Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Excelsior Universal

Postcard flyer from New York for the Excelsior Universal dating from c1947. The Universal was noteworthy for having a hand change gear lever through the centre of its petrol tank. The motor is a Villiers 9D 122cc.

1947 Excelsior Universal.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sammy Miller's Museum pt1

Out and about once again making use of my British Motorcycle Charitable Trust membership. Sammy's Museum is just up the road from me but it had been a while since I had last taken the time to have a good look around. A shame for me as it is a wonderful museum, there's something a lot more alive and vibrant about having a look around an individual's collection. Of course many of the bikes are static exhibits but also many are in use. The selection of machines is eclectic and Sammy in particular has an eye for the unusual and technically interesting which, personally, is what I want from a museum. If I wanted to see a fifties Triumph I would far rather see it in action and opportunities for that are fairly commonplace but you won't find a similar selection of 1920s scooters anywhere else and the selection of exotic off-road machinery is second to none.

The Museum is well worth taking the time to visit and travelling a good distance to do so. Do yourself a favour and drop by sometime soon. Here is the first installment of snaps of bikes and bits that turned my eye at the Museum....

Aspin sleeve valve motor developed in the
thirties for speedway racing.

350cc home built desmodromic motor built by
John Treen. Obviously a talented guy he even
home fabricated the carburettor.

Experimental Cross rotary valve engine.

Bob Collier 1000cc Norton parallel twin special.
Built in 1942 by banking up two vintage Model
18 motors together.

Close up on the Bob Collier Norton motor.

View of the Norton Hall. Wow!

Grindlay Peerless with Barr and Stroud sleeve valve v-twin
motor.

Closer up on the Grindlay Peerless.

Closer still and focussing on that Barr and Stroud lump.

Maico two wheel drive bike. Built in 1980 by
Dave Watts and tested by the British Army.

Another view of the Dave Watts Maico.

Rare dohc JAP engine from the seventies made
by George Greenwood and Mike Erskine. Some
50 units were made.

Close up on the DOHC JAP lump.

Talon Mickmar trials iron from 1973.

Another Bob Collier creation. The RCS (Robert
Collier Special)  built using an Austin 7 car
engine converted to air cooling.

And more ingenuity from Mr Collier. Another
RCS and once again with an air cooled conversion
on an Austin 7 motor in BSA M20 cycle parts.
Bob made six of these in total.

The Museum also houses a fine collection of automobilia.
Sammy is a regular face around autojumbles always on the
lookout for the bargain and the unusual. 

One of my personal favourites from the collection. The Duncan
from 1921 featuring a 980cc JAP v-twin transversely mounted
running through a two speed gearbox to a shaft drive.

The rear suspension on the Duncan is a swinging
arm with compressed air shocks. Well ahead of
its time for 1921.

Front 3/4 view on the Duncan. The transverse
layout makes good sense for cooling but those
exposed valves really were open to road muck.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Norton 1939

This is Norton's abridged sales list for 1939. Even so it seems fairly comprehensive, the full list must have been quite a tome.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 front cover.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 1.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 2.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 3.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 4.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 5.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 6.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 7.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 8.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 9.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 10.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 11.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 page 12.

Norton sales catalogue 1939 rear cover.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Back to Basics Historic Bike Summer Camp 2017

I rode up to the Back to Basics camp a couple of years back when it was held in Gloucestershire and a very fine event it was too. Alas I was away for work last year and so it will be as well this year. Here's the flyer for the 2017 event, held in Yorkshire this time and well worth attending if you have a free weekend. Do note the bit though about pre '77 bikes and it being a tent only event. If you do go along, enjoy it and maybe send a few photos this way for the blog...

________________________________






To be held at The New Inn
Cropton, near Pickering, North Yorkshire.  YO18 8HH
                    
The venue for the 2017 camp is at one of the southern gateways to the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors where there is an abundance of wonderful motorcycling roads and spectacular scenery.  


The idea is to simulate a motorcycle rally as of the 1960’s and 70’s when all makes and models of motorcycles congregated with their owners for a weekend of 2 and 3 wheeled enjoyment.  This site is a bit more basic than in previous years whereas although it has 24/7 male and female toilets with washing facilities, there are no showers.  


Previous camps have been resounding successes so there is no reason why this one should be different.


This Summer Camp is open to all pre 1977 motorcycles, classed as “Historic Vehicle” which must be ridden to the event.  Trailers and vans will not be permitted and as it is a “Tent Only” event caravans, campervans and motor homes will not be allowed on the campsite.


The pub itself will be serving meals all weekend and as we will be supplying free tea and coffee, you can travel light if you wish and leave the cooking equipment at home….but make sure you bring your own cup.


We hope that you can join us at this, our 4th. Historic Bike Summer Camp and make it as memorable as in previous years.  So strap your tent to the back of your bike and have yourself a great weekend amongst like-minded folk.


For further details contact rayjay110@hotmail.com


Happy Riding.






Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Etoile Phantomesque Model Exclusif by Dietrich

A cycle vying for the title of most pretentious model name against the Hetchins Magnum Bonum Spyder. The Dietrich possibly nudges into the lead by the addition of 'Model Exclusif' to the mix. 

In actual fact 'Model Exclusif' is possibly referring to the fact that the frame is a one off, this is borne out from the fact that all model names and trade marks are actually hand painted rather than decals. The frame has never been used and the story behind it is that it was bought by an Englishman living in Paris in thirties. When he returned home just before the war he brought the frame with him and kept it until he passed away just last year.

There appears to be no record of Max Dietrich as a known frame builder, it is quite possible that the frame was built as a hobbyist's one off. Rue Jacob in Paris, the address given on the frame, is on the West Bank and has always been an area of small businesses and artisans. It is possible that Dietrich's was a small shop on the Rue who occasionally turned their hand to frame building.

The build is in general of high quality and there is good attention to detail. At one time it appears that there were badges on both the head tube and saddle tube as both are drilled for these. Sadly they have gone missing somewhere along the way and all that remains is their shadows on the faded paint. The rear drop outs are Oscar Egg type. As for the frame design, who knows! The thirties were a period of keen experimentation in racing frames and this is just one such example of ingenious thinking.

Sadly the forks are missing - if anyone out there has a suitable set going spare with lugs that are close to matching then do get in touch. I would be happy to change the steerer and then get them colour matched to the frame. Eventually I hope to build the bike up, so, again, if anyone has any unusual French components of the period that would complement the build please let me know.

Any finally, if you have any knowledge at all of Dietrich or this frame I would be delighted to hear from you!








Monday, March 13, 2017

An Awkward Hill revisited

I posted the below postcard image up round about a year ago. Shortly after Pete from Occhio Lungo got in touch to say that the bike is a Premier and now I've heard from Andy Loosemore with a whole load more detail.

The bike is indeed a Premier, a 3 1/2 hp model that was first registered 12 July 1912. The rider is a chap called William Kier Little and it is he owned the machine from new. Little lived at 73 Petteril Street in Carlisle, an address that still exists, the street is known in more modern times for having suffered bad flooding on more than one occasion recently. William Little was born 30 July 1879 and unfortunately there is a sad end to the story for he was killed at the Battle of the Somme 5 October 1916 at the age of 37. He was a Private (#4923) in the London Regiment and his death is commemorated at at the Thiepval Monument in France (pier and face 9, D9 C13C).

The information is somehow haunting but it seems fitting to know something of the people who rode the machines we now cherish. The history and story of the riders it has had is something of the soul of a motorcycle. Some folks get excited by racing history and famous riders but the story of Reginald A N Other, BSA Bantam rider, is every bit as valid and potentially interesting and gives us food for thought each time we get out and ride.

Thanks Andy for the story.

in memoriam William Kier Little.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Back in Japan

I'm back in Japan again for a wee while for work.

Japan remains petrolhead heaven and customising is as popular as ever. Here's a few snaps of bikes parked around and about that are a bit different from those you see at home...

This is the Honda Solo. Looks like a custom but in fact this is as
it comes fully stock. Uses the Cub 50 motor in diminutive cycle
parts with retro styling. Very nice. At 6ft 2 I'd look like I was riding
a clown bike!

Other side of the Honda Solo.

Kawasaki Z400. The 400cc class is one of the most important in
Japan as there are two riders license classes - up to 400 and above.
 250s are also popular - below 250 and you don't need the
biennial roadworthiness inspection. 

Yamaha SRs remain amongst the most popular retros.

There's a strong custom fashion for a hybrid street tracker / sand
bike / hill climber look Tall suspension, wide tyres, high bars,
long swinging arm and bates headlight.

Two wheels, powered or pedal remain incredibly
popular.

The Honda Cubra is another retro 50cc Cub variant.
Another sand bike hybrid custom.

Custom super scoots are eternally popular.

This one is mild. Some are totally space age.

Honda Zoomer X update on the cult Zoomer. Personally I
preferred the old Zoomer.

Yamaha Vox retro scoot.

This unfortunate Vox has got a parking ticket. Not totally sure
what went wrong with their parking. Bit out of line?