Thursday, July 30, 2020

Book review - The Hub of the Universe

Books written by enthusiasts with real in-depth knowledge of and passion for their subjects along with an ability to write flowing English in a readable manner are always a joy to read. The Hub of the Universe is certainly one such book.

Tony Hadland is the author and Alan Clarke is the Sun Race Sturmey Archer official Historian. The book is a second edition update of one published over thirty years ago, is hardback and 358 pages long. The stated aim of the book is as a company, product and technical history of the Sturmey brand. Obviously the three speed hubs figure most heavily though all other products are included as well.

Coverage of bicycle products is the main focus though there is a brief chapter that is motorcycle related. Perhaps the subject becomes a bit too vast when covering motorcycle range as comprehensively as the bicycle one. Certainly the interest in the bicycle products is vastly larger and SA motorcycle gearboxes and engines are a rather more esoteric topic. Maybe there is scope for a full tome on the SA motorcycle products - anyone out there who will step up to the mark?

Large format, professionally printed and well researched cycle history books are rather few and far between making The Hub of the Universe something to cherish even more. Definitely one for the shelves of any vintage bicycle enthusiast. The usual retail is around £45 but it is available at a discount to Veteran Cycle Club members giving yet another reason to join.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Stanger Two Stroke V-Twin

Following the Zenith Bi-Car here's the second stand-out bike to emerge in Australia. It's a Stanger two stroke v-twin in very original condition (I can't quite work out if it is unrestored or has been restored a very long time ago) and one of two survivors. The other Stanger is in the Sammy Miller Museum. Once again all credit for the images to the author of the post on the Motorcycles 1867-1930 Facebook page.

Here it is in person. Last seen in the light of day in the 70s.

And here is the Stanger in the Sammy Miller Museum.

I have a copy of the Stanger brochure
in my collection and it is reproduced
on the blog here:

The barrels come from Villiers.



Sold for AUD 30900, that's GBP 17,450, USD 23.250 or EUR 19,150. It's a considerable sum of money for a bike but none-the-less a bit of a bargain I think.

Monday, July 27, 2020

1906 Zenith Bi-Car

For the most part I try and keep the content of this blog original but every so often something comes along that is so special it just has to be shared. Here is one such thing...

This is a 1906 Zenith Bi-Car in remarkable untouched original condition that has just been wheeled out of an Australian garage along with several other stand-out machines. As is often the way it will be coming up for auction soon - at Shannons in Melbourne this November. This Zenith is a sole survivor and was last on the road in 1974. All credits to the author of the post on the Motorcycles 1867-1930 Facebook page - one of the few reasons I can find for not deleting my Facebook account.


The Zenith sold for AUD 100,500, that's currently GBP 57,250, USD 75,650 or EUR 62,250.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

1958 BSA B33

A scrappy old photo and no doubt but interesting because this machine is still out there and carrying the same registration number. According to the DVLA vehicle check it is a 1958 BSA B33 in black. The sad news is that it hasn't been on the road since 1992. So if this bike is yours, wheel it out and get it on the road! It's a sweet machine, as nice a ride as any classic motorcycle and will give great joy from use.

1958 BSA B33, where are you hiding now?

Friday, July 24, 2020

Bicycle and Tricycle

They've got to be brothers, right? I'd say the lad on the tricycle is due the next size up. Hard to date this photo but I'd personally shoot for 1930s.

It's a serious business tricycling and

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Flat tank New Imperial

This chap with his sportingly reversed cap and his good lady are posing with a New Imperial. At best guess I would say the New Imp is a 1926 Model. For that year the company produced side valve singles in 300 or 350cc sizes. Externally the bikes were very similar but the 300 was by far the more popular model as it came within a lower taxation bracket.

1926 New Imperial.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The White Helmets motorcycle display team

The White Helmets as they were popularly known or, to use their official title, The Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team were based locally to me as I grew up and very ocassionally you would see one of the Harris Triumphs with a reg plate on it blasting through town.

The Team was wound up in 2017 as being outdated. Sad, but history moves on and really the decision seems fair enough as there are no motorcycles in the British army anymore. Perhaps the Team was a good promotional and recruitment tool for the signals but how can you really justify spending so much tax money on a display team that has little relevance to modern operational competencies?

Originally formed in 1927 the Display Team had different nicknames through the years, 'The Red Devils', 'The Mad Signals' before 'The White Helmets' was settled on in 1963. The purpose of the Team was initially to promote riding skills amongst despatch riders. Machines used over the years varied and did not necessarily correspond to bikes that were in regular military contracts. Most recently the Team was known for flying the flag with their Devon built Harris Triumphs which were all auctioned off shortly after they disbanded.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp miscellania

The Lincoln Imp seems to stir memories for a lot of people and there are a fair few surivivors out there too. Presumably back in the day they were a good seller, a very accomplished off the peg cycle that was equipped with high quality components.

Here are a couple of Imp scans and related GB brake material courtesy of fellow Imp owner Nick Smith.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Africa Bullet resurrection

The Bullet in its prime atop the Tlaeeng Pass in Lesotho.

It is just over twelve years ago that myself and my '55 Bullet flew home from Bamako, Mali. I had hoped to make it all the way home by road to complete a circumnavigation of the African continent but lack of money, time and a very sick Enfield put laid to those plans. The bike was leaking oil profusely and needed an engine strip to fix it and the chain and sprockets were worn out too. It needed to be in top form to complete another Sahara crossing so at that point I called it a day, put it on a pallet and flew it home.

And this is how it arrived home. Actually it arrived on a pallet
and this is how it was after being re-assembled.

By the end of the 18 months that I spent travelling with the Bullet I had gotten fairly tired of maintaining it, hence when it arrived home it sat unloved for a very long time whilst other bikes came and went (and a few stayed...)

However I can't stand any more the Enfield looking at me forlornely from the corner of my garage every time I go in to work on something else so I decided a couple of months back that it was finely time to put it back on the road.

On starting the project I had dearly wanted to keep the patina the bike accrued with its travels however unfortunately due to the various welding jobs needed it would soon become an absolute rust bucket if not refinished. So now the mission is to get it back on the road re-painted but keeping as much of its character as possible. I am aiming for a reliable year round bike so it will receive plenty of stainless odds and sods. In the back of my mind I have a yearning to return to Mali and ride the bike home from there to complete the circle so the bike will be built up to be nice and sturdy and prepped for adventure.

The faithful old Enfield is currently a bona fide basket case but will soon be back in one lump. Next stage will be a trip to the local paint shop. For the mean time here are a few of the initial steps and early stage jobs.

Currently in a sorry state and down to its
component parts.

And here's the front end.

Rear mudguard stays got strengthened with concrete
reinforcement bar at a boatyard in Luanda, Angola.
Still plenty of African red mud clinging on.

The frame and original '55 forks. I used an Indian disc front end
in Africa and plan to continue with that set up.

Work starts: the rims are thoroughly wire brushed and then
painted with Smoothrite on the inside. For best results thin
down the Smoothrite - on the tin it says you cannot use regular
thinners. Rot - use them, they are fine!

Always a good idea to fit Enfield stanchions in
to the alloy casquettes or top yokes with some
copper grease. I forgot and this is the result.
They only came out with a lot of heat and gentle
use of a pipe wrench.

I shouldn't really admit it but previously I had cut the saddle bracket
off as it fouled with fitting a dual seat which I needed for the
Africa trip. So, out with the welder to fix it back on.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Big bloke little Bantam

Chap is dwarfing his little D1 plunger Bantam. Not to worry they're plucky little bikes and more than capable of hauling him along. A little hard to tell from the photo but it looks like it is the earlier model with what is popularly known as the 'pineapple' barrel and Lucas electrics. Look closely and there seems to be a battery hiding in there making it a De-Luxe model. The dual seat was an optional extra.

Proud owner of BSA Bantam D1 plunger model.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Dot Vivi 1957

Several of the small British manufacturers tried to cash in on the 1950's scooter and moped boom by importing European models and rebranding them under their own flag. Dot was one of these with their Dot Vivi range.

Vivi mopeds were made in Italy by Officine Viberti (a manufacturer of coach bodies and trailers) in collaboration with the German company Victoria (Victoria engines were used). Viberti Victoria - Vivi.

The Vivi machines were quite competent lightweights having conventional Italian cycle parts and a tried and tested German motor. Dot imported them from 1957 to 1962.

The Dot Vivi showed good sporting potential and 50cc racing was taking off in the late fifties so Dot intitiated their own small scale racing programme - there's a nice article about it on the Classic 50 Racing Club website.

Striking cover design from Dot for
for their Dot-Vivi range.
Here's the base model Dot-Vivi Moped.

The Dot-Vivi Racer is really a racer
in name only. Nice sporty looks but
same front end and motor as the Moped.

And finally the Dot-Vivi Scooterette.
This model is the same as the Moped
with the addition of legshields and an
extra valance on the rear mudguard.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Lincoln Imp makeover

As per previous posts lockdown was a good opportunity to get on with a few easy win bicycle projects, the bonus being that there was also lots of opportunity to get out and enjoy the finished article.

The first time I built up this Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp it was what would be called in the motorcycle world a restomod. Modern aero rims mated to Sturmey Archer Steelite hub brakes and three speed along with a modern retro saddle and bars. Here it is below

For a while I had been in the mood to make it a bit more period correct and a moment of enlightenment came tidying up the workshop when I realised that I had all the parts needed just lying around. Overall the results are quite pleasing. I wanted to keep it single speed but only had a five speed wheel so ran it on the centre cog. I think I might add a derailleur soon to make it slightly more authentic. Results are as follows...

Brake levers are Universal. They are a great shape of levers, very under-rated but this gives the bonus of keeping them nice and cheap.

The Lincoln Imp is an off the peg cycle but it's all 531 and a good ride. Plus it's got the best logo.

The calipers are GB sprite.

Both rims and hubs are Milremo. Can't say they have had the best of storage as the spokes have some corosion but the rims look like they are new or at least barely used.

And the GB Sprite rear. I like GB brakes but quite honestly the Sprite is a fairly average product.

And finally cork end plugs just the way they should be.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Panther Redwing

Young chap is trying a Panther Redwing for size. Future dreams of speed. Hard to say but from the size of the barrel I would hazard a guess this is the 350cc Model Redwing 80 and dating from the early thirties.

Panther Redwing 80 350cc.