Monday, November 30, 2015

1973 Hagon Triumph Weslake Sprint Bike

This bike just stood out for me so much at the Westonzoyland Sprint that I've decided to dedicate a whole page to it. Maybe it's something to do with me trying to self-teach machine tool work at the moment and I am in awe of the skill and time gone in to this bike or it could be just that it is an incredible thunderous beast.

It is a 1973 Hagon-framed Triumph. Originally a full Triumph engine it blew up in 2004 and was rebuilt with a lot of Weslake parts. What makes it so special though is the number of home machined parts it carries and the care and attention that has been lavished upon it. Not just that but it is an extremely effective tool at doing the job it was made to do. It's one of those bikes that the more you look at it the more exquisite detail you see. 

The lines are right and the period nose cone
finishes it off perfectly.

Fast standing still.

Enough detail to keep an engine nerd occupied for a good while..
See the gearbox. Home-made.

Open polished rockers on the eight valve Weslake head. A
lot of extra bracing to keep that barrel and head from flying off!
Monster SU carb and home-made supercharger.

Home-made barrel too. 

Just look at that twist grip. Imagine the hours that went in
to that alone. Just the shape of it and then managing to knurl
it when it isn't round. I don't even know how that it done.

And here it is in action warming the tyres up.

And it's off. The noise was truly earth shattering. You
feel it inside you as it takes off the line.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

AJS Rudge Ariel

Mid thirties snap of bright young things having fun featuring an AJS, a Rudge and an Ariel.

Thirties AJS, Rudge and Ariel

Thursday, November 26, 2015

John Lloyd - England to Australia 1949

You won't normally find posts of copied magazine articles on this blog but this one is from such a low circulation source and a great story that it warrants circulating.

I'm always fascinated by early long distance motorcycle adventures and John Lloyd's travels are remarkable for the era that he did them. In 1948 the War would have been a close memory and the Europe that John travelled through on his way to Australia still visibly scarred. The machine he rode was a 350cc ex-WD Triumph, pretty much as decent a machine for the job as there would have been at the time. Slow, but plenty of folks overland even today with 350cc Royal Enfield Bullets which would be pressed to gain the edge on the Triumph in a race. John seems to have done his travels on the quiet for his own satisfaction and this article is perhaps the only record of them. I wonder if he is still around today?

Click on the images for larger, better definition scans.

John Lloyd's journey is featured in Motor
Cycle Sport from the days before it became
a wide circulation monthly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pioneer Run preps for the mighty Wall Autowheel

I've got my entry in for the Pioneer Run so it seemed like a good idea to check over the Autowheel and make sure all works as well as it should.

The first job was to fit a 'new' wheel with Sturmey Archer three speed that I found for the bike a while back. It may be a light machine but pushing a tall gear up a slight incline to start the contraption was leading to my knees feeling like they would pop from their sockets. Problem is, you need a reasonably tall gear to maintain momentum to attack the hills. With no advance and retard on the Wall, once you drop below a certain speed on a hill you are doomed to a long and arduous walk so keeping a minimum speed is imperative. Having high and low ratios should overcome both issues.

Sturmey three speed fitted to the Raleigh X Frame/
Wall Autowheel. You can just make out how the
Wall frame bolts in to the cycle drop outs in front
of the axle.

The new wheel was a very lucky match for the front both in rim profile and patina. Taking the old off however reminded me of one of the great frustrations of working on the Wall - its incredible unwieldiness. To remove the rear wheel you also have to remove the engine unit at the same time. One of the engine subframe mounts attaches to the rear wheel axle and thus requires a long axle. With a Sturmey Archer hub there's no playing around with axle length so it seemed like a good idea to see if I couldn't come up with a slightly better mounting solution.

With a lot of fiddling around and minor adjustments I've managed to fit the Autowheel separate from the wheel axle by moving it just in front. It doesn't leave a lot of adjustment on the bicycle chain but given that average annual mileage over the last decade has been about thirty miles per annum I don't think that a stretched chain running to the limit of adjustment will be a problem any time soon.

A quick check over and a couple of other improvements and all that remains now is for a test run. It was a pity I didn't get to ride the Pioneer last year on the Wall's hundredth birthday - work got in the way. I'm hoping nothing changes and my ride for 2016 remains open.

118cc of raw power!

Sturmey gear changer.

Found this veteran lever in my parts bin and it's a bit more
appropriate than the fifties choke lever that was fitted.
Originally the Autowheel had a dual cable lever that operated
both decompressor and throttle. This can be filed under unobtanium.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Vincent Motorcycles range 1952

The Vincent range for 1952.
Also posted up the Vincent HRD range for 1948

Vincent Motorcycles 1952 brochure front cover.

Vincent Motorcycles 1952 brochure page 1.

Vincent Motorcycles 1952 brochure page 2.

Vincent Motorcycles 1952 brochure page 3.

Vincent Motorcycles 1952 brochure page 4.

Vincent Motorcycles 1952 brochure rear cover.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Veteran Triumph from c1908

I'm slightly hesitant to identify this machine as a Triumph but that is what it looks like to me, from around 1908. Perhaps someone can comment or get in touch to confirm or deny the identification. If it is indeed a Triumph it is a mildly customised one, it looks like the pedal cranks have been removed and the petrol tank has had a different paint job.

Posing with a veteran Triumph.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Enfield Robin Diesel

The Enfield Robin is a lesser known cul de sac of the Indian Royal Enfield story in the UK. The Enfield Robin was a collaboration between arch diesel motorcycle enthusiast Ernie Dorsett (who had already built several specials and a short run of Matchless engined diesel machines), Redbreast - the importers of the Japanese Fuji Robin diesel motor, and the UK Enfield importers - Bhavana. The model name DR400D stood for Dorsett Robin 400cc Diesel. The machine went on sale in 1992 (or 1993 depending who you believe) and somewhere in the region of 100 were made.

The Robin motor was 412cc and pushed out 8.5bhp. Of course power was not its selling point, fuel consumption was and in this it excelled at 150mpg though one could uncharitably point out that riding a Honda Cub slowly might give similar figures. 

Diesel motorcycles of course have a staunch following and the Enfield Robin is perhaps a best of breed in the traditional single cylinder industrial motor conversions. Personally I rode an Enfield Taurus diesel at an Enfield dealer in Rajasthan some years ago and find it hard to say anything nice about it. It was brutally slow, vibrated monstrously - something akin to riding a two wheeled version of an old fashioned dumper truck and gathered speed at the pace of a mobility scooter with a flat battery. That said an Enfield Robin green laner appeared on eBay recently and I kick myself for not buying it. If it is yours and you are reading this would perhaps like to sell it to me!

A few interesting Royal Enfield Diesel links:

Enfield Robin brochure front side.

Enfield Robin brochure rear side.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Winter Rallies 2015 / 2016 season

This is getting to be a tradition on a par with egg nog and brandy snaps, the RDM annual Winter Rallies listing. It's that time of year when the die-hard esoteric sphere of the biking world rig up their handlebar muffs, legshields and, in a few worthy instances, spiked tyres and head off into the cold. It's a ride incomprehensible to most but those who have embarked know the winter rally to be the noblest and finest of motorcycling experiences enriched by a keen spirit of camaraderie and strong alcohol. To the select band of winter ralliests I salute you.

As in previous years 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. There are only scant details about some of these rallies on the web, the word of mouth and pre-rally research is part of the fun. Get out there on to forums, etc and find out more for yourself. If you haven't been to a winter rally before perhaps head to one of the less hardcore ones first and getting chatting to the old hands to find out more about the extreme. One day I will rig up an outfit and maybe see you at the Primus...

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, prepare your bike properly, ride in decent kit and have a contingency.

If you get inspiration to attend an event from this page how about sending in some pictures.


Force Ten Rally. 8 to 10 January 2016, Warwickshire, UK. Mayflower MCC.

Wintertreffen Augustusburg. 9  January 2016. Schloss Augustusburg, Augustusburg,Germany. See also here.

Agnellotreffen. 15 to 17 January 2016. Pontechianale, Italy.

Hot Rod Rally. 22 to 24 January 2016. Holland. BSA OC.

Alteisentreiber. 28 to 31 January 2016. Austrian Alps.

Savalen Rally. 28 to 31 January 2016. Savalen Fjell Hotel, Savalen, Norway.

Elefantentreffen / Elefant Rally. 29 to 31 January 2016. Loh / Thurmansbang-Solla near Passau, Germany. The original Elefant Rally.

Kickstart Rally, 29 to 31 January 2016. Cirencester. UK. Ogri MCC

Fjord Rally. 2 to 5 February 2016. Jostedal Hotel, Jostedal, Norway.

Wild Boar. 5 to 7 February 2016. Cantabria, Spain. MC Piston

Altes Elefantentreffen. 12 to 14 Febraury 2016, Nurburgring Germany. Confusingly the'Old Elefant Rally' is in fact the upstart new Elefant Rally and held at the Nurburgring.

Dragon Rally. 13 & 14 February 2016, Wales. The British Elefant and a grand tradition. 

Krystall Rally. 24 to 28 February 2016, Røros Hotel, Røros, 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. Last weekend in February 2016, Velmunden near Bjøneroa, Norway.

Primus Borealis Rally. Mid February. Just South of the North Cape, Norway. Not sure if this one is still running but it merits inclusion by nature of being the most extreme. Both of the Primus Rallies are notoriously hard to find information about on the web.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Excelsior Autobyk

Posing with an Excelsior Autobyk from the late forties/ early fifties. Autocycles achieved popularity as cheap postwar transport for a nation eager to get on the move again and are generally defined by a 98cc engine capacity, open frame, pedals and usually a clutch is fitted but no gears. With most of the glamour expensive machinery sent abroad for the postwar export drive autocycles were one of the few two wheelers more freely available. The Autobyk was and is considered one of the best of the bunch.

The Autobyk was introduced in 1937 and was originally fitted with the Villiers Junior powerplant. Production ceased in 1939 for the War and resumed in 1946. For 1947 the Super-Autobyk was introduced, this model was fitted with Excelsior's own 'Goblin' engine which was unique amongst autocycles in being fitted with a two speed gearbox. Later in 1947 Excelsior introduced the Autobyk de Luxe which was powered by an Excelsior 'Spryt' motor- the same engine as used by Brockhouse in the Corgi scooter. The Autobyk was discontinued in 1956.

Period photo of an Excelsior Autobyk.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The 1950 Douglas Motorcycles range

The 1950 Douglas catalogue is an embossed card folder containing A4 sized art prints of the range and is the most stunningly presented motorcycle brochure that I've come across.

Douglas 1950 range card folder front cover.

Douglas 1950 range print. The Douglas factory.

Douglas 1950 range print. The 80 Plus model.

Douglas 1950 range print. The 80 Plus model specs on
reverse of print.

Douglas 1950 range print. The Mark V model.

Douglas 1950 range print. The Mark V model specs on
reverse of print.

Douglas 1950 range print. The Mark V model.

Douglas 1950 range print. The Mark V model specs on
reverse of print.

Douglas 1950 range print. The Competition model.

Douglas 1950 range print. The Competition model specs on
reverse of print.

Douglas 1950 range print. The 90 Plus model.

Douglas 1950 range print. The 90 Plus model specs on
reverse of print.

Douglas 1950 range print. Guarantee.

Douglas 1950 range card folder rear cover.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Indian Chief 1940

A very unusual bike in the UK at the time. An Indian Chief from c1940. I'm guessing the picture is taken post war and the bike is ex-WD. There were a lot of 741 models floating around army surplus in the post war years but a Chief would be something special.

Indian Chief posing in the garden. She looks
pretty non-plussed by it!

Another view of the 1940 Indian Chief. Looks
pretty standard, a spotlight has been added
on the handlebars.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

CCM 604 turns supermoto

The CCM came to me with a set of supermoto wheels. I'd been meaning to try them out for a while and have just gotten round to fitting them. Swapping the wheels across was child's play, the only problem I encountered was a rounded allen head on one of the disc rotor bolts. Button head allen bolts truly are the spawn of satan: aesthetically they're great but so prone to rounding off in smaller sizes and especially in stainless that they should be outlawed. To be fair the bolts were loctited on, I personally prefer a dab of copper grease and lock washer on rotor bolts but I guess many folks go for the security of loctite.

Out on the road the transformation to the character of the bike is astonishing given that only the wheels have been changed. I guess the narrow off road tyres were so confidence uninspiring that one tended to treat the bike a bit gingerly. The supermoto wheels release the handling potential of the machine and, what with the willingness of the engine to get lary and the power of the front brakes, overall the bike encourages a high level of back lane hooliganism. The grin factor is huge and a twenty minute ride leaves your heart pounding and the adrenaline coursing. The good thing is that this is all achieved at not outrageously high speeds. The CCM could make a fun commuter but it is more at home tearing around the countryside. The bike seems so natural in this format that in my ownership I can't see it going back to off-roading. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Unit New Imperial

Unit construction New Imperial dating from the early thirties. The technically advanced unit construction range appeared in 1932 and continued up until 1939 in sizes from 150 to 500cc.

The rider is smartly turned out with leather double breasted trench coat, plus fours and argyle socks.

Rider and machine smartly turned
out. Early thirties unit construction
New Imperial.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tweaking the J2

1940 Royal Enfield J2.

Been spending a little time getting to know the J2 of late. I'm finding the performance a bit disappointing, it feels very torquey and powerful but not keen on revving and if pushed the vibes get intrusive. The timing didn't feel quite right for modern fuels and I was pretty sure the bike could pull a way taller gear. 

In went the bike to the workshop and off came the timing cover. I gave the timing pinion a small tweak of advance (it's all precision engineering in my workshop!) and re-assembled. Those high level pipes may look great but they don't half get in the way, look how they completely obscure the tappet cover and clip the top of the timing cover.

The J2 final drive gearbox sprocket is the same as that for classic Indian Enfields. The standard size is 16 teeth, I went for an 18. Luckily it just fitted without a new chain or having to add a link.

Out on the road there is a marked improvement. Comfortable cruising speed is up from 45mph to somewhere slightly above 50. Still scope for improvement though, I'm pretty sure the timing can be advanced further still. Now I've just got a slightly leaky petrol tank and a high oil consumption habit to sort out....

The exhausts were not made with practicality
and ease of maintenance in mind. They are
possibly not the original bend.