Wednesday 30 January 2013

More fishtails

Further to mr combo's post where he said 'Nice fishtails', here's a picture of me on a Panther from GBC's blog:

Now that's what I call a pair of fishtails! It was a nice bike to ride, with lots of 'big single' pulling power, but extremely limited group clearance (You couldn't bank much more than this without something scraping).
However, even these fishtails pale into insignificance compared to this:

Tuesday 29 January 2013

BSA rarity

Saw a bike on Ebay that I had completely forgotten about - a BSA Beaver.
In about 1979 - 81, NVT (owners of the BSA name) built a number of 50cc bikes using an Italian Morini Franco engine. (A different company to the Moto Morini V-twins).
There were a number of variations of this bike:
BSA Boxer


An incomplete BSA Brigand - only picture I could find

I can't remember ever seeing any of these, so I've no idea how few were built or sold. At the time there was a very small market for these in the UK (16 year olds), and there were plenty of Japanese and Italian bikes (along with the DDR built Simson) that did the same thing for about the same price.

Monday 28 January 2013

Sculpture corner

Realised that I hadn't posted about sculpture for a while.

Los Angeles

Saturday 26 January 2013

Monte Carlo Rally

Was in Glasgow today for the start of the Monte Carlo Rally. This was held at Glasgow Green which also includes the People's Palace and Winter Gardens.

My wedding reception was held inside the Winter Gardens, so it was good to see that due to a change in the law, wedding ceremonies can now also be held there. The Council (who own the building) was promoting it as a wedding venue.

Outside there is the Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world, and includes Queen Victoria looking down onto representatives of her Empire.

Looking onto the Green is the wonderful Templeton Business Centre. Amazing to think that such an ornate building was originally a carpet factory!

The People's Palace is a museum of the social history of the people of Glasgow (well worth a visit), and here's an example of what you'll find there – an anti-alcohol poster.

Although, if you grew up in the West of Scotland, this is more to the point!

Back to the Rally – outside, the competitors cars were starting to assemble, and what a variety there was.

I took LOADS of photos, so follow this link to see them here.

Whilst people were waiting for the start, they were entertained by this trad jazz group

The crowd were starting to build and there was still another hour until the start. I'd seen most of the cars so didn't wait. Stuart did and has posted here.
When I got home, I heard that 15,000 people had turned up. How many football teams could draw a crowd like that?

Cool poster

If anyone goes, please post some photos!

Friday 25 January 2013

Friday bike

 BSA Tempest prototype

This was built in 2003 by BSA-Regal (former MZ importer) and featured a Rhind-Tutt Wasp engine, (1000cc twin designed for sidecar motocross). Interesting looking bike, but it never reached production.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Ah, the 70s.......

Another rambling post that starts somewhere and ends up somewhere else.......

Who else can remember (or admit to remembering) books published by the New English Library? Popular in the 70s with impressionable teenagers, they were trashy paperbacks centered around definable groups - skinheads, football hooligans, punks, and of particular interest to us, Hells Angels (or rather, someone's idea of what the Hells Angels were like!)
Increadably badly written and extremely repetative (they probably only had one storyline, just 'tweaked' to suit the group in question), they were extremely violent and sexual, but some teenagers thought they were based on fact.
As an example....

'Chopper, England's King of the Angels' by Peter Cave

"Chopper moved into position. The skinhead was still bent double. Bringing up his knee, Chopper felt with satisfaction the scrunch of broken bone as the kid's nose made contact. The kid went down, while blows from boots rained upon his body. He lay groaning, spitting out gouts of deep red blood and pieces of broken teeth.

" 'Don't ever pull a blade on an Angel.' snapped Freaky before they left the kid. 'It's not friendly.' "

This is the story of Chopper, of his bike, his pills, his girls and his violent bid for gang leadership. Author Peter Cave tells like never before how a greaser grows up to become a fallen Angel.

Yes, it really was that bad! Should you want to read more, there a blog about to NEL books (amongst other things).

However, there's worse! Amongst the sort of people who read (and believed) NEL books, there was also the belief that the Hells Angels were going to kill the members of pop group Mud. Why would a motorcycle club wish to kill a fairly harmless pop group? Because they 'stole their dance'!

Apparently, the dance performed by the 'dancers' (actually Mud's roadies) was a 'secret dance' that only Hells Angels were allowed to do, and as a result they were going to kill the members of Mud!
I think it's fair to point out that 39 years after this performance, two members of Mud are still alive, the other two passing away due to medical conditions in the 2000s.

Oh, the 70s, what a weird time!

Album cover

Friday 18 January 2013

Friday bike

New Honda MSX125

Interesting new angle by Honda - a 125cc single, 4 speed gearbox, and 12" wheels. It's being promoted as a kind of funky town bike and there was a promo video showing a rider doing all sorts of rather irresponsible stunts around town on one. I say 'was' as it would appear Honda have withdrawn it!
The video was aimed at teenagers who do stunts on kid's bikes, so Honda are targeting them into buying one of these as the next step. Whether it'll attract any youngsters onto bikes or not we'll have to see, but as motorcyclists in Britain are getting older, anything that attracts youngsters is always welcome.


Found a video.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Friday bike

OK I know it's late, but you're going to get two for the price of one - an album cover and a Friday bike!

I'd found this album cover during my search for covers with bikes on them, and this one features a particularly interesting bike - a Puch SGS 250.
This is unusual in that it is a two stroke 'split single', also know as a 'Twingle', as it has two bores but a common combustion chamber. The conrods are connected to a common crankpin so the pistons rise and fall together.

You can see from this cutaway that the bores are offset so the pistons are slightly out of phase. The rear barrel contains the transfer ports and the front, the exhaust port. I'm not entirely sure what the perceived advantages in this layout is, but Puch (and others) built split singles for a number of years. This diagram (not of a Puch) gives an idea of how the system works.

Meanwhile, back at the Puch. It was sold in the United States by Sears, and rebranded as 'Allstate'. I found a blog of the restoration of a Puch/Allstate, and from it I found this cool picture:

James Dean on a Puch - cool or what?

You've got to admit - a fine looking motorcycle, and like many Europeans of the 50s and 60s, very well finished.
However, while I was looking up details of the Puch, I came across a really interesting article on a group of riders attempting an 8,000 mile (13,000 km) trip across the US on Puch/Allstate 250s, retracing the journey made in 1804-06 by a party lead by explorers Lewis and Clark. I've searched the Internet, but can't find any more details of this trip (anyone help?)
It looks like things didn't always go to plan!


Talking of Lewis and Clark, the first time I'd heard about them was the Long Ryders singing on The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Another tick on the list

Bought a car today.

A 2002 Volvo V40. A bit sensible, but it's a nice car and the price was right. Low mileage.... full service history.... blah.... blah.......
It's got heated seats which means I can drive around in my Borat style 'mankini' without feeling chilly! Hold that thought in your heads, ladies!

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Cool poster

One tick on the list

I'd posted a short while ago my plans for this year. Top of the list was getting a job, and that's the first to be ticked off! On Monday I start a three month contract (with the possibility of it being extended to six months), testing electrical equipment for a nearby local council. This is something I've done for years, so should be straightforward. Hopefully I'll have another tick on the list tomorrow, but for now........

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Classic adverts

Remember these? Two from a series of adverts by Ducati and Moto Guzzi Importers, Coburn and Hughes featuring two rather bored looking girls posing next to bikes.
The brunette girl had a slight fascination for me and my friends as she looked very slightly like a girl in our class at school!

Album cover

Definitely a candidate for 'Worst Album Cover'!

Sunday 6 January 2013

Friday Bike update

Back in October I featured an ex-French Army Cagiva 350 T4E as my Friday Bike

The company selling these had two bikes stolen during a break in. It would be fair to assume that any military Cagiva 350 in the UK was from this batch, so if you get offered one, or see one being used in suspicous circumstances (ie teenagers riding it in a field), it would be worth reporting.

From the sellers: Ebay listing

For Information Leading To A Conviction and / or Recovery Of The Following Motorcycles
This Was A Targeted Attack & The Culprit's Must Be Caught

Any Information Received Will Be In Total Confidence, You Dont Have To Give Us Your Details If You Dont Want To, Please See The Bottom Of The Page For Contact Information

Everybody Reading This Page, Could You Please Share The Information With As Many People, Forums, etc As Possible, Facebook, Twitter Can Be accessed At The Top Of The Page On The Right
A Police Investigation Is Now Underway, But Additional Information Is Urgently RequiredWe Cant Give You All The Details But We Can Tell You The Following
On The 23rd December One Of Our Workshops In Scarisbrick Near Southport Was Subject To A Robbery
A Member Of The Public Witnessed The Robbery At Approximately 8.10pm (20.10 hrs) 23rd December.They Saw Two Males Running With Two Bikes, In Their Haste One Of Them Run Straight Into The Back Door Of The Van (Probablly Damaging The Door).The Driver (A Third Male) Jumped Out & Helped Them Put The Bikes In The Back Of The Van, Then Then Drove Off At Speed.
They Contacted The Police Right Away And Gave Them Further Information & Descriptions
The Van Was A White Roofing Van, Sign Written
3 Males Where In This Van

This Was On A Busy Junction On A Busy Main Road, near the traffic lights by the
Morris Dancers public house, "Did You See Anything"

An Alsation guard dog was poisoned in the robbery, the dog was very ill for 3
days but has made a full recovery now
As We Said, This Was A Targeted Attack, If They Had Been Disturbed It Could Have Been Much Worse

They Must Be Caught, Any Information No Matter How Little Is Urgently Required

Direct From French Army, Military, Militaire, Cagiva 350 T4E Motorcycle
Cagiva 350
This Is The Same Type Of Bike Used In The James Bond Film Golden Eye
Also Used By Different Military In The Gulf Conflict & All Over The World
T4E Model In Full Military Trim
4 Stroke / Electric & Kick Start
Colour Green: Pictures Are Of A Similar Bike From The Same Batch
Rear Rack, 2 Seat, Hand/Lever Protectors, Protected Front Disc
4 Tie Down Loops (for strapping to van, trailer etc)
Factory Re-Enforced Frames
Oil Cooler
Still On French Number Plates
This Is A Very Unique Machine & Easily Identified

Also A Child's Christmas Present
Kawasaki KX85 Small Wheel Childs Trials
Lanyard Switch Fitted
Colour: Kawasaki Green

This Tells You The Calibre Of The Thieves Stealing A Childs Christmas Present
We Went Out The Next Day & Bought Another One So The Child Would Not Be Upset On Christmas Day
You Can Contact Us In Complete Confidence &


Dedicated Phone Line For This Robbery 07875 164977 10.00am till 10.00pm Every Day


Or Call Lancashire Police
In Complete Confidence & Anonymously

Telephone: 01695 566154 Quoting Crime Number: Lancashire Police CJ1205612

Telephone Main Switch Board: 101 Follow Instructions To Lancashire Police Or Wait For The Operator: Quote Crime Number; Lancashire Police CJ1205612

Telephone Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111 Quoting Crime Number; Lancashire Police CJ1205612


Any Information You Have, No Matter How Small Or Insignificant Could Be The Key We Are Looking For

Do You Know Where The Bikes Are Now Or Who Did This

We Need Your Help, Thank You In Advance

Friday 4 January 2013

MV gives you wings

Unusual 'wings' on this MV racer. As I mentioned earlier, a group of us are thinking of going to the 'Bikers Classic' meeting at Spa in Belgium in July.  I found the picture above in a gallery of photos taken at the 2009 event. Just whetting your appetites!

Friday bike

Renard GT

Now this is a 'bit different'. Built in Estonia, has a carbon fibre monocoque, and uses a Moto Guzzi engine. And as for that front suspension! Website.
Really cool 'assembly' animation here.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Groovy wheels

“Lillian La France (1894–1979) was billed as the world’s foremost woman motorcycle stunt rider, one of a handful of female stunt riders in the 1920s and 1930s. La France used a “skull and crossbones” logo”
- Wikipedia

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Plans for 2013

I know it's always dangerous to post a list like this as I'll look back in a year's time and realise how few things I've done! So regard this as a list of 'hopes and plans' for this year, but don't hold me to any of them!

First on the list is get a job. Since I've lost my job in August, I've been applying for loads of jobs without any success. Next step is to set myself up as 'self employed' for tax reasons. Hopefully, this means I could get some contract work (a setup that's fairly common in engineering and construction). It also means I can do other 'cash in hand' work when it comes up. I also have another couple of ideas, that may or may not happen.
I've got a meeting in a couple of weeks with the Government department that can advise on self employed status, so hopefully after that things will pick up.
Next on the list is to buy a car. Because my last job included a company car, I've not owned one for 12 years. Most of the jobs I've applied for include a company car, so I didn't want to buy one, get a job with a company car a month later, and have a car to then sell and lose money on the insurance I would have bought. However, as there's nothing on the horizon, I'll probably buy one soon. I've missed out recently on people I know selling cars who didn't know I was looking for one. So, if anyone reading this and within a reasonable distance of me has one for sale, let me know. OK, I don't want any 30 year old Austin Metros that 'just need a bit of work', and I can't stretch to a Bentley or Aston Martin, so keep it realistic!

Oh, yes please!

On the bike front, I've nearly finished restoring my white Traveller. I'd bought this 4 or 5 years ago, but had never actually ridden it. It was all there, just a bit scruffy round the edges, so I've tidied it up, resprayed the bodywork, welded up a rack, and fitted a new pair of tyres. What I'll do with it next I'm not sure – if I get a job that I'll need a bike to commute on, I'll use it; if I don't need it I might sell it; or I might just keep it as a 'spare' bike. What ever I decide, it would be better if it was ready to go back on the road, so while I've got the time....

Once the white bike is finished it'll be time to do some proper work on the Honda. First thing will be to take the engine out and remove the lower crankcase half to fix the kickstarter. It'll give me a chance to clean the gunge out of the lower crankcase half – lots hope I don't find any other horrors in there!
While the engine's out it gives me a chance to repaint any parts of the frame that need touched up, and it's easier checking the swingarm bushes, forks, etc without the weight of the engine. I'll fit some new tyres and cables (those fitted look 41 years old!) and I'll get the bodywork resprayed. I'll pay someone to do this as there's not much of it, so shouldn't be too expensive.
After that it'll be fix anything faulty I find, then put it all back together and start the registering process, as I've got a plan which involves the Honda (more later!)

The silver Traveller just needs a clean and a service, and it should be ready for the road. Recently I've noticed my wrists starting to get a bit sore on longer runs (old age creeping in?), so might fit some higher bars. Other than that it's fine and will be ready for the various things I've planned.
Main one will be a trip to France and Belgium. I enjoyed myself so much on last year's trip to the Coupes Moto Legende and the holiday after that I'm starting to plan a similar trip for this year starting with the Bikers Classics meeting at Spa in Belgium. Kawa had mentioned that he and some of his friends were going, so we could meet up with them there. After that, some of are planning on a week or so's holiday in France starting with a run down to the Alps, the South Coast, then back via the Gorge du Tarn  and the Gorges d'Ardeche. Well, that's the plan, we'll see how it works out! If anyone else is thinking of going to the Bikers Classics, let me know and we could arrange a meeting. (No point in people going all the way there and missing each other!)
Hopefully we'll manage some more informal meetings like the ones we had last year, and I'm seriously thinking about organising a Scottish event for the Distinguised Gentleman's Ride. This is short run and get together, and it's special feature is the wearing of smart suits. It started in Australia amongst the café racer brigade, and spread from there. As they say on their Facebook page:

To bring together the world for one day of immature stupidity & fun on two wheels while wearing a suit.'

That sounds good enough for me! A few of us have talked about this and it might be based around the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. Still at the 'thinking stage', but if anyone's one's interested, please get in touch. I intend to have the Honda on the road for this, however as it's bound to be appalling weather here in the 'usual' date (end of September) it might be worth having ours earlier in the year.
Next trip for the Honda will be the M.C. Pistón Rally in Spain. This is a rally for pre 1980 bikes and includes the '5000 Curves', a 500km ride through the Pico mountains. I'm looking forward to this as it'll be a challenge on the Honda, and also because I've only been in Spain once before (3 day trip to a wedding), so it'll give me a chance to visit an 'unknown' country. I don't really fancy riding the Honda 500 miles (800 km) to the South of England, so I'll trailer it down behind the car, then put it on the ferry. The idea of riding 500 miles on one of the most boring routes in Britain on an unfaired 41 year old bike with a very small fuel tank fill me with dread. It's bad enough on a modern bike or in a car!
If anyone else is planning on going, or wants to share the trip down, get in touch. Just remember it's for bikes built before 1980.

(The rally used to be held in the town of Colombres)

That's about it for bike stuff, so what else have I got planned.
Some years ago I used to do a bit of running, but irt kind of petered out due to lack of time. Realising that I'm fat and out of shape I've started running again, so I hope I can keep it up during the coming year. I've always felt that it's better to start running in winter – if you can get used to running in the cold and wet, the good weather is easy! I'm just doing this to lose weight and get a bit fitter – I don't think I would ever do a 'proper' run again, but to give you a laugh, here's a picture of me at the end of the 1998 Glasgow Half Marathon:

Yes, I was once slim and had black hair! And yes, my vest says 'Surf Bum' on it – it only cost 50p in a charity shop!

If you look back to Hallowe'en 2011, I went to an event at Club Noir, a burlesque club in Glasgow. I really enjoyed myself, but have never gone back. I noticed that this year's St Valentine's Day event is going to be French themed, so I plan on going (after all, I go to France on holiday), but what to wear? I could go as the usual French stereotype (beret, striped t-shirt, string of onions), or a sort of existential beatnik (black turtleneck sweater), they they seemed too obvious. I saw a French sailor outfit for sale, but it wasn't really me!

(Perhaps Terry might be interested in dressing like this, what with him being a nautical chap!)

Then I remembered as a child watching the BBC series 'Maigret' based on the novels by Goerges Simenon. Remember the opening scene with Maigret sticking a match on a wall then lighting his pipe?

All I'd have to do is wear my 'gangster suit' and hat, but with an ordinary shirt and tie, and carry a pipe (or even a picture of a pipe with 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' written on it!) Too obscure?

Anyway, some, all, or none of the above things might happen in the coming year, so keep your eye on the blog!