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December 1st, 2002
What started out as a beautiful stock Roadstar back in November of 2001, slowly (well not that slowly) transgressed into a work of art that very closely matched the image I had in my head of a custom cruiser. Sure I had some good bolt-on accessories, but no matter what I bolted onto my bike, it never truly felt "custom".
I started with a stock 2001 Yamaha Roadstar, and added a few accessories. Bags (Everyone needs saddlebags right?), a custom exhaust, and a small windshield were some of the first things I asked the dealer to install before I even took her home. I got the bike home, and while it was a nice ride, something was missing. Less than a month after I brought her home, I started tearing things off that reminded me how "stock" she was. Emblems had to go...nothing says stock like factory tank emblems right? In addition, the Roadstar taillight/blinker assembly, something very unique to Yamaha really irritated me, not to mention helped to shake the tail end profusely, had to go as well. I replaced it with a billet frame from Cobra that I really liked. That stock seat (OUCH) was another item that needed to be deep sixed. I went to visit Cary over at Pacific Coast Star for a Potato Chip conversion. They are great guys to deal with, and met me one Saturday afternoon at their shop so I could test out the seat. I then decided to ditch the saddlebags. Custom Bagger was not my vision. By December, she started to conform one part at a time.
With the holiday season upon me, I tore the front end and braking system apart in favor of some "flash". I had the tripletrees and forks chromed, while I polished the calipers and rotors with some help from my friend Steve at California Polishing in Huntington Beach. It took 6 weeks to get my parts back from the chrome shop. While this wait was the longest 6 weeks of my life, it was worth every second to see the end result look as good as it did.
With the new chrome, I bolted on some parts my generous wife Kim got me for Christmas. She really got into the customizing with me, and I could never have come this far without her patience. She gave me some Aeromach fork bullets, billet mirrors, a Baron's tach., new risers, and some go-faster mods like my Pro Hypercharger, Dyna 3000 ignition, Dyna coils and Wires. It was a good christmas for me! I felt like a kid in a candy store.
On my birthday (March 4), I was so proud of my baby, but the best was yet to come. My forward controls from Legends USA came and were promptly installed with the help of some adapters by my friend Doug Upton at Universal Machining in Huntington Beach, CA. Back before Christmas, I ordered some parts that would prove to be the "icing on the cake".
I had ordered some new wheels from Joe Longoval @ A1 Sports center in Manchester New Hampshire. Joe would later prove to be my best and main source for pre-sales support, and tremendous prices albeit he was over 3000 miles away. I chose to do business with him over many local dealers simply because he's a great, honest guy. Thanks Joe!
We did have some problems with these wheels. They were from Arlen Ness, and although they were ordered for a Yamaha Roadstar, The wheels that shipped to me did not fit. I promptly called Joe, and he took care of the return details for me. a few more weeks of waiting would prove to be pretty useless, as the wheels still didn't fit correctly when I got them back. Doug from Universal Machining sprung into action for me and helped me machine the correct spacers and press in some new sealed wheel bearings. The fun didn't stop there, as we had to make some adapters to fit the Harley Davidson Softtail custom fender, as the stock one no longer fit. I took some flat stock I had in my garage, and called my friend and neighbor Garry Erdman to give me a hand. The fender was on in no time. Things were shaping up nicely. She rode like a dream! The 21" front wheel seemed to gently roll into corners rather than bully through them as before with the stock 16" wheel. Also, she was so pretty with all that chrome. Personally, I think nothing shines like a set of chrome spokers rolling in the sun. But my new 18"x5.5" rear and 21"x2.25" wheels just didn't look right to me with that stock paint.
Once again I called Garry and we stripped her bare in my garage. In one day, we pulled off all the body panels, and shot them with a sandable primer, then a coat of textured grey "Hammered Metal" finish. WOW! This stuff was amazing. I had never thought of my bike as "badass", but that's the only word I could come up with after seeing the new color on her. I think Yamaha missed the boat on the grey. Silver is nice, but grey looks "mean" for lack of a better word. I rode her proudly after this as now the body panels were all matching. That primed front fender really irritated me. Custom yet? Certainly not...customized maybe, but I was far from done. At this point, I was getting antsy. What I thought was the final piece to my puzzle was not here yet, as I couldn't decide on a paint scheme. I liked the grey, but I wanted something more.
Back into the garage I went about a month later. Just before painting, I got my Nemesis Racing Manifold and S&S kit. NOW she's running hot! One of the best mods I've ever made to the bike! Also, I changed the pipes in favor of Vance & Hines Longshots. I really like the look and the sould out of these pipes! I saw some paint at Wal-Mart that looked cool. Mystic it was called. It was supposed to change from blue to purple depending on how you looked at it. Again, I stripped the bike down and set off to the store for a few kits. The kit consisted of some basecoat primer, a color coat then a can of clear to finish it off.
All I can say is it certainly looks better in these pictures. While it was a cool effect, and really didn't look "bad", it was far from good. I just don't think this stuff was made for motor vehicle applications. The clear coat was very difficult to apply evenly, and it was a very rough finish. It also didn't take to wet sanding very well. The clear never truly dried, and was constantly gumming up in the paper. I left it like this for a few months.
The day FINALLY ARRIVED! I got a call from Lynn George over at The Shop in Bullhead City AZ. He completed my fenders, paint and tank stretch, and said they were ready for shipping. I was so excited, I told him I would drive out and get them. Lynn also made me a custom flamed seat to match my Alien Face Speedometer from Keith Meurer in TX. This was an easy mod, and I would recommend it to anyone. It really is a conversation piece and makes your custom truly a "custom".
Lynn's Fenders made such a difference! I truly had a custom bike! With the fender addition, I added some 5 degree raked tripletrees from Proformance in KY. Great fit and finish, and easy to install. Let John know you saw my trees if you contact him. I'm sure he'll treat you great! I also added a Custom Chrome 5 & 1/4" ball milled headlight, every ball milled Yamaha part i could find, and re-installed my Pro-Hypercharger, this time on the S&S carb.
What you see here is my finished (are we ever REALLY finished?) project. A few details on the final stage were needed. I purchased a 1" shorter shock from Progressive Suspension, and did "the flip" to really slam the bike. I got almost 4" lowering from that. This placed the wheel a bit further back in the wheel well than the fender was designed for, so I needed to purchase a shorter (180 Tooth) Dayco belt. The front blinkers were originally designed for a Harley Davidson, so Doug milled them out for me to 43mm.
The coil mount is from my friend James in WA, who now has partnered with me to sell some beautiful adapters he designed with the Legends Controls I offer on my website. This is usually a spot reserved for Harleys to mount their coils, and while it's not trying to "copy a Harley", it adds to the custom look I was trying to achieve.
I wanted something even more different, so I went to Doug with an idea of a jockey shift. He told me it would be easy to do, so we used his C&C mill and machined a great shift lever for the bike. talk about MEAN! I couldn't have asked for anything nicer!
This is what I was thinking of back in November when I brought her home. Not many of you saw my vision, but I want to say thanks to those of you that did. I could have never done it without the help of many people. It was certainly not a solo project.
I would like to invite any of you to contact the people that made this all possible, and I'm sure they would be happy to work with you:
George - Looney's Customs - Bullhead City AZ -
have yet to name her, so if anyone has any thoughts, feel free to email me at
email@example.com or come
over and visit me at the site (http://www.roadstargallery.com).