Building an ’82 Honda Urban Express

I bought an ’82 Honda Urban Express (NU50) earlier this year to match my lady’s ’81 Honda Express (NC50).

Honda Mopeds

NC50 + NU50

There they are together in front of a pizza joint near Cheeseman Park.

A Less-Than-Blank Slate

It didn’t run when I bought it. I gave $400 for it because it had an MLM People’s pipe ($200) installed, and it was complete other than a missing airbox topper (unobtainium) and airbox (also unobtainium).

I ordered a Dellorto SHA 15 carb and manifold along with the “Stocko Shocko” kit from treatland.tv.

Upgraded carburetor on an '82 Honda NU50

Carb installed.

It ran OK after installing the carb, but it didn’t feel like I thought it should. A compression test resulted in a whopping 106psi, so I ripped the top end apart.

Gouge marks on old piston.

Old piston

I found a funky aluminum cylinder with a 44mm sleeve installed. And this piston, which has seen better days. I installed the “Stocko Shocko” kit in its place. The kit consists of a stock cylinder punched out to 44mm, 4mm bigger than stock. Mistakes were made.

“Stocko Shocko” Mistakes

  • I didn’t bother to measure the ring gap.
  • Or chamfer the ports.
  • Or even break the thing in.
  • No temp gauge
  • I retained the stock head, which is trash, as you’ll see.
  • I did do some plug chops, and all was well, so I figured I was good.

I did a top speed run on its second heat cycle. It soft seized after going down the other side of a huge hill about a week later. It then hard seized randomly downtown at low revs. I think my “mistakes” had a lot to do with the longevity of the cylinder and piston.

I’m used to scooters with forced-air cooling (fan + cooling shrouds, like an old Porsche 911), and I’ve never had one seize up on me. Never had an air or liquid cooled 2-stroke dirtbike or GP bike seize up on me, either. I usually chamfer ports and measure ring gaps, but I don’t bother trying to break them in. I think mopeds are a bit finicky owing to their smaller size and lack of forced-air cooling.

Tear Down and Rebuild

I pulled it apart again. Piston and cylinder were both scored; time for a new piston and cylinder.

I got the DR kit from Treatland, ordered it with a bunch of “fixings” too: Puch/Honda “super street” head, cylinder studs, temp gauge, gaskets, oil block-off plug, jets, etc.

Connecting rod on an old Honda.

Teardown

Check out the exhaust port on the new cylinder:

DR kit exhaust port. Bigger than stock.

DR kit exhaust port.

The new cylinder head isn’t as tall as the old one, so I had to install 106mm Polini studs.

They’re shorter than the stock head bolts by a few millimeters, and I didn’t want to “cobble” shit together with spacers I had lying around. I have a thing for nice hardware on my bikes, even if I’m the only person who knows it’s there.

Polini studs, shorter than stock.

Polini studs.

The stock head is garbage. I removed the janky temperature-activated choke mechanism (I HATE AUTOCHOKES) when the Dellorto carb went on. Just look at this thing. It’s pathetic.

NU50 stock head

NU50 stock head

WordPress likes to randomly flip my images and not let me flip them back. Lame but you get the idea. Here’s the new head. LOTS more material.

Puchonda head.

Puch/Honda head

18 cooling fins vs. 28. Heat dissipation is all about surface area. New head has LOTS more surface area. Should stay a lot cooler.

Plugging the Decomp Hole

The later Express nopeds use the same top end parts as the old Honda Camino/Hobbit mopeds. The Camino/Hobbit cylinder and head have a hole in them for a decompression valve. The hole on the cylinder needs to be plugged, or the head gasket weeps oil.

Some people are intimidated by this. It’s not hard at all. Start by running a 5mm drill bit through the hole. Then run an M6 tap through the hole.

Tapping the decomp hole.

Tapping the decomp hole

Cut the threads off of an M6 fastener, cut a slot in its end, and insert w/ red Loctite.

Decomp hole plugged, easy peasy.

Decomp hole plugged, easy peasy.

Bolting Everything Together

These bikes are cake to work on. Everything went together easily.

DR kit w/ Puch/Honda head installed.

DR kit w/ Puch/Honda head installed.

I would not have bought this bike had it not had a pipe installed, so here’s a totally unnecessary pic of the thing. I think it looks cool.

Gratuitous shot of the fancy expansion chamber.

Gratuitous shot of the fancy expansion chamber.

First Start, First Rides

I started with a larger jet than I thought I would need, a 75 main. The bike didn’t want to run very well at all, so I jetted down and played with the air filter.

I ended up with a 65 main, no air filter, and a bunch of holes in the stock air filter cover. I popped by the local motorbike parts superstore for a 54mm EMGO filter; looks hilarious on the bike.

54mm pod filter on Dellorto carb

54mm pod filter on Dellorto carb

Queue up the break-in process. Start, idle, cool down times 5. Slow ride times 5. Faster ride, varying revs, times 5. It took a few days before I could ride it like a real bike.

The pipe wouldn’t hit with the 9g rollers I had installed, so I swapped them for some 5g rollers I had lying around. That made the pipe hit at 12-15mph. Swapping the B5HS plug for a B7HS plug made it hit closer to 12mph more consistently.

Highest temp I’ve seen on the gauge is ~400 degrees. It’s been cooler outside here. I was expecting to see higher temps. Plug chops at high RPMs reveal a perfect coffee-colored electrode, so I think I’m good on jetting.

UPDATE: Clutch Tuning

There was a shiny new GY6 “racing” clutch in my mailbox yesterday. I got excited and installed it. I managed to remove the 38mm nut from the clutch using vice grips and a strap wrench. It was such a PITA I ordered a 38mm socket from Amazon to use with my impact.

The clutch came fitted with the tiny yellow springs. A set of red Malossi springs are on the way. I threw a yellow contra spring (the big one) in the clutch assembly before installing it on the bike.

Now the pipe hits at 10mph, but it’s PAINFULLY SLOW getting there. The poor 5g rollers don’t have enough “oomph” to pull the belt lower on the clutch pulley, so it only goes 25mph. The yellow contra spring is way too much.

I suspect the “hot ticket” is going to be 3-5g rollers (18-30g total), red Malossi springs, and the stock contra spring. That should make it take off fast and let the engine rev to 40mph+. I’ll keep yinz posted.

Before and After

Putting the battery under the seat and deleting the injection pump made a world of difference in how the bike looks.

Before

Before

After

After

Parts List

Engine

  • Dellorto SHA 15.15, MLM intake, 65 main jet, 54mm EMGO filter
  • 46mm DR cylinder/piston
  • Puch/Honda head, B7HS plug
  • MLM People’s pipe
  • Oil-injection pump delete plug
  • Trailtech temp gauge
  • GY6 clutch w/ red Malossi springs

Chassis

  • Oil reservoir delete
  • Battery installed under seat
  • New front brake pads
  • New rear shock

 

Posted in Scooters, The Passion, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized

August/Sept: Saga of The MOTO2N Service Van

It’s been 90+ degrees out for who knows how many days in a row, and I’ve been fighting with my van, the van I use to fix and service your scoots and bikes, for the past 2 months.

It started when the transmission went out. That happened around the 4th of July. $1300 and 6 days later, I was back in business, new blue-painted transmission and everything. I was behind, but I knew I could claw my way back.

Broken leaf springs

Broken leaf spring

Then the leaf spring on the passenger’s side decided to break less than a month later. OK. New leaf springs and shocks it is. I had to drop the tank to remove the leaf springs, so I thought I would do a “good thing” and replace the fuel pump while I was in there.

“Brand New” Means “Untested”

Big mistake.

Know what they say about fixin’ shit that aint broke? IF IT AINT BROKE, DON’T FIX IT!!!

Replacing leaf springs

Nightmares.

Apparently the service life for a brand new fuel pump these days is ~500 miles, give or take. That’s about as far as I made it before the van started stalling in traffic and refusing to restart.

The last thing I suspected was the BRAND NEW fuel pump I’d just installed. So I checked, re-checked, double-checked, and triple-checked everything else. Finally, I popped the fuel lines and turned the key and guess what? The BRAND NEW fuel pump I installed is GARBAGE.

Busted fuel pump.

Busted fuel pump.

More specifically, it’s a $200 piece of garbage that cost me HOURS UPON HOURS OF MY VALUABLE TIME, not to mention the cost of a tow AND HAVING TO PURCHASE ANOTHER SERVICE VEHICLE IN THE MEANTIME.

At this point, it was becoming difficult to claw my way back to the promised land of productivity.

New service vehicle.

New service vehicle.

That’s right. I went and bought a whole other vehicle to use to service your scoots and bikes because I can’t keep my van on the road for any length of time after replacing its old fuel pump with a brand new, however faulty, one. Most expensive month-and-a-half of my life, tell you what.

So yeah, if your repair has been delayed for a bit, THIS IS WHY.

When you ask me for a discount, and I get grumpy, THIS IS WHY.

I have serious, big-boy expenses, and I don’t feel good about discounting my services when I’m in the middle of blowing low-5-figures just to stay in business. On another note, the trick to GROWING a business is… there’s no real trick to it. The trick is STAYING in business 😉

Why a Smart Fortwo?

At any rate, I bought a 2015 Smart Fortwo because they’re amazing little service vehicles. People who have never driven one tend to hate them.

I know better.

I’m also not using it like a “normal car.” It’s a service vehicle. Having more than two seats doesn’t matter to me. I fill the passenger’s side up with stuff anyway, so it really doesn’t matter. As a normal car, I don’t know. I’d have probably bought a Fiat 500 or something completely impractical like a Lotus Elise or an old Lamborghini Gallardo. I’m looking forward to the day I can buy another “fun” car without caring too much about how it fits into my work and the rest of my life. One day!!!

But it’s a service vehicle, and I know how well the Smart works under those conditions. So I bought one.

You wouldn’t believe it until you tried it, but you can fit a staggering amount of crap in the rear hatch. I can stack no fewer than 10x Uline bins full of tools in the hatch. There’s room for chemicals behind the seats. I fill the passenger’s seat and foot well with even more stuff. It even has a tailgate with an awesome cubby-hole to store my power tools.

Smart Fortwo

Smart Fortwo

I learned the Smart Fortwo is an excellent service vehicle when I was working for Rolling Wrench, whom I’m not going to link here because screw them, but yeah, I owe them some thanks for “showing me the ropes” even if we don’t get along these days. I’m open to communicating with them, but I’m not willing to be the first to reach out. 😉

The only thing it doesn’t have, but will soon have, is an onboard air compressor. In my opinion, compressed air is 100% necessary for this line of work, to do a good job anyway. I will find a way to mount an onboard compressor on this turd, so I can do tire changes on your scoots and dirtbikes like I’ve always done. COMING SOON!

At the end of the day, I had to go and buy another vehicle over a brand new fuel pump that didn’t work the way it was supposed to work. Oi vey.

Broken transmission —> FIXED —> broken leaf spring —> FIXED —> replacement fuel pump —> GARBAGE! —> New car to keep going. It’s been an expensive couple of months here at MOTO2N.

Time for some good news.

I’ve Been Out to Ride Exactly Twice This Year, and I DON’T CARE

I have more bikes than I can count out on one hand, but I’ve only been out to ride two of them this year.

Reason? I have a woman in my life these days, and I like her a lot. I wasn’t expecting to like her so much.

Here’s a pic of us at my buddy Dan’s wedding last week.

A & C

A & C

She’s fly as heck. She’s self-employed (like me!). She’s a little weird (like me!). I like her soooo much. I can justify not riding as much as I’d have hoped because she’s another part of my life that brings me joy.

She won’t put me in the hospital or break my collar bones like I know my bikes will. I could have ridden my bikes more, but I would not have spent as much time with her. I enjoy the heck out of the time I spend with her. She’s 100% “my cup of tea.” I dig her.

There’s always next year, and, even if there’s not, I’ve done things with bikes other people can only dream about. That’s something. If I died tomorrow, the last thing I think I’d think would be “I didn’t get to ride enough.” It would be more like “I didn’t love enough people” or “I didn’t care enough about the people who were close to me.” Maybe I’m just getting old, which I’m not, but I am. Whatever.

Happiest Thing Ever: My Homie Dan Got Married

This is cool beyond words. It’s just, well, it’s toooooo bloody cool.

My homie and his bride.

My homie and his bride.

That’s my buddy Dan and his new wife Lindsey in the middle there. I’ve known Dan for 20 years, since we were freshmen in high school. If you ask him, he’ll tell you I’m the guy who got him into turning wrenches and doing mechanical stuff. I never thought about it like that. To me we were friends fixing cars together, but I guess he learned a lot from me. If you ask me, I’ll tell you he’s one of the best dudes you’ll ever meet in your life.

He’s an incredible dude, and he made the leap to turn his long-term girlfriend into his wife. They’ve been together 7 or 8 years at this point. She’s a wonderful gal.

Dan didn’t jump on the first woman he met. He took his time. He did things right. I’d bet dollars to donuts they’re going to be together for the next 50+ years. Best of luck to those two. I felt something like genuine, unadulterated happiness watching them tie the knot. It was truly special; I’ll remember it forever.

I’ve learned a lot from Dan over the years. Little things like how to set boundaries and what it looks like to be an even-keeled, mentally stable adult. I still suck at those things, but Dan’s one of the first people who comes to mind when I’m working on those things, and I’ll be working on those things for the rest of my life I reckon. I’m stoked he’s a small, though significant, part of my life these days.

I noticed him walking by himself at his bachelor party. I was walking by myself, so I joined him. He said “There’s probably a reason we became friends all those years ago.” To which I said, in my candid-sort-of-way, “Yeah; because we’re weirdos.” One of the tricks to life is finding people who are weird in the same way you are. Not everyone’s going to like you. They don’t have to. Plenty of other people will.

With that said, it’s time to get back to work. Thanks so much for reading and please be patient with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Good News, Motorcycles, Scooters

MOTO2N News for June 2019

Still extremely busy. So busy I don’t have time to return calls UNLESS you BOOK ONLINE!!!

If you absolutely have to call, let’s say the online booking tool isn’t working for you, then the best times to do it are between 8AM and 9AM Tuesday thru Saturday. I’m likely to be doing computer work in the mornings at those times, and I’ll have my phone next to me. I’ll do my best to take your call.

Leave a message if I don’t pick up. I will do my very best to return your call within 72 hours. No guarantees on that, by the way. The *BEST* way to get me is via email. The address is moto2n.colorado@gmail.com.

I have no idea when I’ll be able to make it to the Springs again. 1000x apologies to people in the Springs, but Denver’s keeping me extremely busy. I don’t have time to spend my weekends/days off in the Springs like I used to do. I end up doing “homework” on my days off up here in Denver.

BOOK ONLINE if you’re in Denver. If you’re in the Springs, send me an email. If you can’t get the online booking tool to work, send me an email. The email address is moto2n.colorado@gmail.com.

Alright, now for the fun stuff.

Yamaha C3 Fuel Pump Replacement

Fuel pumps for EFI bikes are expensive, and, if you let your bike sit for a long period of time, there’s a good chance your fuel pump will break. I knocked this one out in about 2 hours around the corner from my customer’s apartment in downtown Denver.

Yamaha C3 Fuel pump RR

Blown apart Yamaha C3.

Replacing the fuel pump on a Yamaha C3

Yamaha C3 Fuel Pump Remove and Replace

The Yamaha C3 is a cool bike. It boogies pretty good for a 4-stroke 50cc scooter. I wouldn’t mind having one. Bet a case of beer would fit in the trunk if you unboxed it!!

Antique GSXR Track Day

I took 4 days off for my birthday, so I went and had some fun on my antique GSXR750 at High Plains Raceway.

Antique GSXR

Antique GSXR loaded up and ready to go.

It was easily the oldest bike at the track by a good 15+ years. I bought this bike 3 years ago. It didn’t have a fuel tank or any bodywork.

I bought a used tank and bodywork. Also installed a Dynojet Stage 3 jet kit. It has Airtech fairings, a Yoshimura duplex exhaust, Calfab overbraced swingarm, powdercoated wheels, custom throttle cable, new chain, new tires (Bridgestone RS10s), new Zero Gravity windscreen in translucent blue, gutted FZR1000 gauge cluster, custom made (poorly) fairing stays, Pingel petcock, Bandit 1200 front master cylinder, new grips (vintage Honda shit, hilarious), alternator delete from APE Racing, custom wiring harness, new EBC brake pads front and rear, K&N pod filters, new wheel bearings, etc etc too much to list.

Antique GSXR

Antique GSXR at High Plains Raceway

At any rate, it is a FANTASTIC track bike. It performed extremely well at the track. I was damn near bouncing off of the rev limiter in 6th gear at the end of the 1/2 mile straight at HPR, which is damned close to 150mph going into T4. This is the fastest bike I’ve ever had on track. Prior to this, I raced a Honda RS125 and tracked an Aprilia RS125. The Honda made maybe 35hp. The Aprilia, 22hp on a good day. This bike? 90hp or more here at altitude. It weighs all of 390lbs, which is damned light for a sportbike of any vintage.

The chassis on these old slingshot GSXRs is nigh but incredible. I couldn’t upset it. I tried. No speed wobbles. No weirdness. Just point-and-shoot.

I kept going faster and faster as the day progressed. I started out slowly and pitted every 3 laps to check the bike out. My exhaust fell off during my second session. I pulled into the pits and fixed it. It runs a total-loss ignition system, but the battery lasted for the entire day. I chalk that up to the custom wiring harness I made for it. The only thing that draws power is the CDI box, and apparently it doesn’t need much power at all to keep going and going and going.

This bike represents 3 years of labor, many thousands of dollars in parts. It’s been a long time coming, but I finally got to twist its throttle in anger at a track day. Blood, sweat, and tears paid off. 100% worth all of the time and effort I’ve put into it.

This is what sticky tires look like when you get them hot:

Sticky tires.

Sticky tires. Bridgestone RS10. Rear tire on an ’88-’92 GSXR750

People always ask me what year it is, and I don’t know how to answer. The frame’s an ’89. The subframe is from a ’91. The wheels are ’91. The engine is god-only-knows, but it’s from a Katana 750. It pulls hard and revs to 13k, so I suspect it has the GSXR cams in it. I don’t know. All I know is I built it from parts, and it’s FAST and very fun to ride. I just say it’s an ’88-’92 “bitsa” GSXR750. A bit of this, a bit of that… eventually you have a bike you can ride. 3+ years, thousands of dollars, and 100+ hours went into this bike. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!!!

Wanna buy it? I’ll do $3,500 on it if you really want it. Not a penny less.

Crank Replacement on a Yamaha Zuma

I’m more than willing to split the cases on your scooter… assuming you can afford to pay me to do it. LOL.

High-zoot rebuild on a Yamaha Zuma. We’re doing the Polini 4-Race crank w/ a Polini Contessa kit. Stock carb. Leo Vince exhaust. This thing’s gonna haul some ass!!!

Zuma crank replacement.

Splitting the cases on a Yamaha Zuma.

I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t pop wheelies.

Pulling the crank out of a horizontal Minarelli engine.

Crank’s out!

I’m going to end up building this engine on my coffee table, which should be a whole heap of fun. Wish me luck!!

Please book online if you’re in Denver. If you’re in the Springs, email me at moto2n.colorado@gmail.com. Email is the best way to get in touch. Text works, too. The number is (720) 634-6935. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Posted in Availability, Motorcycles, Scooters

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