New ‘zorsts for the Fire Bike – 29 March 2021.

Until now the fire bike has been wearing its original but battered exhaust system but it had got to the stage where the silencers were well and truly rusted out. It looks like the right hand silencer has been repaired before and then rechromed.

I took the whole system off to have a look at what I’ve got. Some of the clamps just fell apart and heat was needed to separate the silencers from the crossover pipe. The pitting on the header pipes also meant there wasn’t actually a lot of chrome about.

The decision was made to replace the lot. This also meant that whatever I bought should all fit together without any serious issues. I trawled the internet and found that, at a price, I might be able to find an original style set up. However there were import hassles to consider and I knew I could get a visually correct stainless set up from Armour Ltd here in the UK. I held my wallet tight and ordered a complete system with crossover pipe. You can get a system without one. The lot was with me inside a couple of weeks and is very nicely made. I compared each piece of the system to check bends. mounting points and lengths and all seemed fine. I never expect any after-market replacement to be entirely straight-forward. The tubing on these stainless pipes is slightly bigger than the originals but looks better for it.

The silencers are of a different construction. The originals had offset baffles but these are an seem to be an absorption type that you can see right through. The outlet at the tail end is also larger. The originals were a tiny 22mm diameter. These are about 30mm. The system doesn’t use the usual exhaust clamps but has pinch bolts instead. I have heard that some people have cut these off and reverted to clamps but I’ll try them as supplied first.

I had a set of seals for the exhaust ports but found they were too small to fit on the tubes. I offered the pipes up to the exhaust ports in the heads and reassured myself they would fit before filing a bit off the pipes till the exhaust rings would push on.

The next hurdle was fitting the header sleeve nuts onto the new pipes. Being a very slightly larger diameter I predicted they might be hard to fit around the curves and this proved to be the case. I considered grinding out a small amount from the insides of the nuts but noticed the issue was that the pipes were slightly oval at the tightest part of the curve.

The answer was to squeeze the pipes in the soft jaws of my vice a bit at a time until the nuts were past the obstruction. It all sprung back after. I might invest in some nicer stainless versions of these nuts with their lockrings one day.

The complete system was then test fitted to the bike. It all lined up really well although the pipes ran very close to the pivot bolt for the side stand. I looked at the old pipe and could see where this had rubbed.

I decided to shorten the bolt and use a half nut. The bolt can’t jump out even if the nut goes missing as the spring plate fits over the top of it.

In this rather gloomy photo you can see there’s much more clearance now.

I decided that I would go back to the original flip up side stand the bike came with. In my early days with the bike I made a modification so that it would stay down. I struggled to hold the bike with my damaged wrist, lean the bike over and keep my foot on the stand at the same time. I had to get off to use it. I reasoned that I’m more used to my dodgy wrist now and would be alright.

I moved the bike to poke the smelly end out of the garage door and started it up. In the process I realised that I would need to go back to the non flip-up version of the side stand. It felt quite unsafe. The system only had one leak from the right hand cylinder head. slackening off and retightening was enough to fix that. The system sounded good. It’s probably a bit more boomy than the original but not what I would call loud.

I rolled the bike off its stand to bring it inside again and realised the centre stand wasn’t retracting. I balanced the bike on a jack to take a look. The legs of the stand were just touching the pinch bolts for the crossover pipe.

I think I was too over-enthusiastic when knocking the silencers onto that pipe. I left things for a couple of days as my manky wrist was painful after wielding the rubber mallet but returned to slacken the pinch bolts and spread the silencers a little. For good measure, I also spaced the silencers out from their mounts on the frame with a couple of washers each side although I probably could have got away without this.

The stand now retracts almost as far as it did. It’s about 3mm short of the stop on the frame.

The reason is that the old crossover had deep dents to permit the stand to come up further. The Armours one has little more than marks on the pipe. I’m not sure that deepening these would be the answer as the tab on the stand would then hit the underside of the silencer. It had been bashing on the original silencer before. It is also very possible that the stop for the stand is bent which is pretty common. I could extend the stop on the frame to take up the space but I’m inclined to leave the stand as it is coming to rest on the crossover. Any reduction in ground clearance is minimal (say 3 or 4mm) and won’t be causing me any problems. I’m not any sort of riding god.

All that remained was to go for a ride! It was my first outing on two wheels since last November due to the Covid rules in force until a few days ago. After a little over 30 miles I can say that the exhaust is louder than the original but not that much, bearing in mind it was full of holes and leaked at the joints. The bike also seemed to go better. It’s difficult to be objective but I suspect those narrow silencer outlets may have been restrictive and the silencers were full of rust flakes.

As you can see, the exhausts have already started to change to a straw colour.

Speedometer update – 6 June 2020.

How’s that for a surprise! I’m back after all this time! I’ve not had much time to do anything on my Guzzis mainly because I’ve been occupied with the BSA and my friend’s Le Mans which still isn’t done.

Earlier this year I bought a speedometer from a Guzzi 1000G5 or i-convert (I think) as a replacement for the characterful original fitted to The Fire Bike, my V7 700. As you can see, this had become fairly tatty inside as the numbers began to peel off the dial. This could be fixed with an overhaul but it only shows km/h anyway. I added the MH markers. It’s also very inaccurate registering 25% under, showing 40 for a true 30MPH.

Fitting the new unit would need a little bit of work as it doesn’t have the warning lights mounted in it as the original does. I would have to make a new light console and mount these above the new speedo. I knew there would be other challenges as well. This is the sort I bought.

To make a start I disconnected the battery then removed the binacle containing the speedometer along with my home-made switch/light panel. To recap, this houses my lights switch (pilot light only to the left and pilot lights plus headlamp to the right), repeater lamps for high beam and turn indicators, and my sparkbright battery condition light.

There are only four screws holding it to the fork yoke and with the binacle raised a bit you can get behind to disconnect the speedometer drive. I unscrewed the lock ring and flap for the ignition switch, pushed it inside, and then was able to hinge the hole lot upward to make a note of all the wiring connections.

The connections on  the back of the speedometer itself were;

  • White – instrument back light.

Then the four lights in a row.

  • Yellow/black – lights on.
  • Red – dynamo.
  • Green – neutral.
  • Grey (looks white in the photo) – oil.

and beside those

  • White/black – this is a common wire for the dynamo, neutral and oil lights.

I didn’t disturb the wiring to the ignition switch but disconnected everything else so that I could transfer it to the bench. Once there, I stripped the old speedo out of the binacle and set my switch/light panel to one side. I offered up the replacement speedometer and had a think about how to hold it in place. I ended up shortening the fixing clamps which came with the new speedo after trying to work out the depth I would need. It worked.

I forgot to say that I had removed the trip reset cable from the back of the new speedo for now. I needed to think about how best to get it out of the binacle to some form of bracket outside.

In the meantime I designed my new switch/warning light panel. I had bought some LEDs to perform the necessary functions. These are much smaller than the units used before  as now there will be 5 plus the battery condition light. I’m not going to have a “lights on” warning as I think that’s pretty redundant. The battery light can also be reduced in size by removing its bezel and sticking it to the panel. I had decided to fit a switch to isolate it so I can wire it direct to the battery. At the moment there’s quite a voltage drop when it’s fed via the ignition switch.

A card version of the new layout was made first.

Then the holes cut out of the last piece of aluminium angle in my off-cuts box.

Happy with this I could now cut it down to size but, then I had a thought. If I drill a small hole in the back of the speedo binacle I can get the trip reset knob to the panel as well. I spent a very long time considering whether I should do this to an original part before deciding that I would. Then even longer trying to work out exactly where that hole needed to be and how to add the reset knob to the new arrangement. When I did take the plunge it worked out well and the cable was refitted. It’s held to the speedo with a tiny screw.

Now I could cut the outline of the panel,

tidy it up and bolt it to the binacle. If you’re wondering about the numbers, they’re the tyre pressures I run – front, rear and trailer wheels.

All that was needed now was to wire everything up. I needed to bring the wires for the dynamo, neutral and oil lights out from behind the binacle. Luckily there was enough room to unplug the bulb holders and extend the wires so they could be fed out  through the top fork yoke and around. This meant I didn’t need to drill another hole.

The unused yellow/black cable was insulated and tied out of the way.

All that remained was to;

  • Change the terminals on the cables for main beam and turn signal warning lights.
  • Refit the lighting switch.
  • Refit the battery condition light with it’s switch in line.

and that was the wiring finished. The ignition switch was persuaded back into position and the speedo cable done up. I’m pleased with the result. There’s enough space under the warning lights for me to stamp a letter for G(en), N(eutral) and O(il) if I decide to but I’ll probably not bother.

Battery connected and everything works. The next day I took it for a short ride to compare the new speedometer output with that of the push-bike speedo I fitted when I realised the old speedo told lies. It turns out that this new speedometer is really accurate and the push-bike one can go. I quite like the look and apparently, if you scrape the black paint off the bezel, there’s a nickel finish beneath.

Good result!

Racing Rhino update 13 Nov 2019.

I thought it was about time that I brought you up to date with what’s been hapening with my V7Sport, aka The Racing Rhino, this year. Both my Moto Guzzis haven’t really had much done as I’ve had to “play with” the BSA which seems to have been doing what British Bikes do. In fact The Fire Bike has needed no work at all. The last thing I did to that was to fit wiring for heated gloves last winter.

The flappy mirror.

Anyway, turning to Rhino, there have been a few minor jobs done (and very few miles covered). One annoyance was that, if you travelled at a decent speed, the mirror would fold back. This meant I kept tightening it up at the pivot until eventually one day it broke.

The problem was with the part that mounts to the clamp on the handlebar. The top piece in the photo below is the original. A threaded portion with a locknut which goes in the mount and a thinner section with a spring and small nut which is supposed to hold the mirror arm in place. It was that skinny bit which gave out and the photo is of an unbroken one.

The lower parts are my modified replacements. What I did was drill the base of the mirror arm so that an M10 fine thread bolt could pass through, added a spacer to take the place of the spring, then chamfered the underside of the bolt so it could turn. A shakeproof washer makes the lot solid but not so solid that it wouldn’t move if the worst were to happen!

This is what it looked like after the modification.

I made a similar modification to my spare mirror set and fitted that to the BSA. The intention is to get replacement bolts in stainless steel now that I know the system works. An allen bolt might even be better.

Mini indicators.

Last year my ride to Devon on the motorways made it clear to me that I needed to fit some indicators. Changing lanes in heavy traffic just felt unsafe. Years ago it wouldn’t have fazed me but I must have got older and wiser! I have a pair of very tatty original style Aprilia indicators. It would take a lot to refurbish them and the cost of two more to make a set is just rediculous. I decided that instead I would find some small modern LED indicators which hopefully wouldn’t stand out too much. I found these on eBay for very little money and chose them in preference to the more common “bullet” style. I bought two pairs.

They are really tiny but are e-marked (not that that matters on an old bike like mine).

Little aluminium brackets were made to mount them to the front headlamp bolts.

and some to mount the rears either side of the number plate.

The little tabs on the rear mounts are to keep the brackets in place by hooking in the slot of the number plate bracket.

Next I needed a switch. You may know that I have some trouble working switches with my right hand after the demise of Rhino’s Friend (the 750S3) in 2014. This meant I had to come up with some arrangement on the left where the lights and horn switch are already. I didn’t want to fit a chinese switch this time (as I did on the V7 700) so bought a small toggle switch with a waterproof cover and made up a bracket from a scrap piece of aluminium angle. This could then go under the existing snuffbox style switch.

The bracket is fastened to the clutch lever mount.

It took me three goes to find a suitable flasher relay. The first, although advertised for LED lamps, wasn’t and the second didn’t switch the lamps out between flashes. Instead they just dimmed. These were both 2-pin relays. The third was an electronic 3-pin type and worked perfectly. Wiring for indicators is straightforward enough.

An important note here regarding the connections on the flasher relay. You would assume the connections marked “B” & “E” would mean battery and earth but in this case those were reversed! See here

I took the supply for the new circuit from my fuse 5 which was only providing power to the horns. The flasher relay itself is just tucked out of the way at the moment but I’ll work out a way to secure it.

I ran the indicator wiring as a seperate loom down the righthand side of the frame then on to the switch.

From there the wiring was taken into the headlamp shell via an existing hole which had a rubber plug in.

I drilled the headlamp mounting bolts to take the indicator wires and earthed them to the same bolts.

Inside the headlamp I connected up the cables using these Wago clamp connectors which I used when wiring my lathe. I figured it was better than using “choc blocks”! If I’d crimped/soldered connectors to the wires I wouldn’t be able to get them out through the drilled headlamp bolts or the grommet in the headlamp shell.

The front end. Looks OK for now.

The loom also goes back to the rear mudguard. It’s just two cables. A “Y” peice was added to the tail lamp earth circuit and the earths wires from the indicators then share a crimp connector to the new terminal. Not pretty but it gets hidden behind the number plate.

Looks neat, even if I say so myself.

And it works.

I got everything done in time for this year’s ride to Devon for the Guzzi Festival but ended up having to go by car!