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Monday, 19 September 2011

CCM FT35 Update

I don't know about you, but every bike I buy, whether old or new, seems to need a couple of days of sorting before I feel confident enough to start using it in anger. I always change the oil and filter (if it has one) irrespective of any previous owners insistence that it has just been done. So the little (and it really is little) CCM was treated to a couple of litres of Silkolene fully synthetic 10/40 and a new genuine Suzuki filter. The DRZ400 engine in the CCM runs a dry sump and there is an oil tank in the frame. Checking the level involves starting the bike from cold, running it for a couple of minutes and then using the dipstick in the tank. A short time after this, the oil runs back into the engine and the level is gone. Norton owners would be right at home here, the only difference being that Suzuki manage to keep it in the engine and doesn't make its way to the floor.

The next job was to replace the 'off road' style handgrips for black Oxford Supergrips. These are probably the nicest grips available, having almost a gel type feeling and doing a good job of isolating some of the tingling vibration through the bars.

Then came a tricky bit. As mentioned earlier in this blog, it's not a good idea to put stainless into alloy without copaslip on the threads and since I can't believe that CCM don't know this, I can only assume that they must have run out when they built this bike. It took a few hours to gently persuade about 25 assorted fasteners out of their corroded holes, clean up the threads and replace them with nice new lubricated screws and bolts.

The following day, a nice new NGK Iridium plug arrived via ebay and this was promptly fitted. I really don't know if they are better than the standard range, but I like the word 'iridium' and they are about four times more expensive, so they must be good. The K&N air filter on the bike was a bit bashed and bent, so despite its everlasting nature, I recklessly spent £32 and bought a new one. Adjusting the chain came as a bit of a shock as I don't have much experience of off road bikes and the supermoto parentage of this bike means that it requires 50-60mm at the centre of the top run. Seems really slack to me but there are plenty of rollers and guides to keep it steady.

At this point I felt pretty happy with the bike and the time for a decent run had arrived. Starting on full choke causes the engine to jump instantly to about 4000 revs so it's not a bad idea to just hold it out a little to give the oil a chance to hit the cams. The bike seems very small and is really light (115kg). It feels more like a 125 than a 400, and for me, this is a great part of its appeal.

The engine is surprisingly revvy and really doesn't like plodding. Fifth gear needs at least 50mph to avoid snatching. This takes a bit of getting used to after old Brits, and is not helped at all by the absence of a rev counter. There is a rev limiter, which is all too easy to hit since you don't have any visual idea of how fast the engine is turning.

Acceleration is very quick and from memory it seems to be similar, if not a little better than a well sorted Yamaha LC350. Brakes are Brembo front and rear, and they stop the bike in devastating fashion, helped by the distinct lack of bulk. Fitted with Avon Distenzia tyres on the end of White Power suspension, the handling is way better than I am, and once you get used to riding what initially feels like a 50hp trials bike, you can rag round country roads in the safe knowledge that not much will ever come past you. These bikes cleaned up in National Short Track championships in 2006-7 and it shows.

Good points:
Dainty alloy tank
Very quick
Superb handling
Very good brakes
Very light
Top quality components
Spoked wheels (lovely)
Simple, classic appeal
Build quality (with some exceptions)

Bad points:
Dainty alloy tank doesn't take much petrol
No rev counter
Frame paint falling off after 3500 good weather miles
Seat not very comfy
Not a motorway cruiser (a bit frantic at 70mph+)

All in all it's great fun, and nice to look at.  I think that this may be a keeper.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Oldbritbike top tip - It pays to be well connected

Almost every bike that I have ever bought came complete with a liberal sprinkling of those nasty blue or red Halfords type electrical connectors. Not only do they look awful, but very often they part company from the wire at the worst possible moment.

Do yourself (and your bike) a favour and invest in a proper crimping tool and a supply of brass connectors. You can then spend a happy weekend replacing the grotty stuff with nice OE looking crimped connectors. As a result, your bike will look much better, it will be more reliable and you won't look like a bodger.

Try ebay or visit Vehicle Wiring Products website for a range of crimpers from occasional use to pro, and individual or selection packs of connectors.

Do you really want these on your bike...

Instead of these?

These are pro quality crimpers for bullet and flat connectors. 
Not cheap but they last a lifetime.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A nice Triton (for a change)

Spotted this lovely Triton amongst the rather pitiful display of a dozen bikes at Ripon Classic Car and Bike show a couple of weeks ago. Most Tritons don't work for me but this one is just right. Pre-unit, no big gaps, forks are not too long and the short circuit tank is so much prettier than the big ugly Manx jobbie. I'd have to loose those K&N's though.

Classic bike investors - look away now

Fond this picture from a few years ago when I was sorting through some old stuff. Considering that many Vincents are little more than ornaments now, it's great to see a Rapide being used as PCV intended, even if it does go home on a recovery truck. Note the lack of 5" speedo upgrade, a sure sign that the owner's not in it just for the name. I'm told that of the 1600 Vincents originally fitted with the big clock, only 3500 remain...

Suffolk's top tourist attraction

I've been away for a few weeks and on my travels I called into one of my favourite places, the classic bike emporium belonging to Andy Tiernman. Set in the rather lovely village of Framlingham, it's one of the few 'real' bike shops left. You could spend hours just looking at the walls, cabinets, machinery and piles of spares before even starting on the bikes. 

There seems to be quite a few enthusiasts who are pretty negative about classic bike dealers, and I'd be the first to agree that the ones who offer Bantams as investment opportunities deserve to be treated with utter contempt, but Andy is a true enthusiast and I would have no hesitation in giving him my money. 

Top bloke, lots of nice bikes for sale and well worth 'accidentally' stumbling across when you take the wife to Suffolk for the weekend.