Friday 27 September 2013

Friday bike

Most of you will know of Maserati as builders of exotic cars, but at one time they built bikes as well.

Maserati 50/TS/SS 'Rospo'

The 'Rospo' was a production racer built between 1956 and 1959 for the 'town to town' races popular in Italy at the time. It was sold as a road bike, hence the artificially large silencer, designed to make it look like a bigger bike. Anyone else think it looks like a trumpet with a mute? Also, notice that it has bicycle pedals, I'm not sure if this was so it could be classified as a moped, a bit like the bikes sold in Britain in the 70s.

Although this was a production racer, the 50cc engine only produced 2.82 bhp, giving a top speed of  70 - 75 km/h (43 - 47 mph). However, a British seller was less than honest over the top speed!

The story behind the name 'Rospo' is interesting:

The unusual 'back-bone' design of the 50/T2/SS gave rise to its nickname which originated in the premises of Lina and Guido Borri at Via Mazzini 54 in Bologna; the Borris were formerly dealers for Italmoto but now Maserati. When they took delivery of the new model, Lina took one look at the it and exclaimed: "Ma cos'è questo brutto rospo? ("What is this ugly toad?"). From then on, the 50/T2/SS was nicknamed 'Rospo' (toad) and Guido even attached specially designed decals to his bikes depicting a toad 'ready to pounce'.

Whilst looking up information on this bike I came across this photo:

The rider is Beryl Swain, famous for being the first woman to compete on a solo bike at the Isle of Man TT. Soon after, Beryl had her International Race Licence (necessary for racing at the TT) withdrawn as the race was 'too dangerous for a woman'! Male riders being embarrased at being beaten by a woman is a more likely explanation.

Friday 20 September 2013

Plug problem

Anyone had a problem like this?
I've got a white Traveller that I bought about five years ago, but have never ridden. It was so cheap at the time that I couldn't pass it up, and over the years I've tidied it up. Because I haven't ridden it, I start the engine every two weeks or so to circulate the oil around the engine. I usually run the bike for about five minutes, or until the fans cut in.
Back in June when I was servicing the silver Traveller before its holiday, I also serviced the white bike, and thought I would try an 'Iridium' sparkplug in it (NGK DPR9EIX-9).
When I fitted it I checked that the gap was correct (0.9 mm), and the bike started and ran normally. Since then I've started and run the bike 4 or 5 times, so it's only run for 20 - 25 minutes since the new plug was fitted. However, last week it wouldn't start and only 'popped' a bit and wouldn't 'catch'. I tried three or four times, even spraying 'cold start' (Di-ethyl ether) into the airbox, but the battery would flatten without it starting.
I had time this week to have a look at it and took the plug out. The gap had increased to 1.5 mm! Here's a photo of it (cleaned up a bit) next to an ordinary plug.

If you position the plugs with the outer electrodes against the ceramic, you can see that the inner electrode has eroded away.

So why has it eroded so much after such a short period of running?
Interestingly, way back in 1979 when I had a Yamaha SR500, I fitted one of the 'super plugs' of the time. I think this was Palladium rather than Iridium, but it had a similar narrow central electrode.
A couple of days after I fitted the plug I was riding through town when the bike backfired then ground to a halt. I couldn't get it started again so pushed it about half a mile home. I took the plug out to find that the central electrode had completely vanished!
It's strange that so many years apart, the only times that I've used plugs with narrow electrodes made of exotic materials, they have failed the same way in a very short space of time. In both cases they were in Yamaha single cylinder engines, and both were the manufacturer's specified plug for that bike.
Any ideas?

Winter's coming

Better get down to Halfords for some new bike clothes.

Friday bike

I was looking at some old adverts and came across a brand I'd never heard of before.

I thought that Manurhin might have been one of the many Japanese brand that existed in the 50s, but it turns out they were a French armaments company. They built the DKW Hobby scooter under licence, then when DKW ceased production, built their own version. 

There's a Web group, and the badge shows the origin of the design.

Note the four rings behind the word 'scooter'. This is the badge of Auto Union, a group that consisted of DKW, Horch, Wanderer, and Audi, who still use the logo.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Nostalgia time

Found this website of photos of Glasgow in the 60s and 70s. I was born in Glasgow in 1958, and my family lived there until about 1966 when we moved 5 or so miles to Barrhead. By the mid 70s I was a teenager and travelled into Glasgow fairly regularly, so a lot of the photos bring back memories.
Glasgow was going through a 'transitional phase' as lots of the older buildings were being demolished and replaced by newer, but not necessarily better, new ones.

Pollokshaws in 1966. This wasn't far from when we lived and I remember the tower blocks being built. (Pollokshaws Hall with the clock tower at centre right of picture). At the time people thought these were good and 'the future', but as they've been demolished in the last few years things didn't work out as planned!

Shawlands Cross in 1970.We lived just round the corner from this, so I know it well. (mr combo lived near here). Where is all the traffic!!

Football is very important in Glasgow and international matches at Hampden Park still draw a reasonable crowd. However, this photo of a Scotland - Northern Ireland match in 1979 shows things were much less popular at one time.

I was never really that interested in football and I think the only time I was in one of the big grounds in Glasgow was in 1976 when I went to Celtic Park for a concert by The Who, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Little Feat, and others. I remember when I walking into the stadium I thought it was huge, but this photo from 1981 show how small the stadium was then (much bigger now).

For those of you who know Glasgow (mr combo, Stuart, Mo, etc), I bet you recognise lots of places!

Sincerest form of flattery?

More years ago that he probably cares to remember, mr. combo was Regalia Officer in the MZ Riders Club. One of his most inventive designs for a t-shirt was the famous 'I love the smell of two-stroke in the morning'.

This was a play on the line from the film Apocalypse Now, ' I love the smell of napalm in the morning', and the design proved popular.
I was looking on the Web for a picture of this T-shirt and typed 'I love the smell of two-stroke t-shirt' into a search engine, and what should I find? Two companies selling t-shirts with the same wording! I hope they're paying mr. combo a commission - you know that if he stole one of their designs they would let him know soon enough!

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

The reason I was looking for the t-shirt was that I found another product for two stroke owners. Now that the weather's getting starting to get a bit wet and cold, two stroke owners can get their 'fix' without going out on their bikes!

Two stroke flavoured scented candles

Enjoy the scent of your two stroke without having to leave the comfort of your living room ! Mmmmm!

International touring?

A bit optimistic I think!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Eagle eye

I really hope this is real and not some computer generated video. It claims to be taken by strapping a GoPro camera onto an eagle's back. It was filmed at La Mer du Glace glacier above Chamonix in France. I got the train up to here a few years ago.

Monday 16 September 2013

Lucky find

Took my Skorpion for its MOT (annual safety check) today, and the guy who owns the shop had found this in his store and kept it for me knowing I had a CL 350.

Trip to Belgium and France - Day 7. Video 3

Another video from the holiday. This one leads on from the ride up the Col du Galibier, and is the descent down the other side. As you can see, it was a bit cold, wet and miserable at the summit, made worse by me forgetting the waterproof liner of my suit!

Friday 13 September 2013

Friday Bike

The Decoson

Just look at that! Is that not one of the coolest bikes you've ever seen? The Decoson was built by designer/engineer/genius Randy Grubb and is based on a Harley Davidson. This is just one of Randy's amazing creations, and rather than just read stuff I've copied from another website, it's best just to click on this link. Watch the videos and marvel at Randy's skill and vision - what I would give for a fraction of this man's ability!
Also, if I was ever to win millions in a lottery, a Deco-Tripod would be near the top of my shopping list! Just imagine riding around in one of those!

Sunday 8 September 2013

Coupes Moto Légende 2013

Found a few videos of this year's Coupes Moto Légende, the event I went to last year. They're mostly in French but there are lots of nice pictures to look at!

Approximate translation:

Here is the official video, long version.

This year, 27 000 people have answered the call! This 21th edition was strongly marked by the 90th anniversary of BMW motorcycles. 1000 BMWs went on the track for an exceptional parade including Ninety BMW R 90 S.

Sébastien Lorentz, Marketing Manager BMW Motorrad France: "Les Coupes Moto Legende is a major event of the classic bike and bikes in general"

Wayne Gardner, world champion 1987 500 cm3: "Here is a bit of a mix of everything and this is what makes the truly spectacular and fun event.".

Christian Sarron, world champion 1984 250 cm3: "Motorcycling is a big family and there is no barrier between the people who use the bike on the road and those who use it on the track."

Bruno, known as "TAZ", founding president Moto club mates: "I do not come just to look, I just simply find my bubble of oxygen for the year."

Ben Walker, director of the department of motorcycle collection - Bonhams: "We are here because the Coupes Moto Legende is the event not to be missed in France"

 Found a television report.

And 'Taz', refered to above has also posted a video.

The Coupes Moto Légende is usually held in May or June each year at the Circuit Dijon-Prenois, more details on the website.

Friday 6 September 2013

Friday bike

What about this little beauty!

1957 Moto Islo 175cc Carrera
Love that fairing!

Details (stolen from here).

In the late 1950's the Italian 'city-to-city' street races were infamous for being some of the most spectacular motorcycle racing events in the world. The Milan to Taranto race was over 1400km which took riders on small capacity motorcycles at least 14 hours to complete, racing non-stop over 2 days through city streets, country roads and special track sections. 10,000km away in Coahuila, Mexico a man by the name of Isidoro Lopez had aspirations of racing his own Italian inspired motorcycle in the event.

Lopez was the owner of Mexican motorcycle manufacturer Islo. Typically Islo produced motorcycles referred to as "Tortilla bikes" which were small, reliable commuter motorcycles often used by delivery services. To achieve his dream of racing in Italy Lopez launched a project to build 4 175cc powered Islo race bikes which he planned to race in the 1957 event.

Using Morini engines Lopez and his Islo designers created the spectacular looking 175cc Moto Islo "Carrera".  The European influences were obvious but the Carerra was definitely a unique design. It's most notable feature being the integrated front fairing with peep holes for viewing the tacho and refueling. A well padded seat and tank cushion helped to keep the rider as comfortable as possible to reduce fatigue and a double battery set up was used to prevent headlight failure for night time stretch where speeds of up to 170 km/h could be reached.

The four bikes produced were up to the task but due to logistics their completion was delayed until 1958. Sadly this was the same year that the Italian government ban the races due to several pedestrian deaths. Lopez and his Carerra's would never see Italian soil.

The four Carrera's were resigned to become showroom bikes at Islo dealers and at their company headquarters. Fast forward to 2012 and only two of the four Moto Islo Carerra's remain. The red bike pictured here recently went under the hammer in the US and fetched a tad over $18,000. It's a motorcycle made from a dream but doomed by fate, you can only imagine what Islo could have become if the Carrera made it to Italian shores.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Bo'ness hillclimb

I went to the hillclimb two years ago and posted about it then. This year's event is next weekend, and also includes a flypast by WWII aircraft and rides on a steam train. More details here.