TURBO AT BON­NEVILLE

John Woods and Roland Jones had a dream of build­ing a very trick 750 Turbo and rid­ing it at Bon­neville Speed Week. One nail of a bike and only five years later, they man­aged it

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents - Words: Tim Dick­son

How and why John Woods built a Kwak 750 Turbo to take to Bon­neville Speed Week

A some­what rue­ful John Woods says, “If I were to start again I could make a bike like this in about a year.” The bike he’s re­fer­ring to is the one you see here, os­ten­si­bly a Kawasaki 750Turbo built ex­pressly to com­pete at Bon­neville Speed­week.and it took five years.

Both bike and goal are the joint brain­childs of John, known as Mang to his friends, and long-time mo­tor­cy­cling mate Roland Jones. “Roland is 51 now but five years ago he said he’d love to go toamer­ica, buy an oldyamaha there and take it to Bon­neville,” says John. “I said why don’t we build a bike and take it with us?”and so a plan was hatched, with the aim of mak­ing the trip for Roland’s 50th birth­day.

John, 57, hasn’t been with­out a bike since he was 14. He has been a 750 Turbo owner for the past 25 years and owns a con­course ex­am­ple “which has won quite a few things”. Given John’s ex­pe­ri­ence of the blown 750, the pair set out to find one as a ba­sis for the jointly funded project.as we talk it quickly be­comes clear that this was ab­so­lutely a team ef­fort, with John say­ing ‘we’ far more of­ten than he does ‘I’, even though he would do much of the build. Roland, with re­spectable fin­ishes at the Manx Grand Prix as part of his own mo­tor­cy­cling CV, would ride it.

An ap­par­ently suit­able can­di­date was sourced via the 750turbo.com fo­rum. John re­calls that it looked “pretty trick”, with an 810cc mo­tor and other mods.the plan was sim­ple: mod­ify it some more and make it go like stink. “Ex­cept it doesn’t quite work like that, does it?” says John.as it turned out, the bike was a nail. It would take an­other four years to get it work­ing prop­erly.

“When we first took it apart the pis­tons had melted, so we ba­si­cally did a nut-and­bolt re­build,” says John, de­scrib­ing the list of mod­i­fi­ca­tions as “end­less.”well, not quite, but you need to take a breath.the bike runs 810cc pis­tons, a Gar­rett T25 turbo and G-force boost con­troller, 1100 throt­tle bod­ies with bored and pol­ished in­lets to match, dif­fer­ent valves, dif­fer­ent cams and mod­i­fied in­let unions with wa­ter jet-cut plates welded to short­ened man­i­folds to en­sure no leaks from the throt­tle rub­bers. There’s a be­spoke in­ter­cooler, a mod­i­fied

“WE WERE READY TO GO TO BON­NEVILLE, THEN A FORT­NIGHT BE­FORE OUR LAST TEST­ING RUNS WE TOASTED THE EN­GINE”

plenum de­vel­oped with help from the Uni­ver­sity of Southamp­ton (“some young engi­neers showed us a bit about the man­age­ment of air­flow and we built a plenum out of that”) and a man­ual tim­ing chain ten­sioner. It’s got a lock-up clutch, a big­ger oil pump, mod­i­fied oil pan and mod­i­fied oil gal­leries through­out, a big­ger fuel pump, a Power Com­man­der, up­rated sta­tor and reg­u­la­tor, and an In­no­vate dat­a­log­ger.the frame has been strength­ened, there’s an Öh­lins shock, a JMC swingarm, GSX-R wheels and forks, a rat­tle can paint job (with “trade­mark drips”) and a caliper-hug­ging stream­lineresque front mud­guard “like a piece of a cheese round”.

The sheer den­sity of com­po­nen­try is amaz­ing. “From the front wheel to the back, ev­ery space is full,” says John. “Work­ing on it is like be­ing a heart sur­geon.”and work on it he did.while there are bought-in com­po­nents on that list, much of it was done by John him­self

– a post-grad­u­ate en­gi­neer by train­ing if not pro­fes­sion (he runs a den­tal prod­ucts busi­ness).

“I have a lathe and a mill,” he says. “With the ex­cep­tion of the ma­chin­ery I haven’t got, for turn­ing new lin­ers and stuff like that, I’ve done 95 per cent of it my­self.”

For all that work, how­ever, this is still fun­da­men­tally a 750Turbo – and it’s clearly recog­nis­able as one, too. “We raced in ‘mod­i­fied par­tial stream­lin­ing’, the MPS class, so it has to be fairly sim­i­lar to the pro­duc­tion bike,” ex­plains John.

By 2017 the en­gine was pro­duc­ing 170-180bhp – a stan­dard 750Turbo makes about 112bhp – al­though top speed was down due to fu­elling is­sues. “We’d raced at Elv­ing­ton with Straight­lin­ers, we’d raced at Pen­dine and we were ready to go to Bon­neville,” says John. “But a fort­night be­fore, do­ing our last test­ing runs, we toasted the en­gine.we ran it too lean, for a whole se­ries of rea­sons, and suf­fered from det­o­na­tion. Back to the draw­ing board.

Cue an­other “manic” year of re­build­ing, re­fin­ing, de­vel­op­ment and dyno runs. John ad­mits that th­ese days he en­joys build­ing

bikes as much as rid­ing them, but clearly this was a labour of love. “I worked on it through the night at times,” he says. “One night I fell asleep on the stair­case in the house. I came in at 4.30am and sat down to take my boots off, then woke up at 6.30am…”

But the ef­fort paid off. “On the 17th of July this year we did a Straight­lin­ers event and got to 178mph, so we de­cided we were go­ing to Bon­neville – which gave us about four weeks to plan.”

Or­gan­is­ing a trip to Speed­week is hardly the work of a mo­ment, but the bike was crated up and flown over while a team of five from the UK – John and Roland plus Doug Sim­men, Matt Creed and Matt’s son Jake – fol­lowed on be­hind. Once in the US they met up with two more helpers, Brit An­drew Har­g­reaves, tak­ing time out from a State­side hol­i­day, and Cal­i­for­nian 750turbo. com fo­rum mem­ber Dar­rell Baker, who rapidly took on the in­dis­pens­able role of the team’s ‘Mr Fixit’.

The col­lec­tive ef­fort went un­der the­woods Jones Race En­gi­neer­ing ban­ner – “you’ve got to have a team la­bel there” – and they set­tled in for the week. “The first week­end was busy but it tailed off to­wards the end of the week,” says John. “We prob­a­bly did about 15 runs in all.you could eas­ily do five to six runs per day but I think the most we did was four in a day.”

Their best run was 177mph, but an elec­tri­cal grem­lin put paid to go­ing any faster. “We weren’t dis­ap­pointed but we knew we were ca­pa­ble of go­ing faster,” says John. “We boosted at about 20psi but we know we could get up to 30psi.we never got a chance to run that, though.”

Speed­week has a habit of leav­ing peo­ple just shy of their ob­jec­tives. In terms of re­al­is­ing their dream you could say it was mis­sion ac­com­plished, so are John and Roland putting their feet up and moth­balling the 750Turbo?you can prob­a­bly guess the an­swer.

“Roland and I don’t have a plan at the mo­ment, but I can’t see Bon­neville 2018 be­ing the end of what we do.we’re go­ing to do some UK events this year, but no­body goes to Bon­neville say­ing ‘Well that’s it, I’ve done re­ally well, I’m not go­ing back’. Peo­ple have asked why I didn’t ride the bike. I al­ways worked on the prin­ci­ple that I would build, run and look af­ter the bike, and Roland would ride it.the fu­ture is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent and I’m go­ing to ride, but we needed to achieve the ob­jec­tive of get­ting to Bon­neville, which was al­ways our end-point. But for­tu­nately it hasn’t ended – it’s prob­a­bly a new be­gin­ning.”

“I CAN’T SEE 2018 BE­ING THE END. NO­BODY GOES TO BON­NEVILLE AND SAYS ‘WELL THAT’S IT, I’VE DONE RE­ALLY WELL, I’M NOT GO­ING BACK’”

| Pic­tures: Jake Creed, Becci El­lis

Roland Jones Rac­ing and mo­tor­sport nut Roland has been com­pet­ing on two and four wheels since 1986. Did the Manx GP in ’89 on an RGV250. Loves a big chal­lenge and that’s what led him from the Isle of Man to the Utah salt flats. John WoodsA life­long bike fan. Bought a Tri­umph Bon­neville in bits when he was 17, and had it up and run­ning within a cou­ple of months. Had nu­mer­ous Kawasaki fours over the past 30 years, and a 750 Turbo for the last 25. This was what the boys be­gan with – and it was a nail. No big deal when it’s all go­ing to be torn apart

This lit­tle beauty does the boost busi­ness

The orig­i­nal (in case any­one needs a mem­ory jog)

Be­yond the “re-ring and bung ‘em back in” stage

De­cent plumb­ing is ev­ery­thing with a tur­bocharged ma­chine. Air leaks spell EX­PEN­SIVE DIS­AS­TER

Best In Show rosettes well-de­served

You sim­ply can­not test enough in this game

En­gine’s taken out to 810cc and makes 170bhp. A stock 750 Turbo makes 112bhp. That’s progress

Big JMC swingarm to take the power to the ground

GSX-R front end for silky smooth ride on the salt

Scru­ti­neer­ing is a very se­ri­ous busi­ness at Bon­neville. There is no such thing as a lit­tle lee­way

Crate ex­pec­ta­tions, and largely achieved too

All set to fol­low that fat black line

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