Goodness me. Is that the time?

Thursday, 13th February

It looks rather like the 2003 season has crept up on me a bit quicker than first thought, and, as usual, I’m dreadfully disorganised. I guess the first thing to mention is that Project Fast Hamster is now finished bar the shouting, and I’m very happy with the result. I’ve lost my digital camera, so can’t take a piccie of it yet. Mind you, that’s not a sad loss, as I’ve not yet painted it anyway.

As far as the dates I’ll be racing this season go, I’ll definitely be doing the TZR Tour rounds. (Seems only polite, seeing as I’m the championship organiser). I may squeeze in a couple of extra rounds here and there time and money permitting too. And then, of course, there’s the Jurby endurance race in October. And if anyone wants to lend me an NSR500V twin in the meantime I’ll happily take it out for a potter to see what all the fuss is about.

Right then – I suppose I’d best get my entry forms in the post then. First race is scheduled for 19-Apr-2003 at Oulton, but I have a sneaky feeling I’ll be out before then, be it at a race or a practise day. In fact, a practise day would be a Very Good Thing. I’ve not sat on a bike since October…

Tueday, 25th February

First major expense of the season (if you don’t count the bike that is – for some reason I don’t count this as a race expense, more of a project). I sent off all the entries for the TZR Tour last week. So, that’s about 600 quid so far and counting… Do I keep a running total for this season? I dunno. In the past it’s only served to show just how expensive it is to go racing, even in a ‘budget’ class.

The bike is ready to go now bar a lick of paint. I’ll sort this out at some point in the near future no doubt. Firstly, however, I need to get it run up on the dyno just to give it a shakedown and make sure that nothing falls off. I’ve got this booked for Thursday, along with a few other TZR riders who want to set their bikes up at the same time.

One last thing needs mentioning I guess – I needed to fit a tow-bar to the car to drag my aging trailer around the country this year. However, what with one thing and another what I actually ended up doing was buying a new car instead. And very nice it is too. The main reason I could get away with this was on the grounds that “it’s a nice family car” and “look how much room there is in the back for Lexy”… The fact that it came with a towbar already fitted and a cavernous boot was entirely incidental. Although it has to be said, I’m still driving around in my knackered old £500 Audi. The first thing I did with the new car was give the keys to Faye on the grounds that:
a) It’s a better car for carrying Lexy around in
b) I know what’s good for me in the long term.

Thursday, 27th February

A very interesting day… I’d arranged to meet up with fellow TZR racers Andy O’Dell and Andy Bryant at Cambridge Motorcycles for a day on the dyno sorting things out and generally having a good day out. So, I got there at the appointed time, unloaded the bike and tools, and sat around drinking tea for an hour or so due to the tardiness of the average TZR racer.

First up on the dyno was my bike, for a leisurely run up and down the gears just to check that nothing was about to fall off, leak, snap or go smelly. I guess I ran it for about 25 mins, then left it alone to cool off while Andy O got his bike on the dyno. Three runs later it was registering a very healthy 52bhp. Very nice indeed. He then set about swapping his pipes for a set of very nice Swarbrick pipes, while I gave mine it’s first full power run…

At this point it’s worth interjecting that I always get very scared in dyno rooms, just in case anything goes wrong. Not that I’ve ever seen it happen, but there’s a whole lot of energy being dissipated in a very small space, and if something went badly wrong it would not be a pleasant experience.

Anyway, I digress. The bike was warmed up gently for a minute or two before Spike gave it a big handful in second gear. The revs instantly rose, and there were all sorts of funny noises… This was obviously not what he expected, so he coasted the bike down and tried again. Same result… I was seriously worried that the clutch was about to jump out of the cases, so I sidled gently sideways out of harms way. However, things weren’t as bad as that. It’s just that the 15yr old Pirelli tyre appears to have turned to teflon, and the mighty TZR was simply spinning the wheel on the roller. We strapped the bike down, gave it another go, and 48bhp was recorded.

48bhp doesn’t sound a lot when you bear in mind that Yamahaha claim 45bhp for the standard TZR. However, the midrange was quite staggering. Despite being 4bhp down on Andy O’s bike, at 7000rpm it was 10bhp up. Was I happy? Oh yes. Very, very happy indeed.

Andy B then had a go, and recorded almost exactly the same power curve as me. Job done.

Meanwhile, Andy O had finished fitting the Swarbrick pipes, and had another go. The noise was glorious, with a marvellous crackle coming from the pipes as opposed to the rather muted sound of the stock pipes. Peak power went up to 53bhp, but also went up to 12,000rpm rather than 10,000. Is this a good thing? Well, it’s a yes and no. Yes, they make more power, and a bigger spread of power, and are substantially lighter. However, the bike needs to rev to 12,000rpm to make that advantage count, and I don’t think the engine internals would particularly like that. (Cue someone saying “the engine’ll nae take it cap’n” in a dreadful Scottish accent).

Unknown to everyone else, I’d decided to return my airbox to standard, with a corresponding change of the main jets. Another run later, and I was rewarded with 49bhp and an even fatter midrange. We all then sat around for an hour or so before retiring to the local curry house.

So, a very, very useful day. I learned that the standard airbox set up is best with the standard pipes, and that Swarbrick pipes are very good if you’re willing to rev the cream crackers off the engine.