Martin Child sorts out the wiring loom among other things.
A frame, wheels and engine a motorcycle do not make. So it’s time to start connecting electrical and fuel systems in the vain hope that Project GSX-R10/11 barks into life.
There are certain mini-milestones in a build that give your jingle a tingle. Particular moments have this effect – for example, when the front-end got slipped in for the first time, or when I realised that the bigger swingarm and rear wheel would be part of the build, rather than just parts collecting dust in the depths of the shed. And that frisson of excitement certainly ratcheted up a notch when the engine went in. But, and it is a big but (insert your own ‘Yo momma’s,’ joke in here), it’s of absolutely no use if you can’t ride the bloody thing. And yes, we are still talking about the bike – stay with me here. The Internet often serves as a visual reminder of bike builds started with good intentions but finished in can’t-be-arsed-once-it-gets-toohard lack of determination. But this, as you’ve hopefully realised by now, isn’t the
Internet you’re reading. And failure to launch isn’t an option. So today is the day this 32-year-old new build barks a fresh tune and keeps the momentum streaking towards the finish line: even if it kills me… Old electrics: don’t you just love ’em? The main loom has benefited from being protected from the elements by the bike’s plastic fairing panels but still looks manky. As I’m not looking at slicing and dicing the electrics, I pull up a seat and set about re-wrapping it. Armed with two rolls of black electrical tape and the smallest black cable ties I can find, I start at one end. After a few wraps of the tape, I secure the first end with a cable tie and move on down the loom. Every time there is a branch off the main trunk of wiring, the second roll of tape is employed. After cable tie-ing the end, I wrap down the branch and then finish with a few good wraps on the main loom. Then the original tape wraps and covers the branch’s end and so forth. By the time the loom is finished, every end is held firm by a cable tie and is less likely to start unravelling. With the loom laid out on the frame, I secure it with the original, reusable Suzuki clamps and start to clean up all the connectors. I have to make up brackets to hold the CDI and fusebox in their new locations under the tank, before I measure a cradle for my new battery. There is nowt wrong with the old battery mind – apart from being bloody huge and stupidly heavy. It weighs over five kilos and dominated the space under the seat like a Great Dane in a Mini – the space that is now half-filled by the rear shock reservoir. By going lithiumion for my electrical needs, I can still use the underseat space and the new power unit is well under a kilo in weight. Honestly the new battery is so light that it feels like there’s bugger-all inside of it. But it cranks: man does it crank! With the SSDS in place (Shed-built Spark Delivery System), it now feels the appropriate time to start carb-loading. With modern fuel officially being rubbish on the longevity front, it’s a wise choice to strip and inspect the carbs before they get clamped onto the engine. It’s also a good time to see what the jet sizes are and what notch the jet needles are on. With hardly any crap in the carb bowls, they’ve either been a) recently cleaned and adjusted carefully by the previous owner, or b) the source of much poor-running which hasn’t come to my attention (yet!). So cleaned and reassembled, I check the intake manifolds for cracks or splits and bolt ’em on. With the exhaust downpipes connected to a recently purchased Yoshimura carbon can (mmm, gotta love a cheap, secondhand Yoshi), the temptation to oil her up and press the button is strong with this one. So the tank comes off the ‘spare’ Bandit 12 and the vacuum fuel tap gets spun around to ‘Pri’.
Ah: ignition’s on but there’s no contact. I check the obvious – clutch and stand immobiliser switches and the main kill switch: all good. Armed with my trusty multimeter (well, this one’s not trusty quite yet as it’s brand new), I start checking all the earth points. With the bike running a negative ground system, I’m well aware that the freshly painted frame can easily be the culprit. I check every earth point and get a reading of under 0.3 ohms, so no problems there. In the end, the bad-boy of the circuit is the ignition barrel itself. There’s enough contact for the idiot lights to come on but not the starter circuit, even with a cursory (Suzuki) worn-key wiggle. I’d actually ordered a new ignition switch (more so to have two new keys for the bike), so I swap out the wires in the original connector block and finally get power to the starter motor. I crank it for a while, with the coils disconnected, to get the fresh 10/w40 flowing around the engine and then power it up. It’s not instant but the engine is coaxed into a primitively rough existence before settling into a more refined (well it is an oil-cooled GSX-R mill so that’s a relative term) rumble. If I was Victor Frankenstein I’d now probably drop to my knees and scream, “It’s alive. Aliiiiive!” But that’s only going to scare the dog. Instead I settle for a carbon monoxideladen cheesy grin. So she has a pulse, but is far from pretty – and we’ve all had a drink at that club. I’ve a hillock (well, it’s not quite a mountain) of brackets to make, modify or just persuade with a touch of precision modifying via a bloody big hammer.
The oil cooler needs spacing down to help with the turning radius of the thicker bottom fork clamp. The new ignition switch needs to meet Johnny Grinder and his sidekick, Peter File, for a weight loss session, the coils need new spacers and to be bolted to the frame and my new K&N filters (not suitable for early model GSX-R1100S, apparently), need to be taught to be less fussy and just do their bloody job. Then it’s connecting the single throttle cable up to the Thou’s twin cable throttle tube and routing the various fuel, vent and hydraulic lines that sit on top of the engine. Armed with the knowledge of the bike running, these tasks are slow, steady and logical: it’s fun rather than frustrating work – slowly, surely, just moving the build on. As I’m creating, I glance at the colander on the wall. It’s very pretty. But right next to it is the calendar, and that’s much more informative. Six black lines indicate that I’m a month and a half into the build, leaving four spaces to be filled in before I’m over my self-imposed timeframe. Standing before me is the real soul of this build. A three-decade-old frame and engine brought back to the future with modern wheels, tyres, brakes and suspension. It’s looking black, sharp and very precise. It’s a great feeling that it was just a random thought a couple of months back, and now sits in the metal looking like it means business. Truth is, it still might handle with the poise of a greased pig on a lilo, but I’m thinking not. Plus, if I can pull the repairs and respray of the bodywork off, it’s gonna look mighty fine. Mechanically sound, the attention now turns to dressing her up real nice. This is real hero or zero stuff, as a bad paint scheme and rough finish on the GSX-R will be like putting a goatee on the Mona Lisa. And I’m not going for that sort of ‘interesting’ look…
A sneaky peek of what’s to come... do you like her?
There’s something so right about the oil/ air-cooled GSX-R mill.
Black frame/grey motor looks good.
Re-wrapped and ready to go...
Connectors were reused where possible.
Is this a naughty Wildy burnout?
Modern front and rear with classic midriff!
Narrow – for a big ‘four’!
Sub-frame bits aplenty...
Carbs: part of every classic build!
It’s tight in there.
The difference is clear.