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  • Bob LoCicero

Building an SV650 Track Bike - Part 2

Budget: noun - the total sum of money set aside or needed for a purpose

SV650 partially assembled
SV650 partially assembled

Goals are a wonderful thing: they give us something to strive for and stretch our capabilities. In part 1 of Building a SV 650 Track Bike, we set the goal of building a track bike on a budget of merely $2,500. The final cost was to include the bike and all parts, minus the sale of take-off parts. Our conversations with experts made it seem challenging, but within reach.

We purchased a lightly crashed SV650 for $1,500. The plan was to upgrade the suspension with a GSXR front end and a fully adjustable rear shock, add a body kit, sell the stripped off SV parts and keep the net cost of the project under $2,500. Our rider and bike builder, Jean, has never built a track bike or done many of the required procedures. The deadline is the first Fishtail Riding School track day on April 26th.

Four months into the project and weeks away from our deadline, keeping the net cost under $2,500 seems a lot less likely than when we began. If upgrades were all we needed, our goal would be easier. But, as these projects often go, a case of the "might as well's" have caused us to tally expenses for routine maintenance items that were not in the original budget.

As an example, replacing the chain, sprockets, brake pads and tires made sense, but these items were not in our budget. Routine maintenance items added $650 to our costs.

Currently, our expenses are $1,365 for upgrades. Adding routine maintenance items and the original cost of the bike, our total project costs are $3,511.

We haven't sold any parts yet, so we don't know how much our "take off pile" will be worth to us. We should be able to offset costs with our stock SV650 front end, front wheel with rotors, rear shock, rear foot pegs and rider pegs with controls. To help estimate what we might recover, a complete SV650 front-end can be found on eBay with a Buy-It Now price of $650; a rear shock brings $30-$40; passenger pegs get $40. If we can sell some other miscellaneous bits, we'll be closer still to our original budget.

Despite unforeseen expenses, the project has gone very well. Jean worked through puzzles like rerouting cables, fitting the GSXR front-end, dealing with a seized wheel bearing and cleaning the carburetors. Through it all, she remained calm, optimistic and patient. "There haven't been any tears. I'd consider that a pretty good project", she said.

Miles Hubert of MotoFab in Bristol has been an essential component of the project's success, providing expert advice on what to buy, where to buy it and how best to install it. Miles has also help by fabricating an exhaust and a steering dampener bracket, sourcing parts at budget prices and handling the suspension setup. He has also helped us avoid rookie mistakes.

"I was lucky to have Miles", Jean said. "Instead of just getting a bunch of information at the beginning of the project, without any context, I was able to ask him things along the way."

Jean did have some good luck finding parts. She found her GSXR-600 front end with clip-ons, on eBay for only $75 plus shipping and a front brakes setup that included steel lines, caliper, master cylinder and control for $80. The SV650 Ohlins shock retails at $800-$900, but Jean was able to buy one new, sprung for her weight, directly from Ohlins for $600.

To find parts, we setup saved searches on eBay. The searches ran daily and sent updates to our email box. Using eBay's advanced search capabilities, we specified the years and models for the parts on our shopping list. To learn more about advanced searches on eBay see their help.

Because Jean did most of the work during the winter, we rolled the bike down the stairs from the garage to the basement to allow her to work in warmth. Using ratcheted tie-down straps, She suspended the bike from the floor joists to enable removing the front end: having it in the basement allowed the bike to be suspended for weeks without being in the way.

Her first task was removing parts that would be replaced or not be needed for the track. She removed the headlight, body plastic, passenger pegs, rider foot controls and pegs, turn signals, kick stand, front forks, brakes and fender and stored them for resale.

She carefully labeled each electric connection and vacuum hose she separated. She tagged and labeled both ends of the connection with masking tape to ease re-connection. When pulling hoses, she tied surveyor's tape to the hose. As she pulled the hose through the frame, the tape traced the route back to the point of origin providing an easy routing path when it came time to reassemble.

Once the unnecessary parts were off the bike, she cleaned the bike thoroughly. This series of videos shows how WD-40 can be used to remove caked on chain lube and road grime. The swing arm was smooth and silver when she finished.(See resources below for links to all the videos)

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