SPA TREATMENT - PART FOUR
THE BIKERS' CLASSIC
I remember when I last saw the Triumph/Greeves. The front end, those quirky Greeves leading link forks, were stripped down and on the bench.
Andy had tested the bike at speed on the road. It was shaking violently coming off the throttle.
Andy and Nick were in low spirits, but they diagnosed the problem. The forks were some way out of true, a modification and build was about to happen. But these two are never daunted.
I'd been following the build of this bike for a while now. Watching them get it ready in time for Spa. They'd also been preparing a BMW and Yamaha for the event. And with it fast approaching, I was excited to see the results.
I planned to meet them at the Spa Francorchamps circuit as I'd left early to enjoy some road time around the Ardenne region.
It hammered down the evening before we met. I didn't mind at the time as I was in a bar in Spa, enjoying several Belgium beers and watching a forgettable Euro 2016 game between Portugal and Poland. But on Friday morning, the first of the three-day Bikers' Classic festival, everything was wet. Permeated by damp.
Andy and the rest of the crew had camped out in one of the paddocks that had turned into a river. But they'd stayed dryish as they had brought a caravan, and Andy has slotted his camp bed into the enclosed two-bike trailer.
The good news? The Triumph/Greeves has completed the first track session and was running well. More importantly, it was handling superbly. The track was slippery, but Andy was happy. There was good performance from Andrew's machine too, the BMW 1075.
Things were not sounding so positive for the Yamaha XS750. It wouldn't start and the clutch was making noises that it shouldn't. Andy went over to help Jim who had diagnosed carburation problems and had decided to check the float bowls. When he'd done this, no fuel came out. This turned out to be understandable, as there was none in the tank. Always look for the simple solution first.
Fuel in and fired up, the bike sounded more healthy. Andy tweaked the carbs and it was ready for the first track session for Mark, the bike's owner.
The Bikers' Classic offers the opportunity for classic bike owners to ride one of the world's great circuits. It also incorporates a round of the European Enduro Championship: a series of four-hour team races.
The Spa round would be on Saturday evening, at 8pm. In the meantime, the splendid pits were occupied by the teams. Some of them carrying out extensive mods to their bikes. Perhaps the facilities here are better than their own workshops/garages. After all, the circuit does host a Formula One race.
Other pits contained the invited ex-GP bikes, waiting for the racing 'celebs' to ride them in the GP Classic parades over the weekend.
I and others were able to wander the pit areas and poke our enquiring eyes and noses into the different teams' allocated spaces. It really was a feast of classic bike racery, with some ingenious and left-field machinery entered. A Swiss team had brought a Gold Wing in race trim.
As I was ogling the bikes and pit area activity, a bright yellow fairing displaying 'wemoto.fr' caught my eye. I tend to wear a t-shirt displaying the company name when I'm reporting on events etc. So I strode forward and showed them the garment under my jacket. Many smiles ensued but, unfortunately, our lack of a common language meant conversation was limited. Their bike (No 82 1000cc Suzuki) retired from the race after completing 54 laps.
I watched a team called 'The Flying Hermans'. They were clustered around their Suzuki, preparing for the first of the enduro race practice sessions. It didn't seem to be going well, but they did get the thing fired up after some extensive pushing exercise in the pit lane. The following day I noticed they had the whole front end stripped down. But they did finish the race, as did the Swiss Gold Wing, albeit last.
I'd made a mental note of the times when Andy, Andrew and Mark were next on track. I caught them on camera in the holding area before their session. Session two was held on a drying track and Andy gained even more pleasure and speed from his unique build. A small oil leak showed, but it wouldn't be a Triumph without this.
On Saturday, Nick had arrived on his 1972 BMW. A somewhat heroic journey leaving Huddersfield in Yorkshire at 1am and riding through the night to Harwich for the ferry, and then on to Spa. He just had to be there to see the combination of bike engineering and problem-solving take to the track. But he had to ride back to Yorkshire after it was all over, as did I.
On a drying Saturday evening before the enduro race I asked Andy what was now in store for his creation: better carbs, a five-speed gearbox. And Nick pointed to the swinging arm where the rear wheel spindle section would need strengthening. This is to avoid the flexing Andy was experiencing on track.
Given the doubts expressed on some of the forums about the practicality of this project, it has to be considered a triumph. Pun intended.
Now it's on to the Beezumph Festival at Anglesey circuit in Wales on 9th/10 September.
Over the months of July and August, the Ardenne area of southern Belgium is the place for classic bike and real road racing. Chimay, where the famous beer of the same name is brewed, holds two weekends of racing. Classic Bikes, from 15th-17th July, and Open Trophy road races, from 22nd-24th July. From August 19th - 21st in the nearby town of Geddine, there's classic bike racing for pre-1972 machines.
It's an easy ride down to the Ardenne from the French channel ports, and the roads, scenery and villages in the area are worth the ride time alone. Who said Belgium was boring?
Enjoy our Spa pictures
11/08/16 - Very nice Grumph Heres a pic of mine built for the twinshock trailfinder but didn,t quite make it so I will just have to do it again next year.
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