Friday, November 29, 2013

BSA Golden Flash combo

Period snap of a BSA A10 Golden Flash hitched up to what I think is a Watsonian Avon sidecar.

BSA Golden Flash & Watsonian Avon combo.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ian's Harley MT350

Thanks to Ian for sending pictures of his very tidy ex-forces Rotax-engined Harley Davidson MT350. Now doing active service on the green lanes of Dorset and Wiltshire.

Harley MT350.

No respect for authority!

Scorched earth policy.

MT350 goes skating.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1952 DOT trials and scrambles models brochure

Brochure for the 1952 DOT trials and scrambles models. Love the strange trumpet end to the trials models exhaust! Very competent bikes in their day and would still make decent rides for club events and green laning. Nice and light and in my experience the 6E / 8E Villiers motors are the sweetest of the postwar Villiers offerings. They might not be the most powerful but the characteristics are very likeable.

1952 DOT Trials and Scrambles Models
brochure page 1.

1952 DOT Trials and Scrambles Models
brochure page 2.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp

Following the Jack Hearne build here's the latest cycle project on the worklist. It's an Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp. The name alone should guarantee it a place in the pantheon of all time great human-powered two wheelers.

Bought by myself (as I suspect by many others) for the name alone the Imp (as it shall henceforth be known) isn't a particularly rare bike nowadays in comparison to many of its peers. It was a quality machine in its day with Reynolds 531 tubing and some nice lug work but was factory produced in stock dimensions rather than frame by frame. I haven't gotten round to dating it yet but it should be mid fifties.

I'm going to build it up to be reasonably period correct. Naturally the original paint will stay. Refinishing would be sacrilege! I've already had a struggle with deciding which wheel size to go for. I've got a sturmey 5 speed 700c set going spare but offering it up it looks ever so slightly roomy so perhaps a 27" wheelset needs to be sourced. A bit of a pain as nice period 27" matching wheels are getting pricey. It'll probably get moustache bars rather than full drop bars - kinder on the back as age creeps on!

More info and stories about Imps at these pages:

Stylish Lincoln Imp transfer.

Nice lugwork on the forks.

Good old school head badge.

Downtube transfer.

The Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp frame in all its glory.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Velosolex world tour

I found this wonderful book in a bookshop in Rennes. Even if you cannot read the French the pictures are worth it alone. A brother and sister in their twenties riding around the world in fourteen months on a pair of Velosolex. They covered 18,000 km and crossed 25 countries. There's a website too with an English language section - Le Tour du Monde a Velosolex.

Le Tour du Monde a Velosolex.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Royal Enfield J2 1954 brochure

The J2 was essentially a pre-war bike with telescopic forks fitted and was out already out of date by 1954, the year of this brochure. The 350 Bullet, an all new design had come out in 1949 and was joined by a 500 stablemate in '53. Never ones to let an old design perish RE simply marketed the J2 purely as a sidecar hauler. Back then there was still the preconception that a spring frame wasn't the right thing for outfits. 

I'm a big fan of Royal Enfields, they produced some fantastic bikes and were innovators but their reputation suffered from churning out budget parts bin bikes using up spare stock and extending older models beyond their sell by dates. The '54 J2 is a case in point, they had the 500 Bullet motor, a better unit in all respects, it could have been fitted into a rigid frame for the sidecar market. The J2 was still fitted with the older steel tele forks rather than the alloy legged version used on other models and with that dreadful 6 inch single-sided brake when they had the dual-sided which stood a chance of hauling up an outfit. This is all hindsight, postwar times money was short and there would have been a strong market for transport where price was the main driver and the J2 was the cheapest big bike around to bolt a sidecar on to and give the working man family transport. Of course it's all totally irrelevant nowadays, being into old bikes we are seeking out the outdated and venerating them for that very quality. Whilst the J2 is never going to be considered a design classic the late model without the earlier version's horrible bulbous unsprung front mudguard is a fine looking machine and makes a good easy to live with and rare fifties ride. 

1954 Royal Enfield J2 brochure page 1.

1954 Royal Enfield J2 brochure page 2.

1954 Royal Enfield J2 brochure page 3.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

RAC Lambretta LI 150 with sidecar

Up on ebay at the moment is this very cute ex RAC LI150 series 1 combination. At time of writing there are eight days left on it and it is at £2050. It's had a makeover with a bored out 225cc TV175 motor. Seems like you can't restore a Lambretta without tuning it up. Mind, left with the standard 150cc lump in place it would be nigh on unusable on todays roads. At least when it is pushing out 16 or so bhp you could ride it around and about.

I presume these were originally supplied to the RAC as urban repair rigs. I had thought it would have been a sole survivor but digging around I found that Bonhams sold an LD150 RAC combo back in 2004 at Goodwood for £3910. The Bonhams one was restored in full RAC livery, I guess that added to its value somewhat. Picture of the Bonhams combo below and a nice posed period snap of RAC patrol girls. 

Lambretta LI150 RAC sidecar combination offered on ebay.

A Lambretta LD150 RAC sidecar rig sold by Bonhams in 2004.

RAC Patrol girls with Lambretta combos late fifties.
Postscript: it was bid all the way up to £8,000 but then was withdrawn with a day to go...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Black Ariel period photo

There's no doubt this snap has seen better days! The young lady is decorating a Val Page designed 'Black' Ariel. Vintage Ariels are not my subject of expertise but the 'Black' Ariels as they were known were made from 1926 to 1930 and I think this one is a 250cc twin port LF model. I'm willing to stand corrected if anyone wants to comment.

Period snap of an Ariel 250cc LF from 1926 to 1930.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Norton 99ss at Silbury Hill

Dominator 99ss at Silbury Hill.
A memory from a few months back. I was riding up to Bill Little's open day, stopped in a layby for a break, turned around and saw that I had unwittingly landed myself a superb view of the mighty Silbury Hill. For those who don't know Silbury Hill, try Wikipedia, or I prefer the Julian Cope Modern Antiquarian site.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Winter Rallies 2013 / 2014 season

Winter Rally season is nearly upon us. Time to get the thermal underwear and winter sleeping bag out, bag up the bike and head off into the icy gloom.

Like last year here's a list of established winter rallies, a couple I know to be good from personal experience, others I have heard good things about.

Here's the disclaimer, this is just a list I've compiled to help out fellow enthusiasts, check out all the dates and details for yourself before heading off. Most events listed are ticket in advance only. Don't take winter riding lightly, there's a link to a good guide at the bottom of the page.

If you've got rally details from here and attended how about sending in some photos.


Altes Elefantentreffen. 14 to 16 Febraury 2014, Nurburgring Germany. Confusingly the'Old Elefant rally' is in fact the upstart new Elefant Rally and held at the Nurburgring.

Elefantentreffen / Elefant Rally. 31 January to 2 February 2014 Loh/Thurmansbang-Solla near Passau, Germany. The original Elefant Rally.

Dragon Rally. 8 & 9 February 2014, Wales. The British Elefant and a grand tradition.  

Force Ten Rally. 4 to 6 January 2014, Cheshire, UK. Mayflower MCC.

Rallymans Rally. 10 to 12 January 2014, Calderdale, Yorkshire. Dean Valley MCC

Hot Rod Rally. 24 to 27 January 2014. Holland.

Kickstart Rally, 24 to 26 January2014. Cirencester. Ogri MCC

Krystall Rally. 12 to 16 February 2014, Spidsbergseter Gudbrandsdal Hotel, Norway. Just because it is in a hotel don't think that this is an easy option. Temperatures this time of year can drop to minus 20 degrees.

Primus Rally. 25 to 26 February 2014, Velmunden near Bjøneroa, Norway. This is the hardcore of all winter rallies and not to be attended lightly...

Pinguinos Rally. 9 to 12 January 2013, Valladolid, Spain. The largest of European winter rallies, an easier option than the northerly rallies but still liable to be cold!  

Finally, if you are planning to attend any of the above this is a good guide to winter motorcycle riding:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Matchless G2S brochure 1960

Single page brochure for the 1960 Matchless 250 Sports. A model aimed at the young learner market but a bit late on the scene behind the BSA C15, Triumph Cub and Royal Enfield Crusader. There were some interesting design features; I had one for a short while and liked the cassette gearbox but was underwhelmed by the oil filler sitting under the right hand engine cover. Sad that they spent the money on developing an all new engine but penny pinched on the forks and wheels which were shared with Francis Barnett and James models in the AMC group. Early models suffered from a poor reputation for reliability, but, lets be honest, so did pretty much any sporting bike of the period aimed at learners. Spot the link?! The G2 was a short stroke motor though so did encourage rev happy behaviour, not always with good consequences...

1960 Matchless 250 Sports model brochure.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All new Brough Superior SS100

Announced a couple of days ago and causing a bit of a stir, the all new Brough Superior SS100. There's a spec sheet out too that is fairly impressive with 140bhp on tap. The stated aim is to become the second largest bike manufacturer in the UK. Sounds grand but the target is 16 bikes a year to meet that goal. Apparently the aim is for it to retail at around 100k euros. That's a lot less and a lot better value than the updated replica vintage SS100s that Brough have been offering so far but it's still a massive amount of money for a bike.

Up to now I've been fairly sceptical about the Brough revival, producing a few replica bikes at vast cost seemed a bit unfocussed, but the publicity from the Bonneville records and the new model seems to put it on track. Let's hope it is a success.

Opinion seems divided so far on the looks of the bike. Whilst it is easy to make a modern retro out of a fifties or sixties classic, an update of a twenties icon is a whole different matter. Personally I think it looks individual, if not beautiful. I like the unusual forks, the design cues from the original on the fly screen, bars and exhausts. The petrol tank looks ever so slightly perched on top but to be fair you need to see it from a few different angles to make a judgement. Proof as ever will be in the pudding, how it performs out on the road. Undoubtedly there're going to be a few collectors who will buy it almost regardless but if it is going to sell year on year it needs to be a genuinely good machine.

Let's hope it is and congratulations to Mark Upham and co for the bravery to develop an all new bike, take a few risks and come up with something different.

All new Brough Superior SS100.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jack Hearne cycle project on the road..

Jack Hearne cycle.
The Jack Hearne cycle project finally hits the road. Featured in an earlier post when nearly finished the final few parts have been sourced and it's a goer once more. Freemans Cycles were a good find for sourcing small bits and bobs for Sturmey hubs and come fully recommended.

The main stalling points were finding a nice pair of period pedals for a reasonable price - have ended up with a pair of SR quills. Not quite period but, hey, I don't really care and they look right and they didn't break the bank. The other time consuming matter was the Sturmey trigger. The older ones don't really look right on a sporting machine and the eighties style triggers are way too plastic. I ended up buying a new model Taiwanese thumbshifter. It's a nice piece of kit and is well made. They do a bar end one too but I didn't fancy drilling the bars to run the cable. Only problem with the shifter was that it isn't the right diameter for drop bars. There's not a lot of spare metal on it but I took the gamble of reaming it out and it worked fine. The trigger is claimed to fit on to braze-on lever mounts so that could have been another option to mount it nicely.
Jack Hearne cycle project finished and ready to roll...
It's turned out a cracking looking pedaller but for me was never destined to be used as it is way too small. It's been on a test ride and rides well. Those Sturmey Steelite drum brakes are impressive, possibly too strong at the front as heavy breaking resulted in a little more flex than I had hoped for. I wouldn't change them though as the clean lines given by the hub brakes work really well with the on-one moustache bars and it's a vintage cycle so who cares too much about practicality. Just don't take too much of a handful when using the front brake...
One more view.
The pleasure has been in the build. I like to always have a cycle project on the go, the next is a Elswick Hopper Lincoln Imp, of which more to follow. The Hearne will live hung up on the garage wall, could be persuaded to part with it though if anyone out there wants a small frame vintage ride.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Britax Hurricane Ducati 50cc racer 1955.

Brochure for the slightly bonkers Britax Hurricane 50cc racer. Britax were the UK importers for Ducati who at that time only produced the Cucciolo cycle attachment.

Britax sold the Cucciolo both as an attachment and as a complete machine in several formats. One was the standard cycle, a heavyweight open cycle frame with girder forks and drum brakes fitted. Then there was the Scooterette, the same thing but with a scooter-ish style body fitted. The piece de resistance was the Hurricane, aimed at the fledgling 50cc racing category.

Underneath that dustbin fairing were the same cycle parts as fitted to the standard and Scooterette models. The pedals were removed and a megaphone exhaust fitted. I'm not sure if any modifications were made to the engine bar the fitting of a megaphone exhaust. The Hurricane holds the claim of being the first production 50cc racer and 50mph top speed was claimed.

There is at least one survivor (though perhaps only one was ever made!) and it was in the Saltarelli Collection in Italy. The collection was split up and sold off by RM auctions in Monaco last year but the Hurricane did not feature in the lots so who knows where it is now.

There are some nice pictures of the Hurricane in action and at rest here.