12 Sep Hell On (Two) Wheels 9 – Brace Yourself
Don’t brace yourself because we’re almost done; brace yourself because otherwise your seat might fall off the bike.
That’s the main idea behind today’s episode of Hell On (Two) Wheels. Since we’ve finished welding together the custom widened OEM rear fender, the time has come to connect it to the rest of the bike. Since it will be bolted to the frame, the fender needs to be strong enough to be able to brace the rear half of the two-up seat, along with the weight of two passengers (or however much of that weight is distributed to the rear of the seat, probably 50% or so). Strength of that degree will require some good bracing, so let’s get down to the construction of that bracing. First, we’ve started assembling the arms that will connect the fender to the frame. The part that bolts to the frame will consist of steel tubing that’s been cut to fit flush up against the frame as it currently sits.
As that’s taking place, we also started cutting out the metal we needed to make the actual arm itself that connects the fender to the frame. Since the metal we’re using is not a thickness that’s quick to cut with a bandsaw or hand tool, it’s time to break out the plasma cutter and throw sparks around in large amounts.
Just like usual, fitment is key, especially given how we want the arm to remain hidden, so there’s a lot of triple-checking before anything is reduced in size. Here, we’re playing with the actual arm metal before deciding how it’s going to be shaped.
After ensuring that the arm was how we wanted it, we trimmed it down and tacked it to both ends. The part that bolts to the OEM fender is also an OEM piece, but the rest of the arm is all us. It’s easier to use the OEM piece in this situation, as mocking up curved metal to replicate this piece would be a frivolous expenditure of both labor hours and metal stock, as it will be completely hidden during normal operation anyhow.
With the arm’s size and position finalized, we set about securing the arm to the frame. In order to do this, we’ll be drilling into the OEM frame so that we can bolt this new fender arm right to it, allowing for easy removal once the seat is taken off. All that metal bracing you see in these pictures is holding the fender in position while the work takes place. Also, for the sake of making sure it’s connected to the frame extremely well, each side will have two bolts holding it in place, mirroring the connection between arm and fender.
As the holes were being drilled on the OEM frame, we set about running the TIG welder over the new fender arms, because welds are about a billion times stronger than temporary tacks.
Earlier, we mentioned that we’d be covering these arms up so that they aren’t seen during normal operation. To achieve that, we’ll be utilizing the OEM chrome shrouds, which cover up that arm all the way to the frame. It will fit for our custom application with just a bit of shaving on the back end to accomodate the different endpoint for the fender arm.
After the arms were completed and bolted into place, we knew that there needed to be a bit more bracing on the fender; namely, the area between the two arms is still too vulnerable to flexing. For that reason, we set about creating a set of steel reinforcements to connect both fender arms, while also bolting to the fender itself. The rigidity of the steel reinforcements will better spread the weight distribution from the two-up seat, and should look pretty damn neat in the process.
After plenty of measuring, fitting and tacking, we completed the basic structure of the cross-bracing, which can be seen in the picture below. However, that’s not the end of it, not at all. There’s plenty more bracing to build, and plenty more work to do on the bike after that, so keep your eyes peeled to the Fluid MotorUnion blog for the next chapter of Hell On (Two) Wheels.