Diff'rent Strokers

Gag Bikes

Way back in 1988 when I was collecting my new TDR250 from the local bike dealer, I noticed a strange little bike parked next to the counter.  It looked like a GSX-R designed for a small child.  The dealer said it was brand new, for sale at 999 (+ VAT !), and could be registered and ridden legally on the road.  He gave me a leaflet which explained that Suzuki GB had brought in a strictly-limited 100 bikes from Japan and were intending to sell them to collectors and to race teams to use as pit bikes.  Painted in GSX-R-style blue/white, the bike was actually designated RB50, and had an aircooled four-stroke single engine with 4 conventional gears.  Although very cute, I'd already bought enough new bikes that day so promptly forgot all about it, until years later when I took my GSX-R1100M to the GSX-R Festival at Brands Hatch in August 2001.  Proudly displayed on the Suzuki Owners Club stand was another RB50.  And it still looked cute...

Suzuki RB50 Gag Suzuki RB50 Gag

Suzuki had given their RB50 the official nickname 'Gag', presumably to highlight the not-entirely-serious nature of the bike.  In similar vein, the 'SACS' logo common to all oil-cooled GSX-R's had been subtly changed to 'Suzuki Advanced Comical System' on the little one.  In Japan, it was also available in 3 alternative paint schemes, all light-hearted compared to their full-size bikes : a USAF Bomber-inspired theme, a pink 'Rabbit Racing Team' version and a red one with 'SUZ' written large on one side and 'UKI' on the other !

Kawasaki KS-I/II

The word 'Gag' has since become unofficially applied to all of the half-sized bikes, irrespective of manufacturer.  You mean there are others ?  Yes, Yamaha produced an aircooled two-stroke mini-bike called 'YSR' in both 50 and 80cc forms, followed by a more advanced liquid-cooled TZM50R.  This later engine was also used in a mini-bike version of the TDR in both 50 and 80cc variants.  Honda followed suit with water-cooled NSR's in both 50 and 80cc.  Kawasaki too ?  Not really - although they'd had commercial success with the monkey-bike-style MT1 and KV75 back in the 70's, their later attempts were the KS-I (50) and KS-II (80) which were basically a road-legal mini-motocrosser and not really a replica of any of their full-size models at all.  These evolved into the KSR80 (2 stroke) and now KSR110 (4 stroke) which is still in production.  Did Suzuki ever make a two-stroke RG mini-replica ?  Not as such, although there was a version of the Gag called the 'Solifer', made for the Finnish market with a fairly crude two-stroke motor.  What about monkey bikes then ?  Hmm.  Well, although there are obvious similarities in terms of size and performance, like the KSR's they're not small-scale replica's of proper bikes and are really a cult niche all on their own.  And mini-moto's and pocketbikes don't count as they're not road-legal, whether they're the dedicated racing machines or the cheap lawnmower-engined kids toys that annoy the police so much.

Yamaha YSR50 Yamaha TZM50R Yamaha TDR50 Yamaha TDR50/80

So you're some sort of expert on these things then ?  No, not at all, I don't know anything really.  They seemed to be woefully under-recognised on the internet so we thought we'd give 'em a home here on  Diff'rent Strokers  (yes, even the four-strokes) and see if we could tease a few out of their hiding places.  A couple of months later, someone else had the same idea and launched a UK-based  Gag Bike Forum.  So it looked like it was about time I bought one...

Honda NSR50 Honda NSR50/80 Honda NSR50/80 Honda NSR50/80 Honda NSR50 Rothmans Limited Edition Honda NSR50/80 Honda NSR50/80 Honda NSR50/80 Repsol Limited Edition Honda NSR50/80 Honda NSR50/80 Honda NSR50 Honda NSR80

A visit to the Donington Classic Bike Show saw my wife fall for a white/blue TDR50 for sale on the StinkWheels stand.  She decided to mull it over, went back an hour later to buy it, only to see some bloke wheeling it away.  Doh !  Thus began her search for a mini-TDR, seeing two more white ones lost out to higher bidders on Ebay, and some long and protracted negotiations with an odd bike dealer who was advertising a yellow one but seemingly didn't really want to sell it.  In the meantime, I spotted a pair of poor-condition and incomplete RB50's for sale at the Stafford Classic Show, but my estimate of their collective worth was several hundred pounds short of what he was asking.  I almost bought a TZM50R spotted on the Gag Bike forum but couldn't get past the shoddy bodywork.  Although I sort of wish I'd bought it now...


And then it appeared on Ebay - an NSR50, UK-registered with tax and MOT.  I spoke to the seller's Dad, got a good feeling about it and put a bid in.  And won !  Argh - I've bought my first Honda !  It was only mine for about 10 minutes though, 'cos as soon as I showed my wife the pictures, she claimed it for herself.  A week later we hired a van and did a 500-mile round trip to collect it.  It was actually the daily transport of a 16-year-old called Grant (hence the L-plates), who used it to get to college during the week and show off to girls at the weekend.  He'd bought it from BAT Motorcycles 18 months earlier and said they were a useful resource for advice and spare parts.  As it was an Ebay purchase the deal was already done of course, but Grant suggested one of us took it for a quick spin round the block anyway.  Sara bottled it, so with a borrowed helmet off I went.  Once moving, it felt like a normal bike - the only strange feeling was when trying to do a U-turn in the road.


Although cosmetically a bit tatty, Grant and his Dad had spared no expense making sure it was well-maintained and safe, and a fistful of receipts showed the bike had been professionally serviced a couple of times and received new chain/sprockets, fork seals, head bearings, clutch, battery, fuel-tap and brake pads in the last year.  7 months tax and MOT left to go means we can run it around a bit while slowly tidying it up.  Removing the L-plates was the first job of course, along with the tankpad and a few aftermarket stickers.  Taking the seat-unit off to rectify it's poor fit revealed some kind of derestrictor or tuning black-box under the seat.  There are some obvious scuffs and worn paint on the frame and brackets that can be easily rectified, but the fairing and tailpiece are not actually painted, it's just stickers over white moulded plastic so it could be tricky to rectify the bodywork blemishes.  The bellypan is damaged too and held together - just - with a cable tie.  But it'll be fun sorting it all out and showing it off.  I quickly knocked together a little wooden paddock stand for it which should do the job until we can find a proper one from somewhere.  Now I just need to get a Gag bike for myself...

Home made wooden paddock stand ! NSR50 NSR50 NSR50 NSR50

Whilst idly looking at the pictures on here, I realised why the tailpiece didn't look quite right.  Instead of being plain white there should be yellow number panels like on the front fairing.  I'd recently spoken to a local chap called Dave who was starting up a bike painting and graphics business, so I popped round for a couple of hours to watch him in action with his vinyl cutter.  And what a smart job he's made, especially considering the filthy state of the bodywork I took round !


Sara hadn't really ridden the bike properly yet so one sunny Friday afternoon we headed for the back roads, her on the NSR and me on her 250 Hornet.  The Gag took a while before it stopped churning out loads of smoke but once warmed up it seemed to clear itself and was zipping along at 50mph quite happily.  After a few miles we stopped and swapped bikes.  Laughing like an idiot, I took off and whizzed through the gears.  As before, it feels like a 'normal' bike once you're moving, but falls into corners quickly so you end up modifying your line a lot until you get used to it.  Stopping to wait for the emptying school bus caused a gaggle of kids to point with disbelief !  On my favourite local road, the speedo needle flew past the final 60kmh mark, past the speed warning LED and ended up covering the odometer - this equates to about 80kmh, confirmed at 55mph by Sara on the Hornet.  The tacho was indicating about 11000rpm, still a little short of the redline.  I reckon a genuine 60mph is easily available, assuming you can stand the tingling through the seat...

Honda NSR50 factory accessories Honda NSR50 factory accessories     Honda NSR50/80 factory accessories Honda NSR50/80 factory accessories

Once home, I spotted that the clutch cable had gone slack.  It seems to have been routed through the wrong side of the frame, but was temporarily fixed using a cable-tie to hold it in place.  Some foam card was then used to tidy up the old clock-surround, and the top-yoke painted gloss black to cover the damage caused by jangling keys in the past.  One or two other scabby bits were given a hasty touch-up and the horrible bar-ends consigned to the bin.  The bike will be on display on the Diff'rent Strokers stand at Uttoxeter (July 7/8th) and a proper restoration can wait for next winter.

NSR50 NSR50 NSR50 NSR50 and 250 Hornet

The NSR50 got a lot of attention at the VJMC Show, helped by parking it alongside a nice YSR80 owned by Andy Peirson.  Dave and Garry from the Gag Bike Forum popped along to chat and hopefully it's stirred up a bit of interest.  Maybe one or two more will appear out of hiding now ?

Diff'rent Strokers at Uttoxeter, Jul 2007 Diff'rent Strokers at Uttoxeter, Jul 2007 Diff'rent Strokers at Uttoxeter, Jul 2007 Diff'rent Strokers at Uttoxeter, Jul 2007 Diff'rent Strokers at Uttoxeter, Jul 2007

The other bikes in the garage take turns to have their batteries topped up by an Optimate charger, so I bought another lead to fit to the NSR.  The unusual battery connections meant I had to adapt the wiring but it works OK and sits unobtrusively under the tailpiece.  Prior to this, the voltage was down to 5.9V which made me think it was only a 6V battery - no, just a very flat 12V one !  The neutral light is more like a laser beam now.

The Stafford show provided another opportunity to show the NSR off, where it was joined by Ben Jewell's lovely Marlboro YSR50.  Dave and Garry popped by again to say hello, and the Gags proved a magnet to both kids and childish adults all weekend.

Ben Jewell's Yamaha YSR50, Stafford, Oct 2007 Gags, Stafford, Oct 2007 Sara's NSR50, Stafford, Oct 2007

There's been a few RB50's for sale recently, but either they were too much money or they'd been repainted in horrible colours (eg. Rizla, eh Darin !).  I would still like one though, particularly as the garage is now home to its' big brother.  I picked up a very cheap top fairing for one with a view to making a twin-headlight conversion but I don't know how this will look.  There's no hurry though.

RB50 fairing 6 Gags at Lotherton Hall 2006

I've also acquired some spare bodywork for the NSR - a top fairing and seat-unit from Jersey, fairing sides from two separate UK breakers and a front mudguard and tank (with new tap) from Japan.  All different colours of course, but undamaged.  If it was my bike then it'd be getting a Rothmans paintjob, but Sara doesn't like it and it's her bike !  After discussing a few options we settled on Nastro Azzurro.


But before all that, a trip to the  Bristol Classic Show  and Ben's two lovely YSR50's on the Diff'rent Strokers stand.  Not to mention off the stand - Ben kindly let us all ride them round the showground when the public had gone home.  They're faster than they look !  Shortly after this Darin acquired a YSR80 for himself and a plan to put on a Gag Grand Prix theme at the next show was agreed.

Ben's YSR50's, Bristol, Feb 2008 Ben's Akai YSR50, Bristol, Feb 2008 Ben and his YSR50's, Bristol, Feb 2008

Time to get cracking with Project NaStRo then.  I sketched something based on the 2000-season NSR500 and sent it off to   ImageWorks.  They did a great job of producing a scaled-down decal set very quickly indeed.  I asked a local mate (Dave, the bloke that did the vinyl numberboards) if he'd be willing to paint it and he said yes.  He advised me to fit all the spare bodywork to address any fit problems and so it'd be easier to get the design to line up.  Good job he did...


I've discovered that the 'new' top fairing is from a Mk.1 NSR.  I didn't even know they were different, but although they look the same, close inspection of the brochures shows the Mk.1 has different indicators with much bigger mounting holes.  Not only that, but the Mk.1 has dinky little mirrors with 3 mounting holes as opposed to the later stalk type with a single hole.  There's no hole for the speedo cable on the Mk.1 and even more weirdly, the screen has 7 screw holes on the Mk.1 and only 6 on the Mk.2.  These are fairly trivial problems but will all need to be overcome.  To compound the bad news, it was while drilling mounting holes for the new front mudguard that I spotted that it appears to be designed for a slightly bigger diameter front wheel.  And is also too narrow for the forks so will need spacing out.  Why can't anything be straightforward ?


Mick on the Gag forum kindly sent me some pictures showing how the indicators are mounted on his Mk.1 NSR80.  With this information, I ordered a pair of those aftermarket 'flush' indicators and when they arrived I was pleased to discover that they cover the hole perfectly.  I should be able to fashion some brackets like Mick's out of a bit of ally strip.  Dave came over one Saturday night too and we spent a while deciding exactly how the Nastro design would best fit the bike.  He marked up some guide lines with masking tape and we played around with some of the decals until we agreed on how it should look.


All I needed to do now was a bit of bodywork prep.  Firstly I managed to remove the remaining stickers from the fairing sides, then I used some plastic card to cover the extra mirror holes on the top bit, glueing some nylon washers in to strengthen the mounts.  The seat unit has a nasty lengthways gap when fitted but there's really no need for it to be a 2-piece panel so I superglued the crack together and then fibreglassed it underneath for strength.  Then I filled the holes and scuffs with P38 and sanded everything down ready for paint.  I didn't make a very good job of it actually and as I was running out of time, Dave came round again, took some pictures for reference and then took all the bodywork away along with the sticker set to finish it all off.  Exciting !


In the meantime, the NSR passed it's MOT, to the amusement of the boys at the local bike shop who'd never seen one before.  And I've acquired some more RB50 parts to go with that top fairing...

RB50 RB50 RB50

They came with the RB50 I've just bought.  Garry decided he wasn't making enough use of his 'HyperGag' and knew I fancied it.  So we arranged a deal.  It's taxed with a fresh MOT and he threw in all the original parts including the engine.  He even delivered it !

RB50 RB50 RB50 RB50

Original engine ?  Yes, it's now fitted with a 120cc ThumpStar engine with a K&N filter and a Takegawa 'Bomber' exhaust.  Neat bespoke brackets have been made so it's all perfectly reversible, but why would you want to struggle to top 30mph when you can do almost twice that ?  It's also got a lovely pair of Takegawa clocks, mini indicators and has been converted to 12v electrics too.

RB50 RB50 RB50

Aw !  Dunnit look cute next to it's big brother ?

RB50 RB50 RB50

When I got the chance, I pulled some of the bodywork off the RB to see what was underneath.  Not much !  I tied on the exhaust heatshield properly and spaced the fairing out at the bottom so it shouldn't melt the plastic.  I also fitted an Optimate lead and swapped some of the gold anodised fasteners for plain alloy ones.  I touched up the black paint on the gearlever and engine covers and I also repaired a loose wire in the fairing but sadly it hasn't made the revcounter work properly.  Full marks to Garry for splicing the two different looms together but I think I need to tidy up that birds nest of wiring soon...

RB50 RB50 RB50 RB50

The bodywork's still being painted on the NSR and I haven't made a start on tarting up the rest of the bike to suit yet.  I did acquire a set of genuine Mk.1 NSR front indicators although one of them is broken and so needs a bracket making up somehow.  And I eventually managed to get a new screen - I didn't think it would be so difficult or expensive but at least it's here now.  Hope I don't crack it drilling the mounting holes !


A sunny Sunday saw us fire up both mini-bikes and go for a spin.  First proper riding impressions of the RB aren't good - it'll hit 80kph (probably more) but it feels like it's shaking itself apart doing it.  Having no previous experience of 4-stroke singles I was shocked by how crude it felt.  We only did about 15 miles total but I wouldn't fancy going much further.  Engine transplant No.2 I think - RG125 or something this time.  Naturally the NSR was fine, and we swapped bikes for a bit so Sara could try the Suzuki.  She preferred the power delivery of the thumper but couldn't get on with the tiny riding position or the upside-down gearshift.

So how's Project NaStRo coming along ?  Well, Dave popped over with the painted panels and we spent a whole day putting the stickers on, before he took them away again for the final coats of clear lacquer.  Photos ?  No, I took some but you'll have to wait for the offical unveiling at the VJMC Show.  In the meantime I managed to make an effective bracket for the damaged indicator and drilled the mounting holes for the screen - scary !  I also got a new small numberplate made up and fitted that along with some nice black bar-ends.  Sadly I haven't been able to find any new mirrors that suit the bike though.


The exhaust was really letting the bike down, being pretty rusty in places and with evidence of some crash damage.  I removed it, stripped the rust off with a wire brush, filled some of the dings and scratches with Chemical Metal, sanded it then sprayed it with Plasti-Kote BBQ paint (as recommended by the LC boys).  Not forgetting to mask off the welded-on alloy sleeve over the silencer of course, which was then polished.  It still doesn't look like new now, but it's a lot better than it was.

NSR50 & RB50 NSR50 & RB50

Despite a last-minute scare when the decals reacted with the final coats of lacquer, the NSR was put back together just in time to be on display at the VJMC Uttoxeter Show, alongside my RB50, another one in Rizla colours, a Gauloises YSR80 and Mick's lovely NSR80, which he was still painting the night before the show !

Not much has happened to either bike since then, apart from the purchase of a pair of RB sidepanels which will hopefully clean up enough to replace those currently fitted - the RH one that's on has a big annoying square cut out of it to accomodate a previous exhaust bracket.  Oh, and I've taxed it again - can't argue with 15/year really.  Some time was spent adjusting the clutch on the NSR as it seems to drag sometimes.


In October, the RB was dug out again and just managed to squeeze into a LWB hi-roof Transit for the trip down to Stafford for the  Classic Mechanics Japanese Show.  Darin's Rizla Gag featured again, on a stand themed to honour special guest Kevin Schwantz.  Who just happened to pop by and autograph both bikes !  We saw a TDR50 for sale in the autojumble and Sara was dead keen to buy it, until we did a bit of digging and decided to run a mile instead because (reason deleted on legal advice).  It remained unsold...

RB50 RB50 Rizla RB50 RB50 Rizla RB50

Ben on the  PB Forum  said he had a rare piece of GSX-R memorabilia up for grabs, to anyone who could prove they were a true GSX-R anorak.  I had a go at it, but thought I'd been outplayed by people who'd gone further by dyeing their cat blue/white or renaming their daughter 'SRAD'.  But no, I was told I'd won and sure enough, a padded envelope arrived containing one of the jackets given out to journalists at the model launch in Japan a couple of years ago.  It's size XXL, and not really the kind of thing I'd have bought with my own money, but I said I'd pose for a pic so here it is...

RB50 RB50

The other pic above is of a reconditioned RB tank I bought on Ebay.  It's actually intended for Darin so he can paint his spare set of panels up in a different scheme.  I did bid on some fairing panels for myself but didn't win them.

Into 2009 then and the first bit of decent weather saw the bikes dragged out of the garage and kicked into life.  The NSR had last run just before New Year when I showed it off to some mates.  The Gag had not been fired up since the Stafford show.  A quick check over of both revealed that the Honda had been leaking oil into the bellypan from somewhere and that the tyres had lost about half pressure.  The tail/brake light on the Suzuki had stopped working and the cause was found to be an LED 'bulb' that had shaken itself to bits through vibration - it was replaced with a normal bulb for now.  Both bikes were taken out for a short run, causing several stares of amusement from neighbours, the general public and the policeman driving the local speed camera van.

RB50 NSR50 NSR50

I let the MOT run out on the Suzuki as I was too busy at work to get it done.  Then the NSR one became due too so I took a day off to get them both sorted.  We rode them down to our local bike shop and left them to it.  I got a call to say that the Honda had failed on a sticking rear caliper.  Serves me right for not giving it a proper check over I suppose.  We rode the bikes back taking care not to use the rear brake on the NSR.  I pulled the rear wheel out and got the caliper off.  It's only a single piston design so there's not much to go wrong.  I pumped the piston out as far as I dare and cleaned everything up with brake cleaner, a stiff brush and a rag.  I pushed the piston back in and repeated everything a few times.  I lubed the rod that the caliper slides on and put everything back together.  Bleeding the brake was easy (makes a nice change) and everything seemed OK.  I rode it back to the shop and they gave it a (free) retest and a pass certificate.  There was also a warning about weeping fork seals (lack of use).

So both bikes are legal again.  He made a comment about the throttle cable on the Suzuki being pulled slightly when the bars are at full lock but passed it anyway.  I thought it might fail on the neutral light not working (there's no switch !) but apart from a comment about the numberplates not being big enough there were no problems.  I'd asked them to fit a new rear tyre to the Honda but he pointed that as a 'moped' it only has to have visible tread to be legal !

NSR50 NSR50 NSR50 NSR50 Do you like our ostentatious garden ornament ?>

Thanks to Paul from the Gagbike Forum I've got a brand new LH mirror for the Suzuki.  I know they're a bit odd-looking but it always looked a bit lopsided with just one, and it covers up a small crack in the fairing too.  I've also re-taxed it for another 12 months.

RB50 RB50

You remember Sara had always wanted a baby TDR ?


I saw one mentioned on the   Gag Bike Forum  being sold by   Spike Island Motorcycles  near Southampton.  Firstly, it was an 80.  It was also already UK-registered and still had valid tax and MOT.  It also seemed quite cheap (for a trade sale) although the link did mention some missing/damaged bodywork.  I thought it would get snapped up by a local forum member or one hoping to sell it on for a quick profit, but it was still for sale when Sara rang them a few days later.  After talking to the owner and poring over the many photos he emailed, she decided to buy it and hired a van to go collect it.  The boys at the shop were obviously enthusiasts and very good to deal with, knocking some money off, MOT-ing it for 12 months and even throwing in a litre of 2T once they realised the little TDR was going to a good home.  An 11-hour round trip saw it back home in our garage.


It's been used as the shop runaround for a couple of years and shows obvious signs of being well used and stored outside.  It'll need quite a lot of work to tidy it up, ideally completely stripping but we'll see how it goes.  The LH fairing is missing and the RH one has been painted matt black for some reason.  The tail fairing has a bit broken off, the tank is showing signs of rust and the seat looks like mice have been nibbling at it.  It's been fitted with some very-wide Renthal braced handlebars and also has a new rear tyre, although it doesn't match the original semi-knobbly front.  It's also fitted with the genuine factory-option rack.


The next day I took it for a quick test ride.  It started easily without any choke and settled down to a nice even tickover.  Once warm, it flew through the 6 gears and was just short of the redline at 90kmh - not bad for 10bhp !  It would probably benefit from a slight change of gearing as 1st is very low and I reckon it would go a bit faster at more comfortable revs on the open road.  There's a bit of vibration at standstill with the clutch in which goes away when put in neutral - this needs looking at although the clutch doesn't seem to drag or slip.  All the electrics seemed to work although the 6v battery was put on charge anyway when I got home.  I also noticed that although the speedo works and the 10th's of kms spin round, it never actually adds any actual whole kilometers on !  The old MOT's confirm this, meaning it's probably covered a lot more than the 11222 kms on the clock...

TDR80, NSR50, RB50 TDR80, NSR50, RB50 TDR80, NSR50, RB50

At the end of September we took all three Gags along to Paul Wilshaw's  2-Stroke Sunday  where we met up with Darin (Rizla RB50 and Gauloises YSR80) and Rob (YSR80) and proceeded to have a go on each other's bikes.

Sara on her NSR50 Ready to go Tim on Darin's YSR80

In mid-October our Honda-themed stand at the  Stafford Classic Show  saw Sara's NSR displayed on top of a podium.

Stafford, Oct 2009

And in November there were three gags on show at the NEC, on our stand at the  Classic Motor Show.

NEC, Nov 2009 NEC, Nov 2009 NEC, Nov 2009

Why wasn't my RB there ?  Well, it was loaned out to PB magazine for a feature.  Having first given it a checkover including cleaning it, charging the battery and replacing the blown rear bulb, they sent a courier to pick it up and then returned it nearly a week later.  I have no idea what they did with it, but it came back a bit grubby with PB stickers on it (easily removed) and with a flat battery.  Kar (the journalist) had told me it didn't appear to be charging but I've never really done enough miles to discover that for myself.  He also said that the throttle cable had caught on something but I already knew it needs re-routing.  I discovered that the ignition barrel is now rattling around loose but can't tell why, and - having recharged the battery on the Optimate - that the brakelight bulb has blown again.  It also smells a bit odd - did they fill it with super-unleaded or something ?  Finally, they've obviously had fun in the corners - I can probably find a new right-hand footpeg somewhere but what should I do about the gouges in my previously-mint silencer ?

RB50 RB50 RB50 RB50 RB50

Mystery solved.  In the article Kar confesses that he was having so much fun that he dropped it.  Here's some of the photos that he sent me, and the article as it appeared in the Jan 2010 issue.

Kar Lee on my RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant Kar Lee on my RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant Kar Lee on my RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant Kar Lee on my RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant Kar Lee on my RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant
My RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant My RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant My RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant My RB50, copyright PB magazine / Paul Bryant

Garry (the RB's previous owner) found a set of new brakepads whilst tidying his workshop and kindly sent them to me.  And I spotted an owners handbook on Ebay so bought myself a Christmas present !

RB50 RB50

So, 2010 and once the extended winter weather was over, it was time to get the gags out.  Just a couple of miles on each one so far.  Whilst on my way home on the Honda, I found a rear indicator lens for an NSR50 lying in the middle of the road !  What are the chances of that ?  Oh, hang on...

RB50 TDR80 NSR50

Naturally, the moulded lug had snapped.  I tried to fix it with superglue but without success.  So I tried some new product that I'd read good things about on another forum.  Plastex is a kit that comprises a powder and a liquid and some other bits and pieces.  It also comes with very comprehensive instructions but I can't make head or tail of them !  So I improvised, adding a few drops of the liquid to a small pile of powder.  As I stirred it, it started to form a gel, so I used this to glue the lug back on.  In only a few seconds, it appeared to be a solid repair, so I used the remaining gel to build up the base of the lug on both sides.  It dries very quickly, but adding more liquid can buy you more time.  When set, I re-drilled the hole and screwed the lens back on to the bike.

Impressed, I used the same stuff to repair the (recently discovered) broken fairing mount on the RB50.  I built up the area around the lug with Plastex and then glued on a disc of plastic card.  Once set, I glued in a nylon fairing washer and built up the structure to add strength.  I'll admit that the final repair doesn't look very nice, but it's strong and took very little time or skill to do.  If I added a bit of filler and paint it'd be fine.  With the mounting hole re-drilled, the fairing was fastened to the bike again.

Plastex kit RB50 RB50 RB50 RB50

But not before I attempted to re-route the throttle cable.  At last year's MOT, it'd been pointed out that the cable pulled when the bars were turned.  After some adjustment, I appeared to have fixed the problem.  I also fitted yet another tail-light bulb.  Both RB and NSR were then taken for MOT's - yes, it has been 12 months.  Both passed, though the NSR received a comment on worn front wheel bearings and the RB leaked a bit of fuel from a sticky carb float.  It also stuttered a bit on the way home, at one point cutting out altogether to the great amusement of passing schoolkids.  Fuel starvation - looks like the carb needs servicing then.

RB50 RB and NSR 50's

A couple of weeks later I pulled the carb off the RB to clean it.  The float-bowl was coated in a yellow slime which I guess is petrol that's gone off, there were also a few small rust flakes in the bottom of the bowl.  I removed the floats, needle and jets and cleaned everything thoroughly.  I was about to put everything back together when I noticed a hole in the carb body !  Looks like a hefty tap from a sharp chisel or something, very odd.  My old friend Chemical Metal was used to plug the hole and the inside and outside faces smoothed.  I reassembled everything and left the fuel off overnight to cure.  I also fitted a right-angled adaptor to the rear tyre valve as it's been impossible to get an airline on to it so far.

RB50 carb RB50 carb RB50 rear tyre valve RB50 fairing

The next day, the RB was loaded into a van to take it to the  VJMC Show  at Uttoxeter.  It wasn't destined for public display this time, the plan was to go out on the Fizzy Club run on Saturday night, in the company of Darin on his Rizla RB and Rob on his YSR80.  Unfortunately we messed up and they'd already gone when we turned up, so we went to see a mate in Lichfield instead.  Plenty of chances to compare relative performance - I couldn't quite keep up with the YSR, but had a similar margin over the other Suzuki.  I saw 105kph (65mph) on the clock on one downhill section - I don't know how accurate the speedo is, but it must be better than the tacho which was pointing to where 21000rpm would have been !  It was a 67km (42 miles) round trip, easily the furthest I've ridden it.  I've got too much mechanical sympathy for flogging something 100%-flat-out for mile after mile but they seem to take the abuse without complaining.  And there were no more problems with the carb.  But somehow a small crack has appeared in the LH mirror glass - argh !

Since then the NSR has been fitted with new front wheel bearings and the TDR has been taken for an MOT too.  It passed, but with a warning about... rear wheel bearings.  But that was ages ago now, all 3 bikes were basically ignored in 2011 in favour of some of our other toys, and the MOT has run out on all 3 and they've been SORNed.  With 2012 here and a potential magazine feature in the pipeline, it's time to kick 'em into shape again.

NSR50 TDR80 TDR80 3 gags

A new battery and new rear Pirelli were bought and fitted to the NSR, and the sticking rear brake caliper was stripped and cleaned.  I finally managed to get a used LH fairing panel for the TDR from Japan, and I sprayed the RH one white and peeled a few stickers off so that looks a little better now.  The front brake needed attention on that bike too.  The RB was fine with the battery topped up.  And all 3 passed an MOT on the same day.

Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012

And with that, they all lined up with Rob's YSR80 and KS-II 80 for a great feature in the June 2012 issue of Practical Sportsbikes magazine !

Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012

Sadly, the KS succumbed to journalist's right-wrist syndrome and seized.  And I'd already agreed to buy it from Rob.  Jim the Editor agreed to pay CB Tuning to carry out a top-end rebuild.  I spoke to them about the work they'd done - they said it'd had a new rod kit (which presumably means new big and small-end bearings too), piston/rings and a rebore.

Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012 Practical Sportsbikes magazine, June 2012

Ten weeks later, Edna (as the KS is affectionately known) is back home and I'm not looking forward to running it in for a few hundred miles.  But first I'll need to fix the fuel leak and investigate the rock-solid suspension.  The fuel leak is caused by a split O-ring in the tap.  I had to drain the tank to discover this and a couple of big stones came out with the black gunk.  The fuel pipe was bodged on too, cable-tied at one end and lockwired at the other.  Of much greater concern is the nasty noise coming from the bottom end, it sounds exactly like my old AR80 did just before it did its crank.  Has it really been rebuilt ?


A fuel-tap repair kit (same as KLR250 and GPz305) fixed the leak and I had my first gentle ride round the back lanes.  The handling is best described as bouncy.  I only did 7km, but a bunch of kids in a Mk1.Golf stopped alongside and pronounced it "wicked"...


What do you think to this ?


Yes, it's the same TDR80, we decided it deserved to have some time and money spent on it.  Simon Francis (a mate, who does all types of bike servicing, restoration and engineering) took it away with a brief to turn it into a replica of the black 250.  He stripped it down to a bare frame and painted, plated, polished or replaced every single component.


ImageWorks made the decals (brilliant service as usual), Webbs of Lincoln provided top-end gaskets, Ebay supplied a new front tyre and the essential yellow fork gaiters, I had a new numberplate made up and the local car upholstery repair shop recovered the seat.  It also needed a new front master cylinder (SR125 one is identical), courtesy of the local bike breakers.


So that's one of each.  Suppose we'd better stop now.

NSR & TDR NSR & TDR 4 gags 4 gags 4 gags 4 gags

Although I do want one of these...

KSR110-based mini GPz

Darin's Rizla RB was just visiting, honest !

RB50's RB50's RB50's RB50's RB50's

I took the RB down to Cadwell for the Classic Bike Trackdays Summer Weekender August 2013, and took it out in the parade laps both days.  A smoky YSR kept me company on the Saturday.

Cadwell 2013 Cadwell 2013 Cadwell 2013 RB at Cadwell

Sara's TDR joined Shaun's YSR - and some full-sized 2-strokes - on the Diff'rent Strokers stand at Stafford Show October 2013.

Stafford, Oct 2013 Stafford, Oct 2013 Stafford, Oct 2013 Stafford, Oct 2013 Stafford, Oct 2013

At Christmas 2013, SF Services had an Open Day and Simon invited all his customers - and their bikes - down for chilli and beer.  So I took the TDR down in the van.

TDR at SF Open Day TDR at SF Open Day

We didn't do anything with any of the gags in 2014, we let the MOT's expire and SORNed them all.  Too many other things to do, and with another bike squeezed into the garage, we considered selling a couple.  In Feb 2015, prompted by a wanted ad on the forum, I dug the NSR out of the garage to take some photos.  The battery had been kept trickle-charged, I pumped both tyres up and it fired into life 6th kick.  I checked over the bike, replaced a blown tail-light bulb, gave it a half-hearted clean and took some photos for the potential buyer.  Shame a lot of the lacquer has crazed on the bodywork, that really lets it down.


While we were deciding whether or not to let it go, the buyer bought another one instead.  In the meantime, I'm not sure about the limited-edition GSX-R50RK...


We decided to take the NSR and RB to the Welsh Classic Motorcycling Festival at Anglesey, where they were perfect for the Cavalcade laps at lunchtime each day.

RB & NSR anglesey 2015 anglesey 2015 anglesey 2015 anglesey 2015
Anglesey 2015 Anglesey 2015 Anglesey 2015 Anglesey 2015 Anglesey 2015 Anglesey 2015

Sara's NSR50 appeared at the  Stafford Show  again, where it was spotted by Guest Of Honour John McGuinness who leapt aboard and begged her to sell it to him.  She said no...

Stafford, Oct 2015 Stafford, Oct 2015

In 2016 the RB (with previous owner Garry on board) and Edna (complete with new white vinyl numberboards) did parade duties at the Classic Bike Trackdays weekend at Cadwell.

KS-II KS-II Cadwell Cadwell Cadwell Cadwell Cadwell Cadwell Cadwell Cadwell

And at the  Stafford Show  we had Pete's late-model Repsol NSR50 on display.  I picked up a NOS LH mirror for my RB50 there too.


Diff'rent Strokers had a display at the 2017 Endurance Legends weekend at Donington, so we gave the gags a bit of a polish.

gag gag gag gag gag gag gag gag

And it wasn't wasted.  Sara's TDR won a rosette for 3rd Best 80's Bike, Freddie Spencer posed for pictures on her NSR, and Tim wobbled round in the Suzuki track parade with Guy Martin.

Donington 2017 Donington 2017 Donington 2017 Donington 2017 Donington 2017 Donington 2017 Donington 2017 Donington 2017 Donington 2017

And a year later, Edna appeared at the same event, and proved a hit as both a paddock bike and a child magnet...


I tried to fire up the RB after its winter layoff but it pissed petrol everywhere from perished hoses.  I fitted some new ones, but then discovered a huge crack in the exhaust header pipe underneath the heat bandage.  The bodywork needs some plastic welding repairs too.

RB50 RB50 RB50

A long-overdue house move got in the way of further progress, so the gags got put in storage along with the other bikes.  The upside is that I now have a bit more space in the new garage to keep and work on stuff.

Gags Gags Gags Gags
Gags Gags

What's next ?

gag gag gag gag

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