Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Abbins and their globe of death

The Abbins were a French Globe of Death act. Seemingly they were long term sponsored by Monet et Goyon for their bikes and had various sponsors for parts: in the case of this postcard by Brampton chains. Maurice Abbin toured his Globe extensively and certainly came over to the UK. Postcards were distributed as publicity for the act and for the sponsors.

The Abbins Globe of Death postcard.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Bullet - 100 at 70

This year is hailed as the 70th anniversary of the Bullet. Though there were Royal Enfield models and even bicycles given the name pre-war, the Bullet as we know it today was introduced in 1949.

70 years back the Bullet was bang up to date with swinging arm frame, alloy head, cast alloy chain case and integral oil filter and tank. A way better spec than almost all other bikes on the market at the time.

To commemorate the anniversary the REOC are holding their annual International Rally as a special Bullet-focused event: the aim is to get 100 Bullets turning up. Given the number around that's not too ambitious a goal. In a shrewd move the International Rally is being held in conjunction with the VMCC's fabulous Founders Day event so rally goers get a two in one of attractions.

Bullet owners support this event!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Langa Langa races October 8 1951

Some more pictures from the 'Happy Valley' album. Langa Langa racetrack was at Gilgil near Nakuru in the Rift Valley in Kenya and was originally a WWII lorry driver training ground. The first race at Langa Langa was held in March 1951 and it was closed in 1953 following a fatal accident and the Mau Mau uprising.

A new track opened in 1956 and was called the Nakuru Park Motor Racing Circuit though was still referred to as the Langa Langa circuit (langalanga is Maasai for round and round). Racing continued until 1988 when it was sold to property developers.

All of the captions for the images I have copied from the album.

C Hollyoak takes the bend at Picadilly Circus on a 650cc

An array of well motor cycles in the pits.

H Z Ulyate winning his race for the 2nd meeting in
succession mounted on 998cc Vincent HRD.

On a 498cc Norton Manx N Ziska rides well to finish first
& break the lap record. 

C Davis riding his Triumph GP 498cc over 351cc race
for m/cs.

N Ziska at practice.

P J Dale on 498cc Norton Inter came second to N Ziska.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bikes I have owned part VII. Teagle cyclemotor

The mighty Teagle. Cornwall's finest.

For a while I got quite into cyclemotors. I had a lot of fun attending cyclemotor runs with friends, really as much fun as I have ever had on more powerful machines.

The Teagle was a real hoot to ride. At a full 50cc it was one of the most powerful cyclemotors but still with a friction roller on the rear wheel. Really it was slightly too quick for a fifties roadster bicycle. Mind, trundling along the flat at a constant 25 to 30mph on a sit up and beg cycle is really a lot of fun.

A full 50cc of revvy willingness.

Teagle were, and still are, an agricultural machinery company who saw the opportunity to diversify and cash in on the early post-war cycle attachment boom. They were already producing the 50cc motor for use in their hedge trimmers and chainsaws and it really did not take a lot of modification to put it on a bicycle.

The Teagle unit is very well made, rev happy and slightly hard work to start with its lack of clutch or decompressor. It also carries the distinction of being possibly the only 'motorcycle' to be made in the county of Cornwall. A rarity now but if you want a cyclemotor and find a Teagle for sale snap it up, you can't do much better. Though rare, parts are in relative easy supply due to vast numbers of this motor produced in other formats. 

The castings give away the original purpose of the
Teagle motor. The cover is designed for a pull
cord start.

This example ran really nicely and seemed to
have been barely used.

Alloy barrel. Very sporty!

Nice simple controls. Brakes and an on / off throttle.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Royal Enfield Model G

A good solid motorcycle, the Royal Enfield Model G. This one a '51 or '52 model I believe. The earlier machines were noted for having a somewhat ugly and bulbous, though eminently sensible, unsprung front mudguard.

This photo is marked on reverse, 'March 18 1956', by this time the humble Model G would have been slightly old hat with its rigid rear.

From the vendor of the photo I got the information that the location is Leamington Hastings in Warwickshire and that the couple are his parents, Miss Doreen Rawbone and Mr David Hillier.

Royal Enfield Model G
Royal Enfield Model G

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Quadrant Motor Cycles 1924

It's been a little while since any brochures were added to the RDM library so to make up here is a very tasty one. The Quadrant range for 1924.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure front cover.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 1.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 2.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 3.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 4.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 5.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 6.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 7.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 8.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 9.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 10.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 11.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 12.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 13.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 14.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 15.

1924 Quadrant Motor Cycles brochure page 16.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Book review - The Tricycle Book 1895 - 1902 Part One

Frankly this is as much of a recommendation as a review. I just recently got my sticky paws on a copy of Michael Edwards' The Tricycle Book and as it says on the tin the book covers early motor tricycles from 1895 to 1902. This volume covers French machines only, there is a part two on the way on the subject of British made tricycles and I am genuinely very much looking forward to it.

The Tricycle Book definitely falls into the 'boutique book' category and at GBP 80 plus postage represents a considerable outlay. However once you have seen it you have to concede that it is good value, the format is large and the publication luxurious. There are 364 pages and the book is very well illustrated mainly with photographs from the period. That Mr Edwards has managed to find quite so many early images is admirable, the majority of which are completely fresh to my eyes (and I do spend possibly more time than is healthy nerding away at early vehicles...)

Without doubt an authoritative work on the subject The Tricycle Book should be of interest to anyone with more than a passing interest in early vehicles. The righteous thing to do as ever is to buy direct from the author:

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Tandon Superglid

Tandon motorcycles were the enterprise of a certain Devdutt Tandon and the first model, the Milemaster, was envisaged as a cheap rugged runabout for export to developing nations, particularly Devdutt's native India.

Like much in life Mr Tandon's export vision did not go to plan so he began to concentrate on machines for the home market of which the Superglid (yes, correct spelling) was the first. The Superglid was introduced in 1949 and was noteworthy amongst lightweights of the time for having rear suspension. The Superglid's rear suspension was of rather novel design and gave the machine a very distinctive profile. Rubber bands situated under the gearbox pulled by a bell crank connected to the swinging arm provided the suspension, rebound damping was controlled by a rubber block.

The Superglid's rear suspension borrowed from contemporary Italian designs but was unique amongst British machinery and in several respects ahead of its time. Tandons were never more than utility machines and the Superglid's Villiers 122cc engine was certainly not one to set the pulse racing but nowadays they stand out for their rarity and quirky design.

Tandon Superglid
A pair of gents pose with a Tandon

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hints on Lucas Oil Lamps

A bit battered but I thought it might be interesting to reproduce this leaflet. It came in the box of a new old stock Lucas cycle light and is self explanatory.

Hints on Lucas cycle oil lamps

Hints on Lucas cycle oil lamps

Sunday, February 17, 2019

BSA Bantam petrol tank doodads

I picked up a set of chrome petrol tank trims for my BSA Bantam D1 a while back but didn't get round to fitting them. Now with all the tender care that the Bantam has been receiving of late the time seemed right to take them off the shelf and put them on the bike.

Catalogue spec BSA Bantam petrol tank chrome trims.

These tank trims are original catalogue spec parts on many BSA Bantam model years. I couldn't tell you the exact years, suffice to say that they fitted them for a fair while. Nowadays they are extremely rare and it is unusual to see them fitted to a bike. Having fitted them I can understand why this is and if I had the bike as a ride to work machine back in the day I would have certainly discarded them and thrown them in the bin.

Rider's view of the Bantam tank trims.

The trims are the devil's very own parts to fit. Granted, these examples are around sixty years old and not in perfect shape but it took me a good hour to persuade them on. A job only achieved with several skinned knuckles, I must apologise to the neighbours if my workshop is not soundproofed enough to mask the profanities I uttered in the process. I guess if you were a mechanic dealing with them on a regular basis you would probably find an easy fitting technique but then again you would more than likely also try to persuade the owner to let you throw them away.

Back in the day when it was necessary to de-coke your two stroke on a regular basis these trims must have been highly burdensome. I do however really like their look and hope that now the bike is re-wired and the engine rebuilt I shall not be taking the petrol tank off for a good while. Famous last words....

Front fitting of the trims. Beware if you find any of these trims
as there are several shapes for the different Bantam tanks.

That dent in the tank has been there since before the bike
came in to my family's possession some forty years ago. The
dent is suspiciously knee profiled. A bit of character and
'patina' but I hope whoever did it was not too badly hurt.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Early grass track

A small collection of images from an early post war grass track meet. This was how motorcycle sport got back on its feet following WWII. Cheap racing in fields on converted road bikes. Even so, it drew in the crowds. Sadly I have no idea of date or location, if anyone has an inkling of either then please get in touch.