Saturday, 17 August 2019

Trip to Croatia

A Trip to Croatia.

A magnificent journey gong through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia and finally arriving in Samobor near Zagreb in Croatia. It would have been a nice ride on a bike covering over 1200 miles but 41 C heat in Belgium at the start and torrential rain going over the mountains in Austria would have put a damper on things and did spoil the views. Sadly we did this in the Burton sports car as we were heading for the 2CV World Meeting in Samobor.

 There were a few bikes there and one was a very different special. He had put a 2CV engine and gearbox into a frame with odd bits of 2CV to make the front suspension. It did look a bit strange with the spring arrangements but it still worked. Using the 2CV differential and locking it by welding the sprockets together he achieved turning a two wheel drive into one and the final drive of one to one by chain. He retained the stick shift and the lever was a bit too close to the “crown jewels” with a secondary foot controlled throttle to assist in gear changes.

 I was impressed by the ingenuity. Other parts used included 2CV wings as fenders. He wants to sell this novel machine. His email address is 

There was not much biking stuff on this journey but my interests include other museums and not planing the trip that well I missed out on the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart mainly because the car was not old enough to go into the low emission zone and too old to get an entry pass. The same with Strasbourg when we stopped there. I have some issues with the Bureaucrats, having talked to an Italian car enthusiast and works in the industry he said that the emissions are made up and they had the tests created to enforce the limits and are not very accurate. Why should the emissions on diesel engines be allowed to be 40% higher than petrol engines? Having been in both cities they are quite clean and there are few cars around. However on the motorways surrounding the cities they are almost grid-locked with everyone trying to avoid being fined. I didn’t see one motorcycle in those places. I had to cancel my hotel booking for Stuttgart and ended up in an Ibis near a metro station by chance and did get an evening in the centre of this remarkable city.
More tales to tell when I get around to it but as it was a car holiday that is for another blog.

Saturday, 20 July 2019


WVAMC Skills Day at Thruxton.

It is not very often that you get an opportunity to go around the Thruxton Race circuit. The only people that get to do it on motorcycles are the guys and girls from British Superbikes and the Institute of Advanced Motoring. Two days were organised this year and I happen to get onto the first day. I was hoping to do it on the Buell but the starter motor drive failed on me and was not able to get it fixed in time so I had to take the Kawasaki ER6F instead. Staying in a B&B over night close to the circuit, I was not the only biker staying there, but two guys who were instructors. A full English to start the day for me and a full tank of fuel for the Kawasaki set us up for the day.

The day starts with a safety briefing that covers all the required knowledge of what flags mean, what the cones mean and what to do when the flags are displayed. Reminding us not to run over any marshals. You have all the space on the track and even then people manage to knock over the cones! After the briefing we went into groups of four or five with our instructor for the day. Today I was in the pink team! Not my best colour but shortly afterwards we went through a series of braking and manoeuvring exercises to get the mind focussed. 

Each session with the instructor on the track was previewed with a briefing about what we were going to do and what we should achieve from each exercise. First time out it was at a steady pace looking to learn the turn in, apex and exit points. I soon discovered that knee down was an attitude that was easy to do when cornering for a long time but not needed at the speeds were were doing. The plan was to have six sessions on the track each one learning and practicing a new technique. 

Confidence and ability grew to a point where, at Campbell corner, I felt the bike go too light for comfort and decided that was as far a lean I would be doing today. Everywhere else the bike felt planted. I did have a moment heading for the exit of Goodwood where the side of the track was coming up too fast and I had to put on a bit more lean than I was comfortable with. How do these guys in BSB do it? Admittedly they don’t have chicanes of cones to negotiate at the fastest points on the track. They put those in to keep the speed down otherwise the circuit would be too fast for us mortals even so we had been given a speed limit of ninety miles an hour. How fast was I going, No real idea as I was too busy looking where I was going. Concentration and accuracy was paramount. I survived, but we did have a colleague who overcooked it and brought our day to a conclusion prematurely. I have no details of his injuries but he was taken to hospital in one of the ambulances based at the circuit and further use of the track was halted by race control.

Short video of the guys in action just before the end of the day.

I learned allot that day. On my trip home of some seventy miles I felt much more relaxed on the bike using a slightly different riding position. Only a subtle difference but it has made me more alert and able to manoeuvre the bike more easily. It is all to do with elbow position, more bend in the elbow pulls you down slightly and you can relax the grip on the handlebars making the whole position less tense. Keeping the head up looking to where you want to go so you have more time to plan the ride and avoid hazards. Although I have been riding since 1967 on our roads there is always something to learn and understand. It is not all about speed.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Brooklands Motorcycle Show 2019

Brooklands Motorcycle Show

A classic bike show requires a “Classic” flyer and this time around Brooklands used an Art Deco design. Minimalistic but effective I thought this years effort was exceptional conveying speed and competition in a backdrop of the race track. The advert got me to go.

I did the thirty mile trip on my Velocette LE staying on the minor roads it was a good pace (for 200cc) and managed the journey with no mishaps. It was a good day out in very hot sunshine I did my bit for the Museum, handing out flyers and talking to people about the financial situation encouraging them to come sooner rather than later. I took only a few photos as I did a number of videos that filled up my phones memory. Some good old machines running around the arena on the old start/finish straight. The test hill was in use and many people blasted their way up the hill including a few lightweights. There was one enthusiastic pilot that accelerated so fast on his thirties racer that it pulled a wheelie that surprised him more than the audience. More people could have signed up for riding around the display area and could have taken part on the test hill. All of it ended too soon. Here are a few videos of the action.

Going around the club displays I came across some interesting bikes, on was the RVS a unique machine made from spare parts by a dealer who assembled the bike. He was also an engineer who created a set of Excelsior brakes to match the style of the machine. I had not heard of RVS before but it stands for Recovered Vintage Spares.

In one line was a Brough. Not the usual one but a fore and aft flat twin. There was a spare crankcase around too.

Lastly in the cafe there is this Zenith Gradua. A small one, gear lever on the right, one that I had seen before but not really inspected it that closely. This is worth a close look as the engine is a Bradshaw, not really surprising as their respective factories are only a few miles apart, but the engine was unusual being one of Bradshaw’s “oil boilers” I thought Bradshaw only had a design for singles but this is not so. Oil boilers were as the name suggests what happened in practice. Bradshaw used oil to cool the engine by having it splash around in a big jacket that enclosed the cylinder. The hot oil would steam away and in doing so cooled the engine. It required a sizeable volume of oil to do this but was reasonably effective. Now I have a mission to look at ABC motorcycles that are Bradshaw’s designs to see if his transverse flat twins were also oil boilers. These engines have an air cooled finned head and no barrel finning only a nice cast aluminium jacket that blends into the crankcase. Easy to miss.

I met up with Zoe Cano, intrepid lone motorcyclist whose recent book on her trip around New Zealand “Hellbent for Paradise” has just been published. I have visited most of the places she did so I want to compare notes.

A busy day at the Museum on Monday with another international flavour with visitors from Poland, South Africa and New Zealand. I fitted the Lucas light switch knob after much cleaning and that required a 4BA screw to do it with. I get this and other BA nuts and bolts for the LE from the BA Nut and Bolt Shop on-line. It looks almost new.

After many years of overheating on my LE I decided that, as I can do little about the amount of cooling from the radiator that I would fit an oil cooler. I found a suitable one that fits a Chinese 150 OHC single and made suitable brackets to mount it above the oil filter on the LE. My next problem is to plumb it in.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Haynes Museum

A visit to the Haynes Museum

As I was in Warminster collecting a gearbox for my next four wheel project and was close enough to Sparkford I spent a day at the Haynes Museum primarily to see how they had displayed the Robin Spalding scooter collection but to see what else they had. 

I was amazed at the Speedway bike collection and the variety of engines used. It was said that many of these bikes were from Ivan Maugher’s collection. I thought most were in the collection at the Paradise Wildlife park but there must be more than would fit in there. 

A great day, this visit I took the guided tour by Roy that concentrated on Triumph. Little about the bikes and much more on the development of the cars. Interesting anyway. As you may know John Haynes began it all by writing about his building of an Austin 7 special while still at school. Can’t do things like that now, too many Elves around. Roy was very knowledgable and, as he owned some of the Triumph cars our group had a very intimate look at them. Closer than most people are allowed to get. There was not enough time to spend looking at the displays in detail and I have to have another visit perhaps later on in the year.
There are a few things going on as it is now MOT time for some of my bikes and that means some servicing to be done. I do a great deal myself but I see it is as sensible to get someone else to check them over. 

I have read the recent issue of “Road” the MAG magazine and there is a short piece on Mark Holmes and his around the world trip on a Triumph Rocket 3. I remember Mark from his visit to the Museum in the early part of 2017 before he set off on this epic adventure in April. That was also mentioned in “Road". This adventure had an unexpected outcome and I think I will need to read the book from tales of sadness that set him on his way to finding love and marriage by his return. Don’t we all like a good love story but not necessarily with your bike?
You can look him up on

The on going saga of the restoration of the Greenford Police LE I have completed the repair of the Olicana screen and have just refitted it but not all the way as the headlamp bolts are not long enough to pinch the front mounting and I need to get two bolts a quarter of an inch longer. 
I say it in imperial as that was what was used at the time. Metric was only on the foreign stuff. I must admit the foreign stuff of that era had class, style and continence. My usual description about the British bikes in the museum is that along with age comes incontinence and most have nappies under them except the LEs. At some point it will be completed the work but it is good enough to be on display.

In between other things, having some spare box section I created an extra bit for my bike trailer. Bike gear takes up a lot of space so I came up with the idea of finding a way to strap suitcases, with the gear in, along with a bike so I don’t fill up the car. I’m not sure how well this is going to work but when I have tried it out I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Motofest in Coventry

Coventry Motofest.

Since the Southern Classic Bike Show I have been busy with car related projects. One is rebuilding a kit car and the other preparing for the Citroen Centennial celebrations in Coventry.The car related project meant I have been to Stroud in Gloucestershire and, by chance, met up with a bike enthusiast taking his bikes out for a spin, not at the same time I add. An Ariel and a Triumph. Looking good with the patina of age.

Although the reason for going to Coventry was for cars, there was a bit about bikes too. On Saturday a parade of motorcycles lined up out side the camp ground which was in Coombe Park to ride into Coventry as part of that days’ celebration. Bikes were parked everywhere in the city. Some of the roads were closed to allow for street racing and stunt performances. It was an event not to be missed.

Sunday was the day for the cars and having a Citroen we all set off in sunshine and directed around the town and by chance drove around part of the racing circuit. Parked up by the Cathedral we headed off for a coffee and snack before going on to the Transport Museum. I left some flyers as in previous visits and went around the museum. I think this was my fourth visit in about 6 years. The first time was to see Robin Spalding’s collection of scooters in Scooter Mania and this was in my first ever posting for the Museum. This collection is now in the Haynes Museum in Sparkford.

I went around the museum with Richard, an old friend and left Gita in the shops. I was the impromptu guide and I still saw more interesting things on the machines I saw before. There were two Francis Barnetts that drew my attention. One was thought to be a prototype with some different tubing arrangement in the “built like a bridge” frame and another that had a coil spring on the girder forks that like a big clock spring. How many people know what I’m talking about? Bill Lyons had a presence with one of his sidecars. Swallow were the coach builders making cars and sidecars and later Jaguar. By the time we had gone around the museum it had started to rain and feeling a bit hungry collected Gita on the way to Weatherspoons for some lunch and waited for the rain to stop. After lunch it was a quick walk around the bike club stands in Biker Village before going on to the Cathedral and the rain started again. This put a real dampner on the day as being at the Motofest was to show off the cars. It was a bit too damp to stand around chatting.
It was nice to sit in the Cathedral out of the rain listening to the choir practice. Every place you go to has a snippet of information about something or other. This time in the Cathedral it was about Siegfried Bettmann. His success enabled him to become President of the Coventry Liberal Association. A Freemason and founder member of Coventry's Chamber of Commerce, he was also a Justice of the Peace and in 1913 became Mayor of Coventry, the first non-British subject to have the position. His German origins resulted in him being removed from this position on the beginning of the first World War. A bit more up to date and I now know where the Triumph factory was sited next to the Cathedral. 

Just across form the original front entrance and about where the bollards are now sited. I took a few photos to show where it was. An incendiary bomb set the Triumph factory ablaze with such ferocity that it took the Cathedral with it. The modern Cathedral has a minimalist elegance and amazing stained glass windows.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

More from the SCBS 2019

More from the SCBS 2019

Back at the Museum on the Monday after the Bike Show and time to reflect on the bikes at the show. As always there were some choice pieces of kit and below are a few of the bikes I thought were particularly good.
The Ariel 4 valver. Very rare.

Matchless G2, I had one of these. I liked it.

Douglas, 1914 with gearbox below the rear cylinder.

BSA C12.

BSA round tanker 1926

This Monday was an international affair with visitors from New Zealand, South Africa, America, Canada, Japan and this nice young lady from Latvia who wanted a picture of her sitting on my LE.
The bike is no prize winner as it does get used. I rode it to the show on Saturday and again to the Museum. After the picture shoot I fired up the LE and gave her a ride around the car park. She loves bikes and really enjoyed the experience. She said it was a very light and easy to handle machine. My surprise was that I managed the rise and fall of the slope two up and didn’t fall off on the uphill slope turn at the top of the car park and the engine pulled very well, even cold. Not bad from a 192cc engine that is 56 years old. Here are some pics taken by our regular visitor Martin.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Southern Classic Bike Show 2019

Southern Classic Bike Show 2019

I get notification of the Southern Classic Bike Show around the end of February and I need to the the request in for the club stand by the end of March. This gives me plenty of time to get in touch with the usual club members who have a bike to show and be able to attend the event. All done in plenty of time before going to India in April for a traditional wedding. This trip to India I managed to stay in good health and came back in time to get to a Wey Valley Observed Sunday and a trip out on a back by one run that had a stop at the new look Ryka's. It was a busy Sunday with lots being sold at the shop at which I help out. Not surprising as there were over 220 bikes in the car park. Back at the Museum on the Monday and trolling through a bike magazine I found this advert.

The first ever Southern Classic Bike Show from 1986.
I didn’t see this in 2016 but there is on sale a book that is a photographic record of some of the interesting bikes that have been seen over the last 30 years.Not all things go to plan. The week before George had phoned me to say he would not be able to bring his KSS along as the headlamp glass had vibrated free and self destructed so he had no usable headlamp and would bring along his Venom sports instead. I notified Mortons of the change of bike also George had to go to a funeral on the Friday and would not be able to help me set up the LE Club stand I had arranged to meet up with Chris at the Admiral Hawke in Sunbury to do a trailer swop on the Wednesday before the show that was not a problem however on the way home I had a tyre self destruct and had to do a wheel change on the hard shoulder of the M4 near junction 3. Even with a speed limit of 60mph it was not a pleasant place to be.

Gita help me get the stand set up on the Friday afternoon and when I got home checked out my LE and got all the bits I needed for the early start in the morning. All ready for Saturday. Up at 6am and off to Kempton Park at 7am and arrived just before 8am. Chris was already there and we quickly unloaded his Police LE from my trailer. Where was George? By 08:30 Phil had arrived on his Valiant. About this time I had a call from Gita who said that George was stranded in Greenford and would not be coming along. Down to three bikes on display and we had the biggest space ever!

I was hopeful that George would not remain stranded and get his bike going again.
It was another full on day with lots of interest in the bikes along with a bit more promotion for the LMM. We met some of the old faces and were introduced to some new ones. Denis Frost, Velocette man through and through and the Club Historian was pleased that we were promoting the club and agreed it was time for some new banners and photos that I could get from India at reduced prices but I would need electronic copies to replace the paper ones we have that will not last much longer.

Late in the morning George arrived and helped out to the end of the day. He had to do a bit of shopping for parts to try to cure the Venoms’ ills. He had gone to the funeral and did 100 miles on it with no problems the day before. I introduced him to George’s corner where I wanted to position his bike that had pictures of him and his bike watching the procession of vintage bikes of the Pioneer Run near 


There were some nicely turned out bikes at the show but what dis catch my eye was this Tricati and Pete had got the frame and the engine mated but not completed as an offer he could not refuse persuaded him to let it go and I thought his may have been this one.

It turned out to be a good day at the show until I heard of the death of one of the Wey Valley Club members who had died in his sleep a few days ago. He was no older than me! He was a character and rode bikes with sidecars. He even instructed a member in advanced riding techniques for outfits.He was Graham Newton, a larger than character who gave so much to the Wey Valley Bike Club and so much more to improving motorcycling riding. We shall all miss him.