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.