One: Stock clip-ons are removed.
Two: ABM top-clamp/bar are installed.
Three: ABM clamp assembly mounts on top of the stock triple clamp.
Four: New bar is taller and further back.
One: A clean undertail area-like this-was Buder's goal.
Two: Inspecting the stock subframe.
Three: The aftermarket tail is selected.
Four: The back of the subframe was cut off and welded back on upside down.
Five: Test-fitting the new tail.
Six: Top view showing relocated electronics.
One: Masking tape was used for mock-up.
Two: Both sidemount radiators were removed.
Three: One radiator was relocated in front of the motor.
Four: Buder made the custom mounts.
Five: Stock hoses were cut to save dough.
Six: Engine cases were painted with radiator mounts.
Seven: The radiator, now relocated.
Eight: The end of Part One, with tail and bars mounted and radiator relocated.
If you go back to the beginning of the streetfighter revolution back in Britain in the early '90s, it wasn't all about blinged-out chrome frames and $3000 paint jobs. It was about getting your worn-out, crashed and broke-ass sportbike back on the road as cheaply as possible, no matter how much duct tape, safety wire and Krylon it required. Back then no self-respecting hooligan would be caught dead with a set of chromed wheels or a carbon-fiber tailsection, but nowadays it looks like times have changed...
One guy who remembers those bad-old streetfighter days (and wouldn't mind bringing them back) is Francois Buder, a German immigrant who recently relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, after an eight-year stint racing motorcycles for the German Army (not making that up) and running a scooter sales shop in Cologne. Now Buder's ditched the mopeds for good and runs a shop in St. Pete called European Streetfighter (www.europeanstreetfighter.com), dedicated to the art of "drastically modified motorbikes." One look at the gallery on his Web site and you can see that Buder is well versed in the language of old-school, hard-core, euro-style streetfighters. We liked his style, so we issued him a challenge-show us how to build a badass, true-life streetfighter for a minimum cash outlay.
Buder agreed in a minute, and came back a few weeks later and announced that he had the perfect donor bike selected for the low-buck 'fighter-a crash-damaged 1998 Honda VTR1000 Super Hawk. Yeah, the 101-hp V-Twin sport tourer with the twin side-mount radiators...goofy Euros... But he was the master, so we deferred to his expertise and vision and invited him to do his thing.
When he took delivery of the bike, it was obvious it had been in an accident. The front fairing and windshield were broken, as were the control levers and footpegs. The project kicked off with a thorough inspection of the bike, carefully identifying all the crash-damaged parts that were broken and needed to be removed and replaced, along with inspecting the major components like the frame, fork, swingarm, wheels and engine for any unanticipated damage that could affect the function of the bike.
Once it was stripped down and thoroughly inspected, the real work began. There are a few basic rules that define streetfighters. 1. They are sportbike based; 2. They are naked, with as little bodywork as possible; 3. They have high, dirt-bike-style handlebars to give a better riding position in crowded urban areas and to make the bikes easier to wheelie. Naturally, Buder's first priority was to bolt up a proper handlebar, binning the Super Hawk's stock clip-ons and replacing these with an ABM-brand "Superbike" handlebar conversion kit, including the longer clutch and throttle cables, to give the bike the proper heads-up riding position.
Buder always starts with the handlebar because he says the look of the bar determines the shape of the rest of the bike. "The location of the new bars will tell me what kind of tailpiece to use," Buder says. "I will stand back and look at the lines of the bike with the new bars on and visualize how I want it to look, and then go pull the right pieces out of the storeroom to bolt on."
But before Buder could begin to consider the minimalist bodywork for this project, he had to deal with those eye-offending side-mount radiators hanging off either flank of the Super Hawk. After a bit of experimenting and trial-and-error locating using masking tape (no duct tape in Buder's shop!), he decided to delete one radiator and locate the one that remained in the traditional location just in front of the motor, banking that the increased airflow around the motor now that the fairing was removed would make up for any lost cooling capacity. One of the electric fans was left in place to further keep the temperatures down, and the oil cooler was also moved below the radiator to further enhance cooling. Once the position was finalized, aluminum brackets were fabricated and welded into place to hold the radiator and then painted black (as was the entire motor) to blend in. The original radiator hoses were cut down and rerouted (cutting costs) and the ugly radiator dilemma was resolved.
With the radiator suitably relocated, Buder returned his attention to the tailsection, selecting a German-made Hocker HE77 tailsection from his shop stock, attracted by the wasp-like silhouette. Buder likes to use German-made streetfighter products as much as possible, and that's not just because of nationalistic pride. "I am what you would call a security man," Buder says. "All parts sold in Germany have to conform to the very strict TUV safety testing standards, and because of this I feel secure that the German pieces will last longer, especially the fiberglass-it is a lot thicker."
In order to ensure the de rigueur "tall tail" that is so popular in Europe lately, Buder had to perform some fairly radical modifications to the rear sub-frame, cutting it in two pieces and flipping it so the longer half that was originally located on the bottom was now on the top, to better support the Hocker tail. The separated sub-frame was tacked together, and the tail was test-fit; once Buder was satisfied with the angle, the aluminum sub-frame was properly welded for strength and support. Finally, since the wiring harness was located under the seat, Buder also welded a flat plate to the bottom of the reconfigured sub-frame to support the harness and battery: simple, practical and very accessible.
And that's were we pause with Part 1 of this project, having relocated the radiator, mounted the high bars and tall tail, and fabricated a new sub-frame. Stay tuned for next issue when Buder puts the finishing touches on this wallet-friendly 'fighter, grafting some custom bodywork to the front of the bike, cleaning up the frame and wheels, adding paint and getting ready to hit the Florida streets with some true 'fighter spirit.
Next Issue: Part Two
Wrapping up the project with a fresh headlight assembly, bright paint and lots of detailing.
Step One: Installing The Handlebars
Step Two: Installing The Tailsection
Step Three: Relocating The Radiator