March 12, 2015

Sunmaster 14 - part 2

It's been 2 weeks since I got the frame back from the powder coating shop. I was left very upset, since they managed to literally fuck it up TWICE.
The first time they didn't prep it properly, leaving some grease on it, which after reacting with the powder coat, turned into an ugly tumor. Sending it back to get sand blasted and coated again, resulted in a better color on one hand, but left me in dispair when I noticed that all the external threads (engine oil outlets and rear shocks) were completely stripped naked. An overzealous sand blaster perhaps...

After no apology nor an offer to make things right seemed forthcoming (Thai style), I decided to sort it out myself, well...sort of. I drove 250km to meet up with Mr Mangoon, my aluminium tank supplier, who I trust and had faith in to do a proper job.

After explainig to him what the problem was, he and his team went straight to work. What I thought would be a fiddly and lenghty job, consisting of cutting off the 2 unusuable threads (top and bottom) that deliver oil to the engine, turned out to be relatively easy. The top thread broke off almost by itself and in 5 minutes they welded on a new one. The bottom one is actually a piece that is screwed into the frame and has the thread on the outside and a filter on the inside. Once we unscrewed this part we noticed that there wasn't any filter attached to it. In fact, all that was left of it was just a lot of dust and debris!
Now I don't know if the filter was like that before it got to the powder coating shop, or if it was a result of the powder coating process. In the end I have to consider myself lucky that we discovered it. God knows what would have happened if all that crap had found its way to the engine innards! Luckily, they had a replacement bit at the shop, so that got sorted out quickly.

To fix the rear shock mounts took a bit longer. We cut off the old thread, drilled new holes through the mounts, made new threads inside, so that I could use new bolts to hold the shocks in place.

As if all this good luck wasn't enough, Mr. Mangoon (Dragon in Thai) refused to take any money for his help. On the contrary, he gave me a new megaphone exhaust pipe that they made in his shop. Beautiful and lightweight, made of stainless steel with the rear cone made of machined aluminium, it will soon find its way to the Omega Racer website and be available to all.

Now I'm back on track with my project, so stay tuned for more ups and downs that will inevitably arise!

March 8, 2015

Test Day

Today I had the chance to test ride a large variety of bikes thanks to a bike event at Mega Bang Na, a big shopping centre on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Present were BMW, Ducati, Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha. Due to the fact that the test 'track' was a small parking lot and testing each brand involved going back and forth to the respective shop boots at the entrance of the shopping mall (under the scorching hot sun), I could only do that 4 times before risking to pass out.
Like I said, I could only test ride the bikes in a small enclosure in the parking lot, just long enough to red line the first gear or cruise around in second gear.

I started with Yamaha, who had the new SR, the Bolt and the FZ09 (aka MT09). I love the SR (my SR) to bits, so it was quite disappointing to ride the fuel injected version. To me it seemed far too quiet, powerless and all together not very inspiring. Definitely not a bike to keep stock.
Next was the Bolt. It was very difficult for me to get used to the riding position. I don't like to have my feet pointing forwards. It handled well for being a cruiser, brakes were good too and the engine sound was not bad either. I didn't like the clunky gearbox.
Lastly, the FZ09: great feeling, smooth engine, excellent handling and brakes. Seating position ok. Looks like a very good fun bike. For me, only the very modern styling is a negative point.

Next in line was Ducati. I first tested the Scrambler of course. Been waiting for that for the past 2 years, when the first rumours about it emerged. I was afraid to be disappointed after all the anticipation, but hey...nothing further from the truth!! It's great! The engine is super smooth and gives off a very satisfying growl when pushed. Just imagine what it will sound like with a Termignoni...
Excellent brakes, fantastic inspires confidence from the first few meters. LOVE IT!
After such a high, the rest of Ducati's offerings were less than fun to ride.
The Hypermotard was still a good ride with good handling, but definitely not as intuitive as the Scrambler.
The Monster seemed to have a fueling problem, stuttering at very low revs. Seating position was cramped and to me it seemed there was the front of the bike missing. It looked like the bike finished abruptly at the front forks. All in all it felt stiff.
The worst for me was the Panigale 899. Granted, a small parking lot is just not fair towards a pure breed racer like her, but that is what I had. The pretty stiff clutch was a killer and combined with the riding position, must be a nightmare to ride in normal road conditions, let alone in busy Bangkok traffic. She looks great though...

After that I went to Suzuki.
The Gladius 650 is a good bike and to me looks great with its rounded design. It feels lighter and smaller than my ER6n. Good handling, but overall it doesn't feel like a 650, more like a 500. I think I prefer the ER6n. The V-Strom 650 felt good, but a bit too tall for me (170cm). Very good handling, decent brakes. More so the 1000cc version of the V-Strom. Again, too high for me, but once it runs you forget all about it. Very smooth engine and intuitive handling. Right after the 1000cc I went down to the VanVan 125. Finally I could touch ground again! The VanVan was super fun regarding cornering and very comfortable, open the throttle and there's nothing happening. Even my Suzuki Shogun 125 has more power. A pity could be so much better.

Honda has never been big in my dream bike list, but I got quite a reality check after riding the CB650F. WOW, what a bike. The handling was superb and I felt in tune with it as soon as I mounted it. And the engine just added to the riding pleasure, being 'there' whenever you need it. Sorry Honda, for years I've looked down on you, but with this bike you changed my mind. (I still think you should fire all your design department though, and employ some Italians).
The last bike I tested was the new Goldwing...what can I say...big, heavy...a bit ugly.

So, for me there were 2 bikes that clearly stood apart from all the others. They are similar in riding position, handling and for the fun factor, but very different in the 'soul' department. While the 4 in line Honda CB650F gives off a symphony of whining, wizzing and buzzing (sorry, I'm not an inline4 type of rider), the Ducati Scrambler (Icon) seems to go deeper inside me and temptingly lures out the bad boy in me. Yessss!!
For 285.000Baht you certainly can't go wrong with the Honda. Throw in almost 100.000 more (375.000 Baht) and you can get the basic Scrambler Icon in yellow.

I better start saving....

March 5, 2015

Yamaha XJR1300 by The Sports

Our friends at The Sports are making big waves again with their custom built Yamaha XJR1300, by appearing on a feature article on Bike EXIF (TOP 5 XJR1300 Customs). Bike EXIF is the biggest bike blog on the net, so it's definitely not a small achievement!

The Sports supplies us at Omega Racer with some beautiful and exclusive Yamaha SR parts, too.
Check out the custom made seat cowl or the stylish rear turn signal brackets.
We'll also add The Sports mini switches and refined clip-ons shortly!

The Sports are well known for their outstanding craftsmanship and their attention to the tiniest details. Check out these pictures to get some inspiration and motivation for your next build!