Nathan's 1984 Honda V65 Magna
         Current modifications
         Recent riding impressions (May – June 2008: after rebuild)

Trip Reports:
         Slocan Valley in British Columbia
         Drumheller, Alberta
         Sunday Ride, July 27/08

Photos:
        General Photos (Fall 2006) 1 2 3 4 5
        Dyna Unit Installation (Summer 2008) 1 2 3

Bike Photos after Stage 3 Rebuild (June 30, 2008):
         Left side detail (behind side cover)
         Left side detail (motor)
         Right side detail (motor)

The Story of My V65 Magna

I found my current motorbike by chance. At the time (April 2004) I was visiting my daughter in Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta, Canada. I looked down from the second story window into the yard next door and saw a motorbike peeking out from under a pile of discarded lumber and wall board. "Gee," I said to myself, "That looks like a Honda V65 Magna." And I was right.

Beneath the pile of garbage was a neglected motorbike with a big patch of rust on the gas tank, two flat tires and a dead (and leaking) battery. The bike had not been run in two years, according to the owner, but the registration papers were three years old. It was safe to assume the bike needed an oil change!!

I'm sorry to say I didn't take enough pictures. This is the only one I have, and I had already cleaned up the bike a lot before this picture was taken.

After arranging by telephone to purchase the bike, my brother Lloyd and I went back to Fort McMurray to haul the bike back to Edmonton (July 4, 2004) where I could discover if I had bought a motorbike or a $1500 paperweight. I drained the oil, coolant and gasoline, then replaced the oil and gas filters and spark plugs. It was impossible to evaluate the bike without starting it, so I also bought a new battery. I squirted automatic transmission fluid into each cylinder and added half a can to the gas tank too, and let it sit overnight.

It took six or eight pushes of the starter button the next afternoon to get the bike running, but after blowing out a lot of blue smoke the motor actually sounded fairly decent. I took the bike for a short ride around the block at low speed, but the motor continually died and was hard to start. The steering was very notchy, probably from sitting with the steering head in one position for three years and the fork seals were leaking badly. The back wheel seemed to be binding.

I decided it was a good idea to have the bike examined by the local Honda dealer. $1500 later, the bike had a mechanic's stamp of approval and a safety certificate. They replaced the tires with Bridgestone Spitfires, rebuilt the brakes and installed new pads (the rear brake pivot arm was rusted into place and had to be replaced), replaced the kill switch (the starting problem), and installed new fork seals and steering bearings. Now I could ride.

The bike felt almost like a great ride and seemed to have tons of power, especially considering that the carburetors had not been touched and the valves were not adjusted. So far, I had invested a total of $3400 (Canadian), including travel, so had a $3400 V65 Magna in great riding condition with 22,000 miles on it. I had done about as well as I could have on eBay…and I knew what I had, which is more than I could have said about any long distance eBay purchase.

I put about 3,000 more miles onto the bike before cold weather ended the riding season, but a trip to the dyno just before I parked it said I had 94rwh (adjusted to sea level). This was excllent considering that the bike probably only had 100rwh when it was new.

During the winter of 2004/2005 I got connected with some V65 enthusiasts on the Internet (www.hondav4bbs.com) and found sources for some parts for the bike. Dodge Racing Products of North Carolina supplied me with Stage II cams, welded rocker arms, Accel coils and plug wires and rebuilt 1983 Dynojeted carburetors. (The 1983 carburetors have more power than the later years.)

I also ordered a new gas tank, new side covers, a Corbin saddle, Progressive fork springs and new Kerker 4-into-1 headers. My aim was to generate a bit more power, with an end goal of 106 – 112 rear wheel horsepower instead of 94. My secondary aim was to turn what was a very ugly abused motorbike into something nice to look at. I did not aim to "restore" this bike, as I knew the modifications I was doing could not be part of a genuine "restoration."

In January 2005 I delivered the bike to the Honda dealer along with a box of cams, rockers and other parts. I was really excited about the riding prospects for 2005. I picked the bike up in early April and took it for several rides. It just didn't seem to have the power and acceleration I expected. In fact, it seemed a bit less powerful than before the work was done.

After some investigation I determined there was a problem with the carburetion on cylinder three, and took the bike back to the dealer. Now it was busy season at the dealer and it took them 3 weeks to get to the bike. In carburetor number three they found a major problem. The pilot jet was stamped "38" like all the other pilot jets, but the actual size of the jet was not "38," but more than 55!! No wonder there was a problem.

While the bike was in the shop they installed a top end oil mod and a changed final drive unit, altering the ratio from 3.18 to 3.40.

At this point I was still evaluating the performance of my bike. It was hard to know if it was putting out the power it should, so I took it for another dyno run. The performance of the bike had degraded to about 78-80bhp, considerably less than previously. The air fuel mixture was 10:1 or richer all across the range, so it was a good bet that the carbs were the problem.

It was hard to know where to take the bike to have the carbs adjusted and the bike dyno-tuned. My dealer had done everything correctly but did not have a dynomometer.

At this point a guy named "Walter" had been mentioned to me. Apparently he was a "smart guy" with bikes and a regular racer/tuner at the local speedway. With Walter I began the second stage of misadventure with my V65, a chapter doomed to be much worse than the first chapter.

Walter Dwelsdorf appeared to know exactly what he was talking about. Although his shop was a total disaster, he seemed to know the bike and what needed to be done. He said he had easy access to a dyno too, and said that dyno tuning was the only way to go.

So I dropped the bike off to Walter, with word from him that he would be done in 3 or 4 days. Those 3 or 4 days became 3 weeks of constant phoning to beg Walter to do something to my bike. Walter seemed to have amazingly little to do, actually. His shop was almost always closed when I drove there, no matter what the time of day. In one conversation he told me he had found major problems with the cam degreeing and was just ready to "button her up."

It turned out Walter was lying to me. Finally I threatened to pick up my bike and gave him a deadline. When I drove past Walter's shop later that day, he had the degree wheel on the side of my bike, apparently doing the work he lied about doing 2 weeks earlier. In the end Walter did dyno tune the bike, although he did not do what he said he would do, leaving the job only half done. I was back to 95bhp, about the same as the bike put out when I first got it.

To make matters worse, time would reveal that Walter's "price" was extremely steep. He scratched my new gas tank,. chipped the paint to bare metal in one place, gouged the aluminum, left off a bolt on the crankcase cover and scratched the inside of my new Kerker exhaust. Later the dealer also discovered that Walter had broken a slide needle, which would result in a major search for needles and more time not riding my bike.

The "price" of Walter's work? Hard to measure, but let's just say if he had made things right with me it would have been about $2000+ for mediocre work. Oh yes, and the 4-5 weeks riding time while Walter was twiddling his thumbs.

At this point I want to add a side note, lest anyone think I'm being too hard on Walter. I got Walter to install a new clutch hose and bleed the line while I was picking up the bike. While I watched he laid my brand new master cylinder cover face down on a concrete floor and walked on it with his boots. His "system" for keeping track of bolts involved dropping them in the dirt and walking all over them.

After taking the bike on an extended trip to B.C., riding about 1500 miles total, the valves became very noisy. Walter had been very liberal in bad mouthing the dealer, but the dealer's valve adjustment had been considerably longer lasting than Walter's.

On August 5, the bike went back to the dealer to correct the valve problem and try something different with the carbs (what I had asked Walter to do, but he had ignored). The dealer discovered the broken needle as well as the crankcase breather tube was not connected. The worst sin committed by Walter was incorrectly installing the cam chain guide, so that it wore through and fell into the motor. No harm was done, but it could have been a disaster.

My advice about Walter is to avoid him like the plague.

In October 2006, I decided to pull the motor and send it to Dave Dodge at DRP for a rebuild. It seemed foolish to continue investing in minor cosmetic improvements while the motor had not been tended to. It now had about 32,000 miles on it.

Dave received my motor in its custom crate on November 2, 2006. He planned to get it back to me in March of 2007. The rebuild was to be a Stage 4, including all the "goodies." A rebore, high compression pistons and Carillo rods...as well as a full top end workover.

It would take too long to explain all the problems encountered during the process. In March 2007, Dave informed me that the rods were back-ordered. My 2007 riding season vanished in that moment.

With many other delays I do not yet understand, it was January 2008 before my motor had been reassembled and tested. At that point, a very serious issue with the crank bearings was discovered by Dave and I became frustrated.

I had missed the riding season in 2007, and it seemed the season of 2008 was likely to be trashed as well. I'm 54 years old and don't know how many riding seasons I have ahead of me. In addition, my dealer was anxious that he had been storing my chassis for over a year.

So I called Dave Dodge and changed my order for a rebuild to a Stage 3.

Dave already had a rebuilt bottom end, and since my top end was ready to go, the two were married and sent back to me. As of May 17, 2008, the motor was installed and running.

Recent Riding Impressions

When I first got the new motor back, my mechanic said he thought it was a bit rich in the mid-range, and I agreed. Between 5,000 and 6,000rpm, it did not accelerate as strongly as it should. Off-the-line—and at the top end—the motor was noticeably stronger.

On June 1 I rode with two other bikes for several hundred miles, during which time we did a number (10–12) of competitive sprints. The other bikes are "known" bikes and riders with which I have tangled before the rebuild.

A 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 which used to walk away from me (when I had 95bhp) now gets left behind. The Yamaha V-Max (DynoJet Stage 7/140bhp?) which used to go away from me, even when carrying a large passenger, now gets passed by me, if carrying the same passenger.

Doing some off-the-cuff calculations, I am guessing that my rebuilt V65 has between 110hp and 112hp, with the possibility that it has as little as 109 or as much as 113. Let's just say 111hp at the rear wheel seems about right. I will dyno it once it has more than 1,000 miles on it.

People who had listened to the bike prior to the rebuild comment on how much better it sounds. Besides being supremely smooth, it now has a throaty "bark" which is very menacing.

The bike runs about a full notch hotter on the temperature guage than previous to the rebuild, but this may be due to the tightness of a rebuilt motor.

June 29, 2008: After 1500 miles

I have now installed the Dyna unit and the recored radiator. The Dyna unit works fantastic. The recored radiator did not help with the overheating issue, so I have now installed a manual fan switch. There is no overheating issue on the highway, but the manual switch should help around town.

Following Dave Dodge's suggestion, we dealt with the rich mixture in the mid-range by removing the rubber snorkels from the air box. There is a remarkable improvement. My mechanic assumes it was the Dyna unit that improved the performance, but I think it was the removal of the rubber snorkels. I suspect that the airbox could be further modified to improve the mixture (I still think it's rich), but that will wait until after the dyno run.

June 29, 2009: After 5,000 miles

Most of the past year has been used up with great riding and fiddling with the fuel mixture. Nothing seemed to be quite right. The biggest problems was rich mixture right across the range, with an especially disastrous richness between 4500 and 6000rpm.

In the end we decided to go back to the Dynojet kit and it has made a big improvement. Throttle response is great and the lagging response in the midrange is almost gone.

We're using the Dynojet 142 mains with the needles in the second-to-leanest position. I think we're going to end up moving the needles all the way to the bottom, as I sense that the mix in the mid-range is still rich and the bike has more "snap" waiting to be released.

July 7 is the new Dynomometer Day, so we'll see what has happened. It's kind of fun getting the bike dynoed and seeing that—almost always—the direction is towards a slightly leaner mixture and more horsepower.

Stay tuned! (no pun intended)

Currently, my V65 has the following improvements or modifications:

Improvements:
Rebuilt calipers and new brake pads
New rear brake pivot arm
New EBC front rotors
New kill switch
New fuel pump
New steering and head bearings
Forks completely stripped and professionally hard-chromed
New fork seals
New battery
New pilot box cover
New mirrors
New side covers
New gas tank
New gas cap
New Bridgestone tires
New backrest bag
New signal lights (complete units) front and back
New handlebars (1984) and clamps.
New clutch and brake master cylinder covers
New stainless clutch and brake lines

Motor Modifications:
Complete DRP balance and blueprint including:
DRP Stage 3 cams
All new bearings, rings, head decked, etc.
Bronze valve guide set
Racing valve spring set
Titanium retainer set
Port and polish
Anatech coated wrist pins
Hard-welded rocker arms
Undercut transmission
Barnett kevlar clutch
Rebuilt 1983 Dynojetted carburetors
DRP top end oil mod

Other Modifications:
DRP 3.40 final drive
Progressive fork springs
Progressive 412 rear shocks
Corbin seat
Kerker headers
Accel coil kit
Soldered rectifier wires
Chrome crankcase cover and stator cover
Chrome brake crossover
Chrome radiator cap cover
Chrome cylinder head bolt caps
Chrome valve covers
Chromed carburetor covers
Allen bolt kit for all engine covers
Steel fork brace
Hellfire windshield