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retrobike retro bike CLASSIC NOT PLASTIC

(Both incl. GST)

ISSUE 25 SUMMER 2017

AUS $14.95* NZ $15.99

DARE TO BE

Z ROD KAWASAKI

MAX HAZAN MUSKET

GUZZI V8 TRIBUTE

DIRT QUAKE

McQUEEN TRIUMPH

OUTBACK POSTIES


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EDITORIAL DOUBLE THE FUN

G'DAY WITH GEOFF SEDDON

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HE first bike I ever lusted after was a 1968 Triumph 650 Bonneville, then one of the fastest and best-handling motorcycles money could buy. I was the pimply-faced 13-year-old with his nose pressed to the showroom window. The wallopers used to ride them as well, offering up a plentiful supply to the secondhand market, so I figured maybe one day I could get one that way. They were the coolest bikes ever, even the bikies rode them. Over in the US, the Bonneville had HarleyDavidson on the ropes. Half the size and twice as quick, the lithe Triumph showed the way to the future. Well, until the Honda 750 Four came along to do to Triumph what Triumph was doing to Harley. The British manufacturers never saw the Honda coming, and the decline was as swift as it was brutal. Starved of capital as sales plummeted, quality control went out the window and suddenly you couldn’t give them away. English home builder John Bloor bought the rights to the defunct Triumph brand in 1984 and set about developing a new range of modern liquid-cooled DOHC triples and fours, released in 1990, that bore zero resemblance to the bikes that came before. Bloor figured the reputation of the old parallel twins was so bad it was best not to go there, for a while anyway. Reprieve came in 2001 when, seemingly out of nowhere, the new Triumph factory released a new 790cc Bonneville. Sure, it had DOHC and four-valves per cylinder but you wouldn’t

know that from looking at it. The parallel twin also sounded the part and singlehandedly launched the concept of the modern retro motorcycle; a model that looks like an early girl but with all the reliability and convenience of a new bike. The 865cc Thruxton followed

“The first bike I lusted after was a Triumph 650 Bonneville, the best motorcycle money could buy” in 2004. These days they’re up to 1200cc and liquid-cooled, but they still look the same and are even more desirable. That young teenager is now in his 60s but he still has his nose pressed to the showroom window.

Not surprisingly, Triumph is a big supporter of the modern custom bike community, sponsoring events like the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and also magazines like this one; they know their market well. To celebrate the launch of Triumph’s most retro-model yet, the Bobber, we’ve teamed up to bring you an additional poster this issue featuring the all-new model on one side, along with a 12-month wall calendar on the back. Two pull-out posters for the price of one, I love it!

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triumphmotorcycles.com.au

EDITOR Geoff Seddon DESIGNER Michael Ohanesian CHAMPION CONTRIBUTORS Paul Bailey, Simon Buck, Alan Cathcart, Rich Cox, John Downs, Stuart 'Tangles' Garrard, Con Harriman, Ben Hewlett, Jeff Lamb, Phil Masters, Adam McGrath, Jamie McIwraith, AJ Moller, Russ Murray, Chris Rausch, James Walker, Alan Wells, Kevin Wing, Sinuhe Xavier COVER AJ Moller ADVERTISING MANAGER Fi Collins SUBS 1300 303 414 or www.universalmagazines.com.au

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UNIVERSAL MAGAZINES CHAIRMAN/CEO Prema Perera PUBLISHER Janice Williams CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Vicky Mahadeva ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Emma Perera ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Karen Day FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION MANAGER James Perera 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 25 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, Australia. 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 MMXVII. ACN 003 609 103. www.universalmagazines.com.au Please pass on or recycle this magazine.

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CONTENTS

08

Even the engine is handbuilt on this amazing custom from Max Hazan

ANTHONY ANDERSON — 1973 PHOTO BY JOHN DOWNS

KAWASAKI Z1

HAZAN MOTORWORKS — MUSKET V-TWIN PHOTO BY SINUHE XAVIER

FEATURE BIKES 08

MAX HAZAN MUSKET

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HARLEY STREET TRACKER

The Californian King of Cool knocks together another piece of art that works, this time around an all-new V-twin built from a pair of Royal Enfield 500 singles

Based on the legendary Harley XR750 flat tracker, Mert Lawill’s reverse-head 1200 Sportster is built without compromise to go as hard as it looks

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MOTO GUZZI V8 TRIBUTE

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BMW R90S RACE BIKE

In 1955, the Moto Guzzi factory built a 500cc V8 to go GP racing. It was a distinctive-looking beast and provided the inspiration for this custom 1400cc Eldorado

A stock-looking, fire-breathing, showwinning trophy magnet from Brisbane that runs low 10-second quarter-miles. Sit down, shut up and hang on!

Helmut Dahne’s giant-killing R90S production racer won the battle but lost the war. Alan Cathcart gives us the lowdown in this exclusive track test

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PANIGALE RAT BIKE

Australia’s most controversial (and best handling) custom bike is this brand-new Ducati Panigale 899, aged to resemble a futuristic 1920s barn find

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SR400 CAFÉ RACER

For all the money and bling you can throw at a pro-built custom bike, if you ain’t got stance, you ain’t got nothing! This grey ghost has got it in spades

MZ SKORPION SPECIAL

Whoever said you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear never saw this stunning shed-built café racer, built in Brisbane from a humble MZ Skorpion


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REGULARS 05 78 80 82 84 88 94 98

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

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OTHER STUFF 18

DIRT QUAKE

Dusty demons go speedway racing on custom road bikes. What could possibly go wrong?

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DGR GOES BUSH

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is more than cool hip dudes in the big smoke

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OUTBACK POSTIES

Good-hearted Cobar blokes take the slow road to Cameron Corner for charity

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CONTINENTAL GT

Quite possibly the least powerful and most enjoyable café racer of all time

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STEVE McQUEEN

Tough guy Steve McQueen’s 650 Bonneville desert sled comes down under

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Customs

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HAZAN MOTORWORKS MUSKET


THE MUSKET Max Hazan blows us away with his latest double-barrelled masterwork WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY SINUHE XAVIER

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Customs HAZAN MOTORWORKS MUSKET

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AX Hazan is as much interested in art as motorcycles, yet his builds display levels of engineering innovation rarely seen in custom bike circles. His style is minimalist in the extreme which sometimes calls for radical solutions, yet his bikes function. We here at Retrobike call it art that works. Initially from New York, Hazan moved to Los Angeles, the custom capital of the world, a few years ago and hasn’t looked back. He aims to build just a couple of bikes per year, up until recently just for himself but which he later on-sold. He is grateful that his early builds have now attracted an open-minded client base to fund his art, without in any way limiting his imagination.

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“THE ENGINE IS MADE FROM TWO ROYAL ENFIELD 500 SINGLES JOINED ON A COMMON CRANKCASE” “It’s still a pretty wild thing to happen,” he says. “I used to really dislike what I did for a living and to do what I do now is really a dream.” We featured one of Max’s earlier builds, based on an Ironhead Sportster, in issue 20. There was lots to like about it, including a reversed rear cylinder head to give the engine the look of an XR750 flat-tracker or Vincent.

We also dug the one-off girder-style forks, with springs mounted under the tank and a remote damper unit hidden behind the headlight. “With every bike, I try to make a suspension set-up that I have never seen before and that one was pretty out there,” he said at the time. The new bike is based around the Musket V-twin, which is constructed from two Royal Enfield 500 singles joined on a common


crankcase. US-based ex-pat Indian Aniket Vardhan wasn’t the first to build an Enfieldderived V-twin but his was the one to catch Max’s eye. “The Musket is a really special engine,” Max says. “I’ve always dreamed about doing something with it, even before I started doing this for a living. Now that I’ve been building bikes for three years, I finally got the opportunity to get my hands on one of the first engines Aniket made to sell.” Aniket Vardhan is an industrial designer and long-time Enfield enthusiast who first put his mind to building an Enfield V-twin as a student in Delhi in the late 1990s. He started designing his first motor, based on a pair of early 350cc pre-unit singles, in 2003, his aim being to use

as many Enfield parts as possible. Construction of the first prototype, a 70-degree 700cc V-twin with both exhausts facing forward to mimic the Vincent, commenced in 2008. It was a lengthy process but he eventually had it hooked up to a stock Enfield gearbox and running in a modified Bullet frame. The feedback led to changes in the production version, most noticeably a narrower 59-degree V but also now with crankcases compatible with the larger singles for 1000cc all up. As with all his builds, Max started by propping the engine on the bench and staring at it while he waited for the muse to strike. “The engine is a work of art,” he says, with the crankcases first carved from blocks of wood to make castings which were then machined

Aussie Connections FROM the day Vincent went belly-up in 1955, enthusiasts put their mind to recreating a similar V-twin from pairs of 500cc donor singles. After all, that was how Aussie Phil Irving in 1936 came up with the first Series A V-twin built from two Vincent Meteors. Alas, it wasn’t long before new British singles were thin on the ground and soon extinct, apart from Royal Enfields made under licence in India. These simple OHV singles attracted a cult following in the west, among them Paul Carberry who teamed up with fellow Aussie Ian Drysdale to develop the Carberry Enfield 55-degree V-twin, which went into production in Australia as complete bikes in 2007. Well received by the media but expensive to produce, just 12 bikes were built before local production ceased in 2012. Meanwhile, Indo-German engineering partnership Norcroft had approached Carberry about manufacturing the engines in India. Nothing came from this so Norcroft got into bed in 2009 with English engineers Bill Hurr and Richard Hurst who were independently developing a similar 50-degree V-twin. Aniket Vardhan became aware of both Norcroft and Carberry during the long development of his Musket engine. “By then, I was beginning to think my next-door neighbour was working on a V-twin Enfield as well!” Aniket says. He thought about giving the whole thing away but considered his was different enough to continue on. He’s sold four so far. The first Norcroft engine was built in India in 2015, and Paul Carberry has also very recently relocated to the sub-continent. Both are hopeful of volume sales at competitive prices. Fingers crossed!

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Customs HAZAN MOTORWORKS MUSKET by hand. Given that pretty much everything else on any Hazan custom is also built from scratch, it’s a particularly apt choice, doubly so as it was an Enfield single that powered Max’s first breakthrough build. Inspiration came in the form of a pair of massive BF Goodrich Silvertown car tyres. Max is the first to admit that with square tyres “your cornering skills do need to be adjusted a little” but gosh they look good. The bike is much bigger in the flesh than it looks in photos — Max is a very tall man — and normal motorcycle tyres just were’t going to cut it. He propped up the tyres at either end of the motor on the bench, then placed a huge drawing board behind it and started to sketch out what form the final bike might take.

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“EVERYTHING IS HANDMADE APART FROM THE HEADLIGHT, WHEEL RIMS AND TYRES” Everything on the bike is handmade, apart from the headlight, wheel rims and tyres. “Building bikes from scratch came from necessity and takes more time,” Max says. “I use a lot of random parts. I never look in a parts catalogue, I don’t even own one.” The hard-tail frame is beautifully bent and welded from 7/8th and 1 1/4-inch steel tube in what has become a signature Hazan style.

Ditto the nickel-plating and the forks which again are a one-off design just for this build. They work a bit like a reverse springer, in that the forward legs are fixed to the steering head while the rear legs move. The key is that when the bike encounters a bump, the lower rocker arm reverses the direction of the force, pulling the moving legs down rather than compressing them. This has allowed Max to


make them from much thinner tubing. The rear legs operate upper rockers which transfer the force to the dual springs made from sections of fork springs with valve springs inside them. If you can’t see the front brake, that’s because there isn’t one, a style that harks back to the birth of the chopper in the late 1960s. The rear wheel also has that ‘spool’ look but the bike does actually stop. Max cut into the primary drive chain case (which now runs dry) and moved the whole primary drive outwards to make room for an inboard disc brake within the transmission. He reckons it works surprisingly well, as well as radically simplifying the rear wheel hub for a super sanitary appearance.

The tank and rear mudguard were handformed from thin-walled aluminium, and Max admits it took him a few goes to get the shapes exactly right. He is also no fan of cables and wires, as a glance at the handlebars shows. The throttle cable runs within the tubing and there’s no need for a front brake lever, while the clutch is operated by a lever on the hand shifter. Ignition is hidden under the engine, fed by a tiny Antigravity battery located within the fuel tank. The seat is made from aged walnut. “A lot of people try to categorise themselves — ‘I build choppers’, ‘I build cafe racers’ — but I just keep it simple,” Max says. “But I’ve found time and again that simple is usually the most complicated to make.”.

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke 59-degree V-twin; OHV, two valves per cylinder; 84 x 90mm for 998cc; 6.5:1 comp; wet sump; single 28mm Mikuni carb; twin-points ignition (!); chain primary drive to dry multiplate clutch; chain final drive CHASSIS Hazan rigid chassis in tubular steel; nickel plated; ‘reverse springer’ forks with spool hub; inboard disc brake within transmission housing; spoked wheels; BF Goodrich Silvertown car tyres BODYWORK Hand-formed aluminium fuel tank and rear mudguard; walnut seat BEST Visual impact; innovative engineering NOT SO GREAT Steering; short people

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Race Replicas

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2015 MOTO GUZZI ELDORADO 1400


A stately Eldorado is transformed into a tribute to the 1955 Moto Guzzi V8 GP racer WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY VANGUARD

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HIS build is as unlikely as it is possible to imagine. Commissioned by a Dutch clothing brand, designed by an ex-pat German in Switzerland and built in downtown Amsterdam, the Vanguard V8 Racer immediately evokes the style of the legendary 1955 Moto Guzzi 500cc V8 GP racer. But rather than basing it on a lithe sportster, they went for the portliest model in the Moto Guzzi catalogue, a monster 1400cc Eldorado tourer! Yet somehow it works. The original GP racer was an engineering marvel. There were few eligibility rules back then, apart from a ban on turbochargers and superchargers. While most of the 500 field plodded around on production Manx

Nortons, the bike to beat was the factory DOHC four-cylinder Gilera Quattro, which won six 500 GP championships between 1950 and 1957, three in the hands of Geoff Duke. So Moto Guzzi responded in 1955 with a liquid-cooled, quad-cam, 500cc V8, complete with eight 20mm Dell’Orto carburettors! Amazingly, the complete bike weighed no more than the air-cooled Gilera at 149kg dry, but was significantly more powerful with a heady 78hp at 12,000rpm. The Gilera made 67hp at 10,500rpm. Sadly the Guzzi proved all but unrideable, with chassis and tyre technology of the time unable to cope with the poke. The motor was also prone to seizing and breaking crankshafts. Only a handful of racers were up

to it, including Aussies Keith Campbell and Ken Kavanagh, the latter of whom famously refused to ride it again after a harrowing race at Spa in 1956. Others took note, with the factory unable to contract any riders at all for the 1957 season. The two remaining examples were parked before Guzzi withdrew from GP competition later that year. The V8 engine was hidden behind a dustbin fairing, an early attempt at streamlining based on the nose-cone shape of WWII fighter aircraft. Guzzi wasn’t the only company to experiment with this design which was eventually banned from racing when some riders questioned its stability in windy conditions. But it’s the Guzzi V8 that is most famously associated ISSUE #25

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Race Replicas 2015 MOTO GUZZI ELDORADO 1400 with the dustbin style and so provides the principal link between the GP racer and our feature bike. Vanguard wanted a promo vehicle for a new range of ‘V8 Racer’ jeans. Rather than follow the obvious car route, they got together with Swiss design house Gannet and Dutch workshop Numbnut Motorcycles to come up with a custom which referenced the infamous Guzzi racer. Tiny motorcycle-size V8 engines are scarce so they went to the other extreme and based it on a 314kg whale instead. First step was to strip the Eldorado to a bare frame and running gear, then address the bike’s stance. De rigueur Firestone Champion

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“STANCE IS ALWAYS THE FIRST THING YOU HAVE TO GET RIGHT” tyres were fitted, along with YSS shocks. In an interview with Pipeburn, Numbnut’s Rod Seibert said, “We find this is always the first thing you need to get right; the rest of the bike’s design should always follow the lines that the bike naturally shows in this first, allimportant stance set-up.” Short, loud exhausts were handmade to mimic the racer’s before attention turned

to the fairing, the mounting of which burned up a lot of hours as they tweaked brackets to get it sitting exactly right. Only then could they turn their attention to the tank, which retains the cylinder cut-outs but otherwise bears zero resemblance to the Eldorado’s. Knee scallops add a racy look, as does the slim solo seat on a compact custom sub-frame.


Off-the-shelf rear-set pegs for Eldorados are scarce, especially when you’re moving them 80cm to the rear! No, that’s not a misprint, and the riding position is closer to a road-racing side-car than a cafe racer. Like almost everything else, they had to be custom-made in-house. “The hardest thing (on this build) was to find parts for this particular model of Moto Guzzi,” Rod said. “These bikes don’t often get a custom treatment, let alone a racer treatment, so as you can imagine, we ended up having to get pretty inventive. “Even though the proportions are very different compared to the original Guzzi

V8, I think we managed to design a very cool homage with the Vanguard V8. The design and build quality opens eyes, and open pipes sure turn heads.” Gannet principal Ulfert Janssen is equally chuffed. “We were particularly proud of the radical transformation we did with this build,” he said. “The base for this custom was essentially a very large cruiser. Transforming something like that into a flat-out racer with strong stance and a ‘fast-forward’ design was fun as hell, but incredibly challenging at the same time.” It goes all right too, as a cursory search of YouTube will show.

Retro Specs ENGINE Air and oil-cooled, four-stroke, 90-degree V-twin; SOHC, four-valves per cylinder; 104 x 81.2mm for 1380cc; 10.5:1 comp; EFI; custom exhausts; six-speed gearbox, shaft final drive; 96hp at 6500rpm (stock) CHASSIS Double-cradle tubular chassis with vibration dampening engine mounts; shortened seat subframe; 46mm conventional forks up front, with dual four-spot radial Brembos on 320mm rotors, laced 3.5 x 16in rim; dual swingarm rear, YSS shocks, with single twin-piston sliding Brembo caliper on 282mm rotor, laced 5.5 x 16in rim; Firestone Champion Deluxe tyres BODYWORK Design by Gannet; fabrication by Numbnut Motorcycles; racing green paint with matt black stripes BEST Innovative design; blasting down the autobahn NOT SO GREAT Riding position could take some getting used to

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Dusty Demons

DIRT QUAKE 2016

No-one never had fun playing in the dirt WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY MOTOR RAUSCH

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Dusty Demons DIRT QUAKE 2016

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OT a motorbike and don’t mind getting it dirty? Latent competitive streak busting to break out? What about a sense of humour? Well then have we got the event for you! Dirt Quake is the brainchild of Gary Inman, founder of uber-cool UK dirt-track magazine, Sideburn. Now in its fifth year, Dirt Quake has spawned similar events all over the world, including licensed events on the west coast of the USA and the excellent Ellaspede Dust Hustle at Mick Doohan Raceway in Queensland that we covered in issue 21. But Sideburn (which Inman modestly and accurately describes as the ‘world’s greatest, go fast, turn left magazine’) and Dirt Quake is where it all started.

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“THE LESS SUITED YOUR BIKE IS TO THE TASK, THE BETTER SUITED IT IS TO DIRT QUAKE” The idea is as simple as it is contagious; give riders a taste of riding on a proper live dirt track, but without going too fast or having it cost a bomb. Dirt Quake V was held in July at the Adrian Flux Arena in Norfolk, a fair-dinkum international speedway track and home of the famous Kings Lynn speedway team which has hosted many an Aussie star over the years. But rather

than racing purpose-built sliders, entrants are encouraged in the main to ride their streetbikes, usually in full street custom trim. The way the organisers see it, the less suited your bike is to the task, the better suited it is for Dirt Quake. Street trackers and scramblers have their own class, as you’d expect, as do bobbers and choppers. There’s also a Harley-only


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Dusty Demons DIRT QUAKE 2016 race (reflecting the UK distributor’s principal sponsorship) and another just for the ladies, with everyone else getting lumped into Inappropriate Road Bike, irrespective of capacity or style. Former World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty made an appearance this year on a custom Hinckley Triumph, as did everyone’s favourite lunatic Guy Martin on a Swedish-built Harley chopper with 22inover forks! When he wasn’t racing that, he was doing laps of the Ken Fox Wall of Death on a variety of machines, entry to which was free all weekend courtesy of Martin’s Proper brand. The first Dirt Quake was one of parade

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“THE EVENT IS NOW AT CAPACITY, AS BIG AS IT WILL EVER BE IN TERMS OF THE NUMBER OF RIDERS COMPETING” laps with racing officially frowned upon, but the switch to Kings Lynn brought with it a full complement of officials from the Dirt Track Riders Association and so it’s now on for as real as you want it to be. This means that all entrants must at least have a Motorcycle Federation day licence and a decent crash helmet. Apart from that, it’s

run what you brung, wear what you dare and pray for a fine summer's day as there are no rain dates. There are also some top-level DTRA flattrack events for bikes that were built to race piloted by riders who know what they’re doing, but where’s the challenge in that? Better to get a Sportster, a 600 Monster or


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Dusty Demons DIRT QUAKE 2016 even a Lambretta sideways and live to tell the tale, we say. To be fair, the DRTA stuff also included Vintage and Hooligan classes, which are always a hoot to watch, and some fine close racing. Dirt Quake was born at Brandon Speedway in Coventry in 2012, before moving to its current home in 2013. Within a few years, it attracted all the cool cats, including Deus ex Machina, Bike Shed and El Solitario, as well as corporates like Yamaha and Harley-Davidson. All the best UK shops make an appearance. The event is now at capacity, as big as it will ever be at this location, at least in terms of the number

“DIRT QUAKE IS SIMPLY GOOD FUN AND EXUDES AN OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE VIBE” of riders competing. The pits are as full as the grids, with all entrants restricted to limited practice and two four-lap races, with only the fastest making the four-lap finals. It’s now so successful that some wonder if it will soon get too big for its own boots, but the critics and naysayers have it

People say Guy Martin can ride anything. Here’s proof!

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backwards, as usual. Like so many other events that have come up from the roots of the reborn custom bike movement, the reason Dirt Quake has grown so quickly is that it is simply good fun and exudes an overwhelmingly positive vibe. We can’t get enough of it.


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Rat Bikes

DUCATI PANIGALE 899

back to

the future From Melbourne, a futuristic 1920s barn find finally sees the light of day WORDS & PHOTOS RUSS MURRAY

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Rat Bikes DUCATI PANIGALE 899

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ESIGN houses will often customise a new bike to promote their work; think Roland Sands’ Indian Scout and Deus ex Machina’s Heinrich Maneuver BMW. Sometimes it’s a commission from the factory or distributor, sometimes a wealthy client and sometimes it’s just for the hell of it. Invariably it will be a retro-styled bike that they start with. Meanwhile the rest of us forage for older models whose best resale years are behind them, or build customs from later-model damaged bikes too expensive to fix. So it’s not often a brand new sports bike gets the custom bike treatment at the hands of its owner, let alone turned into a rat bike, but that’s the case here with Matt Errey’s radical Ducati Panigale 899. He was after a bike with modern electronics including ABS and traction control, and also liked the idea of a V-twin as his main ride is a Yamaha MT01. Secondhand 899s were hard to come by and only slightly cheaper than new bikes so he opted for showroom fresh. He did 1000km in a week, had it serviced then rode it another 1000km before the bike was relocated to the shed and the transformation began. The concept for the bike was a futuristic

“WITH THE RUNNING GEAR AND ENGINE UNTOUCHED, IT STILL GOES, STOPS AND HANDLES LIKE A BRAND NEW PANIGALE” special that might have been built back in the 1920s, but had then been hidden in a shed for the next 90 years or so before being discovered as a barn find. It’s an interesting concept to even imagine and was certainly a challenging one to build. Some drawings were made before the project actually got underway. Fortunately for the purists and those who might wonder why someone would go to the effort of ratting a perfectly good sports bike, only a couple

of the original components were altered — namely the under-seat plastic guard and the radiator overflow; everything else was just removed and stored — which means the bike can be relatively easily returned to original. The Ducati Panigale has about as much frame as a Series B Vincent; in other words not a lot, with the steering head and rear suspension attached directly to the engine. The existing seat subframe unbolts and was replaced here with a subframe inspired by The Jetsons, an American animated sitcom from the early 1960s set in a futuristic utopia of elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms and whimsical inventions. Fabrication was handled by Matt, a mechanical engineer, with the help of his father John and brother CJ, both fitters and turners. The trio also came up with the unique headlight surround. The original plastic radiator guard has been replaced by

Pocket Rocket THE Panigale 1199 replaced the Ducati 1198 in 2011, the first major change in design and chassis of the factory’s flagship model since the 916 in 1994. Not only was the massively oversquare engine brand new, so was the chassis (or lack of it), contributing to its diminutive size and the best power-to-weight ratio — 195hp and 164kg dry — of any production bike ever built. The Panigale 899 followed two years later. Although not as trick suspension-wise and a little heavier than the more powerful 1199, the 899’s 148hp at 10,750rpm and dry weight of

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169kg made it no slouch. In fact, many road testers regard the 899 as a superior road bike to its bigger sibling, which got bigger again when it was punched out to 1299cc in 2015. 899s were always substantially cheaper than the 1199s and 1299s so there are lots of them about. The minimalist chassis suits customisation although hiding so much electrickery is a challenge. Look out for a crashed one and let your imagination run wild, all the time riding one of the best-handling bikes ever built.


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Rat Bikes DUCATI PANIGALE 899

a laser-cut stainless-steel guard which adds to the industrial feel of the bike and, in a subtle touch, the radiator overflow/filler is the Brasso bottle used to polish the aluminium. The lower bodywork is beaten aluminium which Matt crafted using a panelbeater’s dolly and hammer. Whilst the panels follow clean lines, the intention was to have that beaten or bashed look as if it was done in a backyard by someone who had never worked aluminium before. In a cheeky acknowledgement of what the bike once was, ‘899’ was chosen for the old-style racing numbers on the lower flanks.

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Everyone does either a black or polished exhaust, so Matt went for ceramic-coated blue on the headers to be different and because he just happens to like the colour. More than a few people have commented that

the headers on the famous Britten race bike were a similar hue. The muffler is a custom job by Ben at DOZFAB in Cockatoo. Matt’s only requirement was that the stock mounts be used, otherwise Ben had a free hand to

“MATT WANTED IT TO LOOK LIKE IT HAD BEEN SITTING UNDER A TARP FOR A LIFETIME"


design what he wanted. “He's a perfectionist and went over and above what I expected,” Matt says, “putting in the time to bounce different concepts off me before we got to the final product.” Blue was also chosen for the fuel tank, albeit with a relic finish. The intention was to create something which looked like it had been sitting under a tarp for a lifetime. Matt roughed up the stock paint finish before applying primer, a coat of grey, two different browns and a coat of black, all sprayed erratically from rattle cans. Then it was blue over the top before rubbing it back to expose the colours underneath. It was then sealed with a final matt top coat. The leather bags on either side of the tank house the wiring and electronics which were once snugly hidden behind fairing panels. The leatherwork also extends to the seat and a cover for the dash to hide some of the headlight wiring, and all of it has been treated in Dubbin to keep the weather at bay. The leatherwork was all done by Matt but not before he spent 100 hours or more watching YouTube videos to work out how to do it! The bags also sport a couple of patches, one for Australian Cafe Racers and the other the first Ducati logo from 1926 when the company was founded as an electronics manufacturer (the bikes came after WWII). With most of the work completed, Matt felt the bike still looked a tad too refined so he sticker-bombed the rear hugger, front mudguard, horn and radiator overflow. As a child he had always liked anime such as Astro Boy and Tekkaman, so the choice of Manga comic characters seemed appropriate “to add

a little shock value”, he says. As if the bike needs it! The engine and suspension are stock but, due to the weight reduction of around 10kg at the rear along with Matt’s preferred, slightly higher seating position, some head shake at speeds between 150 and 180km/h was initially encountered but was quickly addressed with revised suspension settings. We can’t think of too many customs that have ever faced a similar problem. When Matt bought the bike it came with a few Ducati Performance accessories which are still on it, such as reservoirs and foot pegs. Whether these stay or are replaced along with any other mods is still to be answered; seldom is a project bike such as this ever finished. Not everyone shares Matt’s vision. Many wonder why anyone would ‘destroy’ a perfectly good Panigale, but with the running gear and engine untouched, it still goes, stops and handles like a brand new Ducati. His good mate Max did a similar relic job on his 1098, giving it the appearance of being down the road, partially repaired then allowed to rust. People were astounded that anyone could let such a nice bike go to seed like that, with many openly critical and happy to share their displeasure. So if nothing else, rat bikes certainly make great conversation starters! The rat look has become part of hot rodding culture where it is equally controversial, with traditionalists turning up their noses at painted-on patina and all the rest. We have a more open mind; custom means custom and so long as it’s safe and it’s cool, there are no rules, especially if the end result performs as well as this one. Go Matt!

Retro Specs ENGINE Liquid-cooled four-stroke 90-degree V-twin; desmodromic DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 100 x 57.2mm for 898cc; EFI, fly-by-wire, engine modes, all that; 12.5:1 comp; ceramic-coated headers with custom DOZFAB muffler; straight-cut primary gears to wet clutch and six-speed gearbox with electronic quick-shift; chain final drive; 148hp at 10,750rpm CHASSIS Monocoque cast aluminium main chassis incorporating the airbox, with engine as stressed member; owner-built seat subframe and headlight support UP FRONT Fully adjustable 43mm BPF upside-down forks; 10-spoke 3.5 x 17in cast alloy wheel with 2 x 320mm rotors and Brembo Monobloc four-spot calipers; ABS DOWN BACK Dual-sided aluminium swingarm with fully adjustable side-mounted mono-shock on rising-rate linkage; 10-spoke 5.5 x 17in cast alloy wheel with single 245mm rotor and twin-piston caliper DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1426mm; dry weight 160kg (est); fuel capacity 17 litres BEST Modern sports bike performance; visual impact; unique NOT SO GOOD Not everyone gets it

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LAWWILL STREET TRACKER


Street trackers don’t come much purer than this baby WORDS ALAN CATHCART PHOTOS KEVIN WING & RICH COX

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Modern Classics LAWWILL STREET TRACKER

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F YOU have to ask who Mert Lawwill is, then you’ve never seen the best bike movie of all time, Bruce Brown’s On Any Sunday. For Lawwill, now 75, was AMA champion in 1969, and the movie chronicled his bid to defend his title. By the time he hung up his racing leathers in 1977, he’d amassed a total of 161 AMA Grand National race finishes, including 15 race wins and a second in the 1965 Daytona 200. For almost all that time, Lawwill rode an XR750 Harley-Davidson, the most successful Harley race bike of all time and also one of the most distinctive, with twin carburettors mounted high on the right-hand side and gorgeous tuned-length headers on the other. “People had been after me for 10 years to build a motorcycle that looks like a dirt-track racer but is legal enough to ride through town,” said Mert. “I didn’t believe there was a big enough market until 2005 when I thought it’s time, the window’s open. So I started developing the Lawwill Harley Street Tracker, and I made 20 based on brand new XL1200 Sportsters until Harley fuel-injected them for 2007. So now a customer has to supply a pre’07 (carbureted) Sportster as a donor bike.” The Street Tracker retains the stock XL1200 Sportster’s long-stroke bottom end but uses special new heads cast by STD in Los Angeles, which swap everything over to place the

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“THIS IS NOT A COMFORTABLE BIKE AND GOOD LUCK PUTTING BOTH FEET DOWN AT A STOP LIGHT” exhaust ports on the left side and the intakes on the right, mimicking the XR750. “Not only does it look like a dirt tracker, it performs like one too,” says Lawwill, whose reworked heads carry twin 38mm flat-slide Mikunis with hefty K&N air filters. The relocated intake ports are elevated to give dramatically better flow into the combustion chamber, which together with special Andrews cams give 92bhp at the rear wheel, compared with maybe 65hp stock. “It’s a 1200, so you don’t have to lean on it too hard,” Mert says. The stock pistons are fly-cut for valve clearance, and the special two-valve cylinder heads have larger 1.875in intake valves but the same 1.60in exhausts, albeit within reshaped ports. Pushrods and hydraulic lifters are standard, so the motor runs quieter than most race bikes and is relatively maintenancefree. Lawwill also retains the standard fivespeed transmission, with triplex chain primary and belt final drive. The Street Tracker’s lightweight 4130 chrome-moly twin-loop frame and

aluminium oil tank are built by Mert’s former race mechanic Jim Belland in aptly-named Cool, California. 43mm upside-down Showa forks (from a Buell Firebolt) are mounted on A&A triple clamps set at 27° rake with 99mm of trail, but contain just a single Brembo front disc with four-spot caliper; the mounting lug is left on the other fork leg should you wish to double up. 19-inch Kosman wire wheels with Excel aluminium rims carry Maxxis dirt track tyres with a special paved-oval compound, and the 3.5-gallon aluminium gas tank is finished in a fetching shade of tangerine. The aftermarket lights include a small square headlamp that’ll get you home at night, subtly slotted into the big oblong No.1 race-plate. All the various custom brackets and plates are CNC-machined by Dave Garoutte in nearby San Rafael, who also helped create the Street Tracker’s unique Lawwill-patented Quadrilateral rear suspension, which is a development of a system Mert initially


designed for mountain bikes to overcome pedal energy loss inherent in early pushbike suspension systems. “I thought, how can I design a system where you can pedal, but it won’t drain the energy (by trying to lift the rear of the bike), and you still have suspension? That’s how I wound up with two swing arms, one above the other.” The theory goes that the second higher arm wants to squat under power, cancelling out the lifting effect of the lower arm and channelling all the energy into forward motion. “On the Street Tracker, I’ve gone a step further and located the four pivots so that the wheelbase remains constant relative to the countershaft sprocket; no matter where the wheel is in its rotation, the belt tension is always the same.” The two swingarms are connected at the

rear via a vertical link, while the speciallymade fully-adjustable Penske monoshock only connects the twin swingarms and doesn’t actually attach to the main chassis. “Penske designed and valved a special shock that works for the kind of energy that this system uses,” says Lawwill. “The shock damping has to be considerably different, because the motorcycle no longer compresses the rear suspension (under load) — in fact, it does the opposite. When you touch the throttle the motorcycle rises, much like a dragster or any dirt-track race car does to transfer weight for maximum acceleration. So the valving is almost opposite to what it is on a typical dirt-track shock absorber.” It also means you can choose softer, more compliant suspension settings without any risk of bottoming out the shock on the gas.

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Modern Classics LAWWILL STREET TRACKER

Time to head off for the hills to see for ourselves. First off, and no two ways about it, this is not a comfortable bike to sit on, and good luck putting both feet down at a stop light thanks to the carburettors and only slightly less obtrusive stacked exhausts. Ergonomically speaking, this bike is very awkward to ride at low speeds or in town and, like a proper race bike, it doesn’t idle. Above 2000 revs, the Lawwill bike is tractable enough, content to lope along in traffic off the cam. But when the road opens up, the chameleon changes colour. Just as the tacho hits 4000rpm, there’s a glorious surge of power that’ll swiftly have you practising your dirt-track technique on tarmac as you use the wide handlebar to counter-steer the 36

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“WHEN THE ROAD OPENS UP, THE CHAMELEON CHANGES COLOUR” rear tyre as it starts to slide. Get the wheels back in line and the Tracker launches itself forward in an incredibly muscular, meaty way, accompanied by a vivid roar from the pipes. You can’t help but get a big buzz of exhilaration but at a little over 6000 revs, it’s all done and you have to grab another gear. And yes, you are aware that the rear’s actually rising slightly as it accelerates, not squatting down. You can feel road shock through the

forks, but not so much through the compliant rear wheel, and the ride quality is high for such a hard-assed hot rod. The Brembo brakes stop well, though it pays to use the rear quite hard to help haul down a 204kg motorcycle from terminal velocity, even if it’s 45kg lighter than stock. Luckily, the Quadrilateral rear end effectively separates the dynamics of braking from suspension movement;


Been There, Done That HARLEY built its own XR750-replica in the XR1000, based on the Ironhead Sportster motor but with XR-style heads and two monster Dell’Ortos hanging in the breeze. It made 71hp at 5600rpm, compared to the Sportster’s 56hp, with a factory race kit to

make up to 90hp. Introduced in 1983, it was expensive and impractical with its thirsty engine quick to drain the puny nine-litre fuel tank. It was probably ahead of its time, few were sold and the model was discontinued the following year.

Retro Specs ENGINE Harley-Davidson air-cooled four-stroke 45-degree V-twin; OHV, two valves per cylinder; 88.8 x 96.8mm for 1202cc; STD cylinder heads; 10:1 comp; 2 x 38mm flat-slide Mikunis; Screamin’ Eagle race CDI with Daytona Tech module; tunedlength headers with Supertrapp mufflers; triplex chain primary drive to wet multi-plate clutch and five-speed gearbox; belt final drive; 92rwhp at 6000rpm CHASSIS Custom-built chrome-moly tubular twinloop frame with single-loop backbone, by Jim Belland; triangulated subframe UP FRONT 43 Showa USD forks (ex Buell Firebolt) on A&A; laced 19in Kosman wheel with Takasago Excel 2.15in aluminium rim; single Brembo 320mm rotor with four-spot caliper; Maxxis DTR-1 tyre DOWN BACK Lawwill Quadrilateral dual swingarm with custom Penske mono shock; laced 19in Kosman wheel with Excel 2.5in aluminium rim; single 250mm rotor with twin-piston caliper; Maxxis DTR-1 tyre BEST Most authentic street tracker on the planet NOT SO GREAT Commuting

the rear brake is floating, with the torque arm running directly to the frame. This means you can use the rear brake harder so Lawwill can get away with using just that single front disc with the consequent benefit of a reduction in gyroscopic mass, which in turn makes the steering faster and more precise. The Street Tracker also handles well, with good feedback over all surfaces thanks to the Showa fork and the soft rear suspension settings permitted by the special rear end. The only thing I didn’t care for was the lack of stability at speed,

where at anything over 115km/h the bike would start to weave slowly but deliberately in a straight line, a spinoff from using dirttrack tyres. Street tyres would probably solve it. Mert Lawwill’s tribute to HarleyDavidson’s five decades of dirt-track dominance, a glorious history in which he played an honourable role, is as authentic as it comes. But the dynamic benefits of its patented Quadrilateral rear end are certainly good enough to merit attention from manufacturers of modern sport bikes. Wonder if any of them are taking a look? ISSUE #25

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Lifestyle

DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2016

Country Style The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride goes bush WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOS CON HARRIMAN

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Lifestyle DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2016

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ETROBIKE is a big fan of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which is why we’ve covered the last two Sydney events and one in Perth. Conceived by Mark Hawwa and the Sydney Cafe Racers, it has always had that inner-city custom vibe about it. Hip young folk ride loud stripped-down customs through the centre of the CBD, but dressed up in suits for fun and charity. Lots of beards and man hugs and pretty girls in frocks, to a backdrop of bridges and skyscrapers. It sounds like a lot of fun and it is, a genuine dead-set hoot in fact — riding with so many other bikes is worth the cost of entry alone — and it’s no surprise the concept swept the world like wildfire. 40

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“THE URBAN HIPSTER TAG WAS NEVER REALLY ACCURATE” From 2500 riders in 64 cities in 2012, the numbers have exploded to 57,000 riders in 500 cities just four years later, all riding on exactly the same day. Anyone with an appropriate retro or custom-styled bike and a positive attitude is welcome, which soon had older riders on pushrod Triumphs and bevel-drive Ducatis lining up behind younger folk on Thruxtons and Scramblers. The urban hipster tag was

never really accurate but the DGR quickly morphed into a much broader motorcycle community, including many enthusiasts from regional Australia as long-established country bike clubs got in on the act. Enter the Downs Motor Cycle Sporting Club in Queensland, which this year is celebrating its 90th anniversary. A very active club with a broad membership drawn from all around the Darling Downs, the


Lifestyle DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE 2016

“THE DGR RAISED SOME $3.5 MILLION WORLDWIDE IN 2016”

DGR History YEAR 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 42

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RIDERS CITIES 2500 64 11,000 145 20,000 257 38,000 400 57,000 500 ISSUE #25

DOLLARS — $277,000 $1.6m $3m $3.5m+

members volunteered to organise a local DGR around Toowoomba, where the club is based. Some 78 riders registered for the ride, raising more than $13,500 for men’s charities; specifically, the prevention of prostate cancer and male suicide. The riders gathered at the club’s permanent headquarters at Toowoomba Showground, then headed down the mountain to Scotty’s Garage at The Barn for morning tea, a yarn and a photo op. Then it was back up the range to Picnic Point and on through the middle of town (naturally) to finish at The Office for lunch. The bikes in attendance covered the full Retrobike wish list, including a gaggle of rare Ducati Desmo singles. Early Japanese bikes were well represented, both stock

and custom, as were the obligatory Honda monkey bikes which appear to be breeding. Our favourites were a cool CX500 mild custom (‘5/79’) and a magnificent vintage Indian 4, which only went to highlight the diversity of machines and riders in attendance. There were also a few bikes there outside of the spirit of the ride; hopefully their owners will have been shamed into building something more appropriate for next year! But we are nothing if not a broad church, and a very large and proud one at that. The DGR raised some $3.5 million worldwide in 2016. All power to Mark Hawwa and many thanks to DMCSC life member Con Harriman for her photos recording the Darling Downs’ important contribution.


Plus

CLUB CLASSIC VIP HOSPITALITY FREE PADDOCK ACCESS ACTION ON & OFF TRACK SHANNONS PARADE LAP AUTOGRAPH SIGNING SESSIONS ON SITE CAMPING TRADE DISPLAYS

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2017 AMCN 27th - 29th JANUARY 2017

Date 27-29 JANUARY 2017

INTERNATIONAL ISLAND CLASSIC 3 Days of Non-Stop Historic Racing Action Champions from past and present will be at the Island to battle it out for the Classic with the Poms saluting for the last 2 years. The Aussies, Irish, Yanks and Kiwis will be riding hard to spoil their run so don’t miss out on rubbing shoulders with the famous in the paddock and enjoy a weekend of passionate, non-stop historic racing.

GO TO ISLANDCLASSIC.COM.AU

OR CALL (03) 5952 2710 FOR TICKET AND GENERAL INFORMATION. amcn

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1973 KAWASAKI Z1


From Brisbane, a show-winning custom that runs low 10s WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY JOHN DOWNS

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Show & Go 1973 KAWASAKI Z1

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NTHUSIASTS who know their early Kawasakis will pick this Z1 for a highly-modified hot rod in an instant, but it’s those who don’t who give owner Anthony Anderson the most satisfaction. “It amuses me, the comments people make,” Anthony says. “One fella told me I’d done a wonderful job restoring it. Another tried to convince me that he knew of one that was exactly the same. Probably the best was this very rough-looking guy who walked up and said, ‘I don’t even bloody like motorbikes but I like that!’” For the record, the only stock parts on this bike are the fuel tank, side-covers, ducktail, mirrors, indicators, handgrips and seat cover — just enough to give that stock-atfirst-glance appearance — and even most of those are reproductions. Look twice and the suspension and brakes are anything but standard, and those in the know will have already picked the souped-up Kawasaki GPz1100 engine.

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It also goes a bit harder than stock. When Anthony finished stage one of the build — largely as you see it here, but not painted or detailed — he ran a 10.13sec@135mph quarter at Willowbank, which for those not into drag racing is pretty darn quick. He’s since hooked up an electronic gear shifter and a nitrous bottle under the seat, which should see him get into the nines. Anthony was given the bike as a roller by his drag-racing brother Michael 10 years ago. “I thought I’d just put a standard motor in it and go racing,” he says. From little things, big things grow, to the point where Anthony ran that low 10 a year ago. “I then stripped it and rebuilt it to get the end result. It was always going to be ‘drag, street and show’. I wasn’t influenced by anyone else, it’s just what I thought it should look like, and I wanted to show that a backyard fella could still build something that looks all right. All it takes is attention to detail and patience while you save up the money to do the job properly.”


The heart of any drag bike is its engine, in this case a 1983/84 GPz1100ZX. It was the last of the air-cooled GPz1100s and represented the ultimate development of the original Z1 design. “It’s the best of them, the engine everyone wants to get if they’re building a hot Kawasaki,” Anthony says. This one is pumped out to 1395cc with 82mm forged MTC Engineering pistons running in MTC ‘big-block’ O-ring barrels. The stock crankshaft was welded and trued by Thompson Engineering and is further strengthened by a custom crankshaft support made by Ron Russ. The head was ported and flowed by Jack Bros, all in Brisbane. Most of the other components were sourced from the US, the spiritual home of drag racing, including Web camshafts, Dyna ignition, five-plate MTC lock-up clutch (with KR250 hydraulic actuation), and a full complement of APE cam sprockets, cam-chain adjuster, cylinder and head studs, valve springs and titanium retainers. The carburettors

“I WANTED TO SHOW THAT A BACKYARD FELLA COULD STILL BUILD SOMETHING THAT LOOKS ALL RIGHT” are Japanese, a quartet of 39mm Keihin CR flat-slides, as is the oil cooler from a GPz900R. Anthony built the engine from the crankshaft up in his shed and also designed and prefabricated the one-off exhaust system — which references the oval shape of the original four-into-four pipes — before having them welded up by a specialist. It hasn’t seen an engine dyno and Anthony couldn’t care less because it’s the big black quarter-mile dyno that matters most. To that end, two recent modifications should have the Kawasaki comfortably into the hallowed nine-second zone once its show days are

done; a throttle-activated nitrous bottle (for track use only, of course!) and a hidden Holeshot electronic gear shifter operated by a button on the handlebars. The chassis was raked at the front and the rear modified to accept a 1992 GSX-R1100 swingarm with a fully adjustable Ohlinsspec NSR250 monoshock in place of the much shorter twin-shock original. The GPz engine is not a bolt-up fit to the Z1 which required the engine mounts also be modified. The frame rails were braced and gusseted in all the usual places, then de-burred and smoothed before being painted black and ISSUE #25

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Show & Go 1973 KAWASAKI Z1

finished with a subtle carbon-fibre film. Anthony also made the alloy side-stand. Upside-down forks are from a 1992 FZR1000, contained in 40mm triple clamps machined by Thompson Engineering and controlled by an Ohlins steering damper. A 1970s Suzuki GS750 front wheel hub was laced with stainless spokes to a 3.5 x 17in alloy rim by Ash’s Spoked Wheels. Anthony made all the necessary spacers and brackets as well as the custom brake rotors which ride on FZR carriers and are gripped by modified R1 calipers. Down back, the rear hub is from a rare wire-wheeled Katana, while the brake comprises an R1 caliper and GSX-R rotor. Braided lines with titanium fittings are 48

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“IT’LL GIVE THE MODERN BIKES A SHAKE-UP, ESPECIALLY ON EIGHTH-MILE TRACKS” employed throughout. Rear tyre is 190/50-17 Shinko Hook-Up, which Anthony says “is a really soft drag racing tyre. You wouldn’t get 1000km out of it on the road!” The fuel tank, side-covers and ducktail are Japanese reproductions, which came already painted; a much cheaper option to sourcing, restoring and painting original

components locally, Anthony reckons. We love the owner-designed ‘JAFFR’ tank badges laser-cut from stainless steel, which perfectly match the UK-sourced ‘1100’ side-cover badges which otherwise mimic the original 900’s. The plastic front mudguard is from an FZR1000, chromed to look like the Z1’s, while the rear stock guard was cut and channelled


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Show & Go 1973 KAWASAKI Z1 Zed Bikes

up into the ducktail, taking care to ensure its curvature still followed the line of the tyre. An early ZXR750 hugger was modified to fit and coated in the same carbon-fibre finish as the frame, and also incorporates an aluminium chain guard. The seat was lowered and scalloped, and the rear grab rail lowered and shortened to bring it closer to the seat for a neater look. Similarly, the taillight bracket was tucked and shut for a tighter fit. Chunky Fat Bar handlebars carry repro Z1 rear-view mirrors (aka Mickey Mouse ears) while switchgear is from an R1. The instruments are MCS, similar in style to the Z1’s but smaller, while the headlight is from a Heritage Softail. It’s not what you got but how you use it, an approach no better reflected than in the bike’s incredibly detailed, elite show car finish. Dubbed Z ROD, the Kawasaki made its debut at the 2016 Brisbane Hot Rod Show where it was judged Bike Of Show. It has 50

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THE Kawasaki Z1 was released in 1972 and, with 82hp and 210km/h top speed, promptly knocked the Black Shadow off its perch as the world’s fastest production bike, a title the Vincent had held since 1948. It dominated the Castrol 6 Hour race from 1973, winning four on the trot. It was detuned and rebadged as the Z900 in 1976, then punched out to 1015cc in 1977 for the Z1000 and restyled Z1R in 1978. Responding to competition from Suzuki and Honda, the GPz1100B1 was launched in 1981, featuring fuel injection on a 1089cc engine for a claimed 108hp.

In 1983, the first of the ZX models appeared with swoopy new styling, anti-dive forks and monoshock rear. A new head design featured under-bucket shims with hotter cams and a new ‘bathtub’-shaped combustion chamber derived from the factory race bikes. With 120hp at 8750rpm, it was nearly 50 per cent more powerful than the Z1. Kawasaki released the smaller, lighter GPz900R in 1984, the world’s first liquidcooled, 16-valve inline four and good for 115hp out of the crate. It was a game-changer as much as the original Z1, and the GPz1100 was discontinued in 1985.

since picked up Best Street Special and Bike of Show at the Laverda Concours, and similar awards at the Eliminators Hot Rod Show, Gold Coast Motorcycle Show, Chinchilla Hot Rod Show and Obi Obi Motorcycle Show. More show outings (including interstate) are planned over summer while it still looks its birthday best before Anthony coats the rear hugger in burnt rubber and traction compound as he chases that nine-second time slip. “It’ll give the modern sports bikes a shake-up,” he says, “especially on eighthmile tracks.” A longtime drag racer and car show participant, Anthony admits he’s owned plenty of nice-looking vehicles over the years but this one is special. “I realised I’d probably only get one more chance to build something in my life,” he says. “This was my first ground-up custom and it turned out exactly as I pictured it.”

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke DOHC inline four; Web cams; 82 x 66mm for 1395cc; MTC pistons and barrels; welded and trued crankshaft; flowed heads; 4 x 39mm Keihin CR flat-slides; nitrous injection (track only); gear primary to MTC lock-up clutch; five-speed gearbox with undercut gears and electronic shifter; RK520 GXW chain CHASSIS Raked Z1 frame, braced and gusseted for strength, de-burred and smoothed UP FRONT 40mm FZR1000 USD forks in custom trees; Ohlins damper; GS750 hub laced to 3.5 x 17in alloy rim; R1 calipers on custom rotors DOWN BACK GSX-R1100 swingarm with modified NSR250 monoshock; Katana hub laced to 5.5 x 17in alloy rim; R1 caliper on GSX-R rotor BODYWORK Repro Z1 tank, side-covers and ducktail; custom tank and side-cover badges; FZR1000 front mudguard, ZXR750 hugger rear BEST FOR Stopping traffic; winning trophies; drag racing NOT SO GOOD Economy runs


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Sound of Singles

2015 YAMAHA SR400

Clean lines and a killer stance works every time WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY SIMON BUCK

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Sound of Singles 2015 YAMAHA SR400

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AMAHA made no secret that the original SR500, released in 1978, was their version of a traditional British sporting single. They came only in black and gold, with the side-cover decals reading ‘500 Single’ just in case you didn’t get it. The SR400 went on sale in Japan the same year; amazingly, you can still buy one brand new nearly 40 years later. So it’s fitting that this superb cafe racer, based on a new SR400, was made in England by our mates at Old Empire Motorcycles. We’ve run a few of their customs over the years, all of which were based on older bikes, but the times they are a’changing. “As we have done with other recent builds, we decided on a new donor motorcycle so we could focus on spending our time improving the aesthetics and upgrading the components,” OEM’s Alec Sharp says, “rather than restoring worn, 54

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broken or just manky bits you usually find on an older donor.” Pro-built bikes like this are not inexpensive, whereas brand new SR400s are, so it also makes perfect commercial sense for the client. In this case, the customer had requested a big single but wasn’t fussed which one. “The only biggish air-cooled single we could get new were SR400s,” Alec says. “We had experience working with an older SR500 so we knew our way around it. We immediately stripped her of all nonessentials but decided to keep the running gear and intake system (largely) intact.” If OEM have a shop style, it’s radically shortened forks for that perfect stance. “The forks were shaved and lowered an aggressive three inches, which we’ve learned should not be done without modifying the yolks!” Alec says. Using CAD 3-D technology, upper and lower triple trees were machined with a one-inch offset

“to keep the fork travel sensible and help us get that line”. The front brake rotor was upgraded to a Harrison floating disc and machined finned brake caliper. Down the dusty end, a very cool touch is the pair of nitrogen-charged K-Tech Suspension (UK) Bullit air shocks, mounted upside down to match the look of the conventional front forks. Sticking with the EFI system led to them retaining the air box under the seat, the stock side-covers replaced with leather side-panels shaped on machined wooden formers to look like satchels. These also allowed the team to leave most of the bike’s electrics in place, saving a big wad of cash. It lacks the see-through look of their earlier builds but maybe that was last year. Out of sight, the air box was modified by removing the intake snorkels and drilling holes in the top for better flow and more induction noise. More visible on the right is a painted aluminium panel hiding the


EFI throttle body and butterfly control, which lacks the visual appeal of an Amal concentric or flat-slide Mikuni hanging in the breeze. The ECU was swapped for a Power Commander and the exhaust was ditched for one much louder. Bodywork was handled by Willy of London Motorcycle Wiring. Alec and partner Rafe Pugh shaped the headlight cowl and seat section from foam, then were working on the tank dummy when they noticed their preferred profile wasn’t a million miles from the stock tank, just mounted more forward and lower. So they scalloped the sides of the stock tank and Willy modified it underneath to sit where they wanted. He was also busy on the English wheel, hammers and welders as he turned the other foam models into the finished aluminium cowl and seat unit. Apart from the removable pillion cowl, all fasteners are hidden. “We took our inspiration for the cowling

“IF THE MOTORCYCLES ARE TO BE RIDDEN, THEN WE HAVE TO MAKE THEM AS USEABLE AS WE CAN” from classic aviation and automobiles to recess a vinyl-covered dash within and a smoked visor on top,” Alec says. “The dash houses a mini speedo, tacho and all the warning lights. The headlight is a simple small Bates.” The clip-ons are equally trick. “Made in three parts, they are fully adjustable; the bars are screwed into position then locked off, the idea being to imitate the sleeved and brazed bars of old. We think they look pretty good.” Finding switchgear to do them justice led them to design their own and have

them CNC-machined. “I’m all for minimalisation,” Alec says, “and if we can get away with it, no switches is the best option. However if the motorcycles are to be ridden, then we have to make them as useable as we can. We always thought the old Japanese switchgear was quite shapely but the functionality of the mechanical switches made us shy away from them.” Hence modern push-button controls are contained in highly-polished retro-style housings, mated to K-Tech brake and clutch levers. Down back, the small rear seat cowling ISSUE #25

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Sound of Singles 2015 YAMAHA SR400 Retro #1 THE Yamaha SR500 was released internationally in 1978, alongside the Japan-only SR400. It was loosely based on the TT500 dirt bike and was conceived in the style and spirit of British 500 thumpers built by BSA, Norton, Matchless et al in the 1950s and 60s. Kick-start only, the SR looked and sounded the part even if its SOHC motor lacked the engine clatter of the OHV originals and much of their charisma. Two Wheels famously tested the new Yamaha against a much older Velocette Thruxton, only to find the Velo was the better, faster bike. It was an unfair comparison — the Thruxton was the single-cylinder equivalent of a Black Shadow and almost as expensive — but it didn’t exactly help local sales of the SR. The distributor pulled the pin just four years later, even though the factory produced them until 1999. Ironically, Yamaha’s first retro bike was an idea ahead of its time, and the SR500 soon developed a cult following. Meanwhile the SR400 was still on sale in Japan, some of which made their way to Australia as grey imports, eventually leading the Aussie distributor to bring them back into the line-up. LAMS-approved and Euro-complaint, a new one would struggle to pull grandpa off the toilet but it doesn’t take much to unleash the spirit within.

Retro Specs

“THE REAR SEAT COWLING CAN BE REMOVED TO UNCOVER A RUDIMENTARY PILLION SEAT” can be removed to uncover a rudimentary pillion seat. The pillion pegs are machined from alloy then covered in leather strips, just like the rider’s foot pegs and hand grips, another OEM trademark. The frame rails underneath the seat were cut ahead of the rear loop, then braced and extended to carry the tiny integrated LED lights slotted and pinned within the tubing. “The effect we think is really minimal,” Alec says, “but you can see the lights a mile off !” Paintwork is by Blackshuck Kustom in Jaguar E-Type grey with gold pin-striping 56

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and air-brushed shading, along with leather tank scallops. The seat was hand-dyed to match and the overall finish is faultless. Most of the major OEM builds are named after old English warplanes, reflecting the workshop’s location on the east coast of the UK where the Allied air fleet was based during WWII. This one is Snipe, named after a Sopwith biplane that joined the action towards the end of an earlier conflict. It wasn’t nearly as famous as its predecessor, the Sopwith Camel, which we’re guessing OEM is saving for a scrambler.

ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke single; SOHC, two valves per cylinder; 87.0 x 67.2mm for 399cc; 8.5:1 comp; dry sump; EFI; five-speed gearbox, chain final drive CHASSIS Double-cradle tubular-steel frame; modified seat subframe; forks shortened 3in on OEM offset triple clamps; Harrison floating front disc with custom-machined caliper on laced 18in wheel; dual-sided tubular-steel swing arm with twin K-Tech Bullit shocks; drum rear brake laced to 18in wheel BODYWORK Much-modified SR400 tank; custom headlight cowl and seat unit, designed by OEM, fabricated by Willy in aluminium; Bates headlight; paint by Blackshuck Kustom; leatherwork by Rafe DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1410mm (ish); fuel capacity, not much; dry weight 164kg (also ish) WEBSITE oldempiremotorcycles.com BEST Stylish, innovative custom with the reliability of a new bike; attention to detail NOT SO GREAT Expensive for its performance


JOIN THE STARS OF YESTERYEAR AS WE CELEBRATE

ALL THINGS

DUCATI

THE ROMSEY GRASSTRACK ERA PLUS

Pre-1990 Historic Motorcycling Celebration

...No Racing ...Just Riding

State Motorcycling Complex, Broadford Victoria • Gates Open 8am-5pm • Spectators $35 ($55 two days) • Riders $90-$120-$140 • All Welcome • Contact the Event Secretary – Rachelle Wilkinson Ph: 03 9684 0515 Email: Rachelle@ma.org.au Web: www.ma.org.au


Posties

CORNER COUNTRY

Boofy blokes ride postie bikes to Cameron Corner for charity WORDS & PHOTOS BEN HEWLETT

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Posties CORNER COUNTRY

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ENJOY writing. There is nobody to argue with and blame can be shifted wherever I like. In that spirit, this trip was all Kade's and Beau’s fault. We are a group of blokes from an underground workshop at CSA Copper Mine in Cobar, NSW. We have a social club that we pay a few bucks into every fortnight, and our employer also makes a contribution. Kade and Beau came up with a halfcocked idea to buy everyone a postie bike. Momentum gained and in October 2015 everyone agreed to throw in a couple of hundred dollars and Kade and Beau would go to the Aussie Post auctions in Sydney. Lowkm examples were getting around two grand each, so they chased bikes with 15-30,000km at an average of $1100. They bought a dozen, which were allocated by lottery. Beau repaired a few as required, and Nemo managed to crash his in the first five minutes. We then got talking about a trip. Kade suggested Cameron Corner, which marks the

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junction of the borders of NSW, Queensland and South Australia, and it was agreed the run should be a fundraiser for the Miracle Babies charity. Our supervisor Daniel and his partner Sarah had a beautiful little girl Aurora born at 24 weeks and she had to fight to be here. Miracle Babies was a huge part of the necessary support. So we had the bikes, a cause and now a route; Cobar, Louth, Wanaaring, Tibooburra, Cameron Corner, Tibooburra, Packsaddle, White Cliffs, Tilpa, Cobar. 1450km in six days. We set a target of $5000 and pimped ourselves as best we could. We even rode around the arena during the bull riding at the Cobar Show, while the biggest help was the Everyday Hero page. The first morning we were thrown a breakfast by Earth Candy and the Cobar Roosters, after which we hit the road. This is when we learnt that postie bikes are like stock cars; they are all supposed to be the same, but they aren’t. I had the oldest girl which

had not a lot of compression. Stuart’s was still tight from a fresh rebuild, while Ando's and Kade’s were singing at 90km/h! The rest of us could only do our best to keep up. On the dirt to Louth, the road wasn’t too bad. The shire was grading for the Louth Races and we had timed it well. Beau was first to crash when he high-sided while showing off. Five minutes later Ando had a huge stack, captured on GoPro, which was also our most viewed video on our Facebook page. Ando is built like 80 pounds of chewed leather and nothing got busted apart from a mount. We made Louth ahead of schedule. For some reason the jukebox was playing Shania Twain, which was to become a recurring theme for the trip. We had a great lunch and it was really difficult to leave as this pub is a favourite, the weather was perfect and the beer tasted like Christmas. On the way to Wanaaring we negotiated more difficult terrain. Tank slapping and getting caught in wheel ruts were more


common now. We found the Paroo River by late afternoon and put an hour into maintaining the bikes before setting up camp and heading to the pub. Next morning we took the opportunity to have sprints up to 85km/h to find the most powerful bikes (not mine). We enjoyed lunch in the middle of nowhere as Kade fixed a flat on his bike and I a loose exhaust on mine. The afternoon stretch to Tibooburra was the most difficult. Huge boulders, deep corrugations and a landscape that seemed endless made for hard riding. Nemo had a huge sidewall blowout right beside me; I wished I had the GoPro on as it looked spectacular. He managed (God knows how) to keep the bike upright, just as well as it was hard, rocky ground beneath. Franny’s clutch was slipping, which he fixed in the caravan park while we drank beer and provided encouragement. We then headed down to the Family Hotel, where Megan was a fantastic host and we became

“THIS IS WHEN SEVERAL OF US FOUND OUT EXACTLY HOW MUCH OIL WE DIDN’T HAVE LEFT IN THE STRUTS” the loud, rowdy bunch in the corner. I was still asleep when Zoo FM rang the next morning but I managed some composure, much to everyone’s amusement. Today was the longest leg of the run, to the Corner and back. We packed what we needed and left the rest at the park. Stuart’s bike had loosened up and was now one of the quickest. The track out to the Corner provided some longer, sweeping corners which provided some much needed, more challenging riding. Riding through the desert on 110cc of fury, chicken winging the whole way, the vibrations travelling through your body … it’s almost like a trance or form of meditation.

You are aware of everything happening and yet are not conscious of it at the same time. A few of us had close run-ins with wildlife, but nothing serious. We made it to the Corner for lunch and a photo op, but declined a round of the three-state golf course. There was a real sense of achievement in getting there. Every caravaner we passed and the few blokes we met on touring bikes all thought we were mad but cool. We took the alternate route back to Tibooburra, which gave us a change of scenery. It was a long, dusty day as the shadows of the bikes started to stretch across the ground, evidenced by the sand pouring

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Posties CORNER COUNTRY out of air cleaners back at the caravan park. The Tibooburra Hotel that night was another good feed. Set up like a wine bar and full of grey nomads, it almost seemed out of place on the edge of the desert. The next morning was a little fresher, the bikes bouncing along in the crisp air. They had settled down quite a lot and for the most part were reliable. We had lunch at Packsaddle and could have stayed for days. The bloke behind the bar with one arm, taking lunch orders and getting drinks with lightning speed, was a dude and the ladies in the kitchen were a delight. We almost missed the turnoff for White Cliffs but soon found ourselves on proper bush tracks full of stock gates, washouts and creek crossings. This is when several of us found out exactly how much oil we didn’t have left in the struts. Smashing into the bottom of the washouts, all we could do was throttle and hang on, look up and hope. We stopped for fuel and found that one of the 500-litre esky lids had gone walkabout from the support ute. James and Chops headed back to look for it. We filled in the time by sitting on a very large rock, in the

“THE WEATHER WAS PERFECT AND THE BEER TASTED LIKE CHRISTMAS” middle of nowhere, looking at the curvature of the earth and talking about Shania Twain. An hour later we were back on the road. We each had to swerve past a large wedged-tail eagle enjoying dinner as we closed in on White Cliffs. It was another long day but we were booked into the Underground Motel, which meant we had showers and real beds. At some stage we ended up having a few drinks with the staff, so lucky the Motel is sound proof. We were fairly rough the next morning when we headed off to Tilpa over the worst corrugations ever, enough to have my kill switch vibrate clean off. Due to the amount of unseasonal rain, the landscape was not a true indication of the terrain and brought with it hordes of mozzies at times. We also had to negotiate water crossings up to gumboot depth. Some riders displayed different tactics to others, however I did manage to start my bike again without too much worry.

That evening we stayed at the weir at Tilpa; I had never seen water flow over it so high. We made a fire and enjoyed the serenity on what would be our last night away. The morning dawned brisk and the bikes were humming. We stretched the fuel to reach the tar with only Jesse running short. We were now on the main western highway and had to contend with all the traffic that came with it, travelling in threes to maximise our presence and protect our space. People were either frustrated or still waving when they passed the last of us. We rode into Cobar and straight to the Empire Hotel for a cold beer. We made the local paper, the radio and were a hit on social media. And we capped out at $15,000 for Miracle Babies. I hadn’t even unpacked my bag that evening when the boys called to plan the next ride. Mildura, I think they said.

Doofus Award THE girls at John Mitchell Pharmacy in Cobar supported us in many ways. One was a gift pack for ‘Doofus of the Day’, comprising an adult nappy, safety pin, dummy and certificate. Beau won the first day, for not re-torquing Stuart's cylinder head properly. Next I believe was me, for not paying for fuel at Tibooburra, then Nemo for drinking out of his boot and

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Stuart for almost overdosing on roast and white sauce. Poor old Matt got it twice for being overly cheerful. I posted each Doofus on the internet each day, but somehow forgot to post mine. The girls found out, posted my pic (at left) on social media and offered a dollar for every share, raising a highly humiliating $250.


FEEL THE REVZ here for summer Draggin are celebrating 20 years of being a part of motorcycle culture and it shows through their new jean, REVZ — a classic look that bodes well with any bike. With the ultimate protection, your skin and wardrobe will thank you for buying REVZ. Visit your local store or dragginjeans.net


Classic Racers

1974 BMW R90S

Helmut Dähne’s BMW R90S won the battle but lost the war WORDS ALAN CATHCART PHOTOS PHIL MASTERS

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1974 BMW R90S

ELMUT Dähne joined BMW as an apprentice mechanic, aged 15, in 1959. In a 15-year career, he rose to development engineer and chief road tester before moving to Metzeler. He also raced BMW boxer twins in enduro events and, from 1970, in road racing, generally with little support from the factory. He debuted at the Isle of Man in 1972, after a credible 13th on his home-built R75/5 at the Imola 200 behind Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari on their all-new desmo Ducatis (Retrobike #23). Riding a stock R75/5, Dähne placed fourth in the Production TT, and backed up with fourth again in 1973. In 1974, BMW released the revered R90S streetbike; Dähne immediately upgraded his race bike’s engine and cosmetics (but not the chassis) to R90S specs and was rewarded with third. A holed rocker cover while leading the race in 1975 thwarted what looked like certain victory, but all the planets finally aligned when he and co-rider Hans-Otto Butenuth were first home in the Production TT in 1976, leading from start to finish, the last ever IoM

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"THE RESULT IS THAT TRADEMARK BMW FLAT-TWIN IMITATION OF A LOWFLYING AIRCRAFT AT FULL THROTTLE" TT won by riders whose mother tongue was not English. Except the win was not a win. The organisers, in their wisdom, had combined the hitherto separate 250, 500 and 1000cc classes into a single 10-lap race for 1975 and 1976, introducing artificial handicaps for the first and only time in IoM history. Accordingly, Dähne and Butenuth were robbed of their outright victory and relegated to fifth place. Some say handicapping was introduced to give manufacturers who didn't then have a big four-stroke in their catalogues a chance of winning the production race as an inducement for their commercial support. In which case, it worked out just fine in 1976,


after Dave Croxford and Alex George spoilt the party in 1975 by winning the race on a 750cc Triumph. Because the following year the fix was in, and a 250 Yamaha ‘won’ with a 250 Suzuki ‘second’. As impressively as I'm sure their riders performed, they don't get a namecheck here because the real winners were Helmut Dähne and Hans-Otto Butenuth on their improbably quick BMW R90S. Dähne was by now one of my heroes, and when I watched him ride to fourth place on a Honda two years later in the Formula 1 TT, I was pleased for him. It took me another 15 years to actually meet the man and own up to being a fan, after which I hit him up for a ride on the IoM race bike which Helmut has kept in TT-winning condition ever since. "I'm not really very much into vintage racing, although I like the sounds of the 60s and 70s four-strokes," he says. "But in 1994, when I went back to the IoM with the BMW (for a parade lap), I was amazed how many people came to look at and admire it. I honestly didn't think the bike had such a following – yet I guess it still strikes a chord.

"When I rode it in '94, for the first time after 17 years of sleep, it was smoking badly when shutting off, which it never did before. So I had to pull the cylinders and fit new rings, but now it's running good, just as it used to. See what you think.” Our venue was the short circuit at Hockenheim in Germany. Compared to the desmo V-twins which by 1976 were its biggest open-class competition, the

BMW feels very low and even rangier to sit on, though with lots of protection from the tall screen, and no less a stretch to the handlebars than on a 900SS. Thumb the electric starter button — so that's how Helmut was so quick away at those Le Mans starts! — and the boxer engine rocks purposefully from side to side before spinning quickly into life with a fruity blat from the long, tapered megaphones. What

Helmut Und Mike IN 1978, Helmut Dähne returned to the IoM with an Eckert-framed 820cc Honda on which he finished fourth in the Formula 1 TT which will forever be famous for Mike Hailwood's fairytale comeback on a Ducati. "I have a very nice memory about that event," says Helmut. "I was a big admirer of Mike, and I'd met him the year before when we both raced in the Castrol 6 Hour in Australia, so we knew each other to talk to. On the second lap of the Formula 1 race,

he passed me going down from Windy Corner to the 33rd, and as he did so, he half-turned around and waggled his elbow at me, to say hello. “Then I followed him through the 33rd — which is one of the hardest corners in the whole lap on a quick bike — and he was so fast and smooth, it was unbelievable! It was one of the nicest experiences in my racing career, watching Mike Hailwood from close up in the TT.”

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Classic Racers

1974 BMW R90S

“THE BMW WAS VERY MUCH AT HOME OVER THE ROUGHER PARTS OF THE TT COURSE” little baffling they once had is long gone, and the result is that trademark BMW flattwin imitation of a low-flying aircraft at full throttle. Nice, but noisy! The engine pulls hard and cleanly from 4000rpm but picks up revs notably quicker from 5000, reflecting the reduced inertia of the lightened crank. But get the engine chiming in the upper reaches of the tacho dial and the result is a long-legged feeling of irresistible momentum and an extraordinary lack of vibration, even at

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high rpm — and it'll run happily as high as 8000rpm without the power falling off. By the standards of the era, the BMW feels strong and torquey, and though the leftfoot road-pattern gearchange isn't exactly fast, it's not as clunky as I expected and you can even change up without the clutch at a pinch, though it's better to use it if you can. The lightened bottom end also reduces the gyroscopic effect of the lengthways crank, but can't disguise it completely, especially when changing down a gear on the overrun

while cranked over. The BMW suddenly sits up and starts weaving about rather disconcertingly, just what you don't need at Brandywell or Kerrowmoar where a faster turn taken on the overrun leads into a tighter one. The solution is strangely enough to blip the throttle really hard between downshifts, dialling up extra revs that seem to cancel out the G-forces. The pathetic front brakes require you to use a lot of engine braking and so the bike does move about a lot. It's all a bit of an acquired skill, but as the morning wore on I gradually got the hang of it, learning to plan well in advance for hard stops. The stainless-steel front discs are too small, don't have much friction compared to the cast-iron Brembos of the period, and are poorly gripped by those primitive calipers. They need a very hard squeeze to get any response, and even then it's not a lot. The rear drum is no better and I can only imagine how much skill and judgement Helmut employed to get the flying BMW hauled down for Parliament Square, Brandish or the Creg. Where the R90S scores in terms of handling is the way it goes, not how it stops. It's completely unflustered by bumps or ripples in the road surface, thanks to a low C of G, the long 1465mm wheelbase, that braced-up triple-clamp and the softer fork springs. Nor was it ruffled by the handful of dips on the Hockenheim circuit. The front wheel bounced up and down a little so could do with more damping, but otherwise it felt


Retro Specs ENGINE 1974 BMW R90S; Air-cooled four-stroke 180-degree flat twin; OHV, two valves per cylinder; 90 x 70.6mm for 898cc; 10.5:1 comp; 2 x 38mm Dell’Ortos; Bosch CDI; single-plate clutch to five-speed gearbox and shaft final drive; 80hp @ 7000rpm (crank) CHASSIS 1971 BMW R75/5; tubular steel duplex cradle UP FRONT 35mm BMW telescopic forks; 2 x 260mm stainless-steel discs with single-piston calipers; 2.15in laced rim with 110/90-19 Metzeler ME33 DOWN BACK Tubular steel swingarm with twin shocks; 200mm single-leading-shoe drum brakes; 2.15in laced rim with 120/90-18 Metzeler ME33 DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1465mm; dry weight 185kg; top speed 126mph (202km/h) at IoM SUMMARY It’s not how fast you go, it’s how long you go fast FAR LEFT Cathcart the Younger hustles the BMW around Hockenheim BOTTOM RIGHT Dapper Dahne in the late 1990s

good, with stable but relatively light steering thanks to the 19-inch front wheel. "The BMW was very much at home over the rougher parts of the TT course," says Dähne. "It just floated over the bumps down the Cronk-y-Voddy Straight, where other bikes were tank-slapping and forcing their riders to back off." The only other problem I had with the BMW was cornering clearance with those jutting-out cylinders. Being able to move about the bike a bit helped keep me from decking them, except once when I tightened my line on the exit from the Sachs Kurve to cut inside a slower rider and ground the left cylinder big time. Ouch! On another lap, entering the stadium, I got off line and hit a dip I hadn't found before while still cranked hard over with the suspension compressed under power. That gave me a graphic illustration of

how Helmut forfeited victory in the '75 TT, as the right cylinder banged hard into the tarmac, lifting the rear wheel off the deck for a moment as it did so. The rear Metzeler gripped again on contact and it all ended happily, but that's a lot of weight and force to expect an aluminium rocker cover to absorb. So you must try to reduce lean angles on this bike, which means sacrificing some corner speed, in turn requiring you to brake deeper into the turn … which is difficult when the brakes don't work so good! This is not like other bikes, and Helmut Dähne is not like other riders. He's a star turn because he knew how to hustle such an unlikely racer around the greatest road circuit in the world at ton-up speeds. Not only did he live to tell the tale, he also won a race on it, even if the official record books say otherwise.

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Cafe Racer

1999 MZ SKORPION TOUR

In Brisbane, a humble MZ Skorpion is transformed into a stunning cafe racer WORDS JEFF LAMB PHOTOGRAPHY AJ MOLLER

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Cafe Racers

1999 MZ SKORPION TOUR

“I FOUND MYSELF THE PROUD OWNER OF A MOTORCYCLING CURIOSITY AND A GROWING NUMBER OF RANDOM PARTS”

I

GOT thinking about custom bikes after talking to Leo Yip on the Ellaspede stand at the Troy Bayliss Moto Expo in Brisbane in March 2014. I developed a vague idea of building a cafe racer with an old-school Avon fairing and a GT stripe but not much else, not even a donor bike, when an MZ Skorpion Tour popped up in Sydney on eBay. There was always something special about them; the large-diameter tube perimeter frame was a real standout. I didn’t know the MZ brand well but the reviews of the time spoke glowingly of the Skorpion at least. And so I found myself the proud owner of a motorcycling curiosity and a growing number of random parts. I’d never had a project bike before. The ideas and fundamentals were all there in my head but I was struggling to put them together. In search of inspiration, motivation and education, I completely pulled it apart. The net result, while quite satisfying, meant I 72

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now had hundreds of parts and no better idea of where I was heading. So I turned up at Ellaspede with the parts in a trailer and talked to Steve Barry for a couple of hours. Follow-up emails and concepts went back and forwards until we ended up with a series of drawings and images that nearperfectly reflected my wish list. Steve costed the job and that’s when I learned what it costs to have a pro shop take a concept through to reality. I was shocked and disappointed, not in Ellaspede but in myself for thinking this sort of thing can be done for a small amount of money. I paid the guys for their work to date, picked up my trailer full of bits and licked my wounds. The only way I could make it happen was to do a lot of the work and running around myself, then bring Ellaspede back into the picture once it was ready for them and we’d cross the finish line together. First job was to find an Avon fairing. I tried


to source one locally but had no luck until the internet coughed one up in Germany. The other defining component in the build would be a combined fuel tank, seat and tailmounted oil tank, which I initially shaped from foam. After one long false start, a friend suggested John Allen, former GP racer and fabricator extraordinaire. Seemingly from out of nowhere, he constructed a near identical copy of my dummy, with all the reinforcing needed to actually make it work. In the meantime I turned my attention to all the smaller details. Bolts were cleaned, polished or replaced. Other parts were painted or powder-coated. Bearings and bushes were pressed out and replaced, as was anything else that didn’t look right. Having an unusual seat shape called for a unique seat pan. The base is made from 10mm commercial-grade kitchen cutting board that I heated in the oven and handshaped until the fit was good, after which

it was finished off with some professional upholstery work. The machined aluminium clip-ons were sourced in the UK and the switchgear is the least I could get away with. New brake and clutch levers looked a bit chunky, so I wrapped them in leather strips dipped in epoxy. The shape wasn’t quite right but an angle grinder soon fixed that, after which another epoxy dip sealed everything in place. The gearshift got the same treatment. The engine (a 660cc Yamaha single) is stock apart from the lobster-tail exhaust, which was also sourced off-the-shelf in the UK. I investigated having it made locally but the budget wouldn’t allow. Stock forks are Paioli, rebuilt by Rad Hard Chroming. The vintage Paioli stickers are from Italy and sit under clear coat. Rear shock is from Wilbers Suspension, with the reservoir neatly mounted to the frame by John Allen. The shock is adjustable for ISSUE #25

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Cafe Racers

1999 MZ SKORPION TOUR

Retro Specs ENGINE Yamaha XT660; liquid-cooled fourstroke single; SOHC, five valves; 100 x 84mm for 660cc; 9.2:1 comp; multi-plate clutch to five-speed gearbox and chain final drive; 48hp at 6250rpm CHASSIS Twin-backbone tubular steel chassis by Seymour-Powell (UK); adjustable Paioli conventional forks with single 316mm disc and four-piston caliper; dual-sided swingarm with Wilbers mono-shock and twin-piston caliper on single 240mm rotor BODYWORK Fuel tank and seat unit by John Allen; custom oil tank in seat unit; modified Yamaha belly pan; Avon fairing sourced from Germany; Colorbond paint SPECIAL THANKS My wife Kendall; Ellaspede; John Allen; Wynnum Bearings & Bolts; Roberto’s Powder Coating BEST FOR Standing out from the pack; going fast around corners; shed therapy NOT SO GOOD Nothing that we can see

“THE ONLY WAY I COULD MAKE IT HAPPEN WAS TO DO A LOT OF THE WORK MYSELF” ride height and both low and high-speed compression and rebound damping, enough for a rookie to completely muck up, so I’ve avoided tinkering with it too much yet but will soon. The belly pan was another battle. John made me an alloy one that was great but looked more like a bash plate. I then tried modifying one off an RVF400 but destroyed it in the process. A Yamaha one worked better after I spent weeks trimming and shaping it to work the angles of the bike and engine cases to get it how I wanted. The go-fast stripe was always going to be there, while the colours are actually Dulux Colorbond, which made it easier to match the powder-coating. Electrical components were mostly hidden inside the seat subframe, with the battery, CDI, voltage regulator and fuses tucked away behind a perforated cover that was once a laptop cooling stand. It was at this point that the bike finally returned to Ellaspede, this time in one piece, for a custom wiring harness by Cam, a neat and functional Acewell gauge and solutions to other problems I was struggling with. These included clearance between the clipons and fairing, throttle cable placement and 74

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resolving a breather issue with the relocated oil tank, a problem I’d created two years earlier that didn’t appear until a test ride. I’d kept in touch with Steve Barry via random email updates and it was great to know the team were still on board when I needed them. They did the fire-up, test and tune and I can’t overstate how valuable all at Ellaspede were in seeing the MZ back on the road. Would I do it again? I’ve already started on an MVX250 two-stroke triple and unintentionally did a full restoration on a Mk1 Cagiva Mito while I was waiting for parts for the MZ. I don’t know that I saved any money doing it myself but the process was very therapeutic. It’s difficult to share in print but I have wrestled with depression for as long as I can remember. To this day I don’t know what lights the fire nor the things that fuel it, but I do know what helps contain it and that’s family, music and motorcycles. My MZ has been more important to me than I can explain. Men in sheds. It seems like such a simple solution to a complex problem but it works. I was worried that building a custom bike was being selfish and I’m forever grateful that my wife understood it wasn’t.


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

1976 KAWASAKI KZ750 TWIN

1977 HONDA CB750 SUPER SPORT This is a great running bike with a custom paintwork. Vin # CB750F-2204100 $5,950.00

This is a low mileage original motorcycle. Vin # KZ750B-016856 $4,950.00

1974 SUZUKI GT750

1983 HONDA CB1000 CUSTOM

This is a decent bike that has done only 16,000 miles and runs well. A little detail work would make this bike really tidy. Vin # GT750-41181 $5,950.00

This is the shaft drive model with the dual ratio gearbox, giving you 10 gears. A great value motorcycle. Vin # DA004655 $5,950.00

1957 BSA DANDY 70

1973 SUZUKI TS400 APACHE

This is the first Dandy we have ever had for sale. Perfect for the BSA collector who doesn’t have one. Vin # DS14397 $2,750.00

1973 SUZUKI TS240

We are selling a matching pair together as a bargain package. Vin #’s T4003-20100 & T4003-19631 $4,950.00 for the pair.

1974 HONDA CB550 FOUR

Nice clean example of this hard to find Trail bike. Vin # TS2503-57722 $4,950.00

This bike has done only 9800 miles from new and is in really lovely condition. Be quick for this. Vin # CB550-1222041 $6,950.00

1958 EXCELSION 197

BSA BANTAM D14/4 175 SUPREME This is the four speed gearbox Bantam, the last model of the Bantam range. Perfect for an easy tidy up. Vin # 01463 $3,500.00

This bike came from a deceased estate and has been stored for a few years. The bike presents well and just needs a get go. Great value. Vin # U10650 $2,950.00

1974 YAMAHA TX750

Original bike for easy restoration. Great value. Vin # 341-016161 $3,750.00

1979 KAWASAKI KZ650 This is a tidy example of this sought after model. The bike would benefit from a good clean up. Vin # KZ650B-524393 $5,950.00

1979 SUZUKI GS1000L This is a clean example of this excellent model and is great value for money. Vin # GS1000-705772 $5,950.00

1977 HARLEY DAVIDSON 1000 SPORTSTER Here we have a very original example of this very popular model. Vin # 3A13197H7 $7,950.00

1986 SUZUKI 650 SAVAGE This is a very nice machine that runs and rides well. A good looking cruiser style bike that is red plate eligible. Vin # JS1NP41A0G2103959 $4,950.00

WE HAVE BANK FINANCE AVAILABLE ON ALL OUR BIKES

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ROAD RACING RIDE LIKE JOEY

McIlwraith WITH JAMIE McILWRAITH

MASTER CLASS IKE many of you, I love motorcycle videos taken from the rider’s point of view, especially the ones roaring around the Isle of Man’s 37 miles of roads through countryside and village. Insane? Yes. Insanely fast? Definitely. There are dozens of these high-speed rides to watch on YouTube, but my favourite of the genre is an early one, from 1983. Honda made a video called V-Four Victory, featuring the legendary (and late) Joey Dunlop, the Northern Irishman who dominated the Isle of Man TT back then. As it was a slick PR video, the footage quality for those times was exceptional, and I’ve watched it many times. However, the special extra thing for me was Joey’s own commentary on his IoM lap. Now, if you don’t know the Northern Irish accent it’s based on the methodical chewing up and spitting out of words, at speed. It’s a bit hard to pick up at first, or at a second or a third listening, for that matter. So I stopped, rewound and played back the video several times to get one quote just right, because Joey said something about going fast, about how he remembered all 37 miles of the track, that has stuck with me ever since. The interviewer asked him, “How do you remember all the corners, all the hazards?” and Joey replied, “There are bits that I like … and bits that I don’t like … so I tend to ride from one bit I like to the next bit I like.” Huh? What does that mean? It took a while to figure it out, but I realised there’s wisdom in Joey’s words.

L

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What Joey was saying was that he didn’t go flat out everywhere. He just went flat out in the sections that he liked. As for the bits that he didn’t like, he didn’t push himself too hard; sure, he went super-quick by a normal person’s standards, but by Joey’s reckoning he was just cruising. This wasn’t just a way of getting around the 37 miles of the Isle of Man, this was a

“There are bits that I like, and bits that I don’t like” philosophy on life, which is also a long journey, and I found it on a Honda video! You could over-simplify it and miss the point by saying “don’t go flat out everywhere” but I do like Joey’s somewhat poetic way of explaining how he picked and chose where to go really fast, and where to back off. He remained in charge. Ever since then I’ve tried to adopt a bit of the Joey Dunlop approach not only to riding bikes, but also to work and play. For starters, don’t expect everything to be brilliant all the time. It won’t be, but I guess you already know that. Just get through the “not great” bits because you know the good times will come again, and you can enjoy them while they’re happening. People sometimes forget that bit. But getting back to the far more serious business of enjoying yourself on a motorcycle, I’ve always stuck to Joey’s philosophy on the road. When faced with bits of road that I don’t

like, I just get through them. Simple as that. Good examples of bits that I don’t like include most dirt roads; hairpin bends (uphill or down); right-angled corners at the end of long straights; and riding in company, apart from with a couple of good mates. That’s just the way I am. Not completely anti-social, but as one of my old girlfriends says, “You’re not much of a joiner, are you?” Nope. I like to ride alone. Good examples of “bits that I like” include double-apex open road sweepers (I love turning two corners into one!), virtually all corners with speed advisories rated 55km/h and above, nigh on all esses, and any road with long sweepers that passes through country that looks and feels like the Monaro, with granite boulders poking out of the grassland here and there. Oh, and any winding road where you can forget about braking and just roll on and off the throttle as needed, and maybe change gears just a few times, and 100km have gone by. Simple pleasures. Once I admitted to myself that there truly were a number of motorcycling situations that I didn’t really like I started to relax, as in “oh bugger, a whole bloody mountainside full of stupid hairpins. I’ll just take it easy, try to get through as many as cleanly and smoothly as possible, and leave it at that.” I know that there are probably hundreds of you who’d do the opposite and go, “Wow, a whole mountainside full of hairpins, I love the Alps!” and good luck to you all. Whatever your preferences, just try to keep on riding from one bit you like to the next bit you like.


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MATESHIP BONDS THAT BIND

Bailey WITH PAUL BAILEY

FAMILY TIES

T

HE last few issues I’ve talked about the motorcycle family and how we all have a shared passion for bikes and we are all linked because of our love of the motorcycle. Last weekend I went on a Black Dog Ride that ended at the halfway cafe on the Putty Road. Black Dog is all about depression and raising the awareness of this terrible disorder that can affect so many of us for so many different reasons. Life, it can be bastard sometimes, and sometimes we just can’t handle it alone. I’ve had my Black Dog, after a life-and-death accident that left me lying on the road with no heartbeat and not breathing after a dimwit truck driver turned right in front of me. An hour later I woke up in the back of the ambulance on my way to Emergency. I was lucky in a way. The service station owner who witnessed the accident knew CPR and kept me alive with resuscitation until the ambulance arrived; to him I am very grateful. Severe injuries kept me in bed and at home for many months, injuries I will carry for the rest of my life. The physical stuff will heal and you will get back to a form of your previous self with time. But the psychological injuries are a lot harder to cure. For me, the accident brought on Post Traumatic Stress, not of the accident but of my former life as a NSW police officer. Twenty-two years in the job in uniform and first response

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to hundreds of accidents, domestics, murders, bashings and so on had never bothered me during my time in the Force. This accident, though, brought back so many memories of jobs that I attended, which caused such anxiety and depression that it was hard to fathom. I had always been one of those skeptics that thought PTS was a con, an act people put on to get compensation, a bludger’s way of getting something for nothing. I was wrong. It hit me with such a vengeance that I didn’t realise what I was doing. I could drive past the scene of a fatal accident that

“It’s great when we turn up in great numbers to show solidarity for a cause” I had attended 10 years earlier, and then relive the entire incident in my mind. The real scary bit was coming out of this total recall to find that I had driven or ridden some 50 kilometres with no recollection of where I was or what I had done on the road. This led on to the worry of other things; if my wife or children were late to get home, I would put them in the scene of a fatal I had done as the innocent victims. It was totally affecting everything that I did or thought. It

caused such depression that it was almost unbearable to deal with. I was fortunate to have family around me that could see the signs. Even my doctor was aware of what was going on and got me in to see a psychologist who dealt with these matters. It took time but I got through it, with help. But for many of us the help is hard to find, either through a lack of understanding, awareness or intervention by others. It doesn’t have to be a serious accident like I had for the Black Dog to get in the way of your life, it can be anything that for some reason triggers the person to start to have problems with depression. If, however, it is left to fester and become more than just feeling sad, it can destroy a person’s life and the lives of those around them. As motorcyclists we have that great extended family of friends and we all share that common bond. So when so many of us turn up in great numbers to an event to show solidarity for a cause, that is fantastic! We are great as motorcyclists to get behind causes such as the Black Dog Ride, Pink Ribbon Ride, White Ribbon Ride and hospital charity runs. These are just a few and we all can be a part of them and help those that need it. It could even be the mate riding alongside of you. But with all of this, remember the most important thing is to look after yourself. If you don’t do that, how can you help others that have need of your help too?


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THINK SMALL TIDDLER TOURING

WA L K E R WITH JIMMI WALKER

LITTLE BIG BIKES

S

IZE doesn’t matter, or does it? When I was a wee boy, I used to think that having a big bike was the only way to have fun. The bigger, the better. So I aspired to more numbers on my side-covers until eventually they reached the magic 1000. I found that indeed the big air-cooled four was a monster and took manly muscles to control, but I had had just as much fun on most of my smaller bikes, included the tiddlers. After reading last issue’s Boomtown Rats feature, it got me thinking about those mad Kiwis and the hilarious bikes they ride. We used to have a loosely-organised event called Moped Mayhem. The only rules were a capacity limit of 50cc and it had to be a road bike with road tyres, similar to the rules for Dirt Masters that the QCR dudes organise on the South Island but with one important difference. We attracted some loons and some interesting team names. Piston Broke was an obvious one, the Green Welly Race Team was another (they all wore green rubber Wellington boots) and my favourite, the Inflatable Condom Flying All Stars. A figureof-eight track was marked out in the dirt – think about that for a moment – and then all hell would break loose. It was the twowheeled equivalent of a demolition derby! It was great fun and the rules soon went out the window as 50s grew to 70 and 80cc; the more ingenious the scam, the more we welcomed it.

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I had to delve deep into my memory but I remember years ago, me and a mate decided to do the 300-odd miles to the Birmingham Bike Show on a little Yamaha 50 and a tiny Suzuki AP50. Believe me, 40mph for eight hours on bikes that almost everything could overtake was a mission. Before we left it was all “yeah, we’ll do it in five hours, no sweat, my Yam does 60 miles a hour”. Yeah, maybe thrown out of a plane at 20,000 feet, but not under its own power and especially carrying my lanky frame and all our gear. So off we trotted, the little fourhorsepower two-stroke singles immediately screaming their disdain at the marathon task we were asking of them. Looking like two

“Our mums feared the worst. Our dads were just glad to get rid of us for the weekend” explorers heading off to discover the origin of the M6, we left our south-east London council estate as our mums feared the worst. Our dads were just glad to get rid of us for the weekend. Because we had L-plates, we weren’t allowed on the motorway so it was the trunk route for us, initially battling with trucks and coaches that were much faster than us. Getting moonies from kids on the

back seats of buses and blown into ditches by semi-trailers were the early highlights of the trip. As we got further from London, the many stops for fuel and ciggies, and the varying quality of beverages to be had on by now largely-abandoned roads, gave us an insight into the heady days of the 60s (a mere decade past) and how it must’ve been for the rockers and mods. Every exit to a town had either a disused petrol station or a rundown café that once would have been an important hangout for an earlier generation of riders. It was kind of sad but to a couple of 16-year-olds on their first trip away, it didn’t matter much and the thought was dispelled as quickly as it had come to mind. This was our time, we figured, it was our road now. On our diminutive steeds, we were the dogs’ bollocks, the new kings of the highway. What are we called now? Gen X was my generation, then it was Gen Y and now it’s the Millennials. Who comes up with this stuff ? I just think of myself as an old biker who’s managed to survive this long on a diet of pure determination and good luck. You younger guys and gals have the road now, so time to make your mark! Ignore what’s supposed to be acceptable or the norm. Instead do whatever comes to mind. Pay homage to those that came before if you feel the need, but the most important thing of all is to have fun. You’re here for a good time, not a long time.


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STYLE WAXED COTTON PANNIERS GENUINE Triumph panniers offer a combined 27.6L of storage and come complete with mounting harness. Able to be mounted individually or as a pair. $825 triumphmotorcycles.com.au

BLACKBIRD APPAREL LOOKING for something a bit different? Blackbird Motorcycle Wear has you covered in stylish and practical men's and women's leather and textile jackets. Military Jacket $285 Ladies Waterproof Jacket $329 blackbirdmotorcyclewear.com

AKUBRA LUGGAGE AKUBRA has just released a range of luggage and bags in leather and canvas. Made in Australia to the same high standards as their hats and with a ďŹ ve-year warranty. Murray Leather Drum Bag $499 Canning Satchel $425 Murrumbidgee Canvas Drum Bag $329 akubra.com.au

LEATHERMAN TREAD THE TREAD is a bracelet that contains 29 integrated tools. Remove the bracelet and the links provide enough stability to be used as a tool. Swap the links to personalise for your use. 25-year guarantee. Stainless $306 Black $429 leatherman.com.au

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HELLYERS ROAD DISTILLERY ORIGINAL 10 YEAR SINGLE MALT THE best-selling Australian-crafted single malt whisky from Tasmania’s acclaimed Hellyers Road Distillery is a drop worth savouring. $92.80 hellyersroaddistillery.com.au

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NEW BIKES ROYAL ENFIELD CONTINENTAL GT 535

DOWNHILL RACER Retro cafe-styled bikes don’t come much purer than this cool cat WORDS & PHOTOS GEOFF SEDDON

R

OAD testing motorcycles is a funny old game. I’ve been doing it for 30 years and never rode one I didn’t like; well, apart from the Triumph Rocket III. But only rarely does one come along that makes me want to buy it. The Royal Enfield Continental GT is such a bike. I’ve always wanted to try one but it has taken ’til now for the planets to align. Mine came in GT Green, along with an optional sports muffler and aftermarket bar-end mirrors. I’d just got off a Classic 500 model (which we’ll bring you next issue) and the Continental is a totally different pair of underpants. The GT

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535 runs a slightly bigger version of the same engine but there the similarities end. And it is as different to ride as it is to look at. Clip-ons and rear-set footpegs give that classic cafe racer look and feel but the riding position is hardly extreme; I did a 1000km weekend on the GT, chasing mates on much faster bikes, without discomfort. Part of that was due to my slower pace and the absence of scary moments, which kept my mind and body relaxed. But the tall seat meant my legs weren't cramped on the rear-sets and the lean forward to the relatively high and wide clip-ons was just right to offset the blast of the wind. The seat

is pretty good and vibration rarely intruded. The bike starts on the button, with a bit of choke if cold. There is an ignition cut-out on the side-stand, so the bike must be on the centrestand to warm up. It also starts with both stands up should you stall it, which is unlikely; clutch take-up is light and progressive, and despite having a lighter flywheel than other Enfields, it pulls from tick-over. There is also a kick-starter, which I used a lot, just to give me more of the feeling of riding an old British 500 single. Some might argue the Enfield is neither old nor British, but only until they ride one. The OHV engine has been updated with unit construction, wet sump, an alloy head, electronic ignition and fuel injection, but is otherwise a classic English dunger that people like us used to ride 50 or 60 years ago. Made in India, it’s no less British than a Triumph made in Thailand. The traditional twin-loop chassis easily copes with the 29hp on tap. Suspension both


Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke single; OHV, two valves per cylinder; 87 x 90mm for 535cc; 8.5:1 comp; Keihin EFI; digital electronic ignition; wet clutch, five-speed gearbox, chain final drive: 29.1hp at 5100rpm CHASSIS Twin downtube cradle frame UP FRONT Non-adjustable 41mm telescopic forks; single Brembo twin-piston floating caliper on 300mm rotor; 100/90 Pirelli Sport Demon on laced 18in rim DOWN BACK Twin gas-charged Paioli shocks, adjustable for spring preload; singlepiston caliper on 240mm rotor; 130/70 Sport Demon on 18in laced rim DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1360mm; wet weight 184kg; seat height 800mm; fuel capacity 13.5 litres WARRANTY Two years or 10,000km; two years roadside assistance PRICE $8590 plus on-road costs

ends is non-adjustable, apart from ride height at the rear. It did have an occasional tendency to weave on the bumps through corners on a trailing throttle but behaved impeccably on the gas, which was almost all of the time. On smooth scratching roads like the Oxley Highway, it was a joy, especially downhill! But with 110mm travel up front, it also handled the rough-and-tumble Thunderbolts Way no worse than other bikes on the trip. Cornering clearance is excellent. First thing to scrape on the left is the underside of the side-stand near the pivot — on the right, it’s the muffler clamp bolt — but you’ll be up it for the rent when you do. The hero knobs on the rear-sets were unsullied. With a short 1360mm wheelbase and skinny 18-inch front tyre, steering is light and precise although maybe not quite as sweet as the Classic with its even skinnier 19-inch hoop. Pirelli Sport Demons (made in Brazil) are well-matched in profile and compound, scuffing

nicely to their edges. Front brake is a single Brembo twin-piston sliding caliper on a 300mm rotor, hardly top shelf but well matched to the GT’s modest performance and light weight. Rear brake is a no-name single-piston sliding caliper, painted gold like the front, on a 240mm rotor. If 29hp doesn’t sound like much, it’s because it isn’t, which will limit its appeal to many riders. It’s spritely enough around town and will sit on 100-110km/h all day, although long hills challenge it; I found myself pushing my bum back into the seat and getting as close as I could to the tank to compensate. In the company of much more powerful bikes, the Enfield matched them on transport sections but obviously struggled when the pace picked up. The engine is remarkably quiet for an OHV engine, as is the optional sports muffler at idle, but it sounds fantastic with the throttle pinned and is as loud as you’d want. It also sounds great on the over-run. I’ve never owned a big four-stroke single but was soon addicted to

its unique sound. Unlike the old thumpers, however, the new Enfield never missed a beat nor leaked oil despite being ridden close to flat-out almost all of the time. Yet it delivered between 3.4 and 3.9l/100km every tank for a safe range of more than 300km. I couldn’t get enough of it, especially flying solo on my favourite mountain roads. The absence of acceleration as most of us know it made me concentrate on anticipating what was coming up and riding as smoothly as I could. The Continental responds to classic old-school riding skills like keeping the revs up, staying off the brakes, maintaining high corner-entry speeds, nailing the apex and getting on the gas early. This is what makes the GT so rewarding for an ageing scratcher like me — I get to enjoy all the fun of going really fast without going really fast — yet also makes it the perfect bike for learners because it encourages good technique. What a great bike. I’d own it in a heartbeat.

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TANGLES' WORKSHOP SEDDO’S NORTON

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED So what caused the music to stop? Well, quite a lot really WORDS & PHOTOS STUART ‘TANGLES’ GARRARD

S

EDDO’S budget Norton Commando unexpectedly went onto one cylinder. It had fuel so he suspected a plug or coil, but swapping in new ones didn’t help. Then it wouldn’t start at all. The bike also had other issues; the battery wasn’t charging and it had taken to blowing the main ignition fuse. Time to call in the professionals! On my recommendation, he trailered the bike to Peter White of Old Mate Motorcycles in Mittagong, NSW. He works on all kinds of bikes and has a reputation for getting anything going. I was also around to lend a hand; with an early start, we figured we’d be done by lunchtime. DAY ONE FIRST up, Peter tracked down and repaired the electrical short before turning to the engine. The life signs were there and he eventually kick-started the bike into life, albeit mostly on one cylinder. On removing

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A foreign object holding an inlet valve open means it’s off with its head to find out why

the pod filters, we found a few chunks of metal inside them, not a good sign. Peter told Seddo to leave it with him and we adjourned to the pub for lunch, at which Norton John offered the loan of special tools and a workshop manual. DAY TWO WE tried to conduct electrical tests but it wouldn’t start. We cleaned the carburettors, both of which were full of rubbish from the old fibreglass tank. Pete then checked valve clearances to discover the right-side inlet valve was not closing due to a foreign object, so he whipped off the head and barrels to find out why. The foreign object was the same as in the air filter. It looked like some clown had left a pair of valve collets in there. The piston initially looked repairable and the barrel was undamaged. Bottom end also looked pretty good. The head was dispatched to the Goulburn Engine Centre at Tom Moss Autos.

Addressing the charging system, the outer primary cover was removed to access the stator, which tested okay. The connections to the rectifier were faulty and replaced, as was the rectifier itself.


Cylinder head and barrels on the bench, with inlet valves and rockers shown

DAY THREE KELVIN from Tom Moss delivers the bad news. It wasn’t a collet but a collapsed valve guide. The engine had been recently reconditioned but not very well; the guides were likely hammered in and cracked in the process. It would need new guides, valves and stem seals for both cylinders, plus the righthand piston was stuffed. Pete called another business meeting at the pub with our friendly bunch of Norton experts. They advised that pistons must be replaced in pairs (ouch!), and pointed out the many differences between the Combat engine (which this allegedly was) and the regular 750; bronze versus cast valve guides, alloy or copper head gasket, 32 or 30mm carburettors, etc. DAY FOUR ENGINE number suggested a late ’72. I made a note to check markings to see if it is a Combat, hope it’s not.

The head from underneath (guess which one the guide exploded in) and destroyed piston

DAY FIVE I STARTED ordering engine parts from Bob at Classic Allparts in the Southern Highlands. With the budget skyrocketing, the offer of a pair of good secondhand pistons (with new rings) for half price was gratefully accepted. DAY SIX RODE to Goulburn to deliver head parts to Kelvin at Tom Moss. He also did the head on my Honda 750 (issue 20) and was chuffed to see it running so well. Still trying to work out if Seddo’s Norton is a Combat but we went with the bronze guides anyway. DAY SEVEN WE held another business meeting with our expert panel. The consensus was we didn’t know whether it was a Combat or more likely a bitsa like so many old Nortons are. Kelvin rang to say the head was finished ahead of schedule, including a helicoil for one spark plug and machining the valve guides.

This is the ‘after’ shot, following a visit to someone who knew what he was doing

DAY EIGHT KELVIN dropped off the head on his way through, saving me another trip to Goulburn. What a champion and he did an excellent job! DAY NINE BIG day. Pete put the rocker gear in the head and I gave him a hand getting the barrels over the pistons and rings. On Norton John’s advice, we went for a copper head gasket but set valve clearances to Combat specs. Getting the head on was a bit fiddly but all went well. We installed new coils (that Geoff had supplied) and tidied up much of the wiring, replaced a few stripped bolts and fixed lots of other dodgy stuff. DAY TEN CARBIES were overhauled and refitted, and the engine started … on one cylinder! On test, the Boyer-Bransden electronic ignition module appeared to be working for one side

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TANGLES' WORKSHOP EXPERT OPINION

Retro Specs MAKE: Norton MODEL: Commando 750 YEAR: 1970 SPECIAL THANKS: Peter White, Old Mate Motorcycles, Mittagong; 0477 731 444 Kelvin, Tom Moss Autos, Goulburn: 02 4821 1102 Bob, Classic Allparts, Southern Highlands; 02 4884 1481

only. Luckily we had another (non-running) Commando in the workshop, an 850 with the same ignition, to confirm our diagnosis. Even luckier, Pete had a replacement module in his workshop. We spent the rest of the day working on the 850 and a cantankerous VFR Honda.

helped another customer, I took the 850 Commando for a successful and enjoyable half-hour test. Two Nortons done in one day, a good feeling. DAY TWELVE WHO would own a bloody Norton? Seddo’s 750 started first kick and Pete set off for a longer test, only to return five minutes later pushing the bike. Fuel was leaking out of the left-hand Amal, which on disassembly had a crack in the float. We borrowed one from Norton John, but the bike still would not start. We double-checked everything. Utter frustration. We headed down to Classic Allparts for some floats and Bob’s helpful advice. Tomorrow we would start early, rebuild both carburettors and investigate the mechanical side of the ignition system, the only thing we hadn’t touched.

DAY ELEVEN WE wired in the substitute ignition module, which restored spark to both cylinders. With expectations high, we put the tank on and kicked it in the guts, but it was hard to start and blowing back through one carby. A rocker gap had opened up, not unusual on an initial start-up. Fixed that, back outside and it started first kick! We fine-tuned the ignition stator plate and it ran well on a short test ride. Beautiful. We metered the charging circuit and it was handshakes all ’round. While Pete

DAY THIRTEEN WITH new floats installed, we turned our attention to the ignition stator which sits behind what was once the points cover. It comprises an outer stator plate and an inner magnetic rotor hiding behind it. Sure enough, the latter was loose, causing the bike to run in and out of timing at will. It's amazing it ran at all! We addressed that and reset the timing, after which it started first kick and didn’t miss a beat on two good, long test runs. Job done. SUMMARY THIS particular Norton was always a risky purchase and so it has proved, with the parts bill alone exceeding $1000. On the upside, Seddo has much more confidence in his old Commando and says it hasn’t missed a beat since, touch wood.

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Also: Lewis Leathers, Stagg Leather, Halcyon Goggles, Ace café merch, Rossi Boots, White Silk Scarves etc and MORE! 90

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READERS’ ROCKETS 1963 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE 650

STEVE MCQUEEN’S TRIUMPH Well, he’d be a reader if he were still around WORDS & PHOTO RUSS MURRAY

S

TEVE McQueen was a Hollywood icon starring in movies such as The Great Escape, Bullitt, Le Mans and On Any Sunday. He was also a genuine petrolhead and amassed an impressive collection of 130 bikes and cars, many of which he raced and often under a pseudonym to retain some anonymity. One of his favourite bikes was this off-road Triumph which now resides in Australia and was recently on display at Motorclassica in Melbourne. Steve’s son

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Chad was in attendance at the event and happy to talk about his dad’s collection. Of all the bikes Steve owned, this particular Triumph held special significance due to his personal history with it. The bike started life as a 1963 Bonneville — engine # T120 DU 1683, frame # DU 1683 — before being built into a Californian desert sled by legendary stuntman and McQueen’s good friend, Bud Ekins. Ekins is credited with coaching McQueen in bike control on the desert


trails of California and how to race bikes off-road, and it was Ekins who doubled for McQueen in the famous Great Escape barbed-wire fence jump scene after producers forbade McQueen from attempting the leap. The stock Bonneville front wheel was replaced with a 1956 Triumph hub and 19-inch wheel to reduce the unsprung weight. In addition to sidecar springs in the front forks, the rake was increased slightly by modifying the steering head. The rear tyre was a 4 x 18in Dunlop sports knobby requiring a minor modification to the rear frame hoop for clearance. A Bates cross-country seat was fitted, along with Flanders handlebars with leather hand guards and a small piece of tubing taped to the throttle to provide better grip. A Harlan bash plate was added to protect the motor and the footpegs were braced. The oil tank capacity was increased and the filler brought out from under the seat for improved access. The oil tank also serves as part of the rear guard, saving weight. The filtering of the desert dirt is handled by paper air cleaners connected by a custom collector box to twin Amal carburettors. The cross-over exhaust pipes are Ekins’ own design and are left unplated for better heat dissipation. The engine is basically a stock 650cc Bonneville but with lowered compression for reliability. The oil pressure indicator was converted to a pop-off relief valve with a return line to the oil tank to reduce the likelihood of snagging on the salt bushes. The motor runs Jomo TT cams and Lode RL47 platinum spark plugs. The paint was done by McQueen’s friend Ken Howard, better known as Von Dutch, but lacked the graphics and pin-striping he was famous for, not surprising when you

consider it was built as a bush basher. The patina from the bike’s desert days is still visible, including cracks in the protection plate on the front of the bike and on the exhaust pipes. Steve McQueen was the real deal, as tough in the flesh as he was in the movies. Racing lightly-modified road bikes at breakneck speeds across the desert was an extreme sport by any measure, especially 50 years ago when there were no satellites or mobile phones, let alone longtravel suspension. The story goes that he once had a spill on the Triumph, resulting in a gash to his leg from the fixed footpegs. One of the ladies produced a needle and thread, stitched the cut without anaesthetic and then McQueen got back on the bike and continued the ride. He became known as the King of Cool. Not hard to see why.

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Social Pages

LIFE'S TOO SHORT

ADAM McGRATH

RUSS MURRAY

Pages l a i c o S

PHOTO: RUSS MURRAY CON HARRIMAN

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CON HARRIMAN


ADAM McGRATH

ADAM McGRATH

CON HARRIMAN

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Social Pages LIFE'S TOO SHORT

ALAN WELLS

ALAN WELLS

MOTOR RAUSCH

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MOTOR RAUSCH

RUSS MURRAY

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READERLAND OPINION PAGE

UGLY DUCKLING

TRIGONOMETRY AUSTRALIA’S BEST LAVERDA

QUAKE CITY RUMBLERS

BRAVEHEART

 THE UGLY DUCKLING

 MIND YOUR MANNERS

TOP read on the GSX750. What a sweet bike, I love it! I've always wanted to modernise an old bike, to me it’s best of both worlds. Can I have a go before you sell it, Peter? Glen Hibbard

I HATE hearing people at shows slag off some of the bikes just because they don’t like some aspect of it. People build custom bikes for themselves, not for what other people might think. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. Anthony Armstrong

 QUAKE CITY RUMBLERS #1 PUKKA last issue. Loved how the Quake City Rumblers made the best of a bad situation. Hope they’re okay after the recent earthquakes. Kit Walker

centre-stand before I could drop the clutch and go. It didn’t make for a good longterm relationship so I bought a Ducati 600 Pantah instead. I’ve still got the Pantah and my wife recently bought me a V7II Moto Guzzi so that she doesn't have to chase me around the countryside with a trailer every time I experience electrical problems with the Ducati. Thanks for a great read, keep it up! Andy Erskine

 TRIGONOMETRY LAST issue’s opening feature was the best yet. Perfect stance, fantastic bodywork and all those sexy subtle curves in exactly the right places. Outstanding! Peter Doyle

 QUAKE CITY RUMBLERS #2 AS an ex-pat Kiwi, permanent Australian resident and lifelong motorcyclist, I really enjoyed the story on the lads from Christchurch. More than two strokes is a wank, what a great line! Bruce Morley

 BRAVEHEART ROLAND Sands’ Indian Scout is something else. Time for the rest of us to lift our game! Grumpy Scott

 LIFE’S TOO SHORT  AUSTRALIA’S BEST LAVERDA I AM totally in awe of the amount of customisation that has gone into Red Cawte’s Motodd Laverda. I can’t even comprehend how he conceptualised it, let alone built it. I lusted after a Laverda in the 1980s but realised it may not be a practical choice after I took my mate’s 1200 Mirage for a ride. I could barely reach the ground with my toes and needed him to push me off the 98

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I AM 60 now and I can't agree any more about the younger generation getting into the bike scene with such vitality and imagination. Loved the editorial in issue 24. Back in the old days, building customs was hard and tedious but I love the variety now. I own a Harley, a Triumph and some big Japanese bikes, but my daily ride to work is a 125cc café racer with white walls, clip-ons and a race kit! Woo hoo! No matter what your age, let's ride! Geoff Opie

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

(Retro Bike Magazine) on Facebook.


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RCBE#25 SUMMER 16/17  

The 25th edition of Australia’s coolest motorcycle magazine is now on sale with another carefully curated collection of modified bikes and l...

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