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(Both incl. GST)

ISSUE 26 AUTUMN 2017

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R NINE-T NEO RACER

A JS P O R C UPI NE R E T R O FI R E B L AD E H I M A L AYA N HE R OE S


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EDITORIAL HORSES FOR COURSES

G'DAY WITH GEOFF SEDDON

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MET Stuart Hooper at Speed Week on Lake Gairdner last year, as he prepared The World’s Fastest Velocette for what would be a recordshattering 193mph run. That’s 310km/h in the new money, on a pushrod Pommy single! Stuart’s bike is every bit as inventive and personal as was Burt Munro’s World’s Fastest Indian, which inspired it. Burt was fond of saying that if you didn’t follow through on your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable. No chance of that happening with Stuart Hooper. A lifelong British bike nut, he has also sailed a yacht around Australia and had a long and successful career in motor racing as a driver and constructor before he switched to motorcycle land speed racing in 2009. Stuart sat out Speed Week in 2017. The race bike is so far into uncharted territory, finding that last seven mph will take a mountain of creative thought, engineering and time. And after eight years focused on the big white dyno, he had some other priorities to address, one of which was another lap of Australia, only this time on a motorcycle with his wife Marsha riding shotgun. Their mount was a 1959 Velocette Venom, the same

bike that ran 131mph on Lake Gairdner on Stuart’s salt-racing debut, albeit converted back to touring spec. “Well, that’s my bike,” Stuart says by way of explanation. Although he has others on club rego, “the Venom’s the only (fully) road-registered bike I have.” The pair initially set off from their Sunshine Coast home with friends on another Velo and a BMW, but no back-up vehicle. “We are self-

23,000 kilometres over four months on a 1959 Velocette"

EDITOR Geoff Seddon DESIGNER Andrew Johnstone CONTRIBUTORS Paul Bailey, Jonathan Balsvik, Viv Canini, Alan Cathcart, Nigel Crowley, Simon Davidson, Cam Elkins, Ben Galli, Alex Gardner, Stuart Garrard, Danielle Gittoes, Simon Hamelius, Jeremy Hudson, Paul Hutchison, Bruce Linnell, Lukas Magerl, Jamie McIwraith, Russ Murray, Kyoichi Nakamura, Chris Rausch, Francois Richer, Alastair Ritchie, Pierre Le Targat, James Walker ADVERTISING MANAGER Fi Collins ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Marcus Hucker

contained on the bike,” Stuart says. Apart from a broken primary chain near Cloncurry, and later a tyre blow-out, the 500cc Venom took the 23,000km over four months in its loping stride, with Stuart calling on Velocette and salt-racing friends to service it along the way. “Marsha loves riding on the bike,” he says. “The photo was taken in the Pilbara and I feel it is timeless. It could almost have been taken at any time in the last 60 years. “The Venom sits on 55 to 60mph and is surprisingly comfortable and normal to ride, although it is small so you have to cut out the weight and any unnecessary stuff. The biggest limitation is 1959 brakes.” Stuart Hooper is not alone in tackling big distances on ancient bikes. Two mates on Series A Vincents have recently done a lap, he says, as has another on a WLA Harley, prompting Stuart to consider the unthinkable on his 1932 OHC Velo, rigid frame and all. Anyone can buy a new adventure bike and circumnavigate our vast continent, just as anyone can turbocharge a Hayabusa that will run 200mph on the salt. But if life is there to be lived to the fullest, what better way than from the saddle of a vintage motorcycle.

UNIVERSAL MAGAZINES CHAIRMAN/CEO Prema Perera PUBLISHER Janice Williams CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Vicky Mahadeva ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Emma Perera FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION MANAGER James Perera CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Mark Darton CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kate Podger EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION MANAGER Anastasia Casey MARKETING & ACQUISITIONS MANAGER Chelsea Peters SUBS 1300 303 414 www.universalmagazines.com.au

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

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Just when you think it's all been done to the BMW R nineT...

FEATURE BIKES 08

RETRO FIREBLADE

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BMW NEO RACER

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AJS PORCUPINE

Wenley Andrews blends streetfighter aggression with cafe racer style and a healthy dose of comic book surrealism in this one-of-a-kind CBR954RR Honda

The R nineT has been a great platform for building a custom bike. Here a pair of young Germans go further than any have gone before

Meet the winner of the first-ever 500cc world championship in 1949. We ride the rarest and most successful British 500 GP racer of all time

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44

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WORLD’S FASTEST VELO

EZEKIEL THE SWORD

KAWASAKI GPz750

Running as fast as 310km/h, Stuart Hooper’s supercharged Velocette is the world’s fastest single-cylinder anything, on land, sea or in the air

Ed Turner Motorcycles transforms a bland old Kawasaki Z1000ST touring bike into a sharp-edged weapon of vengeful destruction

Fibreglass and metal-flake paint make a comeback on Paul Hutchison’s homebuilt tribute to the sportbikes and endurance racers of the 1980s

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BLUE SMOKE THEORY

Roland Sands mates a souped-up aircooled RD400 engine and a TZ250 race chassis in a noisy, smoky celebration of cafe racing goodness

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CAPTAIN AMERICA

A meek and mild 790cc Triumph Bonneville America is reborn as a ripsnorting, Harley-eating monster with the bling to match its brawn

DUCATI 860 CUSTOM

A bunch of Swedish surfers build an Italian cafe racer for a Nordic rap artist, music to the ears for fans of Ducati’s humble springvalve 860


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REGULARS 05 82 84 86 88 92 94 98

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

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OTHER STUFF

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WENLEY ANDREWS — HONDA CBR954RR PHOTO BY CAM ELKINS

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HIGH AS KITES

Cool lads (and one brave lass) ride Royal Enfields to the very top of the world for fun, friendship and charity

58

RCB026_POSTER SIDE A.indd

SNOW QUAKE

The people who brought us Dirt Quake head to the Italian Alps and go several steps cooler. Talk about chilled!

1

ROLAND SANDS — YAMAHA RD400/TZ250 PHOTO BY ALASTAIR RITCHIE 3/2/

:07:14 PM

90

TRIUMPH T120

Nigel Crowley road-tests the all-new liquidcooled 1200cc Triumph twin. Is it the best Bonneville since 1959?

3/2/2017 4:07:45 PM

RCB026_POSTER SIDE B.indd 1

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Retro Fighters

2004 HONDA FIREBLADE CBR954RR

ANGRY BIRD

Wenley Andrews blends streetfighter aggression, cafe racer cool and the fattest tyres he could find on this genreblending Honda Fireblade WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY CAM ELKINS

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Retro Fighters

2004 HONDA FIREBLADE CBR954RR

Fire In The Hole WAY back in 1992, I covered the international launch of the CBR900RR Fireblade at Phillip Island for Streetbike magazine. It was big news at the time, with performance comparable to the giant-killing RC30 production racer (Retrobike #21) at a fraction of the cost. The all-new model went like a 1000 but was 20-30kg lighter than even the popular 750 sports bikes of the day, producing a torquey 126hp at 10,500rpm and weighing just 186kg dry. It was the

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size of a 600, handled impeccably with almost limitless cornering clearance and stopped on a dime. With the best power-to-weight ratio in the business, Fireblades sold by the shipload and changed forever the way all the Japanese factories approached their sports bikes. The CBR900RR received frequent chassis improvements as capacity increased from 893cc to 918cc in 1996, 929cc in 2000 (a completely new engine with fuel injection) and 954cc in

2002, by which time dry weight had dropped below 170kg. During 2004, it was replaced by the all-new CBR1000RR which, after countless further upgrades, is still available in 2017, only now it makes 189hp at 13,000rpm but still weighs around 10kg less than the original 900. With a 25-year model history, there’s a Fireblade out there for every budget and a good one won’t disappoint.


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WANTED to build something ‘unrealistic’, something that looked like it came out of a comic book,” Wenley Andrews says of the Honda Fireblade he calls Angry Bird. “Most of my builds up until then were cafe style and I wanted to explore different options, even if I wasn’t sure how the public would take it.” Wenley had already made a name for himself in Sydney custom circles as a builder of cafe racers based on modern Triumph twins when his mind turned to completing a streetfighter project that had never really gotten off the ground nearly a decade ago. “The build began in 2008,” he says. “I was really into streetfighters, so I started gathering bits like the VFR swingarm and having other parts made,” even though he didn’t have a donor bike at the time. “But soon after, I bought a Triumph Bonneville and my whole world changed as I started modifying them, which soon became such a

toilet and went for broke. He had the front rim widened to take a monster 180-width Metzeler tyre, which obviously wasn’t going to fit between the standard Fireblade forks. Wider triple trees were CNC-machined from alloy billet to house custom forks, along with an axle and spacers to suit and a fibreglass front guard that Wenley laid up himself. Taking a leaf from Harley dressers, the CBR forks have been shrouded for a fat look, which highlights the otherwise clean front end with its four-inch headlight and custom-bent one-inch handlebar fitted with an internal throttle. Wiring for the

Stories Of Bike CHECK out Wenley and an earlier Triumph build at YouTube channel ‘Stories of Bike’, by photographer and videographer Cam Elkins. It’s a great collection of short films on motorcycling characters and roads, including the Old Road and the Putty. Highly recommended! Cam also took the photos for this feature and would like to say thanks to 55 Collection for Wenley’s Zip86 jacket and 55 Touch Screen gloves.

“I WANTED TO EXPLORE DIFFERENT OPTIONS, EVEN IF I WASN’T SURE HOW THE PUBLIC WOULD TAKE IT” regular thing that I started my own motorcycle custom business in 2011. “I was in my element. The Triumph Bonneville craze was pounding at my doorstep, sleeping was at a minimum and all I could think about was motorcycles. But from time to time, my mind would drift back to streetfighters and how to combine the two worlds of streetfighters and retro cafe racers.” Wenley finally took action in 2015, when he bought a 2004 CBR954RR Honda Fireblade in Perth for $6000. It was in mint condition, one owner with 3000km on the clock. “In its time it was the fastest bike around,” he says. “I got all the parts I’d gathered all those years ago from under my parents’ house, brushed off all the cobwebs and they were as good as new. It was initially going to be a pure streetfighter with the masked headlight, belly pan and pointy tail, but after building the Triumphs with the cafe/ retro theme, I went with a retro tracker seat and headlight; the idea being to combine the meanest streetfighter parts with the meanest cafe/tracker parts. “The ideas grew, and so did the spending. I went out and purchased a Motogadget mini speedo and blinkers — if you know Motogadget, then you know the hefty price this was! Yikes!” So Wenley flushed the budget down the

bar-end blinkers is also carried inside the tubing. At the rear, the single-sided VFR swingarm replaced the twin-sided Fireblade set-up, offset enough to take a humungous custommade rear wheel with a 280-width Metzeler — the Harley Breakout and Ducati Diavel run 240s, by comparison. “This is by all means not a simple conversion,” Wenley says. “I know a lot of people have done it and I commend them for it!” With the bike sitting on its new wheels, attention turned to chopping the seat subframe for a tracker-style tail unit, and the tank was filled to account for the loss of the airbox. Assisting on all fabrication was Billy Kuyken, before Wenley’s resident painter Jack Johnson refreshed the frame in black and the bodywork in a light sky blue, with orange highlights. “When the seat was being made, I saw a Lamborghini with orange stitching on the seats, so I told Andrew De Bono from Beyond Trim in Perth to make it look the same,” he says. “But I didn’t want the whole bike orange, so Jack suggested we continue the theme with the

orange pinstripes.” Wenley generally leaves the exhaust to last. He is fond of the double-barrelled shotgun look, in this case exiting high on the right under the rider’s seat. The bike owes Wenley $15,000 in parts and paint, on top of the purchase price, although if you were to cost in 300 man-hours @ $100 you’d be looking at a $50,000 bike. “Building the whole bike was a challenge but the end result is worth the effort,” he says. Mixing the different custom genres “was a huge gamble but I think it worked out okay”. ISSUE #26

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Retro Fighters

2004 HONDA FIREBLADE CBR954RR

“IF YOU WERE TO COST IN 300 MAN-HOURS, YOU’D BE LOOKING AT A $50,000 BIKE”

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Retro Specs ENGINE Liquid-cooled four-stroke inline four; chain-driven DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 75 x 54mm for 954cc; 11.5:1 comp; fuel injected; custom dual-shotgun exhaust; nine-plate clutch to six-speed gearbox and chain final drive; 154hp @ 11,250rpm (stock) CHASSIS Twin-spar extruded aluminium chassis with modified seat subframe; custom triple trees, shrouded 43mm Fireblade USD forks with widened 17in rim to accept 180-width Metzeler tyre, 2 x 330mm rotors with twin-piston calipers; VFR750 single-sided swingarm, custom rear wheel with 280-width Metzeler, inboard 256mm rotor with single-piston caliper BODYWORK Modified Fireblade tank; custom seat unit and mudguards; four-inch headlight; Motogadget dash and blinkers; paint by Jack Johnson WEBSITE www.wenley.com.au BEST FOR Standing apart from the herd; great blend of styles NOT SO GREAT Potential to upset purists on all sides

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Competition

VELOCETTE LAND SPEED SPECIAL

THE WORLD’S

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FA S T E S T VELOCETTE How to go impossibly fast on just one cylinder WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY SIMON DAVIDSON

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Competition

VELOCETTE LAND SPEED SPECIAL

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NE of the many great things about land speed racing is the sound. There are no decibel limits nor audio barriers as riders and drivers stay hard on the gas seemingly forever, then stay on it some more. Long after they’ve disappeared into the haze and just as the noise starts to fade, the exhaust echoes off the far mountain range and you get to hear it in stereo. And still they stay on it! Most of the cars run booming V8s but they’ve been outnumbered by bikes for a while now, a direct legacy of The World’s Fastest Indian. The quickest local riders go as fast as 230mph on late-model four-cylinder Jappas, but it’s the big twins running up to 175mph that sound most like Burt Munro’s much-modified Scout. And then there’s Stuart Hooper’s Velocette which sounds like nothing else, at 193mph the world’s fastest single-cylinder anything and possibly the loudest. “The exhaust is big, heavy and noisy,” Stuart says. “It idles at 3000rpm and even the car guys stop to listen. At top speed it’s doing 7000rpm and fires around 900 times in a mile, which is roughly once every wheel rotation.” Stuart is a self-taught mechanical engineer with a long history in motor sport and a lifelong passion for British motorcycles. He has been salt racing since 2009 when he ran a more-thancredible 131mph on a relatively stock-looking Velocette single, albeit already at 700cc. “A Velocette Venom was the first bike to

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average 100mph over 24 hours, in 1961,” he says. “I thought a decent one could do 150mph so that became my goal. The original project started with an immaculate 500cc road bike that I bought in Wollongong. It was in almost concours condition and I was worried that the 80-year-old owner would not sell it to be used as a land speed bike … until I saw a trophy on his wall for setting a 96mph speed record on a Velocette in 1947!” Stuart ran 139mph the following year despite being nearly blown off the track by a newlyinstalled tail fin with an aversion to crosswinds. He headed to Bonneville in 2011 (with a smaller tail fin) for a new AMA record — previously held by Burt Munro — of 146mph which included a best one-way run of 150mph. Job done! A Rootstype supercharger was added in 2013 for 171mph back in Australia which he then bumped up to 183mph in 2014 before switching to a Sprintex supercharger last year to run 193mph. By land speed standards, where increments often come in fractions of a mile-per-hour, it’s been an incredible run in a very short time. So how much of the ‘Big Velo’, as Hooper calls it, is still actually Velocette? “With the exception of the Honda running gear, most of it or not much, depending on your criteria,” he says. “Its DNA is firmly Velocette. The mechanicals, whilst heavily modified and using modern materials, are solidly rooted in the original Velocette design. The engine, gearbox and clutch will bolt into a standard road frame and

“200MPH IS NOT THAT FAR AWAY BUT THE MOUNTAIN IS GETTING VERY STEEP” vice versa. The engine and gearbox both have some original 80-year-old components in them still earning their keep.” (With the race bike getting wilder and wilder, restorers will be relieved to know that the original bike has since been returned to road spec, with Stuart and his wife Marsha last year riding it around Australia, two-up, on a 23,000km odyssey over four months.) The race engine, built by Stuart at his Sunshine Coast workshop, makes around 100rwhp on a mixture of mostly methanol with some added acetone and nitromethane. “We built our own dyno to test and tune as there is nowhere suitable for this kind of bike,” Stuart says. “The engine has always been capable of


making enough power to break something. The trick has been developing what originated as a 12hp 250cc design into something that will hold together for a couple of minutes on full power and maximum revs without melting, breaking, shaking or smashing something to bits.” To this end, new crankcases were cast from Stuart’s patterns by Matilda Foundry in Maryborough and the cylinder barrel machined by Stuart from a solid billet of ductile iron. The bespoke crankshaft incorporates heavy-metal inserts to increase inertia and a crankpin from a GM speedway engine. Stroke has been reduced from the aspirated 700cc engine’s 102mm to the blown engine’s 94mm, which with the 93mm bore reduces capacity to 638cc to fit within the 650

class. A custom Carrillo connecting rod and a bunch of Venolia pistons were also commissioned to Stuart’s specifications, offering a compression ratio of 9:1. It’s a similar story with the valve train. “A blown single needs odd cam timing,” Stuart says, “so I grind my own Tighe cams to several profiles.” The inlet valve is titanium, exhaust super-alloy, both in ToughMet guides with copper beryllium seats controlled by Schmittholm springs. Pushrods, rockers and most everything else are custommade. Aiding things somewhat is the Sprintex blower running 22psi fed by a single two-inch SU carburettor with a whopping 6.5mm main jet. “The engine uses up to a gallon of fuel (4.5 litres) in a minute,” Stuart says. Capacity of the modified 1955 MAC Velo tank is 13 litres. Similarly, the gearbox is based on a four-speed Velocette design from 1934 but filled with gears machined by Nova Racing Transmissions in the UK to Hooper’s design and housed in a billet steel case. With his feet resting in toe rests rather than on footpegs, he up-shifts with his knee and, when it’s all

Ready Reckoner SALT racers talk in miles, never kilometres. Here’s how fast they’re really going: 140mph

224km/h

170mph

274km/h

200mph

322km/h

230mph

370km/h

over, downshifts by hand. Primary drive is by a Gates belt to a modified Velocette clutch, with dual cush-drives and a single-row drive-chain to the rear wheel. The twin-loop frame started as a damaged mid-1950s 350 MAC Velo with maybe 50 per cent of it left, Stuart says. “It’s basically standard in geometry and concept although much stronger and heavier. Rear suspension is not critical for a land speed bike but length and rigidity are,” which explains the mile-long swingarm. Forks, 17-inch wheels and disc brakes are from a 1996 CBR600 Honda. “Originally I used 1948 Velocette upsidedown 38mm forks and spoked wheels with Avon tyres, however the need for higher speed-rated tubeless tyres resulted in me buying the Honda; it was the cheapest and simplest way. The old wheels and forks are going into a rebuild of the original unsupercharged 139mph bike.” As much as the engine, the unusual bodywork is a major part of its phenomenal speed. “Most

Team Velocette (from left): Ron Hill, Gary Cosmo, Tony Hooper, Stuart Hooper, Marsha Lamb, Eric Holmnas, Russell Haughton

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Competition

VELOCETTE LAND SPEED SPECIAL

“IT IDLES AT 3000RPM AND EVEN THE CAR GUYS STOP TO LISTEN”

An earlier incarnation from 2014 (also below), when Stuart ran 183mph with a 1948 Velo front end!

bikes are as aerodynamic as an outside toilet,” he says. “A modern naked bike has a coefficient of drag of around 0.85 and a faired sports bike might be as low as 0.6. A square plate is 1.0. The Velo is 0.32, about as low as you can go with the rider exposed.” The other secret is constantly monitoring fuel flow. With one eye on gauges monitoring exhaust gas temperature, cylinder head temperature and air/fuel ratio, Stuart runs it lean during the early part of each run to get the combustion chamber temperature up to an optimal level, then uses a ’bar-mounted enrichment device to feed in more methanol which has a cooling effect on the engine. “If it gets too hot it will self-destruct,” he says. The Holy Grail is of course 200mph, a stroll in the park for a turbocharged Hayabusa but like climbing Mount Everest on a blown Velocette. “This is not a project where one can purchase lots of bolt-on goodies on eBay and simply put them together, or buy the latest factory race bike and go and set records,” he says. “Almost everything has been made in my workshop by myself and my crew.” In running 193mph last year, Stuart unofficially hit 196mph outside the timed area but twisted the crank and cracked the crankcases in the process. He’s sitting out this year while he addresses other priorities and works on solutions, but he’ll be back. “200mph is not that far away but the mountain is getting very steep now,” Stuart says. “Double the speed, square the drag, cube the power! We are searching for reliability and toughness, not absolute power. Power is relatively straightforward but working within the limitations of the original design is the real problem.” Of all the salt racers inspired by The World’s Fastest Indian, the World’s Fastest Velocette is the purest. As Burt said, you live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat out than some people live in a lifetime. If you don’t follow through on your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable. 18

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Family Business VELOCE Ltd was established in Birmingham, England, in 1905 by John Goodman and remained in the Goodman family until its demise in 1971. The Velocette brand was introduced for its first two-stroke model in 1913 and soon covered all the company’s products. Velocette is mostly famous for its 350 and 500cc four-stroke singles, the first of which in

1925 was an OHC roadster, the KSS, from which the factory later developed the revered KTT production racer. The company added a simpler, more affordable OHV model in 1933, to sell alongside the OHC models, initially as a 250 (the MOV) and later the 350 MAC and 500 MSS, which formed the basis of the company’s post-WW2 production. These included the 500 Venom from

1955 and the legendary 500 Thruxton — good for 41hp and 110mph out of the crate — from 1965. Always hand-built, expensive to buy and finicky to maintain, Velocette struggled against the Japanese invasion in the late 1960s and closed its doors in 1971. Like the Vincent, if you don’t already have a Velo in the shed, you probably can’t afford to own one.

Retro Specs ENGINE Air/oil/fuel-cooled four-stroke single; OHV, two valves per cylinder; 93 x 94mm for 638cc; 9:1 comp; two-inch SU into a Sprintex supercharger at 22psi; methanol/acetone/ nitromethane fuel; MSD MC4 ignition; belt primary to modified Velocette clutch and four-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS Strengthened twin-loop tubular-steel; extended swingarm; shortened Honda CBR600 forks, 17-inch wheels and brakes; Ohlins rear shock; Dunlop Moto GP slicks BODYWORK Modified MAC Velo fuel tank; bodywork by owner; paint by Woodriff ’s Smash Repairs PERFORMANCE 100rwhp @ 7000rpm; top speed 193.061mph (310km/h) Lake Gairdner, 2016 SPECIAL THANKS My wife Marsha; Tim Harlock; Russell, Ron, Eric, Gary, Keith and Brian (crew); Jay Upton; Lawrie Woodriff

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Cafe Racers

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1975 YAMAHA RD400


Roland Sands loves the smell of Castrol R in the morning. It smells like racing WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY ALASTAIR RITCHIE

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Cafe Racers

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1975 YAMAHA RD400

NE thing we’ve noticed at runs and shows lately is the growing number of air-cooled two-stroke customs, albeit from a low base. And why not? Two-stroke motorcycles are as retro as you can get, simple technology once common but now long abandoned, mostly because they don’t run as clean as four-strokes. Political correctness be damned, it’s about time they made a comeback! Roland Sands agrees. He is especially fond of two-strokes after a long road-racing career that culminated in winning the AMA national title on a TZ250 Yamaha almost 20 years ago. These days more famous as a custom bike builder — we’ve featured a bunch of his bikes in recent years, most recently a radical Indian Scout in issue #24 — Roland was pondering what he might build for the following year’s small but influential Born Free bike show in Long Beach, California. “Born Free was starting to branch out,” he says. “People were building crazy new bikes and pushing the boundaries.” Rather than come up with yet another V-twin bobber or chopper, Roland figured a two-stroke cafe racer, built as a tribute to his earlier life in motorcycle competition, would test just how far those boundaries could be stretched. He briefly considered basing something around the notorious Kawasaki H1 500cc triple — “One of the scariest motorcycles ever built,” he says, making it the perfect candidate for a

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frame upgrade — but went instead for a 1975 Yamaha RD400 twin. “I found a donor RD400 at a swap meet for $600. It didn’t run. I worked on it for a year after that and the only things left now are the crankcases and the California title,” he says. “They used to race them as production bikes, so it was kind of the precursor to my TZ250. I’ve been always wanting to build a bike that jammed a two-stroke street motor into a TZ chassis because it’s the best chassis that was ever built.” This particular frame, from 1997, is identical to that of his championship-winning racer of 1998, so he would know. Roland still owns the racebike and most of the parts and spares he accumulated along the way. He is also very close to three-times world 500 GP champ Kenny Roberts, after building a custom board-tracker powered by one of Roberts’ KRV5 GP engines (also a two-stroke, but water-cooled and five cylinders) more than 10 years ago. Kenny totally got what Roland was up to here and offered him the keys to the Team Roberts workshop, where Roland found the magnesium triple clamps for the Ohlins FG43 forks and a tacho from a 500 GP racer, amongst other things. Roland’s own racebike provided the fuel tank and lightweight 17-inch magnesium wheels, the latter made by Performance Machine (a company owned by Roland’s parents) and fitted with Dunlop slicks.

“ROLAND IS CLOSE TO THREETIMES WORLD 500 GP CHAMP KENNY ROBERTS, WHO OFFERED HIM THE KEYS TO HIS RACE WORKSHOP”


The rear shock is also an Ohlins unit mounted on a late-model TZ banana-styled swingarm. The engine was rebuilt from the crankshaft up, then ported and tuned, by Ed Erlenbach, one of the world’s leading experts on air-cooled two-stroke Yamahas for the street and track, including drag and land speed racing where one of his bikes holds the world record for an RD400 at more than 164mph (265km/h). Carburettors are flat-slide Mikunis while the expansion chambers were scratch-built by Brian Turfrey in Oakland and matched to TZ250 silencers. Roland had initially purchased at great expense some way-cool DG radial-finned cylinder heads for the project but Erlenbach thought he could find more power from equally distinctive, weight-relieved Webco heads so went with them. To cope with the poke, Ed also cut a fresh set of custom gears for the transmission and fitted a TZ dry clutch to spin in the breeze. Roland’s original TZ fuel tank was panelbeaten to remove the dings from its racing days and matched to a seat unit made by Aaron Boss, with Scotty Diminick also assisting with general fabrication. Both the tank and seat are presented in raw aluminium with pin-striping by Tom Clark, who also added the ‘bumble bee’ seat stripes which tie in so well with the sectioned expansion chambers. The carbonfibre fairing looks like it came off an early Ducati Super Sport; the silver-leaf graphics on the lower

Twin Peaks YAMAHA was established in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha in Hamamatsu as a musical instrument company that to this day produces a fine line of pianos, guitars and other instruments; hence the ‘tuning fork’ logo adorning its motorcycles, which the company has been making since 1955. The first was a 125cc single-cylinder two-stroke DKW knock-off not a million miles from the BSA Bantam, dubbed the YA-1. Its first 250cc parallel twin, the YD-1, followed in 1957 but it was the YDS-3 that was the game changer in road-going two-strokes in 1964 by employing an oil-injection system when everyone else was still pre-mixing oil in the fuel tank. The factory started racing with the YDS-1 in 1959 and was soon selling kits to privateers to upgrade their own streeters. It also formed the basis for Yamaha’s first dedicated 250cc production racer (the TD-1) in 1962 and later the much-improved TD-2 (and 350cc TR-2) in 1969. The TD-3 and TR-3 followed in 1972, the last of Yamaha’s air-cooled race bikes before the company switched to water-cooling with the first of the TZs in 1973. The breakthrough RD250 and 350 road bikes appeared in the same year, still air-cooled but with reed valves instead of piston-port induction, six speeds in the gearbox and a chassis modelled on the new TZ, including disc front brakes. The RD350 in particular was a match for all but the most powerful four-strokes of the day and was upgraded to the RD400 in late 1975 — the last and best of Yamaha’s air-cooled two-stroke twins — before being replaced by the liquid-cooled RD350LC in 1980.

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Cafe Racers

1975 YAMAHA RD400

“I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO JAM A TWO-STROKE STREET MOTOR INTO A TZ CHASSIS”

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Cafe Racers

1975 YAMAHA RD400

“IT’S AS CLOSE TO A STREETABLE RACE BIKE AS YOU CAN GET WITH A VINTAGE ENGINE”

sections read ‘2-Stroke Attack’ in Japanese. Clipons, bar grips, tank strap and other accessories are from Roland Sands Design. As you’d expect of a 250 GP bike, Roland’s tribute is “freakin’ small” in the metal. “It’s a good idea to stretch before you ride it,” he says. “The race bike weighed, like 230lb (104kg), so this bike would be in the same range, maybe a little lighter as it doesn’t have radiators or a water pump or a lot of other things. “I’m probably only going to build one of these so I wanted to make it nice, kind of my ultimate version of this (style of) bike. Hopefully it’s new and unique and something people haven’t seen before. I’m not going to say it’s a race bike but it’s as close to a streetable race bike as you can get with a vintage engine. “It’s not like I’m using new technology, it’s just straight old-school two-stroke air-cooled technology. It’s as simple as a motor gets and it just takes me back; the sound that two-strokes make, the smell, the castor oil. That was one thing that always got me going about two-strokes, the smell of them. It just smells like racing.”

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled two-stroke parallel twin; reed-valve induction; 64 x 62mm for 398cc; 6.2:1 comp; 2 x Mikuni flat-slide carbs; Webco cylinder heads; TZ250 dry clutch to custom six-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS Cast twin-spar aluminium frame and banana-style swingarm; 43mm Ohlins conventional forks and TTX mono-shock; Performance Machine magnesium wheels; 17inch Dunlop KR slicks BODYWORK 1998 TZ250 fuel tank; carbonfibre SS-style fairing; seat unit by Aaron Boss; graphic and pin-striping by Tom ‘The Undertaker’ Clark DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1342mm; dry weight 100kg (est); fuel capacity 23 litres BEST FOR Jockeys; street racing; the twostroke smell gets in everything NOT SO GREAT The two-stroke smell gets in everything 26

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Adventures

HIMALAYAN HEROES

H I G H A S KITES Dudes ride Royal EnďŹ elds to the top of the world for fun, friendship and charity WORDS & PHOTOS VIV CANINI

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Adventures

HIMALAYAN HEROES

R

EGULAR readers will know all about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), a worldwide phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Beginning as a concept idea in Perth, it has been taken to its unpredictable scale by the founder of the Sydney Cafe Racers, Mark Hawwa. In only just a few short and very hardworking years, Mark and his team turned this concept into becoming the world’s largest fundraising motorcycle event. It is held annually on the last Sunday of September, with funds being raised over the course of the year. This international charity event is aimed at those who own and ride classic and vintage-styled motorcycles, groom

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their moustaches and don their suits, all to raise awareness and funds for the Movember Foundation’s men’s health programs. In 2016 we saw over 57,500 riders across 500 cities in 90 countries raise in excess of $3.5 million. The numbers included a group of likeminded bikers who wanted to step out in style to make DGR a memorable event. So they stepped out alright, right out of their comfort zones and took their fundraising to a whole new level, 18,380 feet above sea level to be precise. Distinguished folk from across the world joined together for the inaugural DGR in the Himalayas and the experience of a lifetime, traveling the world's ‘Highest Motorable Road’. We had all types join us from all over Australia and the UK, even

including a couple of (not real) Maharajahs! Commencing in Delhi, it took the gents an overnight bus ride and seven days of acclimatisation to get to the starting point of the DGR. This didn’t seem too difficult considering all their concentration was focused during that time on staying upright while taking in the breathtaking views, manoeuvring on various terrains and crossing several high mountain passes. Travelling through the Himalayas can be hard work but we have a lot of fun and always made time for well deserved feed and rest stops along the way. At the end of every working week, Fancy Pants Friday takes place. This is when we ride for the entire day wearing outrageously good-


“THEY STEPPED OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONES AND TOOK THEIR FUNDRAISING TO A WHOLE NEW PLACE, 18,380 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL”

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looking trousers and try to start new fashion trends in the remote villages of the Himalayas. As we roll in, we do get some odd looks from the locals, but even though their English is quite limited, it’s definitely a great icebreaker. Just buying a pair of these pants for about $4 can be quite the entertaining experience and it helps support the local community. The value is priceless. Traditions are important, and we have a few of them. The ‘I do my own stunts’ ceremony takes place on a daily basis. Usually the award is a T-shirt that gets handed over and never washed during the course of the adventure. It normally gets worn until the next person has a spill. A trophy was used in this instance, as Rex — the guy who was supposed to start the tour wearing said T-shirt — somehow lost it in transit on the first day. During the course of the ride, a number of guys came off. So many offs, in fact, that we ended up with a ‘down the line’ handover in order of stunt. Mind you, when I say stunt, it could have merely been just a drop of the bike on unstable terrain in a car park. There definitely were more intense incidents, and fortunately everyone walked away to ride another day. And we still hadn’t reached the starting point for the DGR yet. Boys being boys always kept things interesting, especially when it came down to the stunts and rules, which were never the same for anyone and always made up along the way.

Often hysterical debates were decided by a majority vote. The tribe had spoken! Finally 25th September, the day everyone had prepared for, was upon us — riding to the top of the world on the world’s highest road, in suits! The Old Fort, built in the 16th century, was the first royal residence in Leh and a truly stunning launching pad for our DGR. The magnificent viewing point made for an exciting start on an unknown journey for our riders. The posse of Royal Enfield Classics and Bullets just added to the experience. As we started to climb through the winding switchbacks of upper Leh, it got colder and colder. What used to be small waterfalls were now starting to freeze over. After a quick frisk at the military checkpoint of South Pollu, and several stops later to take in the amazing view, we finally reached the top, and just to add to the experience, the Himalayas did not fail to impress with light snowfall. I found it physically and emotionally challenging more so than at any other time that I had been there. Wearing a Maharani outfit, leather jacket and no extra layers or gloves, was very stupid on my part, as it really wasn’t the ideal attire for travelling to the top of the world. I could have seriously gone into hypothermia. It wasn’t long after reaching the top that I started to feel the effects of altitude sickness, and knew I had to head back down the mountain as fast as I could. After a quick marsala chai to get warmth and mobility back into my fingers, I left the guys

“I FOUND IT PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY CHALLENGING MORE SO THAN AT ANY OTHER TIME I’D BEEN THERE”

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HIMALAYAN HEROES

“AFTER A QUICK MARSALA CHAI, I LEFT THE GUYS BEHIND"

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behind as I made my own way back into Leh. The gents carried on by climbing a further 200m up rocks to celebrate making it to the very top. It was one of our riders’ birthday too, so after a few celebratory nips of some fine 18-year-old scotch and birthday cake, they then made their way back down the mountain. Once on tarmac, it was time to race! The aim? To see who could get closest to Leh with no engine power. Rolling starts were permitted for the downhill tarmac switchbacks and, although there was no official prize for coming first, coasting back down the switchbacks while picking up speed was a hoot. The whooshing sound from the tyres as someone overtakes you and the silence and lack of thump from the 500cc singles is eerily strange, but ever so exhilarating and rewarding in itself. The boys had finally returned back to the hotel and it was now time to have a few Kingfishers and share their stories of the day. With all the banter and flourishing bromances so far to date, they still had four more days of travelling across the Himalayas before the adventure came to an end. The journey went as far as Kargil, before we

had to turn back around. Due to hostilities in the Srinagar/Pakistan region, we made the wise decision to play it safe and head back to Leh. With the last few days of the journey through some awe-inspiring vistas, the banter, laughter, and camaraderie is something I will always remember. Although it was officially the end of the tour, it was just the beginning of new friendships and a brand new way of looking at life. For me, this is a personal journey that will continue on through 2017 and beyond. I understand that travelling the Himalayas is not everyone’s cup of marsala chai, but no matter what happens in life, just aim high, do what makes your heart sing, and you will be truly happy! We are only on this earth for a short time, so enjoy it while you can and cherish those who love you. I LOOK forward to being better prepared for DGR 2017. Anyone wanting more info about adventures through the Himalayas can head to Himalayanheroes.com or follow Viv on Instagram @666metalmaiden. For more photos, check out 666metalmaiden.fotomerchant.com


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Neo Racers

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2015 BMW R NINE-T


Two young Germans rewrite the rules on cafe racer etiquette with just their fourth build WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY LUKAS MAGERL

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Neo Racers

2015 BMW R NINE-T

T

OM Konecny and Pablo Steigleder are a pair of 20-something university students who, while pursuing their studies, have turned a custom bikebuilding hobby into a flourishing business, Diamond Atelier, in just a few short years. As good German boys, their main focus is on Berlin-built BMWs, in particular airhead twins. No two are alike but none as aggressive as this, their fourth build and the first based on an eight-valve R nineT, which they call DA#4. The custom bike scene in Munich in 2013 was happening but the bikes had a sameness about them, Tom says. “With most custom parts being bought from catalogues and not hand-built, the majority looked like they’d rolled off the same cafe racer production line. There had to be more to it than that.” He and Pablo formed a

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partnership and hit the ground running. Their early builds based on airhead twins attracted the attention of monster German basketball brand K1X, also based in Munich, who commissioned Diamond Atelier to build a bike to accompany the release of its new Core line in 2016. K1X’s motto is ‘Play Hard’ and that Tom and Pablo did, spending every cent of a considerable budget in creating a custom bike that looked like it was made to play hard at Europe’s wildest and most competitive custom event, the Glemseck Sprints (Retrobike #23), which of course it was. “When we started on the R nineT, we’d already seen tonnes of these bikes customised by many other folks and companies,” Tom says. “The one feature that most builds shared was trying to capture the old-school, vintage look,

“MANY CUSTOMS LOOK THEY ROLLED OFF THE SAME CAFE RACER PRODUCTION LINE. THERE HAD TO BE MORE TO IT THAN THAT”


something which is not really the Diamond Atelier style. Another similarity we noticed is that people didn’t walk the extra mile on some details, which you probably wouldn’t notice without having one of these machines yourself. For example, keeping the stock controls because using aftermarket ones requires reprogramming of the CAN-bus (electronics) system. Or not painting the swingarm because taking it out and especially putting it back in requires a lot of work and special BMW tools. “So the task on this bike was clear, to create a full-blown urban cafe racer in our signature ‘radical and uncompromising’ style, without cutting any corners on our way there.” First thing on their list was the fuel tank; broader, lower, and much more angular than stock. “I’m not sure where the original vision for

the tank came from,” Tom says. “I was surfing the ’net for inspiration, like you do, when I saw the top half of a tank from years ago. It might have been a Guzzi, but whatever it was the shape gave me some basis for the rest of the fuel tank. We wanted to go for something that hadn’t been seen before, but still implement some R nineT style into it, so we kept the idea of the stock air intake on the side of the tank, but made it symmetrical and running through a tunnel formed out of aluminium.” In fact the whole tank is hand-beaten from aluminium, including deep recesses in the underside to house much of the electrics and a Linergy battery pack so they could open up the area behind the engine. The minimal solo seat unit was similarly constructed on a custom bolt-on seat subframe, with concealed LED

strip lighting and Motogadget M-blaze bar-end blinkers helping with legalities. Most R nineT customisers stick with the stock suspension, wheels and brakes, maybe splashing out on black powder-coated forks and rims. And why not, they make for a very good-handling package. DA#4 however goes one better while still keeping it local with a pair of trick Wilbers Blackline upside-down forks up front — said to offer ultra-low friction and almost infinite adjustability — in custom triple trees and with a matching Blackline multiadjustable mono-shock down back. Brakes are stock apart from ABM master cylinders and fluid reservoirs, while stiffer spokes were laced onto the stock hubs and rims to handle the additional grip from the Metzeler slicks, de rigeur at the serious end of Glemseck.

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Neo Racers

2015 BMW R NINE-T

“MOST R NINE-T BUILDS TRY TO CAPTURE THE OLD-SCHOOL VINTAGE LOOK, WHICH IS NOT OUR STYLE”

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Low-mounted Multi-Clip clip-ons are also from ABM, as are the levers and controls, while rear-sets are from AC Schnitzer. Most of the electrics are Motogadget, including the Motoscope dash and keyless ignition. Indeed it was the electrics that presented the biggest challenges. “The R nineT is designed to allow simple, personal customisation, like removing or changing the indicators and rear lighting,” Tom says. “But we needed to go further than that to achieve our vision for the bike,” in particular cleaning up the front end with all those cool ABM and Motogadget bits. “The days of simply swapping components are long gone. Every electrical item we changed, from the starter switch to the headlight to the exhaust sensors, meant the ECU had to be reprogrammed in order for the system to accept changes to the standard working parameters. This would mean many hours would need to be spent at an official Motorrad dealer every time we changed something. Instead we bought specialist connectors and spent hours in front of a laptop to make sure the bike and all its functions could work correctly. A lot of people would rather leave the stock items in place or change them without altering the electronics thinking it’ll all work fine, but it won’t.” The engine is stock apart from the new air intakes and Diamond Atelier’s own very

special exhaust, although the ECU was remapped to suit and so make a little more poke than standard. K1X is an aggressive, in-your-face brand and this is reflected in the bike’s paint and bling. The all-black look extends to the swingarm (which required it be disassembled) and is highlighted by pinstripes and matte-black knee sections on the tank, while the triple trees, wheel hubs and leather seat have been finished in a fetching shade of olive green. The psychedelic cowhide graphic painted on the induction tunnels and wheel rims is from the K1X catalogue. Like a lot of pro basketballers, Tom and Pablo also like their jewellery, evidenced here by a custom billet ABM breastplate, stirling silver K1X tank emblems and a small diamond set in the top triple clamp. When asked what area they looked at the closest in designing and building DA#4, Tom says simply “the area the bike stands in. No seriously, even though we spent over 400 hours to complete the build, the whole bike is just so beautiful. We particularly like the exhaust, though. We made it to be different but it had to work on so many levels: performance, looks, ground clearance, tone, everything.” The influential Pipeburn blog has labelled DA#4 a ‘Neo Racer’ because cafe racer just doesn’t cut it on a bike as tough and bold as this. We like it a lot.


Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke flat twin; DOHC, four-valves per cylinder; 103 x 73mm for 1170cc; 12:1 comp; fuel-injected; Motogadget keyless ignition; Diamond Atelier induction and exhaust; ABM breastplate; dry clutch, six-speed gearbox, shaft final drive; 110hp @ 7750rpm (stock) CHASSIS Modified BMW tubular steel trellis mainframe; bolt-on DA subframe; Wilbers Blackline upside-down forks and mono-shock; 2 x 320mm rotors with Brembo four-spot calipers on laced 17-inch rim (front); single 265mm rotor and twin-piston Brembo on laced 17-inch rim (rear); Metzeler Racetec slicks BODYWORK Custom tank and seat unit in aluminium by DA; no mudguards; ABM clipons, controls, master cylinders, fluid reservoirs and braided lines; AC Schnitzer rear-sets; Motogadget Motoscope speedo and M-blaze bar-end indicators; olive leather handstitched seat BEST FOR Attracting attention; eighth-mile drag racing; track days NOT SO GREAT Graphics are an acquired taste but we do like the green seat

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Customs

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1980 KAWASAKI Z1000ST


A bland ol’ tourer is transformed into a cut-throat weapon of biblical proportions WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY FRANCOIS RICHER & PIERRE LE TARGAT

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Customs

1980 KAWASAKI Z1000ST

T

ALK about take no prisoners! This insane custom from Ed Turner Motorcycles in France is as warlike and aggressive as they come. It was commissioned by Gregoire, a survivor of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, during which 130 people were murdered. Engraved on the tank are verses from Book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament of The Bible which speak of a vengeful God unsheathing a mighty sword to take revenge on those who wrong Him. “Gregoire thought that he had been sitting on the starting line for too long and decided his dreams had to be achieved in his lifetime,” says Karl Renoult of Ed Turner Motorcycles, and this is the result. Greg wanted to run and run hard, but on something that would set him apart from the crowd, and it looks like he chose the right place.

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While the name of Karl’s workshop suggests a reference to legendary English motorcycle engineer Edward Turner, it’s actually a play on the words ‘head turner’. “It’s the spirit that defines each of my creations,” Karl says. “I imagine, redesign and customise with the sole purpose of giving the bike character and attitude. Make an exceptional product, elegant and uncompromising that won’t leave anyone indifferent.” Karl and Greg soon agreed on an unlikely donor bike — a shaft-driven Z1000ST Kawasaki tourer from 1980 — and developed ideas for a muscular custom with a hard-tail rear end and springer forks but which also had to be built on a “comfortable but not crazy budget,” Karl says. To that end, the engine was left standard although straight-line performance is vastly improved due to its much lighter weight.

“In the beginning there is always the engine, often ill and ready for a change,” Karl says of his design philosophy. “From the moment the first frame tubes are bent and positioned around the engine, the machine itself starts to take part in the decisions and lets me know what is expected. You can’t force these things. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. The bike knows what is good for her. “My work focuses on the aesthetics, the harmony of curves and attention to detail. While some bikes are more challenging than others, I believe everything has potential.” In this case, the chassis took shape rapidly, Karl says. The front section holding the engine is standard and the rear is fabricated, with the stock shaft-drive running within the rear frame rails. Wheels and brakes are stock. If you’re wondering where the springer forks are, look


“MY WORK FOCUSES ON THE AESTHETICS, THE HARMONY OF CURVES AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL”

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Customs

1980 KAWASAKI Z1000ST

Big Brother

“THE MACHINE ITSELF STARTS TO TAKE PART AND LETS ME KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED”

The bike on the wall is another Ed Turner creation; a 1979 XL500 Honda trail bike re-imagined as a 70cc Honda Dax mini-bike, but full-size

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THE Kawasaki Z1000ST was launched in 1978 as a touring-oriented version of the long-running Z1/900/1000 series, most notably featuring shaft drive to the rear wheel. It also had low-mounted mufflers to aid fitment of panniers and saddlebags, a bigger 18-litre tank, taller gearing and an engine tweaked for torque. It was a heavy bugger but still no slouch with a little over 90hp at 8000rpm. Shaft-drive normally suits engines with the crankshaft running lengthwise within the frame in line with the wheels, like a BMW or Moto Guzzi twin, or Honda CX500 or Gold Wing. Tranverse-mounted engines, with crankshafts running across the frame at right angles to the wheels, suit chains or belts. The idea is to have the final drive rotating in the same

plane as the engine and gearbox; to do otherwise requires turning the force through 90 degrees, which saps power and is harsh on components. Even so, the late 1970s saw a host of transverse fours adopt shaft-drive to meet the market demand for a fuss-free long-distance alternative to chains, including the GS850 Suzuki and Castrol 6 Hourwinning XS1100 Yamaha. The Z1000ST by contrast was launched quietly alongside the monster Z1300, also shaft-driven but with a massive water-cooled inline six. Early STs are thin on the ground but rarely expensive. For customising, you’d think the shaft drive might be limiting but Ed Turner has proven otherwise.

closely between the triple clamps behind the headlight, where sits a custom spring damper unit from Shaft Racing. The early CBR Honda fork tubes and sliders are devoid of oil and springs, there only to locate the front wheel through its travel, with all compression and rebound forces transferred to the remote shock. “For this step, I admit I used some sketches and even some maths, which is not my usual habit,” Karl says. “But as usual — along with my mates Joe, Mikael and Gael — we tinkered with it until it works pretty well.”

With its handmade clip-on-style one-piece handlebar on raked forks, low stance and what looks like a stretched-out wheelbase but isn’t, the chassis screams quarter-mile drag racing, a look aided by the long polished ram tubes, tiny five-litre aluminium fuel tank, a square car tyre on the back and skinny ribbed Avon up front. Legalities are addressed, kind of, by a small orange headlamp and tiny LED taillight and blinkers tucked up under the seat, which was crafted by Red’s Leather in Angers. The footpegs are also where you’d find them


Customs

1980 KAWASAKI Z1000ST

on a drag bike, radically rear-set to near the rear tyre. While the right-side foot brake and master cylinder were easy to relocate, Karl adopted an innovative solution to the gearshift which is now chain-operated on the left. Equally out there is the exhaust, positioned to blast its aggressive four-cylinder tones right into the rider’s very being. Along with the unfiltered induction roar, this is one raw, loud motorcycle to ride. Karl thought the bike still needed something extra but the budget was mostly exhausted. “I thought we needed to play another card to make it shine,” he says. “And when you don’t have the right cards, you have to bluff ! A little divine

intervention should play in our favour, and after a couple of nights of holy readings, I chose a few lines from Ezekiel 21 in the Old Testament to decorate the mini tank. “It’s a rather creepy message which speaks of a sword sharpened and polished, and a God who for once seems really pissed off and ready to fight.” The words were etched by French custom sticker and engraving business, Stick Your Cycle. “After several months of work and one last little sign of the cross, The Sword was ready to fire,” Karl says. “Greg, you run faster than bullets, that’s a fact. Now we will see what you can do behind the handlebars.”

“WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT CARDS TO PLAY WITH, YOU HAVE TO BLUFF”

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled inline four-stroke four; chain-driven DOHC, two valves per cylinder; 69.4 x 66mm for 1015cc; 8.7:1 comp; 4 x 28mm Mikuni carburettors fitted with ram tubes; capacitor ignition; custom exhaust; wet clutch to five-speed gearbox; bevel-driven shaft final drive; 93hp at 8000rpm CHASSIS Twin-loop tubular steel mainframe; raked Honda CBR forks with remote Shaft Racing spring/damper unit; 19in cast front wheel with twin 240mm discs and single-piston calipers; fabricated rigid rear with 17in cast wheel, 250mm disc and twin-piston caliper; home-made controls BODYWORK Engraved aluminium fuel tank; custom seat; not much else BEST FOR Riding to church on Sundays … NOT SO GREAT … provided it’s not too far away 50

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Official Moto Guzzi


Custom Cruisers

2001 TRIUMPH AMERICA

From the NSW Central Coast, a one-off Triumph custom with the brawn to match the bling WORDS GEOFF SEDDON & DANIELLE GITTOES PHOTOGRAPHY JEREMY HUDSON

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HEN Grant Jarrett had a hankering for a new bike 16 years ago, he was thinking cruiser but nothing caught his fancy. “I’m not into Harleys,” he says, “and then Triumph brought out the America. I bought one of the first batch of 70 the factory made in 2001.” He brought the bike home and rang his good friend Fernando Alvarez in Brisbane. “Start it up and let me listen to it,” said Fernando, who mistook it for the sound of a sewing machine. He could fix that, he said. “Give it to me for one winter.” Hop-up parts for Triumph’s new twin were all but non-existent, no problem for Fernando and his mate Joe Marshall who builds some of Australia’s quickest drag-bike engines. It took closer to a year and a half but the result is one of the fastest Triumph Americas around, even today. “Joe is Australia’s answer to Burt Munro,” says Grant, who gave the pair carte blanche on the build. To take the capacity from 790cc to 904cc, for example, Joe and Fernando hand-cast new barrels to which they fitted sleeves from a V12 Jaguar and JE Racing pistons for a 450 Yamaha. Other offerings to the god of speed include flowed heads and flat-slide Keihins. Grant’s Trumpy eats hogs for breakfast and is still going strong 15 years later. For almost all that time, it was a sleeper, the only external cues being the flat-slides and an oil-pressure gauge. But he was liking what his mates Scott Gittoes and Dave Ashe of SDG Moto on the NSW Central Coast were doing, in particular their Matchless G50-styled CB900 Bol D’Or and the ‘Ugly Duckling’ GSX750 Suzuki (Retrobike #24). It was time to make the outside of the America as flash as the inside. “As with the engine, I didn’t want to get involved in it,” says Grant. “Scott has the same sort of eye as I’ve got, so I just told him to treat the bike as if it was his. If I told him what I wanted, it wouldn’t be an SDG build, it would have been my build. I told Scott I didn’t want to see it until it was ready to be ridden home.” Scott’s first decision was to replace the original America tank with a much smaller one off a Triumph Thruxton. This would give the bike “hips and a waist”, as Scott puts it, especially matched with the right seat, rear guard and handlebar. Finding a good secondhand Thruxton tank was a job in itself, and once sourced had to be modified underneath to replace the internal fuel-injection pump with a gravity-fed Pingel tap. The second decision was changing the angle of the rear guard and chrome stays which in stock format showed too much daylight above the tyre. “It was just wrong,” Scott says. This led to the guard and stays being cut, ISSUE #26

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2001 TRIUMPH AMERICA

moved, adjusted, tacked, re-adjusted, beaten and welded into their new shape, all while maintaining the original Triumph mounts. For bling, the boys dug into the SDG Moto parts bin and decided on mostly Kustomtech components, in particular their Deluxe and Vintage Lines of controls in polished alloy and brass. These included Deluxe Line brake master cylinder, hand levers, throttle housing and handlebar riders, with Vintage Line handgrips and forward controls. Also from the parts bin is the 5¾-inch Headwinds Tomahawk headlight in polished aluminium with brass clamp ring and Posh mini-switches finished with brass caps. Finding the right handlebar took a few goes before the team settled on a one-inch V-Team Superbike ’bar from W&W Cycles in Germany. An SDG-badged Speedhut GPS speedo sits on a

California Cruisin' WHEN Triumph relaunched the Bonneville in 2001, it was soon joined by a cruiser model aimed at the US, known as the Bonneville America. Yet it proved almost as popular here. Although powered by much the same engine, the America was a totally different bucket of bolts, almost equal parts Harley as Triumph and therein lay its appeal. The wheelbase was kicked out to a lazy 1655mm, the forks were raked to slow the steering down even more and a fat 15-inch rim was laced onto the back just for looks. Ditto the shrouded ‘wide glide’ front forks, the chrome stays on the rear mudguard and the speedo mounted in the fuel tank. The saddle was low and a perfect match for the wide bars and forward-controls. A custom model, the Speedmaster, followed in 2003. The engine was the same 790cc vertical twin as fitted to the Bonneville, except the crankpins were offset by 270 degrees to make it sound like a V-twin. The offset crank later appeared in the Scrambler and, since the release of the new water-cooled twins, is now standard across the range. The America and Speedmaster have been in the catalogue ever since, albeit 865cc from 2005 and fuel-injected since 2007. There are a million of them out there, many well cared for, and bargains abound.

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“I GAVE SCOTT FREE REIN AND WAS TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY” bracket from Joker Machine (also distributed by SDG), who coughed up the single Cone barend mirror, Astro LED indicators and an 8mm chrome bolt set as well. Rounding out the brass work is a no-name taillight and a fuel filler cap from UK Triumph specialist Motone Customs, while the leather seat is from Bruiser Custom Cycles in California. Amazingly, the suspension and ride height are standard. The front brake however was upgraded to a four-spot Brembo on a 310mm rotor. Fit and fabrication went smoothly enough, including recessing the front indicators into the fork shrouds. The rear guard took some work, as did mating the Harley-spec forwardmounted footpegs to the Triumph chassis while maintaining the original peg position. Similarly, Magnum Shielding in the US were a big help in providing custom Black Pearl braided lines and fittings to join up what were essentially


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

1976 KAWASAKI KZ750 TWIN

1971 MOTO GUZZI 750 AMBASSADOR This is another very nice example of this great machine. Finished in Black, this motorcycle has been fastidiously maintained and looks fabulous. Vin # 17575 $12,950.00

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

1976 KAWASAKI Z900

1960 ROYAL ENFIELD 700 CONSTELLATION This is a beautiful motorcycle that runs and rides superbly. These are getting hard to find. Vin # 5T4771 $12,950.00

Finished in black, this motorcycle looks fabulous and runs and rides superbly. Vin # Z1F-058070 $9,950.00

1974 SUZUKI GT750

BSA A10 650 BOBBER This bike is stunning and has been fully restored. This is just the coolest bike. Vin # DA10R6272 $17,950.00

1973 SUZUKI TS240

This is a tidy running bike that would benefit from a good detail. Vin # GT750-44720 $5,950.00

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

1957 NORTON ES2 500 CAFE RACER

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 is fabulous and runs and rides superbly. The engine has just been rebored with a new piston. Vin # 87301 $17,950.00

1970 BSA ROCKET THREE A beautiful matching number motorcycle that has done only 9504 miles and runs and rides very nicely. These are gettiing very hard to find especially in this condition. Vin # HD00308.A75R $22,950.00

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

CLASSIC STYLE AUSTRALIA 34 PENINSULA BLVD, SEAFORD, VIC 3198

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


Custom Cruisers

2001 TRIUMPH AMERICA

“GRANT’S TRIUMPH EATS HOGS FOR BREAKFAST”

Retro Specs ENGINE Air and oil-cooled vertical twin with offset crank; DOHC, four valves per cylinder; 904cc; hand-cast barrels with V12 Jag sleeves; JE racing pistons; flowed heads; 2 x 39mm Keihin flat-slides; five-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS Twin-cradle frame in tubular steel; conventional shrouded forks and twin shocks, non-adjustable; single Brembo 310mm rotor and four-piston caliper on laced 2.5 x 18in rim (front); stock 285mm rotor with twin-piston caliper on laced 3.5 x 15in rim (rear) WEBSITE www.sdgmoto.com.au BEST FOR Blowing off Harleys NOT SO GREAT Blending into the crowd

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Harley controls to the Triumph running gear. Scott then enlisted his local Pirtek man to provide matching Black Pearl plumbing for the engine. Resident sparky Peter Levin attended to the spaghetti factory that was the wiring loom, ensuring that all the switches, lights and instruments worked as they should. Black and burgundy paint is by Rob from RS Custom Cycles while Shacko from Shack-o Pinstriping hand-painted the Triumph tank logo in gold and gold leaf. He also laid down '56' on the side-covers (which was Scott’s dad’s race number) and a Captain America shield on an

old Pommy rego label holder below it. After several shake-down rides, it was finally time for Grant to see his baby for the first time in six months. “I was totally blown away, mate,” he says. “I gave Scott free rein and I couldn’t have asked for more. This just goes beyond anything I could have imagined for myself.” For the next hour, he walked around the bike shaking his head, shaking Scott’s hand again and again, and just plain staring at the details, drinking it all in. Then it was, “Can’t talk, gotta ride,” and with that, he was gone.


HANDCRAFTED HISTORY Part story, part myth, but 100 per cent icon. Everyone knows Akubra. Well, at least they think they do... Where family, community, quality and longevity intersect, there must be a rich and interesting story.

Available at Akubra Stockists | Purchase Online: www.akubra.com.au or by calling 1800 AKUBRA


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SNOW QUAKE 2017


Snow Quake in northern Italy is the world’s coolest motorcycle lifestyle event WORDS GEOFF SEDDON PHOTOGRAPHY MOTOR RAUSCH

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SNOW QUAKE 2017

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NE of the many things we like about Deus Ex Machina is the names they give their workshops. In Sydney, it’s the House of Simple Pleasures. Bali has the Temple of Enthusiasm and Los Angeles the Emporium of Postmodern Activities. In Milan, it’s the Portal of Possibilities and it was there in mid-2015 that the seeds of the world’s most improbable custom bike weekend were sown. Gary Inman, founder of Sideburn magazine, was in town to help with the judging of the Deus Bike Build-Off. Gary’s other claim to fame is establishing Dirt Quake in the UK, the fifth running of which we covered last issue. The concept of giving road riders a taste of a real dirt track without going too fast or costing a bomb spread like wildfire, igniting similar events all around the world including the Ellespede Dust Hustle Queensland which we featured in issue #21. “In a brief lull in proceedings, Deus’s Alessando Rossi leans over to me and asks, ‘Could we make a Dirt Quake in Italy?’” Inman recalls. “I pull a face, then reply, ‘Why don’t we organise something different? Why not … I think for a minute … Snow Quake?’” Alessandro was onto it in a flash and his staff set out to find a suitable track, advised by European flat-track legend Marco Belli. They settled on an established outdoor ice-racing

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“NO-ONE REALLY CARES WHO WINS OR LOSES. WE ONLY DEMAND THAT NO-ONE DIES”

track, Ice Rosa Ring, so named as it is located in the shadow of Monte Rosa, the second highest mountain in the Alps. Used mostly by cars, it is a GP-style circuit with left and right turns, rising and falling elevation, and totally unlike the frozen speedway ovals used in sanctioned motorcycle ice racing. The idea of fitting studs or spikes to tyres is as old as motorcycling, as riders in northern Europe, Canada and the north of America struggled to keep their steeds upright in icy conditions we can only imagine. As usually happens, it wasn’t long before people wanted to see who was the fastest and bravest. Formal ice racing kicked off in Sweden in 1924 and surged in popularity after WW2, eventually leading to the FIM establishing an official international competition for 500cc speedway bikes in 1963

and a six-race world championship series in 1994. Fitted with long sharp spikes, the lean angles these guys achieve are unbelievable, as a flick through You Tube will show. Snow Quake would be an entirely different pair of thermal underpants. No-one had any experience of ice racing, entrants and organisers alike. The bikes would for the most part be lightly-modified streeters, trackers and old dirt bikes. What could go wrong? Gary Inman admits they had little idea how the first event, held in January last year, would pan out. “Snow Quake was an experiment, with 30 invited riders,” he says. “We made it up as we went along. There were loose plans for classes, which bikes and specifications should be grouped together, then even those were junked. Just race who you want. No-one really cared who won or lost, we only demanded that no-one died.” No-one did, surprising given the entrants were riding everything from a WLA Harley to a late-model MV Agusta and tiny Piaggio scooters. Marco Belli raced a Yamaha XJR1300, fitted with clip-ons. It was that kind of day.


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“NO-ONE HAD ANY EXPERIENCE OF ICE RACING, ENTRANTS AND ORGANISERS ALIKE”

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Inman went one better for the second Snow Quake held at the same location in early 2017 by riding his 1991 Harley-Davidson Sportster all the way from the Survivor Customs workshop in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England in temperatures as low as minus 14 degrees. Once at Ice Rosa Ring, he swapped his flat-track tyres for studs and went racing, which is about as staunch as it gets. Entrant numbers passed 50 this year, many of them ice-riding virgins, but this time the racing was more serious and the bikes grouped into three classes: Racer, for dirt trackers; Vintage, for old motocrossers and enduro bikes; and Inappropriate for everything else. MV Agusta technical director Brian Gillen was as inappropriate as any on a Brutale 800. Ducati was there with a concept Scrambler, while British philanthropist Jason Cursley raced the

400cc Husqvarna that Steve McQueen rode in the final scene of On Any Sunday. Jason had only very recently liberated it via eBay from an American motorcycle museum and it was hardly running so he tuned it along the way and then rode it as fast as he could. Talk about ridden not hidden, Steve McQueen would have approved, we think. Jason also helped out the previous year’s winner George Pickering after his souped-up KTM beach racer caught fire in the snow by lending him a bog-stock XR75 Honda for the rest of the meeting, which is what friends are all about. Other bikes included period dirt track racers, multiple Moto Guzzis, lots of old enduro bikes from the 1960s throughout to the 1980s, a Moto Morini, a BSA Gold Star and a swarm of Di Traverso-modded Yamaha SR400s. Amazingly, there were also some spectators, hardy souls


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Competition

SNOW QUAKE 2017

"SNOW QUAKE FOR ME SUMS UP WHAT IS GREAT ABOUT MOTORCYCLES”

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wrapped in army blankets and huddled close to blazing log-filled 44-gallon oil drums. They were arguably more crazy than the racers themselves, but no point the race guys risking life and limb on a racetrack made of ice if there were no-one there to see it. While most were there just to be there, at the fast end of the field the pros got down and serious, with former WSBK racer Giovanni Bussai just ahead of Marco Belli in the final. “Riding on ice is so out of the ordinary for 99.99 per cent of the world’s motorcyclists that the whole novelty of the experience acts as a nuclear core to heat us from the inside out,” Inman says. “On the Ice Rosa Ring’s challenging track, not just a flat frozen lake, it’s even more of an all-consuming endeavour.”

Ross Sharpe from The Bike Shed in London is another ‘turn-left’ enthusiast and racer who made his debut on the ice in 2017. “Snow Quake for me sums up what is great about motorcycles,” he says. “It reminded me of being a teenager, swilling cider and trying to go fast and sideways on inappropriate bikes, cobbling damage together with MacGyver bodges whilst giggling with my mates. Decades later and I can’t think of anything I’d rather spend my time doing.”


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Classic Racers

1947 AJS E90 PORCUPINE

FIRST AMONG EQUALS When the 500cc World Championship kicked off in 1949, the AJS ‘Porcupine’ was the bike to beat WORDS ALAN CATHCART PHOTOGRAPHY KYOICHI NAKAMURA

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Classic Racers

1947 AJS E90 PORCUPINE

A

T the final GP of the year at Valencia, newly-crowned MotoGP prince Marc Márquez was slated to make a lap of honour aboard his Honda RC213V alongside former GP racer Sammy Miller on the sole surviving 500cc AJS Porcupine E90 on which Les Graham won the inaugural 500cc world championship in 1949. Alas it wasn’t to be, after some over-zealous party pooper spotted a few drops of oil from the primary chain oil-feed beneath the AJS. Panic stations! Can’t have some old vintage boneshaker leaking oil on the circuit! No point explaining this had only happened because officials had kept them so long in pit lane and that at any speed said oil would be flung off in particles so minute as to be not there. Sadly, a special moment was lost. Sammy Miller’s passion for motorcycles was born growing up in Northern Ireland after WW2 and it was the AJS Porcupine which got him started. “My first impressions of bike racing were in 1947,” recalls Sammy, an energetic 83

Marc Marquez and Sammy Miller swap bikes at Valencia (pic: Alejandro Lopez)

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years young, “when some of my pals and I rode our bicycles up to the Clady circuit for the first evening of practice for the Ulster GP. The first bikes that roared past us in line astern were the three AJS Porcupines, ridden by Jock West, Ted Frend and Les Graham, all on full rattle. It was unbelievably thrilling and sold me on bikes for life!” Miller finally got his chance to own one when he bought this example as a static display from Jock West, without engine internals. It was the only remaining original Porcupine of just four made and, in what has become a Miller Museum specialty, the DOHC parallel twin was scratch-built from the crankshaft up. Consider too it’s the only twin-cylinder motorcycle ever to have won the 500cc title and wonder at the extent of Sammy Miller’s generosity in offering me a ride! The unusual motor originated during WWII as a low-revving supercharged design, under the factory reference of E90S: ‘E’ for Experimental, ‘S’ for Supercharged, and ‘90’

because it was originally going to be raced as a Sunbeam, recalling the TT-winning Model 90 works racer of the 1920s. AJS’s proprietors — Associated Motor Cycles (AMC), owned by the Collier brothers — had purchased Sunbeam in 1937 and planned to relaunch the marque postwar on the back of a GP racing campaign, but instead sold it to rival BSA in 1943, so the race project was rebranded as an AJS. Ironically it was the brainchild of legendary Norton race engineer Joe Craig, who joined AMC in 1939 after Norton decided to concentrate on producing military bikes for the coming conflict at the expense of racing. Craig was charged with planning a postwar replacement for AJS’s fast but unreliable supercharged V4, and by 1942 — yes, at the height of the war — had settled on a supercharged unit-construction water-cooled parallel twin with the cylinders lying just 15 degrees off horizontal to allow a gear-driven Roots-type blower to be positioned in a cradle above the gearbox. The shock 1946 FIM ban


“ITS TWIN MEGAPHONES UTTER A WAR CRY RESEMBLING A TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE ON STEROIDS”

on supercharging put paid to that. Craig had already returned to Norton so AJS’s Vic Webb (assisted by Phil Irving who was then working for AMC) hastily converted his design to an air-cooled, normally-aspirated high-revving format, most famously featuring the distinctive spiked cooling fins which led to the ‘Porcupine’ nickname. The new twin delivered 37hp on 70-octane pool petrol when it debuted in the 1947 Senior TT. Given a lack of testing, the performance of the AJS riders in a race dominated by Craig’s Norton team was promising, with Les Graham as high as fourth before he fell off and Jock West lapping within three seconds of the fastest time after fixing a slipping clutch. That promise was confirmed by Ted Frend’s victory in the Hutchinson 100 at Dunholme later that year, and West’s third place in the Ulster GP. In 1948, development continued with West and Graham sharing some minor podiums ahead of the introduction of the first-ever world championships the following year, when Les

Graham won the 500cc riders’ title and AJS the manufacturers’ crown. This came after a poor start, when Graham led the Senior TT only to break down on the run to the flag. But he took victory in Switzerland, a success he repeated later in Ireland, in between finishing second to Pagani’s four-cylinder Gilera at Assen and retiring with a split fuel tank at Spa. Even before the end-of-season Italian GP, with only a rider’s best three results of the six races counting in the final points table, Graham had done enough to win. The bikes were little changed for 1950, which unfortunately included ongoing ignition and carburation problems which led to many retirements. Even worse, the more assured handling of the new Norton Featherbed frame and the higher top speed of the Gilera fours meant the AJS was suddenly secondbest in both vital departments, a situation not helped by management’s insistence they run Teledraulic forks and Jampot shocks. Graham managed a first and a second for third

That’s the pre-war liquid-cooled supercharged V4 racer at rear

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Classic Racers

1947 AJS E90 PORCUPINE

“THE CONICAL BRAKES WERE UNEXPECTEDLY EFFECTIVE ONCE I’D WARMED THEM UP”

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place in the championship behind Gilera’s Umberto Masetti and Geoff Duke on a Norton. Disillusioned, he switched to MV Agusta. AJS revamped the E90 for 1951, reducing weight and introducing chain magneto drive (which solved the ignition woes), wet-sump lubrication, a shorter wheelbase, 19-inch wheels (previously 21 inches), a new fuel tank and separate cylinder heads with conventional finning, in spite of which the Porcupine tag stuck. It was now more reliable but no more competitive, failing to win a single race. Consequently, AMC commissioned a complete redesign for 1952, with the cylinders now at 45 degrees from horizontal and fitted as a semi-stressed member in a new open-cradle frame. Dubbed the E95, the new bike had a dream debut by finishing 1-2 in the seasonopening Swiss GP, but that would be its only win and it was all downhill from there. The bike was again revamped for 1954 with a new chassis

but a pair of fourth places in Belgium and Assen were the best GP results all year long and AMC pulled the plug. Firing up Sammy’s Porcupine from cold at his museum’s private test track seemed improbably easy: he just flooded the matchbox float chamber nestling between the twin Amal carbs, pulled it back on compression, took a couple of steps, leapt on and dropped the clutch. The engine roared into very expressive life, with its twin megaphones uttering a war cry resembling a Triumph Bonneville on steroids. It’s pretty smooth for a 360-degree paralleltwin, testament to the engineering skills of Ian and John Bennett, from whom Sammy commissioned a new three-bearing one-piece crankshaft to get the engine reconstruction underway. It drives well from around 3000rpm on the reverse-sweep Smiths Chronometric rev-counter parked on the left of the big AJS-


embossed steering damper knob, which has an oil pressure gauge positioned just behind it to the right. I didn’t really have time to look at this on such a busy little circuit, but there was a wide spread of power up to 7000rpm, although you still need to wind it up well on the light-action clutch to get good drive out of a slow bend. But the engine felt very free-revving and eager as well as well-balanced — a real credit to all involved, especially Sammy’s right hand man Bob Stanley, who fettles it like a baby. Handling was slow due to the 21-inch front wheel and kicked-out forks yet felt responsive through the flat one-piece handlebar. The conical 8¼-inch brakes were unexpectedly effective, though only once I’d warmed up the linings by riding along with the lever applied for a short distance. And although the four-speed Burman gearbox had the same slow change and widespread upper ratios as ever, the action was

smoother on this one, especially coming down through the gears. All too soon, playtime was ended and the sole surviving ‘real’ Porcupine was tucked up back in the Miller Museum for another little slumber until Sammy airs it again at selected events around Europe, like the Valencia GP. Within the context of its era, I can now appreciate how the Porcupine was a fitting world champion, if just for a single year. Back in 1949, the slightly greater power output of a higher-revving twin compared to a single gave it the edge, as did the slightly better handling of a low-slung parallel-twin compared to an in-line four. For me it was an educational experience and an honour to ride one of the rarest and most exotic British GP racers ever. THE Sammy Miller Museum contains the world’s biggest collection of exotic racebikes and is located in New Milton, Hampshire, in the UK. Go to www.sammymiller.co.uk

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke parallel twin; DOHC, two valves per cylinder; 54 x 54.5mm for 498cc; 9:1 comp; 2 x 28.5mm Amal GP carbs; chain primary drive to four-speed gearbox; chain final drive CHASSIS Tubular steel double-cradle frame and swingarm; AMC Teledraulic and Jampot shocks; 21 x 1.85in laced front wheel with 8.25in twin leading-shoe drum brake; 19 x 1.85in laced rear wheel with 8.25in single leading-shoe drum; Avon tyres DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 56.5in/1435mm; dry weight 335lb/152kg PERFORMANCE 48hp @ 7600rpm; top speed 135mph/217km/h, Isle of Man TT 1949 SUMMARY Amazing resurrection of a rare, iconic bike; generous owner

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1983 KAWASAKI GPZ750


Fibreglass makes a comeback on Paul Hutchison’s much-modified GPz750 WORDS PAUL HUTCHISON PHOTOGRAPHY ALEX GARDNER & PAUL HUTCHISON

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1983 KAWASAKI GPZ750

OWARDS the end of my BMW K100RS build (The Hornet, Retrobike #24), my cousin Lukas gave me a Kawasaki GPz750. It was stock as a rock but hadn’t run for eight years; he did try to get it going a few years ago but only succeeded in setting it on fire. So my first task was to get the engine running and the rest of it roadworthy for Victorian club rego. It had a sump full of fuel, the carburettors leaked like sieves and it had no horn, indicators or brake lights. After a partial rewire, carby kit, new coil and plugs, I eventually got it running and registered with the Classic and Custom Japanese Motorcycle Club. Now I could really start work on it! As inspiration, I do like the Icon 1000 Old Ghost, a tribute to 1980s sportsbikes and endurance racers based on a 1984 Kawasaki GPz900R; a perfect example of how an 80s muscle bike could be customised without losing sight of what made it a great bike in the first place. My journey started at Paul The Wrecker’s, where I mentioned I wouldn’t mind putting a Honda VFR single-sided swingarm on it. “I’ve got one out the back,” he said. It was in pretty good nick. I then said I wanted an upside-down front end, preferably from a Yamaha R1 as I knew them from the Hornet. He had a fivespoke R1 front to match the five-spoke VFR rear!

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Deal done! I figured the cylinder head would need work as all the exhaust valves had zero clearance, and decided to overhaul the engine and install an 810cc big-bore kit while I was at it. With help from my dad, the motor was pretty easy to extract and we pulled off the entire wiring harness too, ahead of an ambitious plan to design and manufacture my own harness so no turning back now!

“I WAS VERY HAPPY WITH HOW IT RODE; THE SUSPENSION AND BRAKES ARE FANTASTIC” The frame was dispatched to Mick at Valley Engineering in Research to mate it with the R1 forks and VFR swingarm. In the meantime, we pulled the engine down at home — it initially looked in good condition but as I went along I

discovered it had had a hard life with stripped threads, bolts forced into the wrong holes and cracks in the crankcase, even a chunk that was missing on the right-hand side but which we were able to repair. The cylinder block was sent off for a third-oversize (3mm) rebore to take the capacity to 810cc, along with the head for a shave and reseated valves in cleaned-up combustion chambers. Prior to engine reassembly, all the exterior surfaces were painted black. I started to paint the carburettors to match but after doing one, I thought they looked better raw and went with that. With the frame back from Mick, I de-lugged all the unnecessary bits and painted it before reinstalling the engine, which wasn’t quite as easy as getting it out! It was at this point that I could finally address the finer detail of suspension linkages and rear wheel alignment, which included fitting a 13mm-offset drive sprocket machined by Johnny at Sunshine Gears to line up the sprockets. On mounting the forks the first time, I’d had my first setback when I’d discovered they were bent. Paul The Wrecker was apologetic but didn’t have a set to replace them, so we worked together to source another pair and eventually found a 2009 set complete with six-pot calipers so even better. The chassis was returned to Valley Engineering to shorten the sub-frame by about


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Retro Mods

1983 KAWASAKI GPZ750

Sports Tourer #101

KAWASAKI upgraded its air-cooled DOHC 750 four to second-generation GPz specs in 1983 with swoopy new styling not a million miles from the GPz1100ZX. It also featured the 1100’s Uni-Trak suspension and redesigned combustion chambers but not its fuel-injection system, relying instead on carburettors to make just under 80hp at 9500rpm. The 1100s made 120hp at 8750rpm. Sold as a sports bike, the GPz750 became a popular all-rounder in the style of what we’d now call a sports tourer. It also formed the basis of the GPz750 Turbo, arguably the pick of Japanese turbo bikes that proliferated at the time. Kawasaki released the water-cooled 16-valve GPz900R in 1984, which rewrote the book on inline four-cylinder engines. The air-cooled bikes — 750s, 1100s and turbos alike — were gone within a year.

Paul’s initial inspiration was Icon Motorsports' custom GPz900R built in 2014

“IT WAS SATISFYING TO HAVE IT RUN SO WELL ON THE MAIDEN RIDE” six inches, and to mount the exhaust and rearset footpegs. As always, I was very happy with the standard of Mick’s work. My attention then turned to rewiring the bike and modifying the bodywork. The side-covers were progressively trimmed to expose the rear mono-shock, and the Motogadget m-Lock was mounted on a cut-down kitchen chopping block under the seat cowl. The upper fairing never looked cohesive to me, with mismatched lines and creases. I figured if I lowered it by 5cm and tilted it forward, the lines would flow better and, as a bonus, I had more clearance for the handlebars. The fairings were repaired and prepped for flush-mount Motogadget indicators by Conrad of Fisher Fibreglass Service in Bulleen, who also smoothed in the modified centre panels to link the upper and lower fairing sections into an endurance-racing whole. We then fitted the front guard only to find it fouled on the lower fairing at full fork compression, requiring 76

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further trimming to clear. The fuel tank also required some work, this time in metal. I wanted to lose the keyed gas gap, as the ignition was now keyless, and also needed to fill the hole at the front of the tank where the old instrumentation was mounted. Ben of DOZFAB in Cockatoo did a great job with both, but when I later fitted an eBay-sourced cap into the now flush-fitting top, my sidekick (Dad) pointed out I’d made a water trap that vented to the tank. I wasn’t going to have a bike only good for fair weather, so it was back to the drawing board on that one. Similarly, after failing to get the stock air box to work with the new location of the rear shock, I trial-fitted some foam pod filters, but all the advice from forums and my own research convinced me not to go there. I sourced a second airbox and modified the back of it to fit around the shock and somehow made it fit. We did a successful test fire-up before loading the complete bike on the trailer for the first time for a trip to Wierd-o-pholstery in Coburg North for a custom seat, expertly stitched by Aaron. It was now time to fit the Rizoma rear-view mirrors for a proper test ride to iron out any bugs before we headed for the paint shop. I was very happy with how it rode; the suspension and brakes are fantastic. The oil light stayed on, even though the level was correct, and the speedo didn’t work; small problems considering the amount of work done and both easily fixed. The fuelling wasn’t bad for a first attempt at tuning four carburettors, with just a bit of stutter in the mid-range before it cleared its throat. So many times during this build I was learning something for the first time, so it was

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled inline four; DOHC, two valves per cylinder; 69 x 54mm for 810cc; 9.5:1 comp; 4 x 36mm Mikuni carburettors; wet clutch to fivespeed gearbox and chain final drive CHASSIS Twin-loop tubular-steel; modified seat subframe; Yamaha R1 USD forks with six-piston calipers on 320mm rotors; Honda VFR singlesided swingarm with mono-shock and singlepiston caliper on 256mm rotor; 17-inch Yamaha/ Honda five-spoke wheels BODYWORK Modified GPz fairing on lowered mounts; fuel tank modified by DOZFAB; custom seat; matte over metal-flake paint by Lizard Designs SUMMARY Great blend of modern and 1980s styling and engineering; interesting paint

incredibly satisfying to have it run so well on the maiden ride. And lastly, to paint. I decided to go with Steve May of Lizard Designs in Northcote. We were on the same page with how it should look, and he’s a good bloke. I went to him with the idea of a matte-black finish with some gloss highlights. What we ended up with was a collaborative effort, but mainly driven by Steve’s vision of going beyond a normal matte finish to metalflake matte! His attention to detail and quality is extraordinary and the final result is beyond what I thought was possible. He is an artist in every sense of the word and his contribution made the bike.


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Cafe Racers

1976 DUCATI 860 GTS

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HE goal was clear from early on. It would be a pure and classic Italian cafe racer. After having searched for several months, Johan Orrestedt, co-founder of 6/5/4 Motors in Stockholm, found the ideal donor bike, a Ducati 860 GTS from 1976. The bike had long stood unused — a genuine barn find — and given how few 860s circulate in these parts, Johan quickly made a deal happen. “For me, the two cylinders, spoked wheels and petrol tank are important,” says Johan. “I like Ducati and the shapes from the 1970s, so it was a perfect fit.” Johan was already a lifelong motorcyclist and owner of the 6/5/4 clothing and surf shop (yes, in Sweden!) when a 600 square metre storage space came up for lease underneath. With friends Daniel Jakobsson and Johan Nordin, he established a motorcycle workshop therein

an old Ducati — and upgraded with a keyless m-Lock from Motogadget. The petrol tank is stock as is much of the running gear. The colour originally came from a beer can and is also popular on Johan’s line of custom surfboards. It contrasts perfectly with the dark grey chassis and brown leather seat, itself built on a hand-beaten aluminium base. The leather is from local tannery Tarnsjo but Johan isn’t letting on who stitched it. “She is a business secret,” he says. Suspension and brakes are original but the fork legs have been swapped to move the calipers from in front of the fork legs to behind them for a cleaner look (even cleaner with the right-side caliper and plumbing not yet fitted when we took these photos). Wheels are stock with new spokes and Coker Diamond tyres; four-inches front and four and a half at the rear.

A FISTFUL OF EUROS to build their own bikes and also to rent as a communal facility for others to build or fettle their rides. As with most custom builds, the secret is what you take off, not what you add, and the guys used Photoshop to mock up their ideas prior to reaching for the gas axe. “The vision was a streamlined, stripped-down bike,” Johan says, “with less weight but a genuine (Ducati) feel.” First things to go were the long angular side-covers which normally hide the battery and airbox plumbing, replaced here with a much smaller battery under the tank and conestyle air filters to give that classic see-through look under the seat. The side-cover tabs were smoothed and the long seat loop rear of the top shock mounts was cut and replaced with something much shorter and cleaner. The engine had not been started for many years so was partially dismantled and serviced, and the original dell’Orto carburettors refurbished, before fire-up. The bike was rewired — always a good idea when restoring 78

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What Johan couldn’t source locally he found in Italy, like the Tarozzi clip-ons and rear-set footpegs. “I have avoided using too many ready-for-use aftermarket parts so it doesn’t look like everything else,” he says. “There should be quality and craftsmanship.” Tiny switches are incorporated into the clip-ons and a custom bracket was made to house the original speedometer, while the matching tacho was binned. “I haven’t installed or kept anything that I don’t need,” he says. “It’s only the essentials.” Brake and clutch levers are from Wrenchmonkees in Copenhagen. The final styling touches are a smaller headlight and the use of Norton Commando pea-shooter mufflers (on 860 headers) which look they were made for it. When the bike was finished it was used on a few summer day cruises, but mostly stood in the window of Johan’s surf shop. There it came to the attention of fellow surfer and local rap legend, Petter, the artist generally credited with establishing Sweden’s vibrant hip-hop

Swedish surfers build an Italian custom for a Nordic rapper WORDS JONATHAN BALSVIK PHOTOGRAPHY SIMON HAMELIUS

culture and who at that time didn’t even have a motorcycle licence. Once he’d addressed that, Petter hasn’t looked back, since adding a 6/5/4 tracker to his quiver. It’s a great story — the Italian cafe racer built by Swedish surfers for a Nordic hip-hop star — and a pretty cool bike to boot.


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Cafe Racers

1976 DUCATI 860 GTS

The Ugly Duckling THE grandfather of all Ducati V-twins was the 1971 750 GT, to which the factory later added desmodromic heads and a whole lot more for the iconic ‘green-frame’ 750 Super Sport. In 1974, Ducati switched to larger pistons from the 450 singles and square crankcases to create the 860 GT, the electric-start 860GTE and eventually the revered 900 Super Sport Desmo in 1975, on release the fastest production motorcycle in the world. The first 860s featured controversial slab styling by car designer Giorgio Giugiaro. It went down like a lead balloon, so the fuel tank was redesigned (to the style you see here) in 1976, along with the seat, and the bike was rebadged as the 860 GTS, now with electric start and twin front discs as standard. It was later renamed the 900 GTS, despite being otherwise identical, and ceased production in 1979, by then succeeded by the popular 900 SD Darmah. The 750 GT, 750 Sport and 860/900 GT/GTSs are unique in that they are the only Ducati V-twins to ever feature conventional valve springs rather than desmodromic heads. They’re not as quick or exotic but good ones are sweeter than honey to ride. Like all bevel-drive Ducatis, they require mechanical empathy to own and can be expensive to rebuild. Just over 4000 750 GTs were built which is reflected in their high resale values. Not so the ‘ugly’ 860s and 900s, which sold here in relatively big numbers and are priced within reach of us working folk. GS

Retro Specs ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke 90-degree V-twin; bevel-gear drive to SOHC, two valves per cylinder; 86 x 74.4mm for 864cc; 9.0:1 comp; 2 x 32mm dell’Orto carbs; Norton mufflers; gear primary to wet clutch and five-speed gearbox; chain final drive; 60hp at 7000rpm CHASSIS Tubular steel chassis with engine stressed; modified seat sub-frame; non-adjustable Marzocchi telescopic fork, reversed; 2 x 280mm rotors with single-piston sliding calipers on 18in laced rim; twin adjustable Marzocchi shocks; rear 200mm drum on 18in laced rim; Coker tyres BODYWORK Stock tank and speedo; custom leather seat; Tarozzi clip-ons and rear-sets; no guards DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1550mm; dry weight 170kg (est); fuel capacity 18 litres BEST Simple elegant custom within the realm of a capable hobbyist NOT SO GREAT Seat looks thin

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“I HAVEN’T INSTALLED OR KEPT ANYTHING THAT I DON’T NEED. IT’S ONLY THE ESSENTIALS”

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ROAD RACING REELIN’ IN THE GEARS

McIlwraith WITH JAMIE McILWRAITH

COG SWAPPING

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OME of you may not know this, but back in motorcycling’s earliest days — more than a century ago — there were no gearboxes on motorcycles. None at all. To get going on a bike in those faroff times, you started it up on its centre-stand by pedalling like mad, popped it off its stand, either ran beside the bike for several paces, or just hopped on and kept pedalling as you rode off. Pioneering sure sounds like fun, provided you had a sound footing! Back then, the only people flying aeroplanes were the Wright brothers. Very few people had telephones, radio was just a weird new invention and most of the technology you use today hadn’t even been dreamt of, so we are talking the Dark Ages, folks. Now, I first learned how basic life was for early motorcyclists when, as a brand-new teenage freelance writer, I was sitting in the office of Mr Tom Byrne, the then 83-year-old proprietor of Tom Byrne Motorcycles, the BMW motorcycle distributor, at his shop in 34 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney. Tom was a large, friendly, kindly old guy who had wide, stretchy braces running north-south to hold his trousers up. A fair-minded man, he didn’t have a problem with the hippy on the Yamaha RD350 who had come to interview him. We got down to the business of talking about technical progress with bike design and other stuff. This was the 1970s, so I was thinking disc brakes and electronic ignitions, when he said, “I remember when they introduced the gearbox back in 1914.” I thought to myself, oh crikey, that’s going way back! So I naively asked him, “What did they do before gearboxes, Mr Byrne?” “Well, you just had one speed up till then,”

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he said, “and the first gearboxes caused a bit of trouble. Some of them were no good and broke. A lot of people laughed at them and said gearboxes would never become popular.” I was gobsmacked. I was talking to a pregearbox guy! Here’s a pre-gearbox guy giving me his 83-year-long perspective on coping with newfangled ideas. I felt kinda recent, which I was. Many of the early gearboxes were twospeeders, and all of a sudden it seemed to me that a three-speed gearbox must have seemed very fancy at the time. And a four-speeder? That’s crazy talk!

“The 50cc Suzuki RP68 GP racer of 1968 had 16 gears” And so ever since then I’ve realised that delving into the history of motorcycles always pops up a few surprises that can put things into perspective. That’s perfectly true when it comes to motorcycle gearboxes. My googly research shows that a three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox was teamed with a JA Prestwich (JAP) engine for the first time in a motorcycle back in 1906, in England. The Sturmey-Archer website has the photo to prove it. And over in the USA, the first bike with a gearbox was said to be the Minnesota motorcycle of 1909, which had two speeds. The big breakthrough in acceptance of the gearbox was probably thanks to the three-speed 1915 Triumph Model H, 30,000 of which were supplied to the Allied forces in World War One. After that, gearboxes were normal, and all bikes had them. Since then the number of cogs in a box has risen from those early three-speeders to a

standard four in the 1950s, to five in the 60s and 70s, and now six speeds are found on lots of new bikes. However, it then occurred to me that there must be a bike with the most number of gears out there somewhere. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, expert readers, but I think it is probably the 50cc Suzuki RP68 Grand Prix racer of 1968, which had 16 gears. Yep, 16 cogs. They say that inside that little gearbox was like a fine piece of jeweller’s clockwork. Now, this little triple-cylinder 50cc Suzuki racer never actually raced, as the rules were changed during its development, when from 1968 all 50cc Grand Prix bikes were limited to one cylinder and six gears. Spoilsports. So, if you prefer to consider only bikes that actually achieved something, the winner of the Most Gears Award is its predecessor, the 1967 50cc Suzuki RK67. The RK67 had a 14-speed box mated to its twin-cylinder engine, produced 18bhp at 17,500 rpm and had a top speed of about 170km/h, which is pretty good for a 50cc bike. And Kiwi rider Hugh Anderson, Suzuki’s 50cc World Champion in 1963 and 1964, reckoned you needed all 14 speeds too, as the power was produced in a super-narrow powerband between 17,000 and 17,500 rpm. Hugh is quoted as saying: “You never had more than 500 revs to play with, so you were constantly monitoring the revs, using the clutch and trying to find another hundred rpm – it was minimal stuff.” I like the way he uses the word ‘minimal’ to describe a 14-speed gearbox. I think the ‘minimal’ part was the room for error. Me? I like nice big twins with four- or fivespeed boxes, and that’s going to be next month’s walk down retro lane.


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ADRENALINE LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Bailey WITH PAUL BAILEY

RACE CRAFT

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ACING, what a wonderful thing to do. Racing motorcycles is even better, perhaps one of the best sports and pleasures for a rider to do in his or her lifetime. It’s one of those pure sports where it’s just you and your machine and how you go is dependent on your ability, strength, fitness and will to succeed. This is what makes motorcycle racing so much fun and so addictive. Racing a motorcycle — whether it be a 50cc mini-bike or a 1000cc superbike — takes skill, not just natural skill but learned skills that have been taught to a rider by a mentor or in a class environment. Experience is something that we develop over time but it doesn’t always mean we have the skills for racing after 20 years of road riding. Racing means competition, and competition means riding to the limits of the machine and rider. And then there are the 40 or 50 other riders lined up on the grid that want to race and beat you as well. To be involved in a race is exciting and challenging, but it is also a matter of survival for you and the other riders. Each of you is trying to win, or at least battle with the others around you on the track, going as fast as you can but without having any moments that may result in a crash. The idea is to finish the race on your bike, not in an ambulance. No matter what the form of racing, the basic goals are the same; race, compete with one another and at the end of the day go home uninjured. Now, the problem with this simple philosophy is that nothing is equal in racing. Different brands of bike, different choices in suspension, tyres and equipment, plus different rider skills all play a major part in how

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a race develops and how riders compete. In many ways this is what makes racing so good; competition between brands of bike and the riders on them is the essence of racing and it has been going on since the second motorcycle rolled off the production line. But here is my gripe with all this. I’ve been racing since I was 16. I’m now 59 and still racing. I have a national senior licence with MA and have been a B-grade rider for a number of years.

“Racing is dangerous, but it can be far safer than it is at the moment” I have earned my stripes, so to speak, and I can enter race meetings and bring a level of race craft and skill to that meeting to ride fast (1.38s around Eastern Creek ) and be competitive at even the top level. But more importantly, I can do this and still ride safely amongst my other competitors. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for a lot of the other riders. At the moment anyone, no matter what their skill level, can apply for a national senior licence, do the mandatory test and pay their money. They can then enter any meeting they wish on any bike they wish, potentially competing with the best riders in the country. There are some restrictions and some checking of rider skill by MA. You must start off in D-grade and progress from there, but much of the decisions on rider grading is based on performance on the track and lap times are a big player in this. So if you have a 200hp motorcycle that is

blindingly fast in a straight line, you can end up with a lap time that may appear quick but, in fact, your corner speeds are slow and race craft poor. On paper you look good so you get bumped up to a higher grade. I’ve also seen people that have no road-racing experience, but are skilled dirt-track racers, climb that grading system way too quick and have serious issues on track. I’ve seen the guys who do half a dozen track days, buy their licence and then enter race meetings on high-horsepower bikes with stock suspension and no understanding of race craft. These same riders then lose control of their bikes, often taking out several other riders. To race at the elite level, a rider must have the race craft and the machinery to compete safely. If you don’t, you’re only a danger to those around you. For our national and club championships, I say we bring back proper grading systems that use actual observations of riders and incorporate training in race craft for each level of racing. Racers should serve an apprenticeship, being restricted to, say, 300cc for novices, 800cc twins for D- and C-graders and 600cc multis for B-graders. Leave the 1000cc superbikes for those who have attained A-grade through a credible system. There are too many racers out there at the moment who are a real danger to themselves and those around them, especially in our club racing scene. Just because it’s a club meeting doesn’t mean that riders of little or no skill, on motorcycles poorly prepared, should have a right to enter that meeting in any class they want. Yes, racing is dangerous, but it can be far safer than it is at the moment.


ROAD RULES THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE PLUGLY

WA L K E R WITH JIMMI WALKER

BREAKING BAD

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FEW years ago I ran a motorcycle rescue and transport company based in NSW and it occurred to me that you lot are an eclectic bunch. I hauled everything from a 1915 Rover — yes, you read that right — to slammed Harleys worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, fixed many roadside catastrophes and rescued plenty of bikes that had bounced off the tarmac. So there I was, called out on a sunny Sunday morning to an anxious Ducati 999 owner with a rear puncture. No worries, easy fix. It was at the Road Warriors cafe on the Old Pacific Highway at Mount White, so I was already looking forwards to grabbing some breakfast afterwards. And then I hear the dreaded “You don’t wanna do it like that, you’re doing it wrong, you need to do it like this” from a bystander neither of us knew. I’m sure you know the type. I have a motorcyclist who has never had a temporary plug fitted to his bike and needed reassurance that this would be perfectly okay provided he followed my instructions, and also that I had the necessary experience to effect such a repair. What I didn’t need was some plum telling him they were illegal and so, so dangerous. I produced my motor vehicle repairer’s licence and told him that he was mistaken (or words to that effect). I gave the Ducati guy the option of taking him and his bike home for $150 or I could fit the plug for $50. He opted for the plug. A lot of myths about temporary plugs go

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around and I’d like to maybe clear one up. They are not illegal, although officially the recommended limits are 80km/h and 80km before getting a permanent repair. My own experience and that of others on Retrobike is that sticky glued-in plugs often last the life of the tyre but the screw-in ones are lucky to get you home. It goes without saying that you check your tyre pressures before every ride, right? Fast forward a few weeks and two bikes rolled into Road Warriors while I was on a break; one an adventure bike of some sort and the other a Yamaha Virago. I noticed

“I didn’t need some plum saying tyre plugs were illegal and dangerous” the Yam had an odd noise coming from the front end. It turned out the riders were a couple and the lady on the Virago approached me to ask If I could look at the bike for her. To my horror, one of her front brake caliper bolts was missing and the other one was loose. I explained to her partner and her that any bolt would not do as the application needed tensile steel bolts due to the stresses it would suffer. It was an easy fix for me but it made me wonder whether a course on basic mechanics shouldn’t be included in the pre-licence

rider education. It could have been nasty! It was soon after that I received a call from one of the firms I subbed work from to pick up a bike in Canberra and deliver it to sunny Queensland. As usual I asked for the details be emailed to me and when I opened said email I thought I was seeing things or a mistake had been made. The job was a 1915 Rover. I knew of Rover as a car company but I never knew they made bikes. Intrigued, I looked it up and found out that only a very few of these bikes were still in existence. One was in the British Motor Museum and a few others were dotted all over the world but there was only one working example here in Australia. I contacted the British Museum to get an estimate of value (my insurance only covered me for $200K) and the reply I got was that it was pretty much priceless. My insurance company nearly shat themselves when I asked for a temporary increase in cover! The guy that I picked it up from told me the Rover had been bought brand-new by his grandfather and been in the family ever since. It looked like a handful to ride with hand shift, foot clutch, bicycle brakes, manual advance /retard and open valve gear with a manual oiler. I was relieved to deliver it unmolested to its new owner, who looked chuffed to get it. Next time I’ll tell you about two very angry two-stroke dirt bikes from the 80s and their one suicidal owner, and the half-toasted Ducati green-frame that I picked up from Phillip Island. Keep it sunny side up and never ride faster than your guardian angel.


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STUFF WE LIKE

Retro

STYLE WH WHITE POSSUM WHISKY MAKERS’ KIT MAK THERE nothing bootleg about this DIY THERE’S whisky-making kit. Comes complete with whisky 700ml of unaged corn spirit and a charred virgin American Oak cask and aging notes to set you up. $249 whitepossum.com.au w

AKUBRA HANDCRAFTED HISTORY WITH 150 years of hat making to their name, the story of the family-owned ned and operated Akubra Hats offers a fascinating insight into the making g of an Australian icon. $69.95 akubra.com.au

JOHNNY REB BOOTS THE Rogue from Johnny Reb is a relaxedstyle boot with full-grain oily leather upper that offers a high level of water resistance, a rubber oil-resistant sole and mesh lining for comfort and moisture control. $239.95 johnnyreb.com.au

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EVE WORKWEAR DUNGAREES

BMW MOTORRAD JACKET

THE 2607 Denim Dungarees from Eve Workwear are the business. Made of stretch denim for comfort with plenty of pockets for all the handy tools a gal might need. $144 eveworkwear.com.au

THIS biker-style, 100%-polyester, two-layer jacket from BMW Motorrad is perfect for those days when the weather is uncertain. Classic BMW styling with quilting on the shoulders and rear seam, four pockets and BMW logo on the sleeve. $220 bmwmotorrad.com.au


MBO BEARD PACK THE ultimate care package for those partial to a bit of facial fluff. Includes two beard oils, beard wash, beard balm and a comb. $95 melbournebeardoil.com.au

HELD STREET HAWK JACKET

TRIUMPH PHELAN TEE-SHIRT

GERMAN functionality meets urban styling in the Street Hawk jacket from Held. The outer shell is stretch denim with soft leather on the shoulders and arms. The elbows and shoulders also have CE-approved Sas Tec slim-line protection with DuPont KEVLAR fibre material reinforcing on high-impact areas. $550 heldaustralia.com.au

LOVE your Bobber? Then this tee-shirt is for you! Nothing beats genuine Triumph apparel. $50 triumphmotorcycles.com.au

BAUSELE WATCH DESIGNED in Australia, with the Bausele signature outback red earth incorporated onto the crown, the OceanMoon II Magpie has a classic and clean finish. Features include tide and moon phases, water resistant to 20 ATM and scratchproof sapphire crystal. $890 bausele.com

TRIUMPH MOSS HOODIE WITH the weather starting to cool down it’s time to dig out the hoodies! This one from Triumph ticks all the boxes. $120 triumphmotorcycles.com.au

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NEW BIKES TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE T120

HEART OF GOLD One of the world’s great bikes just got better WORDS NIGEL CROWLEY PHOTOS BEN GALLI

W

HEN I was a kid in England, still trying to work out how to not fall off my moped, a guy in our village bought a new 750cc Triumph T140. My mates and I were drawn like moths to a flame. In a time of CBX1000s and Z1300s, it looked retro even then and, unbeknown to any of us, was about to go down in history as one of the last-ever Meriden-built Bonnevilles. The OHV T140 was derived from the 650cc T120 which had been around in one form

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or another since 1959. And now the T120 nameplate has returned on another Bonneville twin, this time a liquid-cooled SOHC 1200, up from the previous air-cooled model’s 865cc, and with a 270-degree crank instead of the traditional two-up 360-degree shaft. Yet the lineage back to 1959 is obvious, especially on the two-tone models. The first thing I noticed was how tidily the whole thing has been put together; there is hardly an errant cable or hose in sight. With

cylinder fins also aiding cooling, the radiator is subtle and surprisingly small, cunningly positioned vertically between the frame rails. The tank badge is pure 1960s, as is the screw-on filler cap offset to the right. The instruments are classically styled — the tacho even has a wobbly needle at idle — as are the exhausts, and the fuel-injection throttle bodies are shrouded within Amal-like covers. Yet modern touches include a USB charger under the seat, LED lighting and two small digital displays covering riding modes (Rain or Road), traction control and a comprehensive trip computer. In terms of size and weight, the old and new models are very similar. Surprisingly the engine is physically no bigger but dry weight is up by 10kg to 224kg. With its low 785mm seat height, the Bonnie is very un-intimidating at all speeds; by the end of the test, I’d forgotten I was on a 1200, which is testament to its fine balance and


Retro Specs ENGINE Liquid-cooled four-stroke parallel twin; 270-degree crank; chain-driven SOHC, four valves per cylinder; 97.6 x 80mm for 1200cc; 10:1 comp; fuel-injected; Road/Rain modes, traction control; six-speed gearbox; 79hp @ 6550rpm CHASSIS Twin-cradle frame in tubular steel UP FRONT Non-adjustable conventional 41mm forks (with gaiters!); 2 x 310mm rotors with twin-piston sliding calipers on laced 18-inch rim; ABS; 100/90-18 Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tyre DOWN BACK Dual-sided swingarm with twin shocks, adjustable for spring preload only; single 255mm rotor with twin-piston caliper on laced 17-inch wheels; ABS; 150/70 Sportcomp tyre DIMENSIONS Wheelbase 1445mm; dry weight 224kg; fuel 14.5 litres WARRANTY Two years, unlimited km PRICE $17,000 plus on-road costs

handling rather than any indication of a lack of herbs. Perhaps fitting for a British bike, the press launch was held in appalling weather in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. The twisty hilly road out of Adelaide appeared to have been hit by a hurricane and was variously covered in gravel, sticks, mud, bark, mulch and puddles, often all in the same corner. It only went to highlight how easy the Triumph is to ride and how quickly you become confident in its overall ability, the quality of the anti-lock brakes, the good grip from the Pirelli Phantoms and the tractability of the engine. I was particularly impressed by the traction control, which allows the rear to get a little loose before accurately and consistently stepping in to save the day. The overriding feature of the Bonneville, though, is its glorious motor, with peak torque of 105Nm available at a lowly 3100rpm, allowing

you to surf up and down the rev range without unduly bothering your left boot. Maximum power is just under 80hp at 6550rpm. It makes for relaxed and economical cruising with a range up to 300km from the 14.5-litre tank. The fuelling is close to faultless and it will pull from as low as 60km/h in sixth, which is 1500rpm or just over tick over. Although not designed as a sportster like the souped-up Thruxton, the T120 has the same chassis albeit fitted with less sophisticated suspension. With rear preload set half-way (and a dry road), the Bonneville can be confidently thrown onto a footpeg and driven hard off the apex time and again without feeling out of its depth. Big bumps mid-corner will eat up the available ground clearance but Triumph has cleverly designed the centre-stand to tuck well up out of harm’s way. At the same time, the excellent damping rates comfortably soak

up urban potholes, making for a relaxing ride around town. Best of all, there wasn’t a single time I got off the Bonnie when I wasn’t grinning like a Cheshire cat, no matter what the conditions. It was great around town, made a comfy all-day tourer and was wicked in the twisties. It was fun to ride wherever our muse took us, which neatly sums up the reason for buying one. With Bonneville being one of the most iconic names in motorcycling history, you can’t say its name without thinking Triumph and vice versa. The weight of expectation must have borne heavily on the engineers and designers, but they got it right and have done the name and its heritage proud. This is a bike which proudly wears its retro heart and 58-year history on its sleeve, yet is a thoroughly modern, capable and versatile motorcycle which performed way better than I expected.

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TANGLES' WORKSHOP UPPERS & DOWNERS

SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS Never a dull moment in a life full of motorcycles WORDS & PHOTOS STUART ‘TANGLES’ GARRARD

A

NICE thing happened to me after finishing Seddo’s Norton. Old mate Pete asked me to help out at his motorcycle workshop on a casual basis. Now who would knock back the offer of moving from their home garage to a fullyequipped workshop? Not me! A few weeks have passed and I have settled in well. Old Mate Motorcycles caters for all makes and models. In just a short time we have worked on an 85cc Moto Guzzi Cardellino (c1958), a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail, a 1988 Suzuki RGV250, Seddo’s 750 Commando, my Honda CB750 and a Honda VFR800. I have been hopping around the workshop like a kid in a lolly shop. And I do mean hopping, progressing from a leg in a cast and on crutches to now using a walking stick. Yep, stepped off the big CB750 on a roundabout. Simple as that. Just on the point of exit doing a right-hand turn, the back tyre was on an oil patch and down I went as quick as lightning. As any dedicated rider would do, I left

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my leg under the bike to save it, which worked really well for the Honda but not so good for me. In an instant, I’d created my very own crash scene with traffic jams, people running everywhere, an ambulance with flashing lights, the whole bit. So off to hospital and there I ended up in the orthopaedic workshop, which was something else, where they proceeded to repair my smashed leg with very expensive plates and screws. Now of a certain age, I generally take things pretty easy, just going with the flow and all that stuff. But I do have an issue that really gets up my nose. Roundabouts! They are dangerous if you are a car driver, and suicidal if you ride a bike. Firstly it’s their design. The road surface around the roundabout is a negative camber; ie, it slopes downwards away from the centre. This is completely the opposite to what a rider needs; you’re much closer to the edge of your tyres — and all the physics that go with that — than you generally realise. This should be kept in mind

especially in wet weather, and there are always oil spills due to the slow moving of cars, buses and trucks. Second is the wrong use of signalling by drivers. What’s going on? How hard can it be? It has happened to all of us. Some clown signals he is exiting and then drives in front of you! For the record, the correct way to turn right at a roundabout is this: as you approach the roundabout and with sufficient time, you indicate that you are turning right (not left, as many do!). You enter the roundabout when safe to do so, remembering that those already on the roundabout have right of way. At the point of exiting, you can now indicate with your left-hand indicator. It’s not rocket science. Highway patrol police were told many years ago to take a non-enforceable infringement approach to wrong signalling at roundabouts, which only seems to have entrenched the problem. A cop I once knew told me that, when they were called out to a bike accident, their


first response was, “Which roundabout?” He reckoned 80 per cent of bike accidents in his neck of the woods were at roundabouts. Climbing off my soapbox, I am pleased to say that Seddo’s Roadster has come back to the workshop for some post-rebuild attention. This is great as there is still much fine tuning to be done. I will now go right over it, retorque everything and attempt to fix all those Commando oil leaks and rattles. I will also be fitting an oil non-return valve to solve a wet sumping issue (oil tank draining into the dry sump at rest). Bob from Classic

Allparts has supplied the genuine Norton part. I’m intrigued by the way that some Nortons never wet sump, some take weeks and others days. Not being a Norton devotee I did some research and quickly discovered that there are two distinct and opposite schools of thought when it comes to non-return valves. What if it doesn’t open when the engine starts, thereby starving it of oil? So I’ve approached the situation from a purely objective and technical point of view. I have fitted the valve to the oil supply line with clear hose on the engine side. The valve will

need to be bled and all should be good. A visual check of operation will be seen in the clear line. It only takes a few psi to suck open the valve and there is 30-plus in a warm engine. If this simple device means that we can kickstart the bike at any time, even after it has been sitting for a while, it is well worth it. Whilst tinkering away in my new cave, I reflect on the recent past. Lessons can still be learnt from experience. As the old body heals, thanks to that medical bloke and a workshop even better than mine, I hope to be back in the saddle real soon.

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Social Pages

LIFE'S TOO SHORT

VIV CANINI

Pages l a i c o S

PHOTO: RUSS MURRAY

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RUSS MURRAY

MOTOR RAUSCH

RUSS MURRAY

MOTOR RAUSCH

VIV CANINI

LOOSE BRUCE

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Social Pages

LIFE'S TOO SHORT

MOTOR RAUSCH

LOOSE BRUCE

RUSS MURRAY

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VIV CANINI

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READERLAND OPINION PAGE

Z ROD

retrobike CLASSIC NOT PLASTIC

DARE TO BE

ISLAND HEROES

SEDDO’S FOLLY

BACK TO THE FUTURE

 DRYSDALE V8

 Z ROD

IN YOUR story on the Moto Guzzi V8 racer replica, you said there were no small motorcycle-sized V8 engines around so you had to go with a big V-twin. Shame on you! Ian Drysdale has been making bikes powered by 750 and 1000cc V8 engines here in Victoria for years. He also engineered the Carberry Enfield V-twin, which you mentioned in your opening story. Check out www.drysdale-v8.com.au. PC Smith

LOVE the Z1 Kawasaki in the Summer issue. I thought wow, that’s a tidy one, it wasn’t until I read the story I realised how modified it was. The closer you look, the more you see. Fantastic bike, and that’s coming from a dyed-in-the-wool Triumph rider! Garry Ward

 ISLAND HEROES ON MANY levels your story on Helmut Dahne’s R90S took me back to my youth. I was there on the Hill watching Helmut and Mike the Bike create beautiful lines through the crowd of riders in that Castrol 6 Hour. Back then I got a contract to silkscreen the race gear for many BMW riders, including Helmut. And having gone to the TT in 2016, and knowing the corner where Helmut followed Mike, I closed my eyes while reading your story and imagined I was there back then with Helmut, following and learning. The biggest jolt from your story though, is that I have recently built a BMW that gives homage to Helmut’s BM. It’s a 1970 /5 short wheelbase that carries a ’74 R90S motor with bigger Dell’Ortos. When we ride these bikes, they bring back memories of our youth, and when we are not riding, your stories bring the same emotions. Keep it up! Brian Friend

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 SHORT & SWEET Best. Edition. Ever. Benny Huguenot

 BUYER BEWARE A NON-motorcycling friend asked me to run an eye over a CB550 cafe racer her son had bought. What a nightmare, dodgy wiring, square back tyre, squashed rusty header pipes under the cloth wrap, unsecured seat, loose rear brake torque arm, leaking fuel tap, blah blah blah, and don’t get me started on the chassis. A bargain for $5000, not. Scott Gibson

 SEDDO’S FOLLY I ENJOYED the workshop piece on the engine rebuild of Seddo’s Commando. Old bikes, eh? I’ve just completed restoring my GT750 Ducati that I've owned since 1982. We had a few issues but nothing like Geoff. Frosty

 BACK TO THE FUTURE #1 I HAD to laugh at your summary of Matt Errey’s 899 Panigale when you said not everyone gets it. Really? Angus Hughes

 BACK TO THE FUTURE #2

WIN RAZZO JEANS!

SYDNEY Ducatista recently organised an attempt at a Guinness world record for the most Ducatis on a ride. There were hundreds of bikes there but most were late models painted red like every other Ducati you see these days. Boring! I would have paid Matt Errey to turn up on his Panigale. Good on him for ‘daring to be different’. Mick Morrissey

To encourage your feedback, we’ll pick one letter (Brian Friend 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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A GENUINE BRITISH BOBBER WITHOUT COMPROMISE. The new Bonneville Bobber has the peerless authenticity of a genuine factory custom. Its stripped-back minimalist styling, innovative and elegant engineering and a ‘Bobber’ tune on the category-leading high-torque Bonneville 1200cc engine all come together to deliver a truly thrilling ride.

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RCBE#26 AUTUMN 2017  

Coming off our best-selling issue ever, the Autumn issue of Retrobike, Australia’s coolest motorcycle magazine, contains another fantastic s...

RCBE#26 AUTUMN 2017  

Coming off our best-selling issue ever, the Autumn issue of Retrobike, Australia’s coolest motorcycle magazine, contains another fantastic s...

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