50 Anni di bicilindrici – 9 to 11 Nov 2018.

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No, I haven’t been over to Italy for the weekend. I saw these excellent shots taken by Paolo Rossi on FaceBook when he went to the show at The Novegro Exhibition Park, Milan. The title means Moto Guzzi, 50 years of the twin-cylinder.

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Paolo kindly gave me permission to post his photos here and, although I have had to reduce the resolution of some of them due to space considerations, they give some good visual points of reference for our type of bike.

V7 700 Polizia Stradale in olive green.

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V7 700 Polizia Stradale in blue.

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V7Sport “Red Frame”.

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V7 Sport “Production series”.

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V7 750 Special.

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850 California.

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850T3 California.

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850 Le Mans.

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850T3 Polizia, 850T5 Polizia and 850T5 Carabinieri.

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Griso “Tenni”.

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Clutch throw-out bearing -5 Nov 2018.

Over the last few days I have turned my attention to the dripping gearbox oil under The Racing Rhino. The leak started following the run down to Devon and back to the Guzzi Festival in August. It wasn’t a desperate problem so I left it. As it was a frosty morning I put the heaters and the lights on in the garage before I had my breakfast. That usually does the trick and makes the garage cosy enough.

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The bucket is jammed on the front of the bench so I don’t keep catching myself on the protruding metalwork of the wheel clamp.

Here you can see the gear oil hanging under the back of the gearbox. There is an O-ring inside which is supposed to stop this happening.

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To get it out you need to remove the clutch operating arm from the back of the box but, before I can remove the split pin and push the pivot out I need to disconnect the clutch cable.

I begin by slackening off the cable both at the gearbox end and the hand lever. Then the easiest thing to do it to disconnect the cable from the lever.

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Then there’s enough free play to get the cable off the clutch pull arm.

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I can then go back to the clutch arm pivot, take out that split pin and push it out releasing the arm. There’s a spring behind it. In my case it stayed put and I just left it where it was. This is what it all looks like then. The piece sticking out of the gearbox cover is what Guzzi call the “outer clutch body”. This is what has the O-ring around it. It just pulls out.

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However, when I pulled mine there were four small rollers stuck to it with oil.

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I recognised what these were. There is also an “inner clutch body” and between the two, inner and outer, is a thrust bearing arrangement and those little rollers have come from that. I fished around for the rest of the bearing with a magnetic tool.

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Luckily, when I counted them, all the rollers were accounted for.

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Here are the clutch throwout components from the back of the ‘box. The throwout bearing is made up of the bearing itself and two hardened washers. You can also see the O-ring I had come looking for in the first place.

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Work had to stop at this point while a replacement bearing was ordered. After a couple of days the new one arrived. It’s a different design to the original in that a dished washer is now firmly attached to the bearing and there is just one free washer. The photo makes the new one look slightly smaller than the original but it’s not. I checked.

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It’s a bit of a fiddle getting the new parts back in but oiling the new O-ring helps. The most difficult part for me was opening the new split pin under the clutch arm. When everything was back together I decided to top up the gearbox oil. It didn’t take much.

I sat back with a coffee and noticed a tell-tale puddle under Seb’s LeMans. Yep, gear oil. That’ll need the O-ring doing as well. Never mind. I’ve still got eight left from the pack of O-rings I bought for £2 a year or so back. You don’t need to buy special Guzzi parts. The size is 17mm ID × 22mm OD × 2.5mm thick.

Before taking the bike off the lifting bench I wiped ACF50 over all the bare metal areas and waxed the paintwork. The Racing Rhino will spend the winter away from the salty roads under dust sheets to appear next spring. The Fire Bike is much more suited to use during the winter although I don’t know how much I’ll use it.

A sticking rear brake – 1 Nov 2018.

A few days back I described how the back brake on The V7 700 Fire Bike was sticking on. If I used the brake the pedal would stay down, the brake light stayed on and the brake would drag. Today I had the chance to take a look at this. I also took a look at the gearbox leak on the V7Sport but will have to report on that later as I’m waiting for a replacement part.

I was fairly sure that the problem was within the rear brake drum so removed the left hand pannier to get at it. I disconnected the brake linkage from the drum.

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I was surprised to find that I was wrong and it was actually the brake pedal pivot on the frame that was causing the stiction.

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I removed the pinch bolt then tried to remove the lever. I had to spread it a bit but found that it still wouldn’t come off because the footpeg was in the way. It’s pretty tight between the starter motor and footpeg.

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I considered removing the foot rest but this appears to be quite a job. The bracket is held by the bolt which mounts the gearbox to the frame and by a couple of smaller ones to the leg shield. That big bolt will be hard to loosen as the exhaust pipes make access difficult. I am concerned that it is frozen in place. Idealy the engine and gearbox mounting bolts should be turned from time to time to ensure they stay free or, perhaps better, should be replaced with stainless steel copies. Anyway, I decided I would give this prospect a miss. I checked my manuals and parts books and saw that there is no reason why it shouldn’t be possible to knock the pivot back a little through its bracket. You can’t bash it right out because there are plenty of other parts in the way.

I spent a long time squirting dismantling fluid at it and wiggling the pedal up and down. Eventually I thought it was free enough to attempt driving it back through the pedal with a drift. I managed to get it to go back a few millimetres but that was all the clearance I needed to get the brake pedal off the shaft.

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I refitted the lever at a diferent angle and continued to try and work the shaft free but eventually resorted to carefully heating the end of the shaft with the fine burner on my blowlamp.

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I surprised myself and managed to do this without lifting the paint from the frame. Once it was good and hot I doused it with penetrating fluid and produced large amounts of smoke. A wiggle confirmed that it was a bit better and the process repeated with more improvement.

The spindle was brought back through the frame mounting and the job done again. I was happy that it was now freed off but it had to be knocked back once more so that I could get the pedal back on

Once all together I was able to confirm that the problem is fixed, at least for now, and I can ride the thing. At some point this will all have to come apart for that shaft to be properly greased. I don’t want to just rely on WD40 as a lubricant. However, it will have to do for now. I can also foresee hours of entertainment moving that gearbox mounting bolt and possibly the front engine bolt as well. I should have known better and removed and lubricated them before. Ho hum.

It’s Moto Majestic -30 Oct 2018.

I have spent a good few years trying to find the article in Motor Cycle News (MCN) where the Moto Guzzi V7Sport was referred to as a “racing rhino”. It was this tale that gave rise to the title of this blog.

I knew that the article in question had been written by Peter Howdle and that this must have appeared in MCN in either late 1971 or early 1972 but, as MCN is a weekly publication that meant a large number of possibilites. Old copies of MCN often appear on that well known auction site with brief details of what was road tested but the V7Sport didn’t appear.

Early this year there was a copy for sale and, although it wasn’t the one I wanted, there was a spot the moto-ball competition where the prize was a “Moto Guzzi V7Sport as reviewed in our March 8th edition”.

I continued to check eBay listings every couple of days and after four months or so there was a bundle of old MCNs being sold and amoung the dates listed was 8th March 1972. Usually these old papers don’t seem to sell and are relisted time after time. This time, of course, there was a bidding war and I ended up bidding a rediculous amount for the pile as I just had to have that one issue. Suffice to say I won the auction and the papers have been with me for a while now.

The write up was there as I had hoped and took up one page of the paper that week.

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I was let down a bit as I had expected Peter Howdle to say that it “was like being strapped to the back of a racing rhino” or something equally spectacular. Sadly the reference was just “The Guzzi sits (on) the road like a racing rhino”. There was even a typo. Never mind. I still think Racing Rhino is a good description and sometimes I feel like I’m strapped to the back of one!

I scanned the article and have attached it here as a pdf file. It’s an A3 size document.

The text;



Piloting the majestic 750 Moto Guzzi Sport vee-twin feels rather like trying to restrain a very quick BMW with cylinders raised in a mischievous V sign.

Only too willing to make a mockery of Britain’s 70 mph limit, this 128 mph Italian superbike possessesmany characteristics of Germany’s flat twins. And it surpasses them in speed, stopping, and price!

At £1350, the most expensive production bike in Britain is comparable to a Ferrari or a Lamborghini of the car world. In that context, it is destined to remain a rare bird – a luxury bike for the connoisseur with a whim for Latin magic.

The flying eagle on the tank, once the hallmark of a famous racing stable, perches above a massive 90 degree V twin. And that five-speed pushrod motor churns out 70 bhp at 7,000 rpm, with shaft drive to the back wheel.

When aboard or lifting it on the stand, you are aware of agreat hunk of precious metal, worth more than £3 a pound. For despite alloy rims and cylinders the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport weighs in at 454lb without oil or petrol.

Though not the slightest bit disconcerting, the weight at the front end is noticeable at any speed. The Guzzi sits the road like a racing rhino.

It steers superbly, even with the hydraulic steering damper disengaged. And the brakes, with four leading shoes in front and two at the rear are up to grand prix standards.

There is no kickstart. Instead, Guzzi provide two ways of operating an electric starter engaging with the flywheel. You can press a button by the twistgrip, or you can start car-fashion by turning the ignition key. When removed the key automatically engages a steering lock.

Thanks to a hefty 32 amp hour battery, and separate choke levers on 30mm Dell Orto carburettors, cold startingis a cinch. The motor warms up quickly. And it ticks over like a side valve.

Barely run-in when Rivetts of Leytonstone parted with the pride of their showroom, thereby changing my social status for a few days of affluent motoring, the Sport 750 will chuff along effortlessly at 2,500 rpm.

The power readily chimes in from 4,000 upwards. Second gear is good for nearly 70 mph, but the bike will cruise at that speed at only 2,800 rpm in top gear. When I gunned it to the blood line, in fourth, the speedo was steady at a cool 110 mph. Acceleration, in the production racer class, was good enough to startle drivers of rapid sports cars.

Torque twitch and a clunky gearbox heighten the resemblance to a BMW. Blipping the throttle when stationary or travelling slowly produces a distinct lurch to the right. Careless gearchanges can produce the clonk that means you’ve got the thing in cog.

Warned of a capricious neutral light, which caught a previous tester napping, I released the clutch with caution. But though an arm missing from the stand told a sorry story, history did not repeat itself.

Caution with the left foot is advisable. For that twin leading shoe rear brake, fitted to the front of earlier and less powerful V-twins can be a villain if the road is wet.

Warming my knees on polished alloy rocker boxes was a new sensation. But the most striking aspect of a riding position admirably suited to short jockeys is the lowness of the seat.

Novel clip-on bars were allowed to remain at their lowest point. Those who prefer an easy-rider stance can slide them up the fork stanchions by slackening a couple of bolts.

Only criticism of the Guzzi’s road holding was the firmness of the rear suspension and a tendency for the front end to twitch when cornering on the limit. A widely ribbed front tyre was suspected. But perhaps there was more frost than I realised on the morning this occurred.

Exhaust pipe discoloration mystified me until I returned the bike to Rivetts. One of the cylinders gave up the ghost along the North Circular. To the surprise of the importers, soft plugs had been fitted without their knowledge. Hard plugs restored normal running. But not that lovely chrome.

A glittering law breaker, in red and lime green, the Guzzi is one of the most glamorous bikes I have ever been privileged to try. People of all ages drooled over it. Few worried about a petrol consumption which worked out at 34 mpg. Most of these enthusiasts look forward to the arrival of other Guzzis due to reach Rivetts (distributors north of the Thames) this month. The 750 Special will cost £960. The 850GT will be £999.

But the 750 Sport remains the pride of the range. A real mile eater with a deep throated bellow from coupled exhaust pipes, and enough acceleration to pull your hands off the bars, it gives a new meaning to the Italian farewell – arrivederci!

What you get for £1,350

ENGINE: Tansverse ohv 90 degree V twin. Capacity 748cc (82.5mm x 70.2mm bore and stroke). Compression 9.8 to 1. Output 70 bhp at 7000rpm. One-piece forged steel crankshaft. Conrods on same crankpin. Alloy cylinders. Hard chromed liners. Dell Orto 30mm carburettors. Wet sump lubrication (6 pints).

TRANSMISSION: Helical gear primary drive. Twin disc clutch on flywheel. Five speed gearbox (10.8, 7.59, 5.73, 4.78 and 4.09 to 1 overall ratios. Final drive by double jointed shaft and bevel gears.

ELECTRICS: 12 volt 32 amp hour battery with 14 volt 13 amp hour alternator. Starter motor. Fuse box under seat. Harness wired for flashing indicators.

BRAKES: 220mm diameter 4-shoe front brake, twin leading shoes at rear. Both cable operated.

SUSPENSION: Telescopic front fork. Adjustable rear dampers.

WHEELS: Light alloy rims, 3.25-18 front and 3.40-18 rear Michelin tyres.

DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase 57in, seat height 30in, length 85¼in, ground clearance 11in, width 27½ in. Petrol capacity 4½ gallons, including ½ gallon reserve. Weight 454lb (dry).


Looking forward to Winter! 28 Oct 2018.

Yes, really. It has been a fantastic Summer for riding but there’s always been lots of other stuff going on. It’s taken me ages to get my garage/workshop back in order after rebuilding half of it. Then the central heating oil tank developed a crack, resulting in a new tank in a different place (regulations, you know), moving the green house, etc, etc. I’ve also been working one or two days a week at Internal Fire – Museum of Power as much as my wrist will allow and been busy with helping to organise the Red Kite Weekend with my local branch of Moto Guzzi Club GB.

I’ve still got to sort out the gearbox oil leak on The Racing Rhino, my V7Sport. I know what the problem is. It’s the O-ring where the clutch push-rod goes. Then, last weekend, I realised that the rear brake on The Fire Bike, the V7 700 was sticking on and dragging. I managed to do the 75mile round trip without touching the rear brake pedal. I use it a lot normally. As I’ve said before, I think the V7 700 is getting a bit tired.

There’s also another Guzzi in the workshop.



No. It’s not mine. It’s a slightly modified 850 LeMans (often referred to as a mark 1 although there never was such a thing) belonging to my friend, Seb. His brother owned it for many years but Seb is now custodian of the beast. The plan is for me to dismantle it over the Winter so that it can be refurbished. Having said that, it’s fairly tidy although I have noticed there are a few electrical gremlins. I did take a look at it in the Summer after it stranded Seb due to a dodgy charging system. The fault was traced to a loose earth (we think). I intend to leave the engine and gearbox internals untouched but will clean and service everything. This is a machine which has evolved over the years and, although it likely will be repainted, the current paint scheme will be retained. Seb’s plan is to maintain the bike’s current style and not to restore it to original. I like that.

The bike was first registered in 1978 and having checked the frame and engine numbers I can confirm that it is a genuine “Mk1” LeMans.

It’s going to be a good winter in the workshop.

Finally, four years on from the crash which saw the demise of Rhino’s Friend, the 750S3, my personal injury settlement has been agreed. Hoorah!

Mid Wales Classic Motorcycle Show – 7 Oct 2018.

Today I headed east on The Fire Bike and into mid-Wales for this little show at Pant-yr-Dwr near Rhayader. It’s the third time I’ve been and I always enjoy myself, not only looking at the exhibits in the show but, also the varied machinery which turns up in the bike park during the day.

Before I get started on today’s trip out I should mention the MGCGB Red Kite Weekend that was held a month ago. I help organise this one and went over to Baskerville hall on The Fire Bike towing the trailer. There is an event report here.

Back to Pant-yr-Dwr. The show itself is centred on the Village Hall which accommodates the main exhibits. This year there was some overflow to the area immediately outside.

Inside the Village Hall

There are a good number of bikes with a competition history but there are usually one or two Italian classics to report such as this neat little Garelli 50. The owner told me that he has had it virtually from new but it had lain neglected in a shed for many years until recently when he decided to restor it completely.


This was a machine I didn’t recognise – a 1964 Laverda 200. The tag said that it was orignally a barn find restored some years ago. It was for sale.


There were a few traders out front where this sad looking Ducati was apparently for sale.


As was this Laverda Chott.


The weather was kind and a visitors many. These two photos are of the bike park fairly early in the day.



People came and went and I chatted to a good few. I liked that this Morini was clearly getting used.


And had a chat with the owner of this Guzzi Nuovo Falcone who isn’t afraid to use it regularly. He demonstrated just how easy it was to kick start. I love these, the last of the Guzzi 500 singles.


I left mid-afternoon and decide to ride back through the Elan and Ystwyth Valleys. I might have said before how much I love these high but accessible Welsh landscapes even if they do have a man-made element. I took the chance to take a couple of snaps stopped above Craig Goch, the top dam in The Elan Valley complex of dams. The Autumn colours are beginning to appear.



Guzzi Festival – 10 to 12 Aug 2018.

As I indicated in my last post, as usual, I attended the MGCGB Guzzi Festival which was held near South Molton in Devon this year. I had decided that I would be brave and go on the V7Sport and hope that I was not crippled by the riding position. Although I’m still pretty flexible, the heavy throttle and weight on my wrists can cause me problems and this would be by far the furthest I’d been in one day on it.

Another reason was that The Fire Bike feels like it needs to be “gone through”. It continues to be reliable but I think it might be a bit down on power and possibly getting a little tired. The trailer also need new tires.

I bought a huge seatbag at the Llandovery Motorcycle Weekend last month in preparation for this jaunt. It was new old stock and appears to be an old version of the “Speedpack” by Bags Connection/SW Motech. It was very cheap which is always a good thing. The bag is actually in three parts. The main bit is fabric with some sort of aluminium frame in it and there are two rigid fabric side bags which fasten under it to give a pannier type arrangement. The whole lot is strapped down to the pillion seat without the need for a rack.

If you look you can see that there is a fault with the set I’ve got. There are two right hand lower bags. The left one is just fitted the wrong way round. It makes no difference as the shape viewed side on is the same.

I decided that I would be travelling light without any cooking gear or such. It turned out that I could get everything for the weekend including my new smaller, more compact tent into the bags. There is a nice secure waterproof cover which was tested over the next few days.

The weather forecast for the weekend was not good and the Friday departure day started off very wet. In fact, as the bike stood loaded up outside and I wriggled into my waterproofs, it was raining so hard that the rain was bouncing a foot and a half off the ground. As I went outside I questioned my own sanity but the rain stopped and the sun came out.

It stayed mainly dry for the 200+ mile run to the Festival. I’d gone well over half way before I was briefly rained upon. Although the sky was black and the roads often wet it was the traffic and not the weather which became a pain. The motorways were choked with traffic and I filtered through what seemed like miles of stationary or barely moving traffic. I will only filter at about 25mph so you can tell how slow things were.

I also witnessed a “Police incident” on the M5 where a group of police cars tried to stop a car. This resulted in a crash with the driver being pulled from his vehicle and then restrained on the tarmac. The already heavy traffic came to a standstill and, as the tailback grew, a number of motorcycles filtered to the front. After 15 minutes or so we were allowed past the scene with a “careful how you go” from the Police officer who waved us on our way. Faced with three totally empty lanes of motorway tarmac progress was what could be described as swift. Some of the other bikes were quite a bit swifter than me!

The campsite for the Festival was a field at the back of a rather nice commercial camping and caravan park with good facilities. After signing in I was invited by Dave P to pitch my tent near him and two other loopframe Guzzi owners.

The two very similar 850GTs belonging to Dave and Phil had been joined by Kev’s very nice 850 Eldorado.

There was another 850 there that I don’t think I had seen before.

These were the only examples of loopframe bikes at the event and there were no big-block Tonti-framed 750s other than mine. However I had to include this photo of an outfit complete with tandem on the roof rack.

The already large sidecar appeared to have been widened and possily lengthened as well.

I’m glad I took my few photos soon after arriving as the following day was wet and miserable for a lot of the time. I decided to not get involved in any ride-outs but wish I’d gone despite the weather. However, there was no reason to get bored on site during the day. The evening entertainment was provided by a Paul Weller tribute act who I thought were pretty good.

There was a break in the musical entertainmet for the obligatory raffle and awards. I was chuffed to be given the award for the best Guzzi at the event. Kev came second with his white Eldorado.

It was almost dry on the Sunday morning when I packed my tent away to come home. I went for a cooked breakfast, donned my waterproofs and headed out in the rain toward the motorway traffic once more.

As it happens the ride home wasn’t that bad. Yes it did rain for some of the time but it was nothing like the deluge that had been forcast. The traffic was easier as well. The Racing Rhino was a pleasure to ride and my wrist survived fairly well. I worked out that it managed 50mpg which I reckon is very good. There’s now a leak from the clutch pushrod seal at the back of the gearbox but, you can’t have everything.