Friday 30 November 2012

One for cat owners

Ever wondered what your cat get up to?

Friday bike

Shock! Horror!! It's an American bike that's not a V-twin custom!

It's the Alligator!

An interesting US built bike with a Honda derived engine and a VERY low seat height, the Alligator is built by Dan Gurney Alligator Motorcycles Inc. Some of you might remember Dan as a racing car driver/constructor, and he's behind this project.
The engine is a fuel injected 710cc Honda single producing '70+ bhp', which coupled to the low weight (145 kg/320 lb) and low frontal area, should make for a reasonably fast bike. Cycle World tested one back in 2002, and it could do 0 - 60 mph (c. 100 km/h) in 3.1 seconds.
Interesting idea, and an alternative to 'super scooters', as the larger wheels should give more motorcycle like handling.

All of the original Honda engined versions have been sold, and the company is working on a version with an S+S engine.

I think this engine is 1640cc (100 cu. in.) so this one should be a bit more exciting!

Good to see a company trying something different.

Sunday 25 November 2012

A singular bike

I know I like bikes with one cylinder, but one wheel.......

Friday 23 November 2012

Friday bike

Sometimes you're looking at one thing and another pops out at you....

Back in 2009, I was at the 'Old Indians Never Die' rally (pictures), and I was looking up websites about it when I found this one.
If you watch the video on this page you'll see a bike referred to a the 'Vindian', a Vincent engine in an Indian frame.

I thought I'd try and find out more about this bike, and that's where the story starts......


Not many bikers know about a specific 250cc V-Twin from INDIAN. We all associate the INDIAN Motorcycles with big V-Twin machines. In 1917, Indian motorcycles had a 250cc side-valve flat-twin engine with the cylinders lying for-and aft, magneto ignition and an outside flywheel. Another 350cc single-cylinder Indian Prince was brought out in 1925 as a counter blast to the small English machines, which were beginning to gain a foothold in the American market. It was a more successful model than the Light Twin and was evidently the outcome of a close study of several imported machines. The engine had a detachable cylinder head. The Prince was not very fast, but it was reliable and the Australian rider Vic Barclay broke a couple of intercapital records on one. Then came the 216cc single and 433 parallel twin which were introduced designed for the Indian factory by two Dutchmen named Stockvis. Later on the Stockvis brothers went to the States and became involved in the new Indians which were a costly failure partly because of their low performance and the fact that they were too highly built to be reliable. And also partly because to buyers loyal to the brand, these bikes didn't LOOK like Indians. At the same time, the Vincent was also beginning to penetrate the U.S market following its capture of the American speed record. In 1948 when P.C. Vincent was conducting a sales campaign in North America, he met a very suave gentleman who happened to be the head man in the Indian Company which was by then in very low water. An English businessman named Brockhouse, who owned a number of engineering companies, was anxious to obtain a controlling interest in Indian, and the upshot of discussions by the three was that if the Vincent unit could be fitted in the Chief frame without much alteration, the result would be a very saleable machine with financial benefit to all concerned..
After the legal issues were sorted out, a Chief was shot over to Stevenage and as a preliminary it was road tested. Its 580 pound weight seemed enormous compared to the 450 pound Rapide and while it could attain 88 mph for a short distance, the sustained maximum was only about 80mph. After removing the engine and sawing off some unwanted frame parts, the Vincent unit fitted in like a kernel in a nut. Engine plates were used instead of the standard cylinder head brackets and the existing foot boards and break pedal were retained but some cross-over linkage had to be devised in order to use the near side heel-and-toe clutch pedal as a gear change pedal. The dynamo remained in the original position under the saddle and was belt-driven from a short shaft and pulley.
The conversion job took only a couple of weeks and although the finished article was not much lighter than the original, the performance was vastly improved. Top speed went to 104 mph and it was as fast as it used to be in top. Changing gear by foot instead of by hand improved acceleration. Everything was in sync and to cope with the increased output, orders had been doubled and material was beginning to come in. But the money promised, failed to materialize on the grounds that the plant and stock did not provide sufficient asset backing. Vincent had thus been wangled into an intolerable position with the possibility of an enforced liquidation and sale of the factory to the highest bidder. As it was, the Indian Co. was forced to sell an insignificant 250cc model to keep going at all finally the company was acquired by Associated Motor Cycles in 1953 and the history of the famous company founded by George Hendee, came to an end.

In the 1940s, the INDIAN brand was not going too well and the then President of the company, Mr Rogers was convinced that the old style of American motor-cycle with big V-twin engines and heavy weight was doomed to play an ever decreasing role in the American motorcycle scene. So he expressed an interest in the possibility of fitting the highly acclaimed, 61 cubic inch Vincent Rapide engine in the existing frame. This would give him a competitor for the more advance Harley-Davidsons and allow the Chief to continue as the status leader of the company's model line-up. It would also cost a fraction of the price of developing a new engine from scratch. Rogers shipped a 1948 Chief (without engine) to the Vincent works in Stevenage (UK) and the legendary Phil Irving was put on the case. It was Phil Vincent's view that by lowering the standard Rapide top gear below its existing 3.5:1 and increasing the compression ratio to around 8:1, the Rapide engine would be able to shift the enormous weight of the standard Chief with considerably more speed than it was accustomed to. The stock Indian V-Twin was good for around 85 mph (a speed which decreased as the engine heated up) and weighed around 580lbs. Vincent predicted a weight for the "Vindian" of around 500lbs and a top speed of around 110 mph. Phil Irving didn't share Phil Vincent's optimism. Concerns about plonking a performance engine in the stock frame would have included misgivings about aerodynamics, too. The fender valences on the standard bike caught wind and created stability problems at low speeds. The Irving-built Vindian, complete with giant tyres and mudguards, was tested successfully at over 100 mph before it was sent to Indian's Springfield plant in the US. According to Phil Vincent, by using "great care", the Rapide engine could be slipped into the Chief frame without fouling either frame or tank. Having actually tried to do it, Phil Irving must have known this wasn't correct. How this came to being the truth was because 40 years later, an Australian gentleman, Mr. Peter Arundel attempted the same, only to make some interesting discoveries. The engine doesn't fit. The frame bar running beneath the tank had t be raised by four inches, necessitating gusset reinforcing around the steering head area. There was also the need to create an indent in the underside of the petrol tank to accommodate the left-hand carburettor. The tank also had to be modified to allow for the right-hand rocker box. These kinds of modifications would have provided a powerful disincentive to Indian which, at the time, obviously felt its production lines could have been put to better use.
So somewhere in history lies the hidden truth as why the Vindian never took into production existence.

However, that's not the end of the story......


In late 1949, at the request of Indian President Ralph Rogers, the Vincent HRD motorcycle company of England installed a 61-cubic inch (1000cc) Vincent engine in a Chief frame. The “Vindian” would be an Indian Chief with a Vincent Rapide engine.

It was believed the market could support the sale of 30 Vindians and 20 Indian-Vincents a week. A blue Chief was then shipped to England so Vincent’s engineer, Phil Irving, could begin the development.
The problem with this ambitious plan was that it would require a huge capital investment, and with both companies unable to support this venture in the current climate, the only prototype that was completed and test ridden had the motor removed and the Indian sent back to America.
Vindian-015So with three black and white photos of the original prototype in hand, a replica Vindian was underway by club member Peter Birthisel who completed the bike in 2007. The bike was built to be an exact copy with original parts to stay true to the prototype.The motor was sourced by a local Bundalong man, Max Vipond who was well known in the Vincent world. Lindsay Urqhart and Jim Parker were involved with the project as were a few other club members, and neighbours. The 48 Chief frame had to go through some major alterations to fit the motor, so many hours were spent of pulling the motor in and out of the frame to make the adjustments to not only the frame but tank and every other part that had to be shifted or remanufactured to suit the Vincent motor. The Vindian has now travelled over 6000 miles including the Scotland/ Ireland tour of 2009, and many local club rides.

After riding the bike, I feel that if the two companies had completed the original project, the bike itself would have been a success, as it is not only comfortable, but a very reliable bike to ride in today's conditions.

And another article:

The Vindian:

A swan song for two grand brands



Irving on VindianAt the end of the Second World War, Indian was down to only one civilian model in its line, the Chief, and since the arrival of Harley-Davidson's Knucklehead ten years earlier, it had become a monument to styling and old technology. After Ralph Rogers acquired Indian in November, 1945, he set out to modernize the brand by acquiring Torque Manufacturing, a company that had a range of overhead-valve engines under development. When Indian introduced its new Dyna-Torque models in 1949, it discontinued the venerable Chief, which created uproar among its dealers. Long in the tooth though it might have been the Chief still had a following, and its absence left Indian dealers with nothing directly competitive against Harley-Davidson, their traditional rival. The Chief was brought back in 1950, but even when restyled and with improved suspension, the old side-valve engine of the new Roadmaster Chief was woefully out of date. Besides, by this time, Indian had a disaster on its hands with its underdeveloped and poorly-built Dyna-Torques, and the company desperately needed something to improve its flagging fortunes.


In the mean time, on the other side of the Atlantic, Philip Vincent was looking for opportunities to improve the sales of his motorcycles. Though they were widely known as a benchmark of technology with a reputation for speed, Vincent sales in America had always been weak, due to a nearly non-existent dealer network. Phil Vincent traveled to the United States early in 1949 to study the situation. Indian still had a strong dealer network in need of a modern motorcycle that would compete against Harley-Davidson's new Panhead, and Vincent had just such a machine, badly in need of dealers who would deliver it into the vast American market. It could have been a marriage made in heaven.


Vincent met with Ralph Rogers and others at Indian. With John Brockhouse – a British motorcycle entrepreneur – in the mix, Vincent and Rogers came up with the audacious idea of creating a new motorcycle that would combine Indian's classic styling with Vincent's powerful engine. Seemingly, it was a dream machine that would “run Harley-Davidsons into the curb,” as Indian partisan Rollie Free was fond of saying. With a modern touring big twin, Indian believed it could sell 2,500 such machines a year, and this was Vindian and Indian Vincentjust the kind of production that Phil Vincent needed to buoy his company out of the financial crisis it had been in for most of its existence.


Actually, the plan called for two Indian-Vincent hybrids, one that would appeal to the American touring market and one that would attract more sporting riders. The “Vindian” would be a Chief with a Vincent Rapide engine. The “Indian-Vincent” would be a Rapide with Indian handlebars, controls, lighting, and its shift and brake levers swapped to an American configuration (pictured above is a reconstruction of the Indian-Vincent prototype, flanked by two replicas of the Vindian). It was believed the market could support the sale of 30 Vindians and 20 Indian-Vincents a week, and a blue Chief was shipped to England so Vincent's engineer, Phil Irving, could begin development (Pictured at the head of this story is Phil Irving aboard the Vindian prototype).


The problem with this ambitious plan was that it would require a huge capital investment. In no way was Vincent capitalized to produce 50 additional engines a week, and Indian, which was already tapped out on its ill-fated Dyna-Torque project, lacked the money to launch such a venture. Enter John Brockhouse, the man with the money. Brockhouse did not want to give the money – nearly £400,000 – to the Indian Manufacturing Company, but required that a separate corporation, the Indian Sales Company, be created to receive the funds. Whether he planned it at the time, this corporation would later be the vehicle through which Brockhouse would take control of the bankrVindian rightupt Indian and gain its dealer network for the benefit of his collection of British brands.


In the mean time, Phil Irving made quick work of prototype development. The OHV Vincent engine was a tight fit in the Indian frame, but the results were promising. The motorcycle was 80 pounds lighter than a Chief, and reportedly capable of 104 mph in the quarter mile. It was also a fair handler, comfortable, and quiet (pictured above and below is a replica of the Vindian). The Indian-Vincent was built from a Touring Rapide. Wider American-style handlebars were provided by Indian and the shift lever was moved to the left and the brake to the right. The use of Indian lighting on the prototype included the Chief-type running light on the front fender, a nice touch. Both prototypes were so promising that the British Board oVindian leftf Trade approved transfer of Brockhouse's funds to America, and Vincent moved ahead with ordering materials to ramp up engine production.


However, at this point, Brockhouse became cautious and demanded an appraisal of Vincent assets to see if his risk was adequately collateralized. It was not, he concluded, and the whole project was scuttled, sending Vincent into receivership and leaving Indian without a high-performance motorcycle and no hope of competing with Harley-Davidson in the heavyweight touring market. Did Brockhouse ever intend to go through with the plan, or was it all a ruse to create the Indian Sales Company through which he could later acquired full control of Indian? Whatever his intentions at the time, when Indian failed and manufacturing in Springfield ceased in 1953, Brockhouse took control of the company's dealer network, which he used to distribute Royal Enfield, Matchless, and other British brands. In fact, Phil Vincent got his wish of distributing his motorcycles through Indian's dealer network, although by this time the network was much diminished.  Within three years his own production would cease.


When the Indian-Vincent joint venture was scuttled, the Vindian Chief was stripped, its Indian engine reinstalled, and it was sent back to Springfield. Its Vincent engine went back to the donor bike (It is rumored that Indian later assembled a replica of the Chief-Vincent hybrid in America). The Indian-Vincent Rapide was converted back to its standard configuration and kept by Phil Irving as a personal motorcycle, with a Blacknell sidecar attached. Irving took it back to Australia when he returned in October, 1949. In 2001, Aussie Phil Pilgrim bought a Vincent in pieces with no idea that it was the same Phil Irving motorcycle that had been used for the Indian-Vincent prototype. Later, through research into serial numbers, he coInidan-Vincentnfirmed this fact, and decided to restore it in the configuration of the Indian-Vincent prototype (pictured here). Note the Indian running light on the front fender.


There are also in Australia two Vindian Chief replicas. One, owned by Peter Arundel, was built about ten years ago, and the other, owned by Peter Birthisel, was constructed within the last year. Pictured above are Phil Pilgrim (right) and his Indian-Vincent reconstruction, and Peter Birthisel, owner of the Vindian replica pictured in this story.

To read Bill Gordon's story about the Vindian, click here.  To read another treatment, including a description of the construction of Peter Arundel's replica, click here.  To read about a latter-day Vindian on the Cycle World Staff Blog, click here. (Note: the links don't seem to work - N.)

What if?
How would motorcycle history have changed had the Indian-Vincent project come to fruition? While its planners believed the Vindian Chief would have been the better seller, in hindsight one might argue that it could have been the leaner, sportier Indian-Vincent Rapide that would have made the greater impact. Consider that after the war, Harley-Davidson was desperately trying to develop a modern motorcycle to compete head-to-head against the British “lightweights” that were flooding the American market. The result was the Model K, which proved an under-achiever, even after being hopped up through its KH and KHK permutations.

The K was only a stopgap project, intended to buy time for development of the ambitious KL, a high-cam V-twin (sound familiar?). With disappointment, Harley dealers saw the KL project bumped from a '53 introduction to 1954, then from 1954 to '55. The truly “modern Harley” never appeared, but was eventually abandoned due to insurmountable overheating problems and escalating development cost. With its dream KL on the scrap heap, Harley-Davidson installed overhead valve heads on its K and introduced it as the XL Sportster in 1957. The Sportster, although it began life as an engineering compromise on an unpromising platform, proved spectacularly successful. It could outrun its British competitors, mainly because it had them outsized by over 200ccs, and it proved robust enough to handle a lot of heavy tuning. On fuel, it became the great dragster and flat-out speed machine of its era.


But think what might have happened had Indian introduced two 1,000cc overhead-valve models as early as 1950, hot on the heels of the Panhead and seven years ahead of the Sportster. The Vindian could have been the benchmark for luxury touring, decades ahead of comparable FLH development, and the Indian-Vincent would have been a sporty speedster that might have rendered all of Harley's K/KL/XL development quite pointless. Such motorcycles in the American market might have even restored Indian's reputation and sales to the point that it might have survived the teething problems with its Dyna-Torque motorcycles. In fact, many Indian enthusiasts insist that the 500cc Warrior TT was a good, competitive motorcycle, but it alone was too late and not enough to overcome the bad reputation created by Indian's self-destructing Dyna-Torque 220cc singles and 440cc twins.


Indeed, an Indian-Vincent marriage might have changed history and created a long future for both companies. But of course, this is fantasy. Real history went in a different and less happy direction for both of these legendary brands.


Our thanks to Sid Biberman and Phil Pilgrim for assistance with research for this story. Photo of Phil Irving provided by Sid Biberman. Photos of the Indian-Vincent Rapide recreation provided by Phil Pilgrim. Photos of the Vindian Chief replica provided by Biberman and Pilgrim.


Note to readers: Phil Pilgrim has an interest in selling his Indian-Vincent. Serious parties can contact him at .

Thursday 22 November 2012

Album cover

'Generation' by Anarchic System (1975)

I'd originally intended occasionally posting an album cover that feature a bike or scooter that was cool, interesting, or just funny. However, in this case I looked a bit further to find out more about the band. Anarchic System were a French band active from 1972 - 78, and their Wikipedia entry says that they were influenced by electronic music and heavier rock, but this piece of video of them shows far more 'glam rock' influence. Sorry for the poor quality, but beaucoup de fromage is the phrase I would use!


Further to my last posting, I thought I'd write more about the Konig solo race bike.
I remember back in the 80s (?) references to Konig powered racing sidecars, and that the engine was originally designed for use in boats.
After I found the photo of the solo racer, I did some digging and found out that the engine was a 500cc flat four two stroke with a belt driven rotary disc valve arrangement (more about that later). What surprised me was that it was an outboard motor and I found this picture of  one in its 'natural habitat.'

With the engine laid flat you can see the rotary disc on the crankcases.

When used in a sidecar the engine was installed the the cylinders 'fore and aft' and connected to a Norton gearbox by a primary chain.

This picture is taken from a website about the restoration of a Konig outfit. There are lots of pictures of the engine internals, so look there for more technical information.

Now onto the solo. Between 1969 and 1973 a solo Konig was built and campaigned by New Zealand rider Kim Newcombe.

Kim and the bike become very competitive against the factory teams, and were one point away from winning the World Championship when Kim was tragically killed at Silverstone. He was posthumously awarded second place, splitting Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read. (More here).
A replica bike was built by the team mechanic and here's a bit of video about it with him explaining some of the technical details:

Here's piece of video with Kim's son Mark talking about his father, and includes film shot by his mother at race meeting. Also, a really good piece of motorcycle sculpture in Berlin at the beginning.

There is a documentary 'Love, Speed and Loss' about Kim, here's the trailer

And it's available on DVD. Start dropping hints as to what you want for Christmas!!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Mystery bike

OK, what is it?

Touring bike

Of course it's a touring bike! Look, it's got panniers, high bars and a pillion seat.

The new Bimota DB12 Tourist

It's also got a 1198cc Ducati engine and a suitably high price tag. This moves 'touring' into a different league!

The next big thing....

Remember when direct injection two stroke engines were going to be 'the next big thing'? In the 90s, there was a lot of interest in an engine built by Australian firm Orbital that could revolutionise (and save) two strokes.

Basically, it got round the main problem of two strokes - fuel passing straight into the exhaust port without burning, leading to poor fuel consumption and high emissions. The direct injection system get round this by injecting the fuel directly into the combustion chamber after the exhaust port has closed.
A story went about at the time that a number of Police forces in the UK were trialling Ford Fiestas fitted with Orbital engines, but no more was heard and the last reference I could find to it on the Web was from 1995.
That was until I found this video on YouTube:

Not much in the way of technical detail, but it would appear that Italian company Athena are working on a bike engine.
However, I did find this video from BRP, parent company of Ski-Doo, Can-Am,  Rotax, etc.

Looks like they are already using direct injection technology on some of their snowmobiles. Good to see that a big company like BRP is investing in direct injection technology, and as Rotax make bike engines, who knows what they might build in the future?
Of course, someone's already done something similar.

Kawa posted a link on Facebook to an article about this bike. It's an 800cc Rotax snowmobile engine fitted into a Kawasaki ZZR 1200 frame. The article mentions that it's a 2003 engine, so it might not have direct injection, but the idea is there. (I really like the pullcord start!)
So the technology's out there, who knows what we might see next??

Monday 19 November 2012

Friday bike - update

Some more information on one of my previous Friday bikes, the Avinton. At the time I wrote the original article, I didn't know how much one would cost, or where to buy.

According to their website, a Collector GT, like the one above, will cost you 33,500 Euros. That's £27,000, or US$43,000. Form an orderly queue, please!

Album cover

Groovy chaps on their bikes.


Guess what Stuart's getting for Christmas!

Museum visit

Yesterday a few of us had arranged another meeting at the Riverside Museum (see previous post).
I rode there on the Skorpion on cold wet, blustery roads with my friend David (Honda CX500E), and it was good to see that a numbers of others had made it there on bikes and cars.

We had a good wander about looking at the exhibits, drinking coffee, and planning trips for next year.

mr. combo and Kawa not acting their ages!

It was a good excuse to meet up on a miserable day, especially when most people aren't using their bikes much due to the weather. I've posted more pictures on my Facebook page. Could someone who doesn't have a Facebook account let me know if they can't see this (I'm not sure who can and who can't see it).

Saturday 17 November 2012

Friday 16 November 2012

Friday bike

Not really my style of bike, but when I saw the pictures it really 'jumped out at me'.

 The 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400

This was shown at the recent EICMA show in Milan, this is the latest  version of the long running California custom/tourer. The engine is now 1380cc 8-valve, and produces 96 bhp, but more significantly for a bike like this, 120 Nm of torque at only 2750 rpm, so lots of low rev pull for a relaxed riding style.

What I particularly like about this bike is the styling - not only a mix of old and new, but everything seems to 'flow' together. I think it's fair to say that previous Californias (and numerous other Moto Guzzis) had a kind of 'bolted together out of what was lying around the factory' look.

Just look at how perfectly the rear edge of the panniers follow the line of the rear mudguard, itself beautifully smooth with the LED readlight made into it. And as for the 'cutouts' in the tank to clear the cylinder heads, perfectly executed.
It'll be in the shops next year, and I can't imagine it'll be cheap, but if that's the sort of bike you like, this seems to have it all.
More details on Moto Guzzi's website, more pictures (including the ones I've stolen) here, and the official promo video:

Thursday 15 November 2012

I want a house like this....

Supermodel Naomi Campbell is having this house built near Moscow. Architect is Zaha Hadid, who also designed the Riverside Museum in Glasgow (featured here).

I'd love to have a house like this, but I'd have to become the megalomaniac millionaire head of an international crime syndicate to afford it. Yes, I'd have a fluffy cat and a tank of piranhas to dispose of people who disappoint me!

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Cool Fountain

Haven't had a fountain for a while, so here's one outside Kanazawa Station in Japan.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Cannonball Run DVD

Back in January I posted about the Cannonball Run, a coast to coast run for classic bikes in the US. On the 'Return of the Cafe Racers' Facebook page, there was a link to the first 10 minutes of a DVD of this year's event:

DVD is available here, so start dropping hints as to what you want for Christmas!

(Note: If you're outside the US, check region code before buying for compatability with your player or computer.)

One of the good things about YouTube is the suggested videos at the side. There I found a video about American journalist/writer Cris Sommer Simmons and 'Team Effie' preparing her bike for the Run.

Unfortunately, although this video says 'part 1 of 5', I couldn't find the other four parts. Still loads of good bikes, and it's great to see machines like this actually being ridden on the road and not stuck away in some museum as exhibits.

***Update***     Found another video:

Friday 9 November 2012

Friday bike

This week's chosen due to its unusual styling.
Gilera CX 125. 

Built from 1991 onwards, it looks like a fairly conventional sportsbike of the era. However, if you look at the other side:

 Yes, it's got single sided suspension, front and rear. Single sided rear was starting to become common, but at the front it was unique. Can't imagine it was done for technical reasons, probably solely for styling and to give the bike a 'unique selling point' as the marketing men like to say.

 The single 'leg' seems to be a alloy casting (possibly forged for strength), and here's an explanation of what all the bits are.

 Can't say that I really understand how it all works, but it looks good anyway, especially with those dished wheels.
The rest of the bike was a fairly conventional 125cc two stroke single with an electronic power valve. At that time, in a lot of European countries, 16 - 18 year olds were restricted to 125cc, but without any power restriction (UK was 12 bhp, later 15). So you can understand how attractive the 30 bhp Gilera was when compared to similar bikes from Aprilia, etc with 'conventional' front ends.
I don't think this was ever officially sold in the UK, although at least one made it here according to this article. How many were sold elsewhere I've no idea, but there are none currently for sale on Italian Ebay. This isn't really surprising as you don't expect a 30 bhp sportsbike bought by teenagers to have a very long life!
I found the dashboard from one on Italian Ebay - definitely 'of its time!'

Monday 5 November 2012

Scupture corner

Art and controversy often go hand in hand, and one artist who's no stranger to it is  Damien Hirst. From his animals in tanks to his jewel encrusted skull, Damien has always been someone that provoked, shall we say, differing opinions.
His latest major work is no different, and it's fair to say that the installation of the sculpture Verity, has generated some very strong and conflicting views. A 20.25m high bronze depiction of a naked pregnant woman, Verity looks out to sea from the Devon town of Ilfracombe. Holding aloft a sword, with a pair of scales in the other hand, and standing on books, I assume she symbolises justice.
The stance of the figure and her face are modelled on Degas' 'Little Dancer', but her body is normal one one side, with the other partially dissected like an anatomical model.
Damien has donated the sculpture to Ilfracombe free for 20 years, so it'll be interesting to see if people's attitudes to it change over that period. After all, both The Spirit of the North, and even the Eiffel Tower were disliked when they were first erected.

From one island to another

Found this fascinating film by Al Jazeera television about the Isle of Man TT.

'Al Jazeera' means 'the island' in Arabic, although in this context it means 'the (Arabian) Peninsula'. Hence the title of the article.

Sunday 4 November 2012

That's taking it too far.....

Something I've never really understood is why some people buy 'replica' helmets, do they think that passers by might mistake them for a famous bike racer? I can even remember when you could buy bike leathers (and very nasty cheap nylon anoraks), printed to look like those worn by famous racers, even down to having their names on the back.
Even more bizarre are motorcycle leathers made to look like someone from a film, especially when the character doesn't even ride a bike! Take a look at this website where you can buy leathers made to look like characters from Star Wars, Batman, etc.
One suit they used to do was based on the film 'Ironman'. I've not seen the film myself, but I assume the hero uses his superpowers to do people's ironing very quickly. Here's the charcter from the film:

And should you want to look a bit like him, here's the leathers:

Yes, quite! However, there's always someone who'll take it too far:

See what I mean.........

Saturday 3 November 2012

Beauty contest

Following on from yesterday's Friday bike, here's a list of 10 bikes with, em,  'interesting' styling. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, (or even the 'beer holder'), so just for a bit of fun, which do you consider beautiful and which are pot ugly?

 No. 1 - Suzuki SW-1

 No.2 - Aprilia Moto 6.5

 No. 3 - Buell RR100 Battletwin

 No. 4 - Kawasaki Estrella

 No. 5 - Vincent Black Prince

 No. 6 - Honda Rune

 No. 7 - Honda VFR1200F

 No.8 - Triumph Speed Twin

No. 9 - MZ ES 250/1
No. 10 - Victory Vision Tour

OK, I'll get the ball rolling with my opinions:

No. 1 - Pretty cool. Like a modern version of an Ariel Leader.

No. 2 - Designed by Philippe Stark. Possibly the coolest motorcycle ever, the lines just 'flow' so well.

No. 3 - Bodywork is too big for the bike. Looks like a melted plastic model. Dreadful.

No. 4 - Truly sublime.

No. 5 - Intimidating! Was used by the Thought Police in a 50s television adaptation of 1984.

No. 6 -Do you think the designer is aware of the word 'taste'?

No. 7 - Looks like two bikes welded together. Front looks like a heavyweight tourer, and the back like a sportsbike. And there's not really any excuse for a silencer that looks like that!

No. 8 - Possibly the perfectly proportioned motorcycle.

No. 9 - The face only a mother could love!

No 10. - Proof the sometimes more isn't always better. My sister works near a Victory dealer and mentioned 'the shop that sold the Art Deco motorbikes'.

Over to you now........