The Jonah Diaries: Part 1
The Clown Bike.
I wreck shit. That’s all you really need to know.
What follows, in this and subsequent posts, is basically the story of my own biker ineptitude, heavily laced with the quirks of running bikes that definitely could do with an MOT. And of buying cheap gear. All mixed in with having shoddy mates and the idea that I might actually be cursed with bad luck.
For some stupid reason I’ve decided if I make the first blog on B&B about the pain of trying to turn my Daytona into a track bike, the embarrassment of it taking so long, so visibly, will motivate me to get the gearbox and fairings finished and the bike back on the track.
There’s fat chance of that happening.
There are potentially so many lame things going on in this post that it’s in danger of being so piss-poor for a single human being, that I’m going to have to save many of the stories within the story for later posts.
Who knows, we may have an ongoing series dedicated to being jinxed on our hands here.
For the moment, the most important thing to know is that the bike is currently sat in my garden shed. Where it’s sat since since the last track day I did on it.
When I broke the gearbox.
Back in August.
Feeling very far from the track…
Actually, I don’t even know if it was August it was so long ago.
What I do know was I was coming out of the Druids hairpin at Brands Hatch when there was a nasty bang, and a crunching noise and then a complete loss of transmission.
Hauling the clutch in, my already built-up speed took me down through Graham Hill bend before I came safely off the track and onto the grass.
Panicking, I didn’t think about the possibility of sheared cogs working their way around the engine. Instead, I found 2nd gear and managed to ‘nurse’ the bike back into the pits.
I still wince at the thought of the sounds the bike made.
As you’ll come to understand, I’m no mechanic, let alone mechanically minded, so the potential damage I could have brought on (and as I write still don’t know might have occurred) was clearly not front of mind.
Luckily I had a trailer. Having had a minor spill at the TT (that story will come another day) that did over £1k’s worth of fairing damage despite only happening at 20mph, I’d decided to turn the bike in a dedicated track bike, complete with race fairings, which along with the removal of lights etc. would get the weight down and get the speed up.
In Clown Bike guise, pre the melting of 4th gear.
Unfortunately, before the day I hadn’t had time to get the fairings fully repaired and painted. So what you see above is the sponsored-by-clowns racing bike.
Frankly, I didn’t care what it looked like. This was my first day on a bike dedicated to track use. I’d got race fairings, I’d got a trailer, I’d even got new rear sets as on previous trackways I’d scraped holes in my £200 Alpinestars boots.
At this point, I’d like to say that the Daytona is a little low for race tracks, which is why I’d torn holes in the front of my boots and welded the exhaust joints together, by getting the bike too far over.
Which, of course, is utter bollocks. I’d just not bothered to get the suspension set up properly.
Loads of guys have tracked old-school Daytonas and still do in Thundersport racing.
Back to those rear sets. They were £99 specials from eBay. Cheap CNC from China and for the first four sessions I struggled to get the position of the pegs right. Also, the selector seemed to be missing a connector so I’d had to stick with the original selector which was too far in front of my toes. I’d been constantly missing gears all day.
By the third session, I still hadn’t got the position right but was sick of pulling into the pits and just ran with it, missing and crunching gears as, over the session, I built my lap speeds up.
What happened next was clearly not helped by my selector not connecting properly. But in my defence, the ’97 Daytonas were (unknown to me at the time) known for having a weak 4th gear, that was prone to shattering*.
Which of course, given the punishment I’d been subjecting it to on track, compounded by a dodgy selector set up, it was honour bound to do.
Wait. I’d forgotten something else from my “I’m a racer now’ list. As well as the fairings, rear sets and trailer, this was the first day out in my new-to-me Berik leathers.
The leathers, bought second-hand from Gumtree, were so tight I don’t know what actually happened to my ball sack (sorry ladies) when I pulled the zip up.
Putting the back protector in meant I couldn’t actually breathe. Seeing as breathing is more vital than a functioning spine, the call was to lose the protector.
I now need to introduce one of my best biking buddies Jason, who was along for the day on his RC8. He had spent the entire event in stitches thanks to ‘clown bike’s’ appearance and because the leathers were so tight I needed his assistance to get out of the top half between track sessions.
What had really set him off though was not the yellow and unpainted colour scheme. “Where’s the seat?” was his first question when he saw the bike at the beginning of the track day.
I’d looked at the Daytona. The basic race-spec foam I’d cut to fit and stuck on with standard doubled sided tape, had disappeared. Only the tape remained.
We concluded the seat was somewhere back on the M25. But the problem was the sticky tape would take pretty much a whole session to take off. As this was an evening event with limited sessions I didn’t have time. The usual race spares guy wasn’t around either so I couldn’t but replacement foam.
So, to keep from sticking to the seat and getting glue all over the leathers, I stuck toilet paper on the seat. Jason was, literally, in tears, every time he looked at the bike.
I did see the funny side. But after each session, it wore off a bit as I picked sticky bits of toilet tissue from my leather’s bum.
Back to the now non-running bike. While Jason finished his final session I prepped the bike to get it back on the trailer. With a complete stranger’s help, I’d struggled out of the leathers and re-discovered the existence of my testicles, so that was one last thing to think about.
Sessions over, J and me tried to get the bike onto the trailer. It wouldn’t go, as the slope behind the pits at Brands combined with the ramp being a little on the short side combined to make the bike’s ground clearance too low to get it onto the bike.
By this time I’d had enough. Hot and knackered from the day’s shenanigans I wasn’t prepared to mess about anymore.
I knew that one almighty push would scrape the belly pan along the back edge of the trailer. But as I still had a load of fairing repairs still to do I saw it as an acceptable price to pay, just another hours sanding and filling.
With a heart-stopping screech of plastic on metal (but thankfully no cracking), the bike was finally on the trailer. Strapped down, I put the trailer’s number plate in place and felt I could now head home without too much more going amiss.
I was wrong.
Part 2 coming soon.
*The Daytona has had a few known faults over the years, from perishing breather pipes to the weak 4th cog, but the T595/955i is an awesome bike and deserves all the praise reviewers give it. It’s fair to say I love that bike and I’ll never sell it, no matter how much I break it. Or it breaks me.