Oldskoolsuzuki meets Don Hill at Rooster Racing

Rooster Racing Don Hill

At the end of January I got a chance to go and visit a man who has probably forgotten more about building and tuning 90s GSXRs than most of us will ever know. His name is Don Hill and he owns Rooster Racing.

What made this opportunity to visit Don’s workshops special was that it’s not something he offers very often. He is almost adverse to attention and publicity, preferring to hand pick the people he builds bikes for. The reason for Don’s approach became clearer as the day wore on.

Don Hill rooster racing Donington endurance legends oldskoolsuzuki
Don Hill and the Rooster Racing team at Donington endurance legends 2018

Don Hill

I first became aware of Don’s work when my friend Adrian McCarthy (AKA Mole) told me he was going to be one of 3 riders racing Don’s Rooster Racing GSXR powered Harris at the 2018 endurance legends event at Donington. When I was there, I got a quick look round the bike in the pit garage. The build quality and the finish were something very special.

That same year I started my own race career ( if you can call it that). Racing at Eastfortune on my home built GSXR1100 Slabside. I quickly learned that 3 of the fastest GSXRs in my post classic senior class were all built by Don at Rooster Racing. I would like to say that’s why they were so much faster than me but the truth was that was entirely down to me. With Don’s Slabside based 1216 engines routinely and reliably knocking out over 160 bhp, I can’t see my home built Slabby getting close even if my riding skills improve.

Adrian McCarthy's GSXR1100 Don Hill Rooster racing
Adrian’s Championship winning GSXR1100 slabside built by Rooster Racing

I got chatting to Don in the pits at Eastfortune last year between my races. I had been suffering from some fuelling problems and Mole and I and the rest of the team had been struggling to solve the problem. Don turned up and took around 2 minutes to sort it. We chatted again after my last race and he agreed that I could come down and learn more about what he was doing and write something for OSS.

Rooster Racing

There were two main reasons I was intrigued to know more about Don’s work. Firstly, I was impressed by the performance and the reliability of the engines he was building. Secondly, Don’s talents don’t stop at engine building and tuning. He fabricates the frame and swingarm modifications, builds his own exhausts systems and as if that wasn’t enough, he produces the most amazing paint work too. There aren’t may people who can single-handedly build a race bike to such a high standard. I just needed to know more.

Mole was going down to Don’s to pick up freshly painted body work and wheels for his 2019 wet bike. So I hitched a lift down to meet Don on his his home turf and learn more about the work that he does.

When we arrived Don took us into his main hanger size workshop, he put the heating on and then presented us with us with tea and bacon butties. I liked him already.

While Mole and Don talked I had a wander round looking at some of the motorcycle exotica that peppered the workshop.

Don Hill
Don and Mole talk shop

GSXR Engine tuning

Don was in the midst of building a new Machine shop for his gas flow bench. The flow bench was situated in another location until Don has completed the extension. Don promised me a return visit when all of the work was complete so that we could do a more detailed feature on it.

,We talked about his fastidious approach to head work. He will routinely spend 200 man hours on a head between porting it and gas flowing it. When we talked about costs, I quickly worked out that he probably ends up earning about £3 an hour on a head. It was at this point that I started to realise Don was an out and out perfectionist. He was not motivated by cost or profit. His motivation was quality. This was not Don’s day job either.

Don explained his method of gas flowing a cylinder head. Don would always gas flow with the carbs on. Not any old carbs but the actual carbs that were going to be used on the bike. He acknowledged that everyone had their own approach but this was his. Engines were built to each racers specific requirements. Those requirements often came down to where the bike would be raced and how and where the rider wanted the power to develop. No one engine would be the same.

Rooster racing
Don explains the varying engine characteristics that he has tailored for different racers

GSXR frame fabricaion

Don had a GSXR slabside that he was mid way through building for a racer from the ground up. This included all of the frame and swingarm mods and a very trick aluminium breather tank.

Rooster Racing GSXR
Ground up Rooster Racing GSXR Slabside race bike

GSXR exhaust fabrication

Don then talked us through the exhaust systems that he builds to go with his engines. He talked about about the importance of narrowing the headers at the manifold and ensuring that the pulses from the matched cylinders worked in unison at the collector box. I was out of my depth but I nodded like I understood.

Rooster racing hand made GSXR exhaust
Rooster Racing’s hand made exhaust systems
Don Hill Rooster Racing exhaust
Don explains the virtues of collector box configuration

Rooster Racing paint

Mole’s freshly painted body work and wheels were laid out for collection and they were perfect. Don was clearly a man of artistic talents too as he explained his love for ornamental wood carving and shared some pictures of his work. Looking closely at the paint work than Don had completed for Mole, it bore all of the hallmarks of a perfectionist, just like everything else that Don put his hands to.

Don Hill Rooster Racing
Mole inspects his new paint job by Don Hill

Quality and integrity are inseparable

As the morning wore on and Don and I talked some more I realised what a rare individual he was. When I say this, I mean Don seemed to be able to bring the the same methodical, well rehearsed quality, to everything he did. There was also something unique about the way Don viewed the bikes and the riders that he worked with.

When he built a bike for someone he maintained an genuine ownership like concern for the bike and the rider’s fortunes. This was the reason Don chose those who he built for so carefully. He had to be sure that they the rider would be prepared to do things Don’s way. He doesn’t build parts of bikes, he builds a complete performance package. The performance came from each part of the bike working in unison.

Mole was a trained motor mechanic and was no stranger to building his own machines. He had won a number of championships on his own builds but since meeting Don he now deferred to Don on all major decisions on race bike performance. As Mole put it “when Don tells you to do something you don’t argue you just do it”

Rooster Racing Don Hill
Rooster Racing’s Harris Endurance bike

I left Don’s workshop with a deep respect for his skills and his ethos. Don understood the high stakes for a racer, having raced for many years himself when he was younger. Racers had partners and families to provide for. The performance, reliability and ultimately the safety of the machines Don built meant more than just winning. Lives were at stake and that responsibility was something that weighed heavily on Don’s conscience.

I concluded that Don was a man of great skill, who would always put quality first. He would never be afraid to walk away if he felt that his approach was unwelcome, unappreciated or compromised. His commitment to that approach and his integrity left me feeling that I could implicitly and completely trust Don. I can’t think of a more important time to trust someone than when they’re building you a race bike.

Oldskoolsuzuki will return to Rooster Racing later in the year. In the meantime, don’t call Don, he’ll call you.

Members Discuss this article here


Bike of the month February 2019 – Suzuki DR 800S

Oldskool suzuki DR750

Oldskool suzuki DR750

Oldskoolsuzuki.info is a site largely dedicated to Suzuki in-line fours from the 80s and 90s. Occasionally we see the odd twin in there too but big  singles like the DR 750 and 800 are quite rare on the forum. I have always been a fan of big single cylinder machines so I would happily see more of them.

At the same time that Suzuki were releasing the first generation GSXRs they also nailed the big thumper genre too, with the mighty DR800S

The DR Bigs had very distinctive styling and record breaking 727cc and 779cc single cylinder engines. These bad boys took the big thumper concept to a new level.

Most of these bikes have stood the test of time too. There are plenty of them still being used on their original engine build. Typical Suzuki endurance and reliability.

This month’s bike of the month goes to Tom Davidson.  What he has done to his DR 800 is exactly what I would have done had I been able to get hold of one.

Oldskoolsuzuki DR 750Oldskoolsuzuki DR750 bike of the month February 2019

Take a big  big heavy thumper and fit a lovely set of 17″ spoked alloy rims. Now a super moto this ain’t ever going to be but I would imagine the road manners have been improved with the introduction of modern 17″ rubber and a six pot calliper up front.

More to the point though, it just looks fucking cool!

Oldskoolsuzuki DR750 bike of the month February 2019Tom you have our bike of the Month.

Read about the build here. Members discuss this article here.

Bike of the month July 2018

Some months we pick  bike of the month and some months bike of the month just picks itself. July 2018 is definitely the later.

We wrote about this month’s winner back in April and shared his own amusing account of his post classic race career.

The story ended with his plans to build a very well poked 1100 version of his trusty 750 slabby which would race at East Fortune and also at Spa.

Well he built it and he raced it at Spa, sporting the OSS race team winged hammer emblem too! More than this, he achieved a first and second in his class. Not bad for his first time at Spa. Go winged hammers!

Congratulations Mole ( AKA Adrian McCarthy)  your 7/11 slabby is our July Bike of the month.

Read Moles build here.

Members discuss this article here.

Bike of the month June 2018

May and June have been busy months for the OSS Admin team. Endurance legends at Donington followed by the TT and even some highland scratching thrown in for good measure. So OSS site time has been limited. (OK excuses for late BOTM out of the way)

Three years ago I wrote this article about a long time member who had long held a dream of building an engine that he had been quietly collecting the bits for .It may have escaped the attention of some, but not me, that he actually built that engine this year.

He didn’t just build it for fun either, he built it to compete at the Donington 4 hour endurance race, against some pretty serious competition.

What is even more special about this bike is that the builder found out early on in the build that he been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Lesser men may have chucked the towel in right there and then but not this guy. He was too busy for cancer and decided he would postpone his treatment so that he could finish the bike and compete on it at Donington. The stuff of legends, I know.

In the end the minor inconvenience of a life threatening medical diagnosis must have momentarily distracted him because although this bike got finished there just wasn’t enough time to get it match fit. Our man still competed in the event along with 2 other OSS team members but it was on the back up bike (not a Suzuki)

Now that John has completed his goal of competing in the endurance legends round at Donington his treatment can begin. He hasn’t wasted any time in making some big life changes including selling all of his bikes and parts. I know that he still has the GS though and I hope he keeps it and gets it to run the way he knows it can.

John you are a Legend mate and we love you and your GS is bike of the month.  You are also the only man in OSS history to have been awarded bike of the month 3 times.

Read John’s build here

Members discuss this here.

Happiness is a new sticker…

Our Creative Director Vizman has been busy of late. We decided to put our concerns about brand dilution in the” fuck it” bin where they belonged and instead we just had some fun and knocked up some crazy new stickers. You either love stickers or you’re wrong.

Our new stickers are available as complete sticker packs. There are 2 different packs, the air-cooled pack and the oil-cooled pack. Water-cooled boys and girls will just have to pop the kettle on and make do I’m afraid

Each pack has many of the same generic new OSS designs but it also has some engine specific ones.  Each pack will also contain the standard hammer sticker and some bonus Vizman custom art stickers.

These kits are £12.99 each with free postage. If you buy both kits you get them both for £23.99 with free postage.

You will find details of how to get them here in our for sale section but you will need to be a member with 50 posts or more to get access to the for sale section.

The stickers are good quality vinyl and I have tested these by applying 2K clear lacquer over these without any problem. Here are some actions shots of the stickers on my track bike.

Some more close ups..

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.

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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!

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