Monday, November 12, 2018

Still doing the business. Alan De Lautours Suzuki RG500 XR14

Bruce S's road going RG500. Alan has a similar at home!

Another sound we should be hearing on the track shortly. The De Bros Suzuki TR250

Alan having a chat to his brother Paul after another track session

A lovely sight with sounds through the esses.

Coming into the esses

Since rekindling an interest in old two stroke bikes more than 10 years ago, the ultimate road bike for many has always been the Suzuki RG500. As a road bike and a racer it has developed a mystique that has seen them become some of the most expensive Japanese classic bikes you can buy. Alan has been racing and road riding them for the past forty years or more. In his younger days he was a very successful racer with New Zealand titles to his name, including a win in the New Zealand Castrol Six Hour. The XR14 he bought down to Manfield has been in regular race use since it was bought into New Zealand for Pat Hennen to ride in the Marlboro series in the seventies. It has certainly done many laps around Manfield, and Alan has just completed some mechanical work on it so it will do a few more. There is nothing like hearing the cackle from those four chambers as the bike makes its way through the esses! Long may we continue to hear that sound around our race tracks. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

More Suzuki TR250 fettling

The NSRs ran like clockwork all day.
Are those helmets the same? 

Tim and son Alex having a Mac Attack after a Track Attack.
 Is that Dions lawnmower petrol can?

A Yamaha Race Developed 350

Tony and grandson. Best to start them early.

Chappys lovely bit of bling!

"Are you sure you didn't put 91 into the tank?"

"One day I will make it onto the track"

Amazing what you can do with a TF125.

Says it all!

"Maybe I should hang this over the mantlepiece"

Support team

Bringing an older motorcycle back to a running and rideable condition, it is never an easy task. When it is a race bike one could argue it can be even more difficult. Kim and Pauls efforts with there TR250 have provided an insight into this frustrating process. Kim decided to use a track day at the beginning of this month to give the TR its first taste of a track in goodness knows how many years. Before bringing it to the track Kim checked to make sure it was going to start and all seemed fine. As the photos and video show it didn't quite work out at the track. All part of the fettling process. It was great to see many of the two strokes who had come along for the day congregated in the same area, with great support and camaraderie in evidence through out the day. I am sure Kim appreciated it.
Whilst Kims day ended in frustration, it was great to see Mike back with his bevy of two stroke bikes  that all got an outing on the day. It was also a family affair with brother and son out for a spin and mother, wife, daughter in law and grandchildren in support as well.  Nice to see Tim supporting his son Alex through his first go on the track and despite a couple of 'intimate' moments with the track. Alex is keen to have another go soon. great. Mike provided a nice juxtaposition with how there is nothing more satisfying than a nicely running two stroke performance motorcycle. Immaculately presented, as always, his Yamaha TR1 provided a wonderful cacophony of sights and sounds to warm the heart of a two stroke enthusiast. I am sure Kim has similar picture in his head and undoubtedly very soon it will be for real. Mind you, by the end of the day Mike and his family ended up with an extensive workshop 'to do' list. All part of what I believe is called "Two Stroke Joy".
Dion had an excellent day with not a mechanical gremlin or track conversation in sight. He certainly got his moneys worth out of the day! His NSR ran like clockwork, and he is looking good for the season. I hear a trip down south to Levels is on the calendar. Hopefully Kim can have the TR fettled by then.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A tale of two blokes and a little Honda.

Here is a great article from a fellow enthusiast from West Island (Australia). Tony Sculpher is originally from our shores and lived just up the road in Hawkes Bay until 1999 when he made is way over the ditch like so many other New Zealanders. He contacted me through our blog and offered to contribute some material which I have gladly accepted. He is a keen member of the Australian chapter of the VJMC and would be a great contact if any one is interested in heading over to one of there rallies etc. As you will see from his article he is a great wordsmith and as I found out later, he has also written a book and not just any book. It covers everything you needed to know about restoring a Kawasaki Z1-R. Without further ado .....

In what seems like a lifetime ago back in New Zealand I bought a very tired old Honda Z50 from a friend who worked at the local Honda dealership. The Honda had already done a lifetime of work with his kids, and probably some else’s family judging by its’ condition. It really was a rat bike if you have ever seen one. There were lots of incorrect parts on it, and there were a lot of parts missing. There was no wiring harness and associated electrical components at all; an engine kill switch on the handlebar was the only on/off control. It went well but blew a little blue smoke so a new set of piston rings and a good hone did the job. I re-fitted the original fold down handlebars which were in the spare parts that came with the Honda.

We took this little Honda everywhere when we went on our holidays. I made a steel frame with a pressed steel u-channel ( for the tyres ) which attached to the back of our caravan, and I would securely bolt the Honda on utilising the top rear shock mount and the two handlebar knobs. There were many times whilst driving when we were passed by motorcyclists who gave us the big “ thumbs up “ as they passed the car towing the caravan. The little four stroke engine was so quiet that the other campers did not mind us riding it around camping grounds and holiday parks. We were careful not to annoy anyone as we were all living in close proximity to each other. We took this little Honda to many popular holiday destinations in the central North Island– Lake Tutira, Ohope Beach, the Green and Blue lakes at Rotorua, and Lake Taupo. When we sold the caravan and graduated to a three room tent ( we needed more room as the family was growing ), the little Honda still went with us.

Tony and son Craig ( aged 16 months ) with the Z50, March 1990. The Kiwi safety boots are not recommended for any form of motorcycle riding.

When the family grew older, I still kept the little Honda as I really did enjoy getting it out of the shed once in a while, and having a bit of fun hooning around the back yard, or simply just racing the dog – nearly ran her over a few times ( dogs have no understanding that a motorcycle travelling at warp factor nine simply cannot turn sharply to avoid solid objects ! ). Even after sitting for a long time, a few kicks and she would start again. You cannot kill one of these early Honda’s. The cam chain and the tappets can rattle ( even badly ), but as long as they have oil in the engine and a little compression, they will go on forever.

We emigrated to Australia in 1999 and the little Honda came with us along with its’ larger stablemate, my 1989 Honda CBR1000FK. For the record, the little Honda is a 1976 Z50J1 and is the Australian market model ( Honda code “U” ). Track forward to 2012 and after 22 years I still had the little Honda amongst my collection. I decided to do the right thing and gave it a complete restoration. I stripped it back to the bare frame and commenced the work. I gave myself a challenge – I would only use genuine Honda spare parts and use absolutely no reproduction parts. I utilised both the Honda Z50J1 sales brochure and the Honda Z50J1 parts catalog and can claim that everything on this Honda exactly matches the parts book. If its’ not in the parts book, then its’ not on the Honda !

From ( an interested ) spare parts salesman at a local Honda dealership, I purchased a large number of the genuine Honda bolts, washers and nuts to ensure they were all exact. I re-zinced and re-chromed the salvageable parts, and scanned new old stock lists in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the USA for everything else. I was fortunate to source one of the original type tool bags from an old dealer in N.Z. I did not find much in the USA as their Z50 models were a little different. I also found that many of the Honda websites selling reproduction items were not so correct, especially the reproduction wiring looms which were mostly made for 12 Volt systems and did not accommodate indicators and the horn. The most helpful were David Silver Spares in the U.K. and with reasonable pricing. I found the hardest parts to find were the battery box, horn assembly and the carburettor hose clamp which all eventually turned up at CMSL in the Netherlands, but they were expensive ! Very late into the restoration I finally found the wiring loom and the ignition switch ( with the rare round plug ) after much searching - remember it must be correct to the parts catalog.
VJMC member Trevor Whitty did an excellent job matching and repainting the Parakeet Yellow ( Honda code “Y31” ) paintwork, and applying all the transfers in their correct place. I stripped the engine and found that it only needed a new exhaust valve and some parts for the centrifugal clutch. I had all the engine cases aqua blasted, and even zinc plated the kick start and gear lever shafts to really make the overall appearance look like new. With new gloss black paint on the cylinder barrel and all new genuine screws, the engine came up a treat. I even had the carburettor and the fuel tap aqua blasted to make them look like new.

Later in 2012 and getting there ! Final assembly was halted to due to slow progress sourcing those hard to get parts.

Craig kept a keen eye on the restoration every time he flew home. After all, I had originally bought this Honda for him. Since leaving School, he had been working for the Australian Navy ( 2 years ), and ever since has been is working for the Royal Australian Air Force. He is now based at the RAAF Base Richmond, near Sydney. I organised a paint supplier to match the Honda Cloud Silver Metallic ( Honda code “AU” ) and I applied this to the wheels and hubs. The final assembly took only a few weeks. It took two kicks to bring the Z50 back into life, and this was very satisfying for myself as I am not really a mechanic at all. As good friend Trevor Whitty says “ this part of the restoration is meant to be therapeutic “, and he is quite correct.

23 + years later - November 2013. Craig ( aged 25 ) and Tony with the restored Honda Z50J1.

Both sides of the single sheet Honda Z50J1 sales brochure. Study carefully components like the fuel hose and the control cables’ routing and you will discover how the Z50 is meant to be assembled.

How does it go ? Top speed is close to 50 kph, and the Z50 takes its’ time getting there. The three speed transmission and automatic clutch makes riding it easy. Holding the gear lever down keeps the clutch dis-engaged – release it together with a little bit of throttle and up comes the front wheel. You can pull on the handlebars in every gear, and the Z50 will wheelie - but be very careful, do not lean too far rearward as you can easily end up on your bum ! The small diameter 10” wheels do make manoeuvring at slow speed tricky – the bike tends to want to fall over at stall speeds, and those tyres are really for light off road work only. The front suspension ( especially ! ) is not well suited for large bumps or high speed off road work – remember that this motorcycle was designed just for small kids and perhaps for a pit bike, but it is not a serious off road machine at all. Although the Z50 is road registered, I would be hesitant to ride it in traffic – you are just too small, too slow, and you will get squashed in today’s traffic !

Tony Sculpher

Monday, October 1, 2018

Martinborough in the sun

An idea put forward by Bruce A and turned into a plan by Gary A, became one of the best rides we’ve had in a long time. 

Sunday was the perfect spring day and a gathering of 10 bikes left Manawatu Motorcycles heading for Martinborough, with our adventure riders continuing on to Cape Palliser. Thanks to Gary’s knowledge of Wairarapa we made the entire trip there and home without travelling on the main roads and in the process we have discovered some great new twisty back roads to enjoy. 

We had an interesting mix of bikes ranging from the new (2017 Triumph Bonny 1200) to the old (‘72 Kawasaki H2) with some interesting machines in between. A bike we haven’t seen in group before was Aaron’s ’83 Kawasaki GPz550 unitrak. Also with us for the first part of the run down was Dion’s Yamaha TZR250 3MA, a rare sight on the road today and an interesting bike.

After reaching the Castle Point to Masterton Road via Alfredton, Gary led us East of Masterton on good quality roads through to Martinborough. Beautiful rolling farm land and a mix of tight and open corners. 

Lunch was enjoyed at O.M.G. café. I think expensive would be the best description, but the quality was there.

Image may contain: outdoor

After lunch Bruce and Russell continued down to Cape Palliser, while the rest of us filed out of Martinborough on a different set of roads further to the east. This included a wonderful ascent used for motorcycle hill climb events. We made our way back to Alfredton and then through Pa Valley Road to Rongomai and on to Pahiatua. 

This is a ride we should add to our calendar and I’m sure many would enjoy it. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

More videos and photos from the 2018 Manawatu Classic Motor Cycle show.

A wander through the rest of the show certainly provides a convincing picture of  the health of the motorcycle scene in the Manawatu and beyond. The two halls were littered with machines for all sorts of motorcycling interests. One concern for those of us into our heritage motorcycles is who  the next lot of heritage motorcyclists are? Our young people live in a complex world that demands there attention in so many different ways, so it was great to see evidence of younger enthusiasts (as well as young at heart as well of course!) interest in motorcycling in different parts of the show. The fact that the increasing value of classic motorcycles is going the same way as our housing prices is a concern. So it was great to see young people coming up with solutions to pursue there interest by getting into smaller capacity machines like scooters and step thrus. We have all been there, and seeing BBJ (Bantam Boy John) in front of an impressive row of said bikes, it is a real reminder about how important these smaller bikes are in the scheme of things. It is something us Blue Hazers might need to encourage with a couple of tiddler runs a year?
If you want to see who the winners of the different categories, pop over to the Manawatu Classic Motor Cycle Clubs website
A great show and once again a big thank you to the Classic club for organising it and thanks to the people who contributed there bikes and finally to the public for coming along!