We were asked by a reputable collector (trust me they're few and far between) to rebuild the 1986 Thorpe World Championship RC500 he had bought direct from the 4 time World Champ.
We were a little daunted by the prospect.
The bike was in ok condition, after all it was 30 years old - these things don't look pretty for long! The mighty HRC Corporation gave the bike as part of the riders contract, should he win the FIM World Championship. The deal was the bike is an empty shell. No internals in the motor or the suspension -after all the technology could have fell into the competitions hands and they wouldn't allow that to happen.
The bike had been in storage and on display in various locations in its life and unfortunately most of the titanium fasteners were missing. However, we stripped the bike to a bare frame. This was a little scary as these things are near impossible to replace. There was a few major issues to overcome.
First was to locate the motor parts. Between me and the bikes owner we located most things. The last stumbling block was the electrics, we found a HRC ECU/Stator & coil but it was from a newer bike so it was some job to splice the wiring and make it work on the 86 motor. We ended up using the origonal ECU and the stator/coil from a model a couple of years newer, the motor was built and back in the frame.
The internals for the shock & forks were a little harder to track down but we managed it. The problem was one of the front axle mounts on the magnesium forks was cracked and impossible to weld so we located another fork leg but it was a completely different colour. We found a specialist Magnesium anodiser to re-coat them and they came out a very similar colour in the end. Its such a hit & miss process with anodising but we came away with it ok.
The bike was so advanced for its age, with the super trick low boy tank (with fuel pump as the bottom of the tank is lower than the carb) the bent right hand radiator. The quality of the engineering is outstanding, everything was too tight to re-assemble unlike stock bikes. This thing was light years ahead of its time and dare we say it, almost an unfair advantage. Its arguably one of the trickest motocross bikes ever made to this day.
The bike was re-assembled meticulously with re-fitting over 100 Titanium fasteners which were lost along the way. The project took well over a year to complete but we were glad to say we managed it and got the bike running and ready for use.
There is a Motohead photo shoot on the horizon and the written article is to run in their web mag as well as Pulp MX in due course.