Saturday, 15 January 2011

Biker’s bibles

Is it just me or are parts catalogues an endless source of idea germination?
I’m not saying I ever carry the ideas through into reality but, this time of year, I certainly spend hours flicking through pages of the gleaming new parts, dreaming what I’d do if I was actually gifted enough to spin a spanner without string threads, rounding nuts or plying a grinding wheel without removing vital parts of my own anatomy – or any one else’s who might be daft enough to stand close by when I’ve got a power tool in my hand.
I guess I’m one of the world’s wanna-be bike builders. But it’s best I let others do the bulk of the serious work. Engineer inept I might be, it doesn’t stop me enjoying cool bikes and the parts that go into them.
The numerous Harley aftermarket catalogues though over-power me – even though I have a Sportster. Lets face it, they all consist of basically the same stuff and are crammed full of hideously expensive equipment. If I’m honest, I get more of a kick these days picking up some second-hand bits than paying for a poorly-made component that’s liable for its thin layer of chrome to peel off at the first hint of moisture.
The only doorstep I keep in my house is the W&W Cycles one because a) it’s useful to have parts catalogue lying around just in case, and b) it’s usually a bloody gorgeous work of art to wallow in.
My favourite catalogue is the Bullet specialist Hitchcock’s Motorcycles catalogue ( It’s subtitled, ‘Improvements, Accessories and Performance Parts for the Royal Enfield Bullet’ and is a whopping 256 pages of anything you could ever wish for if you own a Bullet, whether it’s an original Redditch-made bike, an Indian import or even the latest efi model. Not whopping compared to the Harley tomes but whopping enough to portray a huge range of kit that stirs my interest in a) what I could do and b0 getting the Bullet back on the road for Spring.
The cool thing is that each year Hitchcock’s build a special around their parts inventory, just to help get you thinking about what might be possible, if you hadn’t already. And the latest custom is their gorgeous take on the Fury.

Cool retro Fury produced by Hitchcock's to
promote their extensive parts catalogue

Now I don’t know if you’re a Bullet fan or not, but the Fury was a high-performance 500 which Redditch knocked up for the US market to counter the BSA Gold Star threat in the US. Launched in 1959, 191 were made up to 1963, and featured a larger inlet port, Amal GP carb, aluminium alloy barrel, with cast-in liner, a high comp piston, lighter flywheels and hiked performance from 27bhp to 40bhp.
Ironically, while Hitchcock’s were working on their Fury, the Royal Enfield UK importers Watsonian were doing the same thing but in a very different way, basing their ‘retro’ Fury on the new efi model.
The only tweaks of note are wider bars, XR750-style dirt track seat and a twin exhaust system. It’s a ‘production’ motorcycle so it’s really only a different styling take on the other Bullet’s in the range. In other words it’s built to a budget and lacks the kinda passionate design/engineering flair that you know something like the one-off McDeeb specials have undergone.

Royal Enfield's take on the Fury. Stocker with bolt-ons.
And that’s a pity because with a little more ingenuity on the aesthetics plus a bit of engine tuning, the Fury could have become a real little hot-rod stand-out of the existing Enfield range.
As it is, I’m sure it’ll be another of their pleasant and mild-mannered singles to plod around the countryside on – or use as a bar-hopper in a crowded urban environment. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
Hithcock’s Fury however is based on the original 500cc Bullet Classic and is built exclusively from their parts catalogue. They reckon Wayne (one of their crew) had two days to build it – which would have made a great biker build-off flick. And it’s nod to conventional Sixties-styling looks superb.
Hitchcock’s don’t making any performance claims for their Bighead upgrade that the fury boasts, suffice to say it’s got a massive inlet port to take a 1.5”Amal GP semi-downdraft carb, new rockers, 80-degree valve angles, superior valve and spring design and a larger inlet valve – all designed to give the single a bit more thumph.