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

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Royal Enfield Himalayan - new toy

Something like a year ago, just before the first lockdown, I test rode a Himalayan at my local Royal Enfield dealers. I was impressed enough to want one but with my job in the balance and not much chance to get out and ride I deferred the purchase. Now more recently I've been having a bit of a 're-alignment' in the garage, the Buell has gone (up to a Scottish island) and so has the Yamaha AG200. Essentially, I've got too many projects, too many bikes to maintain and wanted some money to sample something different. Hopefully the Himalayan will prove to be low maintenance, perform the roles of multiple machines and bring joy and fulfilment to my life!!

Evidently the Himalayan is not going to provide the performance buzz of the Buell, nor will it be quite as off road capable as the Yamaha but so far riding it around does make me smile and it is a very competent bike. Normally to describe a motorcycle as pleasant would be to damn it with faint praise but the Himalayan genuinely fits the description. Equally adequate is a word that does not inspire a great deal of excitement, but that is what the Himalayan's performance is. The power of the bike is adequate in that it is appropriate and it is delivered in a way that promotes user satisfaction. Riding is slow motorcycling in the same sense as slow cooking or slow television. The pace is enjoyable and relaxing and the experience leaves you in no way missing higher power and speed.

Proof of the pudding will come with taking the Himalayan off road and testing its off the tarmac capabilities. I have a feeling that they will be adequate too!

2019 Himalayan. I had been considering
buying new but this low mileage one
came up at a price too good to resist.

The farkling has started already.... Supports for soft
panniers from Hitchcocks.

Lomo crash bar bags.

Front mudguard risers. Possibly unnecessary but the
clearance was fairly tight and looked like it had the
potential to get clogged with mud.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Tandem fast boys

 A bicycle post is overdue... Here's a great image of a pair of lads taking their tandem racing quite seriously. The location is quite obvious but I wonder what the cause was? It's an unusual location, I can't imagine that many races either started or finished in the Bayswater Road, maybe they were sponsored and the shop was nearby?

1950s tandem racers.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Torbay Trial 2021

UK motorsport has resumed and one of the first long distance trials off the mark was the Torbay Trial organised by the Torbay Motor Club

At the time of entry I didn't have a suitable bike to enter but my good friend Matt steeped in to the breech with a space in the chair of his Ariel VCH / Canterbury combo.

The day dawned with good weather forecast and off we set to the start point in Devon, just the other side of Exeter. With Covid-19 restrictions in place setting off on the trial was a cinch, just announce your name to the guy on the gate when you arrive and turn up at the start line on time, all paperwork having been filled in and checked in advance. With a 9am start, that bought another half an hour in bed on a Sunday morning, bonus. Hopefully trials organisation can continue this way after all the pandemic stuff is over.

The course of the trial was over some forty miles with 17 sections packed in. The event was very slickly organised and bikes were kept well separate from cars. When you ride an old clunker in a mixed old / new and cars / bikes trial you usually find yourself slipping further and further back as the trial goes on and getting stuck in queues of cars waiting to have a go at the sections. The sidecars were flagged off first, six of us, we the only vintage combo entered - the others soon lost us! 

There were only a handful of older bikes entered, the majority coped with the sections pretty well. There were no cleans at the end of the day in the sidecar class and the top scorers just dropped a few points so I guess that means that the sections were pitched about right. Predictably on the Ariel we had the worst score of all competitors, to be honest this is expected when you enter a trial mainly for more modern stuff on an unmodified, heavy and rigid-framed early fifties machine. We only cleared one section but at the end of the day that wasn't the point. We turned up for a day's riding, had fun and broke neither riders nor machine so all in, a success and proof of the pudding is that we'll probably be back next year.

Beautifully prepared Honda XL185 looks like it
received a lot of lockdown polishing!

This little unrestored rigid James Commando trials
was a gem and acquitted itself pretty well.

Villiers 2T twin engined Cotton is an unusual choice
for trialsing but a really pretty bike.

Triumph-Metisse aiming up for a section.

Matt on his Ariel VHA.

Checking out the next section. They
always look less steep in pictures...

Honda XL185 starts a section.

This contraption was eye-catching amongst the
four wheeled entrants.

Finally some slightly short clips shot in wobble vision... all fairly self explanatory.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon

A sweet photo from 60s Japan, a couple of ladies with their Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon scooter. Generally only associated with cars here in Europe, Mitsubishi are a giant conglomerate making everything from popcorn to supertankers taking in financial services and real estate in between. The Silver Pigeon range of scooters was in production from 1946 to 1963.

Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon scooter.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Eiger MV 1989

Another brochure kindly loaned by James Kelly. Eiger MV are still going and known as MV Meccanica Verghera, the company is also known as Kay Engineering and they have long time been making replica Italian exotica, mostly MV Augustas but also the odd Gilera four. 


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Canterbury and BSA A10 combo

Good solid fifties transport for the family man. BSA A10 (a 1954 model I believe) coupled with a Canterbury sidecar and sporting an Avon screen.

1954 BSA A10 and Canterbury sidecar combination.