Thursday, June 10, 2021

ABC and TT Triumph

An interesting and unlikely pair of machines in this photo, chalk and cheese - different in style, speed and even era.

The bike on the right is an ABC, designed by Granville Bradshaw and manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Co. As with all of Bradshaw's designs it was fairly unorthodox and ahead of its time. Following a minor vogue of a few years earlier rear suspension was swinging arm controlled by leaf springs (Matchless and Indian were there with that a few years previously), the motor was a opposed twin 400cc ohv unit and legshields and footboards were integrated in to the frame. The ABC was a sophisticated bike but developed a reuptation for fragile valve gear and upgrading with aftermarket kits was a popular mod for ABC owners. The design was licensed out to Gnome et Rhone (also coincidentally airplane manufacturers) in France who produced a 500cc version with better developed valve gear. The bike wasn't a great success and was made from 1919 to 1923.

The other machine is a 1927 TT Triumph, a fast, strong and reliable road burner. The TT Triumph was a simple and dependable machine that replaced the earlier 'Ricardo' model developed by Harry Ricardo and featuring a four valve head.

ABC flat twin and TT Triumph
ABC flat twin and TT Triumph riding partners.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Power Pak News - Financial Edition 1953

Advertising material in newspaper format - that old gambit to make your message seem more authoritative...

In this case the good people of Power Pak are persuading you that their cyclemotors are unfeasibly cheap and that they don't chew up tyres as popular rumour might have it. 

The brochure is undated but the Power Pak was introduced in Spring 1950 and there is a testimonial contained within stating 2 and a half years of use. The price of the Power Pak was reduced to 25 Guineas in early 1953 so it's a fair assumption that this edition of Power Pak News was published marking this price reduction.

 For more information on the Power Pak check the icenicam page.

Also have a look at the nacc archive.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Excelsior Super X Model 19

Excelsior Super X Model 19
Excelsior Super X Model 19 combination on
a family outing.

 This would have been an extremely rare and imposing machine on the roads of Britain back in the day just as now. It's a Excelsior Super X Model 19 61cui ioe engine made from 1915 to 1919. Excelsior were suppliers to the American military alongside Harley Davidson during the Great War. The Excelsior Motorcycle Company sold machines under the Super X brand and from 1912 onwards were part of the Schwinn empire. Schwinn shut the brand down in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression.

Given that Super X were used by the American military it seems that there is a good chance that this example was sold military surplas after the war and hitched up to a British sidecar (they were used as solos by the military).

Excelsior Super X Model 19
Excelsior Super X Model 19 on the road.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon C-25

A rare image of an early Mitsubishi scooter. The Silver Pigeon range was originally based on the American Salsbury scooter, The story goes that a Japanese engineer at General Motors had brought one back from America, Mitsubishi saw the potential in it and asked him to join them on making a copy of it. As the first Silver Pigeon prototype was made in 1946 and went in to production in 1947 and that the first Silver Pigeon more resembled the pre-war Salisburys it was likely that a pre-war model was copied.

The Silver Pigeon range developed: initially closely following Salsbury designs but soon forging their own path. And by the late fifties Silver Pigeons were being exported to the States and sold by Montgomery Ward.

The Silver Pigeon in this image is a C-25 which was current from 1950 to 1952 and still resembles a Salsbury. As a point of interest note the trafficators (turn signals) mounted on the handlebars.

Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon C-25 scooter
Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon C-25 scooter.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Vincent Series C Rapide

A thoroughbred and no doubt. Vincent Series C Rapide. I'm going to hazard a guess that the lady alongside was not a passenger from her atire. She might just be a passer by wanting to have her picture taken with motorcycling royalty!

It would have been lovely if the bike was still around, after all Vincents have a rather high survival rate which is growing all the time, but alas LLN 708 doesn't feature with DVLA in Swansea. Perhaps it has had a plate change or been exported.

A significant location motoring-wise and one that looked familiar when I first saw the picture. I only recognised it because I was there recently (riding nothing so glamorous as a Vincent, just my humble Enfield Himalayan). The walls are those of the Montagu Estate, home of Lord Montagu and, of course, the Montagu Motor Museum. The view is on Palace Lane looking towards the weir on the Beaulieu River.

Vincent Series C Rapide
Vincent Series C Rapide by the Beaulieu Estate.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Villiers 6E engine brochure

 Here's the brochure for Villiers 6E motors. The 6E was introduced 1948 and replaced by the 8E 1953.

In my humble opinion the 6, 7 & 8E series engines were Villiers' finest. First came the 6E and then in '53 the 7E (competition version) and 8E. I've experience of all three and have never worked out any particular difference between them apart from the stampings on the crankcases! They are 197cc long stroke two stroke motors and are, quite honesty, significantly more pleasant than a BSA Bantam. The gearboxes are semi unit and bolt on / bolt off and available in three, four or three with reverse options (these motors were popular for microcars). Very flexible, easy to live with and work on with quite a surprising turn of speed a 6E engined bike makes a great classic for bimbling about on back roads.

Villiers 6E engine brochure front cover.

Villiers 6E engine brochure centre pages.

Villiers 6E engine brochure rear cover.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

1905 / 1906 Peugeot Model A

More pictures of the recently acquired 1905 or 6 Peugeot Model A. A basic cycle but light and stylish, I like it rather a lot. It is rusty but certainly not beyond repair or in fact in any way unsound, just a few spokes missing. It looks like perhaps the original colour was a dark green, though it is hard to tell. No brakes are fitted but it seems from the original catalogue spec that they never were - quite scary as it is not fixed wheel.

It's always hard to know when to repaint and restore, I tend to shy away from re-finishing. I quite like rusty two wheelers and for me as long as it works properly a characterful patina is most welcome. That and the fact that I am not much good at painting and a full restoration costs a lot more. Hence this Peugeot shall have the loose rust removed, be preserved with a coat of Renaissance Wax and made rideable. I shall try to find a sympathetic cable operated front brake to give me some stopping capability. Hmmmm.... the bicycle projects are stacking up.

Peugeot Model A side view. A beautifully simple
cycle but not basic in construction.

Distinctive Peugeot chainset.

The saddle is an 'Excelsior'. The style looks right
and it is perhaps the original saddle. It will stay.

Frame number looks like 176906. Anyone out there
have any knowledge on Peugeot frame numbers?

The head bearings are a lovely detail. They are very
much are in the style of modern integrated headsets.

Near side view of the Peugeot.

I picked up this lovely bell with the
Peugeot Lion recently. Probably a fair
bit more recent than the cycle is,
never-the-less lovely and compliments

Steerer tube showing the lugless
construction and stylish fork crown.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Aussie Norton CS1

Bit of a knackered old photo this one but it's of a cammy Norton so what the heck...

The bike carries a New South Wales reg plate and my best guess as to year and Model is a CS1 from 1935 but stand to be corrected by any of the pre-war Norton afficianados out there. The Norton logo on the petrol tank isn't standard and has been hand painted, I wish the image was sharp enough to read what has been written underneath the logo.

Norton CS1
Norton CS1

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Lucas Magdyno

This drawing of a magdyno came to me with several other cuttings in an old book. I've no idea of its source but it's a nice thing and worth reproducing here...

It's a pre-war model of magdyno and I think is an MDV which was current mid twenties to early thirties.

Lucas MDV magneto dynamo magdyno
Drawing of a Lucas MDV magdyno.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

First time off road impressions of the Himalayan

I bought the Himalayan as a 'do it all' bike so with fine weather beckoning me out a few weeks back taking it off for a day out on the Wessex Ridgeway seemed like a good plan.

I've been riding along the Ridgeway for years now on and off. As a seventeen year old I used to thrash my poor old D1 plunger Bantam along it, more recently the (now departed) Yamaha AG200 was used for the same purpose and accomplished it with somewhat more aplomb. If a standard D1 Bantam can tackle it obviously the Ridgeway is not, for the most part, particularly technically demanding though it can get so in wet conditions. This time I joined the Ridgeway by riding up the cart track from Tollard Royal village. Initial impressions were, as expected, of ease and comfort from the Himalayan. There wasn't really any call at all to stand up on the pegs.

Atop the Wessex Ridgeway.

Pleasant is a word I find myself using to refer to the Himalayan quite a lot and so it proved to be on the Ridgeway. Burbling along the undemanding sections was a happy and relaxing experience. Despite the amazing weather the Ridgeway was far from busy and the Himalayan did nothing to disturb the calm. I've got the standard exhaust fitted and have no intention to change it, the bike runs smooth and clean, plus it is quiet. This is a massive bonus when mixing it with walkers and horse riders. A steadily ridden bike with an unobtrusive exhaust note definitely promotes better harmony.

Typical of a few spots on the Ridgeway. The track
gets chewed up by farm traffic and 4 x 4s in wet
weather, a trough develops and then a new track
is forged around the side of the trough.

In the few spots where the going got a bit tougher the Himalayan acquitted itself reasonably well. The weight of the bike became quite evident and given this the low seat height was a boon. As with all these things, it's a compromise, slightly lighter might be nice but then the bike would not be so relaxing at 70 on the motorway and of course would cost significantly more... You can't build a bike for all shapes and sizes and, though the Himalayan is generally comfortable for me at six foot two, when it came to standing on the pegs I found the handlebars to be slightly too low. Some risers are on the shopping list.

This was deep! We took the dry route.

On a couple of ocassions avoiding the deep water was impossible. We went briefly as deep as the base of the cylinder barrel, there was a fair old bow wave so the air inlet under the saddle was kept well out of it and no problems were experienced at all.

One problem that has been reported elsewhere is the lack of off switch for the ABS. All I can say is I confirm this, it's a bit disconcerting to ride down a slippery slope with the brakes automatically disengaged... 2021 models have a switch and I understand that it's an easy job for the home mechanic to install one on earlier models. Something I'll have to do before the bike does its first long distance trial.

We rode the Ridgeway as far as Salisbury and then took to the road for a short while before joining it again near the Chalke Valley for the ride back home . This is where the Himalayan shines, as a dual purpose bike it is a peach, most capable off-roaders are a bind to ride on the road but Enfield have struck the on / off road balance pretty much spot on with the Himalayan.

The Himalayan in its element. The brush
guards are a new addition. Polisport, cheap
and functional.

The previous owner fitted a rubber flap
to protect the shock from road dirt, I went
a step further with a hugger. From the filthy
state of the hugger the rubber flap second line
of defense is still very much necessary.

I wish there was more protection for the chain from
dirt, it's completely exposed to the tyre. A fully
enclosed chain guard would be nice but failing that
there's got to be a simple solution.

All in a ride of some 70 miles, about half of it off road. The Himalayan acquited itself well and I'm looking forward to our first long distance trial together. In the meantime the Trans Euro Trail beckons this summer.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Cycling randoms

It's in the title. Three old pictures of folks on their bicycles that are probably disconnected and that I can offer no further information than they seem to take their cycling seriously and are dated between the thirties and fifties.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

BSA flat tanker

Easy to recognise the bike as a BSA, the background looks slightly industrial and the photo is annotated 'Dover April 1926' on the reverse.

 The HB prefix number plate is apparently from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. 

Hard to say the year of the bike but it seems more than likely from the mid twenties as it is still in rather nice condition and the model is probably a H. Enlarge the photo and look carefully and you can see a Cowey type klaxon on the top tube.

BSA H from the mid twenties.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Africa Bullet Resurrection Part III

Slow but sure progress on the 'Africa Bullet'. 

Essentially the only parts that left the factory together on this bike are the engine, gearbox and swinging arm. As with any mix and match project much time has been sapped in making the various odds and sods match together properly and in making up brackets and spacers.

The bike is going to end up looking like a fairly different machine from the one that I went around Africa with but hopefully its essential character will still be there. As a bike that is going to be used, used hard and used year round I've thrown as much stainless steel at it as I can afford to. Previously all components were red but I've chosen to do the frame, forks and bracketry black, mainly to save money and for ease of home painting. The tool boxes, petrol tank and rear number plate are all at the local powder coaters at the moment for a coat of signal red. Perhaps the fork shrouds would have been nice done in the same colour but they already had a decent coat of black so have stayed that way.

The bike certainly isn't going to be ready for riding this season but hopefully we'll be on the road and out and about in 2022.

Details under each picture.

Part I here

and Part II here

Beginning to look like it's nearly there. Plenty of
details left though.

Pre-monobloc carb and magdyno. I'll get it running
as is but once roadworthy I'm planning to swap to a
monobloc carb and an Alton alternator.

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole with the plugs on
the mudguard brackets. I had some plastic ones but
they did not fit properly so I ended up spending an
evening turning some out of aluminium on my lathe
(I know an evening sounds like an exaggeration but
my lathe skills are low....)

Front mudguard brackets still to do. I was planning
to adapt some standard Enfield ones but it's turning
out to be a bit of a bodge so I've got some stainless
tube and plate on order to continue the theme.

'Piston Broke Club' badge on the steering damper
in acknowledgement of the Bullet's piston chewing
prowess on the Africa trip. (It broke one piston at the
skirt and one at the crown - my conclusion in the end
was that it was caused by conrod flex under severe use.
After re-building the motor in Johannesburg I fitted a
steel rod and the problem never happened again.)

I had a Britax 'twist dip' horn and dip switch sitting
around waiting for a bike, it seemed that this was the
bike to fit it too. A neat idea but it takes up a lot of
space and makes fitting a decompressor and advance /
retard a bit fiddly. 

I'm not entirely happy with the angle of the saddle,
it tilts forwards ever so slightly. In my mind it should
be level. I might had to re-visit this and sort it out.

Side stand from an Indian Bullet.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Zundapp K500

All the gear and the machine to match. This German fellow is astride a Zundapp K500, a model introduced in 1933. Already dark times in Germany presumably this photo was taken before the war however. What is going on though with the spiral painted signpost?

Zundapp K500 on home soil.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Honda homeboys

 A couple of pics from sixties Japan of lads out with their Hondas. My knowledge of sixties Hondas is fairly scant but I'm guessing the bikes are CA77 Dream models.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Isolated Mini Moto Camp

Last October's mini rally at a 'secret location' in deepest Wiltshire ticked the boxes for seeing mates, riding bikes and sleeping under the stars so as restrictions in the UK have eased it seemed like a fine idea to repeat the exercise. To start with we had the max number six signed up for the camp but in the end work commitments whittled us down to the same three as in October.

Last time I rode the Buell (now departed to a new home) so I decided to ride up the Norton Dominator but a last minute suggestion for some green laning from Matt rendered the Norton a poor choice. Obvious would have been the Himalayan but somehow it wouldn't be in quite the spirit of the exercise so the trusty Bantam was settled upon.

The last time I had ridden the Bantam a long distance from home was something like fifteen years ago and I had vowed never to do such a foolish thing again. However, time heals all wounds, the Bantam has been rebuilt and slightly 'hopped up' and it somehow seemed like loading the Bantam up with camping gear might actually be a good idea. Besides that I've recently been reading John Storey's mini autobiog in the British Two Stroke Club magazine and it's pretty inspirational. John has travelled all over Europe on 'Project 9', a D1 125cc Bantam. I can honestly say that I think he's one of the greatest motorcycle explorers ever. There's not much about John online though he did appear in a short article in Sump magazine a few years back - Someone should publish his biography...

As it was, what could have turned out to be a huge mistake ended up quite enjoyable: a beautiful sunny day and quiet roads meant that covering the 70 odd miles to Minety at 30mph was a breeze.

The story continues in picture captions...

Seeing old friends and the achievement of turning
up on an old bike makes arrival so much the sweeter.

A field to camp in and a barn for shade and shelter,
what more could you want.

Plotting the afternoon of green-laning with the
aid of an Ordnance Survey map.

Dan with his trusty, high mileage Bullet.

We rode the un-metalled sections of the ancient
Fosse Way.

Matt turning on the style on his BSA A10 combo.

And a video fly by.

All was smooth going until we arrived
at this ford.

There was no way round for the combo so after
much goading from Dan and I along with a pledge
that we would push him out if it came to it, Matt
attempted the crossing.

Having got his feet wet helping Matt through the
ford Dan decided to ride it anyway.

There was no way the Bantam would make the ford
without flooding the magneto so we chose the
option of the footbridge.

Drying the combo out.

And the boots...

Back at camp that evening.

Though the days were warm the nights were cold.
Here's early morning.

Matt samples the raw power of the Bantam.

I took a new route home via Pewsey Down and
past Woodhenge. A cracker of a route, I even
took a diversion after Salisbury to extend the ride