Tuesday, September 25, 2018

1999 Buell M2 Cyclone

Not too sure you could call it handsome but the Buell Cyclone
has a definite style and presence.

A new toy. Yes, the saving up to buy a pioneer motorcycle fund is not going so well. However a redistribution of motorcycles within the shed is being plotted so perhaps I will be riding a veteran in events next season.... In the meantime here is a machine I have lusted after for a good long while. I decided to make the jump as Buells seem to be going up in value at the moment, that's not because I've bought it as an 'inv***ment' rather that there is no way I could be persuaded to part with hard earned cash if they cost much more than they do now....

Firstly I will say that I haven't had many opportunities yet to ride this fine machine but I already love it. It delivers absolute, raw motorcycling thrills. Think about it, there are not many traditional in line v twin pushrod engined sports motorcycles out there. What else, Moto Morinis? or hush... Vincents.

The feel of the Buell is in fact very much like a development of a British classic. That is to say, it vibrates a lot, has very pronounced character and delivers power with definite pulses. And it does have quite a lot of power, some 95 horses of them, not massive by sportsbike standards but they are of the shire horse variety. Most importantly it is a wildly fun machine to ride and can deliver a lot of thrills at speeds that don't risk an instant ban on the license.

It's a bit like a less cuddly version of a Ducati Monster.

Like any limited production machine developed on a low budget the Cyclone has quirks. Firstly the engine is solid. It's a Harley Sportster so is, you can say, very well proven. Of course it is pushing out considerably more power than a standard Sportster but it is still fairly Bullet proof. The frame is simple and good. Buells are known to be good handlers, to give this one the benefit of the doubt I would say that it needs new tyres. It is a short, high bike with a sharp steering angle so the handling is not immediately familiar but undoubtedly it can hustle through the bends. The trademark Buell suspension unit under the engine does really seem like obstinate engineering for the sake of it: it raises the, already heavy, engine slightly too high up when a set of twin shocks would have done the job equally well and kept mass low down.

Gear linkage - an abomination.

Some of the fittings are of lovely quality and some are frankly awful. The front brake is excellent. Apparently Eric Buell is not a believer in using a rear brake and subsequently the rear is pretty feeble.

The gear change lever is an absolute abomination of pressed steel. Admittedly the design is led by the location of the Sportster gear shaft but surely cast alloy and rose joints should have been considered. On the subject of gripes, what were they ever thinking of putting the ignition key between the cylinder heads where it slowly cooks for that Sportster motor does indeed run pretty hot. 

Note the slow roasted ignition key barrel.

Buells tend to come with a very definite image. Maybe it is because they have a Harley motor and were sold through Harley dealers. As a consequence you do see a number of them around with dodgy flame paint schemes. That is why I like this example, it is black - the colour a motorcycle should be. There is not a lot of baggage that comes with a plain black motorcycle. It has a certain menace and danger as a motorcycle should but it is not aligning with any particular tribe.

Rear brake, very poor.

Overall I feel like I shall be boring friends and acquaintances extolling the virtues of Buell motorcycles for a while to come. I'm looking forward to putting some decent miles in on the bike and already thinking about how I can get it to haul some luggage for long trips abroad. More to come...

Front brake, excellent.

'Screaming Eagle' air cleaner is an ugly and will
have to go. Mind, the original Buell 'bread bin'
air filter was a shocker too. Currently on the hunt
for an eye pleasing and functional alternative.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Millenium wheel truing jig

I had been looking for a decent wheel truing jig for a while when this one turned up in the autojumble area of the Dorset Steam Fair. You see a few for sale but they are heavy old things and no-one really wants to post them. I had to carry this one from one side of the rally field to another and that ten minute hike seemed quite gruelling..

I'm a sucker for vintage tools and workshop equipment, more so if they are in cast iron and the Millenium is a doozy. All the fittings are there and the patina is nice, better still is that it is actually a solid decent and useful tool. I've got a couple of wheels to build up and true and with any luck this Brown Brothers product will serve me well. The cherry on top is the cardboard tag with a little bit of the personal history of the jig noted in ink in fine handwriting and dating from 1958. At a best guess the jig dates from the twenties.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

BMW brochure 1964

The BMW motorcycle range brochure for 1964. Despite being 54 years old this brochure still looks fresh to modern eyes, the font used is clean and modern looking and the graphic style with simple colour panels helps too.

1964 BMW brochure front cover.

1964 BMW brochure page 1.

1964 BMW brochure page 2.

1964 BMW brochure page 3.

1964 BMW brochure page 4.

1964 BMW brochure rear cover.


Yes, it is a fairly rotten photo but it is of a chap riding a Sunbeam S7 across a muddy field...

Blurry Sunbeam S7 tackles a muddy field two up.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Great Dorset Steam Fair 2018 pt3

The third serving of snaps from last month's Great Dorset Steam Fair....

1903 size 4 Dursley Pedersen.

Chicago Stamping Company lady front tandem from the late
1890s. Steering is from both sets of handlebars. There seems
to be something deeply sexist about this design...

c late 1900s Tom Tit childs cycle. Apart from the wonderful
name the frame design is a glorious thing being of twin small
gauge tubes throughout.

1938 J T Rogers 'Planet Puma' model track bike.

I was captivated by this road building display and really take
my hat off to folks who are prepared to undertake basically
five days of hard labour for the sakes of historical re-enactment
and public entertainment.

This portable engine powered the stone crusher.

And of course a steam roller compressed it all in to a road.

Great tripod and brasier!

c1953 Phoenix-JAP 250cc race bike. One of a series of race
bikes produced by TT rider Ernie Barrett. Ernie later found
slightly greater commercial success with his Villiers-engined
Phoenix scooters which he produced. The bike was started
up daily. It was really very loud.

Face cam Chater Lea is a machine you don't see

I liked this Series 1 Royal Enfield Interceptor
a lot. It has been restored with a number of
period modifications that keep the character
and history of the bike.

The Series 2 type oil cooler was apparently an
option. The Webco valve covers are a nice
touch. Apparently the bike was originally
exported to Canada.

One of the many multitude of fairground organs.

Steam plowing...

In all there were more than 500 steam
engines on show.

In the 'playground'.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

1911 Raleigh Superbe X Frame

Some photos for posterity of a rather nice Raleigh x frame ladies machine that came my way recently. I bought it at auction in a moment of weakness before the dawning hit me that I really don't have the need for another Ladies bicycle, so it was passed on to a well known cycle dealer fairly quickly and has now no doubt been mildly renovated and probably is with a new keeper too...

All the same I thought I would put some pictures up as it is such a lovely original and un-molested thing. Ladies cross frame Raleighs are significantly rarer than the gents ones and this one doubly so as it is the 'Superbe' Model produced for a very short period. The Superbe model is identifiable by the Lea Francis type handlebars with concealed rollers.

1911 Raleigh x-frame Superbe in all her glory. At the time
the x-frame Superbe was the most expensive bicycle on the
UK market.

Lovely original transfer on the tin chaincase.

Slightly eccentric but likely original positioning of the Sturmey
gear cable rollers. Note also the original coated cable.

Close up on the Lea Francis type handlebars.

Another side on view.

Beautifully tooled leather ladies saddle.

Original down tube transfer and steering lock.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Motorcycle Cannonball 2018

Pictures from the start of the Motorcycle Cannonball at Portland, Maine yesterday courtesy of my good buddy James aka Moto Patois over in Boston, Mass. Many thanks James, wish I could have been there, perhaps the next one....