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The Hurricane Conversion

Living on a Yellow Submarine                       By Will Pattison


       I like things that are rare and cool.  These days, whether a yellow Yamaha is cool or not is strictly dependant on your personal taste, but it canít be argued that they are rare.  I personally like the electric blue that Yamahas leave Japan with, but thereís something about a yellow one thatís, wellÖspecial.  So, the planets aligned, I watched Ty Davis ride a yellow YZ400 on a golf course in the Time To Ride video, and I built one for myself.  The bike started out as a 40-hour old 1999 YZ400 that I had been using for motocross.  It was sort of the step-child of my garage, with my í98 YZ400 being my primary cross country racing machine.  However, as with any race horse, the older thumper had to be put out to pasture, and a shiny 2000 YZ426 was now the motocrosser in the family.  SoÖit was time to build a new off-roader.


Anyhow, the project took most of the winter, and I could have written a real documentary, but I decided to just hit the highlights of the finished product instead.  Hopefully, youíll see some things that will help you with your own project racer.



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The Roaring Twenties:  The cross country races in North Texas typically involve more than a few hard, flat, sweeping corners.  Wet or dry, this 20Ē Dunlop D756 sticks like glue.  To guarantee that the new wheel was always doing what it should, MX Tech supplied a revised fork setup that also fixed the blown mid-valves I had.

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Running gear:  Experience shows that the DID X-Ring chain has excellent durability with about half the friction of a standard o-ring model.  Of course, durability is a good thing, and Excel rims laced with Buchanan stainless steel spokes complete a super strong wheel package designed just for that.

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Hub of activity:  Mark Marshall of Marshall Precision Machine in Denton, Texas makes these killer CNC machined aluminum hubs in black and silver, along with various other goodies for your trick scoot


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Cheap insurance:  Thereís no need to supply the logic for the MSR Brake Snake, but what might not be obvious is that the paint has been stripped from the clutch cover.  Raw magnesium is tricker than painted and scratched magnesium any day, but especially on Sunday

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Shining like a new dime:  Well, until the first race, that is.  Custom Chrome in Garland, Texas does lots of very cool motorcycle and hot rod parts, and they assisted in the spiffiness here as well.  Some folks allow as how chrome plating will make steel brittle, but these boys heat treat to get rid of the excess hydrogen that can cause the problem.  Thanks also to Duane and the boys at BBR for turning me on to the shorty kickstarter for YZ thumpers.  It makes it easier to get your boot on it, and for the same amount of kick, you actually spin the motor faster.  Translation:  easier starting


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A crowded bar:  When I ride like a spode and stall the bike, the Terrycable remote hot start helps get things running quickly again.  The Boyesen Flex-Grip is easy on a twice-broken left wrist, and the Magura HYMEC juice clutch with the Enduro Engineering needle bearing lever is pure sweet butter


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If only it were the Start button:  All the hardware on the left side of the bars required a compromise, and this is it.  Iíve been riding the bike for a month now, and I still forget itís there, but it works good, just like the Motion Pro Terminator T2 throttle cables and the Cycra Pro-Bend aluminum handgaurds.


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Holey perforated plastic, Batman:  If Mr. Davis thinks they need more air, then I agree.  At the very least, they look cooler.  Lurking in the background there is an FMF Power Bomb header and a Power Core IV Squared muffler.  Other than that, a fresh set of rings, a slight valve adjustment, and the addition of an 8 oz. Terrycable flywheel weight, the motor is bone stock. 

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Wetsuit:  The jury is still out on the neoprene Seal Savers.  While they may keep a lot of stuff out, itís clear that the stuff that does get in stays there.  Whether that makes for more of a problem with the oh-so-delicate Kayaba seals remains to be seen.



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Reservoir Dog:  If you havenít noticed that the pipe roasts the rear brake reservoir on YZ thumpers, then you arenít riding the same ones I am.  Repeated temperature cycles make the plastic brittle, and you know what happens thenÖ


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Neutral ground:  The Terrycable neutral switch eliminator doesnít do anything for performance and unless youíll be doing a sound check in Europe, serves no practical purpose.  Itís cool though, and it cleans up the wiring harness.  The IMS cast stainless footpegs are also unnecessaryÖuntil you bend a stock one like I did.


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I been framed:  I decided the yellow motif just wasnít going to be complete with a blue frame, and since I needed to take almost everything off anyway, why not powdercoat?  Custom Powder Coating, a shop in Dallas that does carts, dragsters, Harleys, and other go-fast stuff helped me with a gloss metallic grey that will go with any color plastic. 


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Messy:  At 5í 11Ē, Iím just tall enough to benefit from the Ceet High Henry replica seatfoam, which is about 1Ē taller than stock.  During a 2 hour cross country race, the energy I save in the sitting-to-standing transition pays big dividends.  The only problem was the squarish cross section of the saddle, which inhibited turning.  A light touch with the new, clean hard grinding wheel turned out to be the easiest way to sculpt the foam to my liking.  It left a very smooth cut that only needed minimal cleanup with 60 grit sandpaper.

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Bondo:  The nature of urethane foam casting creates bubbles even in a good quality foam like this one.  Silicon makes an excellent filler that remains pliable.  Stuff the holes full, then use a plastic knife to smooth the pooky to match the surrounding profile.



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The finished product:  This rebuild sort of took on a life of itís own about half way through, and while it may not be the trickest bike around, Iím totally pleased with the way it turned out.  Thereís nothing like starting a season knowing everything is squared away, and looking swanky donít hurt none either.

   As projects go, I guess this one really isn't that big of a deal, but regardless of that there's a few folks that deserve some shout outs for lending a hand.  Cycra, Decal Works, and FMF all produce excellent products that have given me terrific service over the years.  For the rest of the stuff, huge props to Central Yamaha in Plano, Texas!!  Those guys understand what real customer service is all about, and they certainly made this effort less than it might have been at some other shops, if you know what I mean.  The maddest respect, however, has to go to my good friend Pat "Patman" Hall, because without his patience and skills, this project would never have made it to the web for your perusal.  He's good folks and a good riding buddy.  Thanks, man.


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