Sprocket Man

Not much to write about here really – but the opportunity to use that awful title was just too good to pass up.

One of the last major items to sort out on the SV was the chain and sprockets. I’d cut the rusty chain off when the thing first turned up in my garage, as I just couldn’t bring myself to look at it any more, and really fancied some angle grinder action. And as much as anything else, it was so rusty and tight that it made wheeling the thing around a massive chore. So, I think that got the chop on day one, and went straight into the recycling. The sprockets, on the other hand, I pretty much left well alone as they weren’t getting in the way. And anyway, now that I’d taken the chain off, I couldn’t think of a decent way to get the sprocket nut undone. Pillock. Now, as you’re no doubt well aware, when it comes to buying parts I’m a massive tightwad. If I can find a half decent second hand set of tyres or brake pads I’ll pick them up, no problem. But when it comes to transmission, I’ve learned my lesson the hard way on a couple of occasions. Notably on the TRX850. Firstly I tried to change from a 525 to a 520 chain on the grounds that it would be a couple of quid cheaper, and then I bought a cheap JT chain and sprocket set. This lasted about three or four months before I needed to throw the whole lot in the skip, and buy a nice DID chain and set of Renthal sprockets. Which are still going strong 18 months and tens of thousands of kilometres later.

Having looked at the sprockets on the SV, they seemed to be pretty serviceable still, but I had no idea of the manufacturer, and so the quality remained a mystery. With the TRX experience in mind, I dipped my hand in my pocket, and ordered a similar DID X-ring chain and set of Renthal Ultralight sprockets from the marvellous Alan Russell Racing. Over the years I’ve probably given Alan more money than I’ve given my mortgage company. Such are the joys of racing a TZ250. But he’s always been unfailingly helpful and cheerful. And a couple of days later, sure enough, a large box turned up with all the right bits, and as a bonus he’d even cut the chain to the right length for me. First thing to do was to wrap the chain around the sprockets, stick a bar through the rear wheel, and try to get the sprocket nut off. I tried the old-skool method of a long bar on a socket, but there was no way this was moving. I’d already spent a few days soaking it in penetrating lubricant, so the next logical step was to get the impact wrench out. I really should have done this to start with, as within about 20 seconds the nut was off. So. a quick compare and contrast photo:

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Yeah, that’s not my finest photographic moment for sure, but you get the idea. The old sprocket was rusty, worn, and really only fit for the bin. I cleaned up the nut, and slipped the new sprocket on. The rear sprocket was a fair bit easier, as once the rear wheel is out it practically fell off. I’m glad that I took the decision to replace the sprocket, as I reckon the nuts were only finger tight. Still, I’m sure I would have checked them, right? The chain went on with a couple of stout taps from the trusty old club hammer and Whale chain tool, and we now have a lovely new transmission on the bike. It really does make the state of the wheels painfully apparent though – so I think I’ll be painting those sooner rather than later now. If I win the lottery any time soon I’ll replace the sprocket nuts too, as they rather let the side down now.

Only thing left to do now before the first shakedown run is replace the tyres. If anyone out there has a set of ex-race 120/70 and 160/60 tyres I’m all ears. I will, of course, fit a set of new Contis if all proves well. But I don’t want to spend that amount of money if the first time it turns a wheel it catches fire. See? Told you I’d happily use second hand tyres. As for the brake pads, well, there’s a bit of a story there. Along with the brake hoses and the rather lovely Nissin radial master cylinder that are now fitted. But that’s a story for another post.

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the construKction of light

One of the things that I’d kind of been putting off on the SV650 for a while was the lights. Not because of the electrical nature of the things – I’m at my happiest diving into a wiring loom, as already noted. No, it was more because mounting the lights would need a reasonable amount of hacking and cutting bodywork, and I hate working with fibreglass – it makes my hands itch horribly, and frankly I’m just not too good at it anyway. To start with, I unpacked the front light unit that came with the bodywork:20190320_174051

This is a lovely little pair of lights – one for dipped, one for main in a delightfully continental style – and actually, one of the reasons for choosing this bodywork in the first place was the way the light units look. Mounting them, however, was going to be a bit of a challenge. There is no facility on the clock mount to hang the lights, and no fittings in the fairing. Time to cobble something together then… It would have been pretty easy just to bond the lights into the fairing with a bit of silicone, but I didn’t want to do that for two reasons. Firstly, adjustment would not be possible, and secondly, I’m pretty sure that it would fall off reasonably quickly. As I want this bike to be a usable daily ride, neither of these were acceptable. I put my thinking cap on, and worked out that if I bonded some threaded rod into the fairing, I could mount the plate holding the lights with a couple of locknuts, which would give me the adjustment that I needed. What I couldn’t work out though was a good way to bond the threaded rods into the fairing. However, a friend put me in touch with East Coast Fibreglass and their range of inserts and fasteners. Just the ticket – I bonded three of them into the fairing with the stupendously strong EC1000 adhesive, fitted the threaded rods, and then mounted the light unit with some nyloc nuts. The wiring at the front of the bike was completed some time ago now – and in the process I removed about 18 metres or so of wires from the loom. No joke – I measured up all the wires I hacked out, and it came out somewhere between 17 and 18 metres. If nothing else, that should add some lightness… With the light unit now mounted in the fairing, attention could turn to fitting the lovely little covers:

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This was a whole lot easier than mounting the lights in the first place, and just involved some little well nuts, and a lot of careful marking up. I really didn’t want to bodge this, and end up with lopsided mountings, so there was a lot of careful measuring, marking, re-measuring, lining up, and holding things on with tape before I went anywhere near the drill. However, all turned out well. With the battery now fitted (that will probably be the subject of another post…) I could hit the switch, and everything worked first time. Well, nearly… as mentioned before, I needed to replace the switch which was a trial in itself. No worries though – electricity went where it was supposed to, nothing caught fire, and the lights went on and off as expected.

Onto the rear light then. This was always going to be a bit more challenging due to the nature of the bodywork on the back of the bike. The seat unit has a lovely undertray, which means that I’d have to build a little bracket that would poke through a strategically placed slot in the undertray to mount the lights on. This took no small amount of thinking and cardboard design (and tea, of course) but eventually, I had something welded up that looked about right. Mounting the undertray onto the seat unit was pretty straightforward, and again, just used a few well nuts to hold it all together. I did think about Dzus fasteners here, but decided against them in the end as the well nuts just look neater I think. They’re a bit more awkward to do up and undo though, so I may revisit the idea of Dzus fasteners later. Anyhow – with the bracket made, and the undertray fitted, I needed to buy some lights – and this is where things got really tricky. I just couldn’t decide what to use. After about three weeks of weapons-grade procrastination, I just decided to buy something cheap and nasty to at least fit something, and see if the idea worked. Which is how we ended up here:

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These are cheap and nasty LED lights, with built in indicators. And actually, they’re growing on me. A small hole was drilled into the undertray to pass the wiring through, and I’ll pop on a little six-way connector to connect the unit to the loom. At the moment I’ve just got a couple of spade connectors holding it together, which works, but is a bit, well, bodgey. I’ll do a proper job on it when I finish off taping up the back of the loom. I’ll also fit some LED indicators up front and fit an LED specific indicator relay. But that can wait for now, as again, I need several cups of tea while I have a good think about what style of indicators I want, and where to mount them.

With the lights fitted, things now look like this from the front:

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And from behind:

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And while I’m not one for blowing my own trumpet, I reckon that’s an exceptionally pert and tidy rear end. In terms of getting the thing ready for an MOT, really the only things stopping me are the brakes (more on that saga later too…) and the chain. Oh, and tyres. Need tyres. If anyone out there has a set of 120/70 and 160/60 tyres that would get me through an MOT, I’m all ears. Once it’s MOTd and proven to work, there’s still going to be lots of little details to twiddle with, but in terms of essential mechanical gubbins, there’s really very little to do now. I do want to change the end can too – the one that I have is shatteringly noisy, and really doesn’t suit the style of the bike at all. So while it’s safe to say that it’s not going to be long now before the maiden voyage, there’s still going to be things to do afterwards. It’s a project, right? So it’s never going to be completely finished.

Now, with that said, I’m already starting to think about the next project bike in the garage. Current plans involve another V-twin – but one substantially different to the SV, in just about every way possible.