Category Archives: Motorcycling

My bikes since 1958 —

Most people count sheep when they are having trouble sleeping. Last night I counted motorbikes I have owned and ridden – that kept me awake till about 2.00am!

OK – I started my list from 1958 although I had been riding things like an ex-army Norton 16H – a 350cc Douglas Dragonfly and a 1937 Ariel in fields and on farm roads from the age of twelve.

Velocette 350 MAC — bought from my friend Jimmie Stewart in 1958 to help pay for his wedding – price paid Β£50. My first road bike – she took me on many teenage adventures. I got my licence on my 17th birthday 21st March and passed my test on the Velo soon after.

My limited mechanical knowledge was barely enough to keep us in one piece but somehow both bike and I survived at least one major mishap during our time together at the cost of a pair of secondhand forks from Pride &Clarke and a new bike jaikit πŸ˜„

BSA 650 Gold Flash — this was the Show bike from Earls Court in 1954.

The first Gold Flash to have swinging arm rear suspension. Bought from the show by Ronnie Sutherland of Dollar – she was treated to an alloy head and a single Amal TT carb plus alloy rims – twin leading shoe front brake and open megaphone exhausts with Matchless type ‘silencers’ available for the road.

Ridden by Ewen Haldane she finished third to Alistair King and the great Bob Mac at Charterhall circuit and was reputed to have been timed at 130mph on the long bumpy straight there.

I bought her from Ronnie for Β£65 and used her for road work. She handled well with sidecar springs and 30 grade engine oil in the ‘race tuned’ front forks. The bike could also show a clean pair of heels to the much vaunted Rocket Gold Star which came out at that time. The Gold Flash was the bike I was riding when I broke my neck at nineteen years of age.

BSA 650 Lightning — bought for Β£365 from Robertson’s of Alloa at their new shop out Clackmannan road in 1966 – it was a toss-up between her and the Velocette Thruxton 500 sat along side her. I made the wrong choice and bought the shiny red unit construction Beezer.

She vibrated – did 35mpg – topped out at 110mph and I didn’t keep her long as baby daughter arrived having survived a hump back bridge at full speed in her mum’s tum.

Work took me to England and overseas for the next twelve years so none of the bikes in this list are from that period.

Yamaha XT500 — no sooner was I back from overseas work with a few quid in my pocket than I was along to Granby’s in Nottingham for the stunning new Yamaha XT500.

We moved back to Scotland and I rode her through the snow over the Pennines on the A66 to our new home. Having no proper biking gear there were times on that trip when going back to work in Africa even with its problems didn’t seem such a bad idea after all!

Once settled back in Scotland I quickly realised that my ambition to ride the infant Dakar Rally wasn’t going to happen and joined my older brother who was competing off road in the Scottish Trials Championships.

Bultaco Sherpa 325 Trials — bought new from fellow Aberdonian Jimmie Allan at his bike shop in Bathgate – with the benefit of hindsight this was the right bike for me.

I had practised with Kenny Fleming – sometime Scottish Champion at his gravel quarry on the banks of the River Allan by Dunblane as a teenager. Using his spare BSA C15 I thought I was doing ok back then – 20 years and a serious illness later I was doing it for real and struggling.

The Sherpa was a rugged brute – I had wanted a 250cc version but with none available in Scotland I settled for the 325. She pulled me through thick and thin – all I had to do was hang on and paddle! One day even paddling in a deeper river wasn’t enough – with the water lapping over the tank she drowned!

Ossa 250 Trials — I spotted the green Ossa on Jimmie Morton’s stand at Robbie Allan’s Scottish Bike Show in the Kelvin Hall and thought ‘that’s for me’ – he wouldn’t sell it off the stand so I arranged to visit his Sorn shop in darkest Ayrshire and do the deed.

Down that way for work – I was on his doorstep at nine – Jimmie surfaced about noon – after a very late breakfast and a bit of haggling – most of it going his way as my limited patience was running thin – the bike was in the back of my van and I was offski!

Disappointment didn’t come into it! She wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding! I met Jimmie at a trial some weeks later and he didn’t want to know. Competition bikes were sold without warranty apparently – which was probably why he travelled around with big Andy Alexander.

Bumped into Keith Horseman at the Scottish and spilled out my woes. At the finish of the Six Days on the Saturday my Ossa was loaded onto a none-too-pleased Rob Shepherds pickup alongside his works Honda and Martin Lampkin’s works Bultaco. With Keith, Martin and Rob squeezed into the tight front seat and three bikes aboard – the Yorkshire Armada set sail from Fort William for Skipton.

Keith fitted a reed valve to the green Ossa in his workshop upstairs in an old woollen mill – a machine transformed! She had gone from no power to moto-cross mode! Didn’t make my results much better but she did make the big Two Day Trials over the Scottish mountains much more fun πŸ˜„

Yamaha TY80 — I bought this one for my schoolboy son. We would race up in the woods near our house and if it was tight amongst the trees he would invariably beat me. He also came wiith me to trials with wee bike in the van until he outgrew it.

Seeley Honda 197 Trials — Always a four-stroke man at heart I swapped the Ossa for the Seeley. A work of art – she was a lovely little bike and a pleasure to ride in most situations. i even rode an International Trial in southern Germany on her.

Honda 197 Trials — another tidy little Honda – not officially available in the UK – I brought her in from Belgium. Much the same problems as with the Seeley – remember this was before trials riders lived on the clutch. All was down to throttle control and from trickling round and over rocks in a stream bed at low revs it was a lottery as to whether she would cough and splutter to a halt or come on strong when something extra was wanted to lift the front wheel up a nadgery river bank.

Yamaha 250 Trials — The Mick Andrews Replica – she was another beauty. I was older and trail riding mostly in Wales by the time I had this bike. I kept her a while and when the right offer came – passed her on – as you do πŸ™„

Honda 175 Trail — bought on a whim – my daughter rode the bike ok in a straight line in the fields but went through a hedge when she treated the surprised little Honda like a horse – that bike had to go too – πŸ₯Ί

Fantic 200 Trials — a very useful trials bike – this one was bought for my son to ride but didn’t stay long either. I had hoped he would muck in with the regular cleaning and everything that goes with running a bike off-road but he had other ideas. With an active business to run I didn’t have time to care for two bikes so it had to go πŸ₯ΊπŸ™ƒ

BMW RT1000R — Not sure about the model numbers on this ‘V’ reg Beemer. Very low mileage and bought cheap from a liquidation sale she had a barn door of a fairing and cruised comfortably at 100mph. Wasn’t really into road riding at the time and soon sold her on for a profit.

Honda Revere 600 — Had a notion to turn to road riding – didn’t know much about then current road bikes but this shaft drive V twin seemed a sensible option. I bought her new from Bill Head – the Honda dealer in Preston.

Soon I was thrashing her around the Scottish roads. Early models were built in Japan and beautiful little bikes that never lost their lustre.

I did my first trip to the Isle of Man on the Revere and quickly realised how under-powered she was. I was hooked on racing by this time and wanted to get a race licence and do the TT. She had to go 🧐

Yamaha FZR 600R — Bought with racing in mind – a ‘red mist’ moment after being chopped up by two Ducati’s at Knockhill circuit saw her go skittering across the infield with expensive parts flying off in all directions as I picked myself up from the tarmac!

I rebuilt the 600 and swapped her for a Classic Racing Championship winning 860 Norton.

Yamaha TDM 850 (2) — Ahh – the TDM – my first was definitely one of the first in the country. I thrashed her around the hielands for the first year as you do before you start to worry about the polis and the chances of losing your licence. The BoTT series was due a visit to Knockhill for the Scottish round which meant the two Ducatis that chopped me up on my FZR600R in practise would be there from the south.

That was all I needed – the grindette came out – every part of the frame that wasn’t required on a race bike got the chop. My friend Howard machined off half the flywheel to help her to rev up quicker and also allowed me to chamfer and plate the flywheel cover for added ground clearance. Lightweight Ceriani wheels were sourced and a cush drive was mackled up to fit. This let us to dump the heavyweight final drive chain and sprockets and fit proper race stuff.

The TDM was beginning to look like a racer – especially when I chopped the bulbous fuel tank – bashed it about then welded it up to fit under the shallow fibreglass tank cover from the FZR600R race kit. There was no stopping me now – the FZR race seat unit was fitted to a cutdown rearend and a spare Honda NC30 nose fairing from my ex Jim Moodie VFR400 had her looking the part.

Rearset footrests were machined on nightshift at a local engineering works – a one mil drill was pushed through the carb main jets to give her extra juice and I fashioned a forced air induction system to help balance the fuel/air ratio. I almost forgot – the exhaust was put together and welded up for me by a chap in Stirling and he also made me a ‘silencer’. With most of this work taking place the week before the race it’s a wonder the bike ran at all – let alone perform admirably as it did.

First time she ran was on the Friday before Race weekend. The early TDM had only five gears in the box which meant that I was tempted to hang on to third on the run up to Clark’s – disaster! My Scitsui tacho hadn’t arrived in time and all this extra ‘tuning’ allowed the motor to spin up real quick and a valve tipped a piston. Nothing daunted – Howard carted her back to his shop and worked through the night on repairs to the motor so that I could race her on the Sat and Sunday. What a Star!

It would be nice if I could say I actually won something on her but I raced my home-built TDM all over and as well as taking part in an International BoTT race at Donington between the Brits and the French she had another day when all her stars fell into line and we had a third place – magic!

BMW GS 1000 (2)

BMW R850 — I had been running a couple of the early BMW GS thou’s before I started my Rider Training operation which were fine for battering around UK and Europe but tall and heavy old brutes to be riding out with learners.

BMW R100GS —

So-o – along came the new R850 which was initially one of my hire bikes. That came to an end when a couple rode it to Paris and back in a weekend and somehow managed to take the centre out of a new rear Dunlop. That was in the early days of bike hire and soon bike hire companies were measuring tread depth and charging extra for wear.

I found the naked 850 to be hard work after the free-flowing GS models and it wasn’t long before I fell out of love with it. Being tipped upside down into a ditch when riding pillion behind a lady rider on it one day didn’t help matters – but I will admit that with the big HO barrels sticking out either side that bike crashes well —

Honda RC600 (2) — I bought two in a job lot that came over in a container from the States. A red un and a white one .. history unknown but condition Great.

I sold the white one straightaway and rode the red bike .. she was a cracker off-road. Unfortunately she was kickstart only and after a real struggle to get her started after a stall on a difficult Welsh hillside one day she had to go. My 600E with it’s leccie foot was back in favour.

Ducati 860GTE — bought on a whim – nice enough bike but a rattly motor made me anticipate problems with the bevel drive top end.

A chap from Arbroath was keen to take the bonnie Ducati off my hands so away she went. I did hear a while later that it had ‘blown up’ – his words – c’est la vie —

Suzuki DR350 — thought it might be a good bike for green laning with my mates in mid-Wales. I found it heavy for a 350 after running a 250 Gas Gas Enduro but the lack of a leccie foot was the main reason it went —

Yamaha XT600 — This one – from Italy – had a kick start plus a leccie boot and it wasn’t long before someone made me an offer for it I couldn’t refuse —

Yamaha XT600E — A wonderful bike – good on the road and able off-road – I loved that bike. Trouble was that after a few years of riding Welsh trails I had my heart set on a big red Yamaha XJR1300 road bike so the 600E had to go.

Honda VFR400 NC30 (2)

Norton 860 Classic Racer

Matchless 350 Trials

Yamaha 125 (4) — After I retired for the first time and decided I’d had enough of travelling the world – I trained as a rider trainer and set up a business to do just that.

The four little Yams were bought for the job in hand and I quite enjoyed training would be motorcyclists. But – turning a hobby into a business isn’t always a clever thing to do and after a few years of working mostly evenings and weekends I went back to treating motorcycling as a hobby. The lovely wee Yamaha’s were easily sold off.

Yamaha Virago 325 — they were popular in the early nineties and this one I bought near Telford was a particular beauty. It was ok to ride apart from whitelining badly on overbanding and road markings. It wasn’t long before some old geezer wanted her and off she went.

That Virago contributed to the demise of my Rider Training enterprise – the ‘old geezer’ was a customer of the big bike shop next door who I rented my premises from. It wasn’t long before I received a stiff warning letter as it appeared that I was selling more bikes than they were around that time.

Honda CB500 — bought new for Direct Access training – she was a very much underated bike. A young James Toseland who would go on to win World Championships was winning a One Make British Championship aboard the 500cc twin at that time.

Kawasaki 600GP — another bike bought for the rider training venture. This mechanically sound machine was a shaftie unless my memory is playing tricks and was used for Direct Access training. But not for long – she may have been good mechanically but on further examination was found to be a real ‘swamp donkey’. The lower frame was rotten and under the paint rusted through – bye bye 600GP —

Honda Dominator 600 — The motorcycling press kept saying it was the best of the big singles around at that time. I quickly found I preferred my Yamaha XT600E but the Dommie soon found a good home —

Suzuki Bandit 600

Gas Gas Enduro 250

Suzuki SV650

Suzuki Bandit 1200

Yamaha Serow 225

Honda 50 Scooter

Ducati Corsa 936

Yamaha XJR1300 (4)

Yamaha XJR 400

Yamaha XT660

Aprillia Mille RSV1000

Yamaha Tenere 660Z

Honda Pan European 1100

Honda MSX 125

Honda X-ADV 750 (2)

Yamaha FJ1100

Suzuki GSX-R600

I make that sixty in total covering a fair spread of motorcycling – plus quite a few more that I was lent by friends – family and dealers. Most notable amongst those were a 500 BSA Gold Star and the Norton Rotary F1 – two bikes poles apart in every respect but I’m so glad to have had the chance to ride them.

I’ve been saying ‘this will be my last bike’ since the mid-nineties – but to no avail. They just keep on coming πŸ˜„

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Posted by on February 3, 2022 in Motorcycling


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Blue Skies Over Glen Dochart

My X-ADV750 can find the blue skies for me .. must be the way I tell ’em —

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Posted by on October 5, 2021 in Motorcycling, out and about



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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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  πŸ™‚

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 —

Cooley 020

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

Cooley 018

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

Cooley 012

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

Cooley 009

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

Cooley 026

Four into one —

Cooley 036

and the gasses pop out through here —

Cooley 034

Do I spy fully adjustable Ohlins no less —

Cooley 013

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 πŸ™‚

Cooley 022

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

Cooley 029

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

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 —

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 022

The big Susie has lots of clever touches —

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 048

hand built —

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 028

by an expert —

Wes Cooley Goes Titanium 027

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

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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  πŸ™‚

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 —

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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 —

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

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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 —

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and bolt her up tight —

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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 —

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

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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—

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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 —

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

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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 —

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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 —

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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 —

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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 —

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Lookin good at Cadwell recently with only 110bhp —

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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 —

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

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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 —

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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.

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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 February 17, 2021 in Motorcycling, Wes Cooley Special


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Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR’s for the Honda X-ADV750

Looks like something you would find in a field or farmyard —

but works very well on the road —

and plus the fact that Pirelli do a 15inch x 150 rear especially for the X-ADV750 —

makes fitment a no-brainer —

on my Big Scoot!

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Posted by on September 18, 2020 in Comrie, Honda X-ADV 750, Motorcycling, out and about


A Lap from the Gods on the X-ADV750

Any day is a motorcyling day but Sundays always have that extra buzz. Yesterday was no exception. I set out mid-morning and as the polis would say ‘I proceeded in a westerly direction’ – by St Fillans and the north bank of Loch Earn.

With wet roads and temperatures between three and six degrees – feeling like minus 3 – 6 – but nae mind as the watery sun was reflecting off a few of the snow capped mountains to brighten up the day..

When I reached Lochearnhead – north looked the most favourable – so off I popped up Glen Ogle where the snow-melt waters were rushing down the hillsides in foaming white torrents. One in particular dropping hundreds of feet down the hillside and through the arches of the old railway viaduct was really spectacular.

A glimpse of Ben Lawers poking into the clouds caught my eye from the top of Glen Ogle so there was nothing else for it other than to swing right at Lix-toll and head due east for Loch Tay and Aberfeldy.

First there were the tumultuous Falls of Dochert thundering under the bridge by the hotel of the same name on the outskirts of Killin. I have never seen the waters looking so dangerous and I actually had thoughts about the wisdom of crossing the bridge with the river in the state it was.

Through Killin and down the side of Loch Tay with glimpses of a snow covered Ben Lawers in the clouds above and to the left were next on the menu. This section was made more interesting when a hot-hatch appeared from somewhere behind with the driver seeming intent on taking my rear number plate home with him. No worries – the Big Scoot has an equally big twin motor from the Honda NC750 and can show a clean pair of heels when it needs to.

Kenmore was next with hardly a soul in sight and by the time I reached Aberfeldy I was ready for food. There wasn’t much choice of cafe’s so I plumped for one in the main square.

The complicated menu didn’t endear itself to me and the prices at Β£4.50 for a bacon roll seemed over the top – but I WAS hungry and ready to order. That was when a group of young wimmen all screeching in what seemed to be more than animated conversation at the top of their voices wedged themselves in the open doorway and didn’t look like moving. The polis who come down on motor-cyclists with noisy after-market exhausts would have had a field day with that lot with their noise meters going off the scale!

Time to beat a hasty retreat! I grabbed my heavy jaikit n crash helmet n squeezed out past the still shrieking females into the street while I still had my hearing.

With clobber on I selected ‘Home’ setting and high-tailed it out of town on the road south by the Birks of Aberfeldy. Maybe I should have put my earplugs in and shovelled something hot into my tank for the weather turned nasty after that –Β  but at least there was a sort of black strip of tarmac between the roadside snowbanks.

Onwards and upwards into more weather – then down through the Sma’ Glen to Gilmerton where I hung a right for Crieff. It seemed like no time at all and I was home in Comrie – roughly on the hundred mile mark – for my first cup of tea and sarnie of the day,

Okay – so there are no photos due to the battery in my phone playing up but it does take me back to the days when I actually wrote about something instead of taking the easy way out and succumbing to the senseless modern saying – ‘One photograph is worth a thousand words.’

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Posted by on March 9, 2020 in Comrie, Honda X-ADV 750, Motorcycling


A Lap of Loch Earn on the X-ADV750

It’s been a pretty full on day but I did manage to swing the leg over the Big Scoot in the late afternoon. With light fading pictures weren’t going to be that great but I did think that top of a snow-covered Ben Vorlich glistening in the setting sun would have come out better than it did.

Ben Vorlich – at over 3000ft qualifies as a Monroe and I have been to the top quite a few times in all weathers in the past – little wonder my knees are worn out. The walk in starts more or less from where the Scoot is parked and gets steeper by the time you hit the snowline but it is still regarded as one of the easier Monroes to climb.

Out of shot to the west is Stuc a Croin another Monroe and I’ve bagged them both in a day with my daughter and my elder brother along for company. In the patchy snow near the summit of Stuc a Croin is where I saw my first ptarmigan. Slightly bigger than a grouse the ptarmigan changes the colour of it’s plumage to merge with snow or vegetation as the seasons progress and must be one of the hardiest birds in the country to survive on the mountain tops in winter. I had a photograph of it somewhere but that was a long time ago and there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

Still on the subject of wildlife I keep bumping into wild goats on the south side of the River Earn and Loch Earn. I had never heard of them being there and can only imagine they are part of an Estate herd that have been allowed to run feral. There is a big Billy Goat with enormous horns and the sight of him makes me wish I still carried a decent camera. M-mmm — just a thought — I have a birthday coming up this month – who knows – I might be lucky.


A Ride in the Sunshine on the X-ADV750

Still building confidence with the Honda X-ADV750 – what is the clutch lever on a normal bike actually operates the rear brake on this odd fella.

After a lifetime of doing it one way – my head – limbs n digits have to reaquaint themselves with something different. Doing a ‘U’ turn from a standing start from where she is parked in the pic with the wheels sliding on assorted gravel proved tricky but do-able.

Knockhill Race Circuit was my destination as I haven’t been there for years. I was very impressed with the changes they have made around there since my last visit and a pair of Honda race cars doing laps added a soundtrack on an otherwise quiet day.

With the mountains behind Crieff white with snow and the road surface barely above freezing despite the brilliant sunshine – the Big Scoot and I were in Touring mode as we picked our way over the hills and through the valleys.

Tractors have come on a pace since I last drove one. I started on a petrol start – then switch to cheaper paraffin once she had warmed up – Fordson tractor towing a single or double furrow plow at the age of sixteen. This fella has a reversible five furrow job behind his 4 wheel drive beauty.

I reckon this must be Kinkell Bridge – north of Auchterarder —

I once did a series on old bridges down in Wales – couldn’t get enough of them and there were never two the same. This time it appears to be deserted churches that catch my eye. The ruins of this one are spread far and wide with this being the only section with a roof —

Looks like Burke & Hare have been busy around here —

They have made room for a few more bodies though —

I think I would rather have a solid stone roof over my head than draughty ornate windows in my tomb —

A great day out on the X-ADV and all being well —

the first of many.




First ride of the Year for X-ADV750

First ride this year for the Big Scoot and I’m pleased to say everything went well. The weather threw everything it could at us – rain – hail n sleet plus the usual shit n snotters that come with flooded roads. Yep she just lapped everything up and if she’d had a full tank of juice I’m pretty sure we would still be out there yet.

No worries – she has earned her ‘Streetfighter’ badge this morning and I’m looking forward to Wednesday when we have been promised some better weather.- yes the old bones prefer a bit of sunshine instead of this crap that we are getting at the mo’.


CRF 250 Rally Still Rolling

The robust Rally seems non-the-worse for it’s tumble during a snow storm on top of Glen Ogle a couple of weeks back – pity we can’t say the same for it’s rider.

No worries – so long as I don’t have to raise my arms above my aching shoulders I can still make something of the odd bit of sunshine with the Rally —

The X-ADV750 is also back on the road complete with the new sidestand which arrived by post this morning and was fitted in a jiff —

Lying under the bike between snow showers out on the patio behind the house – lining the new leg up and bolting it tight proved to be easier than I expected. The tiny spigot that locates in a hole in the leg pivot boss to operate the engine cut-out switch isn’t the easiest thing in the world to match up – but where there’s a will there’s a way.

The original sidestand became banana shaped a little too easy for my liking so that’s something I will need to keep an eye on in the future. Hopefully we will get a few decent days soon and perhaps have the opportunity to ‘gel’ with the big Scoot for it has been a bit of a hit and miss of a relationship since it first arrived back in September 2019.




Winter Woes

With Loch Earn just down the road it’s tempting to ride out there now and again —

If only I had stopped at Loch Earn —

But sunshine on the tops drew me onwards and upwards to where the weather can change in minutes —

Once committed the Rally and I weren’t for turning —

Then we ran into a whiteout. Blinded by driving snow the inevitable happened and the bike and I came down with a clatter! I was so sure I had broken a bone or two.

Thankfully I had the Rally upright on my second attempt and somehow scrambled aboard the tall beast – adrenaline beats pain – at least for a minute or two.

The weather had beaten us over the slower ride home but at least the Rally and I made it there under our own steam – the real pain came the following day!

Ten days later and I still can’t raise my right arm above shoulder height – hence what was mean’t to be a ‘rueful grin’ in the pic looks more like a pain-filled grimace! At least Loki doesn’t mind.