Project Bol d'Or Part 2: Bold steps

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With only a week to go until Europe's biggest biking party, we couldn't help but think - will it start without us?

Rich’s Paso – Odds 6/1

The Rider: Richard Newland, Deputy Editor
The Bike: 1991 Ducati Paso 750
Crashed then abandoned, our Paso 750 was bought in this state eight years ago for the princely sum of £400


‘When there are so many problems, it’s hard to be sure which to attack first’

It’s not often that I feel the bile of fear creeping up into my throat, but sitting in my workshop staring at the Paso has got me choking it back. When there are so many problems to sort, it’s hard to be sure which to attack first, especially as each one affects at least one other, and some could see the project die in its infancy.

After two or three cups of coffee, and the sort of focused middle-distance staring that usually marks someone out as a lunatic, I decide that job number one has to be fuel lines. At least with them all changed, I can run the engine properly, and get some sense of its health.

With three metres of new fuel line in hand (, and a K&N inline fuel filter, I replaced each section one by one, only to discover a crushed T-junction that would need replacing before fuel could once again course in its veins. I carried on regardless, adding the T to my shopping list, while I hustled through a variety of servicing jobs. With a stack of sundries all sourced from Wemoto, I set about whipping out the old spark plugs, and replacing them with new NGK items. The old ones looked pleasingly normal, and identical, a good indication of the engine’s fitness. New ones installed, I drained the engine oil, whipped the old filter off, and fitted a new HiFlo filter and sump washer, before refilling with Halfords’ semi-synth 10w40. 

A new Motobatt battery replaced the deader-than-a-brick old one, and I ran a quick check through all the electrics to discover no obvious problems, beyond a frighteningly dull headlamp. Night rides have been crossed off the list.

The corroded and crumbling brake pads all succumbed to a full treatment of Brenta front and rear (still Wemoto), while the close inspection revealed a lot of damage, and weeping, from the old lines. A quick scour of HEL’s website revealed they stock a fitment for the Paso, so I fired an order in.

A bit of Dremmel abuse cut a link free from the disgusting old chain, and was followed by the back wheel coming out, and both sprockets making a beeline for the bin. The swingarm, wheels and front sprocket housing were all filthy, resulting in a two-hour degreasing and scrubbing session, before greasing everything up again properly and fitting new JT sprockets (yes, still Wemoto).

Fresh Shinko rubber arrived from in the Paso’s tricky 16in fitments, and MCN workshop guru Bruce Dunn fitted them to the monumentally heavy Oscam wheels (which I’d attacked with Autosol to clean them up) while I turned my attention to the leaky rear shock. The old Marzocchi unit dropped out in less than two minutes, and a brand-new Hagon slipped in its place even faster. Tidy. Not only is it new and reliable, it’s been built for my bulk, and should give massively improved ride quality.

With the new fuel junction fitted, I coaxed the motor into life again, and it ran pretty well. But the list of jobs, problems and fears doesn’t yet feel short enough to quell the sense of impending doom. The North face of Everest looks like a doddle compared to this.

Meanwhile, Teutonically-mounted Andy is looking smugger than ever on his K1.

Andy’s K1 – Odds 3/1


The Rider:  Andy Downes, Senior Reporter
The Bike: 1989 BMW K1
Neglected for six years but now a thoroughly sorted and much-loved example. 41,000-miles since new and almost ready to go

While Rich has been grafting through the night, I’ve been mildly fettling in the form of fitting a Garmin 690LM satnav for the journey. When I say I, what I actually mean is I tried to do the job but after 45 minutes of frustration and running the risk of breaking an irreplaceable piece of 26-year-old fuel injection system, I called my local BMW dealer and booked it in for the work.

The satnav is way better than any I have used before, but then it does cost an astonishing £500. It turned out fitting it was an even bigger job than I thought, as it required removing a fair percentage of the bodywork and lifting the fuel tank out of the way to access the wiring loom hidden beneath. When Balderston BMW’s resident K1 expert mechanic got to work he had to use an ancient K1 wiring diagram to find a live feed so the satnav switches off with the ignition.

After cleaning the bike (sorry, Rich) I started cleaning up the original BMW tankbag in preparation for the journey. The outward dirt of 26 years came off easily and revealed that BMW’s luggage designers in the late 80s were a bit clever. Not only does the tankbag have a removable centre section and hidden waterproof cover, it can easily be unzipped to fuel up the bike, while there is a very fetching bumbag-type thing that could attach to my belt. I think I am ready to go now.



Words: Richard Newland & Andy Downes

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