WHAT'S IN YOUR GARAGE: MARTIN SMITH
CLASSIC (TT) DREAM
It's quite something to have a bike in your possession for 27 years, and then decide to rebuild it. But Martin Smith is a self-confessed hoarder, as well as being an able bike builder.
He got in touch and described how he was building a special based around a 250cc Honda Dream. He sent a couple of pictures of the machine under preparation in his workshop and told us his intention to have it completed to take over to the Isle of Man for this year's Classic TT week. How could we resist?
He told us that other motorcyclists looked at him a bit sideways when he mentioned the project to them...a Honda Dream?
He's owned the bike since he was sixteen years old, and would sneak a ride when his parents weren't around. At one stage, the bike caught fire, caused by a backfiring through the carburettor, and set off some acetylene bottles. He put out the fire before the Brigade arrived. He then ditched the damaged 250cc motor in favour of a 400cc he bought from a breakers for £50, but it ran out of sparks. So languished against the garage wall for the next 25 years.
In the meantime, Martin's motorcycle thoughts and actions were engaged in racing with a lot of successes in grass track and sand racing. He raced as a passenger in a sidecar racing outfit, both grass track and road racing; one of the most ill-advised if not insane branches of the sport. He's a regular at the TT, and this year took in the Classic TT too with his family. Where his kids collected a whole bunch of freebies from the Wemoto marquee at the Jurby festival.
When Martin told me how he travels to the Isle of Man, it opened up a whole new area in our conversation. He sails over from his home and mooring near Barrow in Furness in his Sigma 33 yacht. A fine looking piece of sea-going equipment, judging by the pictures online. It's an eight-hour sea journey before tieing up in Douglas Marina. Beats the top prices charged by the Steam Packet company at race times.
It was the trip to the Classic that prompted the idea to get the Honda Dream project sorted before this year's event takes place. He's looking forward to linking up with old race friends again, including Mark Heckles, an ex British and World Superbike competitor who is now racing successfully in the USA. His dad Keith was a lap record holder at the 1976 Manx Grand Prix, and Mark will be coming over to ride one of the famous Francis Beart Manx Nortons at the Classic TT.
Hanging from racks in his workshop are several mountain bikes. A reminder that, in a break from motorcycles, Martin was a semi-professional racer. Capturing third place in the British downhill championship at one point, and being a member of the British team. Staying at the top of his sport till his mid-thirties.
Before we got around to talking about the Dream project, there was the other bike in his garage/workshop. A 1988 FZR 1000cc Yamaha. It was raced at the TT and then acquired by Martin and turned into a Streetfighter. He said it seems he's had it forever. It was featured in Streetfighter Magazine in 1999, and he still has the article nicely preserved in a plastic wallet.
It's parked next to his newly acquired Colchester lathe. Not a machine for shrinking Violets, this one, with stand out Primrose yellow tank and bodywork, and Marigold orange wheels. Plus a set of pipes that would blast the heads off Wordsworth's Daffodils, and alert the local cops. It doesn't get that many outings these days.
Somewhere in one of several hoarding spots, he also has a Suzuki 125cc Stinger. It's a dual-exhaust two stroke that looks like the big brother of the famed FS1E. They are probably rare in the UK, but on USA websites they are popular 'restorers'. Martin has no plans at the moment to add the little stroker to his project list.
Martin's idea for the Dream is to convert it to a cafe racer with modern parts. In common with those who start off down the rebuild road, he has spent an inordinate amount of hours scouring eBay for parts, and still has some gaps in his acquisitions; for example, the instrument panel and mountings.
He's reached the stage of threading in a new wiring loom. Having progressed major work on the frame and engine, which has had the ports flowed and a sporty cam fitted to extract a bit more performance. The swinging arm looks impressive. It's from a CBR600RR and houses one of the pair of Husqvarna Supermoto wheels. Some frame lug cutting and spacer work was needed here to match the sprockets, and Martin then used a laser to align the new back end to the central frame.
Onto the frame's main rear down tube, a new sub-frame has been constructed which houses electrics and a mini lithium battery, which will be hidden under a simple plastic moulded single seat. Up at the front, Kawasaki ZXR750 forks clamp in the other Husqvarna wheel. And he's converted and fabricated a set of Z1000 four-into-one pipes to match a route alongside the CBR swinging arm. On the end of which is slotted a £30 Chinese end can, which he's hoping will emit the right noise and not affect the engine's performance. Rear sets are from a Yamaha R6. But even though Martin has utilised parts from these other machines, the engine and main frame will ensure it keeps that essential 'Dream look'.
The Classic TT races are scheduled for the 26th and 28th August, with the Wemoto sponsored Festival of Jurby organised by the Isle of Man Vintage Motorcycle Club taking place on Sunday 27th. A tight schedule for Martin and his Dream, but there's nothing like a target date to act as an incentive. Unfortunately, the bike will not fit on the yacht, so he'll have to arrange separate transport. Last year, his wife and daughters travelled with him by sea. But they've vowed not to repeat the journey, so would be available to accompany the bike from Heysham port.
I've no experience of sailing, but Martin's invitation to join him for a drink on board in Douglas harbour is one that I'll keep in my back pocket.
Our thanks to Martin Smith for his time and insight into his workshop and motorcycling life.
27/02/17 - Wow hope it goes like a Dream!! (used to have one 77).
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