Monday, November 28, 2016

Jack Hearne Cycle for sale

The minor clear out continues. Having now parted with a couple of motorcycles and one cycle frame with only one small twenties scooter incoming to take their place I am rediscovering the joys of being able to move around my workshop unrestricted once more.

Latest in the cull is my late sixties / early seventies Jack Hearne. I bought it originally as frame only out of nostalgia as I used to work for Jack a few years back. Jack Hearne is a name that has popped up in this blog a few times, for more related posts follow this link. Jack was a prolific frame builder through the sixties and seventies in Southern England; he was noted for a very fine finish on his frames, the frames themselves are of high quality but no nonsense generally being without signature fancy lug work or unorthodox design. The frame on this cycle is 19.5", given that I am over six foot tall I've decided that having had fun building the cycle up it is perhaps time for it to move on....

Condition is fair and rideable. There are a few chips on the paintwork but at least it is original, the handlebars and stem have a few scratches, the chainset has a few dots of rust but really it is fairly tidy though definitely not a show bike. It hasn't been used much since being built up, I had a lot of trouble with the chain jumping off, I've just recently fitted a fresh chainset, bottom bracket axle and chain. Turns out that most of the problem was with a cheap ebay chain, I fitted something of better quality and now it runs smoothly and skip free. Lesson learnt.

Spec as follows:
  • GB handlebars and stem
  • Nervar fluted cottered crankset
  • Wolber Model 58 rims (27 x 1 1/4) with new Schwalbe tyres
  • Campag hubs (slightly more recent vintage than the frame)
  • Mafac 'Racer' brake set
  • Campag Nuovo Record rear mech and six speed block
  • Recent leather saddle, Selle Italia perhaps? Looks nice, not particularly comfortable (for me at least!)
  • Frame material unknown, Jack normally built with 531 so this is a fair guess. Quite nice fancy Nervex lugs. Frame number 5165
Price: £375

I am happy to post it, round about £20 for most of the UK. Massively expensive everywhere else.
Having said I am having a clear out I am always happy to entertain proposals of swaps and part exchanges. My tastes are eclectic. Try me.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Royal Enfield 225cc Sports Model 200

1925 Royal Enfield 225cc Sports Model 200.

The reverse of this photo is labelled as 'taken 1929', looking at the spec of the bike it seems to be a 1925 model. The Sports Model 200 225cc two stroke was distinguished from its more common sibling the Model 201 by having footrests instead of foot boards, sports handlebars and a rather nice two in to one exhaust from the twin port motor. There was also a Model 201a which was the open frame model. The 201a is commonly known as the ladies model but was sold by Royal Enfield as, 'Designed and built for the lady or gentleman who prefers not to wear special clothing when motorcycling.'

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hardy Trial 2016

Several weeks before a long distance trial entering seems like a marvelous idea. A day before when I realise that I am woefully ill prepared and time is running out I begin to question my own stupidity. And then on the day when Storm Angus was battering the South of the country I really felt like just turning the alarm off and staying in bed.

The Hardy Trial was doubly challenging for co-entrant Matt who had his CCM pinched from his car's bike rack from right outside his house by three scrotes in a transit van just as he was about to depart from the Midlands with family to spend the weekend of the trial chez nous in Dorset. Matt is gamer than I as, gutted though he was, he simply did a bike swap and loaded up his trusty RE Crusader and brought it down to ride.

As it turned out only our 6am ride to the start was damp and the rain held off for the rest of the day from our 8am flag off onwards. This was doubly remarkable as the following day saw some serious flooding in the area. Sure, the going was very waterlogged but at least we weren't getting wet as we rode.

Bike disaster also befell co-rider Toby as his Honda XL 250 wasn't playing ball on the morning of the trial. That left Dan on his rigid G3L Matchless, myself on Dan's generously lent Bullet (still haven't bought a trials bike since I sold my Bullet, duh!) and Matt on his wholly unsuitable (though veteran of several LDTs) Crusader all riding together.

We made it around the course without major mishap. Many sections were footed as you might expect ploughing around on a heavy antiquated behemoth trying to cut it with Beta Alps and Gas Gas Panteras but we had fun and didn't break any bones so overall a top result.

The Hardy goes through some stunning scenery, the distances between sections are not too great and it makes for a properly enjoyable day out if this is your kind of thing. Totally recommended.

Dan eyeing up a tricky section on his Matchless.

Fellow competitors on suitable bikes....

The Matchless is going well here.

And not so well here. Dan did alright in the end though and
got top in class, albeit a class of four. I fell off in the same place
about two minutes later.

Not something you see often. Greeves Sports
Twin rolling chassis with BSA A7 motor.

Shiny classic Suzuki out having some fun.

The BSA Greeves again. Beeves? Greeser?

Yours truly, looking in control but in reality just on the verge
of binning it.

Royal Enfield Crusader way away from its natural habitat.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rare image of a 1923 Matchless race bike

This blog doesn't normally include scans from magazines as content but the below image is so rare that it deserves an exception. In the pioneer days and through the fifties Matchless were well known for their racing machines and successes but during the twenties and thirties there was something of a hiatus.

The image depicts Fred Neill. Fred was a dispatch rider during WW1; on demob he got a job in the Matchless 'engine shop' and worked his way up to Charge Hand before moving to the Testing Department, the Experimental Dept and Service Dept in turn. Fred raced the TT in 1923 (dnf) on a Matchless and rode the ISDT through the 20s. The image is believed to show Fred on a works racer from 1923.

Later on in his career Fred Neill became the Matchless service manager and wrote the Pearson's Handbook on Matchless motorcycles.

The image is taken from the Motor Cyclist's National News vol 1, number 1. Feb 1949.

Matchless man Fred Neill with 1923 works racer.
Postscript: thanks to Bob McGrath for correcting that the image is in fact from 1923, not 1926 as I first wrote (this was in fact the year given in the Motor Cyclist's National News).

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Workshop hand cleaners with microbeads - beware!

I keep politics away from this blog. RDM is about old bikes, enthusiasm for the same and celebrating this that unites us. There's some folks consider sensitivity to the environment as politics, it's not, it's just plain common sense. Of course our lives are a compromise and we can barely claim our hobby to be green but there are always steps you can take to avoid wanton pollution and waste.

The other day I ran out of workshop hand cleaner and nipped down to the local car spares shop to stock up on some new. I've always bought Manista Natural as it smells nice and citrusy and, well, 'natural' sounds good doesn't it. Something led me to read the ingredients and it seems the grainy-ness of the cleaner that I had always assumed was sand or something natural is in fact from polychips.

So, the bottom line is, if you are washing your hands with Manista or other brands of cleaner containing polychips / microbeads you are washing tiny grains of unfilterable plastic down the sink. Small grains of plastic that will find their way in to every waterway and ocean, into sea creatures and quite possibly on to your dinner plate if you eat seafood.

Of course Manista isn't the only handcleaner product out there with microbeads in it, there are several others. I guess they just incensed me by having the tenacity to call the product natural. Personally I took the tub of Manista back and swapped it for good old fashioned Swarfega without beads....

There's an article on the BBC website on microbeads. Hopefully they will be banned in the UK from 2017.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Gearing the Gold Star

With the Gold Star finally running sweetly the next item on the list was sorting out the gearing. Fitting a Bob Newby clutch altered the primary gearing to 2 to 1. With the 350 motor running a RRT2 box and 19 tooth on the gearbox sprocket it meant that the bike could barely pull top gear on the flat and pulling away in first was a tricky business if pointing up hill.

I had been planning to swap to a 17 tooth on the gearbox and called up Gold Star specialist Phil Pearson to see if he had one. Turns out Phil does not stock sprockets but he was free with his advice and recommended going down to 16 teeth and suggested Autocycle Engineering as the people to call. Phil also gave some decent advice on making the motor more tractable - as a highly tuned and rev happy 350 it doesn't really suit my 6 foot free 15 stone frame. The advice boiled down to it being unlikely that I would ever be content with the 350 and would forever be revving and shifting gears. The bright side though is that a conversion to 500 or 600cc is a lot more reasonably priced than I had expected so I am starting to save my pennies....

Road test time and the 16 tooth sprocket is indeed exactly the right one. The bike is still fairly tall geared but is now slightly more civilised and manageable. There's still plenty of shifting to be done to keep it on the boil but it feels like it is now working as BSA intended.

Next and hopefully final step is to sort out the electrics.

One 16 tooth sprocket form Autocycle Engineering. An
unusual size but they came up trumps and it arrived quickly.

Ready for the new sprocket. Alloy engine / gearbox plates
are fitted. There are quite a few non standard and lighter
parts on this bike, it is however still a heavy old beast.

Autumn has properly arrived but it is peculiarly warm. Hello
global warming! Test ride and all is good, the change of gearing
has made a very substantial improvement.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Moped hooligans on the streets of Paris 1961

I've just come across the British Film Institute archive and there are some real gems there.

For starters from 1961 here's the Cachito Cha Cha Cha shot on the streets of Paris for Cinebox. Cinebox was an Italian made cinema / jukebox found in European cafes through the 60s. Though the tune has a strong Cuban vibe it is actually performed by Philippino band leader Anastacio Mamaril and his orchestra. Mamaril was known as the 'Trumpet King of the Philippines'. The visual storyboard is essentially a group of lads on sporty mopeds in Paris vaguely harassing a pretty girl in a sportscar, she doesn't seem too bothered by them though.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Winter Rallies 2016 / 2017 season

Christmas now apparently starts sometime shortly after summer but the motorcycle winter rally is a tradition more immutable than the birth of Christ himself, for the unchanging season of cold weather two-wheeled camping runs from November through to February. Period.

Over here in the UK the media is predicting a harsh winter, they do every year but usually we end up with murky grey skies and rain. If you want the real deal head North to Scandinavia. Personally I've already got my Dragon Rally ticket and seeing as I now have a sidecar combo and heated grips I say bring on the cold.

So, here for your delectation, I present the annual RDM listing of motorcycle camping masochism. Out with the handlebar muffs and enjoy!

Quick disclaimer - all dates are probably correct, check for yourself to make sure. Most events will be ticket only. Winter riding and camping is very obviously not a walk in the park, make sure man or woman and machine are well prepared for all eventualities.

Winter Rally. 11 to 13 November 2016, Horton, Wales, UK. Welsh Coast MCC.

Icy Ale Rally. 2 to 4 December 2016, UK. Druids MCC.

Force Ten Rally. 6 to 8 January 2017, Warwickshire, UK. Mayflower MCC.

Wintertreffen Augustusburg. 14  January 2016. Schloss Augustusburg, Augustusburg,Germany.

Agnellotreffen. 20 to 22 January 2017. Pontechianale, Italy.

Hot Rod Rally. 2017 dates tbc. Normally end January. Holland. BSA OC.

Alteisentreiber. 26 to 29 January 2017. Austrian Alps.

Savalen Rally. 25 to 29 January 2017. Savalen Fjell Hotel, Savalen, Norway.

Elefantentreffen / Elefant Rally. 27 to 29 January 2017. Loh / Thurmansbang-Solla near Passau, Germany. The original Elefant Rally.

Kickstart Rally, 27 to 29 January 2017. Cirencester. UK. Ogri MCC

Fjord Rally. 7 to 10 February 2017. Jostedal Hotel, Jostedal, Norway.

Wild Boar. 3 to 5 February 2017. Cantabria, Spain. MC Piston.

Frozen Nuts Rally. 3 to 5 February 2017. Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Danger Mouse Rally Club.

Altes Elefantentreffen. 10 to 12 Febraury 2017, Nurburgring Germany. Confusingly the'Old Elefant Rally' is in fact the upstart new Elefant Rally and held at the Nurburgring.

Dragon Rally. 11 & 12 February 2017, Wales. The British Elefant and a grand tradition. 

Krystall Rally. 16 to 19 February 2017, 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. 24 to 26 February 2017, 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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Motorcycling An Illustrated Social History book review

It's pretty obvious from the contents of this blog that I am keen on old photos of regular folks with their motorcycles. The premise of this book is a collection of such images each of which carry a paragraph or two of explanation. The social history of motorcycling is a neglected area, sad really as it is a fascinating subject. Motorcycle history is massively intertwined with the growth of individualism, industrialisation and leisure for the working classes. The way that motorcycles gave regular working people freedom and the ability to get out of cities and enjoy days out with independence. The taste for speed that motorcycles gave. The whole social scene that grew from the myriad of regional motorcycle clubs that once existed and are now for most part forgotten. The role of the motorcycle in youthful rebellion, and that is something that was happening way before rockers in the fifties. As a child I can remember my grandfather telling tales of speeding on his New Gerrard with straight though exhaust in the 1920s and getting stopped by the police. The complaint was that the machine had no silencing and the copper tested it by putting a stick up the exhaust to feel for a baffle. Nicked!

Where this book wins is that beyond the pictures author Roger Fogg has collated, researched and narrated the back story about the folks depicted and the locations. It is an easy book to pick up and dip in to a few of the 160 pages for a while without having to read from cover to cover and should appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in old motorcycles.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Gilera 175

The UK importers brochure for the Gilera 175. I believe this dates from 1958. They might have been sweet little bikes but in the UK they were damned expensive. To put in to perspective in 1958 you could buy an AJS 18S 500 ohv single for £198 or a Gilera 175 Sports for £193. Only a few quid more and you could have a 350cc Velocette Viper (about the same price as the tuned 175 Gilera), the Gilera might have been nice but I know which I would have chosen....

Gilera 175 brochure front cover.

Gilera 175 brochure pages 2 and 3.

Gilera 175 brochure page 4.

Gilera 175 brochure page 5.

Gilera 175 brochure rear cover.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Two wheeled goodness for sale

Since a sidecar has come in to my life I've been finding my garage very very crowded. Of course so the saying goes n+1 is the right number of bikes for a chap to own. Problem is a sidecar is n+2 space-wise so I need n+2(-1) to maintain equilibrium...

Anyways the finger of doom has pointed at my Royal Enfield J2. Or could this be a great opportunity for the bike to find a more loving and dedicated owner who will lavish more time and attention that I am able to what with my motorcycle lovin' being spread so thinly.

Also I did not know that bicycles are related to rabbits. Behind my back they have been multiplying furiously. At least one needs to go. The one that represents the biggest input in time and all for a cycle that will be too small for me to actually sensible ride is my (probably) Jo Routens.

Both of these gems have just now been anchored at the bay of e and can be found right here:

Royal Enfield J2

Jo Routens frame

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Kenilworth Motorcyclette saw bench

Latest to take up residence in the shed is a 1919 Kenilworth that for a while gave service as a saw bench. The Kenilworth is one of the crop of scooters that appeared in the immediate aftermath of World War 1. The craze was short lived but produced some innovative and unusual designs. The earlier scooters of this craze were literally motorized scooters and were paddled off by the feet and ridden standing up. This Kenilworth is one such device, later models had the luxury of a saddle.

The Kenilworth is fitted with a sweet little ohv 143cc motor made by Norman which drives a countershaft by belt and then the final drive is by chain. There is no clutch. Controls are just a front brake, decompressor and throttle.

This one will be a fairly long term project, there's a few parts to find or make. The appeal lies in the quirkiness of the device and that I was able to bring it home in a swap for a bulkier basket case project thus clearing some space in my over crowded garage.

By strange coincidence I saw a petrol tank for sale at the Great Dorset Steam Fair back in August. I looked at it and thought, lovely tank but who out there needs one of those.... If you were the chap selling it and still have it then please do get in touch.

Kenilworth off-side view. Engine hangs on one side of the
foot boards, magneto the other and flywheel in the middle.
The main bulk of the chassis is a pair of large plates with slots
for the rear wheel and countershaft. Headstock is plain bearing
and joined to the chassis by straight bolted up tubes.

Near-side view of the Kenilworth.

Little 143cc ohv Norman motor. Curiously overhead valves
were commonplace on early scooters whilst very unusual on
motorcycles. Several of the scooters were designed by aero
engineers so this could explain why.

This Kenilworth was manufactured by Booth
Brothers of Coventry and there is a transfer
on the rear mudguard to this effect.