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Honda Spada Cafe Racer Conversion Build

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by jaguarfanster, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. It's been said by many. "The Spada just cannot be turned into a cafe racer, it has a box frame for starters". Well I've decided to give it a go. Why not I say, doesn't cost much as I do the work myself, and I'll be sticking with this little 250 for a while. So after jacking her up, doing a general service (brake pads etc), I've let fly. My service rig is set up as follows,


    Two car jacks at the forks and two car stands at the swing arm. Apologies I may have posted a jacking image before. Albeit it was only applicable to the swingarm.

    The first step in any cafe racer build, is to work the frame. Personally I quite admire the aesthetic of the Spada box frame, though cafe racers have a tubular open type. Furthermore it'd be too expensive to change the frame. Not worth the effort on a 250. The next logical step was to dress up the frame. Re painting is done too frequently to other Spadas, and the results are not exactly impressive. The paint, in a way, hides the nature of the frame. Given its structure, its impossible to hide. So, the result appears rather unsightly.

    I stumbled upon aluminum polishing, which is rarely attempted on Spadas. Let alone other bikes. Chrome seems to favored method, though its pricey, and time consuming.

    Using drill bit sanding wheels and, grey, brown, and green compound on an angle grinder, I've started the polishing process. I've just polished a small portion as a test, to evaluate the finished mirror shine. This is pictured below,

  2. I'll be watching this thread with great interest.
  3. Looks familiar - I got mine to this stage last weekend, and for just a few minutes I actually considered a feet-forward conversion!
    I'm sticking to the plan, however...
  4. Holy moley Nitekreeper. I didn't think other Spada owners were doing over their bikes. They seemed a little neglected haha. Props to you. Are you buffing/polishing that frame like my project or painting? To each their own.
  5. Hehe the project name is "Blackout", so I think you can imagine what I'm doing as far as colour goes - everything that's silver will be getting the "matt" treatment (SWIDT?)
    But I'm also doing a radical subframe redesign, which is why it's off - single-seat conversion and a custom tailpiece...
    This all started when I decided it was time to do the cam chain and guides, and rebuild the forks!
  6. Someone on this site had a spada that was "cafe racered". From memory a mate of his crashed it while using it as a courier bike.
    Here's a pic of said bike, I remember saving it as I was hoping doing something similar.

    My first bike was a Spada and I wish I didn't sell her. I often find myself on ebay and various sites looking for a cheap project Spada.
    All the very best with your project, looking forward to seeing what you do with yours Desmond.
  7. i remember talk of this some time ago and eager to see how it goes. what are you using to get around on though ?
  8. Yeah I've seen that site, and I do like a nice cafe job.
    But the Spada is no cafe prospect, to me...
  9. Thanks for that. The picture does give me some inspiration on where to put the seat. I've been deliberating between higher, or lower. I'm still not sure. I'll probably think about at a later stage. It surely is unfortunate that it was crashed. One more piece of excellent engineering lost to the world. Well its inevitable that they'll get rarer. Although this is a good thing, financial reasons aside, its pleasant to not see every other p-plater riding the same thing.

    When one needs cash flow. One needs cash flow. A sad point of our economic system. It doesn't favor collecting. If you're really after a cheap specimen try gumtree. That's where I found mine, and generally people are more open to haggling. That depends if haggling's your thing.

    Thanks agttr. I do hope other Spada owners will find something useful from my path. The internet is vast and unfortunately filled with bare stock Spadas haha.
  10. The first step. Seat repair. The old was completely torn out. Unfortunately I don't have a proper picture, but the marvels of 8 megapixels, allows me to zoom into the "jacking picture". Here's what it looked like up close. Not pleasant, and not roadworthy. Damn Vic Roads.


    The previous owner seemed to enjoy duct tape. A re-skinning was in order. Paid spotlight a visit, and procured some nice pseudo leather sofa fabric. The cost of $18.00. Fairly reasonable-ish as I bought 1.4 meters worth. I was unable to re skin in the orthodox method. That is, staples, and a staple gun. What I did have was tiny self-tapping wood screws (enough for plastic/nylon), and hand held screw driver. The result wasn't too shabby, given it was my first attempt. However some creases appear at the rostral end of the seat. Hey, I think it gives the bike "character". Yes "character". Regardless I'll be throwing out the seat, after the cafe conversion. I'll be happy to offer it to any netrider in need of a roadworthy seat for just cost of materials mentioned above. I double layered the p-leather to ensure tear resistance whilst riding.

  11. The test polish proved successful. So, I went to do the whole right forward section of the frame. Step by step to the finish and tools used shown below,

    1. Grey cutting compound and sisal mop on angle grinder.


    2. Brown cutting compound and stitched mop on angle grinder


    3. Green mirror finish compound and cotton mop on angle grinder. I might have to try a little harder on this in future. Applying a slightly thicker coat of green on the mop. The green stuff isn't cheap at $20, for 500g. Alternatively the grey and brown compounds are about $5 for 1kg. The difference attributable to the latter being manufactured locally. I'm extremely satisfied with the end result and will be applying the sanding and polish process everywhere. Everywhere includes, frame, forks, swing arm, rims and partial portions of the tank (aiming for a two tone finish). All products were purchased from "The Australian Buff Company" in Coburg, Vic. Extremely friendly service and the owner himself taught me the process. I am not being paid to say this, but I feel that credit is owed to where it is due.

  12. A comparison image of finished polished product, vs. unpolished.

  13. Lookin good mate. I have a spada myself and was lookin for ways to make it my own.
  14. Cheers ageg. You can do whatever your imagination wants on a Spada. Although I guess you say that about any bike. Meh, Spadas are awesome.

    Today I realised using my hand to sandpaper the bike isn't the best. Also using a flappy drill sandpaper wheel isnt good either. A maximum of 120 grit is obtainable. Not good enough. So whipped out $30 and acquired a palm orbital sander from Masters. I did have a GNC sander but the brushed motor exploded half way through the tank :p.

    Pictures of tank progress will be posted shortly.
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  15. So I've finished the tank polishing. Unfortunately for me I thought it was aluminum. Turned out it was ferrous metal after a magnet test. Or steel. FUARRRRKKKKK. This after I'd done all the work. Regardless I'll have to protective coat it later. However the pictures have been added to show the result. The stages went from sanding, paint stripper, sanding, and then polishing again. Additionally, as Spada decals are no longer made, I took a frontal photograph prior to commencing the process. Churning the photo through photoshop, should provide an excellent template decal for the sign writers.

    After the first attempt with 80 grit on a palm sander.


    After sanding down to 1200 grit, and before polishing.


    Mounted polished tank, following the same process described in previous posts. As the tank was steel it did not achieve a complete mirror finish possible with aluminum. Although this was probably due to using aluminum polishing compounds on the steel.

  16. Went out to the Black Spur/Healesville today. A friend of mine captured the following picture. The tank looks far better in sunlight in my opinion. Note the MacGyver styled waterproof gloves are his :p

  17. Looks good so far, very industrial.. what do you plan to do with the front guard and the plastics at the back ???
  18. What about the exhaust - do you want a polished look there too?

    It's nice to see not only before - after pictures, but also pictures of in between. Fun to see how you progress :)
  19. Wow, nice effort. Good to see someone sprucing up a Spada!

    You'll probably need to seal the polished aluminium & steel with a clear coat - the aluminium will oxidise and go dull, the steel will do the same and come out rusty.