Project ST4/888

The 888 with an ST4 en­gine project has been a mas­sive flurry of ac­tiv­ity – with an equally mas­sive se­ries of set­backs. Time for an­other Val­ium

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Inside - WORDS RU­PERT PAUL PHO­TOG­RA­PHY STU­ART COLLINS

Progress mase through a ros­ter of pesky nig­gles and ridicu­lous quirks

ONE MONTH af­ter tak­ing over the build from Alan See­ley I’m al­ready be­gin­ning to un­der­stand how he felt when the project drib­bled to a halt in Septem­ber 2015.

The thing is, you re­ally shouldn’t try and build a one-off bike to a dead­line, be­cause your de­ci­sion-mak­ing turns to mush. I have found out the hard way that it would be cheaper, more pro­duc­tive and less trau­matic to wan­der around town cen­tres hand­ing out fivers to passers-by. My fun­da­men­tal er­ror was notic­ing I was do­ing a track day in 10 days’ time. Maybe, I rea­soned, I could get the 888 ready for a glo­ri­ous de­but. OK, seven of those days con­sisted of a long-booked fam­ily hol­i­day, but hey – we all like a chal­lenge. I blocked out the re­main­ing three days and set to work. First stop: cus­tom and fab­ri­ca­tion spe­cial­ist Etto Mo­tor­cy­cles in Sibthorpe, Not­ting­ham. The 851 tank Alan had found didn’t suit the 888 frame’s mount­ing points. The front was adapt­able, but the rear needed a to­tal re­think. Ian Davis at Etto obliged by cut­ting off the old mount on the rear sub­frame and TIG weld­ing in a new one. A bar­gain at £40.

If the bike turns out to be good I’ll be back in the au­tumn to get proper mount­ing tabs for the sub­frame. The 851 bat­tery box Alan had found al­most fit­ted the brack­etts

Alan had made on the 888 frame, but the Mo­to­batt bat­tery wouldn’t squeeze in. Mo­to­batts are ex­cel­lent in value/ per­for­mance terms but I’ve no­ticed they can be slightly larger than the orig­i­nals. Still, if I could make the lower box mount­ing screw flush it would just about com­ply.

An hour later we had a so­lu­tion with a coun­ter­sunk screw, cus­tom spacer and slightly en­larged hole in the bat­tery box. Next I tack­led the dan­gly giblets at the front of the bike: five re­lays and two sen­sors. There’s not much space on the front sub­frame apart from two tri­an­gles of tube, which were the ob­vi­ous homes for the air pres­sure and air tem­per­a­ture sen­sors. I made tri­an­gu­lar card tem­plates, repli­cated them in 1mm alu­minium sheet, and drilled the mount­ing holes. The pres­sure sen­sor was easy enough: it sits on three soft rub­ber mounts. But the temp sen­sor lives in a strangely-shaped rub­ber grom­met. Half an hour with a drill and files pro­duced a fairly de­cent replica of the orig­i­nal hole.

Next, the re­lays. Du­cati very thought­fully pro­vide lit­tle rub­ber cages for them to live in, with neat plug mount­ings that just need the right-sized hole. With my Clarke 300 lathe on spacer-mak­ing duty I man­aged to cram three re­lays onto the left front sub­frame. The other two re­lays clearly need their ca­bles ex­tend­ing, but with the track­day loom­ing my friend Rupe Farnsworth put them in the head­light space for now. Net re­sult: only two ca­bles needed ex­tend­ing (for the temp sen­sor on the left side of the bike). More lathe frol­ics al­lowed

me to mount the reg/rec, fit the throt­tle in­take stubs with­out the air­box (no time to build one of those now!) and make adap­tors for the Nitron shock’s re­mote reservoir mount­ings.

While this was go­ing on, the is­sues I’d out­sourced last month be­gan to bear fruit. Steve Baker at Q Prep rang to say he’d short­ened my re­place­ment rear spin­dle, ground the dam­aged end to take a 22mm span­ner, and cut a new thread for the nut. £40 well spent. Corby Kawasaki said they’d fit­ted the front Dun­lop I’d given them, but the rear I’d blagged from a dark lock-up at work was a 160, not the 180 it should be. I am an id­iot. “Can you get me the right size Dun­lop Sports­mart in time?” “Yeah, should be no prob­lem. Or we’ve got a Pirelli in stock.” “Let’s keep a matched pair if pos­si­ble.”

At this point I no­ticed the si­lencers didn’t have any baf­fles. I couldn’t raise Nigel at ex­haust fab­ri­ca­tors NRP, but I knew he used Lex­tek si­lencers, so I rang them, de­scribed the si­lencers, and or­dered two db killers for £22.45. While I was in phone mode I made a de­tailed list of stuff to ar­rive while I was on hol­i­day: a new pat­tern fuel fil­ter (£10), half a me­tre of sub­mersible fuel hose (£19.80), eight 13-15mm hose clips, two Ra­mair pod fil­ters to suit 57mm in­takes (£49.98), two ju­bilee clips to mount the shock re­mote reservoir (£6), and some 7mm rear brake hose to re-site the fluid reservoir (£4.50). Farnsworth was ready to re­cieve all th­ese good­ies while I was away. With luck, a swift assem­bly job on my re­turn would see the bike run­ning on Sun­day night, be­fore the

“We threw in the towel at 3pm on the hottest day of the year and went canoeing in­stead”

Air fil­ters and splayed bell­mouths proved a trou­ble­some mis­match

Wiring proved less bother­some

He al­ways wanted an ex­ten­sion

Ian Davis strains to main­tain his ‘end­lessly cheer­ful’ at­ti­tude

New tank mount on rear sub­frame

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