The High Life – Part 3

Article By: Daniel Donley At Pandemonium Custom Choppers

Originally Published In The September 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

“Life sometimes isn’t easy, so when you can find time to hang out in the shop with your friends and make cool motorcycles — that’s the “High Life!”


A stock Yamaha XS650 engine will be used for mockup. Hugh’s Handbuilt is building us a 277 rephased short block for the project!



Here, Duke’s mounting the engine into the frame and snugging it all down.


Being we are using a Harley Softail rear rim, a custom sprocket was needed to get the proper gear ratio for the XS.


With the rear sprocket in place and bolts torqued, it was time to install the drive chain. I used a Laser Chain alignment tool to make sure the chain and sprocket are in proper alignment.


The laser shines on the links of the chain when the sprockets are properly aligned. I roll the tire a few revolutions and recheck the alignment with the axle torqued.


When mounting a rear fender, I use a piece of old 530 chain on top of the tire. This will allow for good clearance. Duke and I are using a piece of welding rod to work out our sissy bar ideas.



With the welding rod sissy bar pattern in hand, Duke was off to Big John’s to make his sissy bar dreams come true.


Using some ½” nuts on each side of the tire — front and rear — the fender was centered on the tire. The sissy bar was then tack welded into place using some bungs and 3/8” fasteners.


Duke wanted his taillight mounted high in the sissy bar; we decided on a Model A light and made a heavy duty bracket for it.


The Model A light is a good choice with run, brake and license plate light all in one package.


We made some more bungs for the sissy bar to mount up the license plate.


With the fender and sissy bar mounted up, Duke said he wanted to show off those white walls. So, we needed to shorten up the sides of the fender. Tools needed: a mechanical pencil, a 5 gal. bucket and a paint stir stick.


We cut a “V” into one end of the paint stick. This will center the paint stick, or radius tool, on the wheel spacers.


Drill a hole for the mechanical pencil to set in.



There you have it, a handy dandy paint stick/radius tool!


A jigsaw with a bimetal plate works well for cutting the fender.

Well, I think we’ve made good progress this month: engine is in, chain is lined up, fender mounted, sissy bar made; I think the fender needs some speed holes though. Check back next month to see how the “High Life” project is coming along! Feel free to call or email if you have any questions: 419-576-6812 or