Blue Collar Bobber Motorcycle Build – Part 5

Wrap It Up 
By Steve Lita

Well, this about wraps up our Blue Collar Bobbers Bike Build project (for now). If you’ve methodically worked your way through this month’s issue, you’ve already seen the finished product on page 46. Sorry for letting the black cat out of the bag, but that’s the way the magazine is laid out. These next few pages will show you the final assembly of Tyler’s Honda Shadow bobber. If the images look like they were hastily taken, well, they were. I was jonesing to ride this bike, and once I got my hands on the bodywork early on a Saturday morning, I worked all day, straight through, to button things up. That evening, I was riding around town taking cellphone pictures, posting them on Facebook and teasing Tyler via text message.

The final steps were to install exhaust heat wrap, drill some lightening holes in select body parts, and hang the painted bodywork. Blue Collar Bobbers supplied the exhaust heat wrap kit, and as with all its kits, it came with a detailed instructional DVD. In the DVD, Lance from Blue Collar suggests that the Honda Shadow exhaust can be wrapped with the exhaust system still bolted to the bike, and he suggests wrapping directly over the large-diameter factory heat shields. I hadn’t watched the DVD before I started the project, and one of the first items I removed, way back in Part 1 of this story, was the exhaust. At that time, I wasn’t sure if we’d keep the stock exhaust, and I figured it would be easier to wrap the stock exhaust if it were off the bike.

Upon closer inspection, I realized why Blue Collar suggests wrapping over the factory shields. Once I removed the factory heat shields, I found two different diameter header tubes. The front cylinder’s pipe is a large tube, and the rear has a smaller diameter. I can only surmise this is to equalize the backpressure, or perhaps it’s because the rider’s leg comes close to the front tube while seated on the bike. But for whatever reason, this is what I had to deal with. Thanks, Honda. My intention was to wrap the pipes and drill some old-school lightening holes in the shields to let viewers get a peek through at the wrap. It’s a combination of two hot rodder tricks. I solved the dilemma of the different diameter pipes by double-wrapping the smaller pipe. The first layer of wrap acted to build up the pipe diameter, and the outer, second layer was almost as large as the single layer on the big pipe. The Blue Collar kit had more than enough wrap to make the extra lap, as I hadn’t planned to wrap the muffler cans. It worked out pretty neat. The only thing I needed to watch out for was that the shield’s attaching clamps are integrated into the backside of the tin. So I made sure there was no wrap on the pipe at the spots where the shield clamps needed to wrap around and hold the pipes. It made for a little extra effort via some careful measuring and the use of several more stainless steel wrap straps, but the final effect was worth it.

Before bolting the shields back on, I drilled the evenly spaced holes with a step drill bit. Patience is the key here. I covered the chrome shields with masking tape and measured more than twice before I drilled even once. Nothing perturbs me more than haphazardly drilled holes in bike or car components. Nothing looks worse than unevenly spaced holes, and nothing looks better than perfectly spaced ones. Symmetry is beautiful. I planned carefully to stay away from the bracket placements on the back side, and kept a pad of paper and a pencil handy for the calculations. I pinpricked the marks and drilled pilot holes before placing the shield in a drill press bench vise and drilling straight through. I even used the step drill bit on the back side of the shields to deburr the holes and prevent them from chaffing the wrap material. Once all the holes were drilled, a quick coat of high-heat black and they were ready to go back on the pipes.

Since I had the step drill bit chucked up in the drill press, I got busy on the chain guard as well. Part of making this Shadow a bobber was removing chrome, and the chain guard was rusty and unattractive anyway. Here was the perfect opportunity to make it match the bike’s theme. Again, holes were measured out carefully and drilled in a straight pattern. By the way, the stepped drill bit and the extra stainless steel wrap straps for the exhaust wrap were sourced from our friends at Harbor Freight Tools. It never fails that when I go in that place for one item I end up at the cash register with a cartful.

Before bolting on the satin black painted bodywork, which was painted by Lanes Unlimited Auto Body, Guilford, Connecticut, I installed a factory-new fuel valve filter sock in the tank. It’s cheap insurance, and it came with new sealing O-rings. It’s well worth the investment to avoid fuel leaks. The body panels are plain black at this showing, and Tyler plans some old-school pinstripes in the future, but as far as the Blue Collar Bobbers part of the project goes, this about wraps it up, literally. As we say around the RoadBike offices: Aaaannnddd done.

1. The exhaust wrap kit from Blue Collar Bobbers contains more than enough wrap and a handful of stainless steel straps.

2. The stock Honda Shadow exhaust is oddly made up of two different diameter pipes.

3. I mark the pipes with a magic marker to note where the stock heat shield brackets wrap around and clamp onto the pipes.

4. The exhaust wrap softens and stretches after it’s soaked in a bucket of warm water for a few minutes. I keep this bucket right alongside the workbench and pull material up as needed.

5. Wearing protective gloves, I wrap the pipes and clamp the ends with stainless steel straps. After trimming the excess, the stainless straps have sharp edges, so use caution to avoid cutting your hands.

6. These are the components that will be lightened by drilling some evenly spaced holes. Back in the day, racers did this to make the vehicle lighter. I don’t know exactly how much weight we actually saved, but it sure looks cool.

7. I measure out a grid on the masking-tape- covered parts and pinprick the pilot holes before drilling the large lightening holes.

8. Here’s what we have before a coat of black paint. The wide gap between the second and third hole on the chain guard is covered by the rear shock absorber.

9. Here are our original body panels just back from the paint shop. I set them out in the sun to cure for the day.

10. As per Blue Collar Bobber instructions, I apply silicone adhesive to the fender, reinforcing brackets. If this isn’t done before the paint process, the silicone will wreak havoc with fresh paint.

11. The front attaching stud is bolted to the front of the rear fender.

12. The half-moon-shaped reinforcement is also glued to the rear of the fender.

13. A new filter sock is procured from Honda. The original one (right) is dried out and warped.

14. The sock fits to the factory fuel valve with new O-rings, and the entire assembly is threaded into the underside of the tank. Turn to page 46 for the finished product.

Hard Data:
Blue Collar Bobbers
Exhaust Wrap Kit, $19


Originally published in RoadBike Motorcycle Magazine, April 2011


  1. Scott Daniels says:

    Hey Steve,

    Great job on the article and the bobber. I just purchased a kawasaki vulcan 800 for a bobber project. I haven’t even picked the bike up yet but I ordered all the parts for the project from BCB. I noticed from the pics the CT plate, I’m from the Hartford area. Let me know if you want pics from another CT bobber…

  2. Hi, that is some really nice info. I will definetely use some of the ideas as I work on my bike. I did also get some good ideas from which has some nice pics of bobbers on their site.


  3. Hi, very good info. I’m thinking of the same conversion, a Shadow to a bobber. But where can I find the pics for the finished version of the bobber?


  4. Were is this page 46