Photography: JAMES ARCHIBALD We're all set for adventure on my cheapo Yamaha...almost! featured image

We're all set for adventure on my cheapo Yamaha...almost!

11 May 2018
The concept of reviving a shonky bike for no apparent logical purpose is starting to bite

Sometimes you have to wonder if it’s worth the trouble. Anyone with a sensible head would decide it’s not – but then anyone with a purely sensible head doesn’t ride a motorcycle.

As projects go, my 1992 Yamaha XJ600S Diversion isn’t a major undertaking, but it’s taken more than enough hassle – especially considering the bike’s not worth much in the first place (or the last place for that matter).

After reviving the Divvy from a long lay-off last year and keeping it going for 1800 miles, I’ve pledged to ride it from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a low-key touring event called The Garbage Run.

That means trying to smooth out rough edges and making the Divvy a more personable companion for a 2500-mile, 10-day trip. The journey involves plenty of camping, so the bike needs to be able to cart tent and clobber.

The initial project shopping list consisted of new handlebars, throttle cable, fuel hose and general service items like brake fluid and engine oil. Like I said, not the most complicated itinerary. But old bikes like this rarely allow things to run like clockwork.

The new Renthal handlebars went on easily enough, to replace the bent standard ones and also make the riding position a little more relaxed and upright.

The throttle cable was easy to fit, as were the hoses, renewed in the hope of curing fuelling issues that have plagued the Divvy since I first put it back on the road.

"Snap. That’ll be the sound of the brake bleed nipple shearing"

Swapping engine oil was pretty simple, especially as I left the 1800-mile-old filter in place, though the fact the exhaust hampers socket access to the sump plug is an issue Divvy owners past and present will acknowledge with a roll of their eyes.

So far so easy, though a quick test ride showed the fuelling issues – the most annoying being a delay in engine braking after shutting the throttle – hadn’t been eased by replacing the fuel hoses and giving the carbs a thorough clean.

It was time to replace the carb inlet rubbers in case a small hole was sucking in air and causing the over-run issue. For some reason I ignored the well-grounded advice to check the air-mixture screws on the carbs at this point, but we’ll come back to that.

While buying parts, I’d finally had enough of a long reach to the front brake lever and bought a secondhand master cylinder and reservoir for a Fazer 1000, which would take a proper span-adjustable lever.

The new rubbers were a breeze to fit and the new brake master cylinder even delivered lever pressure quickly, which I’d expected to be a nightmare of a job.

All that left was to replace the brake fluid while bleeding the last of the air out of the hydraulic system. Easy job. Bleed kit hose over the bleed nipple, turn the spanner and pump fluid through till the new stuff appears in the outlet hose. Snap. That’ll be the sound of the nipple shearing in the caliper.

Everything went on hold while a friend of a friend drilled out the broken remnants, thankfully in return for beer money rather than a proper bill.

"Hopefully we'll make it to John O'Groats. Put the AA on standby"

After that, bleeding the system from scratch was a bit of a pig, but I achieved it eventually and the Div was back on the road.

The new brake set-up was far better than before and the Renthal bars had transformed the riding position, but those annoying fuelling issues were still there.

Tank off again, and time to do those air-mixture screws. Why didn’t I do that when I had the tank and carbs off to replace the inlet rubbers? Nope, can’t answer that one.

Back on the road once more and the fuelling was eased but not fixed. Adjusting the idle speed eliminated a problem where the Divvy’s resting revs rose to 2000rpm when the engine was warm, but now I need to be busy with the manual choke until the motor is up to temperature.

I reckon we’ll make it to the bottom of the country to start the adventure. Hopefully we’ll then get to the top. The AA might need to be on standby for the final leg back home to Lincolnshire, though.

A few light tweaks aside, it’s now a case of getting it ready to carry the stuff I’ve been buying for months – tent, airbed, sleeping bag, rollmat, pillow and lights among them. There might even be a little room in there for some clothes.

The Renntec rack I’ve fitted on the back will take the tent, but that weighs 4.8kg and the rack has a 5kg loading limit so not much else will go on there. The rest of it will live on the pillion seat in a trusty Ortlieb rollbag that’s managed 13 years of faultless service.

With a dry run booked this weekend to check the loading and camping kit all works (well, I say ‘dry’ – it’s a trip to a brewery with a campsite!) I should be all set to go.

I’ll update you once Div and I get on the move.