Monday, August 17, 2015

"What exactly are you doing?"

A valid question that has come up during my recent fettling of my Commando, and although it is one for which I can provide an answer, that in and of itself doesn't rule out the possibility that I may, in fact, be quite mad.

It was not a restoration: that was done some years ago.

It was not a rebuild or a repair: technically speaking, the bike was running (albeit not well) before I tore into it to replace the cylinders and the head last year.

It was a redux: that is to say, a reinterpretation of my motorcycle to turn it into what I wanted it to be like.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the deeper I delved, the more things I found that I would like to address, for example the Vernier-type Isolastic conversion that I fitted during the initial restoration, bought from Norvil at the time, which has always left me a bit skeptical. I have an idea for how to fix that without replacing the entire system, but it's a "winter months" type of job.

However, before I get to the Isolastics, there are several other things that now need attention, and I was only really able to notice them now that the engine is finally sorted out.

First and foremost, the clutch is ripe for a major upgrade. I have a few parts ready to be fitted and will get to it soon hopefully.

The bike badly needs new tires, and I'll be fitting the standard Dunlop K81 19x4.10 front and rear (as opposed to the skinnier 3.60 that was needed at the front when I had clip-ons, but which makes the bike twitchier than a junkie looking for their next fix). As Bob Trigg once said, the Commando is a hugely tire-sensitive bike, and he should know... he engineered the damn thing.

Another glaringly obvious problem is with the rear shock absorbers: despite being the stock length for a Commando, they are simply too short. The bike has this sort of squat, lowrider look to it, and while it's kinda cool, it makes the front end way too light, and way too twitchy (see above, also because of narrow front tire). I can't figure out why it's like this since all critical frame/cycle components are standard: frame, swingarm, the whole front end... The only thing I can think of is the gearbox cradle, which had to be replaced during the initial rebuild and was sourced as a non-genuine pattern part: if the swingarm mounting points are lower than they should be, then stock length shocks would end up being "too short". I'll check next time I have the Fastback next to the Interstate, but in the meantime I think I'll just send my shocks back to Asatek and get them to fit a longer damper tube and spring, and service them while they're at it.


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