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Bike Review - Posted 24th May 2013
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Moto Morini 350K Sport - Slip, Slap, Shush

After two trackdays and a spell at the back of the shed Martin Gelder's Morini is back on the road. He's adjusted the swinging arm side-play, stopped the clutch slipping and quietened down the shouty silencers...

My 1982 Moto Morini 350K Sport had a quiet year last year- apart from the racket from its exhausts, but more about that later. It did the Morini Riders' Club trackday at Cadwell Park and the Festival of 1000 Bikes in quick succession, and then got bundled unceremoniously into the back of the shed while I played with the BMW in parts foreign.

My long-term bike storage regime consists of draining the floatbowls and then covering the bike up and forgetting it exists. After four or five months I'll feel guilty and maybe charge the battery up or rotate the wheels a little, but then it's back under the cover and out of sight, out of mind. So it'll probably come as a surprise to hear that I was able to wheel Morini out of the bowels of the shed, stick the key in the ignition and have it start second kick. Stale petrol? Not a sniff of it. Bunged up jets? That's why I drain the floatbowls. Knackered battery? After four or five winter months, there was enough juice in it to operate the electric fuel tap, and that's all it needed.

Blinking in the bright spring sunshine...

Before setting off for the MOT, time for a little history. About 18 months ago I fitted a pair of megaphone 'silencers' to the Morini because its original black-chrome Sito silencers were beginning to show signs of rusting from the inside. The full story is here The megaphones I originally fitted were much too loud but looked really great, so I stumped up for a pair of similar but brand new silencers from Feked.com, working on the theory that if I could dismantle them I'd be able to repack them and quieten them down somewhat.

You could hear the difference, No.1... Original packing on the new exhausts, on the left after a brief trial run and on the right after 100 miles. Not good.

They were initially moderately muted, but after just a hundred miles or so the original packing was disintegrating rapidly. I repacked them with Accoustafil after it came recommended by a couple of racer friends and it made a real difference; it took the booming crack out of the exhaust note, and while still loud the noise was more tolerable. The bike sailed through scrutineering for the Festival or 1000 Bikes at Mallory with no comment, but I re-fitted the standard Sitos for Cadwell Park because of that circuit's stricter noise regulations.

You could hear the difference, No.2... Repacked with Accoustafil, which is still in there now. Much better.

Back to the present, and gut feeling told me that they wouldn't pass an MOT - my local bike shop can be quite strict - so I refitted the Sitos again. And then patched up the hole that blew out of one of them as soon as I started the bike. Sigh. Over the summer I'm going to try and add a little baffling to the short megaphone silencers so that they're quiet enough to pass an MOT or a Cadwell Noise test, but not so stifled that the performance is affected.

There was one more job that needed to be done before the MOT, and that was nipping up a tiny bit of side play at the swinging arm spindle. Morinis are unusual in that the swinging arm spindle isn't just a big bolt that passes through the frame and swinging arm before being fastened with an equally big nut. It enters the frame on the right of the bike, passes through one swinging arm bush, back through the frame, through another swinging arm bush before finally being threaded into the frame on the left hand side.

The spindle has locknuts at both ends. Remove them both... Remove the locknuts from *both* ends of the spindle...

If wear develops in the bushes they need to be replaced, but a very small amount of sideplay can be adjusted out by tightening the spindle. This requires the locknuts to removed from *both ends* of the spindle, at which point the spindle can be rotated using a spanner on the flats on its right-hand end. As little as fifteen degrees of rotation is needed, and then the locknuts can be refitted to hold everything in place. Hopefully these pictures will make everything clear.

... and then use the flats on the spindle to tighten it. ...and then rotate the spindle slightly to take up any play

Quiet exhausts fitted, cycle parts declared fit, oil changed and battery charged, and it's off to the MOT. In the ten years I've had the bike and been taking it to my local shop, it's become an excuse for the older lags to stop work and watch while the younger tester plays hunt the ignition switch and then becomes completely non-plussed by the odd foot controls, strange array of idiot lights and left-sided kickstart. They don't make 'em like that anymore. It sailed through the test and within half an hour of me getting home it was taxed as well.

I'd been under a bit of time pressure to get the bike back on the road as the Morini Riders' Club AGM and rally was looming, and I'd heard there'd be cake. Rain was forecast for the Saturday but as I set off on Friday afternoon the sun was shining and all was well with the world.

Well, it was until I got about ten miles from home, when the clutch started slipping. It was fine if I stuck with the flow of Friday evening commuter traffic, but if I ran the revs higher and used more throttle I was rewarded with more revs but not more forward speed. I could turn round, head home and get the BMW, or I could push on and hope to make it to the rally, just 25 miles away. And where better, if it came to it, to try and fix a slipping Morini clutch than in a field full of Morini enthusiasts?

A field full of Morinis, yesterday...

I limped on to the rally on tiny throttle openings, had a splendid weekend, and decided to limp home again on Sunday rather than attempt any open-field, open-heart surgery.

The joys of camping...
Moto Morini 350s on

The Morini clutch is a dry multiplate affair nestling under a cover on the left of the engine. With the cover off there was no obvious sign of oil contamination from a failed oil seal, but everything was a little gungy. Is that a word?

Gunge not shown...

There was a light coating of that gunge on the clutch, its plates and its housing, but then the cover hadn't been off it for ten years. Armed only with the special tool and a can of brake and clutch cleaner, I took all the plates out, cleaned them, cleaned them again, and put them all back.

Clutch components fully disengunged...

Normal service resumed, but now with a much nicer lever action. The friction plates had plenty of meat on them and while the plain plates were a little scored and discoloured they weren't distorted or deformed.

So what next for the Morini? I have a plan to move the electrics from behind a side panel to the space under the seat, I need to get the silencers in the range of acceptable for an MOT - and for Cadwell Park's noise testers - and Paul Compton and I are hoping to get some cartridge emulators wedged into the fork legs in an effort to improve the quality of the damping.

Roll on the summer....

Words and Photos: Martin Gelder

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