Straight as an arrow! (Is there a crosswind?)

Well, the RGV is as straight as it is likely to get.  As you would imagine, the frame specialist has seen more than his fair share of bent bikes.  He showed me an immaculate looking cruiser that had been restored from a crash and re-sold.  The front wheel was about 40mm (over 1.5 inches) off centre.  Apparently it “rode alright” and it was not until the new owner was cleaning it did he spot the issue!  So, if you go to buy a second-hand bike, make sure you check it is straight.  The frame specialist also told me that it was common to find bikes were up to around 10mm out when they are brand new!  I guess that means some leniency may need to be shown when inspecting a second hand bike.

My bike had bigger issues:  At some point, it had taken “a big whack” to the front end.  When this happens, the front forks (with their extra leverage) tend to stretch and bow the steering-head assembly.  The cups that hold the steering head bearings had also stretched “out of round”.  The bearings that are meant to fit snugly into their cups fell out in his hands!  It also has the effect of “steepening” the steering head angle, making the bike “quicker steering” and less stable.  If you are considering purchasing an insurance write-off to turn into a track bike, it is probably well worth remembering this point.  Obviously, a bike that has not suffered from a catastrophic reduction in wheelbase length should not be suffering from this issue.  People do crash in other manners!

Not surprisingly, a couple of minor cracks had formed around the steering head and these have been welded-up. The tortured sub-frame has been coaxed back into being straight.  A common issue with the RGVs was a tendency for a crack to form on the engine mounting brackets.  This had occurred on my frame.  He welded it up “the best he could” but it was difficult to access.  This means the next task is to remove the engine and take the bare frame back for him to finish the job.

I have been doing my fair share of web-research on restoring the Suzuki RGV.  Most of the write-ups I have found on-line are going to be registered for road use.  In addition, it appears no one bothers to write up “restoration on the cheap” projects.  I guess projects without the bling, do not attract the same fanatical owners. (or at least not the same desire to show off the project)  My goal is to build the bike up to be practical and functional.  That is not to say it will not end up with a few fancy parts on it, eventually, just that the purchase of these parts will not take precedence over what will make it an effective track-bike. 

My secondary goal is to be “slow and steady”.  I have a monthly budget for the bike and a list of tasks I want to achieve.  There has been more than one web-site where the project starts off with a rush of expensive, light-weight components only to appear to halt with the bike little more than a rolling chassis of finely polished parts.  Strangely enough, you never really see a final post where the owner admits defeat / bankruptcy / declining interest.  Maybe all started and published projects will be “finished” one day… 

The other point to make is “finished” is a relative term.  My declaration is this:  Once the bike is ready for a track day, the restoration project will be deemed “finished”. 

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