‘How much do you really want it?’
The bits I buy for my scoots come from many sources, word of mouth, that intergoogle, mudtrudgin’ at Stafford, CMM’S classies... My latest build is a little 125 that I bought as a basket case from a mate who had strayed from the path of righteousness and was becoming increasingly infected with the ‘Greeves’ virus. The bike in question has caused me much grief and hardship but I like it. Other sources for rare parts include a certain auction site, but sometimes an old fashioned chat with a mate comes up trumps. Marc Parfait exhibits at Stafford and he always has lots of interesting ‘fruit’ on his tables. I invariably have a good root around. I needed a filler cap lever and after a bit of a head scratch and a scrabble about for a few fivers Marc agreed to pop one in the post. Ever the optimist and with a short gap in the queue for Marc’s attention I ventured to ask him if he might have (pause for effect) a Dell Orto SSI. “Oh per'aps,” he responded in a slightly ‘Allo ‘Allo style, (Marc is Belgian and speaks immaculate Frenglish) “What sazz is it you search? 25mm? 27mm?” (Relatively common sizes for SSI carbs, but still pretty rare). Time for me to drop my bombshell: “Er, actually I’m looking for a 22 Marc.” Short silence, followed by what can only be described as a nasally, continental noise, expressing Marc’s view (without words) that 22mm SSI Dells are as rare as feathers on fish. “Is not posseeble.” Shame, but I know they are out there somewhere, probably sitting in an elderly Italian bloke’s toolbox gathering dust. I resign myself to more wandering and after a good squint around Bonhams I head off home and forget about the Holy Grail. A week or so later a shoebox arrives at Beirut Towers (the place I call home) and inside is a carefully packaged filler cap lever, good old Marc, spot on as usual. As I head for the blue bin with my cornflakes in hand, still in a semi-comatose state, I notice a couple of pieces of A4 lining the bottom of the box. There’s a picture of a 22mm SSI, with the correct float bowl assembly, all mucky, but looking remarkably like the aforesaid object of desire. I read Marc’s note and it appears that the ‘objet’ is almost complete, requiring just a couple of bits, and the best news is that it can be bought. Now, this stuff happens to me very rarely. It’s usually the ‘sorry mate, I sold/ chucked away one of those yesterday’ club, we’ve all been there. And, as I sit here, I still haven’t seen it in the flesh, we’ll see, I’ll keep you posted. In 1970s/1980s, bikedom rarity coefficients range from ‘Nah mate, no chance’ (original Z1 handbook) to ‘no problem, I’ve just got a load in’ (Yamaha switchgear, Z paint sets). The copies are getting better and needless to say, as rarity increases, so prices of authentic rare bits will escalate to nose bleed level. For my part, if I could have bought a new, true to original Dell, I would have done so in a heartbeat. What’s not to like with new bits, so long as they are proper? I’ve recently examined some of the parts available for the mainstream candidates. If I was restoring a Z1 now I’d have no problem with most of the stuff I’ve seen. That said, the Z1 is a special case where economy of scale has kicked in with a vengeance and it has become economically viable for our Oriental chums to tool up and produce great bits at acceptable prices. The trickledown effect is steadily turning into a sizeable torrent, and as sure as eggs is baby chickens, more parts for diverse bikes will surface, quality will improve and the price will drop. For the sort of stuff in my shed I’m unlikely to benefit from this (too old, too weird, like me) but for those of you with RDS, GTS etc. the future looks great, just ignore the rivet counters and have fun with your toys. And just how much did the 22mm Dell cost me? Let’s just say more than a new set of Mikuni smoothbores and leave it at that, eh?
Beautiful 40 Mikuni flatslides; love these almost as much as I love a ‘nana milkshake.
Big box for a very small filler cap lever, Marc packs stuff well.
Rare? Are you kidding?