Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thurs., 9 June, 2011 After topping up the oil and fuel tanks, we took the Indian up to the lighthouse at the Point of Ayre, the northern most spot in the Isle of Man. After warming up a bit, I took off down the road, picking up speed . I shifted up to high gear, but it didn't seem happy. I shifted back down to low gear and tried to make a u-turn in a layby, but when the revs dropped, the engine died. I pushed it back and tried it again. This time I tried to really peak it out in low before shifting to high. It was just barely maintaining speed it high gear. I went a bit further, then tried to keep the revs up by disengaging the clutch as I did the u-turn, but the engine died as soon as I threw in the clutch. Mike, who was on a GS 1100 BMW, rode back and got Richard and the two of them pushing me together got me going again. This time I went a couple of miles. Again, in high gear, it would just about maintain revs on the flat, or maybe a slight down hill. After a while, I went back to low, then went through some 'S' bend and started going up a hill. It lost revs and died. We turned it around and fired it off down hill and I rode it back to the lighthouse. All told, I went maybe 5 miles and Mike clocked me at about 30 MPH. A big advance from where we were a week ago, but not ideal. The bike seemed well overgeared and if the revs dropped, it was difficult to get the motor to pick up again. Back to the shop. We made some calls and found a 40 tooth rear sprocket for a KTM at a bike shop in Douglas and got it, hoping we could mount it to the Indian 35 tooth rear sprocket. The chain alignment with the Indian sprocket was quite a ways out even moving the rear wheel over as far as we could, so mounting the KTM sprocket inboard of the original actually improved the alignment. The Indian sprocket was glass hard, so it had to be annealed before it could be drilled.
I had to go to the Signing On and Riders Briefing and Richard carried on with the sprocket. In the original instructions, they said that each bike would go at 30 sec. intervals starting with the oldest (the Indian) and that they hoped the bikes would finish in the order they started. I had emailed the organizers saying I thought this was a bad idea as all the bikes would soon bunch up behind me and, in addition to being unsafe, the spectators couldn't enjoy the individual sounds of the bike. Further more, some of the machines would be very difficult if not impossible to ride as slow as I was going to go. At the briefing, I discovered that I wasn't the only rider who expressed this opinion. In fact, it seemed every rider there thought this was an absurd idea. We were told there would be traveling marshals leading the parade and interspersed though it and we weren't to pass them. A lot of riders weren't satisfied with this and suggested that the bikes be start in reverse order(newest starting first) and the organizers said they would consider this. I think this would mean I finish hours after the first bike. We'll find out tomorrow what they decide.
This evening we put on a demonstration on the Douglas Prom. It was sort of 2 1/2 laps down the road an 1/8 of a mile, tight u-turn and back up the other side of the road and tight u-turn again, then stop for a short interview. Charlie Williams went first on a '74 Maxton TZ 350, then Mick Grant on a Suzuki RG 500. Then they pushed me off on the Indian and it went a little ways and sputtered to a stop. Everyone groaned as Richard and John ran to push me again. It fired off and got rolling, but seemed sluggish. I was concerned about keeping the speed up at the tight u-turn at the end an kept the throttle pretty open and dragged the rear brake and just barely made the turn, just missing the kerb. The second time through, I thought I'd just try to modulate the throttle but, as I rolled it back, the motor actually seem to pick up. I was going too fast and the front clincher tire, which is at least 25 years old, tucked and I just barely saved it. That would have be embarrassing but, once again, I got away with it at the IOM. The interview went well and the crowd loved the bike.
The hope is that with the downhill start to Bray hill, the motor will get 'up on the cam' and I'll be alright, but I have my doubts about Ramsey Hairpin. We'll know tomorrow.


  1. Clincher tyres need very high pressure 50 (or more) psi in the size you are running.

  2. This adventure with the Indian has turned into a great nail-biter! We'll keep our fingers crossed and say our prayers for a successful run. 100 years ago the fellows were no doubt in the same place you are - one way or another.