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December 2019 £2.20 ISSUE

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The Colmore Cup has seen some varied weather conditions throughout its 108-year history, and 1948 was no exception. Here we see a Mr Whittle on his Panther; he and his passenger claimed a second class award. • To find this and thousands more images visit: Mortons Archive www.mortonsarchive.com

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2 NEWS

December 2019

Editorial

www.oldbikemart.co.uk email: info@oldbikemart.co.uk

Editor Dave Manning OBMEditor@mortons.co.uk Designer Tracey Markham Production editors Pauline Hawkins, Sarah Spencer Picture desk Paul Fincham and Jonathan Schofield Group advertising manager Sue Keily Divisional advertising manager Billy Manning Trade Advertising Team Leader (Classic Division) Leon Currie lcurrie@mortons.co.uk | 01507 529465 Trade Advertising Ricky Nichols rnichols@mortons.co.uk | 01507 529467 For Private Enquiries please visit

www.oldbikemart.co.uk

Marketing manager Charlotte Park Circulation manager Steve O’Hara Publisher Tim Hartley Publishing director Dan Savage Commercial director Nigel Hole General queries Customer Service number: 01507 529529 Telephone lines are open: Monday-Friday 8.30am-5pm and 24hr answerphone Archive enquiries Jane Skayman jskayman@mortons.co.uk 01507 529423 Founder Ken Hallworth OLD BIKE MART (ISSN:1756-9494) is published monthly by Mortons Media Group Ltd, PO Box 99, Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 6LZ UK. USA subscriptions are $48 per year from Motorsport Publications LLC, 7164 City Rd N #441, Bancroft WI 54921. Periodical Postage is paid at Bancroft, WI and additional entries. Postmaster: Send address changes to OLD BIKE MART, c/o Motorsport Publications LLC, 7164 City Rd N #441, Bancroft WI 54921. 715-572-4595 chris@classicbikebooks.com PUBLISHED BY

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W

ith the last big classic show of the year now out of the way (and it’s up to you as to whether you consider that comment relates to Stafford or the classic car show at the NEC), we can all look to the long winter evenings spent in shed, garage, lean-to or purposebuilt workshop. And, like many other classic bike fans, I have an ongoing fascination with the area in which people build and maintain their bikes – why not show us pictures of yours? As we’re in a moist region of the northern hemisphere, the winter can easily be looked at as being the time to indulge in ‘shed hibernation’, both for our bikes and ourselves, giving us time to repair, restore or modify our own P and J ready for the spring unveiling and the start of more on-road adventures, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You could argue that the winter months are the prime time to be proving a point about classic bikes being practical transport as well as very righteous ways to travel, rather than them being committed to close spanner scrutiny for the darkest half of the year. Actually, it should be both, although it is perhaps unfair to demand that those folk who have spent every last penny on buying – or restoring – the classic bike that they’ve always wanted to, must then use it in the cold and wet months of salt-encrusted highways and freezing temperatures… But then, isn’t that just what people did 40 or 50 years ago? Ride their bikes year-round? Of course, classic machinery isn’t as cheap as it used to be, and the cheap hack C15 or Villiers-engined pipsqueak has been replaced by either a ‘nice little car’ or a

four-stroke Chinese-built small capacity bike. But I still believe that it is possible to make steps into the classic scene without spending a small fortune. And yes, I have heard all the comments made about the price of classics, and I’ve seen how autojumble bargains have changed over the last few years. Little wonder that places like Stafford have such queues to get in early! It’s commonplace for folk to get to a ’jumble as early as possible, even paying an ‘early bird’ premium to get access to the bargains before anyone else does, but is this really the case, or are people just wanting easy access without the queues? Admittedly, it is true that there are still some bargains to be had at autojumbles, regardless of the comments made about overpriced project bikes on show (how many times have you heard statements like: “If he gets what he wants for that, I’ll eat my hat!”). I personally think that this is due to a combination of increased knowledge, and the reducing amount of stock available for the sort of bikes that we would really like to see at a bargain price in an autojumble. Which is why you’ll not see a cheap Triumph twin, or a bargain basement Gold Star, or a Fizzie petrol tank in original Baja Brown for under a tenner. But you will get to see things that you won’t find anywhere else (where else can you go and see half a dozen Triumph conical front hubs all in a row?) and you will get to scrutinise them closely, rather than just looking at blurred smartphone pics on an internet auction site that may disguise the condition, or origin, of the part in question… Autojumbles have progressed,

and, in much the same way, so have auctions too. I hear the same people who’re complaining about autojumbles not having bargains saying that auction prices are too high. To me, this sounds the same as someone complaining that the toys in Hamleys are too expensive, or that there are no cheap sausage rolls in a delicatessen. In the same way that you go to Hamleys to be amazed and astounded by the sheer quantity and variety of cool (and very expensive) toys, and you go to a deli to be shocked by the price of a very small tin of Beluga caviar, you go to an auction to buy something that can’t be bought anywhere else. And that’s exactly why prices have risen for auction-sold bikes. It isn’t something that you can complain about, it just is. I can’t afford to buy the sort of classic bike that I really want, either from an auction or an autojumble, but I still like to go along and show an interest… Although, yes, I am always hopeful that I might just stumble across a gem of a bargain that no one else has seen, even if it might not be exotica and could just be a lowly ex-commuter bike that just about scrapes within the meagre Manning budget. And, on that note, I’d like to end this month’s editorial with a statement. In a bid to prove that classic motorcycling isn’t as expensive as some folk make it out to be, I’m keen to prove a point and, in that vein, I’m making an attempt to hunt down a cheap and cheerful 175cc Bantam that doesn’t have to be

in immaculate and mint condition, but it does need to be in running order (or very close to), with a log book and for a very reasonable sum indeed… anyone have any ideas? I had considered a Tiger Cub but, given the escalation in prices for the little Trumpet (maybe it should’ve been called the Piccolo?), I guess that I’ll have to resort to the twostroke Beeza instead, although the fact that it was the first bike I ever rode could be a good excuse to 'go chicken'? And there’s also the point that, with a bike such as the humble Bantam, I could indulge in a number of different classic motorcycle disciplines – not just gentle road riding, but long-distance trials, hill climbs, maybe the occasional classic road race or twisty sprint?... Or I suppose I could look at a Villiers-engined James, or...


December 2019

NEWS 3

Pierfrancesco Chili, number 7, at the height of his World Superbike career.

Chili hots up a classic!

Blasting away the lethargy brought on by excessive amounts of chocolate, turkey and Christmas pudding, the Carole Nash Classic Bike Guide Winter Classic takes place at Newark Showground over the weekend of January 11-12. Aside from the usual massed club stands and expansive autojumble for which the Winter Classic is known, January’s show will also star Pierfrancesco ‘Frankie’ Chili as the guest of honour. He will be interviewed by Steve Plater on both days, and will also present the awards on Sunday afternoon. Frankie is perhaps best known for his World Superbike career, in which he held the record for the most starts when he finally retired from racing in 2006, having claimed 10 pole positions and 17 wins during what was arguably the hardestfought years in WSB. Before that, Bolognaborn Frankie had a long and successful career in most classes of races, winning the 125cc European Championship in 1985, before moving to Grand Prix level in the 250 and 500cc World Championships. Fans will also have the opportunity to win lunch with Frankie by purchasing their advance e-tickets to the show before December 6. All buyers will be automatically entered into a free prize draw to win two seats at the table with Frankie and local racing celebrity Steve Plater. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend time with a real racing hero and is expected

Frankie says relax, at the Winter Classic.

to be very popular among fans. The show will also feature many of its regular attractions, including the return of Motogymkhana UK, who will be offering free sessions to visitors when booked in advance. More details on how to book will be available on the show website in the next few weeks.

For more information on trading or exhibiting at the event, please see the show website or call 01507 529430. Advance tickets are on sale now at £10 each, offering a saving of £2 on the gate price. For more information or to book advance tickets, please visit www.newarkclassicbikeshow. com or call 01507 529529.

One day, two legends On Tuesday, October 29, two legends of the classic motorcycle scene met when Alf Hagon visited Sammy Miller at Sammy’s motorcycle museum in the New Forest. Many friends and supporters of Alf came to meet him and hear his stories – and they weren’t disappointed! A great man with some wonderful tales to tell, Alf spent the day in the museum and Sammy’s workshop talking with Sammy and spending time with those who came along and who had followed Alf’s career over the years. In July 1967, riding a purpose-built sprint-bike powered by a supercharged 1260cc V-twin JAP engine, Alf became the first rider to record a sub-10 second time over the quarter mile with a one-way-only 9.93 performance at Duxford, Cambridgeshire. In 1968 Alf became the first British rider to complete a flying mile at more than 200mph (206.54mph) at RAF Honington in Suffolk. A massive achievement back in the ’60s! These stories, and many more, are recounted in the Mortons Media Group publication Hagon – about more than speed, by Tim Britton, which is available from www.classicmagazines.co.uk at just £6.99 (or £5.99 for a digital version).

Alf (left) with the Hagon bookazine, and Sammy at the New Forest museum.


4 NEWS

December 2019

Bry ryan y 'Badger' Goss in action.

Telford Classic Dirt Bike Show More news on the Telford show, as sponsored by Hagon, comes in the form of a press release from the Sammy Miller Museum, informing us that they will be taking some incredible machinery to the show in the heart of Shropshire, with the unique 1959 four-cylinder 50cc Mitchell (yes, that equals 12cc a pot!), the five-cylinder Radial Verdel board racer built in 1914 near Paris (unfortunately, the Royal Air Force wiped the factory out in the First World War!) and the iconic 1957 Moto Guzzi V8, with the fairing removed so that the public can see the fabulously designed unique eight-cylinder engine. The show, held over the weekend of February 15-16, also has two off-road legends as its guests of honour, with American World Trials champion of 1979, Bernie Schreiber, and British 500cc motocross champion Bryan ‘Badger’ Goss gracing the stage while Jack Burnicle performs interview duties with the stars on stage over the weekend. No doubt he’ll be asking how Bernie brought a new style to trials, and how Badger got his hands on the British crown in 1970. You can also join the dirt bike stars on the Saturday evening for a threecourse, sit-down meal for just £33! Clubs and private owners will be showcasing their pristine off-road machines at the show, with hundreds of traders offering everything from new bikes to parts, accessories, riding gear and project bikes for those who are up for a challenge! Tony Hutchison, of show sponsor Hagon Shocks – a proud British company which enjoys a strong working relationship with show organisers, Mortons Media Group – said: “Once again Mortons has a quality line-up of guest speakers in both Bernie Schreiber and Bryan Goss, and we look forward to hearing their stories over the weekend. With the US not being at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds when talking trials, the achievement of

American Bernie Schreiber lofts the front wheel in a moist section.

Sammy and the V8 Moto Guzzi

Bernie Schreiber and his journey to becoming world champion will be a fascinating tale to listen to! The insight to the season of Bryan Goss’s British crown against the depth of riders of that period will

The four-cylinder Mitchell, amounting to a jewel-like 50cc capacity.

be one not to be missed also.” For further details about the Classic Dirt Bike Show sponsored by Hagon Shocks, and to order your advance tickets, please visit www.classicbikeshows.com

There are few radial-engined motorcycles in existence, the 1914 Verdel is one.


6 NEWS

December 2019

Bristol Bike Show to hit 40 It’s party time on the first weekend in February at the Royal Bath & West Showground as the Bristol Classic Bike Show, once again sponsored by Carole Nash, reaches its 40th birthday! For this special milestone, show organiser Mortons Media Group, publisher of OBM, is turning the clocks back to the 1970s and ’80s with a special themed birthday celebration. Not only will the best club stand – decorated and manned in a suitable, period-correct way – win an impressive £1000, but the best-dressed visitor on each day will also go home

with £100, unless of course they choose to spend it in the famously impressive autojumble or at one of the numerous trade stands within the show halls. Traders are also encouraged to partake in the 40-year-old vibe. Aside from the halls full of trade and club stands – and those who have never visited the Bath & West before will be impressed by the number and variety of club stands – there will also be an auction thanks to the good folk of Charterhouse. More details, including those bikes and memorabilia due to go under the hammer, can be found

on the website for the show, to be held over the weekend of February 1-2. The first 1000 people who purchase their ticket in advance will be given one free party bag per transaction, complete with an assortment of products and offers for any motorcycle enthusiast to enjoy. Discounted advance tickets are now on sale, with a one-day adult pass costing just £11. Tickets will also be available on the gate at £13 – under 15s get free admission. Free parking is available on site. For more information visit the website: bristolclassicbikeshow.com Clubs stands always have an interesting machinery mix.

The Bristol autojumble in full flow.

Sunshine brings the crowds flocking to the venue.

Cafe racer corner.

Above: Variety is epitomised in the show halls. Right: Frau Esso greets all.

50cc Fantic Caballero gets attention.


8 NEWS

December 2019

BMS technical literature

BMW goodies It’ll come as no surprise to anyone reading this that we are fast approaching a certain time of year at which presents are given and received. It’s also no surprise that we motorcyclists are either an absolute nightmare to buy presents for, or as easy as pie, depending on your personal perspective. If you’re of the former point of view, then here are a few ideas, particularly pertinent to anyone owning a certain brand of motorcycle… The wall clock has a high quality metal frame and a curved glass front, is of 31cm diameter and 5cm depth, and has a batterypowered quartz movement for accuracy – none of which is especially outstanding until you hear that the clock is just £34. If even that is a touch too much, then how about a wall thermometer at £11, an enamel mug also at £11, embossed metal service and ‘BMW parking only’ signs at £19 and £18, or ceramic mugs at nine quid each? All of these are available from the UK’s number one outlet for BMW accessories – www.nippynormans.com

www.oldbikemart.co.uk

You may not be aware but, aside from holding the largest colleection of British motorcycles in the worlld (the Barber Museum in Birmingham m, Alabama, page 34, has bikes from all around the globe), The National Mo otorcycle Museum in Birmingham m UK also has an incredible archive of technical literature, including workshop manuals, sales catalogues, parts books and the Bruce Main-Smith collection. In brief, they are as follows:Bruce Main-Smith tecchnical literature: for more than n 50 years BMS has specialissed in producing high quality black and white photocopy seets of manufacturers’ originall literature that has gone out of prin nt. Visitors can buy directly from th he museum’s archive, while its web sh hop contains an alphabetical listing of the photocopy sets available, which nu umber more than 5000. These include motorcycle workshop manuals, illustrated parrts books, annual sales catalogues and insstruction books from the late 1800s to th he 1980s. In addition to an imm mense (and expanding) number of photocopy sets, the museum also stocks an ever-changing inventory of original mo otorcycle books, technical literature and sales publications. The types of high quality black and white photocopy sets of manufacturers’ original literature, and their uses, can be found below. This literature is invaluable to both restorers and riders of vintage and classic motorcycles. Workshop manuals: only generally published after 1940 when they were introduced for use by army workshops. Following the war, all the major

manufactures began publishing them for use by dealerships etc. Illustrated parts books: very useful when searching for missing or replacement parts, often well illustrated using exploded drawings; these can be of great help in showing the correct order of assembly. Annual sales catalogues: almost every manufacturer issued an annual sales catalogue or brochure of some type, usually illustrating every model in the

range for the coming year, and they provide useful specifications of the major components. Instruction books: varying greatly in content, some are basic, while others are extremely comprehensive. Details of the books, catalogues and brochures available can be found either at the museum itself, or in the shop section of the website at www. nationalmotorcyclemuseum.co.uk


10 NEWS

December 2019

Brough and Aston joint venture Two of the most wallet-stretching brands in the worlds of cars and motorcycles have joined forces to produce this, the AMB 001, produced via an unholy alliance between Aston Martin and Brough Superior. While the bike’s looks may make your eyes boggle, just wait until you

hear the price… Using the 997cc watercooled V-twin powerplant and chassis components from the Brough Superior bikes that are built in Toulouse, France, the new machine has carbon fibre bodywork that is clearly influenced by the car manufacturer’s styling, and is also

equipped with a turbocharger to give an impressive 180bhp at the back wheel! With a limited edition run of just 100 units, the chances are high that they will sell out, despite a price in excess of £100,000… What’s the saying? If you have to ask the price…

Ogri – he’s everybody’s favourite cartoon biker

There aren’t many motorcycling cartoon characters and there certainly are very few that even the most avid bikers can name. The one that most can remember is Paul Sample’s creation, as featured in the pages of Bike magazine and

Back Street Heroes – Ogri. We’ll be taking a closer look at Ogri’s creator at some point next year, but for now you all need to know about a new book – Ogri, Everybody's Favourite! – that contains a very large percentage of the Ogri back catalogue – admittedly, not all of the cartoon strips (there is a limited edition book that contains each and every strip, if you can find a copy), but it has got 150 of the very best cartoons (as selected by crowdsourced nominations), and probably a very large amount that you’ve never seen before. With a 41-year history, Ogri has not grown old, and nor has his famous Norvin, his dog Kickstart or his best mates, Malcolm and the curvaceous Mitzi. And

their adventures are endlessly entertaining. The 176-page paperback book also has some interesting background about the creator himself, his inspirations and how he went about creating the stories for publication.

Complete Book of Classic and Modern Triumph Motorcycles 1937-Today Certainly one of the longest book titles in my personal library, and fortunately matched by its size and pagination, the title does explain its contents very well. No doubt your first thought will be to wonder why the book only starts with bikes built from 1937, and the answer is quite simple. That was the year that the first Speed Twin was built, and that can be considered as being the first bike to give Triumph the identity that it holds to this day. Consequently, the book focuses on models such as the Trophy, Thunderbird, Bonneville, Tiger and Cub, with later models such as the Daytona and Speed Triple also

included. For a book about Triumphs, it has a fascinating combination of old and new, showing just how the brand has developed since that very first Speed Twin. It’s a must-have for any Triumph enthusiast, with specifications and background to pretty much all of the models produced since ’37, and some glorious full colour images within the 274 hard-backed pages. Written by Ian Falloon and costing £35, it’s available from www. quartoknows.com or www.ianfalloon. com, or it can be ordered from a bookshop using the ISBN number 978-0-7603-6601-1.

At £24.99, this is the perfect coffee table book for the motorcyclist with a sense of humour. It's available from www.ogri-book.co.uk or ordered from a book shop using the ISBN number 9781-9161879-0-0.


December 2019

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12 NEWS

December 2019

Classic motorcycle club boosts air ambulance fund On a Saturday evening in mid-October, Wells Classic Motorcycle Club held its 19th Annual General Meeting, presentations and social evening at the Britannia Inn, Wells, Somerset. In itself, that’s nothing unusual for a motorcycle club, but the highlight came when, at the end of the meeting, members were joined by the deputy mayor Phillip Welch and his wife, and marshals and helpers from the ninth annual Tortoise and Hare Run, who joined with

members to present the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance with another massive donation of £3800 from the club’s Tortoise and Hare fund. This large donation was made possible by the massive support received from sponsors, brochure advertisers and entrants, along with much work by many club members, to whom huge thanks were given. Donations from these annual events to the two counties’ Air Ambulance has

now reached an impressive £24,600. The event, catering for motorcycles and scooters of all ages, regularly attracts entrants from various parts of the country to go and ride in some of the area’s outstanding countryside. Next year will be the event’s 10th anniversary, and the date is set for Sunday, June 7, 2020. All the club details can be found at www.wellsclassicmotorcycleclub. weebly.com

Triumph Trident – the Best Production Racer Ever In this well researched and comprehensive book, the reader is taken through the full range of triple models, including the BSA Rocket 3, the Trident and the A75 Hurricane, as well as the technical changes that took place, and the fascinating range of specials and one-offs. There’s also advice on the Triumph dating system (no, not that type of dating system, but how to work out the age of your triple). Of special interest will be the previously unseen original drawings from Ogle Design and Craig Vetter, the designers behind the original T150 and the iconic Hurricane respectively, including an amazing design sketch of a rotary engine Triumph too. As Roy Maddox conducted more and more of the extensive research for the book, it became clear that the

story of the triples was directly linked to the success of the triples on the race circuits around the world, and at the Isle of Man TT in particular. As this book reveals, the Triumph Trident T150 was a milestone in British and world motorcycle design that also achieved huge success on the racing track. Launched over half a century ago, the Triumph Trident T150 is appreciated more today by its many owners and motorcycle enthusiasts than it was in its production heyday. Costing £14.99, in paperback (ISBN 9781445678511), it’s a comprehensive 96 pages with 150 photographs, most of which are in colour, and can be ordered through book shops, found on Amazon or ordered directly from sales@amberley-books. com or www.amberleybooks.com

The rides of March – Pioneer details Celebrating its 81st Pioneer Run in 2020, with some significant improvements to the route, the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club has announced that entries have opened for next year’s event. Recognised internationally as the premier event in the veteran motorcycle movement, the Pioneer Run always attracts the largest gathering of pre-1915 solos, sidecars and tricycles in the world, providing the public with the opportunity to see more than 300 early machines – aged between 105 and 123 years old – in action on the road and on display at the finish. The event attracts regular entries from France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Eastern Europe and the US. Last year the club made an important change to the route by avoiding the potentially dangerous junction with the A23 at Pyecombe where riders merged with very fastmoving traffic. Instead, the alternative

route was towards Shoreham, eventually leading to the A259 coast road to Brighton. While this was a vast safety improvement, the eastbound coast road with its multiplicity of traffic lights proved extremely congested and a source of frustration, particularly to riders of single speed and clutchless machines. Consequently, a more practical solution was required and the run will now avoid the congestion by finishing at the historic Brighton City Airport. The club has been in negotiations with the directors of the airport and has found them to be entirely supportive of the proposal, offering the location as a permanent finishing point for the Pioneer Run. Huge benefits will accrue from this new arrangement – improved safety, less traffic, ample parking, plenty of room for spectators and on-site catering, all at one of the most historic aerodromes in Britain.

Come the morning of March 22, the 2020 81st Pioneer Run will start at 8am from Tattenham Corner, Epsom Downs and the 45-mile revised route then follows the A217 through Reigate to join the A23 at Gatwick, diverting via Handcross and Lower Beeding (where there will be a coffee stop and checkpoint at the beautiful Leonardslee Gardens) to join the A281 through Cowfold, and Henfield, then on to the A2037 through Small Dole and Upper Beeding and finally to Brighton City Airport. Arrivals will be expected there from 10am onwards. Awards will be presented by the Mayor of the City of Brighton and Hove, together with the Mayor of Epsom and Ewell at the Sunbeam MCC marquee at 2pm. Regulations, entry forms and further information may be obtained from the club’s website at www.sunbeammcc.co.uk or contact the secretary of the meeting, Ian D McGill, at pioneerorganiser@gmail.com

Roa adrider rides again Oxford VMCC's Boxing Day Trial

While it’ss all very easy to accept that classic motorcycles have to use classic tyres, it’s also easy to forget that tyre manufaccturers are also developing tyres that are suitable for older maachinery rather than just new bikes. As an example, Avon Tyres has recently launched its eageerly anticipated Roadrider MKII sport touring motorccycle tyre, which brings several design and performance improvements over its predecessor and is, follow wing on from that first paragraph, eminently suitable for claassic bikes. As you’d expect, the new Roadrider has improved grip in wett and dry conditions, reduced wear and shorter brakin ng distances. Wet testing also indicates a sizeable improvement in stoppin ng distance compared to the Avon Roadrider. More pertinently, the Roadrider tyre is factory fitted to Royall Enfield’s 350cc bikes, and is available in 31 sizes and 37 sp pecifications, covering H and V speed ratings and universaal options, and, as you can see from the picture, it has a classic tread and sidewall appearance suitable for bikes of all ages. For mo ore information about Avon Tyres, go to www. avontyrees.com

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, there’s no better excuse for getting out on a bike than to burn off a little of the festive excesses! This year’s Boxing Day Trial, as organised by the Oxford section of the VMCC, will be held on (no surprises here) Boxing Day, December 26, 2019. The trial is open to machines that are either rigid or twinshock, have trials pattern tyres and which were originally manufactured before 1986. While entries will be open on the day – and you’ll have a bit of a lie-in after the food binge of the day before, as the event will start at 2pm! – members of the section are asking that entries are submitted as early as possible so that they know that it is viable to run the event. Entries can be made to the secretary of the event, Celia Walton, on 01865 372324 or celiawalton@hotmail.com And, of course, spectators are more than welcome! You can find the trial by leaving Oxford on the A420 (towards Swindon), then right at the roundabout on the A415 (at Kingston Bagpuize) towards Standlake. The venue will be signposted.


December 2019

13


14 MADE IN JAPAN

December 2019

The firstt versiion off the TS250, as prod duced d in 1969.

It might not have the full enduro spec and capabilities of the PE250, but the TS250 L could still boogie…

Suzuki TS250

Following the previous articles on Suzuki trail bikes, Steve Cooper takes a closer look at the bike that Suzuki just had to make after a direct competitor jumped the gun in the 250cc class.

S

uzuki, as a company, had been very proactive in the early days of supplying motorcycles to meet customer demands, and no more so than when catering for the vital American market. The company was on the ball and, by 1963, had set up the US Suzuki Motor Corporation which not only handled sales but also gave vital feedback to the Hamamatsu factory. Even if, in general terms, offroad motorcycling was still a marginal two-wheeled sport in the early 1960s, its apparent interest was growing. Suzuki’s initial responses were to modify existing smaller-capacity road machines with semi dirt road capabilities. The K series singles were the donor bikes of choice and the likes of the K10 and K12 Sport soon found themselves with knobbly tyres and high guards being sold as the K15P Hillbilly from 1965-1967. At 80cc, the bikes weren’t powerful but proved reliable and things may very well have carried on in that vein had Yamaha not pulled the rug out from under the opposition’s feet. The launch of the seminal DT-1 250 trail bike was in 1968 and Japanese dirt bikes were never the same from that point on. Acknowledging that it would take Honda until 1972 to seriously come up with a viable alternative, Suzuki really pulled out the stops by delivering their take on the subject just one year after Yamaha’s scene stealer. In less than 12 months the factory designed, prototyped, revised and launched an all-new machine, which was no mean achievement. In usual Suzuki fashion the new bike (officially the TS250) was called the Savage in America while being marketed as the Hustler in Japan. The Japanese version had a slightly weaker engine than the export models and, initially, the domestic market models were sold with slightly detuned engines rated at 18.5bhp, The last of the air-cooled TS models didn’t look as cohesive as the earlier machines

which would eventually rise to 22 by 1971. The rest of the world was served by the ‘full power’ model which delivered 23bhp. Being second to market arguably gave Suzuki a subtle edge as their American wing was able to analyse and review what the Yamaha DT-1 was being used for. A reasonable number were taken off-road and ridden seriously hard to the point where Yamaha introduced a GYT Kit – aka Genuine Yamaha Tuning Kit – which converted the bike into something very akin to a full works motocrosser. However, it was readily apparent that the vast majority of DT-1s were used Monday to Friday on tarmac with the occasional weekend foray on to the rough stuff. Suzuki saw this as an opportunity and latched on to it. While the TS250 was eminently usable off-road, it was also a very effective road machine and buyers who sampled the new TS250 were instantly wooed by its innate practicality… and its looks. The DT-1 had been launched in pearl white so Suzuki went for a bright candy green for their new baby with a satin silver airbox cover. The bike was an overnight success and would reign on the sales sheets right the way through to 1981. Both the 1969 TS250 and 1971 TS250II utilised points, but all subsequent models ran with PEI (Pointless Electronic Ignition). Arguably the golden years for the TS250 were 1970-1975 when Suzuki’s stylists were at the top of their game. The TS250II only changed cosmetically, running Pholina Yellow paint, a shade that would be made famous on the works RM series motocrossers. The TS250R of 1971 had a longer wheelbase for added stability at speed, and was available in Pop Green with black graphics or Ascot Red with white trim. Suzuki model year numbering makes little sense so the 1972 bike became the TS250J available in Spot Orange or Daytona Blue paint and white graphics. It was also the final year of the chrome wire heat guard covering the exhaust system; 1973 would see the TS250K more in line with the rest of the range and subtly tweaked for enhanced practicality. A longer chain guard kept the chain lube off the rider and a locking fuel cap supposedly stopped little oiks syphoning off the petrol one year after the global oil crisis. Striking orange decals complemented the Pine Green or white paintwork, alternatively the Sunset

The Mortons Archive contains an incredible variety of images, some of which (such as this early TS pic) haven’t stood the test of time as well as others…

Orange paintwork was counterpointed in dark green. The expansion chamber was now kept off the rider’s right leg by a substantial chromed steel pressing. The K and L models varied little other than aesthetics; Marble Scarlet or Silver Mist and even if the bike was now an older design, at least it was still selling very well with anything between 18,000 and 25,000 units being moved each year. For a trail bike the TS250 was proving to be a remarkably good road machine and, crucially, the only quarter litre, two-stroke trail bike on sale in the UK for a few years while Mitsui Machinery and Yamaha Japan got their act together circa 1975. Agrati of Nottingham, Kawasaki distributors, were no better and refused to import the Kawasaki equivalent, the F11, other than a dozen or so which were priced way too high to sell in bulk. Suzuki must have loved the sales of the TS250 in the UK and when the Vic Camp Racing School decided to use modified TS250s for track work-cum-race bike tuition rides, it did the machine’s reputation no harm whatsoever. In 1976 the TS250 received a 28mm carburettor, alloy wheel rims, revised exhaust system plus white plastic guards in a bid to make what was now an ageing design look trendy, and someone back in Japan opted to paint the entire engine satin black. Candy paint was out and so the TS250A was available in solid red or yellow depending upon markets. After some eight years many would have thought it was time to pension off the old war horse but Suzuki had other ideas, even if strokers were now perceived as bad news. The bike now got a very serious makeover with a new, twin downtube frame, centrally sited exhaust port rather than the older design that had exited on the left, heavily angled gas rear shocks and, finally seeing the value of Yamaha’s induction system, the TS250B (now in red, yellow or green) was graced with reed valve induction. These changes revived flagging sales and once more the bike was selling more than 20,000 units annually. The subsequent C and N models (1978/1979) were little more than window dressing with some funky graphics aimed at keeping the bike looking fresh while Suzuki burnt large volumes of midnight oil developing the new four-stroke range. The grand old warrior would have another two more model years to run before being retired and some would say its last days weren’t exactly kind to it. Now bedecked with a boxy tank and angular panels, the TS250 T and X models looked gawky and uncomfortable in blue or yellow shell suits. Sales had slumped and strokers were environmentally bad news… or so everyone thought! Under a variety of monikers (X, ER, RH) an all-new two-stroke TS250 was launched running from 1984-1989 but this time with liquid cooling and a disc front brake. Owing much to the RM and PE off-roaders, the new TS250 was a totally different animal and certainly not the commuter bike with off-road ability of the 1970s!

Did you know there are numerous ways to enjoy classic motorcycles? Were you aware that the bigoted ‘ridden not hidden’ mindset is just one of the techniques with which to appreciate old bikes? The answer for most enthusiasts is an emphatic ‘yes’ and the more you look, the more diverse the pleasures become. Unquestionably, motorcycles were made to be ridden and, arguably, that still remains their primary function. For many of us, there’s little better feeling than getting a well-sorted classic out of the shed early on a Sunday morning and going for a decent ride before all the numpties with their SUVs piled high with screaming kids spoil the ambiance. If you’re retired or self-employed, similar fun can generally be had Monday to Friday between 10.00 and 14.00 when most B roads are blissfully empty. However, that’s only the major way to appreciate an old two-wheeler. For many who still ride – and for a lot that no longer can – a day in the shed is simply pure joy. It really doesn’t matter if you’re engaged in a full-fat restoration or simply having one of those pottering, tidy everything up, days, that quality time is hugely rewarding. The older enthusiast for whom riding a motorcycle is no longer viable on medical grounds still gets a huge amount of satisfaction undertaking what’s universally recognised as – tinkering. This satisfying and arcane pastime is as old as the internal combustion engine and its therapeutic rewards are well recognised both by participants and significant others. The former feels they have achieved something and thereby still have a purpose in life, while the partner gets some space, peace and quiet – think Wally and Nora Batty and you’ll be close enough! A friend of this column’s writer is obsessed by the older and rarer Japanese classics, and has done more than his fair share of recovering bikes from the brink and beyond. He relishes the challenges they present him, positively revels in the hunt for parts, and absolutely radiates smiles when he finishes another rare and obscure Oriental machine. Does he ride them? Well, yes generally, but not for any great distance or period of time; for him the fun is all about the various machines’ resurrections and not the riding experiences they may offer. Generally the bikes are moved on to fund the next project, which may not be everyone’s idea of the classic motorcycle world, but it works for this guy. For some, motorcycles are pretty much their entire world and, while the younger generation might dismiss such a lifestyle as ‘sad’, for many, old bikes are a way of life. These are the folk to whom many of us turn when an old bike goes wrong or we need that one unobtainable part. Should you need a two-stroke crank rebuilt, they will gleefully oblige and sort you out a professional job and often for seriously little money. They will also be able to offer advice on pretty much any aspect of Japanese bike ownership as well as having a small library of parts lists, brochures and factory service manuals which you can access. Helping people get old bikes running is what they do, and they absolutely love it! And then there are those who get a huge amount of enjoyment from researching these old Japanese machines, identifying model changes, knowing which bikes were sold in which markets and what colours went where. These people will be able to recall apparently totally useless facts…until you want to acquire certain information! Within this last group there’s often a small cadre of enthusiasts who are almost bursting to share what they know about old classic Japanese iron. Some of these latterly go on to be freelance journalists and if I could pass on just one snippet of wisdom it would be this… never, ever, ask for their opinion about a bike – they’ll talk the ears off your head!


December 2019

15


16 A BIT ON THE SIDE

December 2019

It's a little one...

You know what they say about size – it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it – and Mick Payne reminisces about a Bantam that proved that point, and a second that continues to do so.

B

ack in the ’50s, when my ex-wife was just a babe in arms, my father-inlaw, Ron, and his wife moved to Luton in Bedfordshire. The draw was a job at the Vauxhall factory there and they both left London to buy their first home. Money being tight, they had to compromise on the transport to get Ron to work and the family to visit their parents. By the time I met Linda they had a Victor FB with its American styling but at the time everyday transport was a BSA Bantam fitted with a small saloon sidecar. Bearing in mind she was born in 1954, there really wasn’t a lot of selection in Bantams.

The most obvious would be a 125cc D1; the act of getting a mortgage would probably have precluded the storming 150 D3. It’s little surprise that when returning home to Luton, Holywell Hill in St Albans proved a stumbling block; you’d need second gear on a Bantam solo to climb it. With the chair attached, Rita would have to get out and walk up the hill while Ron climbed smokily to wait for them at the top. Mind you, Kate had to do similar on our Team Katy trip while in Scotland. We were balked by a car load of Japanese tourists while climbing out of Pennan in Aberdeenshire and even

A compariison in horsepower as Mick k’s Jawa prepares itsellf for some Scottish terrain.

the mighty Jawa struggled to get moving again. You can only feel sorry for that poor little Bantam. Ron’s certainly isn’t the only Bantam to have been harnessed and there is an interesting example for sale at Manx Direct in Southport. This, however, tows a small trailer too. It was built as a tribute to Rev Bill Shergold, responsible for the 59 Club, and used originally as a display at the Goodwood Revival Meeting although it is probably a lot more usable than a 125. It is a 1968 D14, 175cc with four gears and the sidecar is a little commercial body set out as a spare parts operation. The trailer is to sustain the inner vicar and contains a small camping stove, kettle and even an umbrella – you can’t trust a British summer! All this was scratch built by owner Richard Bennet with just the trailer taking about seven months to design and build. The bike’s engine was also rebuilt with new piston, con-rod and clutch all assembled with modern bearings, seals and gaskets only 120 miles or so ago. It also sports a large trial type rear sprocket, although Bernard, who is the current owner, thinks it would be better with a standard one, “Just “ my opinion”. This really is a one-off, it has loads of history supporting the bike and build. A lot of work and thought has gone

into its manufacture, not to mention a substantial amount of money. It is up for sale for £5995, a lot of money yes, but have you seen some of the prices being asked for standard restored Bantams? I can imagine this being quite a wow at shows as well as being a perfectly rideable, if a little slow, combo. If it floats your boat give Bernard a ring on 07875 164977 or email him on sales@manxdirect.com – he’ll enjoy filling you in on all the other details I’ve missed.

Everything that a gentleman traveller could require for life on the road.

Plenty of spare parts in the chair.


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Old Bike Mart - December 2019 - Preview  

See more: https://www.oldbikemart.co.uk/

Old Bike Mart - December 2019 - Preview  

See more: https://www.oldbikemart.co.uk/

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