Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Moto escape France

Seems like a distant memory now, this was back in late September. I had a free week and the weather was good so I jumped on the opportunity to get some riding in.

The original plan was to make it to the Pyrenees and to hit some trails but apropos this I found myself trapped in a bit of a catch 22. I had off road capable tyres fitted for the mountain trails but then I found myself unable to reach those trails because the tyres made covering distance on motorways intolerable. When you're only nudging 30bhp it's quite amazing how sapping some knobblies can be when trying to cruise near your limit. And the noise, that noise! Even ear plugs couldn't drown it out.

No choice then but to go for back road cruising and lessen the ambition regarding distance covered. In the end a good decision as there's not a lot of joy in riding a Himalayan on a motorway. The Dordogne was decided upon as a suitable new target destination.

The first couple of nights I was the sole
occupant of each campsite I stayed in.
This is the municipal camping at St
Fraimbault in Normandy. Both a peach of
a campsite and village.
Following the motorway debacle I tracked my way down using secondary roads and trying to zig zag as many national parks as possible. Second night was at another municipal at Mezieres-en-Brenne. The Parc naturel regional de Brenne is a bit different as it is a wetland comprising of hundreds of small lakes and ponds. From Brenne I went through the Parc naturel regional Perigord-Limousin, stopped for lunch in Chalus at a traditional fixed menu place and was surprised to find it run by Brits after rocking up with a bonjour in my best French.

Despite the campsite in Domme being fairly busy I
was able to pitch up right by the river.

On to the Dordogne. A quick google for the most picturesque villages and I settled on Domme. Indeed it is quite stunningly picturesque. The temperature rose to above thirty degrees and suddenly I was in an area popular with 'snow bird' camper vanners from slightly more northerly climes. Totally undestandable given the balmy temperatures, beautiful scenery and high quality camping with pool.

Domme in the Dordogne. Stunning.

Sunrise view from my tent in Domme.

Leaving Domme I decided to follow the Dordogne to the sea as much as possible. It started a good idea with sweet roads and great scenery but I should have probably packed it in a good way before Bordeaux which was traffic hell. I'm sure a beautiful city centre but the ring road was purgatory.

It wasn't great scenery all the way.

It can't be great scenery all the way every day and the ride up to the municipal camping at Pons from Bordeaux proved that point. A functional stop over and everything got better the next day with a shorter ride to Angers on the Loire. The Indian summer was coming to an end and temperatures plummeted somewhat. I still opted for camping and the site at Angers was a lovely walk along the river to the city centre.


Next stop was Falaises back in Normandy. I was determined to camp for the last night despite the very strong chill in the air. I rocked up to the municipal camping mid afternoon and was pretty much told to go away by a surly caretaker as the reception was not open for another twenty minutes and no, I could not hang around and wait. To a certain extent a relief as I had a good excuse to book into a cozy hotel, have a hot bath and dry off my dew soaked tent.

A short hop back up to Cherbourg taking in as many coastal roads as possible along the East coast of the peninsula and back to home and reality that same evening. All in the Himalayan was a joy as soon as I made the decision to ditch the motorway route. Never again on off road tyres though!

Thursday, January 4, 2024

London floods of 1964

My father passed away recently and in going through his effects I came across this image of a BSA Bantam. It looks like the bike is a Post Office BSA Bantam, at best guess the year is 1964 as this roughly corresponds to when he was living in London and there was flooding in South East London nearby where he was living.

Post Office Bantam negotiated floodwater.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Seoul biking

I was recently lucky enough to be able to wrangle a stop over in Seoul on the way to join my ship in Japan. Lots of motorcycles and scooters but nothing much old. Royal Enfields are surprisingly popular, I saw quite a few around. A significant amount of two wheeled traffic is from delivery bikes which are generally chinese machines locally modified with extended swinging arms, extra shockers and a large subframe for extra carrying capacity. There's also a significant number of motor tricycles, these again seem locally modified, though some may perhaps come from China as are. These delivery bikes seemed quite at odds with the otherwise ultra modernity of Seoul where a significant percentage of cars are electric.

This was the oldest bike I saw. A Yamaha DT175
fitted with a chinese Zhongshen motor.

One particular cafe near where I was staying
always had a selection of Harleys outside.
Regular Sportsters but well used and lightly
modded. No front mudguards and in one case
no front brake..

Delivery bike transporting a garland.

Trikes awaiting a job.

And another trike. They are all quite agricultural
in construction.


Sunday, December 10, 2023

Royal Enfield Model A

Here's a picture of a humble Model A Royal Enfield. A development of Enfield's long line of 225cc two strokes built for the budget end of the market. This is an early thirties one with sloping cylinder as was the fashion of the time. Note also the pressed blade girder forks.

Monday, November 27, 2023

1937 James Sports Ace Light Tourist

Time for a bicycle article. This very sweet James I recently finished and passed on. I had bought it a few years back from a junk shop where it had had anything sticking out on its left hand side cut off to make it hang flush to a wall. This included the left pedal (yes, not removed but cut in half!), the handlebars and half of the saddle. It being quite a special and rare cycle I took pity on it and it came home with me.

In an initial flush of enthusiasm I did half the jobs needed on it and then it got neglected for a while. I've recently been having a bit of a clearout and I noted the James as superfluous to needs. I don't like to leave something half done so fininshed off the project first before selling and here is the final result.

What marks this James out as something a little different is James' own brand of gearing which is an epicyclic gear located in the chainwheel, Sunbeam used a similar system for a number of years. It gives two speeds - 1:1 and a low ratio. Also unusual is James' own brand of cantilever brakes.

James made Sports Ace models in several different versions, I've neither seen nor heard of another survivor. The new custodian is a Veteran Cycle Club member and hopefully the bike will get some use on events.

James Sports Ace side view.

I fitted a 'Shuresta' alloy prop stand, it's postwar
but I feel an appropriate accessory.

And here's the rear brake, James' own
cantilever. The brakes are effective but
the rear very stiff to operate as the cable
run is rather torturous.

Sweet streamlined rear reflector and
stylish ribbed mudguards.

James logo on the lamp bracket.

The lines are very thirties and very British.

Constrictor pattern brake levers fitted.
Higher spec than the originals but age
appropriate and I couldn't find a match
for the missing left hand lever.

Harmo 'Fearnaught' push button bell.

The original handlebars were a North
Road pattern but I had these Moustache
type ones which are the correct era and
suit very nicely.

Tail view of the Sports Ace.

That reflector again...

The Schwalbe tyres have a
reflective band which grates slightly, I
didn't know it was there when I ordered
them. Correct metal valve cap - the devil
is in the details!

Downtube lever for the two speed chainwheel.

And the two speed chainwheel up close.

The Phillips pedals are early post war
but are very nice and I already had them
so on they went.

Rear hub. Wingnuts are fitted front and
rear and are Sturmey Archer type.

Brake detail again. The cables have a
nipple at both ends so adjustment is by
means of moving the stop.

I bought this 'Dorset' saddle a little while
back. I've never seen another. I believe it
is made by Lycette - if you put a large
enough order in with them they would logo
your saddle however you liked.

The front Sturmey hub.

And finally the front brake.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Ariel Tricycle and Quadricycle 1898

This brochure / manual is a copy of a copy but is rare enough that it warrants reproducing here.

The leaflet is labelled as 1898 and I believe that Ariel Tricycles and Quadricycles were current from 1898 to 1902.