Friday, October 31, 2014

Lego 393 - Norton Commando

Now I've got children of my own and they're getting to an age where they appreciate Lego my parents have dug my childhood stash of bricks out of their attic and passed it on. I had no idea that this leaflet was still around - the Lego Norton Commando was one of my childhood prized possessions (I still have it and it sits in a display case!) Perhaps it was this toy Norton that sowed the seeds of a passion / obsession...

Lego model 393 - Norton Commando.
Lego model 393 - Norton Commando.

Lego model 393 - Norton Commando.
I love that the sheet even has specs for the Norton.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


A nice clear shot of a BSA M20, shame the rider and pillion have been cropped off! The picture is inscribed to the reverse, 'Ahmednagar, India'.

Ahmednagar is in the Maharashtra province and was home to the Royal Tank Corps and Indian Armoured Corps in the times of the British Empire. Ahmednagar is still an army town and there is continuation from the Empire as the  the Indian Army Armoured Corps is based there. The Cavalry Tank Museum in the city seems like it would be well worth a look if passing by. As an aside Nehru was held for a while by the British at Ahmednagar Fort and Ahmednagar was the birthplace of Spike Milligan.

BSA M20 at Ahmednagar
BSA M20 at Ahmednagar.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ducati 250cc Monza Brochure

No expenses spared (!) single page multi-lingual brochure for the 250cc Monza model from Ducati.

Ducati 250 Monza brochure
Ducati 250 Monza brochure.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Panther combo bicycle race transporter

Panther combo pressed in to service as a racing cycle transporter.

Panther outfit as race tender vehicle.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Royal Enfield Advertising Proof from 1914

A while back I came across a bundle of Royal Enfield advertising proofs dating from 1912 to 1914. This particular one is from The British Trade Journal 1 January 1914. It's easy to forget nowadays that even from the early days of motoring it was an international market and that motorcycle competition was taking place in the four corners of the globe not just in Europe and the States.

Advert for 1914 Royal Enfield v-twin
1914 Royal Enfield advert celebrating
victory in the first Indian TT races.

Friday, October 24, 2014

1919 Quadrant flat tanker

In the immortal words of Britney Spears, 'Whoops I did it again'. The 'I need a Vincent' fighting fund was going well with two bikes sold and hitting something like a huge 5% of the funds required!! Then I saw this vintage Quadrant for sale on ebay for about the same money as I had in the bike savings account, put in a bored at work bid and ended up buying it. Not that I regret it at all, the bike is a cracker.

It's a 1919 Quadrant 4.5 HP (by my reckoning 550cc). The engine is unusual in that it has the inlet valve behind the cylinder barrel and the exhaust valve to the side. It seems like the machine may be a sole survivor, it's a bit of a factory parts bin special. Quadrant ceased production of motorcycles during the First World War in 1915 and resumed post-war in 1919. This particular machine seems to be a mix of pre and post-war parts. Much of the bike, including frame is of 1915 style but it is fitted with a Sturmey Archer CS three speed gearbox and chain drive.

The Quadrant is largely complete, just a couple of levers missing, part of the rear brake mechanism and the front stirrup brakes. There are a couple of other projects on the go in the shed so this one is going to go on the backburner for a short while until at least one other project is completed. 

1919 Quadrant 4.5hp
The Quadrant as it has passed to my stewardship.

1919 Quadrant 4.5hp
The Quadrant 30 odd years ago.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Chap looks happy with his Villiers powered Norman.

Villiers powered Norman motorcycle
Late fifties Norman motorcycle.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oldtimer Motoren Museum Oudenburg Belgium pt 2

More pictures of exhibits from Johan Schaeverbeke's excellent Oldtimer Motoren Museum.

1920s FN motorcycle
Magnificent FN.

FN motorcycle
Nice detailing on early post war FN. Even the Bowden levers
are logoed.

Hulsmann motorcycle with Villiers engine
A Hulsmann with Villiers 197 engine. A fairly
generic bike in design but I'd never even heard
of the marque before let alone seen one.

Gillet Herstal motorcycle
Gillet Herstal looking very much like a DKW RT125 clone,
the same as a BSA Bantam or MZ. I can't find any info on-line
to back this up though.

Ducati 48 Sport
Ducati 48 Sport in original paint.

Guiletta and Flandria sports mopeds
Racey fifties. In the foreground a Guiletta and
behind a Flandria.

Racing moped
Motobecane cycle pacer.

Moussard twenties two stroke
Lovely unrestored Moussard.

La Francaise Diamant ladies machine. Obviously enough a French
machine, La Francaise Diamant were part of the same group as
the Alcyon, Labor, Nervor, Favor and Olympique brands.

Unrestored twenties Motoconfort
Motoconfort in fantastic original condition.

Flandria prototype folding scooter
Prototype Flandria folding scooter.

The museum is a treasure trove of ephemera. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oldtimer Motoren Museum Oudenburg Belgium pt 1

The Oldtimer Motoren Museum is close to Oostende and Calais and situated within the excellent Bikers Loft bar and hotel. The Museum is Johan Schaeverbeke's personal collection of some 100 machines. It's well worth taking the ferry over for the weekend, staying in the Loft, having a look at the collection and exploring the local area. Johan's collection is eclectic and intimate - he will give you a guided tour and pretty much each of the bikes has a story to tell. Johan's passion for the machinery comes across vividly in the tour. Many of the exhibits were bought locally and he's made the sensible decision to keep most of them in as found condition. The collection embraces the unusual and the obscure, you're sure to see machines from factories you had never previously heard of. Well worth visiting. Here are a few pictures....

Emva Belgian motorcyle
Here's one of the 'never heard of those before'. It's an Emva.

1931 La Mondiale motorcycle
Really loved this machine, a 1931 La Mondiale. Pressed frames
were a fashion of the era from Coventry Eagle in the UK, Gnome
et Rhone in France to Zundapp in Germany. The two stroke motor
with in-line crank sets the La Mondiale apart for quirkiness though.

Scott motorcycle
Rigid-framed Scott updated with swinging arm rear and earles
front end. The small tubes and triangulation used in the
conversion match the style of the Scott nicely.

Danish BTC cyclemotor from 1951
1951 BTC (Bror Christensens Fabriker) cyclemotor from Denmark.

Cyclotracteur cyclemotor on Raleigh cross frame cycle
Cyclotracteur cyclemotor mounted in a Raleigh X frame. The
museum has a great collection of first wave post WW1

early cyclemotor
Hmmm... wish I'd taken notes as the name of this early
cyclemotor escapes me. A very fragile device with overhead
valves operated by pushrods that look little stronger than
knitting needles.

FN motorcycle
Lovely unrestored FN ohv from early post war years. Very
unusual suspension design.

FN motorcycle
The rear suspension on the FN matches the wonkiness of the
front. Enlarge and see if you can figure out how it all works.

BD Praga motorcycle from 1927
Pride of the collection. a double overhead cam czech Praga
BD from 1927.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Zenith Gradua and Levis Popular

Not a great quality print (and the lop-sidedness is in the developing onto the card rather than my wonky scan!) but a pair of fine machines none-the-less. A Zenith Gradua and a Levis Popular from round about 1919.

Zenith Gradua and Levis Popular.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ariel Leader and Arrow brochure 1961

Brochure for Ariel's Arrow and Leader models. It's not dated but the Super Sports was introduced in 1961 and the next new model was the 200cc which came in 1964 so by deduction this brochure must be '61, '62 or '63....

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure front cover.
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure front cover.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 1.
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 1.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 2
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 2.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 3
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 3

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 4
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 4.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 5
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 5.
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 6
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 6.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 7
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 7.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 8
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 8.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 9
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 9.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 10
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure page 10.

Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure rear cover
Ariel Arrow and Leader brochure rear cover.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Maple Motorcycle Jeans review

Lucky man that I am my wife bought me a pair of these last birthday. It was several months ago now and I've been wearing them since. As far as I know these are the first motorcycle jeans out there that look completely like normal jeans, and damned good ones at that. The price isn't low but neither is the quality, the denim is heavyweight and they are made in the US. The kevlar lining covers all the vital areas and the cut of the jeans is long and relatively high waisted so that they sit around your boots whilst you are sat on the bike and there is no trace of builders bum as you lean forward.

I wore them throughout most of the Moto Piston Santander Rally. The weight of the denim combined with the kevlar lining means that they keep the chill off nicely. They're pretty much just right for three season riding trousers, on the very hottest days you might be a bit too warm off the bike but then again you will be in most other motorcycle legwear too and how many of those days do we get in the UK!

There are two styles: the '1941' straight cuts which have a cinched waistband and the '1979' which is a tighter fit on the leg. Both have eyes for wearing braces. I went for the 1979s. Maple claim that their fit is 'true size' meaning that there is no generosity of cut. If it is a 36 waist that is exactly what it is: most clothing manufacturers give a little bit extra on fit so that we feel better for ourselves in the shop trying them on. I usually take a 34 waist but with Maple was a 36. The good thing is that service was excellent and they had no problems with me sending back to replace with another size, they even sent a couple of pairs on trust so that I could choose the one I wanted and return the other. Pay heed to what they say and measure your waist before ordering...

Overall, excellent jeans that have been thoughtfully designed with an eye for detail, well made, good protection and most importantly look great.

Have a look at the Maple site.

Maple 1979s (not yours truly modelling!)

Excelsior Talisman Twin

Unsual bike, unusual photo. It's a mid fifties Excelsior Talisman Twin, a twin cylinder 250cc two stroke.
excelsior talisman two stroke twin 250cc classic motorcycle
Acting all casual with a Talisman Twin.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Moto Piston 5000 Curves Santander

The 5000 Curves event is the highlight of the Moto Piston Club's Santander Rally. 530km along mountain roads - 5000 curves? Probably, if it isn't quite that number it seems like it. Anyone who wants to count would I'm sure be more than welcome to try. I guess the event is formally a navigational trial, it's on open roads so is certainly not an out and out speed trial as the numerous Spanish traffic cops out and about will attest to. There is though a certain kudos to being an early finisher. The route has four checkpoints which you should arrive at within a time window and a routecard to follow. There are 120 starters and a good few less finishers.... 

I took my '61 Norton Dominator and '55 Bantam over to Spain. I rode the Dommi for most of the Rally but decided to use the Bantam for the 5000 Curves. The Bantam represented a greater challenge to get around but the light weight means it is a lot of fun and quite useful on the twisty bits. The two greatest issues in using the Bantam were the comfort (there's not a lot) and managing to find enough fuel stations up on the quiet mountain roads (the small tank and tuned two-stroke engine make for an appalling range). At the end of the day the Bantam was twelfth bike in mixing it with considerably more modern and larger machinery. The 530km took roughly 10 and a half hours so, give or take, a 50km/h average through the hills, timecheck stops, coffees and bocadillos included. Not bad on a small bike nearly sixty years old. 

A really fantastic event. Many thanks to Moto Club Piston for organising.

Here are a few pictures from the day though none of the riding - head down none stop all day!

The Bantam at the end of the day. Still game, a fractured horn
bracket the only issue.
Check this - Speedmaster worn right to the edge!

Tasty Rickman Honda parked up. I don't think it
rode the 5000 Curves though.

Close up on the Rickman Honda.

Supermoto modified Ossa scrambler.

Bultaco cafe racer.

I'd never seen one of these before, a Derbi T250 two-stroke
twin. Nice quality looking small bike, the spec even includes
diminutive twin discs at the front.

Close up on the Derbi T250.

Close up on a Bultaco Metralla. Apparently 'metralla' translates
to 'shrapnel' in english!

Another Bultaco Metralla detail.

Lime green BSA Rocket 3. Very much of its era...

Moto Guzzi Hispania 65. A nicely restored local bike ridden
along to spectate.

During the Franco era both Ducati and Moto Guzzi had Spanish
offshoot factories.  For a while even British Villiers engines
were made under license through Hispano Villiers.

Well executed Suzuki GSX cafe racer parked up.

Hans' Moto Guzzi Stornello 160cc receiving
some tlc the evening before the 5000 curves.
The bike completed the event without issue.