Practical Sportsbikes (UK)



“They’re real easy engines to take care of, with screw and locknut tappet adjustment,” says Tab. “I check the valve clearances religiousl­y at 3000 mile intervals and at one stage early in my ownership none of them needed adjusted for more than 30,000 miles.

“When it comes to oil, I’ve been on fully synth since the bike hit 30,000 miles. I’d read a few articles and I was particular­ily attracted to the idea that fully-synth could handle high temperatur­es better. I don’t have any particular brand loyalty but these days tend to look out for anything with high zinc and phosphorou­s additive content as these are meant to lessen wear.

“As for tires, or tyres as you might call them in the UK, I used to like the Dunlop K700/701 when the bike was on 18-inch wheels although I wasn’t so keen on the later Sportmax. On the Dymag 17s on the bike now, I liked the Michelin Pilot Power, was less keen on the Pilot Power Sport, and am currently on the Dunlop Sportmax Q3 – the Dunlop seems stiffer and less vague on the front than the Michelins to me.

“I put in an Öhlins shock back in the early 1990s, whatever their base unit was back then, and have had it rebuilt four times, getting it revalved last time to match the lighter spring required to work with an 1100 linkage.

“One problem I did have was not down to anything Suzuki put on the bike. My Mikuni RS38S went on when I went to 883cc. After 30,000 miles the slides wore to the point that a chunk broke off. It happened on the way home from work… just commuting for crying out loud.

“That made some of my hair turn grey, because I looked at the front of the slides but not the back side. It wouldn’t idle down at all. Fussed and farted around 3500rpm. It didn’t harm the engine though. I had to get new carbs because the slides weren’t really available – and were listed at $110 a pop. Rick Stetson, my engine builder, put in a call to Mikuni and I got a brand new set of carbs for $500.

“I haven’t had any electrical issues. I put LED bulbs in the instrument cluster and have H4 LED headlight bulbs. I do have a spare new loom in a box just in case I ever need it.”

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