Monday, July 30, 2007

Vive la difference!- VD classics' Cafe Racer parts.

Mr VD Classic's himself Jean François Vicente

"VD Classic spirit may be sum up in few words :

Industrial logic is synonymous of standardisation...
Technological progress certainly allowed motorcycle to accessible to evey body,but what is forgotten sometimes is that motorcycle is not only a means of transportation but also a dream and emotion medium. Keeping in mind this idea is VD Classic vocation...

Smart and soberness style...
Vd Classic design new shape keeping refernce to classic esthetic value to create gorgeous but sober and essential motorcycles...

State of the art hand craft parts...
But also the “know how” to proceed from “one off” parts to small scale production..."

VD's Yamaha SR500

Kawasaki W650

The Triumph Bonnie/Thruxton

..and the Buell S1 / M2 / XB9 / XB12

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The "Notorious" Cafe Racer by Roger Goldammer.

From Bikernet:

"Roger Goldammer is no stranger to the world of wild custom bikes. The front of his shop in Kelowna, British Columbia is crammed full with lathes, milling machines and a huge CNC machine. Roger takes his equipment and his work very seriously. He does not follow trends in custom bike building by building the expected "Chopper" nor is he drawn in to follow the pack delving into the popular "Old School" variety that has become all the rage lately.

Together with his long time friend and mentor, master machinist Bert Kuckelkorn, Roger looks for ways to improve and innovate the mechanical design and function of the motorcycle power plant. As a recent winner of the Canadian Championship of Custom Bike Building and a two-time winner of the World Championships, Rogers bikes are on the cutting edge of technology. " I like to challenge myself " says Roger. So, for his entry in this year's competition he pulled out all the stops.

Not being content to rest on his laurels as the two time World Champ nor his Biker Build Off victory against Matt Hotch at the Bonneville Salt Flats riding a bike he built utilizing a racing go-cart engine, Roger went back to the drawing board to improve on his single cylinder with turbo rear design that he made famous in his TROUBLE bike that won him top World Championship honors the last time he competed.

The NORTORIOUS, at first look, brings to mind the classic lines of the very significant Norton Manx Café Racer but that's where the similarities end. The engine is a 2006 H-D hybrid single cylinder Roger built from the ground up. The 965CC engine features a lower end consisting of Merch cases rotated back 15degrees and balanced internals. The heads are custom from Engenuity and the pistons from Ross and Jims lifters were utilized. The cam is custom designed and manufactured by Roger. The rear head is used on the front cylinder, allowing the induction system to be positioned above the head and cylinder with the angle cut back 15-degrees . The pushrod tubes are also angled to accommodate this change . In place of the rear cylinder, a Rotrex Supercharger that spins at 120,000 RPM was installed. The half a v twin produces 83 rear wheel horse power at 6400 rpm.

The fuel injection uses a 54mm Zippers utilized throttle body and a special Thunder Heart ECM in a closed loop configuration and an extreamly high volume single injector. Using the Thunder Heart ECM and a Dobec module, Roger developed a fuel pump mapping program to provide correct air / fuel ratios, while running up to 20-pounds of boost to compensate for the superchargers flow. Many days and late nights were devoted to getting this set up to work like a charm. The oil system features a modified S&S oil pump and two distinct oil tanks, both cleverly hidden from view, one for engine and the other for supercharger oil.

The bikes transmission started off as a 2006 Baker six- speed unit which Roger modified by shortening main shaft as well as the Prime/Rivera clutch pack and belt drive, all narrowed from 3 inches down to 2. It's a foot shifter with rear sets and has a 24-tooth tranny sprocket shuttling power to the bikes 49- tooth wheel sprocket.

The frame is another in house Goldammer Cycle Works creation. It's a chromolly "Featherbed" style raked 29.5-degrees and de-stretched 3 inches. The front end is a WP type cut back 1 1/2-inches for superior handling.

The wheels and brake set up are deceiving. At first glance, they appear to be stock Norton drum set ups, only larger, while in fact the drum hubs and custom milled covers hide an ingenious 4-piston disc set up both front and rear. Many days of hand milling went into this clever deception and the rear rim is put together for the 18-inch x 6-inch tire by fabricating the rim from two different Kosman rims.

The body and fenders on the Nortorious are a true work of art. Roger hand hammered the aluminum skins with such precision as to show absolutely no sign of weld work. This is pretty amazing considering that the only paintwork on the bike is the lettering and a clear coat over the raw material. You can see the masters touch in the workmanship in the fuel tank that includes the Buell internal fuel pump and regulator. The bars are clip-on style sitting atop Goldammer Cycle Works triple trees.

The Speedometer and gauges are VDO's set like those on a vintage jet fighter. The design of the headlight also acts as a wind deflector and just for fun, Roger used the lens and bezel from a vintage Volkswagen Beetle. The taillights are incorporated in the rear of the bikes frame and utilize LED lights. The brake light is also an LED set up hidden in the rear of the seat rail. There is not one visible wire or line on the bike. Roger cleverly hid all the hydraulic lines and wires inside the frame tubes giving a fine clean look to the bike.

This shy and unassuming builder is a genuine craftsman. A close first hand look of the Nortorious lets you know why Roger Goldammer is the two winner of the World Championship of Custom Bike Building and the current Canadian champ. Taking the basic lines of a classic race bike and adding his engineering genius and fabrication talent we would not be surprise to see him walk away with a third world class championship"

Fold tab A into slot B: Revolution Motorcycles RV100

"Conceived in the mind, refined in 3D CAD software, and produced by the most advanced production equipment available, the RV100 has leapt off of the computer monitor into the real world.

Starting out life as a simple design concept, the RV100 has taken on a life of its own. The design seems to have stuck a chord in the popular culture of America. In a landscape flooded by custom motorcycles, vying to distinguish themselves from each other, the RV100 is unmistakable.

The concept behind the bike is to eliminate the paradigm of the welded tubular frame. Welded tube frame are labor intensive, require expensive jigs and fixturing, and the quality of the weld is very much dependant on the quality of the welder. In contrast, the RV100 frame components are cut on a numerically controlled machine (CNC). This makes the production of parts very repeatable, and makes the production of unique parts routine."

Watsonian-Squire sidecars.

The Stratford sidecar with a Royal Enfield Bullet 350

The Watsonian Squire group can trace its history back to 1912, when Mr Watson made his first sidecar, making it one of the longest surviving businesses in the British motorcycle industry.In 1984 they merged with the young Squire company to create the UK’s biggest sidecar operation. Today the company still manufactures sidecars and luggage trailers in the UK under the Watsonian and Squire brands.

..and with a W650

A Royal Enfield gives a Jublilee (and passenger) some air

Friday, July 27, 2007

"It is illustrated in particular by a great facility of catch in hands" -The French Voxan Cafe Racer.

Translated (albeit badly) from the French Voxan homepage:
"The Cafe Racer is true sporting endowed with a rare versatility.

The “neo-classic” style of its purified line, the rigour and the effectiveness of its road behavior, the marked character of its V-Twin, the comfort and the facility of control are as many assets which distinguish the Racer Coffee from these competitors.

The Racer Coffee was born for the expert, seeking the exclusiveness in an original line and authentic feelings of control. Top-of-the-range by the quality of materials, with in particular of many aluminium parts. General-purpose by its comfort, facility of the single-seat/two-seater convertibility of the saddle and the colors proposed.

Equipped with V-Twin 996 Cm3, 100ch, the Cafe Racer's sporting character is reinforced by the adoption of an ram-air intake system. Characterized by its excellent rigidity and its light weight, the cycle part is nimble, and stable on the road. It is illustrated in particular by a great facility of catch in hands...(?)

Its architecture authorizes made it possible to define a position of control ahead, to distribute the masses in a specific way (48% on before and 52% on the back) and to modify the plate (rocked on before 10mm and raised back of 11 mm) in order to privilege the effectiveness of the nose gear)".....

Oh hell with it..lets just hear what Wiki has to say about it:
"Voxan is a French motorcycle manufacturer established in Issoire, France, in 1995.
Originally initiated by Jacques Gardette, the project involved different partners, including Alain Chevallier, who designed the chassis part, and société Sodemo, established in Magny-Cours, France, who designed the engine. The first prototype was delivered in 1997.

The first 50 Roadster models were delivered in 1999 to dealerships. The Café Racer models were added to the lineup in 2000, and the Scrambler model was released in 2001.
Although well considered on the French market, Voxan had a hard time competing against better established Japanese and Italian manufacturers.

In June 2002, Didier Cazeaux and Société de Développement et de Participation bought Voxan to ensure its continuity and, in April 2003, the manufacturer started producing its motorcycles again.

The Street Scrambler model was released in 2003, and the Nouveau Scrambler and Black Magic models in 2004.\All Voxan motorcycles use the same engine, which is unique in its design. This engine is a V-Twin with a 72° angle and 996cc of displacement.

Gallery: Motorstage Japan.

This time we have a nice selection from Motorstage Japan:

A tough looking Kawasaki Estrella, ready for a fast trip to the pub

..and another Estrella

A very English looking Kawasaki w650-complete with "bacon slicer" front plate

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stewart Ross's SR500 Cafe Racer.

From The Thumper page:

"I currently own two SR500's, an 'E' and a 'H', and have owned several other SR and XT 500's over the years. My first SR (the subject of this article) was bought in Adelaide in 1980. I bought it from Basham Yamaha, with a total of 5,000 kms on it. The previous owner, an old chap, had put a sidecar on it but had found the lack of power a little too much. He had traded it on something with a bit more zap, an XS 850.

I really loved the bike from the start. Though it was not a powerhouse. It didn't take much modification to release some stray ponies. The addition of an after-market muffler and removing the airbox cover transformed the bike, and allowed an increase of 1 tooth larger on the countershaft sprocket.

Being a diehard café racer I soon got around to modifying the looks of the bike as well. A Ducati SS fairing and seat, together with homemade rearsets and Magura clip-ons were duly attached to the bike. I also found some secondhand Mulholland shocks from an RD350 in the wreckers for the rear. These shocks are still on the bike today. I also installed an extra disc and caliper (XS250) on the front operated by a standard 'E' model rear brake hose.

The first incarnation.

The bike stayed as it was for about two and a half years and was a lot of fun to ride. I actually tried to sell it at one stage, shameful I know, but when the bloke interested in it took it for a ride he was scared off when he stalled it and couldn't get it going again. He was gone for so long I thought he'd crashed it! When I eventually found him he was fairly red faced and exasperated from kicking the engine over. After I then started it with one kick he left muttering never to return.

The never-ending 'call of the bike modifier' kept on though, and in late '82 I started on it again. This time I searched out and found what I had really wanted all along. An aluminium racing tank. I thought of using Manx tanks and others, but finally luck provided me with a slightly rough TZ 'A' tank for $25.00. Staying with the genuine Yamaha theme, I then sourced an RD350LC front mudguard and chain guard, and a TZ 'G' model seat. I modified the seat, making it longer to try and avoid having to have a rear mudguard. I also installed a Wiseco 88.5mm piston and a TZ 350 powerjet carb, with the powerjet blocked off with solder to simplify jetting on the four stroke.

I swapped the bits I'd used to make the original to Milo, a mate of mine in Adelaide, who'd recently bought a new 'H' model. From this deal I ended up with another new SS fairing to go on with.

In the interim I'd been down to Mac Park at Mt Gambier to watch the bike races, and it was here that I saw a racing SR from Eltham Yamaha in Victoria. It had some Tingate racing stuff on it, pipe, rearsets etc. They looked great. I took down Rod's contact details from the SR rider and I was away. Rod, being the helpful chap he is, listened to my request and supplied me with a black chromed pipe and alloy megga and some rearsets. These parts arrived in March of '83. (Since that time, Rod has helped me out with numerous bits and pieces for several different bikes, including parts for a Honda CYB 350 racer replica).

The bike had been coming together and by the time the pipe arrived I was ready for the finishing touches.

Mark two:

As you can see there were other little details like gold coloured wheels, and I had removed the side covers.

As time went on the modifier in me stirred again. This time ('92 I think) I was mainly satisfied with the overall look of the bike but I felt it needed something extra, so I undertook some smaller changes. I had a front wheel left over from my Honda racer project. This comprised an Akront rim laced to a 4 leading shoe Suzuki 750 drum brake. I had replaced this wheel on the Honda when I happened across a Yamaha TR/TZ drum. I then searched for a nice large drum brake for the rear (heavy), finally deciding on one from a TX 750 Yamaha. This wheel was duly polished, and after some bearing spacer modification to fit the SR's 17mm axle and backing plate modification to accept cable operation, I fitted it and the front wheel to the bike. The gearing now is 17/38 due to being able to fit a smaller rear sprocket on the TX rear wheel. I've also fitted a 525 chain after machining the sprockets narrower to suit.

I had always hated the battery. 'Any unnecessary items on the bike, that it doesn't really need, shouldn't be there!'. (Café racers creed). I fitted a large capacitor under the seat and removed the battery box and battery. The rest of the electrics attached to the battery box, went onto an alloy plate bolted to the underside of the side cover attaching points, under the seat. I knew I hadn't cut them off for a reason!

The results looked much lighter and very 'Café'.

Cafe Racer, The movie: "Hooligan".

A Worldwide Documentary Effort About Motorcycling’s Outsiders.

Purpose of the Film:

1. To focus on the ever evolving counter culture of the "Rocker" Style motorcyclist, their connection to the past, their future and their commitment to the genre.
2. To show members of clubs, non-members, mechanics, runs, rallies, events and the interaction between them.
3. To foster an attitude of respect for the trials and tribulations in life that make the commitment to these bikes and the lifestyle at times, difficult.
4. To show the process of keeping these bikes on the road.
5. To include samples other motorcycle cultures, their differences and their reaction to the Hooligan motorcyclist.
6. To explore the world of the Hooligan. Their lives, loves and fears. Their jobs. level of education and lifestyle preferences.
7. To promote a level of appreciation for all things classic and the desire to cultivate these things in an ever more disposable world.
8. Highlight a brief history of the culture covering the period from the 50's to the present day, including the notorious Mods vs. Rockers rivalry in the 60's.
9. To understand the differences in the culture.

Approach to the Film

"The approach to the film will be open and documentary in style. We wish to show the worldwide commitment to this often times, mysterious sub culture.
We plan to shoot interviews at rallies, in private and commercial shops, bars and on the street. We also plan to visit new motorcycle manufacturers to find out what drives their market and their plans for the future.
Little or no attempt will be made to direct the activities of the subjects of this film beyond the typical instructions and questions used in interviews. No one will ever never be asked to "act out" a particular scene.
This plan involves participation with several people throughout the world, including, but not limited to, the U.S., the U.K, Australia, France, Germany and the Netherlands. It will be an effort of many committed individuals capturing photos and video from around the world to include in this piece."

"The leather-clad hooligan on a motorcycle is one of the strongest
images in pop culture. An English interpretation of American
glamour, the genesis of this archetype coincided with the advent of rock ‘n roll in
the mid 50’s.

A love of classic motorcycles is now serving to promote a
strong resurgence of these bikes – and the lifestyle that goes with them.
An obsession with fast motorcycles, fanatical nostalgia, and the desire for a simple identity in an increasingly complex world, are some of the reasons behind this revolution. Moreover, it is about valuing the craftsmanship of a simple, potent piece of machinery that can transform one’s soul into an iconic persona.

This documentary is not a technical history of motorcycles. It is designed to shed light on an energized cult of inspired motorcyclists – past and present – who have been referred to as "Rockers," "Hooligans," "Ton Up Boys," "Coffee Bar Cowboys," and "Bike Boys." It is not about Harley Davidson riders, weekend cruisers, chopper builders or sport bike riders. It is about a lifestyle born from the coupling of rock ‘n’ roll and the magic of two-wheeled machines like Triumphs, Nortons, BSA’s, Motoguzzis and Velocettes. It is about stripped-down, old-school cafe racers; retro classics; bobbed fenders; clip-on handlebars; customs; and rat bikes. It is about the love and commitment necessary to restore and maintain them.

The misunderstood “Hooligan Culture” possesses a unique and unapologetic rebelliousness. The unwritten rules of conduct and camaraderie – the ritual of the scarf, helmet, goggles, and jacket – define an identity rather than a disguise.

Never wishing to be referred to as “bikers,” this born-again cult of “Rockers” has been both scorned and imitated. Deeply in debt to their street racing forefathers in England, who roared from cafe to cafe in the 50’s and 60’s, modern Rockers are keeping an image alive that is a staple of pop culture in the modern world."

Rikki Rockett
Slave To The Rhythm Production, Inc.

It was bound to happen sometime dept: Wicca & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

By David Wadsworth from the Pagan

"There is a peculiar sort of bonding between a real biker and his machine. The biker will put the well-being of his machine far above his own. I have seen men cry over a bent bike, or after an accident tell the driver off for hitting his bike rather than him. I have personally fought off two ambulance men so that I could hop to my bike to inspect the damage before being taken to hospital. My theory for this strange bond is that the motorcycle and rider form a sort of Gestalt being, a complete entity, either part of which is incomplete or useless without the other.

The motorcycle represents the male part of this entity. It provides all the force and power, but lacks control and direction. It is all potential, in Wiccan terms, the God force, waiting for the female aspect, the Goddess, in the form of a horrible grubby motorcycle rider. The rider takes the force and harnesses it, giving purpose, form and direction. Controlling the raw male potential, and together, in harmony, they will be capable of reaching heights impossible to either on their own.

The motorcycle can be seen as a way through which to tap a source of cosmic energy. The energy which we in the Wicca use for healing, spells, divination, as a gateway to alternative universes. Just as a witch wouldn't attempt to tap this awesome power without protection, neither would a biker. The biker will put on boots, gloves, helmet and leathers in a similar sort of way as a member of the Craft would surround themselves with a protective circle to preserve the power and keep out undesirable spirits. In the biker's case he is also aiming to keep in the heat, and protect him from the road, onto which demon car drivers possessed of evil spirits (gin, vodka, whiskey etc.) would lure him to his death!

This brings us neatly (?) to the subject of reincarnation. Most of you reading this will have some knowledge of the ideas of reincarnation; i.e. that we are born, live in the world, die, and are then reborn to develop further. Not many of you will realize that motorcycles go through a similar process. They leave the factory to roam about the face of the earth, then some parts wear out, and they descend into the dark underworld of the workshop. Here they are consoled and repaired by the creative force of the female, who is the biker, to emerge re-born in Spring, once more blooming with refreshed color of restored paint work, and the cycle starts again. Many British machines go through this every year. About Yule they are ready, and in the first days of Spring they roar about in the first flush of youth. Then at the peak of their power, at Lammas, they are cut down, usually due to some terminal mechanical problem. They dwell for the remainder of the year in Hades, the garage, thus mirroring the cycle of the God.

The spirituality of bikes is perceived by man in different forms, and each has its followers. Here are some of the major religions:

The Christian

This newcomer to the spiritual motorcycle rides a modern Japanese bike. He pays little more than lip service to his religion. He has few rituals, all he has to do is turn the key and start the starter engine. He tends to be into power and speed, tearing past older machines which he regards with contempt. He cares little for the inner workings of the machine, running to his priest/mechanic whenever he has a problem. Should his machine pass on, i.e., wear out, it will believed to be irreparable, i.e., too expensive, and gone to the great scrap heap in the sky. The makers of this are the great salesmen and evangelists of the bike, not to mention the profit makers.


He will typically be an older bearded gentleman, who rides an immaculate old British motorcycle. They are into status, and will pootle along at 40 mph all day, imagining themselves the envy of all who see them. They are into ritual and mystery. The performance required to summon some older bikes into life is awesome and dangerous. Yet these fellows will watch in silence as a machine spits at a new initiate and breaks his shin. They will endlessly pontificate on the correct shade of color for the petrol tank, or whether a part is the right year for the model; mostly that's all they do.


The bike will most likely be filthy, not from lack of care, but from constant use in all sorts of conditions. The rider knows and understands the inner workings of his machine, its every click and whistle. He relies on no guru for his understanding, he is not afraid to try things out and see if it works. Not for him the search for power or acclaim. He is just out to explore the universe and glean its mysteries. He will get there in the end, there's plenty of time. He will rebuild bikes time after time, not sticking to rigid formulae, but with whatever comes to hand. he enjoys his bike and is in-tune with it.

As a biker-witch, I am now going to use two useful tools to explain my theory of Life, the Universe and Everything: i.e., the Kaballah and the four-stroke cycle.

Firstly the act of invocation and the four-stroke cycle. For those of you who are not mechanically minded, I'll try and keep this simple. Officially the four-stroke cycle is referred to as Induction, Compression, Power and Exhaust. I prefer the much more evocative Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow. There are a few parts that really matter: the crank shaft, the con rod, the piston and the inlet plus exhaust valves.

Suck: Initially the piston is at the top and both valves are closed. As the crank shaft turns, the inlet valve opens, the con rod pulls the piston down which draws air and fuel in. At this point in an invocation, the invoker is opening his chakras and drawing the cosmic energy which surrounds us into his body.
Squeeze: The crank shaft continues around, the inlet valve shuts, and the piston is pushed up, squeezing the gases together. This is when the invoker says the invocation and passes the power to the invokee.
Bang: The fuel/air mixture ignites and pushes the piston down. The priest/ess takes on the aspect of God/dess being invoked.
Blow: The exhaust valve opens and the piston pushes the charge into the exhaust pipe. The God/dess charges and shares his/her power with those assembled.
And now - motorcycles on the Tree of Life:

Kether - traditionally the godhead from which all energy flows. It is formless. This is the high tension spark which ignites the fuel and without which the bike is naught.

Chokmah - Formless, directionless energy, raw untamed power. In the engine this is the burning fuel mixture.

Binah - this takes the raw force and starts organizing and forming it. The piston, conrod and crankshaft takes the power of the expanding gases and converts it to rotary motion.

Chesed - Takes the potential energy of Binah, gives it order, and makes it more solid and usable. In the engine, the gearbox and final drive take the power from the crank shaft and make it usable to the whole machine.

Geburah - An essential breaking down. Where there is life, there must be death. In an engine when you have got two lumps of metal thrashing about in violent motion, they must wear each other away.

Tiphareth - This is the image of the godhead, the wayshower, Lucifer, Prince of Light. In the bike this is represented by the electrical system and the ignition system, and the lights, which on British machines are provided by Joe Lucas, Prince of Darkness!

Netzach - This is the spirit of nature, intuition and sexuality. This is more concerned with what bikers do. They are in tune with nature and tend to get drawn to ancient sites, e.g. Stonehenge, Avebury and Wayland Smithy, or just standing around in a muddy field communing with nature and the local brewery. This is also the source of the sexual bond between man and machine.

Hod - Communication, intellect and travel. It is also where your will produces power. The traveling aspect of motorcycles is fairly obvious, and hordes of dispatch riders fulfill the communication role. This is where we get the knowledge of the workings of the bike. It definitely takes Hodic willpower on a cold, wet morning, along with highly verbal expletives, leaping up and down on the kickstart to get the bugger moving.

Yesod - This is the lunar aspect of biking, linked to Tiphareth on the Middle Pillar (refer Joe Lucas, Prince of Darkness). Many bikers will, by the light of the Full Moon, switch their lights off and ride by moonlight in their lunatic hunt for the local hostelry. In the event of a biker meeting his death through this ridiculous activity, look into the sky. For there you will espy, on his silver machine, the spirit of the biker riding across the astral heavens. Scientists tend to think these are meteors. There is also the illusion of security one gets from riding around with one's head in a goldfish bowl, colloquially known as a blood bucket.

Malkuth - The concrete world, reality. On a bike you are cold, wet, tired, frequently uncomfortable, and very vulnerable, and no-one in their right mind would do it if it wasn't for something else...

Despite Malkuth, biking opens up other realms, other worlds (Birmingham, London, Glasgow, etc.) and puts you in tune with the inner and outer universes."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Something pretty special: Britcycle's Matchless Cafe Racer.

Britcycle's matchless:
· Matchless G80TCS "Typhoon" engine
· Norton Slimline featherbed frame
· Triumph pre-unit gearbox
· John Tickle front brake
· Lyta fuel tank
· Custom oil talk
· Lightened Triumph "comical" hubs
· Borrani rims
· Avon Roadrunner tires
· Dunstall exhaust

West coast choppers tries to create a Cafe Racer-and fails.

From the Kneeslider:

"(The) Honda guys were tossing around ideas for something else to do with their then new (early 2002) VTX 1800 V-Twin engine. Someone came up with the notion that Jesse James might be just the right person to push the envelope a bit so they gave him an engine, some money and said, “Build us a bike.”

Jesse retired to his West Coast Choppers workshop and produced the VTX Cafe Racer, first shown at the Cycle World show in Long Beach. It has an airbag rear suspension, an inboard rear disc brake on the driveshaft, handbuilt frame and bodywork, but in the end, it’s a very interesting example of another direction for these big cruiser V-Twin engines the manufacturers already have in their back rooms.

Although there are many things about this bike that would never see production, it shows that cruisers aren’t the only place for these engines. Could Honda build something like this? Sure. Will they? Chances are slim. They should, but they probably won’t."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cafe Racer of the week: The Michelin Man.


"Michelin's tires corporate symbol is Bibendum, the Michelin Man, introduced in 1898 by French artist O'Galop (pseudonym of Marius Rossillon), and one of the world's oldest trademarks. André Michelin apparently commissioned the creation of this jolly, rotund figure after his brother, Édouard, observed that a display of stacked tyres resembled a human form. Today, Bibendum is one of the world's most recognized trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Strange parallels: Cafe Racers and Japanese superheros.

Thanks to the Henshin Hall of fame for the great pictures.

Kamen (or "masked") Rider on his Suzuki "Cyclone"

Mechanical Man Kikiada on his Kawasaki GT500 "The Sidemachine"

Iron man Tiger 7 on His Suzuki "Spike Go"

Akumaizer 3 on thier Honda 350's "Garbir A, B, and C" wich together form..

....The surreal "Gari Bird"

The Seeley Honda 750.

From Real

"Back in 1975 Colin Seeley transplanted Honda's 70bhp CB750 F2 engine into a British-built café-racer chassis. Seeley wanted to make a bike which was lighter, better handling and better looking than the standard CB. As a bonus, the Seeley machines were also easier to work on and offered a lower seat height than Honda's original. The kits cost £1295 in 1977, and suited the F1, F2 or K-series CB750s of the era. Despite the expense, it was an attractive proposition for sports riders of the day as Roland Brown explains;

'By 1977 Honda had reached the K7 model, and that bike's smoothness was still an asset for gentle use. But its suspension gave a hairy ride if pushed hard on bumpy roads. Compared with the like of Suzuki's twin-cam GS750 and even Kawasaki's popular Z650, the venerable CB showed its age.'

Although Honda Japan weren't too interested in tweaking their successful CB, the rash of British built specials which were based around the 750 gave Honda Britain pause for thought.

Dave Degen's Dresda workshop produced one of the first in 1972; a sleek, semi-faired café racer with twin discs which weighed 45kg less than the standard bike and which could see nearly 130mph.

Rickman too built a special chassis for the CB, using Reynolds tubing, while other firms set to work boring out the engine. Once Colin Seeley had showed how successful his CB special could be, Honda cracked and asked him to build a Phil Read replica in honour of their world champion.

However, those bikes were not significantly lighter or faster than the standard CBs… so for many purists the Seeley Honda is the One To Have.

Be afraid: The Munch Mammut.

From: Chris Irelands eccentric bike builder page:

"The 1967 Munch Mammoth (A very rare "production" motorcycle) was an attempt to adapt a car engine to a motorcycle. The result was a monster of a machine utilizing a double overhead cam inline 4 cylinder engine, transverse mounted in the frame. It came with a number of options, three different motor sizes, raging from 1200 CC’s up, several different seats and tanks sizes, and they offered a supercharged version as well, in 1967. The Mammoth was the fastest production motorcycle in the world in its day, and was known for its comfort and speed."

1966 after selling Cycle World magazine Floyd Clymer tried to generate interest in the German-made Munch. This huge motorcycle now featured a 1300cc engine developed for the NSU automobile. While the most powerful motorcycle of its time, the Mammoth, largely due to its expensive $4000 price tag, never caught on,...

The new Munch Mammut 2000 is limited to 250 units . The 2ltr machine makes up to 260bhp

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rumors: Honda plans re-create the immortal 750.

From Motorcycle news via Jalopnik
"Honda is planning to recreate one of the greatest motorcycles it ever made, in the form of a new Honda CB750.

Having seen the success of other retro bikes like Triumph’s Bonneville, insiders say Honda has decided to make a modern recreation of the original 1969 Honda CB750, virtually identical in every way to the original.

According to sources in Japan, Honda has developed a new air-cooled engine to give the motorcycle the right retro looks and yet to pass the latest emissions laws. It’s likely Honda will show the motorcycle as a prototype at this October’s Tokyo Motor Show."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lets go shopping: The Anime Oriental Motorcycle in Traffic Light Switch Plate Cover.


"Here is a single flip light switch plate embellished with an Anime theme of a young woman on a motorcycle. In the traffic you will find an ambulance, several cars, and two cute little friends. Decoupaged in black/white/gray tones with slight accent colors of pale green, yellow, pale blue, orange, and red. Plates are finished with several coats of clear gloss acrylic and include screws. $10.00"

Gallery: Cafe Racer Honda MiniBikes

From Honda

(Below) My personal favorite, a grand mini bike of the Mad Max MFP patrol Bike.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ground control to Major Tom: The Momo Design Fighter Motorcycle Helmet.

From: Trendhunter

"I found this super cool Momo Fighter Helmet on display at my friend’s Tokyo office. The design is pretty intense. Benchmark Helmets describes, “The MOMO Design Fighter motorcycle helmet features an attractive design inspired by helmets of jet and helicopter pilots. Hand sculpted in Italy this helmet is crafted as a traditional jet style helmet. The removable visor features a carbon fiber frame. The Fighter was designed with safety and comfort in mind and no open face helmet out today can match it’s combination of safety and light weight. The matte rubberized finish will make it stand out from any other helmet in the world. “

Peter Egan on the Honda 550

The Honda CB 550 was introduced in 1974 as the successor to the unsuccessful Model 500-four. The CB 550 had a bigger engine for more power, bigger tires for a better ride, and more weight for longer distance cruising.

The CB 550 is the ideal bike for people who like a sporty 4 cyclinder Honda without the weight and exceptional performance of the CB 750. The CB 550 is also a better bike for shorter people who may find the CB 750 too large and heavy.

The last CB 550 was produced in 1978 and sold for approximately $1895.00.

1974 Honda CB 550 Specifications

ENGINE - Air cooled, 4 stroke, 4 cyclinder. Compression ratio 9.0:1. Two valves per cylinder operated via rockers by a single overhead camshaft. 544cc. Electric start.

TRANSMISSION - Five speed gearbox. Chain drive.

FRAME - Duplex cradle.

SUSPENSION - Telescopic front forks, rear swing arm, twin shock.

BRAKES - Front - Single Honda disc. Rear - drum.

WEIGHT - 423 lbs.

PERFORMANCE - Maximum speed of 102 mph.


Often Overlooked In Favor Of Its Bigger Brother, The Honda CB550 Four Was (And Is) A Minor Classic In Its Own Right

By Peter Egan

All right, I've wanted one of these bikes for a long time. The Honda 550 Four was a motorcycle I missed during my meteoric rise through the displacement ranks in the early Seventies, having gone straight from a Honda CB350 Twin to a Norton 850 Commando. Nevertheless, I almost bought a 550 instead of the Norton, and spent many hours at Honda shops regarding the middleweight Honda from as many angles as possible and snagging brochures which could be pored over at home.

Why this enthusiasm for the 550 when the larger, faster and more famous CB750 sat nearby on the showroom floor and could be had for just a few hundred dollars more?

The magic word was Balance.

You heard it repeated over and again, in the road tests of the time, in editorials, from the mouths of owners and in the small but expanding band of American riders tuned into the cult of the cafe-racer. The 550 was not too big, not too small, lower and narrower than the 750, nicely proportioned and it handled effortlessly. Both Cycle World and Cycle remarked that it was probably the best handling Japanese bike you could buy.

It's hard to fathom now, but there was a time when many of us thought the Honda 750 Four was just too big. I remember riding one in 1973 and being somewhat alarmed at its bulk and width. Compared with the light and narrow Twins to which I was accustomed, the 750 felt like an absolute refrigerator.

Climb on one now and you're amazed at how compact and diminutive it seems like a pinto pony among the current generation of tall, fast warhorses. But in the early Seventies, I had grave philosophical and aesthetic objections. It was the smaller Fours I admired.

Unveiled in 1971, two years after the 750, the mid-liter Four was originally introduced as a 500. Cycle magazine ran a wonderful cover shot of the bike, golden-green against a dark green background, a red-clad model with flowing blond hair sitting side-saddle against the bike. The photo seemed to glow from within. The cover blurb cried, "500 FOUR! THE HONDA MAGIC LANTERN LIGHTS AGAIN."

Years later, I was told by a former staffer that the cover model was a very sweet and polite young woman named Mary Kathleen Collins, who now goes by the name of Bo Derek. It doesn't quite look like her in the picture, but I'm certainly willing to buy into the legend.

In 1973, Honda made some improvements to the bike, widened the bore by a mere 2.5 millimeters for 544cc of displacement and called it a 550. Upgraded were the somewhat balky shift mechanism and the clutch, which could slip under hard use. The price was upgraded, too, from $1345 to $1600.

Except for the 550 Four logo on the sidecovers and subtle changes in paint colors and tank decals, there wasn't much, visually, to distinguish between the two. Performance didn't change a great deal, either. CW's quarter-mile run on the original 500 was 14.74 seconds at 88.23 mph, with an actual top speed of 98.46 mph. The newer, bigger 550 turned a 14.27 at 91.55 mph, and top speed (estimated, this time) was 105. Midrange torque was said to be slightly better.

Even at the time, this was not considered blindingly fast or quick, but the small Honda had a few other things going for it.

First, there was its bloodline. If you were a racing fan--and particularly a fan of Mike Hailwood and his screaming red-and-silver Honda GP bikes--there was a certain amount of magic in that half-liter displacement. Real GP bikes were 500s, and the displacement had a lean competition ring to it.

Okay, even if these bikes were barely related to anything Hailwood was riding, they had successfully appropriated some of the look, sound and aura. You had four (count 'em) separate pipes upswept from the side in a fanned emblematic tribute to the Honda wing, and the mufflers had a lovely shape to them, necked down and then flared open into small megaphones.

Those mufflers were relatively quiet, but what sound did come out of them was intriguing. The Honda 750 growled, but the smaller, short-stroke 500s and 550s positively whooped. And quickly, all the way to their 9200-rpm redlines. There was a muted electric fury to the sound that could hardly be lost on anyone who liked mechanical things.

There was also a glassy smoothness that implied--to us Britbike fans--a long engine life and a riding experience devoid of lost bolts, loose headpipes, fractured gas tanks and headlight filaments shaken to tungsten dust.

Also of interest and pleasure to those of us who used British motorcycles as a standard of aesthetics (if not smoothness) was the general shape and look of the 500 and 550. Hondas of this era looked less...well, Japanese, than they had earlier. They embraced a kind of architectural classicism that paid tribute to both British and Italian design, with just enough Honda thrown in to reassure those who hated walking.

From the side, the Honda, with its half-teardrop tank, flat saddle, rounded sidecovers and upright cylinders, almost looked like a Triumph 500, albeit with a few too many pipes. It also had a few un-Triumphantly raw welds and seams, but the overall effect was good. Journalist Rich Taylor described it as having "an ethereal appearance," and added, "It just might be the best looking Japanese bike in production."

Good looks and good handling made the 500s and 550s the darling of the cafe-racer crowd. Cycle World described the 550's handling as "positively inspired for a 458-pound pleasure cushion aimed at a conservative clientele." Many of the owners, however, turned out not to be so conservative. The college town where I lived had half a dozen of them running around with clip-on handlebars, rearsets, 4-into-1 exhaust systems, good shocks and the obligatory Dunlop TT100 K-81 tires.

The magazines also featured lovely cafe customs built around the CB500 and 550 with fanciful names such as "The Gentleman's Express," and "The Mantlepiece." If you were a true believer in the cult of knee-out cornering (a style of riding then just in its infancy), a middleweight Honda was the bike to have.

So, in one of the most extreme cases of delayed gratification in the history of the Western world, I finally decided to buy one, about two months ago.

My friend Bob Barr, the local Kawasaki/Ducati dealer, was having an autumn open house and Ducati Appreciation Day at his shop, so I rode my 900SS over for a visit.

In his lineup of used bikes was a 1975 CB550K, Candy Jade Green in color. It had a mere 10,000 miles on the clock, but looked a little rough around the edges: wrong-color sidecovers borrowed off an old CB500, cruddy 2-into-2 aftermarket exhaust system with bologna-shaped mufflers, old luggage rack, dirty engine and a little light rust around some of the bolts. Naturally, I was drawn right to it.

"You've been looking at that old thing all summer," Bob said. "Why don't you just buy it, so I don't have to store it all winter."

I looked at the price tag on the handlebars. It said $795.

"Too expensive," I explained.

"I'm just waiting for an offer I can't refuse," he said.

"What offers have you refused so far?"


"How about $300?"


Five minutes later, I was riding the bike, which started, idled, ran and stopped absolutely fine. It didn't even have the typical old Honda cam-chain noise from worn adjuster surfaces, which always sounds like an anchor chain being winched through a hawsepipe. Perfectly nice bike, just dirty and not quite correct. I wrote out a check, came back later and rode it home that afternoon. On a lonely stretch of country road, I managed to hit an indicated 98 mph.

Back in my own garage, I changed the oil and filter, and adjusted the chain, but there was very little mechanical fiddling needed. Bob had given me a shop manual and a batch of receipts that came with the bike, and I discovered the previous owner had spent about $500 at a local shop, one year earlier, on sticky brake hydraulics, tune-up, new chain and a few minor electrical repairs. So I turned my attention to the cosmetics.

Off came the rusty luggage rack and the gnarly exhaust system. My friend David had an original set of pipes and mufflers left over from his own CB550, so I bought those for $150. (A new replacement set from Honda costs about $450.) One of the four pipes was rusty, so I ordered a new one from the dealer, for $112. The 550s were famous for rusting out low spots in the system because the four individual pipes seldom got hot enough to burn off condensation on short rides.

The old system fit perfectly, but the one new pipe from Honda was misformed, terminating a good half-inch from the cylinder head. I spent one long evening heating the pipe with a large rose tip on my welding torch, slowly bending it to fit and using up enough acetylene and oxygen to scrap out the carrier Lexington.

I also ordered new 550 Four badges and Candy Jade Green sidecovers from Honda for just over $100. The new sidecovers showed up painted an electric pea soup green that has never been seen on any known Honda, or in Nature, one hopes. I returned them for a refund and decided I will try to find the correct paint code and paint the old ones myself.

Until recently, one of the appealing aspects of restoring an old Honda was the factory's willingness to stock very old OEM parts and keep them on the books. My friendly parts man informs me however, that Honda is now farming many of these parts out to small independent suppliers, so quality has slipped. Too bad. Still, not many companies stock any parts at all for bikes that are 20 or 30 years old, as Honda does.

So, my $300 jewel is now a $600 bike--though I could easily have left it alone and ridden it just the way it was. But it looks correct now (except for the sidecovers) and is ready to ride.

And how is the CB550 to ride, here in modern times?

Surprisingly nice.

In handling and steering characteristics, it reminds me most of the two Triumph 500s I've had. Which is to say you can swoop down a twisty country road with very little conscious effort or even awareness of cornering technique. The wide handlebars and rational, relatively upright seating position provide a perfect, balanced platform for almost effortless steering. In many ways, the 550 handles almost like a modern dual-purpose bike, but with a slightly heavier lump of engine down there, and a much lower seat height. It feels compact, solid and secure.

Push a little harder, though, and you begin to scrape sidestand and pipes, and you can feel a little motion in the swingarm, probably from worn bushings. The old stock shocks are so ineffective as to seem absent. There were good reasons the cafe-racers-and roadracers-replaced the stock pipes and shocks and removed their stands. Still, if you don't get gymnastic, the bike can be ridden reasonably fast just as it is, with no great drama.

My 550 will just touch 100 mph on the speedometer, but its happiest cruising speed is about 70, at 5600 rpm. Try holding 80 and five minutes later you'll look at the speedo and find yourself at a serene 70 again, as though the twistgrip were spring loaded to return to that setting. Maybe it is.

The CB550 is neither terribly quick nor very torquey in the depths of its rev band, but in full acceleration it woofs through the gears in a series of smooth, euphonious lunges with enough spirit to be fun. Fuel mileage--never a strong point in the 500s and 550s--averages about 35 mpg. It was always worse than the 750 in this respect. Reserve is needed at around 100 miles, at which time you have about another 30 miles of fuel; only slightly better than a Sportster.

The wide, broad, flat seat is quite comfortable. The foam could be a little denser, but at least you can move around and change position. I'd have no hesitation at all in striking off on a long cross-country trip with this bike, as so many have. It's a pretty good all-day traveler.

Two of my friends took the 550 out for ride, and both of them came back to deliver almost exactly the same quote: "You know, most people really would never need any more bike than this. It does everything just fine."

Factor in that it's actually fun to ride, and it adds up to an awfully nice motorcycle, especially for a total investment of $600. I realize I got this bike at a friendly bargain price, but even pristine, low mileage 500s and 550s seldom seem to climb much past the $800-to-$1000 zone. Real rats can be had for almost nothing, and the world's most beautiful museum-worthy example might fetch $1200 or so.

Why so cheap?

Well, Honda made a lot of them. But then, too, you have to look at the chrome on the mufflers and fenders. We aren't talking Brough Superior here. These bikes were mass produced and made to a price, and that price did not include chrome plating for the ages, polished castings for the passenger footrests, headlight shells hand-hammered by Druidic artisans or hand-striping of the tank by someone who squints with one eye through cigarette smoke and wears his cap at a jaunty angle.

What the price did include was some very fine engineering, a jewel-like engine, long service life, beautiful shapes and a plethora of convenience features all wrapped up into a machine whose appearance and performance transcend its individual parts.

And you can still buy one, if not exactly for free, almost for a song."