A stiff climb for an old bike

Can this be true? Ricks opens up the Martin­syde with­out it blow­ing a head gas­ket? Surely not!

Classic Bike (UK) - - Workshop -

I took the Martin­syde to the Mo­tor Cy­cle Day at Brook­lands. The bike went round the Outer Cir­cuit of the track back in 1939 but I doubt it’s ever been up Test Hill. The hill forms one of the sur­viv­ing parts of the orig­i­nal lay­out and was in­tended as a prov­ing ground to eval­u­ate hill­climb­ing po­ten­tial as well as brak­ing power com­ing down. Fran­cis Beart recog­nised in 1936 that the Test Hill speed record hadn’t been at­tempted since the 1920s and with the im­prove­ments to per­for­mance, he felt sure he could break it. Af­ter sev­eral at­tempts he was only able to equal the record be­cause of the need to shut off at the top in or­der to make the turn. Fa­mously he even­tu­ally de­cided he’d just have to go for it and ended up in a big heap – but he holds the record in per­pe­tu­ity. They don’t time you these days but as I sat in the queue at the bot­tom I still wasn’t too sure how well I’d fare. Last time out the old V-twin fouled its plugs be­fore that it blew a gas­ket...

It was a beau­ti­ful day and a big crowd was lin­ing the rails. It’s very em­barass­ing to grind to a halt – the hill is some­thing like 1:4 at the top and try­ing to push up that on a hot day in leathers soon takes the glam­our out of it all, I can tell you. But I needn’t have wor­ried. Blast­ing hot oily smoke into the faces of the crowd, the old bike leapt off the line and piled its way up the gra­di­ent quite re­spectably. Un­for­tu­nately I still had to free­wheel back into the pad­dock be­cause the fuel pipe vi­brated loose but what the hell, it had done its bit in front of the crowd! I’m still strug­gling to get my head around the twin Bowden car­bu­ret­tors – there’s re­ally only a pi­lot screw and a main jet, and tun­ing is sup­posed to be pos­si­ble with­out any­thing else. But a flat spot in the mid­dle of the rev range sug­gests oth­er­wise. For­tu­nately as long as you just go from tick­over to full throt­tle, the flat spot doesn’t trou­ble you at all but I think I may have to do a bit more fine tun­ing yet. I am hop­ing to en­ter a proper sprint later in the year so that gives me a dead­line to meet. This is what it’s all about; grad­ual de­vel­op­ment is how you get to know your bike and Brook­lands is a great place to try it out.



Rick’s smil­ing but it’s been an up­hill strug­gle

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