An oil leak from the right-hand fork slider near the pinch bolt has proved impossible to cure by simply making/remaking/improving the seal at the damper-rod retaining bolt. I am beginning to think that the problem might be a hairline crack somewhere impossible to see – perhaps as a result of previous over-tightening of the pinch bolt or axle. There leak would only start after everything was tightened up.
Next step has been to fit a fork slider from my spare bike, changing the seals (fitted in pairs on these fork legs) at the same time. Two weeks later and with a short test ride completed, there is no sign of a leak. The test ride revealed that having both fork legs working properly has made a great improvement. Lovely and supple.
Moving to the rear, the time has come to confess to an act of astonishing stupidity verging on self-sabotage. I now know why my NJB rear shocks seemed to lack sufficient damping. They were on upside down.
You’d think I’d have the sense to keep that sort of information to myself, wouldn’t you? I offer it here in a spirit of humility and life-long learning. Mr NJB informs me that he does indeed make shocks that work either way up, but mine aren’t among them. I can only say that they were upside down when I took delivery of the bike – and I can prove it. Now they are on the right way up, the rear is lovely, compliant and well-damped.
Clearly, by the last few sections of last year’s Lands End Trial I had neither front nor rear suspension that worked anything like Ceriani and NJB intended, with almost no damping at either end. My comprehensive failure at Blue Hills in 2014 – which previously I had done rather well on, even as a complete rookie – is starting to look less mysterious.
The bike now feels transformed – as you would expect. If we can repeat last year’s perfect mechanical reliability, I think the Chott and I will have some fun in five week’s time.