Paul Zell's Custom Vincent Special
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Careful machining adapted the belt and clutch to the Vincent engine. The ignition is via Lucas magneto, rebuilt by John Cooper. "I'm trying to stay away from a battery, primarily because of the weight. I may go to a battery eventually." Zell made the exhaust himself and capped it with shorty aftermarket megaphones. The headlight is from a Norton Commando and the speedometer is from an aftermarket supply company.
A standard Series C Vincent Rapide produces 45hp @ 5,300rpm. Compression is 6.45:1 and top speed is about 110mph. A Black Shadow (the sport version) puts out 55hp @ 5,700rpm and is good for about 125mph. Output of Zell’s Vincent may be as high as 70hp, with top speed to match, but he hasn't taken it to the drag strip yet — and probably won't.
At this point, Zell is just starting to break in his bike. "It's still settling down. I am using standard oil for the first 500 miles. Synthetic oil is so slippery the rings won't mate properly to the cylinder, and the bike will burn oil. I'm using standard cams until I break the bike in, then I may try hotter cams. I'm taking it slowly, ramping up to more aggressive riding. Since it's a special, I don't know exactly what it is — and isn't — capable of. At this point I am riding it at 75 percent of its capability. I don't want any surprises."
Since the bike is a special, it doesn't come with an owner's manual, so Zell has to figure out his own maintenance schedule. "I look the bike over every time before I ride it. I plan to check the points in the magneto and change the oil twice a year.
"This is my idea of aesthetics. I treated it almost like art for a while — my own personal statement. At this point, it is almost art. The bike has to be functional, but there is room for artistic talent." MC
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