Upcycled Moto Weekend

Mike Mitchum is a member of the local motorcycle “society” and rides a kick ass modern Yamaha but also recently purchased a vintage 1977 Suzuki 550 non-running project bike.  After hanging out at Piston Society and the Cincinnati Cafe Racer online group… he was bitten by the old bike bug and plans to do a cool cafe build.  When he’s not working in IT he enjoys motorcycles, photography and building things with his hands.  As a guest blogger, he’s going to show you two projects he did in one weekend recently after attending one of our Wrench & Learn sessions. 

Upcycled Moto Weekend

This weekend was accompanied by the blissful, electric crackling of a MIG welder and the sounds of various wood working tools. It’s always fun to get out in the garage, no matter how cold it is, and create something from nothing. The plan was to create a couple of helmet and jacket hangers inspired by a design that I had seen at the Piston Society Motorcycle Shop in downtown Cincinnati. As they often do, the plan changed.

Helmet and Jacket Hanger

Saturday morning was spent as expected and I turned some decommissioned chains and rear sprockets, donated by various members of the Cincinnati Café Racer Club Facebook page, into functional art. After soaking the junk items in kerosene, scrubbing them with a wire brush and grunge brush, I sprayed them down with Bike Brite and rinsed with water. At that point they were pretty well free of oil and crud. Next, the pieces were sandblasted and welded into shape. This was my first foray into actually welding a project. I spot welded all of the links to their neighbors to prevent them from moving and welded the chain to the sprocket. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done! The last step was to hit them with the sandblaster one more time and throw on a couple of coats of satin black Rust-Oleum.

Once finished, the helmet loop was too close to the wall and wouldn’t allow a helmet to fit on it, so I butt joined two scraps of 2×6 together with pocket hole screws, cut out a rough circle slightly larger than the sprocket, sanded it, and burned the wood with a propane torch to highlight the grain. I used this as a spacer to mount on the wall and give me enough room to fit the helmet. I think it looks pretty good on the wall with or without a jacket and helmet on it!


Motorcycle Table
Shipping Pallet

Shipping Pallet from a Zero motorcycle

As I was wrapping up a morning of welding and enjoying a cup of coffee, I checked Facebook and saw that Tim (owner of Piston Society) was offering up the shipping pallet on which a new 2019 Zero S model had arrived at the shop. It even included four screw eyes to serve as tie down points. This would make a great top for a motorcycle work table. All if a sudden, I had a new plan!  I packed up the sprocket and chain project and headed to Piston Society. To my delight, the platform was still on the side of the building. This thing is huge! It measures 33 wide and 89.5 long. It hung out of the back of my Grand Cherokee with the rear hatch resting on it as I drove it home.

I spent the rest of Saturday and a fair bit of Sunday transforming the platform into a motorcycle table and since I had tons of scrap lumber in the garage, I didn’t spend a penny extra on framing up the table. I did purchase six 250-pound casters, a couple of boxes of screws and various other fasteners, a wheel chock, loading ramps, and some heavy-duty ratchet straps.

First, I got to work building the legs and supports out of scrap 2×6, 2×8, 2×12, and whatever else I had in the garage. A lot of the lumber had to be ripped to the desired dimensions so my Hitachi table saw was put into service. Once that was done and the legs were mounted on the casters, I moved on to closing up the wheel cutouts in what was now the top of my motorcycle table. The wheel cutouts were a brilliant idea for shipping a motorcycle, but I wanted a flat surface on which to work.With the cutouts filled, I decided to build a drawer to slide into one of the voids that were previously used for the forklift. After all of the work was done, I had a table just over 26 high, including the casters. It’s a good height and allows me to work on all but the top of the handle bars while my newly acquired 1977 Suzuki GS550 project bike is mounted on the table.

There were a couple more things that I wanted to do before I could call this project officially done, so on Monday evening I cut some plywood scrap to install on the bottom. This created a shelf where I could store the ramps and other items. I also installed another drawer on the other side of the table and covered the back sides of each drawer opening. Sadly, I have other priorities to tend to before I can get started on the actual bike project, but at least I have a functional table for it when the time comes.

Follow Mike Mitchum on Instagram to see his photography and motorcycle adventures.