Why do my ankles hurt ?

There is no doubt that the track at Howton Court, Pontrilas is pretty impressive. They’d altered the track for the classic bikes, but with a nice jump, a tabletop and some steep drops it was rather impressive.

It was a British Championship round, so plenty of entries and there was a busy feeling to the paddock when myself and girls turned up. Howton Court is only 5 miles from home, so the best journey of the year, though still managed to fill the van completely 🙂 Gazebo up, the girls started fixing breakfast as Wayde, Saffron and myself walked the track. Watered that morning, it was impressive with some steep drops, a tabletop and a very impressive ski jump near the start-finish. Also, new to me, was a gate start, which with the jumping of the elastic at the previous meetings this year would make it more interesting.

Looking down to the table top

It’s a modern track and I was wary as I took the MX250 out for first practice. Despite some last minute tuning on Saturday, the bike still wasn’t running right and was sluggish when pulling away. Going out early was a bit of a mistake, as the watered track made it very slippery and ended up search on the outside of the corners looking for grip. Took it pretty easy on the way round, but still interesting and especially the ski jump.

Back in and grabbed the now running SC500 and took it out. By now the track had dried considerably and the racing line was beginning to become apparent. The bigger Yam was pulling well up the hills, but struggling with the braking and cornering. It was all a bit difficult.

Crossing the tunnel

After 1st practice, the track side advice from Gavin and Mark (not riding because of injury) was to give it a little more on the ski jump, so gave it a bit of welly in third on the SC500 and went a few feet. The only problem was the landing, where the suspension qualities of my ankles were brought into question. They were numb for the next half-lap and it hurt.

Back to the pits for liquid and further discussion on bike set-up. I was planning to run both bikes and attempt 6 races. With 5 lap races, this was looking like a very ambitious schedule given that I was knackered after practice. Needed to fix the silencer in position as it had detached itself from the main pipe, increasing the throaty roar of the bike.

Martin Coleman on his Tribsa

My first race was race 4 and under 250cc race and it lasted about 1 meter as the split link in my chain failed. Ah, not the best, so at least I wasn’t too tired for over 250 race….

Got the SC500 off the line pretty well as it reared up and then bit across the metal gates, and hit the first corner in about 5th. Still hard going and steadily lost places through the race until I ended up 2 from last at the end (well that’s where I think I ended up). I’d lost the rear silencer again, this time it actually feel off. Not being too similar in shape and size to a torpedo, that Skyway Spark Arrestor isn’t the lightest and most efficient silencer on the market, but should have a chance of finding it. I also lost a side panel, which was recovered a little while later near the start.

More of think on the tuning side needed with some suspension and steering adjustments probably needed.

Modified start, to avoid the ski jump at the start

Back in the paddocks and whilst Tim Manton was wrapping his bike around the fence and a spectator in the first British championship race, along with Mark, I set to work on fixing the MX250. To my surprise I found the spare split link in the tool box and after a quick adjustment we were back in business.

Pre74 <250cc race3

For the SC500, decided to take half of the fork oil out to improve the amount of travel and increase the damping (the manual says 30w / 150ml for each leg, heavy oil and too much of it). Also did some adjustment to the clutch level to make it less of a stretch with the fingers.

Saffron also set off in search of the SC500 silencer and in her a style all of her own return 10 minutes later with silencer after asking marshals if they found anything from her dad’s bike. Excellent.

Tabletop action

After delays waiting for the St John’s Ambulance to return and then lunch had some time for a break and also to do the various fixes. The under 250 race actually saw me get away from the line, although the start was the normal, recently, abysmal one. However, the bike was going well and felt a lot easier to ride than the 500 round the track. Getting any form of drive out of the corners wasn’t easy though but was going okay. That is until I lost the use of the throttle cable on the 4th lap. At least I wasn’t too far from the start, basically the ideal spot and got the bike back to the van with time to spare to get the 500 out.

More Tim...

Wrong gear from the start, but the bike seemed to be handling a lot better, though I was still struggling with the breaking into corners, especially on the long down hill. Back brake was virtually non-existent. More work to be done here. A few missed gears meant I was pretty slow, with a flying Shaun Lovegrove not far behind me.

Non-stop racing action

A bit of a break (4 races) and it was time for the last 250 race and headed up to the start. Whilst waiting in the box saw Paul Cullen take a heavy fall coming off the ski-jump, with a front wheel landing not going right. He didn’t move quickly so a run over found him lying on his back obviously having knocked himself out. Luckily he was just heavily winded and was after a few minutes was up and about.

Good suspension

The race itself was my best of the day (ie I finished and wasn’t last) and despite a poor start had a good race with Sam Gittoes and a couple of others. The bike, when in the right gear was going well, but it didn’t have the top end power that it should do. Unlike the 500, the 250 was handling well and was able to get the inside line on corners and turn quickly. No doubt I was handling the bike better also.

Wade Parry

Got to the line for the last over 250 race, but alas the bike refused to start after I’d forgot to turn the fuel tap on. No bother, but it would have been nice to give the bike another session.

And finally (but not least) was Wayde’s last race, with a great ride which involved _the_ Graham Noyce only passing on the last lap. Excitement central and provided a great finale to the day with a superb last lap (youtube clip below)

It was 18h00 time we finished and luckily only a short journey home, with a stop at Lock’s Garage for ice cream. Emptied the bikes and did the clean up with plenty to ponder. If anything, Pontrilas had showed up the short comings of the suspension and the Rock Shocks on the rear of the 250 were leaking fluid and were not providing much in the way of damping. The forks on the 500 had also failed, so a revisit / rebuild needed here also. It’s not a small list, with the target of getting them done before Abbeycwmhir on 9th May.

Well at least it runs

One of the anomalies of the Twinshock class, that after 1975, Yamaha’s went monoshock, with the De Carbon unit (okay there was the Geboers senior unit on a Suzuki before then), but the MX250 B of 1975 was the first production monoshock.

Yamaha YZ250 F

Picked up the bike from Rupert across the other side of Hereford, and he assured me that it ran, despite its refusal to start on the night. After the SC500 ignition saga, I was a little skeptical but hey, it will be alright. Rupert already has a YZ250 E (1978) and it was interesting to look at the differences (though subtle) between the two bikes. The F is longer but 5cm or so and this is done to a longer swingarm, which is also slightly modified. Engines are basically the same, though the plastics were very different, with the number boards moved further back from that year.

Much taller than the bike from 1975

The US bikes were yellow, whilst the European ones were white and this an import (via Governor’s Bridge motocycles, where the SC500 came from).

Got the bike back and after 1 beer and 10 minutes, Gavin was on the bike and away, as it decided to fire up. Some smoke, a sticking throttle, but it went and pretty well too. The engine sounds find and not too rattly for a Yamaha.

The following morning saw me take a closer look at the bike and start to list what I need. It shouldn’t be a complex restoration but with upcoming travel and work, this is going to be the biggest restriction on getting it done. Will order all the spares I need upfront so I can work on the bike as I need to.


The bike chucked me off in the field after I didn’t take into account the slick tyre on the rear, but managed to confirm bikes going power and that is a nice riding position. One thing you notice straightaway is how light the bike is. Amazing compared to the smaller, but heavy MX and SC’s.

The list of things to do:
– strip the chassis, and clean up and paint, probably won’t shot blast but go with Hammerite Satin method
– the engine sounds good, crisp and yes it does go well. However, the problem with the engine coming out of neutral and general good practice means it’s going to be best to strip it and see what it’s like inside
– rear wheel rebuild, the rear rim is cracked along the spoke holes, which is pretty interesting.

Spares needed:
– complete set of plastics, can be provided by DC Plastics , includes front panel and the different for that year only side panels.
– rear exhaust, silencer. The whole exhaust has taken a battering but only a rear silencer needed
– new rear wheel or rim. Hubs and wheels maybe hard to come by, but can put on an OEM or replacement rim. Back to Gerard in Caerphilly for the rebuild. Keith at Motolink has a rim.
– seat cover, MXM provide a decent one.
– tank and side panel graphics, MXM do one for the tank, but DC Plastics kit also include the ‘250’ for the side panels
– handlebars and controls. I have a new Renthal replacement for the bars, which seem to have been chopped in the past. The throttle is knackered as is the clutch lever. Will check the cables, but will get replacements from Keith at Motolink
– tyres: probably from the local L G Racing and my normal two sets of tubes
– gaskets and bearings : gaskets hopefully from Keith also, with the bearings from Simply Bearings or from my local supplier Brammer.

Narberth Classic Scramble

The SC500 ignition woes continued, and diagnostics back in Rex Caunt’s lab had confirmed that I’d fried the CDI black box during practice at Clyro a couple of weeks before. Not fixed yet (though CDI and ignition coil in the post) , so just me and the trusty MX250 .

As last August was staying down in West Wales (in Castlemartin this time) so short 30 minute drive across in the morning to participate. As always it seems at Narberth, it was a glorious day, with temperatures pushing a balmy 20 C. The paddock was not as full as in previous events, with numbers of the start line down on previous trips here; it had been moved across from Milford Haven (because of the cost of overnight security) and the track at West Atherston was surprisingly dry for the time of year. Walking the track (in clockwise direction this time), the only boggy bit was where it went up into the trees and this was the interesting bit all day.

Race 2, last lap

Practice was pretty civilised and though I’ve ridden here twice before it was like a different track and I needed a couple of sessions to get the gears right in the corners and to keep the 250 buzzing. One of straights was quite boggy and I didn’t get the bike to go right along there all day, but hey, thats the fun of it.

Tim Dallaway styles it up

First race and there was only 9 of us on the line (different from the 24 from Clyro) and its then when waiting for your race you start eyeing up the competition to work out who are you going to beat. I knew that #306 (Andrew Loveday) n the CZ was going to be someone to aim for, whilst the beat-up appearance of Alan Barnett’s Montesa was misleading to say the least.

Crap start, with the MX bogging down off the line (I’d changed the plug after practice and got better response, but not enough it seems), but managed to get pass three in the first two corners. The front 3 were gone, but managed to hold off Andrew until the last lap, when he overtook me after I missed a gear. Stayed behind him through the back section (seeing Trevor Hammond pushing his CZ) and then taking the tight inside line on the final bend, managed to get past and to the line first. Great stuff and though a small field some great racing, and 3rd place.

Wade's great start in Race3

Lots of hold ups during practice and the first block of racing, with the St Johns Ambulance becoming good value for money. Another broken collarbone for one of the sidecar crews (remembering Kevin from last year, also in practice) and also one of the riders not feeling well (poss heart attack).

Wade was out in the twinshocks, with Mike doing the spanners; he only just made it down to the line for the 1st race (ie the 15 second board was up) but finished 4th or 5th.

Wade Parry 3rd twinshock race

The second pre74 250 race was combined with the over 250, and still only about 9 on the line. Again crap start from me and unlike the previous race didn’t get by #306 early on. Then spent a mud splattered 3 laps behind him, before going past on the start-finish straight, only for to then miss a gear a couple of corners later. Managed to stay with him and then up the inside coming out of the mud hole up to the left-hander in the trees, excellent. Held him round the back section and across the line for another 3rd place.

The 3rd race saw no #306 (he was riding in the twinshock class as well) so as the youtube clips shows, after I lost the front 3 (one of whom was in the over 250 class), it was pretty straightforward but good fun and practice. The 250 going well, but still problem with gear selection and wondering weather to switch to the spare engine before Pontrilas next Sunday. It does need running in, but maybe a good option.

Rob Griffiths completes a lap

In the last twinshock race, Wade had an awesome start and managed to follow the v.quick leaders lines for 1 lap before dropping back, but an excellent 2nd place. He is 20, but listening to his mum whilst she looked on, you would have though he was 12 (not sure what his girlfriend would have thought though !) ….Excellent race to watch, with some quick riders and probably the best line up of the day.

An excellent day of racing, weather and venue. Organisation was good and handled the incidents well….

Thanks to Tamara for the pictures and I’ll put more up on flickr as well.