Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Himalayan Adventure

Himalayas on a Himalayan.

In this report I have to start with some sad news: The London Motorcycle Museum will be closing its doors for the very last time on Monday October 7th 2019. Due to increasing financial pressure from Ealing Borough Council that has raised the rent again the Museum does not have the number of people coming through the doors to pay even half of it. Bill has had to sell many surplus bikes to afford the rent in the past without losing the displays but the surplus had come to an end and so will the era of a very special museum that has enlightened and entertained all its visitors over the last twenty years. I have been part of the team since I retired in 2011and started doing the Blog “Something for the Museum” in February 2013 and put together some 189 postings of relevant articles. As the Museum is closing this will be my very last “Something for the Museum”. Read everything while you can as I’m not sure how long the museum website will remain open. I will still have the all the postings and pictures on my PC and I will still be on Facebook and Twitter.

I though I was just going on a bike ride in India. I went with 9 other guys who are Indian and they promised my wife they would look after me so I signed up for a bike trip to Ladakh. I had no idea where this was so it was easy to go with the flow and go along for the ride. I had a choice of bikes a Bullet Classic or Himalayan. I chose the Himalayan as it has had so very good write-ups in bike magazine for being a good off road bike plus I knew we would go to over 18,300ft so thought the modern engine with fuel injection would be a good bet. All was booked for me by team leader Harmit who had done this trip before. He booked the trip with Eden Riders with the following itinerary:-

Day 01: Departure (Ex Delhi or Chandigarh or Bhuntar) Journey towards Manali to be made via Delhi or Chandigarh or Bhunt Day 02: Manali (Local tour & Team Briefing) On arrival in Manali, check-in to the hotel. Our team will welcome and brief about the arrangements. Introduction to motor bikes followed by a tour towards Solang and Leh - Manali highway with a guided motorbike. Overnight stay with dinner at hotel.

Day 03:Manali - Keylong - Jispa
Well begun, they say is half done! And surely this is a good beginning as just out of Manali, you start the spectacular 52 Km journey to Rohtang Pass. 

As you gain height and reach the bewitching Rohtang Pass, being here is literally like feeling on top of the world! The trees will disappear, and vast and lush grasslands will be seen. Pass through the Lahaul Valley where there are mountains capped with snow all around. Enjoy mountain dinner of steamed momos and thukpa.

Day 04:Jispa - SarchuUpon feasting your eyes to a wonderful sunrise over the mountains, start your bike expedition from where you left off.This part of your excursion will take you through Baralacha Pass.From there, head towards Sarchu which forms the border line between Kashmir and Himachal. From there, reach the Sarchu camp. Relax for the rest of day and keep it high on fluids.
Day 05: Sarchu - Leh
This day, we start for our best and the longest ride of the trip. Cross the Tanglang-La Pass which is the second-highest motorable mountain pass in the world at the height of 5300 meters. 

After crossing this pass, you will have to bike through well-maintained roads all the way to Leh. After the Tanglang -La , welcomes us to small villages, green fields and "JULLEY!" - a greeting in the Ladakhi language will add life to the relative straight road to Leh. Check-in at the hotel in the borders of Changspa. Spend evening chilling out at the place

Day 06:Khardungla Pass (Leh)
This morning, your wonderful motorcycle tour will involve driving towards the world’s highest motorable road- Khardungla Pass.This day is one of the most important day of our Ladakh motorbike trip. There are a number of popular tourist attractions that you may visit, such as Leh Palace, Jama Masjid and Magnetic Hill.

Day 07: Leh - Pangong Lake - Leh excursion
Today we will visit beautiful Pangong Lake and Three Idiots shooting point.This famous blue blackish lake of Pangong with half of it running to the other side of the Indo-China border has an experience of its own.The second stop is the Changla Pass and go forward to an army checkpoint at Tangse. This will be the last day at Leh. While in Leh of course you aren’t short of things to do enjoy a great view of the Indus Valley and the Zanskar range and go closer to nature. Shopping around the local markets and trying the street food in the evenings can be a good plan too for the final day in this land of beauty! Have a comfortable stay at night in the resort

Day 08: Leh - Tsomori
Now we are moving toward Nomadic land of Ladakh (Tsomoriri). Riding on the bank of Indus river and crossing most beautiful valley in Ladakh. The altitude of the Tsomoriri lake is 14,836 ft. It is the largest of the high altitude lakes entirely within India and entirely within Ladakh.

Day 09: Tsomori - Sarchu
Moving within the valley looking another beautiful lake the Tsokar, And reaching the mid way of pang. Taking the same route to Sarchu.

Day 10: Sarchu - Manali
This is the final leg of our ritual road trip as we traverse the same challenging route back to Manali. In the morning, drive through the Sarchu plain and reach the Baralaccha plain till noon. Enjoy a smooth ride up the Lahaul ranges and reach Rohtang. Day 11: Depart from Manali This is the last day of the adventurous Manali to Leh bike tour

Eden Riders Tour and Travel

Not until we had camped at 15,000ft that the frozen pipes in the morning could have been avoided by staying in a hotel and our wishes of being warm and cosy could have been fulfilled. Eden Riders do bespoke trips which make them a good bet for doing this sort of trip. As we all knew each other it made organisation easy. I reckon that a group of about 10 makes good dynamics. It worked for us.
I did do some training for the altitude and it paid off. Only a slight headache and minor dizziness were all that I suffered. Even those who do this trip regularly get these symptoms.
What an achievement at 68 years old to ride a bike to the top of the world and come home in one piece. A fitting end to the end of an era. It’s time to say “Have a safe ride wherever you go and enjoy life”.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Scooters Night at the Ace Cafe

Scooters at the Ace.

I have had a busy week out and about on the bikes enjoying what remains of the September weather. I have a few hours before I catch a flight to India and what is planned to be a biking expedition to the one of the highest mountain passes Ladakh. During the packing I discovered I had worn out the soles on my bike books, I did wonder why one foot was colder than the other, now I know, but it did mean an unplanned visit to a cobbler twice for two new soles and heels to be fitted. One to drop them off and two to collect as it was a big job. He did a grand job and now I’m a bit taller and I can reach the ground more easily also a bit more weatherproof. When I return I’ll make notes about about what gear I took and if I used it, was it any good.

Gita, my wife, had a special dancing lesson in Wembley at 6:30 in the evening so we took the Kawasaki and dropped her off and I went back to the Ace Cafe on the North Circular for a read of the latest Road MAGazine while sipping a mug of tea. A mug for a pound great value! This evening was Scooter night. By the time I finished my tea it was starting to get dark and I thought I had better take some photos on my phone. People always arrive on something interesting. There was the “Stealth Lambretta” that had lowered handlebars. How did he do that? 

A novel way to mount a GPS, or phone or Ipad then there are the lights. One Lambretta had so many lights I have no idea where the power comes from to run them all and mirrors! So many that they must be a distraction unless you like to see yourself posing. So much gear the scooter must weigh a ton. What really caught my eye was this little sports Lambretta. Spare wheel in the foot well to        make the impression of a racing tank, bump seat and half leg shields. Stripped for speed and finished in bright red. Just the thing to pop around on.

I was waiting fo a call from Gita to pick her up when I entered into a conversation with a young fella who had parked his, slightly older, Kawasaki ER6F near mine. We compared notes on how good they are and some of the drawbacks and what was needed for touring. A Versys you might say but we both agreed that the Versys was a bit to short for getting your foot past the top box. He also was thinking about taking an Advanced Riding course from the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) and asked about content and length of course all of which I was able to advise him on. I had been checking my phone for missed calls and messages, nothing until about quarter to nine and saw 9 missed calls and 4 messages!!! I hate technology when it fails. I phoned Gita straight away and within minutes I had picked her up and we were on our way home. She was about to get a taxi to come over to the Ace to search for me. She was a bit worried that something had happened and quite rightly so, but it was only a failure of the system to connect and we pay for it!

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.