W/E 28th December

Well with all this Christmas stuff kicking off not much time for the Laverda – although I did decide to fit the muffs ready for tomorrow’s return to work. It’s just turned cold so head down and tough it out. The shortest day has passed but January is the worst month for commuting.

I’ve also had to investigate a new sensor for the Koso digital speedo – it all checks out wiring wise so all I can think is that when I lost a wheel magnet it clouted the sensor. It’s going to cost around £15 so not too bad. Putting the speedo to one side and the warped and poor front disc to one side the Atlas seems to have settled into a good rhythm. A trip down to Southampton had it purring down the A34/M3.

Looking back across the year it’s been pitiful in terms of getting the stable back on the road, especially as I made good progress at the start of the year having the triple engines split and a replacement engine shoe’d into the Atlas all by the end of March. Totting up it seems I’ve spent 7 months of the year on the Atlas (clocked up about 14,000 miles in this time), 3 months on the VFR and 2 months with no motorcycle at all! For someone with 10 motorcycles this ain’t good! At year end I have just the Atlas on the road with the next closest being the 100 which just needs the exhaust system putting back on. Incredibly the 100 has been in this state for 18 months or so – I haven’t ridden it on the road since it completed the 2013 National Rally.

The Atlas began its ‘season’ with a second-hand motor that was part of an Atlas ‘job-lot’. The donor bike had been written off in Romania but the engine just seemed to suffer a cracked primary case. When started it sounded and ran sweet but as the miles piled on it succumbed to the normal Atlas trait of messing the starter sprag and then developed a top end rattle which I just ignored… When that motor expired it was back to the original engine which turned out to have a loose inlet valve seat, tired valves and rings. Getting the Atlas to work though has been a major step for me in that aside from the 100 it is the first engine I’ve built from the bottom up since an A65 30 years ago! I kept saying to Mrs A that it had to be simple – just four shafts in a bed, and so it proved. I can see now that the complexity of a Laverda motor rests mainly in the head. Steve Winterton spends a long time making sure the cams spin properly and given the rest of it is just big lumps with bearings it makes sense that poor cams and valve timing are the key to a sweet motor.

The second Atlas from Belgium needs cosmetic work and registering in the UK – the latter being the main obstacle but something I seem to have resolved via a recent email exchange and so I could soon have an Atlas ‘contingency’.

The Atlas is a good bike but not as good as a triple. The way these bikes cruise at 90 MPH is something I’ve missed and I find myself day-dreaming about 120’s. There is hope however in that I have two reconditioned cranks waiting and a good engine shop close by to overhaul the valve gear.

The 180 Jota languishes with the motor in Scotland and the cycle parts half assembled in the garage. I have to build up a plan to have this running before I start to loose parts of the jigsaw…

Riding-wise 2014 has been a bit ‘light’ with just one trip to the Continent. The ride from Calais to Cannes was quite epic and relatively trouble free with just a starter solenoid playing up.I enjoyed the idea of an epic journey (sea to sea) and ride over to Grenoble and then up to Briancon was spectacular. Similarly the route over from Barelonnette to Castelanne a bit squeaky bum! Down into and then onto the beach at Cannes was strange – swimming in the Med’ and rubbing shoulders with the ‘in’ set – but stranger still was a few hours later being confronted by hail stones up in the hills!!! The overwhelming memory however was just what a push it was to cover so many miles in such a short time. Was this fun or too much? Well the experience meant we bailed out of going to Breganze for the 65th year celebration – too far and too bloody hot. Has age crept up on me?

By June however we’d completed the Welsh National which resulted in 400 mile day and quite a few ‘moments’ as the sun disappeared and the realisation that the Atlas lights were wholly inadequate. The weekend however was a good adventure. I particularly enjoyed the ride up to Shrewsbury via Leominster as this is a route I’d only done in the pitch black on the 100 during the National. Hopefully in 2015 we’ll have a bit less rain so we can take in the views – some of which we got to see in September when we visited Swansea en route to the ILOC rally in Hay-on-Wye. The ILOC rally also provided the only real opportunity for me to test out my LED lights and Andy Strapz panniers – when the LED’s got turned on Mrs A just burst out laughing when the world lit up!

More drama with the National where with less than 20 miles up I had to have an oil cooler plumbed out. The ride up to Thirsk had been worthwhile and the final ride down the A34 to the end bliss as I knew I just had to bring it home for a well earned Gold. I’ve really got into these distance challenges which let me see new parts of the UK.

I was riding my luck however and as I pulled into Glasgow ready for the Scottish where nasty noises in the motor meant we never made the start. A pity because I think the Scottish is my favourite distance rally – I have to ride 450 miles just to get to the start line and then Scotland is just such an excellent place. Plans are already in place for 2015…

So what’s the plan for 2015? Well I remember reading an article that said you had to break rebuilds down into mini-projects and keep hitting these intermediate milestones. A good idea so let’s sketch it out:

End of January – start second Atlas registration process

End of February – have RGA engine built + second Atlas road registered and ready to ride

End of March – have RGA on the road!

End of April – have RGS engine built

End of June – have RGS on the road

I want to get over to Europe a few more times in 2015 but not necessarily to ‘Laverda’ events. I remember back on 1987 with the Jota we’d do things like the Grand Prix’s or the 24 Heures Le Mans. I like to head out with some purpose but it would be good to mix this up and just turn up as a motorcyclist who happens to be on a Laverda. The National Rallies have also shown me that there are many parts of the UK still to be unlocked, especially the midlands and east coast.

So let’s see what 2015 brings…

Nick 🙂

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