Sunday, January 31, 2010

WD 40 - as important as the brew!

What do I reach for when I need to clean the bike?  

WD 40 

A friend of mine used to refer to it as "magic spray". It seems to be good at everything. From resurrecting remote key fobs on cars to stopping squeaking hinges in the house.
Yes, I use it for all sorts of things.

Back wheel covered in chain grease, brake dust and general dirt?  
A spray with the old WD and a wipe with a rag leaves it shiny and clean (just keep it off the brake discs).

Chain covered in road filth?  
I use WD 40 and a toothbrush (no not the one I use in my mouth - I use the wife's instead) and give it a good scrub, wipe dry with a rag before spraying with chain lube.  This keeps the chain looking shiny and new.  I've heard claims that it can ruin the O-rings on chains but I've never had a  problem. When I sold my Hayabusa, it was seven years old, had twenty-odd thousand miles on it and still with original chain and sprockets (which never seemed to need adjusting)  - so I must have been doing something right.

Plastics faded?
Yes, WD 40 breathes new life into old, grey, lustreless plastic panels, mirrors, mudguards (fenders), switchgear etc. A spray and wipe down with a rag soon has them shining in their original black gloss.

Tar spots on bodywork?
It'll dissolve those too.

And not only that, it lubricates cables, pivot points 
(footpegs, kickstarts), locks - the list goes on.

Make sure your garage has a can at the ready!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cup of Tea?

Before you start your restoration, service or just a few hours cleaning your motorcycle - you need to get one thing sorted.

The Brew.

The only real help you'll get when performing maintenance, fitting new pistons, or measuring the air gap in upside-down forks is from the good, old cup of char.

Its soothing ability has calmed many a restorer as he quietly contemplates the dent in his freshly-painted petrol tank. Wondering how the spanner, thrown in anger, was able to ricochet off the wall and back towards the bike in the first place.

Its energy giving potential is well-known for inducing super human strength - the sort required when swinging on the kickstart for the 87th time, after a complete rebuild, while still holding a conversation. 

"Did you hear it fire?  I think it fired... it'll go in a minute."

Its warming powers on a freezing, winters night have to be experienced to be believed. Until you forgot you sat the mug on a cold, steel bench and the very life feels like it's been sucked out of it. Yuck!

Its mesmerizing magic that enables the restorer to stand and stare in awe at the bike without a need, or desire, to work on it.  This magic only usually lasts around half an hour - when it is time to refill the cup and start the process again.  However, the amount of times you can use this power is limitless and countless restorers have spent entire evenings doing so.

Yes my friends, it is the most important tool in the restorer's inventory.  The humble cup of tea has been responsible for thousands of motorcycles getting a long and in-depth restoration, and long may it continue!

Which Bits of the Bike do I Take Photos of?

Don't worry if you think you'll never use the photo again.  Just keep snapping away.
Here's a short list describing the photos I like to take when restoring a motorcycle.

1)  The complete bike (as you bought it).  Get as many as possible from all angles.  Useful when you need to know where that obscure bracket used to live.
2)  Remove the tank and any bodywork/fairings and take loads more.  We are looking for cable runs, wiring looms, hoses, small brackets and guides etc.  It might not seem important now, but when you've just fitted the entire wiring loom and you find its sat the wrong side of a frame tube, you'll be surprised at the expletives that can fly from the most pleasant-natured restorer.
3)  As you remove something, take a pic.  It might be that various brackets, engine plates etc. need to be removed and refitted in a particular order.  I've been caught out several times myself and, when you hate wasting time, it's very annoying!
4)  When you disassemble a part, take pics along the way, down to the last nut and bolt.  Sometimes workshop manuals aren't available and, even when they are, mistakes happen.  Having your own guide to how it came apart is a godsend.
It might seem tedious but it's worth every second spent and, what's more, you'll have a journal of the entire restoration process to bore all your friends with!

Just in case!

Bought the Bike to Restore? Don't do anything yet!

Grab your camera now!
So you think you can remember how it looked when you bought it, and where everything went?
Trust me when I say you won't remember everything once it's all stripped. This is the best advice I wish I was given when starting out. Take photos, and take lots of them!

Digital cameras are cheap as chips nowadays!  

When I began restoring bikes I used to use my trusty, old Kodak Advantix.  I'd take as many photos as a film would allow (35 if I remember correctly) as I stripped various parts of the bike. I'd then get it developed only to find that half of them were too dark to be of any use anyway! That was hard.

But then we entered the world of affordable, digital cameras. As many pics as you want with the ability to look at them straightaway. Delete the rubbish and take some more. Love it!
  1. Will you remember which side of the frame a wiring loom or cable was routed?
  2. Where did that breather hose go?
  3. Which bolts held which brackets, and where?
So start with the complete bike, from all angles, close-ups of calipers, wiring, hoses, carbs, everything you can. Take off the seat and take some more, then the tank etc.
It's time consuming reaching for the camera when all you want to do is rip it apart, but you won't regret it! Even now, while putting a bike together, I'll struggle with some of the brackets, bolts, clamps etc. A quick look at the pc and it all becomes clear.

Get close-ups of bearings and seals (use the macro setting). It makes the part numbers/sizes easy to read when ordering more.

Again, with parts you need a better view of, place the camera on the bench next to the part and take a really clear picture. On macro, you can see every last detail of the part on the big screen for better analysis. Take a look at this Can-Am piston to see what I mean.

I'm still using my trusty Casio QV-R51 and I can't fault it.

I'm now the proud owner of a Panasonic DMC-ZS3 Lumix. Great bit of kit for the price and size, and it takes bloody good pics and video. 


Friday, January 15, 2010

Fancy a Bargain?

Cheap runabouts.
None of us like to pay over the odds. We see a bike and immediately think it should be 25 - 50% cheaper. Am I right?

For those afraid of asking the question, Ebay has made it easier than ever to get a bargain. No face-to-face negotiating, just type a quick note and press send. If they decline, too bad and onto the next one. If they accept we start wondering "hmm, what's wrong with it?"

Don't be afraid to get the price down. If the vendor is having none of it, don't worry, another will be along soon.

If you know it's rare, maybe the price reflects that - so don't let pride get in the way if you really want it.

This is the last project I bought. A 1974 CZ 175 for 33 quid. Maybe I was robbed. I never got the chance to make a start on the old Eastern European special because I had to sell it when I moved abroad. Still, one day I'll get another.

How to pick a restoration project.

So you fancy a project? Unsure of the best way to go about it? Or even what sort of bike to try and restore?

The best advice I can give is this - don't buy something with the intention of "doing it up" quickly to make money. That's not a restoration, that's buying and selling.

A proper restoration, not necessarily concourse, can easily turn into a money pit and more often than not, you won't get your money back - not in the short term anyway.

It's not about the money or the time you have to put in, it's the love of it. Taking something that looks fit for scrap and turning it into a useable bike that looks as good as new, if not better. What's more, you'll be learning all the time - this in itself should be enough to keep you going through the months when you've had enough. Believe me, there will be times when you've had enough.

So what bike should you choose?

Something that appeals to you, possibly even something obscure or rare - it's your choice but you have to like it because you'll be spending a lot of time with it. If you can't bear to look at it, you're never going to put the effort in.

Think about what you want to do with it when it's finished. Ride it? Sell it? Look at it?

If you plan to take on that Europe trip you always dreamed about, choose something that is big enough to cope. That BSA Bantam will struggle two-up, with luggage, popping to town let alone thousands of miles through country after country.

If you want to sell it afterwards, look at the prices they go for now and do the maths. Bear in mind you could easily spend a few grand bringing an old bike back to life. If you have to do a full restoration, getting back the money you spend is harder than you think.

If you just want to have a pristine example of something - it doesn't matter what it is. Just enjoy it.

This AJS Model 30 pretty much got back the money it cost to restore including original cost. That's doing as much of the work as possible, ourselves. So think about that. A couple of years spent restoring a bike and just about broke even when selling.

The hours spent can't be counted - it's a hobby and a passion. Nothing else matters.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wilcomoto Motocross and Enduro Bikes.

Anyone heard of these?

Air-cooled, 500cc two-stroke, motocross and enduro bikes. Built in Herefordshire, England in the early 1980's by the Wilcox brothers. 

Innovative in their day, featuring single-shock with remote reservoir mounted on the swingarm. Front hub and disc is one unit, cast out of Magnesium, with the disc hard-chromed, and the wheels were built locally in Ross-on-Wye (possibly by Gordon Lucas). The engine was lightly based on the YZ465 lump and is well-engineered, with what looks like a provision for a power-valve cast into the barrel. The reed block itself is huge, with eight sets of petals! 
From what I've heard, it was let down by an overheating rear shock, but information is scarce. If you know more, please get in touch.

Rare as you like and something I'd love to get finished. I do have an engine, and various cycle parts, so it's a start!

Anybody got any information on them? I'd love to hear about your experiences or post your pictures up if you have some.

In the meantime, check out my Wilcomoto website.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Great Split Link Debate. Safe?

Opinions are strong where split links are used in chains.
No problem on small bikes but a rivet link is mandatory on large, powerful, machines. Or is it?

The split link was the staple diet of classic British bikes; never a problem and, in fact, you would sometimes need to add a half link when altering sprocket sizes. But they were relatively low-powered and didn't require a permanent, riveted link. But modern bikes can be pushing out an extra 120 BHP, so you generally expect to see a fixed link in place on its 530 O-ring chain.

So when I bought my GSXR 1000 K6 from a dealer, and spotted the new back tyre and shiny, gold chain, I was happy in the knowledge I wasn't going to have to do anything to it. When I got it home I had a closer look and, to my initial horror, this was fitted! It's a 530 O-ring chain made by SFR, a company I've never heard of, but seems to be doing pretty well.

This was nine months ago. I bought a new DID X-ring chain soon after but still haven't fitted it. I just clean/grease the chain every three/four weeks and adjust it when necessary.
So far so good. It's almost become a contest to see how long it will last - actually I don't want to know - and I will change it, and the sprockets, when I see signs of excessive wear.
I'm not saying it's ok to use a split link on an out and out sports bike - but they may not be as bad you think.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ride out (Murwillumbah)

It's 8.00am, and it's hot! 
And we're about to go for a blast. Leathers are way too much for this climate but I won't risk it any other way. Alpinestars one-piece, GP plus gloves, my old Sidi Vertebrae's and my Arai Vector lid. 
Each to their own, but shorts and T-shirt just don't offer the same protection when you're sliding along the road to eternity.

The Gixer has had a quick check over, chain tightened and we're both ready to rock. Hopefully a few pictures will appear along the way. Three others to share the ride so onwards and upwards!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Looking for a Project. Buy Buy Buy!

Just missed out on an old XL250 on ebay. Yes I should have put a higher bid in but sometimes, when you're in two minds, you chance it to fate. It's not exactly a classic BSA or Triumph so I'm not too bothered.

So that leaves me scouring the web pages for restoration projects that are close enough to drive to. Never used to be a problem in the UK, but in Australia, it could be a days travel to get to the next state, let alone the other side of the country!

The post above was the start of BikeTech7.
Not very interesting was it? No pictures, hardly any text. Back then I thought you just wrote something in your blog and everyone was desperate to read the rubbish you churn out. Not actually the way it works, but then you knew that... didn't you?
I started the blog to keep an online account of my projects, and help others who were going through issues of their own and maybe had no prior knowledge. It's all a bit of fun, and hopefully helps you keep your bike on the road, or gets you closer to finishing it. 
Got questions? Just ask, I love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, here's some pics of one of my previous bike projects. It's a 1964 Norton Jubilee. The smallest capacity bike Norton ever built, it's a 250cc parallel twin and, although not completely original, looked pretty good when finished.

Thanks for checking out Biketech7 and I hope you can stick around.