Thursday, September 21, 2017

Berini Super Sport 3 or sale

Classic Moped Spares posted a comment on the Berini Super Sport ad that I posted last year. They've got a very tidy one in stock and the price seems to me to be very fair. What a weird and wonderful machine, can't imagine you would see another one on the road in the UK!

I would be tempted myself but for a combination of too little free cash and a full garage....

Here's the direct link.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Arbuthnot Trial 2017

I've been meaning to ride the Salisbury Motorcycle and Light Car Club's Arbuthnot Trial for a while now and just not quite gotten round to it. Such is the pace of life that there is always something going on that weekend work or family related. The appeal of the event is that it is local and always gets a decent turn out of interesting bikes. The history of the trial dates back to the twenties and it was revived in the eighties, I have clear memories of spectating it with my dad as a child. Back in the early days of the revival the event was for rigid bikes only but as times have moved on it now embraces more recent classic machinery.

I didn't get to ride but I did drag the children along to the lunch stop at the Rushmore Golf Club and snapped a few pictures in the twenty minutes or so I was there before the girls started to complain of boredom! Here's to hoping I can manage to get an entry in for next year!

First of many Ajays.

One of several Greeves entered.

Sweet Royal Enfield Bullet. Heavily, but subtly, modified. I
recognise this machine as a regular entrant in MCC long
distance trials.

Same Enfield, different angle.

As above!

Rigid Matchless properly in the spirit of the event. Sidevalve
Triumph TRW based iron in the background.

Plenty of Ajays and Matchlesses entered.

Don't know my Norton trials bikes well enough to know if this
is a genuine 500T or a lookalike.

Norton close up.

Another AJS.


Unit Triumph special.

And another take on the unit Triumph.

A good few Bantams entered. This one was heavily modded
but it keeps in the spirit of things nicely.

Bantam front end.

Rickman Triumph.

AJS combination.

Another Greeves.

And another Ajay!

Spectator bike. I never can tell if these sidevalve BMW R71s are
the genuine thing or Chinese built Chiang Jiangs.

This BMW R90s is heavily modified and was featured in one
of the monthly mags recently.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Veteran era sidecar stunts

Showing off and messing around on bikes is nothing new. Here's someone trying to impress back in the day. From the clothes and the bike the era appears to be immediately pre-First World War. At a guess the picture is taken in Britain as the image was found in Britain and all looks British apart from the lack of mudguard on the sidecar and that massive headlight on it too.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Honda CB500 1975

Continuing the recent crop of Honda brochures here's the CB500. The CB500 is a rare model in the UK being overshadowed both by its bigger 750 and smaller 400 brothers.

Honda CB500 brochure page 1.

Honda CB500 brochure page 2.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Thirties tandem holiday

It's hard to imagine now how popular tandems used to be. There's still tons of venerable models floating around, they are largely unloved - just have a look on ebay and see how many there are. Nowadays they don't command very much money as few want to ride them and they take up a lot of space but back in the day they were very much a thing.

I can remember stories from my grandparents about their tandem adventures. One set of grandparents bought a tandem in the thirties and went on day trips from their home in Mansfield over to Skegness. Another set used to own a gorgeous flat tank Norton Model 18 combination which was traded in sometime in the mid to late thirties for a tandem. Doesn't seem like a fair exchange now!

Anyway here is a photo from the forgotten era of tandems. The bike is fully loaded up, even with a map holder on the handlebars, and it looks rather like the couple are on holiday in the Lake District. Happy times no doubt!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Moto Guzzi V35 Cafe Racer

Most of the time in my job I work long hours at sea but one of the perks is that every so often you hit shore and get an evening or two to explore. Recently I had a few hours in Gibraltar and caught this sweet Guzzi filling up. A perfect cafe racer, it followed a time honoured formula of stripped down simplicity, looked the part, sounded great and best of all was out being used and bringing its owner happiness.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Girls roadster

Sunday best on for a day out. As always with these old pictures the joy is in speculating just what was going on....

Sunday best. A portable bench. Factory in the background. Chalk markers on the grass - a sports ground? Spectating a Sunday league game? Workers picnic? Religious gathering? Make up your own back story.

Two wheeled-wise the girl is riding a child sized rod brake roadster which could be one of dozens of makes available at the time. The frame size is quite generous for her, but that was the way back then, you would buy as big as the youngster could manage in order to make it last as long as possible. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brooks B170

After 90 years of regular use the saddle on my Triumph Model N has been getting a bit rough around the edges. With the bike due to head over to Spain for the Moto Piston rally it seemed like a good idea to give it some love.

For a reason best known to themselves someone in the mists of time had welded the saddle pillar clip at a fixed angle. Not altogether daft as pillar fitting saddles can often shift a little over a heavy pothole but the mystery was why they had fixed it at an uncomfortable canted back angle. I ground the weld off of the clip and tidied it up with a file. Whilst apart it seemed like a good idea to give some the leather of the saddle some attention.

Intriguingly on the underside of the pan there is a stamping giving the British, USA, French and German patents for the Brooks saddle design. There is also a message 'For __ to __ stone rider'. The weights are blank, perhaps the B170 is a one size fits all model and Brooks only had one stamping for the base? It is a small detail like this that in my mind makes an unrestored, if slightly scruffy, bike so much more desirable and interesting than a restored show piece.

The frayed edges of the saddle got stuck back in to place with impact adhesive and all leather treated with leather boot proofer. On putting it all back together I added in a little dab of weld to the clip, but this time to hold it all in place at a sensible angle. 

A nice satisfying little tweak to the bike that I've been meaning to make for ages. Just an hour or so's work and the bike is more comfortable, it looks nicer and hopefully is preserved for a little while longer. I won't quite say it will be good for the next 90 years of service but hopefully not far short!

The Brooks B170 post tweakage.

Original Brooks badge on the rear of the saddle.

And the stamping on the underside.

Each side of the saddle is imprinted with the Brooks logo and
model code.

Whilst I am at it, here's another nice little piece of leatherwork
on the Triumph. The toolbox that characteristically sits rear
facing above the numberplate. Note the Triumph logo that
is stamped in.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Brigadier's Side Car

'The Brigadier's Side Car', a postcard illustrating the British Army's ASC in the First World War. The machine illustrated is fairly clearly a Triumph, probably a Model H, of which many thousands were produced for military service. The Army Service Corps was the unit tasked with military logisitcs.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

BMW R100RS - the best value classic bike?

BMW scored a publicity coup when a R100RS was chosen
as Simon Templar's motorcycle in the Saint tv series. From
personal experience however, despite evidence above to the
contrary, riding a BMW R100RS does not make you more
attractive to women.

First, a declaration of vested interest - I own a R100RS. I bought it for a fair price around about three years ago and it is worth little more now. I've put a good few miles on it and sorted out a few foibles but all in the market for the R100RS has little changed. It has probably had more spent on it than it has increased in price but none-the-less it has been good value motorcycling.

The new-wave custom scene has witnessed big numbers of RS machines divested of their fairings, fitted with chunky tyres and plank brat-style seats. Custom of course is about style but I stripped down a R65 with RS fairing around twelve years ago and I created a machine that was slower, used more fuel and accelerated worse. The point is that the RS machines are getting scarcer, just witness the number of fairings available on ebay.

Period R100RS publicity shot.

The number of R100RS to be seen on our roads is certainly dropping but those that are out and about just keep working. The build quality is of legend. Think about it, how many seventies or eighties BMWs have you seen that have actually been restored against restored Ducatis? The truth is that they just keep on working. I used my old R65 for a daily commute and it did 20,000 miles in 18 months with just three services and that was all the maintenance it required. These machines are still capable of being daily riders.

The styling of the R100RS is a meisterwerk by the great Hans
Muth and designed with the aid of the Pininfarina wind tunnel.
The R100RS is sometimes credited with being the first wind tunnel
designed motorcycle. This may be so of a production motorcycle
but Moto Guzzi had their own wind tunnel many years earlier. The
bike is also sometimes credited (and in BMW publicity) with being
the first production road motorcycle with full fairing. Patently not true!

Compare the RS with other machines of the day and it comes out pretty well. Though the reputation is slightly staid, the RS and its predecessor the 90S won races. Some exciting bikes appeared on the market in 1976, the Laverda Jota, Kawasaki Z900 and Moto Guzzi Lemans all appeared roughly the same time as the RS. Honda's Gold Wing and the CB750 along with Ducati's 900ss were already well established. The RS is slightly down on horsepower at 70bhp to some of its rivals but that fairing made the difference and top speed was a proportionally lower drop than horsepower and the fact was inescapable that the BMW could be ridden from tank full to tank full at high velocity whereas the others lacked the streamlining and high speeds were tiring.

The R100RS was a ground-breaking machine in its day; not the first there with any milestones but an overall package that blended together to create something new and spawned a genre of machines in itself. The R100RS was genuinely the first modern sports tourer, a machine that had the match of anything on the market in terms of speed yet could comfortably cruise all day in comfort at three figure (mph) speeds.

If you want more practicality go for a late monoshock model.
The motors are slightly less powerful albeit more torquey but
as a major plus they have decent Brembo brakes instead of the
rather woeful early ATE calipers.

So, let's put it in to perspective. The BMW R100RS was a top quality machine of its day, a flagship in the range. An expensive motorcycle and one that was of a build quality rarely seen before or after and one that was designed to keep working indefinitely with a reasonable amount of servicing input. A motorcycle for life. And nowadays you can pick up a decent one for just over two thousand pounds. That's just five hundred more than a BSA Bantam in similar condition. All of its competitors of the day have surpassed the RS in desirability as gauged by the forces of supply and demand in the market place.

How is this? How can it be that the 100RS is such a bargain? Simply, they don't fit a niche in the classic scene, the band of us out there who want a thirty to forty year old machine that is most at home cruising the A roads and motorways at modern bike velocities is small. The RS is not a bike for backroad Sunday runs, cafe or beach front posing. Believe me, I have used my RS on vintage runs when nothing else was working properly and it was neither a comfortable or rewarding experience. Whereas a Laverda Jota will make an entrance and turn heads with the noise and colour a RS will trundle up in a gentlemanly manner and come to a unobtrusive stop. It all comes down in the end to how we perceive our motorcycles and how we ride them. One of the things we like about riding bikes is that it marks us out as different, more so for a classic bike rider and rocking up on a BMW RS doesn't have the same impact as with a Ducati 900ss. The 100RS is a 'look at me, but not too much' kind of bike and that way suits me just fine.

I'm not going to finish with a rush out there and buy one before it is too late message as I've got the feeling that the RS is going to be good value for years to come. Just do yourself a favour and try out Hans Muth's masterpiece some time. Take the bike touring, use it as it was meant to be and reward yourself with the knowledge that you are one of the enlightened!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Veteran cycle tourist

I love this photo. There's just got to be such an interesting story behind the fellow with the cycle. Where was it taken? Where is he going, indeed why is he riding?

The chap seems to be a pioneering long distance cyclist. From the look of the clothing and the cycle the date is somewhere around 1900. There's something of a colonial look to the corrugated iron building and Mr Rutherford himself. I'm guessing it is taken in Australia. If he was cycling long distance in the outback back in those times then he was a tough man.

The note on the reverse of the picture reads, "C Rutherford,just as he left me on the last occasion. Observe the large amount of food and luggage he carries." Personally I would have said that the amount of food and luggage he carries is quite small, especially given that amongst it there is more than likely a puncture repair kit and some tools. Is that a swag on the handlebars?

I feel that he has to be a known character but I cannot find out anything about him. If anyone out there knows, please get in touch.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Honda CB360 1975

Honda's brochure for the 1975 CB360. Honda's marketing department went for the good old iron horse analogy plus threw in racehorses for a bit of a sporty, pure bred association.... Wow, pulled out all the stops on this one guys!

Honda CB360 brochure 1975 page 1

Honda CB360 brochure 1975 page 2

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Royal Enfield J2 and the benefits of club membership

I passed my J2 on to a new home a little while back now. I had been wanting to find out more of its history for ages but the decision to re-home it spurred me on to find out more about the bike before it went.

I wrote the below before the bike went to its new home but for some reason didn't get round to pressing publish and then somehow forgot about it. Anyway, it is found now and the time is ripe to publish. 

Motorcycling is by its very nature often a solitary activity. I love to ride a bike solo through the countryside and being in to vintage bikes I'm accustomed to spending many happy hours (and some darned frustrating ones) alone in the workshop, however clubs are the heart and soul of the bike movement and the below demonstrates just how helpful they can be. You might, or might not notice a new section on the right hand column with a list of links to motorcycle and cycle clubs. They are all ones I am, or have been, a member of and can wholeheartedly endorse. If you have a club you recommend send the link in and it will be included.

Of course it is always a good thing to find out the history of your bike. With several of them in my garage I don't always get round to it. I had been wondering about the J2 for a while and when a friend came over and speculated that it was a military machine I thought I would check it out. With a manufacturing year of 1940 I had often wondered if the J2 has a service history, particularly as I originally bought it out in India.

Being a Royal Enfield Owners Club member I duly filled out their web form and had a reply within a couple of days. One more day and I was speaking to the club dating officer and getting a potted history of the bike down the phone.

Turns out that this J2 was in the last five civilian machines made before all production went over to the war effort. The bike was dispatched from Redditch to Hales Brothers in London. Hales Brothers were the export agent dealer for India. From Hales Brothers the bike was sent to Madras Motors who were the Royal Enfield import agents (and remained so up until June 1956).

A great enthusiast service and all for free. For me that totally highlights the benefits of being in a one make or old bike club.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Vintage sidecar milk float

Great picture of a flat tanker pressed in to use as a milk churn carrier. No idea of the marque, comment if you can identify....

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sammy Miller's Museum pt4

The final few pictures from a recent visit to Sammy Miller's museum in Hampshire. Do yourself a favour and visit if you can, it's the finest collection of technically interesting, unusual and rare motorcycles anywhere.

Truly gorgeous 1913 BAT TT Roadster model
fitted with the legendary JAP '90 bore' 1270cc
ohv motor.

1911 Western Star. An Australian brand fitted with a Coventry
made Arno motor.

East German IFA flat twin two stroke 350cc. IFA went on to
become MZ.

The one-off Hawthorne four. A straight four motor in an OEC
duplex steering frame.

Close up on the Hawthorne 4's power plant.

1923 Sheppee Cyclaid. Made in York and in many ways ahead
of its time. The Cyclaid pre-dated the autocycle boom of the
late thirties by 15 years. The bike was the most successful machine
of the immediate post WW1 first cyclemotor boom.

Can't help but think that handling must be interesting
with all that weight on the front. You wouldn't want
to wear your best shoes or trousers either with all
that 1920s two stroke exhaust guffing out by your feet.

A 1948 Tandon. Tandons were the brainchild of Devdutt
Tandon, a gentleman born in India and living in the UK. Tandons
were made in Watford and were initially designed to be rugged and
cheap machines for export to India. The export market plans
did not go as well as expected but Tandon did continue and went
on to produce a range of slightly more sophisticated machines,
all using Villiers engines, that were notable for having rubber
in compression rear suspension.