THE RIGHT BIKES

Real Classic - - Letters - Vic­tor Gar­man, mem­ber

Su­perla­tives drip from my tongue again! RC160 was a splen­did is­sue, and so ap­pro­pri­ate for me. I wish you’d get the is­sues out a bit ear­lier though. Why? Well the BMW R80 seems to be suf­fer­ing the same mal­adies as my own R75/7. Stephen Her­bert is iden­ti­fy­ing is­sues that I have ex­pe­ri­enced too, but had to re­solve my­self. A slightly ear­lier prompt might have saved me a lit­tle angst and per­haps a lot of pro­fan­ity.

Part one of Stephen’s story im­pressed on us the im­por­tance of throw­ing away the bolts which se­cure the drive­shaft to the gear­box. Ad­vice I have to say that wasn’t ad­hered to by one of my BMW’s pre­vi­ous own­ers. The re­sult was a drive­shaft break­ing away, just when I pre­sented the bike for an MoT. For­tu­nately no cat­a­strophic dam­age re­sulted… but had it hap­pened the week­end be­fore dur­ing a spir­ited ride back from Sammy Miller’s then things might have been dif­fer­ent.

Stephen notes also that when re­plac­ing the drive­shaft, it is im­pos­si­ble to ap­ply a torque wrench to the bolts as there is in­suf­fi­cient room. Damn, late again with that bit of news! I even went and bought a small torque wrench to deal with the ten­sion of th­ese sin­gle-use only stretch bolts. I dis­cov­ered that even re­mov­ing the swing­ing arm and pulling it back as far as pos­si­ble, there was still in­suf­fi­cient room. What did I do? Well, much the same as Stephen it seems. A com­bi­na­tion span­ner plus a length of metal vac­uum cleaner tube about a foot long, and a gues­ti­mate of mus­cle flex­a­tion.

I have no doubt that the R80 Stephen is fet­tling has been read­ied by the man­u­fac­turer for unleaded fuel, but it if hasn’t – don’t for­get I told you that first, Stephen. Oh, and the cen­tre­stands wear into holes at the curved base, while the top holes elon­gate as well. Bet they all do that, sir.

The Honda XBR ar­ti­cle is also close to my heart. I have one of those, too, but mine is the up-mar­ket GB500TT. Nev­er­the­less, there isn’t suf­fi­cient dif­fer­ence be­tween the GB and XBR to jus­tify the ex­tra cost of ac­quir­ing one of the for­mer. The dif­fer­ences are mainly cos­metic and the spoked wheels are not so easy to keep clean. As mine was des­tined for the USA, and in­deed was despatched there ini­tially, it has emis­sions con­trol gub­bins added on. You might con­clude that this would re­duce the power out­put some­what, but it doesn’t seem to have made much dif­fer­ence. The owner’s man­ual for the GB500 quotes power at 48 horses, so per­haps the ex­tra 4bhp com­pen­sates for the emis­sions para­pher­na­lia?

Richard Jones says that above 80mph his bike be­comes ‘in­ter­est­ing’. I’ve reg­u­larly taken my GB up and be­yond in­di­cated 100mph and noth­ing un­to­ward has been no­ticed. It does run out of puff at this speed when go­ing up­hill into the wind, but on the flat there is still a lit­tle bit left. I’ve seen 7500rpm in top but not found a down­ward slope and a fol­low­ing wind as yet to gain the other 500rpm. The speedo is op­ti­mistic of course; they all are, are they not? But 7500rpm gives me an in­di­cated 110mph al­though a pal fol­low­ing says it was nearer 100mph. What­ever… that’s more than fast enough to cost you your li­cence, so how fast do you need to go?

The Honda a great bike and, like the BMW, I keep threat­en­ing to sell it – but in the cold light of day I can’t bring my­self to part with ei­ther of them. They are as dif­fer­ent as chalk and cheese, but that’s half the fun isn’t it? Va­ri­ety be­ing the spice and all that.

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