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ISSUE 21 SUMMER 2016

AUS $14.95* NZ $15.99

CLASSIC NOT PLASTIC

HONDA CBX CAFE RACER

RED HOT INDIAN

BONNEVILLE SPIRIT

ELLASPEDE DUST HUSTLE

XV1000 FIREBALL

DAPPER DUDES


VINTAGE JAPANESE MOTORCYCLE CLUB NATIONAL RALLY CANBERRA 04-06 MARCH 2016

RALLY INFORMATION – http://www.vjmc-rally.info/ or email enquiry@vjmc-rally.info Membership – PO Box 254, Modbury North, SA 5092 or membership@vjmc.org.au Founded in 1977, the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (VJMC) is the premier worldwide club dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and enjoyment of vintage Japanese motorcycles and the promotion of the sport of motorcycling.


EDITORIAL MODERN CLASSICS

G'DAY WITH GEOFF SEDDON

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S MUCH as I’m enjoying the journey with my old Commando, I did come close a few years back to buying a late-model Triumph Thruxton. I was lucky enough to test one for another magazine and was amazed how much it felt like an older pushrod Triumph to ride. The Thruxton lacked the engine clatter and heavy flywheel of the Meridan bikes, but the way it made its power was similar and the rumble from the aftermarket mufflers was spot on, with the distinctive flat note that only a 360-degree British twin (or XS650 Yamaha) can produce. It looked the part too, even if it was a lot heavier than Triumphs of old. It handled well on its skinny tyres and best of all, it wasn’t 25 or 50 years old like everything else I own! Triumph was early to get into the retro game with the all-new Bonneville in 2001, the Thruxton in 2004 and later the Scrambler. They’re still in production largely unchanged – well, until now anyway – so I wasn’t the only one seduced by their charms. Ducati got into the act in late 2005 with the SportClassics, initially in the form of the uncompromising Sport1000 and the limited-edition PaulSmart. Inspired by early-70s sports models, the new bikes were just as hard-edged as the originals. Ducati abandoned the retro market in 2010 but has recently returned with the popular Scrambler, very closely styled after its singlecylinder namesake, also from the early 1970s.

BMW took a slightly different approach with its uber-successful R nineT, not mimicking any particular model but instead providing a platform for customisers to do their own thing. We’ve featured interpretations by Roland Sands

“The way it made its power was similar and the rumble from the mufflers was spot on” and Deus ex Machina so far, and there are plenty more in the works. Of all the current retro-style bikes, the R nineT is the best performer – it’s a seriously quick bike – but doesn’t want for character and soul.

EDITOR Geoff Seddon DESIGNER Michael Ohanesian CONTRIBUTORS Vincent Amar, Paul Bailey, Alan Cathcart, Emanuele Crosta, John Downs, N Drew, John Fretten, Silvia Galliani, Stuart Garrard, Robert Glenton, Kris Hodgson, Ryan Kelly, Sam Luckman, Jamie McIwraith, Peter Pap, Ben Pillatti, Alastair Ritchie, Calum Sonnenberg, James Walker, Kevin Wing COVER Vincent Amar ADVERTISING MANAGER Fi Collins SUBS 1300 303 414 or www.universalmagazines.com.au

For those less of heel, there are more affordable alternatives like the delightful V7 Moto Guzzi, any number of Harley Sportsters and Yamaha’s surprising Bolt Cafe. And no new bike comes more retro than a Royal Enfield; I’ve never ridden one but am hoping to fix that very soon. There’s also the exclusive Norton Commando 961 at three or four times the price. I’d like to ride one of those too but I’ll just have to content myself with riding a 46-year-old 750 in the meantime. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and probably the best bet if you aren’t able to make the mechanical commitment necessary to keep an early girl on the road. I’ve just put 1000km on a brand-new Bonneville Spirit and now I’m toying with buying one of those! No wonder my wife has trouble sleeping. Turn to page 80 to find out why.

UNIVERSAL MAGAZINES CHAIRMAN/CEO Prema Perera PUBLISHER Janice Williams CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Vicky Mahadeva ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Emma Perera ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Karen Day CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Mark Darton CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kate Podger EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION MANAGER Anastasia Casey PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE Renu Bhatt PREPRESS MANAGER Ivan Fitz-Gerald MARKETING & ACQUISITIONS MANAGER Chelsea Peters

Circulation enquiries to our Sydney head office (02) 9805 0399. Retrobike 21 is published by Universal Magazines, Unit 5, 6-8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Melbourne office, Level 1, 150 Albert Road, South Melbourne Vic 3205. Phone: (03) 9694 6444, Fax: (03) 9699 7890. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd, Singapore, and distributed by Network Services. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up-to-date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. *Recommended retail price. ISSN 1838-644X Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXVI. ACN 003 609 103. www.universalmagazines.com.au Please pass on or recycle this magazine.

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CONTENTS

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FEATURE BIKES 06

THE DARK KNIGHT

An ex-cop BMW R80 is stripped to within an inch of its life and reborn as an urban stealth bomber

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ROLAND'S ROCKET

Roland Sands is back with his take on Yamaha's gargantuan VMAX. Subtle, it ain't!

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LA FRECCIA NERA

What was once a lazy ol' Moto Guzzi 1000SP tourer is now one of Perth's coolest customs

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FIREBALL

Yamaha's XV1000 was supposed to be the Japanese Vincent but was as bland as dry toast. Christian Moretti sure ďŹ xed that with the Fireball

SIX APPEAL

Vaughan Ryan sculpts one of Australia's most radical cafe racers from a Honda CBX 1000

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GIANT KILLER

We usually steer clear of plastic classics but we'll make an exception for the best Honda road bike ever built, the exquisite VFR750R, aka RC30

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WORLD'S FINEST INDIAN

What is it about Kiwis and old side-valve Indians? Mike Tomas loves them so much he now builds complete brand-new vintage Indians from his own parts, guaranteed to go 100mph


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VINCENT AMAR — 1987 BMW R80 PHOTO BY VINCENT AMAR

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REGULARS 03 74 76 78 88 94 98

JOHN FRETTEN — 1989 HONDA VFR750R PHOTO BY JOHN FRETTEN

G’DAY McILWRAITH BAILEY WALKER TANGLES’ WORKSHOP ON ANY SUNDAY FEEDBACK

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OTHER STUFF 18

DAPPER DUDES

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is the biggest charity motorcycle event in the world

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ELLASPEDE DUST HUSTLE

Wacky racers take to the dirt with humour and style. Honey! Have you seen my super suit?

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RETRO & CUSTOM CYCLES

A bunch of like-minded Western Australians with a passion for the way things were

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NOSTALGIA DRAGS

We join the Nostalgia Drag Bike Racers for a run down the quarter mile

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BONNEVILLE SPIRIT

Things are about to change in the world of Triumph twins. We test the last of the line

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RIDERS LIKE US

Peter Dean is not one to cocoon an iconic classic like the Ducati 900 Super Sport in a glass case

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READER'S ROCKET

An old Norton race bike, equal parts Atlas and Commando, gets its first taste of public roads

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Air Heads

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1987 BMW R80


WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY VINCENT AMAR

Ex-police BMW stalks the streets of Versailles

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Air Heads

1987 BMW R80

“WE DON’T CLAIM TO REVOLUTIONISE THE WORLD; WE ARE JUST PASSIONATE ABOUT MOTORCYCLES”

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MW twins have had a strong following in Australia for more than 50 years. They are simple, reliable, dependable – soulful even. They’ve been many things to many people for a long time but up until about 10 years ago, no-one ever accused them of being cool. That’s all changed now. The modern custom bike scene has little time for the prejudices of the past, which explains all the CX500s. Like the original hot rodders of the 1950s, 21stcentury motorcycle customisers look for models that are cheap, plentiful and have the right number of cylinders. Even better if it’s quirky and different, as good a description of an early BMW horizontal twin as ever there was! The irony of course is that what was once unwanted and affordable soon becomes desirable and expensive as others get in on the secret. Vincent Amar runs a small, start-up custom bike workshop called Le French Atelier – the French Workshop – in Versailles, France, with his mates Thomas and Anthony Letourneur and 8

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Denis Pereira. To date, his builds have ranged from small-bore Yamaha bobbers and trackers to a purposeful GSX-R750 cafe racer. For the shop’s first European build, they were inspired by The Black Pearl, a 1984 R100/7 custom built by their good mate Hugo Jezegabel at Paris custom shop, Blitz Motorcycles. “We wanted to create a very low, dragster style of motorcycle,” Vincent says. “The bike is an ex-police BMW R80RT. It has the flat twin and a single rear shock, which makes it a good frame for modification.” First job was to remove the humongous fairing, panniers, top box, fuel tank, seat, sidecovers, lights, instruments, handlebars, wiring loom and eventually the engine which, apart from a tidy-up, has been left standard, albeit bolted up to twin Megaton mufflers on custom two-a-side headers. The BMW’s sub-frame was next to get the chop, replaced by the bare minimum necessary to locate the top mount for the more acutely-positioned single rear shock


Boxer Rebellion BMW was an aircraft engine manufacturer who, post the Great War, was encouraged by the victors at the Treaty of Versailles to consider more civilian pursuits. The company designed and produced a flat, 180-degree ‘boxer’ twin for another company, with the cylinders mounted fore and aft like the English Douglas and the early Harley-Davidson twins. Cooling of the rear cylinder was a big issue, so legendary designer Max Friz suggested they turn the engine around so that both cylinders were poking out into the breeze. The different orientation of the crankshaft lent itself to shaft-drive, and the first BMW motorcycle, the 9hp 494cc side-valve R32 twin, went on sale in 1923. BMW has played around with every imaginable engine and drive configuration since, but the mainstay and best ones have always been shaftdriven boxer twins. BMW eventually went overhead valve and even overhead cam on its race bikes, but suffered

another setback when they once again found themselves at the wrong end of a world war with their factory demolished in 1945. Boxer twins returned in 1950 in 500 and 600cc capacities, and then were substantially redesigned with the /5 series in 1970 when old-school roller main bearings were replaced with plain bearings and the camshaft moved from above the crank to below it to raise the cylinders and improve cornering clearance. A 750cc model was introduced and the new engines also featured electric start. A 900 appeared in 1974 with the /6 series and a 1000 in 1977 with the /7. The BMW world changed in 1993 with the release of the 90hp R1100RS, the first boxer twin with four valves per cylinder and oil-cooled cylinder heads. The days of what subsequently became known as the air-head twins were numbered but they have since become the cult engine best loved by BMW customisers for all the right reasons. Lot of history there.

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1987 BMW R80

absorber and carry the rider’s weight on a seat so low it is recessed within the frame rails. It might not be the most comfortable perch for a lazy lap of Europe, but there’s no denying it looks the business, contributing to as clean a rear end as we’ve ever run in these pages. The total absence of a rear mudguard also helps. Minimalism rules. Amazingly, the rest of the frame is stock, as is all the running gear, including the forks, wheels and most of the brakes — the right-hand front rotor and caliper mount have been removed, in Vincent’s eyes to counterbalance the single-sided rear — but apart from that it’s amazing what a few powder-coats of satin black can do. The forks have also been shortened to get the right stance. The secret to this bike 10

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is not what has been added, but what was taken away. With such a thin seat, you might be wondering where the lithium battery’s hiding because most customisers conceal them underneath it. On this build, the battery, ignition coil and regulator are hiding behind a custom stainless-steel cover above the gearbox, where the air cleaner used to be. That stuff can get hot, so a fabricated metal air scoop now sits on top of the engine like a Hilux snorkel to direct cool air to the enclosed electrics. The air cleaner itself has been canned, apart from some thin gauze on the end of the carburettor ram tubes. The fuel tank is from a Yamaha DT125. We’ve spied a few customs around Sydney recently sporting early dirt bike tanks – one with original paint – and it’s a good look. The

splayed BMW top frame rails are nothing like the DT’s, however, requiring Vincent to locate the tank further back and at a rakish angle. The void at the front of the tank that would normally surround the steering head has been filled here with a small speedo and backlit starter button, as if it were made for it. The cylinder on the left-hand side catches oil from the engine breather. Clip-on-style one-piece handlebars are from an R100RS, fitted with Rizoma switches, and the headlight is a spotty from an old rally car. And that’s about it! Vincent’s BMW is a fantastic example of how a young bloke anywhere in the world, even someone relatively new to motorcycling, can make his or her mark with a grinder, a welder, plenty of enthusiasm and not a lot of money. Less is more. Keep it


Retro Specs

“WE WANTED TO CREATE A LOW, DRAGSTER-STYLE MOTORCYCLE. THE R80 HAS A SINGLE REAR SHOCK, WHICH MAKES IT GOOD FOR MODIFICATION” simple. Finish it nicely. It’s not rocket science. “We don’t claim to revolutionise the world; we are just passionate about motorcycles,” Vincent says. We then asked him the same question we ask everyone else: Is there anything he’d do differently if he were to start again? “We want all our bikes to be unique, so we will never make

two the same. So if we had to make the same bike, we would do it totally differently!” We like his style. Vincent’s R80 might not be the most practical motorcycle ever built, but if that were important we’d all be driving small cars. Motorcycling is what you make of it. Viva la difference!

ENGINE Air-cooled OHV four-stroke 180-degree flat twin; single camshaft and pushrods, two vales per cylinder; 84.8 x 70.6mm for 797cc; 8.2:1 comp; 2 x Bing carburettors; custom headers, Megaton mufflers; dry single-plate clutch to five-speed gearbox and shaft final drive; 50hp @ 6500rpm CHASSIS Twin-loop tubular steel mainframe, detabbed; custom rear sub-frame; conventional telescopic forks with single 260mm brake rotor and single sliding-piston calliper on 2.15 x 19in cast wheel; monoshock rear, relocated top mount; 200mm drum brake, 2.5 x 18in cast wheel BODYWORK Yamaha DT125 tank with recessed speedo; Alcantara seat; no guards WEBSITE www.lefrenchatelier.com BEST FOR Urban warfare NOT SO GOOD Long-distance touring

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Cafe Racers

1978 HONDA CBX 1000

six appeal Vaughan Ryan’s curvy CBX Honda is Australia’s most desirable custom WORDS GEOFF SEDDON & KRIS HODGSON PHOTOGRAPHY PETER PAP

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Cafe Racers 1978 HONDA CBX 1000

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HEN we first approached Vaughan Ryan to feature his wild CBX, he was surprised to be asked. The bike was built a couple of years ago and had already appeared in other magazines. But we figured it’s one of the coolest customs we’ve ever laid eyes on. What kind of journal of record would Retrobike be if we left it out? It looks and sounds like nothing else for a start. It passes the 50-metre test, the fivemetre test and gets better the closer you look. The engineering is first class, the workmanship is exceptional and there’s not another one like it, anywhere. The idea came to Vaughan almost a decade ago, when he was commissioned to build a Honda RC174-themed race bike from a donor CBX 1000. The RC174 was the 297cc DOHC 24-valve six-cylinder racer that Mike Hailwood rode to the 350 world championship in 1967. The CBX is a direct descendent, designed by one of the original race engineers and released some 14

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11 years later. The engine bears a remarkable resemblance to Hailwood’s little 297; it’s just nearly four times as big! “That bike planted the seed,” Vaughan says. “I liked the engine, I liked the styling.” He figured it might really lend itself to a more cafe racer-style build, and this is the result. Vaughan is a partner with Georgio Rimi in Sydney bespoke auto bodybuilding business Motorretro. As coach builders, they specialise in building vintage car bodies by hand, one panel at a time. They also like their motorbikes. If you recognise the name, it’s because they sculpted the bodywork on the Deus Ex Machina BMW R nineT we featured last issue, employing the same traditional bodybuilding skills they used on the Honda. The project started four years ago when Vaughan sourced a CBX on eBay in the US for $6000. It wasn’t in great condition – Vaughan describes it as a five out of 10 – but as it would be rebuilt top-to-toe anyway it was perfect for the job.

Building a standout custom motorcycle is equal parts inspiration and execution. “It’s about offering something different,” Vaughan says. “Tying it all in isn’t just aesthetics. It’s the colours, the detail, the quality of the components – quite often you look at a bike and can pick out the cheap parts. My training was restoring old sports cars, and getting them to concours standard requires a lot of detail. So I’ve just put that skill into a different area. That’s what I like about it – attention to detail and also starting with something that’s visually challenged. The CBX was fairly ordinary looking and rode rather ordinary too!” Vaughan’s mission was to also make it perform as well as he hoped it might look. To this end, the bike was dismantled and the frame braced and gussetted in-house for strength, particularly around the headstock. The rear subframe was modified to suit the planned custom unit and the complete chassis was powder-coated in white. The swingarm was also heavily modified, being widened to take a larger


“WE DID THE FIRST 1000KM IN BARE METAL TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING WAS OKAY” rear wheel and lengthened to improve stability. Ride height was raised to improve cornering clearance and match the height of the top-spec, 1098R Ohlins front end. Motorretro fabricated a top triple clamp but the rest of it is pure Ducati race bike, including 43mm stanchions (the original CBX forks were 35mm!), Brembo rotors, calipers and master cylinder, carbon-fibre front guard and forged aluminium Marchesini 17inch wheel. Braided brake lines are Venhill. Finding a rear wheel to match took some lateral thinking, as the 1098R had a single-sided swing arm. The answer came in the quirky Terblanche-designed Ducati 999, the only

post-916 Ducati sports bike (with its 749 sibling) to run a dual-sided swing arm. The 999 also gave up its brake rotor and caliper, while twin remote-reservoir rear shocks are again from Ohlins, in this case high-end HO 140s specially valved for the CBX. Meanwhile, Julian Lopez had the engine in bits, fitting first-oversize pistons and rings in freshly honed cylinders which were externally ceramic-coated in black to give the mill a unique appearance compared to the plainfinished stock bike. The ports were cleaned up but the motor is otherwise internally stock. The bank of six 28mm Keihin carburettors were

rebuilt, rejetted and fitted with velocity stacks. Sparks come via a ZDG3.3 unit from ElektronikSachse – specially developed for in-line triples and sixes – while Julian also dispensed with as much of the fussy original wiring as possible. Detail touches include a fabricated aluminium drive-sprocket cover, Spiro-Pro plug leads, K&N crankcase breather and a bolt kit from Italian titanium-alloy specialist Poggipolini. To avoid the rattly clutch of many early CBXs, the basket was modified in the US with new cush drives and a spring-loaded adapter plate, then filled with Barnett plates and springs and EBC friction plates. The original CBX came with six-into-two exhausts, unlike Hailwood’s RC174 which ran six individual megaphones. Pipemasters handbuilt a complete six-into-six system, with the headers finished in black to match the cylinders and the end-caps, and the mufflers themselves chromed. It looks and sounds impressive – you’re never in any doubt of what you are looking at or listening to – but it is weighty at ISSUE #21

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Cafe Racers

1978 HONDA CBX 1000

“IT’S AS PURE A BLEND OF BESPOKE DESIGN AND METALWORKING SKILLS AS YOU’LL EVER FIND”

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17kg, even if it is offset by other savings in a bike still 25-30kg lighter than stock. While all this was happening, Vaughan and Georgio were doing what they do best, turning ideas and sketches into beautifully sculpted aluminium – as pure a blend of bespoke design and metalworking skills as you’ll ever find. To make the tank, they first fabricated a skeletal lattice frame from thick wire, having regard to overall shape and dimensions as well as practical stuff like the seating position and allowing sufficient steering lock. The tank skin was then formed from flat aluminium sheet in two halves. The tail unit is another work of art, with stunning, smooth lines that help accentuate the minimalist brake light, indicators and plate mount. Of particular note is how the seat unit flows around the top shock mounts and reservoirs. Along with the tank, it makes the bike look much smaller and lower than the stocker. “The tank, tail, rear hugger, front headlight mount – we made them all,” Vaughan says. “For the first 1000km, it was all left in bare metal. We made sure

everything was okay, with no rubbing or scraping, before we moved onto the paint.” Mike Hailwood’s race bike was red with a silver fairing, which provided the inspiration for the choice of House Of Kolor and PPG colours, artfully sprayed by Vaughan, Garry Hall and Brad Franklin. The seat was trimmed by Hy-Tone Motor Trimming in black with subtle red stitching. Vaughan’s eye for detail extends to the bike’s ancillaries, which include adjustable SpeedyMoto clip-ons, Deus micro switches, SPA Technique speedometer, Tommaselli foot rests and rear brake lever, MCA headlight and Emgo Rabbit Ear indicators. Vaughan estimates the bike has soaked up between 350 and 400 man-hours of work, and is in no mind to tally up the bill. So how does it go? “Horsepower isn’t great – it’s no Panigale – but it can certainly keep up with a lot of things,” Vaughan says, adding that it was built to be ridden. “It’s not a stable queen. There’s definitely a gain in performance, especially in handling and braking which were the areas it was most flawed. It rides just like a modern bike now.”

Shed Warming Party UNTIL now, Motorretro has been a notoriously difficult business to track down, due in part to the principals having day jobs and as much work

– all of it gained by word of mouth – as they could handle. “We just started mucking around in the garage together, doing what we like doing,”

Vaughan says. But they’re scheduled to open their first shopfrontor about the time this issue goes on sale with a shed-warming party. Alas we don't have an address as we write this but you can chase down all the detals on Instagram at MotorRetroAustralia.

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke in-line sixcylinder; chain-driven DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 6 x Keihin VB28mm carbs; 64.5 x 53.4mm for 1047cc; Elektronik-Sachse ignition; Pipemaster exhaust; modified Barnett clutch; five-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS Stock mainframe, braced and gusseted by Motorretro; modified rear subframe; 43mm Ducati 1098R Ohlins forks, 330mm Brembo brakes and 17-inch Marchesini wheel; Motorretro top triple clamp; SpeedyMoto clip-ons; Tommaselli foot rests; modified CBX swingarm; Ohlins HO 140 shocks; Ducati 999 17-inch wheel and 245mm brake; Venhill braided lines front and rear BODYWORK Custom tank and seat unit by MotorRetro; seat trim by Hy-Tone Motor Trimming; Motorretro custom headlight, instrument and brake cylinder mounts, and rear mudguard; Ducati 1098R carbonfibre front guard; Poggipolini bolts; MCA headlight; Emgo Rabbit Ears Deus ex Machina micro switches; Tommaselli footpegs; SPA Technique instruments SPECIAL THANKS Georgio Rimi, Julian Lopez, Craig Wells, Franz Granero, Garry Hall, Brad Franklin IN A NUTSHELL Performance art

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Lifestyle

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DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2015


The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is the biggest motorcycle charity event in the world. Ever WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOS GEOFF SEDDON & RYAN KELLY

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Lifestyle

DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2015

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YDNEY dawned grey with a light drizzle, just what the ladies in their frocks and the men in their suits didn’t want. I wondered how much it might affect attendance. Were these not hipsters, who never came out in the rain? They’d got 500 bikes last year. In the end, close to 700 bikes turned up for the ride from the Quadrangle at Sydney University through the centre of the city, raising more than $200,000 for charity. The bikes ranged from new retro-themed models and monkey bikes to hardcore customs and restored classics, with many so-called hipsters well into their 60s! It really has captured the attention of the broader motorcycling community, including women who are a big part of the Sydney custom scene. Meanwhile, exactly the same thing was slowly happening all over Australia and around the world, including a few hours later in beautiful, sunny Perth, where Retrobike

“IF YOU’VE NEVER BEEN ON ONE OF THESE BIG MASSED RUNS, THEY ARE AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE” photographer Ryan Kelly captured the fun. It’s easy to pick which photos are from Sydney and which are from Perth; if the sun is shining, you’re in the west. The statistics of the DGR are as phenomenal as its rapid growth. Dreamed up by the Sydney

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Cafe Racers in 2012, the inspiration was a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper sitting astride a 1957 Matchless and wearing his finest suit. It was also a cheeky attempt to change the perception of dirty motorcyclists amongst the public at large, and around 2500 riders


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Lifestyle

DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2015

in 64 cities (350 in Sydney) participated. Its success encouraged organiser Mark Hawwa to consider how it could be used to support a worthy cause like research into prostate cancer, and so the next year, 11,000 participants in 145 cities raised $277,000. It ballooned big-time in 2014; 20,000 riders in 257 cities in 58 countries raised more than $1.6 million! And this year, 38,000 riders took

part, in more than 400 cities in 79 countries. We’re talking every continent except Antarctica and a total booty of around $3 million! But even better than the money raised is the positive vibe of being involved in such a friendly, good-time event. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on one of these big massed runs but they are an unforgettable experience. You do spend a lot of time idling in traffic, but

“38,000 RIDERS IN 400 CITIES IN 79 COUNTRIES PARTICIPATED, RAISING AROUND $3 MILLION FOR CHARITY” 22

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Shannons insurance is for motoring enthusiasts just like you, with features like: „ Choice of repairer „ Agreed value „ Multi-Vehicle & Multi-Policy discounts „ Special low usage rates „ Riding gear cover „ Cover for modifications „ Flexible coverage for bikes that are laid up, being restored, or at club events „ Home Contents Insurance including $10,000 enthusiast cover for your collectables & tools „ Pay by the month premiums at no extra cost Call Shannons on 13 46 46 for a quote on your special bike, special car, daily drive, or your home, and speak with a genuine enthusiast. Join the Shannons Club today! Get connected and share your passion - shannons.com.au/club

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Lifestyle

BROADFORD 2015 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2015

people line the streets and wave, riders and pillions wave back, and the sound of hundreds of megaphone exhausts bouncing off the office buildings is out of this world. Triumph motorcycles is a global sponsor, a natural fit given the most popular bikes at these events are modern Bonnevilles and Thruxtons. The factory donated four new Thruxtons as lucky-door prizes in 2015, one for each global fund-raising region. The DGR is open to all custom, classic and classic-styled motorcycles. If you don’t already have a retrobike in your garage, it’s yet another great reason to come and join the party. 24

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“EVEN BETTER THAN THE MONEY RAISED IS THE POSITIVE VIBE OF BEING INVOLVED IN SUCH A FRIENDLY, GOOD-TIME EVENT”


Created in 1967, Segura has a rich history of style with passion for quality and design. Segura produces products with the highest levels of safety while staying true to its heritage. Segura combines with technical and inimitable style, to offer 5DFC8I7H79FH=Â 98

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Modern Customs

2010 YAMAHA VMAX

ne one n ly o only ut o but rder, b order, all o as a ttall was IItt w ra c e r cafe racer b uild a cafe could build person p erson could VM A X outt off a new VMAX WORDS ALAN CATHCART PHOTOGRAPHY KEVIN WING

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Modern Customs

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2010 YAMAHA VMAX

HE original V-Max, first launched in 1985, was one of Yamaha’s most successful models, especially in Europe where it sold some 40,000 machines alone. Its replacement, the VMAX (note capitals!) released in 2008, didn’t fare so well. Despite boasting 200hp at 9000rpm from its all-new 1679cc V-four, it somehow missed the mark, prompting Yamaha Europe’s product manager Shun Miyazawa to commission something special from California’s king of custom cool, Roland Sands. “We wanted to inspire future VMAX owners who hadn’t yet committed to buying the bike, by showing them what a good basis for customisation and personalisation it could be, just like the old model,” says Miyazawa. “Maybe it’s our fault because we made the design of the current VMAX too dense, with too much design tension, but it didn’t create enthusiasm for even professional customisers to modify it, let alone private owners. So after meeting Roland at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, I approached him about creating something based on the new VMAX, and he agreed to do so. We’re very glad he did, and even more pleased when we saw what he made.” The fruits of Roland’s handiwork debuted at the November 2011 Milan EICMA Show, then spent the next three years making a world tour before finally finding its way home, ready to be ridden rather than merely displayed on a show stand. Creating it wasn’t easy, though. “I’ve always liked the V-Max, ever since I rode my first one when I was about 20 years old,” says Roland, who’s just turned 40. “The thing was just a ripper. It was so fast, but this new one’s faster still – it’s got hair on its

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“THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST DAUNTING MOTORCYCLES I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED!” chest. It’s a pretty radical bike but kind of lardy looking, so I figured I’d minimalise it as much as possible. “Making a cafe racer out of it seemed the logical thing to do, though the thing’s rather complicated in terms of design. There wasn’t the time or budget to make a new frame, so we had to leave a lot of the stock stuff on it. The idea was to strip it down and lighten it, and take what I call the wonkiness out of it. There’s a lot of geometry going on with the design, which is something that was popular 10 years ago, but all those straight lines need to be more flowing nowadays and not so wonkylooking. So my goal was to simplify it, which was difficult when the motor was so tall. It was a tough challenge.”

The result is a bike that according to Roland has shed at least 35kg compared to the stocker, and in doing so has become significantly sharper-looking. If not for the visual link provided by that mighty V4 motor in plain view, it’s hard to think it’s the same bike with exactly the same chassis and a lot of the same hardware. RSD’s cosmetic surgeons performed a strictly Hollywood nip-and-tuck, with the steel fuel tank replaced by an aluminium one mounted beneath the stock swingarm, with chamfered sides to deliver some lean angle in turns. The aesthetically overbearing stock intake scoops have thankfully been eliminated, and the rear end completely restyled. “If we’d had more time and budget, I’d have shortened the swingarm and

squeezed the whole thing up super tight,” says Roland. “But I like the bobtail look we came up with on the stock rolling chassis. Building a new 4-2-1-2 stainless exhaust with underseat silencers was the clincher – it’s a crazy system that sounds bitchin’ and looks great, especially when it blows some fire as you back off the gas!” The list of stock parts retained on Roland’s rocket includes the distinctivelooking headlamp that’s now encased in an RSD shell which complements the custom airbox shrouding the instrument dash, as well as the trademark magnesium bronze covers hung over the clutch, cam box and swingarm pivot. Retaining the long cast aluminium swingarm and stock suspension help provide added traction to harness all that meaty motor’s grunt – I remember VMAX project leader Hajime Nakaaki telling me his engineers chose not to fit traction control as it would detract from the thrill factor and rider satisfaction! Up front, the sturdy 52mm-diameter titaniumcoated Soqi fork is carried in a huge cast aluminium upper triple clamp and a forged aluminum lower one, together offering ISSUE #21

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2010 YAMAHA VMAX

30mm offset and a massive 148mm of trail. The fork is a conventional cartridge type set at a 31º rake and matched to a rangy 1700mm wheelbase. This is 110mm longer than the original V-Max, which helps make the new model almost impossible to power wheelie; better men than me have tried, including Mr Sands! The RSD VMAX now carries CNCmachined, forged aluminium Judge wheels made by Performance Machine (PM) in their new Black Ops finish, with the stock front 18-incher replaced by a 19-inch rim shod with a 120/70 Dunlop D208 matched to a 200/50-18 Dunlop Elite ER3 rear. These carry massive floating twin 330mm RSD front discs – also made by PM – up front, gripped by stock six-piston Sumitomo radial calipers, with the huge 292mm PM fixed rear disc operated by a four-piston PM radial caliper. RSD’s own brake and clutch master cylinders are fitted. The brakes need to be effective to stop a bike which still weighs in at 255kg dry. Renthal clip-ons replace the tall onepiece original handlebar to complement the aggressive new visual nature of the bike, with the neat-looking cafe racer single seat supplied by the Bitchin’ Seat Co.

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“MAKING A CAFE RACER OUT OF IT SEEMED THE LOGICAL THING TO DO, THOUGH IT’S RATHER COMPLICATED IN TERMS OF DESIGN” “We figured that with the bike making its debut in Milan, the fashion capital of the world, it had to be dressed in a fine black pinstriped suit,” says Roland with his tongue in his cheek. “So we commissioned our tailor, Chris Wood from Airtrix, for the fitting of the paint. Good thing the VMAX had enough self-esteem to withstand even the toughest of runway critiques and still make the audience blush with excitement!” But that was then and three years later I am about to become the first person to ride it in something approaching anger. It sounds like one half of a V8 Boss Mustang with that awesome RSD exhaust, although I think Roland should have maybe fitted some flameproof afterburner shields to stop bystanders getting singed when you back off the throttle. No getting away

from it, this is a substantial piece of twowheeled hardware with real physical as well as visual presence, that seems all the more meaty and downright mighty when you drape yourself over it in cafe racer mode. It’s a l-o-n-g reach across that finely tailored ‘tank’ to the steeply dropped clip-ons, as if the bike’s sheer mass and reserves of performance weren’t already intimidating enough. I started hustling the VMAX through the switchback turns of the Glendora Mountain Road heading into the San Gabriel range north of the LA basin and discovered almost to my cost that this is one of the most daunting motorcycles I have ever encountered! As I began to carve some curves in the canyons, I encountered persistent attempts to fold the front wheel on me as I leaned


into turns. After narrowly escaping decking it the first time I laid it over, I gingerly approached every subsequent corner ready to have to counter-countersteer – how’s that for an arcane concept? – to keep the VMAX upright and on track. The reason for this misbehaviour wasn’t hard to discern. In swapping the tall original upright handlebar for the clipons, the leverage you need to counter the massive amount of trail and that lazy fork rake has been eliminated, making it a real handful. Style over substance, who’d have thought? However, it wasn’t that which ended my ride early. The stretched out riding stance dictated by the clip-ons meant I couldn’t easily see the dash mounted on top of the dummy fuel tank, and so had no warning that my somewhat enthusiastic riding style had caused it to overheat. First sign was when a spray of coolant spurted out over the back tyre, and while I did save the ensuing moment, playtime was over for the day. “If this was my daily ride, I’d put the high ’bars back on it, because that’s what it was designed for,” said Roland when I saw him next, by which time he’d finally ridden the bike himself.

“It was an aesthetic play, what we did. Shun wanted something that looked tight and racy so that’s why we fitted the clip-ons, but ignoring the geometry is never a good idea! Still, hey – he wanted to demonstrate the Dark Side of Japan, and you’ve now showed him that’s what he has! The day we finished this bike, it left here to go to Milan with the paint almost wet, so nobody rode it properly until you did. And now I have myself, I know it needs those high ’bars bad!” Even so, Shun Mikazawa proclaims himself very much satisfied with RSD’s cafe racer restyling exercise on three different levels. “First, I think it’s a cool bike which looks great and lives up to the spirit of the model,” he says. “I also like the fact that it’s got people thinking again about the VMAX. But best of all, it’s shown other people that it’s not so difficult to transform the stock model into something very different from how we deliver it.” We ask Mikazawa if Yamaha might consider building something similar, only with re-engineered chassis geometry to match the style. “Watch this space and start saving,” he says.

Retro Specs ENGINE Liquid-cooled DOHC 16-valve 65-degree V-four; 90 x 66mm for 1679cc; 11.3:1 comp; electronic fuel injection; wet multi-plate clutch to five-speed gearbox and shaft final drive; 200hp @ 9000rpm; 167Nm (crikey!) @ 6500rpm CHASSIS Aluminium diamond-shaped frame; 52mm Soqi conventional forks with 19-inch forged aluminium Judge wheel, floating 330mm RSD rotors and six-piston Simitomo calipers; monoshock-style rear with adjustable Soqi damper, 18-inch Judge wheel, fixed 292mm Performance Machine rotor and four-spot caliper; Dunlop tyres DIMENSIONS Overall length 2395mm; wheelbase 1700mm; rake 31 degrees, trail 148mm; dry weight 255kg (275kg wet) BEST FOR Straight lines NOT SO GOOD Corners

Here’s what they started with

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Cafe Racers

1984 MOTO GUZZI 1000SP/NT

LA FRECCIA NERA A lazy old tourer is reborn as a stealthy black arrow WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY RYAN KELLY

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S WITH all great cafe racers, the focus of Craig Johnston’s latest build is its heart. “I love the basic, somewhat agricultural design and look of the old round-fin Guzzi engines and their reputation for doing huge mileages.” he says. “To show off such a good looking and substantial motor, I wanted to put together a basic, traditional-looking, cafe-style bike that was not too glitzy or lairy to draw attention away from the engine. “It also had to have the best components available and have enough performance to try and keep up with my mate’s beautiful original Mk1 Le Mans and all the modern retros.” If Craig’s name is familiar, it’s because we featured his in-your-face, frog-stomping KH500 cafe racer last issue. It wasn’t until we were finished doing that story that he said you should see my other bike. “Kermit is rather short legged, with little more than 100km between fill-ups,” he says, “and it’s quite a busy bike to ride. I wanted 32

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something with longer legs that I could thrash for a day without constantly looking for fuel. This thing has a range of 450km before hitting reserve.” This ‘thing’ was once the last of the original Moto Guzzi 1000SP sports tourers, dubbed NT for New Type. When new, it featured a substantial two-piece fairing, the top half attached to the forks and the lower section to the frame, and it was superseded later in 1984 by the 1000SP II, the first Guzzi big twin to sport the new square-finned engine. “I’ve always loved Guzzis; very basic in design and a fantastic Tonti frame,” Craig says. “The engines are very torquey and they have so much character in how they look and ride. They are very different with their own particular quirks.” Craig’s better half bought him the SP as a birthday project in early 2014. It was running but in very ratty condition, and he promptly pulled it to bits. The steel-tube frame was detabbed and the rear rails shortened by 150mm, with an extra cross-brace added to the


top frame rails to locate the custom seat and tank. It was then sandblasted and painted in two-pack by Niall at Straightline2ten. Front forks are standard in stock triple trees, albeit stripped and rebuilt with dual-rate springs and new FAC damper units. The lowers were also painted in two-pack, and fork gaiters fitted to protect the seals and add to the period cafe look. Brake rotors are stock 300mm cast rotors with twin-piston Brembo F08 calipers replacing the standard F09s, while the standard cast wheels were never gonna cut the style. “I replaced the Guzzi alloys with a pair of 18inch Borranis I bought from the wreckers,” Craig says. “I linished and polished the rims, had the hubs vapour-blasted then re-laced them with stainless-steel spokes. The front axle and spacer is from a Guzzi Convert.” The stock swingarm was blasted, painted and fitted with a new driveshaft carrier bearing and universal joint. Hagon 2810 TTSA shocks, adjustable for damping and fitted with 80lb springs 10mm longer than stock, offer much

“THERE’S A GREAT MOTO GUZZI COMMUNITY OUT THERE WITH VAST AMOUNTS OF KNOWLEDGE” improved performance over the original units. The stock 242mm rear rotor is gripped by a Brembo F08 caliper and has a slot filed into its outer radius to trigger the Motogadget magnetic speedo drive. Craig has retained the brake proportioning valve which was a feature of older Guzzis, whereby the footbrake operated both the rear disc and one of the front discs. In this case, the actuator lever has been modified to increase its effectiveness and allow a shorter travel. Goodridge braided lines were also fitted. The hand lever operates the other front disc in the normal fashion. “I was thinking of de-linking the brakes but they work extremely well as

is, with great power and feel,” he says. “The balance feels just right.” The engine has been substantially modified to make it perform, without going overboard. “I didn’t want to sacrifice Guzzi’s renowned durability by going too far with the mods,” Craig says. “The aim was to liven up the asthmatic SP engine and bring it closer to an 850 Le Mans. The result is pretty much bang on target with a Mk II for peak performance, but with a huge, insanely flat torque curve.” The standard crankshaft and con rods were fitted with quality aftermarket bolts and the weighty flywheel replaced with a lightweight 1.6kg Ergal aluminium flywheel and lightened ISSUE #21

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Cafe Racers 1984 MOTO GUZZI 1000SP/NT

ring-gear. New Gilardoni pistons and Nikasil barrels replaced the stock slugs and iron bores. Standard valves were retained, operated by a Le Mans IV camshaft, with the inlet ports opened up to match the 36mm Dell’Orto carbs (stock were 30mm) mounted on straight-line alloy inlet manifolds. “The lightweight flywheel makes it so much more responsive and it is totally fuss-free from idle all the way through to about 7500rpm,” Craig says. “There’s not much point running it past that as the numbers start to fall away. It’s still a Guzzi and not designed to have its tits revved off !” Agostini rear-sets and Tommaselli Super Practic clip-ons were sourced while Craig fabricated a battery box from 3mm aluminium, mounted on top of the transmission between the carburettors. The battery itself is a lithium ion unit from Ultrabatt. Craig also fabricated a bracket to house Motogadget’s uber-cool Chronoclassic gauge, which mostly comprises an elegant Smiths-like analogue tacho and a 34

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digital display for speed and all the rest below it. A tiny Motogadget m-Unit V2 digital control box – mounted on the inner rear guard under the seat hump – provides the full quotient of switching, lights, circuit breakers and alarm. More traditional is the 24-litre alloy tank, handmade in the UK by TAB II Classics, which was painted by Niall in satin black along with the other bodywork. The only decals are timeless Guzzi ‘stick eagle’ emblems on the tank. “I found an old one in gold and had it reproduced in silver, with left and right versions, by the local sign and sticker shop.” Craig made the seat himself from fibreglass, although there are changes in store. “My original seat was kept pretty basic just to prove the concept,” he says. “The exercise matting is a bit too firm, so I will have it redone by a professional with a slight change to the shape and have it upholstered in leather.” The front mudguard is from an earlier Guzzi; Craig’s not sure which model. “I liked the look of the full-length front guard and its mounting

stays; it’s the reason the forks were swapped left for right to mount the calipers forward of the fork legs. The rear is a cut-down Honda CB250T guard chosen for its fit between the frame rails, and its rolled edges blended in well with the front guard. The inner rear guard is just cut and folded 3mm aluminium sheet. “It and all the brackets and mounts I made have been left raw – I just scuffed them up with fine emery tape to take the shine off them and maintain that function-over-form industrial look.” Craig has dubbed his bike La Freccia (the arrow), an apt name for what is now a fast, tighthandling bike with looks to kill and the mumbo to run all day with the Perth Cafe Racers pack. “Mission accomplished, I think,” he says. “I had no real problems with the build, just the usual little challenges you get when customising and modifying bikes which I love; they keep the brain ticking. There’s a great Guzzi community with vast amounts of knowledge. Parts are easy to get hold of and they are special to ride.”


Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled OHV 90-degree V-twin; Le Mans IV camshaft, two valves per cylinder; 88 x 58mm for 949cc; Gilardoni pistons and Nikasil barrels; Ergal aluminium flywheel; 2 x Dell’Orto PHF36 carburettors on custom manifolds; C5 optical ignition with Power Arc coils; five-speed gearbox, shaft final drive; 62rwhp on the dyno CHASSIS Twin-loop steel chassis, detabbed; rear rails shortened 150mm; sandblasted and painted in two-pack; Tommaselli Super Practic clip-ons; Agostini rear-sets UP FRONT Refurbished SP forks with dual-rate springs and FAC damper units; 2 x 300mm rotors with Brembo twin-piston F08 calipers; laced 18-inch Borrani 3/2.15 rim; 100/90-18 Pirelli Sports Demon tyre DOWN BACK Stock SP swingarm; Hagon 2810 TTSA shocks, 80lb springs, 10mm longer than stock; 242mm rotor with twin-piston Brembo F08 caliper; laced 18-inch 3/2.15 Borrani rim; 120/90-18 Pirelli Sports Demon tyre BODYWORK TAB II Classics 24-litre alloy tank; owner-designed and -built seat unit in fibreglass, exercise matting and vinyl; early Guzzi front guard, Honda CB250T rear; paint by Straightline2ten SPECIAL THANKS Niall aka Potato at Straightlie2ten 08 9370 3770; Mario at Thunderbikes 08 9379 1991; Peter Roper at Mota Moda 0417 462 440; Murray West at Wet Blaster 0407 687 759; The Wife for a great birthday present SUMMARY It’s not how fast you go, sonny, it’s how long you go fast ISSUE #21

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Racing

ELLASPEDE DUST HUSTLE

Neil Coker’s chopper/pit bike was one of the more challenging bikes to ride 36

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Dan Evans, another happy rider

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ELLASPEDE DUST HUSTLE

Event organiser Hughan Seary from Ellaspede (centre) rode a Yamaha XS650

Dwayne Amores appeared as Evel Knievel

“EVEL KNIEVEL MADE AN APPEARANCE, AS DID A DINOSAUR, A NINJA TURTLE AND A BALLERINA”

R

IDING dirt track is harder than it looks and I’ve got the limp to prove it! As someone who’s been road racing longer than I’ll admit to, I’ve never ridden off road except for one ride up from Noosa to Rainbow Beach along the sand. That was pretty much riding in a straight line, so it wasn’t too taxing even for me. When I heard about the Ellaspede Dust Hustle I thought, it’s finally time for me to have a go at dirt track. Hey, I’d seen Kenny Roberts on the TZ750 doing power slides all the way round the Indy mile, so how hard

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could it be to blat around on an ancient XL250 Honda? The answer, of course, is much harder than you think! Ellaspede’s Dust Hustle is a fun day on which people are encouraged to ride completely inappropriate bikes on the dirt track at Brisbane’s Mick Doohan Raceway. The video from last year’s event looked like fun, with people riding road bikes on road tyres, old trail bikes, BMWs even. What could possibly go wrong? What went wrong was that being completely inexperienced, I stuck my foot out too far and it got grabbed by the dirt, yanking my leg around


Brook James’ Harley WLA, the oldest bike of the day

Janelle Ross masquerading as some kind of dinosaur

Risky Road Bikes line up for the off Fred Van Loonen fettles Peter Davies' Kawasaki

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A Word from the Sponsor ELLASPEDE describes itself as “a hub of motorcycle culture and creativity”. From its base in West End, Brisbane, Ellaspede serves up custom motorcycles and accessories, apparel and good coffee. In keeping with the modern custom bike lifestyle, the vibe is friendly and always positive. “Dust Hustle is Ellaspede’s day on the dirt for anyone to roll out and ride whatever rig they can throw a leg over,” according to their website. “This is a flat track fun day open to all the weird, wonderful and woefully unsuitable motorcycles that could possibly be ridden on the dirt. “This was the first event in Australia for complete novices to pilot improper rides on a legitimate race track in the best damn display of dirt and dust tomfoolery. Dust Hustle also attracts seasoned track specialists who dust off some unseemly scoots and have twice the fun trying to go half as fast. “Bring it and pin it is the theme, with an emphasis on the wacky experience over race seriousness. Remember riding with mates when you were kids? The bikes were a mismatch of big, small, old and new, but you still had the best damn time. This is the adult version.” Check out www.ellaspede.com for all the details of the 2016 event. ISSUE #21

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Racing

ELLASPEDE DUST HUSTLE

Brett Ingram’s Honda 500 Four

“I’D SEEN KENNY ROBERTS DOING POWER SLIDES ON A TZ750; HOW HARD COULD IT BE?” and giving me what later in the week turned out to be the world’s biggest bruise up my inner thigh. And that was on the first lap! I had another couple of goes but had to retire hurt and ended up watching people who knew what they were doing – and they were very impressive. The groups were split into Risky Road Bikes (the maddest class), Old Mates for the early stuff, Motocross/Enduro and Clutchless for pit bikes and scooters. Old Mates consisted mainly of vintage trail bikes – XL Hondas, TS Suzukis and the 40

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like – and some other frankly crazy choices including a CB500 Honda Four, two BMW twins and a CB250 from the early 1970s. Risky Road Bikes included a few Harleys which were ridden with impressive aggression, an RZ400 Yamaha and a supercharged – yes supercharged – TT500! Dress-ups were encouraged and we were treated to the sights of Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Stormtroopers flying around the track with remarkable dirt bike skills. Evel Knievel also made an appearance, as did a dinosaur and a ballerina.

To show us how it should be done, AMA pro rider Michael Kirkness brought along one of the bikes from the latest Mad Max movie, an insanely lengthened, chopped and abused Yamaha R1. Who else would ride a beast like that? Other pro riders Briony Hendrickson and Jace Castles were on conventional dirt bikes mixing it with the MX/Enduro class. You could learn a bit by trying to follow them, I’ll give you the tip! It was a fantastic day and a credit to all who organised and participated. See you there next time.


BMW Motorrad R nineT Scrambler

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Cafe Racers

1981 YAMAHA XV1000

A red-hot combination of classic Japanese engineering, modern running gear and pure Italian style WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOS N DREW, SILVIA GALLIANI, EMANUELE CROSTA

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Cafe Racers

1981 YAMAHA XV1000

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HAT was once a little-loved early-80s Japanese sports tourer has been transformed into a formidable cafe racer by a tiny workshop in northern Italy. There, Christian Moretti of Plan B Motorcycles turns unwanted junk into trend-setting customs of all kinds using traditional engineering and bodyforming tools and skills. “I’m a big petrolhead and love anything with wheels, from cars to bicycles and skateboards,” he says. And V-twin Yamahas, it seems. We had a look at his XV750-based Orange Project back in issue #19. His latest creation, Fireball, takes off from where Orange Project left off with more performance, much improved running gear and an aggressive, crowd-stopping appearance. The donor bike was a 1981 Yamaha XV1000, known as the TR1 in Europe and just plain ol’ XV1000 here in Australia. Selling alongside the shaft-driven XV750 cruiser, the 1000 was a chain-driven streetbike which some commentators lauded as an affordable modernday Vincent with its 980cc 75-degree V-twin engine, minimal frame and mono-shock rear. Christian’s goal was to build “a classic-looking motorcycle with a muscular stance that rides

“A CLASSIC-LOOKING MOTORCYCLE WITH A MUSCULAR STANCE THAT RIDES LIKE A MODERN STREETBIKE” like a modern streetbike”, and early V-twin Yamahas offer as blank a canvas as any. Like the XV750 – and it must be said, the Vincent – the 1000 has what Christian calls an invisible

mainframe hidden under the tank which joins the steering head to the top rear shock mount, and a big lusty V-twin hanging off underneath it. Which is about all that’s all he’s kept of the donor bike. “Keep the best and dump the rest,” he says. “Everything is built around that big V-twin engine and slim frame.” And so the rear sub-frame, front and rear suspension, wheels, brakes and all the bodywork were consigned to the parts shelves. This meant everything was on the table, not only styling but also important stuff like steering rake, seat height and

Bike Of The Year YAMAHA’S XV1000, released in 1981, was the answer to a question that was often put but rarely tested, namely that bikes were becoming overly complicated and were too heavy and powerful for everyday use. It was the era of air-cooled 16-valve DOHC fours weighing close to a quarter of a tonne and making somewhere around 100hp. What the world needed was something simpler, lighter and less powerful, so the argument went, offering the utility of bikes past but with the reliability of the present. And so Yamaha developed the XV1000, or the TR1 as it was known in Europe and XV920R (with a narrower bore) in Japan and the US. The bike journos loved it because it was everything they’d asked for, with many labelling it the modern Vincent. In many ways it was; a simple two-valve per cylinder V-twin with just enough frame to join the steering head to the rear mono-shock mount, and relying on the unit-construction engine for its rigidity. In its defence, with 69hp at

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6500rpm, the XV made more power than even a Black Shadow, handled and stopped better and was only 14kg heavier. Another old-school feature was the enclosed chain final drive, packed in grease, in place of the heavy powersapping shaft on the XV750. Nothing else stood a chance in the Two Wheels Bike of the Year in 1981, back when TW was the bible of Aussie motorcycling, but hardly anyone bought one. As with the earlier SR500

– Yamaha’s response to a perceived demand for a reliable British-style single – it showed that the commentariat is often off the money when it comes to bikes people want to ride as opposed to bikes they think we should ride. More kindly, they were probably just ahead of their time, given the popularity of SRs and other retro-themed bikes today. Yamaha had better luck copying Harleys, with the same SOHC engine going on to power a gazillion Viragos.


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wheelbase, realised with a mix of Ducati and handmade parts. Front forks are 43mm upside-down Showas off a 916, anodised in black to match the frame and carried in a 916 lower triple tree and Christian’s own gullwing-style top clamp machined from billet aluminium. In keeping with the era and with an eye on stability, Christian resisted the urge to lace up a fat 17-inch rim to the hub, instead going for an 18 with a relatively skinny high-profile 110/80 tyre. (The original model had a heavy curved-spoke 19-inch cast wheel.) As it produces around 70hp and has a claimed

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dry weight of 160kg, a single Brembo four-piston caliper on a 320mm rotor was deemed sufficient. Much more work has gone on down at the dusty end, where Christian has grafted on

the complete rear end of a 999 Ducati. The controversial 999 was designed by Pierre Terblanche with a dual-sided swingarm, unlike the single-sided swingarms fitted to 916s before it and 1098s afterwards. Capable

“EVERYTHING NOT STRICTLY NECESSARY HAS BEEN REMOVED AND THE ESSENTIAL HIDDEN”


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Cafe Racers

1981 YAMAHA XV1000

of handling 140hp in the Ducati, it is light, stiff and well-matched to a mono-shock lifted from a Yamaha R1. The hub carries a 200mm Brembo rotor gripped by a two-piston caliper, and is laced to a 17-inch rim with a 160/70 tyre in place of the original 18-inch cast wheel. As with the front, the swing arm has been anodised black along with both rims; it not only looks cool, it makes it less obvious where it came from, which is all part of the customisers' art. Christian then addressed the bodywork, starting with the fuel tank. “The 13-litre gas tank is custom-made in aluminium to help keep the weight down,” he says. “Same for the front fender, the seat sub-frame and the belly-pan that carries a small lithium battery. Almost everything was handmade specifically for this project. This includes the neoprene seat that was shaped by hand then covered in leather.” Other hand-formed parts include the clipons, rear-sets and the one-off tuned-length exhaust which was made from stainless steel, although the silencer is from Italian muffler box specialists QD Exhausts. The wiring was also much simplified, with all switches contained in the top triple clamp to keep the hand controls free of clutter. “Everything not strictly necessary has

been removed and the essential has been hidden, shaving a total of 60kg from the bike straight out of the factory,” he says. “The riding position is loaded on the wrists and the bike makes you want to jump between corners with your knee sliding on the ground and some good old-fashioned flames spitting from the exhaust system!” We’ll take Christian’s word for that – he does call it the Fireball – but there’s no doubt the man knows how to design and build an eye-catching custom bike. “The motorcycle world of today is a beautiful one and we are surrounded by so many different bikes, so many different styles and approaches to riding,” he says. “It is interesting to mix them together, like a cooking recipe, to explore new flavours and build bikes that satisfy owners’ needs and reflect who they are. “Let’s say you like classic bikes, with their timeless shapes and naked beauty, but you also love the technical evolution that motorcycles have gone through and maybe you also like some details in the chopper motorcycle scene. “I build every bike tailored to the owner and I like to think it looks best when he is riding it. I work as a one-man band and I’m enjoying the ride, experimenting and learning as much as I can every day.”

“I WORK AS A ONE-MAN BAND AND I’M ENJOYING THE RIDE”

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Retro Specs ENGINE Yamaha XV1000; air-cooled four-stroke SOHC 75-degree V-twin; 95 x 69.2mm for 980cc; 8.3:1 comp; twin Hitachi carburettors; electronic ignition; electric start; tuned-length stainless-steel headers with Quat D Ex-Box muffler; wet multi-plate clutch to five-speed gearbox; chain final drive; 69hp @ 6500rpm (stock) CHASSIS Modified stamped-steel mainframe incorporating air box; engine as stressed member; custom-built seat sub-frame in aluminium tubing BODYWORK Custom-made aluminium fuel tank, front fender and belly-pan; neoprene seat trimmed in leather UP FRONT Showa 43mm USD forks (ex-916 Ducati), anodised in black; custom billet top triple clamp; single 320mm rotor with fourspot Brembo caliper (ex-916); black-finished laced 18-in rim with 110/80 tyre DOWN BACK Modified Ducati 999 dualsided swingarm, anodised in black; Yamaha R1 mono-shock; single 200mm rotor with twin-piston Brembo caliper; black-finished laced 17-inch rim with 160/70 tyre CONTACT www.planbmotorcycles.com SUMMARY Everything the original wasn’t


Lifestyle

RETRO AND CUSTOM MOTORCYCLES

STYLE COUNCIL RETRO & CUSTOM MOTORCYCLES

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A new riding group in WA evokes the spirit of times past WORDS GEOFF SEDDON & PHOTOGRAPHY SAM LUCKMAN, BEN PILLATTI, CALUM SONNENBERG

A

CHANCE workplace meeting between two motorcycle enthusiasts with a shared passion for real bikes was the catalyst for the pictures on these pages and much more. One man was twice the age of the other but the enthusiasm was much the same. “The flame of my first motorcycle love

in the late 1970s had never been quite extinguished but something was missing,” Robert Glenton says. “Then the whole cafe/ retro resurgence came around at the same time that I was thinking about an old-school bike again. I bought a Moto Guzzi V7 and modified it cafe-style. “Calum Sonnenberg was riding an old CB750

with ace bars and now we both have old Brit bikes too. I was heartened to meet a kindred spirit and gladdened that younger people were adding fuel to the fire.” The two spoke of a desire for a niche riding group in Perth. “Calum’s friend Adam, owner of a cool Brat-style BMW, joined us and Retro and Custom Motorcycles was formed,” Robert says.

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“NOTHING LOOKS WORSE THAN SOMEONE ON A CLASSIC BIKE IN A RACE-REPLICA HELMET AND POWER RANGER LEATHERS” “Ben then came along with a very neat, cafestyle CX500 and the gears began to turn. “From the very start it was important to recognise exactly what we were and to be totally honest about our aims. That way, people could see what we stood for and decide if it was for them. We make no bones about being strict about the style we represent, to avoid becoming just another social bike group – someone said if you don’t draw a hard line, the line gets blurred.” Eligible rides include cafe racers, scramblers, bobbers, old-school choppers, vintage bikes and modern retros, especially if they are modified. 54

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It is also a basic requirement that they are roadworthy. “As a rough guideline, if it’s made pre-1978 or is of that style, it’ll probably be okay,” Robert says. “Anything with a full fairing would struggle. “Colourful full-face helmets, race leathers and bright-coloured jackets are definitely out. We are passionate about a certain style and make no apologies for it. Nothing looks worse than someone on a classic bike in a race-replica helmet and Power Ranger leathers – it’s like riding a stagecoach in rapper gear. No-one thinks that looks right. “If people think we’re being elitist, that is fine;

it shouldn’t bother them as they wouldn’t want to join anyway, but they’ll still whine. So it’s not just about the bike, the apparel or character of the person; it’s all of it.” The group has attracted a broad range of riders of all ages, which Robert says gives them a solid foundation for the future. “We were worried we wouldn’t get the numbers but from the four of us, it slowly grew,” he explains. “The intent was to have active members and to be primarily about riding, so we have at least one decent ride a month. If people don’t show up on the odd ride within a reasonable amount of time, or contribute


ABOVE Clip-ons and rear-sets on a Harley-Davidson Sportster? Yes please! LEFT Tidy 1970s 750cc T140 Bonneville PREVIOUS PAGE Make, age and country of origin mean little to these guys, so long as the bikes are built in period style. We especially like the baby 350cc Honda Four, top left

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in some other way, then it is clearly apparent they’re not interested and they go. “At the moment it is run mainly through Facebook, but we will probably form into a club eventually.” The group also discussed from the outset the idea of putting on a retro bike show, which they pulled off within a year in spectacular fashion on a rooftop in downtown Fremantle. The Ride On Bike Show was an unqualified success – “Don’t take our word for it,” Rob says, “ask anyone who went in 2015” – and we’re

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“WE LIKE TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE DECENT RIDE EVERY MONTH” already looking forward to covering the 2016 event, to be held in Fremantle on 2nd April. You can read all about it at https://m.facebook.com/ rideonbikeshow and on Instagram (@retroandcustommotorcycles). Robert is stoked the way it’s all turned out.

“Two guys met at work,” he says. “They joked about setting up a group. They dreamed of running a show. They didn’t think they’d get it off the ground, but it’s off the ground, all right. It’s flying, because young or old, the flame burns.”


Restos

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1989 HONDA VFR750R


GIANT KILLER Honda’s diminutive RC30 is the best road bike Japan ever built WORDS GEOFF SEDDON & PHOTOGRAPHY JOHN FRETTEN

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E DON’T cover a lot of liquidcooled, fully-faired sports bikes here at Retrobike but we’ll make an exception for the best street bike Honda ever built. Like the CB1100R we looked at last issue, the VFR750R (as it is formally known) was constructed by Honda Racing Corporation from late 1987 to win races, in this case Formula 1 and the then-new World SuperBike championship. If there were relatively few parts shared between the 1100R and the 900cc Bol D’or on which it was based, the only things the new racer shared with the existing VFR750 street bike were those first six letters and digits. The new bike soon became better known by its production code, RC30. It was immediately successful, winning the inaugural WSB in 1988 and again in 1989, both with American Fred Merkel in the saddle. Carl Fogarty also twice won the F1 championship. With its small size, light weight and almost linear power delivery, it was tailor-made for the Isle of Man and for a while almost impossible to beat in the hands of Fogarty, Steve Hislop, Joey Dunlop and anyone else who could get their hands on one. By 1990, two thirds of a capacity grid for the TT were Honda RC30s. Here in Australia it was much the same story, with Malcolm Campbell claiming the inaugural

Australian SuperBike championship on an RC30 in 1989 and again in 1990. Amazingly, Troy Corser added a third title in 1993, three years after the model had ceased production. Just 3000 RC30s were constructed over three years and sold to the public for around twice the price of the VFR. They were so popular that in some markets, buyers were chosen by lottery. Looking at the bike’s specifications, they were cheap, and that’s before you take into account the bike’s track success and almost guaranteed collectability. The hand-built 90-degree V-four engine looks a bit like the VFR’s at a glance but there the similarity ends; Soichiro Honda was enthusiastic about WSB and built a bike, from scratch and without compromise, to win it. For a start, the RC30 engine is much smaller and lighter, and has a 360-degree crankshaft as opposed to the VFR’s 180-degree unit. It is fitted with titanium-alloy con rods and drives multiple gears to spin twin roller-bearing camshafts in each specially-designed cylinder head. It was designed and assembled as a pure race engine, using only the best parts and materials. In stock (detuned) trim, it made 112hp at 11,000rpm, driving a six-speed gearbox via straight-cut primary gears and a wet slipper clutch. Yes, in 1987! A comprehensive race kit ISSUE #21

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1989 HONDA VFR750R

could be had from HRC to add up to another 25hp out of the box. The motor’s compact dimensions allowed the chassis people to design a bike that at first glance looks like a 500 or even a big 250. The RC30 is tiny in the flesh, a genuine racer with lights and a dry weight of 185kg, 35kg lighter than a VFR. The frame is of the backbone type, comprising cast aluminium headstock, engine lugs and swingarm pivot for strength, with extruded aluminium side sections to minimise weight. Wheelbase is a razor-sharp 1410mm. Conventional 43mm telescopic forks, individually adjustable for compression and rebound damping, are set at 24 degrees rake for 91mm of trail with the 17-inch front hoop. Front brakes are as good as they came in the late 1980s, comprising twin four-piston (split-sized) Nissin calipers with quick-change pads on 310mm slotted stainless-steel rotors. The rear is even more impressive, especially the cast aluminium single-sided swing arm derived from the factory RVF endurance racers – six years before Ducati’s 916. The rising-rate mono-shock is also adjustable for rebound and compression damping as well as spring preload, while an adjustable linkage limits rise and fall under brakes and acceleration. Rear rim is an 18, which Honda thought aided tyre life over a 60

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“THEY’RE LIKE THE SWISS WATCH OF MOTORCYCLES; EVERYTHING IS PUT TOGETHER REALLY WELL” 17, and the rear brake a twin-piston caliper on a 220mm rotor. The aluminium fuel tank holds 20 litres, while the thin fibreglass fairings were hand-laid in the race workshop. Clip-ons, solo seat and rear-sets were designed for the track but unlike the first CB1100Rs, the overall finish is worthy of a show bike. Contemporary road tests were relatively few, as Honda had little trouble selling them! As a road tester for Two Wheels in 1989, I rode one owned by former TW art director Lindsay Hannington. It confirmed overseas reports of a physically small and light bike with impeccable steering, very good suspension, plenty of brakes, smooth progressive power delivery and a unique exhaust note. All the things that made it so dominate the Isle of Man translate directly to the road; it’s a very easy bike to ride fast. If it has any faults, it’s that it doesn’t like traffic so

much (the engine gets hot) and I could never afford one. John Fretten is no stranger to RC30s, buying his first almost new in 1989. “I had one when they first came out but had to sell it,” John says, “and I’ve always wanted another one. They’re like the Swiss watch of motorcycles; everything is put together really well.” He managed to find two within weeks of each other in early 2013. The first was in Germany, which John has already restored and sold to help fund the feature bike, a 1989 model which he found in Austria. It was part of a job lot of down-at-heel Hondas that also included two CB1100Rs, a VF1000R and a 900 Bol D’or. “This bloke had five bikes in a shed, very neglected, all the paint was peeling off. They were pretty rough, but roughness I can fix. The idea was to sell the others on and I’d get an RC30 out of it,” but so far only one of the 1100Rs has gone. The


Of all John’s bikes, this one is his favourite. “It’s just such a nice package,” he says. “It still looks great. It’s quite comfortable to ride, probably due to its small size, and just does everything so good. If I had to sell my bikes, this would be the last one. I’d probably go down fighting.”

Retro Specs

VF1000R is John’s current road bike and the Bol D’or we’ll bring you next month. “The RC30 wasn’t going and I had my fingers crossed it wasn’t seized, but the owner said it had been running. It had low kilometres and there were no signs of it ever being raced.” Blocked carburettors were all that was stopping it from firing up, and as for the rest of it, “it just needed a tidy-up,” John says. Some tidy-up! After being stripped back to nothing, pretty much the whole bike has been

repainted, alloy restored and all the running gear refurbished; it looks brand new! Of more concern was chasing down missing bits like blinkers and brackets. “I like to get all my bikes as stock as I can, but it’s really, really hard to get parts for RC30s,” he says. “I finally found a bloke in Holland who was stripping one to race it. He had everything I needed.” Similarly, the damaged radiator and exhaust had to be repaired rather than replaced.

ENGINE Liquid-cooled 90-degree V-four four-stroke; 70 X 48.6mm for 748cc; 11:1 comp; gear-driven DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 4 x 38mm Keihin carburettors; gear primary drive to wet slipper clutch and six-speed gearbox; chain final drive; 112hp @ 11,000rpm CHASSIS Aluminium backbone type, comprising cast and extruded sections; fully adjustable 43mm forks with twin four-spot calipers gripping 310mm rotors, 17-inch wheel; single-sided rear swing arm with rising-rate mono-shock, adjustable for everything, twin-piston caliper on 220mm rotor, 18-inch rear wheel DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1410mm; dry weight 185kg; fuel capacity 20 litres BEST FOR Riding, winning, collecting, dribbling NOT SO GOOD Commuting

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Competition

NOSTALGIA RACING

When the lights drop, the talking stops WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHYGEOFF SEDDON

N

OSTALGIA drag racing is enjoying a resurgence of late, with a reborn gasser class firing up the tin-tops and renewed interest from people like us seeing a dozen old motorbikes fronting the starter at a recent event in Sydney. They ranged from a 500cc Ducati Pantah to a nitrous-equipped 1500cc Kawasaki Funny

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Bike and a supercharged 1964 Triumph Thunderbird, ridden by experienced racers and debutants alike. Drag racing is more fun and harder than it looks. The corners aren’t much of a problem and there is generally plenty of room to stop, but you have to know what the throttle is for and each race can be won or lost in the first

tenth of a second or the last few yards. It rewards balls, bike preparation, a cool head and a good clutch hand. Like most amateur quarter-mile classes, nostalgia racing is run on a dial-your-own handicap basis, so the challenge is not only power and speed but also consistency in rider input and machine performance.


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“THE TRICK IS TO BEGIN THE LAUNCH BEFORE THE LIGHT TURNS GREEN, BUT IF YOU BREAK OUT YOU LOSE” Once through scrutineering, each rider gets a limited number of qualifying runs – usually two or three, according to entrant numbers – to help dial in a time. You literally set your own handicap, but run quicker and you lose the race. Time slips are handed out after each run, which also show the all-important reaction time between the green light coming on and your front wheel braking the timing light. The trick is to begin the launch before the light turns green but once again, if you break out you lose. It’s where many races are won and if you wait for the green to get going, you’ve already lost. I once jagged a 0.000 reaction 64

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time at a Sydney nostalgia meeting. Another time, I jumped the gun at Willowbank by three-hundredths of a second. Hero to zero in a blink of an eye. Some folk say that drag racing is a bit like being in the army – long periods of standing around in lines, followed by brief periods of heart-pumping adrenalin – but once you come through the tunnel, it all happens pretty quickly. As two competitors disappear down the track, the next two are doing their burnouts to warm their back tyres then, when the track is clear, are invited by the starter to stage. A single yellow light shows you are close to the start line, at which time

you wait for the other racer to reach the same point. Both riders then move forward a few inches to each activate their second yellow lights, after which the starter will activate the orange and green lights for the slower bike. The lights for the second rider are delayed according to the difference in dial-in times, so that both have an equal chance of crossing the finish line first and winning the race, provided of course they don’t break out. It is a devilishly simple and transparent form of handicapping which makes everybody equal and guarantees close racing. Almost anything can be drag raced, from bog stock road bikes to purpose-built


THIS PAGE: TOP RIGHT Keith Ingram says his first legal drag race was good fun. His 1980 Bonne ran sweet all day LEFT Winners are grinners: Garry and Brett Copping on Garry’s 12sec Z1A drag bike and Z1 streeter FAR LEFT Vintage speedway racer Von Daz took along his supercharged ’64 Thunderbird for his first run at the drags PREVIOUS PAGE: TOP LEFT Phil Wellens last raced a Monaro at Castlereagh! Here he’s racing his restored ’76 T140 FAR LEFT Ed Harring was the leader of the northern posse on his T140-powered ’63 MIDDLE LEFT Michael Dwinger (left) has run as fast as 8.8sec@155mph on his NOS-equipped Funny Bike

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long-wheelbase dragsters, with quarter or eighth-mile tracks dotted all around the country. It is a friendly and relatively inexpensive form of motor sport, light on tyres but sometimes hard on engines, with one competitor being black-flagged for an oil leak on the day. And no, it wasn’t one of the five pushrod Triumphs. Crashes are rare but, as always, the faster you go, the more likely they become. At this particular meeting, an alcohol Funny Car crashed spectacularly and

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“YOU CAN GO FROM HERO TO ZERO IN A BLINK OF AN EYE” brought the day’s proceedings to an early end after two rounds of eliminations. A count back of time-slips gave the win to young Brett Copping riding his old man’s Kawasaki Z1, ahead of Dad on his Z1A.

Everyone we spoke to had a ball and was keen to go again, including five riders having their first crack at the big black dyno. If you’d like to join in the fun, check out the Nostalgia Drag Bike Racers page on Facebook.

ABOVE LEFT Kevin Freeman had never even watched a drag race before entering his 1981 Pantah, pictured in left lane above

BOTTOM LEFT Geoff Watson has been racing dirt track for 50 years but this was his first time down the quarter on his Yamaha XS650


KEVIN SCHWANTZ

KEVIN MAGEE

FREDDIE SPENCER

JEREMY MCWILLIAMS

STEVE PARRISH

KORK BALLINGTON

GRAEME CROSBY

18TH – 20TH MARCH 2016 SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK, EASTERN CREEK FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION VISIT www.barrysheene.com.au or email: festivalofspeed2015@gmail.com


Replicas

AN BOAR B RD TRAC ACKER KER 2011 KIWI INDIA INDIAN BOARD TRACKER

d from f ll hi early l Indian di Made all-new parts, this replica is good for 100mph out of the crate WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY ALASTAIR RITCHIE

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Replicas

2011 KIWI INDIAN BOARD TRACKER

W

HAT is it about New Zealanders and side-valve Indian motorcycles? Almost every Kiwi motorcycle friend I have has at least one stashed away somewhere, all acquired pre-Burt. What were once cheap and plentiful are now collectors’ items. Mike ‘Kiwi’ Tomas has been into them all his adult life and spent much of it redesigning and manufacturing classic Indian parts in his adopted state of California. He’s now got to the stage where he builds complete Indian side-valve engines, whole bikes even, from scratch.

Flatheads Ruled THE first Indian motorcycle, a single-cylinder inlet-over-exhaust four-stroke in a lightlymodified bicycle frame, rolled out of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1902, a year before Henry Ford sold his first car and two years before William Harley and Arthur Davidson sold their first bike. It was designed as a pace cycle for pushbike racing but it wasn’t long before it was the motorbikes attracting the crowds. By 1905, Indian was racing its first IOE V-twins, which were subsequently introduced to the public in 1907. Indian was the dominant early player amongst more than 40 fledgling US motorcycle companies, being the first to introduce a V-twin, a multispeed transmission, electric lights, an electric starter (briefly), swing arm rear suspension (also briefly) and adjustable front suspension. Entering the Great War, Indian had just released its first side-valve V-twin – the 1000c Powerplus

– and was the biggest motorcycle company in the world. The ‘flathead’ design was seen as a breakthrough, offering simplicity, reliability, ease of manufacture and maintenance, and a high tolerance to different fuels. Indian bumped the Powerplus to 1200cc in 1920 and also introduced the 600cc side-valve Scout that same year with semi-unit construction of engine and gearbox. This design became the basis for the new 1000cc Chief in 1922, the 1200cc Super Chief in 1923 and every big-twin Indian for the next 30 years.

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“HAND-CRAFTED METHODS ARE EXTREMELY TIME CONSUMING BUT PRODUCE HIGH-QUALITY, DEAD-STRAIGHT FRAMES” “Kiwi Indian has grown organically,” Mike says. “Over the past 25 years I have designed every part of the Kiwi motorcycle, taking the defects out of Indian’s original design. I have a total of 2500 individual manufactured part numbers. “We have a complete understanding of the engineering behind each part so that they all work correctly and in unison with each other. A key factor of our brand is reliability and low maintenance, which we have achieved by

designing the bikes properly, one component at a time.” To be clear, almost every single part of this bike are new Kiwi Indian components. Crankcases, crankshaft, con rods, pistons, camshafts, cylinders, heads, valves, you name it. Frame, tank, guards, forks, hubs, everything. “Nothing is production based,” Mike says. “Each engine is built to order, starting with the bare flywheels. Every single part has to be accurately sized and painstakingly

assembled. Nothing comes out of a box and is slapped together. What is done is becoming a lost art in America.” Each bike is also built to order, more often closely based on road models like the iconic 1939 Chieftain. But Mike’s Board Tracker is a little different. It’s what hot rodders would call a ‘phantom’, with authentic vintage style but not based on any actual production model. “I wanted to create a bike with history yet [one which] was durable enough for longdistance touring across the US and which stopped fast with modern brakes,” he says. “The early part of the 20th century was a time of rapid advancements in engine design and board track racing became huge, the ultimate daredevil motor sport of its day. The tracks were made from wooden planks with corners banked as much as 60 degrees, and the bikes ran wide open at more than 100mph with no brakes.” The rigid frame on the Board Tracker is TIG-

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2011 KIWI INDIAN BOARD TRACKER

“A LOT OF OUR PRODUCT TESTING IS DONE IN DEATH VALLEY AND THIS BIKE JUST ATE IT UP WITH EASE”

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welded by hand from American-made tubing – indeed, there’s not an imported part on or in it – with the steering head set at a lazy 27 degrees. “This hand-crafted method is extremely time consuming but for us is a necessary process to produce high-quality, dead-straight frames,” Mike says. He is equally adamant about where he sources all his materials. “In today’s society, many just want cheap and they don’t care where it comes from. That is not our philosophy. I came to America in 1982 as a tourist from New Zealand and this country has been very good to me, so I’ve taken a stand of not sourcing parts and materials from overseas. I would rather give back by having our goods made here, to allow Americans to be fed and live a better life.” The leaf-spring front end is also Kiwi’s own, as are the wheel hubs and 10-inch (254mm) brake rotors gripped by Jay Brake calipers. Rims are 21 inches both ends, laced with stainless-steel spokes. Fuel tank is Kiwi’s, as is the oil tank located in the lower front section of the rear fender, with the whole lot painted in glorious Indian red by Crown Town Customs. The three-piece handlebars are adjustable for height; set them high for cruising and touring (as shown), or adjust them low for maximum visual board-track impact. Or as Mike says, “just leave them low for the ultimate feeling of riding a pure-bred race bike!” The engine is common to all Kiwi models; an 84ci (1377cc), 42-degree side-valve V-twin

which is essentially a re-engineered Indian flathead. Bore and stroke are as old-school as they come at 3.25 x 5.0 inches. Kiwi doesn’t quote a power figure but claims it’s good for a reliable 100mph if you can find the required courage and a smooth enough road. On this particular bike, a four-row primary chain takes the torque to a foot-operated wet clutch and four-speed hand-shift gearbox, although the engines can also be supplied ready to hook up to modern Harley transmissions if that is the customer’s preference. The Board Tracker is bigger than the original race bikes but tiny parked next to the new big twins on sale at your local Indian dealer. That and the disc brakes are the only things that give the game away. To all other extents, it’s as close as you will ever get to riding a brand new 90-year-old racing bike on the street. “It just stops traffic dead,” Mike says. “The very first test ride this bike did was 550 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona to Los Angeles on the Cannonball Run. It was a good shakedown, done with confidence without any issues whatsoever. I stopped to take some photos in Seligman, Arizona, next to some old Route 66 buildings. Since this is a tourist town, I could not get out of there as all the tourists kept me busy posing for them! A lot of our product testing is done in Death Valley over the steep mountain roads and this bike just ate ’em up with ease.”

Retro Specs ENGINE Kiwi Indian air-cooled side-valve 42-degree V-twin; semi-unit construction; 3.25 x 5.0in for 84ci (1377cc); caged-bearing bottom end, forged con rods and cast pistons; Kiwi performance camshafts; CV carburettor; points ignition; four-row primary chain drive to wet clutch four-speed hand-shift gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS Steel-tube TIG-welded single-loop chassis; leaf-sprung front forks, single 10-inch stainless-steel rotor with Jay Brake caliper on alloy hub and laced 21-inch rim; rigid rear with single 10-inch rotor and Jay Brake caliper on alloy hub and 21-inch front rim WEBSITE www.kiwiindian.com WHAT WE LIKE Pure vintage style with modern reliability; brakes WHAT WE DON’T LIKE We don’t have a lazy $55K to buy one

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COLLECTORS MODEL CITIZENS

McIlwraith WITH JAMIE McILWRAITH

POOR MAN'S SHED FULL OF CLASSICS NE of my favourite scenes from the movies when I was a schoolboy was in the British movie If, starring a very young and already badly behaved Malcolm McDowell. In this scene in If, McDowell’s character (Mick Travis) is a bored schoolboy who wanders down the main street of his town with his equally dodgy mate, Wallace. They stop at the motorcycle shop and it’s full of gleaming BSAs, so they wander in. The salesman at his desk looks up, thinking they’re just two bored kids dreaming of owning that 1969 BSA A65 Rocket Goldstar when they can’t even afford the clutch lever on the 250 Starfire. Travis sits on the 650, trying it out for size, dreaming his dreams, twisting the throttle. He smiles at the salesman, who half-smiles back, thinking “just another kid dreaming”. Travis has other plans and kickstarts the BSA, which of course fires up first kick – it is the movies, after all. Before the salesman can get up from his desk to stop him, Travis is off across the showroom floor, riding the bike into the large workshop, chased by the stumbling salesman. He then picks up Wallace on his second lap and off they ride out the workshop door onto the main street, heading at speed towards their next very rebellious adventure. You can see the clip on You Tube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTI-GsiqfGE. Now kids, please don’t try this next time you’re at the motorcycle shop. It’s very naughty and the penalties are severe. Bike shops now offer tempting loans on reasonable repayment plans, so there’s every chance you can actually afford that dream bike (if you forgo food, etc). However, as a bored schoolboy who was in love

O

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with motorcycles and was also starting my long career as a movie buff, watching If was my perfect escape from the tedium of Fifth Form (that’s Year 11 to you). Again, please don’t skip school either. That’s also very naughty and it will harm your career prospects, I am sure. These days you need a degree just to be unemployed. And whatever you do, please don’t skip school and steal motorcycles. That is going to land you in what is known as a “shitload of trouble” … and you don’t want to go there. Despite those youthful follies of dreaming

“That desire to have what I cannot afford still lurks deep-down within me” about motorcycles and watching If several times over, I came to my senses and grew up to be a wage-earning, proud, legal motorcycle owner. But that desire to have what I cannot afford still lurks deep-down within me, and I have discovered there is one way to admire the bikes of your dreams, in your own home, without fearing a knock on the door from the Law. It’s called collecting model motorcycles. The price is right, that’s for sure. If you could somehow manage to buy an actual 1970s Laverda 750 SFC, it would no doubt cost somewhere around $20-$30K if you could find a nice one, but mine cost me $15.15, including postage. Admittedly mine is just four inches long, 1/24th the size of a real Laverda 750 SFC. It’s not

rideable but it looks fantastic in its little case up on my bookshelf. I’ve got it sitting next to my Moto Guzzi Le Mans ($16.20), which is next to my Kawasaki 750H2 triple ($18.36), which is beside my CB750 Honda ($19.62), Ducati 750SS green frame ($22), Triumph Bonneville 650 ($15.20) and Suzuki Katana ($16.25). Are you starting to get the picture? There’s more. Vincent Black Shadow, BMW R90S, Ducati 750F1, Ducati 350, Yamaha RD350LC, Bultaco Metralla 250, MZ 250, BMW R80GS, Moto Guzzi 500 Falcone, a 350 GP Guzzi with dustbin fairing, and a classic white Guzzi V7 Special from the 60s. Most (but not all) of the little models are nice enough low-budget productions from either a Spanish maker, IXO, or a German mob, Starline. There’re other scales and other manufacturers and better-quality models available at much higher prices, but these cheap little 1/24s come in a good variety of bike makes and models at prices which suit my low budget. Now, if I was to ever hit the mega jackpot and win several squillion in Lotto, I can assure you that (a) I would purchase a home with a whopper garage; and (b) fill it with real 1:1 scale versions of all the bikes I currently own in 1:24 scale. I’m not sure where I would find a real 350cc Moto Guzzi GP bike with a dustbin fairing, but it would be fun to go looking for one. However, that mega-win in Lotto hasn’t happened yet and so I am happy with plan B: collecting models and enjoying just looking at them in 3D on my shelf, rather than 2D photos on a page. 3D is so much better!


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HISTORY EVOLUTION REVOLUTION

Bailey WITH PAUL BAILEY

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE

O

VER the past several issues I’ve been focused on the restoration of motorcycles. I talked about the different types of restorations, what they mean to us and why we chase a particular type or style of restoration. Why do we as motorcyclists do this? Why do we at some point in our lives decide to have a motorcycle? And why do we then decide to change, improve, modify, restore, molest, customise or do any other thing to the bike other than leave it exactly like it was? I have my theory as to why we do this. Ever since man had enough grey matter to think and recognise a difference in something, he has had the smarts to make a choice as to what he wanted. He started to realise that what the other caveman had was what he also wanted, or that maybe he already had a better fire or cave than the other dude. As the brain cells slowly multiplied in the caveman’s thick skull, he started to make decisions on how he wore his loincloth, or how he shaped his club or axe. Even at this primitive age we were making decisions about things, about our possessions, which were different to the man in the cave next door. The competitive spirit, that desire to be better or different, has been hardwired into us from the start. Jump forward several million years to the turn of the 20th century and the world was discovering the combustion engine – how it worked, what it could do and what uses it might be applied to. The invention of the motorcycle was a marvel for its time and a

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fascination, but once the second motorcycle was made, the book on uniformity and egalitarianism or whatever you want to call it was thrown out the window. The man or woman who bought a motorcycle suddenly became an individual! They no longer followed the same narrow path of conformism; no longer sheep ambling in the flock, wallflowers or dull, boring nobodies. They were motorcyclists! They were quick-thinking, risktaking, ready-to-race motorcycle customisers who, like their stone-age ancestors, just wanted to do their own thing and express their individuality – only this time with motorbikes.

“The competitive spirit, that desire to be better or different, has been hardwired into us from the start” Over the last century and a bit, we have seen many changes in styles of motorcycles and advances in technology that were not thought possible in earlier times. Yet we have not really changed the motorcycle all that much, or invented much that is truly new, since those heady first two decades. Not many know, but we had superchargers in the 1930s, V8 motorcycles in the 1920s and four-valve heads in the Teens powering racing motorcycles that could do 120mph! At one point there were over

100 different motorcycle manufacturers in America alone. What wasn’t so well known then, however, was metallurgy; they didn’t have the materials or the knowledge or skills to make all those types of engines and bikes reliable and safe. But we seem to have gotten our heads around that in the last couple of decades, to the point where it’s just gone mad. Motorcycles now make over 200 horsepower yet sip fuel like lawnmowers. They are crammed with new technology but weigh a fraction of what they once did. We don’t have the volume of manufacturers that we had 100 years ago either, but it’s not like we’re short of variety. Every capacity, every style, every function – off road, adventure, touring, commuting, sports, cafe, cruising, retro, naked – exist within just a single manufacturer these days. But despite all that choice, we still get that motorcycle in the shed and we change it, be it ever so slightly, to make it different to everyone else’s. You can even go a step further by having a boutique custom builder fabricate a bike just for you, to be exactly what you want. But I bet you modify it some more when you get it home. It has been thus ever since the first motorcycles were sold; you’ll never find two bikes the same once they’ve left the dealership. We are, after all, individuals. We change our bikes to make them our own – and that is the beauty of being a motorcyclist.


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FIGHTING WORDS CLUBBIES

WA L K E R WITH JIMMI WALKER

ROCKERS & ROLLERS

T

HE other day I found myself pondering the origin of motorcycle clubs and what it meant to those who formed them and the members that followed. Bike clubs range from racing associations and social groups to outlaws, but they all have one thing in common – the love of bikes and the mateship that comes from being part of a likeminded group. They are all very different, but then variety is what makes life interesting. Some clubs have developed into large organisations that now regulate motorcycle racing, for example, like the ACU in the UK, Motorcycling Australia here and the AMA in America. Ironically, they usually evolve into the very regulatory beings the founding members once rebelled against, but that’s the way of things. Then there’re the social clubs usually centred on a particular marque, period, activity or location. Or even age, like the Ulysses Club, in Australia at least the biggest club of them all. I don’t want to get into the politics of one-percenters, but their origins make sense of a sort; men returning from war, living on the edge of society, seeking the same bonds, loyalty and discipline that they had when in combat. Outlaw clubs originated in the US in the late 1940s and 50s and then spread globally. My little island off the coast of France was a bit late in embracing that particular culture. In Britain in the 1950s and 60s, we had rockers instead. The rocker lifestyle was more centred on the bikes (had to be British), street racing – commonly known as cafe racing – and

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hunting down mods. Rockers and mods were the antithesis of each other. On one hand we had rock and roll, leather, studs, badges and large-capacity Brit bikes with clip-ons and racing seats. On the other hand we had Italian scooters, mirrors and lights, suits, parkas and The Who. The mods saw themselves as cleancut ‘moderns’ – hence the moniker – whereas the rockers saw themselves as the old guard riding proper motorbikes. I find the current revival of cafe-racer styling to be cool, with some great bikes appearing

“The rocker lifestyle was centred on British bikes, street racing and hunting down mods” within these hallowed covers. But one thing I personally experienced in my youth, as a direct hangover from that original era, was that an awful lot of pubs wouldn’t serve us. “We don’t serve people with crash helmets,” they’d say. My naturally-occurring sarcasm would then kick in: “I don’t want a helmet, mate, you can serve me with a pint!” A smart-mouthed, spotty 18-year-old on his RD250 wasn’t gonna get much further than that and we’d all be shown the door. Our music was anti-establishment punk or heavy metal and our bikes were loud, smelly and Japanese. This didn’t go down well with

the “I was a Jap prisoner of war, y’know” geezers or all the guys on British bikes, which were ‘real’ as opposed to what they called our souped-up sewing machines. Never mind that their old BSAs were dumping their oil on the tarmac at the time. You know what BSA stands for then? Bits stick anywhere. In more recent times, although not a club as such, the streetfighter community is another group that has its roots in the same ‘bollocks to society’ mindset. I think that, had a lot of ’fighter fans been around in the 1960s, we would’ve been rockers for sure. Many ex-couriers like myself – who also lived on the edge of normal society, whatever that is – had a lot to do with the ratty beginnings of streetfighting, which I think of as the hot rods of the two-wheeled world, just as the cafe racers were before us. In any case, being part of something that sticks it up the man can’t be a bad thing, can it? I mean, if motorcycles had just been invented, they’d already be banned. Think about the submission being considered by the road safety authorities for a moment. Cue the guy in charge of the standards office: “They want to build and approve what!!?” His assistant replies: “They want to put a container of flammable liquid on top of a hot engine in between a spindly steel frame with only two wheels – it doesn’t even stand up by itself – and then they want to sit on top of the lot and ride it on public roads at speed.” The boss thinks about it for a nanosecond. “Tell them they’re dreaming!” ’Til next time, keep on rockin’!


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NEW BIKES TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SPIRIT

LAST OF THE LINE The Bonneville Spirit is more special than it looks WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY GEOFF SEDDON

M

Y TEST of the new Triumph Bonneville Spirit started with six straight days of rain, which is okay if you’re a duck. The bike was brand new, just 240km on the odometer, and I knew it would never again be as clean, so I waited it out. Finally, on the seventh day, the clouds parted and I took off for a familiarisation lap of a road I know well. I’ve been grinning ever since. The reborn Bonneville is a sweet thing, and has been since it was introduced as a 790cc vertical twin at the end of 2001. Apart from

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an increase in capacity to 865cc – initially introduced on the Thruxton – and adoption of fuel injection, it’s pretty much the same bike 14 years later. It’s been a massive hit with riders of all ages – so popular that Triumph opened a second factory in Thailand to build them – but all good things eventually come to an end, with a new-generation, water-cooled 1200cc Bonneville and 900cc Street Twin taking its place from 2016. The reasons for the existing Bonneville’s endearing popularity are not hard to find; it’s

cheap as chips for a start. Not only does it look like an old classic Trumpy, it makes power in a similar fashion and with the right mufflers it sounds like one too. It steers just as sweetly on its skinny front tyre but has infinitely better brakes, requires little maintenance and rarely breaks down. The limited-edition Spirit is one of the last in a long line of modern-day Bonneville variants, adding a special retro vibe to the model that wrote the textbook on modern-classic cool in the first place. It comes in any colours you like so long as it’s two-tone Spirit Blue and New England White. Equally striking are the black rims and hubs, handlebars, mirrors, front mudguard, engine covers and rear springs, which with the rubber fork gaiters bring a 1950s feel. The cut-down Thruxton rear guard and Scrambler headlight are more subtle, as is the white stitching on the seat and engraved


“IT’S A GREAT LOOKING BIKE IN THE FLESH, WORTHY OF MANY A LATE-NIGHT SHED BEER”

Bonneville Spirit plate on the handlebar risers, just below the Smiths-style speedo and tacho. All in all it’s a great looking bike in the flesh, worthy of many a late-night shed beer as I waited for the rain to stop. The Spirit is a big, heavy bike compared to an old pushrod Triumph or Norton but is small and relatively light parked next to anything else. It’s as simple as they come. Steering lock is mounted on the right-hand side of the steering head, and ignition switch on the left. Select neutral, pull in the cable-operated clutch and hit the starter button; add some choke if it’s cold. The switchgear is the bare minimum, uncluttered by the absence of riding modes, cruise control and all the test. There is no ABS, no traction control, not even any suspension adjustment apart from rear spring preload. The silencers look good but are whisper quiet, as is the engine. The clutch rattles a bit

when disengaged, which I only noticed because everything else was so muffled and I welcomed it as mechanical clatter. I’ve ridden a Thruxton with dealer-fitted sports silencers and wished for them here, as these bikes have 360-degree crankshafts and truly do sound like proper British twins when given the opportunity. The pistons rise and fall together but fire on alternate strokes, which delivers up a distinctive flat bark that gets all the more intoxicating the wider the taps are opened. The flywheel feels a bit lighter than on the older stuff but the engine builds power in a very familiar, linear way, without the topend rush of other bikes. Engine response at small throttle openings is good, the kind of bike you instinctively leave in top gear to as low as 60km/h, although it can catch you out if you need to accelerate suddenly. Gearing is relatively short for a twin of this capacity,

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NEW BIKES TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SPIRIT

“NOT ONLY DOES IT LOOK LIKE AN OLD CLASSIC TRIUMPH, IT RIDES AND SOUNDS LIKE ONE TOO” showing 110km/h for 4000rpm in top, but well-matched to its output which is modest considering its eight-valve DOHC specs; the upside is an under-stressed engine with a reputation for reliability the early girls only dream about. Triumph claims 68hp @ 7500rpm – not that you’d often go there. Torque is 68Nm at 5800rpm, but I usually found myself shortshifting well below that too. Only when I was giving it the berries along a smooth mountain road did my boot reach for the shifter and my eyes for the tacho, and only then because I thought I should. But it just seemed to make things busier rather than faster, and I soon found myself tooling along in fifth again, just going with the flow as I would on an actual classic bike. The Spirit is an easy bike to get to know. At 230kg full of fuel, it’s no featherweight pushing around the shed but it immediately feels much lighter on the move. Nice wide

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handlebars, comfy upright riding position and a long, low pillion-friendly seat all play a part, as does the skinny 100/90-19 Metzeler front tyre and generous 1500mm wheelbase. The clutch and gearbox are light and precise, and the brakes not overly powerful, which adds to its city appeal. Cornering clearance is pretty darn good and it was a genuine hoot to fang along smooth winding roads. On the rougher stuff, the limitations of the suspension became apparent as the bike wallowed and bounced off bumps when the pace got too hot, but there wasn't a hint of a tank slapper and the bike always held its line. Back off to suit the surface and it’s all good. In fact, the most fun I had on this test was cruising along roads less travelled at an easy lope, taking it all in as the potholes whizzed by six inches below my feet. It was like going back in time. In the stillness of coastal hinterland valleys, putting along in top gear,

I even got to hear the beat of a traditional Triumph twin doing what it does best. And there’s the rub. I’m as excited as anyone else about riding a 1200cc Bonneville, but along with water-cooling, the other big change is the new engines have an offset, 270-degree crankshaft. The pistons will no longer rise and fall together. A lot of people won’t know what I’m talking about, but if you do, hurry on down to your local Triumph dealer for the last of the 360-degree, air-cooled 865cc twins. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Retro Specs ENGINE Air and oil-cooled four-stroke vertical twin; DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 90 x 68mm for 865cc; multi-point sequential fuel injection; 9.2:1 comp; wet multi-plate clutch to five-speed gearbox; chain final drive; 68hp @ 7500rpm; 68Nm @ 5800rpm CHASSIS Twin-loop steel chassis with bolt-on down-tubes; 41mm non-adjustable Kayaba forks, twin sliding-piston caliper on 310mm rotor, laced 2.5 x 19in rim; twin-shock rear, adjustable for spring preload, twin-piston caliper on 255mm rotor, laced 3.5 x 17in rim; tube-style Metzeler tyres DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1500mm; wet weight 230kg; fuel capacity 16 litres; seat height 775mm BOTTOM LINE $14,490 plus orc; warranty is two years, unlimited km


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RIDERS LIKE US PETE DEAN

MATES FOR LIFE WHEN YOU’RE ON A GOOD THING, STICK TO IT — WORDS & PHOTOS GEOFF SEDDON

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SALT PICS: SIMON DAVIDSON

P

ETER Dean has owned a bunch of Ducatis over the years, but only one could he never bring himself to sell: a 1978 900SS he affectionately calls the ‘old girl’. Not one to cocoon an iconic classic in a glass case, Pete’s Super Sport has lived a full life.

I actually got an award one year for ‘Biggest 750’. I was also awarded ‘Most Consistent Rider To Race With A Hangover’. “We raced at Oran Park, Amaroo Park and Lakeside; BEARS and Sound of Thunder mostly, until it became too competitive.”

When did you buy it? “I bought it off a mate in 1982, who’d bought it from the original owner who’d raced it. It cost me $2500.”

Ian Gowanloch once described the 900SS as the best touring bike ever made. “I totally agree. Friends wondered why I was buying a bike like this when I was known for doing a few miles, but I ignored them and bought it anyway. I love it. It is becoming a little harder to tuck into as I get older, but I’ll ride her as long as I can.

Was it your first bike? “No, I saved up for a Deltek Rockhopper when I was 10 and bought an XS650 Yamaha when I was 18. I rode that for a few years then traded it in on a new 1100 Katana.” Had the SS done many miles? “21,000 kilometres.” And how many on the clock now? “227,000km, plus some disconnected race mileage.” How long did you race it? “Roughly three years, back in the 80s. We all joined Willoughby District Motorcycle Club to get our licences. D-graders were limited to 750cc, so I took off the 900SS side-covers and painted a fairing in silver, which was the 750’s colour (early 900SS fairings were blue).

“Dad said at our wedding he always thought I would marry my bike” “I did a lot of rallies back in the day. We used to do the Alpine every year; one time I needed a new back tyre so I fitted one with an aggressive pattern, not quite a knobby, to handle the snow and the mud. Then I was invited to Thrasher’s Terrifying Trek, which involved some pretty rough fire trails in the Blue Mountains; I stripped everything breakable off it and fitted a similar tyre to the

front. To this day I’m the only bevel-drive SS that’s ever done a TTT. The other guys had more suitable bikes but I was the only one that didn’t crash, I made sure of that.” You even took it on your honeymoon! “Dad said at our wedding that he always thought I would marry my bike and was surprised I said I was marrying my other girl. We did a lap of Tassie over a couple of weeks, two-up with tent, sleeping bags, wets, tools, clothes and a billy. “First night out, we stayed at Wilson’s Promontory, but when we got up in the morning the ignition switch had bundied off. We hadn’t even made it to the ferry. I found a piece of wire and rang a mate who told me how to hot-wire it, and that’s how it stayed until we got home. I still have the piece of wire.” Are bevel-drive Ducatis reliable? “I think their unreliability tag goes back to the early six-volts days. They’re all different and everyone will have their own idea which is the best model; I’ll say the ’78.” What about big ends? “Mine have let go around 70,000km, every 10 years or so. You get it sorted and away you go.” So you’ve rebuilt the engine a few times. “Yeah, well three at this stage.” ISSUE #21

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Pete puts his mouth where his heart is as lead singer with central-western NSW blues-rock band The Bevel Drives

A good mechanic helps. “Mick Saffel was a great mate and a great mechanic; sadly he’s no longer with us. We were heading up the coast one time when the big end went at Raymond Terrace, just north of Newcastle. A mate brought my ute up and we took it back to Mick’s shop in Silverwater. We didn’t even unpack the gear, just got the engine out, the crank out, pressed the new crank in and I was on the road by 5am next morning. Unbelievable! “Mick was a very generous and knowledgable man, very committed and passionate about Ducatis. Saftune was a social place and he was always willing to try new things to gain horsepower. “The Ducati community was a great group of people back then; very passionate, very one-eyed, always up for a ride, a drink and a party. Things are probably same-same but different today. Most of the guys I ride with ride Ducatis.” Any other good breakdown stories? “Three of us went to visit a mate in Middlemount, four hours west of Rockhampton. One was on an FZ750, the other a ’73 GT. Coming home, the GT just stopped in the middle of nowhere. We suspected a coil; do I go on a mission to find another one or do we somehow try to tow him 400km? We had eight feet of rope, so we loaded the GT’s gear onto the FZ, tied the rope to the rack of the SS and made a 86

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loop around the GT’s handlebars. We took off, with the FZ catching up later. The speed gradually built up and we were expecting the FZ to fly past anytime but it took him three hours to catch us. We found a coil at Rocky.” You’ve owned other Ducatis too. “Yeah, there’s been others along the way as newer things became available. I had a ’94 Superlight for a couple of years but the solo seat was a bit unsocial. I

“I like to look after all my stuff ” then put 110,000km on a new ’98 900SS but I was getting left behind by newer bikes so I bought a 1098 in 2007. Then an opportunity came along last year to buy an 1199R, so I did.” You like to modify all of them? “I do. The old girl has three different outfits; different tanks, different wheels, different fairings, different exhausts. I’m liking it without a fairing and with Contis at the moment.” She still goes all right? “I ride it less often these days because I have

other options; I’m happy to put the kilometres on the other bikes. But it’s no slouch.” How fast does it go? “Someone, I think you know him, talked me into taking the bevel to Speed Week on Lake Gairdner in 2006. I took it and the ’98 for my son Luke to ride. We’re both very competitive and wanted to be the fastest. I’d fitted flatslides and was hoping for 140mph, but still set a new record at 129mph. The young bloke, still on his Ps, did 136mph on the ’98.” Would you go again? “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You either get salt fever or you don’t. I’d go back but only to have a crack at the 200mph Club, maybe on the 1098.” Did you know you were buying such a collectable bike back in 1982? “No, not at all, but I knew it was pretty special.” Have you ever thought of selling it? “No, I’ll be leaving it to my son. I know it’s worth a few bucks but to me it’s priceless.” It’s in amazing condition for a bike approaching 40 years and a quarter of a million kilometres old. “I like to look after all my stuff. A 1978 Ducati 900 Super Sport is a beautiful thing; why wouldn’t you look after it? You put the love in, you get the love back.”


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TANGLES' WORKSHOP POINTS IGNITIONS

1. Here’s what lies beneath the points cover on a Honda Four. Twin points are mounted high. The two canisters down low are the condensers

2. Using a feeler gauge to set the gap on the points covering the outside cylinders, 1 and 4. Your workshop manual will have recommended gaps

BRIGHT SPARKS How to set up points ignitions WORDS & PHOTOS STUART 'TANGLES' GARRARD

Y

OUR pre-1980s bike likely runs its original points ignition system and you have never been game to touch it because you always thought it too complicated. And yes, it does look complex at first glance, but with a few of those quality tools in the workshop, setting the points is a relatively easy and rewarding task to perform. Firstly, let’s just have a simplistic look at the basic function of the ignition system and its components. The spark plug supplies a spark at a specific time relative to the position of the piston. This spark has to be strong enough to jump the plug gap of about 0.3mm, which requires around 20,000 volts. To get this voltage, the bike’s 12-volt (or 6-volt) system supplies power to the coil, which builds up voltage during the time the points are closed. When the points open, the coil releases that stored energy as high voltage, which travels along the spark plug lead, through the cap and down the centre of the plug until it jumps the gap to the plug’s earthed tip. The resultant spark ignites fuel in the combustion chamber and Bob’s your uncle. Okay, I mentioned the points being opened and closed. As you will see, one side of the points assembly (the hot side) touches the centre shaft which has a cam bush on it. As the centre shaft spins, the cam lobe (high point) opens the points. What you don’t want to happen, however, is the current jumping the points gap. This is where the condenser, which is like a storage place, comes in. When the points open, the condenser holds the current and stops it from arcing across the open gap,

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ensuring a clean circuit break and the points don’t get burnt out. Using my CB750K as an example, we’ll start with setting the points gap, but let’s crank up the air compressor first. Keeping your electric system clean is very important, so after removing the points cover and before removing the spark plugs, blow the areas clean. Removing the spark plugs eliminates compression and makes rotating the engine much easier, which you can do in one of three ways; by putting a spanner on the larger hex washer on the crankshaft at the centre of the points assembly, by operating the kickstart lever or by turning the rear wheel whilst in gear. Turn the crankshaft slowly in a clockwise direction with the ignition off until the points

cam lobe reaches its maximum height with the points fully open. The points gap can now be set using a feeler gauge. The gap is usually between 0.3 and 0.4mm. If the gap is too wide, the spark won’t get enough juice and the engine will be sluggish. Too close and the points will burn to the point of failing. Slightly loosen the adjusting screw and put the appropriate feeler gauge size between the points. If you look carefully you will notice two pips and a notch on the points plate. With a flat screw driver, you can make the necessary fine adjustments quite easily. When the points are snug on the feeler, lock the adjusting screw. Withdraw the feeler and check the gap again; often tightening the lock screw will alter the gap. Repeat the process until you get the correct gap. Now apply this same procedure to the other set of points. So far, so good. The points assembly also determines ignition timing, which is the next job. While the Honda Four has two sets of points – one

Points vs Electronic MANY riders choose to replace points ignitions with aftermarket electronic systems. There are pros and cons either way. Points ignitions have their fans. When properly set they deliver excellent performance and last up to 50,000km. There’s not much to go wrong and points can be easily fixed or replaced by the side of the road with few tools. On the downside, their mechanical nature leads to wear issues in the advance unit, cam lobe and the contact surfaces. Similarly, points bounce can be a problem at high revs. Of more concern is the decline in the quality of the components, particularly condensers, over recent years as demand diminishes.

Availability may also become an issue in the future. By comparison, an electronic ignition is reliable, has a hotter spark, makes more power and is easy on spark plugs. If your old classic only has kick-start, electronics will make that heaps easier. Once the timing is set, there is no further maintenance, but fixing a broken one is not an option and failure happens without warning (not that it happens often). If you are mechanically minded and ride off the beaten track, points are an excellent first choice. If you want reliability with zero maintenance and potentially improved performance, electronics are the go. As for how hard it is to convert from points to electronic ignition, tune in next issue.


3. With the points cam at its highest point, gap is adjusted with a flat-blade screwdriver leveraging the two pips and notch in the points plate

5. To open the gap, put one edge of the screwdriver blade between the two pips, the other edge in the notch and turn counter-clockwise

7. Once 1,4 is spot on, the timing for the other points set – which is mounted on a separate plate – can be adjusted via the pips and notches on the outside edge

4. Measuring the points on the right-hand points set. 6. To alter timing of the 1,4 points set, slacken the Be aware that the gap can change when you tighten three big screws and turn the complete points it all back up, so it might take a couple of goes plate assembly. Tap on the plate pips to fine tune

8. After setting the timing statically, refit spark plugs and warm engine. Timing for each set of points can then be accurately checked with a timing light

covering the outer cylinders and the other the inner cylinders – many bikes have just one set but the process is much the same. The task is to ensure the points open (and hence trigger the spark) at the optimum point of the combustion cycle. This is achieved by lining up marks on the advance assembly with a mark on the crankcase, and can be set both statically and with the engine running. On the Honda, there is a round peephole between the two sets of points, through which you can see a mark on the crankcase and the spinning plate of the advance assembly. The spinning plate has two sets of timing marks on it, on opposite sides, There will be a T with a mark next to it, an F with a mark next to it, 1,4 or 2,3 and two parallel marks about 10 millimetres to

screws. There is also a fine adjustment as you did with the points gap, a notch and two pips. As with all these procedures, movement can happen when you tighten the adjusting screws, so the procedure should be repeated until it’s spot on. Better still is to check it with an inductive timing light. These are not expensive and come with easy-to-follow instructions. Simply put the spark plugs back in, run the engine until warm and then use the strobe light to check if the marks are lined up at idle speed. Tuning your own bike is extremely satisfying as you are rewarded with a smoother running, more efficient motorcycle. As always, the workshop manual is your friend.

the right. For our timing we are only concerned with the F (for Fire) marks. The set of points on the left, firing cylinders 1 and 4, should be set first. Clip a 12v test light across the 1,4 points; one end to ground and the other to the hot side of the points. Now turn the ignition on. Slowly rotate the crank and the light will come on when the points just begin to open. This is when the F mark for 1,4 should line up with the mark on the crankcase. If it doesn’t, slacken off the three adjusting screws securing the complete points plate assembly. Turn the plate until the above is achieved and tighten. Now repeat this process for 2,3, although the adjustment is a bit different; this time just the 2,3 points move via two adjusting

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Also: Lewis Leathers, Stagg Leather, Halcyon Goggles, Ace café merch, Rossi Boots, White Silk Scarves etc and MORE! ISSUE #21

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READERS’ ROCKETS NORTON SPECIAL

STREET RACER A former racing bike enjoys a new life as a classic road warrior WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY JOHN DOWNS

I

F YOU own a motorcycle long enough it can become, if not part of the family, at least a part of the owner’s psyche. We define ourselves in part by the bikes we choose to ride. The feeling is stronger when we’ve owned the same bike for many years, and strongest if it was built from boxes of bits and other people’s cast-off spares. My Norton race bike fits into this category. It’s not really a Commando, not really an Atlas, but parts of both and several other bikes as well. I built it as a historic race bike in 1983 with my good friend Jim Cray, these days a well-reputed BMW race tuner. I’d had enough of racing modern bikes in the days when a modern bike was a Yamaha 250LC, mainly due to the cost of it. Every

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year a better model came out and last year’s dog’s bollocks became this year’s alsoran. I was also drawn to the classic race scene after meeting people in the pits at a historic race meeting. Racers were helping their competitors by lending them parts and working on each other’s bikes! This was unheard of in the cut and thrust of contemporary bike racing. After many years of the most enjoyable racing I think it’s possible to have, the Norton was getting long in the tooth and Jim was by now involved with BMW flat twins. After having a few rides on his race bike I switched to BMW too – but what to do with the Norton? It meant enough to me that I brought it halfway around the world when I emigrated

to Australia in 1999. I raced it in a few races here too, but eventually decided it was going to be the coolest cafe racer in Brisbane! Making a race bike road legal isn’t as simple as you might think. The bureaucracy was the first hassle because I had imported the bike with the condition that it was only to be used on closedcircuit racing. That meant that federal and state authorities had to talk to each other, never an easy task to arrange. Queensland Transport wanted approval from The federal Department of Infrastructure and Road Safety that the import conditions could be relaxed, but DIRS wanted approval from Queensland Transport before they would give their approval. It was Catch 22 all over but was eventually resolved to allow the fun part to begin. The first task was the electrics. Most race bikes don’t use an alternator, or much wiring at all when you look at them. The Norton just had a battery, an ignition unit and a switch. That’s it; no charging system, no lights, not even an oil pressure light. With so many different parts from so many


“MAKING A RACE BIKE ROAD LEGAL ISN’T AS SIMPLE AS YOU MIGHT THINK”

different years, and so many handmade parts, it really wasn’t practical to adapt an off-the-shelf loom. It’s the first time I’ve made a wiring loom and I only blew one fuse when I connected the voltage regulator the wrong way around; I’d confused myself with the positive earth, as red wires just don’t seem right going to earth. I also had to pull the dip switch apart and re-wire the LED high-beam indicator as LEDs don’t work with reversed polarity. I wouldn’t have bothered but a highbeam warning light is a requirement for a Queensland safety certificate. Fitting the alternator involved making an aluminium mounting disc and three pillars which take the place of the original mounts in the inner primary case. This Norton has been running a single-row primary chain which I hope to change for a belt drive when funds permit. It’s just behind a chain guard with no oil bath to keep it cool. It may seem like a contradiction, but for racing a singlerow primary is fine, even though the engine puts out considerably more horsepower than the standard road bike. It got a spray

of chain lube every race and was replaced every season, and proved strong enough when maintained in that way. The race-spec chain guard didn’t cover the clutch or front sprocket, so for road use the original guard was modified with the addition of a cake tin over the clutch and a small saucepan over the alternator. They came from an op shop for less than $10 and a local welder did the business with his TIG to fabricate a nice looking – if slightly bulky – chain case. Although some parts were sourced online, a fair bit came from local British bike specialist BJ’s Bikes & Bits. They’ve been really helpful and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Nortons, and offered much good advice on getting the safety certificate. Once I had that, the registration process was surprisingly simple. I rocked up at Queensland Transport where they checked the engine and frame numbers, looked at the import paperwork and bingo, I had a road bike! It’s not been without hassles. Since getting it on the road I’ve had some

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READERS’ ROCKETS NORTON SPECIAL

“THE CHAIN GUARD WAS MODIFIED WITH A CAKE TIN OVER THE CLUTCH AND A SAUCEPAN OVER THE ALTERNATOR” carburation issues; it really doesn’t like getting stuck in traffic or using tiny throttle openings. On the track I had no problems. So long as the main jet was right and the needle in the ball park, you’re pretty much okay. On the road, however, I seem to be using oneeighth to one-quarter throttle most of the time and it needs some work to get it running cleanly. The solution of course is to get out on the open road and give it a handful, which is when it comes into its own and feels like a proper bike. The Peter Williams cam is good for torque, but wind it up to 6000rpm and it really comes alive. Norton twins mounted in featherbed frames are not without vibration, but it’s periodic; under 3500rpm it’s smooth as you like, over 5000 too, right up to the

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7000rpm redline. It’s just between 3500 and 5000rpm that it vibrates, so I intend to change the gearing a little so highway cruising is just below that band – not that highway cruising is what you want to do on a cafe racer like this. Three decades of fiddling with fork springs, damping and shock settings mean the handling is pretty well sorted. There’s nothing like laying the old Norton into a long, fast sweeper and feeling the front wheel turn into the bend, tracking true, all the time knowing that whatever bumps, undulations or changes of surface there are, you’ll always end up exactly where you pointed the bike in the first place. A well-sorted featherbed has always been like that; a pleasure to ride and in this case a pleasure to own too.


CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE RESTORATIONS ALWAYS THE BEST DISPLAY OF CLASSIC MOTORCYCLES IN AUSTRALIA A SELECTION OF OUR CURRENT STOCK

1974 NORTON 850 COMMANDO HI RIDER

1972 HONDA CB350 FOUR

When did you last see one of these for sale. The Hi Rider was a limited production model and we rarely get hold of them. This example is immaculate with matching numbers. VIN # 314072 $14,950

YAMAHA XS650 TWIN

A very original example of this very sought after model. VIN # CB350F-1016948 $5,950

1951 BSA A10 GOLD FLASH 650

This motorcycle is in beautiful condition and looks fabulous. Be very quick for this. VIN # 2F0007397 $9,950

1972 SUZUKI TS185

A very nice example of this great classic motorcycle. Getting hard to find. VIN # ZA7S.7578 $12,950

1972 KAWASAKI S2 350 TRIPLE

A very pretty motorcycle with very low mileage, only 916 from new. A rare find . VIN # TS185-79180 $3,950

1959 VELOCETTE VENOM 500 IN THRUXTON TRIM A fabulous looking motorcycle with Thruxton Tank, Seat, Exhaust System and Rear Sets. Tank painted by Roy Bogner. A rare opportunity to get hold of a unique motorcycle that will turn hears everywhere you go. VIN # VM3711 $22,950

1968 TRIUMPH T120R 650 BONNEVILLE

This is a superb original low mileage example of this very sought after classic motorcycle. Be quick for this, they are hard to find, especially in this condition. VIN # S2F-12959 $10,950

1954 TRIUMPH 5T SPEED TWIN 500 Here we have a nice tidy example of this early 1950’s rigid model. This bike has been fitted with alloy rims and would be an excellent club riding bike. This bike runs and rides nicely. VIN # 5T.68174 $11,950

1965 ROYAL ENFIELD CONTINENTAL GT250

This is a very nice machine with matching numbers. The first of the twin leader brake models. Be quick for this. VIN # T120R.DU76824 $14,950

This is an immaculate motorcycle that runs and rides well. This was my dream bike when I was 16. These are hard to find and are rarely available. VIN # 71044 $12,950

BSA A65 FIREBIRD 650 STREET SCRAMBLER This is one of the rarer A65 models as these were built in limited numbers. This one has matching numbers and is low mileage. A beautiful original motorcycle. VIN # PC15067.A65F $11,950

1971 YAMAHA R5 350 Here we have an original R5 350 for easy tidy up. These are hard to find. VIN # R5-030348 $4,950

1967 NORTON 750 ATLAS Matching number original bike in good running condition. Hard to find these slimline featherbed models. VIN # 20/122184 $12,950

1963 BSA A10 650 SUPER ROCKET CAFE RACER Superb classic Cafe Racer with alloy tank, swept back pipes and rear sets. Runs and rides superbly. VIN # GA7.23381 $19,950

1974 HONDA CB550 FOUR This is a very nice original example of this very sought after model. VIN # CB550-1218579 $6,950

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LIFE'S TOO SHORT

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PHOTO: RUSS MURRAY

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FEEDBACK LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

FIRST CLASS

BROAD CHURCH

JACK BE NIMBLE

KAT O’ NINE LIVES

THE ODD COUPLE

 SALT & SURF

 THE ODD COUPLE

I WANDERED into a newsagent on Monday – something I hardly ever do these digital days – swept my eyes over the bike mags and my hand instantly grasped for Retrobike and the saltie racer cover pic. Anyway, flicked through the pages, almost wet myself over the Indian poster bike, glanced at the editor’s column and thought, “Who else?” Congratulations on a cracker mag. Read it cover to cover and loved it. Stuart Kennedy

ENJOYED the Broadford story in issue #19. It was my second year there and it’s an awesome event, especially the track sessions. Here’s a snap I took of editor Seddo talking to Sir Al in the pits. Harpo Schwantz Replica. The Repsol is a 1991 Honda NSR 250 MC21. Both were my dream bikes as a kid so pretty happy to have this pair in the garage. Glyn Richards

 SEASONALLY ADJUSTED  READER RITES RETROBIKE has arrived! Time to kick back and have a read. Geoff Katona

 COVER BAN THE PaulSmart Ducati made a cool-looking cover but I’m still wondering why you even featured it. If it had been resurrected from disrepair or had some extensive engine work done, it would have been more interesting. You could have featured mine! But good on Herschel for getting a free photo shoot on his bike. Dave Mack

 HAILWOOD FAN WORLD’S greatest Ducati? I’d nominate the MH900e. Jeff Q

 TRIFECTA I JUST got my bike licence at 43 and just bought my first bike. Picked up your magazine for the first time and read it cover to cover. I’m hooked. What a great magazine. I can’t wait for the next issue. Nick McGuire

 KAT O’ NINE LIVES HAVING owned a Katana back in 1984, the urge to own a classic game-changer proved too strong and I eventually secured a 1982 model in need of some love and attention. Here’s how it looks now. Stuart Bell

 WE’RE A BROAD CHURCH HERE’S a photo of my retro two-stroke racers. The Pepsi is a 1988 RGV 250 and is an original 98

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HEY Retrobike! Loving the new relaunch, keep up the good work. Just a quick message regarding the Summer and Autumn 2015 editions of the mag. I missed out on those and can’t wait until January for the new edition, so I was curious as to whether I can pick them up from somewhere? Ryan Chester

 JACK BE NIMBLE JACK Taylor was my next-door neighbour for many years and the guy who first got me interested in bikes when I was a kid. I only have one bike myself, a 1955 R50 BMW, but have owned it for 30 years. I just discovered your magazine when I was up visiting Jack recently from Melbourne and he showed me the feature you did on him in issue #18. He is quite a character and an inspiration to us all – I don’t know any other 90-year-olds who can still kick-start a 1000cc Vincent! There are not too many Jacks left in this world and his exposure in your article was well deserved. Retrobike looks like a mag I would like to subscribe to but what do you need from me to get a copy of #18? Clive Wright

 WINNERS ARE GRINNERS MANY thanks, the Draggin’ Jeans that I won for my CX500 letter last issue have just arrived. Great timing too, as my original Draggin’s that I bought in 2008 are nearing the end of their service life! Mark Munchenberg

 FIRST CLASS WHEN I fly overseas, I always choose Retrobike! Justin Law

 ACROSS THE DITCH I LOVE the new mag, good variety of bikes. I’m reading through the Speed Week edition right now. I love that Roland Sands Indian and the front article on the three different cafe/tracker/ motard Hondas. Kiwi Chris

 LAST WORDS NICE work, well written. I’d never heard of Throttle Roll before and that Max Hazan Sportster was something else. Tony Young

 YES, WE HAVE NO BACK ISSUES

WIN RAZZO JEANS!

HI there. I had not heard of or seen your magazine before, but just picked up issue #19 for a long bus trip. (The police didn’t approve of my love of speed, so I have no licence at the moment!) What a fantastic read. Is it possible to get hold of any back issues? Looking forward to seeing more at my local bookstore. Robert Hanson ED note: Alas, we don’t have a back issue service. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

To encourage your feedback, we’ll pick one letter (Clive Wright this issue) to win a pair of Drayko Razzo riding jeans, valued at $289! Protection comes from a combination of Dyneema and Kevlar fibres behind the aged denim exterior: check out all the details at the www.dragginjeans.net website. Write to retro@ universalmagazines.com.au or to our page

(Retro Bike Magazine) on Facebook.


Jacket Sixty-Six Art. 6245 Biker jeans Crackerjack Art. 6269 Short boot Cattleman Art. 8563

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since 1 9 4 6 www.heldaustralia.com.au

Jacket Sixty-Six Art. 6245

Email: info@heldaustralia.com.au


RCBE #21 SUMMER 2015/16  

A collector’s magazine for true enthusiasts from motorcycle restorers and retro bike owners to businesses that service the industry.