Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm still sorting parts. Got all my Enfield wheels taken apart and the rims cleaned up. All of them are useable as-is. I've picked the best four out of the six to use for this project.

Then I got to thinking about the cafe racer front wheel. It really needs something better than the single leading shoe 7 inch drum brake that's standard for most Enfields. Hitchcock's lists an India made twin leading shoe front wheel for 127 English Pounds that would be a nice upgrade, and should go right into my old Interceptor front hub.
But I think I can do better than that for a custom cafe racer. I've got an old Suzuki GT750 "Water Buffalo" front fork and wheel with dual disk brakes that I bought years ago because someone wrote an article in the Royal Enfield Owners (USA) Newsletter about how those would mount right up to an Enfield frame.
I'm not sure what that guy was smoking, but they don't just "mount right up" to an Enfield frame!
So, the thing sat in my barn for 25 years. Forgotten. Until yesterday.
Maybe there's a way. I went and got it.
The original problems were that the steering stem is the wrong length, and the bearing races aren't the right size. The idea presented in the article I read said that the fork bearing races were the same diameter, so you could use the Enfield parts that fit in the frame with the Suzuki parts attached to the fork triple clamp. That turns out to be wrong. They can be assembled that way, but the bearings would have very short lives. I didn't even try it.
However, the upper stanchion tubes are the same diameter as the Enfield forks. What if I adapted the Suzuki fork legs to fit into the Enfield triple clamp?
This might work.
A bit of trial fitting, and I knew that the Suzuki fork legs would have to be cut down, and I'd have to thread the ends of them because Enfield forks screw into the upper triple clamp. The Enfield triple clamp is also narrower than the Suzuki one by about 2mm, so I'd have to cut the brake caliper bosses on the suzuki fork lowers 1mm on each side to maintain the caliper position relative to the rotor positoins.
But it could work.
The big advantage being that I can still use the Enfield trademark "casquette" combined headlamp, speedometer houseing, fork crown.
I've cobbled up a crude picture of the Suzuki fork with an Enfield upper triple clamp.

So, for the three of my followers (I'm sure there will be many more to sign up now that I've lowered myself to using Japanese parts!), what do you guys think?
You know how to reach me outside of this site.
Some of my purist friends are aghast at this. I should be using a Norton Commando front brake, or at least a Water Buffalo drum brake! Sadly, I didn't know any better 20 years ago when I bought this front end, that four leading shoe brake would be nice.
Well, this is what I have, and it's the best possible front brake I could use on this bike while avoiding spending excessive amounts of money. If it doesn't work out, I'm keeping my Enfield front forks.


  1. Carlo,
    I'm not a purist at all, but it hardly seems worth the effort to me to tart up the enfield with a water kettle disc front. I could see the merits of putting a 4LS on, heck I'm even considering if the Atlas should get a GT750 4LS, but it hardly seems to be worth it for those super heavy dual discs (not that the 4LS is light)!
    If you do go this route, couldn't you simply press the stem out of the enfield lower triple and press in into the GT750 lower? Doing that and adapting to taper bearings should allow the Suzi triples to work? Perhaps similar to the FZR400-R6 Front end conversion posting up on BARF at the moment?
    Whatever you decide, good luck, can't wait to see the results!

  2. To follow on from previous comments, I had a Yamaha SC500 fitted to my tomahawk 500 twin and it was very poor quality. In fact, the Yamaha SC500 front ends were universally known to be junk when they were new back in the 1970's. Why did a PO fit it to my Tom-y? No idea, but I curse that PO every day to this very day as I m still tweaking the front end trying to find origianl period 1956 parts. As for the Suzuki front end, I don't know if the Suzuki GT750 used the same front end as the GT380, but I had a GT380 and the front end was absolute crap. The point? Point is, I would not put older Japanese parts on a classic British bike for quality reasons, with harm to resale value being another reason. Again just my $.02 cents. :)