Tuesday 6 March 2012

I'm still alive!

Yes I know you must be thinking what has happened to Tony!

OK so maybe you're not but I thought it was about time I resurfaced.

I finally got my MRI scan and then it only took another week and a half to get an appointment with the fracture clinic. After the obligatory two hour wait after the scheduled time of my appointment, I got to be told "there's no broken bone and no significant ligament damage" well I suppose that was good news but the obvious question on my lips....

"So how come my knee doesn't want to bend and it hurts like hell?"

Cue a slightly embarrased Orthopaedic Registrar trying to avoid eye contact and mumbling "because it's been immobilised for eight weeks". So taking the moral high ground I says "so if you had diagnosed this correctly in the first place, I could have been mobile weeks ago?" I eventually got a mumbled "yes" followed by "do you think you might need some physiotherapy?" Err who's the Doctor round here? Too right I want some bloody physio! I suppose this quaint concept of having to decide what your own treatment needs to be is what the NHS laughingly refers to as "Patient Choice" don't you just love the National Health Service? Well I suppose I have to as they pay my wages.

It seems I was right all along when I decided I had "just twisted my knee". I did ask the Registrar what I had actually done to my knee and got the amazing diagnosis.... "well you dropped a motorbike on it" you couldn't make it up!

Two weeks later I hadn't heard anything so went on the offensive, and phoned physio direct (there are some advantages to working in the NHS, I had been given the direct number by Occupational Health). Of course this coincided with half term so there were no appointments available that week but I eventually got my first assessment ten and half weeks after my accident!!!

So I'm now back at work and able to drive and even to ride a bike (with the help of my shiny new knee braces) although walking is still a bit wobbly as the knee is quite unstable, although the physio is working! By that I mean it hurts a lot so it must be working.

So what's been happening on the bike front?

Preparations are underway for the start of the Rally Season, with the first event, the RallyMoto Sprint Rally scheduled for the 22nd of April. When I went along to physio they asked about the racing and whether I had any specific targets, so I told them I want to race on the 22nd, this didn't faze them and so the target was set.

Of course that was doomed to failure when I got home to an email from the organisers telling me that due to circumstances beyond their control the event has had to be moved forward three weeks to the 1st of April.

So I now have a new target!!!

At least I have been physically able to start work on the bike. First task was fitting the new silencer, which meant fabricating a new bracket, only it didn't... looking at what was needed I realised I had something that was probably perfect for the job in my box of "bits not to be thrown away in case they come in useful one day".  So one nice unused seat belt mounting bracket originally intended for a Series III Land Rover fits the bill perfectly.

The silencer works really well, quieter than the standard exhaust but still a really nice exhaust note and it's much lighter but with power levels restored to that I used to get with the (indecently loud) CCM competition can (which is a bit of a misnomer as I can't think of any motorcycle "competition" that would allow an exhaust that loud).

Then came the wheels, now remember that they come from a Suzuki engined CCM 644, as opposed to mine which is a Rotax engined 604. No problem at the front as both bikes have identical White Power Forks and Brembo brakes so the wheels are identical too. All I had to do was swap the brake caliper mounting bracket for the one to suit the 260mm disc (remember I used to have an overbraked 320mm supermoto disc on my trail wheels). Rather than leave the stock 260mm disc in place, I replaced it with my new wavy disc from Race Discs as these are to be my race wheels.

The back wheel shouldn't have been too much trouble as although the 664 has it's chain on the opposite side to the 604, I had been told it was just a matter of turning the wheel round the other way. If only it was that easy!

All went well at first until I tried to fit the chain on the sprocket, it just wouldn't fit. Then I remembered, the 604 has a 520 chain whereas the 644 has a 525 chain, a completely different pitch size. I swapped the correct size sprocket from my old wheels and it seemed to go in OK, until I tried to move the bike that was...

The rear wheel would barely turn! I investigated further and on releasing the rear spindle nut it was obvious that the swing arm was being pinched together, putting the rear brake out of line and binding it on. The 604 has two different sized wheel spacers one thick (chain side) and one thin (brake side), that I had used. The 644 on the other hand has two identical, medium sized spacers.

After some playing around, I eventually got the wheel to fit perfectly by using the thick 604 spacer but swapping it to the brake side of the wheel and using a (medium) 644 spacer on the brake side. So the wheels are clearly not quite identical.

At present my "race wheels" are still fitted with the more road orientated Pirelli MT21 RallyCross tyres as tyre changing is one thing I am not up to doing yet as it generally involves a fair bit of "persuasion" with your knees (at least my technique does) so best to be avoided at present.

The most complicated part of the bike prep involved fitting the new TailTech Vector Computer. As standard the CCM has a speedo and odometer and that's it! Not much use in a navigation rally, which is something I hope to be doing later in the year.

Although the Vector can be mounted on the handlebars, the standard speedo housing also holds the ignition switch and warning lights (Neutral, indicators and high beam), so I had to come up with a way of mounting these in conjunction with the Vector.

The answer was found in a plastic "chassis enclosure" from electronics supplier Maplins, that's a plastic box with a screw on lid in old money! The Vector mounted easily, with the three warning lights removed from the old speedo housing (they fix in using circlips) and located in three holes below it. A larger hole on the right was drilled and the ignition switch fitted and a corresponding hole made on the left into which I fitted an external 12 volt power socket.

The power socket and the Vector were wired via a common lead and fuse to the battery. Then it was just a simply matter of replacing one of the front brake disc mounting bolts with a magnetic headed one and securing the speedo pick up to the plastic fork guard via two small bolts. The cable was run alongside the front brake hose although it was far longer than required so a loop was cable tied together and hidden away behind the headlight.

The only other change was a nice shiny new air filter, as the old one was a) looking filthy and b) had several splits in it, combined with the new silencer the bike works really well although does produce some very impressive backfires on the overrun... whoops!

So a little bit of tweaking of the carb is in order to get it perfect methinks.