Thursday, December 30, 2021

Werner pioneer motorcycle

An early image here. The bike is a Werner, one of the true pioneer brands of motorcycles. Hard to pin a year on it exactly but I suspect the bike is a 1903 'New Werner'. The New Werner was introduced in 1901 and superceeded the previous model which had its engine above the front wheel - this caused various handling problems which may seem obvious to us today but for a technology in its infancy wasn't immediately so.

Something about the background of the image and indeed the rider cries out to me that this picture was taken somewhere in mainland Europe, perhaps Austria or Germany? Either way a great image of a very early motorcycle.

c1903 New Werner

Monday, December 27, 2021

Trondhjemsridtet 1919 - 2022 edition

Corona Virus meant there was no European events listing on this site for 2021 and the jury is still out on the merit of putting together a list for 2022 - at the moment it seems like the best option is to point readers back to the 2020 listing and invite to do your own research...

Thanks though to Jon Hodges for reminding me of the Trondhjemsridtet 1919. The event is a revival of one first held in 1919 and is open to pre-1945 machines. There are four days of riding, some of which are on good quality unpaved roads with accommodation in ski lodges and the like. It looks like a really fantastic event, one which I hope someday I shall ride myself. From what I know of the Norwegian coastline and inland scenery this event should take in some of the most spectacular roads to be found anywhere in the world. The event is held in June and there's limited time left to get an entry in - the closing date is 10 January.

Tronhjemsridtet 1919 website


Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

Wishing all a peaceful and safe Christmas 2021 and many happy miles for 2022.

Christmas card cobbled together from an advert for Royal Enfield girder frame bicycles in a 1917 copy of Cycling magazine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon C90 1957

A cute photo from old Japan of a Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon scooter. Research suggests it is a C90 model from 1957. Silver Pigeons were imported to the States by catalogue retailer Montgomery Ward who sold them under their 'Riverside' brand, the same brand as used for their entire range of imported motorcycles and scooters regardless of country of origin or manufacturer.

Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon C90.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Stanley's Bradbury

Not the finest quality photographs but cracking images none-the-less. I'm guessing the chap pictured goes by the name of Stanley going by what is written on the first image. I'm not sure of the exact year of the bike but 1912 is a good guess. The Speed model was, obviously enough, the sporting machine in the Bradbury range. Key differences from a standard non-sports model are the lack of pedalling gears, drop bars and shorter wheelbase. Many other manufacturers called their sporting mounts 'TT' models.

Stanley certainly looks like he means business, those bars are dropped even further down than a standard Speed model and the straight through exhaust is not standard either - the original terminated in a small cylindrical silencer in front of the engine. Note two interesting Bradbury features - the first and easiest to see is the cutaway in the petrol tank above the spark plug that allowed the tank to sit lower and gave an overall sleeker profile. The second and harder to see is that the crankcase forms a part of the frame - ie the case is cast around the saddle and main tubes. The crankcase is in steel and there is a large aluminium plate on the offside that houses the timing gears, etc.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Power Pak News

Another edition of that venerable journal, 'Power Pak News'! It seems like Power Pak had a penchant for delivering advertising material in newspaper form - see the 'Financial Edition' from 1953. The Power Pak folks hitting you with raw facts!

The scan is slightly crinkly, but as ever if viewing from a pc, right click, open the image in a new window and click on to enlarge to full res.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Avon Cling sidecar tyres 1962

A cute brochure from Avon Tyres from 1962 for their 'Cling' compound sidecar tyres. Take a look at the machine pictured in the ad - it looks like it is an original photo that has been doctored. My best guess is that the bike is a BSA Golden Flash but now there are hints of Royal Enfield in the timing cover, Velocette in the headlamp nacelle and the tank is slightly AJS-ish. Presumably Avon was original equipment on a number of different brands so they chose not to offend their big customers by favouring one marque over another in their advertising.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Japanese cycling club

Something a bit different. Nothing really I know about this picture apart from it appears to be a cycling club, the photo is from Japan and it dates from the fifties or sixties.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Triumph N fettling

I'm lucky enough to be the custodian of several old motorcycles and this 1927 Triumph is a firm favourite. Bought some eleven years ago at auction, it started up willingly in the car park after I had paid up for it, and has been a reliable friend since.

The '27 Triumph really is one of the easiest flat tank bikes to live with, performance is fair and parts are available. It has that wonderful twenties long and spindly look but is combined with the advances of the latter part of the decade - wired on tyres and decent brakes. My example has been slightly blighted with a tendency to nip up when pushed along, I've always felt that more should be available from it and that it should have the ability to get thrashed a bit harder and take it. 


So, some much needed care and attention for the Model N. The plan of action was to take the top end off and check for any possible air leaks, check the ring gap, lap the valves and give it a hone and hope that this multi-pronged approach would sort it out.

The first problem that sprung to light on disassembly was that the seals on the valve cap 'fir cones' were poor and possibly air was getting in. This would have to be sorted on re-assembly. Off came the exhaust and carb and next the barrel itself. Clearance was a lot tighter and the job was considerably fiddlier than I had expected for a bike that would have had to come apart regularly back in the day to de-coke and grind in the valves.

The ring gaps were already very generous, so no problems there. The valves were not seating nicely so out came the grinding paste and lapping tool. The bore was ever so slightly glazed so I got busy with the honing tool (just an attachment for my power drill). Whilst everything was apart the barrel and exhaust got the wire brush treatment followed by a couple of coats of high temp satin black paint.

Everything went back together the same way it came apart, the barrel was equally fiddly to get on as it was to get off. Just half an inch of extra clearance and it would be a cinch... Test ride time and it started and ran fine. Out on the road we took it steady to start with and progressively opened up more and more and all remained good with no sign of tightening up. Can't really say what was the single cause of the problem, perhaps it was multitudinous. So, ready for next season to ride with confidence in unleashing all those Triumph horses.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Vintage DOT JAP

It's not often you come across an old picture of a DOT motorcycle, particularly one from the vintage era. This particular 'Devoid of Trouble' DOT is from 1928 / 1929 and is fitted with a 348cc 'dog-eared' ohv JAP engine, it's a high end sporting mount of the period.

1928 / 1929 DOT JAP 350cc ohv.

Monday, November 22, 2021

DMW Motorcycles 1954

Here's the range of DMW (Dawson's Motor Works) machines for 1954. Leslie 'Smokey' Dawson was a well known pre-war grass track rider. When the War started he was ineligible for service in the armed forces due to his grass track riding injuries, instead he became an RAF mechanics instructor and despatch rider. Later on in the War he opened up a small garage in Wolverhampton - Dawson's Motor Works.

Smokey Dawson is in some places credited with patenting several important developments in motorcycle development (swinging arm suspension, telescopic forks and double sided front brakes). This is indeed true but it is perhaps more fair to say that he patented minor modifications to existing technology that allowed him to produce such parts without infringing existing patents. None-the-less he was certainly an innovator and one who embraced moves forward in technology.

DMW machines for the large part used Villiers engines and were of high quality with some unusual features, some models had semi-monocoque frames and many were fitted with earles forks. For a while I owned a DMW Cortina and a fine machine it was too.

The 1954 range is interesting in that this is the year that DMW listed machines fitted with French built AMC engines (a different company from the British concern Associated Motor Cycles). The French AMC motors were fitted with ohc engines (DOHC in the case of the racing model) and looked quite glamorous and exciting. Sadly it appears that these machines only reached prototype stage, they were exhibited at motor shows but seemingly did not roll off the production line.

There's a good history of DMW at the

Thursday, November 18, 2021

National Cycle Museum pt2

The second instalment of snaps from the National Cycle Museum at Llandrindod Wells. Not much extra to add from the first instalment except apologies once again for the slightly dodgy smartphone quality snaps and to re-iterate the recommendation to visit both the town of Llandrindod and the Museum. 

The Vittoria Margherita derailleur from around 1935.
The spiel beneath claims it as the first Italian derailleur,
that may or may not be correct. It was introduced in 1932,
some 20 years later than the probable first production
derailleur (the French Chemineau of 1912). To change
gear you need to back pedal, adjust chain tension with one
lever and shift the chain with another). Complicated but
sturdy and it gave a competitive advantage. Seemingly
a different company from the extant Vittoria tyre company,
the derailleur company was deep into Italian fascism: the
company was named after a statue put up by Giovanni Agnelli
(founder of the FIAT motorcar company) on the highest hill
in Turin of the winged goddess of victory in honour of
fascist ideals to build Italy as a militaristic superpower.
Models of derailleurs were named after fascist icons.
There's a great write up on the Disraeli Gears site.

Another transmission demo. This time
for EGG chainrings. Oval chainrings have
come in and out of fashion over the years
in cycling. They have their adherents but in
general are accepted to be no better or worse than
round ones. The designer of the EGG ring
has an interesting site with details on the
rings as well as other rabbit holes.

It was a bit cramped in so hard to take good pictures
of but one of the machines I most coveted was this
1930s FH Grubb with highly unusual twin tube
cross frame design.

More detail on the FH Grubb. Note the
unusual stem.

T'other side of the Freddie Grubb twin tube. A Kirk
Precision cast magnesium framed road bike lurks
behind it.

One final snap of the twin tube Freddie Grubb.

Derny cycle pacer from the early fifties. Derny was
a French brand, their pacers became so ubiquitous
that Derny bcame a catch all word for all pacers.
A pacer such as this would have been used for road
racing as well as velodromes. Derny also made a regular
non-pacing version of this machine as well as tandem

Sun Manxman, probably from the late thirties. The
Manxman was noted for having small strut tubes
for stiffening behind the bottom bracket.

Saxon twin tube stands watch.

1930s RAC patrolman's cycle.

c1938 Baines Whirlwind 'Flying Gate'.

BSA 'Eyres' c 1937. Fully nickel plated and used in
a TV series called 'Champion' apparently.

That's a 1930s Moorson twin tube lurking back there.

A bit of a jumble this image but in the foreground
is a 1930s Triumph 'Moller'. Precursor to modern
recumbants and fitted with a steering wheel.

Lovely FH Grubb (Freddie Grubb) tourer. Note
the 'Resilient' sprung forks made by Grubb which
were available from 1928 to 1930.

Grubb made their own centre pull brakes
too. Here is an example.

Close up on the Grubb Resilient forks.

Fifties cycle shop mock up.

Dursley Pedersen.

Wonderful Raleigh 3d advertising art.

c1898 bamboo cycle made by the Bamboo
Cycle Co of the USA.

Full view of the Bamboo Cycle.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Motosacoche goes camping

A charming picture featuring a Motosacoche from the veteran era.

Motosacoche were a Swiss firm that started off in 1899 making bicycle attachments. The name literally means 'motor in a case' as the engine units were packaged within an enclosed triangular subframe that would bolt into a bicycle's main triangle. 

The machine pictured here is a Model A that was made from 1901 up to 1910. Motosacoche went on to produce a large range of conventional motorcycles and MAG proprietory engines. Interestingly Motosacoche were paired up with Royal Enfield in the early days - they provided an IOE v-twin engine to Royal Enfield when they recommenced motorcycle production in 1910. Royal Enfield produced the cycle parts and sold it in the UK under the RE brand, Motosacoche produced a machine in turn that was near identical to the Royal Enfield and sold under their own brand name through Europe.

It's quite hard to come up with a back story to the photo. It is certainly very posed. The bell tent seems quite incongruous with the backdrop of what appears to be a windowless high sided wooden building with a corrugated iron roof.

Motosacoche - the motor in a case.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Bikes I have owned pt IX. Triumph 3TA

This has got to date from the mid to late eighties. Obviously I believed I was the business on this bike! Reality as we can see perhaps tells a different story. Still, that is what motorcycles are about isn't it? A fantasy. In this case the Triumph had all sorts of whiffs of James Dean, the Fonz, The Wild One, etc, etc.

Of course the 3TA, aka Model 21 was the baby bro of all the big glamour Triumphs but it still had the look. It was bought from a local very biker-ish kind of guy, the price was low and it totally showed in the bike. In truth it was remarkable that it ran and kept on running. The front brake was negligable, the rear locked up at the faintest hint of pedal, the handling was poor and the engine occasionally let out a blood curdling squeal on the overun. It did however sound magnificent and look amazing to a seventeen year old and I loved it.

1964 Triumph Twenty One.

Friday, November 5, 2021

AJS Big Port

The 'Big Port' AJS is one of the classic vintage motorcycles. Named Big Port because of the large diameter of its exhaust the 350cc version was hugely successful in competition and was commoner than the 500 back in the day as now.

The 500cc Big Port (official model name G8) was never so succesful on the track and, though sold as a sporting model, was obviously less focussed that the 350. The G8 wore touring mudguards whilst the 350cc 'H6' carried skimpy little numbers.

c1926 AJS 500cc Big Port G8.

Postscript: Thanks to Geert de Boer from Netherlands for pointing out that really it was only the 350 that was commonly called the 'Big Port' back in the day, the 500 wasn't popularly known as such. It also seems that I have got in a muddle over AJS model numbers - G prefix models were from 1926 and H from 1927, the 6 suffix bikes were the 350ohv and 8 suffix 500ohv. The particular bike in the photo above is a H8 from 1927 - 1927 being the first year in which the model was fitted with wired-on tyres.

Many thanks Geert for putting the record straight, when these things are out in the public domain and used as reference it is always nice to get the details fully correct.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Unknown veteran with wicker sidecar

Another veteran machine that I'm struggling to identify. It looks to be around 1912 or 1913, at first I thought Premier but it doesn't quite look right. Right click, open in new window and then enlarge to get the full sized image. 

The motor is distinctive for having the magneto behind the engine rather than in front, forks are Druid type, other than that there are few easily identifying features. Do message or mail if you can put an id on the bike.

Some nice details in the picture though from the chap's serious riding gear to the three front headlights. There's some kind of long plunger / pump down at the front of the engine - no idea at all what that is for. On the handlebars are a mirror on the left side and a neat little cylindrical leather case on the right that seems a bit too small for a spare belt or tube.

Can you identify this veteran with wicker sidecar?

Monday, November 1, 2021

Skoda Octavia

Of course normally this blog deals with two and occasionally three wheelers but this Skoda Octavia spotted recently in Beaulieu village is too sweet and unusual to miss out.

Skoda / Volkswagen have trundled out the Octavia model name multiple times such was the success of the original which was produced from 1959 to 71 in huge quantities. This particular example is a two door which ran from '59 to '64. It's a very rare sight in the UK, particularly in this condition.

Whoever owns this lovely piece of Eastern Bloc history bravo to you to keeping it out on the roads and thanks for the pleasure of seeing it out and about.