Bill Bugaj’s Vincent Black Shadow Replica
As Told By Stephen Bugaj
Edited by Mark@mjmpublishing
Vincent Van G-O!
Just south of Chestertown, Maryland, is a small motorcycle shop that goes by the name of Full Throttle Powersports. By all appearances, it seems to be your average, nondescript motorcycle repair shop, and is easily overlooked if you are not paying particular attention. However, appearances, as they say, can be deceiving, and in this case, the adage is particularly fitting.
What distinguishes Full Throttle Powersports from all others of its nature is its owner and operator, Bill Bugaj. Better known as “the Doctor” by his customers, Bill has an incredible knack for fixing motorcycles. Not only fixing, but making them run faster, smoother, and more efficiently.
As most of you have figured out by now, Bill also happens to be my brother. My youngest brother in fact. But it’s not just a matter of fraternal and familial pride that I’ve written this article. It also just so happens that I am a motorcycle aficionado with a particular love for the great bikes of yesteryear. I’m enthralled by what I call engineering marvels or works of considerable creativity.
Bill shares that love of old bikes but unlike me, he has decided to do something about it. More specifically, Bill has combined his extensive historical knowledge, incredible technical expertise, and keen attention to detail with his creativity to bring one of these classic motorcycles back to life. What better bike to resurrect than the legendary Vincent Black Shadow…?
This project took Bill about nine months to complete. It is NEITHER a restoration nor a custom, rather it is an amalgam of the old and the new that fused reproduction Vincent parts onto a Yamaha frame and drive train. A “cus-toration” if you will indulge me. Other parts from other models were selected and used based on achieving as authentic an appearance as possible, many of which required Bill to modify, adapt or forge in his shop. More about this later. Moreover, a totally restored Vincent Black Shadow would be something that I would hide in the deepest recesses of my home in an airtight cabinet under 24 hour lock and key. Yet this bike is meant to be ridden rather than hidden.
In a nutshell, Bill began with a 1982 Yamaha Virago frame and engine. He then searched the Internet to obtain a number of replica Vincent parts to include the headlight, decals, seat emblem and” Miller” type tail light tail light assembly.
Bill chose to use the front forks and triple trees from an XV 920R rather than a Vincent repo “girder” fork because he felt it was more substantial and safer to ride. The front wheel came from a 1981 Kawasaki KZ 1000 and is capped with a VEE classic rib 3.25 X 19” front tire. According to Bill, the most difficult part of the project was the rear wheel. The stock 920 XV came with cast alloy wheels. He had to find a rear hub that he could machine an adapter to fit an 18” aluminum rim. He also had to design his own spokes. Regarding this item, Bill found a great wheel company that custom-made them out of 309 stainless steel to his specifications. The rear tire is a Dunlop K70 4.00 X 18”.
Bill found a 1980 Yamaha XS 400 gas tank but re-constructed the mounting brackets for a closer resemblance to that of the Vincent. Bullet mufflers were from a Royal Enfield but the baffles were also modified for a more authentic sound. The stainless fenders were taken from a ’69 Norton Commando and modified to fit. The handlebars are aftermarket drag bars.
The seat is a reproduction seat for a 60’s era Jawa 250. Bill made a custom seat frame to fit the Yamaha and was able to adjust the seat height to 32.5 “ similar to the Black Shadow. The fender braces, seat struts, assorted spacers, brackets, wiring harness, throttle and choke cables, were fabricated from scratch in his shop. Bill is especially proud of the fact that he did the welding, brazing, drilling, machining, painting and assembling BY HAND.
The engine specifications I’ve located for the Black Shadow are as follows: 50 degree V-Twin OHV; 998 cubic centimeters; 84 mm bore x 90mm stroke; comprehension ratio – 7.3:1; produces 55 HP and a top speed of 125 MPH “depending on conditions”. In comparison, Bill’s bike is powered by a stock four-stroke XV 920I Virago engine with the following specs: 75 degree V-Twin OHV; 920 cubic centimeters; 92.0mm bore x 69.2mm stroke; compression ration – 8.3:1; capable of cranking out 65 horsepower at 6500 RPM with a reported top end of 108 MPH. However, Bill replaced the aluminum camshaft bushings with ball bearings, and did some re-jetting to the stock carburetors. For the record (and OFF the record!) Bill stated that he has ridden this bike at 125 MPH on several occasions, matching the speed achieved by the Black Shadow.
Along with the front forks, the exhaust system is a major difference between both bikes. To best match appearances, Bill used a stock front cylinder head pipe from an ’86 Yamaha XV 1000 for its much more rounded profile. He retained the rear cylinder head pipe and but fabricated a 2 into 1 collector. Then he also fabricated a special exhaust hanger bracket so that everything could be mounted. Bill ended up with an exhaust system that is not only full custom, but really works to help achieve the overall appearance. And it sounds good.
The cosmetic work and painting was done by Jay White, a friend and customer of Bills. After this final step, it was difficult for me to distinguish Bill’s cus-toration from an original Vincent. I’ll let you judge the resemblance for yourself.
By the way, Bill is currently working on another and similar project. Even hear of a Vindian? Stay tuned…
Readers who have an interest in this project are also advised to check out the Blog called the Vincent Project. For technical information regarding its construction, contact Bill at email@example.com Or stop by his shop and see the bike in person. While you’re there you can schedule your ride’s maintenance or repairs.