Those of you who have been with us from the beginning will remember a time when we made a blog post every time we did anything even slightly interesting. Now, it seems even momentous occasions barely get a pic and a hashtag. But this is news that simply can’t go unannounced — we’re finally, for real, cross our hearts moving into a phenomenal new space near downtown Richmond, Virginia.
Since the beginning, we have been crammed into a tiny suburban garage, trying our best to shield our neighbors from our goings on — sometimes sending them texts to warn of impending loud noises. Sometimes pushing bikes down the street before starting them up. Always tripping over each other. Rolling bikes out in the nice weather. Rolling them back in when it starts to rain. We got a lot done in the last few years, but alas, it’s time to move on.
The new shop is a former stable for the early cable cars in Manchester (a little section of Richmond that used to be its own town). It’s got an amazing historic vibe to it and the coolest landlord an upstart bike shop could ever want — Jimmy Kastleberg, owner of Caravati’s Architectural Salvage. He does to houses what we do to bikes — recycles, repurposes and reinvents. It’s a match made in heaven and we could not be more excited.
As we get settled in, we’ll continue to see clients on an appointment basis, but before long, we’ll be able to handle walk-in retail traffic. Just give us time to figure out where to put all our stuff.
Stay tuned for updates, including The Portland One Show (February) and our latest build for actor Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead. Meanwhile, we’re getting ready to watch ourselves on Velocity Network’s ‘Cafe Racer’. Then back to work. —JR
We certainly weren’t the first ones to start putting modern front ends on older bikes, but I will say when I first attempted it, there was no info to be found on it. Over the last few years, we have fielded hundreds of questions about our swaps and not too long ago we began offering it as a service. We still do.
Lately the interest in swaps seems to have spiked, so I thought it would be good to try and answer some frequently asked questions. Mind you, this is a service we offer at Classified, and as such, is something we do to make money (i.e., pay the bills). So what follows is not a how-to article designed to help you avoid using our service. It’s simply the basics of letting us help you make your old bike a little more awesome (and a little more Classified).
First and foremost, here is the link to the TRIPLE TREE EXCHANGE service offered in our online store. The listing, if read carefully, conveys all the information you might need to fit your bike with a modern (upside down/inverted) front end. Most of the questions I answer on a regular basis are addressed in the listing.
That said, here are the highlights. The service costs $485 plus shipping. The price covers modification of your supplied parts so that you may, with great pride and joy, bolt a sweet front end onto your bike as if it were factory made to do so. It does not cover the front end itself, the wheel, brakes or any other equipment you might need. We respond to a surprising number of questions as to whether the $485 includes the front end, wheel, brakes, controls — the list goes on. How cool would that be? I’d buy so many of them for myself if that were the case.
Sadly, these days, you can expect to pay between $600-$900 for a good used front end, another $350 for a wheel, plus other bits and bobs to make it complete. When I did my first swap, by the time I had ruined a handful of triple trees and paid for hours of fruitless labor, I had spent a mortgage payment, easily. Now it’s down to a science and we have several methods of hybridizing your triples based on the equipment we receive from you.
I’ve never been one to give the hard sell, but I will say again, if this service had been available when I was working on my old XS850, in hindsight I would have pounced on it.
OUT OF COUNTRY ORDERS. This has been a big topic lately. Here’s the best solution for foreign orders. Using eBay (USA), you can source a modern front end AND a triple tree that fits your bike. Have it shipped to us here in Richmond, thus saving yourself overseas shipping. We will modify the parts and ship the whole front end to you in your country. We will have to calculate shipping for the item, so email us before ordering and we’ll send you an invoice rather than ordering through the store.
SPOKE WHEEL SETUPS. On our Level 3 custom builds, we combine modern forks with spoke wheels. Sometimes we use dirt bike forks and sometimes we use sport bike forks with a custom axle and caliper spacers. This is a very labor intensive endeavor and unfortunately we don’t offer it as a service except on our builds. That said, the swap service we offer is not affected by whether you run wire spokes or not. If you’re willing to do the work necessary to shorten your dirt bike forks or make a spoke wheel work with your sport bike forks, we’re happy to provide the triple tree service.
BEARINGS. We like to use All-Balls tapered bearings on all our swaps. We can get them for you or you can order anywhere they are sold. In fact, All-Balls has a chart on their website that cross references bearing sizes to tell you what front ends might fit your bike without modification. They clearly state that the chart cross references bearing dimensions only and that it does not take into consideration the stem length or profile. That means it won’t fit without something like what we offer. It’s a bit like buying wheels for your car that have the correct bolt pattern but the wrong offset and hence, don’t clear your brake calipers. We have received many comments to the effect of, “Why pay $485 for your service when a set of bearings will do the same thing?” I fear these commenters have missed the point both we and All-Balls are trying to make.
GENERAL QUESTIONS. Here at Classified, we love interacting with moto folks whenever we can. We’re happy to steer you to good parts suppliers, give you our opinion on bike platforms, check out pics of your project and the like. Unfortunately (and surprisingly) we have found ourselves with less and less time to do anything but work on bikes and lamps. It’s a great problem to have but it means responding to general questions takes awhile. Thanks for your patience.
The bike build queue is currently closed again and there will be some changes to it when we open it again. Stay tuned for more info. However, the online store is still open for things like the aforementioned Triple Tree Service, tee shirts, lamps and posters. If it’s not sold out, it’s available. Oh, and Father’s Day is comin’ so…
Things have changed pretty dramatically around the old Classified shop over the last two years — even more so in the last two months. I’m on my laptop so little these days that I pretty much forget how to use it. If this post makes it to you, it’ll be a small miracle. We’ve been cranking on a lot of builds, some of them released since our last post, like our XV920 2.0 (above). Some of them are in the final stages as we speak, including possibly the first Classified Moto creation to sport a front fender. Say it ain’t so.
Recently, despite the fact that I couldn’t really justify going, I got an invitation to bring a pair of bikes to The One Motorcycle Show in Austin, Texas. I was sorry to have missed the shows in Portland so I loaded up the truck and made the 22-hour drive. My buddy Matt Crawford (‘Shop Class as Soulcraft‘ author) opted to skip “two days of shared flatulence in the cab of a truck” and flew out to meet me.
Neither of us knew what to expect, but instantly we knew it was worth the trip. The show, put on by Thor and the gang at See See Motor Coffee Co. in Portland, couldn’t have been done better. They transformed a giant empty Quonset hut warehouse into the most happenin’ place within the City Limits. There were bikes from a lot of my favorite builders there — people who inspired me to start wrenching on bikes five years ago — and the whole show had a fun, positive vibe to it over the two days it ran.
And Austin? Don’t get me started. I have to admit I had kind of gotten sick of hearing about how great that town is. Now I know why.
Anyway, now it’s back to reality, and we have 20-some bikes to build. Maybe one or two will end up in next years’s show.
As usual, we suffer from ‘shiny object syndrome’ when we’re working on bikes and lamps, and have a bunch of half-finished or finished and unpromoted new designs in the works. One that made it through to production is the Classified Moto Tiny Tee (for kids, not grown-ups, please).
Artist Kristy Heilenday sketched a couple of our previous builds for some upcoming posters, and we thought they’d look good on some teenie tiny tees for tiny kids. They come in two colors and fit future motofolk from one year to five years or so. We figured it’s a great gift for all the cool aunt’s and uncles out there to give when frilly bibs just don’t seem right.
Get them in our online store before that baby gets too big.
So I have to cut this short. A CB400 calls. But thanks again for all the support since March 23, 2011 when we went full time with Classified Moto. And as usual, if I owe you an email or a phone call, please feel free to nudge me. We’re trying our best to stay on top of everything and with any luck will have a friendly staff of Classifiers to help very soon.
We’re in the throes of raising capital for our flagship headquarters here in Richmond. Before long you’ll have a place to come visit. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@classifiedmoto), Twitter (@johnryland) and Facebook.
Level 4 XV920 build with bells & whistles. Approximately $17,000 USD.
For those of you who don’t know the Classified Moto story, it’s hard to understand just how much we’re living the dream. When I get up every day to start my to-do list, I feel like I’ve won some sort of lottery. Granted there are off days, as with any other occupation, but they’re becoming fewer and farther between. And the fact that we have been overwhelmed with bike orders is both humbling and awesome in the most deluxe way.
A while back we shut down our Build Request Queue reluctantly to get a handle on the 15 or so bikes we had on our plate. Monday (2/18) at midnight, we’re cranking the request line back up. Yes, we have made great progress on current projects, but mostly, I just can’t deal with turning customers away anymore, lest they decide they’d rather have a Harley or a new Corvette or flying lessons or a home theater or a vacation in the tropics…
So, if you — like Phil Collins — have been waiting for this moment all your life, then read on. This post is intended to lay out the process and answer some of your burning questions so you’ll be ready to pounce when we go live in just 12 hours. We will only be taking on eight to 10 builds for this next round, depending on the types of projects we book.
PRICING: We have developed a loose but effective structure for pricing our builds based on the level of complexity involved. We have four Build Levels — Level 1 being the least complex (generally) and Level 4 being the most. Obviously there are many factors in determining price, but our ballpark range historically (and recently) has been about $7,500 to $17,000 USD. We still believe we can build a Level 1 for as little as $6,000 but customers generally gravitate towards upgrades. So do we.
Level 1 Honda CB400T Hawk with reworked rear end. Approximately $8,000 USD.
THINGS THAT AFFECT PRICING: There’s a lot of good info contained in the Build Request listing in our online store. Please look it over for starters. Some of it is worth repeating here. Our approach to customizing bikes focuses primarily on using unexpected platforms that in and of themselves aren’t rare or exotic. Generally that translates to using a “cheap” bike to begin the process. That way you’re paying for the work and components that make a bike Classified (as opposed to all your money going into the base bike with none left over to customize.)
Our successful formula is to purchase the platform bike and have it in good running condition for $1,200. Then start the process of Classifying it. The funny thing is that bikes like the Virago which used to be plentiful are becoming sought after for customization. Hmmmm.
Anyway, there are still plenty of bikes out there to be had at bargain prices, but the price of the platform bike definitely affects the overall build price. That said, all of the ballpark prices we give include purchasing the bike.
This brings us to customer-supplied bikes. We give a credit if you supply a good working bike to begin the build (generally $1,200 for Level 2-4 bikes and slightly more for Level 1 builds). This assumes that the bike needs nothing before we can start modifying it. Example: You have a nice, running, mechanically sound 1978 XS750 to use for a Level 2 build. We would credit you $1,200 towards the going rate of around $9,000. Technically, it works the same for a ’52 Vincent Black Lightning — $1,200 if it’s a good runner, less if it’s not. The important thing here is to free your mind of thoughts that we might pay you the value of an exotic bike that we’re building out for you. You might sense that I’ve run into this expectation before!
Big ticket items that can drive the price of your project up include custom stainless exhausts, custom tanks, major engine work (performance machining, etc.), high end aftermarket component requests (think Ohlins forks, certain wheels, etc.), intricate/commissioned paintwork and the like.
It’s mostly common sense, but of course there’s room for discussion and interpretation. Feel free to email me with questions before you purchase your build request.
Level 4 Honda Nighthawk 750. Approximately $16,500 USD.
PROCESS AND PAYMENTS: Once you have absorbed all the info you can about Classified Moto and our type of work, and you have a pretty good idea of the price range you’re entertaining, you can take the plunge and order the Build Request. This is a $250 item in our online store and basically acts as a good faith gesture that you are a serious buyer. The fee reserves your chronological place in the queue and kicks off the rendering and final estimating process. It also includes a large printout of your rendering complete with handwritten notes about your build. The $250 fee is then applied to your overall build cost. If you decide not to go through with the build, the fee is not refunded.
Once you’re in the queue, we begin more specific conversations about your build, including timing, components, special considerations and payment/delivery schedule. From these discussions, we will develop and refine a rendering which will serve as the touchstone for the build. Deviations from the final rendering are common based on suggestions by both parties, but generally require adjustments to the budget.
We have had great luck with the following payment structure. Once we have settled on a direction, the buyer makes an initial payment to cover the purchase of the platform bike (if not supplied by the customer). This amount is usually based on a range of actual listings (Craigslist, eBay, etc.) and paid upfront so we can move quickly to get the best bike.
After this initial payment, the balance of the build costs are divided into three equal payments spaced evenly over the course of the project. The final payment is due upon delivery. The nice thing is that you can set your own target delivery date to suit your comfort level from five to 12 months. Prices do not include shipping. We do ship internationally, but rely on our international customers to research their country’s requirements regarding delivery. We will assist in any way we can, but ultimately the buyer is responsible for making arrangements.
Level 3 Honda CB250 Nighthawk. Approximately $12,000.
Please note that the target timeline begins when we have settled on a direction and the final estimate is approved (not from the time you purchase the Build Request). We’ll do our best to nail down a direction within 90 days of purchasing the build request. Bear in mind that the build request is essentially a waiting list and sometimes it’s a little heavier on the ‘waiting’ part. If you are in a tremendous hurry for your new Classified Moto, then contact us before reserving your spot.
That’s all I can manage to spout about this subject for now. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Email me with questions and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP — firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned. There’s always something happening lately, including some big news. —JR
Ever since we stopped taking build requests awhile back, it’s safe to say we have had even more inquiries than usual. And while the build request queue remains officially closed, we have decided to offer a few of our personal bikes for sale so that they might help ease the pain.
Earlier in the year, Adam Ewing and I played musical bikes when a customer had second thoughts about his build at the eleventh hour. That left the customer with my Ducati built to his specs, Adam got the customer’s XS650 and I got Adam’s XS650. Now Adam and I have decided to double down and put our bikes on the block to meet the Tickle-Me-Elmo-Like demand.
Both bikes have been used as shop mules to test various parts and settings but will be delivered clean, refreshed and with some heavy duty upgrades to ensure the new owners get something extra special. Details follow below.
First up is the bike that started it all — the 1982 Yamaha XS650 Heritage Special we built for Adam when Classified was still just a weekend diversion. Over the last couple of years, the bike has come to stand for not only the Classified aesthetic, but the CM attitude as well. Chris Hunter of BikeEXIF.com deemed it worthy of the June slot in the 2012 Calendar. “Shop Class as Soul Craft” author Matt Crawford practically ground the pegs off of it carving up Riverside Drive here in Richmond, Virginia.
The bike has brought joy and inspiration to many a weary soul. Now it can be your muse.
It is a Level 3 build on our scale and features modern and modified Suzuki RMZ forks with Warp 9 supermoto wheel and wave rotor and gnarly rubber. Here is a complete rundown of specifications as it sat when it hit the web. Before delivery, though, it will receive the royal treatment including a brand new 750cc big bore kit, permanent magnet ignition system, tip top new seat upholstery, proper CM badging and fresh powder coat all around.
This bike could be ready in as little as four months. We can take longer if you’d like some extra time to wrangle the cash. Haggle-free price is $11,500 USD (half down and half on delivery) and does not include shipping. If you’re outside the USA you’ll have to guide us on making it road legal in your country. We’ll help all we can, but ultimately shipping and titling would be your responsibility.
Next on the block is “The Ripper”, an ’81 Yamaha XS650 built in partnership with SE Bikes. SE is the epicenter of the BMX world and has been since I was a kid. I pined away for a baby blue P.K. Ripper back in the day, but ended up having to wait 30 years to get one. We built this XS650 in honor of the legendary P.K.
Our combustion powered Ripper is a souped up Level 2 build and features some cleverly hidden components, a rad color scheme and a modern Suzuki GSXR inverted front end. Like the other XS we’re offering, this one will get the 750cc big bore kit and permanent magnet setup — more power and the joy of a modern ignition system. This one was also featured on the great Bike EXIF. See more HERE.
The Ripper could be ripping through your town in as little as four months, or as with all our builds, we can take longer if that makes paying easier. Speaking of, this one is going for $10,500. Same rules apply as above.
This last one is a first for us. We came across this 1998 Buell S1 Lightning through a fan in Maryland and snatched it up. When you take away the Nuclear Blue frame and the Harley Orange bodywork, it really has the soul of a Classified bike. Not unlike our iconic XV920R6, this big V-twin, short-wheelbased terror has all the makings of another CM hooligan.
It’s my personal machine at the moment, but is ready for deployment in this time of need. It’s a 1200cc beast, weighs very little and induces un-manly giggling in all gears. We would deliver it in a decidedly more Classified color scheme with custom tank, cleaned up mechanicals and brutally elegant body panels.
Since this bike has not been Classified yet, we are able to accommodate various rider preferences regarding some finishes, ride height, etc., provided they aren’t completely outside of the Classified box.
Officially Classified price is $10,500 USD. Same arrangement as above. I don’t see us being able to do another one at this price, so if you want one — get THIS one. Delivery can be made in as little as four months.
So those are our interim offerings while we continue to build the current generation of Classified Motos. If you’re interested, email me: email@example.com. Hopefully all questions have been answered here, but I’m sure I left something out.
As usual, stay tuned for more happenings. — JR