On a sunny (what! Eh?, it’s November, in Scotland) Sunday morning the bold Marty and meself headed off to the Kingdom (of Fife) to meet up with Rab, the owner of this ‘ere XV Lowrider. The feature had been agreed during a particularly drunken conversation at the Mutineers rally, like ye do. Rab had been at the Aberdeen MCC’s Northern Lights Rally and had got to his bed at 6:20am (good party apparently 😉 then got up at 11am driven for a few hours to meet up with us.
He was in surprisingly fine fettle, perhaps the hangover hadn’t kicked in. Rab’s been riding bikes for hundreds of years, started off with a Tiger Cub then a B31 and a few Jap’s. He got the taste for chops about 14 years ago when he acquired a 550/4 Honda Chop, he ran that for a few years and decided it was time for something bigger and better. Before I get to the bike I’ll summarise the story that Rab regaled us with about buying this bike. He left Fife at 8am to go to Wigan where he was to trade in his 550/4 for this 1980 Yam TR1 hardtail chop. He duly did the business and was heading back up north on his new pride and joy, he got as far as Southwaite when the damp got to it and it started cutting out.
He stopped, got it going again only to get a few miles up the road and it cut out again. He parked up when the side stand promptly snapped and the bike fell over snapping the clutch lever, effectively going nowhere fast he called the very nice man in the yellow truck to help him out. Of course being eight feet in length the AA folk were in a bit of a quandary about how to transport this very long thing!. Eventually he arrived home at 2:30am and duly flung the bike in the garage. Next morning he goes out to have a look at the bike, starts it up, whirr, whirr, whroom, whroom, Bang!, F*ck! Turns out one of the con rod bolts had got bored being screwed on tight and decided to go for a wander, the con rod realising it’s opportunity made a bid for freedom. Nothing was stopping it now it had the taste, despite a brave attempt by the crown wheel to hinder it, it smashed past it and made good it escape to freedom through the crankcase.
In the ensuing frenzy the valves decided to commit hari kari by throwing themselves at the pistons. Lesser mortals would have gathered some dry kindling and broke up a few pallets and summarily burnt the b*stard, but Rab just got on the phone and wouldn’t get off until the shop had agreed to give him a US import 920cc XV motor. So there was Rab with a 1981 920cc TR1 engined hardtail chop. It was now time to set about making it his own. Originally the bike had a fat bob tank, fishtails. King & Queen seat and a huooooge “Indian” style rear fender. The Wheels both 16 inch with 130 tyre on front and 140 rear Rab did a deal with Malcs and swapped the fishtails and baffles for a single seat.
The bike was running, no eating, the 530 chain that was fitted so Rab decided to conver it to a chunkier 630 set up. He has a one off sprocket made up in alloy but this was eaten within a year. He had a steel one mad up in it’s place. one off rear sproket 530 stud setting with 630 tooth pitch on a 98 link chain . supersprox, john hemming engineers shropshire 01547 528201 This can be a tricky business when the parentage of some of the parts on a chop can be, er, dubious to say the least. In fact, when the rear brake shoes need replaced Rab has to buy KH250 shoes then machine a few bit off them here and there to get them to fit.
The rear mugguard was chenged for a trailer mudgaurd Iindespention london rd edinburgh 0131 661 7571 magma fabracation, southfield, glenrothes 01592 773011 welded the two tanks together, Rab then took it up to Milnathort to get it blasted and then had some “cataloy fun” with it. He then undercoated it to check for blemishes. Now it was time for a paintjob. Pete Mitchell at Stylistics, Dysart 01592 721944 /07932726478 had three goes at turning Rab’s vision into a reality.
He wanted a Scots battle scene but the first attempt consisted of two Scott’s Porridge oats blokes sort of facing a couple of English soldiers from the wrong century. So it was back to the drawing board. The idea of the flags, the scroll work and the monologue from “Braveheart” became the plan. This nearly worked except that the instructions to leave a gap for the digital speedo got lost somewhere and a couple of lines of words had to be repainted. To be fair, “Stylistics” didn’t charge him for any of the changes.
Like most chops with a themed paint job it’s either the paintwork or the sheer length of the beasty that first catches tour attention, certainly it caught the eye at the Alba West where it won “Best Jap”. DC Engineering, balmalcom 01337 830930 made up the slab yokes, frame shot blasted by goerge criekhton 01592 743181 and powdercoated in graphic grey by IPF southfield ind est g/rothes 01592 771805 When Rab got the bike it had two bike batteries in parallel to give it some extra cranking power, the XV motors need a fair bit of juice to crank them, that is when the starter works. They have a fair old appetite for eating starter clutches, as was demonstrated by the fact that we had to push it about for the photos since it had chewed another one. A rewire was in order, seven core trailer cable was pulled through the frame and a mini car battery was fitted. Daryleletrics hayfield ind est, kirkcaldy 01592 201911 connected it all up. The wiring and cables are hidden through the handlebars. The horn button on the end of the grip is a nice touch. Rab proudly pointed out that the front lights erm, er run about 370 watts in total !!!!.
He does have to be careful using full beam in a built up area, well he learned this after vapourising a small corner shop and a group of japanese tourists taking photos of the sights of Kircaldy (eh?) This is a proper “Real World” chop in all it senses. Put together in a shed, didn’t cost the same as a small semi detached egg box in Surbiton and actually used more than it is polished.
All in all it’s run fine, except for going through another crank which was reguilt by Kenny Harley 01592 772321 Rab’s covers a lot of miles on the bike, including a 5500 mile trip to Faro in 2001 up and down goat tracks, arguing with scorpions and generally getting lost., the Druids and the Ducks rallies in Ireland. All he needs to do now is fix that XV starter clutch 😉
Words & Pics By Al