Friday, August 31, 2007

Cafe Nation.

From Cycle World:
"We were in love with speed," said one old Rocker. "Our life was bikes, burning and birds."

-By David Edwards

They’re old now. Or dead. But 50 summers ago, in England, they laid down blueprints for the sportbikes that some 125,000 of you will buy this year. They were called Rockers for the new style of music they listened to, or Ton-Up Boys for the top-speed highway burn-offs they engaged in. Stu Savory, a Velocette Clubman rider who back in the day hung out at the famous Ace Café on London’s North Circular Road, explains the drill: “This was before the days of the blanket 70-mph speed limit. Doing the Ton, 100 mph, was in! The Ace was famous for ‘record racing.’ Put a coin in the jukebox, select the Animals’ ‘House of the Rising Sun,’ jump on the bike, blast down the bypass to the roundabout and back before the record ended, averaging the Ton.”

American moto-journalist John Covington was fascinated by the scene, still going strong in the late Sixties when he dropped in.

“They don’t do the Ton on a race course or a flat stretch of country road,” he wrote in Cycle magazine. “Likely as not, they do it on the North Circular Road or the Watford Bypass or the M1 expressway. They don’t do the Ton in broad daylight when there’s no traffic and the pavement is dry. They do it at night, when challenged to a burn-off. The air will be damp and the high-beam won’t be good for more than 60 mph and there will be trucks and cars of all sizes on the road. And that, mate, is when you do the Ton.”

Early café-racers were a British invention and used combinations of engines and frames from home-market bikes. Later came Japanese bikes such as the Honda CB750, which responded well to the café treatment.
Stock bikes were no good for this sort of thing, plus new ones were too expensive for teenagers and 20-somethings, so Rockers built their own, often from scrapyard beaters.

“First to go are the standard handlebars, which are replaced by clip-ons,” noted Covington. “Racing-type tank and seat are next, then come modifications to the exhaust system, plus new paint and other minor decorating. The Rockers strive for a racer image, and so rarely hang superfluous goodies all over the machine.” The ideal was to find a gutted Norton Featherbed frame (geometry so good it was copied for decades) and stuff it full of hopped-up 650cc Triumph motor. Top off the resulting “Triton” with an aluminum gas tank, monster front brake, alloy rims and premium rubber, and you had the ultimate café-racer, an appealing mix of speed and style—in effect, the world’s first sportbike.

The term was at first derogatory, bestowed by older riders dismissing these young turks of the tarmac and their lashed-together machines as barely being able to get from one transport café to another. The local authorities also took a dim view of Rockers, who favored black-leather jackets and jackboots, and traveled in packs. Much like American hot-rodders in the Fifties, chopper riders in the Seventies and urban street-racers and stunters today, they were subject to being hassled at any time—though a rundown of their crimes suggests a certain period quaintness.

An English newspaper report from 1961 tells of police swooping down on the Ace Café and rounding up 100 Rockers, guilty of atrocities ranging from “insulting behavior” to “jeering at passing motorists” to the unbelievably heinous “indulging in horseplay.”

Everything's Ace: Originally just a cheap decorating trick, black and white checkerboards are now synonymous with café-racers.
Harry Martin, 18, was one of the perps. “We were arrested for the simple reason that we wear leather jackets,” he protested. “People are always blaming us for causing trouble, but we keep to ourselves and the Ace is our café. All the boys and girls get down there to see the bikes, and it’s the done thing for the lads to do a bit of a ‘flash turn’ when coming into the car park. There’s bound to be a bit of noise, but no rowdiness.”

Martin was fined £5 for his indiscretions, and with the others was back at the Ace the next night.

Just like blue jeans and leather jackets, that kind of rebelliousness never goes out of style (thank goodness), and café-racers still look good today, as evidenced by Steve “Carpy”Carpenter’s Rocker-style sohc Honda CB750 (above), which, he says, “snaps more heads than a cordless screwdriver on steroids.” His Southern California shop, Nostalgia Speed & Cycle has turned out about 20 examples so far, and demand is growing.

Why not? One old Rocker explained the attraction, just as viable now as then. “We were in love with speed,” he said. “Our life was bikes, burning and birds.”

Cheers, mates. Next pint’s on us.

I'll see you at the Ace-San Francisco.

"After being abandoned for nearly ten years, The Ace Cafe San Francisco has been reincarnated as a bare-bones biker bar with motorcycle racing on all of the TVs. It features an extensive collection of beer on tap and in bottles, in addition to premium wine (sorry, no hard liquor now, and I know that some of you might be skeptical of a wine rack in a biker bar, but bear with me here). There's a pool table and a jukebox that's full of your hard rock, metal, and punk favorites, as well as a kitchen serving sausages, barbecue, and chili."

Neighborhood: The Mission
1799 Mission St
at 14th St
(between 14th St & Erie St)
San Francisco, CA 94103

The best of both worlds: The Norton Kawasaki Cafe Racer.

From (again!) The Kneeslider

"Look at the cafe racer here and you think, another nice old Norton or Triton, until you look closer and see an engine with Kawasaki on the side. Look closer still and you find a front fork from a Suzuki GSX-R400, a Suzuki GT750 front brake and a Kawasaki H2 rear hub, plus a big helping of self made pieces that look rather nice.

Phil Klawsuc, over in the U.K., had a 1968 Kawasaki W2 twin carb engine which he thought would go just right with a Norton featherbed frame, but he wanted it to run like a more modern bike while keeping the vintage look. The Kawasaki W1 and W2 were very British looking motorcycles to begin with but this is taking the look to a whole different level. Any cafe racer like this will take a bit of engineering to make the parts come together right but I think he did a superb job.

This is just another one of those motorcycles that will drive the purists crazy, cafe racers are supposed to be British and all that, but if you ask me, I think it’s very cool.

Check out Classic Motorcycle Mechanics for a complete write up"

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Vintage motorcycle art at All

Mondial GP: Framed and Finished Size: 21 x 27 $124.99
Moto Guzzi GP racer Giclee Print 24 x 32 in $99.99
Rider on MV Agusta GP Finished Size: 21 x 27 in Price:$124.99

Gallery: RPM Cycles Restorations.


Norton Commando

A very smart Triumph Cafe Racer

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Royal Enfield Bullet Electra Clubman.

From London By Tasha Crook.

"The Electra Clubman is the latest in a long line of café racer styled machines from Royal Enfield’s UK distributor Watsonian Squire. This authentic-looking machine has been developed in their factory in the Heart of England to combine the look and sound of the classic cafe racers of the Sixties with the reliability and performance of a modern lean burn engine and, of course, the heritage of the Royal Enfield badge. At the heart of the Clubman is the proven all-aluminium 500cc single cylinder Electra engine that has amazed the press and owners alike with its incredible fuel economy (over 85 mpg is not unusual). The frame, gas filled rear shock absorbers and Avon Super Venom tyres also come from the standard road bike, as does the efficient 280mm single front disc brake.
However the Clubman looks as radically different from the road version as the original rockers’ machines because it boasts all of the ‘race specification’ parts of that era, the most striking of which is the 4.5-gallon polished aluminium tank, sandwiched between ‘ace’ bars and hand made fibreglass single seat unit. Rear-set footrests work with the low bars to push the riding position forward into a sportier attitude without sacrificing comfort or cramping the stance.

The upswept ‘Gold Star’ style silencer not only reinforces the classic racer image, it also allows the lean burn engine, (designed to help Royal Enfield meet stringent modern emissions controls), breathe more freely. Watsonian have also added discreet mini indicators, chrome mudguards and a more compact tail light assembly.

The Royal Enfield Bullet Electra Clubman sells for £4,599 on the road and the price includes a 12-month warranty.

Royal Enfield Electra Clubman Specifications:

• Engine – 499cc four-stroke single
• Bore and stroke – 84mm x 90mm
• Power – 27.5 BHP at 5500 rpm (approx)
• Fuel consumption (approx) – 87 mpg
• Ignition – electronic TCI
• Starter – electric and kick
• Transmission – 5 speed constant mesh
• Dimensions (LxWxH) – 2110 x 700 x 1067mm
• Fuel tank capacity – 4.5 gallons (approx)
• Suspension front – telescopic hydraulic fork
• Suspension rear – hydraulic dampers
• Front brake – single disc, 280mm diameter.
• Rear brake – 6-inch drum
• Weight – 165 Kg
• Seat height 82cm"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gallery: the SR 400/SR 500 Cafe Racers of Sagaminet.

Time for a bath: The Triumph Speed Twin.

From By Frank Melling

"It's 1961. You have never heard of the Beatles. John F Kennedy has just been elected as President of the U.S., and Honda is known only as a manufacturer of quirky lightweight two-wheelers. Motorcycles are cool, respectable and fashionable. And sitting right on top of the high fashion bike tree are Triumph motorcycles.

Forty five years ago, the world center of engineering excellence was the West Midlands. Vast numbers of cars from Birmingham, aero engines to power the world from Coventry, and the world's finest motorcycles pouring out of the Triumph factory at Meriden. Even in this hot house of manufacturing, the Triumph work force considered itself to be an elite: the highest paid, the most skilled - making the best motorcycles. The rest of the world stood, they thought, in awe.

Meriden workers had every right to walk with their tails in the air. The European manufacturers were miniscule in size by comparison and had tiny product ranges. BMW produced only three different types of bikes - and one of those was simply an over-bored version of their 500cc flat twin.

By comparison, every red-blooded motorcyclist was catered for by Triumph. Sporting riders adored the Tiger 100. Americans worshipped the 650cc Thunderbird - and gentlemen rode the Speedtwin. This distinction is important to understand. Bank Managers, Headteachers, and Doctors all rode Speedtwins - as did the Police. The Speedtwin was not a bike just for high days and holidays but a mark of status and soundness of judgment. Sensible, thoughtful people making carefully considered decisions bought Speedtwins.

By 1961, the 490cc unit construction engine was three years into its design life and the staff at Meriden hit every single marketing button. The motor was softly tuned and relaxed producing only 27bhp. This compares with almost 50bhp wrung out of the same engine in Daytona road racing trim: to say the least, the Speedtwin was lightly stressed.

The clutch was feather light in operation - the four-speed gearbox light and positive. Starting was simple and reliable with a coil ignition controlled by distributor, as was common in cars of the day.

Everything about the bike reflected that it was, first and foremost, a gentleman's carriage. The rear of the bike was fully enclosed with the now legendary Triumph "bathtub" and the front headlamp was housed in an equally elegant nacelle. The 4 gallon tank was topped with another Triumph styling icon - the "bread slicer" carrying rack.

If you were, or even are, a member of the professions, or perhaps an interior designer, the Speedtwin provides the most elegant of motorcycling experiences. But behind the apparent sophistication was another and far less glamorous story. The chassis was old fashioned even by 1961 standards, as were the single leading shoe brakes. But braking and handling were not the concern of the Speedtwin rider. His was the gentle wafting along roads at modest speeds caressing corners with grace and style - not attacking them with sporting aggression.

The problem was that by 1961 the Speedtwin was providing a service which increasingly few customers wanted. In 1959, Austin launched the Mini. Now, the teacher could drive to school in winter - warm and dry. Now, the bank manager needed to be at least as well equipped as his customers in motoring terms. As for the motorcycling fraternity, 55mph cruising, soggy handling and relaxed braking was a solution looking for a problem. By contrast, Triumph could sell you the charismatic Bonneville with its modern frame and high adrenaline 100mph performance. Motorcycling was on the cusp of an historical change - and the Speedtwin belonged to the dying era.

Yet, of the many charismatic classic bikes one can ride today there are few more satisfying than the Speedtwin. Ambling along a hawthorne hedged, wild flower perfumed English country lane on soft summer's evening it is easy to yearn for a long lost era of courtesy, a ham and pickle sandwich with a pint of warm real ale - and the pride in nation of engineers and craftsmen which the Speedtwin so evocatively exemplifies. Now, all are past"

The short Dvisible history of the Cafe Racer.

Written by Courtney Walker from
"One of the first widely customized styles of motorcycle, the café racer trend was born out of the poverty of Post War Europe. The café racer, pronounced ‘caff’, was the precursor to the widely popular sportbikes of today. In the 1950s, motorcycles were primarily used for everyday transportation. But then came Rock and Roll and the rebellious youth that took claim of this new musical style needed a special type of bike. Before the blanket 70 mph speed limit was laid forth unto the masses, the goal of many of these racers was to reach the coveted ‘ton’ or a speed of 100mph while traveling from one transport café to another. Often times the challenge at London’s famous Ace Café on North Circular Road was ‘record racing’. Averaging a ton, after selecting a Rock and Roll song on the jukebox, the racer would jump on the bike, zoom down the bypass, hit the roundabout and race back before the song was done playing. The need for speed, the need to look cool, especially in the right environment, which seemed to be anywhere Rock and Roll was played, mainly in the transport cafes, and the need to be different were the primary reasons for a bike’s conversion to a café racer. The bikes were customized not only to reflect the individual style of the rider but also to be agile and aerodynamic along Europe’s newly built twisting arterial motorways. British motorcycles were restyled and modified to reach these goals. Ducati, BMW and Moto Guzzi also played their parts in the café racer trend.

Two groups to spearhead the café racer movement were the British ‘Ton Up Boys’ called so for their enthusiasm in reaching the coveted ton and the ‘Rockers’ so named for the new style of music they listened to. Stock motorcycles were no good for these groups; they didn’t handle well enough, as well as the fact that the new bikes were far too expensive for the teenagers and 20-somethings that were the groups’ primary members. Since Triumph engines were considered powerful and Norton frames and forks delivered exceptional road handling, the definitive racer of the day became the homemade Norton Featherbed chassis/frame put together with the Triumph Bonneville engine and retitled ‘The Triton’. With a 650cc motor and lightweight frame, the nimble Triton was an appealing mix of speed and style and had enough power and handling to more easily reach the ton. It became, essentially, the world’s first sport bike.

A racer image would be the effect most sought after, so, naturally, modifications were in order. The standard handlebars were replaced by super low ace bars or one-sided clip-ons, which were fastened directly to the front forks. The bars were not only for looks but also for more accurate control of the bike and aerodynamic purposes, so that the racer would be better shielded from the wind. Next came racing style petrol/gas tanks and seats. The aluminum gas tanks were large and hand-made and most often left unpainted. Then came modifications such as swept-back exhausts and rear set footpegs, which helped give better clearance when leaning through fast corners. Lastly was the paint job, though the Rockers and Ton Up boys were distinctively black clad, from their leather jackets and down to their jackboots, they often painted their bikes in ‘fast’ or ‘racing’ colors, like yellow, blue, or silver/chrome.

By the early 1960s, the bike market was changing due to new traffic laws and road systems and many riders switched to cars. This didn’t seem to bother the racers very much. However, by the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the British bike makers were trying to cope with the emergence of the Japanese manufacturers, with the Kawasaki Z9 and the Honda CB750. The Brits ceased to innovate, simply rehashing the same bikes over and over and sending them into the marketplace.

Recently, a light resurgence of the café racer is being seen by consumers with Ducati launching their Sport 1000, Norton, with the Thruxton, Triumph and its updated Bonneville and the French Voxan Café Racer. The demand for the vintage style of the racers is growing with custom manufacturers seeing a small boom in requests from customers, as well. Like all things vintage, whether authentic or inspired, the café racer has never really gone away but has been held on to by true enthusiasts only to be appropriated by the masses much later. The rebelliousness and love for speed that bore these bikes is something that will never go out of style, only reformed and reshaped for modernity, whether that be using the look of the vintage bikes and coupling them with today’s technology, racing an actual bike from that era or riding their offspring, sportbikes."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Triumph Twin USB drive.

From Geekologie:
"Some awesome folks in Japan have created this replica of a motorcycle engine that also happens to be a USB hub. Turn it on and the thing rumbles and makes noises like an actual motorcycle engine. And because that wouldn't be weird enough on its own, this thing is also a USB hub. So you can run your USB gadgets through it while letting it rumble on your desk."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lets go shopping: The Streamlined Motorcycle Lamp.

From The Interior

Streamlined Motorcycle Lamp - By: Sarsaparilla Available in black, brass and aluminum. 10" high, 13" long. $149.00

The Featherlastic: or how to build the Norton of your dreams.

By Mark Hoyer From Cycleworld

It's pretty simple, really. You just need to collect parts for years, get a few Commando restorations under your belt and have one of your friends show up at a Norton club meeting with a for-sale Featherbed frame in the back of his truck.

Okay, so building the Norton of your dreams isn't easy, but it certainly is simple. Just use the best major ingredients the English manufacturer ever made: the Featherbed frame and the Commando engine with its Isolastic rubber-mount system. As most Norton fans will attest, Isolastics were an amazing advance that allowed the big and buzzy parallel-Twin to go about the business of making major horsepower without blurring the vision or numbing the hands of the rider. And the Featherbed frame, well, it was just one of the great advancements in motorcycle handling and served Norton in the form of countless wins at the Isle of Man TT and in roadracing around the world, as well as being the basis for thousands of streetbikes through the '50s and '60s.

Looks like a factory job, no? Featherlastic combines impeccable handling of the Featherbed frame with the livability of a Commando's rubber-isolated engine.
Texan Bob Cox isn't the first guy to marry these two elements into one special motorcycle, but his effort—featured in the current CW print edition—is perhaps one of the finest executed versions on the road. To follow along with Cox's step-by-step process of building the Featherlastic in his personal build-diary, click here. Don't forget your spanners and shop apron. And as long as all you're riding is your computer, feel free to crack open a pint.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Damn kids: The Brit Iron Rebels.

"The Brit Iron Rebels (BIR) was established in January 2004 as a worldwide group of individuals focused on the preservation, restoration, and promotion of true classic and retro styled British motorcycles, their related events, discussions, and camaraderie between people around the world who share a passion for the same. The BIR is a club based on the retro style of the Rockers of the 50’s and 60’s in Great Britain. Born on the Internet with regional and worldwide chapters called clans, the BIR currently spans 10 countries worldwide, as of 2007.

The Brit Iron Rebels is an incorporated entity governed by elected officers and comprised of worldwide Clans. The governing body of the BIR approves each of these Clans.

The BIR sponsors meetings, benefits, and scheduled rides. We also participate as the BIR in many other motorcycle related events.

The BIR is NOT an M.C., Outlaw, 1% group, a Harley-Davidson club, a political or religious group; nor are we a club open to just any kind of rider or enthusiast. Our membership encompasses all classic and retro British motorcycle enthusiasts: the collector, the purist, the racer, and radical customizer. Riders of all backgrounds are welcome to apply for membership. Together we create a network of contacts, ideas, friendships and enthusiasm essential to ride and appreciate classic British motorcycles."

The Hyde TX Bonneville.

From Motor Cycle Sport and Leisure (November 2004)

"The new Bonneville has given Triumph an undeniable boost since its debut in 2000, but as many owners would agree, has a rather spongy front brake, modest performance and somewhat vague handling at higher speeds. Triumph has to some extent recognised this, producing the Thruxton - a cafe racer styled Bonnie with a bit more punch to go with its classic '60s styling cues. However, the sanitised machine built to meet modern standards and legal requirements as it is, still lacks the soul of some of the original Triumphs that used to rule the roads, racetracks and transport cafes of 40 years ago. No doubt Triumph would argue that most people who buy one of its classic range bikes aren't particularly after rip-snorting performance and handling - it's nostalgia these buyers want, and Triumph has proved that it certainly helps to sell bikes. It's just that, though a modern replica is mechanically stronger, more reliable and better engineered in general, they still lack the soul the original displayed in abundance. Now, for those who have such a modern 'classic' but want a bit more in terms of performance,handling and braking, help is at hand.

The standard 790cc motor has had its barrels replaced with a 902cc set from Wiseco, who have worked in collaboration with Hyde on the project. The result is a massive increase in power and torque. To ensure that power can be fully appreciated, the carbs have received Dynojet kits, and a pair of Hyde's own Thruxton-style silencers have been added to extract that last little bit of oomph. To cope with this performance boost, the front brake has been replaced with a fully floating 320mm disc gripped by an AP Lockheed four-piston caliper, equipped with sintered metal pads, and a braided steel hose.

Enter the Thruxton-spec Hyde TX Bonneville!
A fork brace now sits above the replacement mudguard to handle the extra braking forces being exerted upon them, while a steering damper helps keep things in line. The rear shocks have been replaced with some Ikon units with progressive rate springs, their adjustable damping allowing owners to fine-tune their ride.

Similarly the tyres are now Avon Super Venoms, which Hyde says provide better grip and a better rate of wear. Just to make sure nothing drags the standard footrests have been replaced with some tasty rearsets, which in turn are complemented by a set of Ace 'bars. A top half fairing sits well alongside the replacement alloy tank, and the Thruxton seat unit finishes off the overall look nicely. There are other minor mods on the bike pictured here, like replacement tail lights and indicators, as well as a rev counter kit - all of which come from Norman's extensive catalogue. Certainly this bike's got just the right look, and from a distance could easily be mistaken for one of the original works machines. And when it came time to actually ride the thing, within five miles of Hyde's Warwickshire base the grin on my face stretched from ear to ear.

The traffic on the Warwick ring road had been almost a delight despite the revised taller gearing that had been fitted for my ride, where apparently the smaller front cog will allow the bike to reach speeds of 120mph-plus, should you desire.This was not to prove a problem at any stage during the day, even when trickling through sleepy villages in the heart of Shakespeare's country or up into the hills of Worcestershire. The carburation is so good now that it pulls cleanly from 30mph in top gear, and will continue to surge well past any legal posted limit. The motor is now far more flexible and torquey than it ever was, and the bike can now be ridden almost totally on the throttle, without anywhere near as much need to bother the 'box.

The rev counter gives an indication of how lazy that motor is, but there's little need to refer to it, unless you are trying to extract those last ounces of power from the parallel twin. Even then the optional 'bar end mirror shows that its engine balance has been maintained, as there is little in the way of vibration to spoil the view to the rear. However, although picking a gear and riding that torque wave is now an option, playing tunes on the gearbox is a must just to hear the glorious cacophony of sound that erupts behind you. Never offensive, it just makes the bike sound as great as it looks, and adds to the fun immensely. And this is a bike that can deliver fun in large doses, especially on the twisty country roads of the Cotswolds, where handling and engine torque are far more important than outright top speed. On such roads you can use those Avons to their limit, safe in the knowledge that the bike isn't going to develop a weave, or catch the Tarmac with a footrest and dig in. In Hyde form the Bonneville inspires confidence, and that front brake is a revelation - easily on a par with any similarly sized Japanese mount sporting twin discs.

Perhaps best of all, various parts of the Hyde kit can be bought and fitted over time as finances allow if you don't want to make the one single outlay - although after riding the Hyde Bonnie, I'd advise any stock Bonnie owner to at least buy the engine, carb and brake kit as a matter of course. Norman Hyde has taken a retro showpiece and given it the go it's been crying out for, without making it uncomfortable or unrideable. As a result it's much more enjoyable to ride, and indeed that much more faithful a representation of the original."

The Ledgend: Dave Degens Dresda.

Dave Degens is a survivor. He began racing and then building motorcycles over 40 years ago and is still thriving.

From racing in the early 1960s, Degens progressed to building Tritons for the cafe racer era, to short circuit racing, to winning the Barcelona 24-Hour Race (in 1965 and 1970), and then into a new era with Japanese-powered specials during the 1970s, when his success in the Barcelona marathon led to the Paris-based Japauto concern asking him to build an endurance racer around the four-cylinder 750/900 Honda engine.
In 1972 this collaboration resulted in the famous Bol d'Or win by the pairing of Debrock and Ruiz riding a 969cc Japauto housed in a Dresda chassis and weighing only 170kg (3751b).This success was repeated in 1973 against a vast array of works opposition: quite some achievement, and one which firmly established the Dresda name. Today, the continuing enthusiasm for classic machinery, together with a fresh interest in his first creation, the Triton, ensure that Dave Degens' talents remain in demand.

Mick Duckworth wrote this report entitled GOTHIC REVIVAL in Classic Bike Magazine in August 1986:

When Japanese multis left the Triumph twin behind in the seventies, Dresda Autos changed with the times. Proprietor Dave Degens moved away from his legendary Triumph Engined specials to build cycles around the engines that had made them appear obsolete. He was successful too, as many wins in endurance racing on Dresda products have proved, but the last couple of years have seen an amazing swing back to British-engined products at the company's factory near Heathrow airport.

Ironically, it was interest from Japan that prompted the return of Dresda Triumphs and Tritons. classic racer Tetsu Ikuzawa won an historic machine championship there in 1984 using a Degens-prepared Triumph. Several Dresda twin cylinder specials were subsequently built to be shipped east, and with Degens himself returning to the track -where he was a top runner in the sixties-to ride in CRMC races, word soon spread that the classic Dresda was available again.

Road and racing machines are being built to meet demand from Britain and abroad. The custom-specification specials use 500cc, 650cc and 750cc unit and pre-unit engines in either the Norton Featherbed frame or the Dresda lightweight chassis. Typical of the eye catching exotica that Degens produces for his customers is a Dresda Triumph that was undergoing final assembly when we visited the works.

Originally unit construction Bonneville, its engine is heavily modified internally. A Norton Atlas crankshaft with lightened bobweights has been machined to run in standard Triumph main bearings. Polished T140 conrods give a capacity of about 840cc and the flywheel has had its periphery skimmed to give clearance for the lobes of T140 camshafts timed for optimum mid-range torque. The 10 stud cylinder head has been converted to stub exhaust fittings instead of the troublesome push-fit system, and sweptback pipes carry BSA Gold Star pattern silencers in traditional Dresda style. Although of dubious benefit on the road, centrally-disposed spark plugs are fitted in keeping with the unashamedly cafe-racing image of the machine. Boyer Bransden electronic ignition triggers a Nippon Denso double-ended coil, and carburation is by a pair of 32mm Amal Concentric MkII's complete with spun-alloy bellmouths.

The awesome double-sided four leading-shoe front brake was developed by Degens and used by him for endurance racing. Marketed for a time under the CMA brand name. the l0¼in drum is still obtainable from Dresda Autos while stocks last. It's claimed to be no heavier than two discs and calipers. Two operating cables run to a double pull lever, which, like the clutch lever, is an Italian Cuppini type incorporating a click-stop cable adjuster and mounted on a Tommaselli clip-on handlebar.

Veglia instruments are carried on an alloy facia with switch gear and warning lights. Twelve-volt electrics run off an alternator with the rectifier and zener diode bolted to an engine plate. The battery is carried in a forward extension of the oil tank where it can be checked and topped-up whilst in place. The headlamp is a French Auteroche halogen unit secured in the half falling of the type favoured by Degens since he found through experiment that the lower part of a dolphin falling plays a minimal role in streamlining. Like the fairing, the petrol tank is in fibre-glass. The same craftsman has been laminating this material for Dresda since the sixties - lightness fanatics can order tanks made using carbon fibre in the resin, which weigh only ounces. A small but important detail that Degens points out on his petrol tanks is their generous recessing underneath to allow smooth runs for control cables and wiring. The machine's paintwork is firmly traditional, except for red coach-lining on the frame tubes - slightly over-decorative for some tastes, perhaps, but it is what the customer ordered. Typical cafe-racer gothic lettering adorns the tank.

Hidden under the hump backed seat on this model is an ingenious telescopic arrangement to allow the rear frame loop to extend, moving the seat back to give more room for two-up riding.

How much does a machine like this cost? (webmaster note these were 1986 prices ) Degens estimates a minimum of £1,000 for labour on most jobs, with total bills of around £4,000 being average. Much depends on the proportion of raw materials supplied by the customer and how much work that needs before it meets Dresda standards. Getting an old pre-unit engine into shape can cost more than a fairly sound, and much newer, T140 motor,' says Degens. 'Half the pre-unit engines we see haven't got the thrust washer behind the mainshaft pinion when we strip them so the crank hasn't been located properly in the mains' He points out an early T100 bottom-end in the workshop: 'That's cost £350 so far, and we haven't got to the top end yet.'

Hayward polyurethane toothed-belt transmission replaces chain primary drive and a T140 five-speed gear cluster is operated from the right. thanks to pre-American legislation T120 crankcase castings. The latest Triumph oil pump is installed with an oil cooling radiator stowed in the fairing. Lubricant is conducted to and from the cooler inside the frame, a neat arrangement which adds capacity to the 5 pints carried in a rubber-mounted alloy central oil tank.

Degens began making his own frames in the late sixties - initially because he thought the compact 500cc Triumph Daytona engine didn't look quite right in a Featherbed chassis. Originally inspired by the geometry of Aermacchis he raced for importer Syd Lawton, Degens' lightweight chassis are made from Accles and Pollock T45 tube, which is preferred to the traditional Reynolds 531 for its greater elasticity. 'Remember that 531 was designed for bicycles, which don't vibrate like motorcycles,' he explains. 'That's why the Manx Norton frame was meant to be annealed every couple of seasons.'

The frame on this machine weighs about 18lb, and its duplex loop has the tubes behind the engine sloping forward where other Dresda frames have vertical members This mainly cosmetic change was first made in the seventies to blend with sloping cylinder blocks on Japanese engines.

The Dresda box-section swinging-arm has helped tame many a flexing Jap monster: Degens originally devised it to accommodate wide rear tyres for racing. The rear hub is a lightweight conical type designed for off-road machines, and rear suspension is by Italian five-position spring and damper units.

The front forks are based on Norton Roadholder, but with several special Dresda features such as the yokes - both in steel, although alloy top yokes are available - and multi-rate Manx pattern springs. Where the standard nearside bottom slider has a pinch-bolt to clamp the front wheel spindle, Degens has converted it to a split clamp with two bolts. 'Nearly all the Norton forks we get have cracked at this point,' he says. The conversion costs £25.

Luckily, supplies of some Triumph and Norton parts have been maintained at Dresda over the years, and essential engine-to-frame templates that could easily have been discarded were preserved. Full order books mean there is a waiting list for complete machines, but special Dresda parts and all the propriety equipment used on the bikes are
available from the factory by mail order."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The beautiful world of Kino's Journey.

"In Kino's Journey, the protagonist, Kino, accompanied by a talking motorrad, a Brough Superior motorcycle named Hermes, travels through a mystical world of many different countries and forests, each unique in its customs and people. Kino only spends 3 days and 2 nights in every town, without exception, on the principle that three days is enough time to learn almost everything important about a place, while leaving time to explore new lands. Kino does say in The Land of Visible Pain this principle is probably a lie, specifically noting "if I stay any longer, I'm afraid I will settle down."

A phrase repeated in the anime and novels is "The world is not beautiful, therefore it is." Kino's Journey explores what the anime director Ryutaro Nakamura described as "a radical sense of 'beauty," and brutality, loneliness, nonsense, oppression and tragedy are often juxtaposed against compassion and a fairy-tale atmosphere.

For protection and hunting, Kino carries a .44 single action revolver (called "the Cannon", based on Colt M1851) that uses liquid explosive in place of gunpowder and a .22 automatic pistol (named "the Woodsman", based on Colt Woodsman). Later in Kino's adventures in the novels, Kino also uses a semi-automatic sniper rifle (called "the Flute", based on Arisaka type 99) along with a variety of other tools including knives. Kino is an unusually quick draw and practices every day before dawn.

Technology in this world exists, sometimes to the level of science fiction, although anachronisms are common (for example, the same land that has talking robots also appears to have phonographs, yet simultaneously the world hasn't developed heavier-than-air flight). The level of technology also varies from country to country. The world is not heavily magical (the only "magical" elements include land that moves, a talking motorrad, and a possibly talking dog), although it has a certain fairy-tale quality."

The time machine: Moto Paton's 500 cc Racer.

Another great link from the Kneeslider:

"There was once a time when motorbikes were created by the passion and genius of people who would reach their dreams with extraordinary resolution. From the passion, skill, and resolution of Giuseppe Pattoni, the "Pep", at the beginning of the sixties the Paton twin 4 stroke was born. The first displacement was 250cc, then it grew to 350cc and finally 500cc in order to obtain a huge number of important national and international results.

About ten motorbikes were built in ten years. "Pep" worked on the twin after his normal duty in the workshop of Giogio Pianta and although his financial resources were very limited compared to those of his competitors, he gained enough success to reach an important place in the history of the racing motorbikes.

There are more than a few experts who acknowledge to this motorbike an exceptional place in history and Roberto Pattoni, who inherited from his father the honor and responsibility to continue the activity, is constantly receiving requests for building more models of the most famous of the Paton bikes. So, Paton entered a new challenge in building again the 4 strokes twin with usual passion and greatest efforts, with the help of the best available technologies in order to create a new motorbike with the same characteristics of the original one, but more technically advanced. Starting from the yellowish but precious forty year-old drawings and going through the latest mathematical processes together with the most updated mechanical processing, the new 4 stroke twin is living again as "Riedizione Ufficiale".

In the motorcycle scene there are several "replicas" of historical motorbikes. But that is not the case of the Paton BIC 500 8V RU, which cannot be defined as replica as it is exactly the same model built by the same maker. It is rather a natural evolution of the same bike which raced in the sixties and seventies, built by the same factory which since then has never interrupted its activities.

The production will be limited to just a few pieces, created by hand, one by one, with the most caring attention. It is a perfect example of the highest-level craftsmanship, which has always been admired in the past, just as it is now. The twin will be available for collectors who are fond of classic bikes and who will be proud to show it in the various historical meetings. But the Paton 8V RU is most of all a racing bike and will be a fabulous companion to the drivers who will decide to compete in the historic bike races.

The Twin Paton 4 stroke participated in more than 150 official competitions from 1966 to 1975 obtaining precious results in Italian championships and World Championships. Many important riders raced with the twin Paton such as Fred Stevens, Angelo Bergamonti, Billy Nelson, Virginio Ferrari (Ferrari raced the Bimota frame model), and Roberto Gallina."
Bator International is the American Distributor for Moto Paton

"The production will be limited to just a few pieces, created by hand, one by one, with the most caring attention. It is a perfect example of the highest-level craftsmanship, which has always been admired in the past, just as it is now. The twin will be available for collectors who are fond of classic bikes and who will be proud to show it in the various historical meetings. But the Paton 8V RU is most of all a racing bike and will be a fabulous companion to the drivers who will decide to compete in the historic bike races."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Review: The leather boys.

From Webbikeworld:
The Leather Boys
Director: Sidney J. Furie
108 minutes
Made in 1963
Starring Rita Tushingham, Colin Campbell, and Dudley Sutton.

"Even though this film is often listed for sale on various motorcycle book and video sites, it is not about motorcycles. It is, however, a surprisingly good film.

When I bought the DVD, I had a vague notion that the film was something about '50's British rockers hanging out on Nortons and Triumphs at the Ace Café in London. Well, yes, there are some great shots of very classic motorcycles, the original Ace Café and the look, the feel and the sounds of that era of classic motorcycling. But the motorcycles provide only the ambiance that serves as background support for the main themes, and are not the featured event.

There are several factors that are necessary to make a good film. Things like the plot, the screenplay, the direction, the photography and the editing are among the obvious. But one thing that is almost always present is a multi-level plot that works on various levels and comes together in the end, and The Leather Boys has it in spades.

On one level, it's a film about the immaturity of teens in lower-class Britain and how they mistake lust for love and show a stunning immaturity regarding marriage. It's also a little bit about teen rebellion against stuffy parents, most of whom are played as very old fogies with hardly a clue as to what motivates the younger generation.

Colin Campbell does an excellent job as Reg, a bike-loving mechanic who falls for Dot (Rita Tushingham) and has a too-healthy libido. Dot quits high school and they get married, which adds complexity to the layers with a commentary on youth, commitment and maturity.

Dot turns out to be unsurprisingly (to us) shallow, and Reg gets fed up and leaves to hang out with his mate Pete (excellently played by Dudley Sutton). They end up moving in to Reg's grandmother's house together to save money on rent. One of the great things about the film is how it slowly becomes apparent to both the viewer and to Reg that Pete is gay and has fallen for Reg and considers him as his own. It's ironic that the Dot/Reg relationship failed but the Reg/Pete relationship seems more successful and is, in a way, a more ideal pairing.

But as Reg realizes what's happened, he reevaluates his life and ends up back with Dot. I think it's all done very well and was certainly a very risqué film and topic for the '50's. It is much more frank and straightforward about the problems of youth and society in general than anything that came out of Hollywood about these topics during that era.

The Leather Boys has great shots of bikes, the Ace and the clothing that we see today only in the pages of "Classic Bike" magazine. As long as you realize this is not a movie about motorcycles, but a very good film that is a social commentary, I think you'll enjoy it. I was surprised and delighted by this gem of a film that will unfortunately remain forever obscure because of its title and because, ironically, it is classified as a motorcycle movie."

From Wiki:

"The film is based on a novel commissioned by the gay London literary agent and publisher Anthony Blond. He wanted a working class "Romeo and Romeo" story and got it, in the tradition of Mary Renault, from a female writer named Gillian Freeman. In contrast to La Renault, though, Ms. Freeman's two male protagonists are not highly educated or members of the upper class.

The film plot was changed considerably, presumably to make it more palatable to 1964 movie-goers. Only one of the main male characters is gay in the film (with Reg leaving Dick upon finding out his sexuality at the film's end) but, while neither has a happy ending, in the novel there is no ambiguity whatsoever regarding the love between Dick and Reg.
The book was published in 1961 under the pseudonym Eliot George – an inversion of the famous 19th century female author, Mary Ann Evans, who published as George Eliot. Ms. Freeman is credited in the film as the author of the screenplay based on the novel of Eliot George."

Reserve not met: Ebay goodies.

Item number: 300139985122/ 1966 Honda : CB 160 Cafe Racer:

"Bike is street legal with title in my name although I have let the registration expire as I haven't been driving the bike. Bike fires right up, runs great. Needs to be cleaned and detailed. The engine is entirely stock and modifications to original 160 format are cosmetic. The pipes are modified stock pieces, shortened and capped. For those who know 160's you know they are a blast and a comlete riot. Fires at 360 degrees, thus sounds like a baby triumph. In my opinion, these are better than 250/305 super hawk with a lighter, more racy feel. I broke the odometer cable and odometer may need repair. The actual miles are less than 7,000. Sold as is where is without warranty and reserve right to end auction early. Successful bidder responsible for picking-up/shipping. PS: the part seen on the ground is the smaller fairing system that goes around the front of the engine and bolts to the main fairing, to further fair-in the motorcycle. The fairing is made of very high quality fiberglass, with glassed in metal mounting tube frame, all in excellent condition, considering age and usage."

Item number: 190137985976/ "Nortley Fartster":

"This is a hard core cafe racer in the rocker style of the 1960s. A 1988 1200 Harley sportster engine in a Norton wideline featherbed frame. It will probably eat a Norvin, yet be a lot easier and cheaper to keep running. 28000 miles on engine before transplant. Engine is stock except for S&S carb, Crane ignition with Nology coils and wires, Sputhe compression releases, and a custom made kick starter, probably the only one to be found on an evo sporty. It usually starts first kick. Norton commando forks, Suzuki water buffalo 4 shoe front brake, Excel rims, stainless spokes. Wheels built by Buchanan. Brakes trued and relined by Metal Frictions. Dunlop tires. Works Performance rear shocks. X ring chain, Scottoiler. The bulk of the small fittings are custom made. The machine was custom built over a period of years, and further developed since its first run in 2001. The machine is offered as is, complete, with warts and all. The paint is rough. Straight clip ons and special tools to maintain the bike are included. Do a Google search on Nortley Fartster to see more"

The Hyde Harrier.

From Real

"Which bike do you choose if you want an old fashioned air-cooled triple with all mod cons? This one should be on your shortlist...

There's something about the old Beezumph triples: they just seem to beg to be updated, uprated and re-invented. The Rob North specials spring to mind, as does Craig Vetter's Hurricane, Les Williams' Legend and Trevor Gleadall's Renegade (any more, anyone?). It seems that everyone wants to fit the old three-cylinder engine into a new chassis, and maybe give it a few tweaks en route. Norman Hyde couldn't resist the challenge, and his creation was christened the 'Harrier'.

The Harrier was born nearly two decades ago, but it still attracts attention. Last month, a Hyde Harrier cafe racer triple fitted with a previously unused Triumph T160 Trident engine, went to its new home at the National Motorcycle Museum's collection near Birmingham.

Norman Hyde worked for the old Triumph company from 1965 to 1975, where he worked as development engineer and was involved with projects like the OHC Trident, the Quadrant, the 350cc Bandit, the 900cc Thunderbird 3 (T180) and the Norton Commando 8-Valve, before setting up his own specialist parts business. Norman has marketed the sleek, racer-style Harrier triple in kit form since 1988, sourcing the frame and other key cycle parts from Harris Performance Products.

Setting the engine well forward and reducing fork rake gives the Harrier more modern handling characteristics than the original Triumph Trident. Mick Duckworth was the first motorcycling journalist to ride a 1000cc big-bore Harrier back in 1998 and he 'found the torque of the big engine and the taut roadholding of the chassis [to be] a brilliant combination.'

Customers usually provide their own engines, but the Museum was supplied with a complete ready-to-go Harrier, powered by a standard 750cc three-cylinder T160 engine never previously installed in a motorcycle. The three-into-one exhaust system is by Harris. The machine has a Triumph front fork, Ikon rear shocks and Hyde's latest brakes with fully floating discs.

If you are so smitten by the Harrier that you have to own one, then (if Norman will build another one) you can select your own specification to build a triple best suited for road or track. You will occasionally see a Hyde Harrier being used in competition - with twin Cibie headlights tucked into the sleek fairing they even look like the part for endurance racing. Decent lights come in damn handy on the road, too!

The photo above shows Museum owner Roy Richards greeting Norman Hyde as the Harrier changes hands. 'This beautifully-crafted classic brings together the best of old and new in British motorcycle engineering,' said Mr Richards. 'The Hyde Harrier is a highly valued addition to our growing collection.'"

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Gallery: Sidecar racers.

I received these grand pictures from an anonymous reader and have no idea where they came from, so any known sources please feel free to step up..until then enjoy!

The art of Ky Michaelson.

"The Human Fly"
Rocket Powered Motorcycle
Built in 1977 for the comic book character "The Human Fly". The motorcycle has two 1500 lb thrust Hydrogen rockets. The motorcycle is capable of going 220 mph in 5 seconds. The Human Fly jumped over 26 buses with this bike in 1977 in Montreal, Canada.

"Ky Michaelson, a.k.a., “Rocketman” has been interested in rockets and speed since he was a child. At the early age of 12, Michaelson was given a Gilbert chemistry set for Christmas. That was his start in learning to experiment with various chemicals. It wasn’t long after that he learned how to make black powder, which led him to create his very first rocket motor. Although challenged with Dyslexia, Michaelson focused his academic energies into these and many other creations including a radio which he built and brought to school in a hollowed out math book. In 1969, Michaelson built a rocket-powered snowmobile that made its way into the Guinness World Book of Records. After accomplishing his first world record he decided to go after every acceleration record in the world. In twelve years, Michaelson’s rocket –powered vehicles set 72 state, national, and international speed records.

Michaelson has turned his passion into a career. As a stunt coordinator and stunt equipment creator/innovator, Michaelson has worked on over 200 films, television programs, and commercials including numerous Burt Reynolds movies and “That’s Incredible” television episodes. There have been literally hundreds of feature articles written about Michaelson and his adventures.

Throughout the years Michaelson has always held a great interest in space exploration.
Most recently he concentrated his efforts on rocketry. On May 17, 2004, Michaelson and his Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) were the first civilians to get a federal license to launch a rocket above 100 kilometers, the official boundary of space. While accomplishing this lifelong dream, Michaelson reached yet another speed record of 3,420 mph.

Through all these adventures and record breaking activity Michaelson has held a high aesthetic criterion for his rocket-powered items. Each piece has been painstakingly hand crafted, and fabricated without the use of blue prints or written plans. Even when found or pre-fabricated items are used to complete a piece, Michaelson spends much time considering the complete and overall visual affect.

The Bloomington Art Center views Michaelson’s work as functional sculpture, seeing in them their crafted beauty as well as their completely functional use. We are excited to showcase this local talent, his adventurous life, and his quest for beautifully crafted rockets."

Twin Engine BSA Motorcycle
Built in 2000, this is the third BSA twin engine motorcycle built by Michaelson. In 1962 Michaelson raced and set records with a motor just like this

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cafe Racing to New Deli.

From the IndiaTimes Network By Shahwar Hussain

"NEW DELHI: In a country where the roads witness bumper-to-bumper traffic and where the average speed in the stop-go traffic seldom exceeds more than 45 kmph, it is rather surprising that someone should build a Cafe Racer out of an Enfield Bullet 350. Riding a normal motorcycle in the maddening traffic and in the bad road condition can give you bad backache, so just imagine how uncomfortable a Cafe Racer would be.

A Cafe Racer has a low seating position with even lower clip-on handlebars. But on good roads and with relatively lesser traffic, a Cafe Racer is a pleasure to ride. This particular Cafe Racer was build by its owner Captain Raj Kumar and it cost him over Rs 1 lakh which included the price of a brand new Enfield Bullet AVL 350.

The cost had exceeded the estimate somewhat because some parts needed reworking a number of times. For example, the petrol tank had to be handcrafted four times before the craftsman finally got it right.

The frame and the engine were not tampered with at all. In fact, without the necessary technical expertise, any modification in the frame could ruin the bike's handling. The only modification carried out that has any connection with the frame is the relocation of the rider's footrests.

The wide and low seat is actually pretty comfortable. The Cafe Racers that are seen on the streets of England, US and other European countries have a single seat and only a microscopic minority has any provision for a pillion rider.

But our man here thought that a small and thin pillion seat would make the bike a bit more practical and he is right. Cafe Racers around the world generally have clip-on handle bars. These handle bars in reality are two separate pieces, a little longer than the size of the throttle grips and they are fixed on the telescopic front suspension near the headlights.

With clip-ons, the riding position becomes rather low. There has been a small deviation from the clip-ons and this racer sports a specially made one-piece handlebar that is not quite as low as the clip-ons but gives you the feeling of a racer any way. Low seat and low handlebar always gives one a feeling of speed. The petrol tank got the full chromium treatment with copper base and has lettering in gold that looks just great.

The tank is completely new and has been made from one single piece of sheet metal and only the base has another piece of metal. Because of the low handlebars and the low seat, the position of the rider's footpegs had to be altered. They were shifted backwards from their standard position. But shifting the footpegs was easier said than done. In its stock form, the kick pedal comes down from behind the footrest but here since the footrest was moved back, it interfered with the kick lever.

A separate bracket was made from a thick blob of steel and into it was incorporated the foldable footpegs from the Hero Honda CBZ motorcycle. Now every time you want to start the motorcycle, you have to fold the footrest. Due to the repositioning of the footrest, the gap between the footrest and the brake pedal had widened far too much.

Since this is a Bullet Machismo, the brake pedal and the gearshifts have been interchanged with respect to the standard Bullet, which has the brake pedal on the left side and gearshift on the right side. The rear brakes on a Bullet are weak enough and the shifting of the brake pedal, with its three linkages, on the right side has not helped matters in any way. The rear brake is almost nonexistent in the Cafe Racer. I had to depend on the front disc all the time. Moreover, to re-position the brake pedal, it was just bent and brought near the footrest.
Does not inspire much confidence I must say. It would have been much easier to modify the brake pedal in the standard Bullet. The heel-toe gearshift on the left has been worked upon and has now become, for all practical purpose, a toe shifter.

The gearshift is sleek and the repositioning does not affect the operation one bit but he gear shift looks a little crude I must say.

The exhausts have been reworked and now look its part. Instead of the curve it now comes out of the barrel in a straight manner and the silencer box goes on all the way from the joint with a little pipe protruding from the end.

Riding the Cafe Racer feels great. The low sitting position, low handle bar and the overall classic racer's position gives you the kick. I took the bike out of city limits on a Sunday and was able to open up the throttle all the way to touch the three figure mark.

But sustaining the speed for a considerable length of time is asking for too much. And every time I let go the throttle, the free flow exhaust would let out gunshots.

This Cafe Racer handles fine and even at high-speed turns, it held its line. But I must say that I was lucky that I never came across any big potholes or big stones in my path. Had I encountered any of these, I surely would have gone for a toss and the roads are not exactly made of rubber. The low handlebar does not allow abrupt maneuvering and to ride the bike at high speed on Indian roads is madness.

Itâ's alright to pull that kind of stunts on the European roads where the traffic is well managed and the roads are good. It is a pain in know where, literally, to ride it in the city with its stop-go traffic. Highways are the places to take it. Even though a few grey areas remain, it is still a very well finished machine. The cost of the product will definitely go down if it is carried on a standard Bullet or a used bike instead of a brand new one.

Well, expensive or not, the Cafe Racer had me hooked. I am on my way to that garage where I saw a used Bullet. A real cheap one."