Monthly Archives: October 2016

Suzuki GS1000S – Building the Wes Cooley Replica

puddin basin 001The Wes Cooley Replica takes us back to a time when heavy but powerful (talking late seventies – early eighties here) roadbikes were cut n shut before being put on the track to race. Motors were still basic two valves per cylinder air cooled behemoths – four valve motors would come later – later still we would see high-power oil cooled Bandit motors shoe-horned into the same old steel framed chassis in an effort to stay ahead of the game.

This is the story of the Wes Cooley replica built by Buffalo Bill Simpson in his Dalbeattie workshop during the time I was involved there.

10/12/2012 – Post – Wes Cooley Replica.

It wasn’t all nature luvvin today as I called into the workshop to catch up with what’s been happening.

The Wes Cooley GS thou was coming along slowly. It’s a spare time project by Buffalo who is always busy building and fettling race bikes for other people but it’s getting there.

Yes that’s a pair of fully adjustable Ohlins on the back of the old GS. I know all about them cos I fitted them to my original XJR 1300 many years ago. The swing arm is home brewed and will have alternative mountings for the bottom shock mount.

The frame has been strengthened around the headstock area and powder coated. An out-rigger bracket has been made to support the rear-set gearshift mechanism and the alloy fuel and race seat units are formed but require finishing. I’m pretty sure that’s a wide 17 inch wheel in there because as with the XR69 we are finding that tyres are the problem with the original 18 inch – both in cost and sourcing.

Billet yokes have been machined and a dinky set of adjustable forks are on the bench ready to go in. A fly in the ointment may be that the two XR69’s which have been parading and racing in South Africa this winter are due back soon. One blew it’s motor in the last race and the other was crashed – that’s racing 🙂

Then there’s the TZ350’s to get ready for this year’s ICGP series. One was crashed at Valderama and will need a complete make over plus there is at least one to be built from scratch while there are two more TZ’s in the mix somewhere. Makes me think that the Wes Cooley twin-shocker may not be ridden in anger this year.

It seems a long time ago that I stripped that GSXR 750 down – I’m told that most of the bits are back from the paintshop – I’m tempted to look for my overalls and go put it back together again. If I can remember how to 🙂

The Race Number 34 scribbled on the seat hump of that GS thou in an earlier pic may make you think of Kevin Schwantz and his 500 two-stroke GP bike —

but in actual fact it goes back further than that and was made famous by Wes Cooley on his Suzuki GS thou muscle-bike in the seventies.

Thanks to Daniel Lo for the use of that brilliant pic of Revvin Kevin at Indianapolis.

Wes Cooley Replica


12/02/2012 – Post – Suzuki GS1000

Well what do you know?

Look what I found when I checked my Spam pile this morning —

Someone spotted my Wes Cooley Rep post and has sent me this photo of an original Suzuki GS 1000 – ok the name on the tank has been reversed but I can live with that because it’s such a beautiful bike. I didn’t know them in their heyday because I was working in Africa and the Middle East during the seventies and played at trials riding when I came back to the UK in the eighties. Big muscled road bikes were a foreign territory to me at that time.

And links to a Swedish Suzuki enthusiasts website got me this Wes Cooley Rep photo —

Thanks for this pic too – it’s lovely – I am well pleased 🙂

Suzuki GS1000S


Wes Cooley Special 34

The early catkins are budding in the hedgerows in D&G —

While down in the workshop new projects are coming to life —

The Wes Cooley Special has grown a new front end since I last saw her. This baby should handle pretty good for what is basically a design from the latter part of the 1970s. She is an interesting project and I know I would love to ride her – in fact I would love to be building my own Wes Cooley Replica GS1000 alongside her 🙂

Pops Yoshimura was the man behind the original Suzuki GS1000 that Wes rode to two wins in the prestigeous Suzuka Eight Hours race in Japan while teamed with Mike Baldwin in 1978 and with Graeme Crosby in 1980. At home in the USA he had some tough competition from Eddie Lawson on the Kawasaki Z1000 and from Freddie Spencer on the big Honda but won the AMA National Superbike Championships in 1979 and 1980.

Wes Cooley Special – 34 — Part Two;

I had a look at the bike today and nuthin much has changed. With the ICGP series starting in a matter of weeks the focus has been on the team TZ350s. They are almost there mechanically but it looks as if the bodywork will arrive from the paintshop at the last minute 🙂

The GS1000S – Wes would love this one – 45mm Showa forks with compression and rebound damping clamped into custom billet yokes with adjustable off-sets. If that isn’t enough I’m sure he would salivate at the thought of those fully adjustable twin-shock Ohlins helping keep the 180 section rear tyre gripping the tarmac.

Perhaps the Chris Mayhew fettled motor in it’s current form may not pump out any more horses than the original Yoshimura tuned lump – but – I think Wes would be happier hanging onto those Fatbars in their custom risers while wrestling her round the bumpy Daytona banking at 150mph plus than he would have been with whatever his GS was wearing in the seventies.

I get excited just by looking at her  🙂

But – first things first! The two XR69s have just arrived back from a tough session of racing in South Africa —

By all accounts there’s one crashed bike and two blown motors in those crates.


02/08/2012 – Post – Wes Cooley Special

My photos of the big Susie didn’t do her justice yesterday so I put a few more amps in the battery of my Cannon Powershot and had another go today. I was actually doing a refurbish on a TT winning R6 but my heart was on the other side of the workshop where the Suzuki GSX1000 Wes Cooley Special is coming together.

The Nissin calipers look as if they’ve been used before but they fit well with the Showa 45mm front forks —

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While at the rear a dinky little Brembo looks after things —

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This looks like electronic ignition on the big bore lump in the middle —

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and what about these 35mm Keihlin carbs on their new made for the job alloy inlet stubs —

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What goes in must come out and there is one impressive exhaust system for that job —

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Four into one —

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and the gasses pop out through here —

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Do I spy fully adjustable Ohlins no less —

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110bhp from an old air-cooled motor that was originally designed back in the nineteen seventies to produce about 80 is going to create a bit of heat and this Earles oil cooler should keep things – cool 🙂

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There’s lots of nice touches like this tube insert to add strength to the headstock just as the original Yoshi bike —

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I like the look of this bike and I reckon there’s lot’s more to come 🙂

Wes Cooley Special


23/09/2012 – Post – Wes Cooley Special Roars.

Sadly I missed the trackday at Oulton Park on 19th Sept that saw the BSRacing built Wes Cooley Special roar in anger for the first time. No worries – I caught up with Buffalo today and he was a happy chappy. After a bit of fettling with the carbs he had the 1983 GSX1000R Wes Cooley Rep lapping in 2.02 which is on a par with the modern sports bikes in Fast Groups on most track days.

With the lower engine covers getting scraped at times but no real drama it was a respectable first ride —

With Buff doing the riding she handled well with real meaty power from about 3500rpm and she certainly had more stomp than the similar big bore 1098cc eight valve motors in the XR69s – possibly down to the uprated 35mm smoothbore Keihen carbs which have yet to grace the XRs.

The fully adjustable Ohlin twinshocks already sport custom made 30mm extensions but she is going to be jacked up another 5mm at the rear to help hold the line under power.

She’s a beaut and my earlier misgivings about the aesthetic qualitys of the oldstyle front fairing were kicked into touch when I saw her with her warpaint on – a set of race numbers will really finish her off —

By all accounts the Showa front forks worked well in combination with the Ohlin rear shocks and the Nissin front calipers biting on twin discs were more than capable of hauling up her 179kgs fighting weight.

The 17 litre alloy fuel tank plus the alloy seat unit and catch tanks all fabricated in-house look the part and the whole bike is testament to builder Buffalo’s engineering ability and years of experience in the racing game. As a former TT winner and Scottish Champion he is no slouch in the saddle either and after a few minor adjustments and further testing I’m sure the Wes Cooley Special and rider will do well on the tracks in South Africa this winter.

If you want one – best get your order in quick cos bikes this good from that era are as scarce as hen’s teeth.


23/112012 – Post – Wes Cooley Special Goes Titanium

The Bill Simpson Racing/Wes Cooley GS Thou goes into the crate bound for South Africa next week but I managed to get a few shots of the new titanium exhaust before she heads for warmer places —

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 006

The blueing on the headers happened on the dyno when setting up the carbs to suit the new smaller bore exhaust.

These are the bigger bore headers fitted previously —

Cooley 038

and link pipe —

Cooley 036

Quite a difference —

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 033

The eight valve 1098cc motor was kicking out 108bhp at the top end when fitted with the stainless steel big bore pipes but that was reduced to 106bhp once the smaller bore set was fitted. The benefit with the titanium setup is a reduction in weight and a virtually flat torque output giving 77ft.lbs all the way from 4500rpm to a conservative 8500 which should work well with the old five speed gearbox.

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 001

Granted she’s a diesel – but a real nice diesel from a shop that knows their race craft.

These are TZ350 swingarms custom made in-house —

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The big Susie has lots of clever touches —

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hand built —

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by an expert —

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Excuse me while I call my bank manager – he might just lend me the necessary spondulas to fund my own Wes Cooley Special 🙂

day at the office 009

Wes Cooley Special Goes Titanium.


04/01/2013 – Post – Wes Cooley Special on Track

I have put loads of photos of the Bill Simpson Racing built Wes Cooley Special on my blog over the past twelve months as it came together in the workshop and here’s another —

Wes Cooley 005

I never tire of looking at the bike in the flesh but that would be hard to do right now as the bike is on it’s way to South Africa to take part in a series of parades and races for a variety of Superbikes from the seventies. The bike was built by Buffalo himself at Bill Simpson Racing and he will be off soon to catch up with the big Susie to race it in the warm South African sunshine.

I can’t keep my hands off this BSR – Wes Cooley Special —

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 041

Yes I would love to build one for myself 🙂

But – in the meantime – thanks to my friend JT over at the XJROC I have found a vid of the original Wes Cooley bike competing at Laguna Seca in the late seventies against future GP stars from that era such as Freddie Spencer and Eddie Lawson.

Settle back to a time when life was so much simpler – on-bike cameras were in their infancy and – courtesy of youtube – enjoy the ride —


28/01/2013 – Post – Suzuki GS1000E

Here’s a very nice Suzuki GS Thou from 1979 that’s been in the same hands for thirty years.

She is stunning —


All credit to her owner – Dave from Scunthorpe. Yes Scunthorpe – North Lincolnshire. Dave assures me that they can grow palm trees there 🙂

And a few words from Dave about his bike —

The Suzuki GS1000 has always been my favourite motorcycle and when the opportunity came to purchase one back in 1983 I leapt in with both feet. That same machine is my absolute pride and joy today. You would not believe that it has been through rain and snow in its earlier years but I have relentlessly tried to keep it in tip top condition over the years as it has given me such fond memories.
For the previous two years due to family and personal issues I haven’t been able to ride the Suzuki but this year I am hoping to spend a lot of time riding her. To that end over this winter I have been giving the bike a full makeover. There have been plenty of little niggley jobs that have needed doing for so long.
As with all Suzuki GS1000’s they notorious suffer with rattling clutch baskets due to the weak basket springs. So have I had the clutch basket modified with a heavy duty Falicon kit by Straightline Racing in Peterborough at the same time taking the opportunity to fit a new complementary set of EBC friction plates with heavy duty springs. Another area in which GS’s suffer is with the starter clutches particularly the starter clutch allen screws working loose. So I have stripped out the old rotor and starter clutch unit and fitted a new complete starter clutch.
Next on the agenda was to fit a Dynojet Stage 3 kit. This has now been fitted with full synchronisation of the carbs complementing the Vance and Hines performance exhaust and carb bellmouths. She is undergoing a 530 chain conversion in the next couple of weeks. The engine has a 1085 Wiseco big bore, high compression kit fitted. The chrome bottle that you can see in the pics is part of the nitrous kit I had fitted 15 years ago in my mad years but is no longer used.
Thanks for the photo and write up Dave – your Susie is a beauty  🙂

Suzuki GS1000E


04/10/2013 – Wes Cooley Special goes EFE

Wes Cooley Special Goes EFE

puddin basin 001After a summer spent gardening I find myself back in the workshop this week and I couldn’t have picked a better time to be there.

The Wes Cooley Special with it’s two valve per cylinder motor chucking out about 110bhp posted some respectable times during a Track Day at Cadwell Park last week.

But – the two valver was deemed NFE (Not Fast Enough) and a Chris Mayhew tuned – big bore four valve EFE motor which has been sitting in the workshop for several weeks now is going in there instead —

swamp donkey 020

No problem! They are both based on the stock motors used in the Suzuki GS1000 range so swapping them should be a doddle.

Not so! The four valve per cylinder motor was only used during the last two years of the production run and there are not too many of them about. The sump capacity has been increased to carry additional oil for the more powerful bike —

swamp donkey 005

Which means the replacement motor fouls the frame bracing which had been added to keep the old tubular steel design from flexing under track conditions. An original fixed bottom frame lug has also to be chopped off and a new one fashioned —

swamp donkey 010

A new straight front engine plate is sourced from the useful ‘swamp donkey’ —

swamp donkey 002

to replace the original cranked version and while Buffalo gets down and dirty with his Tig welder I have a mosey round the workshop to see what else is happening —

swamp donkey 011

This looks interesting —

Suzuki Special4 022

It’s the old oil-cooled Suzuki seven fifty that I stripped down prior to refurbishment – in – oh – what seems like years ago —

Suzuki Special4 024

It was to be a spare time project but there hasn’t been much of that in a busy year round race workshop.

The XR69 is also undergoing major mods to the front end. The XJR1300 sourced front forks are being shortened in house and fitted with Fireblade cartridges which should be a welcome improvement over the previous setup —

Suzuki Special4 002

So there’s plenty for me to do but the Cooley Special has priority —

swamp donkey 015

With the frame bracing plated and new fixed lug welded into the bottom rail it doesn’t take long to put that heavy lump of a motor back in —

swamp donkey 023

and bolt her up tight —

swamp donkey 022

Yes there are spacers of different lengths and diameters to be turned up in the lathe too but we get there by the end of the day —

swamp donkey 026

The protruding gearchange shaft outrigger plate mountings are different which means a new carrier has to be fabricated —

Suzuki Special4 020

That side cover bolthole arrangement is completely different too as is the extended threaded portion of the crankshaft. The two valver has a captive thread in the end of the crank instead of the protruding threaded piece—

Suzuki Special4 012

The ignition setup will be completely changed and fitted to the opposite end of the crank and an easier to manage lithium/sumthin battery is on the cards for the space under the race seat hump —

swamp donkey 031

But at least that lovely – lightweight titanium exhaust fits both motors —

swamp donkey 028

The carbs have been test-fitted to ensure they clear the underside of the petrol tank. A higher capacity oil cooler and fittings to cope with the increased heat from the extra power are on their way and the revised ignition system has also been sourced. With everything coming together now the bike will soon be off to the dyno to have the carbs set up to match the more powerful four valve per cylinder motor and bhp figures north of 135 will be the target..

A test session is planned for the Wes Cooley Special at Aragon Circuit in Spain towards the end of this month before she is crated and delivered to South Africa where my friend Buffalo will ride her in a Classic Bike four race series over a three week period early in 2014.

The pairing finished fourth overall in the four race 2013 programme and will be hoping for even better things in the new year but with strong local competition such as ex-GP rider Les Zan Breeda on a well sorted – similar engined Katana it will be no easy ride for our former Scottish Champion and TT winner.

Wes Cooley Special Goes EFE


07/10/2013 – Post – Wes Cooley Special at Cadwell Park

The Wes Cooley special was at Cadwell Park for a gallop just a few days ago and though she wasn’t raced in anger, did by all accounts give father and son ‘Team Simpson’ a pleasant day in the saddle while circulating with some respectable company.

It was a ‘no fuss – no drama’ sort of outing on the big fourstroke – just what was needed towards the end of a busy season racing a pair of Yamaha TZ 350s on the old European GP circuits in the ICGP series.

I understand this was Ian’s first ride on the Wes Cooley but he looks totally at home on the old bike as he hustles her round Cadwell —

DSC_1812_11.00 - 12.00

Ian also had something more modern to test on the day. I don’t have this next bike’s history but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it ridden in anger by the late Stevie Hislop —

DSC_1370_10.00 - 11.00

A lot of water has gone under the bridge during the last twenty years but the style hasn’t changed much since the same Ian rode my ex Honda Britain VFR400 NC30 to a British Championship win at Mallory Park in 1993 —

racing days 002

Dad Bill is no slouch either as he prepares himself for another raid on South Africa this winter —

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In fact it’s hard to tell father and son apart as they crank out the laps on the home built Suzuki GS1000 based Wes Cooley Special —

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alongside some exotic company —

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That could be Josh Brooks on an ‘away day’ riding the Number 11 bike but ever mindful of the cost of getting it wrong both in terms of pain and pocket – Bill was more circumspect in his approach to giving the big Susie air over Cadwell Mountain —

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Looks like a great day out —

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Definitely one for the family album —

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With the Wes Cooley Special crackin on at Cadwell Park —

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14/10/2013 – Post – Wes Cooley Special on the Dyno

While I was under the knife on Friday the Wes Cooley Special went on a visit to the dyno where the carbs were set up to suit the Chris Mayhew tuned big bore – four valve per cylinder motor. With 1160ccs to play with the final figures were pretty good for this thirty years old ‘diesel’.

A strong I45bhp at 8250rpm is not to be sniffed at and coupled with a flat torque reading in the high nineties she should be a serious contender for the Classic Series of races in South Africa early in 2014. The motor was still making good power at a self imposed for reliability reasons 8250rpm rev limit

The rider – Buffalo in his early days getting serious aboard his Yamaha TZ 750 —


He claims the twin-shock Wes Cooley special ‘handles real well’ so providing the extra thirty five horses over the original two valve motor doesn’t tie the old bike in knots she should be a potent ride.

With 145bhp showing on the graph coupled with a meaty ft/lbs of torque reading in the high nineties the boys ran out of dyno time before they could play with the ignition settings so there could even be a couple more gg’s to be teased out of the old girl yet.

The four valve per cylinder motor —

swamp donkey 031

Lookin good at Cadwell recently with only 110bhp —

DSC_2354_12.00 - 13.00

But – with the upcoming four races in three weeks at South African circuits varying in altitude from sea level at East London to the 6000ft Kylami, reliability will no doubt be more important than outright power.

One of my all-time heroes – Jim Clark – four times Grand Prix winner at Kylami wins his last ever Grand Prix at the circuit on New Year’s Day 1968 —

Jim Clark at Kylami

The talented Berwickshire farmer was to lose his life three months later at Hockenheim in a Formula Two race.

An indication as to the vagaries of carb settings required for racing in heat at altitude meant 1968 fourth place finisher Chris Amon in his Ferrari had to stop to re-fuel as he needed 54 gallons for the race distance when thirty gallons would have been enough over a similar mileage in a European GP at the time.

Wes Cooley on the Dyno


18/12/2013 – Post – Recycling the Suzuki GSX Thou

Classic bike recycling Buffalo style starts here with this old Suzuki GSX1000 from the late seventies —

Bare Frames 004

Four hours later she is stripped down to the bare frame —

Bare Frames 007

Next stage will be to ‘de-lug’ her where all the brackets needed on a road bike are cut off because this is going to be a racer just like her sister bike – the Wes Cooley Special seen here ‘hustling’ around Cadwell Park racing circuit —

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After de-lugging and strengthening, the old frame will be sent off to be powder-coated just like this one we did earlier from 1985 Yamaha FZ750 —

Bare Frames 011

Next stage is to turn the FZ750 into a replica of the Superbike that Eddie Lawson rode to first place at Daytona in 1986 —

Eddie Lawson Rep

and if we turn the clock back thirty five years or so we get Wes Cooley himself on the original Suzuki GSX1000 in AMA Superbike trim —

Wes Cooley


Recycling is the Buzzword





30/10/2016 – Quick Edit.

That’s about it on the Wes Cooley Special for now. Bill had a very bad accident at East Fortune earlier this year while racing his XR69. Things didn’t look good for a while and unfortunately I have lost touch since moving to the islands.

swamp donkey 011

But – Buffalo is a tough ol’ cookie – Hopefully he will make a full recovery and get back to building bikes . If his Wes Cooley Special is anything to go by he is pretty good at it.




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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in Motorcycling, Wes Cooley Special


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Suzuki XR69 – the Story

Suzuki XR69 – A collection of Posts from my blog about the Suzuki XR69 race bikes built by John Sim at his Silverstone workshop.

25/11/2011 – Post – Suzuki GSX-R Factory.

With three classic GSX-Rs in various stages of disarray and shipping date for the South Africa Winter Series of races very close it’s all hands to the pump to get them ready in time. I nipped down to the Silverstone today to collect one of the motors that has been rebuilt and took the opportunity to steal a few photos when I was there.

The two bikes that gave Michael Dunlop trouble at the Manx Grand Prix this year were both in the Silverstone workshop.

This is the bike Michael won the Manx on last year. It was pressed into service for this year’s race when the 2011 bike gave trouble in practise but didn’t finish.

The blue bike was for this year’s Manx Grand Prix. Michael has clocked 120mph laps with these bikes.

and this one with the Maxton twin-shocks is being built complete with Dominator lights for Endurance racing. I’ve got the same lights on my gixxer. I hope the rider isn’t depending on them to light the track at speed.

It’s one thing to love your Suzuki but to sleep with the bodywork is taking things a bit too far!

If you are that keen on Suzukis then you must have a tidy full power GSX-R 750  too —



26/11/2011 – Post – Suzuki GSX-R Thou

That aircooled GSX-R thou is a big lump of a motor – bet yesterday from Silverstone was the first time one has been carried in the boot of a Smartcar but she’s home nae bother and we bolted her into the frame this morning.

Did I mention the traffic on the M1? Absolutely horrendous Friday afternoon. All it needs is a minor collision and those Traffic Management people in their highly painted 4X4s manage to make a drama out of a crisis. Clearing the road appears to be the least of their concerns.

No worries – back at Bill Simpson’s Dalbeattie workshop work things are taking shape. The motor I brought from Silverstone has been bolted into the frame  —

Just the iron-mongery to fit and she’ll be ready for the crate.

here’s one that was prepared earlier —

The standard fitment is 18 inch rear with a treaded tyre — but if the rules allow – a 17ins wheel with a 180mm slick can be shoe-horned in – just!

The crates are due to be collected Tuesday for shipping to South Africa.



Looks like Monday might be a busy day.



14/04/2012 – Post – Suzuki XR69

The iconic Suzuki XR69 —

No she isn’t pulling a trailer although she has enough ‘grunt’ to do it. That’s the starter behind her which works by driving a motor driven rubber tyred wheel against the rear tyre of the XR69. Get up to speed – engage gear on the XR69 and Bingo! She will fire up!

But only if the clutch clears and this one didn’t. The motor in the XR69 hadn’t been run for five months and we were unable to free the clutch sufficiently to get the thing going. So – clutch was pulled apart and both steel and friction plates cleaned of oil. The oil level was dropped because the heavy when cold Silkolene 10-40 grade was reckoned to be the main problem causing stiction between the clutch plates —

With the oil cleaned off the clutch plates and the level dropped below the lip of the clutch basket so she wouldn’t pickup any more she fired up first time and the job’s a good un:-)

Well not quite – running a 190 section rear tyre in this bike brought it’s own issues —

Namely – getting clearance between the final drive chain and the edge of that wide 190 tyre.

No worries – the ever-resourceful Buffalo turned up some neat spacers with his lathe down in the corner of the workshop and this baby is ready for the truck to go testing down in the warmer climes of southern Spain some time soon 🙂

Ok – Jessica – just for you – the ‘cheesy grin’ —

I don’t expect to have the overalls on again for a while – but – Aldo has promised me a couple of fresh brown trout so I could do with that recipe you promised me 🙂

No that I’d ever thought there would be a special recipe for trout. I’ve been salting them – peppering them – coating them in oatmeal and throwing ’em in the frying pan since I was a kid. Doesn’t come simpler than that. On one memorable occasion I cleaned ’em and fried them on the riverbank without the oatmeal and condiments. I think they were the best 🙂



28/10/2012 – Suzuki XR69

The Suzuki XR69 – isn’t she a beauty! From a time when men were men and sheep ran scared —


Suzuki XR69







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Posted by on October 29, 2016 in Motorcycling


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THE FJ1100 Story

Two years ago I went out to buy a thirty years old bike just for something to mess with in the workshop that would keep me off the streets in the winter months —


but  for once I arrived home wishing I had been sold a pup —


Wee Toby was the star turn – just a few weeks old and so full of fun and mischief. Here he is sloping off towards the forest in disgrace after getting a rollicking from his master for pulling old Bracken around by the ears 🙂

Sold a Pup


Buying the FJ1100 —

The FJ1100 was a short-lived sensation when introduced by Yamaha back in 1984. Not for the first or the last time Mr Yam was caught with his pants down when his very nice air cooled four cylinder machine was quickly overtaken by more modern oil and water cooled fours from the Suzuki and Kawasaki stables.

But that was back then. Believe it or not even now – thirty years later  – that air cooled four cylinder motor is still produced and sold in the current XJR1300 roadster where it has a strong following amongst knowledgeable bikers.

‘So where am I going with this?’

Right here —

Let haggling commence

Deep in a Dumfries and Galloway forest where the current owner and his dog appear to be decidedly unimpressed with my starting offer for the FJ1100 which he has up for sale.

No worries – coffee drank — deal done – it is time for me to wrench the bike from the previous owner’s adoring grip and hit the highway —

jump start

I would have taken his shiny boots as well if he had let me but in the end I had to be content with the FJ —


Yes she’s tidy for a thirty year old bike —

FJ 911

But I see plenty in need of my particular brand of TLC to keep me busy over the coming winter months 🙂



Corruption is everywhere these days and no more so than in the motorcycling field where the ubiquitous 36Y inlet rubbers fitted as standard on the FJ1100 are the ‘must have’ tuning accessories for the XJR1300.

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The late arriving XJR uses the same motor but Mr Yamaha strangled the beast at birth when he specified a cumbersome exhaust system and matched it with 33mm inlet rubbers.

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Fitting a free-breathing Akro like the one on my old bike above – plus a set of these 36mm inlet rubbers stolen from an FJ releases a few more ponies as well as lowering the all up weight by a worthwhile margin.

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But my FJ rubbers are going nowhere ‘cept back onto the inlet’s whence they came —

tidal 020

There’s still work to do on the cam cover seen here in a ‘before’ shot —

tidal 023

but what goes round under it looks to be in good order with minimal apparent wear on the cam lobes and what appears to be a sound cam chain set-up —

tidal 024

The carbs are coming along nicely – it’s just a case of deciding how far to go with them in house. Providing they are reasonably clean inside I won’t send them off for ultra-sonic cleaning as it’s my intention to keep the costs sensible —

tidal 026

A tidy bike – running like she should is my aim.


But I will have to wear my mask —

tidal 031

and go rob a bank if I want to make her like new 🙂



Hoping to bolt a few bits of the FJ together soon.

I lifted the motor down off the table and set it on wooden blocks roughly at it’s finished height —

FJ 005

It will be a matter of checking through my auto-jumble of bits for things like –

the airbox and carb rubbers which are still at the cleaning stage —

FJ 001

the carb heat shield which is hanging up to dry after de-greasing. A tidy up with my rubber mallet should see her shipshape again —

FJ 003

I found the lower frame rails looking sad but when I’m happy with their condition I will give ’em a coat of paint ready to bolt into place —

FJ 002

after I wrap the main frame around the motor.

FJ 004

The carbs didn’t appear to be all that great with what looked like thirty years muck on them but I’ve made a start on the cleaning process and I think they will come up ok —

FJ 006

Just to have something shiny to play with amongst all the muck I bought myself a treat off ebay.

A nice set of soft jaws for my vice. Invaluable when it comes to holding parts that are easily marked – firmly —

FJ 008

No doubt I will find other bits on the shelf that should be fitted before marrying the frame to the motor – but –

Rome wasn’t built in a day 🙂



The saga of my FJ refurb has reached the first milestone with the painting of the motor and upper frame virtually complete.

I have yet to decide what to do with the peely-wally rocker cover. I will probably go for a more attractive finish on it and the clutch cover – perhaps some type of plating to catch the eye —

done 002

I have brush-painted the motor with heat resistant Satin Black High Temperature paint from Halfords and it appears to have stuck – so far —

done 006

For the frame I opted to use an aerosol can of Hammerite which should do the trick —

done 004

But time will tell and while I allow both lots of paint time to cure I will give the FJ a rest and head for the MoT Test Station on the Tenere tomorrow —

done 008

I checked the Ten out today and all she needed was a few psi in the tyres and she is ready to go.

Let’s hope the sun continues to shine on the righteous 🙂



I slapped some more paint on the old FJ motor today then left it to cure —

mot 003

while I tackled the frame —

mot 004

The purists may shudder but with costs in mind this was never planned as a nut and bolt restoration – just a good clean then deal with the rusty bits before freshening the paintwork. I have never used Hammerite before and I hope I don’t live to regret my decision to use it on the frame —

mot 005

Time to take a break from painting —

mot 006

and with an MoT due on the Tenere it wasn’t too difficult to move her front and centre where she will get the once-over ready for a dry day for the trip to the Testing Station —

mot 007

I will be surprised if I find anything wrong with her as I’ve overhauled the rear shock linkage bushes since the last MoT —

mot 008

When I see her up there looking so good it’s all I can do to wait for spring before getting the maps out and heading off some where.

Come to think of it – I never did get to Corsica —

Tiree 213

But there’s time yet 🙂



Paint it Black – or bits of it. Painting frightens me – one of the few things apart from snakes that does. Being colour blind doesn’t help and ruins the confidence.

No worries – even I can see this is BLACK —

paint it black 003

or Satin Black to be more precise —

paint it black 007

I played safe and started with the sump as it will be hidden by the plastic belly pan which should cover a multitude of sins. And if the belly pan doesn’t hide my mistakes – I’ll leave her in the box —

paint it black 002

We’ve just had our coldest night of the year – eight degrees of frost. Luckily I stumbled over that cardboard box while rooting about in the dark next door this morning. Coupled with my electric fan heater it made a perfect auto-clave to warm the motor before painting and to cook the paint afterwards to help it cure —

paint it black 008

I even found an old duvet cover to help hold the heat in after switching the power off and heading home for the night. I will decide tomorrow in the cold light of day whether the runs are bad enough to make me start all over again 🙂



I’ve never actually done anything like this total refurb before but having said that – I hadn’t made marmalade either until these past few days and it worked out ok —

No doubt there will be a few expletives flying around before this refurb is done but I have n’t reached that stage yet. Nope – the blanks I’m referring to are to stop the ingress of degreaser, muck and whatever else is going during the cleaning and painting process.

The exhaust ports were the first to get blanked after stuffing them with rags and bubble wrap —

Blankety Blank 001 - Copy

Then it was the turn of the 36Y inlets —

Blankety Blank 004 - Copy

followed by the two little oil gallerys in the sump where the oil cooler lines fit —

Blankety Blank 002 - Copy

Blankety Blank 007 - Copy

At least that ol’ motor is looking fresher today than she was yesterday —

Blankety Blank 006 - Copy

I hope to do a better job of the paintwork than the previous owners did and by the looks of things ——————–

that won’t be difficult 🙂



Little did I realise when I bought the FJ to have something to wrestle with in the chicken shed over the winter months that she would turn out to be such a challenge —

FJ frame

But – today I had a willing helper. Not only does H make a better job of cleaning the frame than I do.

She takes clearer photos too —

FJ frame2

Too good in fact. That frame doesn’t look quite so pristine in her pics – and the motor is showing every one of the five previous owners and thirty one years —

FJ motor 2

I was able to leave the frame in the capable hands of my sidekick and lay the motor on it’s back —

FJ motor

Where the stubborn cap screws fixing the lower oil cooler feed lines to the sump soon surrendered to a bit of heating and beating and unscrewed nicely without further drama.

Fj before stripping

First intentions were just to refresh the old FJ cosmetics and show her off at some of the local vintage events in the summer but once she’s stripped down it’s difficult not to go overboard and poke and prod even further.

Time will tell 🙂


FJ1100 Shiny Bits – I wish. There’s a long way to go but it’s early days but I have made a start and she’s coming along nicely —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 004

I’ve got most of the diamond hard chain lube residue off the affected bits and it’s the rusting frame tube joints where the paint has peeled from the weld that need my attention now —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 001

but not half as much as making that old motor look respectable. A previous owner has had a go at painting her and she’s neither one thing nor t’other —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 002

The oil cooler should come off out of the way before I go much further but there’s a couple of stubborn bolts on the lower oil line fixings that will need persuading before I can separate it from the motor —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 003

The motor is original and looks rather sad but I’m sure I’ll find a way to spruce her up a bit. It can’t be that difficult —

Can it 🙂



I could hear lumps of ice rattling off the roof this afternoon but the FJ and I were as snug as a couple of bugs inside.

lumps of ice 001It’s nice to have a job to do under cover when the weather turns wicked even if it’s to do it twice as in the case of this rear shock.

I had already bolted it in place a few weeks ago after a cursory clean up. Out she came again to clean the flaking red paint from the spring and give her a fresh coat of black gloss. Then it was a case of greasing up the shock linkage before putting her all back together again.

lumps of ice 004

That’s better – next to go in were the front forks —

lumps of ice 012

The headstock on the FJ is so well braced – from memory the only bike I’ve worked on with this amount of metal around the headstock was an upmarket Bimota sports bike.

lumps of ice 014

Doesn’t that paint look the dog’s danglies!

lumps of ice 013

Even if it did come from a Hammerite aerosol can.

Better still —

lumps of ice 019

By the time I was ready for home the river by the back door was still between it’s banks and the skies were blue overhead 🙂



Winter will soon be over so I had better make a start to putting the FJ back together. With the heavy lump of a motor already sitting on wooden blocks mating the frame to the motor wasn’t too difficult.

Simply a case of laying the main frame over the top —

fj rebuild 001

Lining up the bottom rails —

fj rebuild 002

offering up the side plates —

fj rebuild 015

and sticking a few bolts in.

fj rebuild 003

Before bolting the inlet rubbers in place and hanging the carbs on 🙂



FJ1100 Luing Scrambler? That’s the plan anyway. If Ducati – Triumph plus Uncle Tom Coblers and all can build a scrambler out of what is basically a road bike then surely I can build one too —


My MSX 125 runabout keeking through the curtains looks unimpressed – or does she? I reckon the little sweetie looks pretty scared as well she might once that 4cyl 1100cc beast comes back to life! Even the Tall Tenere who seldom backs off from a photo-shoot has taken to the shadows on this occasion —


No worries – not a lot more can be done to the FJ till H brings our new shed home —


My fault it’s running late really for I’ve prevaricated over the rebuild for almost a year since I got to the stage where I would have had to cover up all that lovely metal with her original plastics and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Now here she is anxious to be completed and out there – but – unfortunately two hundred miles from our new home —


Who is the Daddy 🙂


Thanks for ploughing through this marathon of a post folks — it’s a proper mish-mash consisting of the ten or eleven FJ related posts on here since i bought the bike around two years ago. I had little idea what I would do with the bike but at least I have an end product in sight now in THE Luing Scrambler.

Unfortunately the FJ and I are separated by 200 miles of road for the time being so it’s not as if I can nip out in the morning and bolt a few bits together.

No worries – I am more than hopeful that she will be housed by my front porch up here on Luing before Christmas. In the meantime I will try to bring some sort of order to this series of copied Posts in the hope that the FJ1100 Story will make more sense and with my fire rekindled perhaps I will now ‘horse on’ and complete the project.

I don’t suppose ‘Colin the Post’ will be able to squeeze my FJ in here —

Bards - post

Don .. aka givitsum 🙂


















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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Yamaha FJ1100



Island Odyssey

Here in October 2016 I am at the start of an Island Odyssey – but it’s not my first. Back in Jan 2013 when recovering from an operation that had gone horribly wrong I wrote about my first ‘Island Odyssey’. It was in 1995 – a bit different from my current situation but enjoyable in it’s own way.

Here it is – My original ‘Island Odyssey’:

When you are feeling below par what better pick-me-up than to look back to better days. My recent mistake with the WordPress Media Gallery where I inadvertently dumped 1500 photos and screwed up a large number of my posts has given me the chance to return to the mid-nineties.

I was involved in motorcycle grand prix racing and had three weeks to chill between the Malaysian and Japanese GP races. The rest of the team had gone to their respective homes in various places round the globe but I was going walk-about. A chance encounter with Giamaco Agostini as we left the hotel that last morning gave me an idea where to go. He told me instead of following the masses to the ‘fleshpots’ off the west coast such as Phuket – to go east to Khota Bahru and pick up the backpackers trail for the South China Seas. I promptly bought a rucksack on the market in KL China Town – dumped my suitcase in left-luggage at the airport and bailed out!


Redang Island was my first stop and the transport was by cigar boat. Kuala Terrengannu was the jumping off point on the mainland so I caught an internal flight up there from Kuala Lumpur. Cigar boats are long and thin with no cover, just a pile of merchandise plus wooden plank seats for possibly six passengers and two crew. A similar seating arrangement to the rowing boats on your local pond in fact. The important bits were hung on the stern – two humungous Yamaha outboard motors!

Boy could this thing go! The Malay driver pushed the boat off from the wooden jetty – aimed her at the horizon – Hawaii – the Philipines or whatever and wrung her neck!

I don’t have a pic of my more rustic twin engine boat but I have found one of a smaller boat along similar lines to set the stage —


After what seemed like a few hours of skimming across the waves Redang Island hove into view. D’ya like that word? Hove? Very nautical of me. I must have picked it up when I was learnng to sail dinghies on Loch Earn – nice to know all that money wasn’t wasted.

Anyway we ‘hoved’ into Redang right by the wooden huts that were to be my home for a few days. I didn’t meet anyone that first night – just found something to eat in the Tenko style mess hut then returned to my wooden cabin and slept like a log.

The sun rises early and so did the breakfast chef! Along with lots of smiling Malay faces – it was hard to tell who was staff and who were guests. Then Dusty introduced herself – an air stewardess from one of the former African colonies having a six month sabbatical to backpack all through the South China seas. She had been as far south as Bali and was working her way north before flying home from Singapore in three weeks time.

We explored the island together – snorkelled over the coral reef and in the evenings after dinner joined everyone in the karaoke hut. It was just so much fun!

South China Seas Dusty on dive tree

The pic shows a ‘me Jane – you Tarzan’ moment in the jungle. Yes being a sporty type she dived beautifully off that branch into the pool. Things didn’t stop there – she refused to come out until I had followed her in.

Coward that I am – I didn’t trust the branch to carry my fourteen stones but I got out there. My next challenge was to release my strangler’s grip on the limb and dive in! Not easy! I’ve survived one broken kneck in my life and diving headfirst into that dark pool could easily leave me with another. Cpn Sensible wasn’t with me that day and eventually I let go the branch – closed my eyes and went for it!

I must have passed some sort of test – maybe it was my singing at karaoke as Dusty suggested we team up to visit our next port-of-call – the Parenthian Islands.

A kiss of life for the fish – Dusty style —

grand prix days (2)

A few days were sufficient on Redang – it wasn’t primitive enough. It had running water and electricity. So it was back to the mainland then up the coast by mini-bus to Kota Bahrur to catch a cigar boat ride to the Parenthians. They were well out in the ocean and it was dark when we arrived and were dropped off on the beach – and that’s where we stayed till morning.

Get any romantic thoughts out of your head – this was hardcore roughing it. We pulled every bit of clothing we possessed over our heads and lay down on the pitch black beach to sleep.

I think this is an everyday situation for tough-as-teak girls like Dusty and soon she was snoring softly. I on the other hand flinched everytime I felt movement under me! In the morning we were soaking in the cold heavy dew and learned that the movement under us had been sand crabs. They spend the hot days in their burrows and come out onto the beach in the cool of the night. Yes we had been lying on the entrances to their burrows! Better that than with snakes in the jungle!

I’m not sure of the spelling but I think this small jungle clad island was called something like Wee or Wie. There was only one place to stay and this was it. Fortunately some of the backpackers were moving on next day and Dusty was able to share a shack with a posh girl from the home counties while I got the lovely hut just above the beach.

grand prix days

There were no doors – no windows and you’ve guessed it- no toilets. You either risked going for bush or used the latrine pit Tenko style. Oddly enough I never felt alone – at least not after I found my first snake slithering in through the walls!

I was invited by the Malay owner to return later that year after the GP season was over to help develop his operation but something else came up and I went to Spain instead. Another ‘What if’ in my life but you can’t do everything and I often wondered how those low lying islands fared when the Tsunami roared through a few years later.

The proprietors family had what we would class as an idyllic lifestyle – he lived in the big hut on the right and we all ate on the open deck of the lower hut with a few more guest houses dotted around the jungle above the beach —

grand prix days 002

We all ate at a big plank table on the communal mess deck attached to the owners family hut and if you wanted a shower you filled the overhead bucket if there was water in the well – soaped up then tipped it over you. Mostly we washed in the sea! The days were spent swimming or snorkelling over the coral reef and walking the beach. The adventurous climbed palm trees for coconuts and there was an occasional boat trip to a neighbouring island which was slightly more civilised than ours.

The view from my hut —

grand prix days 003

There was no karaoke on Wei or at least no karaoke machine. We lit a fire on the beach at night and talked or sang. With backpackers from all over, songs were sung in a few languages but anything by the Beatles was guaranteed to have everyone join in. Out at sea the bright lights of the squid fishing boats lit up the night as they scooped everything from the shallow depths and tore up the coral reefs. It takes man but an instant to destroy what nature has taken years to build.

After the second week we returned to Kota Barhu up near the Thai border on the mainland. Dusty caught a flight to Singapore for her last week of freedom before heading home to Zimbabwe and I got on the Jungle Train to Kuala Lipis right in the centre of Malaysia. I could have gone all the way south to Singapore by train cos that’s what the Japs did to surprise the British forces in the last war. The Brits were expecting to be invaded from the sea and prepared their defences accordingly. The Nips came down on the jungle train and sneaked in the back door! Like taking candy from a baby!

Like I said I only went halfway but that was an eye-opener. Through mountains – across rivers – past logging camps and native villages – it was a wonderful journey. I still had a week to myself before flying on to Japan for the next Grand Prix and I was going to make the most of it.


From Kuala Lipis I caught a long-distance bus to Kuantun on the east coast then another one south to Mersing where I took a boat out to Pula Tioman for a few nights – the island where South Pacific was filmed. It was nice enough but too civilised – not a patch on the rustic Parenthian Islands and I guess I was missing Dusty. She had been great company with never a dull moment when she was around!


I spent a couple of days back in KL before my flight to Japan – most of it in Chinatown. One night in the YMCA hostel and my last night in the comfort of the Swiss Hotel.

Island Odyssey


and what became of the delightful Dusty? Well we kept in touch for a few years – as you do – then life intervened and regular correspondence took a back seat. The last I heard from her she had been selected as a crew member of the Presidential jet on a State visit to Brasil – yup – there’s never a dull moment when that girl is around 🙂

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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in Uncategorized



FJ1100 Luing Scrambler

FJ1100 Luing Scrambler? That’s the plan anyway. If Ducati – Triumph plus Uncle Tom Coblers and all can build a scrambler out of what is basically a road bike then surely I can build one too —


My MSX 125 runabout keeking through the curtains looks unimpressed – or does she? I reckon the little sweetie looks pretty scared as well she might once that 4cyl 1100cc beast comes back to life! Even the Tall Tenere who seldom backs off from a photo-shoot has taken to the shadows on this occasion —


No worries – not a lot more can be done to the FJ till H brings our new shed home —


My fault it’s running late really for I’ve prevaricated over the rebuild for almost a year since I got to the stage where I would have had to cover up all that lovely metal with her original plastics and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Now here she is anxious to be completed and out there – but – unfortunately two hundred miles from our new home —


Who is the Daddy 🙂



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Posted by on October 3, 2016 in Yamaha FJ1100


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