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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Warning - this post may contain traces of scooter

I'm very lucky that my girlfriend both humours and tolerates my passion for bikes. She's quite interested in old knackers (hence our lasting relationship), and she even has a wish list of her own 2 wheeled classics. At the very top of that list is the Italjet Veloricifo, a retro styled 50cc twist'n'go that enjoyed celebrity status in the late 1990's. Oasis, Johnathan Ross, Jamie Oliver and other members of the then glitterati gave fleeting patronage to this little scoot, providing it with an image far in excess of the measly 229 that were sold in the UK.

There's no doubting that (if you like scooters) the Velocifero is a very cute little bike. In fact it's probably the best looking rendition of a classic style scooter that has ever been built, certainly more attractive than anything Vespa have ever made. But that's hardly surprising when you consider that the man at the helm of Italjet was no less than Leopoldo Tartarini, the designer that Ducati commissioned to dig them out of a very big Giugiaro shaped hole that was the 860GT. The result of his efforts was the Ducati Darmah, one of my favourite bikes of the 70's.

I've always admired Italjet for the sheer audacity of their bikes. Any small company who can design and successfully market a 80+mph hub centre steering trellis framed scooter gets my vote, and although the Dragster is probably their best remembered bike, in the 60's they dabbled with bigger stuff in the form of Triumph and Velocette engined bikes and it was they who were behind the Clymer Indian Velo which is now so coveted.

The upshot of this story is that I'm now having to make room in my overcrowded garage and time in my overburdened schedule for her soon to be arriving Velocifero. To be honest, i'm quite looking forward to it. The oil in a Norton Commando takes about 10 miles to warm up and our local shops are only a few hundred yards down the road.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

K&N Commando Filter

The K&N I fitted to the Commando is in my opinion, a much nicer answer than the complicated and difficult to remove standard filter. 

Some people on the forums seem to have trouble with this conversion, but my bike is all standard but for 270 main jets (260 standard) and I have found the bike runs great with the K&N, no flat spots or hesitation and a good mixture on the plugs as best as I can tell with modern petrol.

The fitment also allowed me to re-position the horrible ignition switch. I did this by cutting off the old bracket from the original bent backplate and sticking it onto the battery carrier with double sided car body tape which is usually used for attaching spoilers and bodykits. I use this stuff a lot, it's very strong and eliminates the need to drill holes. Much better.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Tri-Spark Ignition - a nice bit of kit

My intention is to use the Commando regularly, so I decided to scrap the rather mangled looking points setup and go with electronic ignition (must be a throwback to the 70's that - we don't say electronic kettle or electronic blanket).

It seems that Boyer or Pazon are the two most popular Commando systems, so true to form, I bought a Tri-Spark. And i'm really glad I did. It's more expensive than the others, but offers a much neater installation due to the fact that the whole thing fits behind the points cover and there is no box to site under the tank. In addition there are no loose wires or visible components as the electronics are encapsulated into a good looking machined alloy housing.

Fitting was a half hour job, and at the same time I replaced both coils to make sure that the whole system was as good as possible. The Tri-Spark has a static timing LED which makes initial setting up really easy, and when checked with a strobe, it was a mere 2 degrees out. A pair of Iridium plugs finished off the job and although the bike ran ok on the points, it now ticks over like a watch and pulls more cleanly from low revs. Best of all, I know it will stay that way.

Tri-Spark Ignitions are made by a company in Australia. See this link for more info:

Bought my Tri-Spark in the UK from LP Williams. Next day delivery.