Sweetness and Light

I’m sitting here, at my desk in the shed, and in the corner of my vision is my bicycle. I keep it in here mainly because I like looking at it. It embodies everything that is good about design. It’s beautiful to look at. It’s made of the best materials. It’s light. It’s superbly functional. It’s well proportioned. Everything about the design, and the execution of that design is, in my eyes, just about perfect. Would I change anything? Well, possibly the I’d swap the handlebar for something a bit lighter. But this is understandable, seeing as I picked that up on eBay a couple of years ago as it was cheap. I mean, it’s not a *bad* handlebar. It’s just not up to the standard of the rest of the bike.

I draw inspiration from this, which is one reason I keep it in my office. I can look at it, study it, and try to apply some of the thought processes that have gone into it’s construction into other areas of my life, both professionally, and personally. If ever I think about doing a half-arsed job on something “just because it’ll do”, one look at my bicycle is enough to stop that thought in it’s tracks, and convince me to do the best job I can do with what is at hand.

And so it’s becoming with project ZXR. As I’m diving into it, I’m already starting to work out ways to improve what is there, and to lose weight, and improve the handling. The engine has already been treated to the attention of the best four-stroke specialist that I know, and as already mentioned, it’s healthy, and producing good power. In terms of handling, the scope for improvement is actually pretty limited. Fork seals are being replaced and the oil levels checked, and I have a new rocker linkage to replace the standard one, as the rising rate curve on the standard one is more suited to flat smooth racetracks than pothole-infested Fenland roads. Other than that, it’s just a case of setting the ride-height and damping, and enjoying it.

Weight reduction is something that there’s a bit more scope for improvement. The ZXR isn’t the lightest of 750s, and by modern standards, is a bit of a fatty. A few things are so easy to improve that it doesn’t make sense not to. For example, the fairing infill panels. I mean, I can see the point of these on a big touring BMW or something where it all needs to look nice and symmetrical. But they have no function other than to look nice. And what isn’t there can’t weigh anything, and can’t fail. Nor can it turn into a festering lump of rust which is impossible to get rid of. So, they’re already sitting in the spare parts bin. Next up, I’m not really looking to carry pillions on this, so the pillion footrests can come off. This is made slightly more complex as one of them also doubles as the exhaust hanger, but I’ll replace that with a nicely made aluminium one. This, in itself will save about 5 kilos. And if I’m not carrying a pillion, I can fit a lightweight race single seat unit, to save another few kilos. This is something that may involve spending money, however (there’s one on eBay at the mo for seventy quid, which is pretty cheap for what it is, but sadly about seventy quid more than I have in my wallet right now), so it’ll have to wait. And also there’s the swinging arm. I want to swap out the one that’s in there anyway, and I have a spare sitting here next to my desk so I can do that. But… if I can get one from an H2 it weighs about 5kgs less, and just fits straight in. Then I can sell the two H1 swinging arms that I have to hopefully offset the cost.

So, plenty of scope for things to keep me busy over the winter. And if ever I run out of enthusiasm, all I need to do is pop into my shed to sit and stare at my bicycle for a few moments. That will inspire me, both to pursue engineering excellence and also to think of the good times to be had next summer. Can’t wait.

Postscript: Decided to buy the single seat unit anyway. Thanks to The Lovely Faye.