obriencj

is a pile of bits

VT500FT
Uggo, the Warrior

Uggo is a beast.

In mid-December of 2014 I decided to lay down a small sum of cash on a beat up motorcycle, so that I could have something to work on as a project. I found the listing for Uggo on craigslist, took her for a test ride, made an offer, accepted a counter-offer, and here we are.

When I first got her, she wasn’t healthy at all. There was a significant difference between power and temp in the front and rear cylinders, the rear being cold and making a dead thudding noise. Her wiring harness was a rat’s nest, she had some awful aftermarket headlight, her fuse box was a corroded nightmare. Turn signals were all removed, as were all of her plastics (fenders and fairings both). She had a lot of trouble starting, and someone had sealed her carburetors with liquid gasket. The airbox had holes and cracks. Her oil filter was bent up, her handlebars rammed the gas tank, and her exhaust gaskets leaked. Her clutch slipped badly, and she tended to overheat. Her front brake didn’t do much of anything, and the rear brake pedal contacted the exhaust.

What a bike!

So let’s see what I’ve done with that:

  • Carburetors

    • Full teardown and clean.
    • new gaskets
    • new slide springs
    • balanced
    • correctly set pilot screws
    • ran breather line safely under seat
  • Ignition

    • new aftermarket coils
    • made new spark cables
    • new spark boots
    • new spark plugs
  • Electric

    • new battery
    • cleaned connectors on front panel to solve bad connections
    • new fuse box and fuses
    • reinstalled/connected turn signals
    • reinstalled fitting headlight
    • routed butt-join wiring into light bucket where it belongs
  • Front brake

    • rebuilt front caliper
    • new pistons and seals
    • new pads
    • new master cylinder
    • new braided front brake line
    • used but true front disk
  • Final drive

    • changed drive oil
  • Engine

    • verified compression on both cylinders
    • verified valve tappet clearances
    • new clutch plates
    • new clutch-cover gasket
    • new oil filter
    • fresh oil
  • Air box

    • cleaned airbox
    • patched holes in airbox that bypassed filter
    • new foam filter, clean and oiled
  • Body/Frame

    • rattle-can painted faded pink fenders and side covers
    • reinstalled fenders
    • reinstalled rear fairing
    • reinstalled side covers
    • reinstalled front electric cover
    • installed used centerstand and springs
    • installed mirrors
    • new OEM handlebar grips
    • replaced drag bar with inverted clubmans I already had
  • Exhaust

    • Replaced exhaust gaskets
    • un-bent damaged heat shields
    • removed exhaust-damaged toolbox

And most importantly, I RODE her. Engines need to run, they need to go to stay healthy and rust/varnish free. It took until October of 2015 before I was in a position to really get her going again, but go she does. As of December 2015, just slightly less than one year after purchase, she successfully rode under her own power to TPS Garner and passed her safety inspection. She has also proved to me that she can “ton up” without much ado.

Uggo is a powerful bike. You get her to 6k RPM and she’ll jump to 10k without issue, no matter the gear. She can lug quietly along at 4k when you aren’t feeling particularly ballsy. She’s loud and mean!

She gets around 46 MPG, on a 2.5 gallon tank, so you need to remember to get to a fuel station around 100 miles on the trip meter.

Her front suspension still needs love. Every now and then it feels almost like something is impacting. I don’t know if it’s just how she handles, or if something is slightly wrong. The forks maintain 10psi just fine.

There’s a lot of rattle. Some of that is due to the two heat shields on her exhaust (which keep my leg from being burnt), but sometimes it sounds like there’s another rattle just a bit further forward. Something to investigate.

She needs a new clutch line. The old one ran too close to the front cylinder’s exhaust, and actually rested against it for a while. It is badly melted. Currently I have it tied away-from-harm by some string (thank you, Jane from Boxcar), but I need a new one and some sort of guard to prevent it from melting again. Awkward design on Honda’s part.

Her radiator fan is currently disconnected. The old fuse box left the circuit open, and the new fuse box doesn’t have a spot for a fan fuse, so I will have to create an inline one and tuck it away safely somewhere. I’m hoping the fan will come on after that, I worry about overheating at a light once the weather warms up again.

But still, she’s a functional ride that you can blast around town on, and she certainly gets attention when she growls on by.