What’s this ! a sports bike ?

Always liked these bikes and after putting a CBR400 back on the road a few years ago, always fancied having one of these.

Roger (and I blame him completely) found a poorly listed VFR 400 NC24 on ebay. These were all grey imports in 87-88 and pre-date the later (and more sought after) NC30 VFR400’s, which had the same single sided swingarm but were lighter, had more power and the twin headlight arrangement.

Anyway, I was only the bidder on the bike and picked it up for < £600, which was good, though buying blind always has its risks. The Transalp has turned out to be an excellent bike for £650 and though there is an oilleak its covered 4000 miles with not too much problem.

The seller, John, hadn’t really used the bike in 2 years since he’d bought and although there was a current MOT (from July 2008) it hadn’t done too much in the way of mileage. Early start from Hereford to pick the bike up and arrived in Peterborough at 08h00.

The bodywork on the bike was all good, but not sure if the paintwork was original; if it had been resprayed then it was a good job. The engine also sounded spot on, after 10 minutes of warming up, and when it started running on 4 cylinders. No noises and rattles, tyres in good nick and overall pretty good for a 22 year old bike.

Did the transaction and after sitting for 1.5 hours on the M3 waiting for an accident to be cleared got down to Farnborough and the office. (oh, Little Fluffy Clouds on the radio). round 18h00, Roger, myself and Nick decided to check out the VFR as well as Rog’s new Yamaha XJ750 Seca which he’d bought on the weekend.

Though the roads on the Business Park are not ideal, took the VFR for a first spin. All seemed together though after Roger had had a quick blast also, something wasn’t right with the revs and power from the bike. A quick trip to the end of the runway and away from the offices and it became clear that 7000 rpm was the meaximum revs. Disconnecting the tachometer didn’t change things (except for disabling the rev counter obviously).

Hmm, despite indications to the contrary, the bike was indeed still restricted. Some google research came up with a couple of links including:

[ http://www.vf750fd.com/motorbikes/NC24.html ->
http://www.vf750fd.com/motorbikes/NC24.html ]

Some good comments on the speed limiting (and assocaited rev restriction)
http://graymarketbikesforsale.com/tag/honda/

http://www.essexbikers.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=12867

Bike changes and the 5 quid SatNav

Latest news on the National Road Rally preparation; some ebay activity and building a cheap Sat Nav (ie for less than a fiver)

Roger has been active on ebay and has acquired a Yamaha XJ750 Seca, from 1985. This is an interesting move and though Roger can cite the ‘solid’ nature of the engne, its torque etc, there is no hiding that this is a cruiser. Its only one step away from the chaps and moustache. Its got a ‘sissy bar’ and a bag on the front forks. Hmm

For my own sins, a spur of the moment bid (whilst stick at Woking station) sees me picking up an 1987 VFR 400 NC24. It was cheap and _looks_ in good condition. More on this later, but its more likely to be thrashed round the lanes or Mallory rather being used on the http://www.nationalroadrally.co.uk , as its a bit small and focus. Pictures and write to come.

Google Roadbook

Reading through some of the notes on scatter rallies and the NRR specifically it seems that SatNav’s are becoming the standard tool. for these events. Though Daniel has a Garmin, I don’t intend to spend £400 on one, so have been working on the plastic lunchbox roadbook holder and then getting my head round the Javascript API for Google Maps.

The lunchbox roadbook holder seems a good idea for route-finding on the rally, as with the schematic routes and controls being published. There is an Acerbis roadbook holder and I went down to Pontrilas to have a look at one at LG Racing but wasn’t too impressed at the build quality for £50. Time to make one.

There are a couple of examples from an Australian desert rally site , but I went for a £1.20 plastic box and aluminium winders. It needs some modification to create Mark II and to ensure that I can get large rolls on.

The aim is to use Google Maps, rather than drawing a traditional roadbook you might see on an enduro, you could use something like RBEditor for that. Managed to get one map on the page and some nice legible direction arrows. Its work in progress but have a look at http://www.hungerstone.net/maps/roadbook.html

Also, best picture we’ve got of Graham at the moment, about to chuck the KTM into a Welsh corner….more team photos to come.

Graham / KTM

But need to get the Transalp sorted, as its had a considerable oil leak, which seems to be somewhere around the oil pressure switch. More on this, but it seems that the switch is not working and a replacement is ordered.

National Road Rally

Entering the National Road Rally may not be the best thing we’ve ever decided to do, but why not (?)

The National Road Rally is an annual event run by the ACU for any motorcyclists. Its a ‘scatter rally’ where you can choose to ride a distance of your choice (between 180 -> 540 miles in this case) visiting a number of checkpoints from the 100 or so around the UK.

The aim is to complete the mileage for the route you’ve chose to attempt, within the time limit and by visiting control points in an order based on the schematic route map. (ie neighbouring check points). The mileage between each point may not be the actual road mileage, but is the one you use in calculating and then riding.

There are 7 riders from Red Hat (and associates) and we’re currently in two teams

|Rider No| Name | Bike | Comment |
|473|Roger Nunn | Yamaha XJ750 Seca (1985)| Very recent purchase from ebay, with leather bag on front forks. A very worrying development in bike purchasing|
|474|Malcolm Herbert|Honda XLV600H Transalp (1987)|Bought from a very shady character via ebay in 2008, 4000 miles in (and a trip to Scotland) its developed a total loss oil system recently|
|477|Graham Lee-Green|2008 KTM 640 Supermoto|Goes round corners as quickly as it goes through tyres|
|491|Gavin Spurgeon|Honda Goldwing|Despite being under 30, Gavin rides (or is it drives) a bike with stereo, reverse gear and a barbeque|
|501|Jon Fautley|Suzuki SV650|Passed his test in 2008 and will probably double his personal bike riding mileage on this event|
|502|Daniel Stifft|BMW F800|Seen the bike outside the office once|
|504|Richard Barbosa|Triumph 955i Daytona|Occasional visitor to the office but possibly will be the quickest bike at the event|

There are still a couple of possible entrants, and it would be good to get a 3rd team. Myself, Roger and Graham are riding as Wye Valley AC and Jon, Daniel and Gavin as Red Hat UK.

We’ve all entered for the main event (despite some saying that they wouldn’t) which involves a series of special tests at MIRA on the Saturday morning, followed by a 2pm start on the rally itself. It will be a 540 mile route, as many check points as possible along with an arrival at Bletchley Park by 10am on the Sunday morning.

Could be a long day.

We’ll be riding for charity and I’ve set up a JustGiving web page for the event. We’ll be supporting Diabetes UK and all donations welcome.