If you liked the Honda CB 1.5 built by Alex Zemlin, this very impressive VTR 1000 Super Hawk GT by the same builder will make you appreciate the quality of his creations. In the same fashion as the CB, he did a lot of work that’s plain to see, but unless you’re very familiar with the VTR, you might not notice it until it’s pointed out.
Alex built this several years ago, but there’s a very good chance you haven’t seen it and he’s justifiably proud of the result. The biggest change, among many, is the side radiators, which you no longer see because of the underseat installation, very nice, and one of the most extraordinary features is everything can all be undone! No cutting and welding the frame, just a very well thought out re-engineering of the stock bike into something that looks like it could be a new model on the showroom floor, except it’s not.
Here’s Alex to tell you all about it:
This bike started life as a stock 2002 with 20000 miles on the clock and was purchased with the intent of making it into a “Standard”. I don’t like the terms Naked or Streetfighter all that much, nor do I like plastic covering up the bits that make it go.
It all started when I saw a VTR stripped of it’s plastic and I really liked what I saw, except for the stock radiators just hanging there, hiding both the frame and that beautiful V twin engine.
I happened to have a VTX1800 radiator in my hand at the time and a quick check showed that there seemed to be just enough space between the subframe rails to accommodate that radiator.
The project had been festering in my mind for a couple of years but I could never find the proper donor bike. Once I did in early 2005, I scoured eBay for the forks and other bits and started the build on Easter Sunday of 2005.
The conversion took about 6 weeks from rolling it on the lift to riding it to work.
Figuring out the plumbing (water will not flow uphill, even when pushed by a water pump) and finding the space for the battery box and the radiator to live in harmony were some of the hurdles that had to be overcome, right along with where to put two cooling fans under the seat when there is only room for one.
A big help was the installation of the VFR 800 tank. It required raising the seat almost an inch which ended up being a double bonus: More leg room and room for a second fan. The lower fan is triggered by an adjustable thermo switch that is set to come on at 207°, if the coolant gets hotter than that the stock thermo switch turns the upper fan on at 208°
Water temp runs between 194° to 207° which is cooler than most current sport bikes and I’ve never had an overheating problem. No, the seat does not get hot, both fans are pusher fans, forcing the air through the radiator towards the rear wheel.
I sold the stock plastic and gauges to finance the project and everything I’ve done is reversible, should I want to change it back to stock, which is not going to happen as long as I own it.
I still consider this to be a work in progress but it works so well that every time I roll it on my lift, I just end up staring at it for a while and then roll it back off and ride it.
The underseat radiator works because of the cooling fans since the air that comes through the tailsection cutouts doesn’t do much except keeping the electronics cool. (I did learn that air never does what you expect it to)
When people look at the bike, including some Super Hawk owners, they don’t even realize that it’s a Super Hawk. Or that the radiators are missing. I usually have to point it out and then show off the VTX radiator under the seat.
I have gone to great lengths to make the bike look stock and think I’ve succeeded.
It’s a blast to ride , very comfortable and has sufficient range with the 5.5 gal. fuel tank.
List of changes / components:
CBR929 forks, front wheel, brakes and instruments.
599 headlight mounted with ABS headlight brackets which are attached to the forks with XR650R number plate/headlight mounts.
GSX-R turn signals front and rear
Ninja 600 oil cooler with stainless braided lines.
1999 VFR fuel tank (5.5 gal )
VTX1800 radiator cooled by dual VTR1000 fans that operate independently.
Thanks, Alex. Everything looks so finished, just like the factory would have done it. Professional quality engineering, well thought out, very functional,… what’s not to like? Great work.