4LS to Roadholder Fork (part 1)

My friend JW is building a traditional British cafe racer from parts he’s been collecting for some time. He has a Norton slimline featherbed frame, a Roadholder fork, and Ariel pre-unit motor and a beautiful hand-shaped aluminum tank. He suggested that documenting the conversion of a Suzuki 4LS brake (four leading shoe) to an early Brit fork might make for a good read. I agree. Let’s do it!

This hub and brake setup is pretty sought-after for its significant stopping power and that it’s not a modern disk. I think they’re worth upwards of a grand, so I’m measuring three times for every cut. Modification is necessary because this hub is over and inch-and-a-half wider than the forks it’s going be used with.

My plan is to remove material from both the brake plate axle supports and the inside fork bosses to make it fit. The original brake stay boss needs to be removed from the fork leg and straps will have to be made to anchor the brake plates to the fender mount bosses on the fork legs. The speedo drive mechanism and associated features on the brake plate will have to be removed and welded in. A new axle will also have to be made once I get the hub fitted up nicely. I’ve decided to no attempt any lightening of this brake/hub (it’s HEAVY) as I don’t really see any opportunity for significant lightening. The internal aluminum webbing could be drilled but how much weight would a few slugs of aluminum save when compared to the four thick iron liners and various steel linkage parts? Not worth it to me. For now, JW agrees. But he’s one to tinker (and do it well) so we’ll see what he does with it after I give it back to him.

First order of business last night was to measure the fork and hub to get the final numbers for use in trimming down this hub.

Using layout dye on my metal bench top to measure the width of the fork at the bosses.

Using a square to ensure leg bosses are perpendicular to the table surface. I then scribed the table at the back of the square on each side and measured the distance between the marks.

The final numbers tell the tale. Having a metal bench top is great for notes and measurements.

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Looking For

80’s Honda xl 600r with title or similar for special project, Does not have to be honda but needs to be a large displacement dual sport with mono shock rear. DOES NOT NEED MOTOR. I can trade british/jap parts plus cash. Email me at dan@greasygringo.com or leave a comment below


If you are running a CV carb and you are looking for the right parts to tune it this is where you want to go: https://www.cv-performance.com/
I put a CV on my Iron Head and could not get it dialed in. Jason shimmed the needle which helped a lot but it still isn’t where it needs to be. I ordered parts from CVP and initially they f-d up the order. I called and left a message and within 20 minutes got a call back from the owner Ken. Ken apologized for the mistake and sent out the correct part asap. He seemed so cool I asked for some free tuning advice which he happily offered and shipped me an additional needle to try out and see if it would help solve the ongoing problem. All he wanted in return was feedback on how the part worked and for me to let friends know about CVP. I rarely run into people like Ken in the general market place. He does good business. And all the CVP parts are made in the US. Thanks Ken.

’62 Triumph Rebuild Begins

I picked up this ’62 Triumph pre-unit chopper about three or four years ago. It came to me via the good karma express. If you want the long version (and my friends know that is always my preferred route!), go here: ’62 Triumph Find

I intended to restore it just as it sits and ride it down to Maryland to show the man that built it. I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face after having heard stories about how much fun he had building and riding this bike back in ’67. Sadly, I received an email from his wife on Friday that he had passed. I was very sad to hear the news and bummed that I couldn’t make good on my intentions.

A couple weeks before I’d already decided this would be the next project. After a fiendish rush of shop improvements over the last month, I’m ready.

We tore into it last night. Frank, Bill and Sergei helped me carry it down from the second floor via the stairs. It is heavier than it looks. We then went through the boxes and bins of parts to save everything that was metal and discard all the cracked acorns and shredded paper from the squirrels who’d made this their home for a while. Amazingly, it seems that every single piece to this bike is present. Many will need some serious cleanup and plating. I’m sure some of it will have to get chucked.

I don’t like choppers at all. But this one is just so damned cool I’m gonna have to leave it just like it is. Shitty steering and gallons of Bondo be damned.

After stripping the motor and back wheel from the frame we set about rubbing out the paint with compound, then hand glaze. I think it came out great. Paint stays.

Thanks everyone for your help last night. It was a good time. This bike’s story continues just like it began. . . with a group of friends working together and plenty of cold beer. Chet would be proud.


Mocked up the day I got it.

Big ole' mess in the back of my truck

Cleaned up nice, eh? Tasteful stripes too.

Frank and Casey on the job.