Classic Motorcycle Projects Run Amuck

| 8/30/2012 1:28:33 PM

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laverda rgs 1 
Lovely to look at, but sometimes hard to keep on the road.

Call it eternal optimism or just plain stupidity, but even though years of experience suggest otherwise, I still launch into classic motorcycle projects assuming everything will go according to “plan.” I mean, what could go wrong tearing apart a 30- or 40-year-old bike, right?

The latest little “deviation” from plan started with a suspension project on my 1983 Laverda RGS. Last October I rode the RGS to Alabama for the annual Barber Vintage Festival. The 1,600-mile round trip ride went swimmingly and the Lav ran great, but the suspension seemed lacking in control and comfort, not particularly surprising given the bike’s age (almost 30) or mileage (66,000 and counting).

At Barber, I got to talking with Race Tech vintage motorcycle suspension guru Matt Wiley about my suspension woes. No sweat, Matt said, let’s strip it, clean it and upgrade it to Race Tech’s emulator valves (so-called because they emulate modern cartridge fork valve technology and let you tune the damping curve). Cool.

Back home, I waited until the end of the riding season to strip, clean and ship the fork internals off to Matt to perform his magic. I’ve installed Race Tech emulator valves in a BMW, but Matt said he wanted to do this one himself so he could have some fun upgrading the fork legs with hard-anodized insides and powder-coated outsides.

That was in early January, and I wasn’t in any rush, figuring I’d use the winter down-time to take care of a few other related issues, like stripping the steering yokes to powder-coat them and replacing the steering head bearings. And with the bike stripped down naked it was also a good time to pull off the valve cover and check the valves.

9/7/2012 2:50:32 PM

Richard....still not bad for a bike with 66K on the odo. Nice looking bike, BTW.

Gerald Estes III
9/6/2012 10:51:23 PM

the best part is nothing got you down - that bike, just looking at it says ride. with all those miles in a common mans performance roadster you gotta expect some things are going to be,just plain...frustrating. thanks, the resto / maintenance column passed on a lot of good info.

9/6/2012 10:28:51 PM

But Richard, that's why we love to own these classic bikes....