PROJECT

Things a man, a Smallman, gets up to in lock­down.

BIKE (UK) - - Contents - Adams­mall­man º Don’t pid­dle money up the wall on small cans of brake cleaner. $ OLWUH WLQ RI +ROWV RU VLPLODU LQ D TXDOLW\ :XUWK SXPS GLVSHQVHU LV WKH WKLQNLQJ PDQOV ZD\ { º Fear not the Heli­coil. º Self-amal­ga­matin­g­elec­tri­cal­tape.

Agreat work­shop, time on my hands be­cause I’m not com­mut­ing and a cou­ple of lovely projects have made lock­down far more en­joy­able than I ex­pected. A late-in-the-day epiphany helps. Own­ing a Honda SP2 – the mar­vel­lous vee, not the spicy 2017 Fire­blade – de­mands weight loss (me and the bike) and over the years Ar­row pipes, Har­ris clip-ons, lithium bat­tery, LED tail lamp and an un­der­tray would make a Weight Watcher proud.‰

It was, how­ever, al­ways go­ing to be about the wheels. They’re pretty light as stan­dard but I was struck by com­ments from Bri­tish SP2 ex­pert Jay Moun­teney, whom I’d met at a Jerez track event. He swore a pair of skinny alu­minium Dy­mag UP7XS was the sin­gle best in­vest­ment he’d made on his bikes (and, boy, had he spent a king’s ran­som im­prov­ing his ma­chines). Yes, car­bon wheels would be lighter still but God help the rims when faced with ham­fisted tyre fit­ters.

So on they’ve gone – 15% dis­count at £1800 a pair from PDQ De­vel­op­ments – and Jay is so right. At the time of writ­ing I’ve had my first out­ing on the bike and it’s never rid­den bet­ter. Bump ab­sorp­tion, speed of turn-in and pickup from the throt­tle have markedly im­proved. Mean­while Project Make-the-old-dog-work – the 42-year-old Yamaha XT500 I rode to Aus­tralia and have now reac­quired – moves for­ward.‰

I’m not restor­ing this crusty and an­cient beast to con­cours nick, but I am fo­cus­ing on re­build­ing a re­li­able work­ing bike I can bounce around Lon­don on. The mo­tor – re­plete with bro­ken fin and flaky paint – is back to­gether with a Rex’s Speed­shop 12-volt con­ver­sion fit­ted. So that’s on the plus side. How­ever…

Ev­ery­thing on an old bike is a hur­dle – wiring that’s black, not cop­per, fuel tanks brim­ming with rust – and pulling apart the crap front forks was a recipe for gnawed knuck­les and scratched heads (my mate Wy­att did point out that they can’t be that crap be­cause I got to Aus­tralia on them. Fair point). But here’s where my reve­la­tion comes in – the in­vig­o­rat­ing power of sleep­ing on it.‰

Time and again I’ve faced a deeply frus­trat­ing prob­lem – how do I get the rusted-in cir­clips out, how do you lock the damper rod to re­move it? Only to give up and come back the next day and ap­proach it dif­fer­ently. ‘What you need is time, tea and a prayer mat,’ quipped Wy­att. It’s worked ev­ery time dur­ing lock­down. Wish I’d fig­ured that out 30 years ago. 2OGHU ELNHV WHQG WR SXOO WKUHDGV OLNH D SDQLFNHG EDQNHU DW D KHGJHKRJ GLVFR 2UGHU XS D GHFHQW IXOO WKUHDG UHSODFHPHQ­W NLW S , XVH 9RONHO S DQG OHDUQ WR GULOO VWUDLJKW WKHUHOV =HQ DJDLQ )RU ~ DQG D UDQJH RI PHWULF VL]HV IURP WLQ\ WR HQRUPRXV LWOV ZRUWK HYHU\ SHQQ\ 7KH ;7 OV ORRP ZDV D +\GUDOV KHDG RI WURXEOH DQG RQFH SURSHU FRQQHFWRUV DUH UHILWWHG WKLV UXEEHU\ WDSH QHDWO\ WLGLHV XS WKH EXQGOHV 0XFK EHWWHU WKDQ QRUPDO HOHFWULFDO WDSH DQG \HV PRUH IXQ

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