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Girdraulics: are they safe?

Graham Smith

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
VOC Forum Moderator
If you have a Vincent fitted with Girdraulic forks have they ever caused a problem during road use that has either caused an accident or almost caused one?

If so, did you ever discover what caused the problem ?
 

Mickthevin

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Girdraulics/girders/springers

I have had bikes with all the above on over the past 30 yrs - 6 bikes on the road now and only one with "normal" forks and that is bmw tele-lever - and in my humble opinion they are far superior to telescopic forks in all respects inc. Handling, setting up, maintenance and they look brilliant
cant imagine life without them

mick
 

mercurycrest

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I've done a few miles with Girdraulics and the only time I ever had any problem was on a Comet I bought in the mid Seventies.. they were simply worn out. Easy to rebuild, I never had another problem. I'll never forget riding the Open D down a particular road at about 70mph, the bike just feeling unstressed and relaxed. The next day on my BMW R100CS, did the same road at the same speed and leaned over in a tight curve, the damn thing started shaking it's head so bad my thumbs got turned blue against the tank!
Cheers, John
 

Bill Thomas

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Sorry Graham,
My finger was quicker than my eye,
I pressed the wrong button,
The only time I got hurt was on the track,
I have had many on the road, Once I had 6 in 200 mls !
I must say I sometimes ride with a bit of passion.
I have read bits on this and there are certain speeds that this tends to happen so if you hit a bump at say 45mph or 70mph you are more likely
to have a problem, Not just Vins but anything as well as cars.
I think the most important mod is a Hydraulic steering damper,
There are lots seen now at the meetings,
cheers Bill.
 

Prosper Keating

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Heavy at low speeds, like BMW Earles-type forks, but never had a problem with handling, although I got pretty shaken up on a fast London to Brecon ride because I had nipped up the spindle nuts a little too much. If you maintain them, they don't give trouble.

PK
 

roy the mechanic

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
girdraulics

I was under the impression that this was the owners club site, not the knockers site! I am quite convinced that there is no inherent fault with any part of Mr Vincents fine suspension systems. I regularly ride mine over 100 m p h (like every journey), have suffered no ill effects whatever. If you ride a 60 year old machine you need to be on top of the maintenence, or pay a proffesional to do so! Uneducated d i y is the cause of most of the "failings" of these fine machines! As someone famous said "the majority of faults are caused by unedjucated improvements" If you don't mess with it-it won't mess with you.
 

pifinch

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Been riding with girdraulics since 1973, 1 tank slapper due to a badly fitted Avon GP tyre (I fitted it!) The bike always seems to try and shake its head if I pass over a local level crossing at 70+ but push on the bars and you are o.k. (My V8 Scimitar used to get very untidy at the same crossing!)
 

b'knighted

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The answer to the topic’s opening question must be YES or all of us who have tried to ride standardish bikes would have wrecked them by now.

I was always led to believe that the Girdraulic’s fearsome reputation stemmed from that period when bikes were cheap and fell into the hands of hooligans (or motorcyclists as we call them now). Spares and expertise were not readily available and forks ranged from floppy to seized. Neglect or poor maintenance coupled with lack of replacement bushes, probably on bikes with knackered dampers, tyres, loose head and wheel bearings, led to an undeserved reputation, which should have been laid to rest thirty years ago.
The riders in the club would have come up with suitable alternative replacements if it were necessary, just as most have junked the Miller charging set up to replace with something a little better.
 

pifinch

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
From memory Avon G P is a rear fitment if you put it on the front I'd have to say it was self-inflicted!

At the time I was a naive 19 year old, I was sold a pair of GPs by Longstaffs at Woodford as an improvement on the old Avon SMs (Sado/Masochist?) I had bought the Vin from them so I thought I could trust them - in retrospect having seen the vin i should never have trusted them! Once I refitted the front tyre, getting it central on the rim it was fine.
 

Ian Savage

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
My vote is yes in all three boxes

Comet, early 70’s, over inflated front tyre going from fast smooth road surface on to bumpy surface, 6 times lock to lock tank slapper. Left a set of skid marks each time the forks was on the stops, each about 5 feet long with a 5 foot gap and spaced 3 feet apart. Survived.
Bitsa Twin, 80’s over taking a line of cars not going fast but accelerating hard, hit two depressions in the road from old road works, say 4” deep 4-5 feet long with 2 foot gap, full compression then extension, one slap and off.
Every other ride, every other mile, in 37 years not a hint of a problem.
Not even today 20 miles trying to find a misfire, no I didn’t find it.
 

Tnecniv Edipar

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
This poll is my instigation , Graham posted it up for me as members cannot.
Just wanted to have a go at clearing up this apparent doubt over the integrity of Girdraulic forks. With the voting as it stands it seems they have an overwhelming vindication. Personally I never had any doubt whatsoever , the negative stories I've heard and seen over the years I've put down to bad maintenance , assembly , neglect , damage or wear.

I suppose the only issue remaining is to determine how often they should be inspected for wear and what wear constitutes as unacceptable.
 

Bill Thomas

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I don't agree , Only 37 people voted !
When I was racing in the early 80s my forks were a little worn and it was super to ride.
On red arrow tyres it was the best.
I understand how people feel, My own brother hardly uses the standard damper at all !! It's only after you have a big one you know just how bad it can be.
I have had my twin since 1965, I have been in the club since 1970 I have ridden many miles with no trouble and in the early days I used to ride much too fast.
I only ask that riders think about fitting a hydraulic s/damper.
I spoke to a top club man about the new bike we built asking if it had one,
he said no, I was worried it would go to someone who didn't know vins and maybe sue the club
 

Prosper Keating

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
I'd agree that a modern hydraulic steering damper, if nothing else, would chase away those nagging doubts that pursue us when blasting down a long hill flat out, with a dip and chicane at the bottom leading into a steep ascent!

Sometimes, when riding along at cruising speeds, I shove the bars about a bit to test for any tendency to shimmy, the prelude to a tankslapper. As I said, I've never had a problem but the lore has etched itself into my sub-conscious all the same!

Maintenance aside, these machines need to be ridden regularly and the sad reality is that many of them aren't, hence hundreds of internet posts in various Vincent-related web media about all sorts of problems on the road that never seem to trouble me and those of my mates who use our bikes as transport whenever we can. The only unreliable or even dangerous classic bikes I have ever ridden were those lent for features in the magazines for which I worked, or the lashups ridden by many retro-rocker types who certainly render a homage of sorts to their spanner-shy forebears.

PK
 

timetraveller

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Having been riding Vincents for 52 years and having had one tank slapper in that time I can speak from first hand experience. The tank slapper occured whilst racing at Cadwell and I wrote it up either on this Forum or in MPH some time ago when this subject reared its head before. The cause of the tank slapper was an empty front damper which had leaked during the half hour or one hour (I forget which) time trial. It occured at about 100 mph on the top straight and was triggered by a diagonal join in the tarmac which had caused the bike to twitch every time I had crossed it. Advice like accelerating out of it or hanging on to the bars would not be offered by anyone who has had one of these. A hydraulic steering damper should be the answer and it would be intersting to ask the additional question has anyone with such a damper,in good condition, experienced a tank slapper. Having followed the correspondence fron Virtual Vin about having to use telescopic forks rather than guirdraulics makes one realise just what a lot of poor quality information is out there. Change for more movement or greater comfort but if they were that unsafe then would we not be a brave bunch of b******s for persisiting and surviving for so long?
 

Bracker1

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Keep the girdraulics and fit a hydraulic steering damper. Thanks to the help I received from the forum last year on the subject, fitting one was a snap. I also made sure the front damper was filled with oil, and checked the bushings for wear. So far the bike handles better than ever, but I've ridden about 1500 miles with the upgrade. The club was a excellent source of info, and the one member even e-mailed a detailed drawing of the components needed for the damper. Sometimes it's better to learn from another persons experience, than wait for disaster. Safe riding, Dan
 

b'knighted

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Only 39 responses out of how many readers? Can Graham tell us?

I have read it but not responded because the three choices in the poll didn’t fit the bill well enough for me to want to vote. They fell into the “Do you still beat your wife” class as admitting to a close shave would tend to say that I think girdraulics are unsafe.
While there have been a couple of moments in my Vincent riding that have caused me to discover that adrenaline is brown, there have been many thousands of miles without mishap. I could say “Had a close shave” but it doest really fit the bill as all the problems I had were all in the first couple of months of inexperienced ownership. In the following decades of riding the forks have caused me no problems.
Is it fair to blame the girdraulics when the ex-works “expert” who had built my bike left the forks too tight and in the first hundred miles a 3” deep pothole jammed them in the compressed position. It made the propstands work a treat though. Thanks to members at a section meeting noticing that my top link was sloping upwards and showing me how the bike should rise, I learned how the forks should work before they became a real problem.
 

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