Spannerman February 2014

Date 20.2.2014

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader

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Spannerman’s Soapbox

The Broadford Bike Bonanza is on again on April 19 – 20. It’s probably my favourite motorcycle event in Australia and drags out the best assortment of pre’86 bikes you’re likely to see anywhere in the world.

The whole story of two wheels is there – road bikes, trail bikes, racers, scramblers, endures, speedway, motocrossers, sidecars and dirt trackers.

Riding your own bike on the various circuits is easy but it’s just as much fun to amble around and talk with the owners. MT is the official media partner for the event and Penrite is the naming-rights sponsor (so it’s officially the Penrite Broadford Bike Bonanza) but, unlike most other big motorcycle events, you don’t get overwhelmed by the commercial glitz. There are no grid girls or politicians trying to take advantage of the crowd. The 4000 or so who turn up will all be genuine motorcyclists.

Even the ‘Gala Dinner’ is a relaxed affair. It’s held in a local community facility with a capacity of about 120 and the entertainment is our occasional contributor, Alan Cathcart, interviewing some of the amazing riders who will show up for the event.

There are modest trade stands and a continuous swap meet but nothing that takes away from the authentic spirit of the gathering.

You’ll enjoy it most if you take advantage of the on-site camping and excellent catering (plus bar!). It reminds me of some of the giant rallies of the 1980s.

The MT staff, including me, will all be camping there so make sure you say hello. I took a bike up last year to do a few laps of the road race circuit but was too busy to make it to the grid. This year will be different. For all the details, find a computer and visit Motorcycling Australia (ma.org.au), look along the little yellow line at the top of the site and click on BBB. See you there…

LETTER OF THE MONTH

WEIGHTY SUBJECT

You said MT was going to do a feature on LAMS bikes at some stage in the future. I’m particularly interested in how the formula works to determine what is, and what is not, eligible under the scheme.

How is power per tonne actually determined? My father owns a 1955 T110 Triumph. Would that be classed as learner-legal?

I currently have a Hyosung 250 Comet so no worries there but would love a GT650 sport version. Does the restriction on the engine make much difference compared with the de-restricted version?

Barry Burdess,
NSW

Your wish is our command, Barry – there’s a big LAMS feature in issue #278 (watch the video here) which will give you some background.

The limit for LAMS bikes is 150kW per tonne. You need to know the power of the bike in kilowatts and the tare weight of the bike. The latter might be a bit hard to find as manufacturers often quote kerb weight. ‘Tare’ weight is the weight of the bike unladen and with no fluids (oil, petrol and the rest). Kerb weight is the bike plus all fluids and a full tank.

You can get a rough idea of tare weight if you know the kerb weight by estimating the weight of the fluids and deducting them. Petrol weights about .711kg per litre and an average weight for engine oil would be around 0.87kg per litre.

Because weight is a marketing tool, manufacturers often go to great lengths to claim the lowest possible weight – to the point of removing the lubricant from o-ring chains! Ironically, to get a bike LAMS approved, they now want it to be as heavy as possible.

Most states provide a list of ‘approved’ LAMS bikes which must have been tedious to compile for the public servant involved. The states rely on the power and weight data provided by the manufacturers. The NSW list is a good one but the WA list is easier to read on-line.

So, to determine if the bike you have in mind produces less than 150kw per tonne, divide the claimed engine power by the claimed tare weight and multiply the result by 1000. Using a Royal Enfield Bullet as an example, it claims a power output of 20.2kW and a weight of 187kg. If you divide the power by the weight and multiply the result by 1000 you come up with a figure of 108kW per tonne, well under the limit.

Most states (you need to check as some differ) including NSW will accept any motorcycle manufactured before 1960 (and with a capacity of less than 660cc) as learner legal. I’m guessing the public servant just couldn’t be arsed going back any farther than that to put bikes on the list. It means, of course, you can ride your dad’s T110 (if he’ll let you).

The ‘official’ LAMS lists have some fascinating options for learners interested in classics. What about learning on a BSA A65 650 or a Gold Star? The Honda Deauville NT650V qualifies, as does the BMW F650GS Dakar. Weirdly, Yamaha’s IT490 is included but, off the top of my head, I can’t think of a less suitable bike for the inexperienced. If you could raise the money, a Norton 650SS and a Velo Thruxton both make the grade. Indeed, it’s a grand time to be a learner.

One last thing: even if you work out the rare and unusual model you own produces less than 150kW per tonne, if it’s not on the list it’s not classified as legal. They’ll put it on the list, though, if you ask nicely.

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Charge of the light brigade

I own a Kawasaki Z900 (yes, yes, lucky me) which only gets used infrequently. I keep it on a battery charger but on two occasions now the charger seems to have killed the battery. Instead of it being fully charged as I’d expect after I disconnect it, I’ve found it dead flat and unable to be revived. I’m not using expensive batteries but they should last longer than six months, particularly with the small amount of use the bike gets. What’s going on?

Graeme Clay,
email

You don’t say what type of charger you’re using, Graeme, and it would be handy to know the battery specifications as well. Most motorcycle-specific chargers these days are fairly sophisticated and will turn off when the battery is fully charged. Think of it like filling a glass at a tap. When the glass is full, no additional amount of water you try to put into it will be of any use.

While you’re riding, your bike’s regulator will be supplying charge to the battery to keep it in prime condition and compensate for your use of electrical items like lights and indicators. After a long ride, your bike’s battery will be holding as much power as it can. A trickle charger is useful for keeping it in that state while you’re not using it but you need to ensure the charge rate is right for the battery. You never want more than about a quarter of the battery’s AH rating. If you have a 14 AH battery, the maximum safe charge would be three amps. Some car battery chargers provide more than this and shouldn’t be used.

Find a charger that adjusts its charge rate automatically over the charge period and doesn’t deliver more than around 1.6 amps. It should go into idle mode when the battery if fully charged and switch itself back on again when the charge level drops with time.

Projecta has two chargers suitable for bikes. The first is a 900mA unit and the other is a 1600mA. Both will charge to 14.2 volts then cut out, cutting in again when the charge drops to 13.4 volts.

One of these (go for the 900mA unit) will keep your Kwaka’s battery in fine shape.

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Kawasaki burble

After a recent 200km ride, my old Kawasaki Z750 sounded like a chaff-cutter.

It sounded fine before the run and shithouse afterwards. It still seems to run well but the engine noise is entirely different. I thought it might have been something to do with burning out the gunk in the exhaust (replacement four-into-one) but the more I listen the more convinced I am it’s the engine which is making the noise. Ever heard of anything like this?

Cam Getty,
email

There are four little outlets on the inlet manifold side of the engine, Cam, where vacuum gauges can be fitted to balance the carbs. These outlets have rubber caps and it’s likely you’ve lost one or more of these caps on the trip. Replace the caps and the noise will magically disappear. By ‘old’ I’m presuming late ’70s – early ’80s. What nice bikes they were.

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 If you’d like some help, write to:

Spannerman,
c/o Motorcycle Trader,
Locked bag 12, Oakleigh
VIC 3166

or email mct@bauertrader.com.au