BORN AGAIN BIKES'
CUSTOM MONOSHOCK NORTON
880 CAFE RACER PROJECT
Then, in early April '09, I decided to mock up the project bike just in time to show it at the
Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation fundraiser bike show held at Irv Thomas' Honda shop in
Corpus Christi, Texas. I only had 10 days to get the bike together in time to make the show, so I
had to borrow the rear wheel from my '75 Interstate (parts for the 880 rear wheel were still at
Buchanan's being laced up), and install the empty engine cases and cylinders with the bare
head bolted on top (no time to actually build the running engine). As the box-section swingarm
required a longer rear axle setup from stock, I went with a one-piece unit which was long
enough to accommodate the end brackets of a racing paddock stand; good thing, too, I had no
stands for the bike!
I borrowed a set of Yamaha meters from the guy that sold me the inverted forks, and quickly
fabricated two simple strap mounts for an OEM Norton (Lucas) headlight shell to mock up the
front end. I first tried the 636 clip-ons and definitely didn't like them, then tried a set of Flanders
drag bars and was satisfied with that setup till I stumbled upon a real nice set of alloy low-rise
"superbike" bars while rummaging through the parts bins for something else entirely; the
superbike bars worked out perfectly and resulted in a really comfortable ergo layout with the
stock Norton footpegs. A simple intermediate bracket was all it took to mate a 2-pot Nissin rear
brake caliper to the Norton caliper mount, and the Nissin master cylinder was sufficiently
mounted to the Norton footpeg with one bolt as a temporary measure.
A few other last-minute adjustments to the custom fabricated meter mount to lower them
closer to the yoke, adjust the headlight mounts to tuck the shell closer to the forks, install the
cleanest set of timing cover, tranny cover and valve inspection caps that I had on hand, fit up
some decent cables all around, and the bike was pretty much ready to show. The front brake
rotors and special gas cap assembly for the fuel cell bladder arrived just under the wire, the
day before loading up.
So, appearing to all the world as a complete bike, the 5 MPH 880 Sprint Special made it's
Texas debut to an appreciative crowd who had nothing but positive comments for it. Although
it was shown between a rare, pristine 8-valve Triumph TSS Bonneville and a client's custom
built '53 Triumph Thunderbird chopper, the 880 got all the attention.
My plan then shifted to installing my spare 850 engine in the completed chassis with the new
rear wheel, in order to thoroughly test & tune the suspension and properly fabricate final
mounting for the headlight and instrumentation. Meanwhile, the 880 engine will be built in
proper methodical fashion. On to the build!
Born Again Bikes