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Discussion Starter #1
Well I think I may have lost my mind. After having my Shadow 750 for about a month, I quickly learned that it's way to heavy (not to mention, pretty) for my skill level.

Since I can't take the BRC until spring, and my wife has decided that she wants to take it as well, the hunt for a rattier, and lighter, ride was on. While trawling through Craigslist last night, I came across a forlorn, beaten down 1980 Suzuki GN 400.

This thing is totally thrashed. The lights, front brakes, all electrical and mirrors are all long gone. There is no title I know, bad call, but a search online showed no reported thefts, plus I know of some loopholes that might work to get one.

So, against my better judgement, I decided to go take a look at it. When I get there, the owner kicked it over and it started on the first kick. His asking price? $250. After a bit of dickering, we settled on 2 bills and I brought it home. I figure worst case scenario is after getting comfortable with controlling a motorcycle, I can part it out.

But to be honest, I think I might bring this poor lost soul back and restore her. I know I'll never see my investment back on that kind of project, but I just love dinking around with mechanical stuff when it's winter, and there's snow clogging my driveway.

The down side of this bike is, I can find next to no info on it. If anyone has any experience with this bike, I'd love to here it.

As soon as I have my post count up, I'll get some pics up, and post updates of my progress with "Suzi".

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Good idea.

I am riding my 83 XS400 Yamaha for the winter. I paid a bit more, but got a title. I bought a new engine and put it in. Had to buy a bunch of stuff. I figure I am up to about $1000.00 all told. Wheel bearings, brakes, bars, cables and tyres usually need replacing. A can of paint and a brush can pretty them up. It is satisfying to rescue a bike that would have been parted out. These small bikes are easier to ride around town, and if we drop them it is not such a big deal. Swing arm bushings are about the most complicated job. There are online parts places that have blow up pics.

Unkle Krusty*
 

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Congrats on the interesting winter project! Are you mechanically inclined, and do you already have tools & a place to use them? If yes to all then you can just hibernate in the garage with the bike all winter :D

It's great if the bike starts up OK that's a good sign. I'd suggest you get ALL the paperwork/ownership sorted out before spending another dime on the project.

Are there any motorcycle wrecking/grave yards near you?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I am riding my 83 XS400 Yamaha for the winter. I paid a bit more, but got a title. I bought a new engine and put it in. Had to buy a bunch of stuff. I figure I am up to about $1000.00 all told. Wheel bearings, brakes, bars, cables and tyres usually need replacing. A can of paint and a brush can pretty them up. It is satisfying to rescue a bike that would have been parted out. These small bikes are easier to ride around town, and if we drop them it is not such a big deal. Swing arm bushings are about the most complicated job. There are online parts places that have blow up pics.

Unkle Krusty*
That's a nice looking XS Unkle Krusty. It is rewarding bringing these forgotten relics back to life. I've been looking around bike bandit, and the exploded diagrams are very helpful. Hopefully in ten or so posts I'll be able to get some shots of this one up.

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Discussion Starter #5
Congrats on the interesting winter project! Are you mechanically inclined, and do you already have tools & a place to use them? If yes to all then you can just hibernate in the garage with the bike all winter :D

It's great if the bike starts up OK that's a good sign. I'd suggest you get ALL the paperwork/ownership sorted out before spending another dime on the project.

Are there any motorcycle wrecking/grave yards near you?
Definitely mechanically inclined, NordicMan. ASE certified Master Technician, and I've been working on cars since I was 14 (now 39). I also put together a 78 CB400T for a box of parts, although I never got it actually running. I think a full engine rebuild was a little optimistic for a fifteen year old with no money.

Fortunately, Suzi looks small enough to fit through the basement door so when the snow gets too deep in the driveway, I'll put it there to work on it. Nice warm place to work on it.

The only money I'm planning on putting in to it for now is to make it safe to putt around the neighborhood (no police presence nearby), while I work on getting the title in order. No point in dropping hundreds in something I don't "legally" own.

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Discussion Starter #6
I think I need to stick with electric start bikes. Just spent the last 20 minutes trying to kick it over and got nothing. Well one little hiccup, but then bashed my shin, so I decided to call it for a bit.

Pretty sure it's operator error. No electrical on the bike, spark is controlled by a magneto near as I can tell. It should fire up though, since it's in the same state as when the PO started it on Sunday.

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You may have flooded it and now have fouled plugs. There is usually some trick you missed with where all the controls were set. Or even the order they were set. I'd first check the plugs though just to make sure they aren't swimming in fuel.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, I'm thinking I flooded it as well. I emailed the PO ( I'm not above swallowing my pride, and admitting I don't know what I'm doing), and he said he normally has it at full choke if it's cold out for two kicks, the turns off the choke, and it'll fire on the first or second kick.

I think I'll pull the plug in the morning and give that route a shot.

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Starting

Full choke and zero throttle, or full choke and a teeny bit of throttle. Do not jerk the throttle open while kicking. Turn your wrist so you are closing the throttle if doing the zero throttle start. For the teeny opening, open the throttle a teeny bit, and hold it steady while kicking. When kicking, boot the thing down as if you are going to drive it into the floor. You should be able to kick this small engine with your left foot on the ground. Some bigger engines require you gain a bit more height before your downward plant.

Pull the plugs, clean them and check for spark. Leave the plugs out for a while to let any excess fuel evaporate. All real bikers started by kicking. I would be happy if all my bikes had a back up kick stater. One of them does.

Also check with the PO for his starting technique.

Unkle Krusty*
 

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All real bikers started by kicking.
There we go. The definition of a REAL BIKER.

Oh goody goody. I'm a real biker.:p Ha!
 

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I guess I'm a real biker too,my first bike was a late 70s Honda 400 with both electric and kick start, and the electric never worked :)

What was nice about that old 400 was it could sit for weeks and weeks out in the yard, the battery was always dead so the electric never worked that first start, you just jumped on and gave it a few kicks and away it went..it was a rusty beater but it never failed to start. My brother used that bike for 2 years as his sole transportation before I got it, rode 2 miles to work in snow, rain, anything a NY winter could throw at him. He dropped it a few times but never hurt the thing enough to stop him from riding home and then straightening out whatever got bent up.

There we go. The definition of a REAL BIKER.

Oh goody goody. I'm a real biker.:p Ha!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Honestly the fact that it has a kick start kind of drew me to it in the first place. The fact that I don't have to worry about battery condition to get it running is a huge plus. Having an option to start it with a button would be nice for testing and tuning the engine though.

My last experience with a kick start was my old Honda NA50 "no-ped" that I had when I was 14. That thing was a breeze to get going. This thing has a bit more compression and internal mass then that little engine.

It also doesn't help that I know the engine is definitely out of tune so that's going to play a part in starting difficulties. I suppose I need to be more methodical with this, get it running as is, and get proficient at starting it in it's current condition,. Once there, I can work on getting it running correctly. Like I tell my eldest, practice the basic stuff before moving on to the harder things.

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Discussion Starter #13
Just noticed that I had my 15 posts in. As promised some pics of Suzi, in all her resplendent glory :D







And for fun, the one I'm afraid to drop



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Discussion Starter #15
It is pretty nice, although not as pretty at the moment, I got the carbs pulled earlier so I can rebuild a re jet them.

On to Suzi. Well, a bit of two steps forward one back. I followed the PO's directions, two kicks with the choke on, then kill the choke. First kick a little burble, second kick fired off. Success!

Now for the steps back, after idling for a minute or so it starts smoking, not completely surprising, since I have an exhaust coming I sprayed all the bolts down with PB Blaster. But It's also leaking oil rather profusely from the valve cover. I'm not seeing any full valve cover gaskets online, just o rings, anyone here able to confirm that? If not, I'll just start digging in, and adjust the valves while I'm in there.

The other issue is there's no air filter, of course there is no replacement anywhere online. If nothing else, I might be able to modify things to allow for a K&N to fit.

Overall I'm happy with the progress so far!

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Plural

I realized too late that I was using plural for plugs instead of singular.
Those high bars are out of place on that bike. Oil leak will show that it is pumping oil and fixable. A front fender, a set of bars, get it running properly, and you are off.
Fix the dent in the tank in your spare time.

My XS400 managed to get a hole in the crossover pipe and sounds a bit rough.
But it fired at 32F this morning, and blasted down the highway at a steady 70 75.

Unkle Krusty
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yep, the handlebars are horrible! But that should be easy enough. There's actually a few front fenders on eBay.

I've got a exhaust on the way since it's rusted between the pipe and muffler. At some point I'll need to get lights and gauges, plus rewire it, but I think it's a solid foundation to start from. And definitely not something you see every day.

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, I'm an idiot. I went out to start Suzi this afternoon after cleaning the head so I could isolate the oil leak. Kick, kick, kick. 15 minutes later still nothing.

So after stewing for a bit inside, I finally decided, screw it. I need to stop dorking around and really give my self a solid baseline to work from.

So I've decided, since I'm swapping out the exhaust, I might as well pull the carb and give it a thorough cleaning.

So I get the seat pulled, and then moved on to the tank. Pulled the line ( after shutting off the petcock first) lift the tank off the frame, and it weighs next to nothing, and hmmm nothing sloshing around either, just some rattling.

Yeah, that was a facepalm moment if I ever had one! For the best anyway, I definitely should clean and coat the tank while it's off, and that carb certainly could stand to be cleaned. That and a new plug should give me a solid baseline, well that and some gas!!

Oh, and that oil leak? Well I'm not positive, but this bike originally came with a cable driven tach, and interestingly enough, there's a big hole in the valve cover that the cable threads into. Well, with no tach, and no cable, well it's just a void there. I'd say that probably explains the oil leak! My plan is to order up a new cable, and tie it off to the bars/triple tree until such time as I can get gauges on it.

Maybe some day I can actually ride one of these bikes, instead of just working on them. But I got to say, I really love working on them too!

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Tach cable.

The tach cable, or the tach itself, makes a scrorching sound on my XS400 when it is near freezing. If it got too loud, my plan was to remove the cable from the engine. I figured there should be a seal in there to contain the oil. I have not checked this theory. Maybe when I get home I will run it with the cable out and see what happens. Otherwise, the noise is not as bad with my helmet on.
The noisy exhaust also drowns it a bit.

Unkle Krusty*
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well, the new exhaust showed up the other day, so yesterday I pulled the old (and found out the muffler was in no way connected to the pipe), and this morning, I test fitted the new (used) exhaust. Looks like I need a new rear mount for it, so I found one on fleabay, and that should be here next week.

I finished up the carbs on the Shadow, so I figured since I'm on a roll, let's pull Suzi's. Got it off, with minimal swearing, brought it to the work bench, and found this.





Ewwww. So I've got the bowl soaking as well as the main jet in carb cleaner. I'll be ordering a new gasket and some other miscellaneous parts on Wednesday when I get paid.

Should be back up and running in the next week or so.

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