Pigfords new toys

Posted: October 12, 2011 in Friends
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Mark (pigford) he of the drag Z1000-mk2, has a couple of new toys in the garage, a 78 GS1000, and a Honda trail bike…

Suzuki GS1000

SUZUKI GS1000E  1978  –  They don’t make them like this anymore!


I’d always fancied an earlier “Thou”and this one is a particularlyhonest example of the E model imported from the USA, which has alloy rim wire
wheels fitted – an American option before the mag wheels became the norm. The bike is pretty much original apart from the exhaust system; it still has the
chain guard, centre stand, air box and even the rear shocks. The clocks show 23k miles and all the electrics work as they should including the inaccurate fuel gauge. I’ve now fitted a new air filter, stripped and cleaned the carbs, new plugs and changed the oil and filter. A Boyer ignition system is fitted in place of the old points, which is a bonus. The paintwork is original, showing some wear and tear, but overall it’s OK.

As winter looms I plan to give it a general tidy up and may even strip it down to get the frame and swingarm powder coated. The bike was running rather lumpy and hesitant, even after cleaning & setting up the carbs, so I fitted a pair of 3.0 ohm Dyna coils & leads I had stashed in my spares box. This has made a big difference and the bike pulls really strong until 7,000 rpm, where it still spits & coughs a bit, but this is most likely due to the Laser pipe as the carbs which are on standard jetting.

The tyres are well past their best so that’ll be the next thing on my list of stuff to hunt out. Another weak point is the handling, which even makes the Zed’s seem good! I have put this down to the knackered tyres, but I also need to check the fork oil and do the air pressures too. There is also a bit of clutch rumble/judder at low revs which is not uncommon and is usually due to the clutch hub shock absorber springs being worn. Rebuild kits are available, so this is another thing to add to the list! The Laser 4:1 pipe is a bit scruffy and could do with some paint, so that will be easy to remedy along with various rusty nuts and bolts, all of which will greatly improve the appearance.

Honda 500

HONDA XL600R (1984)

Blimey, unbelievable, 2 x Honda’s in the garage – I must be getting old! Having enjoyed riding my old XL500R about last year, including a trip to Le Mans, this 600R turned up as I was about to sell my 750 Turbo (eBay). I contacted the chap about a swap and we met up one evening at a halfway point and against all common sense did the deal. This bike came over from Italy and is in great condition and 100% standard, it still has the tools in the toolbox.  The 600R is fairly similar to the 500R, just a bit more of the same but a 100mm piston! Based on the XR600R, a proper dirt bike, it’s slightly more off-road orientated than many trail bikes but it’s really happier on the road.

One thing with these old beasts is they are kickstart only, which as we all know is a good and bad thing! As with any newly acquired machine one has to learn it’s needs (character) albeit a Honda, it is still a + 30 year old design which involved some compromises. Unlike the 500R which had just one carb, this bike has a pair! It’s a bit like the twin-choke Webber’s fitted to Fords, one carb is for part throttle and the other kicks in as the throttle is wound open. This is supposed to give better control and also economy with good power when required. Personally I think a single should be kept as simple as possible and one carb should be enough. Anyhow, the starting procedure took a week to master, not helped by a poorly adjusted manual de-compressor! The 500R was no real problem to kick over, but this bike was bloody hard work. The RFVC head is fitted with 4 x valves plus a 5th tiny valve which is linked by cable to the kick start. This allows some of the charge to entre another chamber to reduce the compression and aid starting. The manual de-comp is worked by a lever on the l/h handle bar and lifts the r/h exhaust valve, or it should if correctly adjusted! After a few days of standing on the kick start to get the piston over TDC, I discovered that even though the lever and de-comp arm in the head were moving, there was a couple of mm too much play and it wasn’t doing
anything. Once I cottoned-on to this fact life become so much easier. So from cold its full choke, no throttle and it’ll start. When only just warm it’s still a gamble on how you tackle it, so short rides are not a good idea (less than a couple of miles). When hot it needs to be kicked over several times with wide open throttle and manual de-comp to clear the cylinder, then kick with no throttle – simples!

For a large machine it’s not too heavy and the motor has a reputation for being indestructible, as long as it’s serviced properly and are highly regarded amongst the “adventure rider” fraternity. It does have a battery (for the lighting) but will run without one and is tough enough to handle some serious off road abuse, rider willing. The ride is very plush with brakes and handling being extremely good, tackling back lanes with total confidence. The engine has little flywheel effect and gets rather lumpy below 3000 prm in the higher gears but it does have a fair turn of speed. Mixed riding gives a good 65 mpg and realistic cruising speed is around 60 mph with a claimed top speed of 100 mph. It may not be a Panther 120, but for a Japanese bike it has a certain charm which gets under your skin.



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