Sunday, September 15, 2019

Suzuki Bandit 1200 — Brake Caliper Stripdown.

Nissin Calipers Overhaul.
The Bandit has been a lot of fun so far, but one thing was niggling me. Although all the discs and pads looked quite new, the rear brake was squealing so loudly I was actively trying to avoid using it.

So a couple of weeks ago I thought I'd whip off the rear caliper, clean up the pistons and pads, and apply some grease to the backs of the pads. During the cleaning of the pistons, I noticed part of an O-ring sticking out on one side. The only thing I could do was unbolt the two sides of the caliper and remove the pistons to see what was going on.

The secondary O-ring (dust seal) must have been so dry at some point that it got caught on the piston and worked its way out. However it happened, I popped out the pistons, cleaned everything up in soapy water, blew it all dry and refitted the O-ring along with rubber grease. With careful refitting of the piston, all was well. Obviously this was done with both sides of the caliper, and then new brake fluid was flushed through. The back brake was then perfect... and silent.

What I did notice while the caliper was apart was the amount of orange, jellied brake fluid hiding within. There is no way this stuff is getting out unless you strip the caliper completely, which left me wondering about the fronts...

Monday, September 9, 2019

Suzuki Bandit 1200 — Fuel Gauge Not Reading Correctly?

Rusty Tanks? Sounds like a Blues singer.
And if you leave the rust to spread, the blues is what you'll be singing.

Takes me back to when I was 18 or 19, riding a '58 Triumph Speedtwin. My mate and I were on our way into Hereford, the traffic was backed up a bit from the roundabout and we were busy swerving our way through when he came alongside me, on his Stan Stephen's Stage-3 tuned, RD350 YPVS, to tell me that I had a water leak.

My initial response was "F#ck, where from?"

It dawned pretty quickly that there is no water in a pre-unit Triumph! The tank had split and petrol was absolutely pissing out all over the head and barrels! I killed the engine, which helped a little because the vibration stopped, and calmly pushed (very quickly) it over to the bike shop that used to be on that very roundabout. A mechanic there gave me a tray to put under it, and my mate gave me a lift back home where I borrowed a Transit from work to pick up the old Trumpet. Job's a fish.

But I digress, as usual, because we're now in Bandit country. One of the first things I noticed about the Bandit was the fuel gauge, and it didn't move as Suzuki intended. There was also rust visible in the tank. 
A quick test of the fuel gauge goes as follows: unplug the tank sender unit, rear right of the petrol tank on the Bandit, and insert a wire into both terminals of the loom. This is basically returning 12v to the gauge (or mimicking a full tank). The gauge went to the full position so happy days. Time to pull out the tap and fuel sender.


Monday, September 2, 2019

Suzuki Bandit 1200 — The Old School Hooligan Tool.

Bigger cubes!
Part of the reason for putting the GS550 on the road was to take things at a gentler pace. While the CBR600RR is amazing — compliant, smooth, light, quick — probably too quick, you need to be a bit careful where the constabulary are concerned.

Ambling round on the GS is great, it's happy mooching round and gives you plenty of time to take in the scenery. I absolutely love being on old stuff too. Points and condensers, carburettors, air-cooled engines... they just have more soul. The smell in the garage after they've been for a run is awesome too.

But then you hit that steep hill, loaded with hairpin bends, and she struggles in first gear just to make it round. It starts me thinking about GS1000's, GSX1100's, something a bit bigger, torquier. Something that will go two-up with ease, trundle around all day on the sniff of fumes and sit at 3,000 to 4,000 RPM.

Mmm... nice but too expensive nowadays. 

So, it got me thinking. What about the first of the Bandits? 1157cc, oil/air-cooled monstrous fours that ooze torque and charisma, and will wrench your arms off just off idle. Basically the detuned engine out of a GSXR1100. Always wanted a GSXR1100. Mmm, here we go again!

Such a visual feast of all things bargain, if you look properly. There were lots on there, later 1250S models with the water-cooled engine, but all were runners and commanding large sums of money. I prefer a project for much smaller sums of money. And I found one. But it was a thirteen hour drive, for a non-running Mk1. It looked in reasonable fettle (obviously in photos) and Murray, the guy selling it, seemed pretty legit, in fact an absolute legend. So transport was organised...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Suzuki GS550E — Replacing The Clutch.

EBC Heavy Duty Springs.
So after a few rides on the old 550, it soon became apparent there was a bit of clutch slip when used hard in high gears, but the main issue (for me) was the clutch lever was just too light. To the point that when you were trying to get away from the lights, especially uphill, the clutch just wouldn't bite fast enough.

So Wemoto quickly sent me some new springs, and a Slinky clutch cable in case the old one couldn't take the pressure. These guys are amazing, great prices, very quick and efficient service!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Back On The Road — Suzuki GS550E

From a parts bike, to potential mileage muncher.
It was a little cheapie, bought unseen on eBay. My famed acquaintance Bryan picked it up for me, and even delivered it to the door... I swear legends are made of less. Pretty sure he's dying to ride it too.

It wasn't pretty, but he's a mate. The GS was also rough, no plugs in the engine, the carbs in a box and broken, but with seven years of TLC, dedication and, pure laziness, it's back on the road.

Considering the massive oil leak when the engine was first turned over, the fact that the bores were left exposed for however long, and the carbs had been left off too, it's incredible how good this thing goes and sounds. 

I put a cam chain on it, adjusted valve clearances, new coils, plugs, points and condensers and it runs like a bought one.

With a first test run (shakedown) a few nights ago, I discovered I need to fix a few things:

1) The gear lever circlip fell off and the lever nearly went astray. Luckily the foot peg bracket just held it in place.
2) The clutch slips slightly under load, heavy-duty springs are on the way. 
The lever itself feels so light, it's hard to pull away from standstill — definitely needs more pressure.
3) The seat is too low, and too firm, but the cover itself is still pliable and soft. I assumed somebody had cut away the original foam for a shorter rider, but maybe it's sunk over the years. I've ordered a section of gel to go into the seat for a little more height and comfort.

In fairness, it goes very well. I'll get some of these little jobs done and keep you all posted. Never done a gel seat conversion so looking forward to that. This is how it looks now — not immaculate, but definitely useable.

I'll clean up and paint the exhaust as and when, but for now need to get some miles on it. Hopefully the gel will arrive this week so I can sort that out.

More soon...

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Improving Your Motorcycle's Brakes... Cheaply.

As the lever fades...
With a few miles, or years, under its belt, most bikes start to feel a little bit lacking when it comes to the feel at the lever. And I, for one, am not keen on riding bikes where the lever almost touches the bars. Now, if money is no option, there are plenty of easy fixes:
  • New discs and pads
  • Braided brake lines
  • Rebuild the calipers with new seals, maybe pistons if damaged
  • Brembo adjustable master cylinder 
But this gets expensive, and changing parts could be masking an actual problem — something that could be easily fixed. So what if you could improve your standard brakes where things have deteriorated over time? Well read on...

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Can You Clean and Adjust Your Chain?

Drive Chain Maintenance.
A bit of a back to basics story here. I thought I had this covered sometime back, but I actually don't, my bad. A couple of weeks ago, a geezer asked if I thought the chain on his Ninja 300 was worn out. Wish I'd taken some pics of it now to give you a better idea.

The chain was hanging down in a large arc because it needed adjusting so badly. On closer inspection, it was also really greasy/dirty where chain lube had been sprayed on constantly during its life, but had never been cleaned. It was also heavy and slow to move because of the grease.
Now you can give all the advice you want in person, but words are meaningless unless you're doing the job with them, there and then. And if the person isn't confident in adjusting it correctly, it's a tough call. Everything is easy when you know how.

Regarding the wear factor? It was half-and-half. Yes, you could pull the chain links away from the rear sprocket slightly (a good test for a worn chain), but then I've seen far worse. If it was mine, I'd give it a damn good clean up first, spray it with chain lube again, adjust it and take it for a ride. And then monitor it for a while.

So, a good time for a tutorial. Take from it what you will, ignore it completely, or find out how I get years from chains and sprockets. 

Here's a Can-Am 175 that is just beyond a simple clean and adjust. I'll admit defeat with this one.