Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Likely lads

Look at these guys dressed up in their finest. Great poses, expressions and thirties fashion. Like so many of these old pics there's a rich story to be told for sure, sadly though it's been lost in the mists of time.

A right pair of characters
pose with 1930s road bike.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Back to nature - an ambitious project

Spotted on a recent short break away on Helwell Beach in Somerset, UK. Nature fights back! It doesn't even look so very old to me. Anyone recognise what it is?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

A very Merry Christmas to all!

Veteran era Christmas postcard. It looks like the
proud owner of this bike had his own custom made
cards. I've seen identically framed images around
that are very similar so it seems like it was a 'thing'
in the Edwardian era. By the way, no idea what the
bike is so if you can identify then get in touch...

Friday, December 18, 2020

Omega amigos

A trio of lovely pictures of an Omega from, I suspect, around 1920. The first time an Omega has featured on this blog. I'm not sure of the exact model or year of the Omega but it looks like it has a JAP motor and Brampton Bi-flex forks. Great photos of an unusual motorcycle but also evocative images of the dress of the time.
Early 1920's Omega JAP.

Same 1920's Omega, different passengers.

Everyone wants a sit on the Omega!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

News - black and silver numberplates, a change of law

 Of interest to UK readers only this one.

Here's a snippet of news that has come out in the last few days and clarifies a law that, personally, I wasn't aware of. I had thought that the black and silver style of numberplate was only legal for pre-1973 vehicles, however apparently there was conflicting legislation that said that historic vehicles are in fact allowed to sport the black and silver number plate too. This means that any vehicle up to 1980 and registered as historic may currently carry the black and silver number plate.

Apparently DVLA are now aware of the loophole and are closing it. In closing it they are allowing any vehicle constructed (that's constructed, not registered) before 1980 to wear the black and silver number plate.

For the official word from the DVLA refer to the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs news page.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Fi-Glass motorcycle accessories 1962

The Fi-Glass brochure from 1962. The brochure concentrates on fairings but Fi-Glass was equally well known for their fibre glass cafe racer seats and petrol tanks.

Fi-Glass motorcycle accessories
brochure page 1.

Fi-Glass motorcycle accessories
brochure page 2.

Fi-Glass motorcycle accessories
brochure page 3.

Fi-Glass motorcycle accessories
brochure page 4.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Mystery veteran combo

Can any of you good people out there identify this combination? I would say the bike dates from just pre-WW1 though it looks like the photo was taken a few years later as the bike is a little bashed about. The pilot and passenger do not look to be so happy with life!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Cyclo / Sturmey Archer hybrid gear conversion

Here's the brochure for the Cyclo gear conversion to use with Sturmey Archer gears. The conversion was introduced sometime in the thirties (I believe this brochure dates from the late thirties) and continued in popularity through to the sixties. If you have a vintage bike and want to get more gears and stay in keeping with the period this is still the way to go.

The Cyclo conversion wins on several counts. Firstly, and perhaps controversially, I would say that any of the old school Sturmey hubs with more than three gears are rather poor products. The original three speed however is a gem, a pleasure to use. To have more, and a wider range of, gears than offered by the Sturmey three speed is obviously a bonus. Secondly, early derailleur gears are largely crap in function. Changing is slow and clunky. It's no wonder that serious road men kept with single speeders for so long... However 1930's technology derailleurs can cope with two and even three gears ok, the less changes you have to make however the better. So, given the above it's evident that a hybrid gear system is a pretty good thing.

Looking at the brochure Cyclo offered a fairly wide range of gearing with the conversion - look at that plate sized low gear pictured. Great for hill climbing but you would want to persuade your changer to select it way before you actually needed it. So, essentially the hybrid system offered a climbing gear for the Sturmey hub. A great boon for touring when common practice was to dismount for hills and walk.

Also interesting is the Cyclo twist grip changer. A very rare item nowadays.

Hybrid systems remain poopular within a niche of the cycling community and are very easy to home build. Any old derailleur will do and instead of seeking out the original Cyclo sprocket you can use two 3/32 Sturmey dished sprockets back to back - just remove the spacer used with the single sprocket. It is pretty much as easy as that.

For anyone with a further interest there's a good article on the Classic Lightweights site.

Cyclo / Sturmey hybrid gear
conversion flyer.

Monday, December 7, 2020

BSA Golden Flash

BSA Golden Flash, the apotheosis of luxury motorcycle touring in the mid fifties. A solid dependable fast touring bike, quality made and capable of high speed. And to top it this one is fitted with a matching Avon handlebar fairing. The Golden Flash is a bike that is capable of keeping up with modern traffic so imagine the thrill of speed when a vehicle that would cruise more than 45mph was the exception and the majority of cars on the road were dull, black painted, side-valve engined sluggards.

This particular Golden Flash dates from 1956 or 7 - it has a full width front hub dating it as post '55, it still carries the distinctive gold coloured frame rather than the later black and it has the earlier pressed metal tank badges.

1956 or 1957 BSA Golden Flash
1956 / 1957 BSA Golden Flash.

Unusual to see such proper riding
gear for the time. It's easy to spot the
Avon handlebar fairing but note also the
Craven carrier and top box. This couple were
serious motorcycle tourists


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Rudge Multi seaside prop

Don't mess with these lads! The bike is almost certainly a photographer's prop and the location is down on Madeira Drive in Brighton. I wish I knew more of the social history of motorcycles as beachside photography props. Were they still such a luxury item in the twenties that people sat on them for aspirational pictures or were they just something fun to sit on for a photo? Either way the prop bikes were almost universally rather on the knackered side - look at the bald tyres and dents on this Rudge.

Rudge Multi seaside photographer's prop

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Last chance ride


My last chance for a ride this season (due to imminent heading out to sea for three months) was a recent break in the rain. In my part of the world we're lucky that the roads haven't been salted yet, even if they had been the recent continual rain would have washed it all away. So, the roads were nice and clean and several bikes greeted me in the garage with pleading looks in their eyes and leashes in mouths hoping for exercise. Which one did I pick? The Bantam. Not really sure why it seemed like a good choice but it is easy and undemanding, perhaps that is why. Plus, on local country roads it's also a lot of fun. When you're lucky enough to have a Velocette Venom and a BSA Gold Star in the garage yet choose to give the humble Bantam a spin that can teach you a lot about value and smiles per mile. Or maybe it is horses for courses. I don't know. But all the same if I am to evalue it the most fun I personally have had on motorcycles has been on Enfield Bullets and BSA Bantams (so why am I messing around with the rest of the stuff? - a mystery).

So did the Bantam deliver? Yes, of course, as always. It is best suited to short local runs on small roads. We ran a few local errands and had a hoot. I've been riding this Bantam on and off for more than thirty years and it has never let me down. It's had its hiccups of course, but never failed to get me home. So here's to hoping I can still be riding the Bantam in another thirty years and that next year's riding offers more abundant opportunities than this year has.

Monday, November 30, 2020

1906 Peugeot cycle

1905 / 6 Peugeot cycle

I recently had a lucky find (thanks to James Kelly for the tip off) and picked up four early cycles that had been rotting away in a barn in France. Thankfully I didn't have to go over to France to get them as another chap had already done that hard work. It would have made a nice trip in other times but not during the pandemic.

The first I'll feature here is a Peugeot from, as far as I can work out, 1905 or 6. Luckily this cycle has survived reasonably well apart from some damage to the handlebars - sadly a couple of the the others in the haul are in a slightly more sorry state.

I'm a bit of a stranger to French cycles and had to get help from the VCC facebook group to identify. I've got to confess that I had thought it was a bit earlier as when comparing to British cycles of the period it looks to be at least five years older. It seems that British fashion was towards luxury and the French favoured minimalism. What appears to identify the age of the cycle is the fork crown - it is brazed up whereas pre-1905 models had a cast crown. Anachronistically the Peugeot still uses a block chain with skip tooth chainwheel. Looking around at other Peugeots pictured on the net a lot of folks date their Peugeots earlier than they actually are, probably due to a mixture of lack of knowledge / resources and wishful thinking. In all honesty I had desperately hoped that this would be a cycle I could join in with the London to Brighton veteran car run on (needs to be 1904 or earlier).

This site was a great help in helping to date the Peugeot too: https://www.bikeboompeugeot.com  The remit of the site is Peugeot cycles of the sixties and seventies but there is a great library of early brochures too. 

It seems like the Peugeot is a Model A which came in a very basic spec with no mudguards or indeed brakes. This one though shall receive something to slow progress at least on the front wheel. All Peugeot frames except the chainless models seem to be the same though so a pair of drop handlebars could convert this into a more desirable racer.

The plan is to give the Peugeot a sympathetic restoration and get it roadworthy again with a minimum of fuss. From a quick scan of the condition it shouldn't be too challenging.

Apologies for the poor quality photos. Taken on my phone in the rain as the cycles were dropped off at a lock up.

My Peugeot is missing its head badge.
It should look like this, if anyone knows
where I can find one then please do let me
know. Image taken from the Peugeot official

Friday, November 27, 2020

BSA Model K family outing

Here's a BSA Model K 550cc side valve combination doing exactly what is was deisgned for - providing dependable family transport. Not 100% sure of the year of the bike, hard to say but it looks like a chain drive bike - chain drive was introduced on the K in 1914 and ran concurrently with belt drive as an option for several years. Most likely this bike is early post-WW1. It's nicely accessorised with a lighting set and klaxon atop the petrol tank.

BSA Model K combination.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Velocette looking fly

I picked up this sweet little Manx style fly screen recently. It had been fitted to a Velo previously. Sadly though when I tried it out it turned out to have been a Velo with a quite different headlight from mine. Undeterred I set about modifying and this is the result. I wanted to tilt the screen back a bit. With a plain round hole for the headlight rim it wants to sit pretty much bolt upright. It looked a bit odd that way so I set to with a jigsaw. It's quite hard to imagine, draw and cut a suitable elipse on a flyscreen that will give the right angle of lean. I'm fairly happy with the outcome, just don't look too closely at the cut - rubber trim can however hide a whole range of sins... 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A shocking incident

Yes, shocking indeed. And a slightly risqué flirty message on the rear.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Fantasy v twin

I bought a few old bike books recently in a bundle and and discovered some cuttings mingled up with everything else. A couple of which were these illustrations of an ohc v twin motor. It's a wonderful looking engine but not familiar at all to me, a bit like the Koehler Escoffier pre-war racing motor but not quite the same. I feel it is a what could have been flight of fancy on the part of the illustrator and what a lovely machine it would have made...

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Douglas 4hp combination

Here's a big Duggie. As far as I can tell one of the 4hp (600cc) models that was introduced in 1915 in response to the need for a bigger engine for use as a sidecar tug than the popular 2 3/4hp model. The 4hp model was continued through until 1923. Not too sure of the year of the bike in the photo but more than likely it is a post WW1 model (civilian production was paused for the latter two years of the war). 1919 perhaps? The very furry clothing style of the lady aboard the bike seems to be from the early twenties.

Douglas 4hp 600cc and fluffy rider!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Battlesbridge Motorcycle Museum

It must be a sign of encroaching old farthood that recently I felt a need to return to the place of my studies (Colchester in Essex) to see how the place had changed since I was last there (>20 years, yeesh!) The answer is that I'm really not sure as late forties me has significantly different priorities of where to go and what to see from the early twenties me more concerned with parties and getting high...

The above ramble is leading to breaking the journey home with an impromptu visit to the Battlesbridge Antiques Centre, well worth a visit if you have even a passing interest in old junk. Bimbling around looking at the the myriad of units selling wares that could assist in the ongoing project of further cluttering up an already overcrowded home we stumbled upon the Battlesbridge Motorcycle Museum. Stumbled upon is a bit disingenuous as I already knew of its existence as somewhen in the distant past I had already visited. However the Museum has moved location slightly and was supposed to be closed mid-week. Officially it is only open on Sundays but being an enthusiast run place if any of the volunteers fancy coming along for a while it opens up. A nice informal way to operate but obvs if you are planning a visit on any day but Sunday and have any distance to travel best call in advance to check..

The Museum contains many volunteers' machines and is wonderfully eclectic, there are some bikes of real rarity there too. It is small but they manage to cram in an awful lot of bikes along with a great collection of memorabilia. A visit is time well spent and highly recommended.

This cracking 1930 Panther was parked
outside and offered for sale.

Any Wooler is a special bike but this one
more so than most having been John
Wooler's personal bike.

1928 Norton CS1.

An Evans Power Cycle is a very rare
sight in the UK.

Stacks of bikes!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Ariel Pixie

 Another British motorcycle industry might have been, the Ariel Pixie.

The Pixie was Val Page's last design and envisaged to be a 75cc ohc machine, a direct competitor to the Honda 90 that had scared the captains of the British motorcycle industry so much. BSA top brass are nowadays derided for watering down Page's design to a 50cc ohv engine and that is held as the reason that the Pixie was a sales failure but the real reason is far wider than that. Honda succeeded because they had new state of the art machinery capable of pushing out C90s manufactured to very fine tolerances in their thousands. Not only this but Honda had a huge market in Asia right on their doorstep. BSA on the other hand were producing bikes on outdated machinery and selling to a limited market of the former Empire and the States. It didn't matter at all what fantastical world-beating design came off the drawing board the sad reality is that when it came off the BSA production line it was always going to be more expensive and less reliable than a Honda Cub. If Honda themselves had licensed BSA to produce the Cub on the BSA production line it would have probably leaked oil and had reliability issues.....

Disregarding the above the Pixie is a cute little machine and for my eyes the styling is right. They are now something of a rarity and the production run was short - 1963 to 1965. This particular brochure is dated 1962, presumably printed in time for the Earls Court Motorcycle Show held in November.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Zorange workshop hand cleaner review

If you look carefully at the ingredients of most heavy duty granulated workshop hand cleaners they use plastic beads as the abrasive medium. That's even some of the ones that market themselves as 'natural'. I used Swarfega for years without fully realising and thinking about what polygrains actually were. Shame on you guys at Swarfega et al for ever thinking that it was a cool thing to be washing tons of tiny plastic grains down the sink.

Of course recently there has been a move away from microbeads, polygrains or whatever the marketing folk care to call the tiny lumps of plastic they sneak in to their products but many still contain them.

Nowadays there are several products on the market that are more friendly to the environment - to the extent that they don't contain actual plastic and really it's a no-brainer to buy these ones and avoid the others like the plague. After searching around I settled on 'Zalpon Zorange' by Rozalex, it is fairly easy to find and the abrasive medium is ground up pumice stone.

The good news is that Zorange is a pretty similar hand washing product to others on the market. It works just as well as Swarfega Tough or any of the others. 

Personally I'd like to find something more enviro-friendly still, in packaging and biodegradable non-toxic nature of the ingredients. Any suggestions welcome. But until then Zorange will suit me fine.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Horex Regina

This nicely atmospheric snap features a Horex Regina, a motorcycle rarely seen outside of its native Germany. Obviously the subject of this picture has travelled at least a few kilometers, there not being many Cycles de la Gare in Deutschland. Always an exclusive brand and with limited sales Horex was taken over by Daimler Benz in 1960 who promptly dropped motorcycle production. The brand has considerable loyalty in Germany and was briefly revived by Friedl Munch (he of Mammut fame) in the seventies. In the late eighties / early nineties a Japanese / German collaboration saw a Honda single powered machine, the Osca, appear - an attractive machine very similar to the Gilera Saturno of the same period. Horex has of course recently come back to life again with a narrow angle V6 machine.

Gallic Horex Regina.

Monday, October 19, 2020

I met my girl by the gasworks wall

Evocative 50's snap of some motorcycling chums meeting up. From the gear it looks like winter.  Proper headwear for the chaps on big bikes, seems like a beret will suffice if you are on a BSA Bantam and if you are the lass on pillion then you have to make do with a scarf.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Woodhead Monroe Shock Absorbers

The brochure for Woodhead Monroe shock absorbers. Woodhead Monroe units were fitted as standard to Velocettes up to 1962 and as far as I know Velo were the only manufacturer to fit them as OEM.

Woodhead Monroes are a quality unit but they cannot have got much volume of sales through Velocette alone so must have had to rely on aftermarket fitments.