Friday 28 October 2011

Lee Hartung Collection

Found this on YouTube. A number of bits of video from what I presume is a US television programme. Lee Hartung collected bikes, cars and all sorts of other stuff, and after his death his collection was taken out of his shed to see what he had. First part of the series is:

Follow the links at the side for the following videos. I've only looked at a few, and there's loads of interesting and rare bikes. Oh, the long winter nights will fly past!

Friday bike

Here's a rare one for you - a Motobécane 350 2 stroke triple.

I'd only ever seen a few Motobécane mopeds in the UK, and I don't believe they sold anything bigger here. I once saw a heavily laden, French registered 125 twin in Glasgow about 30 years ago, and when looking on the Web for details of that bike I found the 350. 
Obviously heavily influenced by the Kawasaki triples of the day, French manufacturer Motobécane build their triple to compete with Japanese bikes, but as only 779 were built, it wasn't a success. 
There's a website (French language) about the bike with lots of photos, including some of a race version.
Motobécane also built a bike to compete in an event from Côte d'Ivoire (West Africa) to Côte d'Azur (South of France):

They also experimented with fuel injection (see website), and their design shows just how hard it was in the pre-digital era. They also showed a 500 triple that I didn't make it to production.
The company finally went bust in 1981, was bought by Yamaha, and relaunched as MBK in 1984.
No doubt there's still a few on the road, so with a bit of luck I might see one at next years Coupes Moto Legende

Sunday 23 October 2011

Amazing journey

Came across this website about Yarets Vladimir Alekseevich, a rider from Belarus who's travelled around the world for the last 11 years, initially on a Jawa 350, then on a BMW 650. Yarets
That would be daring enough, but Yarets is also deaf mute, so has difficulty communicating with people he meets.
Even more strangely, I've seen him! Many years ago, (around the start of his trip in 2000) I saw a  heavily stickered and well used bike parked (illegally) on the pedestrian area next to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall  
I knew it would be foreign registered (no British rider would have parked there), so I went over for a look. I was really surprised to see that it was a Jawa 350, and I didn't recognise the numberplate nor the 'country sticker' - BY - probably derived from  Беларусь, how they spell the name of their country. Nearby was the rider, Yarets, so I gave him a polite smile and approving nod and walked on.
So before you complain about going on long trips because it's 'too far', or won't go abroad because 'it's foreign', think of Yarets who spent 11 years travelling, visited 127 countries, and covered 380,000 km, and is deaf and can't speak. 

Yarets' Jawa in Cuba.

Sunday 16 October 2011

More pictures

Have uploaded some more galleries of pictures taken at events I went to in 2009:




Friday 14 October 2011

Friday bike

This week's bike is one that has a particular significance for me. When I was young I was aware of motorcycles around me, but hadn't really paid attention to the different types. I suppose I grew up just thinking of bikes as bikes, and not a variety of different makes and types. That was until I saw one of these:

A John Player Special Norton Commando. I saw one parked outside a motorbike shop in Glasgow, and was so amazed by the 'look' that I stopped and stared. I had never seen anything as cool looking in my life. The JPS Norton came out in 1973, so I would have been 15, and this is what probably sparked my interest in motorbikes. At the time, bikes with fairings were pretty rare, and to see one with and integrated tank/fairing unit, and in such bright colours, was quite revolutionary. For some reason I always remembered the twin headlights and the way the fairing flowed into the tank (I think it was a one piece glass fibre unit that fitted over the standard tank - anyone confirm this?)
Still a stunning looking bike, and very rare. I've had a look on the Web to see if I could find out how many were built, but I've only seen 2 others since I saw my first, nearly 40 years ago.


Well, you can't say I don't blog of different subjects, and today it's electricity pylons. This is a contentious issue in some parts of Scotland just now, with a plan to erect a string of very big pylons across part of the country and some people protesting against it. I don't know enough about that particular project to express a view, but there are probably other blogs and websites about it if you're sufficiently interested.
Here in the UK the design of pylons hasn't changed since the 20s, so it was decided to hold a competition for a new design and there's a gallery of the entries. Lots of really groovy looking ones.
In France, the pylons are more 'hourglass' shaped than in the UK, and my wife loved them as she said they were more 'feminine' in form (you can she was an artist). I couldn't find a photo of 'normal' French pylons, but I did find these:

You've got to admit, these are pretty cool looking, but these in Iceland are just something else:

I'm not sure if these are just proposed, or have actually been built, but imagine seeing these going across a hillside!
This takes me to my view on the subject - why should we only have one design? We have to have pylons (cabling underground is far too expensive and raises maintenance problems), so why shouldn't we have a variety of designs? More ornate or interesting ones could be positioned where cable cross roads and on hilltops, as like roadside sculpture, they would help to brighten up otherwise tedious journeys. After all, we live in different houses and wear different clothes, so why shouldn't something as mundane as electricity pylons be interesting and varied?

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Life, love 'n' everything

Just thought you might be getting bored with reading about bikes, so thought I'd go off at a tangent and write about something else.
As some of you will know, I lost my wife suddenly earlier this year, and my family, friends and neighbours have been very supportive towards me in what has been a very difficult time. However, I'm slightly bemused by the efforts by my friends and neighbours to get me to meet and go out with women, something I don't feel mentally or emotionally strong enough to do (yet.)
Most of my neighbours are retired women who take the approach that middle aged single men need 'someone to look after you', as obviously I can't cook for myself, clean my house, iron clothes, etc. I think they think I sit in my house watching Countdown in my underpants and eating baked beans straight from the tin!
As for my male friends, I'm amazed how many of them who have a, ahem, 'friend' who meets women through dating websites. Strange that none of them use these websites themselves, but have a 'friend' who does! One almost let the cat out of the bag when he mentioned how many women in the village were on one particular website. When I asked him how he knew, he hesitated then admitted that he'd joined the website 'just to see who was on it'. Quite!
I found this comic strip on the subject:

Which I found quite funny. However, is it just me who thinks that the 'Standard Creepiness Rule' is a bit generous? If you use this formula (age/2 +7), that would mean that that someone my age (53) could go out with someone of 34, which sounds a bit young to me. I've got nieces who are about 34, and going out with someone their age sounds a bit more than 'creepy' to me. I would have thought that about 40 was a more suitable lower end of the age range. Any thoughts? Am I being a wee bit over sensitive here?
I had an example of an older lady (c.85?) going somewhat too far to help me. I was speaking to her in the street and it was the familiar 'I hope you're looking after yourself', 'You're still a young man, you should go out and meet people', conversation, and whilst we were talking a young woman walked up the street towards us. As she drew level, the older woman turned to speak to her (she obviously knew her), then signalled towards me and said 'this poor man has just lost his wife........ would you like to go out with him?'  You should have seen the young woman's face! I was shocked, then embarrassed, and had to apologise the the young woman and tell the older one that she can't go around asking women to go out with me! The fact that the young woman was about 20 made it a lot worse, and even the concept is right off the end of the 'creepiness meter'!
At the moment I'm not even thinking about relationships, and I wouldn't be surprised if I never do. After all, I can do what I like now, it's not that I'm going to start fixing motorbikes in the house, or eating out of tins, but I can buy as many bikes as I like and go where and when I feel. However, if/when I do start 'dating' (don't you just hate that word?) again, I bet it's going to be a lot worse than when I was 20! For a start, I'm going to have to start holding my stomach in when talking to women! (Yes, we've all been guilty of that!)

Sunday 9 October 2011

Lots of photos

I've posted loads of photos from bike shows held by Ayr Classic Motorcycle Club on Flickr The club held annual shows at nearby Fenwick, although for this year they returned to Ayr Racecourse. I had been at one of their shows in Ayr about 15 years ago, but unfortunately missed this years.
I've posted galleries from the shows in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday 8 October 2011

Chaps on tour

By chance I found this website with a report with photos of a tour round Europe by some suitable dressed British chaps (plus one lady), in 1953. Wonderful photos from a bygone era.

Friday 7 October 2011

Friday bike

Now for something completely different. A steam powered motorcycle. Website
There's a video on YouTube of it running:

Build one of these and sneer at people with diesel bikes!!

Thursday 6 October 2011

Chamonix 2008

I found some photos that I thought I'd lost when my 'backup' hard drive failed. Luckily I'd also saved them onto a CD. They are from a trip a group of us went on to Chamonix in the French Alps in 2008.
In keeping with the theme of this blog, it's worth noting that 3 of us went on singles - mr. combo and I on Skorpions, and Tony on his MZ TS250/1, which doesn't appear in any of my photos for some reason, so here's one that Ronnie took:

Hope you enjoy them!

Alps Trip 2008

Sunday 2 October 2011


Saw this mentioned on a forum and thought it looked quite interesting: The Riderscan is a curved mirror that you fit above your handlebars and gives you a very wide field of view, hopefully eliminating some of the blind spots of your existing mirrors. It was featured on the STV Scottish News:

When I saw this it reminded me of those little, wide angle, 'overtaking mirrors' I used to fit to my cars (before car manufacturers added a 'wide' portion to the edge of the door mirrors). I always liked them as they give you an extra field of view.
After watching this bit of video I wondered whether it would work on a bike with a more 'sporty' riding position like a Skorpion, rather than being more upright on a custom. There's another bit of video of a Riderscan fitted to a sportsbike:

So it seems to work on one of these as well.
You don't seem to be able to buy these yet (the 'buy' function on the website doesn't seem to work), but when you can, I might try one. Anyone got any thoughts on this?
In the STV video you can see the rider has stuck a pair of 'mooneyes' on his screen to hide the mounting pads. I remember these being popular when I was a kid after being used by bike racer John Cooper:

Whilst I was trying to remember the his name, I mixed him up with John Cooper Clarke, the poet.
I've never seen John Cooper, but I have seen John Cooper Clarke, back in the days when Punk and New Wave bands used to have poets as support acts as they were cheap. Most of these poets were rubbish and were mercilessly heckled and booed by fans of the bands who didn't want to listen to some guy reciting pretentious claptrap, but John Cooper Clarke and Phill Jupitus (in his guise of 'Porky the Poet') were amongst the better ones.
Once he became more successful, John Cooper Clarke toured with a backing band, and here's a classic performance from The Old Grey Whistle Test. Note for our younger and overseas viewers, this was during the Thatcher era, when the Government kept broadcasters on a short rein, and the name of Keith Joseph (Health Minister at the time) was edited (censored?) out:

Couldn't imagine someone like this on 'The X Factor'!!

There we go - wide angled mirrors to performance poets in the one post! Can't say you don't get variety on this blog!