Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Nigel Dean World Tour - Sturmey X- RF 8 hub

 Eek - save me from impulse purchases! I bought this touring cycle a few months back as it looked nice, the price was right and I fancied trying out a Sturmey 8 speed hub.

The problem is, apart from having a garage already bursting at the seams, that the frame is way too small for me...

On the plus side I have gotten to try out a Sturmey 8 speed so all is not lost.

The frame carries Jack Taylor transfers but is evidently not a Jack Taylor. I have been reasonably reliably informed that it is most likely a Nigel Dean, a World Tour model, and this certainly seems to be a good match. Either way it is a nicely built machine made with sweet heart-shaped cutaways on the lugs - this style of lug was used by several builders of the eighties and nineties. My Bob Jackson Super Tourist uses the same lugs.

So, the X-RF8 hub. How is it? Well, slightly oddball is the answer. Really the hub was designed for small wheelers such as the Brompton and for this reason it gears up rather than down, meaning that the direct gear is the lowest ratio. So, greatest efficiency whilst climbing steep hills, that does actually make good sense for a hub gear. Gear ratios are wide - 100 to 325% so no problems there. What I do find a bit peculiar is that it is a noisy old beast. If you are used to the regular old Sturmey three speed hubs these have one set of planetary gears and they satisfyingly tick as you pedal along. The 8 speed has three sets of planetary gears and each one has a 'tick' so, depending on the gear selected and the number of planetary gears in action it can create quite a cacophony. On the plus side you know what gear you are in from the noise it is making!  

So, end of the story is that the Nigel Dean has been an interesting diversion but it must find another owner. It's on eBay UK right now....

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Early side valve BSA Sloper

A day of old photos finishing off with this side valve BSA Sloper from circa 1930.

BSA Sloper side valve c. 1930.

Grandad's Treader

Thanks to James Kelly for this image of his grandfather's cycle. Not a great photo of course but the details are evocative down to the ubiquitous saddle bag and style of paving on the sidewalk.

Lady Rider

Kudos to you if you can identify the bike this lady is pictured astride. Looks to be 1930s, that is the best I can come up with.

1930s lady rider.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Swallow and Sunbeam S7 combo

Family transport of the early fifties for the well-healed motorcycle enthusiast. A Sunbeam S7 fitted with a Swallow child-adult sidecar. Note the giant screen fitted to the Sunbeam.

Sunbeam S7 and Swallow sidecar.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Thirties sketches

This series of sketches was a lucky find in a small box of pre-war literature that I picked up recently. Sadly the condition is a little poor, looks like the proverbial book worm has had a good old nibble at some of the sheets.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Amazonas and Kahena motorcycles from Brazil

 A big thanks to Shalon Melo from Brazil for providing this little snippet of his homeland's motorcycling history in the form of the below Kahena brochure.

Information out there on the Kahena is very thin on the ground but from what I can see the brand was introduced in 1990. I have not managed to find out when production ceased but, for sure, the volume of machines to leave the factory was small.

As background the Kahena was a development of the Amazonas, a VW Beetle engined all Brazilian (the Beetle was made under license in Brazil) bike that was made from 1977 up until 1989.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of all invention. Importation taxes to Brazil were prohibitively high through the seventies and eighties (and are still high to this day) so the concept of the Amazonas was as a locally made machine envisaged to replace the long-in-tooth Harleys in use by Brazilian police forces at the time.

The Amazonas was, to say the least, an unusual looking motorcycle and was hugely proportioned and heavy. The Beetle engine fitted gave a moderate amount of power but reliability was excellent. The version of the Beetle fitted to the Kahena was 1600cc and as standard provided 65 horse power. Tuned version were available which gave up to 90. Amazonas and Kahena machines enjoy a bit of a cult following in their homeland and would make a decent, unusual classic anywhere in the world. The beauty of old motorcycles is that you can nowadays value them for charm and riding experience and without direct comparison to their contemporaries. Car engined motorcycles have long been favourites of special builders and there are several VW engined BMWs, Sunbeam S7s and Douglas Dragonflys out there, think of the Amazonas or Kahena as an off the shelf version of one of these. If the subject interests you, check out for comparison the French BFG and MF Citroen engined machines of the same era as the Amazonas and Kahena.

Rather than attempt to re-write what is already out there here are some links for those interested to find out more about Amazonas and Kahena bikes:

Road test of the Kahena on the Brazilian Motoline site (in Portugese)

The Amazonas in Australian Motorcycle News

Motoplanete article in the Kahena (in French)

Oddbike blog post on the Amazonas and Kahena

Horizons Unlimited - Greg Frazier touring Brazil on an Amazonas

Enthusiast site dedicated to Amazonas motorcycles

Rider Magazine Amazonas article

Kahena brochure cover page.

Kahena ST model and tech specs.

The Kahena Custom 1600.

Kahena tech sheet.