I purchased the bike after putting a wanted ad in the local paper. It was pretty rough with 2 bent rims, bent forks, twisted swingarm and needing a lot of tlc. As I previously mentioned I paid $350 for it.
Then the fun began, I stripped the engine and found it to be in great condition. I have worked on quite a few different brands and was really impressed with how the Honda engine was built and with the components they used on the elsinore engine (tough old bikes). I have since purchased 4 more engines for the '79 models from a guy who used them in his race carts and all the internal components are in really good condition.
From these engines I found a barrel with extensive porting work done and bored it out (it was already sleeved) to suit an oversized piston. I think from memory it is now approximately 260cc. After a careful inspection the engine was reassemble using all new bearings and seals including a new rod and bearing set that came with the go kart engines. , some bearings were hard to find and I think I had to use a bearing from a Yamaha because bearing suppliers and Honda didn't stock it .I have more info about that if your interested. So now the engine was reassembled and I started work on the rest of the bike.
I stripped the bike back to the bare frame, rubbed it back and painted it. Then as components were going back on they were cleaned, repaired if required or replaced with better items. The tank and side panels were painted in two pack and came up really well. The rear fender is original and has had a light spray of red. The front fender is a UFO. The front forks are off a 1985 CR500 I think, again results of a wanted ad. They went on fairly easily with only a slight modification required to the steering stem tube and improved the handling immensely. The front rim is off an '86 or '87 YZ125 and went straight on.
I chose Fox shocks for the rear because quite honestly they were the cheapest good shock I could find. At approx $700 AUS they were half the price of the Ohlins or White Power equivalent which were about $1500 at the time. Anyway I think they look pretty trick and suit the bike. They certainly seem to preform very well giving a good ride for me (average ability) when you get the pressures right.
As I mentioned earlier the original swingarm was slightly twisted, I probably could have straighten it but I think they were a bit too short anyway and when I gave the bike a fistful the front wheel was continually lifting in the air which was great fun but not really practical if you want to win races. I wonder if that's why they called them red rockets?.
So I looked at the early model swingarms at the local wrecker and noticed the 81 model had the right shape. As you would know it was a single shock unit but with some modification and an alloy welder it was made to fit relatively easily. New bearings and seals were fitted( the inner spacers needed to be shortened about 5mm) and a longer bolt for the rear wheel was fitted ,an after market chain wear strip/guide from a YZ 400 was fitted and now the rear wheel has been moved back about 25mm and the power goes to the ground, rocketing you forward instead of upwards, a great improvement.
Renthal bar and new levers were also fitted to finish it off and I am extremely happy with the end result . I have now got the bike I always wanted after seeing one 25 years ago. The power this bike puts out is awesome and it is fantastic fun to ride. The last thing I have to do is try and find an alloy muffler to suit. Any ideas?
Now I wonder if I could send the bill of building this bike to Ray at VMX magazine because it was the Mugen ME360 on the cover of edition 6 that started this project in the first place.