Saturday 31st August. I had been perusing the 'What's-On' pages looking for something to do on Donna's week-end off. Family kind of thing, really, but daughter, decided she wanted to go stay over at her brother's, SO, left Donna and I 'free'; and having noted the show, AND it was only six miles away, AND it was Donna's weekend off, AND they had bands, AND they had beer, AND... AND.. AND Well, just seemed rude not to really!
Prize-Winning, I think, Triumph T110, 'Bobber' ridden to show, in front of the band. sort of says it all really. THIS is what it was about. Bikes, Bands and a bit of Beer!
Hosted at the Horse & Jockey Pub, on the Tamworth road out of Coventry, next door to the Corley Cricket Club, Donna & I tiddler-toddled over on 'The Pup', 2-Up. BIT of a squeeze getting two helmets in her top-box, but hey, it is a lightweight!
She parked up next to a Kawasaki Rat. And I got busy with the camera. Next to the Kwak-Rat..
A Hard-Tail Harley Custom.
With Wide-Belt Primary Drive. & Behind that?
An Orange Harley!
And a Black one... with very high ape-hangers and a custom 'fender'
And the band played on....
Another Harley Custom... and another Orange one.
And, I'm afraid to say, the sort of 'custom' that for all its visual impact; really just leaves me a little under whelmed. It's not a really that custom... it's, at best, a 'Bespoke' coach-built chopper, a catalogue kit-bike. Something built from style illustrations and a cheque book, not imagination and a mig-welder! Beautiful but in an esoteric way; aspirational, rather than inspirational. It's TOO uncompromised, too 'perfect' for the real world.
I have to say, that this gaffer-taped, L-Plated Chinese cruiserette, engendered more emotion from me; "I haven't passed mi test, but at least I'm gettin' mi 'ands dirty!"
Parked in front of I think it's a 'Victory' Cruiser, something of a contrast; it made me smile.
Amongst so many Solvol-Specials; this is the real-deal; a bike that works for its living, on gaffer tape and good wishes, through rain and shine. We might laugh at it... but what the heck, I bet its owner has a laugh ON it, and that's what matters.
Ah! Here she comes. HOLD UP! That's not beer! What y'got? Sweeties? Too small a bag to be a new crash-hat.. T-Shirt? Studded bracelet? No... Oh! LED's! Something to make and do... to the bike! I can see another How2 coming on! What else we got to look at?
Mmmmmm... TWO-STROKES! 'Sniff'... Ah! The scent of Castrol-R!
A little gaggle of classic Racers. I think the red one on the right is a Derbi 50, the white one on the right a Minerelli 125, and I have no idea what the blue & white one in the middle is! Hold on... if I find the original unsized picture and zoom in.... oooh! Yes, I can read that notice! It says: Triumph Tiger Cub 200cc, circa 1965 - last raced 2012; Minerelli 50cc P6 Corta Corsa 1972, last raced July 2013; Derbi 50 Sport 1967, last raced July 2013.
Oooh! a Proppa-Choppa! This is more my idea of a custom. It looks like it was built in a shed, from scrap! Like a chopper should be! No 'Built' 45-Degree twin procured by ticking boxes here; some old air-cooled across-the-frame four pulled out of a wrecker, and made to fit with a sledge hammer! THAT'S the way to do it!
Here we go; there's another! Take one 'hack' XJ6 Diversion that's been run into the ground, and do it like they used to! Very tidy little chop.
Now THIS stands out from the crowd! Look at that engraving, on the cases of a GS1000 Hard-Tail.
And the fork sliders. This was built like they used to build'em!
Probably because it was built when they used to build'em like this! According to the owner, it was built in the early 80's and won show award at an early Bull-Dog. Showing the 'patina' of age and use now; but I think that just adds to its charm. I wonder how many modern 'Show-Bikes' will stand the test of time as well?
Four-Floors of Whores... on the waggon! Now WHAT is THIS!!!!!!!!
TWO TURBO's! TWO of them! This is no catalogue custom! This is mechanical masochism taken to the extreme!
I THINK what we have here, is a Yamaha Drag-Star, into which an FJ1200 engine has been grafted, to which a pair of Turbo's have been added!
Debate on whether the twin-turbo set up has any real advantages over a single blower, I think is all rather academic. Contemplation of the turbo location; link pipe diameter's and plenum volumes, is, ultimately all rather, well, immaterial.
You DON'T buy a Drag-star to go fast. You just don't. You buy a ZZR1100, or, I don't know? And R6 or 'something'... you DON'T buy a Drag-Star! Drag-Stars are for people that like the idea of a Harley... but don't really like the idea of having to spend months perusing catalogues, and swapping parts to make it 'work' for them. Drag-stars are for people that just want an over the counter, leisure accessory, that just works.
You really have to marvel at the utterly perverse flying in the face of reason, reasoning, that gets you from that... to well this! Really. I mean, if you sat down with a sheet of paper and said 'Right! I want a Turbo Project!" THIS is NOT what you would plan! You would plan a GSXR1100 with a long swing arm, and shock-lock, or, a ZZR1100 dropped onto its belly-pan; or... or... well, NOT THIS! This, is, your genuine... "well, I had this smashed up FJ1200, you see... and I'd had to fit a new Turbo to the missus Escort Diesel... and I had an Eye-De-ah!" deal!
It is simply wonderful. Because you just HAVE to wonder how how such a beast can come into existence! Living proof, that the fine line between madness and genius, is, well, blurry! Discussing this motorcycle, I ACTUALLY came to consider it made a 500bhp Turbo Hyabusa, seem 'actually quite sensible'! I mean, a 'busa is a fast bike to begin with, so when that isn't fast enough... turboing one, makes quite a lot of sense... This? This is truly inspirational; it can ONLY have been inspired by 'available' bits of bikes, imagination, and beer. Probably lots and lots of beer! Talking of which... where's my Donna Gone?
Ah, there she is! Talking to some-one showing an interest in 'The Pup'! His name was Dave. Easy to remember, every-one we spoke to introduced themselves as 'Dave'! So this is 'Guzzi' Dave.... Did he just say Guzzi... oh-dear! Better get some more beer in... this could be a long one!
I had just spotted this GORGEOUS Moto-Guzzi 850T3. In red. With I think they are Berrani Alloy rim, wire spoke wheels, and just, just, well! It's just a statement of engineering asthetics, the transverse V-Twin, putting each air-cooled cylinder out in the breeze, whilst keeping the crank and centre of gravity low, and the ground clearance high; the in-line gearbox, naturally ending in a shaft drive, while the whole package is neat and tidy with an inherent poise and balance; from which the cosmetic aesthetic continues; form following function, yet, with just enough Italian 'flare', without unnecessary flamboyance. It is truly beautiful. And I make no apologies, I just adore Guzzi's.
This is Dave's; 950 Sport 'Replica'. It apparently started life as a a garage full of 'spares' mostly California parts; but Dave decided to do something more masterful and different with them, and created this proto-le-mans Cafe-Racer from them.
LOTS of bike-talk ensued, covering everything from engine rebuilds in the frame, to carburettor choices, the inherent pseudo ABS of the linked brakes curtecy of the bias valve, through crown wheel wear, and... well... in short... we talked 'Guzzis'... a lot!
The Norton 850 Commando parked next to Guzzi Dave's Guzzi, also crept into the conversation! And its iso-elastic engine mountings were pointed out, as the perfect primary balence of the 90-Degree V-Twin was vaunted; that was how Guzzi managed to make a twin so big, that didn't shale itself to bits, where the British Parallel twins, had proved rather fragile over 650cc as Edward Turner always predicted... Did I just mention Edward Turner's parallel twin? ah! Here you are....
The original, the immortal, the Granddaddy of them all, THIS I believe is a genuine, 1938 Triumph 500 'Speed-Twin'.
The bike that was SO good, it came to represent the epitome of the British Motorcycle.
And on its home turf too. This would NOT have been built at Meriden, but probably the Priory Street Works in central Coventry, before it was bombed, about four miles from the Horse & Jockey. Meriden is probably just as close, and there were plenty of Meriden models in attendance, now we are on the topic of Trumpets!
This is a late Co-Op era unit-construction, T140 Bonneville 750. The seven spoke mag wheels and high handlebars, make this one of the less desirable models for Bonneville aficionado's, but they make a wonderful 'Practical' (relatively) every-day useable classic. I would have one of these over the modern Hinckley made name-sake any day of the week. Probably cheaper too!
THIS is vexing me. At first glance the swooping integrated peanut-tank and side panels, says "Craig Vetter X75 Hurricane" But look again. It's a twin, not a triple. NOW, this could be a cooking model 650 T120 with reproduction X75 replica tank unit; and lack of web-references to any factory made Vetter inspired twin makes that more likely; BUT I have a vague recollection in the back of my mind that there was one, or at least suggestion of one. Have to go digging through the library of old bike books at some point, see what I can find out!
'Raked' Pre Unit Triumph T110 Bonneville. Its how they used to roll! Very nice. Not so sure how I would feel riding it, or having to lug the block of wood about to extend the side-stand, but still! And on open pipes too! Loud'n'Proud!
This isn't a motorcycle; this is Goth-Art! Could be straight off the cover of a 1980's Back-Street-Heros magazine, this.
Pre-Unit (The engine is separate from the gear-box) Triumph Twin; hard tail frame, girder forks; coffin tank, skeleton sissy bar and some subtle 'Black-Smith' twist decoration. And Chrome. Very Old-Skool.
So what else was there to see?
Well, there were the bands.... And lets get contemporary for a bit.
Mural-Art, Suzuki TL1000 'Street-Fighter'
Proper street-fighter this! A sports bike that's had a scrap with the tarmac and LOST, then been turned into something new. That's how customs ought to happen.
Tis amusing though; in the 1960's, the Ton-Up-Lads took standard 'street-bikes' like the indomitable Bonnie, and 'Cafe-Racer-ed' them; tuning the engine's, fitting rear-set foot-rests for more ground-clearance, lower 'ace' handlebars so they could get low over the headlamp for more speed; 'bum-stop' saddles; maybe adding a little 'fly-screen' to the headlamp; all the stuff that the Clubmen did to the same bikes to make them better on a race-track. Ask any of the Cafe-Racer's of the era what was the best handling bike you could buy; they would undoubtedly say anything with a Norton Featherbed Frame. Which was a pity, because the Japanese, when they started making big bikes, took them at their word; and while in the 1950's the Featherbed might have been a pretty good chassis... containing a 500cc single, and was in it's element housing a 600cc twin... very much more would show up its weaknesses. But, that was what the Japanese modelled their early frame technology on... before stuffing four cylinder engines with twice the power in them, and adding suspension of dubious damping and spindly telescopic forks. So 70's Cafe's; got Mazzochi "Piggy-back" shock-absorbers, deep braced swing-arms, fork braces, and quite likely a fairing of some sort. So the 1984, Suzuki GSXR750, a full on 'Race-Replica', modelled on the previous years factory Endurance Race bikes, following Japanese factory trends, seeking a new niche markets, was pretty much the full-filament of the Cafe-Racer dream; a full on Race-Bike for the road, straight out the show-room; steering the other factories to make ever more audacious, track orientated sports-bikes ever since. And what do the buying public do with them? Grumble about sore wrists, back ache and repair costs when they bin them.... and ultimately 'De-Cafe' them! Turning the ultimate Cafe-Racer, BACK into a naked street-bike, with high bars! I find the irony quite delicious!
Which brings us neatly to this, a Suzuki Bandit. A 'Factory' Street-Fighter, for people who don't want to have to crash a Gixxer first! Just slap on a diddy number-plate, loud can, Dominator Headlamp from the M&P catalogue and a tail-tidy; job done!
This Kawasaki, I think its a ZRX1100, caught my attention... silently crossing my field of view as I had the camera to my face looking at something elce, then barking coursely into life, being bump started! Its owner muttering something unflattering about Jap-Crap! 'Retro' Exploiting even more market niches; why buy an old Kawasaki GPz1100 and go to all the hassle of trying to find a Spondon swing arm and fork brace; buy a Retro! Actually I did. It's called The Dawg! We bikers are a funny lot, aren't we? The Manufacturers go to inordinate lengths to offer us just about any 'sort' of motorbike we can imagine... yet we are NEVER satisfied and just cant resist the urge to fiddle!
Take this for example. No its not a 1950's BSA; its actually a 1999 Kawasaki W65, which I presume just wasn't 'quite' retro enough for its owner! So what else did we see?
Umm.. Honda Shadow? Could be a Suzuki. I'm not sure. But Donna liked the paint! Hinckley Triumph lurks behind.
Also Catching Donna's eye; "Oooh P-U-R-P-L-E-!"... was this outfit.
The Dark Art of the Charioteer.
I think it is a Yamaha Virago, the bigger one, probably the 1100.
She who's bike brought us here, also liked the Gothic Art Skull ornament on the side-car. "Alias poor Yoric" perhaps!
Strange contraptions. Never been able to wrap my head around them. And usually worried they would wrap my head round something else before I could! Accelerate and the thing tries to steer left, the one wheel drive, trying to push bike about the side-car. Slow down, and the side-car ties to carry on, pushing the side-car around the bike! It seems almost impossible to pilot one of these things in a straight line! In the realms of mad-contraptions... these are definitely some of the maddest! Wonderful! The eccentricity of the 'biker' no better exemplified. Except perhaps by this lot....
Brave Scooteristi, came along to rub parka with leather, and show off their Vespas. There was even a heavily chopperised one, but I failed to get a snap of that particular foible. Still, The veritable Vespa has enough of its own!
You know, I once had a Vespa 90. Never rode it... I just took it apart and tried putting it back together, and marvelling at it, until my Granddad eventually put it in a skip when I wasn't looking! I mean, they just shouldn't be! It's like the chap that designed it sat down with the notion, 'How many REALLY BAD ideas can I cram into one motor-vehicle?" I mean, motorcycles. Left to their own devices they fall over. Big wheels help make them more stable... so he chose the littlest ones he could, and went from there! They had, by the pioneering era of the 19-0-somethings, discovered that motorcycles with the engine in the 'Werner-position' between the wheels had the best balance, and that a stiff, triangulated frame gave good handling; so mounting the engine at the back besides the rear wheel? And then chopping the frame down to a big U-Shape? It just defies all sense of engineering aesthetics. But to shift the back wheel 2" to the left so the engine can fit besides it? Yet, the thing WORKS? I just cant fathom out HOW?!
This, 'Scooter', yes it IS a scooter! A Lambretta 175cc 1/4 ton delivery trike; it has handlebars inside the cab, complete with twist grip gear-change, would you believe! Actually seems quite a sensible design!
So, while we are getting all Italian, how about this:-
The 'forgotten' Italian V-Twin. The 'Baby' Moto-Morini 3 1/2. This immaculate little beauty is a real eye-catcher. But my first encounter with the breed was in 1981, when, as a boy, I helped out on my Uncle's milk-round; and there was a lad on a 3 & 1/3 'Strada' who every morning, late for work, would come round Cranhill curves, usually as we were delivering the milk to the farm on the corner, flat out, in an open face helmet and goggles, lying on the tank, and grinding metal off the foot-pegs! in his hurry. Seem to recall meeting him at the Blue Boar, once, and the centre of contention was the newly released Yamaha RD350LC. These little Morini's were actually rather more potent than they looked! 40bhp was not THAT far off the 45 claimed bhp of a 350LC, and the four-stroke V-Twin tractability meant you probably had more power at the back wheel, more of the time, than you did with the rather 'power-bandy' LC, while delicious Italian component, and suspension with damping meant you could put it all to good use! My uncle renovated one in the mid-90's; along side a Guzzi V35 and a Ducati 350 Scrambler, it was probably the sweetest and most rideable of them, if the least 'interesting' when parked up at a meet.
Yum! Suzuki Katana. Much modified. I'm guessing that those are GSXR upside down forks, and I think that says 'Metamachek' on the deep-braced swing-arm. In 1981 the styling was incredibly avante-guarde, but I have to say, as fashions have come and gone, the style has shone through. And I suppose that the three-spoke 17" wheels are quite a well considered upgrade, allowing much better modern tyres.
So what's left?
Couldn't resist this candid shot of one of the musicians stringing his instrument, next to the band-waggon; which leads me to:-
Prize giving... which I missed!
I presume the Triumph Bobber I opened the set with won something!
But I know that the Ariel 650, behind it, won 'Best Classic'... probably because it wasn't a Triumph!
I believe that this is a bit of BSA 'Badge Engineering', based on the BSA A65, but a more 'upmarket' model for the discerning motorcyclist.
Made in Solihull, like me! Selly Oak, I seem to recall.
Oh whatever happened to the British Bike industry! Once-upon-a-time... before I was born.. OK, well, before I could walk, at least! You couldn't chuck a brick and not risk hitting SOME-ONE who worked in one of the bike factories, within spitting distance of Coventry! Royal Enfield over at Redditch; Ariel at Selly Oak; Velocette! York Road, Hall Green... Lucas Factory I worked at was built over that old bike works! Triumph at Meriden, and BSA on Armoury Road, Small Heath, where I used to go trials-riding! such wealth of local biking tradition.... slowly disappearing, under steel-frame pre-fab retail or distribution parks! Where's all the bricks gone! Have a hard time FINDING one to lob, these days, let alone hitting any-one that MAKES stuff for a living! Flat-Caps and lathes! Them was the days! And motorbikes designed on the back of Woodbine packets!
And so I shall end on another shot of that Triumph bobber, by the band-wagon. And conclude by saying, THIS is biking. A day, with riders of all manner of machines, from all walks of life, swapping stories; looking at bikes, listening to music and drinking beer; enjoying and maintaining a tradition of individuality, and eccentricity, and general daftness, and not doing what is most 'sensible'!
Thank-you Antelope MCC for hosting such pleasant, friendly, easy going, and thoroughly enjoyable event. I would like to mention the Bands... but you know what? They were all so good, and there was so much to look at, apart from when four-floors were tuning up over the top, I couldn't tell you when I was listening to live or to recording! Let alone who was playing! That is how relaxed it was. A wonderful show.