MOTORCYCLE SHOW WITH GO
BARNSLEY BIKERS FESTIVAL
Up and down the country throughout the year, but especially in summer, motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts busy themselves organising and running the ride outs, rallies, race events, shows etc, that are the life blood of our sport and leisure. They are more often than not, welcoming, friendly, informal, and in some cases functionally anarchic.
The South Yorkshire Kart Club are based at a stadium come recreation ground in the village of Wombwell south east of Barnsley. The facility as a whole is showing distinct signs of neglect, but the Kart club keep their very twisty half mile circuit in good condition for their race programmes, and once a year the Barnsley Bikers Club take up residence for the weekend to run a local motorcycle festival that they call 'The show with go': it will become clear.
FZR on stun
Back track to May and the weekend of the Thundersprint at Darley Moor circuit. A wet, cold and muddy outing for me and the rest of the Wemoto crew. But I did manage to acquire another bike for the collection: a Yamaha FZR 250cc V4. Yes that's right a 250 V4. Quite a rare Japanese 'classic' apparently. A 1988 bike imported into the UK in 1997.
In Japan the very restrictive licensing laws make it almost impossible to ride large capacity motorcycles; so they developed a range of 400cc and 250cc bikes using the design and race technology of small capacity grand prix racers that were so successful. And in that competitive manufacturing arena Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda in particular turned out some very desirable little road burners; and now I've captured one.
The 'show with go' element of the Barnsley Bikers festival refers to the kart track parade sessions that take place throughout the day. The bikes that sign up are lined up for show and 'inspection' and the parades are organised in twenty minute segments, and you ride with bikes roughly from the same era. A good opportunity for me to give the little Yam its first outing, as I'd bought it with the idea of running it at classic parades, track days and possibly some Classic Motorcycle Racing Club events in 2015.
Give it some beans
I'd given the bike a good clean, as that's an effective way to locate any areas that need attention; and took it to my usual MOT garage. The engine wouldn't tick over, but everything else passed; so that was marked down as an advisory. Several people who know more than I, had mentioned a problem with the carburation on these bikes being subject to 'gumming', a result of lead free petrol deteriorating and leaving a kind of gel which gums up sensitive carbs. The trick is to drain the tank and carbs if the bike is little used (the 'rubbish' petrol can be utilised in a car or less delicate bike).
If I've carried out any work on my bikes and want to see how they run; I have a one hour 'test route' that incorporates a fine assortment of bends, slow bits through villages, and a couple of long straights across the Pennine moors. My thinking went along the lines of: 'Give it some beans along the straights. Keep it well up in the rev range – 10/14 thousand – and the carbs will get a good clear through'.
The outing revealed several points: The motor does run well in the rev range it's designed for. It's really good fun juggling the six speed gearbox to keep it 'on song'.
My shoulders ached because it's a long time since I've crouched in such a clearly ridiculous riding position.
The engine still wouldn't tick over or pick up cleanly lower down the rev range, and I wouldn't have time to explore solutions before the Barnsley event. Even if I had the knowledge, ability or contacts to begin unclothing the bike from its fairing, and setting about the carbs that I imagined would be a task approaching that of a skilled watch repairer.
Form an orderly queue...
The early arrivals at the 'show with go' had formed up in an orderly fashion, and I slotted the FZR into a space between a spotless Triumph Tiger Cub and a 125cc Bultaco racer. Along the row were some impressive looking mounts: a Royal Enfield Crusader Sports that had once belonged to Geoff Duke; a couple of 50cc Itom racing bikes; an Ariel Square Four and a couple of Rat bikes one of which was adorned with a horse saddle...nice touch.
Out of the back of a large white van a classic Triumph racing sidecar outfit emerged and proceeded to shatter the relative quiet of the morning. A bunch from Aston Scrap Metal Recycling had a stable of C70 Honda step thrus. It was absorbing to watch as interesting new arrivals came and parked up and folk wandered over to have a closer look. A group would form, disintegrate, and then form around the next machine of interest. Doing what bikers love best, watching, mingling, comparing, commenting, admiring.
My biking friend Helen is club treasurer and one of those committed people who spots and then gets on with the organisational task required. She had been there since seven to open up and help set up, including sweeping the wet track that had been partly covered in grass cuttings. A result of the track surroundings being given a trim. Not good. I strolled over to inspect, and found other club members enthusiastically wielding brooms prior to the scheduled start time. Fortunately earlier clouds and wetness was breaking up and the track drying.
The step thrus were out in force!
The first bikes to parade were the under 200cc's. The boys with the step thrus were out. My 'neighbours' with Tiger Cub and Bultaco, and pleasingly a number of small bikes sporting L plates. All very sedate, but the step thru riders were dangling a leg into the turns. Obviously avid Moto GP watchers. They even let a dad with a classic Mobylette give his young daughter a few pillion laps once the track was clear.
When my session was up, 1980's bikes, the engine was 'fluffier' than ever. It refused to rev past about six thousand, and every other bike out there was zipping past. Yes I know, a parade and not a race; but it was a track and you have to give a decent account of yourself if you're on board a 'racer'.
I limped around for a few laps and re-parked the bike. In one sense the most useful part of the day was to come. The whole essence of the show is motorcyclists talking to motorcyclists and a couple of knowledgeable folk stopped to chat about the bike. They gave me pointers as to why the engine wouldn't pull lower down the rev range - Exup valve sticking? - and advice on how to set about the restoration process with this model. A thanks to you and to the Barnsley Bikers for organising the day and running a refreshment marquee that wasn't set up just to extract pounds from the crowd.
One last thing. When I unpacked my camera and switched it on to capture some shots to accompany these words; I forgotten to replace the battery after re-charging. A big thanks to Helen for introducing me to Geoff Preston and David Thompson from the New Image Camera Club at Denaby Main, Doncaster who agreed to share their pictures. Enjoy and many thanks guys.
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