August 2015

A friend in Napier was in the way of building some very nice specials, one of which was a superbly executed Hyde Harrier. This bike had all the goodies, and the engine was out to 972cc with cams and other trickery, plus MkII Amal carbs - to say the least. I had a ride on it not long after its completion in 2007 and it was indeed a remarkable performer.

The bike was being sold and I emailed a photo of it to another friend in Germany who had a few bikes I was looking after here. Within minutes I had a reply asking if it was for sale. Not long after that it was delivered to my garage, and after sorting a few minor issues I took some photos myself.

An extremely attractive beast, and with all kinds of choice fitments, from hydraulic clutch operation to builder made rearset pegs and controls.

Fortunately it also had the power to back up the image.

Perhaps a slight imposition to cart a paddock stand about the place, although there was a sidestand - albeit one that was just a little short to reach the ground soon enough.

Up the pointy end resided an electronic speedo cum tacho thing which incorporated the idiot lights, plus there was an oil pressure gauge and an ammeter, so it was possible to keep appraised of all contingencies. However, the rate of progress this thing exhibited when cranked up meant that much higher speeds were attained than the speedo had yet displayed, so I could see that there may be costly tears at bedtime.

The owner arrived several months later and was delighted with his new bike. By way of celebration we had a rapid tour of the far north and bits inbetween, and the Harrier performed well. Fortunately the owner is a master of travelling light, as there was nowhere to hang any sort of luggage on it.

There was one slight glitch that befell the bike as we began our homeward leg of the journey. The throttle had started being reluctant to return to idle, resulting in some rather loud parking manoeuvres as the engine barked its disapproval. Heading down through Helensville it suddenly deteriorated further and we had to investigate matters at the roadside. It soon transpired that the carbs had fallen off the inlet manifolds, tightening the throttle cable in the process. We made temporary repairs and rode on to our overnight motel in Henderson.

A proper job was made there, although as it began to rain somewhat we asked the proprietors if we might park the bike beneath their entrance verandah in order to complete the job in the shelter thereof. They went one better. To our surprise, they allowed us to park the bikes in the Foyer, placing suitable signs about so that their other clients did not stumble into the workings. Magic.!

No further trouble was encountered, but on the last day of the owners stay the kickstart return spring broke, which marred his final ride. The bike was returned to storage and I later plucked the outer gearbox cover off it and fitted a new spring plus another gearchange oil seal which was in the process of losing the fight.

While working on the bike I noticed that there was quite a lot of oil beneath it on some newspaper that had been left there presumably for that reason. Querying him by email it transpired that he had noticed the leak but had no time to investigate - therefore would I. He thought that the oil tank had sprung a leak, but in the dimness of the storage shed I could not make out where it was coming from. There was certainly a fair bit of oil up under where the tank was secreted, so it seemed it would need to come out.

This is of course where the fun begins with specials. Many vital bits must be accommodated during the build, but often there are few spaces, and stuff ends up getting squeezed into every nook and other nook. So it was that the oil tank ended up in front of the rear wheel.

Removing the rear wheel and suspension provided access to the tank, but it still proved reluctant to exit through the gap, and some disassembly of the underseat area was required before it relinquished its grip and came free.

I cleaned the general area and the tank, but no leaks were evident. I poured a generous measure of kerosine into the tank and held it on all sorts of angles, but not a drop came out. It seemed that the tank was not the culprit. Next line of enquiry was the lines themselves, and while they were perfectly intact, the connections to the engine were both quite loose. He had given the bike an oil and filter change prior to the final ride - seeing it was to be laid up and all, and the lines had not been tightened properly afterwards. Somewhat fortunate then that the final ride had been curtailed by the demise of the kickstart.

In retrospect it was easy to see how all the excess oil beneath the tank had been blown up from behind the engine, leading our attention away from the cause, but then it is always much easier to explain everything when the problem has been solved.

During the reassembly I was able to make some improvements to the wiring and layout of things under the seat, so everything was spruced up and dandy when it all came back together.

Nothing has needed doing to the bike since, and it has been performing very well indeed. As you might expect. Always a prompt starter too which helps, considering that there is quite a lot extra capacity in each cylinder and the gas is getting compressed quite a bit more than standard. One needs a well-developed kicking leg.

The sidestand got extended a little to reduce the angle of bank when parked, and although it gets a lot of attention, not many people know what they are looking at. Something pretty unique is what.

The Harrier has not required my attention for some time, but of course, he bought a couple more bikes...