Mark’s rapid fire tips

Bertie Simmonds
April 25, 2017
  • How do you determine the correct angle for the handlebar controls? Sit on the bike, extend your fingers in line with your arms and lower your hands on to the grips. The levers should be just touching your outstretched fingers: then the switches will be in the right place too.
  • Take care when routing the battery breather pipe: any part of the bike underneath the end will get a dose of acid. Most critical is the rear chain.
  • When removing a cylinder block or barrel, remember that when the piston(s) emerge they will fall, possibly knocking the con rod against the crankcase mouth. Use padding first to prevent damage.
  • When removing a gearbox output sprocket with a single large locking nut, how do you stop the shaft from turning when undoing it? Your bike has a locking device fitted: it is called the rear brake.
  • Not using your bike for the winter? Drain the carbs, as fresh fuel from the tank will make starting much easier when you use it again.
  • How many balls in an uncaged ball bearing, such as a steering head? Usually, as many as will fit less one is correct.
  • Grab hold of your rear chain to pull it away from the rear sprocket, if you can see any gap between the chain and sprocket, it is worn out.
  • Acrylic (‘Perspex’) tank badges form micro-cracks after decades of sunlight. You can often repair them by carefully filling them with acetone (nail varnish remover) applied with a tiny brush.
  • Not a stickler for historic accuracy? Then throw away your old selenium rectifier (with the square orange plates) and use a modern replacement as your battery charging will improve no end.

About the Author

Bertie Simmonds

As a child Bertie (well, Robert back then… blame his sister for the nickname) was exposed to motorcycles thanks to his uncles. They would show up at his house with a lovely lady as pillion throughout the 1970s and 1980s. After a naughty time on field bikes (it’s what we did back then) Bertie passed his test in the early 1990s and became a reporter for MCN in 1995, moving to the sports desk and covering World Superbikes in 1996. With a change to Bike Magazine in 1997, he stayed until 2000 as news, features and road test editor. Moving into PR with Cosworth, Bert was bored with cars and returned to bikes in 2001 with Two Wheels Only, becoming editor in 2002 and leaving to be freelance at the end of 2004. With almost a decade freelancing, Bertie joined Mortons in 2013 and became editor of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics, a post he’s desperately clung to, to this day. And no, he’s never had a pretty girl on the back of his bike.

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