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ISSUE 22 AUTUMN 2016

AUS $14.95* NZ $15.99

CLASSIC NOT PLASTIC

THE RACE OF GENTLEMEN

DUCATI SCRAMBLER

ENFIELDS IN NEPAL

BROUGH SUPERIOR

HONDA BOL D’OR

THUNDERBIRD BOBBER


Shannons is offering motoring enthusiasts the chance to win a trip to California with VIP entry to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, one of the world’s most exclusive concours events. ƒ 2 adult economy class airfares to San Francisco, CA, USA and return (13 – 22 August 2016) ƒ 9 nights accommodation ƒ 10 days Chevy Camaro SS Convertible (or similar)* car hire ƒ Dinner for 2 at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch Restaurant in Carmel ƒ 2 adult tickets to the 2016 Mecum Monterey Auction

ƒ 2 adult Club d’Elegance tickets to the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance ƒ 2 adult tickets to the 2016 Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca ƒ $1,000 (AUD) spending money, additional $4,000 if you are a Shannons Club member+ ƒ PLUS win an all new 2016 Indian Scout Sixty Motorcycle valued at up to $17,995 inc. of all on road costs

To enter go to shannons.com.au/pebblebeach or call 13 46 46 and obtain an eligible quote on your Car, Bike or Home Insurance^ by 30 April 2016. Take out a new policy^ to receive 5 entries.

INSURANCE FOR MOTORING ENTHUSIASTS | CALL 13 46 46 FOR A QUOTE | SHANNONS.COM.AU Shannons Pty Lim mited ted ABN 91 099 692 6 636 3 acts t as agent andd authorised representative of AAI Limited ABN 488 005 005 297 297 807, 807, the the issue issuerr of Sha Sh nnon nnonss C Car, Bike and Home/Contents insurance productss. Re Read ad the the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and consider whether ther it is right right for you before buying these insurance products. Contact us for a free copy. y Com Competi petititionn con conduct ducted ed by by Shanno Shannons ns PPty ty Limit Limited, ed, of Level Lev 28, Brisbane Square, 266 George Street, Bririsban sbane, QLD 4000. Competition commences at 12am on 1/2/ 2/2016 2016 and clo closes ses at 5ppm on 30/4/2016 (Melbourne time). It will only be possiblee ttoo reques requestt an onl online ine Quote until 26/4 26/ /201 /20166, hhowev owever, er, tele tel phon phonee applic app ations will continue to be available untill 55pm pm 30/4/ 30 2016. Entry only open to eligible Australian resid esidents ents age agedd 25 yea y rs or older. Eligible Entrants must be opted in to receiv receivee Sh Shanno annonns marketing communications. Total prize rize poo pooll valued va ued at appr approx. ox. $42,388.70 (depending on major prize win winner’s point of departure). Prizes drawn at 12pm on 18/5 18/5/201 /20166 at Sal Salmat mat Digital Pty Ltd, L2, 116 Miller St, Nth Sydney NSW 2060.. The winners will be notified by phone and email by 20/5/20166 and pu publis blished h d in The The Australian A newspaper on 25/5/2016 and nd on the competition website. *Car hire is subjeect to to the the terms terms and cond c itions specified by the car hire provider.+An Eli Eligib giblle Sha Shannons Club Member is a Shannons Club member who has created a membe emberr profile profile, upload uploaded a profile image and images e of an enthusiast vehicle and an ultimate vehicle le at shann shannons. ons.com. com au/c a lub.^New Shannonss Motor Insurance or Shaannonns Home Ho & Contents insurance quot quotes/s es/sales l only ly (renew (renewals als and CTP quotes/sales ine neligi igible) ble).. LLimit 1 quote qu per vehi e cle or insured addre ddress. ss. Permits: ACT TP 15/08324, NSW LTPS S/15/ /15/0975 09752, 2, SA SA T15/23 T15/2 31. Full competition terms and conditions at sha hanno nnons.com.au/peb /pebbleb bl each. Bike for illustrative purposes only.


EDITORIAL RIDE TO LIVE

G'DAY WITH GEOFF SEDDON

S

OME of you might remember Jack Taylor from issue 18. Late last year, I attended his 90th birthday party at Pie In The Sky on the Old Pacific Highway north of Sydney, along with a few hundred others, including NSW Central Coast classic bike stalwart Col Graham. Col was riding a 750 Atlas, one of many Nortons in an impressive collection of British bikes we’ll bring you next issue. Meanwhile, Jack had left his Vincent at home and was riding his Ducati F1. Yes, at 90 years old! He likes the electric start, he says. For those of a certain age, motorcycles keep us young. It doesn’t take much physical strength or fitness to ride a bike, unlike surfing, footy and the all the other things I did as a younger man. The release, the focus, the noise, the power and the sheer exhilaration that comes from taking a corner at speed never dim. Many restorers and customisers remark on the enjoyment they get from solving unexpected problems during a build. For older guys, it keeps the brain ticking over while younger enthusiasts get to enjoy a whole new learning curve, as often as not far removed from how they make their crust. Sometimes it can go a whole lot further, as you’ll find as you make your way through this issue. Lindsay Jennings, whose Triumph Thunderbird is featured from page 34, is a case in point. Recovering from a stroke, Lindsay turned his attention to building a bobber from stuff he’d collected over a

lifetime of motorcycling. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he was focussed and determined which undoubtedly assisted in his successful rehabilitation, both physically and mentally. The project rekindled his sense of self worth — he still had it in him, if you like — and he gets enormous enjoyment and satisfaction every time he takes it out.

“Jack had left his Vincent at home and was riding his Ducati F1. Yes, at 90 years old!” But it’s just not about older blokes. Viv Canini is neither but she too has looked mortality in the eye and discovered firsthand

EDITOR Geoff Seddon DESIGNER Michael Ohanesian CONTRIBUTORS Paul Bailey, Viv Canini, Alan Cathcart, Nigel Crowley, Simon Davidson, John Fretten, Stuart Garrard, Phil Hawkins, Lindsay Jennings, Jamie McIwraith, Tim Munro, Kyoichi Nakamura, Alastair Ritchie, John Spencer, Vaughan Treyvellan, James Walker, Thomas Wielecki, Jeff de Witte COVER Vaughan Treyvellan ADVERTISING MANAGER Fi Collins SUBS 1300 303 414 or www.universalmagazines.com.au

the recuperative powers of motorcycling. Her journey so far has taken her from a Perth hospital bed to riding the mountains of Nepal on a Royal Enfield with a ragged crew from Sydney Cafe Racers, which you can read all about from page 42. Once a nervous novice, Viv is now a seasoned motorcycle adventurer, aspiring travel writer and very accomplished photographer, as you’ll soon discover. One of the great things about the resurgent retro motorcycling scene is its broad appeal to riders of all ages, men and women, on all kinds of bikes. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a shining example. Older folk are invigorated by the enthusiasm of younger riders starting out, who in turn get to access all the knowledge and experience of those who came before them. Oh, we now have a back issue service! Head to www.universalmagazines.com.au and you’ll find it.

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 MARKETING & ACQUISITIONS MANAGER Chelsea Peters

Circulation enquiries to our Sydney head office (02) 9805 0399. Retrobike 22 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 Gordon and Gotch 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 TEMPEST

A 1979 Yamaha XS650 is stripped to its bones and dropped on its guts, then dropped some more

12

SUPERLEGGERA

Created out of an ST2 tourer, some say Ronnie Fiala’s Ducati is the best cafe racer in Sydney

60

THUNDERBIRD BOBBER

Built entirely from parts collected over a lifetime, what looks like a nice old ’51 Trumpy is anything but

42

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HONDA CB900 BOL D’OR

Honda’s first twin-cam four bolted out of the gate on its release in 1979 to become one of Australia’s most popular all-rounders

74 34

AGOSTINI’S MV AGUSTA

Yep, the very one he raced before the factory pulled the pin on GP competition at the close of 1976. Guess who rode it next?

BROUGH SUPERIOR SS100

Alan Cathcart is the first person in the world to ride the all-new Brough Superior in anger. Scoop!

28

52

SUZUKI LS400 CUSTOM

A radical first-time build by a fella who’d never before ridden on the road, based on a model no-one had ever looked at twice. Kiwis, eh?


20

66

RONNIE FIALA — 1999 DUCATI ST2 PHOTO BY THOMAS WIELECKI

REGULARS 03 80 82 84 88 90 94 98

ALEC SHARP & RAFE PUGH — 1979 YAMAHA XS650 PHOTO BY VAUGHAN TREYVELLAN MODEL RENE MEYER

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

92 28

OTHER STUFF 20

THE RACE OF GENTLEMEN

Beach racing at its unmuffled, flatheadpowered finest. Run what ya brung and hope ya brung enough!

42

ENFIELDS IN NEPAL

Join Viv Canini and the cool cats from Sydney Cafe Racers on a ride through the mountains of Nepal

66

SALTY TALES

Heading to Bonneville to set world records on an 80-year-old Brough Superior is a day in the office for some

86

DUCATI SCRAMBLER

It’s the hottest show in town for all the right reasons; light, fast, easy to ride and cheap as chips

92

READER’S ROCKET

How to turn a boring, old BMW K100RS into a distinctive cafe racer without robbing the bank

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Chops & Bobbers

1979 YAMAHA XS650

h e t

Inspired by a WWII fighter bomber, this XS650 goes like lightning and sounds like thunder WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOS VAUGHAN TREYVELLAN MODEL RENE MEYER

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Chops & Bobbers

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1979 YAMAHA XS650

LEC Sharp and Rafe Pugh build custom bikes in rural Norfolk on the east coast of Great Britain, just over the ditch from Europe. In mediaeval times, the fertile plains of Norfolk were the centre of the English universe, evidenced today by ancient architecture on every corner which gives it the air of a place that time forgot. In later times, its flat country proved ideal for aviation and during WWII, Norfolk became the launching pad for swarms of RAF and US warplanes doing their grim best to defend the realm. The two young craftsmen acknowledge this rich history by calling their modest works Old Empire Motorcycles, and by naming their major builds after Englishbuilt planes that gave their all in the Battle of Britain. We brought you their radical 900SS Ducati-powered Typhoon — named after the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber

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— back in issue #18. Hawker replaced the Typhoon in 1943 with the much improved Tempest, good for 750km/h from its supercharged 2400hp engine, thank you very much. OEM’s Yamaha XS650 bobber isn’t quite in that league but is equally as spartan and almost as loud. It’s certainly no harder to miss, despite its diminutive size. So Tempest it is. The first trick to building a cool custom bike is to realise that less is more, although even the best customisers acknowledge that simplicity can be a complicated thing. “A while ago, we were approached by a customer wanting a minimalistic bobbertype build but in Empire style,” Rafe says. “So to begin, we managed to find a 1979 Yamaha XS650 that had been reincarnated in various forms over the years. It was stretched and raked out in chopper form with eight-inch overs, which was all duly removed and scrapped!”

A fresh, unmodified frame complete with wheels, forks and brakes was sourced from specialist XS650 wreckers R & D Moto in the north. Most XS650 bobbers employ a proprietary welded-on hardtail that replaces the seat sub-frame and swing arm but retains the full loop mainframe. To get the lines right they tend to be long in the wheelbase — not in itself a bad thing — but not so here. “Compactness was a key point throughout the whole build, keeping everything really tight and minimal,” Rafe says. “We went the whole hog with this one.” The lower frame rails were cut at the mid engine mounts and a complete rear section custom manufactured to reduce the wheelbase and bring the back wheel closer to the engine, leaving just enough space for the battery. The elegant seat and tail unit blend in seamlessly, with the seat support extending into an additional frame


brace that follows the curvature of the tyre. The next trick to building a cool bike is stance, something the OEM boys know all about. Nineteen-inch alloy rims front and back were laced to vapour-blasted XS650 hubs with stainless-steel spokes and fitted to high-profile Firestone tyres. The whole plot was then lowered as far as was practicable, and then a little more just because they could. “At the sharp end, we dumped her right down,” Rafe says. “Yes, travel is very limited and yes, we may have to stretch it with a set of offset yolks and slightly extended fork tubes in the future, but she sits really pretty as it is.” The forks were freshened with Hagon custom springs and super-heavy fork oil; we suspect the tyre might have more give! The stock front brake rotor was skimmed and the caliper refurbished, its single-pot performance assisted by braided lines and

“COMPACTNESS WAS A KEY POINT THROUGHOUT THE BUILD, KEEPING EVERYTHING REALLY TIGHT AND MINIMAL. WE WENT THE WHOLE HOG WITH THIS ONE” the bike’s ultra-light weight. The rear drum is operated by a custom set of linkages from the forward-mounted foot controls. The fuel tank is something else. “It was quite some work as we started with two Royal Enfield tank halves which we manipulated into the shape you see, then re-tunnelled, mounted on the chassis and had a breathing system installed before we added petcocks and brass tank fillers.

“The engine also tested our patience. As with all older motors, we stripped the top end down only to discover badly pitted bores, necessitating a rebore and new pistons and rings. We re-lapped the valves, uprated the charging system and fitted Boyer Bransden electronic ignition while we were at it. The cases were vapour-blasted and the engine painted and it all looks rather dapper! We completed the look with

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Chops & Bobbers

1979 YAMAHA XS650

a set of Amal 930 concentrics mounted on hand-cast Greensand Foundry manifolds which work a treat.” Custom stainlesssteel exhausts were fabricated as tight as they could make them, with just enough clearance for the obligatory pipe wrap. The final trick in building a standout custom is having an eye for detail. “It was critical to get the finishing just right, so we turned to Greg at Black Shuck Kustoms to come up with a suitable finish based on our ideas and requirements,” Rafe says.

“What he came up with was just right: a bare, brushed metallic silver shadowed with black to give everything suitable depth.” The frame is powder-coated. Believe it or not, the bike carries a full complement of controls, switches, lights and blinkers, wired up by London Motorcycle Wiring. While switchgear is stock, warning lights are integrated into the handlebars. Headlight is a mini ceramiccoated Bates unit with blue tint lens while down back a tiny Highsider LED tail and

“AT THE SHARP END, WE DUMPED HER RIGHT DOWN. SUSPENSION TRAVEL IS LIMITED BUT SHE SITS REALLY PRETTY” 10

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stop light is sunk into the back of the seat. Rafe says it’s deceptively bright considering its size. You’ll have to look hard to find the minuscule electronic MMB speedo and tiny stalk indicators mounted on the lower triple tree and hardtail. Rafe is also a leatherworker and his art adorns the bike. Hand grips were machined from aluminium and covered in strips of leather. Ditto the matching rider’s foot pegs. The battery satchel is also stitched from leather but not so all of the seat, which blends a waterproof, diamond-stitched, faux suede top section with genuine leather sides. OEM’s XS650 is big on style but tiny in the flesh, dominated by its beautiful vertical twin engine and vintage-spec tyres and with very little else to detract from its visual impact. Well, that is until you start it up. “Tempest goes like lightning and sounds like thunder,” Rafe says proudly, which we hear is what they all said about the first one 70 years ago too.

Retro Specs ENGINE 1979 Yamaha XS650; air-cooled 360-degree four-stroke parallel twin; chaindriven SOHC; two valves per cylinder; 75 x 74mm for 653cc (stock); 8.4:1 comp; 2 x 30mm Amal concentric carbs on Greensand Foundry manifolds; OEM stainless exhausts; straightcut gear primary to wet clutch and five-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS XS650 head stock, top tubes and down tubes; OEM custom hardtail; powdercoated; radically shortened XS650 forks with custom Hagon springs; 19-inch spoked alloy rims each end on stock XS650 hubs and brakes BODYWORK OEM fuel tank fashioned from two Royal Enfield tanks; solid-mounted solo seat; handlebars, foot rests and controls by Old Empire Motorcycles; paint by Black Shuck Kustoms WEBSITE www.oldempiremotorcycles.com.au BEST FOR Cruisin’; making a racket; collecting trophies NOT SO GOOD Bumps

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Modern Classics

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BROUGH SUPERIOR SS100


A revered English marque releases its first new model in 75 years WORDS ALAN CATHCART PHOTOS KYOICHI NAKAMURA

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BROUGH SUPERIOR SS100

B

ROUGH Superior, founded by George Brough in 1919, was the manufacturer of the world’s fastest, most desirable and most exclusive motorcycles of the pre-WWII era. Only 3000 were made before the company ceased production in 1940 with the onset of war. Holder of the two-wheeled World Land Speed Record for much of its 21 years, the ‘RollsRoyce of Motorcycles’ built its reputation on unrivalled performance, dazzling looks, competition success and clever marketing. Brough (rhymes with 'rough') did not resume production of motorcycles after the war, but that’s all changed under the direction of its present owner Mark Upham, the Austrian-based Brit who acquired the company in 2008 and has since been busy building brand-new examples of the iconic pre-war SS100. This was the first real superbike, guaranteed to do 100mph (in 1923!), and became the motorcycle of choice for cognoscenti of speed, including TE Lawrence (‘of Arabia’) who owned seven Broughs before being killed on one in 1935. Despite eye-watering prices, Upham is back-

“EVERY MOTORCYCLE IS BUILT TO THE SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS OF EACH CUSTOMER AND TAILORED TO HIS OR HER NEEDS” ordered on his vintage re-creations which, while authentic down to the smallest detail, may also be ordered with electric start! But now limited production has commenced in France of the first new Brough Superior model in 75 years, spearheading a modern range of high-performance, highquality and inevitably high-priced models costing Euro 50,000 ($80,000) plus tax. To do so, Upham has forged a collaboration with Thierry Henriette, owner of Boxer Design, to create the all-new SS100 which debuted at the 2013 Milan Show on the 90th anniversary of the original’s introduction. It is powered by a specially-developed liquid-cooled V-twin engine produced to Boxer’s design by Akira Engineering in Bayonne, France, a workshop better known for their Kawasaki ZX-10R motors which powered both the 2013 and 2015 WSBK champions. The first run of 10 bikes (with Akira-built engines) was scheduled for delivery in late 2015, before larger-scale production commenced at a former Boxer Design factory in Toulouse rebranded as the new home of Brough Superior. There, a 15-strong dedicated workforce will build entire motorcycles inhouse, with 125 bikes planned for 2016 and 14

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250 in 2017, which will become the annual production ceiling. While the new SS100’s retro styling marks it out as a descendant of the original, it employs many advanced engineering solutions and high-tech components, including using the engine as a load-bearing chassis component, with a small titanium upper space-frame bolted to the cylinder heads to locate the front suspension. Running 11:1 compression, the eight-valve DOHC power unit produces 127hp (95kW) at 7800 rpm, with 120Nm at 6400 rpm, although lower performance variants will be available for mature customers and a turbocharged version for those who want more. “Just as George Brough did, every motorcycle we construct today will be built to the specific instructions of each customer,” Upham says, “and tailored to suit his or her needs, like a bespoke suit or haute couture dress. Our customers are entitled to expect only the very best, and that’s what we’ll be delivering to them.” Of many avant-garde features, the radical front end — based on the wishbone fork system created by French engineer Claude Fior — is a standout. Never mind that Fior omitted to patent it, and BMW subsequently copied it with the Duolever fitted to its current K-series models. Henriette’s latest retro-styled ultra-lightweight adaptation of the design employs a cast aluminium wishbone fork with twin titanium articulated triangular links and a custom Ohlins shock. The brakes are equally leading edge, with four Beringer 230mm floating front discs, doubled


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“IT’S NO SUPERBIKE, MORE A LONG-LEGGED, LAZY-SOUNDING GENTLEMAN’S EXPRESS” up in two pairs, gripped by four-piston radial calipers employing special sintered metal pads. The rear end is more conventional; a cast alloy swingarm (with progressive-rate linkage) pivoting on the crankcases and controlled by a second Ohlins monoshock. As the person who had the bright idea of introducing Mark Upham to Thierry Henriette, my reward was to become the first person ever to ride the prototype SS100 in something approaching anger. I did so over a two-day visit to the factory that was interspersed with rain in an obvious attempt to make both me and the bike feel right at home — and thoroughly British! But I got in enough dry weather mileage in the foothills of the Pyrenees to get a better picture. No doubt about it, the SS100 has serious visual presence. This is a classy set of wheels that reeks of quality and exclusiveness. It

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looks long and skinny — even more so than the original models— and offers a spacious riding position, although at 830mm the seat could be too high for anyone under 180cm. (Henriette has lowered it 25mm for production.) The flat, pulled-back handlebar is perfectly shaped, allowing me to choose between an upright riding position for relaxed road-burning or hunched down on the tank to steal speed. Thumb the starter button and be ready for a surprise. The engine’s 88-degree cylinder angle is close to a 90-degree Ducati, and its dimensions of 94 x 71.8mm are practically identical to the 1000DS desmodue motor (94 x 71.5mm). But the Brough Superior sounds totally different, with a higher-pitched, less sonorous beat issuing from the two slim exhaust canisters. It sounds quiet but sporty, with the valve train thrashing around in a

surprisingly passable imitation of a pushrod motor. Yes, really! It’s no superbike, more a long-legged, lazy-sounding gentleman’s express; the two-wheeled equivalent of an Aston Martin DB9 or Bentley Continental, complete with the same high level of build quality, adequate rather than exceptional performance, and sense of exclusivity. Though it has an oldstyle cable throttle, the low-down mapping of the Synerject ECU is excellent, with spot-on fuelling and linear power delivery as revs mount. The transition point between braking into and accelerating out of a bend doesn’t betray any jerky or over-aggressive response, just a smooth, almost syrupy pickup. For really satisfying acceleration, however, you’ll need to keep it above 5000rpm with the help of the six-speed transmission’s light but positive gear-change. This is a delight to use except that finding neutral is impossible at rest, and not much better on the move! But the clutch action is also light, making the Brough an easy bike to ride in town or slow traffic, where its tight turning circle makes it agile and practical. Where the Brough really comes into its own is in the way it handles at speed, where


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Modern Classics

BROUGH SUPERIOR SS100

there’s a constant reminder that you’re riding something completely different by the way the ‘flyscreen’ fairing and headlamp attached to the wishbone fork rises and falls as it eats up road rash. In spite of the rangy 1540mm wheelbase, the new Brough changes direction well, without any undue effort needed to prise it away from its sure-footed line in a turn. It doesn’t understeer either on partial or full throttle, and nor does it sit upright and head for the hedges if you miscalculate your turn speed and have to slow mid-corner. Though not heavy at 186kg dry, it sits down well on the road. Everything seems well controlled and ride quality is good, thanks to a 50/50 weight split and the Fior suspension which Thierry Henriette has been working with for longer than anyone still alive — and that includes everyone at BMW — after Claude Fior’s early passing in a plane crash in 2001. There are several effective benefits of the wishbone design, most notably the separation of steering and suspension functions. There’s also superior suspension compliance — thanks to a single shock eliminating the stiction problems of telescopic forks — and built-in anti-dive; the rigid upright only permits the wheel to travel up and down in a vertical plane, even under 18

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heavy braking. And then there’s reduced unsprung weight and clean, uncluttered aesthetics. The wishbone fork also potentially offers adjustment of all chassis geometry — trail, head angle, wheelbase, ride height and weight distribution — as well as easy fine tuning of suspension settings. Henriette has dialled in just-sufficient front-end dive to give someone unfamiliar with alternative front ends the sense that the bike is actually slowing when the front brake lever is squeezed. Which it does, for those Beringer brakes are fabulous, with an immediate but not excessive initial response. They’re easy to modulate yet ultra-effective, and also contribute to the Brough’s pinpointsharp steering via the reduced gyroscopic effect of those small-diameter discs. The new Brough Superior SS100 was born well. There were some wrinkles to iron out before delivering bikes to customers — the difficulty in finding neutral, an awkward starter button, the need for a guard on the lower exhaust — but Thierry Henriette and Boxer Design have produced a bike whose considerable visual presence is matched by its overall capability and the enjoyment you get from riding one of the most individual and pleasing modern-day motorcycles that money can buy.

Retro Specs ENGINE Liquid-cooled 88-degree fourstroke V-twin; chain and gear-driven DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 94 x 71.8mm for 997cc; 11:1 comp; EFI, with Synerject ECU and 50mm throttle-bodies; hydraulic multiplate Adler clutch to six-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS Machined titanium main-frame with fabricated titanium subframe UP FRONT Cast aluminium wishbone fork with articulated titanium triangular links; Ohlins monoshock adjustable for rebound and compression damping; 120mm travel; 3.5 x 18-inch forged/ machined aluminium wheel with 120/70-18 Dunlop; 4 x 230mm Beringer rotors with four-piston radial calipers DOWN BACK Cast aluminium swingarm pivoting on engine crankcase; progressive rate linkage to Ohlins monoshock, adjustable for spring preload and rebound and compression damping; 130mm travel; 4.25 x 18-inch forged/machined aluminium wheel with 160/60-18 Dunlop; single 230mm Beringer rotor with twin-piston caliper DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1540mm; dry weight 186kg, split 50/50 PRICE 50,000 Euro (approx $80K) BEST BITS Exclusivity, handling, brakes NOT SO GREAT Price


Original and practical bags and luggage that travel well jackstillman.com.au


Competition

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BEACH RACING


The Jersey Shore turns the clock back to 1955 for some classic heads-up beach racing WORDS GEOFF SEDDON | PHOTOS SIMON DAVIDSON

L

ONG deserted beaches with hard-packed sand have been used for ďŹ nding out who could go the fastest since the early years of the 20th Century. In Australia, Sellicks Beach in South Australia was probably the most famous, hosting the long-running Speed Trials over a two-mile track from 1913 to 1953. In the USA, it was Daytona Beach in Florida; it not only conducted land speed events but also circuit racing on a mixture of tar and sand from 1936 until the famous banked speedway opened in 1958.

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Competition

BEACH RACING

“THE CITY SEES NECK TATTOOS AND BEARDS AND PREPARES FOR THE WORST, BUT THIS IS SUCH A MELLOW CROWD”

Apart from occasional reenactments, beach racing was an almost forgotten chapter of motorcycling history and then that movie came out. The thrill of watching Burt Munro winding up New Zealand’s fastest Indian to blast past those smart-mouthed louts on their BSAs and Triumphs, only to come a cropper on the turn, was a timely reminder that beaches are good for more than surfing and fishing.

Mel Stultz and Bobby Green of the Oilers CC/MC have revived the sport with a three-day festival of speed on the beaches of Wildwood, New Jersey, on the US east coast each October. Dubbed The Race of Gentlemen (or TROG), an invited crew of hot rod, speedster and motorcycle enthusiasts drag-race along a one-eighth mile course at low tide. Supercharged by magazine articles and social media, in just three years the

event has become a major tourist drawcard, transforming the sleepy coastal town into a scene from American Graffiti. Machine eligibility is restricted to preWWII cars and tank-shift motorcycles, and can only be modified with parts manufactured before 1955; the date cut-off is there to keep small-block Chevs out of the hot rods and the tank-shift rule to keep the bikes all American. Some of us here at Retrobike

What’s In A Name? THE famous Oilers Car Club was formed with eight members in Carlsbad, California in 1947. Headed by Jim Nelson, the club was a big player in the newlyformed Southern California Timing Association and National Hot Rod Association, which were later incorporated to control US land speed and drag racing respectively. The club was relaunched as the Oilers Car & Motorcycle Club in 2008 after a new generation of petrolheads yearning for a return to the roots of custom culture reached out to Jim, by then long retired. After meeting one-on-one, he gave his blessing to the resurrection of his cherished club, only this time with bikes included and membership drawn from all corners of the United States.

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don’t mind our old cars but this time we had eyes only for the motorcycles, almost all ancient Indians and Harleys reliving the great board-track wars of the 1920s and 30s. All racing is heads-up (no handicaps) with curvy Sara Francello enthusiastically flagging the start of each race in the place of

the usual Christmas tree. Grudge matches are encouraged, as are impromptu doughnuts. The boys and girls are there to put on a show and the spectacle includes entrants and officials dressed in period gear, all backed by an open-piped soundtrack of rolling thunder that makes grown men weep.

“The Race of Gentlemen is an automotive carnival that celebrates American racing heritage, a true homage to automobile and motorcycle history,” the Oilers say. “Spectators and racers alike experience a simpler time when guys were gentlemen and cars and bikes were king.” This includes ISSUE #22

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Competition

BEACH RACING

“BEACH RACING WAS A FORGOTTEN CHAPTER OF MOTORCYCLING HISTORY AND THEN THAT MOVIE CAME OUT”

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giving all the entrants the run of the whole town during the weekend without any apparent need for vehicle roadworthiness. Back on the beach, street tyres cause traction problems for most, despite the modest power of the mainly side-valve engines. This encourages big rooster tails and exciting starts but keeps top speeds low, which in turn allows competitors and officials to adopt a relaxed approach to health and safety. Witness organiser Mel

Stutz riding his 1938 Knucklehead barefoot most of the weekend! Plenty get a taste of salt water — especially as the tide comes in — but all riders manage to keep their mounts oily side down. TROG is sponsored by Sailor Jerry, distillers of fine spiced rum, but the vibe is as cool as ice. “The city sees neck tattoos and beards and prepares for the worst,” Mel says. “But this is such a mellow crowd, everyone says, ‘Whoa, you guys are amazing!’”

And community minded also, ensuring the beach is as clean as a whistle when they leave. “A lot of us are surfers too,” Mel says. “We grew up here, these are our beaches. We pick up garbage and put oil pans under our cars and bikes.” So it’s not quite Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin racing in the streets of Hollister but we suspect The Race of Gentlemen will prove to be a whole lot more sustainable, hopefully leading to similar events down under.

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Competition

BEACH RACING

Friday Night Fun THE Surf Comber Motel in Wildwood is host of a custom motorcycle-cum-burnout show on the Friday night. As with the race bikes, all the bikes on display were styled from earlier times, including a glistening selection of 1970s choppers in their most lurid pearls and metal-akes. Americans have a different approach to Australians when it comes to burnouts, mostly because traditional US bikes have little in the way of front brakes or explosive power to get the rear wheel spinning. Hence their practice of stationary burnouts against a barrier, which lacks the artistry of our own homegrown variety. Even so, a skid is a skid, especially when unmuffled exhausts and plumes of acrid smoke lure a visit from the law. Unlike our local fun Nazis, who love writing defect notices and conďŹ scating miscreant motorcycles at the drop of a clutch, the smiling Wildwood wallopers just asked the fellas to tone it down half a step and wished everyone a good night. God bless America.

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

1955 BSA B33 500

1947 TERROT 125 FOUR STROKE SINGLE

This is a beautiful motorcycle that has been restored in the style of a gold star and is a third of the price. VIN # BB33.6314 $10,950

1960 BSA A 10 GOLD FLASH 650

This French made little motorcycle runs very well and would make a rare and interesting addition to any collection. VIN # 291279 $6,950

1980 SUZUKI GS 1100L

This is a good strong running bike and is great value for money. VIN # DA10.13023 $9,950

1970 MOTO GUZZI 750 AMBASSADOR

24,000 miles. This has been stored for a while and is a perfect bike for an easy clean up restoration. VIN # GS1100LT0700368 $4,950

1954 ARIEL VB600

Great running bike that has done 28,000 miles. VIN # 15772 $10,950

1952 PANTHER 350

Very rare swing arm model in lovely running condition ready to ride on the next club outing. VIN # 679 $9,950

BULTACO 350 ALPINA

A sweet running example that is ready to ride and enjoy. These are hard to find. VIN # 1937 $9,950

1958 TRIUMPH 200 TIGER CUB

Here we have a great value classic trials bike. VIN # B9900271 $2,950

1937 BSA B23 350 TOURER

This is a tidy running bike that would benefit from a fresh coat of paint. VIN # T20-37630 $4,950

This is a great running little bike with that pre-war girder fork look that is so sought after. Be quick for this. VIN # HB23.366 $8,950

1971 DUCATI 160 MONZA This motorcycle runs well and is perfect for an interesting cafe racer basis. Be quick for this one! VIN # DM160-25821 $??????

1981 HONDA CB900F This bike has been in storage for a good clean up and get go. We very rarely see these. Great potential with this bike. VIN # JH2SC0104CM107538 $4,950

1975 HONDA CB750 FOUR SUPER SPORT This bike has Thruxton Ace handlebars fitted to give the cafe racer look. A good looking bike, ideal for a quick tidy up. This is great value. VIN # CB750F-2000263 $5,950

1973 SUZUKI RV90 A great fun machine with the big tyres. Be quick for this! VIN # RV90-58878 $3,500

TRIUMPH T160 TRIDENT 750 This bike is perfect for an easy restoration. We rarely get hold of cheap T160’s so be quick for this one. VIN # T160.XK00617 $7,950

WE HAVE BANK FINANCE AVAILABLE ON ALL OUR BIKES

CLASSIC STYLE AUSTRALIA 34 PENINSULA BLVD, SEAFORD, VIC 3198

PH (03) 9773 5500 FAX (03) 9773 5533 www.classicstyle.com.au Email: classicstyle7@gmail.com


Cafe Racers

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1999 DUCATI ST2


D U CATI

SHE D X CAF E R AC E R

ST2

Believe it or not, this was once a Ducati ST2 touring bike WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOS THOMAS WIELECKI

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Cafe Racers

1999 DUCATI ST2

R

ONNIE Fiala and his Ducati cafe racer are well-known on the Sydney motorcycling scene. The Ronster is an active member of Sydney Cafe Racers and one of the team behind the fastgrowing Sydney Ducatista. He gets to all the runs and events and, let’s face it, it’s not like his bike doesn’t stand out in a crowd. Superleggera, as Ronnie calls it (‘superlight' in Italian), was constructed a few years ago by Sydney custom shop ShedX, one of a series of bikes built from unloved Ducati touring models, in this case a 1999 ST2. “Neil and Jim at ShedX have the balls to build bikes that others won’t,” Ronnie says. A longtime Harley guy, Ronnie was toying with the idea of a Ducati but it was his buddy and workmate

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Anthony who showed him the way. “Anthony bought a similar bike in a tracker set-up,” he says. “He introduced me to the cafe racer model and I fell in love with it there and then.” Gobsmacked by its beauty and sound, he later had a test ride and bought it within half an hour, much as you see it here. He’s open about the bike being bought, not built, and couldn’t care less. “My bike, my way,” he says. Not everyone has the skills, the resources, the time or even the inclination to make a bike from scratch. We here at Retrobike are big fans of shop-built customs, providing as they do rewarding work for skilled fabricators. ShedX is different to most custom workshops, focussing as much on engine and chassis performance

as appearance, although they’re obviously pretty good at that too. Ducatis are their main but not exclusive thing. On this occasion, ShedX left the engine fairly stock, albeit dressed up in all the best gear, although they have been known to build some real hot rods if that’s your bent. The hybrid liquid-cooled 944cc two-valve engine was only ever used in the ST2 and (as a 904) in the earlier 906 Paso, in both cases hidden behind walls of fibreglass. Naked, it presents as a finned air-cooled engine but there is a small radiator and some hoses up front if you look closely. More likely your eyes will go straight to the exposed Ducati Performance slipper clutch and then follow the lines of ShedX’s svelte two-into-one exhaust into the


booming megaphone silencer from French custom shop Radical Ducati. Where the guys went overboard was on all the rest! All the bodywork was canned along with most of the wiring harness and all of the running gear apart from the upside-down front forks. The rear subframe was modified for the Radical Ducati Montjuich seat unit which transforms the look of the bike, but the essential chassis architecture is unaffected. Fuel is carried in a modified 999 tank. The single-sided swingarm and monoshock are from an S2R Monster (ST2s had conventional twin-sided swingarms) while the wheels are high-end alloy Marchesinis wrapped in sticky Pirelli Diablo Corsa hoops. It’s the detail stuff like this that sets Superleggera apart from other Ducati customs. The front brakes are seriously impressive, comprising a pair of Brembo

“IT’S THE DETAIL STUFF THAT SETS SUPERLEGGERA APART FROM OTHER DUCATI CUSTOMS” Ducati’s Soft Underbelly THE 944cc ST2 succeeded the quirky 906 Paso in 1997 and was replaced by the three-valve per cylinder ST3 in 2004. All featured water-cooling but they were closer cousins of the venerable air-cooled SOHC two-valve engines than the liquidcooled DOHC eight-valve 916/999 family. The ST2 was fully faired, had a long comfy

seat (yes, on a Ducati) and could be optioned with hard luggage, making it a popular two-up sports tourer. They never won any races, however, and are as sexy as your grandmother, so they’ve not held their value well. Good bikes in any form, the ST2 and ST3 make the perfect platform for a light, fast and good-handling custom. ISSUE #22

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Cafe Racers

1999 DUCATI ST2

Goldline four-piston calipers gripping trick 320mm Galfer rotors courtesy of Earls braided lines. Talk about stop! The clean uncluttered look is aided by clutch and brake levers from Radical Ducati, Rizoma Reverse Retro mirrors and a Classic tacho/speedo unit and keyless M-Lock ignition switch from Motogadget. Switchgear is standard Ducati and paint is by the team at ShedX. Ronnie often enters the events he attends and has brought home a cabinetful of tinware, including from the Barry Sheen Festival of Speed. Indeed, of six shows he

entered in his first two years, he took out first place five times and was second on the other! It says much for how well he maintains his bike, especially given how often he rides it. And ride it, he does. Interviewed at Throttle Roll, he said “the things I like most about riding my bikes are simple; mates and freedom. I truly love riding with Sydney Cafe Racers and Sydney Ducatista. From the Casual Thursday night rides to laps of the National Park or Old Pacific Highway, as long as I’m riding with my mates, I’m happy.”

“RONNIE’S OPEN ABOUT THE BIKE BEING BOUGHT, NOT BUILT, AND COULDN’T CARE LESS” 32

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As for the bike, “I think it’s the best cafe racer in Sydney, if not Australia. The work that went into this bike is huge. Jim and Neil at ShedX are two mates that have been building some of the best custom Ducati motorcycles around, combining creativity with perfection. The best parts and craftsmanship go into their bikes, and the quality is apparent from the moment their bikes are seen or heard.” Well, it certainly caught our eye — and ear, I’ll give you the tip.

Retro Specs ENGINE Liquid-cooled four-stroke, 90-degree V-twin; single overhead cams, two valves per cylinder, desmodromic operation; 94 x 68mm for 944cc; 10.2:1 comp; Weber-Marelli EFI; ShedX two-into-one headers, Radical Ducati megaphone; gear primary drive to dry Ducati Performance slipper clutch and six-speed gearbox; chain final drive; 83hp @ 8500rpm (stock) CHASSIS Tubular steel trellis frame with modified subframe; Ducati (Showa) USD forks with 17inch Marchesini five-spoke alloy wheel, Goldline four-spot calipers and 320mm Galfer rotors; S2R Monster single-sided swing arm complete with monoshock and brakes, 17-inch Marchesini fivespoke alloy wheel; Pirelli Diablo Corsa tyres BODYWORK Modified Ducati 999 tank; seat unit by Radical Ducati; constructed and painted by ShedX CHECK OUT www.shed-xcustoms.com; www.ducatista.tv BEST Style, engineering, detail, performance NOT SO GOOD Rain, luggage

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Bobbers

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1951 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD


SHED THERAPY A near-death experience prompts the build of a lifetime WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOS JOHN SPENCER & LINDSAY JENNINGS

L

INDSAY Jennings went back to the first hot rods and bobbers of the late 1940s for his inspiration in building this custom Triumph Thunderbird. “They were just trying to make their cars and bikes go faster and the ‘look’ evolved from there,” he says. “All the mods were done in the back shed by the owner and his mates; they were pretty rudimentary. There wasn’t too much in the way of bling or fancy engineering.” And so he decided to follow suit, restricting himself to what he already had in his shed and doing as much work as possible himself. “I built it with an arc welder, a 100mm angle grinder, a bench grinder, a battery drill, a hacksaw and some files,” he says. “It had to be a bike I could ride and do some reasonable miles on without damaging my vital organs.” Lindsay has been into bikes forever and the frame was amongst a bunch of parts he found in a Benalla backyard when he was 16, nearly 40 years ago. “All I was told was that it was a Triumph,” he says. “I paid about $20.” The later-model parts came from a bike purchased cheaply as a wreck. “I finally got around to doing an internet search on the old frame number and found it was a 1951 Thunderbird. I saw a picture of that beautiful fuel tank and thought, well, I had enough bits to build something.” The project simmered along for five years but was rudely interrupted when Lindsay suffered a pair of debilitating strokes in 2014 which required extensive

rehabilitation. “It was all pretty terrifying and took its toll on myself and my family,” he says. “I returned to work part-time after Easter last year and when some good friends invited me to the Chopped Festival which was on in October, it was the impetus I needed to complete the build. “I would wobble down to the shed, get the music cranking and just immerse myself in what I was doing. It was a way to distance myself from what was happening in my life and reassure myself that I was useful and could still create something special. I’d work until I was too tired or wobbly, rest for a while then head back out again.” Lindsay not only got better and met his deadline, he ticked all his boxes by sourcing only the oil tank, flat drag-style handlebars, laced 16-inch rear rim and Harley WLA headlight from elsewhere. “And the bike is great fun to ride, handles really nicely and I can confidently say that the vast majority of the work is mine.” Not that it came together easily. “The only things that bolted straight onto the frame were the fuel tank and sprung hub,” he says. “Everything else had to be modified or made from scratch.” The 1951 6T Thunderbird was originally powered by a single-carb 650cc preunit motor, with the engine and gearbox contained in separate casings. The donor engine is a 1970 TR6, also nominally a 650 but with unit construction and in this case a ISSUE #22

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Bobbers

1951 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD

twin-carburettor 750cc T140 Bonneville top end. Making it all work together involved grafting usable sections of a badly damaged ’65 TRSS swing-arm chassis to utilise the rear engine mounts and then custom-fabricating the front and top mounts. “There was a lot of work involved in mounting the unit motor into the pre-unit frame but in the end it fitted surprisingly easily and everything lined up perfectly, which shows how little these bikes changed over the years.” The old frames were relatively flimsy, but Lindsay’s mods incorporate the engine as a stressed member, substantially stiffening things up. The head stem was lengthened to fit a T140 disc brake front end complete with triple clamps, tapered roller steering-head bearings and a laced 19-inch wheel. And if the speedo looks like it came off a pushbike, it did! “Early Thunderbirds drove the speedo off the gearbox and later Triumphs off the back wheel. I have a late-model engine and an early-model rear wheel, so the pushbike speedo does the job perfectly.” The original rigid rear end has been retained, along with the controversial sprung hub, which acts as a crude form of rear suspension and is contained within the wheel 36

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“BETTER TO HAVE AN OLD BIKE BACK ON THE ROAD IN ANY FORM THAN A MUSEUM PIECE SITTING IN A SHED”


What’s in a Name? THE TRIUMPH sprung hub was designed by Edward Turner to offer rear suspension on rigid-framed bikes. Think of it as plunger-style suspension downsized to fit inside the wheel hub. “It’s an interesting concept,” Lindsay says. “An alloy banana-shaped box contains springs top and bottom with the axle protruding from each side. The springs are held under compression; open the box without special tools and you’ll risk body parts! The whole lot is then fitted into the hub housing, rotating on huge ball-bearing races, with the axle fixed to the frame. The hub housing

moves up and down in relation to the axle, providing a little bit of undamped suspension travel.” Sprung hubs have their detractors, although Lindsay reckons it’s usually due to people riding badly worn examples, not this one expertly built by Bryce Findlay at Early Triumph Motorcycles. “It’s not like a swing-arm bike but it certainly takes the harshness out of rough roads; in my experience, it’s no worse than a sprung-heel BSA or Indian. Any suspension is better than none, and it looks pretty cool and gets people asking questions.”

hub itself, accounting for its massive size (see breakout). It looks even bigger here due to Lindsay’s choice of a 16-inch rim sourced and laced by Darrel Groat from Moose Racing. The engine from the donor wreck was in poor condition and rebuilt from the ground up, with Tom D’Arcy in Euroa attending to the bottom end, headwork and other engineering stuff that Lindsay couldn’t handle at home. New parts include barrels, rods, pistons, valves, guides, springs, bearings, seals, gaskets and carburettors. “If I could give advice, it would be to not scrimp on the engine,” he says. “Get it right and you’ll love riding your bike for a long time; paint and chrome won’t get you home.” Turning to the bodywork, a Factory Metal Works oil tank replaced the original, which fouled on the twin carburettors. The original toolbox is mounted low on the right-hand side and contains a small 12V battery, Boyer Bransden electronic ignition unit and switches for ignition and lights. Lindsay wired the bike himself, including routing the wires within the frame tubes. The fuel tank is stock, but not so the rear mudguard, an original two-piece Thunderbird item with a large section missing from the middle, then welded into a single unit. “I wasn’t ISSUE #22

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Bobbers

1951 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD

“DON’T SCRIMP ON THE ENGINE. PAINT AND CHROME WON’T GET YOU HOME” able to mount the guard hard down on the tyre as you see on other bobbers as the sprung hub gives the back wheel about 20mm of travel,” he says. “It took a lot of messing around to get it right.” Vintage Lucas automotive running lights were modified to act as combination tail and brake lights. “The seat I made from 1.9mm steel sheet. I cut it out with a jigsaw and started pounding with a ball-peen hammer over an old piece of railway line. I had no idea what I was doing but the more I bashed the more pliable it became.” Lindsay then added high-density foam which he shaped with an electric knife and coarse sandpaper before commissioning Tom King in Shepparton to cover it in distressed brown leather. “I painted the bike myself in ‘Triumph Ivory’ two-pack; I remember seeing a picture of a very old bike called an Ivory Calthorpe when I was a kid and the colour just stuck. If you look closely 38

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you will see some flaws in the paint — and some stone chips — but I’m proud how it turned out. Pin-striping and lettering is by Tubby in Euroa. I talked with him about what I wanted. He listened then put his own spin on it; I was blown away by the finished job.” Lindsay enjoys the attention his bobber attracts but admits not everyone is enamoured. “I admire guys who strive to get their bikes 100 per cent original but I’ve never been that type of person. These things were built to be ridden; it’s better to get an old bike back out there on the road in any form than have a museum piece sitting in a shed. “It amazes me how much pleasure something like this can bring to people, sometimes those you least expect, like the old lady who told me her husband had a Triumph like this when they first met,” he says. “She whipped out her iPhone and took a photo to show him when she got home.”

Retro Specs ENGINE 1970 Triumph TR6 with T140 top end; air-cooled OHV vertical twin; 360-degree crank; two valves per cylinder; 76 x 82mm for 744cc; T120 camshaft; 2 x 30ml Amal concentric carburettors; Boyer Bransden ignition; chain primary drive to four-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS 1951 Triumph Thunderbird, modified to accept unit-construction engine; T140 disc brake front end, Kawasaki Z1 master cylinder, 19in laced rim; rigid rear with Thunderbird spring hub/drum brake and 16in rim; Avon Roadrider tyres BODYWORK 1951 Thunderbird fuel tank; Factory Metal Works oil tank; stock tool box (contains electrics); bobbed rear guard, custom seat and paint by owner; stripes by Tubby SPECIAL THANKS My wife Barbara for her unwavering love and support; Tom D’Arcy, T&W D’Arcy Engineering, 03 5795 1528; Darrell Groat, Moose Racing, 0401 956 106; Tubby (pinstripes) 0438 690424; Thomas King, Kings Auto Upholstery, 03 5822 4453; Bryce Findlay, Early Triumph Motorcycles, 03 9754 1039 BEST FOR Upsetting restorers


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Adventure

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HIMALAYAN HEROES


What better way to see Nepal than from the seat of a Royal Enfield WORDS & PHOTOS VIV CANINI

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Adventure

HIMALAYAN HEROES

H

AVE you ever said, “Hell, yeah, I’m gonna do that one day?” For me, the seed was planted in late 2007 when I was diagnosed with cancer. Recovering from surgery, I realised that ‘one day’ I wouldn’t be here anymore and what have I done with my life? I vowed that things in my life needed to change. Time flies and before I knew it I was back in hospital two and a half years later to get more internal organs removed. I’d done nothing to change my life in the meantime, so the very next day I walked out of the hospital, drove myself to the D.O.T. and sat for my motorcycle licence. I later joined Perth Cafe Racers. It was great to meet new people and enjoy both the camaraderie and solitude of riding. About a year later, a mate mentioned that his friend had been diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away the following week. He decided there and then to start crossing items off his bucket list and booked a twoweek motorcycle adventure through the Himalayas; if anyone wanted to join him, they were more than welcome. I procrastinated for six months before finally paying my deposit. And so, in August 2013 I set off on my first crazy adventure. I refused to read the itinerary until the week before departure;

“WHEN I READ THE ITINERARY, IT SCARED THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ME AND I ALMOST CANCELLED”

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when I did read it, it scared the living shit out of me and I almost cancelled. Instead, I found myself on a plane to Delhi and it ended up being the best two weeks of my life, even though I fractured four ribs and an ankle! It was bound to happen being such an inexperienced rider, I guess. I headed back to hospital for a couple of weeks to get everything fixed, which gave me time to plan my next three motorcycle adventures, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve ridden through the lush Himalayan Kullu and Spiti Valleys, and lost count of how many times I’ve been to India, including exploring exotic Rajasthan in the north. The trip I was most excited and apprehensive about was Nepal, which I did in November, 2015. The media coverage of the recent earthquakes and chronic fuel shortages (due to political machinations between China and India) made me nervous. My family wasn’t too keen either, but they were supportive as I was going anyway. I’m glad I did. I was joining 15 other people in Kathmandu to spend a couple of weeks riding deep into the northern Himalayas. Some of the temples had been damaged from the 'quakes, but considering the continual seismic activity that Nepal endures, it’s remarkable how many temples and old buildings — some dating back nearly 2000 years — have survived in such good condition. The streets, however, were empty. Nepal relies heavily upon tourism, and vendors and other locals were suffering from the fallout from all the negative media. ISSUE #22

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Adventure

HIMALAYAN HEROES

Once everyone had arrived, we took our Royal Enfields for a leisurely ride through the hills of Kathmandu to get acclimatised to these unique motorcycles. After watching the sun set, we headed back to the hotel for a welcome dinner where we were greeted with traditional dancers and cuisine. With formalities out of the way, it was time to tackle the real roads out of Kathmandu and into the unknown. The first day was mostly tarmac and reasonably easy, if a little hectic as everyone tried to get out of the city in one piece. It was a great way to start our journey. Dodging cars, trucks and errant animals, and adjusting to the local road rules (or lack thereof!), added to the adrenalin and excitement. We weren’t in a rush, so we stopped numerous times to take photos of the amazing scenery and to enjoy local Nepalese dishes and delicacies. There was some upheaval on the Indian border and the petrol tanker drivers didn’t want to cross over, fearing they’d be targeted. Everywhere we went we saw queues of trucks, cars and motorcycles waiting for fuel. We saw queues of bikes that were four deep and over a kilometre long, while the car and truck queues were even longer. Some of the vehicles had been locked up and others had

“SMOOTH TARMAC ROADS QUICKLY BECAME DIRT ROADS AND THEN HARDCORE OFF-ROAD TRACKS”

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drivers sleeping inside. Thankfully our tour crew was on the ball and had sourced petrol from over the border before we got there. The fuel crisis also extended to gas, which affected restaurants across the country. Their solution was to cook food on wood fires, which took a lot longer. It made us appreciate being fed a lot more and how easy we have it in Australia. One of the many highlights was the varied styles of riding I had to adopt. Smooth tarmac roads quickly became dirt roads and then hardcore off-road tracks with numerous river crossings, which challenged my patience and abilities. I’m a shortarse weighing just 60kg, and one stage saw me laying the bike down more times than I can remember in the space of a few kilometres. Being out in the middle of nowhere with the backup crew half an hour behind me meant I had to pick the 180kg bike up myself and it absolutely knackered me.

Himalayan Heroes VIV travelled to Nepal with Himalayan Heroes, a tour company run by well-known Perth cafe racer and Retrobike contributor Rex Havoc. This was Viv’s sixth trip with HH in three years — joined on this occasion by a friendly crew from Sydney Cafe Racers — and she’s already signed up for more! Prices are scarily affordable and the experience is unforgettable. For more information, check out himalayanheroes.com or seek them out on Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram. You can also contact Rex directly at info@himalayanheroes.com or on 0401 559 946.

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Without a doubt I struggled at times, yet I loved every moment. At one point of our journey, we had the choice of continuing on the designated road — if you could call it that— or cutting across to tackle a river crossing at Mustang. Being the only female on the trip, I didn’t feel the need to compete with the egos of the guys. The testosterone was flowing nearly as strongly as the freezing water and it was an early bath for some. A truly epic day of riding saw us reach our evening accommodation in Muktinath after dark while it was snowing. It wasn’t until next

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morning that we witnessed the breathtaking view; absolutely mind-blowing. After breakfast, we ventured up the hill to visit the local temple via what I nicknamed the ‘Stairway to Heaven’. At such high altitude (3800m), I personally found breathing difficult and had to stop 200m short of the top, but I will return to go further next time.

Muktinath is also part of the famous 230km-long Annapurna trekking circuit and a magical place where Hindus and Tibetan Buddhist tribes mutually respect and support each other’s religion, sharing and inhabiting amazing surroundings in tranquility. Another great highlight of the trip was meeting the children of Nepal, including

"BEING THE ONLY FEMALE, I DIDN’T FEEL THE NEED TO COMPETE WITH THE GUYS”


The fascinating background of an Aussie Icon.

In 1874 Benjamin Dunkerley, arrived in Tasmania from England intent on establishing a hat making business. It is here Dunkerley invented a machine that was capable of cutting the hair tip from rabbit fur used in hat making. This was previously performed by hand. The invention was to revolutionise fur felt hat manufacturing, not only in Australia but the world over. In the late 1880’s, Dunkerley moved his business to Sydney, where in 1904 Stephen Keir joined the firm. A diligent worker with a strong business sense Keir proved to be a valuable asset. He also caught the eye of the boss’s daughter, Ada Dunkerley and it was not long before they were married. The trade name “Akubra” came into use in 1912. The increasing popularity resulted in the move to larger premises in Bourke Street, Waterloo and expanded production, especially of Slouch hats during World War I. Soon after all hats were branded Akubra. When Dunkerley died in 1925, ownership of the business transferred to Stephen Keir I. The business continued to flourish and when Stephen Keir retired in 1952 he was succeeded as Managing Director by his eldest son, Herbert. His second son, Stephen Keir II, served as General Manager and became

Managing Director in 1972. His son, Stephen Keir III, became Managing Director in 1980. Another son, Graham, joined the firm in 1972, first as sales representative for Northern NSW and later as National Sales Manager. Unfortunately, Graham died prematurely in 1987. Stephen Keir III retired as Managing Director on 31st December 2007, allowing his son and fourth generation of the Keir family, Stephen Keir IV, to assume the mantle of Managing Director. In 2010, after working with the company for more than 56 years, Stephen Keir III O.A.M stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Stephen Keir IV, who has worked with the Akubra company for more than 20 years, is appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors. On 25th May 2012 Stephen Dixon Keir III passed away peacefully. He leaves behind him his wife (and former Director) Wendy, Daughters Stacey and Nicola (who both currently serve as directors of Akubra Hats), Son and Chairman of the Board of Directors Stephen Maitland Keir IV as well as seven Grandchildren. So the family tradition continues. The Akubra Hat Factory is now based on the mid north coast of New South Wales in the town of Kempsey, having relocated from Sydney in 1974.

Akubra, Australian made, worn the world over. www.akubra.com.au


Adventure

HIMALAYAN HEROES

visiting and interacting with the kids and teachers from the local school in Muktinath. A couple of our riders had kindly sourced t-shirts from Sydney Cafe Racers and Throttle Roll, along with cricket and soccer gear from Rebel Sport, which we donated to the school and other kids we met along the way. The children were awesome, so happy and inquisitive of us strange folk waltzing through their villages. They definitely weren't shy to come say hi or climb all over you. Tom the monkey — our effigy of a rider that couldn't make the trip at the last moment — got a lot of attention.

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The tour group has an orange T-Shirt with ‘I Do My Own Stunts’ embroided on it, which is handed to each rider that comes off their bike. Unfortunately, only three days into the tour, one rider came down hard, breaking his collarbone, and had to fly back to Australia. It was a timely reminder that accidents can happen, even to experienced riders. We packed a lot into our two weeks, everything from riding at high altitude to riding elephants in Chitwan National Park, tackling some of the twistiest roads on the

planet, crossing rivers, spectacular scenery, delectable Nepalese food, parasailing, bungee jumping and a whole lot more, all of which is firmly imprinted in my memory for life. I simply cannot explain what a lifechanging experience it is to ride through the Himalayas. It really is something you should do now rather than say you’ll do it ‘one day’, as you might not get the opportunity. I can’t wait to do it again. FOR more of Viv’s great photography, check out 666metalmaiden.fotomerchant.com.


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Classic Racers

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1976 MV AGUSTA 350


usica iva M V Few sounds stir the soul like a classic MV Agusta on full noise WORDS ALAN CATHCART PHOTOS KYOICHI NAKAMURA

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1976 MV AGUSTA 350

OBODY who was there 40 years ago will ever forget the day the music died — the last time a multi-cylinder MV Agusta GP bike raced in anger. But not at a classic Grand Prix circuit, not in the blazing heat of an Italian summer, not with championship points at stake and world titles to be won. Instead, MV's last race was at Brands Hatch in England in October 1976, at the final non-championship International race meeting of the team's last-ever season, after winning no less than 275 world championship GP races and 75 world titles. The bike that 15-times world champion Giacomo Agostini brought to Brands was the 350 four on which he'd won the Dutch GP at Assen earlier in the year, a solitary four-stroke awash in a sea of Yamaha two-stroke twins. In a crowd-pleasing move, Ago removed the hated silencers then newly compulsory for GP racing, which had nobbled power by up to 15 per cent and put four-strokes out of the game. Standing by the fence at Paddock Bend, I can still recall hearing every engine revolution, every gear-change, every twist of the wrist as Ago pulled through the field after a slow start to finish fifth. We all winced when we heard him miss a gear on the far side of the

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“AGO LIKED SMALL, LOW, TIDY MACHINERY THAT COULD BE FLICKED AROUND EASILY AND HANDLED RESPONSIVELY” track, then feasted on the symphony of the megaphones as he swept down Pit Straight. At the end, you'd have thought Ago had won the race, rather than Christian Sarron's Yamaha, judging by the reception we gave him. One final blast down to Bottom Bend on the slowdown lap, a quick blip of the throttle to send the revs soaring one last time, then silence. It was all over. MV Agusta had retired from racing. The End. The bike lay under a dust sheet in the old MV Agusta race workshop for a decade before Robert Iannucci’s New York-based Team Obsolete acquired it and a dozen other MV GP bikes in the classic racing deal of the 20th century. Another decade passed before the bike was ready to roll again, after being stripped and reassembled by Agostini’s

former mechanic Nobby Clark. “It was like new inside,” says Iannucci, “so all we had to do was clean it up, fit new valve springs and lap in the valves, then fire it up. Ago himself was the first person to ride it again in public, most appropriately at the Dutch TT's 70th Birthday celebrations at Assen in 1995. He came into the tent and stared at it for several minutes, then walked round and round it several times — he couldn't take his eyes off it. Then he looked up and smiled, and said, ‘Io ricordo!’, (which means) I remember. It was a magic moment.” As I suited up for that ride home from Brands Hatch 40 years ago, I'm sure I wasn't the only fan who dreamed what it must be like to be in Ago's place and ride the last of the works MVs. Thanks to Rob Iannucci's


Aussie Connection AUSTRALIANS also witnessed MV Agusta’s swan song when Agostini raced his 500 GP bike at the Australian TT at Laverton RAAF Base near Melbourne in February 1976. Ago was reigning World 500 Champion, having won in 1975 on a Yamaha, but had returned to MV for the new season. In unrestricted form, Ago’s MV was as loud as an F111 but not fast enough to hold off a fast-finishing Kenny Blake on an RG500, with Greg Johnson third on another Suzuki. TOP LEFT Giacomo Agostini on the earlier threecylinder MV Agusta 350 GP bike leads Renzo Pasolini on a Benelli at Riccione in 1968 LEFT Ago riding the four-cylinder feature bike during wet practice at Brands Hatch in October 1976, after which the factory retired from racing

generosity, that dream finally came true for me at the swooping Mid-Ohio race track, perhaps the nearest thing in America to a European-style GP circuit. In its various evolutions, the 16-valve aircooled four-cylinder MV Agusta followed the same basic format as the first 350cc version which made its debut in the 1971

Italian GP at Monza, with heavily oversquare dimensions delivering lots of revs. The original 52 x 40.4mm engine delivered 69hp (at the gearbox) at 14,000 rpm; the last, with dimensions of 54 x 38mm, made 77hp at 16,400rpm. The engine's six-bearing crankshaft, with small flywheels for minimal inertia

incorporating integral crankpins, is contained within compact sand-cast crankcases with a ball bearing on one side and a roller on the other. MV's trademark long, finned threelitre sump is slung underneath; really, it’s a separate oil tank for what is a dry-sump motor. Though nominally air-cooled, it foreshadowed Suzuki’s GSX-Rs in being ISSUE #22

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“THIS IS ONE FAST MOTORCYCLE, YET IT PULLS FROM AS LOW AS 8000RPM” essentially oil-cooled, with minimal finning, a high-capacity oil pump, large-diameter oil hoses and a big oil radiator in the fairing nose. Gear drive to the twin overhead camshafts runs up the centre of the engine. The four Dell'Orto carbs are mounted at a steep angle with each pair sharing a remote float chamber to save weight and width; choke sizes varied from 28 to 34mm depending on the track. Similarly, the side-loading six-speed gearbox is extractable, allowing race engineers to concoct an ideal set of ratios for each circuit. MV used five different chassis in the 1970s, with the final version an open-cradle duplex

design with large-diameter chrome-moly steel tubes employing the engine as a semistressed component. Its most notable feature is the eccentric mount for the swingarm pivot, which allowed the team more latitude in improving traction and high-speed handling. Yet with a tiny 1280mm wheelbase — shorter than even a Honda RS125R two-stroke single! — the MV was quick-steering and agile, and in spite of its increased complexity, weighed just 121kg dry against the TZ250 Yamaha's 118kg. “Ago's preference was always for small, low, tidy machinery that could be flicked around easily and handled responsively,” says Rob

Iannucci. “That's why he hated to give up riding the three-cylinder MVs until the fours were clearly superior in terms of performance, and why he ended up turning the four's chassis back into an uprated version of the three.” Yet the MV feels snug rather than cramped, with everything in proportion. Concert time. Firing up the MV’s engine at a gentle canter down pit lane underlines how little inertia it has — three steps, drop the clutch, and a wall of sound envelops your senses, even with a full-face helmet. No wonder Ago was so often first to get away in the push-start era. Throttle response is light LEFT Jim Redman (left) and the author enjoy Team Obsolete's generosity in sunny Ohio BELOW Ago's former GP race mechanic Nobby Clark was on hand to fettle the bikes

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Classic Racers

1976 MV AGUSTA 350

and immediate, sending the needle scooting round the white-faced Veglia tacho, which has a red paint mark at 13,000rpm to signify maximum torque and orange at 16,000 for peak power. My limit is 15,000rpm out of respect for its heritage. Engine response is smooth and flexible, almost like a road bike except for the roar from the megaphones. Accelerating through the gears down Mid-Ohio's back straight, the exhaust note hardens, the engine revs high and suddenly I’m flying. This is one fast motorcycle, yet it will pull out of the top hairpin from as low as 8000rpm. At 11,000rpm you can feel the camshafts going to work and from there on up the power delivery is linear — there's just more of it. As we reach 15 grand, I caress the gear lever with my right foot and

the exhaust note drops a couple of octaves as we surge forward once again. Magic. The suspension is more rudimentary, noticeable on a bumpy circuit like Mid-Ohio. The piggy-back Marzocchi rear shocks were quite sophisticated for their time, but there isn't enough wheel travel to get adequate suspension response in modern terms, and in spite of their adjustable rebound damping the 35mm Ceriani forks aren't a lot better. But within the context of its era and at the respectful speeds I was riding it, the nimble MV handled well and steered brilliantly. Accelerating hard around fast, bumpy turns never persuaded it to shake its head or flap the front wheel — even cresting a hill cranked over — in spite of the excellent grip from the modern Avon classic racing tyres.

“THE ONLY THING I DIDN'T REALLY CARE FOR WAS THE LACK OF BRAKES”

Retro Specs ENGINE Air and oil-cooled tranverse four-stroke four; gear-driven DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 54 x 38mm for 347cc; twin Krober CDI ignition; 4 x 34mm Dell’Orto carburettors; dry sump; dry clutch to six-speed gearbox and chain final drive CHASSIS Chrome-moly tubular open-cradle duplex frame SHARP END 35mm Ceriani telescopic forks, adjustable for rebound damping; 18 x 2.15-inch Morris alloy wheel; 2 x 254mm Hunt alloy rotors with twinpiston AP Lockheed calipers; 90/90-18 Avon AM20 DUSTY END Box-section chrome-moly swingarm with eccentric pivot; twin Marzocchi shocks; 18 x 2.5-inch Morris wheel; 1 x 230mm cast-iron Brembo rotor with single-piston Scarab caliper; 110/80-18 Avon AM22 DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1280mm; dry weight 121kg PERFORMANCE 77hp at 16,400rpm; top speed 254km/h

The only thing I didn't really care for was the lack of bite from the Hunt alloy brakes, compared to the cast-iron rotors used by other European bikes in those early disc-brake days. I can only presume that Ago must really have liked the reduced gyroscopic effect and improved suspension response that the lighter Hunts delivered. The day the MVs retired from racing was a sad moment for lovers of technical innovation as well as four-stroke motorcycle music, all thanks to myopic GP eligibility rules which even Honda’s radical oval-piston NR500 wasn’t able to circumvent. MotoGP eventually returned four-strokes to the main stage, but too bad the intermission had to last for so long.

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Restos

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1980 HONDA CB900F BOL D’OR


Twin Peaks Honda was slow to introduce a DOHC four but the Bol d’Or was worth the wait WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOS JOHN FRETTEN

I

REMEMBER it like it was yesterday, not 1979. My well-sorted Norton 850 had the measure of most Japanese bikes as I defended the realm against the invading hordes from the east. The magazines were full of the new Honda CB900 Bol d’Or, gushing on about how good it was, but I’d read it all before. But they did look great in the metal and I soon discovered they had the performance to match when I was unceremoniously hosed along a mountain road I thought I knew well. I pinned my ears back but the Honda was gone in a flash. OMG, the tide really had turned. By 1978, Honda was well overdue for a new model to replace the SOHC CB750 but the radical CBX wasn’t it, despite boasting six cylinders, 24 valves and 100hp. Instead it was left to the second-generation CB750F and in particular its bigger CB900F sibling to reclaim the throne in 1979. Like the CBX, both bikes featured DOHC and multiple valves — this time with only four cylinders — and they sold like hot cakes. The only surprise was that it took Honda so long, given that a handful of similarly-equipped factory race bikes had been unbeatable in endurance racing since early 1976. After turning its back on the GPs in 1967, Honda returned to international competition by entering the European endurance championship with the RCB1000, a highly-modified CB750 fitted with twin-cam 16-valve heads and bored to 941cc to make around 115hp at 9500rpm. Honda won all five rounds in 1976 and all six in 1977 — this time with a 998cc engine — then did it again in 1978! It wasn’t until Assen in 1979 that Honda lost a single race (to Kawasaki) but they still won their fourth championship on the trot. The European endurance series became a world championship in 1980, with a new set of rules requiring engines to be production-based. 61 ISSUE #22 retrobike


Restos

1980 HONDA CB900F BOL D’OR

“THE ULTERIOR MOTIVE WAS REVEALED IN THE ENGINE’S UNUSUAL UNDERSQUARE DIMENSIONS OF 64.5 X 69MM” Honda needed an all-new twin-cam 16-valve road bike to comply and the Bol d’Or was it, its very name acknowledging the RCB’s hitherto complete domination of the famous 24-hour race. It formed the basis of not just the new RSC1000 endurance bike but also Freddie Spencer’s AMA-winning superbike and the CB1100R production racer. The Bol D’Or was principally aimed at European markets — the Americans had to settle for a high-barred 750 until 1981 — which meant as much emphasis on handling

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as power and made it an instant hit in Australia. It was no slouch at 95hp, but the improvement in handling and cornering clearance was equally marked. It looked lean and clean compared with its boxy predecessor, with the tank blending into the side-covers and stylish rear ducktail. The alloy-finished DOHC engine looked just like the famous endurance racers and the detailed alloy-composite Comstar wheels were new and cool. Adjustable clip-on handlebars and slightly

rear-set foot pegs offered a classic leanforward sports-touring riding stance. 35mm front forks were air-assisted from 1980 while the rear dampers were individually adjustable for compression and rebound damping, previously unheard of in a mainstream bike. Similarly, front brakes were upgraded over CBX specs to twin-piston calipers on a pair of 280mm discs. The bike’s ulterior motive was revealed in the engine’s unusual under-square bore-andstroke dimensions of 64.5 x 69mm; the new endurance racing regs allowed motors to be bored (up to 1300cc) but not stroked. More than likely, Honda sleeved the road bike’s capacity down to 901cc to avoid embarrassing the flagship 1047cc CBX. Compression ratio was also modest at 8.8:1. John Fretten, who restored and photographed our feature bike, was one of


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Restos

1980 HONDA CB900F BOL D’OR

Retro Specs many riders to race a Bol d’Or back in the day. He placed as high as third in the Arai 500 Superbike class at Bathurst in 1984, and scored many Top 10 placings in production racing against riders like Andrew Johnson, Dennis Neill, Mal Campbell and Neil Chivas. “It was just great to be amongst those guys,” John says. “The 900 was a better production racer than the (six-cylinder) CBX; just a little less power but so much easier to ride, which also made it a nice road bike.” John found this 1980 model in Austria as part of a job lot of neglected Hondas that also included two CB1100Rs and an RC30 that we featured in earlier issues. “It was the worst one of all,” he says. “It wasn’t running, it had

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broken fins and crankcases, the pipes had rusted through. I had a hell of a time getting exhausts; I found one side in Germany, the other in Holland.” As always, John did all the work himself apart from paint and chrome. “It was the biggest restoration of any of my bikes and took a lot of time, money and effort. But now it’s come up brand new, the result is really rewarding.” Sadly, we’ve come to the end of this series, at least for now. Many thanks to John Fretten for sharing his bikes with us over the past six issues and taking all the photos. He’s a talented fellow and a nicer bloke you wouldn’t meet.

ENGINE Air-cooled inline four-stroke four; chain-driven DOHC, 16 valves; 64.5 x 69mm for 901cc; four x 32mm Keihin carburettors; electronic ignition; 8.8:1 comp; five-speed gearbox, chain final drive; 95hp (71kW) @ 9500rpm; 56lb/ft (77Nm) @ 8000rpm CHASSIS Twin-loop tubular-steel frame with removable down tube; conventional 35mm telescopic forks, air assisted, 2 x 280mm rotors with twin-piston calipers on 19in composite alloy rim; twin rear shocks, adjustable for compression and rebound damping, and spring preload; single 297mm rotor with twin-piston caliper on 18-inch rim DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1515mm; fuel capacity 20 litres; dry weight 233kg BEST FOR Scratching, racing, touring, commuting, customising, everything. Buy two


Land Speed Racing

BROUGH SUPERIOR BABY PENDINE

MAGNIFICENT O

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Ton-up salt racing on the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles WORDS ALAN CATHCART | PHOTOS PHIL HAWKINS

C

UE a magical morning on Day One, with not a cloud in the sky as the sun’s bright red orb rose over the horizon. We were readying the 750cc Brough Superior for its first shakedown run after driving onto the salt flats at dawn. Apart from some dyno pulls and a few hundred street miles, this was a virgin motorcycle and we had no idea how fast it would go. The salt was in great shape, the best in a decade, with a hard, flat surface and heaps of grip. We were at Bonneville for the BUB Speed Trials, a motorcycle-only meeting organised since 2004 by

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legendary bike builder Denis Manning, aka BUB or Big Ugly Bastard. Manning created the Harley streamliner that took Cal Rayborn to a new world record of 255mph in 1970, and later the BUB Seven streamliner that set new records of 350mph in 2006 and 367mph in 2009. BUB’s the only Bonneville event officially recognised by the AMA and the FIM. Hence the special name for the International Course, the longer of two 30m-wide tracks at eleven miles. The other was the five-mile Mountain Course for bikes running under 175mph, which was us.


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BROUGH SUPERIOR BABY PENDINE

Sir Al with his son Andrew Cathcart, builder Sam Lovegrove and owner Mark Upham

My mount was the Baby Pendine, a one-off built for Brough Superior owner Mark Upham by race engineer Sam Lovegrove in Cornwall, UK. It comprised a 1927 Brough Pendine chassis, which would originally have housed an 1150cc motor, and a 750cc JAP V-twin, one of a small batch of 30 motors produced in 1954 for the Italian 750cc etceterini racing car class. Indeed, this particular engine was discovered in a back storeroom of the Scuderia Ferrari race shop in Maranello. On the eve of releasing the all-new SS100, Upham was keen to revisit Brough’s glorious history. “We are looking to revive the reputation of Brough Superior not by legend, but by deed,” he says. “You can’t appreciate the future without being mindful of the past, and our intent is to remind the public what the marque represents.” Two years earlier, Eric Patterson had set a new AMA vintage record on a 1931 1150cc Brough Pendine. They were both there again this year, along with yours truly and my friend Henry Cole sharing the Baby Pendine to chase a number of FIM and AMA 750-class records. Sam Lovegrove had our bike running by May, a week before he brought the unpainted bike to Turweston Aerodrome 68

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“IT WAS TOTALLY STABLE AT ALL TIMES, WITH NOT A HINT OF ANY SHIMMY OR SHAKE”


near Silverstone for what a bespoke tailor would call a fitting — as in, is the inside leg measurement comfortable for Sir? I was more concerned about the shape of the handlebar; it’s one thing to have the grips aimed at the salt to cheat the wind, quite another to have sufficient control with the throttle wide open!

Meanwhile, a short blast down the airfield runway at 80 per cent throttle promised loads of mumbo, much more than I’d expected. Fast forward three months to August and my sixth visit so far to Bonneville, including three years on tuned Triumphs which culminated in four FIM land speed records in

2009, all of which still stand. The two Brough race bikes were first shipped to Los Angeles, where they were prepped in Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage before heading across the desert. The riding position is crucial on an underpowered bike, and riding out to the start-line three miles from the paddock, the ISSUE #22

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VEE TWO BROUGH RV1 SUPERIOR BABY PENDINE Classic Land Speed RacersRacing The black-tanked bike is the 750, the other an 1150 from 1931 on which Eric Patterson ran 124mph

Baby Pendine’s low, broad seat allowed me to slide back so that my thighs were gripping the sides with my bum on the rear mudguard. This let me park the chin of my helmet on the sloping fuel tank, peering between the upright tubes of the Castle forks to see where I was going. But this was only made possible by the shape of the handlebar, whose downwardfacing grips were pulled back diagonally towards me; this allowed me to effectively do a handstand on them in order to drape my torso as low as possible. This stance proved effective, especially once my toes found the very rear-set footrests and I squeezed my

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knees into the flanks of the fuel tank beneath my elbows. But the most satisfying thing was how well the Brough handled. It was totally stable at all times, with not a hint of any shimmy or shake, even when I moved my body rearwards as described above, thus lightening the front wheel and providing every excuse for a girder-forked bike to start doing the Charleston. Only it didn’t. We chose the shorter version of the Mountain Course for our shakedown run, starting at Mile One with a one-mile run-up before being timed between Two and Three. Even if it ended up counting toward our FIM

world record, this was just a test, so I didn’t bother to tuck away too tightly and instead concentrated on checking everything was fine mechanically. Which it was, but the one-mile run-up hadn’t been enough to attain maximum velocity, meaning I was still accelerating through the measured mile. Still, the speed of 97.260mph for the flying mile (97.447mph for the kilometre) was a start, so I rode straight to the impound area in order to make my return run within two hours, as mandated by FIM rules. This entailed starting from Mile Five, this time with a two-mile runup to the speed trap between Three and Two.


“TO APPRECIATE THE FUTURE, YOU MUST BE MINDFUL OF THE PAST”

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Land Speed Racing

BROUGH SUPERIOR BABY PENDINE

Bonneville’s Clouded Future SIR Alan rode the Brough at Bonneville in 2013, since when the surface has deteriorated dramatically. The main Speed Week event (the one in the movie) was cancelled in 2014 and 2015. Held three weeks later, BUB’s went ahead in 2014 (just) but was also abandoned in 2015. Both events are scheduled for the second half of 2016 but not everyone is holding their breath.

Oh, what a feeling! That's our mate Henry Cole on the 750

This run I had the Brough tapped through the measured mile at 105.004mph (105.210mph for the km), delivering us two new FIM world records at a two-way average of 101.132mph for the mile, and 101.329mph for the flying kilometre. The mile speed also gave us a new AMA class record. If that doesn’t sound especially fast for even a vintage 750, keep in mind that power output drops as elevation increases. At 1308m, the thinner air contributes to a 13 per cent power drop on an unsupercharged engine, so figure on a 120mph top speed at sea level. Now you know why in the old days so many land speed records were set on the beach! I handed the bike to Henry Cole, who filled the tank with race fuel (to put him in a different class) and also set a new AMA record of 99.780mph, despite suffering a massive tankslapper on his return run. This was caused by the two cameras he had mounted on the handlebars for his TV show acting like sails as speed mounted, with predictable results! He needed to lie down for a while before facing the camera to re-count that tale, I can tell you! Then Sam and my son Andrew carefully wrapped a small piece of painted aluminium around the top of the Castle forks, enough under the rules to turn the Baby Pendine into a partially streamlined bike. Alas, this was the entry ticket to a frustrating couple of days as we hunted in vain for the missing 3mph which would give us a fourth record.

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That return run had been the first time I’d ridden the Baby Pendine really hard, and it had been surprisingly comfortable for a rigid-framed bike — especially thanks to the incredibly smooth engine which, unusually for a narrow-angle V-twin, hardly vibrated at all, at any revs. It drove smoothly away from the line with very little clutch slip needed as I drag-raced down the two miles to the timing strip; with tall gearing contributing to lazy acceleration, we needed every last piece of real estate. I’d rev the engine out to 5800rpm in the bottom three gears, but never got above 5300rpm in fourth and 5100 in top. We tried gearing it down to coax some extra acceleration out of it, then geared it up to run as a four-speed, all to no avail. We advanced the ignition timing to 42º, which only made things worse! Yet the engine ran faultlessly throughout, completing 13 wide-open runs as we chased that final record, with a best run of 105.462mph. Close but no cigar! By now it was the afternoon of Day Four, with just a final half-day remaining. We removed the ‘streamlining’ to set about raising those earlier FIM records by a few mph. Alas, an electrical storm of biblical proportions headed our way, followed by sheets of rain that had nowhere to go and so BUB called stumps. Luckily the weather had held off just long enough for Eric Patterson to set two new AMA vintage records on the 1150cc Pendine, running as fast as 124.334mph.

On a personal note, I can’t deny the satisfaction — especially as a former Brough owner — I got from putting one of Britain’s most historic motorcycle marques back in the FIM record books for the first time since 1936. Can you see the flag on my helmet fluttering?

Retro Specs ENGINE 1954 JAP air-cooled OHV 50-degree V-twin; dry sump; 74 x 85mm for 748cc; 2 x 32mm Amals; 2 x BTH magnetos; belt primary drive to five-speed Nourish Triumph gearbox; chain final drive; 44hp at 5450rpm CHASSIS 1927 Brough Superior singleloop tubular-steel open-cradle frame; Castle girder-style forks with 40-spoke 19 x 3.25in wheel, no front brake; rigid rear with 40-spoke 19 x 3.5in wheel and seven-inch single-leading-shoe drum; Avon Roadmaster tyres DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1500mm; dry weight 160kg TOP SPEED 105.462mph


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Low Riders

1989 SUZUKI LS400

How to build an eye-catching custom, literally from scratch WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY ALASTAIR RITCHIE

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Low Riders

1989 SUZUKI LS400

A

MAZINGLY, this radical Suzuki is not only Chris Acké’s first custom build, it’s his first road bike! The longtime motocrosser from New Zealand’s North Island had never even ridden on the street when he purchased a stock 1989 Suzuki LS400 Savage for $1500 and reached for the grinder. “It was hardly going, it had a blown ECU and coil pack,” he says. “My brother-in-law Alan had to ride it home for me because I didn’t even have my L-plates at the time. It took him four hours in the rain, with the bike cutting out every few kilometres as the coil overheated. He wasn’t happy so it’s lucky we’re related. “First thing I had asked myself was, did I want to accessorise a bike or build a bike? A lot of people ask me why I didn’t do a Harley, but there are just way too many shiny bolt-on parts for them and I really wanted to challenge myself. “The next bit was easy. Find the most unassuming bike out there — a bike you could

Victory & Honour IF CHRIS’s bike were to have a name, it would be Victory & Honour, which is his handle on social media. “When I was young, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather who has since passed away,” he says. “He told me that victory is nothing without honour, it’s as empty as a bag of fresh air. That’s always stuck with me in how I approach everything I do, whether small or big. He also once said that ’59 was a great year, and that’s been my number ever since. “It’s funny the things you know and don’t know at the same time, like I never knew that my grandfather built and rode motorcycles. I’d never heard about that side of him. It was only when talking to my mother about this photo shoot that she first mentioned to me how, when she was young, she remembers him working on his bikes in the shed.” Turns out Chris’s grandfather had a thing for widow makers. “My next build will be a Kawasaki cafe racer, either a 500cc H1 or the H2 750, and I will go all out.” 76

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“IT WAS MY FIRST BUILD, SO EVERY PART OF IT WAS HARD. BUT, HEY, WE HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE” drive past every day without noticing — and then rebuild it to the point where you have to take notice of it. I’m not the type of person who’s happy just doing your run-of-the-mill type of alterations, nor did I want to follow a direct style. This was my bike, therefore it would be my style. I also thought that if I was going to use the Savage as a building platform or donor bike, I should use every single bit of it. This led me to cut, reshape or alter almost every part. The only off-the-shelf components are the headlight, indicators and seat. Everything else is from the Savage or handmade.

“It was my first build, so every part of it was hard. But, hey, we have to start somewhere. I didn’t want to make small alterations, I wanted to throw myself at it and push every aspect of my abilities. The learning curve was steep but I’m glad I did it that way and now I’m ready for the next one.” Released as both the LS650 and LS400 in 1986, the Savage comprised a whopping big four-stroke single in a mild custom/ cruiser chassis, although power was modest at 31hp for the 650 and 24hp for the 400. It was renamed as part of the Boulevard family

in 2005 but has remained in continuous production, largely unchanged, for 30 years. Only the engine gives the game away here, and even then you have to look past the forward-facing inlet manifold and monstrous in-your-face exhaust. The chassis, meanwhile, is unrecognisable from the stocker. “The most important part is proportion, and thinking about how each part affects the others,” Chris says. “The frame has been lengthened 16 inches over factory and dropped two and a half inches. The seat has been moved back six inches and dropped five inches. The forks were lowered 30mm and fitted with heavier springs while the battery box was moved to the bottom of the frame and acts as an additional engine mount.” Wheels and brakes are stock, although Chris had to fabricate a new anchor arm for the rear drum brake to match his one-off rigid rear end. Foot pegs were cnc-milled by brother-in-law Alan, along with other fine pieces.

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Low Riders

1989 SUZUKI LS400

“BALANCE WAS WHAT I WAS AFTER. I DIDN’T WANT ANY ONE PART TO OVERPOWER THE REST”

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The fuel tank is also standard, albeit with the sides dished out and the whole lot moved back an inch and a half and lifted by a similar amount at the rear, which entailed modifying the tunnel and mounting points. Chris is grateful to his boss Cam for the use of his welder, and also to Russell at Multi Form Products for letting him loose on their bead-blaster. The rims, triple trees, handlebar and other high-wear components were then powder-coated, while the frame, tank and rear mudguard were painted by Jason at Top Gun. “Jason’s the main man, that’s all I can say,” Chris says. “He’s an awesome guy to deal with. The paint colours, cream and teal green, were from my wife’s coffee cup, and 59 is my favourite number. The rest is more subtle; I didn’t want any one part of the bike to overpower the rest. So ‘balance’ was what I was after, which I think I’ve achieved. “All the graphics are decals, with at least eight and in some cases 12 coats of clear to smooth everything over; it was important to me that you couldn’t feel any raised areas in the paintwork.” Chris’s steep learning curve also extended to the engine, which he rebuilt himself then had rewired by auto sparky Jason at Te Rapa Automotive. “He knows his stuff and his workmanship is next to none,” Chris says. He then set about tuning the carburettor for the radical inlet manifold and exhaust.

“I spent five hours reading what all the different circuits in the carburettor do and how they affect each other. The bends in the inlet manifold improve atomisation and there’s the added effect of having the air rammed down its throat as well. Jetting and needle height are so far beyond factory it’s not funny. “The exhaust was time consuming as well. I spent another six hours reading how harmonics work, the pulse of the engine and the time in between, heat and so forth, learning how to manipulate the air to change the note. I wanted my bike to have a very distinctive sound, like an angry bark with a slight cackle. I also learnt about how different types of steel — mild or stainless — affect the note. “The other thing was something I wanted to try from my motocross bike — what they call a ‘mega bomb’ where the exhaust gas is able to expand and then contract at the right time to add performance. This was all built inside the exhaust just behind the engine. Needless to say, there’s a lot happening inside the pipe!” Since we took these photos, Chris’s impressive Suzuki has been certified road legal (God bless New Zealand) and is racking up plenty of local miles and turning heads wherever he goes. “I was stopped next to a Lamborghini at the lights last week,” Chris says, “and no-one was looking at the Lambo. Mission accomplished!”

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke 396cc single; single overhead cam, four valves per cylinder; custom manifold and exhaust, complete with mega bomb; five-speed gearbox with jockey shift; chain final drive CHASSIS Much modified Suzuki LS400; cut and stretched 16 inches by owner; seat lowered five inches; stock forks, lowered 30mm with heavy springs; rigid rear end; stock brakes and wheels (19-inch front, 15inch rear); Metzeler tyres BODYWORK Modified standard tank; aftermarket leather seat; relocated battery box; paint by Jason at Top Gun SPECIAL THANKS “My kids for losing all my tools in the shed and most of all, my wife. She didn’t do much but she’s hot” BEST FOR Dissing rich dudes in flash cars NOT SO GOOD Drag racing, bumps

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STARTING OUT BASTARDS STOP ANYWHERE

McIlwraith WITH JAMIE McILWRAITH

A GOOD FIRST BIKE BOUGHT my first bike on a Saturday morning. That afternoon I spent a few hours in a large, deserted car park learning how to ride it, and on Sunday morning I ignored all the advice to “take it easy, son”, jumped on the bike and headed out of Sydney aiming for Gosford. I just wanted to get out of town on my new bike. Which bike? Almost forgot. A BSA 250 Starfire. It wasn’t my favourite bike by any means, but it turned out to be a good first bike. I made it to Gosford on my own and was starting to head home, up those many tight, twisty curves rising up the hill to Kariong. I wasn’t trying to go fast, but the guy on the Bultaco Metralla who zoomed around the outside of me certainly was going fast, although he did have time to take his left hand off the bars for a friendly wave. At the top of the hill I pulled into the servo, and there he was: my Bultaco guy. Now, I was 17 years old at the time, and to any 17-yearold, all old guys north of 50 are probably 75, so I don’t know how old my old guy was. With his helmet off, he had just a few leftovers of wispy grey hair left, wrinkly freckled skin and he was thin as a rake. What really got me about him, though, was the way he fuelled up his Bultaco. These light, simple Spanish bikes were single-cylinder two-stroke 250s. El basic. They didn’t weigh much and they didn’t have fancy extras such as oil pumps like the Suzuki Hustler that I wanted to buy as my first bike, so you had to fill up the Bultaco’s

I

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tank with petrol, then drop in a small measure of two-stroke oil. After he did that, he just picked up the front end of the bike and kind-of shook the whole thing up and down like he was mixing a cocktail. “Gotta mix up the Castrol really well with these,” he cheerfully told me. “How’s your Beeza going? Had it long?” “Got it yesterday. This is my first real run on it,” I replied. “Been riding long, then?” “No, I had my first ride yesterday, too,” I sheepishly answered. He let out a great dry laugh and said, “Good on yer mate, you’re doing great. Cuppa tea?”

“He picked up the bike and shook it like he was mixing a cocktail” And so I ended up having a cup of tea and a great yarn with my Bultaco-riding mate, Roy. He’d raced a bit, reckoned he never won anything important but had so much fun along the way competing in road racing and short circuit. Anything fast on two wheels was fine with him. Then we got back onto the topic of my BSA and his Metralla. I told him that I really wanted to buy a Suzuki Hustler but I couldn’t afford it. In fact I couldn’t afford the BSA, either, but I had totally astonished my dad the day after I finished my HSC exams by

getting a job as a brickie’s labourer and working over the holidays to earn enough money to buy a bike. Dad had always seen me as a layabout, useless hippy, and here I was coming home every night with bleeding hands, covered in cement dust. There was hope for me yet. So he started to take an interest in which bike I wanted to buy. I think, in modern business parlance, he began to take what is known as a ‘controlling interest’, because he said he’d give me the extra cash I needed to get my first bike … as long as it was British. Now, I didn’t have anything against English bikes — Triumph Bonnevilles and Norton Commandos were posters on my bedroom wall — but I was shopping down the other end of the market, for a 250. And I knew — I just knew — that the Suzuki Hustler twin was the best 250 at the time. It was the fastest 250 (though I didn’t tell Dad that), but my controlling financial interest was adamant that British was best. He meant well, and so we bought the Beeza. I told Roy the whole story and he just cut through the crap and said with another dry laugh, “Jamie, the BSA’s a good first bike. It handles nicely and has bugger-all power. Spend a year on it and when you’ve learnt a bit about riding bikes and want to go faster, get the Hustler.” And that’s what I did, almost. A year later I bought a Yamaha RD350, and I was glad that I’d spent my first year learning the ropes on something sweet-handling and sedate like that old single-pot Pom.


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HANDIWORK METAL CRAFSTMEN

Bailey WITH PAUL BAILEY

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

L

AST issue I talked about the many different types of restorations or builds of your favourite bike that you can endeavour to do. The choice you take can lead you into a world of motorcycling that only motorcyclists can really appreciate. The world, or worlds to be more precise, are not the shops selling bikes or the accessory markets that exist for motorcycles. It’s more than that; it’s the very fabric that keeps us and our machines alive. I’m not referring to your mainstream shops or brands here — we all know them and how to find them and what they do or don’t do for us as motorcyclists. Remember what I said last issue? Motorcycling makes us individuals and that is the best thing about being a motorcyclist. So to be individual we need to understand what that really means. For me, I have an absolute passion for all motorcycles and have owned many brands and styles of motorbikes, but I do have a favourite brand also. That's not unique — we all have some similar attitude or requirement when we buy or build a motorcycle. But I have always felt that it is more important to consider how we go about building, modifying, customising, restoring, riding or just owning a motorcycle, as that is what makes us the individuals that we are. Very few of us can do it alone, and those that can do it alone are the gifted ones that can turn a billet of aluminum into a cylinder head, or fabricate from a flat piece of sheet metal a beautiful handcrafted fuel tank, never to duplicate it again. These types of skills are

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part of the fabric of our individualism, helping to make us who we are and how we fit in with others. The fact that we all can’t be the gifted ones, and that we rely on these people to help us on a quest for perfection with our chosen motorcycle, just makes it all the more enjoyable and helps make us more passionate about what we do as motorcyclists. Last issue of Retrobike, out of 100 pages there was one article on a stock Triumph and one advertisement for the SR400 Yamaha. Everything else in the magazine was in some way a custom bike, or an ad for custom bikes and parts, or someone’s own personal

“A few years ago I was concerned about where our motorcycling future was heading” journey with their custom bike. It is fantastic to see such diversity of styles and choice of motorcycles for these builds. Who would have thought that the Yamaha XV1000 could be so sexy or the BMW boxer such a weapon? And who can ignore the absolute beauty of the Honda RC30 or the style of the Roland Sands VMAX. They are all great examples of a person’s journey into the world of motorcycles and their own choices in how they built those bikes.

A few years ago I was concerned about where our motorcycling future would go. Not with production bikes but with the men and women out there who keep the individualism alive with their passion for brands and their skills for producing parts. I’ve seen a generation of true old-school craftsmen leave this Earth over the last few decades. Men who could make pistons in their own furnace in their backyard, men who could make frames, men who could make cams from scratch, men who could fabricate ancient fuel tanks to be exact replacements for rusted-out originals. The list is endless of these craftsmen and what they had done for motorcycling. I was genuinely concerned for our future and what we would do to continue the journey of motorcycling. I couldn’t see new people taking on the skills and having the desire to work long, hard hours and get little in return; it was really starting to worry me. But the motorcycle is a mechanical beast that must always be fed. When there is a need for something, someone steps up to the plate and takes on the challenge. A new guy appears, he is young and ambitious and has talent, then another appears and then another and another! Girls, too. I can’t remember a time in my 50 years of riding (I started when I was eight) of a more prolific period in terms of builders, custom parts suppliers, fabricators, painters, upholsterers and the many other talented people out there that are part of the ultimate family of motorcyclists. Our future is bright and the talent runs deep. Individualism is here for a while longer.


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POLLUTION CONTROL BLUE SMOKES

WA L K E R WITH JIMMI WALKER

DIFFERENT STROKES

S

OME people hate ’em and some people love ’em. I’m one of the latter breed. I mourn the demise of the two-stroke sports motorcycle. These were the bikes I grew up on, the bikes that gave me my first taste of freedom in a world of spots and hormones. Yamaha was the breed I stuck to for years, their RD range in particular, but I sometimes crossed over to the dark side and sampled the heady sins of a threesome. There is in my mind nothing quite like a tuned and ported 350cc RD coming ‘on the pipe’, though, and that will always be my first love. They were the giant killers of their day, from their inception in the 1960s right up to the 90s when the last of the RD350s were equipped with water-cooling and power valves to make around 60 ponies, all housed in a tight, schmick-handling chassis. They could show a big four-stroke the way home in the right hands. Sometimes those hands were mine and I used to delight in dropping a cog or two and screaming up behind an air-cooled 750 four, taunting the rider until he made a mistake and then leaving him in a cloud of the finest Silkolene. During the mid-80s, however, the writing was on the wall with the advent of so-called hyper-sports bikes like GSX-Rs, FZRs, CBRs and ZXRs. The four-stroke was gaining ground — and fast. No longer was the big-capacity, Japanese, four-stroke behemoth a lumbering wobbly nightmare to wrestle through the twisties. Suddenly they were svelte and razor sharp, capable of 150mph, with blistering acceleration to boot. We in the other camp were left with the last

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few punches of a valiant boxer going down for the count; the Yamaha RD500 that promised so much, and the absolutely brilliant Suzuki RG500 that delivered it in spades. Nineteen-eighty-five was a great year to be a motorcyclist. I would have given several body parts to have owned an RG500. Choosing it over the Yamaha was a no brainer; the Suzuki was a barely tamed race bike, whereas the Yamaha was no TZ for the road, not even close. Instead I had a slightly used (okay, soundly thrashed) early RD350LC. I’d blueprinted it and given it a mild porting job, sorted the carbs and I was

“The GT550 stood up and headed for the hedge. Amazingly, we survived relatively unscathed” pretty pleased with the way Elsie performed. It appealed to the hooligan in me in much the same way as my current Triumph Speed Triple. I have owned many two-strokes over the years, from the best Yamahas to the worst bike ever, a Russian-built Voskhod 175. But the bikes that caused me the most heartache and the biggest adrenalin rush were the triples. Oh yes, those Suzukis would tempt you in with the promise of jet-like acceleration and silky-smooth response, then turn into an axewielding murderer halfway around a wet bend. Even the brakes came with a warning sticker on the front forks, with words to the effect that

the brakes didn’t work in the wet. Thanks for letting us know! I owned a few of them but my 1974 GT550 was the one responsible for my worst sphinctertightening episode. The centre cylinder had a propensity to cut out in the rain, very possibly due to me fitting a shortened front guard. The front tyre would drench the middle cylinder in water, and then short out the metal shrouds the Japs used to put on their plug caps back then. So halfway round a bend, after being pissed off for the last five miles by the power cutting in and out, I decided to punish the beast in frustration by pinning the throttle. The errant plug cap decided at that very moment to fire and the bike’s power output jumped from 32hp on two cylinders to 55hp on three. The GT stood up and headed for a hedge. I wrestled the bike around the bend on the wrong side of the road and shot down the passenger side of a car coming the other way, before sliding into a ditch. Amazingly, we survived relatively unscathed but it was time to part company; the fact that it also consumed fuel and oil like the Exxon Valdez sealed her fate and she was swapped for another triple. This time, it was a Kawasaki KH400 of 1975 vintage; it was slightly better but she was doomed as well. Maybe if we’d left it stock — but no, my mate and I were convinced we could get 130mph (210km/h) out of the blessed thing and it proved to be a fool’s errand as we blew it up no fewer than three times, which is a story for another day. To all you kindred spirits out there that own or are restoring old strokers, keep the blue smoke flying as they’re getting thin on the ground and they are just so much fun!


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NEW BIKES DUCATI SCRAMBLER ICON

SIMPLE PLAN The Scrambler is the most accessible and least intimidating Ducati ever WORDS NIGEL CROWLEY PHOTOS TIM MUNRO

W

HEN you pick up a test bike from Ducati, they mandate you collect it in person and get a thorough run-through of all the key points. This can sometimes be a lengthy briefing, with tonnes of settings and pages of dashboard to negotiate. With the Scrambler, the process took a minute. Here’s how to turn it on and off, here’s how to reset the tripmeter, off you go. There are no ABS modes, no switchable engine maps, no traction control, no electronic suspension adjustments — nothing.

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With a seat height of only 790mm (there’s a 20mm-lower option for short people), you really sit in this bike. Ergonomically, there’s a great little triangle between feet, bum and the handlebar, even though my knees were quite bent on the move. The bike carries its 186kg so low, it feels like it’d almost stand up on its own, making it very confident and stable right down to lane-filtering speeds. The cable-operated clutch has just the right weight to it although the bite is narrow and right at the end of its travel. At its heart is an 803cc air-cooled 90-degree

V-twin engine derived from the 796 Monster, featuring revised 11-degree valve overlap for less power (56kW/75hp @ 8250rpm) but more torque (68Nm @ 5750rpm). There is no vibration — my 1970s flares created more — the mirrors stayed crystal clear and EFI fuelling was faultless from the single 50mm throttlebody. The six-speed ’box is light and mostly accurate, and the gears tightly packed, allowing you to keep the bike smack in the middle of the generous and entertaining torque curve. Buzzing it through the ‘box with a big braaaap of throttle in each gear was heaps of fun! On the freeway, the engine feels slightly busy but at legal speeds in top, it lands you right in the midrange, perfect for overtaking. Braking at the pointy end is via a superblooking, top-spec 330mm disc and radialmounted Brembo monobloc four-pot caliper. Although requiring a decent squeeze, it gives excellent feedback and the braking force perfectly matches the bike’s performance.


“ONE OF THE MOST PLANTED AND SUREFOOTED BIKES I’VE RIDDEN IN A GOOD WHILE”

The rear single-pot caliper has a slightly wooden feel but works fine and both ends can be used aggressively in the dry before triggering the ABS, which is non-adjustable but can be turned off. The suspension is fairly basic, the only adjustment being rear spring preload, but it does a decent job until you hit any big bumps or holes, which do get transferred to the rider. Fast sweepers are dealt with surprisingly well and the bike holds a rock-solid line without a hint of instability, even at triple-digit speeds. Overall it’s a great compromise between lowspeed comfort and high-speed composure. Handling-wise, the Scrambler is wicked. It’s one of the most planted and surefooted bikes I’ve ridden in a good while and even novices will have no problems chucking it around. The 18-inch front and and 17-inch rear wheels are well matched and allow full use of the available grip from the sticky Pirelli MT60 RS hoops; faster riders will soon

be dragging the foot peg on the left and the exhaust guard on the right in heroic fashion. The rate of roll is consistent and predictable and let’s face it, who doesn’t like to make a few sparks on the way to work? The only thing I didn’t like was the seat. On the freeway I had ants in my pants within half an hour trying to find a comfy spot. It’s hard, narrow and short, with the step to the pillion seat too far forward. And despite appearances, I wouldn’t trade in the adventure bike just yet either; the suspension is rudimentary and the oil filter and muffler are exposed. Apart from that, the Scrambler is a fantastic bike that dishes out bucket loads of good old-fashioned fun. At the rate they are selling, there’s obviously a huge number of people out there who want a simple, easy-toride, safe bike. It also has looks that couldn’t be more bang-on for the current retro vibe and at just over 13 grand (plus orc), it’s right on the money.

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STUFF WE LIKE

Retro

STYLE CANTEEN WATCH THE original TW Steel watch is the perfect accessory for a gentleman. Available as a three-hand, chronograph or automatic, the Canteen has a retro look with a cream face and leather strap. Shown is the chronograph version with a brushed steel, 50mm case and hammered bezel. $549 www.twsteel.com

CRAZY UNCLE MOONSHINE HERE at Retrobike we are fond of the occasional liquid refreshment and Crazy Uncle Moonshine from the WA Whipper Snapper Distillery has caught our eye. 40 per cent proof and barrel aged — need we say more? $71 www.whippersnapperdistillery.com

URBAN BOOTS FROM BMW Motorrad, Urban Boots have the appearance of a casual boot without compromising on function and comfort. Made of 100 per cent cowhide, Urban Boots are loaded with features like hydrophobised leather to repel water, reinforcements on the toe and heel and a thick rubber treaded sole to look after your feet on and off the bike. Sizes 37-48 $380 www.bmwmotorrad.com.au

VINYL RECORD ART LOOKING for bespoke art for the man cave? Send Josh at Cowan Creative your image and he will produce a oneoff piece of art and recycle a vinyl record at the same time! From $42 www.cowancreative.co.nz

LEATHERMAN OHT THE OHT™ is the first 100 per cent one-hand-operable multi-tool and includes many of the original Leatherman tool features, such as four screwdrivers and a 420HC knife. The OHT™ incorporates retractable spring-loaded pliers and wire-cutters to allow for one-handed use without tiring or readjusting your grip. It also includes a lifesaving strap cutter and oxygen bottle wrench, threading for common-size cleaning rods and the all-important bottle opener. Did we mention it also looks uber cool? From $196 www.leatherman.com.au

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SEGURA REEVE GLOVES S RE REEVE gloves from Segura feature retro styling with contrasting white double stripes sty on the cuff and fingers and branded snap clasps. Made from 100 per cent goat leather cla with a waterproof, breathable insert, Reeve wit glo gloves are reinforced around the knuckles and palms and are CE certified. Also available in black. ava $129.95 $12 www.ficeda.com.au ww

TASMANIAN BEER SHAMPOO BAR BEER is good for more than just drinking! Beer has been famed for generations for its ability to tame the wildest mop of hair, so this bar is chock-a-block with it — brewed naturally by small breweries in Tasmania. The entirely natural, chemical-free formulation is traditionally handmade to a gentle, centuries-old formula. $12.20 www.beebeauty.com

AVADE KEEP warm on your bike! The Avade heated undershirt warms up quickly with just a press of a button. Two heating panels on the front and one on the back will keep the cold at bay. Light enough to wear under your normal apparel without adding bulk. $199 www.avade.com.au

BLACKBIRD RETRO LEATHER JACKET CLASSIC retro look, reminiscent of the military field jackets of WW2. Variations of this style have been worn by many, from Bob Marley to Robert De Niro. Made from soft, comfortable, natural, milled cowhide with removable CE armour included for elbows, shoulders and back. And there are plenty of pockets for storage. $449 www.blackbirdmotorcyclewear.com

POWER HOSE PLUS BRAIDED BRAKE HOSES VENHILL braided brake hoses are perfect for restoration and custom bike building. Factory tested to 1500psi, the hoses are ADR-approved with smoothbore Teflon inner for maximum durability and heat resistance. The marine-grade stainless-steel outer controls expansion for superior feel and power. PHP lines feature unique 360-degree swivel unions to guarantee perfect fit and twist-free alignment. Simply choose the required length hose and correct angle fittings to suit the job for under $100 per line. www.kenma.com.au

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TANGLES' WORKSHOP ELECTRONIC IGNITION

1. Here’s where we left off last issue; a finelytuned, conventional, twin points and condenser ignition as found on zillions of Honda SOHC 750 fours

2. The coils on the bike were not the originals — see the ‘K6’ lettering scribbled by a wrecker — and their history uncertain, reason enough to update them

BRIGHTER SPARKS How to fit electronic ignition WORDS & PHOTOS STUART 'TANGLES' GARRARD

D

ESPITE having zero problems with the points ignition on my 1978 CB750K7, I decided to fit an electronic ignition system (EIS) anyway, as part of a comprehensive electrical upgrade. My choice of brands is a Dynatek Dyna S, which came highly recommended with a proven track record. We compared the benefits of points and electronic ignitions last issue, and included a general rundown of what an ignition system does. We also looked at how to set up a points ignition for maximum reliability and performance. While we are now replacing some mechanical components with electronic ones, there are many similarities, especially when it comes to setting the timing, so this article should be read in conjunction with that. I have decided to replace all of the bike’s electrical components — ignition, coils, high-tension leads, caps and plugs. We’ll do the coils first because they’re easy. Coils on older bikes are almost always located under the fuel tank, so the first job is to remove the tank and anything else in the way. Once done, grab your air compressor and give everything a good clean. Next job is to unplug the wires going to the coil, taking careful note of which wires go where. On the Honda the main wires are black/white and blue/yellow but every bike

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is different. Old school is to draw a little diagram and then record where the wires go, but it’s not hard to take a photo on your mobile phone either. The thick high-tension leads are even simpler; just unplug them at the spark plug end — but once again, on a multi make a record first of which leads go to which cylinders. It then takes five minutes to remove the coil mounting bracket from the frame and then the coils from the bracket. Because you did your research and bought the right replacement coils, they’ll fit straight onto the bracket which is then bolted straight back onto the frame, no stuffing around. Next, wire the new coils exactly the same as the old ones using the connectors provided. One tip is to add push connectors where they don’t already exist, to make coil removal in the future a breeze. Refit the new high-tension leads to the plugs and that’s one job done. Now to install the electronic ignition system, but first we have to ditch the old. Remove the points cover and grab the air compressor again to give it a good clean. What we’re basically doing here is removing the old points and condenser setup and replacing it with a much simpler unit to trigger the spark at the right time in the combustion cycle. Remove the 10mm nut and hex washer on the centre (engine/crank)

shaft. Then remove the three adjusting screws which secure the points plate. Unplug the wiring from the harness (take a photo first!) and the entire points plate assembly will come away. You’ll then find the advance assembly which lies underneath, which is essentially two springs and two weights. This also needs to be removed — twist to the right and pull — so that the points cam bush or rotor can be replaced with the rotor in the EIS kit. Some bikes have a pin in the shaft on the left-hand side; if so, it needs to be removed. As always, have a good read of your workshop manual before you start as it will probably have a section on how to remove these components. Put some oil on the engine shaft and slip the new rotor over it, with the 1,4 side of the assembly pointing up. You will notice a magnet about 6mm in size on the side of the rotor, which should be on the left-hand side. Spread those two weights and push the rotor until it engages with the weights. Ensure the rotor spins freely and the weights move in and out. Then put the advance/rotor assembly back on the engine shaft, making sure the pin on the back engages the crankshaft. Check that the new rotor is still free to rotate. Install the electronic ignition plate using the three screws previously removed, and tighten. Electronic aftermarket ignitions come with detailed wiring instructions; it’s all pretty simple but if you have a mate with some knowledge, it could be a six-pack well spent. On the Honda, it was a matter of connecting the blue and yellow wires into the wiring harness where the original points wires came from. Moving up to the coils, there is a blackand-white wire coming from each coil which


3. Here is everything we need for our electronic ignition and coil upgrade. The grey cables are the high-tension (spark plug) leads, which will need to be cut to size

5. Here’s a close up of the advance assembly with the mechanical points-style rotor in the centre. This will be replaced with a new rotor from the EIS kit

7. Time to hook it all up to the wiring harness. All kits come with easy-to-understand instructions; model-specific kits (as used here) pretty much plug straight in

4. With the points assembly binned, you’ll find the advance assembly underneath. Remove the advance assembly to change the rotor to suit electronic ignition

6. New versus old; replacing a big, clunky mechanical monster with a clean, simple digital unit with no moving parts. I know what you’re thinking: they’ll never catch on

8. After setting the static timing, fit new correctly-gapped spark plugs, spark plug caps and high-tension leads, give it a big kick in the guts and enjoy the difference!

junction into one. Using the splice connector provided, splice into this common wire the red wire supplied and a 12V supply wire, probably from the ignition switch. The red wire then connects to the red coming from the EIS unit and bingo, we have spark. All to do now is the timing and as with points, whip the spark plugs out first to make it easier to rotate the crankshaft by torqueing the hex nut, pushing down the kickstart lever or rotating the rear wheel in gear. Using that 12V test light you bought last issue, connect it to the junction of the blue wires and ground. Turn the ignition on. Turn the rotor all the way to the right (fully advanced) and slowly rotate the engine until the light comes on. The right-

hand advance mark for 1,4 should line up with the crankcase mark; these are the two parallel

Once this is achieved, connect the test light to the yellow wire and ground. Repeat the above procedure, this time using the righthand advance mark for cylinders 2 and 3. If adjustment is necessary to line up the marks to when the light comes on, use an allen key to loosen the right-hand module and move it either way as required. Recheck both the timings again until all is good. Replace the points cover and fuel tank and Bob’s your mother’s brother. All bikes are different but it’s not a difficult job to upgrade to electronic ignition if you take your time. I have already found a very noticeable improvement in engine starting and general performance and it’s running very sweetly.

“All bikes are different but it’s not a difficult job if you take your time” marks we mentioned last issue. If the marks do not align, slacken the three screws holding the EIS plate and rotate until this happens. Retighten the screws. Rotate the engine backwards a bit and do the procedure again until the marks line up.

Sydney Authorised Dealer of

GT CONTINENTAL 95-97 Princes Highway St Peters NSW 2044

V7 RACER I

T: (02) 9557 7234 F: (02) 9557 7302 E: info@motociclo.com.au

I

www.motociclo.com.au

Also: Lewis Leathers, Stagg Leather, Halcyon Goggles, Ace café merch, Rossi Boots, White Silk Scarves etc and MORE! ISSUE #22

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READERS’ ROCKETS 1984 BMW K100RS

FLYING BRICK How to build a cool ride without smashing the bank WORDS: GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY: JEFF DE WITTE

J

EFF de Witte has been into motorcycles his whole life, much of it aboard BMW twins starting with an R75/5. He switched to adventurestyle bikes with the purchase of a new R80G/S in 1981 and later added an R100GS, clocking up more than 420,000km on roads less travelled all around the country. He still owns both but his focus switched back to the tar when he bought an unfinished BMW K100RS project for $2600 in April 2014. “It was a frame, motor, wheels and nine boxes of parts,” Jeff says. “K100s had a good reputation as reliable machines. This one had only 48,000km on the clock and was reasonably cheap.

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“The guy I bought it off started the build but stopped and moved onto another project — a car, I think. The tank, side-panels and front guard were painted metal-flake orange; the motor was painted red! It took me ages to remove all his hard work to make it look the way I wanted.” Jeff ’s biggest task was to fabricate a new rear section for the seat sub-frame to accommodate the custom seat unit he found in one of the boxes. A feature of K100 BMWs is that the complete frame can be lifted off the motor and final drive assembly, which makes it a lot easier to refurbish. Jeff sanded the frame back before having it painted by Gloucester Smash Repairs, who also

painted the tank in two-pack. The rear wheel was painted black to match the front but apart from that the chassis, brakes and running gear are as stock as rocks, including the footrests. With the RS full fairing long binned, Jeff had a clean slate for the business end of things. The clip-ons he found in another box, to which he attached the standard BMW levers and switchgear, while the Kawasaki headlight he dug up at Gloucester Wreckers. He did lash out on a pair of cool instruments, however; speedo is a Daytona 140 and warning lights are contained within a single Koso D48. Mirrors are from Deus in Sydney and blinkers from Ellaspede in Brisbane. The motor has been left standard, apart from a Staintune muffler donated from a wreck. Newcastle Auto Electrics pumped the wiring harness full of fresh blue smoke and the mechanics at Brisans got it all running sweet as. “It’s the first four-cylinder motorcycle I have ever owned,” Jeff says, “and I’m really enjoying riding on tar-sealed roads again,


“I DIDN’T HAVE MUCH MONEY SO MADE DO WITH WHAT I HAD”

going from cafe to cafe. Four-cylinder motors are cool; heaps more power. And I feel good about riding something that I kind of created. “I just wanted it to look simple and clean. I wasn’t being called into work much so I would sit in my shed with the radio going and muck around with it; sanding, cleaning, painting, manufacturing. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t have much money so made do with

what I had and what I could get cheap. Now work has picked up and all I do is ride it, along with the others; each of them all get a turn. I love riding bikes.” Total build time was 12 months and the cost around $5500, including the initial purchase. “I would like to have a go at customising a boxer next,” Jeff says. “You should have a go; it’s good fun.”

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Social Pages

LIFE'S A BIKE

Pages l a i c o S

PHOTO: RUSS MURRAY

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Social Pages LIFE'S A BIKE

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FEEDBACK OPINION PAGES

RETRO & CUSTOM

FIREBALL

TO THE MANOR BORN LA FRECCIA NERA

DARK KNIGHT

 RETRO & CUSTOM I LOVED the pics in the ‘Style Council’ feature last issue. My favourites were the yellow Norton on the go, the Honda on the last page and the Triumph Bonny with the canvas side saddles. So many great photos of bikes lined up, riding in city and in the bush, even in the rain — brilliant all round. It’s great to read about the young ones coming through. Keep up the great work, Retro. Rere Huia Luckman

no offence to Vincent. I’m not so much into expensive show bikes. Fabian Kemp

 DARK KNIGHT #2

ISSUE 20 was the best yet, especially the story on the Gladstone Triumph as I’d just caught a documentary about Henry Cole. And as a dyed-in-the-wool two-stroke nut, Craig Johnston’s green meanie Kawasaki tickled me. Jeff Walker

and had articles on restoration tips as well as what to look for when buying a bike from the 1970s and 80s. However. now you seem to concentrate on custom bikes with maybe one featured original classic. Your magazine is still well written and good value but it’s targeted towards a different customer from when you first started. I used to buy it religiously but now I look through it first to see if there's anything of interest to me. Just my opinion, I wonder if others agree with me. Con Moularas

 LA FRECCIA NERA

 GIANT KILLER

OF all the bikes you’ve featured, Craig Johnston’s Moto Guzzi cafe racer (issue 21) is the first one I’d actually like to own. I’ve been thinking about getting an older bike for a while but I do wonder if my ageing body could handle those clip-ons. Tim Maher

I’VE been a big fan of Honda RC30s (issue 21) forever, the ultimate pocket rocket! But they were always out of my price bracket, a situation that’s unlikely to change! Just not sure how it fits into your Classic Not Plastic philosophy. Ross Gibson

 MATES FOR LIFE

 DAY AT THE DRAGS

HEY Seddo, I’m a long-lost riding buddy of Pete Dean (Riders Like Us, issue 21) and I met you at his 50th birthday, a night I can just barely remember. I’m not blowing smoke up your arse but I’m going to subscribe. Bloody great read and all credit to you. Wayne Flynn

THANKS for the great article on the drags (issue 21). I have received a lot of positive feedback from my partners in crime. There’s a three-round nostalgia bike series in 2016. The first round was at Willowbank in February. The second round is also at Willowbank in August and the final round in Sydney in September over two days. You should bring the Norton. Brian Hazell

 TO THE MANOR BORN

 REMEMBER THE 80S I'M just writing to express my displeasure at the change in direction of your magazine. I loved the content of the original format where you featured mainly classic stock bikes 98

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GREAT cover, even Batman would have approved. Kerrie Contogeorge

 FIREBALL WHO would ever have thunk a boring old XV1000 Yamaha would turn out like the Fireball (issue 21)? I enjoy reading about how other people modify their bikes, but you should have included a photo of a standard bike to show the difference. Peter Green

 THE LAST WORD I LIKE the new mag, heaps of different styles and, most importantly, different makes and models of bikes. Love it, man. Chris McPherson

WIN RAZZO JEANS! To encourage your feedback, we’ll pick one letter (Rere Huia Luckman 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@

 DARK KNIGHT #1

universalmagazines.com.au or to our page

I LOVED the Dark Knight BMW (issue 21), it looks like the kind of bike anyone could build,

(Retro Bike Magazine) on Facebook.


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RCBE #22 AUTUMN 2016  

Retro & Classic Bike Enthusiast is a collector’s magazine for true enthusiasts from motorcycle restorers and retro bike owners to businesses...

RCBE #22 AUTUMN 2016  

Retro & Classic Bike Enthusiast is a collector’s magazine for true enthusiasts from motorcycle restorers and retro bike owners to businesses...

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