The 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 Cornerspeedphoto.com 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 🙂
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 —
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 —
While at the rear a dinky little Brembo looks after things —
This looks like electronic ignition on the big bore lump in the middle —
and what about these 35mm Keihlin carbs on their new made for the job alloy inlet stubs —
What goes in must come out and there is one impressive exhaust system for that job —
Four into one —
and the gasses pop out through here —
Do I spy fully adjustable Ohlins no less —
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 🙂
There’s lots of nice touches like this tube insert to add strength to the headstock just as the original Yoshi bike —
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 —
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 —
and link pipe —
Quite a difference —
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.
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 —
The big Susie has lots of clever touches —
hand built —
by an expert —
Excuse me while I call my bank manager – he might just lend me the necessary spondulas to fund my own Wes Cooley Special 🙂
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 —
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 —
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 —
04/10/2013 – Wes Cooley Special goes EFE
Wes Cooley Special Goes EFE
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 —
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 —
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 —
A new straight front engine plate is sourced from the useful ‘swamp donkey’ —
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 —
This looks interesting —
It’s the old oil-cooled Suzuki seven fifty that I stripped down prior to refurbishment – in – oh – what seems like years ago —
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 —
So there’s plenty for me to do but the Cooley Special has priority —
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 —
and bolt her up tight —
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 —
The protruding gearchange shaft outrigger plate mountings are different which means a new carrier has to be fabricated —
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—
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 —
But at least that lovely – lightweight titanium exhaust fits both motors —
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 —
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 —
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 —
Dad Bill is no slouch either as he prepares himself for another raid on South Africa this winter —
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 —
alongside some exotic company —
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 —
Looks like a great day out —
Definitely one for the family album —
With the Wes Cooley Special crackin on at Cadwell Park —
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 —
Lookin good at Cadwell recently with only 110bhp —
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 —
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 —
Four hours later she is stripped down to the bare frame —
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 —
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 —
Next stage is to turn the FZ750 into a replica of the Superbike that Eddie Lawson rode to first place at Daytona in 1986 —
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 —
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.
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.