Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sportster ready to ride

Got my '91 Sportster back after my mate Tom did a rework on it. I basically had it in my mind to have the bike stripped back to bare bones.

Motor/trans has been left stock 883 - though Tom fixed a leaking head gasket. Carb has Dynojet kit. The 'balance' pipe between the two headers has been ditched. Northants V-twin -where I bought the bike originally - cut off the flanges on the headers and welded over the holes.

Original headlight has been replaced with new Bates-style and all the switch gear has been replaced so the bars - streetracker-style from Norman Hyde - look a bit cleaner.  Front brake Harrison Billet six-pot caliper and disc. Rear is stock.

The whole bike has been lowered by two inches using aftermarket forks kit (can't remember who's) and two-inch shorter Harley shocks.  There's also new seat pad. Rear fender has been cut back. New rear light is from, I think, Zodiac.

Now it's done, I'm thinking the gas tank looks way too big. And I desperately want to get the right-side motor cases cut back. 

But that'll have to wait. I just want to make up for lost time and put some miles on it.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Mallory Festival of 1000 Bikes

Just got back from an amazing day out at the Mallory Festival of 1000 Bikes.

I’m guessing a huge portion of the crowd were attracted by the prospect of seeing racing legends like Kenny Roberts, Steve Baker, Kork Ballington, Graeme Crosby and a host of British heroes.

But I went with a different mindset: the autojumble first, old bikes and cool bikes second. I don’t want to sound blase about this but I’ve seen a lot of the ‘star’ bikes of the Seventies and Eighties so many times – shit, I was there first time around. No, what I wanted was some different stuff. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The Festival was virtually the history of motorcycling in a single day but I went looking not for a history lesson but to just indulge myself in the art and beauty of the motorcycle – the bikes that appeal to me either from the sheer engineering excellence, the absolute functionality of minimalism or simply something with an ability to make me smile.  You can make your own mind up which is which from the images.

Coolest bike was in George Cohen’s awning – a kinda Norton single bobber with girder forks. First look it’s vintage but it oozes custom bike class.

Then there were two of the best Yamaha XS650 street trackers I’ve ever seen this side of the Atlantic. Both were built by ME Motorcycles in Burton on Trent and another of their bikes was an equally 

impressive board tracker-styled single, based on a BSB bottom end and Harley Shovel barrel and head in a one-off custom frame.

The one bike that really gobsmacked me was the 1912-13 ABC – allegedly ‘the first ABC built in the Aero Sheds at Brooklands.’  This wasn’t just for show, the bike was ridden…..and sounded gloriously unique.

There were just so many beautiful bikes: from the hyper-expensive Brough Superior on the Bonhams stand to the exquiste little MZ race based on the humble East German single-cylinder two-stroke.

My pictures just don’t do the event justice. To really appreciate it you had to be there.

A glorious day out. Thanks to the vintage Motorcycle Club and Mallory Park for making it all possible.