will be gloss black which will make it look a bit smaller.

Thanks for the good input.
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Old 03-22-2015, 08:01 PM   #17
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Got her running today! There's quite a bit of backfiring though. I checked my fuel float height with a clear line. The fuel is about 1/2" below the bowl split line. I suspect this may be partly responsible for the backfiring. The carbs will likely need to be synced as well. Taking the carbs on and off this bike is quite a chore, so I have put it aside for the night. I will tackle it fresh after work tomorrow.
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Old 03-22-2015, 08:57 PM   #18
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Im glad you took that well, because it really does look good.
Hang in there, carbs can be frustrating. But when they're right they're good.
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Old 03-27-2015, 09:11 PM   #19
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This is amazing.

Thank you for sharing this. Love these kind of builds and this one looks awesome!
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Old 03-27-2015, 09:13 PM   #20
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Thanks Solracer! I appreciate the props.
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