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FROM THE ARCHIVE John Cowie on the Gus Kuhn-prepared BMW, TT, 1976 BMW R90S A look at a beautiful, unrestored R90S SUBSCRIBE! Get 12 issues for the price of 10 when you subscribe for a year – bargain! BUYING GUIDE – ARIEL SUPER SPORTS ARROW Innovative, fun, charming and great value BUYING GUIDE – KAWASAKI Z650 Almost all the fun of a Z1 at a fraction of the price BUYING GUIDE – BSA B31 PLUNGER Small Heath’s charming 350 plunger NEWS New bikes and more WHAT’S ON Christmas pudding can take its toll – work it off with a good walk around a show PRODUCTS Oils, jackets, wax, cleaners and even a camera – spend that Christmas money NEW INDIAN BOBBER Traditional style, infinitely customisable

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PAUL MILES Paul debates how many bikes you must have PAUL D’ORLEANS Why has the motorcycle industry forgotten the ladies? ARCHIVE A couple of TT images that show how little the Island has changed over time STEVE COOPER Our new columnist gives us the low down on the VJMC INDIAN 101 This is gorgeous – no other words needed GUY MARTIN’S TRIUMPH RACER REBUILD, PART TWO Les gets Guy’s Trident ready for the new season MOTORCYCLE LIVE Old, new and in-between

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KAWASAKI ZEPHYR A classic waiting in the wings – Kawasaki’s own homage to the Z1 LETTERS What are you thinking? Let us know SERVICING YOUR AMAL We take a look at the Mk1 concentric TRIUMPH DAYTONA REBUILD Basket case to beauty – we follow a Daytona rebuild READER ADS Be tempted, go on, you deserve it. Hello – is that my bank manager? FRANK WESTWORTH What? Frank’s sold a bike?




From the archive

GUS KUHN WAS one of motorcycle sport’s pioneers, competing in trials and road races before becoming a successful speedway rider from its earliest days in the UK. He raced in five TTs between 1920-1926 and


in 1932 Kuhn started a bike shop in London, with Norton, BSA and Triumph dealerships. He became a specialist in preparing Nortons for racing, with successes including British National championships. In the mid-

Seventies attention moved to the boxer twins of BMW, with some notable successes. Gus Kuhn died in 1966, he was 67. Three Gus Kuhn BMWs entered the 1976 Isle of Man Production TT, with Martin

Sharpe and Abe Alexander, Dave Cartright and Ray Knight and Alan Rogers with John Cowie (seen here). The Sharpe/ Alexander bike finished second in class, Cartright and Knight’s bike never started due to an

unfortunate practice crash, while Rogers and Cowie broke down on the third lap. In this picture you can see John Cowie riding a BMW R90S in the production race at what looks like the hairpin just outside

Ramsey. Note the Norton fairing, Kuhnmade seat unit and modern-style NatWest bank sponsorship – although visors still needed to evolve – see the racer’s favourite tool – gaffa tape…




Who’s who ||

EDITOR || Matt Hull PUBLISHER || Tim Hartley SENIOR DESIGNER || Kelvin Clements DESIGNER || Michael Baumber PICTURE DESK || Paul Fincham, Jonathan Schofield EDITORIAL ASSISTANT || Jayne Clements PRODUCTION EDITOR || Sarah Wilkinson DIVISIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER || Billy Manning ADVERTISING || Leon Currie 01507 529413 Kieron Deekens 01507 529576 ARCHIVE ENQUIRIES || Jane Skayman 01507 529423 SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER || Paul Deacon

Matt Hull

Thermals? Check. 'I'm just popping out, dear' ALL THAT WELL-INTENTIONED squit last month I wrote about workshop jobs to do? Well, I, er, there’s an issue. You see, as lucky as it is working around bikes, you are constantly reminded just how much fun riding them is, like my friend Martin, above, on his wonderful Guzzi Ambassador. Never mind that the temperature is waning, light is as sparse as an honest MP and your bike gets covered in the detritus left behind the sugar beet harvest (city folk may be allowed not to worry about that one…), it’s still so tempting to get out for a ride – depending on the condition of your bike. You see all those beautiful bikes at shows? The ones with every nut and bolt carefully polished, tyres so gleaming with show shine that you could shave in the reflection, where the owner has spent ages – nigh years – to locate the exact parts to recreate the bike as was new? Remember that feeling of envy when you see them? Maybe even the feeling of disappointment towards your own bike? These show bikes are wonderful and they inspire others to tackle their projects. But if you have a ‘normal’ bike, a bike with a few warts, battle-scars, even, dare I say it, non-genuine parts, you can regain your dignity – in a way a show bike never could – by riding it. Many would consider it utter madness to take a show-standard bike out in the Winter, for jolly good reasons, too. But if your bike isn’t like that, why park it up? There is much riding fun to be had where others fear to tread. That is, providing you take some simple steps. Firstly, look after yourself. To hell with looking the part, modern textile clothing has armour, should be waterproof and comfortable. Many thin layers work better than Grannie’s knitted Jersey in keeping you toasty and invest in some decent gloves. And a neck tube – save the silk scarf for Spring. Use a full-face helmet, one with an anti-mist visor and

you should be warm and safe. Now the bike. Good tyres are a must, as is predictable fuelling on slimy roads – mine recently got all ‘spluttery’ on me but after consulting the Oracle, which I couldn’t summon so I had to put up with a mardle to the ol’ boys down the local, I drained the fuel bowl, as some water had got in. Polish the shiny bits and use a good protectorant (ACF50 is my favourite but there’s Scottoil F365 and loads of others), lube the cables and make sure you’ve got the thinner oil in for the colder weather. Oh, and check the battery works, as the daylight goes quicker than you think – like I didn’t the other day. Never been so popular, everyone was waving and flashing me… Pick a relevant route. Stop when you want to, carry on if you don’t. I got a wonderful reception from a tea-shop ‘up the coast’ on a particularly cold day. The old bike was an instant talking point and I got a free cuppa, feigning cold. It is a really liberating experience, and for those that already ride in the Winter, I’m hoping you’re wearing a contented smile. Even the bikes love it, not sitting there unloved for months while its petrol goes stale, batteries go flat and seals dry out. Until you get home and have to clean the bike that is. That part never gets any better. And when weather really does stop play? Then it’s time to stop procrastinating and get on with that list of jobs. Good luck and be good. Matt Hull Do you ride in all weathers? If you do, would you kindly drop us a line and a pic if you have one? Would love to see them and if we get enough we’ll pop them in the mag. Email them to or send them in to the address on the right. Must shoot now, got to clean that damn bike...

CIRCULATION MANAGER || Steven O’Hara MARKETING MANAGER || Charlotte Park PUBLISHING DIRECTOR || Dan Savage COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR || Nigel Hole EDITORIAL ADDRESS Mortons Media Group, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6JR WEBSITE GENERAL QUERIES AND BACK ISSUES 01507 529529 24hr answerphone Email: Web: SUBSCRIPTION Full subscription rates (but see page 20 for offer): (12 months 12 issues, inc post and packing) – UK £50.40. Export rates are also available – see page 20 for more details. UK subscriptions are zero-rated for the purposes of Value Added Tax. DISTRIBUTION Marketforce UK Ltd, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf,London E14 5HU. 0203 787 9001 USA SUBSCRIPTIONS CLASSIC BIKE GUIDE (USPS:002-674) is published monthly by Mortons Media Group Ltd, PO Box 99, Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 6LZ UK. USA subscriptions are $54 per year from Motorsport Publications LLC, 7164 Cty Rd N #441, Bancroft WI 54921. Periodical Postage is paid at Bancroft, WI and additional entries. Postmaster: Send address changes to CLASSIC BIKE GUIDE, c/o Motorsport Publications LLC, 7164 Cty Rd N #441, Bancroft WI 54921. 715572-4595 PRINTED BY || William Gibbons & Sons, Wolverhampton. ISSN No 0959-7123

ADVERT DEADLINE || January 4, 2018 NEXT ISSUE || January 24, 2018

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BMW R90S It is hard nowadays to believe that during the early Seventies BMW suffered from a poor and staid image. BMWs were well-designed and extremely reliable machines, but they were not seen as the most desirable motorcycles on the planet. WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY BY STUART URQUHART



alling sales became a significant threat to the motorcycle division of BMW’s existence, however, BMW North American sales director, Bob Lutz as well as Suzuki Katana stylist, Hans Muth, came to the rescue by creating the R90S – the bike that turned around BMW’s fortunes. The R90S changed the German marque‘s course, albeit at a price. Owning BMW’s latest and arguably greatest model would set you back a staggering load of beer money when it was launched in 1973. And its high price, £1799 – compared with £585 for a Bonneville – attracted a great deal of flak from the motorcycling press. Costing as much as a small family car, the R90S nevertheless won over critics with its impressive specification and remarkable performance.


Overnight BMW’s flat twin changed from passé to whoopee and justifiably so, because if you could afford it, BMW ownership now meant excitement, adventure and exclusivity. BIKE magazine’s Mark Williams said of the new machine: ‘The man who can afford to buy the new R90S doesn’t want to be concerned with maintenance, but nevertheless he demands mindzapping power, controllability and, perhaps above all, something out of the ordinary. I think such a man may consider the R90S to be fair value.’ Not only did the R90S go on to win public approval, to its credit the BMW won the 1976 Production TT in the able hands of Helmut Dahne. The Beemer was elevated to even higher status when British racer Reg Pridmore won the 1976 AMA Superbike Championship on a R90S, with the model taking first and second podiums at Daytona earlier that year. Another British Champion, Dave Potter also raced a Gus Kuhn BMW R90S endurance bike at Le Mans, the Barcelona 24hrs and at Bol d’Or. The R90S was bristling with tried and tested German technology and it was no accident that BMW had built a race winner. The new and well engineered 898cc engine was the largest the firm had ever built, with a bore and stroke measuring 90x71mm and a compression ratio of 9.5:1. It produced 67bhp


@7200rpm with a (claimed) top speed of 125mph (by contrast, Triumph’s admittedly smaller 750 Bonneville produced 46bhp @6500rpm) and proved to be as reliable as any of BMW’s previous models. The R90S was fitted with BMW’s new five-speed gearbox, twin front discs, massive accelerator pump Dell’Orto racing carburettors and a completely new cockpit-style half fairing that left no doubts about its sporting intentions. Glowing press reports similar to LJK Setright’s appraisal in BIKE magazine catapulted the R90S into the top league of superbike sales: ‘The detail finish, overall balance, the feel of the controls, the blissful ease of the new five-speed gearbox, and not least the fact that the new R90S can be ridden fast without fatigue, and without having to be refuelled every 50 minutes, all combine to make this an absolutely top-class motorcycle. If I could afford one, I would hesitate no longer.’ Originally launched in two-tone metallic silver-grey the iconic Daytona orange model followed just one year later and is regarded by aficionados as BMW’s most desirable and collectable model. DEREK HOR NE’S DELIGHTFULLY ORIGINAL BIKE The stunning 1975 Daytona orange R90S here is an ex-Jack Gow Motorcycles of Dundee machine.

Classic Bike Guide January 2018  

Classic Bike Guide January 2018 preview Read more at:

Classic Bike Guide January 2018  

Classic Bike Guide January 2018 preview Read more at: