Taking the stock wheels and front end off and replacing them with newer ones that were designed for a different motorcycle is not something that should be taken lightly. So why is it that so many people have converted their wheels and front end to those of the CBR F2? Good question.
There are many pros and cons to such a seemingly radical project. To a large extent, the payoffs and pitfalls are purely subjective. To a lesser extent, there are valid scientific and engineering principles that determine the utility of such a modification. Since I am not an engineer or a chassis designer, I will focus mainly on the subjective points. The following assumes a well executed, tuned and tested conversion:
- Allows better tire selection: Radials offer the newest advances in temperature control, flex, damping and tire compounds. This _can_ have a large effect on performance under various road, speed and temperature conditions. An (arguably) added bonus is the modern 'bad-boy' look these tires lend to an otherwise dated wheel scheme.
- F2 Forks are shorter and more stable, so the geometry and solidity of the ride is brought closer to modern standards. For me this is a very positive change. Those long, spindly legs are the _only_ thing I outright dislike about the early viffers.
- F2 forks offer more adjustment features (especially the '94 cartridge forks).
- The speedo mechanism works with zero modification necessary.
- Hard braking no longer evokes images of the rodeo. Soft braking becomes possible in situations you wouldn't dream of trying with a stock (or even rebuilt stock) front end.
- The ride isn't the same. It's more stable, more sticky, more adjustable. It means business.
- Projects like this can be so fun and educational that your interest level in motorcycles and wrenching may well triple!
- To my knowledge, (and I will remove this from the FAQ the moment I'm corrected), no one has ever gone back to stock after doing a good job with the conversion.
- Some nimbleness is lost (not to be confused with steering quickness). What I'm talking about here is the ease with which you 'flick' the bike from side to side. We've all experienced how un-flickable a ride is with a pillion on the back. Even though the steering is just as quick, the weight of the passenger makes it harder to 'flick'. This is what I'm talking about, but on an almost undetectable scale. It just takes a skosh (very scientific, eh?) more effort to 'flick'.
- It ain't cheap. If you replace the front end, you'll need to rebuild the F2 forks, do some irrevocable machine-work to the lower triple and rear brake arm and buy new handlebars. When you add the wheels, brakes, tires and wheel bearings, you've probably topped a grand for the front alone (and that's being frugal). Add the rear, and you'd be lucky to keep the whole project under $1500.
- Even if you wait to have all the parts in hand before starting, your bike will be out of commission for *at least* three weeks (that is, if you actually have a job).
- If you don't get '90+ VFR handlebars, you'll lose much of your turning radius.
- The bike looks newer (if the wheels match, that is). It no longer has that classic vintage look. It may be less collectable as well.
- The ride isn't the same. It doesn't feel like the classic old girl it once was.
As you can see, the decision to undertake this project is extremely subjective. It is not for the mechanically challenged. It is not for the vintage purist. But it most definitely is for the custom-minded, adventurous black sheep, the mechanically-enamored enthusiast, or the demander of performance and newer technology.
Disclaimer: This information has been been reviewed and, where possible, verified. We are not, however, responsible for any mistakes or omissions that have slipped past us. When in doubt, seek official verification.