Fettling the Transalp

Since its inaugral run to Cardiff, done some mods and tuning to the Transalp

After the run to Cardiif and the subsequent false start on a London trip decided to do some further work on the Transalp.

Carb Balance

I got one of the trials bike petrol tanks and extended the fuel lines
I hadn’t used the Carbtune balancers since I has my Tenere, but easy to use with the Transalp, once I’d found an adapter for the front cylinder; unscrew the blanking plug and use the the vacuum inlet nipple for the rear cylinder.

Carb balancing

With the Transalp you need a long screwdriver to adjust the balance through the hole in the air inlet duct. It wasn’t too far out, but was to adjust to get them to the same level.


Speedo: km to mph

Also tracked down on ebay was a set of original VH model clocks, in mph. As I think the bike is infact a French import and that some how it had got an MOT on the km/h clocks.

When the clocks arrived they were in a sorry state, with a crack in the glass and looking a bit scruffy. Also someone had chopped the cable block and fitted lots of bullet connectors instead. I should have asked some more questions before procurement, ah well. Decided to strip both my km/h and the mp/h clocks and just simply swap the dial and mechanism for the speedo.

It is actually easier than it looks and the casing comes apart fairly easily. The only problem with the new mp/h is that the trip odometer seems to be knackered, but at least I can report accurately that the Transalp has a cruising speed of around 70 – 75 mph, as well as pass the next MOT

Front Brake Line Replacement

I bought a Goodridge hose set from good old ebay and somehow, got both front and rear brake lines for £23. Given that the bike is pre-1990, I now have a spare rear brake hose.

The early model Transalps have an interesting layout for the front brake hose, with two flexible sections connected together by a fixed pipe attached to the bottom yoke. Took all this out and replaced it with the single piece of braided hose from Goodridge.

There are a host of threads (and suggestions) on bleeding brakes on the Transalp forums . Interestingly enough, well only if you are seriously into early transalps then the original master cylinders do have a bleed valve, probably to allow for the possibility of getting air in the [horizontal section of solid line ->
http://www.transalp.org.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=20510] which seems to have caused some debate.

Brake Hose Renewal

For me what worked was using a 60ml syringe and an old piece of plastic tube and pushing the fluid in from the bottom up. After a quick look at the Haynes and various threads on websites, the traditional ‘pump-like-a-wally’ method was going to take a while. 10 minutes of trying it anyway proved unsuccessful, so once I’d clean out the bleed valve on the caliper (good advice to do this), it took all of 5 minutes to have a fully working front brake.

Top tips (from me and others) when changing brake lines or servicing the brakes:
– bottom up with a syringe full DOT4 brake fluid works best. Make sure you cover the bike around the master cylinder as you are likely to push fluid out of the top. The overall volume of caliper, hose and cylinder is pretty small
– use the traditional method of 4 pulls on the brake lever and then slacken off the bleed valve on the caliper to get a firmer feel. Ensure that the plastic tube end from the bleed valve is submerged in brake fluid.
– another good trick, is to tape the brake lever back to the bars overnight; this also (slowly) gets air out of the line and is a good emergency measure if you do get some air in the system (say from low master cylinder level). Thanks to Roger for that top trick.

There is still a little too much play in the brake lever before moving the cylinders mightly towards the single front disk, but with look at this further, At over 5mm, the front disk has plenty of life in to for the moment. The pads are wearing evenly and not down to their wear indicators, but potentially need replacing a 1000 or some miles


The bike now has Metzler Sahara 3 tyres front and rear. Yep, I know they are a little more off-road focused but the front and rear do tend to hold the road pretty well. On a recent trip the rear did skip out on a white line when going round the roundabout at the bottom of the A419 in Gloucester, but then lots of tyres do. Personally think they’ll be ok, but will keep an eye on the tyre wear.

Have a trip out into mid-Wales in a couple of weeks so will give them ago across to Tregaron and see how they perform on gravel and in the dirt. I do like a chunky tyre though.

Soft Panniers

Acquired some nice Belstaff soft panniers from eBay, prior to the planned trip to Scotland. The only issue being the stock exhaust and its location on the right hand side. Whilst it may get swapped out at somepoint, for now decided to put a plate over the exhaust to prevent the exhaust and pannier bag meeting.

With some scrap galvanised, managed to paint it up and fit it between the RH side panel and the rear indicator. Have left a large air gap between plate and exhaust, partly for cooling but to also ensure that the weight of the panniers doesn’t force it onto the exhaust.

Crankshaft End Cap

The cap is completly knackered, and well rounded off. An attempt to remove it with a flat head fitment to my impact driver also wasn’t successful. I managed to do the valve clearances on the rear cylinder without it, but going to need to think of a way of removing (and potentially replacing it) before working on the front cylinder.

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