The traps and pit­falls, dos and don’ts, highs and lows, and ways and means of do­ing it right

It can be a long, hard, frus­trat­ing road build­ing a spe­cial. But it doesn’t have to end in aban­don­ment and tears. Here are ways and means of mak­ing it less dif­fi­cult (no­body ever uses the word easy)

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents -

There can be few rid­ers of Ps-era bikes who haven’t mod­i­fied their ma­chines. Many will have done a resto or two as well. Build­ing a spe­cial lifts skills to a whole new level. Rad­i­cal de­vi­a­tion from stan­dard takes us into un­charted ar­eas, espe­cially where a pro­posed spe­cial is with­out prece­dent. A me­chanic has to be­come en­gi­neer and even fab­ri­ca­tor and de­signer if a de­cent re­sult is to be achieved. Get it right and the re­wards are im­mense. There is no greater shed sat­is­fac­tion than cre­at­ing a true one-off, built to your vi­sion and per­form­ing as well or bet­ter than any fac­tory bike.

We talked to builders both am­a­teur and pro­fes­sional who have been there and done that, most of them more than once, to glean the wis­dom that will make your first spe­cial build as pain­less as pos­si­ble – or the next one eas­ier than the last one.

Get in­spired

So what are you go­ing to build? Spe­cial build­ing is never easy but if you’re con­sid­er­ing a hy­brid that’s been done be­fore, things are a lit­tle sim­pler.

Other builders just want to put their favourite en­gine into a chas­sis that meets their needs. “I have a cus­tomer at the mo­ment who wants to build a full-on track bike around a Hon­davfr750 en­gine,” says Mark Lumb of Madasl Rac­ing. “Not every­one’s first choice for a track bike but he loves the en­gine and its char­ac­ter so much, that’s the route he wants to go down. And why shouldn’t he?”

David Howard, whose spe­cial­ity is ex­quis­ite race bikes un­der the ban­ner of DHR Rac­ing, finds in­spi­ra­tion – espe­cially when it comes to trick de­tails – as a scru­ti­neer in BSB,WSB and Mo­togp. “There’s no end of smart en­gi­neer­ing in race pad­docks,” he says, “The trick is get­ting close enough to see it.”

Some­times ne­ces­sity drives the de­sire to build a spe­cial. “I raced in the 1980s and in 1987 I crashed my Suzuki RG500 Gamma,” says David. “It took me a decade

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