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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kawasaki Vulcan handcontrols for a custom Shovelhead

I have been cooking on this in my mind for awhile, but the set-up I had was functional. The stock style shovelhead era controls leave a ton to be desired. The switchbox is huge. The little buttons from Taiwan never last. The brake switches are beyond awful and need to be soldered in. There have been several creative solutions, like pressure brake switches and relays, but none I like. Late model master cylinders can be used without a switch box, but you lose the brake light switch again. The high dollar billet performance master cylinders are way out of my budget as a bargain garage bike builder, and most don't have a switch anyway.

So let's get down to my plan, adapt Kawasaki Vulcan hand controls for use on my Shovelhead. All the cool kids are running Jap bike calipers on custom Harleys, so why can't I use Jap bike controls on mine. Salvage parts are readily available for reasonable prices. Vulcans have one inch bars so that is good to go. The brake light switches are attached to the brake lever and don't seem to break often. The bore on the master cylinder for a 1500 Classic is 13mm(0.512 in). The stock master cylinder for the Crossbones caliper I am running is 9/16 inch(0.5625).  I would think 0.050 inch isn't much difference. The other thing that is nice about the compatibility of Vulcan MC and the Crossbones caliper is that both run DOT 4 fluid, so I won't have to completely clean either to make them work together.

All of the brake side is super simple and should work great, but what about the clutch lever? The 1500 Vulcan runs a hydraulic clutch and that's not really an option on this bike without spending some serious bucks. I want the clutch and brake levers to match and look like they belong together. There isn't any stock Harley or aftermarket clutch levers that look like the Vulcan brake lever. I was hoping to find some style of aftermarket lever for Harley and Kawasaki that matched, but the search has come up empty.

Here's my plan now. I bought a clutch lever off a 2000 Vulcan(why couldn't Kawasaki find a better name for those) that runs a cable clutch lever that matches my brake lever. Now to make that work with a Harley cable. The top is the Kawasaki lever and bottom is the Harley.

Again quite a bit of difference there.

I was thinking that I didn't need to open the slot very much, but I was kind of mistaken.

I sent both levers, the barrel, and a cable to my buddy Bud McCalister to see what magic he could work in his machine shop. I was thinking the biggest trick was figuring out how to hold the lever to cut on it. He did and excellent job with it.

The edges are a bit thin, but it should be easy to monitor the situation and I will definitely carry a spare stock clamp and lever.

Another look.

I considering welding the gap for a little more strength and maybe puddle welding all around the hole to thicken everything up a bit. The other cool part is seeing where the cable end was clearanced too.

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