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custom frame (kits?) for RZ350/RD400/350

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frame maker View Drop Down
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  Quote frame maker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: custom frame (kits?) for RZ350/RD400/350
    Posted: 01-July-2011 at 10:50pm
It seams like every year or so, someone will ask me about building a custom frame for their RZ (or RD).  I think I've even had this conversation on this forum a long while ago.  Anyway, I'm having the same conversation now with someone (a forum member) and though I'd post a few questions and a few of my own thoughts for everyone to chime in on.

So first, if you could have the frame of your dreams for an RZ or RD, what features would you want?  (I said "of your dreams" but try to be realistic with materials and manufacturing method if you want to keep the conversation relevant)

Second, would you want said frame to be completely finished ready for assembly into the finished bike?   or would you prefer a "kit" frame where some amount of fabrication and welding might be required to finish (the trade off here is lower purchase price).   A few months back there was a nice conversation about "kit" pipes where in theory the purchaser would finish, so this would be of a similar idea.

As some of you may know, I've started (but never completed) an batch of frames for an RZ500 application. 



So one thought is to build a few frames of similar design for RZ350/RD application.   These frames have a proven geometry that I know works very well (same as used on my AK-1  race bikes).  








These could be a bit pricey though due to the large CNC machined portions.



Another thought, is to use an all steel construction (similar to a stock RZ350 frame), but use larger diameter tubing to gain some torsional strength, and maintain the same geometry as my race proven AK-1 frames.

The steering head would be similar to the race frames in that it will accept most modern front ends without modifications to the triple clamps.  The frames could either include a swingarm, or be wide enough at the rear to accept most modern swingarms.   Rear sub-frames could be removable and made very light.  

What do you guys think would make for a great frame to put an RZ or RD engine into?  What other features come to mind?  I'd like to open this up for comments.  

Thanks in advanced for constructive feedback.

PS-  I should mention that yes, if I can stay motivated I just might build a batch for the RZ350/RD400/350 and offer a few for sale (although not my motive to solicit at this time).   Also, the RZ500 frames may also become available if I get a customer interested in having one finished (first customer has backed out, due to bad circumstances in his life).
cheers,
Julian
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sesshomaru View Drop Down
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  Quote sesshomaru Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-July-2011 at 10:56pm
I'd love to see an aluminum frame for an RD400 Daytona that looks exactly like stock. Probably wouldn't be strong enough though. 
MPG? What's that?
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  Quote shudakeptquiet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-July-2011 at 11:08pm
No real frame wishes, but some impressive fabrication there brother! Kudos!
'77 RD400
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  Quote Robakun Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 12:23am
I think it is a good idea.  I would deal with the RZ folks first.  Make an example frame first and demo it.  I would use as much "off the shelt (e bay)" parts for the bike.  use GSXR front end, R1 rear end, XXX bike tank, YYY tail section etc etc.  that way you can make the frame for whoh wants one at a lower entrance cost and it would be up to the new owner to complete it.
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  Quote edubracer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 1:16am
Originally posted by sesshomaru

I'd love to see an aluminum frame for an RD400 Daytona that looks exactly like stock. Probably wouldn't be strong enough though. 

An RZ350 aluminum frame designed similar to stock would be cool, And would probably be strong enough. because of its double cradle design....
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  Quote Dirtybird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 1:48am
Hi Julian,
 
I would make a RZ350 frame setup.... if it could be done then a kit that could be used for the Rz350 and Rz500 motors would be a winner.
 
I would produce a frame that is ready one of the stock swingers like an Aprilia and a range of front ends like an R1. I would think a complete frame would be better than a partial frame. Many guys do not weld.
 
Also it should be built for a newer tank, again this will allow guys to find parts easy. Anyone that wants to customize one and can weld will do it anyway, more guys cant.
 
In fact I have a completed RZ500 ready for the right frame..... too bad I dont have the cash right now to buy a frame.... and I have 2 stock frames still.
 
DB
Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba....

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  Quote Jerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 3:05am
IF , BIG IF I had any money I`d order a frame for my 400 , But I know the better engines are the waterpumpers .
I`d love to see a conjoined powervalve CR 500  V twin . Phaze it as a 80-90 degree.
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  Quote yellowandfast Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 3:26am
JUst from what I have seen there are way more people that have 250/350s out there, however the guys that have the $ have the rz's
 
Me being one of them(that have the 250/350's < I would buy a  trick aluminum frame for one
 
 
so I guess you could take it either way way
1975 rd 250 to 350 conversion
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1973 LT2 100 1900 original miles
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1978 DT250
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 3:55am
I agree.  Stick w/ the RZ350/500 motors.  As DB said, a frame that would accept readily available tanks, forks, swingarms (but you already got that figured out).  Me, if i had the money (which i don't!!) i'd want a full rolling chassis (like the yellow one).  Judy wonders what the price would be for a rolling chassis like the yellow one (to fit an RZ motor in).  She's curious, but does like it.  ..basically, a rolling chassis that you could bolt the motor into...no welding, cutting stuff like that..put it together like a lego set...like my cousin said, like putting a mac together, not a windows computer!!

shoot me a pm, Judy likes the yellow one if it's for the RZ350.  (she's curious what a ballpark figure would be).
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  Quote frame maker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 2:29pm
Wow, thanks everyone for all the good feedback!

In a nut shell, I am think along with what many have suggested.   Frame would be designed to accept existing parts all available from salvage sources.

The frames I show in the pictures above were designed with that in mind.   Engines, electrical system, and cooling system in this case were from EX500s.  Forks are from GSXR 750.  Rear wheel from early GSXR, RF600, or SV650.  Tank, seat, and tail from R6.  Front fairing from EX500.   Anything that wasn't readily available got included in the kit (rear caliper bracket, battery box, rear fender, etc).   This made for a truly bolt-together assembly.   However it also greatly increased the fabrication and thus final cost.   The AK-1 (EX500 powered) kits sold for about $4500 or more depending on what extras (such as custom wheel spacers) the buyers wanted.

By going to an all steel construction (but very well designed to get maximum strength/weight) could bring the cost down.  Selling a frame without all the little mounting tabs and brackets would also bring the cost down further, but then puts some fab requirements back to the buyer/builder.   For those people that do have significant welding capabilities, I would consider selling a tacked-together frame that would require final welding.   This would allow for bare bones pricing, but maybe there aren't enough people wanting to do that.  I don't know.  These are all just thoughts for now.

@ Shudakeptquite -  thanks for the props!

@ Dirtybird - yep, my thinking is very similar.  I realy like the Aprilia Millie/Tuono swingarms.   Big and beefy, but also very light!  The double gull-arm effect would be perfect for clearing the pipes on a RZ350.

@ GSXRman - the yellow frames in the pictures are just examples of one frame style I'm thinking of.   They are specifically for EX500s, but an RZ350 version could be possible.   I would only be offering the frame (and possibly the swingarm).   The wheels and forks are readily available form other bikes (GSXR forks, etc.)
cheers,
Julian
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  Quote Dirtybird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 8:26pm
$4500 would be a hard pill to swollow for most guys.... some of the guys with 500's may be able to purchase them though. $1500 for a base frame would get the attention but it would need motor and shock tabs I think....
Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba....

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  Quote frame maker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 11:13pm
DB- that's exactly why I'm suggesting an all steel frame and possibly even a finish-yourself version.   Although even at $4500 its still half of what a Spondon or other aftermarket frames cost and mine have all the tabs and brackets included.   I've only met one person who owned a Spondon framed bike, and he still had to fab all the small tabs and brackets to get everything mounted.

I guess its just an American thing... we expect everything to be cheap and ready to plug and play.
cheers,
Julian
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  Quote sesshomaru Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 11:33pm
Originally posted by frame maker

I guess its just an American thing... we expect everything to be cheap and ready to plug and play.
If anything, I've learned that these bikes are the opposite, every time.
MPG? What's that?
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  Quote edubracer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-July-2011 at 11:40pm
 Frame Maker, posted.....The double gull-arm effect would be perfect for clearing the pipes on a RZ350.  Kinda like this one...... imagine an aluminum frame on this 427cc monster, Fuckin Badass.
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  Quote Vintage Smoke Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-July-2011 at 8:34pm
That is some really clean and creative work!! Equal parts art and function!!
 
If I could build my "dream frame" it would be an all chromemoly Norton Featherbed frame that accepts an RD or more likely a Banshee/RZ engine.
 
For me it's like torture. I have the means, the equipment, and the shop to do it in, but I just don't have the time!
 
Oh..and why a featherbed?  I have always loved the lines, especially the vertical rear shocks. The racing history is very cool as well. Someone also told me that the RD frame was loosely based on it so I guess it all just fits.
 
I hope I didn't just highjack....your work truly is impressive!!
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  Quote EErlenbach Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-July-2011 at 4:33pm

I of course would love to see a custom frame for the RD400’s (my favorite). We’ve put 400 motors in RZ350 chassis’ and RZ350 engines in RD400 frames. We've put RZ and FZ/FZR suspensions on the RD’s. So I say do the RD guys a favor too and leave enough room to stuff a 400 in it too. Then it would be just a matter of what engine brackets  to send it out with. Though not many of us 400 guys can afford it you’d be doing us a great service, giving us something to dream about, and save our pennies for. The RD400 is such a sweetheart of a engine she really deserves a modern frame. My 2 cents..  Ed

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  Quote mkane63t Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-August-2012 at 9:53pm
Count me in.
Pig hunting's arrived
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  Quote 5150 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-August-2012 at 11:34pm
change the motor hangers and make it compatible for air cooled motors and rz motors.
the main upper frame would be the same. since the motor hangers unbolt anyway, wouldn't be that bad.



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  Quote aaronmvrider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-August-2012 at 8:00am
is this thread dead or are you still making the rz frame kits for 350 engine...

i have just joined to get in contact with you.... will pop in more often...

Aaron WinkWink
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  Quote frame maker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-August-2012 at 1:04pm
Hi Aaron, and others,

I thought the thread was dead... but apparently it isn't, and neither is the RZ frame project.   So let me give you  some background info and status update.

First, you should know how the project idea came about.   Several years ago I was contacted by a potential customer about building a custom track frame for an RZ350 based bike.   The customer was building a high hp Cheeta Cub engine and wanted a modern chassis that would allow the engine its maximum potential.   I thought it sounded like a great project and I began putting some ideas together.   Unfortunately the potential customer after a few initial messages never followed through and the idea sat.

Since then I've had several other people ask about a similar project, but none have followed through (ready to put money on the table).

Being that the RZ350 is one of my favorite bikes, I'm still personally very interested in building at least one frame for myself.   But here is where it gets sticky...   The RZ350 isn't the only bike that I like so I tend to have many personal  projects going simultaneously and progress tends to be very slow.    

So yes, the project is alive and in planning stage, but moving slowly.    So the obvious question (if you're interested in a frame kit) is how to speed up the progress.  This is simple, I just need one committed paying customer.  That would bump this project to top priority.

To date I have several people seriously interested in frames on a barter arrangement.   For example, one person (forum member) has offered to create complete sets of body work (he is a manufacture of body shells for the race car industry).   I've also had interest from another forum member to possibly supply custom exhaust systems.    So there is possibility of a few frames getting made and into peoples hands without any exchange of cash.     I'd still be very interested in finding someone who could supply some of the CNC machined parts.

Even with some gentleman's agreements in place,  I'm still not in a big obligation to move the project along at a fast pace.    So for now, my goal is to complete a thorough design description (the feedback here has been very helpful by the way) in the next few weeks.    Then after completion of the Dirtbag Challenge (a high priority for me this year) to begin the formal design phase.   If all goes well, I could be building frames early next year.

One other note.  A committed (paying) customer would not only bump the project to top priority, they would also get some amount of influence over the design as to what features and construction methods get used.   At this point those details are still being decided.

I'm happy to discuss details with anyone interested via email: andbike@pacbell.net

PS- I know from past experience that if someones first question is about price, they probably aren't serious.    But that is still an important question and with this project it is too soon to have an accurate answer.   For very rough comparison, ten years ago my AK-1 frame kits were priced at $4700 for the complete kit which included the frame, rear sub-frame, swingarm and pivot hardware, rear axle and adjustors, battery box, rear fender, and a few other misc.  Basically everything ready to bolt together.    If the RZ frame ends up with lots of CNC machined parts the price could be similar.  If I end up with a design that is all hand formed parts with few or no CNC parts, cost could be less.   The RZ kit will likely not include a swingarm, so that could be some price reduction as well.  
cheers,
Julian
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