another perfectly good motorcycle ruined.......

Sunday, 28 July 2019

national hillclimb association/curborough twisty sprint




 a wet and windy sunday, post breakfast and after being glued to the box watching the last three hours coverage of the suzuka eight hour endurance racing on eurosport I wimped out, chucked the camping stove, mashing kit and wet weather gear in the back of the trusty transporter and headed down to curborough for the nhca meeting.
  truly grass roots racing at its finest with approachable people only too happy to tell you about their home-brewed concoction’s of highly improbable race machinery and for me that’s what makes it all the more appealing. the vast majority of machines are ktm motocross derived bikes with 17” supermoto wheels and tyres, nothing wrong with that, cheap, light and devastatingly fast, crash well and very competitive, but for me, it’s the odd-ball stuff that gets my attention, now, for the life of me, what is the ‘zrf’ machine? I would think a yamaha szr single frame/swing arm? definitely a honda 250 racer seat unit, [used one of these on my mz racer’ engine? mx derived big single? the ariel arrow was just lovely, the greeves too, [but you know I’m a sucker for a ‘stroker] and then, there’s the dkw rotary, I mean, like basement jacks said, ‘where’s your head at?’ just brilliant that someone has the balls to race such a diverse machine, hats off to you sir!
    as the rain gets heavier the intrepid competitors continue to try and better their times, I feel very humble, there is probably a hundred racers and marshalls and I reckon around eight spectators, racing for the love of racing, massive respect due...........

Friday, 26 July 2019

who the fuck is wes cooley?


 for men of a certain age, the big ujm, [universal japanese motorcycles] were where it was at, big, hoary,  in line four cylinder bikes with too much weight and power, spindly frames and skinny tyres, [i managed to squeeze a massive 130 pirelli phantom onto the back of my ‘ice cream’ van, blue and white gs 1000s] dave aldana in his black skeleton leathers riding an evil looking gs at the transatlantic series match racers in the early eighties sealed it for me, croz, the new zealander on the yoshimura, high-bar gs, racing out there with the tz’s and rg strokers, these were bikes that we could identify with, bikes you could buy at the dealers, strip off the lights and ride at the weekend. of course it wasn’t like that in reality, these were big money, factory machines prepared with a massive budget, a bit like the bsb bikes today, basically a silhouette but a million miles away from the road bikes. the ‘duke’ vhs videos added a new dimension, grainy, poor quality video footage of ‘our’ bikes racing and winning at daytona, all narrated by local legend chris carter.
   I traded my red and white, ‘speedblock’ yamaha, rd400 for a blue and white gs1000 at the local co-op, yes really, the co-op! some genius decided to get into the motorcycle scene and make a killing, unfortunately it didn’t quite go that way as the ex-car dealers running the show didn’t have a clue so there was some great deals to be had and the mighty co-op pulled the plug a mere six months later after having their fancy gilded pants down and their arses royally spanked by all manner of local scrotes trading in worn out, crashed tat for sparkling new bikes. happy days. to this day I can’t believe I pulled off the deal with a seized rd for a low mileage gs1000.
the transformation soon began, at first foam grips, then a set of marzocchi shocks, [they all came red, I stripped them and sprayed them blue, later powder coated the springs white] I stripped off the engine case lacquer with nitromors and polished them with solvol, a local firm, metmachex started building beautiful aluminium swinging arms with eccentric chain adjusters, I had to have on and ended up using a car jack to splay the frame to get it to fit, an alpha 4 into 1 pipe, swiftly swapped for a harris f1 followed, cir cycle yellow ht leads and polished bell-mouths and raask Rearsets, the ubiquitous stainless Allen head screw kit for the engine and a kawasaki steering damper.
  The second picture is my bike, taken sometime in the very early 1980’s in my ex girlfriends backyard, look closely and you can see the tin of mr sheene polish and the tube of auto-solvol polish.
  so, where’s all this going then? it’s friday night and im looking at gs1000r endurance racers, wes cooleys AMA supebike has been done to death, I love them, big, tough and lairy but the yoshimura endurance racers are the nuts, don’t know if it’s my upcoming annual visit to the Isle of Man for the Classic TT/Manx gp, yes the xr69 bikes are all oil-boiler bandit/gixxer based four valves and not the original two-valve motors but what the fuck, the Manx Norton’s are all summerfield/works performance or molnar four valves, the mv’s built in a shed in the West Midlands and nowhere near milan.
   Mrs b is not happy, I’ve bid on a tatty 600 Suzuki bandit, mot failure and needing work, the photos taken after the well known dodge of spraying with a hosepipe, [everything looks better wet] I’m not fooled, it’s a knacker but all I can see in my minds eye is a suzuka eight-hour yoshimura endurance racer........


Sunday, 21 July 2019

since god was a boy

A very pleasant afternoon spent at the VMCC founders day rally at Stamford hall, not been here for a few years but nothing really changes, all the stalls are in exactly the same place and I’m sure they are still selling the same rusty old tat that I saw three years ago. Does anyone really buy second hand sprockets with less teeth than a geriatric hen? The bikes are the stars though, yes there are some lovely, concourse bikes wheeled out to receive a rosette and put back in the van until the next show, but for me wandering down the tree lined avenue searching out the gems is where it’s at for me. I know I’m not posting as many photos as I used to on the blog but forgive me, it got to the stage where I felt I was missing out on the ambiance and enjoyment of just stumbling around looking, talking to the characters and just enjoying the whole experience instead of chasing Instagram ‘likes’, followers and comments. 
Sitting in the shade of a massive oak tree eating a cheese and tommy doorstep I found myself reflecting on the whole classic bike scene, I’m no youngster myself as I passed the ‘60’ milestone a few weeks ago but the average age of the visitors must have been at least sixty-five and that’s a conservative [hacks loudly and spits on the floor] estimate. Where are the kids? Where’s the new blood coming through to take over the reigns and keep these lovely old bikes on the road where they belong not sitting polished and burnished and unused and silent and viewed as a piece of fine art rather than a noisy, oil-smelling, loud and dangerous motorcycle? 

Friday, 19 July 2019

itemise loathing and feed yourself smiles

thursday night see’s me out on the 790 duke for a 40 mile run down to coalville for the bike night at the vic, the first bike night I’ve attended for 18 months if truth be told. It’s a warm but overcast evening when I set off, short work through the works traffic, weary commuters making their way home through derby, I cut the queues easily, flick my headlight onto full-beam as I split lanes and filter ever wary of the tool’s in their rep-mo-biles on the ‘phone making excuses for being late to ‘the good lady wife’ 
I cut through the backlanes and I’m soon out into rural leicestershire, the traffic is thin and any ‘obstacles’ are soon despatched with a quick squirt of the the throttle, bloody hell! I had forgotten how much fun the 790 was, I scroll through the menu on the move and stick into sport mode, the bike takes on a different demeanour, it hunts a little below four thousand arr-pee-emm but north of that it’s  off like a scolded cat, front wheel pawing the air and with a very, very naughty exhaust note. The riding position is just so aggressive, ‘want some do ya’ monkey boy! wallop!’ elbows come out naturally, the view from the cockpit is, err, nothing, you can’t see the front wheel, just the tft screen scrolling  from black to white instantly as you go from shade to sunlight, the engine noise is intoxicating, I really don’t know how ktm have got away with this pipe, why spunk £800 on an akra and drop 3bhp? 
sorry, back to the plot, so, I eventually arrive at the vic, park up and go in search of a coke. I have a wander and try to find something to take a photo of, something that fires me up and sparks enthusiasm to trawl evil-bay and purchase a gilera chronos 125, a vespa px200 or t5, a vtr firestorm, another 750 or 900ss ducati, supermono racebike or puch vs50d. 
So, here’s a picture of my drive, primark trainer and ted the dog instead...........

Thursday, 11 July 2019

murder weapon. [track by tricky, tricky track cadwell]

Just landed home from the annual day out to the morini riders club trackday at cadwell. Must admit I didn’t think I’d be there this year as my entry was turned down and I scraped in as a reserve, pretty pissed off to find that the club had offered places to newbies instead of the loyal people who go every year, I was probably one of the first ten people to send the cheque to reserve my place in previous years, but this year you had to apply by email and I must admit to being a little surprised to get the knock back.
three weeks ago I receive an email to say that a few people had dropped out and got offered a place, my first reaction was to say get fucked but it’s just such a great day out with good people and really interesting bikes that I swallowed my pride and took up the invitation. more to follow but here’s the most brutal moto guzzi I think I have ever seen, spent an hour shooting the shit with the owner who was a really nice bloke, it’s a t3 engine with raceco modified frame, no cradle and massive aluminium mountings, the swing arm is a magni item, probably prototype, rg250 fairing,  spondon engineering aluminium yokes, rg 500 mudguard and astralite wheels, talking of which, how cool are astralites? ..........

Sunday, 7 July 2019

the meaning of memory

 out and about today on the guzzi, last weekend saw a friday/saturday/sunday shakedown, 60 miles on friday  afternoon, 170 saturday and 240 miles on sunday, I followed this up today with a quick 120 miles this afternoon.
  So, here’s my considered thoughts on the new bike, [the last guzzi I rode was a mark one le mans that I borrowed from a mate and although I ended up with massive bruising to my arm when a car towing a caravan decided to go for a gap that wasn’t there and ended up whacking me with one of those extended rear view mirrors!]
    After the dual purpose debacle in the previous post I decided I wanted another air-cooled twin cylinder bike, I looked at the bmw boxer twins, hunting around for a project bike to build another special and was amazed at how the prices have gone  skywards, big money for something that needs twice as much again spending on it to kick it into shape. I suppose it’s the ‘built/bikeshed’ effect? I started looking at sportsters and ‘inckley bonny’s but couldn’t really get any enthusiasm back to start hacking one up again, a bit of ‘been there, done that’ creeping in I suppose so that left the guzzi. I did some research and thought the v7 model may be the one, prices are reasonable but the lack of horsepower was a little concerning, a good one is sub 50bhp  and they aren’t the lightest things.
    I looked at the older carby models with a view to sticking a set of keihin fcr’s and some decent pipes on to up the rather meagre output but soon discovered that there’s not much difference in price with a fuel-infected model that’s around five - six years younger!
    A hunt on a ‘well known internet auction site’ soon found a few potential ‘victims’ sorry I mean suitable candidates, I kept coming back to this one though, I didn’t realise at first but after more digging realised that this was a very interesting little bike. although listed as the base model ‘stone’ version, [the matt black entry level bike] the more comparing and contrasting revealed that moto guzzi don’t actually sell this bike in this form instead the previous owner had gone to a lot of trouble and expense to upgrade the machine and may I say sir, you have made a damn fine job in doing so!
    the bike has the upswept ‘cafe racer’ exhausts, now, although to my knowledge there is no performance increase, it is a stroke of genius because it allows the removal of the rear wheel for tyre changes and bevel box maintenance without the need to remove the silencers as you cannot withdraw the rear wheel spindle as it fouls the standard pipes. it also looks a lot sportier, especially combined with the ‘cafe racer’ humped seat and the rear exhaust hanger brackets. the bike also has the lovely ‘speciale’ black, silver and orange fuel tank that offers a massive 21 litres of fuel which equates to a staggering 240 miles between fill-ups! [hello bmw adventure bike owners!’ the wheels have been powder coated in silver to mimic the aforementioned le mans which is a great touch which I wish I had thought of and the addition of a tachometer which, to be honest isn’t really necessary but a nice touch nevertheless.
  the standard mirrors are toss. they vibrate and offer you an unparalleled view of your elbows, so poor that I returned home and took them off the first time I rode it. I replaced them with ‘bar-end’ oberon items, 75mm streetfighter mirrors. i’ve used these on loads of bikes and can’t recommend them highly enough, once fitted and set up they stay exactly where you want them and offer a clear view without the shaking and blurred vision normally associated with a tory mp in a self asphyxiation role play situation.
    I initially tried to ride the guzzi like the 790 duke. dancing on the gear lever and trying to keep it in the sweet spot, whoa tiger, that’s not happening! the 790 packs 105 bhp and weighs nothing, almost ‘stroker-like, no engine braking to speak of, just a totally different animal. I quickly realised that I needed a little more decorum riding the guzzi, stick in sixth and just use the throttle, no need for brakes although the brembo four -pot, single disc set-up is more than adequate, strangely the bike comes with traction control which seems a bit over the top for a bike packing 48.9 bhp but you can turn it off which you have to do rather annoyingly every time you ride. this thing really is charming, the further you ride it the better it gets, no sign of fatigue for impressive mileage, no discernible vibration, in fact, the faster you go the less intrusive any frequencies through the bars, the seat is firmly padded but no sign of the dreaded ‘dead-arse syndrome’ occurred. handling is brilliant, the bike has the same rake as a chopper baby and is the same length as the torrey canyon and  so, has no right on paper to corner like it does, just set yourself up for the bends, tip in using the wide bars for leverage, no hanging off or any of that old bollocks and it tracks through the bends with impressive stability and loads of feedback that will leave you grinning the further you push it. ground clearance is somewhat limited and even gentle cornering results in exhaust or side stand making contact with mother-earth in a very satisfying ‘screeethhhhh’ and impressive sparks scaring following motorists.
      I like it, I like it a lot............