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

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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.

 

Competition makes us faster but collaboration makes us better…

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Following on from our announcement earlier in the year that we wanted to create a collective oldskoolsuziki race team identity, we’re almost ready to launch the OSS race team board.

While OSS have always had members who raced ( Go Runt Go! and Go Pete Go!) we have never, until now,  given them a special place on the site.  Over the last year we have recognised the importance of those that choose old school Suzuki motorcycles as their foundation for a building a competitive machine. This has convinced us that we need to provide a race section on the site and we need to create an OSS identity for our growing band of intrepid competitors.

More and more of our members bikes being built to compete. Last year, 2 of our bikes of the month took world records at Pendine Sands, Elvington and one was an  international post classic racing series winner. We also have a number of members building their bikes solely to compete in various race events.

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This week we completed the design on the new winged hammer logo as the team emblem that OSS Racers will be able to proudly display on their bikes. Over the coming year, we hope to encourage sponsors to support the Race Team Members with discounts in exchange for coverage on the site and trader status on the forum. We also hope all members may also be able to try to support in any way they can, whenever possible.

There will of course be rules ( Fucking rules) this is OSS after all. To be a Racer you will have to be a current competitor in an recognised race series or competitive straight-liner competition. In exchange we only ask that racers keep us all informed of their, builds and results in the race section of the site.

Rumour also has it that we will be fielding a Flying Hammers race team at the coming 4 hour endurance legends race at Donington on the 6th and 7th. Watch this space…

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

711-in-the-sunWhat comes to my mind when someone mentions a motorcycle road trip around Europe? A large capacity sports tourer with hard luggage and a gel seat? Perhaps it’s an adventure bike with unlimited luggage capacity and the finest Gortex multilayer touring gear?

This story is about a motorcycle road trip that is the antithesis of what you might normally associate with motorcycle touring. In contrast to the norm, this story is about toughing it out, without compromise, on a two wheeled, air-cooled weapon of choice.  This story is about an almost Zen like minimalism all wrapped up in a “fuck you” sense of style. The bike and the rider are motorcycle touring nonetheless, because nobody told them they shouldn’t or couldn’t, and if they had,  I don’t think they would have been heard over the sound of one Suzuki’s finest engines being piped through a titanium Racefit growler.

mental

It all starts with a bike you would not normally associate with any kind of long range two wheeled odyssey. A 1230cc EFE powered Suzuki  ET special with a unique, tweaked and braced bare steel frame. It has no room for panniers. It has rear set foot pegs, a high level sub-frame and a single seat unit that comprises of little more than a thin layer of high -density seat foam.

The choice of equipment for the camping tour is both careful and clever. When you can’t carry very much you must choose carefully.

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The choice of clothing consists of one pair of lace up boots, a set of one piece leathers from the 1970’s and a Simpson helmet. Not everyone’s choice of riding gear for such a long trip but now you might be beginning to understand what made this trip so interesting to me.

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Welcome to the strange ways of frame building guru and OSS stalwart Alan (Strangewayz) Caven.  Alan called this trip Air-cooled, steel framed Anarchy! I think the trip sums up the uncompromising, meticulous, unique, creative and thoroughly considered approach that Mr Stragewayz brings to most things that he does.

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I had followed Alan’s trip over the summer through social media updates and I loved every instalment. There was very little narrative in his updates, mostly just pictures and one-liners but despite that the whole idea really appealed to me so I asked Alan if I could stitch it all together and get some background behind his motives for the trip. Here’s what he told me:

I went through a phase of not finishing any of my own builds due to always working on other people’s stuff, along the way I got tagged by a few people as falling into the category of enjoying building a bike more than actually riding it.

Nothing could be further from the truth; I don’t actually see the point in building something if it isn’t going to get some proper use. It’s the ultimate test of workmanship, seeing if the design, choice of components and execution were good enough.

Some people live for the dragstrip, track days or weekend ride outs… For me it’s all about a road trip, which has to be overseas and on something home built because that combination makes things edgier, takes you out of daily life home country comfort zones, tests both the bike and yourself physically and mentally (I broke both my elbows, right wrist and left ankle in a crash years ago so have a few war wounds to deal with).

I nailed my colours to the mast years ago – Air-cooled – Steel framed – Muscle bikes! Un-faired and loud is the way to roll.

Those of us that know Alan know that his unique take on Suzuki’s GSX 1100 ET was built as tribute to his late wife, who he tragically lost to cancer back in 2010.  Alan lost his last  remaining link to his wife when, not long ago, he also lost their dog Ozzy.  Alan explained that the bike and the trip were an important part of his climb out a pretty dark place.

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Whilst I built the 711 out of 7-Nov Rip Mrs Strangewayz with the intent to hit European streets with it, the real catalyst for this actual trip was when I also lost Ozzy – my Dobermann. The last link with my wife,as he’d been ours. He got me through some tough times he was always there for me. In that moment life was pretty shit, my whole world had gone and life didn’t actually make much sense – what was the point of it all if that was what was served up? I knew needed something positive to concentrate on.

The Provisional MotoGP calendar for 2016 came out with Austria GP & Czech Republic on consecutive weekends; that was it! I knew that by planning to travel minimal and mostly camp it would occupy my mind with how to actually do that. The easy route would be to leave mid-week and roll from Germany straight into Austria…. but that was too easy !!

Heard about Tavullia (Rossi’s home town) seemed a cool place, the man had a bar and pizza place so hey rock up over the alps and drop down into Italy before heading back up to Austria.

I just need an excuse to go and then join the dots up, I used (road) racing but as you can see the journey is more important than the destination, as is what you choose to do the trip on (bike).

The Icing on the cake was that the dates would work to end up back in the Isle of Man for the Classic TT Races. Game on!

I knew this was going to be a busy year because I was also going to the NW200 Road Races mid-May and the TT Races start of June.

Whilst I had some serious reasons for planning the trip, the trip itself was an adventure with a lot of spontaneous stuff going on.

This was how the actual route ended up :

Sat Day 1             Northampton to Bastogne in Belgium

Sun Day 2            Bastogne to Lake Constance (Germany)

Mon Day 3          Lake Constance to Riva Del Garda (Lake Garda – Italy)

Tue Day 4            Riva Del Garda to Tavullia (Rimini near San Marino)

Wed Day 5          Tavullia to Spielburg (Redbull Ring – Austria)

Thur – Fri – Sat – Sun all Moto GP

Mon Day 10        Spielburg to Linz (Austria – OSS Greg Sochor)

Tue Day 11          Linz to Brno (Czech Repb) Chance of a pit pass J

Wed Day 12        Brno to Prague (Czech Repb) no pit pass lol..

Thur Day 13        Prague to Brno (loose keys….)

Fri – Sat – Sun     all Moto GP

Mon Day 17        Brno to Nuremburg (Germany)

Tue Day 18          Nuremburg to Etalle (Belgium)

Wed Day 19        Etalle to Northampton (England !)

Thur Day 20        Northampton to Isle of Man

Fri – Sat – Sun – Mon all Classic TT Races

Tue Day 25          Isle of Man to Northampton

Wed                      Back to work….

map

After speaking to Alan I realised the best way to recount this tale was in the way that I had first experienced it on social media, so I have chosen my favourite updates he made during the trip  below and embedded any words as he used at the time.

 

Early start this morning 4am ish… Neighbours love the sound of a Racefit exhaust clearing it’s throat..

160 miles later it was ferry time, off & the down the road a bit now. Just had a broken English sign language ‘you look like the Stig’ moment…….

Long time since I did a 400 miler, good to be back t it.First night stop over, clues on the bar.

Lol worst camping pitch I ever had, lucky I got a 3/4 Thermarest + Jungle Juice & a Balaclava to survive the midges by Lake Constance as I put tent up in the dark last night. Strangewayz 1 – Midges 0

Think I’m in a different world… The locals are going to love the sound of the 711 clearing it’s throat Racefit style…

Stopped to pull pants out of crack & lovely view of Alps in background

Rocking late 70’s Dainese one piece, genuine retro race gearI scored off Italian eBay last year. Just these & a pair of shorts, non armoured so not as bulky as modern stuff. Looks cool as on the 711

Wasn’t sure but having worn them fucking brilliant, these are the ‘Adventure’ ones, they also do Cruiser or Sport. Have computer designed pads so yeah like posh cycling shorts.

Kriega Hydro 3, wouldn’t be without it. I buy a 1tr bottle of water each day & throw it in. Leaves space for other easy grab gear & so light it’s feels like wearing nothing. Has bladder pocket + 1 other zipped side pocket & the elastic string on the back. The mouth piece is easy to use whilst riding.

Ready to roll, still got the Tavullia cardboard sign to strap somewhere 🙂 Heading north to Czech Repb for their MotoGP race. Stopping off today to see Oldschool Suzuki Greg Sochor in Linz some 200km away. Prague on Weds then back to Brno Thurs ready for the racing. Austria MotoGP was awesome event 215,000 people over the 3 days. Great racing, atmosphere & the sun came out to play.

Side of the road rain gear & visor change, car travel this isn’t haha… Strangewayz keeping it real !

US Urban battle Goretex, gaiters & Red Wing boots – oh yeah & no quick shifter lol

Wrong sport but if your into VW’s this is the famous She’ll garage (now Eri) outside Velden which is ‘The’ place to hangout at the annual Worthersee show. I will be back out this was in my Mk1 Golf in a few years when it’s done. My stupid idea was to get here then find somewhere to wild camp. At silly am it was hard trying to find anywhere as built up with resorts & posh hotels. In the end pushed 100km onto the Red Bull Ring running low on fuel (all shut), IPhone battery (Google maps) & energy. But I did it & I love my bike, 711 was awesome, better than me !!

Definitely regard it as a badge of honour when, so far I am the only motorcycle on the campsite for a bike race ! Especially when I had to move my tent this morning being considered in the way of the the blue awning the couple are putting up who just arrived this morning in their van from up the road (Austria). Hey who knows maybe they will share their beer with me later hahahah….

Road trip shite Austria MotoGP Not really on the piss, that’s when riding solo parked up for a few days is hardest. English speakers thin on the ground but I’m in a good place. Side of a mountain, village part of the track, cool shit, locals love the visitors, bit Euro beat/pop 24/7 sausage feast – why the fuck do you want to dance on a table with your mate – that’s for girls to show off haha… but didn’t do this to feel like I was down the local. General admission ticket (grass) but shite, Isle of Man has spoiled me, but found a good spot with the boys leaving rubber. Dovi & the Maniac at each other all day, Vin what a boy! Cru at times top Honda. MotoGP app excellent with live sector times & a track graphic showing rider positions. Good times, memories lots, ride your bike & go do shit.

It’s all about Suzuki, rockin’ Rizzla T today

T shirt drying, would make a good paint job…

Ahh tent life, big grin, chilling out, road tripping again in the morning, good times rolling.

Fuck yes, tent up at Brno circuit, beer going down hatch.very pretty bar maid, could get to like this haha !! Too you sir that will e£1.20 a pint woo hoo hell yeah

Hanging around feeling lucky…

Czech MotoGP pit pass gig didn’t fall into place, hung around for 2 hours & can you believe as I was riding out along the back lanes the wagon rolled past in a group of 3 ! Turned round asap but by the time I caught them up the guys were already through the barrier. Had a cool time hanging out & wasn’t meant to be. On way to Prague & seriously the main motorway from Brno up is the worst piece of shit road I’ve been on. Bone shaker of a road with a nasty split/crack between lanes 1 & 2. Pulled over for a coffee to check out other routes ! Still smiling though 🙂

85km away form Prague river campsite, needed chocolate so hey park under 3 cameras. Girl too right was seriously sexy….

 

The Girls are Pretty & the Roads are Shitty. Czech roads are the worst piece of crap I’ve been on, might be different in ya cars guys but on a bike you get hammered, Garmin satnav plastic mount just broke because of it, will be on the hunt for cable ties & duct tape 🙂

Ffs we have lost key, Hotwire plan… seriously no photo setup, but still smiling !

Look it’s all about priorities, sweat talking the bar maid to get…… the Suzuki pics from her calendar haha go Vin !!!

Hmm describe Al in a pic ! Yeah beers going down well…….

Seriously impressed the Dunlop Q3 is keeping it’s profile, had to do some serious straight line miles in 30 deg air temps with all the gear on the back & it hasn’t got a shite flat section yet. Too many UK cars showing up around Brno, keep it on 2 wheels guys !!!

After yesterday’s Hotwire after loosing keys on trip 5km away to local atm…. got 3 days parked up as track is walking distance. Re checked my spares kit & lucky boy I did pack a few goodies, should be able to do something ok to last the 1500km trip home 🙂

Having a shite time as you can see whoo hooo

Err so it’s not 8am & sat by the side of the road drinking beer with a dude from Panama also called Alan lol either that or it’s all a weird dream. I only stopped for an espresso because the girl was pretty but the machine wasn’t warmed up……….

Brno MotoGP !

Suzuki out spotting, MotoGP Fp3

Cup say “100% energie” hope it works 🙂

Agh the moment the sugar rush hit whoo hooo caking my way through Germany….

Pffff not impressed my Oberon mirror has fallen apart on me again ffs. I like the gear but for what it cost I don’t expect to have to hold it up on my knuckles whilst waiting for a foreign motorway services to pull over & take if off. Fail 🙁

Hmmm choices choices ok both !!

Chasing the sat nav down, got a good number on it that gets me on the ferry. Fuel stops only, cake later !

Time to roll again 🙂

Sitting at the Creg taking in all the wonderful sounds from the different classes out practicing. Fantastic views in the background which is why I didn’t bother taking a picture of the pub !! Awesome to see 250cc two strokes back racing on the island with their own class.

Ready to roll again, off to watch the Superbike Race & then will be on the ferry home…..

Still going strong – Aircooled forever !

Any day I ride the 711 is a good day just some are sadder than others.

So if you’re reading this and you still don’t understand and or admire the sheer insane and inspirational brilliance of  this road trip then you are probably on the wrong website. Alan, OSS salutes you sir. Here’s to building  them, riding them , and smugly enjoying what you have carved out using your hands, your ingenuity and your imagination and here’s to never letting anyone tell you that you can’t.

This is Alan’s story, so it’s only right that he should get the last word.

What an awesome bike! Still riding it every day to work, need to pull it off road soon as brake discs, pads, rear sprocket almost shot – had to put some winter tyres on (Michelin Pilot Road 4’s) as the Dunlop q3’s which I had on for the trip & did everything I wanted but won’t grip below 5 degrees.

Discuss this article here.

ENDURANCE LEGENDS at DONINGTON PARK 6-7TH MAY 2017

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Last year we said that all real world OSS events would be held around other larger bike focused events. Last year we had 2 big get togethers. The first one was at the Classic Bike Trackday weekend event at Cadwell and the second was at the VJMC  classic bike festival at Donington Park. Both events were a great success and proved to tick all the boxes by providing an opportunity to meet and socialise, while surrounded by OSS bikes on our stand and on the track.

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Yesterday I spoke to Rob from Classic Bike Trackdays and we agreed that OSS would have a stand at the Endurance Legends weekend at Donington Park on the 6th and 7th of May next year.

I can’t fully describe how much fun this weekend is going to be and I am confident it is going to be our best event to date. For those of you not aware Suzuki themselves have provided significant input and funding into the event. Some of you may also be aware that they are funding and supplying the parts to build a Katana endurance race bike that will compete in the 4 hour endurance race that weekend. Previous bike of the month winners Phase one will be there to keep them honest and of course there will be a host of other teams and bikes competing. I also heard a rumour that there will also be one of Suzuki’s original GSXR-750 endurance race bikes taking part.

If that is not enough we have block booked 10 trackday slots for those that want to do more than spectate.The trackday is run by Classic Bike Trackdays. These guys know how to run a trackday event. The Cadwell event last year ran like clockwork.  The trackday slots are made up of six sessions split across the 2 days and they will take place in between the endurance race rounds…no pressure then. The best thing is that this is a no noise limit event. I’ll say that again for those of us who have already permanently damaged our hearing; THIS IS A NO NOISE LIMIT EVENT! No need to cross your fingers at scrutineering or raid the loft insulation the night before.

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The track day slots are face value at £199 per bike and include a weekend pass for 2 for the entire weekend. The track day is already 25% booked and is filling up fast. Our 10 slots are guaranteed with places available in all three categories of novice, intermediate and advanced.  Personally, I found the novice category last year didn’t prevent me from going as fast as I wanted and when your are riding your pride and joy the last thing you want to to do is allow heroics get the better of you and end up with a gymnastic situation.

If you want to do the track day I suggest you follow the link at the bottom and state you interest quickly. We might be able to get additional booking slots if we fill our 10 quickly and you can book directly with Classic Bike Trackdays here

Trackday and bikes on the stand will also get an opportunity to go out as an OSS group for a few parade laps.

If you don’t have a bike on the stand or on the track entry for the weekend will be £30. There will be camping , live bands and so much unadulterated bike porn that you may well need to take several little lie downs throughout the course of the weekend.

Members click here to book.