This intrepid columnist has spent half a lifetime trying not to make the same mistake more than one hundred times. And failed. Here’ the latest window into his world...
Now the racing season and NEC bikeshow are behind us I’ve got a bit more time on my hands. Every off-season I like nothing better than barricading myself in the garage and getting stuck into a restoration project. Last year’s effort was a 1969 Suzuki stinger that turned out really well. I’ve discovered over the years that if you only tackle one bike at a time you end up spending more hours trawling t’inter-web sourcing parts or sitting on your backside waiting for stuff to come back from the painters and chromers than you do in the workshop.
The best way of doing it is to have a couple on the go at any one time, then you can work on one while you collect the bits to start on the other and vice-versa. The two I’m on with this winter are a 1984 MBA and a 1973 Suzuki GT 750. The MBA is a little jewel of an Italian 125cc twin cylinder racing bike. I raced one exactly the same when I was 17 and have always had a bit of a soft spot for ’em. It’s taken me 6 years to gather the bits to start the rebuild but it’s finally taking shape.
The other project couldn’t be much different. The GT 750 kettle is a brute of a bike. The bloke I got it off a decade ago said it hadn’t run for five years then, so it was a surprise to me that after 15 years lying idle how mechanically sound and relatively rust free the olg girl was. Sure, it needed completely going through to make it mint but it crossed my mind that it probably wouldn’t take too much effort to breath a bit of life back into her.
Well, that was it wasn’t it, the thought kept popping into my head I wonder if it’d run? I decided to clean the carbs out, put some fresh fuel and coolant in and stick a battery on, just to find out if I could fire her up and hear the 750cc triple roar before I stripped her down. I know it’s a cliché, but it fired up before I’d had my thumb on the starter button for three seconds, and ran as sweet as a nut. What I did next was, on reflection, a little bit silly.I‘ve never actually ridden a kettle so, like a giddy school kid I decided to put some air in the tyres, and if they’d stay up I’d go for a quick blast up the lane. I’d only go a couple of miles and back... what could possibly go wrong? It sounds stupid to me now as well.
Everything was going swimmingly until, coming out of the village and onto the unrestricted section of road I gave her the beans. At somewhere between 60 and 70 mph I became aware of a large quantity of boiling water streaming all over my right leg. I pulled up to find the top radiator hose had blown, but worse was to come. I think a crank seal had also gone coz in the half mile since leaving the village this bike had produced more smoke than I have ever seen in my life ! No kidding, within minutes this grey/blue cloud had enveloped all of Huddersfield and most of Yorkshire. Cars were emerging from it with their lights on like they were coming out of a fog-bank!
I also discovered GT 750s weigh 250 kilos and are buggers to push if you’ve a scalded right leg. No more than I deserved.
The best thing at the bikeshow was the new Norton. The range of new Commando road bikes they had on display at the NEC were stunning and they seemed to get a lot of attention.
They had just enough of the look of the 1970’s bike to give them character, but with all the components and modern design that should make them fun to ride. Lovely shape, mint paintwork, Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes, they really look the part. If they ride as well as they should and if they’re reliable I reckon they’ll sell. Can’t wait to have a go on one to see if they live up to the hype.
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk