Monday, September 30, 2013

Lambretta Luga, Vega & Cometa brochure 1968

Here's the two page flyer for the futuristic Lambretta Luna, Vega and Cometa range. In my mind brilliant looking machines and hugely overlooked (having said that I haven't ridden one, just going on looks alone!)

Despite the bikinis and space age looks they were a flop for Lambretta. The design has stood the test of time though and they wouldn't look so out of place in a showroom today. Produced only from 1968 to 1970 they came out at a time of dropping two wheeler sales (though Honda et al were on the rise at that time so the market isn't the only excuse for the poor sales) and are scarecely remembered today.

Good information about them on the ilambretta pages.

Lambretta Luna, Vega & Cometa brochure page 1.

Lambretta Luna, Vega & Cometa brochure page 2.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Silver Sunbeam cycle

Late twenties Silver Sunbeam.
Here's the latest completed project to emerge from the shed. A late twenties Silver Sunbeam. I bought it as a scruffy but original and complete cycle at the Banbury Run a couple of years ago. I've already got a very original oily rag Silver Sunbeam so wanted to do something a bit different with this one. Nothing has been irreperably modified and discarded parts have been kept. In fact the only real difference from standard is that the very heavy steel mudguards have been removed. The canvas matress saddle has been put aside and replaced with a Brooks B17. 

Silver Sunbeam close up.

The Sunbeam 'Little Oil Bath' chaincase is a very distinctive feature and despite weighing a lot and being very out of shape I persevered with it and spent a long time getting it straight again. The tyres are white Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. Very nice and period from a distance but the reflective band lets them down a little. All the same they are the only really decent period style tyre available for vintage cycles. You can get tyres a lot cheaper but in my experience they will crack and perish in a very short time whereas these Schwalbes really last well. It's pretty depressing to have to replace tyres on a cycle after a couple of years when the thing has at best only covered twenty miles....

The brakes are the lovely and fairly effective Sunbeam cam operated ones. The 'bars have the strange plasticised coating that Sunbeam liked to use and I've added some Brooks leather bar tape on to the grip area for comfort and looks.

The carbide lamp is a well used Lucas autojumble cheapy that completes the look nicely. Plan is that this will be a regular rider and not too original or shiny to be worried about.
T'other side of the 'Beam.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn clearout

Royal Enfield Model G. The one I have spare might look
like this, one day after a lot of work...

Time for a bit of an Autumn clean of two wheeled miscellania......

My Watsonian Monza sidecar is up on ebay at the moment. I've had some fun with it but it takes up a fair bit of space and isn't really getting used. Plus I bought it to carry children and I've realised that two will not fit in it (doh!) and I'm not sure I trust them not to stick small hands into moving parts till they are a fair bit older....

Please bid willingly, it's the start of the 'I'd like a Vincent' fighting fund, or it could be the start and the end of the 'I've overspent recently and I live in a drafty old house that needs double glazing before winter comes and my wife and children freeze' fund. Either of these are indeed worthy causes so any help appreciated.

Also available the following.
Squire Squirrel mini-bike, bit scruffy but will run.
Royal Enfield 1947 Model G project
Royal Enfield Bullet frame 1960
Original Lewis Leathers / Aviakit Black Arrow jacket, large
Sturmey CS box narrow pitch teeth
plus plenty more odds and sods.

If anything above sounds interesting send an email or facebook message. Otherwise it will be up on ebay soonish.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Submit your photos, articles, etc

Any submissions to the blog gratefully received....

As you can see it's a broad church, there's no high falutin self conscious connoisseur-isms going on just a love of two wheelers, powered or not. If you've got a picture of your pride and joy, latest project or whatever and you want to share it, send it in. Old photos, from a junk shop or from the family album, event reports, brochures for the library, pseudo-philosophical guff all welcome.

Of course there is no reward for sending anything in, just the pleasure of sharing. Red Devil Motors is now getting around 4 to 5 thousand hits a month and climbing, not a huge amount but there's a satisfaction in knowing that folks out there are reading your ramblings, checking out your snaps and returning for more.

Any content sent in remains your copyright and is gratefully acknowledged, most formats welcome, jpegs and word are easiest. Send in via facebook or to the email address below. The email address is as an image to help save me from spamming email trawlers so sorry but it needs to be written out.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bell bubble visor

A friend from the States put me on to bubble visors. You don't see them much this side of the pond. Normally I've ridden with goggles or a Bob Heath Jet flip but decided to try out a bubble. The Bob Heath is pretty good but only for slower speeds, wind noise is fairly considerable when you're pressing on and the profile means that it catches the wind badly if you turn your head at speed. The choice around for bubble-wise is limited, either a Bell or a cheapy from Taiwan or China. I wasn't sure if the Bell would fit my Davida Classic lid but decided to give it a go. I ordered one to arrive through the post. It arrived, it fitted on to the Davida no problem and it's excellent. Wind noise is low for an open helmet and the aerodynamics are good. At thirty five odd quid it was pricey but it makes me look like a new wave moto hipster (from a great distance!) so it must be worth it...

Bell bubble visor & Davida Jet in harmonious

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Squire Squirrel and PRV mini bikes

Very original Squire Squirrel.
The Squire Squirrel was a product of Squire Sidecars conceived in the late seventies and brought to the public in the early eighties. Times were lean in motorcycling back then and the manufacture of sidecars cannot have felt like it was a business to be in if making profit was your motive. So, no doubt, a mini bike seemed like a useful bit of product diversification.

The first model was a take on the Stateside mini bike concept. This had already been done in the UK some twenty years earlier with the Trojan Trobike. The 'Squirrel' as it was to become known bore a close resemblance to its American cousins which were generally powered by sidevalve lawnmower engines fitted with ripcord starters. The big difference was that the Squirrel used an motor genuinely designed for use in two wheelers, the Peugeot 103 moped engine. A well proven unit that was produced in large quantity.

Any colour so long as it is yellow...
The early model was marketed under the Squire banner (it wasn't until 1988 that the company merged with Watsonian sidecars to become Watsonian Squire) as the Squirrel and it was aimed at children. Whereas many of the American bikes and the Trojan could be registered for road use (though it has to be said were totally unfit for it!) the Squirrel made no such pretensions with its solitary rear brake and complete lack of frills. The Peugeot motor in the Squirrel was fitted with quite an effective centrifugal clutch but being designed for a pedal start moped there was no starting option for the Squirrel but to push. The engine was geared down by the expedient of a v-belt drive to a countershaft and then chain to the rear wheel. There was a simple expanding brake in the rear hub which was operated by a lever on the right handlebar. Other controls were a twistgrip throttle and a decompressor on the left bar for stopping and starting the motor.

The front and rear mudguards along with the chainguard and petrol tank (under the seat) were fibreglass moldings, a simple job for Squire. The frame is a simple bent and brazed tube job, the steering bearings plain, the wheels probably industrial and the seat is plywood with sponge and a cover.

Showing very basic seat and petrol tank with filler cap
seemingly from an old oil can.
A later model was introduced, marketed as the PRV and with no mention of Squire in the name. This model was more squarely aimed at children as the top frame tubes dropped back to the rear axle in a straight line from the headstock giving it a lower seat height. The bodywork was a moulded one piece 'tank' and seat unit in the style of a mini sports bike, though in reality it still had the same petrol tank as the earlier model situated under the seat.

All in 450 Squirrels and PRVs were made. Extremely basic little things that did as they said on the tin and nothing more. Production stopped when Peugeot upped the price of the engines.

I have a Squirrel and from experience they start, go and stop, little more can be said. I question the suitability for children as the Peugeot engine actually feels slightly too lively for the running gear (yes really!) The inbuilt safety device though is that a child small enough to ride the PRV comfortably probably wouldn't be strong enough to start one on their own.

PRV minibike. Colour probably correct, decals not.
Many thanks to the ebay seller 2009isobel for use of the Squirrel pictures. Also take a look at the icenicam page for more info on Squire minibikes. Both of the machines pictured are still available for sale at time of writing and owners should be contactable through ebay if the listings are not still up.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flat tank Douglas combo & a mystery machine...

Douglas 6hp combo and in the foreground a mystery v-twin.
The machine in the background is easy enough to identify, a Douglas, I would guess a 6hp model. But the cycle in the foreground is a mystery. It's a big v-twin, there's a Sturmey CS box in there and the name looks like it begines with a V or W and ends in or has a 'ton' in the middle. No idea. Any enlightenment gratefully received.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride

It started last year as a fun ride for the sake of it and has morphed into a kind of two-wheeled Movember. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't require the commitment of a month of moustache growing but riding a bike for a day in a suit in the English autumn may indeed be a feat of some endurance.

The global aspect is a nice angle. I like the fact that there is currently one guy in Iraq with $300 pledged who will be out there in his suit on his bike.

I'm hoping to take part, work commitments allowing. Either in Taunton on the Norton or making the motorway slog up to London on the BMW, whichever machine is playing ball at the time.

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. 29 September 2013.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

LeBlond Regal lathe

Le Blond Regal lathe.
Here's the latest workshop arrival, an early fifties LeBlond Regal lathe. Sixty years old but still going fine and willing to work. Now just got to learn how to use it properly.....

Le Blond users manual.  Delivered by
mysterious cosmic forces.
The LeBlond is a beast of a machine and the traumas endured to transport it the twenty miles from workshop to workshop were many fold. I'm pretty much too embarrassed to repeat them to print. Suffice to say many golden rules of health and safety were not just broken they were positively smashed and then stamped on in the dirt. Key findings of the manoeuvre were: 1. Don't underestimate how heavy a lathe like this can be. 2. Always find out the size of the lorry delivering your machinery before the day and if it will fit down your driveway. 3. Have lifting gear on hand regardless.4. A small box trailer will carry a big lathe for about 100 foot before surrendering and 5. Two inches is a big drop for a ton and a half....

Despite the shenanigans the LeBlond is in place and working. By wonderful coincidence just a couple of days before delivery I found a users manual on ebay with just twenty minutes left on it and bought it for 99p. Our postlady dropped it through the letterbox just minutes after the lathe was installed in position. Such events happen only at rare alignments of heavenly bodies.

Enough waffle, the reason I've put this post up, rather than to gloat over my new baby, is that previous owner John went through considerable effort to replicate the 'feed plate chart' that had worn away. Seems like it is providing a public service to post it up for other Regal owners.

Finally, here's a link to the site where there is further info on the Regal.

LeBlond Regal threads and feed chart.

Monday, September 9, 2013

BSA glamour with Betty Page

Normally I try to post original photos but I found this on another blog and it bears repeating, It's not really possible to attribute as it appears on several different sites and I can't find the original. What I like about it is the, frankly, pretty poor quality of the picture. The focus is iffy, the bike's front wheel is chopped off. It looks like a home snap. It's almost like Betty Page happened to be walking by in a bikini, a guy had his new BSA parked outside his shed, by chance had his camera on him and said, "Alright love, mind if I take a picture of you with the bike?"Or of course it could be Betty's own bike and she was just about to take it for a spin in her bikini. She hadn't thrown all caution to the wind because there is a helmet and goggles sitting on the saddle.

Also for me the picture gives me a reminder that my father and I share a basket case BSA exactly the same that has been in pieces far too long. A shame as it is a handsome bike. It's an A10 Road Rocket 650cc current from '54 to '57.

BSA Road Rocket with Betty Page

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wall Autowheel with Dursley Pedersen bicycle

If you look at this blog on a semi-regular basis you may know that I'm in a love / hate relationship with a 1914 Wall Autowheel. I love the fact that it's completed three Pioneer Runs in the last few years, it cost little and doesn't owe me anything and it has a wonky utilitarian heath robinson splendour that is unique. On the other hand, though I don't mind pedalling, I do begrudge the fact that it reaches a tipping point of feeble power to heavy weight on hills of a certain gradient when the engine simply becomes a massive encumbrance to forward progress. Plus, despite its light weight, it is the greatest pig of a contraption to wheel around in the garage.

So, for reasons best known to me alone, for the last thing I want or need is another one, I scan ebay every so often for Autowheels. Yesterday I saw this one, an early 'wheel hitched up to a Dursley Pedersen cycle, something like the holy grail of Autowheel combos.

Wall Autowheel with Dursley Pedersen cycle.
The early 1913 Autowheel is fairly rare, the main difference from the later models being the swoopy exhaust pipe rather than the later models which drops into a silencer box in front of the engine. The cycle looks fairly correct with a few components different from catalogue spec, but, hey, it's a bicycle and folks changed stuff around all the time back in the day just as we do now with our new treaders. What I'm personally slightly more dubious of is the glitzy colour scheme with silver cycle, reversed bars and nickeled tank on the Autowheel. All easy enough to change though if it was yours and you cared to. And the price? £8500. Suffice to say that's the most I've seen someone asking for an Autowheel by a long shot. Irrelevant to me as I really don't want another one, sometimes I feel I barely want the one I've got. Who knows in five years it may look like a bargain. But if anyone wants to pay near that much for mine you know where I am and the answer is yes!

Oh, and if you want to buy it click here!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labels added....

Been writing this blog for about two and a half years now. The scribblings have been stacking up and there's not been an easy way of searching back through articles so have just gone through and added labels to each entry. Take a look at the labels on the right side navigation bar and click on something of interest. The 'period photos' label is a nice one for idling some time looking at old snaps in front of the screen....

Monday, September 2, 2013

New Royal Enfield Continental GT

The new Royal Enfield Continental GT 535cc has just started rolling off production lines in India. It's the first RE that is an entirely new design since the fifties. Apparently there are no components shared with the old traditional 'classic' Bullet models.

The frame is Harris designed and to me looks like it takes cues from both BSA and Metisse designs. The overall style is very much a modern take on the old 250cc Continental GT. The frame should be a good platform for the forthcoming twin engine. It's a cracking looking bike and needs to have at least 30bhp to make it fun and 40 would turn it into a decent lightweight sports bike. With bought in suspension and brakes the retail price is likely to be a good bit above the current Bullet models.

Looks like a good start to a new dawn for Royal Enfield. Oil under the finger nails Bullet enthusiasts like myself will feel some sadness that the age of mix and matching Bullet parts from across the eras is disappearing but then again we're not the types to spend proper money on a new ride!
New Royal Enfield Continental GT.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fancy Cycling book review

Fancy Cycling by Isabel Marks cover.
I was up in London recently and browsing through Foyles found this little gem. It's a reprint of a 1901 book complete with fabric over card cover.

The contents are a guide through various different trick moves on your two wheeler. A great tome for old duffers to point out to the young BMX whippersnappers that there's nothing new. In all seriousness some of the tricks are pretty similar to freestyle BMX moves from the eighties. Shredding Victorian stylee!

Page 56 of 'Fancy Cycling'.

Originally published 1901 by Sands and Company. Author Isabel Marks. Reprint by Old House Press 2013. £7.99. isbn: 9781908402714