Ace Fireball Cafe Racer Part 2

Ace Fireball 535 cafe racer engine closeup

Ace Fireball 535 cafe racer engine closeup

A couple of weeks ago, we gave you a quick look at the Ace Fireball 535 Cafe Racer. Some of you may not have noticed the long comment by Chumma who built the bike, telling the story of how it all came about. Not only is the story quite interesting, but Chumma took a couple of hundred photos of the build process and the final outcome, a bike anyone would be extremely proud to have in their own garage.

If you look through the build photos, one of the things you immediately notice, something you've seen before on The Kneeslider, is how a motivated builder can turn out very impressive work in the kind of workspace many of you already have. You don't need thousands of square feet and expensive machine tools, an average garage and the usual selection of tools will do just fine. Perhaps the Royal Enfield is just one of those bikes that lends itself to this sort of thing, lacking high tech wizardry, it's just a basic bike with a simple engine, a bike that can be modified and customized without breaking the bank.

Ace Fireball cafe racer

Ace Fireball cafe racer

I'll include much of Chumma's comment here for those of you who missed it and a few photos from his Flickr account, but you'll need to check those photos out yourself to really see what was accomplished. Pretty amazing work.

Here's Chumma:

Well, It’s been a busy week for me outside of motorcycle related stuff so pardon this late reply. After years of toiling, prototyping, and eternal wrenching, it’s damn satisfying to read comments from fellow motorcycle enthusiasts.

This article really came as a surprise to me. As happy as I am about being featured in The Kneeslider, which I feel is the coolest motorcycle publication around right now, there was some miscommunication on our part which led to key information being absent in our initial email to Paul about the build. The entire story is a truly interesting motorcycling story that I think you all would love.

First of all I must stress that this is not my bike, though this was one of those special builds that I long to somehow be able to keep. Ironically, as readers of The Kneeslider, you’ve already seen this bike before- just in it’s past form. It was the bike that lost to me in that impromptu drag race featured in the first ACE Fireball article. The owner of the bike, Chuck, is a friend of mine whom I had initially met on a Royal Enfield forum.

Chuck and I got to become casual friends as the fireball project was nearing it’s initial completion. When my bike (fireball 1) was ready for testing, he happened to join another friend and I at an old abandoned airstrip in Brooklyn (Floyd Bennett Field) where the first fireball videos were shot. It was the first time we’d met face to face. His candid comments and quirky jokes gave the video a raw human character and made it an unforgettable day for me.

Chuck’s a truly unique individual. An avid cyclist and ex bicycle racer in his late 40s, born and raised in Brooklyn with the most witty positive outlook on life… Something very rare for a New Yorker to possess, especially a blue collar city worker as himself. Most of us fall into that usual caustic trap and too often find ourselves constantly seeking out petty opportunities to spit fire at any given moment. He’s one of those dudes who is able to balance an old soul’s disposition with a child’s love for adventure.

After decades of exploring city streets via pedal transport Chuck finally bought his first motorcycle, A 2006 model Enfield ‘sixty-five’ purchased in 2008. In 2 years he quickly put 24,000 miles on the odometer, every mile of which was done within the confines of new york city streets. It wasn’t hard to realize this man really loved his bike and the new found freedom it allowed him.

Fast forward to sometime last August… It had been a while since I’d seen or got in touch with Chuck when one day while randomly browsing I saw his bike on craigslist for $2000 with a very odd sounding description… the kind of description that accompanies a bike that the owner really doesn’t want to sell. “great bike with a greater soul, owner must treat it kindly, give me a call within the hours of 1 and 1:05pm etc”

I gave him a call and asked him whats up. He sounded very distraught. Kept on saying he doesn't want to do it and may regret this for a long time. We agreed to meet the next day at a local pizzeria where we managed to spend hours discussing bikes and life.

He mentioned several bikes he’d gone and test driven and what he liked and disliked of each. He said he’d really miss his Enfield forever and how selling it might be a decision he’d regret for life but he needed it to be “more bike” to allow him to adventure beyond the city and onto the winding country highways upstate.

Ace Fireball cafe racer work in progress

Ace Fireball cafe racer work in progress

We then took a walk to Indian Larry’s old shop which is now inhabited by his old employees who still build custom bikes under their own names (Keino and Paul Cox). Another resident of the garage is a guy who restores vintage Italian bikes. There were a couple old Guzzi’s and Ducati supersports which he kept pointing at asking questions about. I got an idea of what his perfect motorcycle would be and I explained it to him what I could do and we rambled on about “a dream Enfield.” He wasn't sold on the performance of the Fireball so I let him test drive my bike after which he came back with a huge smile and said ‘just do everything you’ve done to your bike to mine and add everything else we talked about before’.

He wanted something sporty and responsive that would remind him of his bicycling days but not an outright boy racer – something more versatile enough to take long rides upstate with girlfriend in tow. A classic, timeless, urban roadster with subtle displays of craftsmanship which made sense to me after seeing the walls of his apt… which are lined with at least 10 pristine but well ridden immaculately beautiful 1970s-1980s bespoke bicycles. Lean, sleek, mean, machines with delicate practical use of contrasting metal. Stainless steel, high grade alloys, 1970s titanium, exquisitely wrapped leather grips etc.

Born out of that day came the bike in this article. It is fireball #10. Teardown happened in mid October and the photograph you see on this article was taken on Sunday. Despite Chuck giving me full artistic ‘carte blanche’ (to a set budget), There were easily 50 long emails and 100s of phone calls between us picking each other’s brains over minor details. His eager love and appreciation for his vehicle pushed me in my craft. The end result became a full restoration on steroids. Trimmed and muscular, the bike is 80lbs lighter than when it first rolled in. Countless essential parts from the crank down to the wheel bearings, brakes, and hub spacers were replaced or modified/improved upon. I’ve got Chuck constantly teasing me about when our next drag race will be… which I certainly will lose.

This bike was designed to perform better than it looks and it delivers. Performance is nothing short of breath taking. As the years have gone by, I’ve gotten a better grasp of my tools which allowed me to true Chuck’s crank to within .0005″. The rewards of which are obvious. There is not a hint of high frequency vibrations anywhere. As we say here.. it rides smooth as butter or better yet: ice cream in the microwave. 90mph feels like 50mph. The bike effortlessly motors past 100mph with a slight flick of throttle while cruising on 80mph while displaying no vibrations at redline in each gear.

Chuck’s been antsy, I still have the bike for 1 more week which I’ll spend on final carb tuning and sorting out. After these 300 miles of break in which includes a couple oil changes, brake adjustments and a head torque; Chuck will have the bike all to himself with a full 10k/2yr parts and labor warranty. I don’t doubt he will put an easy 15k miles on it the first year alone. I’m really gonna miss this bike.

Hopefully I haven't put everybody to sleep with this post but I've been asked by others via email to leave a short bio on myself so here goes:

I’m a late 20 something, born in Birmingham UK (birthplace of BSA, Norton, Enfield, Vellocette, etc) to parents of Indian descent and raised in NYC/NJ. During family trips to visit family in India I learned how to ride on a 250cc 2 stroke Jawa at age 10 and was hooked. I became the youth in the family constantly begging his relatives to ‘park their bikes in the garage’ via the long way . I rode my first Enfield 2 years later and also witnessed and played a hand in my first RE engine build.

After high school, I studied engineering and, like Aniket, always dreamed of bringing an Enfield back from India and testing out the various engine design philosophies being taught in my school’s internal combustion engineering classes. Soon after I started my tinkering, I read the posts of Tom Lyons on various Enfield forums. We became great friends and started collaborating together on various aspects of what is now the Ace fireball kit.

After years of grassroots r&d, long waits for prototypes, and days/nights spent in the garage we are where we are now. I can not thank Paul more for the platform he provides and motivation it gives to me and other “small guys with dreams” out there. I also met Aniket through this site and we have since become the best of pals with many many juicy motorcycling related endeavors in the works. All of which we will keep you all posted on as they come into fruition. Jim, if you’re still reading … you’re on the money man. Those CAD programs are in full flux. Long nights have been great nights…

Well I’m really gonna miss this bike. As there is nothing much left to do to it I find myself going through a withdrawal phase of what’s next. If anybody out there has a vision and would like my help in creating something, feel free to get in touch. The core iron barrel Royal Enfield bikes have unlimited potential and can be found very cheap. I recently picked one up, untouched, with 1600miles for $1400 which I’d love to use for another build. My mouth salivates at the thought of building a full trials style machine…

Thanks, Chumma. You can probably tell, I really like this bike and the whole process of how it came together. Be sure to check out the build photos! If some of you aren't already considering a Royal Enfield build up in the not too distant future, you might want to give it some more thought. This is an affordable way to make something unique and fun, not only in the riding, but in the building and learning that goes along with it. If you already have a Bullet, contact Chumma or Tom Lyons and get a 535 Fireball kit. It just strikes me as one of the coolest kits out there and the performance boost will be immediately noticeable.

Links:
Fireball build photos on Flickr
Yahoo group for the ACE Fireball 535
Previously on The Kneeslider:
Royal Enfield Ace Fireball Cafe
ACE Fireball 535 Royal Enfield High Performance Kit

Ace Fireball cafe racer overhead view

Ace Fireball cafe racer overhead view

Comments

  1. SteveD says

    The Enfield is similar to the Suzuki Savage that way, even in terms of power to weight ratios. I suspect the Enfield is a better quality build overall, at least straight from the factory.

  2. says

    The 535cc Enfield Fireball is similar to a 650cc Suzuki Savage; they are both big singles and fun to ride. The Enfield Fireball Photos help me recall my first loves of an Arial Red Hunter 500 and Vellocette 500 that I enjoyed in my youth.
    My opinion is that the Enfield looks better as a classic, but the Savage (cruiser style) has superior durability. The only chain on a Savage is the cam chain. The five speed gear box is unitized with the engine and is coupled by gears. My 650cc Savage is a smooth ride with its counter rotating, gear driven engine balance shaft and the trouble free rear wheel belt drive. So far my Savage has given me 50,000 miles with no repairs or problems, except for a new fuel petcock repair kit and front brake pads.

    An acquaintance of mine rode 85,000 trouble free miles on his Savage until ignored cam chain looseness, caused the chain to break and cause some engine damage. A new chain installed at the first noise, would have prevented that mishap.

    Yes, the Enfield is very nice classis modification and beautiful, but not as trouble free as a Suzuki Savage. I would very much like to have a 535 Enfield Fireball. Please send me one to test drive and show my friends!

  3. woolyhead says

    If you have never built a bike in the living room of your shack…….you just gotta do it once ! Just keep the lubricants off the shag carpet………..and you will be rewarded immensely with a fun ride …………

  4. todd says

    I am SO starting to sell off other stuff to get one of these kits an an Enfield. They go for quite a bit more than $1,400 in California if you can find one that someone already imported. Of course, that would be a cinch compared to getting a hold of a Egli Super Bullet chassis to fit the kit to…

    -todd

    • says

      SO… Just clicked for my daily dose of the kneeslider and.. MAN what a surprise! Paul, thank you so much for publishing this and your support. Until now, I was kind of regretting posting that opus of a comment to the last article but I just had to let the story behind this build loose.
      Paul, you hit it on the spot regarding my shop situation and what it really takes to accomplish something. I’ve gathered just enough tools to get what I need done. The pictures show my shop/garage space was ever changing during this build. Obviously I’ve been building a lot of cranks recently for the rest of our fireball contingent so I have a proper press and truing jig but it doesn’t take much to do what you want. If you have your mind set on doing something, you mysteriously end up finding way to get things done. Once you put a foot down and create a path, you find people headed in similar directions who motivate and inspire such as Tom and Aniket along with various other older sages who luckily have taken the time to teach me a thing or two when needed. You unexpectedly start to notice those little machine shops tucked away in your localities that you never acknowledged before and see the potential in simple machines. One new addition that I have finally & proudly welcomed is a proper table lift- I’m an ex wrestler and my knees are years ahead of the rest of me. No more builds on my knees for me.

      There are many more exciting things that Tom, Aniket, and myself are looking forward to. Aniket’s 1070 dual fireball capable castings are set in wood right now and will be forged in metal sooner than later. I plan to pack a bag of tools and drive to his Ohio shop to put together the mighty first one. Our working title to fit the ‘musket’ and ‘fireball’ theme has aptly been the ‘cannonball’. There’ll be little hurdles to solve and new parts to develop (obviously a solid clutch), but that’s part of the fun and the drawing boards been busy on all of that. We’ve even found ourselves dabbling in build plans to take this special cannonball 1 to a certain choice salt flat, but we’ll let those plans marinate for now.
      Now what’s going to make the Cannonball even more exciting is that Tom and myself have not stopped ourselves from getting creative on the engineering and development side of things. There are 10 tried &true fireballs on the road, but there’s more power and efficiency to be hard with our design and we’re still designing parts that will push this initial envelope. Everything is being designed in a way which will allow a forward compatible ladder type system of modification for customers who already have their bike’s kitted. This will allow us to have various lines of product to suit various needs and budgets. I’m looking forward to getting back to prototyping.
      Chuck is set to pick up the bike tomorrow and she is perrrfect, a brand new tiger ready to roar. I bonded with this bike in a zen like fashion so I will miss it but this article has given me great closure. She’s ready to age gracefully on New York City roads.
      Chumma

  5. BoxerFanatic says

    Very nice work, and nice read.

    I am kind of curious… how was the effect of the gold cylinder with black cooling fins pulled off? Was it as direct as just hours of masking, and two layers of paint? Is it special heat-emissive paint like some radiators have?

    It looks fantastic, with the gold rocker covers on top.

    • says

      Thank you very much Boxer,
      I used simple can control with the black. i painted the gold first and then carefully laid the black on at an angle so as not to paint over the inside of the fins. The paint is a high temp ceramic engine paint. It cures to a brilliant shine by way of baking.
      Here’s some pics I took of the process:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/god_of_fireball/5244029638/in/set-72157625555963058/
      click next a couple times and you should see em. You’ll notice a shot or 2 with the rocker covers under a halogen spotlight. I was painting through winter temps so I used the spotlight to heat things up for the paint to adhere. After 3 coats, it went into the old lady’s oven in the dead of the night. Keep a couple windows cracked and she’ll never notice.

  6. says

    -Todd
    You are correct, the iron barrel (non uce/avl) engined bullets are harder to find in california. However, the $1400 bike that I picked up specifically for a future customer’s build has a California legit VIN. Shipping bikes cross country is about $650-$700 these days (who knows how long that $ will last with the rising gas prices).
    We provide full 100% 1 on 1 support to help along those who wish to do their own builds. Most people do this and send their small blocks to me for the crank, bearing, and breather work. Some send stock bikes for full engine builds and modify it to their personal tastes later on in the game. This is a bike that grows with you.
    I am also available for complete builds such as the bike in this article and if you’ve got something more in mind it can happen. The potential is infinite. Trials, Flat trackers, board trackers, clubman style roadsters (like the bike in the article), full cafe/race bikes, different frames (featherbed, rickman, egli, etc), you get the point. I personally give a 10k mile/2 year warranty for all of these sort of builds.
    The clubman, to me is the perfect, timeless motorcycle.
    Chumma

  7. says

    Lastly for all you motorcycle junkies… Here are 2 short clips of the bike I have temporarily uploaded to youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5ViWDmKo4Y
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duNkg6cfiWI

    The second video was shot while I was testing out various clutch springs (which ended up being too soft). I am at 60mph at the top of second gear. As you can see, even with a faulty clutch, the bike pulls a sub 6 sec 0-60.

    I was wearing an onboard camera on both of these runs along with many others which will soon be edited into a proper video. I will surely post them to this comment thread when they’re ready.

    • Jim says

      LOVE the sound of bug singles, and this one sings better than most. Hopefully this method can -one day- be adapted to the UCE, as I’m falling increasingly in love with that engine. If not by Chumma, as he seems to have a full plate, by another Enfield enthusiast.

      • says

        Hey Jim,
        It’s true, Tom, Aniket, and I have got our plates full but we’ve talked and schemed about doing something for the UCE. All I can tell you right now is that it will happen in due time though I cant guarantee the results will be as affordable and prodigious as the iconic iron barrel’d bullet.
        Chumma

  8. says

    Awesome. Can’t wait to see Chuck on his new bike. He is a regular at my bicycle shop in Brooklyn and we always talk motorbikes when he comes in.

  9. Dawg says

    I have just seen your videos – that bullet really shifts! A tuned single and V twin! Exciting times. Looking forward to seeing the Cannonball as I love Aniket’s Musket. All the best from a lover of thumpers.

  10. Sportster Mike says

    @ Chumma
    Love your words,videos and the bike. Simplicity is the key (thats why I ride a Harley)
    What model should I look for in England to fit your kit onto?
    the non EFI presumably? and one of the older models

  11. Ramadancer says

    I am sold.
    Now I’ve just got to find someone who will trade one of these for my “Classified Motorcycle Co.” Sportster………I just lost interest.

    Thanks Paul, Chumma, and all, while I go forward through the gathering light..

  12. says

    Guys excuse the late replies here, it’s been a busy week of early mornings and late nights.

    Dawg, oldtimer, Ramadancer, Henry C, Sportster Mike,:
    thank you for the warm regards and encouragement. I appreciate your appreciation.

    HenryC
    Wow small world. I’ll make it a point to stop by your place sometime this spring.

    Sportster Mike:
    I’m not sure of the years they were available in the UK but the old style iron barrel models with the 5 speed gearbox are the most desirable to fit a fireball onto. The 4 speed is fine too 5 is much better. If you find a cheap iron barrel model with a blown engine, it would be a perfect buy. Feel free to email me if you’ve got any other questions.

    Chumma

  13. sonu says

    Hi, I have a 1970 royal Enfield bullet standard and I still use it, but the engine seems to be not that powerful. I recently re did the engine but now the motor feels very tired. I don’t know what is wrong with the motor. I do take to the mechanic but he says everything is OK but when I take it long rides the bike is not that responsive and lags behind…..do any of you know what the problem could be?