Monday 31 December 2012

Round up of 2012

2012 has been an interesting and varied year for me. Going back to January, the highlight was buying my Honda CL350 'project'.

One of those bikes that I've always wanted, and when one turned up at the right price, I couldn't resist. I'd hoped to have it back on the road by now, but other things have cropped up and I really just haven't had time. Next year... honestly...

First real event of the year was the IFA Day in April. A good chance to meet up with people at the Bus Museum.

Next up was our trip to France for the Coupes Moto Legende. The first time I'd managed abroad on the bike for a few years, and thoroughly enjoyed.
Even ending up in France by myself for nearly a week wasn't a problem and I got to ride on lots of good roads. Another trip to France next year is already at the planning stage – more later.

July saw a return to France, unfortunately without the bike, for the Etape du Tour. This involved a LOT of driving on mountain roads in an unfamiliar van, but I did see lots of places I intend to revisit on the bike.

I had been planning a two week trip on the bike at the start of September. My plan was to ride to the south Coast, get the ferry to France, and ride the length of the Pyrenees taking in the high passes. Based on the 'Raid Pyrenean' cycle route.

After that I'd planned on spending a couple of days in Barcelona, then making my way back through France taking in the Gorges d'Ardeche and the Massif Central.
Unfortunately, at this point things go so bad at work that I had to leave. The situation had been going steadily downhill for a year or so, and looking back, I'm surprised I stuck it as long as I did.
I'd started applying for other jobs, so cancelled the holiday in case a prospective employer wanted to contact me. As it turned out, no-one did and I could have gone. Oh well, the Pyrenees will have to wait for another day!
This meant that I was now unemployed for the first time in 35 years, so cut back on what I was spending on bikes while I looked for another job. On the positive side, it gave me more time to get work done, and as I write this I've nearly got my white Traveller rebuilt and back on the road (I'll write an article about that later), and I'll soon be starting on the Honda.

Round about this time a group of us started having 'breakfast runs' at Brig O'Turk and the
Riverside Museum. Hopefully these will continue next year when the weather improves.

And that's basically it for this year. I hope you all have a good time over New Year, and I'll post soon about my plans for 2013.

Friday 28 December 2012

Friday bike

This one's been doing the rounds, so I thought I'd feature it.

Lit Motors C-1

'Two wheeled cars' have been built before, the Ecomobile being the most famous. However, the C-1's unique selling point is that it stays upright when stopped without outrigger wheels. It acheives this by having rotating flywheels built into the floor to give a gyroscope effect.
Here's a couple of videos that explain it better:

Interesting idea, but like most designs like this, will probably be extremely rare due to high price and customer resistance to 'something weird'. More on the company website, but whether we ever see one on the road remains to be seen.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Return of a Friday bike

Some time ago, (OK, I'm too lazy to look back), I featured the NVT Tracker as my Friday bike. This was an attempt by Norton Villiers Triumph to enter the small trail bike market with a Yamaha DT 125/175 engined model. Very rare (I've never seen one), so it was a surprise to see not one, but two currently for sale on British Ebay.

First bike is a 175, an indication of how few there were, this one's frame number is 42! Link.

The other one is  a restored 125:

Sunday 23 December 2012

Bad News

As no doubt television over the Christmas period is rubbish (as usual), here a gem from the past. When Channel 4 started in the UK, they put together 'The Comic Strip', an eclectic collection of young comedians and writers to produce a number or series of comedy shows. The outcome was a bit 'hit or miss', but it launched many successful careers, and this was one of the best episodes. Unavailable for a long time, it's now on YouTube, and I hope it's not restricted to UK only. Being Channel 4, there's lots of adverts at the beginning, but it's worth the wait.

Historical note: This was first broadcast in the UK on 24th January 1983, This is Spinal Tap was first shown on 2nd March 1984. Hmmmm.

A few years later, a follow up was broadcast.

Friday 21 December 2012

Friday bike

'Batgirl' bike from the 60s 'Batman' television series.

Based on a Yamaha YDS-5E (250cc 2 stroke twin), and actually ridden (including the stunts) by actress Yvonne Craig.. More details, including the truly dreadful Batgirl theme, here.

Goodbye cruel world....

Well if the Mayans, or more likely the people who have (mis)interpreted their calendar, have got it right, then this will be the last post on this, or any other, blog.  Well, it was nice knowing you, and here's Elvis to sing us out:

This is from a concert broadcast in 1978 on the German television show 'Rockpalast'. Sums up the energy and excitement of the early New Wave music. For us that were teenagers in the 70s, this was a breath of fresh air as up until then all we had were prog rock bands performing three hour songs about goblins and pixies.
I remember going to the Stiff Records first tour in 1977 in the Silver Thread Hotel in Paisley. ('Punk' and 'New Wave' bands were banned from playing in Glasgow at the time!), and seeing Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric, and Larry Wallis, all for the sum of one pound! Oh, happy days!
Anyway, here's the full Rockpalast concert, and children - this is what music sounded like before Simon Cowell got his hands on it!

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Nice and simple

This is a sentence from the details of a job I've applied for:

Accomplish organisational goals by accepting ownership for accomplishing new and different requests; exploring opportunities to add value to job accomplishments.

That's what I like - nice concise descriptions of jobs.

Mystery bike

OK, since the last one was still too easy, here's a double quiz.

To win you have to identify the bike AND the man standing on the left. If anyone does get both right, then they can be 'Master of the Universe'!

I assume the panel on the ground fills the space at the side of the engine, completely enclosing it (hence the lack of chain cover). It seems to have a hole to access the spark plug.

Album cover

All the cool girls ride a Honda......

 I believe this is singer/actress Ann-Margret. In her 1966 film, The Swinger, she rode a Triumph T100C Tiger, and had one with an after market electric starter for her own use. I believe she also appeared in Triumph adverts at the time.
Now, if she could have an electric start Triumph in 1966, why weren't all Triumphs fitted with them?

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Monday 17 December 2012

Old advert

Mystery bike (part 2)

Last mystery bike was correctly identified by 'anonymous' as a SAAB 850cc two stroke triple fitted into a BSA frame. Here's the same engine fitted longways into a Soviet flat twin frame (hope this doesn't give mr combo any ideas!)

I'd like to say to 'anonymous', - don't be shy, give us a name, even a made up 'web name', so we know which 'anonymous' it is!

Album cover

Sunday 16 December 2012

Mystery bike

Mighty trike

Scooting about Scotland

I thought I'd posted this before, but it must have been on a forum. Nice bit of video of a scooter rally in Scotland in 1959

First thing to mention is that this isn't in the Highlands (far too far South) - in fact, most of this is within about an hour of my house. Strange to see so many familiar places, but with very little traffic and much narrower roads.
Notice how the sound and vision are out of sync at the beginning. The piper is walking normally, but the sound is much faster. Sounds like some sort of 'techno bagpipes'!

Poster girl

Album cover

Friday 14 December 2012

Album cover

Uncle Jim's sermons were always uplifting!

Friday bike

2013 Indian Chief Vintage

Yes, the Indian brand is back, and this time it looks like it's for real. Over the years there have been many attempts to relaunch Indian, but this time it's Polaris (builders of Victory motorcycles) that are behind it, so you can actually buy one in the US. The bike above costs US$35,999 (£ 22,300/27,500 Euros), and is in US dealers at the moment. More details on the Indian website.

Monday 10 December 2012

Album cover

'One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.......'

Sunday 9 December 2012

Album cover

Always get someone over the age of fourteen to design your album covers.

Tiny Dancer

Saw an article on the BBC News website about the current no.1 song in Ireland, a charity cover version of my favourite Elton John song, 'Tiny Dancer'.

This has been released to raise funds to help a young girl suffering from cancer, and features many leading Irish musicians. I'll be honest, other than Mary Black, I have no idea who any of these people are, but they're doing something worthwhile, and that's all that counts.
You can download it here, 99c/79p, a tiny sum compared with what you will spend over the Festive Season, but it could make a huge difference.
Also, if you buy it in the week leading up to Christmas, you could deny Simon Cowell another no.1, and show that the music buying public are warm, caring human beings and not automatic consumers of his drivel.

Ural factory

Found this video via the mecamotors blog (listed on the right). It's of a visit to the Ural factory in Irbit in Russia. It's French language and the first part is mostly taken up with the reporter travelling to the plant and interviewing one of the senior staff, but if you  watch from about 04:03 onwards, you'll see Urals being built. You'd never mistake it for a Honda factory!!

Voyage dans le temps : visite de l'usine de side-cars Ural en Sibérie - Vidéo Dailymotion

Friday 7 December 2012

Friday bike

 The Hudspith Steam Bicycle

Entirely homebuilt, more details on the builder's website.



Thursday 6 December 2012

Lots of videos

Found a Honda promotional video for their 500cc twin models:

If you click on the 'YouTube' logo, it'll open the video in a new screen directly from YouTube. Then look below the video screen and click the 'Show more' tab, and you'll find a big list of other Honda videos. One thing you can say about Honda - they know how to shoot a good promo video!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Cool building

Einsteinturm, Potsdam, Germany

Design classic (part 2)

Forgot about this when I was posting yesterday.

Alexei Sayle in an episode of 'The Young Ones' from the 80s. £19.99!!! They're a bit more than that now!

Tuesday 4 December 2012


Design classic

Most people of my age owned a pair of Dr. Marten 'Airwair' boots at one time. Much beloved by punks, skinheads, and Police officers, they were the 'standard' wear for many years. I wore both the boots and shoes, and a pair of 'Docs' were my usual summer biking boots for many years.

However, they suddenly became very fashionable and available in all sorts of weird and wonderful colours, a move that coincided with a major drop in quality. Quite frankly, they became rubbish and not worth buying. I still liked the style and comfort of their shoes, so transferred my allegiance to the visually similar, but MUCH better made, Solovair brand.
A couple of years ago, (in a moment of madness), I bought a pair of steel toecapped Dr Martens for wearing on building sites, and within 3 months they had split between the sole and the upper! Will I never learn?
However, it would appear that Dr Marten have learned their lesson and have introduced the For Life range, with a very impressive sounding guarantee. Whether they're worth it or not will remain to be seen.
Looking at their website, they now do a range of biker boots, but they look more fashion than practical. Pity, because I think that there's a genuine market for Dr Marten bike boots, but they'd have to have a Gore-Tex liner and pass the relevant safety standards before they'd be taken seriously.
However, back in the 80s the coolest boots to have were Hawkins Astronauts. Made in very small numbers, they were very hard to find. I never bought a pair of their boots (could never find a pair in my size), but had a pair of their shoes. The soles were made by Dr Marten, but were a different pattern to the regular 'Docs', and the shoes were very popular for gentle hillwalking. Unfortunately, no longer with us although the Hawkins brand is still available in Japan.

Monday 3 December 2012

A snowy day

Last night it started snowing, and this was the scene outside my house this morning.

 Not a day for getting a new bike, but my friend David had arranged to have his delivered this morning. He also had the slight problem of not having enough room his garage for it, so I gave him a hand to manhandle it into his conservatory.

Yes, an MV Agusta F4 1000. And he's going to have to sit and look at it (and probably stroke the fairing), until he can ride it in the Spring!
And before you ask - no, he's not married, that's why his bike is inside the house!

Sunday 2 December 2012

Stolen bike

Spread the word.

Album cover

I remember a guy I knew bought this album because he owned a Honda CB 200 at the time!

Here's the title track: