So after 30 years I’m reunited with my Jota 🙂 Can’t quite believe it’s happened but yep we’re back although there were a few last minute hitches…
The Laverda specialist spent a couple of weeks undoing all that I’d done wrong. The list included removing my plastic battery blanking plate (correctly identified as being secured with a furniture bolt [which I had congratulated myself on]), replacing disc carriers which weren’t true due to paint, ignition coils from Honda VFR, Ignitec ignition as my IIS wouldn’t advance properly, correct starter solenoid, sorting out the mess of wiring including fitting headlight relays and a new front wheel spindle as the original had been turned to small to get rid of chrome plating (which of course had made it too big).
I was quite ashamed but as I watched the specialist go about his tasks it was obvious that I really don’t know what I’m about – something anyone reading this blog would’ve known long ago… Still it fired up, sounded great and I was handed the keys and told to put some miles on it so the head could be torqued down.
I left the yard something like Bambi trying to come to terms with riding the Jota after so many years and getting used to thin tyres and heavy controls. The first few miles were all fingers and thumbs but the road past Loch Lamond was unusually clear and soon I was out into open country and settling in.
Memories of how riding the Jota used to be came as I remembered how I put my toes on the pegs and rested my heels on the raised pillion pegs and the security of leaning into a tankbag.
The bike has smooth power from really low down. The Mikuni flatslide carbs’ worked well albeit making the throttle really heavy. I thought the clutch would be an issue but it was the throttle that was tiring. As the miles rolled on and I was on the final stretch from Fort William to Loch Ness I started to feel more at ease. You have to counter steer with passion, really push on the bars and get the bike to lean and then make sure you have a rising throttle. If you do this then the Jota handles and holds its line. The roar out of the silencers and the physical nature of the ride grab your attention and despite a rev limit of 5,000 (about 80 MPH/130 KPH) the Jota felt fast. You’re also aware of the weight and it feels like an unstoppable train (which it is unless you use the brakes hard).
A good night’s rest with Richard and Jenny in Inverness + a bit of time adjusting the handlebars so they were flatter saw me turn round and head south. This time I took a detour round Loch Lamond and caught the ferry at Dunoon. This was an excellent suggestion as the A83/A815 are wild and remote + isn’t it nice to catch a ferry.
The Jota was left to cool overnight so the head could be re-torqued in the morning. By 10:00 a cylinder stud had pulled out of the crankcases and the engine was back out of the frame… The specialist shrugged and said it just had to be fixed and there was no gain in getting annoyed…. It took about 10 hours before the Jota was back running complete with a new timesert. I’d be heading home in the morning.
I’d mentioned a rattle so the Ignitech curve was back off around 4,000 rpm as it might have been pinking. The ‘flat’ bar position was changed back to something more sporting – a change that proved very comfortable as it put my wrists and hands on the same line. That done a quick test ride and I was heading out of Glasgow towards Llandudno, Wales in preparation for the Welsh Road Rally which I’d entered.
I knew I had plenty of motorway miles ahead so chose to go via Selkirk which would give me the dual benefit of riding the A7 and a great coffee at https://www.threehillscoffee.com/
Neither the road or the coffee disappointed. I was getting better at riding the Jota although showing respect to roads that were a bit damp. The coffee and the A7 ended too soon and it was time to join the M6. Even listening to the wonderful music coming out of the Jota a motorway is something to be endured. Thankfully I’d been lent a mirror although the image just became a blur above 30 mph and then of course it started to rain at about Tebay Services. I took on more caffeine and chatted to a guy who was excited to see a Jota and wanted photographs for his father who used to race them (should’ve asked who his Dad is hey?).
I had 170 miles to Llandudno so gritted my teeth crouched over the tank for some respite from the rain and dug in. The Mikuni carbs’ have extended the fuel consumption by 20% so I had a precautionary pit stop in Wigan and pressed on. I missed the M56 turn so ended up on the A556 to Chester – isn’t it always so that just when you’re down something else comes along.
Finally I rolled in to Llandudno around 20:30. The Jota hadn’t missed a beat in the rain and ran strongly. There was still a rattle if I didn’t push the bike in the lower gears but I was besotted. Now all I had to do was plan my Welsh Road Rally route for the morning…
See ‘Trips’ section for Welsh Rally report