Saturday, December 28, 2013

1959 Norman Motorcycles & Mopeds brochure

 The Norman Motorycles and Mopeds full range brochure for 1959.

Norman brochure 1959 page 1.

Norman brochure 1959 page 2.

Norman brochure 1959 page 3.

Norman brochure 1959 page 4.

Norman brochure 1959 page 5.

Norman brochure 1959 page 6.

Norman brochure 1959 page 7.

Norman brochure 1959 page 8.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Raleigh MO31

A couple of nice family snaps of a Raleigh. I'm fairly sure it is the 1931 300cc side valve MO31 model as I owned one for a little while. A really nice bike and a decent performer. Only snag for me was its diminutive size.
1931 Raleigh MO31.

1931 Raleigh MO31.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

 A very Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year to all!

Raleigh ad clipped from a Christmas 1927 magazine.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Matt's BSA A10 combo

Got a chance to have a nose at a good friend's new wheels last weekend and have a spin too. The '59 A10 was bought by Matt recently, the sidecar frame separately a while earlier and the body somewhere between the two.

The sidecar frame is a Swallow, one of the infamous 'wobble wheel' models. The suspension is a short swinging arm controlled by rubber in torsion but the pivot point is directly beneath the axle meaning that there is no vertical movement. just a wobble in a short arc. Sounds awful, but combined with the rubber springing on the sidecar body combines to give a decent ride.

The sidecar body is an unknown, it had been fitted to a Panther and looks to be very thirties in style. It's light and looks classy so fits the bill. The mudguard is currently in for repair.

I've been lucky enough to have owned a pretty broad range of bikes in my life so far and ridden a fair few more. The A10 is a staple of the classic movement and held up as a best of British design. I've got joint ownership of a Road Rocket in pieces but so far taking one out on the road is a pleasure that's eluded me. Having had a go I can see what makes folks so enthusiastic about them. Easy starting, smooth power, sweet handling, quiet running and all in a characterful package. It's a really excellent bike. Power is plentiful for a lightweight sidecar with 60mph cruising easy and getting there swift.

Thanks Matt and family for the hospitality and joyride.   

A10 Golden Flash / Swallow combination.

Mix of periods between bike and chair but they go together nicely.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Magic Wheel Cyclemaster magazine

Here's a lovely snippet from the past. 'The Magic Wheel' Cyclemaster promotional magazine. This is number 2, volume 1 from July 1953. The cover photo is in Singapore with St Andrews Church in the background and the lady is apparently Burmese.

I've scanned one article for interest, not much point scanning more as this whole issue and several more are available at the Cyclemaster Online Museum.

The Magic Wheel magazine cover.

Yes, and most would agree!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Bullet rides again

The poor old Bullet hasn't been used since being detached from the sidecar last summer. Seemed like it was time to get back on the road again. Haven't got much use for the old girl these days as current work doesn't involve a commute, spare time is at a premium and other bikes vie for attention. Funny how you get attached to a bike, logically this one should be moved on to a new owner but after fifteen years together we've been around India, overlanded home from India, down to the Sahara in Morocco and entered long distance trials. Would seem somehow disrespectful to cast her aside after all this time.

A bit of a 'Triggers broom' bike now with many of the major parts having been replaced. Putting her back on the road there's been a few more 'improvements'. A new toolbox as the old was rotted and hacked around, I couldn't find a lock mechanism in the spares box (or rather I could but couldn't find a key...) so bought a bolt replacement for the lock from Mr Hitchcock. It's a nice part, well made, a bit fiddly to fit but that is more down to the flexible tolerances on the Bullet as the quality of the new part. A Redditch Bullet alternator primary case has gone on. Looks a lot nicer in my view than the Indian one. The fork brace also went back on, not sure if it making much difference to handling as the frame isn't really much taxed by the power output. It was sitting on the shelf unloved and unused though so made sense to put it to use.

So, here she is, running nicely, imho looking great if in need of a bit of a cosmetic uplift and ready for a season of rallying.

Back on the road. That Woodsman exhaust looks great but
burns legs and luggage in equal measures.
Redditch primary cover fits straight on.
Spot the new tool box screw fellow anoraks!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Flat tank New Hudson

Easy to recognise the marque (the transfer on the tank gives it away!) but I am not sure of the year or model. Round about 1925 I would say. It could well be a TT Sports model. Problem is bikes are harder to identify from the nearside as most catalogue pictures are from the offside. They generally look better when you can see the timing cover and exhaust, most primary drives are a bit less attractive. Folks don't care about that in family snaps. Nice picture none-the-less of machine and belle.

Mide twenties New Hudson side valve.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mystery twenties combo

I really can't work out what this machine is. Certainly late twenties, the tank looks a bit like a Triumph but the forks and front brake don't seem to match. Has anyone out there got any ideas?

Twenties mystery machine.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BSA Beeza scooter brochure

A brochure for the 1955 BSA Beeza scooter. The model never made it into production but got far enough for working prototypes to be made, an unveiling at the Earls Court Show and brochures to be distributed.

The Beeza was a good looking scooter of sound design with shaft drive, an electric start and slightly larger wheels than competitors. Unusually it was fitted with a side valve engine of 200cc. The choice of side valve was logical in some respects, easy starting, quiet running, tractable and cheaper to make. The reason it never made production is unclear, officially it was claimed that it would be too expensive to produce, unofficially I have read that the performance was very disappointing and that there were management spats between BSA and Triumph (BSA having taken over Triumph in 1951). It's hard to believe that they dropped it as expensive to produce and then came out with the twin cylinder ohv BSA Sunbeam scooter just two years later...

1955 BSA Beeza scooter brochure page 1.

1955 BSA Beeza scooter brochure page 2.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Royal Enfield Bullet in Sudan

Excuse me a trip down memory lane. My 1955 Bullet halfway across the Sahara in Sudan. Nearly seven years ago. I believe the road is now all fresh new Chinese blacktop, it'll take the adventure away and a way of life in villages along the road will change for ever. You can't however deny folks en-route the benefits of modern healthcare and supplies for the sake of a romantic ideal...

1955 Royal Enfield Bullet in the Sudanese Sahara.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Anthology of Motorcycle Travel Literature

I stumbled upon this book whilst killing some time bumbling around the 'net. It seemed like it might not be in print any more and I saw that there was a copy being offered on Amazon for £80. I'd never come across Lulu press before but I clicked through and discovered a rather wonderful print on demand service. You choose your book, pay for it, they print it out and it is with you about a week later.

The Anthology of Motorcycle Travel Literature provided excellent reading matter on a country cottage holiday with no tv and no internet. There are three early motorcycle travelogues within the anthology, each of which is virtually unobtainable in original copy (though since first publication there have been a couple of reprints of Adventures of a Despatch Rider).

The first reproduced story is that of Captain W H LWatson and his 'Adventures of a Despatch Rider' from 1915. The book tells his story from signing up to battle weary veteran. It's got to be said that it gives the impression that DRs were from the privileged classes. He makes the decision to join up before conscription and decides that despatch riding is a good bet so pops in to a shop and picks up a new bike (a Blackburne which he thoroughly endorses) and rides along to sign up. The picture painted is of educated young men enjoying great adventure, suffering great hardship, displaying heroism and being fortunate enough to be away from frontline combat. It's a fascinating and well written book depicting life in French and Belgian towns and villages as they are thrown into the maelstrom of war.

Lady Warren travels as sidecar ballast in a Dunhill sidecar attached to a 1918 Triumph around Algeria and Tunisia. Interestingly she finds many places she goes already touristed, after all, at the time they were French colonies and only a hop across the water from France. The roads she encounters are in general good repair though not so good that there isn't considerable damage to the Triumph in the course of the journey. Of the three books, Lady Warren's is possibly the most 'of its time'. Her preoccupation with finding a hotel with full bathtub facilities is mildly wearying but her prose and humour keeps you reading on.

The last travelogue in the trio is CK Shepherd's 'Across America by Motorcycle'. He is a war veteran seeking adventure who travels across to the States in 1919, buys a motorcycle and rides across America. The machine he buys is a Henderson. Slightly disappointingly to me, as a Henderson is on the list of dream machines, the bike turns out to be a barrel of woes breaking down on a regular basis and with shyster dealers keen to scam and shrug off warranty claims! Though Shepherd must have been well off he travels on a shoestring and often sleeps at the side of the road. The roads of the day in the States seem to have been truly appalling and the motorcyclist seen as a second class citizen.

As if the fine content is not enough the cherry on top is that the Anthology is in aid of charity - Riders for Health. More details here:

Andy you can buy it here (it would make a great Christmas present):

Friday, November 29, 2013

BSA Golden Flash combo

Period snap of a BSA A10 Golden Flash hitched up to what I think is a Watsonian Avon sidecar.

BSA Golden Flash & Watsonian Avon combo.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ian's Harley MT350

Thanks to Ian for sending pictures of his very tidy ex-forces Rotax-engined Harley Davidson MT350. Now doing active service on the green lanes of Dorset and Wiltshire.

Harley MT350.

No respect for authority!

Scorched earth policy.

MT350 goes skating.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1952 DOT trials and scrambles models brochure

Brochure for the 1952 DOT trials and scrambles models. Love the strange trumpet end to the trials models exhaust! Very competent bikes in their day and would still make decent rides for club events and green laning. Nice and light and in my experience the 6E / 8E Villiers motors are the sweetest of the postwar Villiers offerings. They might not be the most powerful but the characteristics are very likeable.

1952 DOT Trials and Scrambles Models
brochure page 1.

1952 DOT Trials and Scrambles Models
brochure page 2.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp

Following the Jack Hearne build here's the latest cycle project on the worklist. It's an Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp. The name alone should guarantee it a place in the pantheon of all time great human-powered two wheelers.

Bought by myself (as I suspect by many others) for the name alone the Imp (as it shall henceforth be known) isn't a particularly rare bike nowadays in comparison to many of its peers. It was a quality machine in its day with Reynolds 531 tubing and some nice lug work but was factory produced in stock dimensions rather than frame by frame. I haven't gotten round to dating it yet but it should be mid fifties.

I'm going to build it up to be reasonably period correct. Naturally the original paint will stay. Refinishing would be sacrilege! I've already had a struggle with deciding which wheel size to go for. I've got a sturmey 5 speed 700c set going spare but offering it up it looks ever so slightly roomy so perhaps a 27" wheelset needs to be sourced. A bit of a pain as nice period 27" matching wheels are getting pricey. It'll probably get moustache bars rather than full drop bars - kinder on the back as age creeps on!

More info and stories about Imps at these pages:

Stylish Lincoln Imp transfer.

Nice lugwork on the forks.

Good old school head badge.

Downtube transfer.

The Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp frame in all its glory.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Velosolex world tour

I found this wonderful book in a bookshop in Rennes. Even if you cannot read the French the pictures are worth it alone. A brother and sister in their twenties riding around the world in fourteen months on a pair of Velosolex. They covered 18,000 km and crossed 25 countries. There's a website too with an English language section - Le Tour du Monde a Velosolex.

Le Tour du Monde a Velosolex.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Royal Enfield J2 1954 brochure

The J2 was essentially a pre-war bike with telescopic forks fitted and was out already out of date by 1954, the year of this brochure. The 350 Bullet, an all new design had come out in 1949 and was joined by a 500 stablemate in '53. Never ones to let an old design perish RE simply marketed the J2 purely as a sidecar hauler. Back then there was still the preconception that a spring frame wasn't the right thing for outfits. 

I'm a big fan of Royal Enfields, they produced some fantastic bikes and were innovators but their reputation suffered from churning out budget parts bin bikes using up spare stock and extending older models beyond their sell by dates. The '54 J2 is a case in point, they had the 500 Bullet motor, a better unit in all respects, it could have been fitted into a rigid frame for the sidecar market. The J2 was still fitted with the older steel tele forks rather than the alloy legged version used on other models and with that dreadful 6 inch single-sided brake when they had the dual-sided which stood a chance of hauling up an outfit. This is all hindsight, postwar times money was short and there would have been a strong market for transport where price was the main driver and the J2 was the cheapest big bike around to bolt a sidecar on to and give the working man family transport. Of course it's all totally irrelevant nowadays, being into old bikes we are seeking out the outdated and venerating them for that very quality. Whilst the J2 is never going to be considered a design classic the late model without the earlier version's horrible bulbous unsprung front mudguard is a fine looking machine and makes a good easy to live with and rare fifties ride. 

1954 Royal Enfield J2 brochure page 1.

1954 Royal Enfield J2 brochure page 2.

1954 Royal Enfield J2 brochure page 3.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

RAC Lambretta LI 150 with sidecar

Up on ebay at the moment is this very cute ex RAC LI150 series 1 combination. At time of writing there are eight days left on it and it is at £2050. It's had a makeover with a bored out 225cc TV175 motor. Seems like you can't restore a Lambretta without tuning it up. Mind, left with the standard 150cc lump in place it would be nigh on unusable on todays roads. At least when it is pushing out 16 or so bhp you could ride it around and about.

I presume these were originally supplied to the RAC as urban repair rigs. I had thought it would have been a sole survivor but digging around I found that Bonhams sold an LD150 RAC combo back in 2004 at Goodwood for £3910. The Bonhams one was restored in full RAC livery, I guess that added to its value somewhat. Picture of the Bonhams combo below and a nice posed period snap of RAC patrol girls. 

Lambretta LI150 RAC sidecar combination offered on ebay.

A Lambretta LD150 RAC sidecar rig sold by Bonhams in 2004.

RAC Patrol girls with Lambretta combos late fifties.
Postscript: it was bid all the way up to £8,000 but then was withdrawn with a day to go...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Black Ariel period photo

There's no doubt this snap has seen better days! The young lady is decorating a Val Page designed 'Black' Ariel. Vintage Ariels are not my subject of expertise but the 'Black' Ariels as they were known were made from 1926 to 1930 and I think this one is a 250cc twin port LF model. I'm willing to stand corrected if anyone wants to comment.

Period snap of an Ariel 250cc LF from 1926 to 1930.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Norton 99ss at Silbury Hill

Dominator 99ss at Silbury Hill.
A memory from a few months back. I was riding up to Bill Little's open day, stopped in a layby for a break, turned around and saw that I had unwittingly landed myself a superb view of the mighty Silbury Hill. For those who don't know Silbury Hill, try Wikipedia, or I prefer the Julian Cope Modern Antiquarian site.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Winter Rallies 2013 / 2014 season

Winter Rally season is nearly upon us. Time to get the thermal underwear and winter sleeping bag out, bag up the bike and head off into the icy gloom.

Like last year here's a list of established winter rallies, a couple I know to be good from personal experience, others I have heard good things about.

Here's the disclaimer, this is just a list I've compiled to help out fellow enthusiasts, check out all the dates and details for yourself before heading off. Most events listed are ticket in advance only. Don't take winter riding lightly, there's a link to a good guide at the bottom of the page.

If you've got rally details from here and attended how about sending in some photos.


Altes Elefantentreffen. 14 to 16 Febraury 2014, Nurburgring Germany. Confusingly the'Old Elefant rally' is in fact the upstart new Elefant Rally and held at the Nurburgring.

Elefantentreffen / Elefant Rally. 31 January to 2 February 2014 Loh/Thurmansbang-Solla near Passau, Germany. The original Elefant Rally.

Dragon Rally. 8 & 9 February 2014, Wales. The British Elefant and a grand tradition.  

Force Ten Rally. 4 to 6 January 2014, Cheshire, UK. Mayflower MCC.

Rallymans Rally. 10 to 12 January 2014, Calderdale, Yorkshire. Dean Valley MCC

Hot Rod Rally. 24 to 27 January 2014. Holland.

Kickstart Rally, 24 to 26 January2014. Cirencester. Ogri MCC

Krystall Rally. 12 to 16 February 2014, Spidsbergseter Gudbrandsdal Hotel, Norway. Just because it is in a hotel don't think that this is an easy option. Temperatures this time of year can drop to minus 20 degrees.

Primus Rally. 25 to 26 February 2014, Velmunden near Bjøneroa, Norway. This is the hardcore of all winter rallies and not to be attended lightly...

Pinguinos Rally. 9 to 12 January 2013, Valladolid, Spain. The largest of European winter rallies, an easier option than the northerly rallies but still liable to be cold!  

Finally, if you are planning to attend any of the above this is a good guide to winter motorcycle riding:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Matchless G2S brochure 1960

Single page brochure for the 1960 Matchless 250 Sports. A model aimed at the young learner market but a bit late on the scene behind the BSA C15, Triumph Cub and Royal Enfield Crusader. There were some interesting design features; I had one for a short while and liked the cassette gearbox but was underwhelmed by the oil filler sitting under the right hand engine cover. Sad that they spent the money on developing an all new engine but penny pinched on the forks and wheels which were shared with Francis Barnett and James models in the AMC group. Early models suffered from a poor reputation for reliability, but, lets be honest, so did pretty much any sporting bike of the period aimed at learners. Spot the link?! The G2 was a short stroke motor though so did encourage rev happy behaviour, not always with good consequences...

1960 Matchless 250 Sports model brochure.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All new Brough Superior SS100

Announced a couple of days ago and causing a bit of a stir, the all new Brough Superior SS100. There's a spec sheet out too that is fairly impressive with 140bhp on tap. The stated aim is to become the second largest bike manufacturer in the UK. Sounds grand but the target is 16 bikes a year to meet that goal. Apparently the aim is for it to retail at around 100k euros. That's a lot less and a lot better value than the updated replica vintage SS100s that Brough have been offering so far but it's still a massive amount of money for a bike.

Up to now I've been fairly sceptical about the Brough revival, producing a few replica bikes at vast cost seemed a bit unfocussed, but the publicity from the Bonneville records and the new model seems to put it on track. Let's hope it is a success.

Opinion seems divided so far on the looks of the bike. Whilst it is easy to make a modern retro out of a fifties or sixties classic, an update of a twenties icon is a whole different matter. Personally I think it looks individual, if not beautiful. I like the unusual forks, the design cues from the original on the fly screen, bars and exhausts. The petrol tank looks ever so slightly perched on top but to be fair you need to see it from a few different angles to make a judgement. Proof as ever will be in the pudding, how it performs out on the road. Undoubtedly there're going to be a few collectors who will buy it almost regardless but if it is going to sell year on year it needs to be a genuinely good machine.

Let's hope it is and congratulations to Mark Upham and co for the bravery to develop an all new bike, take a few risks and come up with something different.

All new Brough Superior SS100.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jack Hearne cycle project on the road..

Jack Hearne cycle.
The Jack Hearne cycle project finally hits the road. Featured in an earlier post when nearly finished the final few parts have been sourced and it's a goer once more. Freemans Cycles were a good find for sourcing small bits and bobs for Sturmey hubs and come fully recommended.

The main stalling points were finding a nice pair of period pedals for a reasonable price - have ended up with a pair of SR quills. Not quite period but, hey, I don't really care and they look right and they didn't break the bank. The other time consuming matter was the Sturmey trigger. The older ones don't really look right on a sporting machine and the eighties style triggers are way too plastic. I ended up buying a new model Taiwanese thumbshifter. It's a nice piece of kit and is well made. They do a bar end one too but I didn't fancy drilling the bars to run the cable. Only problem with the shifter was that it isn't the right diameter for drop bars. There's not a lot of spare metal on it but I took the gamble of reaming it out and it worked fine. The trigger is claimed to fit on to braze-on lever mounts so that could have been another option to mount it nicely.
Jack Hearne cycle project finished and ready to roll...
It's turned out a cracking looking pedaller but for me was never destined to be used as it is way too small. It's been on a test ride and rides well. Those Sturmey Steelite drum brakes are impressive, possibly too strong at the front as heavy breaking resulted in a little more flex than I had hoped for. I wouldn't change them though as the clean lines given by the hub brakes work really well with the on-one moustache bars and it's a vintage cycle so who cares too much about practicality. Just don't take too much of a handful when using the front brake...
One more view.
The pleasure has been in the build. I like to always have a cycle project on the go, the next is a Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp, of which more to follow. The Hearne will live hung up on the garage wall, could be persuaded to part with it though if anyone out there wants a small frame vintage ride.