R.I.P the original winged hammer

 

It is with a very heavy heart that the OSS community mourns the loss of our friend Pete Boyles AKA Pete750ET.

Those of us who have been involved with the site from the early days will will remember both Pete’s Earlystock racing career and that of Runt racing with great affection and the OSS team chant;  Go Pete Go! and Go runt go!

At the time, we all followed the antics of Pete and Runt racing with great pride and great enthusiasm. With the help of the OSS collective brain, Pete was able to take his humble 750ET to another level.

Anyone who knew Pete will know what a genuinely lovely guy he was. Pete visited us on the stand at Donington in 2017 and he was as enthusiastic about OSS bikes then as he ever has been.

Pete was my inspiration for starting the winged hammers team and I will always regard him as the original winged hammer.

Rest in peace friend.

OSS salutes you.

Members pay your respects here

It’s never too late to be what you might have been- A winged hammer’s tale.

From time to time we lift a story from our forum and put it here for the wider world to enjoy. This is one of those occasions. Mole is one of our winged hammers and if you ever found yourself wondering whether it was too late to take up track racing or thinking you needed mega-bucks just to get started, Mole’s story should provide some inspiration.

What started as a bit of laugh has seen Mole win his local class championship and this year, Mole will take on both Donington’s classic endurance round in May and Spa in June.

This is Mole’s story, so far…

 

 


This is how it all began. It was Christmas 2012.

I had a perfectly mental, tuned GSXR thou and I got talked into going racing. After all, I was 46 and if I didn’t do it now, I never would. My mates were racing in the Post Classic series and, if I wanted to take them on, I needed a pre ’88 bike to do it on.

I got £1200 and the horrible 750 Slabby streetfighter you see below for my pride and joy(oddly I don’t miss it).

It was standard apart from the Blandit 600 wheels, carbs and a really loud,rattly can. The weird seat unit looked ok but weighed a ton. The brakes were knackered and the motor was seized.


I had 3 months to turn it into a competitive race bike.

Not having a clue about racing didn’t help. I looked on the web at racing Slabbies and dreamed of world championships. I looked at frame mods as I had heard that the standard frames were far too flexible. I got some 6mm alloy plate and a length of 40×20 box section and made up some bracing. I don’t have the capability to alloy weld so I taped them onto the frame and took it to the local blacksmiths to get welded up. I bought an aftermarket fairing on Eblag then realised that it didn’t meet the catch tank regs so pop riveted a bit of caravan onto the bottom. I made a couple of brackets to fit R1 calipers to the Slabby forks,fitted clipons, an R1 shock, an 1100M back wheel, painted it matt black and poured diesel down the plug holes. After a couple of days it was turning over and running on a set of VM29s that I already had.

I was ready for action.

Season 1

As I said, I didn’t have a clue about racing. My mate Iain P was coaxed into helping me. He was in strong disagreement that the best way to find the limits of adhesion was to lean more and more till I fell off (both left and right). But that’s what I did. My first race was at East Fortune. I did a 1:17 and fell off. The bike felt horrible, Skittish and downright dangerous in the damp with road legal tyres as we weren’t allowed wets. Not helped by the fact I was running them at road pressures of 36 front and 42 rear. When I asked someone about it they pissed themselves laughing and told me to try 31 front and 28 rear. What a difference that made!

There were 15 riders in our class and by the end of the season I was down to a 1:08 and finished second in class.

Season 2

Second season and I had made a few changes.

I bought another fairing and took all the bodywork to my mate Wee Stuart the painter and told him to paint it the same colour as the car I was getting sprayed. The car looked better! I got dogs abuse all year about that colour. Luckily enough I crashed it at the last meeting of the year so it would need painted again. It got a Gsxr600 K1 front end with a ZX9 wheel, fireblade calipers and a shortened random, and much more sociable, end can. All much cheapness as money was tight. Best buy was the Taiwanese rear sets. £36 and made from an alloy I had, and have never since, encountered. They crash really well. When bent double they can be hammered straight again and again. I decided to go with no proper seat as comfort is the last thing on your mind when racing.

It was tight that year, but I won by a handful of points.

Season 3

Season 3 and I have a target on my back!

The team: Jools-Team principal- cook

Iain P-Crew chief- Prophet of Doom

Me- Ballast-Talent(depending on results)

The big change for this year was my mate Andy Fyffe bought me a set of PFM discs. He has the superbike ones on his Harris Magnum4 and swears by them. He’s not wrong., Combined with Bendix carbon matrix race pads, they are like hitting a skip!

I bought a second hand stainless race pipe and can, some cheap chinese levers, a kid on seat and new paint.

A proper race loom was made up and doubts were cast as to the longevity of the still original de-seized motor(as can be seen by the amount of oil on the tailpiece)

There was no way I was going to win this year after a couple of crashes(silver Gaffa tape is my new best friend)

As luck would have it, Andy Lawson who was sure to beat me, went off to do the Manx (and won his class) so that left me winning by a handful of points again this year(2014)

Season 4

First major revamp. I bought a load of Gsxr bits from someone who was moving class to supertwins. The package came with a blown 750m motor with a lightened and balanced crank and a Wiseco 771cc kit. It had dropped a valve and destroyed the head and piston but the cylinder was untouched and came with a new piston kit. Also in package was a low mileage 750m motor and a Dyna 2000 ignition set up. Because I’m a slack arse, I decided to put the complete 750m motor into the bike along with the Dyna ignition and find another head, to get ported, for the trick motor for a later , more points demanding stage in the championship. The Prophet of Doom was in total agreement, much to my surprise,but only because he doesn’t like change. A new swoopy slingshot body kit was purchased. Again only because it was £100 cheaper than a Slabby one. At least the people that make “race” fairnings reckon that you will need a full belly pan for a Slingy. Painted it myself this time. Looks fabulous from a good few feet away. Changed to 36mm CVs( forgot to mention that the year before I had the VM29s bored to 33 at the back to match the fronts). The 36s used less petrol which worried me.

I put Hyperpro springs in the forks which greatly improved the handling. Unfortunately this meant I started having ground clearance issues. I moved the pegs up and back a little, made a new link pipe for the exhaust to tuck it in and cut holes in the fairing where the bulges for the engine cases were.

Halfway through the season is when the electrical gremlins joined the team. The bike would seem fine for about 8 laps of the 10 lap races then start misfiring. We kept finding dodgy connections (caused mainly by using those shitty blue connectors). We would think it was sorted but it would do the same thing again. We changed the plugs, the coils, made another loom and even tried a better fuel tap in case it was petrol starvation. Nothing seamed to make a difference. It was at one of the spark plug changes (last race of the weekend) that a rogue (and tiny) nut had found its way down the plug tube so that when the plugs were taken out, it fell in. The motor sounded terminal on startup so the bike was put in the van. The trick motor was put into service by using the head from the standard motor. That’s when I noticed the tiny square nut embedded into the edge of the combustion chamber.

The rules were still the same regarding tyres. Road legal only. No wets. We were running Pirelli diablo supercorsas in the dry and Michelin pilot road 3 touring tyres in the wet.

I’ve ridden bikes all my life and most of it in Scotland so riding in the rain doesn’t bother me. This worked well in my favour as it was wet a lot that year. I won the championship by a fair bit and went the whole season without crashing.

Season 5

 

The class was beginning to dwindle with only 8 bikes left. The racing was still good though. My main rivals Gordon Murray on his VFR and Gordon Castle on a very well put together Gsxr 750 were always right with me. I was still having ground clearance issues because the bike was handling so well. The NRC casings were getting scuffed as was the fairing although I had pulled it in as much as possible. I made up brackets to move the top mount of the shock back and down which meant I had to take more meat off the linkage to allow more height. They look dodgy and I meant to get them welded onto the frame but never did and they haven’t moved. I should still get them welded on.

Deek had joined the team as pit crew and moral prevention officer. Mostly he noised up the competition.

At the Bob Mac Memorial classic races that year I did my best ever lap of 1:03.7. This was only possible because of the perfect weather conditions and having a couple of world class riders to chase. I never beat them but they dragged me along a full second faster than I had gone before.

Wet tyres were allowed! They are epic. If you have never tried them you wouldn’t believe how grippy they are. I prayed for rain and did my rain dance every meeting.

The gremlins were still on board. I was over riding the bike when it was stuttering on the last laps and ended the season with a couple of crashes. The bike was fast though and I could build up enough of a lead to still finish 1st or 2nd. I managed to win my fourth consecutive title. Just.

Season 6 2017

I had been warned not to run the number 1.

What do they know!

Over the winter I had bought another motor that had just been built by a renowned tuner. It had Wiseco high comp pistons and a ported head. Unfortunately for the guy his fuel tap had not shut off and filled the cases with petrol resulting in a big end failure. We made an engine up from all the best parts we had. It’s a total screamer. New paint and another end can and we were ready.

First race of the year and the bike died after 3 laps. When the race was over it started and ran perfectly back to the pit.

We checked everything we could think of. I was told the Dyna 2000 ignitions were bomb proof and no way it would be that. I didn’t have another one anyway.

The class was only 5 strong and we were out with the CB500s. It meant we only got 2 clear laps before we were in traffic. That worked in my favour as the bike was still playing up and I managed to finish 2 of the races.

I was convinced that it was a fuel starvation problem so for the 2nd meeting i bought new Mikuni RS34s and fitted a Pingle tap. On a sneaky test ride along the back roads the bike felt great and never missed a beat. At the meeting on the practice session the bike ran perfectly. However when the call went out for qualifying it would not start. No spark.

One of my rivals lent me his spare Dyna ignition. That was the problem all along. I had to start at the back of a 36 strong grid (30 pizza bikes and then the post classics). By lap 5 I tried to take the lead and crashed. Bugger! It had ripped all the controls off the left side of the bike. We had enough spares to sort the bike and hammered straight the unbreakable Taiwanese rear sets. 2nd race and the gear linkage snapped on lap 2 and in 5th gear. I finished the race but burnt out the clutch slipping it out of the tight corners. I didn’t have a spare clutch so I roughed up the steel plates. It was better but still slipping. 2 distant 5th place finishes.

I could still win the championship (theoretically) if I won every race.

At the 3rd meeting everything went perfectly. I won all the races and my nearest rival had a DNF. It was on.

Last meeting of the year. First race. Pole position. The lights went out and my throttle cable snapped.

Fixed the cable by soldering a new nipple on. 2nd race. 2nd lap and the cable snapped again.

It was over.

Won the last 2 races but finished a distant 2nd in the championship.

Good riddance number 1 plate.

Roll on 2018.

Mole.

If you are interested in learning more about our winged hammers or if you are a potential commercial sponsor and you would like to get in touch with any of our winged hammers please sign up to the forum here

Your culture is a combination of what you create and what you allow

Like most tinkerers, I’ve been a member of a few technical forums over the last 15 years. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

At one time, before social media,  I would sit at a computer and jump between 2 or 3 forums for a couple of hours every evening. Back then there was no Facebook ,twitter or Instagram. Fast forward 10 years and forums are dying off in their droves. Let’s face it,  most of them look and feel pretty clunky these days, especially when pitched against modern social media platforms. Mobile devices now dominate. If a forum isn’t mobile responsive ( optimised for viewing on a mobile device) it’s pretty much useless to anyone who isn’t sat in front of a computer. Worse still, if it is still relying on remote picture hosting like photobucket it will now be full of black squares where pictures used to sit.

In contrast, platforms like Facebook make it very easy to start an interest group and it’s simple and convenient to use from any device. Easy picture uploads, unlimited bandwidth. So who needs forums right?

In the face of all this “progress” why the fuck did we bother re-launching the oldskoolsuzuki.info technical forum? It’s not like we hadn’t seen others try to launch similar forums and fail in the interim.  Even some of the long established technical forums were emptying, replaced by Facebook groups.

Well,  the answer to that question was obvious to us from the start and chances are, it might now be dawning on others too. We wanted to be independent, we wanted to control how our space on the internet looked. We wanted to make sure we owned and controlled all of the data and privacy settings for the information our members were sharing and building.

Recent news coverage of the facebook data scandal has confirmed most peoples suspicions as well as vindicating our own decisions. Facebook know who you like, what you like, when and where you like it and who you liked it with. Facebook use that data to profile you and then they sell those profiles to businesses that want to target you for advertising. In fact, that’s the very deal you strike with Facebook; your info, in exchange for their social media platform. Facebook has been sold once already and your profile was sold with it. In case you were under any illusion about what Facebook’s product actually is; It’s you!

 

 

Our only use for facebook is as a community page to share articles from our website. Every-time we post a link on our community page, Facebook offers us the opportunity, at a price, to target new members by selecting interests, locations, age etc. That is Facebook’s principle purpose and revenue stream. Ultimately, we are not concerned  because we know that if anyone really wants to be a part of the OSS community they must  come here and register on our forum (oldskool). We know it wont be long before Facebook start charging facebook groups for the privilege of appearing on members timelines or at best, they will pepper group pages with targeted advertising. Facebook already controls the posts you see. For publishers, they are already being charged to appear on the timelines of customers, even if customers have liked and followed the page. Interest groups may follow. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

So why is www.oldskoolsuzuki.info bucking the trend? The answer to that question is simple: We re-thought the concept of a technical forum and updated it. Many have made the mistake of thinking it’s easy to run a forum. It’s not. While other forums fail or fade or take the easy option of transitioning to Facebook groups we have gone in the other direction and more than that, we have actually been successful, despite our narrow subject matter. We know this is not down to blind luck or happy accident. We did it this way by design.

Firstly,thanks to our technical Guru and man behind the curtain, Jelly, we selected the right platform. It’s mobile responsive and it’s easy to use. We have little or no restriction on picture sizes and all pictures are hosted by us. We have a well moderated forum. We have hand picked traders who offer discount to our members with 0% commission to the site. Our news page has regular updates and the site is 100% free of charge. We do the occasional t-shirt run and the money goes back to the site. Any shortfall is made up by the site Admins.  Everyone involved in running the site gives their time, effort and their skills free of charge.

Our approach has gradually attracted over 2000 people to join us over 2 years and that is largely down to our growing digital footprint across a range of digital channels but for us, the single most important point is, everything leads back here, to the URL that spawned so many other interest groups www.oldskoolsuzuki.info

Our efforts have taken time, forethought and planning by our busy team of enthusiastic mods and admins.  More importantly,of course, we would be nothing without our enthusiastic members who are willing to spend time sharing their builds and answering questions on our technical boards.

The popular illusion about forums is the idea that ” if you build it, they will come” This is  idea is outdated, simplistic and somewhat naive. In a growing universe of digital noise, how does a potential member find you? More importantly when they find you, what is it that makes them want to stick around?

In our case, we know that people will find us, we know that when they do find us and they understand us, they will stay. If they don’t understand us, well there is always Facebook.

Back to the original question; Why the fuck did we re-launch a technical forum?

We set out to build something of quality that we hoped would gradually attract like minded people from around the world.  Like everything of quality we knew we had to set out our stall with a clear and unwavering proposition and values.

  1. We wanted to be a technical forum dedicated to building up free information and expertise with the aim to  inspire, instruct and assist those that want to modify, build or race a unique oldskool Suzuki machine – We have a purpose.
  2. We are not for profit. The forum is free – We are independent.
  3. We simply want to fulfil our purpose and to do that we have strict forum rules. We rigorously enforce them to keep our content focused. – We actively maintain our culture
  4. We simply don’t give a fuck what the rest of the known world thinks about what we are doing or how we are doing it. –We have integrity

The short version: It’s about the bikes and the builds, it’s free, there are rules, If you don’t like it, you’re in the wrong place.

We are safe in the knowledge that people will either identify with our values or they wont. To date we appear to have rung a chord for many and that is gratifying but the truth is; if there were only 100 of us here but there were 100 cool projects in the project section we would still be fulfilling our purpose. oldskoolsuzuki hasn’t changed at all in that respect.

With every year that passes, the information we build together creates its own digital gravity, drawing in curious members who have stumbled across our digital breadcrumb trail on search engines or shared social media feeds. Our project section and bike of month winners are ultimately what we create. All of the info and threads are well arranged and they are always in the same place when you come back.

We are not the the pick and mix section of the internet that has become the norm over the last decade. We are a friendly bunch but we don’t suffer the sort of fools you’ll find so readily elsewhere. We are never worried about reducing our member count. Quality , not quantity is our moto. Those that instantly get it, eventually get it, or even just grin and bear it, are the people that make up our community.

Just like the bikes that we all love, build, race and ride;  the best performance always comes when you tighten up on any tolerances. We built this place as a place for  others and ourselves to enjoy. That is why we swim against the tide and maintain a forum .

So judge us on what we create rather than what we allow. That is is the true measure of any culture.

Members discuss here

Bike of the month February 2018

Oh no, here he goes again, twittering on about “evolution , not revolution” and “genetic engineering of an extinct species”

Well, nearly but not quite. I’m going to mix it up a bit this time and tell you a tale of evolution AND revolution.

Back in the Dino days of the old site there were many lovely bikes built but because they were scattered around the world you didn’t always get to see them in the flesh. I travelled a lot for OSS and I was lucky enough to see quite a few, close up. Some lived up to the hype and some didn’t. (I include my own creations in the latter category)

As luck would have it though, I didn’t have to travel far to see a bike, where the opposite was true. The pictures I had seen of this bike online, before I stumbled across it at a local bike meet, had not done it justice. That bike belonged to Gregg Campbell AKA Wee Man.

Looking around Gregg’s GSXR1100M Slingshot you could just tell his had been a long and intense love affair. It had the look of a bike that had been tastefully, and carefully evolved to meet its owners exacting tastes and requirements. All of which, were very tidy and meticulously well executed. If our FBOB had been there, he would have been forced to say “bugger me that’s shiny”. It instantly got my “bike you’d most like to take home” vote.

“But KM you promised us a revolution as well as an evolution!”. Easy tiger, I’ll get to that bit.

Fast forward a few years and I’m loafing around at the Fast by Me workshops drinking coffee and listening to Dave telling me about how he took an angle grinder to his modem, while on the phone to his internet provider’s customer support line. Out of the corner of my eye a familiar bike caught my attention. It was none other than Gregg’s Slingshot. “I know that bike” I said. Now we all know what happens to anything that goes to uncle Dave’s. That’s right, it gets the boost.( unless it’s a faulty modem)

The boost is pretty much Dave’s solution for everything ( I think he’s onto something). Gregg’s Slingshot was in for one of Uncle Dave’s rock solid turbo kits. Even Dave paused his internet tirade for a moment to chip in how tidy the bike was.

I’m sure Gregg will agree with me that the arrival of “the boost” has been anything but evolutionary and every bit Revolutionary! (made it, see)

This tells you all you need to know about limitless possibilities offered by 80s and 90’s Suzukis. The best part of breaking up, is making up, especially when the making up bit includes a extra-large bucket full of lairy charged up horses.

Gregg, congratulations you’re our bike of the month.

Members discuss this here.

There’s racing and then there’s road racing.

It’s fair to say that all competitive motorcycle racing relies on both a riders skill and their bravery. The ability to suspend one’s natural aversion to real and present danger and to focus only on the task in hand, are essential.

Pushing your machine and your body to the very limit of their capability and beyond is the difference between competing and just turning up.

Despite a life long love of all things two wheeled it took me a long time to get round to witnessing my first proper road race close up.  It was the 2016 Isle of Man TT , arguably the Daddy of all road races. It’s an experience that changed my perspective on motorcycle racing for ever.

There I was sat on a grass verge, aside a quiet country road lined with trees and a stone wall on the other side. The tarmac was close enough to touch. The sun was shining and the birds were singing in the trees and hedgerows around me. An otherwise perfectly normal and perfectly sublime summer’s day in the country.  Then, all of a sudden; Boom! With a sudden explosion of noise, adrenalin and jaw dropping speed, Michael Dunlop had just passed mere feet from my face on his way to a 133mph average speed lap record.

I sat for a moment suspended in absolute disbelief at what I had just witnessed, with only a slight whiff of burnt fully synth in the air to bear witness to the fact that something had happened . Had that really just happened? My hand was trembling slightly as my mind replayed the scene over again and over again: A guy on a bike? At that speed? On this road? I kept picturing the suspension bottoming and the whole bike squirming in protest. He was on the very limit!

I had seen many track races over the years with bikes and riders on the very limit but that’s not what was blowing my mind here. The thing that I couldn’t reconcile was the context in which I had witnessed this riding style. Balls out riding on a normal country road. A country road I had ridden myself the previous day.

I spent the next week on the Island trying to get my head around how a road racer is possibly able to suspend their state of fear. On a race track you have gravel traps and large run off areas, but here there was nowhere to go. My own fear for their safety mixed with my fascination for what they where doing and how on earth they were able to do it. I couldn’t understand it yet but I knew I was already hooked.

I’ve since come to better understand, after speaking to a lot of people including some road racers, that what sets road racers apart is that they don’t see things like we do. The phrase ” being in the zone” is used to describe focus around a lot of menial activities these days but for the road racer, I think,  it describes perfectly the mind set that is required. The ability to achieve a state of sublime concentration that enables remarkable performance, while suspending all other distractions or concerns. I get it now but my utter respect and admiration for road racers remains undiminished. They know the risks and yet every year, talented road racers put their skills to the ultimate test and sadly some pay the very highest price in the pursuit of their craft.

In late 2016 oldskoolsuzuki launched the Winged Hammers race team. Not really a team more of a really cool badge and a dedicated board on our forum. The idea was that if any of our members were competitively racing, in any discipline, on an oldskoolsuzuki machine, we wanted to create a OSS race team livery for their bikes. The Winged Hammers were born.

We quickly had track racers, drag racers, straight liners, world wheelie championship competitors and land speed record holders displaying the OSS race team livery on their bikes, but for me, the proudest moment of all was when the Winged Hammer emblem appeared on race bikes at the 2017 Classic TT on the Isle of Man.

Not long after the 2017 Classic TT I asked our two TT Winged Hammer teams to give me an account of their 2017 TT campaign and here they are, in their own words. Our very first Classic TT Winged Hammer was Geoff Martin.

Geoff Martin

First of all there have been some low points to 2017 We lost Gavin Lupton after a crash at the Dundrod 150 just before the classic TT. Gavin had tried Dean’s water-cooled GSXR 750 at Oulton a few weeks before the Dundrod 150 and was very enthusiastic about riding it at the TT. Unfortunately it was not to be. Gavin later succumbed to his injuries while we were at the classic TT.

We decided to take the bike anyway and it was agreed that Gavin’s team mate Dan Hegarty should ride it as a tribute to Gavin and he did him proud finishing 12th with a fastest lap of just over 120mph.

Bellow are two pictures at Oulton of the bike and Gavin riding the bike.

This picture is at the IOM with Dan Hegarty on the bike at Greeba Castle.

My bike, the blue/white one,  was ridden again by my Good friend from Ireland Dennis Booth. Dennis had a good fortnight finishing 20th winning another silver rep on my bike and not quite beating his best lap of last year of over 115mph but still not bad for a 53 year old . Both bikes ran well without any real problems. Dennis is looking forward to next year already.

Sadly as we now all know Dan Hegarty himself  tragically lost his life in November racing in Macau Grand Prix. Dan was well known to many at OSS as he had hosted our 2016 dyno day. R.I.P Dan and Gavin.

Our second Classic TT winged Hammer in 2017 went to Billy Bennet. Here’s billy’s TT story.

Billy Bennet

My friend Forest Dunn who does the Irish road racing circuit as well as the TT messaged me about 6 weeks before the classic saying he had an entry and was looking for a bike.  I had done some spannering for him before and I had my 750 slabbie track bike that had lain idle since Donington in May.

The bike had been originally hastily put together for Donington so we sent it to Stuart Young in Scotland. Stuart Young got to work refreshing the engine and getting the paint sorted and I had to sort out getting the front end to resemble something eligible!

We managed to get everything done just in time for practice week. The bike went on the dyno in the morning and was on the IOM ready for practise that evening!

 

When I turned up half way through practise week with my luggage full of spares, Forest had already had teething problems with a slipping clutch, the bike dropping to three cylinders, and the carbs needing further tweaks.  My first day there we spent all day on the bike before practise we realised the HT leads were old and perished so put a set of Dyna coils on and  that sorted the spark, we scrounged new frictions and steels from a friend in the paddock and serviced the master and slave cylinder for the clutch(prior to my arrival forest had ditched the cable conversion and borrowed a master from the generous Mark Stokes at Funky Monk Racing.  Forest had also put fully synth oil in it! I think that’s what caused Initial clutch slip)

We took the bike for a sneaky road test and everything seemed to be OK. However on Thursday night’s practice the clutch started slipping and on the second lap the bike cut out at the bungalow. Forest did however do a 108 average on the first lap from a standing start! We were buzzing about that and forest came in saying the bike was handling like a dream.  It seems the bike cut out because he caught the choke lever with his knee slider Velcro.

Well come race day we’d put two washers behind each clutch spring-no more slip.  We’d had a crack in the exhaust welded up, changed settings on the carbs, welded up the airbox space in the tank to help fuel starvation issues and had generally been working flat out to make the bike race ready.  On Tuesday we came 30th overall and 12th in our class, with a best lap of 110.8. I think this was a massive massive achievement all things considered. The rider was happy and I was happy.

As the bike owner and mechanic it was overwhelmingly stressful sometimes. You worry about the rider who is your best mate, you worry about your bike coming back in one piece, you worry that your bike prep is absolutely spot on and you want to do a good job. Then there are late nights, the expense, the worry of sleeping in a van with the fuel cans and spare tyres. These are all  forgotten every time you see that average speed go up and your rider come back in with a smile on his face.

The enjoyment of seeing those things and watching the live timing make it all worth it. Nothing beats seeing an old oil boiler built on a budget being mercilessly thrashed round the mountain circuit like it was meant to do, almost brings a tear to my eye!!! Haha

At OSS we are immensely proud of all of our Winged Hammers. They fly the oldskoolsuzuki flag on behalf of us all. They do the things that many of us can only dream of doing.  That said, there are few that would deny that the road racer is a very special bread of racer and  seeing our Winged Hammer emblem at the Classic TT is my personal highlight of 2017.

May 2018 bring all of our Winged Hammers the success that they deserve. Go Winged Hammers!

Members discuss this here.

If you are interested in becoming  a member of the team contact Katanamangler, after registering on our forum.

 

Bike of the month November 2017

If you want to shed a few pounds, some say the best way to do it is to cut down on your carbs. Apparently, if you’re really serious about getting all lean and mean you need to cut carbs out of the equation completely.

Now personally, I use whacking great RS36s on both of my big inline four Suzukis, which might explain my shrinking leathers- or not…

Anyway, here at oldskoolsuzuki we are purveyors of the philosophy that 80’s and 90’s Suzuki muscle bikes can be improved, while preserving their adorable  “fuck you” characteristics, by doing clever things with parts from the future. This months podium goes to a bike that ticks all of the above boxes.

At the heart of this braced ,steel framed Katana ensemble is the full fat, mighty air-cooled, 16 valve, GSX engine which has been tweaked up to 1170cc. It sports a complete EXUP front and back end too. Sounds tasty, I hear you say. “but what about my abs katanamangler?” “I’ve got a beach holiday coming up!” Well, worry not my middle aged,weight watching friends, this one is completely carb free! Yeah, that’s right, you heard me!

Using a a set of GPZ1100 throttle bodies and a set of GSX1400 injectors, our man Skelly has taken all of the guilt ( and a fair bit of hassle) out of 80’s muscle bike addiction through the wonders of EFI.

The bike was test ridden by Jon at our Donington Park track day gathering in August and it ran well.

Congratulations Skelly, your guilt free Katana is our bike of the month. Read more about Jon’s build here. Members discuss this article here.

 

The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten

At the beginning of August oldskoolsuzuki took a stand at the VJMC show at Donington. I decided I would go down for the weekend and hang around drinking beer and looking at bikes.

As the weekend progressed and my bike ogling and beer drinking continued I began to reflect upon how much my personal opinion on what constitutes a desirable bike has changed over the last 25 years.

Looking back to when I was in my 20s  my opinion was driven almost entirely by 1. Aesthetics and 2. Affordability. If I liked the way a bike looked and it was affordable, I would buy it. Even in my 30s little had changed when I bought a tatty 1982 Suzuki Katana for £500. From the age of 13 when I first set eyes on the Katana’s crazy German/Japanese design,  I had wanted one.

Although my work on the Katana started out with a largely aesthetic goal in mind, I was quickly drawn into a very different mindset. My journey led me me beyond aesthetics alone, into the world of functional performance parts that, to the untrained eye, often looked awkward or even aesthetically out of place. If you knew their significance, however, they took on a functional beauty all of their own.

So, my view of what constituted a desirable bike had gradually distorted. What makes a desirable bike for me, these days, hinges almost entirely on the sum of it’s parts rather than the whole. More accurately, form now follows function.

Where once I would stand back from a bike to take in it’s lines and evaluate it’s stance and other wanky bullshit of that nature, I’m now more likely to be found crawling around underneath it, taking in every bolt, bracket and component. If it has the right parts and it has been well put together, to me,  the engineered, functional simplicity, that some might find ugly, becomes a thing of great beauty.

We now live in the world of Facebook Instagram and Twitter and there are more shared opinions about what is right and what is wrong than ever before.  My opinion is just one more of the many opinions shared and although I represent a unique type of anorak, I live happily with the knowledge that I am not alone and I have a place to go, away from the internet, to indulge my world view.

I still remember when OSS spent a few agonising years on Facebook while the forum was up on the ramp. The problem with most of the open and untethered internet is that literally anyone can pitch up and offer his or her opinion on content and knowing what they are talking about is purely optional. I remember on the old Facebook page someone had posted up a picture of a really nice EFE fitted with a turbo. It’s fair to say that a more brutal looking engine and assembly of purposeful plumbing, would have been hard to find. While most of us were liking it and fawning over it, one learned chap commented, with great authority, that he didn’t think the oversized frame tubing looked very good and that it ruined the lines of the bike. Somebody quickly corrected him on the fact that this was actually the feed from the turbo to the plenum and not the frame tube. “I still don’t like it” he replied ” it looks out of place and ruins the lines of the bike”.

Every time I see an overpriced CX500 cafe racer with a brown leather seat, bathing in the glow of an Instagram filter, I am reminded that there are many who will never see beyond style alone. Each to their own. Fashions come and fashions go but quality never goes out of style.

A walk around any race paddock and you quickly realise that these guys have always believed that function dictates form.

 

We built oldskoolsuzuki.info so that we would not be alone in our lust for expensive components, trick engineering and the love of admiring the work of  those that are able assemble said parts to form unique performance motorcycles. Looking around our stand at Donington, I was reminded that we did the right thing.

Quote of the weekend at Donington goes to a passer by on our stand, who after taking a long and careful look around the bikes on the stand, turned with a smile and said “you guys are fucking mental!” Naturally, we took that as a compliment.

So here is to continuing to beg, borrow and engineer  the very best parts we can, safe in the knowledge that the quality always remains long after the price is forgotten.

Members discuss this article here

Bike of the Month June 2017

Build it, run it, break it, fix it then repeat. The life of a drag racer can easily be likened to that of a drug addict. They spend all of their available cash and time working towards their next fix, even if it means ignoring the trivial things like food, clothing and sleep. The principle difference is that while a drug addict wants the hit to last longer, the drag racer does all that they can to shorten the experience. I’m reliably informed that once you’ve tried it, you either love it or you’re wrong.

Our bike of the month for June goes to Gary Hester AKA et1170. Gary has been evolving and racing this bike since he bought it nearly 7 years ago. Starting life as an 1100ET the bike now sports Katana styled bodywork. Gary was one of our first Winged Hammers and I like to think Hanma-Shin has had a hand in his results this year.

What I love about this bike and Gary’s story is that he has clearly never had serious money to throw at it. His success is a steady one. Carefully building on the previous years results with the parts that he could get. There are no turbos, no nitrous, no mega bucks cylinder head work- just oldskool, DIY air-cooled engine tuning in a shed. That, said if you read Gary’s thread you get the sense that Gary’s addiction will inevitably lead to forced induction and more…

Congratulations Gary you are June’s Bike of the Month.

Members discuss this here

 

Old Kool Suzukis- Quality never goes out of style

This gallery contains 120 photos.

I don’t know what it is about 80s and 90s Suzukis that makes them so special, I only know that they are. As it turns out, many other people feel the same way. From the 6th to the 8th of May Rob and Darin of Classic Bike Track Days delivered a very unique event at Donington Park. For the first time ever they combined 3 things: A bike show for club stands A full weekend of classic bike track days A 4 hour classic endurance race open to international race teams Ambitious, yes. Inspired, definitely. Successful, absolutely! There was something … Continue reading

How to do your own anodising – Gary Bond

15391000_905820942887708_8041490682459297791_n

When Gary Bond built his Bike of the month  Harris F1 as well as fabricating some of the billet aluminium trickery himself and having the other parts custom machined to his specification.,  he also anodised most of the parts himself. If you ever wanted to  have a bash at this yourself, here’s how he did it. There is a gallery of pictures too.

How to do your own anodising

I’ve had a good few people ask me about the anodising process I used whilst building my Harris F1. No doubt I’ve missed out a few bits but I will edit it as I go. Its as follows….

Stuff you will need for anodising

99.8 per pure sulphuric acid
Nitric acid
Distilled water
Tap water
Power supply (mine us 10 amp variable amps and volts)
Sheet of lead
Titanium .75mm wire
Anodising dye
2 Heaters
Pot to heat dye
Big pot to boil water fir sealing part
Nitrile gloves
Caustic soda

You need 4 containers approx 10/15 litre capacity. Old paint tubs will work
Tub 1, Mix the nitric acid with distilled water/acid to a ratio of 10:1
Tub 2, Mix the sulphuric acid with distilled water/acid to a ratio of 10:1
(Always add acid to water)
Tub 3, clean tap water for washing your hands or whatever
Tub 4, distilled water for rinsing off parts before and after process
Small tub for dye, Mix the anodising dye with distilled water to a ratio as stated in instructions

OK, now that you have all your electrolytes, acids and rinses set up in their correct ratios and quantities, etc. You’re ready to start. Remember, the gasses given off when doing the anodising process are hydrogen gas. Its not harmful but it catches you in the throat, makes every steel part in your workshop rust and not to mention its highly explosive. Oh, and don’t get bleach near it either. Unless you want to meet your ancestors. Do your own homework on acids, gasses and poisons, etc.

There are different finishes to anodising. I’ve done lots of practising and have come up with different results. You can use caustic soda to both strip off old or faded anodising prior to re doing the part. It also etches the part and it will give a very matt finish. If you want a clean shiny look, then don’t put the part into caustic soda. Or you can mirror polish the part prior to anodising. I have anodised some parts that have been machined. All that is needed is a good scrub with washing up liquid and a stiff pot washing type brush for a few minutes. Then into the nitric acid tank for a few minutes. If you leave it in for a long period, the acid eats away at the alloy and renders it scrap. Don’t ask me about that.

From the moment you clean it, wear nitrile gloves. Any oil from yours hands will show up on the surface. You will see anodised fingerprint marks. You now need to wire up your part with the titanium wire. If the item is any bigger than say the size of a front sprocket, I always put 2 wires to the part. Its all down to the current carrying capacity of the wire. I’ve had the wires glowing red hot before now. Not ideal with hydrogen gas. If you can, wrap the wire round the part a couple of times as this makes for both a tighter bond between part and wire. Plus it gives you a better chance of electrical connectivity. I get around a 95% success rate now, but when I first started it was very much hit and miss.

Work out the surface area of the part in inches. Say its a piece of alloy plate 5″ x 4″. That will give you 40 square inches. You now need to work out the amperage. You simply times the square area of the part by 0.16 amps. So the power pack needs to be set at 6.4 amps. My power pack only goes up to 10 amps, so I’m restricted as to how big the parts are. I generally turn my power pack up to max volts. I always put the power pack on for an hour.

You need to put the sheet of lead into the electrolyte with the negative connection connected to it. I always use a steel tube to hang my wired bits from. Its this tube that you connect the positive to. If you have an extractor then I’d recommend using it. The part is the anode (hence where the word anodising cones from) and whilst it has a current passing through it, it actually grows bigger with the surface oxide. The surface oxide that has been grown takes up the look of a bee hive. The holes actually are hex shape and all interlock. The longer you leave the part cooking, the thicker the oxide becomes. Its the little hex like tubes that accept the dye and give the part its colour. You could simply just seal the part after the anodising process without using any dye. Dependant on the current, it can give you a colour of what almost looks like a titanium finish. I’ve cooked parts before and they’ve gone quite a brown colour. This is caused by too many amps being passed through.

Right, so when you start the process, the part will start to fizz. I flick the tub in and out with my finger. This dissipates the bubbles that form on the surface of the part. Obviously, if the bubbles were left throughout the process the area under the bubbles wouldn’t be anodised as they’re not in the electrolyte. Its at this stage that I fill my large pot up with clean fresh tap water and put that on the stove to boil. This is what’s used to seal the part once its been in the dye. Its also good to heat the anodise dye too. But it only needs to be around luke warm. Nothing more is required. Once the part has been cooking for an hour, the power is switched off. The part is removed from the wire with cutters. Don’t forget to wear the gloves. I generally hang the part on a new bit of wire when dipping it into the dye. Once the dye is heated up, I tip it back into its plastic container. Some of the cheap handlebars, etc tend to fade. Its basically the quality of the dye that’s used. You could use either food or clothes dye too. But something like Sanodye is the way to go. Its UV stable and lasts. It gives you an excellent colour too.

One thing to say is that not all aluminium alloys take to being anodised. And some come out a different shade to others too. So you need to experiment. I always dunk the part in clean tap water first to wash off any electrolyte. Then a quick dip into the distilled water tub before going into the dye. If you use a good quality dye and the process has worked as it should, the part will be through coloured within a minute of two. But I’ve had to leave the part for longer if the dye is cold. It makes a big difference. Once it comes out of the dye, it then needs to be sealed in the boiling water. Its better to hang it in the steam for a bit. Let the sealing process start to work before you drop it into the boiling water. Leave it in fir 5/10 minutes. When you lift the part out, chuck it into the tap water to cool it off. Then you can use normal car polish to polish it up.

Gary has kindly offered to answer questions on his own experiences . Follow this link to a thread were you can do that.