nr's blog

Hollow Hills 13 August, 2017

Filed under: Motorcycling,Outdoor climbing — nr @ 8:14 pm

Blimey. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? This is a sign of two things: firstly, project TRX has been an outrageous success, to the point where I’ve just been getting on and riding it, rather than mithering on about it. Secondly, well, the weather has been rather nice, and I’ve been on holiday. Thirdly, I’ve got a new job, so things have been a bit busy on that front too. Fourthly, and most importantly, I seem to have forgotten how to count.

So. The TRX. Well, it’s bloody brilliant. I know I’ve said it before, but I have a feeling that this one is a definite keeper. It’s just so much fun to ride. I’ve done a few long(ish) trips, lots of little blasts, and a whole lot of just looking at it, thinking “phwooaaar”. I’ve not quite hit my personal benchmark of 500 miles in a day – but I reckon that it’s easily comfortable enough for an old chap like me, and enough fun to stop me having to have a snooze half way through the trip. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting my knee down on the road for the first time in a few years, so there’s no shortage of grip from the s/hand tyres. Nice. There’s a few bits and bobs that I want to sort out over the winter though. There’s a bit of a clonking from the front end every now and then, and I can’t quite work out whether it’s the head bearings or the fork internals right now. To save myself any further confusion, I’ll just replace the head bearings, and at the same time fit a set of cartridge emulators. This is a pretty standard mod to TRXs, as the front end is a bit weedy, even when new. After 20 years, well, it’s both weedy and floppy. Not a pleasant combination. Other than that, it’s been a brilliant ride. At first I thought it was a bit slow, but then I reminded myself to look at the speedo, and it’s embarrassingly easy to hit three figure speeds without realising it. Put it this way – it kept up with Sol’s GSX-R1100 powered Katana without ever stressing it. Nice. And I now go out of my way to look for tunnels, just so I can gas it and listen to the noise. Yup. I think this one is a keeper.

So, what next? Well, regular readers of this rubbish will remember that I had surgery last year for Dupuytren’s Contracture on my right hand. The main reason for this was because I quite fancied getting out there climbing again, and this was a complete pain in the arse. I’d tried a quick climb in Switzerland a couple of years ago, and it hurt enough to stop me pretty much dead in my tracks. So, I had the surgery last year, and after a few months of recovery, this happened last week:

SUNP0011Yes, I know it’s on a top rope, but I don’t care. I’d popped down to Cornwall with my family for a holiday, and decided to get out on the sea cliffs again, and my hand was absolutely fine. Not a twinge, not a niggle, not a weak moment. And this has really fired my enthusiasm to do a bit more climbing now – which is, of course, a complete pain in the arse given that I live in The Fens, and the nearest hill is half a days drive away. Still, there can’t be many more stupid pastimes to undertake when you live in The Fens, right?

At which point, I should probably introduce this:


Errr, yeah. That’s my longboard. And although I’ve been riding it for a couple of years, I’ve kind of decided that I really want to get a bit more out of it, and do a lot more riding on some bigger and faster hills. So, rock climbing and longboarding. Both perfect ways to spend my autumn years living in the bastard flattest place on the planet.

In yet other news, oh, I’m not quite ready to mention this yet. Watch this space. Plans. Afoot. They very much are.


Senses Working Overtime 14 April, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 7:44 pm

So, the TRX is now road legal. Well, apart from the questionable exhaust, it’s road legal. It has an MOT. It’s taxed. It’s insured.


And so, of course, I’ve been out for a quick whizz. More of which later. Because naturally, things didn’t go completely according to plan. I had originally booked it in for an MOT with the marvellous chaps at Cambridge Motorcycles some time last week. And all looked good. I had the day off work, so was ready for a morning MOT and a nice long whizz in the afternoon if all went to plan. So, the day before I took the opportunity to run the bike up to temperature and make sure that nothing fell off. Which it didn’t. But when I went to get on the bike the next morning there was a big puddle of petrol underneath it. Bother. I thought I’d take a chance and start it, to see if the vibration seated the float valve correctly to stop the drip. So I hit the start button, the motor span for about half a revolution, and locked solid.


It was immediately obvious what had happened – the downdraft carbs had filled the combustion chamber(s) with fuel, and it had hydraulically locked. Hopefully, the attempt to start it hadn’t bent anything. So, I called Phil, told him I would miss the MOT, and went and sulked. Once I’d done with the sulking, I whipped the plugs out (easier said than done, as the radiator and fairing need to come off first) and put a wrench on the end of the crank. It still turned over by hand, with no obvious noises of impending carnage. So, with the plugs out, I span it over a few times on the starter, and then drained 5 litres of brand new 10W-40 out of the sump to throw away.


Next step was to find out what was causing the leak. Well, the obvious first place to start was the fuel tap, as that was obviously letting fuel past when it shouldn’t. So, a strip, clean up, and replacement of the o-ring soon got it working as well as can be expected for such a crap piece of design. I’m more minded now than ever to throw away the Yamaha vacuum-operated piece of carp and fit a standard on/off tap. Next thing to investigate was the carbs, as I had my suspicions about the float valves. The valves themselves looked OK, and the seats looked alright. But, when I took the seats out of the carb bodies, the old o-rings were pretty crusty and manky. I think what was happening was that the fuel was working its way up the outside of the valve seats, and from there, down the throat of the carb. So a quick search brought me to Frank!MXParts, who had already been recommended to me in the past by my mate Champ for all carb-related things. 10 minutes later, a new set of valves, seats and o-rings was in the post for €30. Bargain. At the same time I ordered another 5L of oil to replace the last lot I had to throw away.

And so, a couple of days later, with the new bits fitted and everything now very decidedly not leaking, I called Phil on the offchance that I could get an MOT at short notice, and sure enough, they fitted me pretty much straight in next day. Thanks chaps. And happily, with a couple of advisories, it passed.

So. What’s it’s like to ride? It’s a complete assault on the senses, that’s what. Of course the noise is glorious. For the first time in ages, I didn’t wear earplugs. The 270 degree engine vibrates a bit as it goes through about 4500rpm, sending a nice buzz up my arms. And twatting the throttle hard unleashes the accelerator pumps, and a sudden whiff of petrol from the unfiltered carbs directly below my chest hits my nose. The revs pick up surprisingly quickly for a big old twin. And closing the throttle fully on motorway exit ramps has the motor popping and banging on the overrun, until the throttle is cracked just a touch to let the motor breathe once more. Handling is, well, not bad really. I need a bit more preload on the rear, and the front feels a bit under-damped. But it turns well, and holds a line nicely when loaded up. Chopping the throttle halfway through a corner is something that I’ll only do the once. Brakes are pretty disappointing – I picked up some EBC HH pads rather than my usual choice of Bendix, as they were half price. And while they’re OK for the road, I’ll be changing them before I go anywhere near a track.

$64000 question time: did I do the right thing swapping the ZXR for it? I’ll let you know after I’ve had a couple of track sessions, but right now, it feels good. It sounds good. It smells good. It looks good. Haven’t tried tasting it yet, but four out of five ain’t bad.



Won’t get fuelled again 26 March, 2017

Filed under: Motorcycling,Uncategorized — nr @ 7:34 pm

I’ve been quite lazy about updating these pages recently. (Unfortunately, as can be seen, I’ve not been lazy about thinking of cringe-worthy links to song titles. I’m really sorry about this one). One of the main reasons has been that I’ve not had any nice photos to share, and the other reason is that I didn’t think anyone actually read this – it was a nice thing just to keep updated when I fancied a creative outlet for some stress. And then, yesterday, two things happened that got me to pull my finger out. Firstly, my mate Nick took this photo:


Dreadfully sorry about the 1980s hairstyle, but then again, I’m probably wearing a shirt form about 1983, so it’s entirely fitting. But I thought it was a nice photo, and then when he posted it to Facebook, Mike (I know about 12 Mikes) asked when the next blog post was due. So, two birds, one stone. Nice.

Right then. The bike. When we left things last time, I think that the things that I mentioned that needed sorting out were the tyres, the chain and sprockets, and sorting out the exhaust system. The tyres were brilliantly easy to sort out, thanks to the chaps at TeamIxion (No, not that TeamIxion. Nor that one. The other one). I put out a request for any old ex-race tyres in the right size, and top racer dood Nogger had a few pairs of Supercorsas left over from last season. Perfect. And even better, I got the delivered for free thanks to other top racer dood Foz travelling in the right direction at the right time. So, that’s a lightly used pair of Diablo Supercorsas sitting in the garage waiting to be fitted. Lovely.

Next up, the exhaust. I’m still not 100% sure that this system will stay on the bike. For the sake of originality (and my wallet) I’m at least going to leave it on there for now. And if it performs spectacularly well on the dyno, I may look at it more favourably. But dammit, it’s badly made. And doesn’t fit that well. I can probably sort out the latter with a bit of time and precision adjustment with the rubber mallet. But I just can’t forgive the welding on it, nor the fact that I’ll be leaving the soles of my boots all over it, as it runs so close to the footpegs. Projection Components do a lovely 2-1 stainless system, which I may have a look at. It’ll be lighter. It’ll look better. It’ll be better made for sure. Dunno. Anyway, given that I’m currently registering around 0.032 on the financial Richter scale, this is a bit of a moot point right now.

So, lastly, the chain and sprockets. As previously mentioned, the TRX comes with a 525 as stock, with 17/39 final drive ratio. There’s no way a wheezy old 850 twin needs a 525 chain, so I determined to replace it with a 520. And while it took a bit of hunting, I found that an NX650 rear sprocket, and R6 front sprocket fitted nicely. I saved 200g on the chain by swapping a 525 to a 520, and added 400g to the rear sprocket by replacing the Renthal alloy jobbie that was on there with a cheap steel JT unit. Hey ho. It’ll last forever. Well, at least until I get fed up looking at it and want to replace it with something nicer. I also ended up running 17/42 gearing, rather than 17/39. This should make things a little more lively. Particularly with the short first gear that I have with the TDM850 gearbox that’s in there.

So, ready for an MOT, right?

Nope. Think again. I popped the bike outside yesterday for a quick run up to temperature to check for rattly nuts and bolts. And overnight, it dropped a large puddle of petrol on my garage floor. Bother. So, time to dive into the dreadful fuel system again. The more I have to fiddle with the vacuum hoses to the fuel tap and pump, the more I resolve to replace them at some point with an electric pump and normal on/off tap. Anyhow. The carbs came off, and were cleaned out, and as expected, some of the rust and crap from the tank was now sitting in the needle valve seat, which was causing the small dribble of fuel. With this all cleaned out, and put back together, I fired it up again. And this time, there was a full on torrent of fuel coming straight out of the overflow. Grrrr… I’m starting to think that this fuel system will be the thing that eventually kills this bike when it catches fire somewhere. So, once again, tank off, fuel hoses off, throttle cables off,blah blah etc. And I stripped the carbs again. And at this point, I noticed that the #2 powerjet was blocked. Now this is a proper pain in the neck, as the only way to get the powerjet out is to completely remove the bottom half of the carb, which is a proper job. Plan A was to just  vaguely squirt some air in kind of the right direction to try to clear the blockage. Needless to say, it didn’t work. So, I bodged up a small aerosol quill to my compressed air gun to a) drop the pressure, and b) get the air in the right place. And with this, I could blow air back from the jet through to the floatbowl, rather than the other way around. This seemed to work, so I had the incredible thought and foresight to check things out by squirting some GT-85 up the orifice, while looking directly at the outlet of the powerjet to see if anything came through.

I’d like to apologise to my neighbours at this point for the intensive use of four letter language that ensued when I got a jet of GT-85 straight into my right eye. Suffice to say, I’ll make sure that I’m not looking quite so closely next time.

In a foul mood, I bolted it all back together, and so far, it seems to be holding tight. I have a feeling that I’ll be sending the carbs away for a proper service at some point, and the removal of the vacuum systems may happen sooner rather than later. But, for now, if it doesn’t drop petrol all over the floor again, it’s ready for an MOT. I shall take a pair of earplugs for the examiner.


This Corrosion 22 February, 2017

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 10:29 am

Time for a long overdue update, as things have been progressing rather quickly over the past few weeks. You could blame a slack period at work for me having the extra time on my hands, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’m actually working all the hours under the sun at the moment (which is a shame, as I don’t get paid by the hour…) and am feeling rather stressed right now. So, a few bike rides, lots of tea, and a quick bit of creative writing will hopefully go some way to sorting that out. If not, I always have a plan B. There’s always a good plan B.


Anyway. Enough of my mental health. Although if anyone would like to make me a cup of tea at any point, I’m all for it. Strong, white, no sugar please. Onto the bike. If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see a few nice things. Firstly, the gearbox sprocket nut looks lovely and clean. And the fact that it’s there is the largest milestone on the bike really, as that was the thing that took it off the road in the first place, when the thing (along with half the output shaft) fell off. The Öhlins shock, nestled in there, looks lovely. But you already know about that. No, the most important thing about the photo above is the jump leads hanging out the back of the bike, running to the battery of my car. This photo was taken on the day of the first test run of the engine. As you can probably guess from the position of the tank, it wasn’t successful on this particular occasion, but that was just a sticky float in one of the carbs allowing petrol to escape through the carb overflow. However, once that was sorted, the engine coughed, sputtered a bit, and then rumbled into life. With hindsight, ‘rumbled’ probably isn’t the right word. ‘Violently exploded into an assault on the eardrums’ would be better. Those Renegade pipes really don’t do much in the way of keeping the noise down. I did get a video of it running, but as I’m a tightwad, I don’t pay enough for this WordPress package to facilitate the hosting of videos. Just imagine an eighty-ton whale farting in a bowl of custard for now, that will give you an idea of what it sounds like.

So, what did it take to get to this momentous state of affairs. Well, firstly, the fuel system. As mentioned earlier, the tank was pretty rusty inside. From what I could see, it was a pretty light surface rust rather than anything really deeply set in, but it was covering most of the inside of the tank. First step to getting this out was to throw a good handful of nuts, bolts, screws and washers in there and give it all a good shaking around for a few hours to knock off the loose stuff. This was a) surprisingly effective and b) a good workout for my limp and baggy biceps. A whole lot of rust came out when I tipped the tank upside down, along with about 1/3 of the hardware that went in. The TRX tank is full of little nooks and crannies, and a lot of the stuff was still stuck in there. It all came out over the course of the next few days (I think – there may be a few more ancient fasteners lodged in there waiting to surprise me in future). Next step was a good cleaning – some POR-15 cleaner and degreaser was poured in, along with some hot water, and the whole lot shaken around every few minutes, then left overnight, then shaken around next day a few times, before emptying out. What came out was a fantastic dark brown sludge, which reminded me very much of the gravy we used to get at school. Tasted pretty similar too. Oh, and a few more nuts and bolts. Next step was a really good rinse through with a hosepipe and clean water to get the last of the sludge and detergent out. And a few more screws. Finally, a bottle of POR-15 metal-prep was thrown in, and again, the whole thing shaken every few minutes, and left overnight, then shaken a whole lot more, before draining, rinsing again, and recovering more bloody screws. And while the finish isn’t perfect, it’s OK for now I reckon. I put some new filters on the tap spigots to catch any remaining rust flakes (and random nuts and bolts), and buttoned it all up again. At this point I should have put a new gasket between the fuel tap and tank. I didn’t – lesson learned, as it all needed to come apart again a few days later. I could (and maybe will, one day) use some POR-15 tank sealer to fully line the tank, but for now I’m going to leave it as a half-arsed job and hope for the best.

The fuel hoses were replaced where necessary, and reconnected. And then I started finalising the work on the loom. I’d previously removed the alarm system, and generally started to tidy things up a bit, but a bit of investigation revealed that the sidestand cutout switch was goosed, and needed either replacing or bypassing. Obviously, I took it out of the circuit, threw it in the corner, and shorted the connector in the loom rather than buy a new one. Other connectors were cleaned or replaced, the whole lot plugged back together, and a battery was purchased (ouch) and fitted. First turn of the key showed the expected neutral light (there’s no oil pressure light on the TRX, which is stupid) and all the circuits work as designed. One of the bulbs in the tacho has failed, but as I don’t plan to ride this much at night (firstly the headlight is known to be pretty awful, but also, I think I’d likely annoy my neighbours, their neighbours, and pretty much anyone in about a 12 mile radius of where I am if I ride it late at night) I’m not too worried by this.

Brakes have had the usual strip and clean and re-filling, along with the hours of bleeding that you get with a completely dry system. New pads fitted, and I think they’re ready to go. Or stop, if you see what I mean. Bodywork is refitted, and I needed to recover the little bum-stop pad, as it was particularly manky. This simple sentence belies the hours of work and swearing that went into the job. The fabric I used (a kind of fake Alcantara sort of thing) is pretty horrible to work with. Still this was worth doing well, as it’s a very visible part of the bike. And I don’t want anyone to think I’m the kind of chap who’ll do a half-arsed job.

What’s left to do? Firstly, the exhausts need a really good cleanup and sort out. They work, but things don’t really line up all that well at the moment, and are completely filthy. A few hours of work will sort that out, I hope. Well, enough to get it through the MOT. Talking of which, I’ll also repack the cans to at least drop the noise a touch. I may well end up fitting some db-killers for road use (and maybe to get below 105dB for the Cadwell Park noise limit) but we’ll see what happens with the new packing. New tyres (probably Contis) will be ordered when I have a few bob, and then just chain and sprockets and it should be good to go. I’m actually a little bit undecided here. Obvious thing is just to buy the stock 17/39 525 kit. But I’m not convinced it needs a 525. I think a 520 will be more than strong enough, and lighter and cheaper. And at the same time I may change the gearing to 17/42. The stock gearing is pretty long, and although I should have the power to pull it with the FCRs and shouty pipes, I think I’d rather have the shorter gearing for giggles and wheelies.

In other news, I was at the dyno on Saturday with the splendid chaps from Cambridge Motorcycles, running up Sol’s Katana after the insertion of a GSX-R1100 motor. Any worries that I had about the TRX being a bit noisy went out of the window. This thing is shatteringly, painfully noisy. Even standing outside the dyno room, wearing ear defenders, I could still feel my eardrums buzzing. Still, 120bhp on the first run wasn’t too shabby.

No doubt the next installment of this drivel will be lamenting the fact that we’ve both been nicked for noisy pipes.


This Wreckage 5 February, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 10:49 pm

So. Here’s what’s left of the TZR250:


Now, most normal people will be thinking “bloody hell, that was a big accident”. The TZR brigade will be thinking “hold on… that doesn’t look like any one of the 357 fasteners that I recognise”.

So, TZR fetishists, take a rare, and well deserved moment where you can think “Yes! I knew that 18 years of studying Japanese part numbers would pay off! I have my moment at last…”

Those bits were drilled into the knees of my daughter. You see a few months ago, I was faced with one of those stark moments that made me realise what was important. My youngest daughter needed surgery. And the NHS wouldn’t do it. So, we’ve had a bit of a fraught few months with Millie going under the knife and having these bits firstly screwed in, and then taken out again once they’d done their job. I won’t go into details, but you can only imagine how much this has cost to have done privately.

I would have done it a lot cheaper with the Black & Decker.

Anyway. The good news is, that Millie is now dancing again. Seriously, within two days of getting the plates taken out, she was back at dance classes. The bad news is that I needed to sell the TZR to throw some money at the surgeon. It’s a karma thing. I loved rebuilding the TZR, and it gave me great happiness to ride it through the summer. And now, the time has come to share some of that happiness.


Scar Tissue 8 January, 2017

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 8:23 pm

I’ve reached that point on Project TRX when I need to start to consider cosmetics. Mechanically, it’s all coming back together nicely. Electrically, things are plugging in where they should, and the right circuits seem to be carrying the right signals at the right time. Sonically, well, there’s a few things to sort out before I attempt to start it, so that’s going to remain a tantalising mystery for the time being.

So. Cosmetics. I’ve kind of been cleaning things up as I went long for the main structural parts. The first decision I had to make was the frame – plan A was to blast it, and get it either powder coated or repainted. But as I ripped into the bike, I had a bit of a change of heart. You see, this was primarily a race bike, and was then enthusiastically toured around Europe on several long treks. It’s had a hard life. It shows its history in many places. And so, I decided to just patch up what I had rather than replacing anything. The frame was inspected, cleaned, and touched up where it needed it. The swingarm was just cleaned. Nothing else. There’s clear marks where it’s dropped a chain, but structurally, it’s fine. I started on the bodywork the other day – the tail unit was really pretty manky, with scratches, and marks from boots and panniers and probably from interactions with other bikes on the racetrack. I pulled off a couple of really old stickers, and just cleaned it up with a bit of t-cut. The seat is serviceable – I need to recover the bum stop pad, and I’ve got some spare material for this in the loft. Just need to pick up some glue and revisit my youth working as a sewing-machinist (yes, really, I did). The mudguard is shattered. And I can pick up a s/hand one from ebay for 50 quid, or even buy a new pattern part for not a lot more. Instead, I’ve patched it back together with cable ties and superglue, and just given it a good clean up. I’ve not started on the top fairing yet, but that will get the same treatment. I want this bike to carry its past with it, rather than to remove all traces of it.

Mechanically, we’re nearly there now (as long as everything works…). The engine is back in, the top end was carefully re-installed and timing checked and rechecked, the forks have been serviced, the brakes were stripped and cleaned and are just waiting for new pads. Loom is back in place (a very glib statement for an activity that took several evenings, and involved a highly impressive amount of proper anglo-saxon language), and a tentative prod with my bench power supply showed that the right circuits lit up at the right time. Carbs were re-installed along with the (frankly dreadful) vacuum hoses to the fuel pump and tap. I may well lose both of these horrible ideas in the future, and fit an electric pump. Footpegs and clocks and other ancilliaries are all cleaned and refitted.

So what’s left? Well, mainly, the fuel system. The tank is still chock-full of rust. So I need to sort that out, and the associated hoses and gubbins that have all gone crusty and wrinkly with time. Much like myself. Also I need to repack the ‘silencers’. I’ll probably use acousta-fil for this, in an attempt to make sure that Spike and Phil don’t actually laugh at me when I take it for an MOT. And then it’s really consumables – tyres, battery, chain&sprockets, oil&filter. But there’s no rush.

There’s still plenty to be done for sure, and it’s not going anywhere near a road for a few months yet. Well, firstly I need my finances to recover a little bit [1]. And actually, I’m enjoying this rebuild so much that I don’t want it to end too soon. And I want it to wear its scars with pride.

In other news, it’s time I dusted my bicycle off from its winter hibernation. I’m fat, pasty, and unfit. If I’m going to get old, I’m doing it on my terms and timescale. I’m going for a bike ride tomorrow.

[1] An unexpectedly large and unavoidable bill has meant that I needed to sell the TZR250. I’m not upset about this, firstly as the reason for selling it is entirely and completely the right thing to do. But also, it went straight back to Kev, who sold it to me in the first place. Hope you enjoy it dood – it’s been a labour of love.


Short Sharp Shock 9 December, 2016

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 8:47 pm

Blimey. After complaining last month that not a lot was happening in TRX World other than cleaning up a lot of manky components, rather a lot has happened in a short space of time. Firstly, the engine and mounting… well, as mentioned, the lower rear mounting bolt was seized. Completely. I got the engine out by unbolting the little brackety-wotsit, but that left the problem of how to get the brackety-wotsit out of the frame. I tried everything I could think of – but in the end, the only way this came out was in about eighteen pieces, with the aid of an angle grinder. So, feeling a little despondent that I’d need to scour breakers yards for a part that I didn’t even know what to call, I went into the spares box to at least look for another engine bolt. First thing I found was a brackety-wotsit, complete with new mounting bolt… I get the feeling that one of the previous owners tried to get the same bolt out at some point, realised that it wasn’t going anywhere, so bought the necessary spares before giving up on whatever plans they had. Still, not to worry. The bottom end of the engine was delivered to Spike at Cambridge Motorcycles to have the gearbox work done – and I have to admit, that it was only when I got it out of the garage and into daylight that I realised just how filthy it was. Sorry Spike. Along with the gearbox, I also had a new camchain fitted, as there’s no way of knowing how old the existing one was. At the same time, Spike give the cylinders a good honing and a new set of rings was fitted. New gaskets all around, the the job’s done, and the engine should be good for another 20,000 or so miles, unless I louse up refitting the top end… Talking of the top end, I’ve cleaned it all up as best I can. Really, it could do with some big valves and more of Spike’s genius cleaning up and flowing the ports. Where did I put that lottery ticket?

So, engine is good, and ready to go back in. The frame was originally going to be blasted, and repainted. However, I had a change of heart. You see, this was a race bike. It’s had a hard life. And I quite like that. So, the frame was cleaned up, and the obvious rusty parts given special care and attention, and then re-painted with silver Hammerite. Oh, and the coil mounting lug that had snapped off was re-welded. All good. The swingarrm was given a good weeks worth of cleaning. I don’t think it had ever been cleaned previously. So many many hours of soaking in all sorts of nasty solvents, and brushing with wire wool, and now it’s presentable again. It’s still got dings and scratches here and there, but remember what I was saying about it being a race bike? I quite like those scars.

So, engine OK, frame done, what else do we need? Ah, wheels. Yup. Wheels. How much trouble can a wheel give me? I mean, it’s a wheel, and just goes around, right? Well, firstly, the rear wheel. I thought it was meant to be black. Honestly. It was only when I started cleaning it up that I realised that the black was in fact about 18 years of old chain lube. The wheel is actually a beautiful deep gunmetal colour. So, the process of cleaning began, and as with the swingarm, it took days of solvents and mechanical cleaning with brushes and old socks. Looking on the bright side, the chain lube had protected the finish, and the bearings were just fine and dandy. So, onto the front wheel. Oh dear. A closer inspection revealed that the light silver colour was in fact where the finish had basically fallen off after years of neglect. So, the only option really was to whip the discs off, and repaint it. Only of course, the disc bolts were as seized as the engine mounting bolt. Hours of soaking in penetrating lubricant, heating, hitting with hammers, and attacking the bolts with an impact wrench had six of the twelve out, and the other six with the sockets completely rounded out. So, out came the MIG welder, and I started welding big bolts onto the end of the disc bolts so I could at least swing at them with a big bar, and the heat of the welding also helps to loosen things. Four of them came out – one of them was so seized that it brought most of the internal thread with it. Closer inspection revealed that this bolt was bent. So some complete idiot had put it in, wondering why it was so bloody tight, but just attacking it with longer and longer bars until it wouldn’t turn any more. The other two bolts started to move, and then both stopped, seized, and snapped off inside the wheel. Bollocks. Given how badly seized they were, there was no way that they were coming out with an extractor. So, I popped along to a local engineering works to see about getting them milled out, and re-threaded. The simple answer was that no, there was no bloody way they’d do that unless I handed over a considerable sum of money. Bother. I know that the TRX is a pretty good bike at pulling wheelies, but still, I’d need a front wheel at some point, if nothing else, it will keep the MOT man happy. At this point, a wheel turned up on eBay in perfect condition, in the right colour, for fifty quid delivered. I’ve never hit the ‘Buy It Now’ button so bloody quickly.

Engine, frame, wheels, what else? Ah, yes, suspension. The shock had damped its last some time around 2001 I guess. I’m trying to think of a polite way to describe it, but the only phrase I keep coming back to is ‘completely fucked’. Obviously, I could attempt to get it rebuilt, but a nagging feeling was telling me that this was just throwing good money after bad. So I did a little research, and found out that a shock from the right year of R6 was a good match, with a little bit of work. However, while researching this, I had a note from my mate Fozzy. He’d been racing an SV650 a couple of years ago with Darvill Racing, and he thought that there was still a lovely Öhlins shock sitting on a shelf somewhere that might be worth investigating. We got chatting to Alex, the team principal, who disappeared out into his workshop, and came back with the good news that it was about the right length as far as he could tell, and would I like to try it? Well, i didn’t need asking twice. So, a few days later it turned up, and amazingly, dropped straight in. Perfect length, correct fitments top and bottom. The only thing I need to worry about is the spring rate – which I think may be a bit high for the TRX – but the only way I’ll know for sure is when I take the bike out for its shakedown tests. I can’t believe just how brilliantly this turned out – and I owe Alex a massive debt of thanks, and several Really Good cups of tea.


So now, the frame is ready to accept the newly rebuilt engine, and is sitting on some lovely new suspendery-bits. The wheels are ready to slot back in. Obvious jobs that still need doing are the fork seals and brakes. And there’s still a lot of general cleaning up and tidying as I go along, like the wiring and vacuum hoses. But we’ve definitely turned a corner.

It’s construction time again.


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