W/E 10th October 2017


Man down!

First post in a while but I’ve not been idle…

The Scottish Rally report can be found over in the Trips section – pleased that the Atlas managed to complete all three National Rallies giving me another ‘Three Nations Award’ to put in the cabinet πŸ™‚

So back to most recent times. Friday evening on my way home and I’m rear ended by a young lady. Bike got pushed away from me and went down on the left side and I simply stepped off it. The damage is limited to bent bars, clutch lever, broken number plate, scratched front mudguard and maybe the rear mudguard (tho’ this seems to have popped straight being plastic). In addition its been out with the big hammers to straighten the pannier frame and gear change lever. I guess these things happen.


I’ve gone back to running a non o ring chain on the Atlas. The chain needed replacing after the Scottish’ and I had a non o ring in the shed. I also wanted to try it out as of course it is considerably lighter than the o ring equivalent and I’m hoping it will put less wear on the chocolate gearbox output shaft.

Immediate impression was how much lighter it is in operation. I’m not that sensitive but the connection to the back wheel does feel, well, lighter! To back up the new chain I’ve invested in some chain wax. I’ve boiled the chain once (started it off in the kitchen but Mrs A chased me out into the garden) to try and get grease in to the links. I’ll suspend judgement as to whether this extends the life of the chain. The problem with the chain is that it does need more adjustment – if I was to go touring with Mrs A I think I’d spin an o ring on for the tour and maybe revert back for solo use. Seems like a lot of messing about but the gearbox output shaft isn’t something that can be easily fixed once worn.


Clee Hill

Took the Atlas out for a ride to Clee Hill, Shropshire with Catherine on her Ducati. The roads through Ledbury and then out to Bromyard and Stourbridge are blinding. As you can see Clee Hill gives spectacular views.

However nothing is ever straightforward and stopping for petrol in Leominster saw the Atlas clutch cable break – my tools and spare cable were in my panniers which I’d removed and left in my shed…(arse)! So nothing for it but to plot a route involving the minimum number of junctions get a shove and bang it into first and be off. Lucky the roads to the M50 are quiet and with a splash and dash stop for petrol I managed to ride the 140 miles home trouble free.


Not even close…

The trouble began when I arrived home and set about sorting out the cable. I had a brand new cable but as you can see the handlebar nipple was too big as it turned out was the outer sheath end caps. So the new inner was threaded through the old outer and the original nipple pressed in to action (fortunately the Atlas only has a detachable nipple on one end of the cable). I’m ashamed to say this new cable was supplied to the German dealer by the UK’s very own Venhill…British quality, need I say more.

The clutch problem though does have a happy ending in that it prompted me to pay more attention to cable adjustment. I found that the cable not only adjusts at the handlebar but also there is a screw onto the clutch pushrod down in the engine case. I turned this all the way out and then back in to get the right amount of free play at the bar and it seems to have gone a long way to solve the clutch slip problem πŸ™‚ I think that the engine adjuster was pressing on the pushrod so whatever I did at the bars it was always going to slip. The extent of the ‘fix’ has been further highlighted by the use of unbranded 20/50 oil which has not induced any slip!

The clutch return spring is worn out again. It’s a simple matter of ‘pre-loading’ the change with an additional tap. It can be bothersome in heavy traffic when you’d ideally like it to cut down through the box before coming to a halt but it isn’t so bad I’ll be fixing it anytime soon! I know however from experience this is a warning that sometime in the future it will stop returning without a lot of ‘pre-loading’ so I’ll add some springs to parcel that will be arriving from Germany with ‘crash damage’ goodies…

I fitted and did a ‘prototype’ test on a Malcolm Cox silencer – very impressed πŸ™‚ The silencer went straight on to the standard front pipes and collector and sounds just like the original (quiet)…which has the effect of making me ride the bike faster!

On speed I got a letter from the Police to tell me that I can attend a ‘driver education’ course in lieu of points on my license for the indiscretion in Wales (see Trips) while visiting the ILOC rally. Still cost me Β£91 but for this I get an afternoon out in Shepperton by the Thames and the chance to mingle with other deviants…no doubt I will end up on the ‘Group W’ bench!

I’ve now done 1500 miles on it and it’s looking good – the back of the silencer gets covered in road filth and so far the finish is holding up fine. I’m not sure whether to take this off and refit in the summer before road salt starts being spread – not that I doubt the finish but any silencer fitted in this location is going to get a hard time and why waste it when I don’t have to?

This second picture shows the prototype front mounting was a little short but I know Malcolm changed this. The shape of the box is just as the original though with slightly less definition in the pressing (this though cannot be seen behind the panel). The lugs are there for the rubber bungs to keep the panel off the box – I cable tied some tap washers on the back one to keep the mudguard panel off the silencer. All in all the work that Malcolm has done in creating the complete system (left hand bend pipes as on the Mk 3) is great news for Atlas owners who can now get a top class, hand made, replacement that is better than standard!

Finally Harley Davidson have coughed up for the battery that failed after 18 months. The warranty manager was quite graceless and I suspect would be a bully to work for so nil marks for their customer service – but it must be said the Sportster battery is great for the Atlas…and 18 months and therefore 30,000 miles ain’t too shabby!

Nick πŸ™‚


W/E 10th September


Quite a bit of riding since I last posted – trip to Wales to visit the ILOC rally for the day and then the Scottish Rally.

The Atlas has been holding up well but is showing signs of getting tired. The starting has become a bit erratic, the chain and sprockets baggy and the tyres worn flat. 20,000 miles a year take their toll. I ordered up a set of clutch plates (same as the SF750) but will have to send them back as I got sent a set of steels and not corks…

The battery saga drags on with Harley now agreeing it’s covered by warranty (I think) but they want to re-examine the damn thing to check is it really knackered because their test equipment has been re-calibrated. Whatever the outcome I have to say I’d think twice about buying a bike from them…

Finally the road salt has yet again got in to the rear brake anchor and reduced it to powder. I have a spare but from now on will be painting them for the winter.


Old knacker next to Malcolm Cox replica – nice

Malcolm sent me down a replica silencer for the Atlas to test out for him. As the picture shows it looks pretty damn good. It fits a treat and sounds really quiet compared to the ‘box’ I currently run! I’m going to put a few miles on it to test the finish and fit and then they will start to roll off the production line. Nice one Malcolm!

So I have a couple of ride reports to post so will start with the trip to the ILOC rally which you can find in the Trips Section.

Nick πŸ™‚



W/E 27th August 2017


Been off-line for my summer hols but managed to put 500 miles or so on the ‘new’ clutch. TheΒ  combination of the best used plates and new springs has transformed the clutch but not completely sorted it. I’ve ordered a new set of plates from Slater – I think theyΒ  are the same as fitted to the SF750…we’ll see.
The clutch does occasionally slip still but more often than not it’s okay. I’ve ridden for so long with a dodgy clutch that I have to get to used to being able to push the bike along using the revs rather than building speed up gradually. It’s surprising what you get used to over time. Now I can make more of those ‘marginal’ overtakes and sit more comfortably at higher cruising speeds.

The other clutch related fix has been to replace the clutch lever with one I had in the used parts bin. The levers are quality items with a bush on the pivot pin – of course over time this bush wears which means the lever rattles and doesn’t allow you to adjust the clutch play so it completely disengages – a pain in London rush hour traffic. The old item is useful as a roadside repair and I may check to see if it is possible to just get a replacement bush to return the lever to ‘as new’ condition.

You know Autumn is here when the battery struggles first thing in the morning. My first bump start meant a trip to the Harley dealer to replace the battery. The H-D battery for a Sportster pushes out 21 amphere and a massive minimum 225 CCA (out of the box mine read 404 CCA).

I was cheered to find that the battery is only 18 months old so should be replaced under warranty. I soon had the smile wiped off my face when faced with an obstructive dealer who seems intent on wriggling out of his obligation. The battery gave a reading of 175 CCA on the drop test which despite being 50 CCA under the manufacturers minimum the dealer claims is ‘good’. He now wants to check the bike before considering a free replacement – it’ll be interesting to see his face when the Atlas rocks up to have its charging circuit checked. I have praised H-D customer service in the past but it seems to have gone downhill.
Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 7th August 2017

A couple of weeks and a 1,000 miles gone by just commuting to work and not too much else to report.

The evenings are unfortunately beginning to close in but went over to the new ILOC meeting on the 26th July and met up with Alan Cudlipp, Alex, Rob and Cris. Just the two Laverda’s (Atlas and Alan’s RGS). Rob was on a tastfully restored XS1100 (and his description of the work he’s done on his Laverda racer certainly provide food for thought as to what you can do yourself) and Alex a KTM while he waits to pick up a newly acquired Jota.

Decided to tackle the Atlas slipping clutch which I thought was suffering because I’d used 20/50 oil formulated for classic cars. Putting in the Silkolene helped but didn’t cure matters so as I was changing the oil I took off the primary case. Cleaned it all up with paraffin and also took time to do a bit of measuring – despite things looking okay the plates are below the 2.5 wear limit. I also found three of the six new clutch springs were below the required 46mm unstressed length. So had a rummage in the scrap bin and assembled the ‘thickest’ clutch I had and found another set of new springs (all at 46mm+). I am yet to road test this as I have access to the daughter’s Ducati but I’m thinking a new set of plates is in order – I believe they are the same as fitted to an SF so not difficult to source here in the UK.

In the Trips section you’ll find my report on the National Rally – round 2 of the 3 round series which is completed by the annual trip to Scotland. Got my application off so now have a month to get everything up together…

Nick πŸ™‚


W/E 23rd June 2017

Wow, sometime since I updated the blog – where has the time gone?


Well the good news is that I’ve been doing quite a bit of riding this last month πŸ™‚

There’s been some work in the garage but the focus has been on making good use of the very hot weather. The above photo shows that I have sprayed up a few RGA parts – used the ‘silk black’ and must say it’s going to need updating with a coat of gloss. The silk is too dull and also because the finish is flat it shows up any imperfections. The parts have been shot-blasted but the rust damage is still visible. I suppose the perfectionist would get the filler out and start fresh but that ain’t gonna happen…


In addition to paint I’ve also been a bit distracted by a polishing mop on the Dremmel. I’ve only given the rocker brief attention but the results show that with more work I can get rid of the road salt damage. Of course all a distration from the real issue which is to sort out the bloody engine which just needs the valve shims sorting!

The Atlas has been giving good service – we’ve gone to France and entered the National Rally all while racking up 500 miles per week just to get to work.

I’ve got to replace the chain and sprockets – I put on a fresh chain for France but because I ran it on part worn sprockets that’s knackered. An interim measure has been to change the front sprocket and use a secondhand chain off Atlas #3 (which is sitting idle). After I get back from holidays in August I plan all new sprockets + a non O ring chain. Given the fragile nature of the mainshaft I think the lighter chain is the way to go – it will wear quicker but be kinder on the splines.

I also have to go back in to the clutch to see if I can finally sort out the slip. I got some Silkolene Classic 20/50 for motorcycles and this has gone some way to helping the clutch. I’m going to see if replacing the oil a second time round will have flushed the clutch plates of the previous oil which was designed for classic cars. I see however that the return spring is beginning to get baggy so it might be wise to take off the primary case and have a look around. Whatever having ridden my daughter’s Ducati with a fully functioning clutch has convinced me that I’m really spoiling my enjoyment riding round this clutch slip issue.

So I said I’ve been doing some riding and you’ll see in the Trips section of the blog a write up of the LCF Rally – there’s a link at the end to pictures which helps bring it alive. Next week I will have the National Rally report ready.

4958_8 July 2017

1933 Rolls Royce

Finally congratulations to my daughter Jenny who married Tim – health and happiness to you both

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 28th May 2017


The main activity this week was the trip to Cor Dees Laverda Museum, Lisse the Netherlands. Thursday was the last scheduled opening of the Museum. I was at the opening in 2006 riding my RGA with Dean on my RGS…happy days.

Picture 130a

2006 – my RGA and RGS were both on the road

My write up can be found in the ‘Trips’ section.

Whilst in the Netherlands I picked up an LED unit for the back light.


My friend, Rene, runs two of these on his RGS and I plan to plumb one into the Atlas. I was wondering how to then secure the rear lens but Rene tells me that as this is a ‘fit and forget’ unit he just glued his glass on to the surround – it looked good as he left the screw heads in the lens. So that’s a plan!


I also got back to the RGA frame and put on a couple more coats of satin black. I have cut the top coat back and I’m pleased with the finish. I will do a further experiment to see if a clear coat of lacquer is worth while. I want the frame to look good but felt that gloss black would be too bright and I must say the satin when cut back does look good. Progress at last again on the RGA…

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 21st May 2017


Not much progress this week other than fitting an LED rear light. I got fed up with worrying whether I had a light or a break light and then fiddling around trying to stop the bulb moving in the bayonet – enough is enough and although the replace is cheap Chinese junk it works!

I hope to maybe pick up a more elegant LED solution next week during my visit to Lisse and the closure of Cor’s Laverda Museum.

Other than the light the Atlas is running well – what could possibly go wrong?

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 14th May 2017

A few updates since the last full post which left me with Atlas #3 requiring a roadworthiness certificate and time running out before the Welsh Rally…

The Atlas only failed the roadworthiness test on account of the rear brake. I changed the master cylinder and took the calipher off the carrier to drop it as low as possible and pumped. The brake started to work okay on the lift so job done. I took the bike for a shakedown ride over to Cirencester but although the brake could now be felt it didn’t feel that effective. I spent some time riding with the brake engaged to help it bed in but it was never convincing.

The rear brake proved good enough to pass the roadworthiness test but in truth it must’ve been marginal. I just went back to relying on the front brake which is quite normal for riders off my vintage. This weekend I bled it again and got more air out of it so we’ll have to see what it’s like in use.

I lost rear light lens on test run as well which got me wound up – the rear light on the Atlas really is a piece of junk! I fished around in the garage and found an old lens but as the screws were lost fixed it on with some tape. Good enough for the test the next day but two weeks on I still have to keep checking to see if the lens is still there but more importantly whether I have a light or brake light. So far I’ve had to take the tape off twice to get the brake light operating as the bulb moves in the holder and stops working. In the traffic the other day I spotted a Triumph Speed Triple which appears to have a suitable LED rear light which I may try and hunt down on eBay.

I wanted to change the tyres to road biased items for the rally so took a deep breath and got out the irons. I have a spare set of wheels so knew if things didn’t work out the rally could be done on the knobblies. The front was easy but I knew it would be the rear that would prove to be a challenge…and so it proved to be. Breaking the bead off the rim was a challenge and then getting levers in tricky. I tried cutting the damn thing off but couldn’t get the angle grinder in so took a step back. I thought about it and watched a few YouTube videos and decided liberal use of WD40 was called for. The WD40 got the tyre into the rim well and off the tyre came with no too much hassle.

Mrs A helped out and the new rear tyre and tube slipped on not too bad. I didn’t have to go mad with the levers and the 120/90 x 17 tyre (as opposed to my normal non-standard 130/80 x 17 size) seemed to slip on a treat. However when we went to put air in it was punctured – the air turned blue is an understatement!!! Took the wheel to the tyre shop as I should’ve done and Β£15 later had the tyre on the rim inflated. I will not be defeated on this as changing a rear tyre ought to be routine…it is something that I will attempt again!

Changing the tyres meant I got to look at the chain and decided it had to be replaced. I had one on the shelf along with a hub that I’d already put a fresh sprocket on. I decided not to bother with the front sprocket and reused the old spring link so that I can do this job another day (without the need to grind off a soft link).

So there it was ready to go – even put fresh paint on the exhausts. Over the next couple of days I put a further 250 miles on it and lost a primary case bolt in the process. The different, standard size rear tyre worked well and I realise my mistake in believing wider is better (the taller sidewall also restored the proper angle of lean when the bike is on its sidestand). In the near 1,000 miles since fitting the new tyres the bike hasn’t consumed any oil so maybe all may be well for the summer…

Nick πŸ™‚


W/E 30th April 2017



Riding to get the Atlas checked over for its roadworthiness (MOT) certificate I was struck by two things – first off how sweet the engine seemed after the horror of Atlas #2 and secondly how useless the rear brake was! I knew it was bound to fail but better to set a benchmark and know what work was officially required – time is running out for the Welsh Rally next weekend!

Sure enough the brake was less than 25% effective but the good news was that everything else was okay πŸ™‚ So back to the garage.


Taking the pads out revealed that one of the little buttons that needed pressing into the pads had come out. I’d wondered which way they should be put in last weekend when the new pads went in and with a bit of thinking realised that they were in the wrong way round – the ‘head’ should face outwards which means that the pads are held in place before the centre pin is pushed how and should the button come adrift it doesn’t fall in to the brake disc. Lucky for me I didn’t lose the button and second time round the button was held with Loctite.

This wasn’t the reason the brake wasn’t working however – this turned out to be the master cylinder so I ‘borrowed’ one off Atlas #1.


You can use tyre irons for more than tyres…

With the calipher off and lower than the master cylinder it soon pumped up and the Atlas is ready for Tuesday’s re-test πŸ™‚ Work didn’t stop here though as I had planned to sort out the slipping clutch and broken gearbox return spring so it was off with the primary case.


Homemade tool to hold the clutch in place

I’ve had a bit of experience of this recently so pulling the clutch apart was straightforward (once I used my new long allen keys and impact driver to remove some stubborn bolts – y’know this set of long 3/8th drive allen keys is fast becoming my favourite tool) and it turned out that the slipping is most probably baggy springs as all the plates look to have life left in them. Trouble is I have two sets of springs – one super strength items designed for Zane twins and the other stronger than standard jobbies. I didn’t label the sets (no surprise there) so just shoved a set in – the clutch now doesn’t feel so light but we’re not talking SF weight here!

A new gearbox return spring and a bit of high temp’ paint on the exhausts completed the days work which I will test out tomorrow (what could possibly go wrong). If I have time during the week I will put a new set of tyres on and chain and front sprocket but I can still do the Welsh without this – so let’s be honest it won’t happen.

So fingers crossed for Tuesday and time get planning the Welsh rally route.

Nick πŸ™‚