Project X7 Gamma
Some of you say, “Why?” Others say, “Why not?” Either way the mongrel gets some body parts
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...