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Bikes

Back to life... back to reality

Rob Hoyles

MOT success, electrical failure — and why these bikes need to be ridden, not hidden... 

My T595 passed her MOT last week. Three advisories and a 12-month ticket. Lovely job. More importantly, it was the first opportunity to shake the bike down since I bought it and to iron out any issues before any serious mileage.

The issues started before I left the house. Low battery voltage meant a jump was required but she soon rumbled into life. Strike one. A mile up the road the single seat hump hit me in the back as it made a bid for freedom due to an apparently sticky catch. Strike two. 

Initial comedy gripes aside, the bike appears to be rather good. After a full service with six of the 12 valve clearances corrected, she now idles properly and runs as Hinckley’s engineers intended. The gearbox is slick, the brakes are responsive with plenty of feel, and she pulls cleanly from tick over all the way to the limiter. Handling is neutral and pretty lazy, not helped by the slight self-centering tendencies of the head bearings which are a little notchy. She runs hot in traffic but it seems that’s quite common with these. Oh, and the steering lock is an absolute pig to engage. Other than that it was an encouraging start and overall the bike feels — and sounds — fantastic. 

MOT test completed, I dropped in to the Triumph dealer to book in for a recall (15 years after it was issued) and a terrible coffee before heading back home across Dartmoor.

The run back onto the moor is narrow and poorly surfaced in places but she took it all in her stride. Sweeping lines and an addictive torque curve are the order of the day. I'm in the groove, I'm grinning like an idiot and I'm nearly home.

And then she stopped.

No histrionics or drama, just a dull 'click', a sudden cut of engine power and a silent glide to a halt a mile from my house. Strike three. Twenty minutes of tinkering and pulling fuses and relays and she would only spin over with no attempt at firing.

International rescue was called (wife with van) and the bike was loaded up and taken home where it promptly started and ran as though nothing had happened. Intermittent electrical faults. The best kind. Joy.

They say that these things come in threes. I'm going to run some checks and am hopeful that the fuel pump relay is on the blink and that a new one cures the problem.

In other news, I've been up to see Clint at Wild West Custom Paint in Exeter this weekend who has been doing a little bit of paintwork for the MV for me — his work is superb. He has repaired a small area of damage on the seat unit and it is as good as new. If you're anywhere near Exeter and need something painting then Clint's your man. 

The R6 is coming along. There is a bit of a backstory to this bike. It has been stood around a bit having covered only 600 miles in the last six or seven years. The tyres it came with are Dunlop 207s. Date stamped 2002...

It looks like it has been sat outside and partially covered for a lot of this time so it's got some unusual little bits of corrosion that are being sorted. The front end was particularly tatty so the forks have been stripped to replace the pitted stanchions and to paint the lower legs. Discs and calipers are being swapped out for much fresher OE items (thanks to some eBay bargains) and a new headlight bracket has replaced the furry old one. She'll be really tidy after a bit of a refresh — I'll get some pictures up on the Facebook page once she's finished.

Main job for this week — sort out some breakdown cover...

 

Erm, battery, check. Wires, check. Working fuses, check. Recovery truck, cheque... 

Erm, battery, check. Wires, check. Working fuses, check. Recovery truck, cheque... 

When everything is being a touch 'challenging' this lustrous lovely soon brings back the smile

When everything is being a touch 'challenging' this lustrous lovely soon brings back the smile

An amazing result for little outlay and only a bit more effort. Loving Glen's work here. 

An amazing result for little outlay and only a bit more effort. Loving Glen's work here. 

Glen reveals a soft spot for Hinckley Triumphs...

Rob Hoyles

I owned a 1991 Trident 750 that I customised following an argument with the tarmac after I ran out of talent. Slow-revving and industrial with an exhaust note like nothing else, these bikes were massively over-engineered, apparently in an effort to rid the brand of any legacy prejudice around reliability. It really felt like an event every time you rode one.

I'm of the generation that doesn't really remember much pre-Hinckley. My respect for the brand is mainly borne of its phenomenal rise from the ashes (literally) almost 30 years ago. The re-launch has seen the brand rise from practically zero to become a force to be reckoned with once again.

The products that Triumph make now are night and day different to those of the early 90s. Back then few could have predicted the success Triumph would enjoy towards the turn of the century.

I was once told a great story of a staff member running in to the burning factory to rescue one of the last 1200cc four-cylinder engines. This engine, along with every other Hinckley motor, now sits proudly on display in the impressive Visitor Experience Centre at the revived Hinckley plant (which is free to the public and well worth a visit).

While four-cylinder Triumphs have been long consigned to the history books, the triples live on. An intoxicating soundtrack and a blend of usable torque and peak power makes for what to my mind is the perfect road engine.

And so to our T595. Launched in 1997, this generation of Daytona was the bike that Triumph hoped would take the fight to the Japanese. In terms of engineering and outright performance it fell short of its oriental superbike rivals. At least on paper it did. What the Daytona had though was bags of character. And while that won’t win races, it’s a trait that won the affections of patriotic road riders. Along with a balanced chassis and a phenomenal front brake, on the road the Daytona was a surprisingly capable package. 

Then there’s the aesthetics. The unusual tubular aluminium frame, stunning single-sided swinging arm and slightly bulbous styling set it apart from the competition in its day. Today, it's strangely beautiful and a refreshing change in a world of increasingly angular styling and sharp, minimalist edges.

Many of these bikes have not aged well. Flaking paint and corroded fasteners aren’t uncommon. But happily ours appears to have seen very little in the way of rain or road salt in the 21 years since she rolled off the Hinckley production line. Sure, she has a few battle scars and a few scuffs here and there, but for a bike that was one of the very first of the breed she's not in bad shape at all.

She's got some service history and is undergoing a major service at the time of writing. All in all she's a tidy example of this classic superbike and we're excited to have her in the Retro-RR garage.

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Rob’s Suzuki GSX-R750 SRAD

Rob Hoyles

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? 

Looks mint from here, doesn't it?    

Looks mint from here, doesn't it? 

 

Ah, that'll explain the smell of rubber, then... 

Ah, that'll explain the smell of rubber, then...