Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Iconic OWO1

Me and My Yamaha OWO1
This was my new Yamaha OWO1 in pristine condition before I even raced it.  I managed to give it a good trashing about a month later racing in a national at Oulton Park.

Oh well that's racing for yer.

When +Wiggysan Wiggysan saw this over on the World Motorcycle Community he wrote, "Proper big boys bike.  Love it.  Good to see a Pete Gibson pipe too.  Nobody with little bollocks rode an OW. At least nobody came back from riding one with little bollocks!"

I pointed out the joy with having a Gibson pipe was if you damaged it you took it back to Pete and he would repair it, that saved loads of money over the years.  I imagine he is probably retired now, do you have any news about him?

You make it sound like the OW was a beast! it really wasn't, it was great bike in many ways, good power and great handling.  The OW was a race bike, no two ways about it, apart from the R7 it was the only bike really to be sold for track use unless you had very deep pockets.  It was easy to work on, I could have an engine out in about 45 mins on my own. It had fully adjustable suspension front and rear, the latter being an Ohlins, you don't get better than that.

Four pot Nissin brakes were more than adequate and if you weren't sure of what tyres to run you could have it up on stands and pull both wheel spindles out and they would sit there in their guides, no pissing around with spacers falling everywhere.  Two minutes before the race slap the wheels in, nip it up and you were away, not something I have experienced on a bike before or since, fucking ace!

Isle of Man TT
The only problem the OW had was restricted to the Isle of Man TT circuit, the standard CV carbs just didn't seem to work there, it went well enough but if you rolled off the throttle and rolled it on again at speed, as you do a fair bit round the island, it never chimed straight in.  It would always cough a bit then bang! - the power was on again, in the middle of a corner that always gave you a bit of a concern. 

The only way to solve this was to fit a set of flat-slides, not cheap in those pre injection days, but that raised other problems.  Firstly, they didn't fit inside the frame, so you had to hammer a dent in it, sure-fire evidence of a raced OW if someone tries to tell you otherwise.  The other problem is that the flat slides, well the 41mm anyway, 39mm were ok, were so thirsty you couldn't get two laps in, it would run out of juice at signpost every time.

Foggy's Tank
When I ran the OW with borrowed flat-slides off Pete Beale in 1995 I also had to borrow the tank off of Foggy's lap record winning bike, that fortunately Pete owned at the time. The tank had been enlarged by two litres to allow you to run the carbs.  Unfortunately the battery connection shook loose on the last lap so I never finished that year and I sold the bike after that.  Ironically its replacement the YZF750SP had the same fuel problem but was a little easier to overcome with a hacksaw and a non return valve.

Overall, for me the OW was a great bike to own, yes they were bloody expensive, £15,000 out of the crate new, I didn't get a new one, mine was bought from Pete Beale out of bits and was half the price, still a shed load of money in 1992.  I was originally in the market for an RC30 because they were in my price range, but it was an OW I really wanted.

Steve Linsdell was my local dealer then and he has Yamaha written through him!  He said he wouldn't be able to help me if I got a Honda, which was a bit gutting but he had done one RC30 engine and swore he would never do another.  I went to see Pete Beale originally to look at Brett Sampson's RC which he had in part ex for an OW.  Whilst looking at the Honda in the middle of about 6 OWO1's I said to Pete "I'd really like one of those", he asked me how much money I had, so I told him and he said "I can build you an OW for that". Job done!  I was the owner of an OWO1.

I had a great bike, I kept the invaluable expertise of Steve Linsdell and I gained Pete as engine builder and supplier for many years.  What he doesn't know about Yamaha engines can be scribbled on the back of a fag packet.

I Had One, I Raced One
Unfortunately I am now one of many ex-owners of the iconic OWO1.  Nothing short of a lottery win is going to change that but I am proud to say, "I had one and raced one."  How many can say that?