Archive for July, 2012

July 15, 2012

Retro Kool

Wicked Moto in Wicker Park: sno-white tank like some speech bubble that should say: “VAROOM!”. Black as coal engine and cast 70’s period wheels give snappy look for this hipsters ride. As some might say : “Dude!”.

July 14, 2012


I popped into Ace Motorcycle & Scooter earlier today to get a couple of service items to fettle some old points I’ve gained from EBay. They have the parts but the owner/Brit bike specialist wasn’t there so I’ll have them mail the items to me. This place is backed-up with motos awaiting work to the gunwales. The popularity of old bikes in Chicago means they need another Good mechanic. Not easy to find! However this place gets good feedback.


July 13, 2012

Keeping’ the Rubber Side Down

Triumphs of the past were all shod in Dunlop’s, K70’s being the tire of choice for a little mixed surface conditions probably found on British roads in the 60’s. That distinctive tread pattern has a good graphic quality to it, like some cable knit Aran sweater.


Great tyres, but that helmet! A Charlie Brown pumpkin would work better…


July 12, 2012


A Trident reborn. Back in the nineties when John Bloor was reinventing the Triumph name, his engineers plumped for a triple cylinder format. The grunt of a twin with the ‘smoothness’ of a four. Today’s local Craigslist has a clean ’96 example with 6000 miles (that’s 500 per year!) for three grand. The blackened engine and tank adorned with a retro red swish…


July 11, 2012

The Sixteen aitch

Someone has kindly informed me that the motorcycle my grandfather, George, is seen on is actually a Norton 16H. The ubiquitous mode a rapid transit during the Second World War. Over 100,000 were manufactured between 1932 when the War Department approved the design of this 490cc Single until 1945 by which time models in olive, khaki and RAF blue were scattered around the globe. Some solo, some with a combination chair and some with sidecar ‘box’.

July 10, 2012

…Read On

I’m currently poring over the great Haynes Workshop tome for the Bonnie, spending most of the time in the electrical section. It’s near illuminated script like writing gives step by step guiding in all things mechanical and an attempt of thing electrical. Along with the Meriden published Owners Workshop and Parts Manual is absolutely essential for any Trumpet tinkerer or hair puller…

July 9, 2012


Guard rails are great when they are thought out and help prevent head-on vehicular collisions thus saving lives: however, when a steel cable system is utilized they just give me the willy’s. Here’s an example of cables used along a Minnesotan roadside; and seen in other Midwest states too. This is a contentious issue on European roads where the motorcycle is a more common mode of day-to-day transportation and riders safety is given more consideration. Some research from places such as Australia and Germany are not fully conclusive however some testing shows both the posts and cable rails create issues. Racetracks use W profile barriers (and hay bales!) More thought is needed in this area.

July 8, 2012

Switching On (and not)

Just a quick photo to show off the new Sparx handlebar switch. Whoop-de-doo! Well it’s better than no news of lack of spark from the ignition.

July 7, 2012

black and white and red all over

Got the Bonnie rewired with a new handlebar switch, a nicely made item from Sparx in the UK. Well, all the light, horn and indicators worked out good. Coloured wire to coloured wire. So… I took ‘er out for a run around the blocks for a cobweb blow; all fine and dandy. A couple of start and stops to see it kick over. No problems. Bring it back to the garage and kaput! Dam, dam and blast it! Nearly there… But not quite (quietly fume).

July 6, 2012


When the desire arises to transport your bike(s) or just to get your unresponsive Moto home you need a truck. The International Flatbed example shown here can tote like the best of ’em and look good doing it. A Norton racer sits proudly on its bed waiting for a destination
be it track, windy road or just the garage. Cafe 59


July 5, 2012


Remember the Honda 175 from a few days ago? Well a few years previous to it you would see yourself on one of these 500cc Triumphs: it saw action as a desert sled in the ‘States but would provide plenty of fun on the road too! I love the fire road ready knobbled tires on this green example. Between the Honda and this.. Easy! The Trumpet trumps!


Today’s BikeExif entry is a modern turn of this half litre Moto. It’s a reworked Bonneville given nice big boots on alloy rims; wide bars and a bottle green finished tank.


July 4, 2012

Independence Day

The Triumph America truly embodies all things British & American in a motorcycle: laid back cruiser stance, low seating, wide bars and a 900cc parallel twin timed at 270 degrees, rather than the Bonneville’s 360 (which gives the America a more V-twin sound a la Milwaukee ‘gins).

Well, it was a shame all that tea was wasted in Boston Harbor! But I’m sure this evens the score somehow…


July 3, 2012

You meet the Nicest People… (part ?)

Hondas from the seventies: a perfect machine to have as a basis for an urban totin’ cafe Moto, or a restoration for a reliable old bike that any home mechanic with a few tools and timing light can work on. Common as muck; which is good for parts; and var nigh bomb proof. It was of course the seven fifty that usurped Triumph and BSA from the ‘bike to have’ throne. Here’s a spotless early example.

It was also the miniaturization of the manufactured product pouring out of the FarEast that was also seen in the motorcycle industry with their four cylinder 350. A pocket-watch when other timepieces were wind-up Grandfather clocks! High redline, sporty power and good looks. A mini 750 for those wary of the big brothers power.

Of course their twins were seeing action too; a superbly detailed CL175 scrambler with wide bars, high pipes with filigree-like heat shielding and a ‘come ride me and smile’ attitude!

At any bike gathering of the older models just turn your head and you see ’em lined up ready to roll. Bell bottomed clad youth, with old skool Bell helmets and a SoCal tan and smile were the owners in the past; urban hipsters moving up from their single speed fixie’s are the crowd now.

Balloon Firestones, swan-neck clip-ons and pipe wrap is the way to go these days. It’s a lifestyle…


July 2, 2012

Let’s cross the Alps

Taking Hannibal’s route sees us back in Italy; this time the other big roman name: Ducati. Always restrained design that sets the high-bar for other makes. Let’s start with the recent 1000 cc Sport model tank:

If you’re talking about design and Ducati mention MUST be made to the 916. It took super bikes into another orbit. Both on the road and the track. Carl Foggarty saw many chequered flags on the world Superbike championships through the nineties. You can just look at these all day long..

The owner of this next Moto was honest in saying it was an absolute bear to ride anything slower than 50mph on poor roads. Long sweepers through the Italian Alps is its true playground. But it is a beaut to gaze at. A bike that looks like its moving even standing still. Darmah 900ss


The teal blue grey hailed from the Paul Smart racer in the early 70’s. A setup given a new lease of life recently with a special edition 1000 cc bike. Modern Duke engine, good tires, brakes and frame. I’m MAKE room in a garage for one, they look terrific! Now if Triumph could do a ‘remake’ of Slippery Sam with one of their triples then we’d be talking!

All these are of course still photos from the Mods & Rockers afternoon on Lincoln Avenue.

July 1, 2012

Jorman Bykes

Bayerische Motoren Werke Motorrad: as well as the eye-tie Gootzies there is of course the Bavarian Born Beemers. This wartime R12 is one such example with lines both practical and aesthetic even to this day. The gloss black with laser clean pinstripe is so Teutonic, seeing it on any other make looks so wrong. This opposing flat twin was used to great effect both as a despatch ride as well as a combination tug.


This model saw reincarnations via the R71 model both in Soviet Russia and the People’s Republic of China; which brings us to this socialist red Chang-Jiang. Rough around the edges with third hand tooling liberated by Stalins troops and eventually sent east. Not fast, probably a handful to handle, but I’m sure it’s grin inducing and head turning.


The final Moto to look at is this cafe’d R75; stripped of its typical German trim usual of their ‘grown-up’ bikes of the seventies and given a modern boy racer appearance. That hefty tank and those chunky jugs look like some Wagnerian opera singer ready to rend the streets asunder with a Valkyrian aria.


Sehr Gut mein freind, sehr gut!