Cat with new spring in its step

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - ON OUR BENCH - Damian Smith

Once again those sad saps Alan Of Scot­land and Mark from Christ Knows Where have been in­ter­fer­ing with my prized Thun­der­cat. I shouldn’t be too hard on them, they’ve fit­ted a Hagon shock in place of the ut­terly shagged item that use to live in that bit be­tween the wheel (I think it’s called) and the big sil­ver bit (frame? I think that’s the one. Note to self: check with Jim).

I vaguely re­call them mut­ter­ing about the re­mote con­trol reser­va­tion or some­thing, and where they were go­ing to put it. Any­way, be­cause I’m a pro­fes­sional, I ac­tu­ally in­ter­viewed Alan and Mark about what was go­ing on with the span­ners and things like that, and the new bit.

“You’re lucky,” said Alan. “The link­age has ac­tu­ally been saved by the filth all over it. The crud has formed a bar­rier be­tween get­ting more crud on the crud, and the new crud get­ting in and do­ing more dam­age to the crud un­der­neath the old crud.” I zoned out again. Then, just when I was look­ing into the void, Mark said he reck­oned the

Hagon shock takes Damo to the promised land – a back end with ac­tual damp­ing and things


Cat was get­ting to be a re­ally cool bike. “Look Damo, it’s got 60,000 miles on it, it’s beaten and damned and still it chugs on. It’s one of those things that’ll never die. It’s got a patina some fak­ers would kill for. You just don’t come across sur­vivors like this every day.” I never know if they’re tak­ing the piss or not.

They faffed about mov­ing things and then got on the phone to Hagon about pres­sure and a banjo, or some­thing, and then started tak­ing bits apart again. I’m a de­signer for good­ness’ sake. I could have de­signed a bet­ter way of do­ing what­ever it was they were do­ing, but as ever, they just brushed aside my in­put with with­er­ing com­ments, and some­thing about “It’s only Damian’s bike.”

The old spring was red. This new one’s black. I’d rather have had some­thing in taupe, or maybe a light ochre to bet­ter com­pli­ment the sil­ver tank. My ob­ser­va­tions fell on deaf ears though. As you might imag­ine.

I have to thank them for their un­stint­ing ef­forts on my be­half. It pains me greatly to say this be­cause I feel I don’t need them in my life, and yet: I still feel they have my best in­ter­ests at heart.

The bike is run­ning well. Next up we’ll ser­vice the forks and then check the valve clear­ances. For a res­cue dog it’s a great bike and I’m grow­ing to like it a lot. It’d be good to get 100,000 miles on it prov­ing the longevity of a great Yamaha en­gine. There’s no rea­son the bike can’t do that, it’s just the rider find­ing the time to put those miles on.

Nip­ping into Cam­bridge or tazz­ing around Kim­bolton isn’t go­ing to do it, I need some big long trips to the south of France, some­thing Jim’s been mut­ter­ing about oc­cas­sion­ally for a while now.

It’s in­ter­est­ing, ie odd, hav­ing a bike that’s never go­ing to be re­stored, just rid­den into the ground sym­pa­thet­i­cally. Some­times part of me wants to take it back to the frame and give it a lick of paint, but I know in my heart that would be fool­ish. It will still be a Thun­der­cat af­ter all the time and ex­pense. Maybe Jim will let me have an­other bike to try my resto skills on. [Yeah, Raleigh Grifter – JM]


Hagon 0208 502 6222,

Not pretty, but all well and good un­der­neath

New shock now the best thing on the bike

Re­mote reser­voir be­comes even more re­mote

Bear­ings were fine af­ter a clean and re­grease

Shafts were OK too

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