I’ll be honest with you: my initial plan for this build was to give the bike an extreme makeover. That would not only give me a bike to ride, but also showcase and epitomise the Nineties, my favourite era of moto. The problem is, the deeper I got into the build, the more fastidious I became. It quickly stopped being a bike to shred and more of a showpiece – not to mention, a tribute to the King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath.
Every time I worked on the bike, I kept going back to various components that I thought weren’t up to scratch. It saw me redoing these parts, just to take the build to a higher standard. Yes, I know that overthinking makes for an never-ending build. It’s something I needed slapped out of me!
So, instead of taking you through the entire build chronologically, I’ll be sharing the entire build with you from the ground up.
Here’s Part I.
Where the rubber meets the off-road
Did you know that ’93 was one of the last years to see an 18-inch rear wheel on a motocross bike? That fact is probably lost on a lot of riders. The move to a 19-inch rear was done to cut down on weight. Plus, the development in tyre technology – that’s come even further in the quarter-century since – meant manufacturers no longer needed larger sidewalls to find traction. To keep the build as accurate as possible, l stuck with the 21 on the front and 18 on the rear.
From the ground up and inside out, the new wheels began with the hubs. The original hubs were in great condition but there was still a lot of work ahead. The old bearings were removed, the hubs were vapour blasted at NTB Racing, and painted the correct matte black by Summerell Panel & Paint.
The finished hubs were fitted with replacement bearings, easily sourced from All Balls, and laced to Excel Takasago rims with Bulldog stainless steel spoke sets and billet aluminium spline nipples from Dubya USA.
Of course, no wheel is complete without rubber.
Dunlop was the natural choice for the project, so I grabbed a set of Dunlop Geomax MX3S from Whyteline Limited – complete with tyre decals for that factory look.
Despite being the base model for what would be the most successful reign of any moto in the stadiums, the ‘93 was known for having terrible forks. Obviously, Team Honda and McGrath didn’t have to worry about that. The RC250 for the 1993 AMA/Camel Supercross Championship was fitted with Showa A-Kit forks.
To give the stock forks that factory look, the fork tubes were shipped off to Advanced Anodisers to be – you guessed it – anodised. The gold finish is the result of the original anodising being stripped from the tubes, and the surface being polished to perfection, to ensure all nicks and dents were removed. The result is a finish that’s almost unbelievable when you remember that the forks were manufactured in 1992.
The lower halves AKA the “pipes” were in good condition. That meant it was only a matter of vapour blasting the drop-outs and replacing the retainer bolts to match the factory finish of the tubes, easily done with pieces from Bolt Motorcycle Hardware.
Just so you know, finding OEM parts for some generations of CRs can be pretty tough. That’s especially true of the front axle for its two-stroke motocrossers. It’s almost impossible to find as NOS. The front axle on the base bike was in decent condition, so it was stripped, polished and galvanised by Advanced Chrome Platers – it came out looking as good as new (old stock).
The final touch? That would be the replica decals by Lewis at Unbounded Designs, matched to the factory bike’s original showy Showa stickers.
The rear shock was in need of a complete overhaul. It was covered in years of grease, oil, engine overflow, dirt and sand (and had taken a bit of a beating during its time in the deserts of Southern California).
The spring was sent to Powdercoating NZ, where the original blue was colour matched, to bring it back to life. The shock cylinder, shaft, linkages and pivot bolts were vapour blasted at NTB Racing, to come out looking like new parts. NTB also reassembled the shock, with new oil, seals, and bump stop. The result was essentially a brand-new shock.
The work involved was relatively inexpensive.
That swinging arm
I was lucky. The swingarm on the ‘93 was in reasonable condition, with just the expected amount of grime and chain burr. To bring the swingarm back to its former glory, it only needed a clean and polish – albeit, done so by professionals.
The linkage end, with its unfinished texture, was better to be vapour blasted.
The box section of the swingarm was buffed and polished by George at Advanced Chrome Platers. He removed as many of the scratches and chain marks as possible through buffing. That was followed by being polished to a shine. It’s pretty obvious that George kept polishing ‘til he could see himself, isn’t it?
The most essential part of a rear suspension rebuild is the bearings. As you can probably tell, my All Balls order from Bits4Bikes was extensive (but that doesn’t mean it was super expensive). From the top and bottom bearings for the shock eyes, the bearings throughout the linkage and also the swingarm, it’s easy to see why the bearing kit is an essential purchase.
Am I sounding a little too excited about bearings? My wife said the same thing! I’m a big fan of precision engineering, an attribute of All Balls, which makes for a perfect fit. You can’t really blame me, right?
Getting the power to the ground
That’s not even all of the unsprung weight!
In Part II, we’ll look at how Project 93 gets the power to the ground (and also ground control to overall control).
Are you inspired?
Main Photo: Chad Konik | The Fast Times