Having spent a couple of hours cleaning up the wheel hubs I came in for a cup of Nescafe’s finest and had a quick look on ebay to see if anything new had been listed. Sure enough a minty looking front wheel with brand new tyre had come up for sale at £195 or best offer. I had already priced up a rim and a set of spokes at about £170 and a tyre at about £45. The bearings were going to be another 20 or thereabouts so I was looking at about £235. I put in a cheeky offer and a deal was done at £175. It has an original Takasago rim so that will keep the purists happy and add value to the finished article. I shall now be able to sell my hub and disc to get some of the money back as the new one comes with a decent disc already fitted. It also saves me the ball ache of having to lace the wheel up. As if the news couldn’t get any better, he also has a rear wheel that will be available soon. I will buy that one as well and save myself a lot of effort, I can then sell the original hub and any other left over bits to get a few quid back. Just like the man from Tesco says – Every little helps.
The wheel has arrived now and I am really delighted with it – perfect in every way. Can’t fit it yet though as I am still trying to sort out the headlamp mount bracket upper trim pieces that go over the forks, hence can’t fit the forks. I have tried to find replacements and discovered that there are two different types – one sort for earlier bikes with gaiters and a different type for the later ones without. I had used standard dust seals on mine as I think they look better but hadn’t realised I then need to change the trim pieces. Both types are in very short supply and the only pair I have found so far are about 60 quid, which is too rich for my blood. I am sure a better priced pair will come along if I am patient. I don’t have a headlight yet so I can’t complete the front end anyway. I may assemble it without the light and other bits just so I can get on.
First, however is the rear mudguard. Same issue as with all the other bits really, either impossible to obtain or so expensive as to make it prohibitive. Scruffy ones are still fetching 3 figures and I don’t want to put crap parts on the bike. So I now have a brand new Royal Enfield Bullet 500 unit that I am in the process of fitting. It’s a great fit but needs holes drilling to mount it to the seat bolts and the forward mount points, which is where my next sodding problem comes in. On my bike both mounts have bolts snapped off in them, there is not enough clearance between the broken bolts and the opposite frame upright to get a drill in there. Bugger. There is not enough of the bolt showing to weld another bolt on to it to get it out that way. Double bugger. I have welded very short lengths of threaded studding to them so I can fit the mudguard by squeezing it hard so it will go over the protruding studs and then spring back in to place.
I think it would take a GT expert to spot that this is not the original. Better to have a brand new one at 44 quid than a 2 or 300 quid half grotty original.
Next job to tackle was the left hand side panel – mine was broken and I was going to bin it and get another but then I saw the price of them and decided to go in to “fix” mode instead. Mine had been hand painted with a brush so all that had to come off first, leaving the panel looking like some sort of weird camouflage created in some CGI laboratory for some sort of dystopian future type thing.
It had clearly been repainted several times in it’s life and needed a fair bit of fettling to get it half way decent. There was a lot of damage at one end that needed repairing so I set about that with bits of plastic and filler to get the thing back to it’s general shape.
Building up the lip was somewhat tricky but I wanted it as close to original as I could get it, I am quite pleased with the end result. I could have replaced it but the chances are any 40 year old panel would need at least some work so I may as well have gone the way I did.
I tarted up the badge with some new satin black applied by hand and did the same with the metal fake grille thing that is such a prominent feature of these bikes. The paint I thought was right isn’t so I need to source some. The red looks ok but I don’t think it will suit the stripes as well as the original Candy bright red. It is a Suzuki colour but for later bandits, the Gt needs a darker less orange red.
My GT250 badge isn’t the best but as someone on ebay is asking 75 quid for a new one it will do until a better one comes along at a sensible price. I will be taking a similar approach with some of the other parts so the bike will look pretty decent from when I finish it but will improve as time goes by. I want a better fuel cap, for example but the one on there will do fine for now. I have a similar situation with the chain guard, it has a dent in it and some corrosion and pitting.
My next headache is the headlight. I have a very badly knackered bowl, it’s past saving. The bike came without the fixing ring or the light itself, which is a major pain in the posterior. Like with everything else they are silly money, I have seen the lights go for 150 + and the retaining rings the same again. Add another 150 for a decent bowl and you are in for 450 quid for an old partly rusted unit. I am currently looking at alternatives as brand new units that will do the job can be had for as little as 20 quid. I have already procured a mounting bracket as one of mine was rusted through, the other side was ok. I have painted them black as on some of the 1977 bikes, don’t go telling anyone!!
The front mudguard that came with the bike is not original but is a period correct after market part. I think it looks alright so although it was damaged I decided to use it. It was a fibre glass job so very easy to repair, it got a few coats of gloss black to finish it off. If a sensibly priced original chrome item in good nick comes along I may be tempted but once again price and condition is a huge issue. It’s made worse by the fact that there are 2 or 3 slightly different designs which means that there were never huge numbers of the correct one for my bike available. According to government figures as of the 1st of February 2021 there are only 57 GT250’s still taxed and on the road, which may explain the high cost of any bits left out there.
Join me again next time when the rear wheel will be going on and the project should be coming to it’s conclusion.
Article provided by David Powell of Boston Bike Bits.