In 1999, when I was 25, I tore about the A272 between West Meon and Midhurst on a pink, white and blue 1993 Yamaha YZF750. I loved that bike but a mate of mine (who shall remain nameless for legal reasons) rode a brand new GSX-R750 SRAD in double blue and white. My ardour for the YZF was about to wane…
I’d just about mastered right-through-the-‘box wheelies on the YZF (eventually to its demise due to oil starvation) but its reluctance to lift the front wheel out of second gear corners always irked me, especially when my GSX-R-riding mate would clear off on one wheel into the great blue yonder while I was still stamping down to first. It handled too.
While I was busy trying to lose my fillings through heavy braking with warped discs and a knackered rear shock, Gixerman would be fully cranked with the occasional spark flicking up off the silencer. When I eventually persuaded him to let me have a go, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to ride fast while he couldn’t believe I’d only crashed the YZF twice…
A couple of bikes later I was lucky enough to land a dream job as a road tester at Fast Bikes magazine, where I rode all the latest tackle. The Y model GSX-R had just been launched and the SRAD was all but forgotten.
So when Nik suggested the idea of a little trip down memory lane to get Retro-RR up and running as a Facebook page for fellow 40-somethings to enjoy a little nostalgia and story swapping, I knew exactly which bike I was looking for.
It didn’t take too long to find one, either. At just £1,900, and with a hefty ream of paperwork and a document wallet overflowing with receipts, I was perhaps a little too laidback in my usually anal approach to buying.
The barely-worn Pirelli Dragon Evo tyres are date-stamped 1607 meaning they came out of the molds during the sixteenth week of 2007. Amazingly, they actually offer a reasonable amount of grip and the two-inch chicken strips have all but disappeared in just two rides. The bike still handles well. But it’s not without its issues.
The camchain rattles when the engine is cold (when I bought it the former owner had just returned from ‘one last spin’ so was well up to temperature) and after a spirited blast down my beloved A272, the ugly aftermarket Pyramid Plastics undertray made a bid for freedom, smearing itself in 11-year-old Pirelli rubber in the process.
While attention to detail (like tightening stuff up) was clearly not too high on the former owner’s agenda, he had at least managed to make sure the chain wouldn’t corrode. Ever.
Such is the extent of his generosity with the chain lube (or tractor gearbox oil, it’s hard to tell) it’s found its way into every nook and cranny that falls in the direct firing line of the filthy chain.
So, a new camchain tensioner, a search for a standard back end and a good clean up with a stiff brush and a bottle of Gunk is imminent. Doubtless I’ll end up with a fresh list of things to moan about in the next instalment. But isn’t that all part of the fun?