Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Custom cowl

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by WKD60, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. Hi All,

    Wanted to share a project I've been working on for the last couple of weeks, and just completed earlier this evening.

    Some background:

    So we all know about single seat rego, and to that end, I wanted to get my SFV650 complied as a single seater as I have no intention of ever taking a pillion, and save myself a couple of hundred dollars every year.

    To do this, you need to comply with a couple of stipulations, and have the bike inspected by an authorized person.
    1/ Passenger footpegs must be removed with no way of easily refitting them.
    2/ Rear seat must be removed or modified so as a passenger can no longer sit on it.

    Now point 1 I've already ticked off as I've removed the ugly silver rearsets and replaced them with RosMoto rearsets. So no passenger footpegs to be seen.

    Point 2 is easy if you have a two piece seat, just take off the rear seat and fit a cowling. But with a single piece seat it's a PITA. Depending on which inspector you talk to, some insist that you must get the seat modified by an upholsterer and remove all the rear padding, and replace with a solid surface.
    I found an inspector who was willing to tick it off if I was to 'permanently' fix a cowling on the seat. He suggested if I needed tools to remove it, he'd sign it off for me. So secured by screws into the bottom of the seat then? You betcha.

    So, to that end, I decided to get a rear cowl so I didn't have to permanently have to modify the seat.

    I found one or two on Ebay and other on line sources, but they were quite expensive which would make the project unfeasible. On top of this, my seat has been reupholstered with an extra inch of foam so is no longer the standard shape, which all the cowlings are obviously made for. So I had the issue of the cowling potentially not even fitting when it turned up.

    So that left me with two options. Have it custom made by a local workshop or make it myself.

    A quick run down to a local fibreglass-er quickly dispelled the idea of having it made. "Too much expense for a one of, not worth it. Will cost you three times what they are charging for them on line"

    So... Make it myself it is.

    Now, I've never used fibreglass before, so the thought was a bit daunting and I almost gave the idea away. But after reading some step by step run downs by guys who've done it before, plus my neighbour offering to help along the way, I decided to give it a crack and buy the materials.

    So, let's begin.

    Day one, masking the seat and laying the first layer of fibreglass.

    I first wrapped the seat in cling wrap, before wrapping it again in packing tape. I had it on good authority that the hardener would not react with the tape and eat through it. And would also easily come away from the tape once it hardened.

    In hindsight I should have been a lot neater with the tape. It made things more difficult later on. But, never mind.

    So on went the first layer.
    Next, while I was waiting for the first layer to set, I set to work making the 'hump' for the cowl. I was aiming for the seat cowling you typically see on the back of sports bikes. Something like;
    To achieve the desired hump, I came up with an ingenious idea. I picked up a polystyrene cone from the local craft store, and cut an edge off it. That gave me the shape I was after. Sorry for the terrible picture. Kicking myself I didn't get a decent photo of the hump before I taped it up.
    As you can see, I wrapped the hump in tape so the polystyrene did not react with the fibreglass resins. As you may or may not be aware, the resin reacts with polystyrene and the poly will simply 'melt' away, leaving a somewhat explosive compound. :evil6:
    (I actually re-taped the hump A LOT neater before going on with the job, but I didn't take a photo)

    So, another layer on the base before I placed the hump on top, secured with double sided tape, then a layer of glass over the hump.
    It was at this point I was getting excited. It was looking exactly how I'd imagined it. Now I had a lot of filling and sanding to do, due to the poor taping job I did earlier creating a lot of ripples in the glass. It was about as smooth as a demolished building...
    • Like Like x 1
  2. So... time for the body filler. Fill, sand, fill, sand, fill, sand. For a number of days. I was a bit too aggressive with the sanding and actually broke through the glass in a couple of places creating more work than was necessary. A few times I got terribly frustrated and had to put it down and walk away from it for a few hours, save I throw the damn thing at a wall and smash it all to pieces.
    It was around this time I decided to create the mounting/securing solution. I used a biscuit tin, cut strips from it, and glassed them to the inside edges of the cowl.
    I ended up using three. One at the rear (shown), and one on either side towards the front of the cowl. They wrap under the seat and are secured by screws into the base. I'll endeavour to get some pics of this tomorrow...
  3. #3 12STR, Feb 11, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
    So after more sanding, I got to a point where I had a pretty good, smooth surface with only minor blemishes.
    Time for the spray putty. Spray, sand, spray, sand. For another couple of days... I didn't take a whole lot of photos during this. I was happy when I was sanding with 800 grit paper and getting a glass like finish. No pics of this however :-/
    Time to start laying on the primer...
    ... and paint. Matt black.
    And finished off with three layers of high gloss clear coat (No pics... I was too eager to fit it to the bike), giving the end result:


    I'm not 100% happy with the paint. It's a little rough. I'll give it a cut and polish in a few days and see how it comes up. If it's no good, I might take it to a body shop and get it professionally sprayed. We'll see.

    So, all up I think it's cost me about $100 including the 1m² fibreglass kit, Polystyrene cone, masking tape, cling wrap, sandpaper, body filler, spray putty, primer and paint.

    To say I'm happy with how it has turned out is an understatement. I'm pretty chuffed with the result, and the experience has been a rewarding one.
    I'm now thinking of making a diavel style rear mudguard so I can legally fit a tail tidy. Will probably take a while for me to motivate myself to make a start on it however... I've had enough of the glass fumes, dust and heat for now ;))

    Anyway, if you're thinking of doing something like this yourself, do it! It's an easy process to be honest. It is time consuming, and will test your patience. But it as rewarding as it is frustrating! Actually, more so!

    Thanks for reading
  4. Good job!
  5. A good cut and polish should take out some of the roughness. Nice modification tho, you have great imagination and skill mate :)
  6. Thanks guys. Much appreciated!
    Some more pics... [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. Single seat rego? Tell us about it. No such animal in Victoria.
  8. Very cool mate, well done.
    Have you thought about making a mold and selling them?
  9. Really?
    Up here in sunny QLD you can register your motorcycle as a single seater (class 12), or two seater (class 13)

    Prices are as follows:

    Class 12
    Private Registration, 12 mths - $137.50
    CTP Insurance, 12 mths - $85

    Class 13
    Private Registration, 12 mths - $137.50
    CTP Insurance, 12 mths - $276.60

    Yes, you read it correctly. Almost $200 difference for the CTP component.
    So every 12 mths I'll be saving myself ~$190, for the 'inconvenience' of not being able to carry a pillion.

    I have 6 mths rego left on my bike currently, as a 2 seater. Tomorrow I get it complied as a single seater, get the rego changed at QLD TPT, and get a refund on the remaining CTP for this rego period, ~$80. Almost pays for the materials to make the cowl.
  10. Wait, am I reading this right? VIC rego for bikes is based on engine capacity... Ok, sure.
    Over 500cc - $614.10!!!???

    Are you fcuking shitting me?
  11. The thought crossed my mind, briefly. But I don't think there'd be enough of a market for them. SFV650s aren't a real popular bike. There's also the problem that my seat is custom also, so my cowl won't fit on a standard seat. And I don't think the quality would be up to the standard expected by a paying customer.
  12. Edit: Vicroads website is fcuking terrible. That may be an example only? I can't find rego fees listed anywhere.
  13. Anyone who gIves it a go to that extent is all right in my book.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Rego & 3rd party for a big bike is under $200, and less for smaller bikes. We have no such class for 1 or 2 people.
  15. Thanks mate.
    I see, that's pretty good then.
  16. I am defiantly going to give this a go I'm in qld too, where did you get your rear sets from?
  17. Looking really good mate!

    How many hours have you got invested in it?
  18. Give it a crack mate!
    Rear sets I picked up second hand. One in a million chance... They are as rare as rocking horse shit in Aus.

    Thanks bud.
    How many hours invested in the cowl? In excess of 20 hours would be a fair guess. :blackeye:

    I never bothered fixing up the paint. It's pretty rough to look at now, with a few scuffs from my right boot as I swing a leg over.
    • Like Like x 1