2002 VTX 1800R
Final Build / Motorcycle Show Selection
Larry Lulay is a graphic artist and web designer with a passion for motorcycles. This site provides details on modifications and accessories I've done to my bike. Watch close for links to great resources, and click photos for high resolution.

Lulay Bike Sites: Rides Done Right Bikes | Custom Harley Rocker | Custom Honda VTX | Ducati Diavel Mods

This site currently contains three web pages: the current page provides details regarding the build; the Final Photos page provides photos of the bike; the Show Wins page provides photos taken at each show.
- My Custom Build -
In January 2010 I purchased a 2002 Honda VTX 1800R. I chose the R over other VTX models because I liked the comfort. On the other hand, I knew I was going to have to make some pretty major changes to get it to look closer to what I wanted. I guess I was going more for an 1800R/C Custom.
     This page provides commentary and links to photos regarding a build by a 47 year old guy that has done some tweaking with stuff, but no significant fabricating. Until now, the most challenging thing I had done on a street bike was adding an integrated tail light and under mirror turn signals. That was about to change... Click photos to see LARGER views.
At the Dealer      1/15/2010
Bought a Lift Table      2/5/2010 At this point I had been looking for a table lift on CL for a while, and finally found one. I since have ordered a bigger chock for it (like their nicer model lift has). I wanted to make sure the lift would actually "lift" my bike, so I put it up on the first level and took some photos. Also, if you look close you will see my first purchase for the bike - a Hondaline sport fairing (from Cycle Country of Salem).
At this point there are going to be lots of dudes looking at those photos saying, this guy should have stopped right there, because that R looks sweet like it is... but orange and those fenders just weren't part of what I had in mind.

The Inspiration
I have always wanted to put a big tire and cool wheels on a bike, and I finally reached a point where it was time to do it. My brother had the bike (with only 700 miles on it) and once I rode it, I knew it was time to sell my 955 Triumph and take on this project. Big HP and 120lbs of torque made it a little less painful to sell my Triumph. While looking for a fat tire kit, I stumbled on the photo to the right... and so I found the inspiration for my build. Lots of the things I went after were based on that bike. Little did I know how far I was going to have to go to get close.
My Inspiration
Getting Started      2/10/2010 The plan here seemed fairly straight forward, buy the parts that fit my bike and put them on. So I started my list:
  • Mimic Rear Wheel (18x8.5) polished;
  • Modified swing arm;
  • Get the same rear fender as my inspiration bike;
Well that seemed simple enough, just get those parts ordered and install them, should take me about a week (wait until I show you the parts list later)...
I was thinking of keeping my front R fender and that it might look kind of cool and unique with my conversion... until I saw the photo to the right. This bike has a stock R front fender, and what looks like C struts and a C seat... and this photo showed me that keeping my R front fender, wheel and tire, was not going to give me the look I wanted. So this photo turned out to be my anti-inspiration "so to speak" - not that I'm ripping on this bike... just not the look I was going for.

So now I knew I was going to need to spend some more money. I knew I liked the style of the cast wheels done in 2002, so when I saw the 1800C wheel, I thought that would be a great direction to go. I found a new one on a forum for a good price... so that was a deal I needed to jump on. Since the C wheel was 18 (from the R's 17), I would need to get a front tire. I found a great deal on tires at Motorcycle Superstore and these guys are in Oregon and I've bought several times from them, so I ordered my tires = check that off the list.
240 Rear - R Front
I looked all over for a front fender and bought a Mako fender (because the photo of it looked pretty cool). Turns out that side photo I looked at wasn't really showing me the whole picture. Once I got it... wah, wah, wah - suddenly depression was starting to set in. See the Mako front fender in the left photo below.

Next I got my back fender. Now keep in mind that the place I found my "inspiration" bike photo, was actually using that photo to sell the rear fender, so I knew that was the look I wanted and bought that fender to match the look on that bike. Well, if you look at the photos below of the fender I got, let's just say it didn't quite look like the fender in the photo. I was assured it was the same fender, but it would need to be "customized" to look the way I wanted.
R Wheel with Mako Shorty Fender Shorty Fender
It was time for me buckle down and fight through the pain to try to get where I wanted to go. I drew some lines on the rear fender's side to get an idea where it would need to be trimmed. I had planned to take this to a body shop and have them do it (probably would have only cost me a few hundred dollars... only). So after staring at it for hours and holding it for several minutes, I got out my air grinder or cutter or whatever you call that "thingy", and decided I would do a "test" cut on a place near the bottom of the fender. As it turned out, I kept the cut pretty even and the fiberglass didn't fray... so I grew some balls and started cuttin'. For finishing, I spent several hours with my dremel and a block sander to try to get the look I wanted.
Polished Stock C Wheel/Tire My new front wheel got here and so did my tires, so I spent a night polishing the front wheel. It turned out pretty good, so the next day I had my front tire mounted on my C wheel. Once I got it home, I started swapping. FYI: my 17 inch R wheel's rotors un-bolted and bolted directly to the C wheel without modification, I put the loctite on and torqued them to spec. Right after that, I mounted that new wheel and tire to the front of the bike. Suddenly some of my depression was starting to go away and I was starting to feel better about where this build might go.

So to summarize: I went from a 160x17 tire to a 130x18 tire, which gave me a taller wheel and lower tire profile... headed towards the more "racey" look I was going for.
Since I was replacing my back fender and going to have to figure out how and where to mount my rear turn signals, I decided to buy matching signals for the front and rear (another expense I wasn't thinking about). I found some Arlen Ness signals that were larger bullet style that I really liked, so I ordered them from Phat Performance Parts which had some pretty good prices and a great selection of nice after market parts.

I had to figure out what I was going to do about brake lights. My inspiration bike had a brake light mounted underneath his rear fender, but I kind of thought that could be a problem and getting it to look real good would be an issue. I opted to buy the Kuryakyn Run/Turn/Brake light electronic gizmo that goes between the wiring harness and the rear lights. This would enable me to use my rear signals for signals, running lights, and brake lights - plus it allows you to have a cool pulse when you first apply the brakes.

I also had to figure out how to mount my license plate (since that attachment was now gone). They make all kinds of vertical license plates, and I hated to spend the extra money - but I thought a $50 plate holder was going to look pretty lame with the other stuff I was doing so I tried to find deal on a nice one with a brake light. I found a Bikers Choice chrome billet that retailed for $250 on a forum and bought a brand new, never mounted one for $120 shipped... another great deal I couldn't pass up.

Some guys made this sound like this was a two hour job. Maybe if you have done this kind of thing before or you don't really care how things are going to look. I did a full mockup (including rear fender) and wired everything but it took several hours (most on getting things to mount right).
Arlen Ness Bullets Kuryakyn Run/Stop/Turn Bikers Choice License Plate
The Seat
Oh brother... this turned out to be a nightmare. The vendor let me know that rear fender would not work with an R seat, but it would work with a C setup... which meant I needed to get a C seat and C struts. I found a real nice solo and passenger seat locally, so I bought it. When I went to mock it all up, the solo seat just didn't look good... it wouldn't mount low enough to "ride" on the fender. So I grabbed the custom $500 Danny Gray seat and put it on there, and if pushed down to the fender - looked like it would work.

The problem was, that every time I pushed the seat where it needed to go, the seat skin pulled away from the drivers area. Now if I wanted to make that seat work, I was going to have to pay a professional. I found a guy that I have used for upholstery before and found out they were one of only a few guys in the area that did decent jobs on custom bike seats. I showed him the issue and he let me know that there would be no way to permanently solve the problem without reshaping the shell of the seat. He said it would need to be skinned, de-foamed, and re-fiberglassed and he estimated costs could get close to $1000!!!! You got to be kidding me. He told me what to do, and for the first time in my life... I was going to do some fiberglassin. I got a kit, broke its back, fiberglassed it, and then sent it back to the guy and the whole job cost me $90. Whew... dodged another bullet. Note: I was a bundle of nerves peeling back that skin and removing the foam in tact.
So my back tire is here and my swing arm is here... and it will be three weeks for my wheel to be cut, polished, and shipped. I guess it was about time for me to consider switching out the swing arm. Man, I read for hours on various forums and such to try to find as much info as I could, and I based my instructions on this guy's write up (he did a pretty decent job, although I would have loved to have had some photos).

I ran into lots of odd ball stuff that I needed to customize here. I had to remount some electronic box that attaches to the front of the swing arm (fabricate brackets for a new location), relocate the exhaust mounting bracket (something I asked about, but the vendor wasn't sure), and when it was time relocate mounts for the brake lines. Also I needed to get Moly Paste and Moly Grease (for different applications).
Bring On the Beef! With the swing arm off and no rear wheel to mount, I decided to swing my rear tire in there and get some idea how this might look... I snapped some photos.
Rear Wheel Day! I was using my tracking number the whole way on this baby. Far and away the most expensive part of this build was the rear wheel. As soon as it got here I had my wife haul it and the rear tire to the dealer, and I met her there. They installed it and I was feeling like this build finally had the legs it needed... I was beginning to see that this whole thing might be pretty sweet when it gets done.

I read a ton on mounting the rear wheel and tire, and I decided that I didn't want to risk scratching the wheel with the brake calipers (heard this was a tricky part)... so I kept the rear brake rotor off and held the caliper to the side while assembling the rear. Getting that final drive to mount into the yoke was a pain in the butt. I couldn't get the shaft to mate, the yoke was hanging down and the shaft couldn't get started enough to push into her... so after a gillion tries and wasted arms, I finally got wise and stuck a long screw driver under the shaft and lifted the front while mating - went in on the second try. After that I assembled the rear rotor and caliper and it went together without a scratch... whew!
Stock Rear / Custom Rear
Mock That Baby Up
Prior to paint, I mocked pretty much the whole bike up. I snapped a bunch of photos, and then went into photoshop to try to finalize my paint. I should add that earlier on in the process I photoshop'd my inspiration photo, and a partial of my photo so I would kind of get an idea of what I wanted. The photos to the right show the actual mocked up bike, and then my photoshop'd prototype.

I sent an email to a couple of guys on CL and they responded with really good prices. One of them said he wanted me to do his website in exchange for a great custom paint job - anything I wanted. Boy, I was pumped... went around telling everybody at work I was going to get this smoking paint job and I was going to be doing a cool web site. After several conversations, a firm verbal commitment, and several emails - I never heard from the guy again.

Big Daddy Newsome So when talking to my brother, he said that if he were having his paint done by someone in Oregon (he had Paul Yaffee's painter out of Phoenix do his), he would have Big Daddy Newsome do it (don't judge this guy by his web site, he is a painter not a web guy). Then he pointed out who Big Daddy was and it turned out to be someone I knew and had do many custom pin stripings on cars I had years ago. It turns out, Big Daddy (a gifted pin striper) had started painting custom bikes.

My final piece was now in place. I found my custom painter, and it turns out he was in my own backyard.
Mocked Up
Mock Up Plus Photoshop
Paint Nearly Complete 4/3/2010
I went to see the paint today, and I got very excited. Big Daddy did a great job "upping the anty" on my prototype. If you look close on the bottom of the tank, one of my biggest concerns was how to hide that bottom lip (where the tank is stamped)... and he did a great job actually using it to start the flame on the tank. Also notice that he removed the "antlers" from the top of the C front fender - without the bumps, that flame flows pretty nice through there. Big Daddy called on 4/4/2010 and said he wasn't happy with the pin stripes around the flames, so he decided to re-stripe them today. He went with a little darker stripe and he said he has gone from being 95% happy to saying it looks awesome.

Full Set of Tins
Front Fender Side Covers Big Daddy with Tins
Chopped Pipes This paragraph is out of sequence (it happened after the initial build), but is relevant to the build. When I showed this bike in it's first show I met a custom bike builder (Carey Vanderbeck of VRC Choppers), and after a few minutes of talking we decided to do some bartering. The first result is the resizing of my pipes. Many of the original photos will show the after market Road Burner pipes going all the way to the back of the tire. Carey advised me to chop them... so that is the first thing I had him do. This turned out to be several hours and involved removing the baffles, removing the pipes, cutting the pipes, cutting the baffles in the center and re-welding them together, creating a custom exhaust bracket, re-locating the lower swing arm module, and installing it. This is simply not something the average guy should try to do - the skills he has and the equipment he used resulted in a great custom look.
What are the Minimum Parts Required for this 240 Build?
  • Modified Swing Arm;
  • Aftermarket Rear Wheel (if you aren't going to match your front you will also need a front wheel);
  • 240 Rear Tire;
  • Rear Fender;
  • Seat (unless you get a fender that "says it works with your C seat", and/or want to try to modify your own)... this will be one of your biggest challenges on the build - advantage = sumo kit;
  • Struts (unless you get a fender that uses your existing struts);
  • Turn Signals (unless you figure out some way to use the stock ones) - if you change them, you should match your front signals as well;
  • Brake Light - you will need to figure out what you will do for a brake light. Either mount a light on your fender, below your fender, in your fender, use a license plate brake light (should be additional, not the only source), and/or get a Run/Turn/Brake converter;
  • Exhaust Mount (unless you modify your existing one);
  • Custom Bracket Materials (to re-mount the electronic device);
Note: I didn't purchase a kit. I saved money, but had to do a lot of unexpected fabricating. One of the reasons I didn't buy a kit was that I didn't want to have to buy a proprietary seat... but as it turns out - I had to customize a seat, so a kit would have saved me big. Having said that, I'm not convinced that a kit would prevent you from having to do at least some fabricating... so be prepared that there may not be a completely "plug and play" 240 kit.
Parts List
  • Xtreme Metric Rob Rodriguez at Xtreme Metric
    • Mimic 1800 Rear Wheel;
    • 240 Swing Arm
  • Angel at Miami Metric Choppers - Rear Fender/seat bracket/screws
  • Motorcycle Superstore
    • Dunlop Elite 3 240/40VR-18 Radial Rear; VRC Choppers
    • Dunlop Elite 3 130/70HR-18
  • VRC Choppers custom shortened my Road Burner Black Ceramic Pipes;
  • Phat Performance Parts - Front and Rear Signals - Arlen Ness Bullets
  • VTX Owners Association
    • Bikerís Choice Side Mount License Plate; VTX Owners Association
    • C Front Wheel;
    • C Front Fender
  • eBay
    • Kuryakn ISO Grips;
    • Cycle CountryKuryakyn Throttle Boss;
    • Chrome Switch Covers;
    • Chrome brake and clutch reservoir covers;
    • Kuryakyn Pulse Turn Rear
  • Cycle Country - Hondaline Sport Shield;
  • Ride-On Ride-On / Tire Protection System - I spent a lot on my wheel and tires and want to try to prevent any damage;
  • Craigs List - Stock C Struts
  • Kuryakyn Kwik Lock Helmet Set (for both bar ends);
  • Hondaline Chrome Radiator Guard;
  • Chrome Radiator Housing
  • Honda Fury Mirrors
  • Flexible LED Light Array for Under Fender Run/Stop
Additional Stuff for Build
  • Metric Sockets and Wrenches (if you don't have large sockets (over 19mm) you will need to locate some);
  • Metric Allen Sockets (I bought regular and large size sets at Harbor Freight);
  • Rubber Mallot and long stick for the front/rear axle removal (I used a long 1/2 socket wrench that fit perfect);
  • Air Grinder/Cutter tool (if you plan to do your own fabricating);
  • Dremel (if you want to make your stuff look good);
  • Soldering Iron (if you plan to do your own wiring and don't use inline fasteners);
  • Electrical and Duct tape for various tasks ("daddy always said a hammer and duct tape would take me far in life");
  • Hammers, screw drivers, various pliers;
  • A vise is handy;
  • An air wrench (I needed to use it when attaching the hub to the aftermarket wheel);
  • Drill and bits (a drill press also comes in handy);
  • Lift (one of the small 1500lb lifts is pretty mandatory), and some would say a jack helps with some tasks;
  • Swingarm castle nut removal tool (either you have to buy one or make one) - or you can just use a punch and hammer if you don't mind messing up the nut;
Fabrication that I Was Not Expecting
I was hoping I could just buy the parts and install them. I figured there would be some things that might need to be tweaked, but the following is a list of things I wasn't counting on:
  • Seat Modification
    Unless you buy a Sumo-X kit, if you want the seat to look good - plan on having to modify it. This is either going to cost you a lot of extra time, or money, or both.
  • Swing Arm Electronics Mount
    An electrical unit mounts to the swing arm, and will not mount directly to your modified swingarm, so you will need to identify a different mounting location or at the very least you will need to fabricate different mounting brackets.
  • Exhaust Bracket
    The right arm on the modified swingarm is re-positioned which moves it closer to the exhaust side and your exhaust bracket will not work as it did. I wound up re-using the stock mount bracket, but moved it to the other side of the stock mounting locations. I had to cut off a large mounting nub (from the electronics thing that mounted to this bracket) in order for it to fit... but it saved me having to buy the $80 Sumo exhaust mounting bracket.
  • Brake Lines
    My modified swing arm didn't come with a hole for the front brake line mount, so I had to drill one it. The rear hole was not threaded and too large for the factory screw. I used self tapping screws and got them mounted.
  • Seat Bracket Under Seat Bracket (optional, they say)
    The vendor said I didn't need to fabricate an under fender bracket to ride "two up", but I decided that I would feel better if I just made one. I went to a steel shop and bought a two inch wide and pretty thick piece of steel (not too thick that I couldn't bend it). I cut it with my air tool, and beat it into submission with a hammer and vise. Then I ground out the edges to soften them and painted the whole thing semi flat black. It mounts great and I feel much better about "two up" having this reinforcement there.
  • Kuryakyn Run/Stop/Brake
    I bought a generic one from eBay that said it was for metric bikes... I didn't realize until after I ordered it that they make one for the VTX that is "plug and play". This would have enabled me to simply reuse my existing wire ends without having to snip and add the ones they included in the generic model - also note that I had to buy some extra clips because I was adding the run/brake setup for my license plate.
In Conclusion...
I always wanted to have a cool cruiser with a big ole fat tire on it, but in those dreams I just opened up a fat wallet and threw a bunch of cash around. Well, the cash isn't there yet... but hopefully the cool bike will be the result.

Where did I find the most assistance?
Web Designer Geek This build would have taken me three times as long and I would have ended up with less tools and more holes in my garage walls (from throwing tools) if not for online forums. Particularly the VTXOA.com forum, BareAssChoppers, and Gateway Xtreme's 240 write up. The VTXOA forum provided links to instructions and contained many threads with detailed instructions. Many of the threads helped me know what to do and what to stay away from. Guys like DumbComputers, BareAss172, X'N, and Matt36 had lots of posts that were very helpful. I have spent most of my evenings since buying the bike reading through posts to find as much info as I could. I can't thank the guys on this web site enough for their willingness to help others.

The professional custom work done on my build were eased by an up and coming chopper builder VRC Choppers, and a great local painter Big Daddy Newsome.

Would I do it again?
Even though I did a lot of reading before taking the plunge, I kind of "blindly hoped" that I could just order some parts and install them. I really under estimated the amount of fabrication it would take. I made a lot of trips to the Lowes nuts/bolts dig bins.

I learned a lot in this process, and if I thought I could find the parts and put together a nice bike - I reluctantly might. I certainly would not do it for someone else... it was WAY too much stress about everything to endure with lots of "pucker" moments where you worried about messing something up.

Would I recommend this modification to someone else?
First, you better have a lot of tools. Then you better plan to do a lot of reading to try to find out as much as you can about what you will need to do it. If you don't have money to pay someone else to do something you can't do, I would say - don't do it. There were many times in this build where I ran into areas that I was REALLY uncomfortable doing something, but because I wasn't willing to spend the money - I didn't have a choice and had to go for it. If you aren't patient, no... this kind of thing will push you to your limits. If you have a nagging wife, be prepared to have her up the anty when you spend all of your time in your garage (if you already do, no problem)... fortunately my wife is very cool and was involved throughout different parts of the build. If you have physical limitations, I would say probably not - unless you can get some help... you will be forced into some awkward positions for varying amounts of time that will fatigue you.

Was all of this work worth it?
I don't know yet, check back in several months and I will let you know.
VTX Owners Association Feedback and Parts for Sale
Come back later and see updates. I've started a thread on the Forum I frequented and that I got a lot of instruction and parts on, so if you want to leave feedback - sign up and say something nice :) - - Go to VTXOA.com (VTX Owners Association) to leave feedback.

Look at some of my left over parts for sale on my VTX Parts page.
2002 VTX 1800R/C Custom
My Street Bike History
1980 Yamaha 400 Special 1984 Yamaha RZ350 1984 Honda 700 Magna 1994 Honda CB1000 2001 Triumph Sprint 955 ST
400 Special RZ 350 700 Magna CB 1000 955 Sprint ST
I was 19 years old, and just got married. Used the excuse that I needed a cheap "commuter" bike. Chain drive, air cooled. Before there were Ninja's, there was this Kenny Roberts race replica. Sweet bike that you could roll the throttle on in 2nd or 3rd gear and it would wheelie very nicely. Two stroke, chain drive. Bought this bike and had it painted. My brother bought one at the same time and we had fun riding these things like sport bikes. Shaft drive, water cooled. Big bike that had an inline four, with a Vance and Hines exhaust that sounded sweet. Very fast and a ton of fun. Had it painted to match my car. Chain drive, water cooled. Click here to see more. Bought this bike off of Craigs List and drove from Salem, OR to San Jose CA to get it. Turned out to be worth the drive. I ordered every part I could find that looked good, including a custom hand built exhaust. Chain drive, water cooled, and my first electronic fuel injection bike. Click here to see more.

Since VTX Build: Modified 2007 Yamaha FZ1 and 2008 Yamaha Rhino Special Edition
FZ1 and Rhino The winter after I finished my VTX build, I realized that my Corvette had seen less miles than ever and I would be better off to sell it and get some other toys. I added the following to prevent the VTX from being lonely (I also got a Honda Rancher and put some 14inch ITP's on it)...
Rhino and FZ1
Modified 2007 Yamaha FZ1
150HP Inline 4 Fuel Injected; Special Raven Edition
  • Scorpion Carbon Fiber Exhaust
  • K&N Air Filter
  • CPU Programmer
  • Custom Painted Logo (see FZ1 logo in photo above) - Gold leaf and Aluminum leaf
  • Custom Painted Striping (based on the old school Yamaha cage stripes)
  • Chin Spoiler with Factory Yamaha Stickers
  • Rear Fender Eliminator (not in photo above)
  • Smoked Shield
  • Cruise Lock
  • Heated Grips
  • Corbin Passenger Seat
2008 Yamaha Rhino Special Edition
  • Custom Four Seat Cage
  • Rear Seat
  • K&N Air Filter
  • CPU Programmer
  • 3000 lb Winch
  • Four Point Harness All Seats
  • ITP 14inch SS Wheels and Terra Cross Tires
  • Side Nerf Bars (not in photo)
  • Full Span Mirror (not in photo)
  • Coming Soon - Tunes

Since that Modified FZ1, I bought one with 100 Miles and Modified It
Modified 2007 Yamaha FZ1 Gen 2
150HP Inline 4 Fuel Injected; Special Raven Edition
  • Factory Yamaha Valentino Rossi Valencia Edition
  • Two Brothers Black Series Carbon Fiber Exhaust
  • K&N Air Filter
  • CPU Programmer
  • Chin Spoiler with Factory Yamaha Stickers
  • Copperdawg Radiator Shroud
  • Rear Fender Eliminator
  • Smoked and chopped Shield
  • CRG Arrow Mirrors
  • CRG Mirror Blocks
  • Corbin Passenger Seat (not in photo)

Click the photo to see the full size. It's worth the click.
2007 FZ1 Gen 2 Retro

Associated with Rides Done Right

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