Tag Archives: RGV

Track day tribulations

I keep assuring you, my dear readers, that I am not a mechanic. It is about time I write a post that helps illustrate that point.

The last track day I did on the RGV was not the biggest success. The bike was failing to accelerate in the top gears and by the “seat of the pants dyno” was even a little weak in the lower gears. Apart from some cursory inspections and a new set of spark plugs, I hadn’t really done much on the bike since the previous track day, so it was not much of a surprise.  I can’t even say “I should have known better”, because I do know better… As they say: “Proper preparation prevents poor performance”

Anyway, both the bike and I survived the day, so back at home, it was time to work out what went wrong… It didn’t take long – the left carburettor float bowl was leaking fuel. Put simply, the top cylinder was unable to get the fuel it needed when running at full throttle.  The float bowl o-ring had a gap if about 3mm, through which the fuel was able to escape.
Where the carburetors are situated, meant the fuel leak was relatively safe.  The fuel would fall on the crank case, which was hot enough for most of it to evaporate off.

The reason there was a gap in the o-ring was no mystery: I had cut it. Of course, I hadn’t done this without a good reason. At a previous track day I had to take the carburettor apart to clean one of the jets that had become blocked. The o-ring had stretched and no amount of careful prodding, cussing and holding my mouth correctly was going to get the o-ring to fit. One truism of track side maintenance has always been “No matter what spares you have with you, you’ll need something you don’t have.” Faced with the choice of “go home” or “improvise” I chose the latter and cut a small section of the o-ring out.

Why did the o-ring swell? Truthfully, I do not know.  I am guessing it reacted to something, but I could not correlate what the Internet tells me and anything that I remember doing.   I think I may have fitted the o-ring with some rubber grease, but that is designed not to react with it!  Most likely, I got some carby-cleaner on the o-ring and it  reacted to this, although I don’t know for certain.  As I had now discovered, it eventually returned to its normal size, thus leaving me with a gap.

Whilst on the matter of mechanical confessions… That day, when I refitted the carburettor, I broke the thread of the plastic choke nut. These are hollow, allowing the choke cable to pass through them. As a result they are incredibly easy to over-tighten and snap. Without it in place a lot more air would be drawn through the carburettor, causing the engine to run dangerously lean.

Plastic choke nut assembly

There was insufficient thread left on the choke nut to hold against the spring tension, but another RGV owner came up with a clever way of using cable ties to hold the choke nut in place. It was certainly a bodge job, but it easily held up on the day.

So, what did I learn from my mistakes? Lots of things, really!

  1. Do your preparation before the track day, not at it.
  2. If the manual doesn’t suggest using sealant or other consumables, then you probably shouldn’t.
  3. A twenty-four year old bike that you thrash when you ride it needs plenty of TLC/maintenance when you aren’t riding it.
  4. A post track day inspection and service is a good idea.
  5. If you can’t have the right spares with you, at least have plenty of cable-ties!

 

Time to end the RGV restoration

I have recently come to the conclusion that it is time to put an end to the project of re-building / restoring the RGV.  Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending!  My decision is not to give up on the project, but to finish it.  Discuss Project management for long enough and eventually you will end up talking about the three competing factors on any project.  The saying goes “Features / Timeframe / Budget.  Choose two”.  Although most of my experience with project management has been with software, the same idea applies to any project. – The RGV restoration would be no different, except for the fact that I had allocated a monthly budget of what I was prepared to spend on it.  This makes the budget a function of how long the project runs for.  So, this unnaturally skews the balance of the three competing factors. Unfortunately, it also makes for a long project!  I could have spent more each month, but I have seen too many motorcycle restoration projects run out of enthusiasm due to the large money pit that they can become (and no doubt how quickly in debt their owners can become)

Speaking of large money pits…  I kept a spreadsheet to allow me to stick to my monthly budget.  This in itself seemed like a wise idea.  It does however put sharply into focus how much money I have poured into the project.  (Should that be “poor-ed”?)  Given the prices that RGVs demand these days, it is suffice to say that I would be making a loss if I sold the project at this point in time.

In terms of where the bike is “currently at”:

  • It is still two packing shelves full of pieces.
  • I have recently had the front forks and rear suspension rebuilt.  This was only the second time I have used a commercial business to do any serious work.
  • I have sourced all the parts and I am in the middle of rebuilding the brakes.  That process will hopefully be a story for another time.
  • About the only outstanding parts left to purchase are new chain and sprockets and new tyres.  (For some reason I just don’t trust twelve year old tyres…)

Things I have learnt along the way:

  • I should not have attempted to restore this bike.  Despite starting with a “free” motorcycle, this project has cost a fortune!  It would have been cheaper to buy a running and almost road-worthy RGV and start from there.
  • By doing the boring things first (such as frame straightening) rather than the fun things (such as painting fairings and buying bling parts) the restoration project didn’t start with a bang and run out of momentum.
  • Some planning would have avoided the need to do things multiple times.  – I had to completely strip the bike to get part of the frame repaired.  I subsequently put the swing-arm rear suspension back on, only to remove the rear-shock to get it serviced later.
  • Buy good tools.  They really do make the job easier.  On the other hand…  Some once-off style jobs are not worth spending a fortune on.  Sometimes it makes sense to take the part to a workshop where the job can be done for you.  Removing the bearings from the rear-suspension linkage was a good example.
  • I have become quite good at watching where things (such as nuts / bolts / washers etc) go when I drop them on the ground.  This is an under-rated skill in my opinion.

One thing which I don’t need to learn is that this isn’t the end of spending money on the bike.  A track-bike is never finished and rarely cost free. Until I get the chance to properly put the bike through its paces, I don’t know if the gearbox is mechanically fine, whether the clutch plates slip and whether the engine will perform properly under load.  All these things will reveal themselves in the fullness of time!

Who needs a battery anyway?

Having built my “under-seat” tray to hold the CDI and SAPC units, all that was left to do, was to place the battery somewhere.  Part of the problem of owning a track bike, is that it is unlikely to see regular enough usage to keep a standard battery charged.  Standard lead-acid batteries are heavy too.  If you are used to seeing a car battery, motorcycle batteries do look miniature by comparison, but my new tray did not allow room for the standard RGV battery.

The VJ21 and VJ22 model RGVs were fitted with a kick-start system.  Given that there is no electric start on this bike and that is devoid of lights and indicators, the only real function of the battery is to power the CDI and SAPC units and spark plug coils.  Like most engines, an “electrical generator” of sorts uses the spinning of the crankshaft to recharge the battery.

Some racing bikes run a total-loss system.  The charging system causes a drag on the engine.  The more current you try and draw from it, the more the drag and the bigger the performance hit will be on the engine.  A total-loss system will not recharge your battery as the engine runs. By doing so, less load is put on the engine, leaving more power to actually propel the bike.  Unless you are at the elite level of the sport, it is unlikely that having a total-loss electrical system is worth the trouble of recharging the battery after every race.

Given that the generator provides electrical power, the battery becomes superfluous to requirements. The regulator/rectifier and AC generator of the RGV is sufficient to power the electrics of the bike while it is running, and your leg (and kick-start) is enough to provide the initial power to start the bike.  A “battery eliminator” can be built and substituted for the regular battery, saving weight, space and the “oh-no” moment, caused by a battery that has gone flat through lack of use.
Although commercially available “battery eliminators” can be purchased, “Mick” on the currently out of action Yamaha-rd forum  wrote a succinct post on how to build one:

You need;
3 x 4700µF 25V electrolytic capacitors
1 x 500ohm resistor
some solder
a soldering iron
source of power for the soldering iron
cup of tea
decent music

OK, solder all of the components together in parallel; that is +ve terminal to +ve terminal. This is important. The resistor can go in any way round, but they must all be connected in parallel with each other.

Remove the battery from your bike.
Connect the eliminator up the right way round (+ve end to +ve connection on the loom)
Switch the bike on (note: the PVs won’t move until the engine’s running)
Start ‘er up.
Ride the bike, and enjoy the feeling of having lost 2.5kg of ugly fat.

Mick.

How hard could it be?  There was a discrepancy between the commercially available, and Mick’s battery eliminator.  Mick suggested a total of 14100 micro-farads, whilst the Zeeltronic schematic had 30000 micro-farads. (and a different amount of resistance).  From my limited understanding, the capacitance allows a good way to smooth out the voltage provided across the unit, whilst the resistance provides the regulator/rectifier with a workload.  Without this load, the regulator/rectifier would overheat.  (Feel free to correct me here)

Battery Eliminator PartsI bought the components from Futurlec.  Shortly after I ordered the parts, I read the horror stories from “customer review” websites.  Put simply, they grossly understate shipping times and I am not convinced they ship your order when they claim to.  They also allow normal mail shipping of their products and hence they cannot be tracked on-line.  This further reduced the transparency of their operation.  The parts did arrive after four weeks.  Their website made me believe it should have only taken two…  In days before Internet shopping and on-line tracking of parcels, I would not have thought twice about the length of time it took for my order to arrive.  These days though, it is a different story.

Once I knew how large the capacitors were, I purchased some cabling and a zippy box of sufficient size from the local Dick Smith Electronics shop.  Then all I was missing was the cup of tea and some decent music!

Battery Eliminator Circuit BoardRather than use a breadboard, I drilled holes in a piece of Perspex to hold the wiring in place and rubber mounted the board inside the zippy-box in an attempt to shield the components from solder loosening vibrations.  Once I had finished construction and fitted it to the bike, I tried to start the bike… At 30,000 micro-farads, I could not generate a spark.  In the end, I removed one of the capacitors (reducing the overall capacitance to 20,000 µF) and had instant success!  (Yay!)

Given that my de-soldering technique is even rougher than my soldering technique, I didn’t bother providing photographs of the final product.
For those of you tempted to try building your own battery eliminator, I have ended up with the following configuration:

  • 2 x 10,000 µF 25V electrolytic capacitors
  • 1 x 1000ohm resistor (5W)

So now you have three different sets of figures to guess at!  Good luck!

Battery Eliminator wired up.Battery Eliminator in boxBattery Eliminator vs. Battery
(Edit: Pictures added)

Look what I made!

As I mentioned earlier,  I recently fired up the RGV for the first time in a long time.  Before starting the bike, I needed to re-fit the various electronic boxes to the wiring harness.  Specifically the SAPC unit, and the CDI unit.  The SAPC unit attaches to the sub-frame of the motorcycle, which meant I had to re-install that as well.

This was the first time I had installed these parts, since installing the rear shock absorber from the GSX-R 600.  Unlike the standard RGV shock-absorber, the remote canister “piggy-backs” on the main body of the shock-absorber.  Although it did not touch the SAPC unit, this canister was in close proximity to the expensive box of electronic trickery. 

It was not hard to imagine that a minor tumble may have flexed the swing-arm sideways enough for the canister to collide and damage the SAPC unit.  Whether or not this sort of incident could occur was irrelevant – I decided it was safest to avoid the problem altogether by relocating the unit.

Mmmm.... Muesli...I am definitely no expert when it comes to fabrication of parts, but I was enthused with the optimism gained by having the right parts and tools for the job.  First effort was to make a cardboard mock-up of the tray.  I decided not to allow too much depth in the tray, as experience has taught me that the rear wheel travels further than would otherwise seem likely.  Careful measuring allowed for a neat fit between the rails of the sub-frame.  Having gone through this process, my only recommendation is you take great care to “flex” your cardboard cut-out as little as possible when lowering in and out of position.  Parts of the final design were influenced by the need to be able to manoeuvre the tray into position without bending it.

The rest of the build process was slow and methodical.  I used 0.6mm galvanised steel sheet – as that is what I had available.  After carefully measuring out the dimensions of the tray, a pair of tin-snips cut it to approximately the right shape, and then a bench grinder and hand-file finished off the shaping.

Folding the sheet was done by hand, holding the plate in the vice, with bits of timber to add support to either side of the fold line.   Somehow, I managed to avoid any silly mistakes caused by folding the sheet the wrong way!

Another rectangular sheet was riveted to the tray, and folded in position to form the “back piece” of the tray.  This then bolts to the sub-frame where the pillion seat brace is.

At this stage, I have yet to put bolts in to secure the SAPC and CDI boxes.   Final placement of these parts is still to be determined.  If there are any readers with an RGV, they may be wondering where I am planning on putting the battery.  – On a standard bike, this tray sits where the battery recess was.  Well, rest assured that I have not forgotten about it, but that is a story for another time.
Installed with components
Shot from rear of bike.

RGV Update

“Good news everyone!”  The RGV’s engine officially works.  The reinstallation of the engine took far longer than planned.  That was due to a combination of intentional stalling to get the budget back on track, unplanned extra work due to faults discovered along the way and limited spare time.

When I went to install the engine back in the frame, I discovered a hairline crack in the engine cradle.  Although the engine has rubber mounts reducing the amount of vibration transferred to the frame, common sense dictated that I should not ignore such an obvious weak point.  A quick trip to a local aluminium welder had that problem sorted out.

During this time, I took the opportunity to superficially tidy up the expansion chambers.  (exhaust pipes)  I say “superficially”, as I made no attempt to reduce the carbon build up that is surely deposited on their insides.  Instead, I sanded back the existing layers of paint, removed as much of the surface rust as possible, treated the remaining rust with a “rust converter” and treated the pipes to a fresh paint job with heatproof paint.  Whilst being a “far from perfect” job, it should give the pipes a bit more protection against the elements.

The reinstallation of the engine, exhausts and cooling system went remarkably smoothly, given that I do not have a workshop manual.  I have yet to buy myself a workshop manual for the bike.  This is largely due to the fact that I used to have one and they are not cheap.  I cannot quite bring myself to buying a new one.  These days, “bootleg” PDF versions are available on the internet.  I have found the PDF version of the RGV manual to be an incomplete series of bad quality scanned in images.  Still, using this and referring back to photos I took of the bike at the beginning of the year meant I did not end up with “bits left over”.

Once it was back in one piece, half a litre of fuel and the battery were “borrowed” from the VFR, and I was able to fire the bike back into life quite easily.  The “build” itself still has a fair way to go.  The high-level short list comprises of:

  • Replacing the brake lines and servicing the brake calipers
  • Front fork rebuild or replace (to be decided based on pricing)
  • Replacing various bits and pieces that are worn out. (chain and sprockets / clutch lever and cable / etc)
  • Fitting the new bodywork.  But that’s a story for another time.
  • Furlough Day II

    On my last Furlough day, I took the opportunity to go for a week-day ride.  The weather, on that occasion, was at the “turning point”.  Up until then, we had been enjoying spectacular crisp clear winter days – the sort that makes this time of year the best time to ride in.  The day after my day off, it rained…  And rained…  And rained…  In fact, Brisbane had the most rain in a 24-hour period since 1974.  The day after, it rained almost as much, again!  As such the weather was “rolling-in” on my ride and I was lucky to only traverse a small amount of wet roads and even less rainy weather.
    For this Furlough day, I decided I would work on the RGV. The weather was not going to intrude on me this time!  (It was a good job I had planned an indoor activity as it did end up raining all day)  Everyday life interfered a bit with progress on the bike and as such I only really got to spend around three hours tinkering with the bike, on the day.
    I took the opportunity to replace the various Philips head screws that I removed with Allen key-headed bolts.  It seems to be a fairly standard technique when restoring these bikes and will hopefully assist in easier removal next time I am servicing the parts.   The nuts on the cylinder head bolts were also badly worn – so I replaced these with new stainless steel ones.  It had been mentioned on the forums that the two dissimilar metals would lead to galvanic corrosion.  I am no metallurgical expert, but it was also mentioned that copper washers could be used to avoid this problem.  So I bought and used some of them as well!  I highly recommend going to a specialist fasteners shop when you need to buy nuts and bolts.  They tend to sell higher quality parts, you can get the exact numbers of what you need and they do not come with the ludicrous price mark-up that the generic hardware shops have for “packs of ten”.  (As an added bonus, you will talk to someone who knows what they are on about and can probably offer you some advice!)
    The RGV engines have “powervalves”.  The purpose of the powervalve is to restrict the flow of gases exiting the combustion chamber at low engine speeds.  At higher revs, they “open” allowing more gas to escape.  A detailed description of what they do and why is probably worthy of its own blog entry, but the reason I mention them is that they are notoriously weak on the RGV.  If the powervalve breaks, it can drop into the cylinder barrel, where it tends to be collected by a piston travelling at upwards of 12000 RPM.  The results can be quite catastrophic.
    Whilst I had the engine apart, I took the opportunity to inspect the powervalves (there are four of them) and discovered one looked suspiciously like it was on the path to failure.  So I was able to replace the faulty part and clean them up.  Powervalve inspection is possible to do with the engine in place, but seeing as though I had it removed, it made the task far less onerous.
    The cylinder barrels themselves appeared to be in good shape – there was no plating missing or damaged, so I installed the new pistons and rings and put the engine back together.
    The next task is to reinstall the engine in the frame, check / set the powervalve adjustments and  refit the cooling and exhaust systems. Then, I’ll feel like I am getting somewhere with the project!

    Progress report

    I have been struggling with writing blog posts of late for a variety of reasons.  Firstly, I am working from home far more often.  This deprives me of most of my “train time”.  The half-hour commute (each way) is a golden time for me to catch up on things (such as writing blog entries and professional development AKA “coding for fun”)  It seems strange to gain an hour a day at home, but lose this time, but that is the natural evolution of my day. – When I am at home and finish work, I do things that I can do at home…  When I am on the train, I do things that I can do there.  With less options available to me on the train, my time tended to be more focused.

    The second reason the blog posts are irregular, is that the restoration project on the RGV is taking up a lot of time and effort.  I have some admissions to make: I am not much of a mechanic, so mechanical tasks take me longer than they really should.  Also, the garage is a place where I “potter”.  It is a form of relaxation and as such, inordinate periods of time are required to achieve any real progress.  I have also been trying to stick to a monthly budget.  – This restricts the rate of progress I make on the bike.
    Most of my work is guided by the experience of others.  The earliest model RGVs are now over twenty years old and there are plenty of enthusiasts (a large proportion being in the UK) who frequent an RGV forum.  I have yet to really come a problem with my bike, that someone hasn’t experienced before and written about on this web site.  It really is a fabulous wealth of information.

    So, what have I been up to?

    The swing-arm bearings for the bike felt fine, so I did not disturb them.  The dog-bone (linkage) bearings for the swing arm were not.  After losing several hours and inventing several swear words, I took the part to a local mechanic to press the blind bearings out.  I lack the specialised tool to remove them, and the “drift and hammer” technique to bash them out proved fruitless. I felt somewhat justified when I went back to collect the part, as the mechanic had found them far harder to remove than he was expecting!

    Knick-knack paddy whack, give a dog a bone!

    Based on discussions found on the site, I purchased a GSXR 600 rear shock absorber for the bike.  There is some question as to whether the spring will be too “heavy” to allow the correct range of motion, but track bikes do tend to be sprung more heavily than road bikes.  One forum member posted the measurements he took after fitting the same part. Weighing approximately the same as I do, he was able to set the suspension correctly, so I figure I have a sporting chance too.

    Thing on a spring!  One of my favourite games on the C64

    At the moment, I am in the middle of performing a top-end rebuild for the bike.  The bike still felt like it had good compression, but I wanted to check the condition of the cylinder barrels and it had been a long time since it had a “freshen up”.  Nothing comes un-done easily on a bike engine last touched ten years ago.  I have learnt that the hammer drill setting can be used as a substitute for an impact driver… sometimes…  At other times, it has led me to my other discovery, that a Dremmel is a good tool, for cutting new screw heads in a screw with a butchered head…
    There is no end of “bling” that you can purchase for an RGV.  This also means, there is no end to the amount of money you can spend.  I am still managing to avoid the trap of spending money on good looking parts that do not help finish the project – but I do have my eyes on a couple of items. 😉
    I am however reaching a point where I have a tough decision to make.   My budget is currently “in the red”.  I allocated myself a monthly spend, and I am about six weeks ahead of that, at this point in time.  Even using mental arithmetic and not trying to be precise about the budget, I can see that finishing the bike on time and on budget will be a story that belongs in the “fiction” section of the local library.  Going back to my New Year’s Resolution, that means I should be planning on taking the VFR out on the track.  But, to be honest, I’d rather spend the money that would cost, on “finishing” the RGV this year.
    I use the term “finishing” loosely, as I said, there is no end of “bling”…

    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”. 

    Giving it to you straight

    The handling of a motorcycle can be greatly affected by its “straightness”.  Even a minor “topple-over” in a car-park can be enough to warp the chassis and thus affect the handling.  Making sure a bike rides properly is a major concern when buying a second-hand bike. 

    When a bike is not straight, one of the problems is that the rear wheel is not directly in-line with the front wheel.  When this happens, it takes more effort to lean the bike one-way, than the other.  Let’s take an example:

    In our case, the rear wheel remains centred, but the front wheel is to the left of centre.  Leaning to the left is easier than leaning right.  When leaning to the right, the bike has to “climb” past the centre of the rear tyre.  It’s almost as though you are “leaning uphill”.  Leaning left, the bike has already passed the highest point of the tyre and hence falls into the turn.

    Just as brick-layers do, it is possible to get a good idea of straightness with a piece of string.  Preferably, with the bike on a paddock stand (or somehow held vertical) the idea is to run the piece of string down the sides of the rear tyre and towards the front of the bike.

    How long is a piece of string?  

    Starting with the middle of the string, wrap it around the rear tyre two or three times.  Carefully loop the end of the string around itself twice, near the edge of the tyre.

    Looped around the tyreLooped around the tyreThe looping of the string.

     If you pull the string too tightly, where you have looped the string will slip back past the edge of the tyre.  The problem with this happening is that it then makes it difficult to get both stringlines at the same height.  It is not the end of the world, but it does make measuring more difficult.

    Pass the lengths of string through to the front of the bike.  If you would like, you can attach the ends to a rod – ensuring that the gap between the two sides is equal to the width of the rear tyre.  Through a true moment of serendipity, I happened to have an old Ventura gear-sack mounting bar with lugs on it that were exactly the right distance apart.

    It was the

    Ensure the front wheel is pointing straight ahead and stretch the string until it is under a slight tension.  If all has gone according to plan, the only place the string will touch the bike again is at the front of the rear tyre.

    Yes, I haven't washed it yet...

    From the front of the bike, you should be able to ensure the string is travelling straight along the path of the rear wheel.  The distance from the string, to the sides of the front wheel should be equal on both sides.

     

    One side... ...and the other 

     

    That's not a pretty picture...

     

    As evident in the photos the RGV is a long way off being straight.  I already knew that.  It is actually so far out of line, you can see it with the naked eye.  What is worse: SOME SPIDER HAS BUILT ITS NEST IN MY FRONT TYRE!

    Nature reserve

    In theory, it would be possible for the chassis to be bent and for the wheels to still be in-line at some point.  If the headstock of the bike were off to one side, but twisted so that the forks were angled back toward the centre line, it may be possible to not notice the misalignment with a string test.  But, for a quick and fairly accurate approximation of straightness, the string test is a good guide.  In the meantime, the RGV is off to the frame-specialist to get itself straightened out.

      

    And then there were two…

    Earlier, I discussed my New Year’s Resolution to do a track day.  Due to the limited number of racetracks in the area, my only real choice is what I should ride at a track day.  I had three choices: hire a bike, ride my VFR or get a dedicated track-bike. 

    Not long after making this resolution, completely unprompted, my friend offered me back my old race bike.  It was a 1991 model Suzuki RGV 250.  I had given it to him when I had gone overseas.  He had planned on making a “super-mono” track bike out of it – replacing the motor with a four stroke single cylinder dirt-bike engine.  When I gave it to him, the bike was showing some serious signs of neglect.  Most rubber parts on the bike had perished from sitting in a hot tin shed for years.  The frame and subframe were not straight.  I had raced and crashed the bike several times – so this was hardly a surprise.  Generally, the bike was run-down.  When I gave the bike to him, it hadn’t turned a wheel in anger in around six years.

    Well, now that I have got it back, it has not turned a wheel in anger in ten years!  The intervening years were no more kind to it than the previous ones.

    Things (such as the clutch lever) have broken or gone missing

    Broken clutch

    Fairing damage

     

    Steel bits have rusted…

    Rusty chain

     

    Fluids have leaked and oh… the battery has gone flat.

    Hardly inspirational

    I was briefly tempted to sell it for the price of a handshake, but decided to rise to the challenge of restoring it.    Somewhat simplifying the task is that it will never be a road-bike ever again.  I never owned any of the road-gear for it, and riding a peaky 250 screamer on the roads is not my idea of fun.

    Before spending a vast amount of time and money (both of which are in short supply for me) I hooked up the battery from the VFR and with a bit of prep work managed to fire it back into life.   That is all the encouragement I need to start the project!

     Given the fact that I will now spend a reasonable amount on the bike will subsequently rule out the option of hiring a bike to ride at the track day.  So, that leaves me with two options…  Right about now, I reckon the VFR is fearful of its chances of ending up on the track.