Prior to the Kettle I had a GT380 which was ok but I wanted a Kettle for no other reason than I liked them and the B model came with twin front discs which was an improvement over some earlier models.
Here's a picture of me and my 380 Suzuki. Note the Dunstal three quarter fairing.
Soon after getting the bike I sent off for a Piper 3 into 1 expansion box. I could not believe the weight of the original system when I took it off. A mate of mine said we would need to rejet the carbs to get the best from the set up, so that was done too.
By this time the original chain and sprockets were showing signs of wear so I replaced them with a Reynolds conversion. Quite a shock after only 2500 miles, especially when I had had the chain off and immersed in one of those Duckhams baths you could get at the time.
Also at this time, as I started to give the bike a bit more stick, I discovered the handling wasn't that good when pushed hard; so I fitted some Girling unit to the rear. Still no good so Konis were fitted which helped a bit. After a few white knuckle experiences I found out it was better to leave the bike as near vertical as possible when cornering and hang off to drag it round. Either that or back off a little!
In those days fuel consumption wasn't a big deal but a trip to Mallory Park from my home near Doncaster revealed the Kettle was doing about 18 to the gallon! Another reason to back off a bit. I took the bike to have the carbs checked and the report was good, so maybe the alterations weren't such a good thing!
My girlfriend and I set off on a trip to Scotland for a two week camping holiday which would lead to us attending the Claymore Rally on the final weekend of our trip.
Our first leg to "get us up there" was from Doncaster to Bewley near Inverness which went ok till I took the panniers off to find that the right hand pannier had been burned by the gases from the 3 into 1 tail pipe. To make it worse the right hand pannier was mine and my best jumper had a lovely hole burnt slap through the front of it. These panniers were some my dad had used when touring Europe in the fifties and were canvas covered plywood for which I had made a rack and fittings at work. I thought the gap was sufficient to be ok - guess not. As an "on the go" cure I used a flattened coke tin and some self tappers.
Any way, the Kettle was good fun most of the time despite the handling and fuel consumption.
It did have a tendency to go up on the back wheel if given too much clout too quickly in any of the first 3 gears and would spin the rear wheel in the wet, but I loved the look of it and the sound with the Piper, especially on the overun. Didn't mek me very popular with the neighbours though!
We spent a very enjoyable time together until coming home from Cadwell Park. I was having a go with a lad on a GS 1000, we both went into a corner too fast, he braked and changed his line and continued. I had to do the same and was rewarded with the same kind of ride you get on those rodeo bulls in pubs. We got round and carried on but I was impressed by the GS.
I did consider a Pecket and McNab rolling chassis for the Kettle but it was nearly as much as a new GS 1000E, so I put the Kettle in against the big 4 stroke.
It was a lot of fun, the Kettle, but in the end the poor handling and cost of tyres and chain kits every 3 thousand miles got the better of me, plus 2 strokes were by then on the way out. Nevertheless I enjoyed most of my time with the Kettle and I'm glad I did own one for a while.
- John Davison