I’ve always had a passion for motorbikes from a young age, working on a number of bikes over the years but more importantly I have always wanted to build a land speed bike and race on the Bonneville Salt Flats in America, like Burt Munro and his Indian. I knew I needed more experience (both technical and practical) before attempting that though and so set about to get on to a local drag strip with a bike I could strip back and practice on.
I scoured the internet, looking in forums and websites for the right club – it wasn’t easy to find and there weren’t many but then I came across the SuperTwins website. I contacted Bev who told me all about where the twins run, when, what you and your bike needs to get on the track and then invited me and the family down to see what it was all about before I signed up to the club. I went up to Stratford-upon-Avon and Bev met me at the gate and took me to the pits to see the teams and their bikes. It was great to meet and get to know everyone, with their individual characters and bikes. They were united though in their love of the drag strip and their twin cylinder motorbikes! A racing family, and there are plenty of those about – dads and mums racing and then running back to the pairing lanes to crew for their kids and relatives! Brilliant. I saw first-hand what I later became part of and benefitted from – everyone offering advice and experience (and the odd spare part) to keep the bikes on the track, pass pit inspections and keep the competition alive! I spent the rest of the day watching the riders run and enjoying the commentary, learning the ropes for crewing in the pairing lanes and learning the ET class rules so that I could get ahead in the competition! To put it bluntly, I was sold hook line and sinker and having taken the wife along for the day too (lucky woman ) it was great to see her feeling part of it all too, as a complete novice to bikes and racing! Obviously then I needed to get myself a bike together – quickly and on a budget!
In the past I had built a few budget bikes and this was going to be another. I had my mind set on making a café racer and so when I found a tired old Gsx250 online for £150.00, I knew it had the potential to be a great runner and just needed a new lease of life. I used most of the original parts and modified them to work instead of buying any replacements. The tank however was from a gsx1100 and the fibreglass seat was also second-hand, both purchased on Ebay after many hours watching different auctions until the right one came up that would work for me and my budget. With limited experience, I used a lot of YouTube videos to get ideas and advice regarding electrics and welding – there is a lot of videos and information out there that can really help a novice bike builder. I also enrolled in an evening course in engineering to help me learn the basics for my build and gained experience with pillar lathes, milling machines etc. The course was also a great place to meet like-minded people that shared my passion for mechanics and offered really good advice. With the parts and skills at the ready, I cut everything I could from the frame to lighten the bike as much as possible and welded the original battery bracket back under the seat to streamline the shape. The rev counter and speedo were made from the originals and I was able to re-jet the carburetors with pod filters and put them back to use. With the electrics now relocated under the fuel tank (after much head scratching) I added the final touches to allow me to race – an oil catch can and kill tether. I serviced the engine and removed all the paint from the casings and was ready to hit the track!
Using this £500 build I ran my first season of drag racing with the National Association of SuperTwins http://supertwins.co.uk/at Shakespeare County Raceway, Stratford Upon Avon. The bike performed perfectly, with a personal best 15.9 second run at 83mph across the line on the ¼ mile. Its performance exceeded everyone’s initial preconceptions in the club and its retro look secured many double glances and plenty of interest from the spectators and other racers! My brother even used the bike for his first season the following year and done us both proud! I really enjoyed building and riding this bike and I would say if you have a passion for bikes and want to build your own, give it ago – you might surprise yourself.