Project X7 Gamma

Some of you say, “Why?” Oth­ers say, “Why not?” Ei­ther way the mon­grel gets some body parts

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Inside - WORDS & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ALAN SEE­LEY

SPIKE LIV­ING­STONE of Ragged Edge Rac­ing takes seclu­sion se­ri­ously. In­deed find­ing his work­shop is an ad­ven­ture wor­thy of his dis­tant an­ces­tor, Dr David Liv­ing­stone, be­cause the Glouces­ter­shire idyll where Spike crafts glass­fi­bre body­work is prov­ing rather dif­fi­cult to lo­cate.

A mile from my des­ti­na­tion the mo­bile phone sig­nal drops and the nav­i­ga­tion app gives up the ghost, leav­ing me and a van­ful of X7 Gamma stuff di­rec­tion­less on a nar­row lane. With a dis­tinct dearth of passers-by to ask for di­rec­tions, there’s no choice but to drive around for a bit un­til sig­nal is re­stored and I can call Spike. When I fi­nally get through, it tran­spires that I’m just a few hun­dred yards from the farm­yard in­dus­trial es­tate that Spike and Ragged Edge Rac­ing call home.

Spike ex­tends a wel­com­ing hand. “Yeah, it is a bit tricky to find,” he says. “But I like it that way to be hon­est. It means I can get on with do­ing the stuff I do with­out any in­ter­rup­tions or dis­trac­tion.”

I’m glad Spike’s made an ex­cep­tion for PS and Project X7 Gamma, though. Hav­ing been forced to aban­don our plan to keep the body­work as stock-x7 as pos­si­ble due to a lack of de­cent orig­i­nal parts, we’re now go­ing down the pe­riod cafe racer route. And who bet­ter to ap­proach for help with sporty pe­riod body­work than a man whose en­tire liv­ing is earned from mould­ing se­ri­ously good tanks, seats, mud­guards and fair­ings for clas­sic race bikes?

Tea first. Spike boils up some of the rain­wa­ter he har­vests and hands me a brew. I en­vi­ously look around the yard and out over the fields, en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful si­lence. This is the life. Then Spike re­minds me why we’re here and we man­han­dle the bike out of the van.

Con­tem­pla­tion is a re­cur­rent theme in the con­cep­tion and build­ing of Project X7 Gamma, right from the start when we set about mod­i­fy­ing the frame with Alf Mos­sell. We set the bike on pad­dock stands and sit along­side it, mugs of tea in hand. “When I look at a bike I tend to see a race bike,” says Spike, who owns a brace of two-stroke rac­ers, one Spon­don and one Har­ris framed, al­though is of an age to re­mem­ber and have owned road bikes like both of those that make up Project X7 Gamma. His last road bike was a Yamaha TRX850 he sold a cou­ple of years ago, ideal for blast­ing down the Glouces­ter­shire lanes.

“I’ve had a few thoughts on what we should do with this since you said you were com­ing down,” says Spike. “Let’s take a look in the store rooms.” These are a num­ber of ship­ping con­tain­ers, each one a trea­sure trove of moulds and mould­ing. The heady aroma of resin per­me­ates the sum­mer air. Each mould has what it is on the side of it in per­ma­nent marker pen.

I see ‘Swal­low Velo’ on a huge dust­bin­shaped mould. That’ll be for Clas­sic Manx Grand Prix win­ner Bill Swal­low’s Ve­lo­cette. Then there’s one marked ‘Spon­don Itom’, a mould as rare as the bike it­self. Fi­nally Spike finds what he’s look­ing for. He picks up a very 1970s-look­ing duck­tail seat unit. “This is one of my favourites,” he says. “I reckon this will fit the bill. Do you know what it is?” I have to con­fess that I don’t. “It’s for a Magni MV Agusta 350. I have two and I’ll keep one to take a mould from – this one can be cut about to make a mould for a seat for X7 Gamma.” It al­ready looks al­most right. Spike also grabs a cou­ple of mud­guard moulds; a Du­cati 350 and a Suzuki RG500 one.

We re­turn to the bike and place the Magni seat on the Suzuki frame rails. There’s some po­ten­tial there. Spike’s mea­sur­ing tape re­veals that the seat is 200mm wide where the frame rails are the same width. It will need 90mm added to the length of the base while the frame rails can be chopped off rear­wards of the shock top-mount gus­sets. It will also look per­fect

Look – we’ve vaguely plonked a seat unit on. Time for a cel­e­bra­tory cuppa

All kinds of man­u­fac­tur­ers are rep­re­sented in Spike’s mas­sive col­lec­tion of moulds The seat unit is in­tro­duced to the bike. At first glance it looks promis­ing The back of the frame rails are go­ing to need chop­ping The big black mould at the back is...

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