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1982 Yamaha Virago XV750 - Cafe Midnight Project Thread


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Hey guys! Well, the search is finally over. Tuesday night I brought home a new (to me) bike to the stable - a 1982 Yamaha Virago XV750 with about 7900 miles on it. It is complete and runs, which is a rarity with my bikes - here are a couple of pics:




Plans for it, you ask? Cafe it out, of course! I love the Zero Engineering tribute Viragos (do a search for Virago Cafe and you'll see them), but I'm going to do mine my own way - XS1100 front end and rear wheel swap to go from one disk, one drum to three disk; custom tank and tail; custom subframe. I'll keep y'all posted on this thread as I make progress. Remember, though - I'm a railroader, so I'm not in any kind of hurry to get this done.

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do you mind if i ask how much that set you back?

I am in no place to pick up a project now, but an early 80's cruiser project is in my "10 year plan."

The goal would be to find a 1983 model of something with good torque, and simple design; then make it my own. the bike would be as old as I am :)

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Don't tell momma, but I put $600 into it. And I looked (off and on) for about two months. Made offers on a couple, even had a few deals fall through, but found this one. All I can say is don't be afraid to make an offer, even a low one, even in summer. This one was listed for $1000 OBO.

Your thoughts were mine exactly. I've always liked the early 80s bikes (just check my signature if you don't believe). My tastes have been evolving a bit, and I really like the naked bike/cafe racer look, I like air cooled engines, and I like V-twins. That pretty much leaves the Virago and a Harley and I can't quite afford Harley money yet, so here we go, right?

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My not so helpful helper saying "Cheese!"

So after we got her inside, I started tearing down the tail section of the bike. I plan to do the tail and rear wheel swap first, so here we go:


Took the side covers off.


And the seat, followed by the passenger footpegs, rear marker lights and the sissy bar. EBay, here we come!


Got a new motorcycle jack at Harbor Freight today - Motorcyclist Magazine had a coupon that made it $59.99. Not too shabby! Unfortunately, the exhaust has to come off for the bike to set on the jack, so we'll be working on that next.


These bolts were easy to get loose, believe it or not. Unfortunately, the two sides are molded together at the collector, so I have to get the rear header and both mufflers off too. Another day...

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Not much time this week to turn wrenches, but I spent some time on eBay. Had a good weekend sellin garage junk and turned some of that around into the project. XJ1100 rear wheel, rotor and caliper headed to me for the rear disc conversion. EBC still makes new rotors so I'll get one of them later, this one is just to mock up. Also have some bids in on a front end and on rear sets. More to come!

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Been trapped in Indianapolis for almost a day, so I'm kind of stir crazy - here's some of the bikes I'm using for inspiration-


The Zero Engineering Tribute bike - this is the one that got me looking at Viragos in the first place.


"Reciprocity" - I love the tail and the use of the later front end, wish they used the Virago wheel - kind of anal about that kind of thing... maybe there's a way?


Love the exhaust system on this one.


Last, but not least - Ringo's LeMans CB550 - Love this body work - all hand formed. Also love the paint scheme.

Whenever I get home I have a day off - should have some Cafe time then!

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As promised, had some more time with the family and with the Cafe. Tidied up the last part of the garage and started to work again with disassembly. I got the front header off and exhaust loose to get the bike on the jack:


Then started to tear into the front end electrics:


Almost every bike of this era likes to ram every bit of wiring and junctions they can into the headlight. I plan to elimiate a bunch of this and relocate it under the tank. The battery will live in the tail. Last, here's a pile of stuff destined for eBay:


Hopefully this will give me enough to get myself a late model front end. Most of the pieces for the rear wheel conversion are here, just waiting on the wheel itself - a project for another day...

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Another short day (really yesterday) working on the bike. Got the whole rear end torn down:


And today I got the last of my parts for the wheel swap in the rear:


Hopefully I can work on this when I get back from my next trip out. Thought I would roll right into my day off, CSX had different plans...

AND! More eBay stuff!


Edited by jester3681
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So I had a little time last night and this afternoon to continue work on the rear wheel. We started with a "D'oh!" moment:


You may notice the exhaust is a load bearing item in this jacking situation. After about 45 minutes of screwing around, I managed to get the exhaust removed and the bike re-racked on the jack using the engine and the center stand as jacking points. Got the axle out and brakes apart with no problem:


Then... nothing. Though I've taken off half a dozen or more rear wheels on shafties, it's been a while since a Virago has been in the stable. Wasn't sure if there was some kind of pin or bolt, so I didn't want to get too... persuasive with it.

Hit the internet last night, and nope, nothing but gunk holds it on, so out came "Tyrone." After a few minutes of... gentle... thumps to the tire, the wheel was loose enough to come off. Here's "Tyrone" posing with the wheel:


Here's the project for our next work session:


That little guy in the middle needs to go on the new wheel.

On a side note, ordered another XJ1100 rear wheel to play front wheel, and have a bid in on a front end that will hopefully work. I can get swap bearings from AllBalls.com, so hoping my bid makes it another day.

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Had a minute to work on the bike today, so I decided to mock up the rear wheel and see how that went. I'll be honest, I went into this expecting to be dissatisfied with the XJ/XS1100 brake setup and expected to be trawling eBay tonight for a later model rear brake system. The front end will be late model (coming soon!), so I was concerned with the rear.

First, I got LUCKY! I ordered another XJ rear wheel for use on the front, and it came Friday while I was on the train. Glad it did - look at the picture of the inner differential gear on the Virago wheel above. No look at this:


Yeah, one extra ear, one extra bolt. Glad the new wheel came with it, because the other one didn't. Oh well, I have two XJ rear wheels, one for the front, one for the rear - guess it doesn't matter which is which.

Bolted the rotor on:


And this was where I was concerned - rotor is darned near as big as the wheel. But... once it's on the bike, it looks ok:



I still need to trawl eBay - if you can see in these pics, the rear axle won't seat all the way up - need to try one from an XJ. The spacer for the gap is molded into the axle, and this one is set up for drum. Overall though, much happier with this than I thought I would be. Oh well, back to eBay to spend some money - luckily some of the takeoffs sold this weekend because I shot my wad on the front end which should be here this week. If I don't get called out tomorrow, I plan to get the front end and tank off.

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Of course my front end has to come today when I'm first out for call at work. Ugh. Maybe I can sneak into the garage for a minute or two when the kids go down for naps...

EDIT: The railroad gods smiled on me today - got a few hours in the garage and got the front end mocked up. Here's what FedEx brought me this morning:


Stock front end torn down and off:


And finally, here it is with the new front end:



How many Viragos have you seen with a TL1000R front end on them? I have it just mocked up for now - I'll have to have the neck machined down about 1/4" to fit the front end on permanantly (steering stem is too short). Using this front end lowers the front of the bike about 3", so this ole girl might be a graval dragger...

I think it looks pretty good - thoughts?

Edited by jester3681
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Well, now that the front end is on, my sights turned back to the rear. I spent some time removing the rest of the stock rear drum brake system - pedal and linkage. Also got the wiring out of the way to clean up the look of the rear end:


I'm going to leave the front footpegs on the bike, kind of - the two bolt holes that link the frame to the engine case will stay, I'll cut the peg itself off right at the bolt. Not sure how much integrity they give to the bike, but not willing to risk losing it.

I received the XJ1100 rear axle as well and tried it to see if the fitment was any better:


Pictures are worth a thousand words, right? The axle is about 1mm thicker than the Virago unit and as a result won't clear the differential. There's a spacer there:


In addition to the spacer, I'm not so sure it would even go through the diff on the other side either. Hmm... well, at least I got the wheel spacer I needed for between the wheel and disk brake brackets:


Here's a pic of the two axles together. Virago on top, XJ1100 on the bottom:


So, I thought I'd try taking the rear brake stuff off, dry fit the wheel and wheel spacer with the stock Virago axle and:


Success! I got out the micrometer - the hole in the brake brackets is about 20mm and the fat end of the stock axle is 21.86 - I figure it's designed for a 22mm hole. I think the easiest solution here is to have the axle hole in both brake brackets machined out to 22mm. So, some disassebly later, we have two brackets ready for a trip to the machine shop:


That's the next step I think. One thing I also need to keep in mind is that the axle diameter of the Virago is about 19mm and the axle for the XJ1100 is about 20mm, so the wheel bearings will be different. I think (hope?) I can just use Virago bearings in the XJ1100 wheel. More to come!

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Well, got a wild burr today and did a little work on Midnight. Took the tank off:


Then unhooked all the hand controls that were still sitting on the floor tied onto the bike and pulled out the carbs:


Finally pulled out the coils and the main harness leaving a naked frame!


I marked all the tabs for removal. I think my next step is to get my work bench built so I can take the frame off and work on getting it ready for the bike. I'm waiting on some more parts for the bike from eBay and have a couple of more little things to order yet... ended up ordering a TL1000R front wheel with a bent lip ($20!) to have my fab shop graft to the XJ1100 wheel to build the front wheel. This way I know everything will fit (rotors/axles/etc). I also need to order a front axle as the front end I bought didn't come with one. More to come (although most likely pics of a work bench being built)!

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