A good days racing, honest !

It was raining by the time we got to Talgarth though, and a few others swept through whilst we were on the way up the A470 and A483. and after the very wet at Abbeycwmhir earlier in the year it was good to find the ground dry and firm despite the previous nights rain.

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Didn’t walk the track as one of the advantages of the venue, is that you can see the whole track from the viewing area. Okay, didn’t have my binoculars with me, but was running a little late. Decided to run just the SC500, as the MX250 hadn’t seen any effort from me over the last couple of weeks as no real shed time. The track was little more straightforward (and shorter) that previous visits and quickly developed a line around all of it.

Racing was pretty competitive, for both the two British Championship races [[Interestingly, the British Championship is now pre74, not pre72 it seems; this is good though now a little out-of-sync with our European neighbours. However, it seems its for British and European bikes only. No Suzuki’s, Yamaha’s, Honda’s or Kawasaki’s then. Odd and slightly racist ? Not that I’m going to enter, but some people might want to.]] and also for the other normal races. The Twinshock class saw Dan Evans have a bit more competition than normal, even though Rhys Edwards didn’t make it (alternative attractions in Brynamman?). The Twinshock class had a harder edge than normal and combined with the longer races quiet a few holes had appeared even as I went out for my first race.

Trevor Hammond, 1st championship race

The first Championship race saw both classes combined and was pretty close from start to finish. Wayne Partington’s off and subsequent concussion but a slightly dampner, but there was great racing between Chris Chell (with broken collarbone I think) and Tim Dallaway, as well as the rest of the field.

Good racing throughout the classes, with the exception of the pre74 over 250cc class, which saw 11, 8 and then 7 in each of the races. I wasn’t last in all of them, but was making up the numbers. I finally got a great start in race 2 and the SC500 is quick down to the corner for sure; 2nd gear and get the launch control right. Maybe I prefer start gates to tape or putting your hand on your head, not sure ?

Classic Motocross Photogrpahy

Though there was a shower during the 2nd British Championship race, and it was slick in places, it didn’t prevent some good racing in the afternoon also. The music wasn’t too loud and time for some good conversations in the paddock. Good to see Lee down from Wigan on his Kawasaki, as well as contingent from Scotland. No other pre74 Yamaha’s which was a shame.

Overall, plenty surprised by a good meeting and good racing. Hopefully Clyro will run next week (low entries so far) as looking forward to that too. The more you race, the better. A really good mix of bikes (and where are all these CCMs coming from). Good to see pre74 Maico’s.and Bultaco’s.

Tamara took a few photos and these can be found on her site, http://classicmotocross.tumblr.com . She’s taking some good photo’s which are getting better and hopefully she can get some better lenses for the future.

A few things SC500

I was on the hunt for some brochures or articles on Yamaha’s opinion splitting dirt bike.

Firstly, found this poster

SC500 or MX500

Where does the MX500 come from ? Never seen it referred to as that, so quite interested in why, potentially for local marketing reasons ?

The article for the Dirt Bike review from 1973 is online . Nicely written and some good pictures. The top quality comment “[the SC500] has all the delicacy of a belch at a funeral” is priceless.

Also located another SC500 rider (mad fool) with some great pictures of him racing in the US. The pictures and gallery is on photobucket

Also, there are few threads on the Circa74 forums on the SC500, including from me

Narberth International Classic Weekend

Headed down to Narberth on Friday evening, with Tamara, Saffron and her friend Ellie all in tow. Weather was hot and forecast to get hotter. I’d persuaded the girls to come along with the promise of a trip to Oakwood theme park on the Saturday.

Steve James on his way to second in the Welsh Grand Prix

Friday night saw various people trying to kill each other at the other end of the field, but after erecting the double gazebo, it was time for a chat and beer. The gazebo proved it’s worth over the weekend as the heavy material meant there was some cool shade, much needed on a weekend that saw temperatures over 28 C on both days.

Mark using the Portable Shower

Tamara and I went for a walk in the woods on Friday evening, in a (failed) attempt to find the route to Oakwood, around 1 mile this way, or a 6 mile drive round the roads. All good fun, though finding the tree with a face in it and a haunted derelict house hastened our retreat to the paddock and tents.

Dan Evans, winning as usual on the 250 Husky

Early start Saturday and time for another walk through Canaston Woods (which are excellent by the way, and another good distraction for the non-racing attendees) before returning for breakfast and getting the girls ready for the trip to Oakwood. A bit of shopping and back to the track for what was going to be a warm afternoon’s racing.

Saturday racing

The MX250 went out for practice first, but after a rapid piston change during the week, was not running well at all and stopped after a lap. Hmm, this a little familiar. The SC500 went well, despite having a completely swapped bottom end after the trip to Scotland the previous week . That changed during the first race however, with no power off the line and me cruising round for a lap. Not looking too good, but seemed a lot of other people were having trouble with the heat, and not the best day for pushing the bike back to the paddock.

The other block of racing on the Saturday afternoon also passed me by as I attempted to fix either bike. Kevin also broke his XL500, with a timing chain failure on the start line in the second race. Therefore, whilst I went to pick up the girls, Kevin was going to fix the 250 to ride on Sunday, with a few people perusing the SC500, commenting of my lack of maintenance skills.

Barry Townend and Geoff Murrel

That evening saw the 250 running, with the replacement of the spark plug; I’d erroneously left the knackered plug in from the racing blow up at Ranst , so a plug change got the bike running without problems.

The 500 has blown a crank seal, which was in the wrong way round. It was one of the original castellated Yamaha seals, so had been in for a while. Not really surprised, given I’d just taken the bottom end off the shelf during the week, and not really checked it over. A field bodge to remove the rotor and with plenty of comments on my garage prowess (or lack of it). Retimed the rotor, with the mark on the stator I’d put on during the week. And lo, the bike runneth. And runneth well enough to leave a burn mark on my leg as I took it round the field for a test.

Andy Carter

Mark’s latest (and probably greatest) acquisition was a Hozelock Portable Shower, which for a weekend such as this was an excellent device. Though a very cold shower would have been okay with temperatures getting close to 30 C, leaving the container on the roof of Kevin’s van made it quite pleasant. Good to see everyone left their pants on whilst showering.

If the large camper or converted lorry, weekend paddock stays can still be comfortable with a significantly reduced cost; whilst the area around the vans can look like the wreckage following a coach crash it’s all manageable. Whilst you can pine for camper van luxury, they present a significant budget hit, so the £30 Decathalon pop-up tent comes with a lot of recommendations (it’s a lot better than the Asda and Tesco alternates)

It was rather impressive set of equipment that had been discharged from the van. A solar powered fridge would have kept the beers warm, so something for next time. Along with more beer.

Andy Storey leads Glenn Morgan

The evening saw a free pig roast, a bar and and a band (JJ Cale was the artist that came to mind) in the large marquee that they’d spent the day on Friday erecting. The Narberth Club had done an excellent job and they also put a lot of water on the track during the night.

After sitting around the fire discussing various bike deals (and stitch-ups) people had done I retired to bed. During the waking moments the burble of mutterings about bike parts, modifications etc continued all night. I awoke at 7h00 to hear this conversation continuing. Amazing stamina. However I’d subconciously got all the information I ever wanted to know about 1974 CZ swing arm lengths.

Still talking....

Sunday saw a few more riders around, so each of the races in the block had 10-15 riders on the line, which was good, but should have been so many more. With nothing else on for this weekend, perhaps people saw Narberth as too far away from anywhere. Great track, great beaches nearby (for the missus and kids) as well as other attractions, it did seem a little odd. I guess Narberth is a long way from anywhere and a 4 hour drive from the M25. Maybe some better marketing and promotion, so will be interesting to see how Combe Martin is in August, as there is a fair bit of promotion going on there.

With the 500 now running, practice went to plan and looked forward to some good racing. Steve on his Triumph Metisse was riding well, once he’d blagged some parts for his front brake cable and scored in the Welsh Grand Prix, after Mitchell Harris, with a really great ride. Mark’s Cappra was misfiring and not running well and after a good first race which saw him mid pack, decided to give the other two races a miss.

Representing Belgium

First race for me saw a fourth (I think) which was rather good, but it went a bit downhill from there. Getting to the line in the second race after lunch saw my googles break, so letting everyone go to avoid stones and dust seemed a good idea. I managed to get past a couple of people with my eyes shut, but ound the back of the course, a rutted righthander combined with my new confidence on a perky SC500 saw this come to end. A rather impressive high-side was only witnessed by the one marshall, who immediately got on the radio for the St Johns. Thirty seconds saw my crawl my way back out of the push and onto the track. Started the undamaged bike and managed to finish the race, avoiding getting lapped by Trevor Hammond.

Nothing broken, but I’m still limping slightly from some rather interesting bruising to my right leg and left buttock. Anyway got back out for the last race, and not the quickest start still saw me finish, scoring some points for the Welsh Championship

Not just motocross

Good days racing and the weather had cooled off slightly on the Sunday (only slightly). We saw the awards being presented, including Steve’s fine trophy for second in the Welsh Grand Prix. The amount of effort put in by the Narberth club was impressive, especially the track watering. The track was quick but good for racing and one I always enjoy going round.

Work on the Yamaha TT500.

The TT500 was acquired at the end of February and with the ongoing work on the Husqvarna taking priority. In March I did manage to strip the bike and start the assessing what work I needed to proiritise and what spares I needed.

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The biggest issue (as it turned out) were the wheels and both front and rear rims had hairline cracks. After looking at fitting new rims (expensive) I ended up sourcing replacement rims. The front was a complete wheel obtained via eBay US, and ended up very cheap (<£80) including shipping, which was a lot less than a new rim and rebuild. For the rear, decided to respoke another good rim, so after shotblasting and painting the hub, I'd ordered some of the original Yamaha spokes from eBay. However a lot of these listed are only for XT. So, to be certain: - XT500 Rear Wheel : 1E6-25304-00 1979 Rear Spoke Set (two style of spokes) - TT500 Rear Wheel : 431-25304-01 1979 TT500 Spoke Set (3 types of spokes) The XT500 spokes are still listed by Yamaha dealers and this is the cheapest way to get them, whilst the TT500 ones are only recently (2012) discontinued. I measured up the spokes (which I'd already cut out, whoops) and sent measurements to Central Wheels and they turned out a new set of spokes within 5 days. Excellent service and they,after some shady history, should be seen as recommended suppliers.

|Type | Number of spokes | Length | Gauge|
|A|18|205mm|6 (4.87mm)|
|B|9|163mm|6|
|C|9|163mm|6|

I sent the sample spokes, which they need, and got them made in galvanized, rather than stainless.

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The rest of the bike, was basically ingrained with 20-30 years of desert dirt, some of which was harder than concrete. I sanded down the frame and after toying with the idea of painting it silver, when back to my favourite Hammerite Satin Black.

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For the unwary, you need to be very careful in ordering spares for TT500’s. There are a lot of people like Yuniparts, Yambits, Kedo in Germany, GPM Classics who sell replacement parts for these classic bikes; however, there listings aren’t always accurate.
– the parts for TT500 aren’t always the same as XT500; see this listing as an example.
– delivery times for plastics from most of the suppliers are long, as I think these are now all coming from Germany or the US

It’s a big business for TT500 / XT500’s, though I think the market is softening a lot more recently with a flood of TT500’s hitting the UK market, you can buy a project for < £900.

The weather’s hot and the racing’s hotter

After 3 meetings in 3 countries earlier in June, it was now across the border in Scotland. Myself and Dan Evans made the 360 mile trip from Bwlch, along with elder daughter Tamara, who wanted to escape (somewhere, anywhere) for the weekend.

Great weather for the trip north of the border

Malcolm ‘Jock’ Bell had been trying to persuade Dan to head north for a while to race the Scot’s and it seemed like a good idea to tag along (not that I was intending to win anything). Headed off on Saturday morning and after some hanging around on the Wirral watching the Lion’s v Australia rugby, picked up a Honda Transalp, finally got to Thornhill at 6pm. Tamara’s first trip to Liverpool was a wide-eyed roller-coaster run up past the teenage mothers and pornbrokers on the A59. Dan and I also enjoyed spotting orange women staggering out of bars.

Dan and Malcolm before practice. A good days racing awaits

We ended up at Townfoot Farm at around 6pm, where Jock had saved us a nice parking spot with a great view, so time to pitch tent, grab a brew and then walk the track. The setting was great (could have been Wales) and track excellent, with a really nice out-and-back natural scrambles track, with some great off camber and gaps in stone walls.

First corner on a great track, in great conditions !

Back to the van to understand why Tesco value barbeques are indeed only £2 and that checking if the gas bottle is full before I pack it is also a good idea. Tamara turned down the burgers, but joined in with a Jupiler. Burgers were very slow roasted. Enjoyed a good conversation with Keith Mason, Martin Spouse and Jock whilst they were cooking, and after consuming them (and more beers) retired to the tent relatively early.

Dan ended up getting the #1 spot in the pre75 up to 250cc after two firsts and a second

Getting woken up at 6.30am by the sweet note of Quad bike exhaust wasn’t the best start but the day got better and better. Well organised practice and racing ran to schedule. What I didn’t realise that rather than the just measly 3 class races at some events, you also got 3 age related races after lunch 🙂 excellent. Classic races were 4 laps, whilst the twinshocks got 4 eight lap races. Great value.

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AMCA licenses not valid north of the border, but still good value with a SCMRC day-license, especially as a t-shirt also part of the deal.

Practice was good and the track rode really well, and though it got pretty rutted later, it was a quick track.

Dan worked out that he’d potentially got 10 races (3 pre75, 3 age related and 4 twinshock races), but after the third race (2nd pre75 race, which he came second in), he took a tactical break so as to try to get the overall win. After the break he came out to challenge for the twinshock class, where he was up against one of his hero’s Paul Chappia. More on this below.

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For me, first race saw a crap start (excuse that I’ve never started with my hand on my helmet before), and then stalling the bike trying to get past a CCM on the last corner. Could have been worse. Great fun though.

Second race saw a much better start, but missed a shed load of gears and lost a few places in the process, much better though.

Paul Chappia getting the better of Dan in the first twinshock race. He's was knackered after this race and took some good tactical advice from Mal

However, the first age related race saw the gearbox on the SC500 get stuck in first gear, so that was that. No complaints as had managed four excellent races !

A lot of people turned up to the event (the weather perhaps) and a lot of interest in the paddock about the bikes etc and once my ears got tuned in to the local accent, had some good conversations on the merits or otherwise of the pre75 Yamaha collection. There was another SC500 and an MX360 racing, which was good to see. A lot more pre75 Maico’s and CCMs than you normally see, as well as the usual collection of British bikes.

Martin Spouse cooling off between races

The last twinshock race saw Dan have an excellent start and pull out a good lead, with once again Paul Chappia and … start to reel him in. Unlike the first race, he managed to ride his own race and keep on the pace, making it hard for them to get past. Close racing but an excellent win.

Crucial stage of the 4th twinshock race, with Dan holding off serious competition
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Last lap battle; after a good start, things got more competitive for Dan as the race went on
Holding on for the win....

Took a pleasant 6 hour drive to get to Bwlch and Dan had over another hour to get to Llanelli but a trip well worth while. Good weekend, which really enjoyed.

The plan is to upload the bulk load of photos that Tamara took and I’ll plan to do sort this out over the next few days.

You can also see Monti’s excellent videos on youtube.

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