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Some TLC for Loris

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Jeremy Soden with Loris Capirossi and the mint BXI 8293

Jeremy Soden with Loris Capirossi and the mint BXI 8293

Jeremy Soden with Loris Capirossi and the mint BXI 8293

Jeremy Soden had an idea for a project bike – the restoration of a Yamaha 350LC like the one he used to own early in his biking career.

He was a raw novice at bringing an old machine back to as new but the quality of his work was to prove so good that MotoGP star Loris Capirossi now has one of his LCs at his Italian home.

Jeremy is too modest to boast about his workmanship but fellow Ulsterman Graeme Irvine, the Ohlins suspension specialist attached to Capirossi’s Suzuki race team, had seen his work and persuaded him to taken on another project.

“I know Graeme because we’re both in the Northern Counties section of the Japanese Vintage Motorcycle Club and he asked me if I would restore another LC for him because he knew I had access to some spares.

“My wife was five months pregnant with our second child and I did not want to start a restoration then but when he told me it was actually for Loris Capirossi and I had a year to do it I agreed to it.”

Let’s go back to 2002 when Jeremy first got involved in restoring LCs. He’d just bought a new Suzuki superbike, a GSX-R1000, and he and his friend, Graham Taggart, another two wheel enthusiast, decided they also wanted machines that they could ride at a more sedate pace, not so head-on as super sportsters.

Both had owned LCs years earlier – the 350LC, a water-cooled two-stroke first appeared in 1980, it made 49bhp at 8,700rpm and had a top speed of 110. So the restoration of two LCs was the obvious project.

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And so began a hunt for old LCs which took them all over the province. The first machine was bought in Omagh for £200 and they brought it home in car by taking the wheels off and loading it into the back seat.

Then another one was located in Coleraine for £120 and they also bought bikes in Lisburn, Carrickfergus, and Kircubbin among other places. One particular bike had been standing in an alley way for 10 years and all the alloy parts were corroded but they knew other bits like the clocks could be salvaged from it.

Jeremy, aged 43, a technical design officer who lives outside Belfast said: “Back then LCs were not sought after and prices were reasonable. When I first looked on eBay there were only a very LC items listed, now there are maybe 40 pages and prices have gone up a lot.”

With a collection of old bikes to select various parts from, Jeremy got down to tackling his first ever restoration. He had always liked “to tinker” and was soon to discover that he enjoyed the work and found it rewarding.

Graeme Irvine saw his finished bike and knew that Capirossi, the former 125 GP World Champion, wanted a mint LC to add to his collection which includes some of his ex race bikes from Honda, Aprilia, Yamaha, Ducati and Suzuki.

A friend of mine owns an LC restored by Jeremy so I was not surprised to learn that Graeme was equally impressed by the high standard of his work. So between helping his wife to look after their elder daughter and then their second daughter when she was born, he worked away on the Capirossi project bike.

The blue and white LC, registration no BXI 8293, exact to the last detail down to a speedo in km and sourced in France, was eventually completed to his satisfaction and taken over to the British MotoGP at Donington last July. A delighted Loris Capirossi took delivery of it himself and he will ride it on sunny days.

Jeremy and his wife were Capirossi’s VIP guests during the race weekend and he also got a signed helmet from the Italian MotoGP star. As well as spending time with Capirossi and seeing the workings of the Suzuki pit garage during practice and the race, he also met one of his heroes, former 500 World Champion Kevin Schwanz.

How easy is it today to source and restore an LC, either 250 or 350? “Prices now are three times what they were when I started back in 2002. A 350 will cost at least £1,000 more to restore today than then and now parts are being sourced from all over the world.”

Jeremy is considering a new project, restoring Yamaha TZ racers. His days of ‘tinkering’ are by no means over. He still owns his GSX-R1000 K2 but with a restored racer he would be able to ride it at classic parades. A new chapter in his biking life is beginning.


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