The Grand Design?
This month, Alan Dowds proves to all that he watches way too much daytime telly while claiming to look after the kids or write stuff for us.
I’ve not made great strides with the ZRX this month – indeed, some of it has been backward steps (see the forks boxout). But I’ve been pondering a bit on the nature of project bikes. Some of them are like that TV programme, Grand Designs – you know the one? Typically, a hipster couple buy an ex-council maisonette in Brixton, then transforms it into a sixbathroomed Bond-villain lair, with helipad and boating lake, made from pink Bolivian slate and Swedish sequoia bark. Then there’s the Homes Under The Hammer projects, you must have seen that show? Rachmanite private landlords and young hopeful first-time-buyers vying to win the auction on a decrepit repossession, then turning it into a nice-but-dull place to live a nice-but-dull life in. In the first project bike category lives those crazy show bikes you usually (but not always) see in American mags. Twin-turbo ZZ-R1400S, with real gold plated brake calipers, mother-ofpearl inlaid tank logos, custom-made everything. The ultimate in parts, quality, design, finish – but totally unusable, and destined for nothing more than a few miles up and down the high street, and ten thousand miles in the back of a truck going to shows. The second class of project is more mundane, but arguably more ‘real’. A guy picks up a dream bike from his youth – a GPZ900R, say, or a GSX-R1100 L. He gets it running and looking good for the year – and then adds on a few modern-day enhancements. Updated brake calipers and discs, maybe wider 17in wheels, perhaps even some modern front forks. It’s not going to win any shows, but it gets him to work every day, stands out as something a bit different – and makes its owner happy every time he opens the lockup and sees it there.