I think I have a weakness for older bikes and cars, I’ve had many new ones, but it’s the old ones I’ve really got involved with and enjoyed. I guess I understand them better and as I get to work on them feel more a part of them. The new stuff has been great fun, but mechanically and electronically beyond me.
I’ve drag and landspeed raced bikes back in the UK, throwing Hayabusas and stroked and bored ZX12r’s down Santa Pod or Elvington. I’ve had a nitrous’d Kawasaki spit out all four pistons and burst into flames at over 180mph at Woodbridge. I also dragged a BMW K1 there which was great fun when shifting from 1st -2nd in picked itself up and jumped a metre to the right…
I had too many bikes and too much fun over there, but when I got to Dubai and I thought about getting a bike for fun a modern one just didn’t feature. I wouldn’t be commuting, or racing, I didn’t want a garage Queen. So where to look.
We all have bikes we regret selling, actually some of mine were modern, but most of all I look back fondest on my old Katana – the Donkey Choker. Admittedly I bought it already made, a Pip Higham built, Streetfighers feature bike, bored, roundslide carbs, dymag wheels, harris arm and pipe, spondon discs, white power USD forks… a great bike. Sadly I almost killed it at Woodbridge doing a LSR run for a laugh. But it was after that, buying an EFE and switching out the engine that was the most fun. Now I’m no mechanic, but I can be methodical and can be determined, so in this respect my ability just about matched my ambition and it all came good. Not only that, the black engine looked much cooler!
But I digress, scouring Dubizzle (a Middle Eastern listing site) the choice of bikes is limited, the choice of classics and 80’s bikes more so. Of course you can import, but that seemed a hassle, and I already had the Bella in bits heading over. I tried to chased down a K1 I saw advertised but the seller was strangely elusive. I considered a Harley, but saw the light. Then up popped a CBX1000… now that’s a cool bike I thought so I phoned, true to form I went to see the Bike and forgot to negotiate, paying the asking price in cash. Now I realize in this part of the world they expect negotiation, but I forget.
I had bought a non-running but great looking CBX, from a bike loving Emirati, who kindly offered me advice and references to mechanics and later dropped off some spares he had found – thank you Salesh. I promised to give him a should when I had it up and running and we’d go for a ride out… I didn’t expect it to take a year or more though, but time runs differently here.
So a non running CBX1000, 6 cylinders and 6 carbs to worry about, charge it, balance then and we’ll be off and running. Well, that’s what a sensible person would do. Me, I’m often distracted by the aesthetics, and ebay and wine. A quick uniformed browse of the net told me I need a 6-into-6 exhaust and some CR carbs. A bit more googling and the exhaust was ordered from Pipemasters in Australia and I’d found Tim’s in the USA for all my other needs, even some things I didn’t know I needed. Keihn CR Carbs, a new alternator, etc.
– I also used this an as excuse to clean and rebuild the carbs, so a re build kit and the purchase of an ultrasonic cleaner and we get these – which I don’t plan to use!
Getting rid of the airbox etc to fit the carbs got me a bit carried away and I carried on stripping… get the loom off and I may go all the way and blast and coat the frame, but then I realized things were a but askew… the rear of the frame seemed twisted, a refit of the tail piece confirmed this.. damn.
Marked up the twist was clear, but the options to get is straightened were limited. A call to my go-to guy in the UK, John Warrington who built me stroked and bored 1394cc ZX12 LSR bike, was met with the usual derision. A frame straightening expert with the jigs and software, he told me I could send it to him 3500 miles away but the engine would have to be in the frame and it’d be way too heavy. Plan B he suggested was a large metal bar and 6 mates. 5 to hold the bike and 1 to bounce on the end of the strategically placed bar.
I liked plan B, but one night when my wife was heading out and I was deep into a nice bottle of Del Duero, I hatched Plan C. Cargo strapped the bike to column in the car port and positioned myself on the end of the metal bar. It worked, okay I went a little bit to far and had to flex it back again, but I’m pretty confident in saying that it is now spot on.
So one problem fixed, onto the next – balancing the CR carbs. Some of you will know that there is no vacuum take off, but it not easy. With that advice ringing in my ears I decided to reach out and sent it to a bike shop in Dubai. Lovely guys, but a big mistake.
The had the bike for about four-five months before eventually giving it. In that time they tried their best, but couldn’t balance the new or old carbs. We then looked at the compression and two were down, so I sourced new valves etc at great expense and they were fitted before it went off to the machine shop
What happened next is still painful and pretty much unbelievable. The garage decide they didn’t have the knowledge or time to sort the bike, so they popped the head back on and passed it on to a larger garage. Thankfully the new garage wanted to strip the head and check everything before they tried to get it up and running.
They found that the previous garage, who had apparently sent the head out to a trust machine shop, rather than reshim the valves had decided to ground down the stem heads, in situ! So the brand new 30yr old NOS stems and retainers had simply been ground down whilst in the head and of course all the swarf was kindly scattered around.
Well that chapter is now behind us. Duseja did a sterling job, communication was great. They totally stripped the engine, replaced some worn gears, and fitted new chain guides and got the bike turning over again…
Whilst all of this was going on I reached out to Will Chatto at DentMaster again and he came up trumps with a great paint job on the tank and body work. All was great before, but the tank had fallen off a shelf in the shed and creased it, so I thought it best to get it all resprayed and decaled. Looking at the result this was the right decision.
Next, I was looking forward to getting the CBX back and finally getting her on the road. Bikers Café was right around the corner and whilst I’ve been there in the NSX, I was overdue a visit on two wheels – after all I did buy new summer riding gear when I bought the bike over a year ago or was it two!
The CBX actually came to the USA with me when I moved there, but with a quick turnaround I decided not to bring it back and sold it whilst over there, leaving a 80’s bike sized hole in the garage…