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The Ribeye (motorcycle build thread)

42611 Views 217 Replies 48 Participants Last post by  govmule84
I was a bit hesitant to start another build thread here as it seems there are
an overwhelming abundance of them as of late. Last night in light of the
Jap vs no-jap shitstorm, I decided it's a good time to post it so as to draw
some attention away from that crap. I uploaded a bunch of photos and
now I'm going to share it.

Anyway, I hope my friend Bob is OK with my stealing his term "The Ribeye".
And, for those who aren't in on the joke, this bike will be painted red.

Like most of my bikes, this one will be about 85% aftermarket parts. I love
original OEM stuff as much as anyone, but I'm a realist.
1. I can't afford OEM / NOS parts
2. I have no desire to spend months/years hunting them down.
3. I do not wish to spend the effort to refurbish old worn / rusty parts.
4. I would be doing a disservice to the restoration crowd by using OEM
parts on a clearly "incorrect" bastard mutt custom build anyway.

So, let me dive right in. I'm starting this project with a bunch of parts that
I'm recycling and reusing from old bikes and projects I've had, and from
some new stuff I've collected in the past year or so.

I'm basing The Ribeye around a Santee wishbone hardtail frame, and a
basket full of knucklehead engine parts that I picked up off of craigslist.
There's a very interesting story that came with the engine parts, but
I'll elaborate on that when I cove the details of the engine assembly.
For now I'll just say that the cases are not H-D

This photo shows the frame with a set of narrow trees that are just for
mockup, they're not staying:

It's not the greatest looking frame, but I have paperwork for the numbers on it.
I sprayed it with some bedliner for a tough finish and bolted a 5-speed gearbox
onto it. I'll document the gearbox build in my next post.
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"Who got the ribeye?!?"

Sort of makes it a tribute bike!
Cool a Realists mans build Ill be watching....Those red punch and chisel sets look like they could fall on that ride I think its a Porche it could be a optical contusion as
I hate it already.
Yeah, I know. Someday I'll build a softtail just for you pal.

hey Fritz, your lights are on!
They're not on yet Mike, maybe by summertime.


The gearbox got a full going thru with new bearings & seals and was
converted to kickstart at the same time.

I installed the latest incarnation of the old "Granny's Trannys" design from
the 1980's. It's a tried & tested design, that has been copied more times than bates seats.

First Teds/V-twin re-popped Granny's kit in 1991, followed by Custom Chrome a year or two later. In the late nineties, an outfit called "Billet Bilt" made a version of Granny's kit using a stronger billet aluminum trapdoor & kicker cover.
(any Iron Horse fans remember Tom Rose & Joel Otto's FXR's with Billet bilt kickers ?)

Granny's is no longer in business, but Custom Chrome still produces their copy of the kit. The best feature about the "granny design" is that it uses all 4-speed internal kicker components. The kicker arm, shaft, crank gear, clutch gear, ratchet gear, ratchet spring, keyway, washers, and bushings are readily-available 4-speed components.

I bought my first kit in 1997 from Tedds. It has held up for eighty thousand miles and 15 years of kickstarts on my blue longbike.
This time, I used the Custom Chrome clone.

I like to remove the top cover & forks first so that I can lock the gearbox into two gears
at once. This locks the shafts from turning and allows for easy removal of the shaft end nuts:

Then the gearset slides right out:

All stripped down and cleaned:

I pressed out/off the old ball bearings and shafts from the stock trapdoor plate:

With new bearings in the kickstart plate, I press the shafts in:

Add the remaining gears and its ready to go back into the case:

Ready to put the top cover and kicker on:

Clutch & ratchet gears on:

Crank gear and kick arm/shaft installed:

That's about it, gearbox got done and bolted into the frame as seen in first post.

In the next post I'm going to try to get the rear wheel on and start getting the forks together.
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At some point last year I purchased a 16" laced rear rim for very little money, I also
traded a narrow hub I had for an extra rear hub. Both hubs are late (2000 and up) rear
hubs with sealed bearings.

One hub had 3/4" ID bearings and the other had 1" bearings. I laced the extra hub
to a 16" hoop I had in my basement. Used (and badly worn) tires are mounted for
the purposes of mock assembly.

Although, my frame is setup for mechanical rear drum brakes and even has the
crossover tube, I'm going to use a disk setup on the rear. I think the disk setup
looks like shit compared to drum, but I'm on a budget and I already have a
rotor/caliper/master set from a bike I parted out.

The hoop & spokes ready to be laced to the spare hear hub:

All laced & trued:

Of course the rotor had a 2" center hole and would not fit the
late hub, so I had to open it up a bit.
On the mill with a rotary table, finding exact center was tricky:


Done. That stainless is tough stuff, I had to go slow and take a few rotations:

Finally got it bolted up to the wheel, after making some custom spacers on the lathe:

I tried to hide the ugly caliper by orienting it into the interior angle of the frame rails. I may even mount a toolbox back there to cover it completely.


Now, to the forks. I purchased an early FL drum brake fork off craigslist. It was
complete minus the wheel & drum. Problem was, the right lower cast leg was
broke at the bottom.

I mocked it up with new timken neck bearings just to see how it looked:

While I like the whole aluminum nacelle deal, the wide two-piece bars are not going to
stay. I'm open to suggestions on what to try since the rear of the bike will be kinda

Next post I'll address my solution to the broken leg issue.
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this is what I come here for!
Fritz really looking fwd to watching you put this together, recycling as many parts as you can in the way you described. Appreciate the gearbox pics too.
So, I got a fork with a broke leg. I searched ebay and craigslist for weeks, but found nothing. Then I posted want ads on a couple different sites/forums. I had a bunch of responses from guys who said they had what I needed, but when I asked for a photo, they either never replied, send pictures of sportster forks, or implied that it was too much of a pain.

Finally I found two guys who said they had the right thing. One sent me totally wrong legs(dyna wideglide?), and the other sent me 72-77 "bananna dics" legs.
The 72-77 legs may have been my fault, as I think I was confused and agreed to them by thinking that all pre-77 tubes were the same so I assumed the legs would interchange. Plus the price was cheap enough to try.

Well they didn't work, the damper rods changed from male threaded studs to female threads with a bolt, and the legs went from two bushings to one somewhere around 1972. Now I got three sets of useless(to me) legs.


Then about two weeks ago, I see a thread right here on the JJ about how early 1" & 5/8" fork sides will swap perfectly with late showa 41mm 's

That was my answer, I bought a late set of complete legs with tubes from Richy at Manx Cycle in Dover, NJ. The price was unbeatable!
I even had a late caliper and a 1" axle from my nephews boss's bike who needed to have chrome parts swapped in a few years ago.

I get to keep the trees, nacelle, light etc. from the old drum fork, but with late disc lowers. Again, not ideal for the overall look of the bike, but it's functional and gets me moving forward again on this project.

Next problem: how to make a rear wheel fit on the front and still have brakes and
a wheel driven speedometer? I'll show you tonight.
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While I like the whole aluminum nacelle deal, the wide two-piece bars are not going to
stay. I'm open to suggestions on what to try since the rear of the bike will be kinda skinny.
26" Apes would look perfect.
Thanks for the Posts and picts. This is what the JJ is all about. As far as the disc. vs drum I hear you on the looks of a drum, but after the first panic stop from 70, I think those discs will look better to you!
You've seen those baby apes Bob has on his...I don't know if that's the "look" you're after, but short apes look the part and are comfy on his setup.
I've got some black flanders g5s hanging on the wall. if they'd suit your fancy, you're welcome to them...
I prefer the ribeye over getting t-boned:D I like your quickness to "adapt" in effort to get a running knuck up! I feel the pain, but thingk your direction will be pretty cool actually. I have allready taken a few vows to follow in your footsteps. Building knucks these days is getting to be a "gold Chainer" hobby. best Russ
Sweet. Looking forward to following this build, Fritz.
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