Beware of painted lovelies is how we should’ve titled this post when we first wrote it. We’re running it again because as we all get a bit older (ahem) we tend to look back on the bikes we wanted as kids, but couldn’t afford and now that we can, we do. But even 8 year old bikes can suffer from rotten wiring and bodging owners, so if you’re after something like this ancient GSX-R1100, be sure to scratch hard beneath the surface…

We’ve had a few cases like this over the years; it was supposedly rebuilt by a so-called ‘expert’ but once we’d finished our work – sort out the swing arm bearings, headstock and linkages – the owner asked us to run it up on the Dyno and make sure all was well.

Which it wasn’t, with a definite under performance. It had been rebored 2mm oversize with Wiseco pistons and our experience tells us that it’s hard to get a good seal with this set up, and they smoke badly. We talked to the owner and then took the rocker cover off to check the valve clearances – and found most of the valve springs were on upside down.

So we got the soggy end of the stick – after talking the issues over with the owner we dropped the engine and took the head off, and the further we went in the more bodging we found. We honed the bores and put new rings in – not a cure because of the large over-bore and the rings are on top limit straight away – then re-seated the valves, sorted the springs and did the clearances. The motor then worked fine and made 120-odd bhp. Acceptable.

And the point? This bike, with its lovely paint, looks beautiful. But the gloss can hide a multitude of disaster so if you’re thinking about getting/restoring an older bike look past the surface. It’s difficult but look for originality rather than superficiality. Look at the engine bolts – have they been abused? Do they match? Hastily applied paint on an engine can hide a a great deal… and check air box clips and fairing fasteners as they’re a tell-tale of ham-fisted messiness.

Look past the fancy paint, especially if it’s new. And remember you can’t polish a t**d, but you can roll it in glitter.

And, just for good measure this beast is back for some work in 2016 – stay tuned for the next instalment!

Looks great, but needed lots of work...

Looks great, but needed lots of work…