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.