Monday, February 20, 2023

Claude Butler Saxon

Bicycle projects can give quick hit of completion satisfaction and that's perhaps why I often get diverted away from my lengthier motorised projects to pedals..

This recently completed Saxon is the project that wasn't. I bought it around a couple of years ago through an advert in the Veteran Cycle Club magazine and it was all up together and rideable. Me being me though I wasn't happy with the components (some were a bit too plain and some didn't match) so I had to go about changing it and in the process adding some quirky bits and pieces as is my wont.

A quick background - Saxon were founded in 1919 in East London. They produced a full range of cycles for all purposes and though certainly not a major player in the market they had a significantly bigger output than many of the classic lightweight brands. Through the thirties particularly there was a strong market for affordable quality clubmans machines, at that time cycling was in its heyday in Britain and working people wanted a bicycle that they could ride to work and join in with club runs at weekends.

The cycle that made Saxon's name and the one that has endured was the twin tube design. In the thirties there was a fashion for shortening wheelbases with the idea of reducing flex in the bottom bracket and thus increasing efficiency. Obviously there is only so much you can shorten a tradional frame until the rear wheel hits the saddle tube. The solution that Saxon came up with was a very short central seat tube whose purpose was really solely to hold the seat post in place, this was flanked by a pair of narrow diameter tubes that ran from the upper lug on the seat tube down to the bottom bracket. The rear wheel snuggled itself in between the two seat tubes.

The twin tube proved to be popular and is one of the enduring classic lighweight designs, still held in high esteem.

Despite the success Saxon packed up bicycle manufacture at the onset of war in 1939. The brand was bought by Claud Butler during the war and in 1950 a new twin tube design was launched. This time with a single conventional single seat tube which split into a fork just above the point where the rear wheel crossed it. This model was made for two years and was sold both under the Claud Butler and Saxon brands. It was available as lugless (as my example is) or with CB bi-laminate lugs.

There's an excellent article on the Saxon twin tube by Hilary Stone on the Classic Lightweights site.

Middlemore saddle came with the cycle.

Atom front hub, GB wing nuts and Conloy rims. The
rear rim didn't match the front and was fixed gear so
I swapped it out for a matching rim with a Sturmey
Archer alloy shelled FM four speed hub.

Nice engraving on the French Belleri handlebars.

The Saxon came with a GB girder stem and narrow
drop bars. As I get older I appreciate flat bars more
and more so hence these Belleri North Road pattern ones.

Dupi sprung stem. Like riding a pogo stick, a very
bendy one. The only way I can get it to be remotely
tolerable is to lock out the springs and tighten the
pivot as much as possible. Hence it's just for show.

B and T brake levers for flat bars. These are one
of the very nicest British levers in style and quality.

The Dupi sprung stem again.

Saxon head transfer....

....and Saxon downtube transfer...

... and finally the Saxon seat tube transfer.

Sturmey Archer FM alloy four speed hub.

B and T 'Manx' brake. A cam operated
brake made up of alloy plates. Rare and
quirky, great looking but of dubious
performance. Yes, I added these as an 'upgrade'.
Note the split seat tube.

Detail on the Middlemore saddle.

Friday, February 17, 2023

A visit to the Brooklands Museum pt2

The second post of images from a visit to the Brooklands Museum in a very drawn out series of three posts starting back in May last year...

Not much more to say more than was said in the first instalment other than props to the Brooklands Museum, it's a great day out and even better to visit on an event day.

'Nanette' - Built as a one off for driver Felix Scriven
Nanette was orignally fitted with a 2 litre 'Sage' engine
and in this form was known as 'Mother Goose' (as it was
stuffed with sage!).

Small side room packed with early cycles.

I loved the care taken with this tag on an 11-50 Brough.

And the full Brough Superior 11-50.

1926 works Norton combination 'LPD1' A very original
period record breaker, LPD1 took 14 Brooklands records
and in 1927 (as a solo) was the first motorcycle to maintain
100mph for an hour at Montlhery.

Lovely F W Evans club racing cycle. I'm a big fan
of pre-war Evans. They were beautifully built and
packed in numerous clever features. Very high quality
cycles built to last a lifetime and beyond.

Indian Powerplus 1917

Full view of the 1917 Indian. It's an unconventional
paint scheme for an Indian and I suspect non-original
but it looks great.

Railton Terraplane 1934. I covet this car!! The Railton
was made at Cobham near Brooklands by Reid Railton
(famous builder of several land speed record cars). The
Railton was essentially an American Hudson clothed in
a British body and with 113 bhp on tap it was one of the
fastest vehicles on the road. A 1935 road test clocked its
0-60 mph performance as 8.8 seconds. And the cherry on
top with this particular example is that the first owner was
a certain Eric Fernihough, motorcycle land speed record
racer. A lovely aside about this particular car is that it was
used during a 1934 250cc 500 mile and 12 hour motorcycle
record attempt as a pace car to light the way through the
hours of darkness and to scare off rabbits from the track.

Another view of the Railton.

1910 Kerry Abingdon 3.5hp.

Close up on the 680cc exhaust over inlet
motor of the Museum's spectacular 1920

The Club House building.

Replica 1909 Bleriot XI. The XI was
the first plane to fly across the English

1917 Clerget rotary engine in a Sopwith
Camel replica.

Full view of the Sopwith Camel replica.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Veteran, Vintage and Classic Motorcycle events in Europe 2023

The last time this listing appeared was at the beginning of 2020 and we all know what happened thereafter. There didn't seem much point publishing in 2021 and early on in 2022 things didn't look mighty happy either. But here we are in a new year and hopefully we can all look forward to a fun-packed season of vintage and classic motorcycling.

So... read on, make dreams, let your dreams turn in to plans and then head off in to the sunset on your old clunker for adventures unknown. Sometimes needs must and trailers and vans have their place but the most fun is to be had on loading up your steed with panniers full of assorted junk and spares and hitting the road. The journey is as much an adventure as the destination and all that zen and the art of stuff.

Before the listings the usual disclaimer, this is my amateurishly put together diary of events that look interesting, I have heard good things about, I would like to go to or have been to. It's not exhaustive so if you know of something good out there get in touch and it'll be added. Equally as it is not exhaustive it is not necessarily 100% accurate - ie don't use the information here as your sole guide, check dates and locations for yourself and get in touch with organisers. Bikes were made for riding, get out there and do it!

1 to 5 February 2023: Salon Retromobile, Paris, France.
- A sumptuous display of exotic two and four wheelers.

11 and 12 February 2023: Moto Retro Wieze, Wieze, Belgium.
- Billed as Belgium's biggest old bike autojumble.

11 and 12 February 2023: Retro Auto Moto Galicia, Vigo, Spain.
- Car and bike show in Northern Spain 

4 and 5 March 2023: Old Time Show, Forli, Italy.
- Mixed car and bike show.

4 and 5 March 2023: Salon de Reims, Reims, France.
- Mixed car and bike show.

12 to 16 April 2023: Techno Classica Essen, Essen, Germany.
- Large car and bike show.

14 to 16 April 2023: Veterama, Hockenheim, Germany.
- Very big autojumble.

15 and 16 April 2023: Petits Cubes et Vieilles Becanes, Circuit de Belmont sur Rance, France. 
- It's in the event's name, small cc and old - track event on a go kart track for lower powered bikes.

16 April 2023: Horsepower Run, Veenhuisen, Holland.
- Dutch equivalent of the Pioneer Run.

21 to 24 April 2023: Paris Dunkerque Rally, France.
- An event for adventure bike types rather than classics but no reason not to take your old nail along. Non-competitive and looks like fun.

28 to 30 April 2023: John Bull Rally, Belgium.
- Organised by the BSA Owners Club Belgium but open to all old British bikes. Gets great reviews.

10 to 14 May 2023: International FIVA Rally, Brunn am Gebirge, Austria.
- Annual roving rally.

11 to 14 May 2023: IVVMCC Slievenamon pre-31 Rally. Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.
- Gets very good reports.

12 to 14 May 2023: ASI motoshow, Parma, Italy.
- Popular track based Italian show.

12 to 14 May 2023: Tour du Calvados, Normandy, France.

18 to 21 May 2023: Oostblocktreffen, Friesland, Netherlands.
- Eastern Bloc bike rally.

21 to 27 May 2023Motogiro D'Italia, Italy.
- Hooning around Italy on small bikes! Touring event for big cc lovers too. Finishing the near 1000 mile course on a pre-57 sub 175cc is quite an achievement. 

26 to 29 May 2023: International Ibbenburener Motorrad-Veteranen Rallye: Ibbenburen, Germany 
Big event for pre-war motorcycles.

28 May 2023: Boulogne Bicycle Rally, Boulogne, France.
- A leisurely and tipple fuelled trundle around the former Boulogne Grand Prix Circuit. There's no official website, the whole event is informal. There are vintage cycle happenings in Boulogne the whole bank holiday weekend. A good account of it and some tips here.

26 to 29 May 2023: Tour de Bretagne, Bretagne, France.
- Large gathering of old vehicles in Brittany. Several days of routes through the local countryside.

27 and 28 May 2023: Coupes Moto Legende, Dijon, France.
- All old bike enthusiasts should visit at least once.

2 to 4 June 2023: Royal Enfield Owners Club Greek Branch International Rally: Epidaurus, Greece
- Motorcycle Rally by a Mediterranean beach, sounds wonderful.

4 June 2023: Vuelta a Cantabria, Cantabria Spain. Date tbc
- MC Piston organised. Sure to be a fine event.

4 June 2023: Rando Cyclo, Sars Poteries, France. date tbc
- Event for those who favour fewer horsepower. Looks great, search it yourself online, there are no details currently posted though the date should be correct. There's an account of the 2015 event here.

3 June 2023: Antique Motorcycle Run, Laarne Castle, Belgium.
- Very promising looking pre-1940 run.

17 and 18 June 2023: Cafe Racer Festival: Montlhery, France.
- Popular does what it says on the tin bike event at the fantastic Montlhery circuit near Paris.

21 to 25 June 2023: Wheels and Waves, Biarritz, France.
- New wave custom and classic event. Fully corporate and sponsored to the hilt, never been but several mates have and it gets great reports.

23 to 25 June 2023: Grand Prix de Tours / Chinon Classi, Tours, France.
- Glamorous vintage car and motorcycle parade held around the scenic city of Tours.

24 and 25 June 2023: Grand Prix Historique de Bressuire: Bressuire, France

2 to 8 July 2023: Milano-Taranto, Italy
- Like the Moto G but lower key and possibly more hardcore.

9 July 2023: Stella Alpina Rally, Bardonecchia, Italy.
- Ride up a mountain with fellow enthusiasts.

14 to 16 July 2023: Classic Bikes Chimay, Chimay, Belgium.
- Belgian vintage street racing. I went along a few of years ago. Great fun, proper street racing, Belgian beer. Close to the town. Camp at the circuit for the full experience.

29 and 30 July 2023: Grand Prix Retro au Puy Notre Dame, Puy Notre Dame, France.
- Sounds superb, gets great reports. Hope I can make it along this year or next.

4 to 6 August 2023: Schloss Dyck Classic DaysJüchen, Germany.
- The German equivalent of the Goodwood Revival.

5 and 6 August 2023: Kaiserseitausfahrt, Munich, Germany.
- Pre-1918 motorcycle run based around a Munich beer garden. Sounds excellent!

5 and 6 August 2023: Journées Coyote: Nogaro Circuit, France.
- Weekend track event. Looks like mostly more recent classics.

12 and 13 August 2023: Biker's Classics: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.
- Racing for more recent classics.

19 August 2023: Oldtimerdag Ruinerwold: Ruinerwold, Netherlands.
- Old vehicles take over Dutch town.

19 August 2023: Where is Anna: Mannekensvere, Belgium
- Entertaining looking pre-31 bike run

21 to 26 August 2023: Irish National Rally, Munster, Ireland.
- Popular jaunt through Irish countryside on pre-50 bikes. Fully booked and invite only but could be worth spectating if in the area.

18 to 20 August 2023: Belgian Classic TT, Gedinne, Belgium.
- Belgian road racing.

20 August 2023: Rømø Motor Festival, Fanø Island, Denmark. Date tbc
- Historic beach speed racing, car and bike.

0 August 2023: Oude Klepper Parade, De Haan, Holland.
- Pre-21 motorcycle parade. Dates tbc

26 and 27 August 2023: International Rally Sweden Skåne Rund, Sweden.
- 500km touring event for pre-1946 bikes. Looks great.

26 and 27 August 2023: International Hengelo Rally, Hengelo, Holland.
- Large pre-41 bike rally.

1 to 3 September 2023: Glemseck 101, Glemseck, nr Stuttgart, Germany.
- New wave customs and cafe-racers, corporate sponsorship and hipster drag racing.

8 to 10 September 2023: Imola Mostra Scambio, Imola, Italy.
- Huge Italian autojumble.

8 and 9 September 2023: Hindenburg Dirt Track Races, Lubbenau, Germany.
- American flavoured two and four wheeled retro dirt tack racing. Looks fantastic.

7 to 10 September 2023: Moto Guzzi Open House, Mandello del Lario, Italy. Dates TBC
- The Guzzi factory opens its doors for the weekend and thousands of Guzzisti descend.

13 to 15 September 2023: Trophees Gerard Jumeaux, Circuit Carole, North of Paris, France.
- Classic racing French style.

10 September 2023: Veteranentreffen Oostende, Oostende, Belgium.

15 to 17 September 2023: Circuit des Ramparts d'Angouleme, Angouleme, France.
- Glamorous vintage cars and bikes racing around medieval town.

15 to 17 September 2023: Bol D'Or Classic, Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France.
- Good if classic endurance racing is your bag.

23 September 2023: Nationaal Veteraan Treffen, Woerden, Holland
- large and longstanding gathering for all old two wheelers.

17 to 25 September 2023: International Piston Rally, Santander, Spain. Dates tbc
- I've had the pleasure of riding this event a couple of times. Brilliant. The MC Piston lads put on a great, friendly and efficiently run event. Not only that but it is fantastic value. If you like to use your old bike this is an event you will definitely enjoy.

22 to 24 September 2023: Normandy Beach Races, Caen, France.
- Fantastic looking beach drag racing for pre-47 cars and bikes. Dates tbc.

24 September 2020: Montée historique Maurice Violland, Coligny, France. Date TBC
- Promising looking historic hill climb.

30 September and 1 October 2023: Motorrad-Klassikertreffen, Technik Museum Sinsheim, Sinsheim, Germany.

2 to 8 October 2023: Rally de Colombres, Colombres, Spain. Dates TBC
- This is what the MC Piston event started out as. MC Piston moved the rally to Santander and some guys formed a club called Moto Club Indianos and carried on running it as it was.

13 to 15 October 2023: Veterama, Mannheim, Germany.
- Huge autojumble.

21 and 22 October 2023: Franz Josefs Fahrt, Bad Ischl, Germany.
- Large pre-1929 run.

26 to 29 October 2023: Auto Moto d'Epoca, Bologna, Italy.

18 to 20 November 2023: Salon Moto Legende, Paris, France.
- French show. No exact dates available at time of writing.

Finally, other useful listings: 
- The Dutch Veteraan Motoren Club has a good listing with some extra small scale local events too which may be work checking out.
- For Italian events (car and bike are listed) check the ASI site.
- Belgian events at the Oldtimerweb events page.