Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ariel VB combo

Yep, it's a rotten photo but what the heck. It's an Ariel VB sidevalve 600cc from the late forties / early fifties. Quality but no thrills transport for the early postwar family man.

Ariel VB with sidecar.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Flat tank AJS combo

You can't see much of the bike but the giveaway is the AJS logo on the sidecar. The house behind must have been built about the same year as the bike was made.

Flat tank AJS combination.

Davida Jet Ninety Two and Bob Heath Visor review

A few years ago I used to ride with a Davida pudding basin helmet. A  nice looking lid but devoid of British Standard mark so (ahem) illegal in the UK and the crash protection it offered was a heightened awareness of just how bad it would be to fall off and sustain a knock to the head. Change time came when someone pointed out to me that, not being approved, the helmet invalidated insurance, thus if severely incapacitated through head injury caused by another driver I would be very unlikely to get a payout.

Not being of entirely right frame of mind, to me the next logical step was to find a vintage pudding basin helmet which carried the 'Kite Mark' of British Standards and was therefore fully legal. Crash protection was certainly worse than the newer Davida pudding basin as my vintage Slazenger brand lid had a shell made of hardboard and lining of webbing and string. The Slazenger did however have the added safety feature of generating so very much wind noise that your speed was generally reduced for the sake of aural comfort.

Somewhere along the way in the passing of time I realised the error of my ways as I grew older and marginally more sensible. I can't bring myself to wear a full face lid on an old bike but I do like to have a quality Kite Marked helmet that is of a fairly recent vintage.

I've stuck with Davida in general over time as the quality is superb and styling right. The time had come to replace my old Jet and it seemed like a good idea to try the new slimline Jet Ninety Two. Santa Claus obliged me on that front and now a few miles down the road it seems like a good idea to give some riding impressions.

First: styling. Spot on. Davida set out to make a more authentic fifties / sixties looking Jet but meeting modern safety standards. They've totally achieved this. The shape is good, profile slim and the arched cut away at the back of the head is period authentic.

Second: riding. As out of the box the foam around the ears is ridiculously firm. I challenge anyone to get this lid straight on to their head from the box, if you do and you do not experience great pain in doing so then you, my friend, have a very weirdly shaped head. Luckily Davida seem to be aware that their standard ear inserts are very anatomically incorrect and provide a set of soft ones. These are slightly fiddly to fit  and somehow don't look quite as nice (they don't curve in around the chin as much) but they do make it possible to wear the helmet and are comfortable. On the road the lid is nice and light to wear, that authentic cut away at the rear looks great but in winter can give a bit of a chill to the back of the neck so really I would categorise the Ninety Two as a three season lid. All round vision is great, as is comfort (though that will of course largely depend on the shape of your head). The lid is entirely stable, no trace of lift at high speed - if you have experienced this you will know how disconcerting it can be to have your lid seemingly sucked off the top of your head at ninety mph making the neck strap bite in painfully.

Conclusion: Looks great, extremely well made, slightly cold on the neck in winter but an ideal choice if you want a road legal traditional crash hat.

Bob Heath five stud visor: My last visor was a Bell bubble. No complaints with that but I fancied a change and the Davida has facility for five stud fitting so it seemed like an idea to try out the Bob Heath. Back to the legal thing here - as far as I am aware there are no Kite Marked bubble visors available and same as the helmet if you have a visor it is a legal requirement that it is Kite Marked. The Bob Heath is indeed British Standard approved. I love the look of the Bob Heath shape, the fit is perfect on the Ninety Two and the two go together just right. Out on the road the visor is just low enough that it keeps the airstream from your chin and streamlining is very good, turn you head round at speed and there is no extra pull from air flow. The big drawback seems to be noise, there is a lot of it, nothing a good pair of earplugs won't block out  and to be fair it could be the helmet / visor combo as much as the individual visor. Overall though a great visor from a good old school British company, good quality and a decent price.

Monday, April 27, 2015

1924 Royal Enfield 225cc two stroke

Cute little Royal Enfield 225cc two stroke with two speed gearbox operated by 'coffee grinder' handle. The photo is dated 1924 on the reverse and looking at the bike it would have been fairly new then.

Lots more photos of Royal Enfield two strokes on this flickr page.

c1924 Royal Enfield 225cc.
Once a very popular bike there are still quite a lot of survivors
of these 225 Enfields.

Vintage Francis Barnett

Sweet photo of a sweet little bike. 'Built like a bridge' triangulated frame Francis Barnett from around 1925. Note the rubber block front suspension, flexible hose exhaust downpipe and slightly clumsy positioning of the acetylene headlight generator. 148cc of joy!

c1925 Francis Barnett

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Goodbye old friend

Strange how we get emotionally attached to machinery. I guess the physical item is a portal to the memories and it is tough to detach from that. That's how some folks end up taking it to extremes and living in strange warrens of a lifetime's accumulation of ephemera.

In the case of my '97 Bullet the time came to separate the physical from the spiritual. The bike has taken me around India and back home to the UK via Pakistan and Iran, down to the Sahara in Morocco, more visits to France than I can remember and is a veteran of several long distance trials. The Bullet was a faithful friend for some 17 years and rarely let me down despite the punishment oft metered out. In return maintenance was regular, time consuming and thorough. Time, that's the crux of it, I'm lucky enough to have a garage full of motorcycles all demanding attention and there was one that absorbed near all of it.

You often see adverts for machinery offered for sale tinged with sentimentality and slight regret, 'for sale to a good home' or 'suit enthusiast', hoping the cherished item will be equally cherished by the new owner. I'm a realist and have sold enough bikes to know that the next owner will do exactly what they want with their new property, it's their machine and they have the right to take it straight to the scrapyard and crush it if they choose to. I don't bother to let emotions creep in to the copy of a for sale ad, but of course inside I am as most others and am hoping my baby will find a loving home and not end up in the possession of some oafen mechanical barbarian.

With the Bullet I struck lucky with Matt who came down from North Wales to pick it up. A good bloke and a true enthusiast who's planning to keep using the bike as it has been used. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have mate.

1998 and the Bullet is on the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan. 

As sold posing in front of Hambledon Hill Iron Age hill fort.

Friday, April 24, 2015

New Hudson with sidecar looking tired

As far as I can tell the machine is a New Hudson from the early to mid thirties. Looks like it has had a hard life and is one owner away from the scrapman!

Sammy Miller Museum Royal Enfield Ride-In

Lots of events on last weekend but a sunny day, an Enfield J2 that needed a few miles putting on it and the Sammy Miller RE Ride-In made it a fairly easy choice.

The Museum organises a few ride-ins over the year, most of them marque specific. This was the first I had been to and though not a huge event the atmosphere was right and the surroundings good. Sammy himself gave a tour of the Museum workshops, great to see that he takes a genuine joy in showing fellow enthusiasts around. On the workbenches were a '26 Brough Superior Pendine, 350 and 500cc Excelsior Manxmans and a Zundapp KS800 flat four. Two of the machines were museum property and two commissioned restorations. There're not many museums out there where you can get a tour from a genuine motor racing legend.

I couldn't stay too long at the Ride-In as there was a Sunday lunch appointment with the in-laws but I managed to have a coffee at the Museum cafe, mooch around, have a chat with a few folks and take some snaps..

Bikes parked in the Museum's courtyard.

Unusual Royal Enfield Olympic model with the same leading
link forks as the Super 5.

Cracking unrestored Model G.

This Model G spent most of its life on the Isle of Wight.

Line up of British, Indian and hybrid Enfields.

Quirky oil catch tank on this Indian / British
hybrid Bullet.

A lot of thought and work has gone in to this hybrid Bullet.
Redditch frame, Indian lean-burn motor and five speed

This 'Big Head' Bullet has been a local bike for years. I can even
remember seeing it around as a kid. It's not changed much, just a
foam saddle instead of a sprung one if memory serves me right. I
can even remember the wooden battery box from before.

The 'Big Head' Bullet deserves a place in the pantheon of
Great British Singles.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

OK Supreme flat tanker

OK Supreme flat tanker from the early to mid twenties. Not too sure of the model but it looks like it is powered by the ubiquitous 2 1/4hp JAP 293cc motor. 

Mid twenties OK Supreme.

Salisbury Motorcycle and Light Car Club Five Valleys Run pt2

More snaps from the Five Valleys Run...

Pilot's eye view of a Triking.

Triking motive force.

And it's off.

Cracking well used Triumph Tiger 100.

There was a time when British motorcycles
were everyday transport and this is what they
look like used regularly!

Sensible Avon fairing on a sensible Matchless.

Matchless sets off. A good serious rider's machine.

I had a chat with the owner of this Moto Guzzi Spada III. I owned
a really bad example of one for a short while and seeing this made
me somehow miss it. Speaking to the owner I remembered that my
knees rubbed against the fairing and that changing the rear wheel
involved taking off the silencers and brake caliper. Still a great
looking and performing bike, it's just that the memory refresher
slightly killed my nostalgia!

Douglas on the move.

AFS Matchless single.

Vintage Scott showing the way with some two stroke smoke.

Sweet Triumph Daytona.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Salisbury Motorcycle and Light Car Club Five Valleys Run pt1

Last Sunday on the way to Prescott I dropped in on the Salisbury Motorcycle and Light car Club's Five Valleys Run. The weather was good and the start point was more or less on the way so why not. The turn out was big, moderns and olds and plenty of interesting machinery. I came close to knocking the Prescott idea on the head and staying and riding the run but the plan was to possibly meet up with a friend at Prescott so I pushed on after taking a few snaps and watching folks ride off.

There's always something great about old bikes leant up
against trees. This Triumph Twenty One was a nice original
survivor and made a fine ornament to the tree.

Greeves-Triumph hybrid (or Grumph as I prefer to know them)
was really well done and one of the neatest I've come across.

Lurid yellow Ducati 750ss is shouting for attention.

Sweet line-up of machinery.

Matchless off-roader looked initially like a bobber but it was
just the road tyres and Bates headlight gave that impression.
A very pretty bike.

Vincent Comet close-up.

Guzzi-engined three-wheeler.

Pretty sure it is a home build rather than kit car.

The Lamb Engineering chop with updated & modernised JAP
twin engine was out and riding. Nice engineering on the bike
and sounded sweet too. Surprisingly civilised sounding for
open valves and pipes.

Flip side of the Lamb JAP.

Francis Barnett and Greeves.

A few pre-war bikes were mixing it with the

Post-vintage Velocette and vintage Scott.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Prescott Bike Festival 2015 pt3

The final selection of pics from the Prescott Bike Festival last weekend. 

Cracking pair of Excelsior Manxmans (Manxmen?)

Close up of the racing Excelsior Manxman.

Mad Max Race Team turbine powered drag bike. The world's
fastest naked bike and the fastest turbine powered too. The
turbine is a Rolls Royce unit designed for a helicopter.

Open megaphone on a Manx Norton. Exactly
as it should be.

Sidecar race bike giving it some on the hill.

Lovely Douglas trials bike making an ascent. It probably felt
fast to the rider!

Some great alloy fabrication on this Royal Enfield Crusader
based race bike.

Norton CS1. Very very envious!

Rare Pride and Clarke speedo on the CS1.

Some fine engineering has gone in to this Tribsa.

Tribsa close up.

The Flying Millyard. A rather amazing home brewed bike
powered by two top ends from a Pratt and Witney radial
unit. Look it up on youtube.

Close up on the Flying Millyard.

Nice period rally modded Lambretta in the bike park field.

Velocette Venom motor has been treated to all the bells and

Tasty line-up of Velocettes in the bike park.

Ducati Mike Hailwood Replica.

Ducati 900GTS ridden to the event.