Monday, May 20, 2019

Giants Run 2019 pt1

Yesterday was the Dorset Section VMCC's Giants Run, an event for girder forked machines. Sadly I was just back from work and slightly jet-lagged so didn't ride but at least did make it along to have a cuppa at the start and watch off the intrepid riders. The rain held off and an excellent turnout of more than 70 pre-war and vintage machines turned up. Two different routes are offered, a short and a long of around 70 miles.

The Giants Run is establishing itself as one of the larger gatherings of pre-war bikes, certainly in the local area, if not the country. Here's to hoping I can get it together to be riding next year.

Have a look at the Dorset VMCC's site. If you like what you see below there'll certainly be more pictures up on the club's site soon.

Enjoy the pictures, no captions, it's all pretty self explanatory. A few more to come soon.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Early Post War Speedway

My knowledge about the world of speedway is quite minimal. It's a motorcycling discipline outside the mainstream and attracts its own dedicated band of enthusiasts, in many cases as uninterested in the wider world of motorcycling as many in that world are of speedway. At one time speedway was a hugely popular spectator sport and of course still has its adherents though the number of teams nationwide is a fraction of what they once were. Take a look at the National Speedway Museum's site to learn more.

These photos I came across recently. They are possibly all of one rider, George Watts who rode for Wolverhampton and Portsmouth in his career.

This great picture is annotated on the reverse as below but
I struggle to read the writing...
'George at R... Avenue  or is it House? 1947
Could it be Rye House? Rye House was a track in Hertfordshire.

George Watts

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Book Review - Wall of Death Carnival Motordromes

Wall of Death Motordromes is a US publication and is 127 pages of reproduced images on the subject. The book is available in the UK at a slightly expensive import price from Amazon and I am sure several other more worthy booksellers.

Carnival Motordromes is in a series of publications called 'Images of America' from Arcadia Publishing and it does what it says; there is not a great deal of text, just a collection of evocative images of Walls of Death, not just in the States but worldwide.

An interesting book to have if you are interested in the subject, there are a few images you may have seen before but a lot of them were fresh to me. The text is brief and leaves you wanting to find out more about the characters involved, it's a rich subject. One word of warning if buying on line there is a short postcard album of the same title that is easy to get confused with the full book.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Harley FX 1200

A rare and exotic bike in the UK at the time, a Harley FX 1200 from, I believe, 1976. This was deep in the period when AMF owned Harley Davidson and, as is generally acknowledged, produced some motorcycles of legendarily awful build quality.

That Harley survived this period whilst Triumph and Norton failed in Britain whilst producing similarly outdated but slightly better made machines is probably thanks to American protectionist economic policies more than anything else...

My interest in Harleys tends to wane somewhere soon after the early sixties. Milwaukee produce thereafter for me is generally a nice engine that could do with some better cycle parts. But that's all a matter of taste and of course millions of folk the world over love em. However, crappily built or not, the FX is really not a bad looking bike and still a rare beast these days on this side of the Atlantic.

1976 Harley FX1200 in the UK (that's an old Transit van
in the background!)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Gold Star ZB32 fettling

My first bike was a little D1 BSA Bantam that ingrained an affection for plunger framed Beesas. In my mind they are the best of British bikes, from a time when they were at the peak of their game. Solid, well engineered, characterful and well made machines. And, for me, the plunger framed ZB Gold Stars represent the pick of the bunch.

Finally out on the road after a long, long hiberation.

Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on this ZB32. It came to me 90% restored and had been standing idle for a good while. As is the way of these things it has taken a little while longer to get the old girl back on the road than I had hoped for but she is nearly there. Despite much of the work having been already done, as with any bike that has been standing for a while, there were plenty of jobs, the petrol tank was a little leaky and the mag needed rebuilding. I've fitted a Bri-Tie ball valve on the oil line to stop wet sumping: some are against ball valves on the worry that they might starve your motor of oil but I've always found them reliable as long as you buy good quality and they certainly beat having a constant pool of oil on the garage floor, poor starting and smokey warm ups.

Less loved than the later big fin motor Gold Stars it was
actually the early ZBs that sealed the model's reputation
and had the most competition success in their time.

The engine ran sweetly from the off once the mag was sorted. There was a strange whirring noise that was rather disconcerting that took a while to track down. At first I thought it was the mag meshing too tightly on the timing gears but finally after some experimentation realised that it came from the dynamo. Stripping down the dynamo and putting it back together solved this, on dismantling a small piece of carbon bush dropped out so that must have been catching somewhere.

I've still got the forks to sort. They were binding to start with, a new set of stanchions helped but there is still a problem. I've a suspicion that somehow the wrong springs are fitted, or that they have worn out and shortened.

A single saddle will be fitted soon, as that's a look I prefer. Electrics are still to sort out and to get those forks working properly. After that a few gentle test rides before hopefully some serious useage over the summer season.

The ZB32 motor.

A handsome bike from any angle..

Saturday, April 27, 2019

ACE four lady rider

This is just a wonderful old image on so many counts. I love American four motorcycles from the twenties and for it's era the image challenges stereotypes. It's full of positivity and Miss Gallic is the embodiment of the term 'pluck'.

The picture is from a London press agency archive and the annotation on the back is as follows:

'A one-legged winner'

'Miss Gallic who was the proud winner of the 27 mile motor cycle race held in Denmark, although she has only one leg, her activity beat all other competitors.'

Staged photo of Miss Gallic working on her ACE four.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Loaded up A10

I think this snap was taken back in the late seventies/ early eighties. A time when old classic British bikes were just old bikes. Perhaps you had to be a bit of an enthusiast to keep running a BSA A10 in preference to riding a Japanese machine but then again there were a lot of old Brit bikes around and they were cheap workhorses.

You couldn't have chosen much better than a BSA Golden Flash though: fair performance from 650cc, a quiet running all iron engine, all enclosed chain and solid engineering for good reliability. This one is packed for a camping trip a la kitchen sink cliché. 

Well used and already obsolete BSA A10 goes camping
in the woods.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

BMW airhead Power Flow silencers

A recent eBay 'scoop' was this set of Power Flow silencers. I've never seen another set and they are rather nicely made in stainless and the shape is similar to the classic Hoske cans. 

They fitted on to my RS very easily and starting up to see what sort of noise they would make was an eagerly awaited moment. Alas, in the end, a disappointing one. Only a very slightly different tone to standard. Still, at least the performance might be slightly different, right? Wrong, out on the road the bike seemed a bit stodgy and then totally bogged down when opened up above 4000rpm. Not quite the result I was hoping for.

The seller had said that he had tack welded in decibel killers to quieten the Power Flows down slightly. Seems like he had a gone a bit too far, there was neither Power nor Flow. Turns out he was a pretty good welder because when I got home I had a quick go at removing these spot welds. Not easy.

In the end I wanted to use the bike the next day so took the Power Flows off and back on went the Keihins and normal service was restored.

The Power Flows will go back but I need to buy a die grinder tool first to attack those spot welds. In the next instalment of the Power Flow saga I have the feeling I shall be reporting on significantly more noise but no better power than standard. Let us see. More to follow....

The Power Flows certainly do look nice and are a cute period
accessory touch to the bike.

Rear profile is good and they do look like they should be
rip snarlin'. Note however the calamitous db killers....

Most bikes look better from one side. What is spectacular
about a BMW airhead is that they look equally great from
both sides.

Power Flow logo pressed in to the silencers. Has anyone
encountered these before? I've not seen another pair.

A considerable weight saving over the original style.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Wild eighties Brit trikes

And now for something completely different. A couple of snaps of trikes that look like they were taken in the late seventies. As with many customs, not my cup of tea but you've got to admire the creativity and ingenuity. Look how drab seventies Britain looks in photos! The first photo is of course taken at a custom show but the second demonstrates that cars of the era were mostly available either in shades of poo yellow or poo brown...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

OK Junior Motorcycles 1921

A somewhat ignominious name for a brand of motorcycle, OK were one of the pioneers in the bicycle and motorcycle industry. The company was founded in 1899 by Ernie Humphries as a cycle parts manufacturer. Charles Dawes became a partner in the company in 1906 and the range of the company slowly expanded to include motorcycle parts.

By 1911 Humphries and Dawes were producing complete motorcycles under the OK brand name, the range expanded up until the Great War. In 1914 an OK Junior model was introduced as a lightweight and economical machine. From 1919 it was decided to concentrate only on the Junior model, by mid 1920 2000 Juniors were leaving the factory each month. The brand name changed from OK Motor Cycles to OK Junior Motor Cycles reflecting the single base model range.

Sales of the Junior waned with the general slump in motorcycle sales following the early post war peak. In 1926 Humphies and Dawes decided to part their ways and split the company. Dawes concentrated on the bicycle market (yes, that Dawes) and Humphries set up the OK Supreme motorcycle brand.

The below brochure for OK Junior Motor Cycles dates from 1921 and although is slightly ratty in condition merits reproduction for its rarity.