Thursday, November 16, 2017

Modern British Motorcycles

This little album of collectors cards was published in 1953 by ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents). Obviously enough the aim of the album was to impart hints and tips for safe riding; it's a cute little publication though and gives a nice cross-section of the products of the British motorcycle industry at the time.

Click on each page to get a larger, better resolution image. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bob Jackson Super Tourist

Voila! the latest bicycle project to roll out of the shed. A while back I bought myself a Bob Jackson Super Tourist frame, mainly because it was going cheap, but also because I had it in my head to build up a nice tourer. The frame hung around for a while patiently waiting in line for attention and then early last year I slipped a disc in my back. As I recovered I started cycling again but all I could ride was my full suspension mountain bike on account of its upright position and comfortable ride.

I had a light bulb moment and realised that I could build up the Bob (not really sure what to shorten it to, BJ just won't really do, will it?) as an upright comfort town bike using parts that I mostly had lying around.

Seeing as I had some On-One moustache bars and Dia-Compe inverted levers kicking around I decided that the style should be English porteur. I've still to fit mudguards and a front rack to complete the look but it is largely there. 

The good thing about being a hoarder of old junk is that every so often things do actually come in useful. I was able to build the bike up almost entirely from stuff I had lying around. It's a rather eclectic spec, granted, but there is a satisfaction in using the unwanted to create something useful. The only parts that had to be bought were tyres, chain, cassette, bottom bracket, pedals and seat post.

Wheels are Mavic Kysirium; an unusual choice for a tourer but they are strong and I've mated them to 700 x 35 Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tyres to soften the ride. There's also a lot of comfort flex in the Jackson frame, movement on the forks is quite disconcerting at first until you get used to them and gain cofidence.

I've been using her as a gravel bike, and a general workhorse for escorting the kids to school and shopping. The ride is indeed comfortable but brisk, undoubtedly mudguards will increase practicality and a porteur rack at the front will really just be a weighty decoration but overall I'm very pleased with this one. Only fly in the ointment is the downtube gear levers, I used them because I had them but bar mounted shifters would be far nicer. They are sixties Campag items and with modern chain and cassette it's an eye opener how little you actually need indexing on the levers, good old fashioned friction ones still give a very precise and accurate change.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Terrot Motorcycles 1937

The Terrot brochure for 1937. A very full range of machines from autocycles all the way up to big v twins. Though thought of as French to the core the Terrot concern was originally set up in Germany in 1862 and then opened up a branch factory in Dijon in 1887.

The first Terrot bicycles were produced in 1890. Terrot were one of the pioneer motorcycle manufacturers building their first machine in 1902. Production continued all the way through to  1961, though they were taken over by Peugeot in 1958.

To the best of my knowledge Terrot motorcycles were never imported to the UK although they were a significant volume producer. This brochure is naturally enough in French. It is a fold out brochure, I've scanned it in the order the pages appear.

If your French is up to scratch and you'd like to know more you could do worse than visit the site.

1937 Terrot brochure front cover.

1937 Terrot brochure pages 1 & 2.

1937 Terrot brochure pages 3 & 4.

1937 Terrot brochure page 5.

1937 Terrot brochure pages 6 & 7.

1937 Terrot brochure pages 8 & 9.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New Royal Enfield twins finally revealed

Everything new and exciting in the world of motorcycling seems to get announced at Eicma in Milan these days and so it is with the new Enfields.

The motor as finally announced is a sohc 4 valve 650 twin driving through a six speed box. Enfield seem to have picked up some flak for making it a 'small' engine at 650cc. This seems slightly unfair as it is a classic capacity and there have been some pretty successful bikes the same size in recent years, the SV650 and W650 to name but two. Let's be honest too, bringing a bike out with a slightly smaller capacity is a well used motorcycle manufacturer ruse to increase it later and pad out a few more sales as a result...

Hopefully the W650 is a fair comparison, if the Enfield has the same characteristics then they should be on to a winner. The fear is that with modern emissions regulations and lean burn technology the power is pushed further up the rev range and flexibility suffers - the six speed gearbox suggests this but then again six is a fairly standard number of ratios these days. We'll just have to wait for road tests.

Speaking of power I'm guessing that it will be somewhere in the region of 45 to 50 bhp. It won't set the world on fire but it is enough to be a bit more interesting and should easily propel the new models on at motorway speeds in comfort. Logically the 650 twins should be matched in performance to Moto Guzzi's highly successful V7 range, the market at which the new Enfields are squarely pitched.

The running gear of the new models holds no surprises at all as it is clearly from the Continental GT single - this always seemed to be the plan from the day the Continental GT was launched as the Harris designed chassis could obviously cope with a lot more power than the 535 single was able to deliver.

The models, as demonstrated by the informative (or perhaps annoying depending on your point of view) gif below, are the Continental GT 650 and Interceptor. The Continental GT 650 being the single seater and the Interceptor the one with the pillion.

For a few more details visit the blog where David has posted up more information and where I got the factual details for this article from - thanks David.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Indian 741

A nice old image of an ex-WD Indian 741 on holiday. The photo is annotated to the reverse 'Horse Shoe Pass August 1949'. Indian 741s were sold off army surplus in great numbers by Pride and Clarke in London. All Pride and Clarke ex WD bikes were re-finished from olive drab to their trademark shade of maroon.

Though very desirable these days Indian 741s were seen as a wonky option in post war Britain. Rather outdated with a hand change gear lever and performance that could be described as stodgy at best, an ohv British 350cc single would leave the 500cc v-twin 741 for standing. I know someone who has stories of ownership of a 741 back in the day and he maintains that it was the very worst bike he ever owned! Times and tastes however change and I for one would love to own a 741, though I think I would tweak the motor to 600cc Sport Scout spec....

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ossa 250cc Mick Andrews Replica 1974

Brochure for the '74 Ossa Mick Andrews Replica. Ossa motorcycles were made from 1949 to 1985 in Barcelona and were in constant hot competition with rivals Bultaco and Montesa. Over the years Ossa built some wonderful machinery, all two stroke powered. Though best known outside of Spain for their off-roaders there were always road bikes in the range and for a while Ossa were very successful in the road racing discipline.

Reading up on Ossa recently I was entertained by the model names, some great ones, the 'Phantom', the 'Desert Phantom' and the 'Wildfire' are up there. They did also make a 'Plonker' and better still a 'BLT Plonker' though sadly the BLT stands for 'Bolger Long Travel' suspension rather than Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. The 500 twins they made were quite awesome machines and a road going 'Yankee' model is on my biking bucket list.

The company was recently revived in 2010 with a range of trials machines but sadly they only lasted until 2014 when they merged with Gas Gas and the name disappeared in 2015. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Winter Motorcycle Rallies 2017 / 2018 season

Winter rally season - It's the most wonderful time of the year!

For those that are inclined towards getting freezing cold on a bike and camping in a damp / icy / snow bound field here, for your convenience, is a list of events targeted at the more lunatic fringe of the motorcycling community. All are UK / European events, if you know of any rallies not on the list, drop me a line and I will include them.

Quick disclaimer - all dates are probably correct, check for yourself to make sure. Most events will be ticket only. Winter riding and camping is very obviously not a walk in the park, make sure man or woman and machine are well prepared for all eventualities.

Icy Ale Rally. 1 to 3 December 2017, UK. Druids MCC.

Force Ten Rally. 5 to 7 January 2018, Warwickshire, UK. Mayflower MCC.

Savalen Rally. 10 to 14 January 2018. Savalen Fjell Hotel, Savalen, Norway.

Pinguinos Rally. 11 to 14 January 2018. Valladolid, Spain.

Wintertreffen Augustusburg. 13  January 2018. Schloss Augustusburg, Augustusburg,Germany.

Agnellotreffen. 26 to 28 January 2018. Pontechianale, Italy.

Jabalinera (Wild Boar). 26 to 28 January 2018. Cantabria, Spain. MC Piston

Kickstart Rally, 26 to 28 January 2018. Cirencester. UK. Ogri MCC

Hot Rod Rally. 26 to 28 January 2018. Genemuiden, Holland. Genemuiden MC.

Alteisentreiber. 1 to 4 February 2018. Austrian Alps.

Uzena Kyta Motortreffen Sonov. 1 to 4 February 2018. Sonov, Czech Republic

Elefantentreffen / Elefant Rally. 2 to 4 February 2018. Loh / Thurmansbang-Solla near Passau, Germany. The original Elefant Rally.

La Charansouillarde, 2 to 4 February 2018. Charancieu, Rhone Alpes, France. Les Accros du Bitume

Fjord Rally. 6 to 9 February 2018. Jostedal Hotel, Jostedal, Norway.

Frozen Nuts Rally. 2 to 4 February 2018. Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Danger Mouse Rally Club.

Dragon Rally. 10 & 11 February 2018, Wales. The British Elefant and a grand tradition. 

Krystall Rally. 15 to 18 February 2018, Oset Høyfjellshotell, Gol, Norway. Just because it is in a hotel don't think that this is an easy option. Temperatures this time of year can drop to minus 20 degrees.

Altes Elefantentreffen. 16 to 19 Febraury 2018, Nurburgring Germany. Confusingly the 'Old Elefant Rally' is in fact the upstart new Elefant Rally and held at the Nurburgring.

Primus Rally. 23 to 25 February 2018, Velmunden near Bjøneroa, Norway.

Primus Borealis Rally. Mid February. Just South of the North Cape, Norway. Not sure if this one is still running but it merits inclusion by nature of being the most extreme.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

BSA Bantam B175 1970

Brochure for the ultimate (as in final) Bantam, the B175. Last of a long line and thought of by many as the best of the bunch. A very basic bike compared to contemporaries from the Far East but none-the-less a willing, reliable and charming bike. The beach and bikini scene on the cover is a far cry from the Bantam experience of most owners but as a first bike maybe folks look back and agree that the best days were indeed Bantam days

Friday, October 27, 2017

Yamaha Agro200

Tired of fettling an old Royal Enfield Bullet before and after every off-road excursion I parted with it and decided to go Japanese. This was going to be a bike to get on and use that required a minimum of maintenance. So, perhaps unwisely, I saw a 35 year old farm bike for sale and somehow thought that it would be a good option.

I put in an offer, it was accepted. The bike arrived, I liked it.

There was a small wiring job to do that I was warned about. Turned out it was small in scope but massive in consumption of workshop time. Then after getting an MOT on the machine I found that it would only run sweetly with the choke full on.

The Yamaha AG200 hasn't really got a good angle. The looks
are best described as functional. No chance of losing it either
with the colour scheme! The bike proved to be so much hassle
to get working right it got christened the 'Agro200'.

An initial examination showed a perished and cracked inlet rubber as the likely culprit. This was duly replaced (not expensive but it had to be sent over from China). Job not done. One problem was solved but it still ran like a pig. The beauty of a British bike is that they were designed with maintenance in mind, the manufacturers were wise to the fact that they were making machines that required regular fettling: that means that there is plenty of space and everything comes apart fairly easily. Not so on the AG200. The carb is an absolute pig to remove.

After twenty or so times removing the carb and replacing it you would think that I might have worked out an easy way to do it, not so. I believe an easy way does not exist. Each time it came off I made a small tweak to the settings, the first obvious problem was a missing pilot screw. It was a frustrating process and not helped much by the Yamaha workshop manual which really only tells you that the carb is a carefully set up precision instrument and there is no reason to mess with it. Too late, someone else already had.

AG200 spares are not so easy to find in the UK but I did some investigation and discovered that most mechanical parts are shared with the TW200 and BW200, both slightly more common over here.

With no guidance on settings in the workshop manual I turned to a TW200 forum and found out that a suitable main jet size is a 120. My bike was fitted with a 102.5. In the only stroke of luck in the whole project I happened to have a good stock of different sizes for the Mikarb - an Indian Mikuni copy that was used on 350 and 500 Bullets. I popped a 120 in and finally sweet running was the result.

A couple of days later I hit the local green lanes. The AG200 is an ideal mount for the job, nice and quiet, fairly gently in power and very comfortable. On the road it will hum along at 55mph or so. It should be ideal for my intended use for it - long distance trials. I had forgotten what a hoot green laning is, note to self to do it more often.

Conditions on the Dorset Ridgeway were damp and muddy.

One of the key markets for the AG200 was / is
African aid agencies. The Agro200 must have
felt at home on the Ridgeway as it reminded me
of riding in the jungles of the Congo.

Good to finally get some mud on the Yamaha.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Zenith Model 500 Club 1928

Swedish flyer for the Zenith 500cc 'Club' model. I can't find reference to this model anywhere, it might just be a special for the Swedish market. The cross brace on the rear triangle of the frame is very unusual and it could be that the frame is from the dirt track / speedway model. Either way, it is a cracking looking bike, maybe there is someone out there can throw more light on to it?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Cleveland Two Strokes

There's a two stroke Cleveland sitting in my garage that's somewhere in the queue for attention. Progress on restoring the bike has been null but in the meantime I've been slowly accumulating pictures, manuals and articles. There are a surprising number of Cleveland survivors out there but not much information to be had on them so hopefully this post will be useful to fellow owners.

Some of the images are scanned from magazines, both from the period and more recent, and the photos are lifted from the web. If I've missed out any attributions, apologies and I'm more than happy to add.