• Dropping the moniker and a growing appreciation

     

     

    As time passes and I get to put more miles on the GSX, I’m starting to enjoy it more. It has enough performance to be “interesting” and is pretty comfortable. I visited the previous owner the other day and he was happy to see I’d turned his previously neglected bike into something halfway decent, and even took a couple of pictures! As appreciation grows it’s time to drop the moniker of “The Turd”, and although it started off in somewhat poor condition it’s now heading in the right direction, and time and a few well spent dollars will transform it further. I know it’s growing on me, as these days I’m looking for opportunities to get out and ride it, although that’s hardly surprising given I’ve got an 18 month absence from road riding to catch up on.

    I’m constantly searching the internet for a new tank and side fairing, but all the tanks I’ve found so far have been the wrong colour, and whilst maybe I could live with a black one, some of the other colour options would definitely need a respray, and at a quoted €100 that’s money I could better spend on something else.

    I have a wish list/to do list for the coming months, which consists of the following.

    Brakes- new discs and braided hoses

    Brake reservoir- new cover and screws

    Bodywork- new left hand side fairing

    Wheels- stove enamel

    Forks- overhaul with new oil and springs and maybe paint legs

     

    It’s not a massive list and truth is, with the exception of the brakes, I could probably get away without doing any of them, but then there wouldn’t be a project or anything to tinker with. For the time being, ebay and google are constant friends as I search for parts, and the brakes rest firmly at the top of the priority list. I’ll keep you posted with progress.

    ***UPDATE***  I finally managed to persuade my better half to have a ride out. I promised her a 20 minute 20km run to see whether she might actually enjoy being back on two wheels, and amazingly as I was turning back home she told me to keep going, result! As a two up bike it definitely misses the torque of the GT and revs need to be kept up, but other than highlighting the brakes are years behind the train stopping ABS power we had on the GT, it was nice to be out together again. More rides to come soon hopefully.


  • Finally, a decent days ride

     

    For those wondering what’s been happening with project “Turd”, here’s the latest.

    The last time I posted there were only two things remaining on the “to do” list, the major item being to sort the front brakes. The reservoir cap screws were a bit mangled and I’d been unable to remove them with a screwdriver, so I bought an impact driver to try and persuade them to budge. This persuaded one of them to move but the other wasn’t playing ball  and I had resigned myself to having to drill it out. The following day I had another go, and to my surprise it came undone. With access to the reservoir it was time to top up the level and bleed the brakes. The end result was brakes that pull up much more evenly than before, although I think the real issue is that the discs are not a matched pair. I only spotted this weeks after buying it when I realised the centre anodising on each were slightly different shades. I’m pleased with the improved feel, but in truth they’re still not great. Compared to the titanic stopping power and ABS of my old BMW, these are prehistoric in feel and power. Next will be to try braided hoses, but ultimately I’m thinking discs will be required if I want real power and feel, at which stage that added cost will make a big dent in the bargain status of the price I paid for the bike.

    The exhaust note that I’d enjoyed and found a bit fruity, turned out to be the result of a poor fit of the silencer into the downpipe. I used the bike for a 50 km commute for a couple of days and found it to be a bit fluffy at the bottom end and actually quite noisy, the wife telling me she could hear me at least a km from home. Whilst entertaining, I’m sure the locals didn’t appreciate it, and it was hardly going to allow me to pass through anywhere in stealth mode without attracting attention. I realised that the poor fit was likely causing the fluffy pick up and probably also contributing to poor fuel consumption, although I’ve not measured it yet. To try and get a better join between the silencer and downpipes I decided to buy a new clamp, but was shocked to find that it was €605, as it was an integral part of the downpipes, so no cheap fix there and a plan B required!

    It’s been decades since I’ve used Holts gun gum on an exhaust, but a tin of gungum and one of their exhaust bandages did the trick. With no air leaking through the joint the exhaust note was massively subdued and the bike rides a whole lot better, not only at low rpms, but throughout the rev range, which combined with increasing the tickover slightly, has meant a much improved riding experience.

    One thing I did learn was that if you inadvertently leave the parking light on the battery will drain, which it did one day.

    I took it out for a ride this weekend, which was the first time since Feb 2017 that I’d just had a ride out for the hell of it (I’m excluding two days of commuting). A 4 ½ hour ride over 308kms with a buddy was more than ample time to find out how I’m going to get on with it, and first indications are that it’s going to be good.

    The two days of commuting had proven that the seating position was comfortable, at least for an hour in the saddle, and it was equally as comfortable for the 4 ½ hours I rode it at the weekend. The tingling in my hand and fingers after the commuting rides seems to have gone now the exhaust is fixed, and the aluminium bar ends I replaced the OE black ones with improve the asthetics.

    I’ve spent 10 years surfing the torque on 1200 and 1300 BMW’s, but it didn’t take long to switch to surfing the revs instead. Riding in lower gears to keep the revs up allows good deceleration through bends, and it was only in the higher gears when occasionally I forgot to drop a gear or two for a swift overtake that I missed the torque of the BMW’s. I may try fitting a one tooth larger rear sprocket to see if that helps improve acceleration, given I’ve got one sat in the garage from the R1 track bike, and as I was constantly looking for a 7th gear maybe I’ll fit the gear indicator from the R1 too.

    The “Turd” is some 70+kg lighter than the old GT and this light weight makes it feel positively anorexic in comparison, makes it much easier to throw around, and ceratinly less stressful negotiating around the garage or putting onto its centre stand. As of yet I’ve not missed the planted feel 285kg used to give, although I dare say I might find it somewhat different when I get to ride on wet roads.

    Diving forks haven’t proven to be a big issue, except when combined with an uneven pull on the brakes on entry to bends. I’m sure they’d benefit from an overhaul and new oil and springs at some stage and as the legs are pitted, a cosmetic makeover wouldn’t go amiss either.

    The tyres are the veritable dinosaurs of Bridgestones range, BT021’s. I’ve probably ridden 75% of my lifes mileage on bikes on these, so I know what to expect and there are no surprises in how they handle. The 150 rear has enough grip to run the left hand side right to the edge, although I have the the impression it has less lean angle than the 180’s I’ve ridden .

    Time will tell regarding fuel consumption, I’m quite sure that it won’t return anywhere near the great fuel economy the BMW did, mainly because it’s in a much higher rev range all of the time, although to be fair, on today’s ride the revs were rarely above the 6000 “get up and go” zone, and I didn’t really find performance lacking.

    Overall I’m pleasantly surprised, in all honesty I’d expected to be less than enamoured with less than 100bhp and the 750 engine, at best I’d hoped to be mildly entertained, but it’s actually fun to ride. The engine is strong, the gearbox sweet,and it’s light weight and chuckability are ideal for the roads and usage I need from it.  The jury is out whether it would be any good on mountain passes or with a pillion, but as I’m unlikely to be riding the former anytime soon, I’ll only be able to report back on the latter, as and when the wife decides to join me.


  • Progress

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Piece by piece the GSX has been coming together. Today I finally conquered the rear caliper.

    I’d ordered a new (used) rear caliper from ebay for the princely sum of €34.30. I’d been a bit miffed that the carriage had been €21, but it arrived super fast and looked better than the original seized item. Problem was that this new caliper also had seized pad pins, but 10 minutes with a friends blow torch soon broke the rust sealing them in place, and with the pins removed and polished on a grinding wheel ,reassembly was all that stood between me and getting out to ride again.

    Unfortunately to get everything working, meant a disassembly of the entire right hand upper fairing to give access to the rear reservoir, which needed topping up with brake fluid. After seemingly dismantling absolutely everything, brake fluid was added, the caliper was bled and new Brembo sintered pads were fitted. Now it was time to put everything back together and check it all worked.

    I’m not the most technically proficient guy, but I was pleased as a dog with two dicks when everything was reassembled and working again. A quick blat around the block showed the brakes were working well, job done. Next two jobs, buy a rear number plate bulb and bleed the front brakes as they don’t pull up evenly, after that cosmetic changes which can be done one day, some day or never. Looks like I’ll finally get to get some time in the saddle!

     


  • First ride

    Today I decided to try and fix the rear number plate light. As I’d mentioned in an earlier post, the bollts seemed somewhat corroded, and guess what?, when I tried to undo the light unit one of the bolts bent and the other snapped off.

    I guess it wasn’t totally unexpected, and the bulb is a weird size with prong fitments that I don’t think I have floating round in my collection of spares, so I’m going to  have to go to the local shop and hunt for one shortly. There is enough thread on the remaining bolt to allow the unit to be refitted, but it’s yet another example of how bolts can corrode over time, and I’m guessing these two have never been removed in its 18 year lifetime.

    After the light had been removed next came a fight with the rear wheel, after removing the spindle to reposition the scotoiler mount. Each time the axle bolt is removed the whole wheel assembly seems to fall to pieces and is a nightmare to put back together. Eventually I succeeded and decided I’d waited long enought, 43 days to be exact, and was going to finally go for a ride.

    First impressions are that I need to ride in at least one gear lower than I’m used to. 93bhp vs the 160 I’ve been used to shows up as a lack of torque and the need for a lot more revs. Nothing much happens below 6000rpm, so the way of riding becomes more frenetic than before.

    Once I’ve appreciated the comfort of the seating position, the next impression is how the brakes don’t pull up evenly. Given one of the master cylinder screws is damaged, I’m going to have to drill it out and buy a replacement before I can think of either bleeding the system through or replacing the OE hoses with braided ones. Changing the brake lever span to maximum did nothing to generate more feel so work toi be done here.

    The forks dive under braking. 100,000kms of BMW duolever suspension has meant I’m not used to this facet of riding, so somethimg else to get used to. I’ll firm things up on the  preload and see if things improve. I should probably have checked tyre pressures as I’m sure they’re low, or at least I hope they are, otherwise there are some strange suspension issues going on!

    ***UPDATE***  I checked the tyre pressures the next day and found them to be 21.5/26.5psi instead of the prescribed 33/36psi,  No wonder it felt odd! Shame on me for not having checked them before I rode it.

    One thing I did enjoy was the exhaust note, not too loud but fruity enough to be interesting.

    So what did I think after my short run out? Well it’ll take some getting used to for sure. Less torque, different handling, and  so much less power than I’m used to will be a challenge, as will the work still to be done on improving both the cosmetics and the handling.  The looks are growing on me, and a 10 minute ride is nowhere near enough time to gain a true impression, so watch out for my next post when hopefully I’ll have some extended ride impressions to share.


  • Almost ready!

    After hours of cleaning I decided to reassemble “The Turd”, and here it is. I hesitate to say in all it’s splendour, as it’s certainly not pretty, but it’s a lot lot better than the day I bought it!

    The rear caliper refused all attempts to get the pins budged and in the end the only option was to drill out the pins. Problem was that even with them removed and access to the pistons they wouldn’t retract fully, so basically it’s file 13 ( bin) for them ,and I’ve got a bid in on ebay for a replacement.

    The exhaust has been welded and is now back in place and emits a nice note!

    I found a new but small problem I’d not spotted previously, the rear number plate light doesn’t work. Doesn’t sound a big deal, but the nuts inside the rear mudguard holding the light unit seem quite corroded and don’t seem to want to undo (deja vu), so doubtless more penetrating oil and hassle coming to try and sort a tiny little issue!

    I need to trim the Scotoiler cable, triple check all nuts are done up to the correct pressures, and try and find a replacement for one of the fairing bolts which has gone walkabouts, then, I could maybe get to ride it!


  • Back at it!


     

     

     

     

     

     

    So now I’m back from my holidays and the garden has been attended to, it’s back to the GSX, which seems to have gained the permanent moniker of “The Turd”.

    The simple jobs were painting the rear caliper torque arm and the right hand side generator cover. Amazing how a rattle can spray job can improve the looks of things!

     

    The difficult job is still going to be the rear caliper. The only things moving in it appear to be the pad retention springs. The pistons don’t seem to want to go back too far and the pins are showing no sign of movement whatsoever. I’ve done some internet searching and it seems the underslung calipers on Suzukis are notorious for the locating pins sticking, so I’ve either got to invest more in penetrating oils to try and free them; drill through the caliper from behind and try and force the pins out; buy a new one, which is about half the price I paid for the bike, or find a used one and gamble on it being better than this one.

    I checked the fronts and they don’t seem too bad given the bike is 18 years old, but as they’re still the original rubber brake hoses, replacing them with braided hoses would seem a smart choice.

     

     

    Last but not least is the exhaust, as it’s currently in 3 pieces not two. The link pipe has snapped where it enters the downpipes. The previous owner had bodged together a fix by wrapping it in exhaust gum then sandwiching it all inside a split metal can, which was then held in place with three jubilee clips. I’ve potentially found a local welder who may be able to repair it and am just waiting for his quote after having sent him the picture below. Long term I’d like to replace it with a lovely carbon Shark exhaust I used to have on my ZX-10R, if it will fit. Problem is it’s over in the UK at the moment, so that won’t be happening in the near future.

     

    My hunt for a replacement tank on ebay has turned up a couple of options, but they have their own damage and are the wrong colours, so I’ll be taking this into a local body shop tomorrow with a view to getting a price to having it repaired and repainted.

     

    Once that little lot is done, it’s just a matter of fitting a GPS and actually riding the thing. I’ve no idea how long this will all take, although if I had the rear caliper issue sorted I could actually ride it now. Hopefully I can sort these issues soon and get some riding done.


  • Progress continues

    At the time of writing, I’ve invested around 8 hours of cleaning time into the GSX and there have been some positive and quite pleasing visual improvements. So far I’ve used 3 cans of either degreaser/brake cleaner, copious amounts of SDoc100, several toothbrushes and microfibre cloths, and a lot of elbow grease!

    Mikuni carburettor revealed

    The fairings were completely removed, as was the rear brake caliper, after I’d found there was zero life left in the pads. The footrests and brake pedal will be polished now the grime has been removed from them.

    The red tape that had been placed on the right hand clip on has been taken off and replaced with a more unobtrusive and far less visible black.

    The previous owner told me the Scotoiler wasn’t working, but given there’s no oil in it that’s hardly surprising, so hopefully that’s a simple cure?

    I want to fit some heavyweight silver bar ends I previously had on the BMW, but the bolts holding the current ones in place seem to have been loctitied on, so I think I’ll need an impact driver to remove them.

    I’ve yet to look at the front brake calipers, they’re on the list. What I have done is replace the rusty air filter, the fuel filter, and have new rear brake pads to fit.

    I took a dremel to the rusted side and centre stands and the odd bit of rust on the framework. I’ll rust treat them with either hammerite or gloss black paint dependant on location. Slightly more time consuming will be trying to paint a few of the engine case covers, which have either already started to peel or are bubbling badly. More dremel time and some decent prep with sandpaper, plus a few coats of high heat temperature paint should see those right, hopefully!

    30 seconds with some white spirit saw the removal of the breakers yard identification marks on the rear light, no idea why it hadn’t been done the day it had been fitted?

    The bike is a UK imported model so has an mph speedo. I’m looking for a kph overlay, although I’ll use a GPS for accurate speed readings once I’ve found the old mounting bracket and figured out where to fit it. In the meantime I’ve used coloured stickers to indicate key speed points.

    I’ve already hooked up the C-tek charger cable, and pleasingly it went to full charge very quickly, so no issues there.

    Amazing difference after some time and effort. Although the airbox cover in the right hand picture looks a bit dusty, it’s actually the sun gleaming off it!

    Today’s last go at it saw the painting of the stands, some odd rust spots and a couple of engine casings.

    Footrests are re-attached but the brake pedal bolt has stripped and can’t be tightened which is a PITA.

    I’ve tried disassembling the rear caliper but the pins are well and truly welded in place. Best I can hope is that copious amounts of WD40 or similar will dislodge them, otherwise I reckon a new one will be needed.

    Not bad for a rattle can spray effort, especially given most of it will be hiden behind the fairing
    The right side has now been painted and I’m pretty pleased with the result, so the next job is the cover to its left.

    I’ve got a 3 week holiday coming up so work will stop for a while, but with a lot of progress having already been made, the job shouldn’t be too daunting or take too long to complete once I get home. Once it’s finished I might even ride it!!!


  • The challenge ahead

    Following on from the previous intro post, I thought I’d put up some pics of my “new” purchase. Since I’m doing car and bike detailing now, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to show what can be achieved with a little time and patience, although I wouldn’t expect other peoples bikes to be in this poor a condition or to have to invest the amount of hours I know this is going to take!

    Here it the very first picture after being trailered home. On face value it doesn’t look too bad, with just a mass of dead flies and a dirty screen, but the real issues are below the surface. The large circle you can see in the middle of the screen is where the previous owner had superglued his GPS mount. That won’t be able to be removed for sure.

    Very first job was to start dismantling, and here comes the first showing of the dust and dirt beneath the fairing

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Mudguard stay- not sure if this is dirt or rust yet?
    The frame doesn’t look like it’s been cleaned in a long time

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Rear of front mudguard
    Left side frame spar
    There’s a Mikuni carburettor hidden under all that gunk somewhere
    Level of dirt and grime increasing the closer it gets to the chain
    Underside of lower fairing and more chain lube
    Scratched lower fiaring. I’m hoping this will polish out
    With all bodywork removed it’s clear that it’s probably as bad, if not worse under the seat and plastics than the outside is!

    So now you’ve seen these pictures you’re either sympathising with the amount of work I’m going to have to do, or wondering why on earth I’ve bought something in this poor a condition. Well, visually I’ll admit it’s challenging, and the old adage “you can’t polish a turd”” springs to mind, but given that Suzuki engines and gearboxes on this model are known to be super strong, I’m not too worried about cosmetics at the moment, although I will try and improve the fuel damaged paintwork and eventually stove enamel the battle scarred wheels. I’m sure I can restore it back to a far better condition, and although it’ll never be a concours winner, it’ll have been cheap, and if I decide to move it on, I’ll likely be able to sell it on for more than I paid, result!


  • Something old, something new

    It’s been a while since I last posted. With the BMW sold last year, and a disastrous trip to Catalunya having finally pushed me towards the decision to sell the R1, there wasn’t much to write about. I didn’t imagine it would be very interesting to hear about how attempts to fit a new clutch resulted in either zero pressure at the lever, or too much, but those failures have meant it’s going to have to go to the dealer to be sorted out when I’ve got time, and once it’s finally done, it will be up for sale.

    So what’s new then you ask? Well, instead of tooling around on a €20k uber tourer or attempting to thrash round a track on a 1000cc race bike, I’ve changed direction and bought something completely different. My new purchase has the smallest engine in any bike I’ve owned in the past 10 years, and is much older too. Not a classic, and certainly not the prettiest bike on the planet, not even in great condition, but read on and I’ll explain why I’ve bought a bike my wife won’t even sit on, yet!

    Here it is, a year 2000 Suzuki GSX750F with 30,000 miles on the clock. Those of you who look closely enough will spot the rather dented petrol tank, the result of the previous owners off a few years ago, during which he broke a few parts and put a multitude of scratches into the plastics. Having an off can happen, it’s unfortunate and part of life, and bikes do dent and get scratched, what was inexplicable to me though, was the fact it seems never to have been cleaned. The bike is filthy. Years of accumulated grime, tar spots and dirt are everywhere. It’s an old school carbed bike, and the owner managed to leave the fuel tap on which meant fuel eventually leaked and dribbled down the fairing side, bubbling the paintwork and creating the mess you see below.

    So given it’s less than pleasing aesthetics, why on earth did I buy it you’re asking yourself? Well, the answer is that it was offered at a price that couldn’t be turned down. A short ride showed the engine to be strong, although I was confused why the revs remained so high when I got back, until the owner turned the choke off. I think the last bike I had with a choke was my RC45, and before that a 2 stroke Yamaha RD250 back in the 80’s. The brakes felt as if they weren’t pulling up 100% straight and according to reviews they can be a weak point, but, it handled ok, and at around 80kg lighter than the BMW K13000GT, it felt positively lightweight.

    The owner had advertised the bike as being of interest for someone who wanted either a cheap bike or a project, in truth it’s both. He only lived 10 minutes down the road from me, so I called and was first on the phone, went immediately to see it and bought it two days later. In good condition it would be valued at close to 4x the price I paid for it, but no-one ever gets book value do they? The average price of similar bikes advertised was nearly 3x what I paid, so even if I throw a few hundred at it for a new tank and plastics I’m not going to lose any money.  Co-incidentally, he had bought a Pan European to replace it, another bike I’d seen advertised and considered buying too.

    Once the bike had been trailered back home I didn’t even bother to ride it, but set about dismantling it to see if the horrors lurking below the plastics matched those visible outside, and unsurprisingly they did. The rear brake pads have zero pad depth on them, there is chain grease seemingly inches thick coating the swinging arm, it’s impossible to tell what colour the shock springs are, and it’s like that everywhere. I’ll post pictures and document the cleaning process as it goes on, as if I ever want my wife to ride with me again there will have to be some pretty extensive work done. I’ll buy a new tank (used) and try and remove some of the damaged paint on the fairing side, and doubtless there will be a few more bits and pieces that will become apparent as the cleaning process goes on. I’ll leave you with one picture that gives you an idea of the work ahead, try and figure how on earth rust got to this part, buried deep under the tank in the airbox, I’m baffled!