Following on from my last post, I have one or two positive things to declare in terms of progress. Firstly, I’ve received the last part on the shopping list that needed replacing from Dave Muller. On my bike, the original part that is the combined battery tray and inner mudguard had been badly melted by the exhaust. This meant that water and mud etc could get into the tray where the battery and some electrics are located, and it also looked really crap. I’m not sure if this was a general fault with this model, because the later battery tray, which doesn’t fit my rear mudguard, has a nice cut out for the exhaust. Anyway, I’ve wrapped the header pipe of the exhaust where it passes by the corner of the battery tray and all is good.
Secondly, and importantly, the engine has been run in. A farmer in our village said that I could use one of his fields located just outside the village and away from horses and other livestock in the surrounding fields. As you’ll no doubt know, these bikes aren’t quiet! My approach to starting with the electric starter and limited power battery has been perfected, and here’s what I’ve found is easy and crucially, allows for a lot of engine starting. The battery is always on a trickle charger on the bike (with the power fuse removed) so that its always full, and I use the small and powerful jumper box (mentioned in my last post) on every start so that it’s supplementing the bike battery and doesn’t allow it to go flat quickly. It’s a light jumper battery to carry around as well. The other good news is that the bike starts on the button, hot or cold and the fuelling and tick-over is great. Also, on Dave Muller’s advice, I swapped the sexy Cannondale kill switch for one of his stop switches and the bike doesn’t stall anymore either. Phew!
Bizarrely, the name of the field that our Farmer friend loaned me for running-in, is called ‘The Isle of Man’ (IOM). This name is quite pertinent as I’ve been watching the Isle of Man TT races over the last two weeks, so it must be a fast field. Quite a lot of fields in this area have names and when I asked why that particular was called the IOM, the farmer didn’t know why. The field isn’t even in the shape of the IOM, nor is there 37 3/4 mile perimeter to it like the TT course, so there must be another connection somewhere.
Running-in day started well, which means that the bike started well and the weather was good! Whilst the field is quite flat, it has 9 corners and I used the perimeter to avoid crop damage (obviously). The motor that Ken Deal built for me is fabulous and impressive, even though I’m running it in at reduced revs’ and short shifting it for this session. The clutch is light and progressive and the gear box has no spooky neutrals and clicks into gear up or down really well. It is also easy to find neutral when coming to a stop.
I’m really pleased with the power of the motor as it leaps out of corners with great urgency, and the engine braking into corners is strong and predictable. Whilst it is a loud bike, I love the sound of it, and just like any MotoGP bike, the real sound just can’t be captured through a microphone. The suspension settings that I’ve got to seem ok for what I’ve been doing in the field, but further set-up on a track with elevation and jumps is on the future list.
So, it has taken some time, effort, cash and frustration to get the bike to this stage, but it has been worth it and I’ve met some great people in the process. The story obviously doesn’t stop here. Next step is to change the engine and gearbox oils and then get down to a practice day at a local track, so that’s the subject for the next post.
Previous posts about this bike are here: https://diaryofamotorcyclingnobody.com/my-cannondale-mx400-going-slow-to-go-fast/
All photos by the Author