A stiff climb for an old bike
Can this be true? Ricks opens up the Martinsyde without it blowing a head gasket? Surely not!
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.
‘HE ENDED UP IN A HEAP BUT GOT THE RECORD’
Rick’s smiling but it’s been an uphill struggle