Designer & bike rider in British Columbia, Canada

R80 13 Top Billing

Started the re-build this week. The custom subframe and battery holder from Crowe Metal Co. are in so I can start to get a sense of how it will all come together. Still waiting on the engine rebuild from Shail’s in Langley, BC, Canada—I don’t want to do much more until I can work off its placement, but I can get everything ready.

Subframe test fit.

First is a plan of attack. Been watching Boxer2Valve / Wunderlich America’s new, thorough and down-to-earth YouTube series on the refurb of a literal barn-find Airhead. It’s a good approach they have: just replace what they know and what they find to be wanting, leave the restoration part until after they get it running.

I like the main wrench’s style in the series. He’s careful to point out a particular process is just the way he likes to do something—not gospel—but he’ll explain why he does it that way. He’ll often show you the $300 special-purpose tool they sell to take your widget off once a lifetime but also the $30 homemade version you can make that works just as well. The videos are recorded in mostly real time, too—less cooking-show-cut-to-plating-and-it’s-perfect and more, “oh, we better tackle this thing now.”

If I had to quickly think of the order of operations for this rebuild I’d work in the following order:

  1. Sub frame on
  2. Engine in
  3. Fork and front wheel on
  4. Final drive on swing arm
  5. Final drive and swing arm in, rear wheel and brake, attach driveshaft to gearbox
  6. Carbs on
  7. Bench test full wiring
  8.  Controls and handlebars, cabling, lighting
  9. Wiring harness (with intermittent tank- and seat-on tests)
  10. Brake bleeding
  11. Fenders and fairings

I realize now the main challenge has been visualizing and building and ordering replacement parts mostly in my head (and a giant spreadsheet), trying to get everything in place (in boxes) and then building all at once. Better would have been to build a bit, order, build a bit. Even better: ride it (it was running, sort of, when we bought it), fix a bit, ride, fix a bit…but for a couple reasons we didn’t: 1. We have some money to spend 2. We want this done in four months 3. Want to save on shipping 4. We’re doing a restomod, not just a restoration, so we’re still figuring what we want and what works 5. It’s my first full rebuild.

Here’s a simplified rundown of what has been ordered and arrived so far.

Straight forward, probably 1″ smaller diametre than OEM.
Was hard to get double wall heat shrink, vinyl, and the oh-so-hip fabric-like split loom in quantities less than 100′, hence the Revival tax.
Surprisingly nice for a $25 boring, but important, electrical part.
Battery holder.
Tail light tests.
Del City is a great source for 12V electrical parts in small-ish quantities.


  • All new, simplified harness, with:
  • m.unit Blue and m.button (for data collection, built-in solid state fuses (remove relays), simplified wiring, customizable controls)
  • GXL wiring (solvent resistant, flexible but longer wearing than TXL) simplified to three colours, two gauges: red (power), green (switch signals), black (ground) and in 20AWG and 16AWG (and some 12AWG for direct battery connections)
  • Deutsch connectors, fully waterproof, compact, standardized throughout bike, less faults, corrosion
  • Dual wall (adhesive) heat shrink for weatherproofing all terminals
  • Split loom (adds modularity for removing / adding components, troubleshooting)
  • Voltage regulator (oem style, but slightly higher voltage, more compact)
  • 12-cell LiFePo4 Antigravity-brand battery (compact, lightweight)
  • All new tin-coated and brass terminals for existing hardware connections
  • Grote LED headlight bulb and reflector, H4 plug-and-play
  • Hella 500 Fog lamp
  • 7″ vintage style headlight bucket
  • Spark plugs and wires
  • Ignition coil (Dynatec 3ohm dual tower)
  • Posh-brand blinkers and tail light
Possibly the nicest upgrade I’ve done on this bike, yet.
Seat pan.
Not a ton of dual-pull (not push-pull) throttles out there. Didn’t want to mess with cable splitters.

Controls & touch points

  • Motogadget m.switches, 3-button (one on each side of the handlebar): momentary, most compatible with m.unit, minimal design
  • Vintage style dual-pull throttle,
  • Vintage-style cable-pull clutch and brake levers
  • Scrambler-style handlebars, to be drilled (for the m.switches and minimal aesthetic)
  • Custom seat upholstery (ostrich leather?) and foam on custom seat pan (by Crowe)
  • LED charging lamp indicator w/ custom bracket
  • Fog light toggle switch w/ custom bracket
  • Motogadget motoscope tiny with custom bracket
  • Footpeg and shift lever rubber
  • Tank emblems
  • Bar end mirrors
  • DIY length throttle and clutch cable kits


  • New valve seats (from leaded–>unleaded fuel)
  • All new seals
  • Deluxe carb kit
  • Filters (air and oil)
  • Cleaned and partially vapour blasted
Local powder coaters did this lovely satin iron-pan finish to the wheels and frame.


  • Powder coated black (including spokes)
  • New bearing in rear
  • New rim strips and inner tubes
  • New rubber (Continental?)
Straight forward, and classic-looking, Ikon OEM replacements.
Chris Shaw Engr. out of the UK polishes off the stamping on their stainless hardware.

Frame, Brakes, Suspension

  • Still looking for a DR650 front fork
  • Custom front rotor, crowns, front fender, axle, steering adapater
  • Rear shocks (Ikon)
  • Powder coated black frame
  • Stainless and polished hardware throughout
  • New brake pads front and rear
  • Front master cylinder overhaul (may need the new piston kit), new stainless brake hose







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