Thursday, May 13, 2021

BSA flat tanker

Easy to recognise the bike as a BSA, the background looks slightly industrial and the photo is annotated 'Dover April 1926' on the reverse.

 The HB prefix number plate is apparently from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. 

Hard to say the year of the bike but it seems more than likely from the mid twenties as it is still in rather nice condition and the model is probably a H. Enlarge the photo and look carefully and you can see a Cowey type klaxon on the top tube.

BSA H from the mid twenties.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Africa Bullet Resurrection Part III

Slow but sure progress on the 'Africa Bullet'. 

Essentially the only parts that left the factory together on this bike are the engine, gearbox and swinging arm. As with any mix and match project much time has been sapped in making the various odds and sods match together properly and in making up brackets and spacers.

The bike is going to end up looking like a fairly different machine from the one that I went around Africa with but hopefully its essential character will still be there. As a bike that is going to be used, used hard and used year round I've thrown as much stainless steel at it as I can afford to. Previously all components were red but I've chosen to do the frame, forks and bracketry black, mainly to save money and for ease of home painting. The tool boxes, petrol tank and rear number plate are all at the local powder coaters at the moment for a coat of signal red. Perhaps the fork shrouds would have been nice done in the same colour but they already had a decent coat of black so have stayed that way.

The bike certainly isn't going to be ready for riding this season but hopefully we'll be on the road and out and about in 2022.

Details under each picture.

Part I here

and Part II here

Beginning to look like it's nearly there. Plenty of
details left though.

Pre-monobloc carb and magdyno. I'll get it running
as is but once roadworthy I'm planning to swap to a
monobloc carb and an Alton alternator.



I went down a bit of a rabbit hole with the plugs on
the mudguard brackets. I had some plastic ones but
they did not fit properly so I ended up spending an
evening turning some out of aluminium on my lathe
(I know an evening sounds like an exaggeration but
my lathe skills are low....)

Front mudguard brackets still to do. I was planning
to adapt some standard Enfield ones but it's turning
out to be a bit of a bodge so I've got some stainless
tube and plate on order to continue the theme.

'Piston Broke Club' badge on the steering damper
in acknowledgement of the Bullet's piston chewing
prowess on the Africa trip. (It broke one piston at the
skirt and one at the crown - my conclusion in the end
was that it was caused by conrod flex under severe use.
After re-building the motor in Johannesburg I fitted a
steel rod and the problem never happened again.)

I had a Britax 'twist dip' horn and dip switch sitting
around waiting for a bike, it seemed that this was the
bike to fit it too. A neat idea but it takes up a lot of
space and makes fitting a decompressor and advance /
retard a bit fiddly. 

I'm not entirely happy with the angle of the saddle,
it tilts forwards ever so slightly. In my mind it should
be level. I might had to re-visit this and sort it out.

Side stand from an Indian Bullet.



Sunday, May 2, 2021

Zundapp K500

All the gear and the machine to match. This German fellow is astride a Zundapp K500, a model introduced in 1933. Already dark times in Germany presumably this photo was taken before the war however. What is going on though with the spiral painted signpost?

Zundapp K500 on home soil.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Honda homeboys

 A couple of pics from sixties Japan of lads out with their Hondas. My knowledge of sixties Hondas is fairly scant but I'm guessing the bikes are CA77 Dream models.



Sunday, April 25, 2021

Isolated Mini Moto Camp

Last October's mini rally at a 'secret location' in deepest Wiltshire ticked the boxes for seeing mates, riding bikes and sleeping under the stars so as restrictions in the UK have eased it seemed like a fine idea to repeat the exercise. To start with we had the max number six signed up for the camp but in the end work commitments whittled us down to the same three as in October.

Last time I rode the Buell (now departed to a new home) so I decided to ride up the Norton Dominator but a last minute suggestion for some green laning from Matt rendered the Norton a poor choice. Obvious would have been the Himalayan but somehow it wouldn't be in quite the spirit of the exercise so the trusty Bantam was settled upon.


The last time I had ridden the Bantam a long distance from home was something like fifteen years ago and I had vowed never to do such a foolish thing again. However, time heals all wounds, the Bantam has been rebuilt and slightly 'hopped up' and it somehow seemed like loading the Bantam up with camping gear might actually be a good idea. Besides that I've recently been reading John Storey's mini autobiog in the British Two Stroke Club magazine and it's pretty inspirational. John has travelled all over Europe on 'Project 9', a D1 125cc Bantam. I can honestly say that I think he's one of the greatest motorcycle explorers ever. There's not much about John online though he did appear in a short article in Sump magazine a few years back - https://sump-publishing.co.uk/john%20storey.htm. Someone should publish his biography...

As it was, what could have turned out to be a huge mistake ended up quite enjoyable: a beautiful sunny day and quiet roads meant that covering the 70 odd miles to Minety at 30mph was a breeze.

The story continues in picture captions...

Seeing old friends and the achievement of turning
up on an old bike makes arrival so much the sweeter.

A field to camp in and a barn for shade and shelter,
what more could you want.

Plotting the afternoon of green-laning with the
aid of an Ordnance Survey map.

Dan with his trusty, high mileage Bullet.

We rode the un-metalled sections of the ancient
Fosse Way.

Matt turning on the style on his BSA A10 combo.

And a video fly by.

All was smooth going until we arrived
at this ford.

There was no way round for the combo so after
much goading from Dan and I along with a pledge
that we would push him out if it came to it, Matt
attempted the crossing.

Having got his feet wet helping Matt through the
ford Dan decided to ride it anyway.

There was no way the Bantam would make the ford
without flooding the magneto so we chose the
option of the footbridge.

Drying the combo out.

And the boots...

Back at camp that evening.

Though the days were warm the nights were cold.
Here's early morning.

Matt samples the raw power of the Bantam.

I took a new route home via Pewsey Down and
past Woodhenge. A cracker of a route, I even
took a diversion after Salisbury to extend the ride
further.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Royal Enfield Himalayan - new toy

Something like a year ago, just before the first lockdown, I test rode a Himalayan at my local Royal Enfield dealers. I was impressed enough to want one but with my job in the balance and not much chance to get out and ride I deferred the purchase. Now more recently I've been having a bit of a 're-alignment' in the garage, the Buell has gone (up to a Scottish island) and so has the Yamaha AG200. Essentially, I've got too many projects, too many bikes to maintain and wanted some money to sample something different. Hopefully the Himalayan will prove to be low maintenance, perform the roles of multiple machines and bring joy and fulfilment to my life!!

Evidently the Himalayan is not going to provide the performance buzz of the Buell, nor will it be quite as off road capable as the Yamaha but so far riding it around does make me smile and it is a very competent bike. Normally to describe a motorcycle as pleasant would be to damn it with faint praise but the Himalayan genuinely fits the description. Equally adequate is a word that does not inspire a great deal of excitement, but that is what the Himalayan's performance is. The power of the bike is adequate in that it is appropriate and it is delivered in a way that promotes user satisfaction. Riding is slow motorcycling in the same sense as slow cooking or slow television. The pace is enjoyable and relaxing and the experience leaves you in no way missing higher power and speed.

Proof of the pudding will come with taking the Himalayan off road and testing its off the tarmac capabilities. I have a feeling that they will be adequate too!

2019 Himalayan. I had been considering
buying new but this low mileage one
came up at a price too good to resist.

The farkling has started already.... Supports for soft
panniers from Hitchcocks.

Lomo crash bar bags.

Front mudguard risers. Possibly unnecessary but the
clearance was fairly tight and looked like it had the
potential to get clogged with mud.






Saturday, April 17, 2021

Tandem fast boys

 A bicycle post is overdue... Here's a great image of a pair of lads taking their tandem racing quite seriously. The location is quite obvious but I wonder what the cause was? It's an unusual location, I can't imagine that many races either started or finished in the Bayswater Road, maybe they were sponsored and the shop was nearby?

1950s tandem racers.