New life

Tuesday, 2nd January

New year, new beginnings and all that. In case anyone is wondering why I’ve been so quiet last month, the following piccie may shed some light on things:


For those not lucky enough to recognise it, it’s a scan from my local maternity unit, and slap bang in the middle of it is a healthy 11 week old baby, measuring 44mm from head to toe. Yup, I’m going to be a father. How chuffed am I?

It all seems a little superfluous to talk about racing at the moment, but this is primarily a race diary, so I suppose at least a cursory mention should be made of the fact. In last months exciting installment I mentioned that I might start counting the cost of this seasons racing again, but this idea has now been shelved as my wife would kill me if it turned out at the end of the season I’d spent more on the bike than junior.

Sunday, 7th January

Back out to the garage again to carry on putting the bike back together again. I’d like to have done this a few weeks ago, but my garage has been full up with spare furniture. It’s a long story.
Anyway, the bike seems to have gone together rather painlessly so far, which obviously means I’ve forgotten something important. The new cables fitted have left the controls feeling noticably lighter than before, which is a good thing. Closer examination of the old clutch cable revealed that it was pretty badly frayed, so it was a good job I changed it when I did. I’ve also ordered new wheel bearings all round for next season, as I thought they’d cost about 2 quid a piece. I was therefore rather surprised when I was quoted 9 quid a pop, so that’s 108 quid + VAT. Luckily the chappies at Cambridge Motorcycles are a good bunch, and have cut me a bit of a deal. And I even got a cup of tea out of them.

I’ve also decided to keep the current colour scheme, as firstly it doesn’t look too bad, and secondly the money saved will pay for a desperately needed new pair of inters (or the re-building of the spare room into a nursery, just in case Faye reads this).

Oh, and while I’m here, a rather nice piccie taken by a mate at last years Silverstone meeting:


I’ve reduced the size and rebalanced it a little so it looks a lot brighter than it actually was. Click on the image for the original version to see firstly how gloomy it actually was that day, and secondly just how much I look like a mugger in that hat.

Sunday, 28th January

Finished getting the bike back together ready for this seasons efforts. Oh, while I think of it, here’s my plans for this season:

BMCRC Round 4 April 21st Snetterton
MRO Round 5 April 22nd Snetterton
BMCRC Round 5 May 12th Brands Hatch (GP)
BMCRC Round 6 May 13th Brands Hatch (GP)
MRO Round 6 May 19th Castle Combe
BMCRC Round 7 May 27th Snetterton
BMCRC Round 8 May 28th Snetterton
MRO Round 7 June 3rd Thruxton
BMCRC Round 9 June 23rd Rockingham (P)
MRO Round 8 June 24th Rockingham (P)
BMCRC Round 10 June 30th Oulton Park
BMCRC Round 12 July 7th Snetterton
BMCRC Round 13 July 8th Snetterton
MRO Round 9 July 14th Oulton Park
BMCRC Round 18 September 8th Snetterton

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that there’s very little after July due to impending fatherhood. I’ve managed to squeeze in a Snetty round in September as it’s only 30 mins up the road, and I think I can get away with telling Faye that I’m just popping out to Mothercare to get some Calpol.

All in all, it looks like being a great season. I’ve entered a few more MRO rounds this year, as I thoroughly enjoyed the rounds I did last year, and it gives me a chance to run at Thruxton and Castle Combe. Add to that the fact that I’ve got a couple of good mates joining the GP250 ranks this year and I reckon it’s going to be a storming year. Time will tell.

Monday, 5th February

Once again, a very busy few days. I nipped along to the Ally Pally show last week to buy a quickshifter, a better dial gauge, and to get my license renewal form signed by BMCRC Chief Big Cheese, Dave Stewart. Nobody had any dial gauges, the quickshifters had gone up in price by 50%, and I promptly lost the license renewal form. However, all was not lost, as I did drink myself into a stupor in the evening at one of my favourite restaurants in the company of somw of my favourite people.

And so, to today, and a very long, tedious drive to Dynotech in Basingstoke to see how Grahams hard work over the winter had improved my TZ…


73bhp is about what I’d expect from a well tuned RGV, and about 8 or 9 down on what I’d expect from my TZ. Looking at the shape of the curve, there’s something very odd going on. If you extrapolate the gloriously smooth midrange up to the engines natural peak of 12,500 you get around 82bhp. Something is strangling the engine at 11,250 or so. We swapped ignitions, and checked the entire electrical system, but could find nothing. I’m going to put some new plugs in there in case one is breaking down at high revs. The only other thing I can think of that could cause that kind of problem would be a dodgy reed valve, but I’d expect to see a ragged midrange as well if this were the case.
I’m very happy about the shape of the curve up to 11,250 – it really couldn’t get any better than that. I just need to find out what is stopping it reaching it’s natural peak. If I can’t find the problem, I’ll have to reconsider entering the MRO series this year, as I just won’t qualify – the fast chaps there will have 10bhp, and a bucketload more talent than me. I don’t mind scrapping for last place (in fact I quite enjoy it at times, as long as I feel I’m riding well), but I don’t see the point in paying an entry fee just to get a qualifying session.

Tuesday, 13th February

Well, the hunt for the mysterious missing bhp is well underway now, and to this end, I’ve just checked the powervalve alignment for the fifth time. It seems OK, but every time I look at the powercurve I just keep coming back to the powervalves. I guess I’ll find out this Saturday, as I’ve got another dyno session booked and have a few things to try… The first is simple and cheap – I’ll borrow Sols coils, and give those a whizz to see what gives. I’ve had a couple of people suggest that a coil could be breaking down at high revs. The second is slightly more expensive, in that I’ll be slinging a new pair of plugs in there. 80 quid. Ouch. The third thing I have to try is a little more exciting, and involved a midnight trip to deepest Twickenham to eat an extremely edible curry and prize a pair of handmade Tony Green pipes from the grasp of Roger.

I have to admit, I can’t tell the difference between the pipes that are on there, and the Tony Green ones – they look pretty much dimensionally identical. Hopefully the dyno will be able to spot the difference though.

Saturday, 17th February

Off to Cambridge Motorcycles to get the bike run up on the dyno again to try to locate the mysterious missing horsepower. The day began early when I picked up my mate Sol, who is also racing in the 250GPs this year, following on from an impressive debut season last year on an R6. The reason for me having to pick him up is a long story that involves Three Sisters and a broken scaphoid.
Anyway, the chaps at Cambridge M/Cs were as pleased as ever to see us, and before we even unloaded the bikes from the trailer they’d already made us tea. Top marks, and worth an extra 15bhp any day. So, while I popped my bike up on the workbench for one last final check of things, Sol ran his up on the dyno, and hit 76 or so bhp with a huge hole in the midrange and frightningly low CO readings. The next 4 hours were spent changing jets, checking timing, changing jets again, changing emulsion tubes, checking powerjets etc. etc. Eventually, we ended up with 78bhp and a nice midrange, with the promise of a bit more to come as the squish is a little high at the moment.

And so to my bike… Since the last dyno run the only change I’d made was to jet up from 380 to 400, and a very careful check of everything. I was therefore highly surprised to rattle off 77bhp and a huge fat midrange on the first run. The CO readings were pretty low, so a quick change to 410s netted 79bhp, and a big smile. Job done.
We tried the new pipes, and lost 3bhp from the top end, but this may well have been down to the silencers being a bit wobbly as I didn’t have the necessary spacers.

I am, obviously, hugely relieved. More to the point, I’m in with a fighting chance of staying with Scotty…

Oh, and another bit of good news – I’ve been offered cheapo brake pads and stuff courtesy of the EBC race support program. Which is handy, as I need some new pads. Actually, while on the subject of brakes, I need some new hoses too, as I noticed one of them leaking yesterday. This may explain why I was having so much trouble bleeding them. More expense…

Oh, and while on the subject of expense, I finally bit the bullet and ordered myself a quickshifter at last. I decided not to go with the techtronics unit, as they couldn’t give me a good reason for hiking the price from 250quid to 360 in under a year.
No excuses now for riding like a tosser.