Project Bol d'Or part 3: Insane Bol-der-dash

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It’s now or never as our eclectic 90s sportsbikes head south for Europe’s biggest biking party

Rich’s Paso – Odds 8/1

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


I’ve never been to the Bol d’Or, and at this rate I can see little chance of that changing any time soon. Which is a bit of a problem as the Bol takes place this weekend. As you’re reading this, we should be heading south as fast as our wildly faired behemoths can carry us. But my confidence in the Paso has – if it ever truly existed beyond hope and delusion – taken a bit of a knock.

The knock in question came about 12ft after it encouragingly moved off from a standstill under its own power for the first time in years. At the first bump it felt like the fork was intent on breaking free and introducing itself to my teeth. The headstock isn’t loose, and nor are the stanchions, which has left me wondering if there’s a distinct lack of oil residing in the legs. Of course, it could be head bearings, but there’s no appreciable movement and it’s a hellish knock to not be able to feel the movement static.

With my time evaporating even faster than my patience, I’ll be throwing it at M&M Motorcycles in
Stamford to do a fork service and replace the head bearings, hopefully curing the slide-hammer sensation. 

But there has been progress. The holed, bent, and corroded exhausts have both been ditched, and replaced by a set of very tidy Hawk Racing titanium oval cans (from Pipewerx), mated to a set of Ducati 750SS link pipes. No-one seems to list a fitment for the Paso, so this was an educated guess that thankfully paid off. The link pipes are close to perfect, while the cans look and sound mint. 

Also sorted is the clutch, which was just a basket of rust. With the clutch all stripped out, I cleaned up the hub and basket with a wire brush, before replacing all the steels, frictions, springs and plate with genuine Ducati fare. The slave cylinder (mounted in the cover on these) was also in a desperate state, and after stripping it down I spent over an hour cleaning the piston and the housing with a Scotchpad to find metal again. With passably decent surfaces in evidence, I refitted it all and hoped for the best.

The clutch line was badly damaged though, as were the front brake lines, so I’ve replaced them all with HEL Performance braided ones. All five lines (three front, one rear, plus clutch) fitted perfectly, and with fluid drawn through, all the leaks have been banished. Even the clutch slave is, so far, leak-free. How long that’ll hold true is less certain.

A legal numberplate seemed like literally the least of the Pasos issues, but if we’re to graze through an MoT it’ll need one, and got one over the next day for £19.44. It looks good, too. Assuming that we will actually be riding to the Bol, I also wanted to know how fast I was going (the clocks are kph only), so I’ve fitted my ageing but fantastic Garmin zumo 550, using a headstock ram-mount from SW-Motech (Motohaus, £24.64). It looks as incongruous as a widescreen HD telly in a 1970s caravan.

The missing lens on the offside indicator has been replaced with a genuine Ducati lens and reflector from from Mdina Italia (£36.91), while the crappy housing remains unpainted black because, frankly, aesthetics just aren’t important right now. 

A thousand tickling and fettling jobs have leached away more days than I care to count, with little obvious to show for it, but (head-banging fix aside) it’s now ready to face the music at the local MoT test centre. With mere days to go, there’s almost zero wiggle-room if the tester finds new problems. And it’s not even been ridden far enough to see if there’s a third gear in the ’box.

Resurrection made possible by:
Wemoto (
Pipewerx (
HEL Performance (
Hagon Shocks (
Ducati UK (
BSD Performance (
Mdina Italia (
SW-Motech (

Andy’s K1 – Odds 2/1

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

My 1989 BMW K1 is ready to go on what will be the longest journey it has done in years, or possibly ever, as we aim to ride over 2000 miles on our five-day trip to Paul Ricard.

While Rich drowns in fear and unknowns, I’ve got nothing mechanical to trouble my brain. Instead, I’ve been luxuriating in memories of my last trip to the Bol d’Or when me and an MCN colleague got busted by two extremely irate French bike cops for overtaking across a solid white line. They decided not to issue the stingingly expensive fines after we offered them a ride on the brand new BMW K1200LT we had.

I remember riding home on my Suzuki SV650S in one long, uncomfortable stint, staring with envy as my BMW K1200LT-riding colleague switched on cruise control, and turned up the radio a couple of clicks. I also remember the grief I got from my girlfriend (now wife) for having missed out on us moving into our first house because I was away ‘working’. I’m still living that one down. A lingering hangover nearly as bad as the catastrophic one I got after a late night boozing session with a bunch of Brits in Bandol.

Last week I put the K1 through a 75-mile shakedown ride with the new Garmin 690LM satnav installed, and it all appeared to be working just fine. The ride home was in torrential rain, ploughing through standing water. Any potential electrical faults would have come to light in those conditions – but the big red bus was just fine.

The only niggle now is our distinct lack of planning. With the Paso useful only as an elaborate garage doorstop, we haven’t made any forward bookings for hotels or crossings, or even planned a route. It’s playing havoc with my planning OCD!

In an attempt to distract my brain, I’ve been fiddling with luggage options. The original BMW tankbag is perfect for the stuff I’ll need to access along the route. The tailbag smells a bit odd though and has been replaced by a Kriega US30 Dry Bag. My only issue now is finding a way of getting the loop straps to fit onto the K1’s subframe, which seems a bit minor compared to the Paso’s woes.