Ones and Zeros

As Laurie Anderson (am I dating myself?) said, “Everybody wants to be number one – nobody wants to be a zero”.  Paul Barlow has a talent for bending ones and zeros to his will and through his efforts, we finally have a new website.  And not a moment too soon..  Our old site had become so far removed from current technology that even the most rudimentary maintenance task required hours of work and risks bring the old site to a grinding halt.  Now we have a new digital home (well, a couple of them).  We can tweet, we can friend, we can like and we can post.  ..Or we can simply lurk and enjoy the rabble.

It’s all good (I think..).

But like most organizations, escalating costs push us to find ways to streamline processes and that usually means implementing technology. So, MOTODESMO (in itMotoDesmo_smallers analog form) takes on a new digital form in this blog.  Sure, I’ll miss the old paper format, but we’ll  pull the “best of” at the end of the year and publish it in our annual calender. Dave Gooch and I will be creating, begging, borrowing and stealing what we hope to be entertaining & informative content and posting here on at least a bi-monthly basis.  It’ll be damned easy at first; we have a boatload of stuff that was created but never published in the print version – and without the constraints and cost of a paper edition, we can post when we get a couple of spare minutes.  That would be ‘a couple of spare minutes’ once we figure out what buttons to push..

But, enough talk of ones & zeros.  Let’s wander back in time to something truly analog: Marzocchi M1R fork tuning.

From back in June 2005 (waaay before Facebook and iPhones):


I thought I’d share one of our most closely guarded tuning secrets:  the careful and precise adjustment of spring preload on the Marzocchi M1R series forks.

The M1R responds well to tuning, and is an excellent fork for the contemporary vintage racer.  It’s known for a few foibles though – most notably, the completely useless rebound adjustment knob on the right side fork leg.  We loudbike-types generally set ours to the 3rd out of 4th position – if only for the appearance that we wouldn’t have to resort to the 4th position to make our forks work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the past Mosport event, I found that the new and improved F1 was feeling a bit on the wooden side of stiff, so after moving down to an Ultralight fork oil in the left ( compression) leg with no major improvement, I decided that an adjustment to the spring preload was in order.  It’s a fairly simple process really.  First; call Fran over.  He’s the man when it comes to track-side precision hacksaw work.  Next, debate the pro’s and con’s of jacking the front of the bike up to unload the front end. Decide against this approach, gash your right thumb when the loaded fork caps springs off of the top of the fork, and go off in search of a band-aid.

With the fork tube spacer in hand, find a suitable surface, debate the actual amount of material to be removed from the preload tube, and scribe with a vernier caliper.

Carefully balance on the top of the toolbox while placing as much weight on the tube with your right foot while giving Fran just enough room to work – and try to act nonchalant while striking such an awkward pose.  It’s important to give Fran just the right amount of encouragement while he attempts to cut a relatively straight path though the preload tube.  Too much and he’ll slap you upside the head.  Not enough and he’ll lose interest and go off in search of tea.  Marvel at the skill and speed displayed by this seasoned professional.

Find a third party to preload the 32mm socket while you and Fran wrestle to fork cap onto the loaded fork tube and spin the cap into position.  Adam’s really good at this kind of work.  Repeat the process (except for the thumb bashing bit).

Stand back, have a smoke and remember (quietly, to yourself) that all this work has little if any effect on actual spring rate.

One comment on “Ones and Zeros
  1. Avatar image Stephen W. says:

    Ah such memories. I went through this very procedure many times each year on my GP and Production racers. But my 1986 racer came with, “air caps”. Just a couple of pounds up or down and I was dialled in. As Archie bunker would say, “Dem were da days!” :)

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