Today has been a day that has been coming for a while, it was time to replace the ancient, crumbling excuse for a radiator that I had fitted on the Blackbird. Replacing the radiator seems to be a common issue with high mileage (50,465 in my case) Blackbirds and with Bonzo having already done the deed with his own bike (and then changed the radiator, most likely to remove as much DNA evidence as possible) and the fact that mine had been held together with Radweld for the last 4 years after an incident with a large rock I thought I had better get off my arse and get it sorted.
There seems to be 4 options to replacing the radiator on your Blackbird:
1: Buy a genuine Honda one. This option of only really suitable for lottery winners as the cost of one of Mr Honda’s radiators is very high.
B: Send your radiator off to a specialist repair centre along with some lucky heather, crossed fingers and a packet of cash and hope it can be salvaged.
Tre: Buy one of the many cheap Chinese radiators that are flooding eBay at the moment but this seems very hit and miss with some people reporting fitting requiring just a few modifications and other reporting them not being suitable at all.
Albert: Buy a brand new radiator from a specialist company that has a good reputation.
After spending loads of time on the Interweb, reading motorcycle forums, looking at porn, asking questions, watching Royal Jordanian on YouTube, finding out what pitfalls other people had encountered, I decided that Albert was the only option for me.
Part of my research involved looking around not just the Honda Blackbird groups on Facebook and forums such as BIRD and IXXRA on the Internet but also other biker community sites one firm’s name kept coming up, East End Radiators in Glasgow so a quick email was fired off describing what I was looking for and I had a reply back within 10 minutes that basically said that they could help.
After a few emails back and forth along with some pictures of my rapidly rotting radiator and I had decided that I would purchase an all-new copper and brass replacement radiator for £310 including delivery, after a quick PayPal transaction the following day a very large box arrived containing a well packaged matt back radiator.
The next stage was to have a cuppa and have a read of my Haynes Manual to check what I had planned was correct, after another cuppa, it was time to take off the fairing panels, drain the coolant, have another cuppa.
After removing the radiator from the bike I noticed that not only was the original radiator bubbling away in my hands like a slug at salted peanut factory but the bracket that held the bottom of the radiator to the engine block had also corroded away, this obviously was an issue as I couldn’t complete the refit today so after contacting David Silver Spares and ordering a replacement radiator stay I put everything back into the garage and went and had another cuppa.
Once the replacement radiator stay had arrived and fitted it was then a simple task to transfer the rubber mounts and fan from the original radiator across to the new one and refit onto the bike, then it was simply a case of refitting pipes and refilling with new coolant and the job was done, all I need to do now is to find the time to do a small 300 mile test ride….
Update: Well after 400 miles the main thing that I have noticed is how much cooler the bike now runs, I’ve not heard the radiator cooling fan come on, in fact I had to leave the bike running for a long time on my drive just so that I could check that the fan did come on.