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Ed Youngblood's News and Views
December 2007 News

Motohistory Quiz #48:

We have a winner!

(12/31/2007)

 

Quiz 48The engine depicted in our Motohistory Quiz #48 is that of a 1939 DKW SB500 Luxus Model. The SB500, a two-stroke twin, was built from 1934 through 1939. It was the top of the DKW line at the time, featuring high quality and excellent fit and finish. During the era of the SB series, DKW was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, and a significant contributor to the German economy. In addition to its place as a major manufacturer of street machines, DKW had the largest racing department of any motorcycle manufacturer, employing 150 people. To read a history of MZ/DKW, written by DKW SB500Leo Keller, go to Motohistory News & Views 4/10/2007.

The motorcycle used for our quiz is owned by DomiRacer in Cincinnati, Ohio, a leading supplier of British and European vintage parts and accessories. For more images of the DKW SB500, click here and here. To reach DomiRacer's web site, click here.

 

Big SidThe first person to correctly identify the photo as a DKW was Sid Biberman of Louisville, Kentucky (pictured here). Biberman, better known to his friends as “Big Sid,” is a widely-known and respected historian and tuner of Vincent motorcycles. Motohistory has carried several stories about Big Sid, including first coverage of his famous Vincati hybrid (see Motohistory News & Views 6/4/2005). Congratulations, Sid, and Happy New Year! Your Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way. Readers who would like to check out Big Sid's web site should click here.

 

Season's greetings

(12/31/2007)

 

KurlandAnother year has rolled past for Motohistory. We want to wish all of our readers and contributors our best wishes for the season, no matter how you choose to celebrate it. Our friend Juris Ramba, organizer of the Round Kurland Rally in Latvia, has sent us a greeting we would like to share. This gathering of two and three-wheelers was photographed at the 2007 Rally, which Santa and skunkdrew participants from ten nations. Ramba informs us that he will be taking a break in 2008, and that the next Round Kurland Rally will take place in 2009. Still, its web site will be updated throughout the year with news about the 2009 event. To stay in touch, click here.

 

For all you readers who have been bad this year, Santa and Mrs. Claus send you a stinky Christmas, courtesy of Carl Hess, our Eastern Pennsylvania photohistorian. More photos of the Clauses, with Hercules greetingand without the skunk, can be found at the Schaeffer's Harley-Davidson web site, where they presided over the annual Christmas party. To check it out, click here.

 

From Germany, Leo Keller puts us in a Merry Motohistory mood with his recreation of a greeting card containing a Christmas greeting Czechpoint greetingin nine languages, sent originally by Hercules to its customers in the 1960s.  From Reese Dengler, our expert on all things Czechoslovakian, we have a CZ motocrosser in festive form.  To czech out Reese's Czechpoint web site, click, here.  And Jeff Yost of the Vintage BMW Motorcycle Owners has sent us a nice New Year greeting.  To BMW Greetingreach the BMWVMO web site, click here.  What is it the British call the day after Christmas?  "Boxer Day?"  No, maybe I'm confused about that.

 

2007 has been a very busy year for Motohistory. We have published over 105,000 words of text, over 685 images, and more than 565 links to other web sites. So much of what we publish brings informative, interesting, and educational feedback from our Motohistory readers, and we are very grateful for this opportunity to continue to learn and share the reasons we all love motorcycles and motorcycle history. To our readers and contributors, we hope 2008 will bring you joy, peace, and much more Motohistory.

 

 

Motohistory Quiz #48

(12/31/2007)

 

Quiz 48Okay, kids, here's your last Motohistory Quiz for the year. Be the first to tell me the brand of this motorcycle and you will receive a personalized Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma. In addition, if the winner can tell me the model designation of the motorcycle and its model year, within a three-year margin of error, we will also send you a Motohistory winter cap.

 

So rush to your keyboard and send your answers to Ed@Motohistory.net.

 

Motohistory video review:

“Craig Vetter: 470 mpg”

(12/30/2007)

 

On October 20, 2007, Craig Vetter delivered the wrap-up presentation at the International Conference of the Industrial Designers Society of America and the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Vetter has just completed a video of that presentation on DVD, and Motohistory was given an opportunity to review it prior to distribution.

 

On the DVD, Vetter (pictured below outside San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel) opens his discussion by establishing his credentials. He describes his career in the motorcycle industry, tells how he built a manufacturing company that was, at the time, second only to Harley-Davidson in sales, how his accessories influenced the design of the modern touring motorcycle, and why he sold his company to focus on his family and gain more freedom to study and dream. Vetter's dreams of aCraig at Fairmont more environmentally responsible culture and sustainable life style led in 1981 to his creation of the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Contest. That project lasted five years, the rules were set to test street legal motorcycles designed for practical use (not Bonneville-type vehicles), and what was learned became the basis for Vetter's presentation to the leading designers of the world.

 

Vetter emphasizes the importance of streamlining to achieve greater efficiency and lower fuel consumption in everyday vehicles. He presents an overview of the history of streamlining, showing how it emerged from the aeronautical industry during the 1920s and ‘30s, and how it has been applied and misapplied in various fields of industrial design. Through a year-by-year summary of his Fuel Economy Contest, Vetter describes what its leading and most successful participants learned, and the results achieved are quite astonishing. For example, from one year to the next, some contestants improved their performance by as much 100 mpg with essentially the same motorcycle, simply by refining their streamlining. In 1985, Matsu Matsuzawa became the all-time champion with a streamlined motorcycle that achieved 470 mpg! Matt Guzetta, after earning high scores every year at the Economy Contest, followed up on his own by traveling from Los Angeles to Daytona Beach on only ten gallons of gas. And tests conducted by Cycle Magazine on some of the Contest motorcycles proved that with proper streamlining, a motorcycle needs only 3.3 horsepower to travel at a highway speed of 60 mph. A number of engineering improvements can lead to better fuel economy, but nothing else one can do even comes close to the importance of effective streamlining, which Vetter breaks down to two very simple rules: 1) the teardrop shape of round in the front and pointed at the rear is the only truly effective shape in the speed range we use for day-to-day travel, and 2) the smaller the frontal area, the more efficient it gets.  With real streamlining, much less horsepower is needed to achieve results, and less horsepower equals less fuel consumption.

 

Vetter points out that while these principles have been known for three-quarters of a century, post-modern design has gone wrong by turning streamlining into a cliché, misapplying its principles for the sake of style and fashion. With one image after another, he drives home the comic absurdity of “streamlined” refrigerators, baby buggies, cameras, radios, clothes washers, and even buildings. And he reminds us how scientific aeronautical concepts have been bastardized into styling elements for perfectly silly automobiles that have air-grabbing scoops over their headlights, huge fins that only disrupt air flow, and streamlining's signature teardrop shape installed sideways and backwards in total nonsense, all in the name of “fashion.”

 

In regard to the absence of design efficiency in modern motorcycles, Vetter puts much blame on the FIM which, in 1957, actually banned true streamlining to make racing motorcycles go slower. As a result, today we buy motorcycles that imitate the lines of modern racing machines, which we think are streamlined, but actually aren't. With statistics from Bonneville, Vetter proves that the modern, FIM-dictated racing design is utterly ineffective, and he charges that the only reason for bodywork at all is to provide display space for commercial sponsors.

 

Incredibly, while few people remain unconvinced that our resources are not infinite and that waste and over-consumption have dire consequences, we still have not begun to behave as if we understand this. While we give lip-service to conservation and actually brag that our motorcycles get 30, 40, 50 mpg, we still behave like we worship more power and greater consumption. If a properly designed motorcycle can maintain highway speeds with less than 10 horsepower, why do we need 100? Vetter does not argue that a commercially-available motorcycle should achieve 300 to 400 mpg like his economy contest machines, but he does assert that there is absolutely no reason that 100 mpg or more is not attainable if today's designers were working responsibly rather than following fashion.

 

While this 48-minute presentation was created for a meeting of design professionals, there are important lessons in it for anyone who cares about our future. It is informative, often amusing, but also sobering and very thought provoking. I recommend it highly to any Motohistory reader. It is available from Vetter for $25, delivered by priority mail. To order a copy, click here. For more information about the Industrial Designers Society of America, click here.

Photo provided by Craig Vetter.

 

Uhl unveils new painting in

“Harley Woman” series

(12/29/2007)

 

Artist David Uhl unveiled a new painting in his Harley Woman Series at Bruce Rossmeyer Uhl ArtSunrise Harley-Davidson in Sunrise, Florida on December 28. The series, begun in 1998, has resulted in Uhl's most popular works of art. An original work is added to the series no more frequently than every other year. Uhl reports that the new painting, shown here, was inspired by a visit to the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, which currently features an exhibit about the history of women in motorcycling. For more about David Uhl's fine art, click here. To reach Bruce Rossmeyer Harley-Davidson, click here. To reach the Wheels Through Time Museum web site, click here.

Image provided by David Uhl.

 

 

Jeff Fredette:

162 days and counting

(12/28/2007)

 

Fredette head shotBorn in Blue Island, Illinois on January 16, 1958, Jeff Fredette has a father who was actively involved in off-road motorcycle competition, so it is not surprising that Jeff would take an interest. “My father, Wayne, rode mostly enduros and trials, and a little motocross,” Jeff explains. “He had Pentons and Hodakas, and I would ride passenger on road enduros and off-road when the event offered a buddy class.” Jeff adds, “My mother, Lida, was very supportive of our hobby, except for motocross. She thought it was dangerous, and when I started riding on my own, she kind of put her foot down against my riding motocross.” But in Illinois, there were plenty of riding opportunities without motocross. Fellow Illinois ISDT rider Ron Ribolzi, whom Fredette says he chased through the woods on a regular basis while still an up-and-coming amateur, explains, “We were in a hotbed of enduro activity. The clubs in AMA District 17 hosted 13 to 15 enduros a year, and we had great role models in guys like Bill Baird, Bill Maxey, and Don Rosene.” Ribolzi adds, “I knew Jeff's father, and I recall the Fredette on wheeliefirst time I met Jeff. He was about 14 and came to an off-road poker run, riding a 125cc Honda trials bike. He rode the entire event standing on the pegs.” Jeff had begun his career riding observed trials at the age of 12 with the inauspicious honor of coming in last at his first organized competition.

 

Jeff's whole family, including his younger sisters Cindy and Kim, got involved in off-road activity. Jeff recalls, “We had a Volkswagen Bug. Dad fabricated a rack on the back to carry his motorcycle, and our family of five would travel to enduros with all of our gear packed up front.” Incredibly, the Volkswagen transported the five Fredettes, a motorcycle, and all their gear as far from their Chicagoland home as Stone Mountain, Georgia, a distance of 700 miles. Jeff laughs and says, “Today you think you need a big motor home, towing an enclosed trailer full of motorcycles. Back then, you traveled with what you had and what you Fredette 1needed.” It was in that Volkswagen, at a drive-in movie, where Jeff had a life-changing experience. “All five of us,” Jeff Explains,” piled into the Bug to go see ‘On Any Sunday.' I watched Malcolm Smith riding the Six Days in Spain, and it became my dream. I wanted more than anything to ride the Six Days, just once!”

 

As soon as Jeff got a driving license in 1974, he began to attend national enduros and Six Days qualifying events, and in the winter he went to ice races every weekend to stay in shape and hone his riding skills. His first sponsored ride was a Penton in 1977, for which he had dealer support. With the Penton brand being replaced in America by KTM in 1978, Fredette got factory help, but found the experience unsatisfactory. The new KTM organization was just finding its legs in the U.S. market, and often the racing effort was disorganized. Jeff recalls, “Sometimes I would go to a national event, and no support crew from KTM would even show up. It was too unpredictable, and I was often on my own.”Fredette 2 Fortunately, Suzuki manager John Morgan saw Jeff's potential, and recruited him to join its factory off-road team. From 1979 until the company ceased its off-road team in 1982, Fredette rode Suzukis. With a move to Kawasaki in 1983, Jeff formed a lasting relationship that has stuck with him throughout the remainder of his career.

 

Four years after beginning his enduro career, Fredette got an opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream by riding with the American team at the International Six Days' Trial in Sweden in 1978, where he earned a gold medal. Little did he know that it would be the first in three-decades of Six Days competition during which he would never fail to finish the grueling event and earn a medal. From 1978 to the present (2007), Fedette has ridden every ISDT and ISDE except for three, which he did not enter due to injuries. He did not ride in 1982, 1990, and 1996, but even when he was injured and unable to compete, he supported the American team as a chase rider in both 1990 and 1996. And with 27 events under his belt, he has earned ten gold medals, 16 silver medals, and a single bronze medal. Only Herbert Schek of Germany and Jaun Maso Blasco of Spain have even come close to Fredette's amazing record of longevity. Each of these men has ridden 25 ISDT/Es, but Schek failed to finish six of his, and Maso has failed to finish five times. With Jeff still running strong with no failures toFredette 8 finish, it is highly probable that no one will ever surpass his record of achievement.  Given this record, there is little wonder he has been inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame (2002).

 

Growing up in Tinley Park and later South Chicago Heights, Illinois, Jeff learned early the maintenance skills that would serve him well during his long and successful off-road riding career. He explains, “Dad was a machinist, and very resourceful at solving problems and making things from scratch. I was always around welding equipment and a lathe, so I learned how to fix things and keep a motorcycle running.” In addition, Jeff augmented what he learned at home with shop classes at school, developing an understanding of machinery that would contribute to what is arguably the most successful international motorcycle enduro career in history. Gunny Claypool, who has supervised the American effort at the International Six Days' Enduro and represented the U.S. on its international jury, says, “Jeff's long-term success at the Six Days can be attributed to his understanding of his motorcycle and his ability to find ways to keep it going, no matter what. Other riders call him ‘MacGyver' because me comes up with such creative ways to fix problems on the trail.” Ribolzi confirms, “Jeff's talent benefits the whole American effort. He really cares about the team, and the way he explains to other riders how to overcome bike problems is always very clear and easy to follow. The rules will not allow him to fix another person's machine, but he can explain a fix in a way that others can readily understand.” Claypool adds, “He is one of the few riders who will Fredette in Officestay at the impound at the end of a tough day, and help other riders as they come in. He's still in his riding gear, hot and tired, but he takes the time to hand over tools and advise other riders on how to fix their bikes.”

 

According to Hugh Fleming, who supported the American Six Days effort for a quarter-century during his long career on the staff of the American Motorcyclist Association, Jeff's resourcefulness is not limited to the trail. Explaining that Fredette often dismantled his motorcycle to ship overseas as luggage, Fleming says, “One of my favorite stories was when Jeff was collecting his luggage at the airport, and while leaving baggage claim, his engine fell off the top of his luggage cart, cracking the lower engine cases. Because he was unable to repair the damaged engine, he found a local Kawasaki rider and rented his stock engine for the ISDT.” Fleming adds with a laugh, “He returned it slightly used!”

Those who know their ISDT history know that no matter how long Fredette's career may be, he is not likely to ever face rougher conditions than he did in 1993. Jeff reflects, “The hardest medal I ever earned was that bronze, in Holland in 1993. It poured rain every day, and the first day I lost so much time, I figured it was over. I was feeling like I had failed until I arrived at the impound at the end of the day. There were so few motorcycles there, I realized I had done very well. That raised my spirits and I starting feeling pretty good. I started working on my motorcycle for the next day.” The trial was so difficult that the International Jury relaxed the rules and gave riders until midnight to return to the impound at the end of the first day, but the constant rain and sand of the Dutch terrain destroyed most of the motorcycles. Jeff says, “I went through three sprockets during the week, and I had to rebuild the upper end twice.” He relates that during one hasty rebuild he forgot to install the reed cage in his cylinder and was forced to run the whole day with his motorcycle unable to perform beyond half-throttle. Still, by the end of the week he had not only survived, but had gotten his bike running so well that he won his moto in the final special test. He reports, “It was the only time I ever won a special test moto at the end of the ISDT, and on the first day I though I was done.” He adds, “It pays to never give up.” About his tenacFredette in Truckity and success at the ISDT/E, Jeff says, “I attribute my success about 50 percent to ability and 50 percent to hard work. I've always been able to keep my bike going.”

 

It would seem that a man with Fredette's record would be a person who sets and pursues goals, but he denies it. He says, “I had a dream in the beginning, and that was to ride one ISDT, but since then I have never had a goal. I have never said, ‘I am going to do 10, or 20, or 30.' I just take them one year at a time, and I will continue so long as I am still having fun and not getting in the way of a younger rider who deserves to be on the team.” Fredette's ability to prevail against younger riders may be attributable to his own youthful attitude. Despite the fact that his salt-and-pepper hair is moving toward a consistent gray, Jeff smiles easily, has a sparkle in his eye, and often breaks into a laugh that is more a child-like giggle. He is fit and trim and stays in shape through physical labor and riding almost every weekend, year-round. He says, “Except for the times I was in physical therapy from injuries, I have never exercised. I just work hard in the shop every day and ride almost every chance I get.” Even in his non-motorcycling activity, Fedette maintains a competitive attitude. For example, he and his son Eric have twice entered the grueling Great American Race in a 1933 Ford pickup truck (pictured above), earning Top Rookie honors and a 17th overall in 20Fredette with helmets05, and 11th place in 2006. Jeff also entered the Last Man Standing motorcycle competition in 2007. He says, “I hung in there to the last 18 guys, but dropped out during the night. My eyes don't seem to work so well for the night riding.”

 

Fredette has parlayed his long relationship with Kawasaki into a profession, having founded Fredette Racing Products in 1985, two years after he began to ride the brand's KDX models. The company is an authorized Parts Unlimited dealer (Jeff is pictured above in his office), has a line of off-road accessories personally developed by Jeff, and offers tuning and engine rebuilding services. To reach the Fredette Racing Products web site, click here. He is also an advisor to Kawasaki's Team Green, helps Kawasaki with public relations, and assists with new model announcements for the company's off-road product line. On the wall of his shop, high above the door, is a long row of helmets and KDX front number plates (pictured above). These speak to his incredible record as the world's most experienced ISDT/E competitor, but one gets the idea that his achievements come not only from experience but also from a pure joy of off-road riding that remains unabated after so many years. As he closes in on his 50th birthday, there is no sign that Jeff Fredette is ready to trade his green machine for an easy chair. Standing beneath the trophies from 162 days of world-class competition, he grins and says, “How long am I going to keep riding in the dirt? I plan to tear it up until it covers me up!”

 

Jeff Fredette head shot provided by Dick Lague. 

Photos of Fredette riding provided by Jeff Fredette.

 

 

Packard Museum announces

eighth motorcycle exhibit

(12/27/2007)

 

NSU at PackardThe National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio has announced that on January 5 it will open “Masters of Speed and Sport,” its eighth annual motorcycle exhibit. The exhibit, which will run through May 31, will feature thirty vintage racing and high-performance motorcycles. Beginning in February, the Museum will also offer educational seminars on motorcycle restoration and preservation.  Motohistory was invited in early to get some photos during the installation of the exhibit.  Shown here are curators Daryl Timko and Bruce Williams with Williams' 1936 NSU 501OLS Sport.  For more information about the National Packard Museum, click here.

 

 

The Clymer Indian

Velo Thruxton proto

(12/26/2007)

 

Clymer We have carried several stories lately about Floyd Clymer's ventures with Munch in Germany and Tartarini in Italy in the late 1960s to create a new line of Indian motorcycles (See Motohistory News & Views 11/14/2007, 7/20/2007, 7/9/2007, and 6/30/2007). In Tartarini-framed machines, Clymer offered 500cc, 600cc, and 750cc engines from Velocette, Horex, and Royal Enfield respectively. In the Velocette-powered machine, the customer had a choice of a standard Venom engine for $1,450 or a Thruxton engine for $1,550, which was about $300 above the price of the comparable Velocette. These two models differed in that the Venom had a compression ratio of 8.75/1, a 1 3/16 inch Amal carburetor, and was rated at 34 horsepower while the Thruxton Velo and Horexhad a compression ratio of 9/1, a 1 3/8 inch Amal GP carburetor, a sodium-filled exhaust valve, an improved head, hotter cams, and was rated at 42 horsepower.

 

Pictured here is a publicity photo used by Clymer in late 1968 to announce his 1969 Indian product line. On the left is the Velocette Thruxton-powered model, and on the right is the Horex-powered machine. Both of the motorcycles shown in the photograph are prototypes. Among several revealing details, the most conspicuous is the flat side panel with a hole cut in it for the battery on the left side of the machine (as shown below). And on the Thruxton Velo with Biltzmodel, there is no panel at all on the right side, exposing the standard Velocette oil tank with its characteristic perforated metal heat shield. Production models had tidy fiberglass side panels with a raised oval similar in shape to a number plate that hid both the battery and the oil tank.

 

After our November 14 story about Clymer's 1969 Indian line, motorcycle collector Don Biltz, of Middletown, Ohio (pictured above), contacted us to report that he had recently acquired the actual prototype of the Thruxton-powered Clymer Indian (pictured above and below), and we made an appointment to meet at DomiRacer in Cincinnati so I could have a look at the machine. It has original paint, is complete and in very good condition, carries engine and frame numbers VMT748, and has only 44 miles on the clock! Though Biltz does not have a complete paper trail leading back to the motorcycle's origin, he does have Velo right sidedocuments that reveal that it was originally sold through an Indian dealer in Los Angeles, and that he is the fifth owner. It is certainly the same motorcycle as pictured in the promotional photo above, except that the seat is different. The seat on Biltz's machine is more like that used on the Venom-powered production models whereas the seat shown in the photograph appears to be ill-fitting and unlike that seen on any production machine. It was probably just perched on the motorcycle for purpose of the photograph.

 

Interestingly, the motorcycle's Arizona title indicates that it is a 1966 Side panelmodel, even though Clymer did not start building the Tartarini-framed Indians until 1968. At this time it was possible for unsold motorcycles to be “re-titled,” and it was not unusual for a dealer to offer a “new” machine that had actually been sitting on his floor for a couple of years. The 1966 date on the title may hint at how slowly the Velocettes were selling in the declining days of the company, and that products non-current by two years or longer may have been available for Clymer to buy at a good price.

 

During his research on the motorcycle, Biltz learned that at one time a Velocette Venom-powered prototype still existed and had been sold to a private party. Imagine owning both of these prototypes! Biltz is on the hunt!

Clymer portrait from "A Treasury of Motorcycles of the World" by Floyd Clymer.  Bonanza Books, 1965.  Image from Clymer Indian promotional brochure provided by Don Biltz.

 

Motohistory exclusive interview:

Kalman Cseh on the

origin of the Penton

(12/23/2007)

 

Editor's Note: On February 2, 2008, the Penton Owners Group will hold its Annual Meeting at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington, Ohio, kicking off a year of celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Penton motorcycle and the 10th anniversary of the POG. Kalman Cseh (pictured below), a long-time employee of KTM who was significantly involved in the birth of thKalman Csehe Penton, will be a special guest at the meeting. Mr. Cseh kindly granted Motohistory an interview prior to his upcoming visit to the United States. Here's what he told us about the origin and impact of the Penton motorcycle.

 

Motohistory: Mr. Cseh, everyone who loves Pentons is very excited about your plan to attend the annual meeting of the Penton Owners Group, coming up in February.  Motohistory is very pleased for the opportunity to learn more about you in anticipation of that meeting.  First, tell us a little about your life, education, and business experience prior to the time you joined KTM.

Mr. Cseh: I was born in 1944 and raised in Mattighofen, Austria, where I also spent my first eight years of basic school education. I left school when I was just about 18 years old when I graduated from commercial high school – what we called "Handelsakademie" - in Salzburg in June 1962.

 

During the period from summer, 1962 until November, 1965 I worked in the travel agency business, first in Austria until April, 1964 and then in London, England, from May, 1964 until October, 1965. During my stay in London I met my wife, Renate, fell in love, and planned to get married, which we did in November, 1965. We both planned to return to Austria, and so I started to work for KTM in Mattighofen on December 1, 1965. KTM was looking for someone who had the knowledge of foreign languages, and for that they put me in charge of export sales, which was not very well developed at that time.

MH: What was KTM like when you joined the company?

Mr. Cseh: At that time, KTM was producing bicycles and mopeds, mainly for Austria, Germany and Switzerland. However, already in these days KTM had a small sports department which was involved in the national and European enduro championships, what was then known as "Gelaendesport." They were competing in the 50cc, 100cc and 125cc categories, using Sachs engines, and were quite successful in the national racing scene. As far as I remember, KTM had about 180 people employed at that time. 

MH: Tell us about your first meeting with John Penton.  What were your first impressions of the man?

Mr. Cseh: The first time I met John Penton was in fall of 1967 at the International Motorcycle Show in Milano, and as far as I can remember, he was returning from the International Six Days' Trial in Zakopane, Poland. He visited our booth at the show. Apparently, he was talking to one of our riders, Sigi Stuhlberger, who was also involved on a KTM 50cc bike at the Six Days event in Zakopane, who told him that we would be in Milano at the show and he could meet us there. I remember very well that day when John showed up at our booth, wearing a blue jacket with a U.S.A. badge. I am not sure if Erich Trunkenpolz was involved in this first meeting we had at the booth or not; however, we did have a meeting in Milano with Mr. Trunkenpolz, John, and myself, during which John explained what he was looking for.

 

I had the impression that John knew exactly what he was talking about when he explaining to us in detail what type of motorcycles he was looking for and how these motorcycles should perform. He was talking about 100cc and 125cc off-road bikes for enduro and motocross use. He was so convincing that Erich Trunkenpolz promised to prepare a prototype of such a bike by the end of the year. I think it was around the Christmas holidays of 1967 when John came to visit us at the factory to have a look at the prototype.

MH: Mr. Penton gives you enormous credit for the creation of the Penton motorcycle.  He says you traveled with him in Europe and opened many doors for him as he began to develop his business.  Can you tell us some of the things you and John did together to bring about the birth of the Penton?

Mr. Cseh: Sure, I was involved from the beginning in my function as the sales coordinator for all our exports, including the new contact with Penton Imports. Due to the fact that I was one of the few people who spoke English in these days at KTM, I was involved in all matters John had to discuss with Erich Trunkenpolz, the technicians in R&D, or whoever else was involved. John had other contacts in Europe at that time which all had to do with the Penton motorcycles or other products for his business. For example, the Fichtel & Sachs company in Schweinfurt, Germany at that time was the engine suppliers, and we visited them regularly to complain about problems like the extensive wear of the shifting key, or the insufficient clutch, or the Bosch ignitions, just to name a few. Other suppliers we visited frequently were Ceriani for the front forks, Marzocchi for the rear shock absorbers, or Alpine Stars, who produced the Hi-Point boots. Especially with the suspension companies, John always had things to propose to improve the quality, reliability, and functionality of the products.

MH: Clearly, forty years ago, no one could have envisioned the big player KTM would become in the global motorcycle industry.  Now that it is a big company that has built up its own great traditions, do you think people at KTM remember the Penton?  Do you think there is a spirit in the company and the product today that can be traced directly back to the Penton?

Mr. Cseh: As a matter of fact, there are very few people still in the company who knew or ever worked with John Penton personally; however, the involvement and the growing enthusiasm for motorsports in general surely has its roots in these early days when KTM and John Penton were developing sport motorcycles for the U.S. market. This enthusiasm became a general ingredient of KTM's company philosophy, and has been continuously developed to the present day. John's advertising slogan back in 1968 was "Built for Champions," and Stefan Pierer's slogan today is "Ready to Race,” so one can clearly see that John Penton's original spirit has never been given up, but definitely has been maintained for the benefit of the brand image and the commercial success of the company.

MH: Finally, what is going through your head as you prepare to come to America to help John Penton and the Penton Owners Group celebrate the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Penton?

Mr. Cseh: First of all, I consider it as a great honor to be invited to this anniversary, and I am very much looking forward to meeting again with John himself and people around him, of whom I may know quite a few. Looking through our archives, I have sorted out photographs from these early days, and I have prepared a DVD with which I will make a historical presentation, starting with the Six Days' Enduro in San Pellegrino, Italy in 1968. I hope this presentation will stimulate a lot of discussion about the history of the Penton and how it has contributed to motorcycling.

Editor's Postscript: The Annual Meeting of the Penton Owners Group has become a very popular POG logowinter fixture at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. Mr. Cseh's presence, his presentation, and the opportunity to have him and John Penton – and other original Penton Imports employees – together to discuss the history of the Penton motorcycle will surely make this meeting a landmark event. In addition, it will be a final opportunity to see the Motocross America Exhibit, since it is scheduled to be taken down by March, 2008. For more information about the Penton Owners Group, click here.

Photo provided by Kalman Cseh.

 

Found in Print

(12/22/2007)

 

Motorcycle Earlier, we conducted a pre-publication review of “Motorcycle” by Steven E. Alford and Suzanne Ferriss (See Motohistory News & Views 6/27/2007), describing it as one of the most extensive, perceptive, and rewarding inquiries we have seen yet into the role of the motorcycle in our culture. Now the book is available in soft cover, published in London by Reaktion Books Ltd. Printed on a semi-glossy, high-quality stock, and with over 100 illustrations (50 of which are in color), the physical book is equal to its outstanding content. To reach Reaktion Books, click here.

 

VMX CoverVMX Number 32 has arrived, as rich in content as we have come to expect from this off-road riders bible, published down under. Featuring a Penton Berkshire on the cover, it contains an interview with the late Bud Ekins conducted by Rick Sieman in 1998, feature stories about the 1970 Penton Berkshire, Andre Malherbe's 1981 RC500 works Honda, the 1980 John Banks Replica Mugen Honda, the 1981 Suzuki RM250Z, and reports on vintage enduro activity in Europe, Australia, and the United States. There are stories about Gabriel Beltran's and Alain Goffart's museums, and Part Two of Leo Keller's history of how MZ became a world-beating brand in off-road competition. To subscribe to the rich and beautiful VMX, click here.

 

Motorbooks CatalogThe new Spring 2008 Motorbooks Catalog contains promises of much new motohistory in the coming year. New titles will include “Derek Minter: King of Brands” by Mick Walker (June 2008), “MotoGP in Camera: The Official Portrait of the 990cc Era” by Julian Ryder (February 2008), “World Superbikes: The First 20 Years” by Ryder and Kel Edge (April 2008), “The Motorcycle World Champions: The Inside Story of History's Heroes” by Michael Scott (March 2008), “The Magic of the TT, Century Edition” by Mac McDiarmid (February 2008) “Moto Rumi: The Complete Story” by Riccardo Crippa (February 2008), “Moto Guzzi: The Complete History from 1921” by Mario Columbo (February 2008), and a whole string of titles by Peter Henshaw, including books about the BMW GS, the Honda CBR900RR, the Triumph Bonneville, the BSA Bantam, and BSA's 500 and 650 Twins. To reach the MBI Publishing Company on-line, click here.

 

BackTrack videoTaylor Productions has just released “BackTrack,” a nostalgic video containing vintage motocross footage and retrospective interviews with Billy Grossi, Kent Howerton, Gary Jones, the late Jim Pomeroy, and others. A full review of this 55-minute video will appear in an upcoming edition of the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies. To reach Taylor productions, click here. To access the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies, click here.

 

 

“Motostars” coming to the

Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum

(12/21/2007)

 

MHoF LogoThe Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum has announced that its next major theme exhibit “Motostars: Celebrities + Motorcycles,” will open in March. Assembled in the facility's 8,000 square-foot gallery, the exhibit will replace “Motocross America,” which has been featured at the Museum for the last three years. An official grand opening and dedication of the new exhibit will take place on June 28, 2008. For more information, click here.

 

 

More Lambert & Butler's

vintage motorcycle cards

(12/20/2007)

 

Here are more motorcycle cards, distributed with Lambert & Butler's cigarettes in the United Kingdom in 1923, from the Ken Weingart collection.

 

Seventh in a series of 50:

Bradbury

BradburyThe text on the back of the card reads:

6 h.p. sports model combination, three-speed countershaft gear, chain drive; engine “V” type twin, detachable head. 749.75c.c., side-by-side valves, drip feed lubrication, B. and B. carburetter, internal expanding brake on both wheels, adjustable footrests. Four British and world's records established at Brooklands by Mr. R.E. Dicker, 11th October, 1922 on a Bradbury 5 h.p. sports model.

 

Eighth in a Series of 50:

Brough Superior

BroughThe text on the back of the card reads:

The Brough Superior is the highest priced machine on the market, due to the fact that its specification has been worked out without having regard for initial cost. Each machine is guaranteed to do over 80 m.p.h. The engine is an 8 h.p. JAP “V” twin. It has a three-speed gear.

 

 

Ness to feature at

Motorcycle Hall of Fame breakfast

(12/19/2007)

 

Arlen NessLegendary customizer and 1992 inductee to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Arlen Ness will be the headliner at the 20th Annual Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum Friendraising Breakfast on March 7 at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort in Daytona Beach, Florida. Tickets are $49 per person, and all proceeds will go to the support of the non-profit Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. For information on how to acquire tickets to the event, click here.

 

Photo by Michael Lichter.

 

 

Dooley chosen for VJMC magazine

(12/18/2007)

 

DooleyThe Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America has announced that Brendan Dooley has been named as editor of the club's bi-monthly membership magazine. Dooley, who was founding editor of Vintage Motorcycle Price Guide, said about the move, "I look forward to producing a quality publication for this enthusiastic group, and hope that I can contribute to the continuing growth of the VJMC.” Dooley succeeds Jason Roberts, who will leave the post in March. For more information about the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, click here.

Photo provided by Brendan Dooley.

 

 

“Great Escape”Triumph clarified

(12/16/2007)

 

TriumphWith a recent story about the Bud Ekins memorial (See Motohistory News & views 12/5/2007), we published a photograph billed as the Triumph motorcycle from “The Great Escape.” Several readers wrote to ask whether this was a replica or the actual motorcycle used in the film. We could not think of a better authority to turn to than Bud's younger brother, Dave. Here is what Dave told us:

 

About the Great Escape Triumph, here is the story, and I know because I was working at Bud's shop at the time. Bud sold four new 1962 TR6s to the studio.  They had to look “Germanish,” so Von Dutch, who was also working there at the time, did all the work and paint required to make them look the part.  Two of the bikes were attached to sidecars and two were not.  Steve McQueen and Bud drove the sidecars during filming, dressed in appropriate German uniforms.  If you look closely you can recognize Bud and Steve chasing themselves.  At the end of the film, Bud bought the bikes back from the studio and sent them back to his shop in Sherman Oaks, California where Dutch, using parts he had saved, returned all four bikes to original condition. They were then sold as “one owners” machines.  The bike shown at Warner Brothers for Bud's memorial event is one of several replicas that Sean Kelly has built.

 

Thanks, Dave, for clarifying the history of the “Great Escape” Triumphs for our Motohistory readers.

 

Photo by Ron Huch.

 

Motohistory Quiz #47:

We have a winner!

(12/15/2007)

QuizMotohistory Quiz #47 taught us that there are a lot of Greeves experts out there.  We got many answers idenfiying the photo as the cylinder and carburetors of a 1963 Greeves twin-carb Starmaker, pictured below.  The first reader to give us this correct answer was Rokon Ron Sutton of Alton, Illinois.  We also had many respondents who guessed that it might be a Puch, another brand that produced the unusual configuration of a Greevestwin-carb, single-cylinder two-stroke.  The Puch, however, came along more than a decade later, and was used by Harry Everts to win the 1975 250cc motocross world championship.

As usual, our knowledgeable quiz respondents sent us some additional interesting information.  ISDT veteran and two-stroke expert Carl Cranke explained that the linkage on the Greeves was set up so the second carb came in when the first was three-quarters open. PuchThe oddly-shaped box sitting above the inlet tubes contains this linkage.  And our German correspondent Ralf Kruger sent us a photo of Everts' 1975 Puch works bike with twin carbs (pictured here) for comparison.

Barely more than 100 of the special Greeves twin-carb scramblers were built.  They produced 25 horsepower.  The motorcycle photographed for our quiz is currently on display at Classic Motorcycles LLC in St. Louis.  To access the Classic Motorcycles web site, click here.

Congratulations, Rokon Ron, your Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma and winter hat are on the way.  Readers who would like to check out Rokon Ron's Vinduro web site can click here.

 

Motohistory Quiz#47

(12/14/2007)

 

QuizHere we have a twin-carb, two-stroke single. Be the first Motohistory reader to tell us what brand it is. Also, if you can, tell us when it was manufactured. The first person to submit the correct answer will receive a personalized Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma. If the winner can give us also the correct year of manufacture, he or she will also receive a Motohistory winter cap.

 

Send your answer to Ed@Motohistory.net.

 

Blame it on Willis

(12/13/2007)

 

CHipsThe next time you get pulled over by a smiling Ponch or Jon aboard a motorcycle with red and blue flashing lights, blame it on Willis Seaman, a fellow from Nassau County, New York who is credited with issuing America's first speeding ticket by a motorcycle-mounted officer of the law. This claim is made in an article that appeared in the January 26, 1959 edition of The Daily News, which states, “The motorcycle roared and bounced along a rough dirt road in Nassau County, engulfed in a cloud of dust. The cop peered through the dust at the rear of the auto he was chasing. He quickly overtook his prey, pulled alongside, and ordered the motorist to stop. The cop wiped streaks of dust from his face, dismounted and stood for a moment beside the auto, scribbling on a pad. He tore off the sheet and handed Seaman on Indianit to the motorist. The cop was Willie Seaman and the paper was the first traffic summons ever issued in the U.S. The year was 1908.” With this story was a photo of Seaman astride an Indian twin that appears to be a 1907 or 1908 model, as shown here. The fellow with the dubious honor of earning America's first speeding ticket from a motorcycle cop was Charles R. Jones, a resident of Cold Spring Harbor, New York. He was traveling at the breakneck speed of 39 mph! Below is another picture of Willis Seaman (on the right) with a motorcycling friend and his Harley-Davidson, circa 1914.

 

The article goes on to explain that no one knew the exact date of this historic event, but it credits an earlier article from The New York Daily World supporting the claim that it was Seaman who originated a traffic ticketing system that was later adopted by New Seaman and friendYork City Police Commissioner Frank S. Waldo, a friend of Seaman. It reports that before Seaman retired from his duties as Nassau's first traffic cop, he was credited with issuing more than 10,000 citations, including speeding tickets to noted racing drivers Louis Chevrolet, Ralph DePalma, and Ralph Mulford. The hapless scofflaws apprehended by Seaman had the pleasure of appearing before Mineola, New York Magistrate Franklin P. Seaman, his uncle.

 

Clearly, the Seamans were prominent in the region. In fact, their lineage can be traced back to Captain John Seaman, who was deeded Jones Beach by the English Crown in the 17th century. He later sold it to the State of New York for $500, which was a considerably higher price than the State had paid for Manhattan Island. Willis was born in 1891, and by his teenage years had become a dedicated motorcycle enthusiast. Future speeders would have no chance against him, because it was rumored his Indian could achieve 90 mph. He spent 16 years serving as Nassau County's motorcycle cop, and was generally regarded a colorful character. He even received national notoriety when he eloped with his wife, Helen, aboard a motorcycle. The Daily News story states, “It was probably the first motorcycle elopement in history.” Seaman died in Hempstead in 1957, survived by his son Anson, of Mineola, and his daughter Joan, of Levittown.

 

“American Police Motorcycles,” by Buck Lovell (Wolfgang Publications, 2002) does not confirm that Seaman was America's first motorcycle cop, yet there is nothing in the book that would deny the claim. Its first chapter, “In the Beginning: Motorcycle Cops Take to the Streets,” is a general treatment of the subject without specific dates or footnoted sources. It includes photos of “a local Constable” aboard an Indian that looks to be a 1908 model, and of a policeman aboard a belt-drive Excelsior single, which may be a 1908 as well. These photos are not dated, so we are unable to link their currency with the model years of the motorcycles. They may have been taken later. There is also a photograph of San Diego policemen posing with a Thor, which may be as early as a 1907 model, but, again, the photograph is undated. A second photo of San Diego motorcycle cops is reported to be from 1910 or 1911. So, lacking additional evidence to the contrary, the next time you are pulled over by a motorcycle cop, you may as well blame your misfortune on Willis Seaman.

 

Our thanks to Bruce Seaman (grandson) and Melissa Seaman Atkinson (great granddaughter) for providing the source material for this story.

 

BMW's baby boxer:

A dream unfulfilled

(12/11/2007)

By Ralf Kruger

 

Baby Boxer 1As early as the mid-1930s, BMW was working on a boxer twin in the 250/350cc range. 350cc prototypes were seen being tested on the highway between Munich and Berlin, but at the end of the decade, development of these engines ceased. However, by the early 1950s, 250cc motorcycles were becoming more popular in a post-war world that needed economical transportation. Some German manufacturers – BMW included – wanted to build for a qFrankenuality niche with a better product than the cheap 100 to 175cc two-strokes that emerged after the war. The first dream machines of this modern layout were the twin-cylinder Adler and the overhead-cam NSU Max, which appeared in September, 1952.

 

BMW was well-known in the 250cc class with its R25, but the company wanted to catch up with a more modern and impressive design, and what better way to do this than with the boxer twin, which was the age-old trademark of the brand. In 1955, a design team headed by Alex von Falkenhausen (pictured here) undertook a project designated RS250-M207 that was intended to bring forth a high-performance engine capable of challenging the racing dominance of Hermann Paul Mueller Boxer headand his NSU Sportmax. According to this plan, a top-tier racing machine would be developed first, then a road-going version would soon follow, competing in the serial-production market with the 250cc Max. The team wanted a small bike with terrific handling, so they needed a compact engine that could compete also with the ever-improving lightweight two-strokes of the era. To achieve the power required, a high engine speed would be necessary, and the best path at hand was to adopt a single overhead-cam layout (pictured above) with shaft drive and bevel gears similar to the double-cam design that had proven itself so well in the 500cc RS54 racing model. This engine had demonstrated its potential when CrankWalter Zeller won the German National Championship in 1954. In addition, it had begun to utterly dominate world-class sidecar racing.

 

To avoid crankshaft flexing at high engine speeds, the RS250 design included a central ball bearing with roller bearings on the ends (pictured here).  Not only did this mean the crankshaft had to be a “built-up” type, but the cases had to be split horizontally to facilitate installation of the crank. For lightness, these cases cases(pictured here) were cast in magnesium alloy. The cylinders were chrome-plated and sunk deep into the cases to reduce the overall width of the engine. Full-skirted pistons used two compression and a single oil ring, and their wrist pins were pivoted in bronze bushings. The bearings on the big ends of the rods were needle roller type. Fuel injection was planned for the racing engine, but the road version would have carburetors. Ignition for the racer would be by magneto while the series production road machine would use battery/coil ignition. The bore and stroke of the engine were 56mm x 50.6mm, and the racing version was expected to achieve 32 to 34 horsepower.

 

In retrospect, it is sad that this exciting and promising baby boxer was never put into production. The financial situation at BMW had become strained, and anticipating a declining motorcycle market, the company decided to concentrate resources on its established model line. Thus, to address the 250cc niche, the R25 was succeeded by updated but heavy and underpowered singles: the R26 and later the R27. The dreams of BMW's customers who awaited a boxer twin in the 250/350cc range were never fulfilled.

 

Photos provided by Ralf Kruger.

 

Whadizit identified

(12/9/2007)

 

ToolRecently, Honda artifact collector Steve MacMinn sent us a photo of a tool he had picked up in a pile of Honda shop tools (See Motohistory News & Views 11/16/2007). It has a hollow outer shaft with a slot near the end, and an internal shaft controlled by the upper end of the handle, as pictured here. While it came from a Honda shop, itTool end was not a Honda tool, and MacMinn did not know what it was for. So we made an inquiry to Motohistory readers, and answers came back promptly from several. It is a gasket removal tool. A removable blade fits in the slot at the end of the tool, and the internal shaft screws down tight to hold it in place. With blade in place, it cane be used to scrape gasket material off of metal surfaces. Thanks to our Motohistory readers who responded to this inquiry.

 

Photos provided by Steve MacMinn.

 

 

St. Louis vintage scene

continues to grow

(12/8/2007)

 

The great majority of cities in America do not have a motorcycle museum, though over the last decade several have seen temporary exhibits assembled in leading galleries and art museums. A permanent motorcycle exhibit in a major city is an oddity, and two would be unheard of, except in the case of St. Louis, where there are three! Well-known Gateway City motorcycle dealers Carl Donelson and Dave Mungenast created museums open to the public more than a decade ago, and with theBohmerland opening of the Moto Museum last year, St. Louis now has exhibits in north, south, and center regions of this city of 3 million. And all three museums are growing or expanding their operations.

 

Steve Smith's Moto Museum, at 3441 Olive, adjoining the St. Louis University campus, held its grand opening last April 28 (To read our first report on The Moto Museum, go to Motohistory 3/26/2007). Since then, several bikes have been added to the collection that now numbers over 90. The most impressive of these is a Bohmerland (pictured above with Smith), one of the most unusual motorcycles of all time. Produced in Czechoslovakia from 1925 through 1930, and powered by a 598cc Liebisch single-cylinder engine, the Bohmerland featured an enormously robust frame, aluminum disc wheels, and twin fuel tanks mounted outboard the rear of the motorcycle. OnlyDonelson two of these rare motorcycles exist in the United States: at Moto Museum and at the Barber Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. Smith plans to open a restaurant adjoining the Moto Museum next year. He says, “It will not be a motorcycle-themed restaurant, but its patrons will be able to tour The Moto Museum before or after their meal." For hours and location of The Moto Museum, click here.

 

Donelson Cycles, at 9851 St. Charles Rock Road, has a diverse collection that leans toward American dirt track motorcycles, including one of the best collections of BSA Gold Star dirt trackers that one can find in a single location (To read our first report on Donelson's, go to Motohistory News & Views 1/14/2004). Carl Donelson (pictured above) has recently acquired adjoining property and during the winter will be doClassic Cyclesubling the size of the museum. When expanded, there will be more than 50 motorcycles on display. For more information about Donelson Cycles, click here.

 

Classic Motorcycles LLC (pictured on the left), the museum founded by the late Dave Mungenast at 5626 Gravois Road in South St. Louis, has expanded its floor space recently, and its collection continues to grow while displays have been changed and upgraded on a regular basis (To read our first report on Classic Motorcycles LLC, go to Motohistory News & Views 2/8/2004). Now with over 170 motorcycles on display – 140 of which are owned by members of the Mungenast family – recent acquisitions include a 1961 Parilla Wildcat scrambler, a 1963 Greeves Starmaker, a pair of Jawa speedway machines, a 1957 BSA Gold Star dirt tracker, a rare 350cc BSA DB32 Gold Star, and a 1929 Henderson KJ Streamliner. For hours and times for Classic Motorcycles LLC, click here.

 

 

More about Cannonball Baker's

rotary-valve engines

(12/7/2007)

 

Cannonball BakerRecently, we reported on Erwin “Cannonball” Baker's efforts to develop a revolutionary rotary-valve engine, a prototype of which he tested with a record-breaking coast-to-coast ride in May, 1941, when he was 60 years old, as pictured here (see Motohistory News & Views 9/12/2007). According to a report written by Baker's nephew, Clarence -- corroborated by an article published in the June issue of The Motorcyclist penned by editor Chet Billings -- the engine, mounted in an Indian Scout chassis, performed flawlessly, carrying Baker from Los Angeles to New York City in 6 days, 6 hours, and 25 minutes without breakdown or mishap under a wide range of weather and riding conditions. Baker's design was the Cross-type rotary valve, CZ right sideoriginally designed by Roland Cross in England in 1920, and his successful cross-country test would suggest that he achieved better results than his British counterparts, who continued to develop the design without much success into the 1960s. After his successful ride in 1941, Baker hoped to find backing to put his rotary-valve engine into production, but that never happened, at least in part because technical development and CZ leftfinancial resources were at that time shifting toward the military requirements of the Second World War.

 

The Baker rotary-valve test bike still exists, in original condition, and is owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. However, there also exists at the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, another motorcycle that proves that Rotary leftBaker continued his research after the Second World War. It is a 125cc two-stroke CZ (pictured above), converted to a rotary-valve engine similar in design to the motorcycle at the Indianapolis Museum (as pictured on the left). We can be certain this example represents post-war development because the CZ motorcycle Baker used was not imported into the United States until 1948. After the Second World War, both Indian and Harley-Davidson hoped to capture an economy market by adding small two-stroke road bikes to their product lines. Harley-Davidson introduced in 1948 its 125cc Model S, commonly known as the Hummer, based on a much-copied DKW design, and Indian began to import a 125cc CZ, which it did not at first brand Indian Chekas an Indian, but marketed as “the Chek.” Pictured here is the first advertisement to appear for Indian's Chek, which was published on the back cover of the March, 1948 issue of American Motorcycling. For its 1949 model year, Indian continued to import the CZ, but rebranded it as an Indian. Based on the CZ logo on its tank, it would appear that Baker developed his second rotary-valve prototype from the 1948 model.

 

The CZ-based rotary was purchased by motorcycle collector and swap meet organizer Buzz Walneck from a niece of Cannonball Baker for $700, then later sold to Dale Walksler, curator for the Wheels Through Time Museum. Along with it came a box of parts, including a spare rotary valve. Baker's secret to overcoming the lubrication problems that plague rotary valve designs was to construct the valve drum from carbon, or what his nephew desIndian Rotarycribed as “oil-impregnated graphite.” There are reports that two of the CZ-based prototypes were built, but it is not known where a second example is today.

 

Intriguingly, the Wheels Through Time Museum owns another rotary-valve engine for which it has absolutely no history and documentation, but one might speculate that it may have been a test bed built by Baker. Pictured above, this engine is quite crude and has a single cylinder installed on an Indian Four crankcase. It clearly is not intended to power a vehicle, but may have been constructed as a test bench model for the purpose of developing a rotary-valve upper end. Indians and Indian parts figured so prominently in Baker's rotary-valve development, the use of an Indian Four crankcase might hint as his involvement as well. We hope to one day learn more about the original owner and purpose of this curious engine, and we will continue to seek information on Cannonball Baker's fascinating rotary-valve project.

 

Photos provided by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and the Wheels Through Time Museum .

 

 

From the web

(12/6/2007)

 

Tom Penton, the eldest of John Penton's sons, has launched his own blog. To check it out, click here. Scroll down and you will find vintage motorcycle photos from his personal archives.

 

Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum Executive Director Mark Mederski will be the guest speaker at the 2008 Randakk's International Vintage Honda Rally. Mederski, who is himself a collector of vintage Hondas, has promised to bring along a Vincent. Go figure! For more information on the rally, click here.

 

Want to listen to the sounds of Knievelgreat classic motorcycles? Click here.

 

For Evel Knievel's last interview, click here.

 

Veloce Publishing reports that a buyer's guide on BSA twins will be coming soon. For more information, click here.

 

The 2008 International Six Days' Trial Reunion Ride will be hosted by the Tulsa Trail Riders at the John Zink Ranch in Sand Springs, Oklahoma October 31 through November 2. To reach the TTR web site, click here.

 

The web site of the Indiana Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Enthusiasts has just launched a forum. To check it out, click hereTo reach the main IVORME web site, click here.

 

 

Bud Ekins remembered

(12/5/2007)

 

Ekins BikeA celebration of Bud Ekins' life was held December 2 at the Warner Brothers Burbank movie lot. The event included a film retrospective and guest speakers Donna and Susie Ekins, brother Dave Ekins, Keith Mashburn, Skip Van Leeuwen, Nellie Adams (McQueen), Cliff Coleman, Jerry Weintraub, Jay Leno, Chad McQueen, and others. On display were the Triumph from “The Great Escape” (pictured here) and two Mustang automobiles from “Bullitt.” Ekins worked as Steve McQueen's stunt double in both films. For a mini-bio of Ekins, click hereTo access the Bud Ekins tribute web site, click here.

 

Photo provided by Ron Huch.

 

 

Lambert & Butler's

vintage motorcycle cards

(12/4/2007)

 

Here are more motorcycle cards, distributed with Lambert & Butler's cigarettes in the United Kingdom in 1923, from the Ken Weingart collection.

 

Fifth in a series of 50:

BAT

BATThe text on the back of the card reads:

The BAT Motor Manufacturing Company were early makers of motor cycles, the first machine being produced in the year 1901. It was the first machine fitted with a vertical engine and to dispense with pedals. Three machines are now marketed – the 21/4 h.p., 5 h.p., and 8 h.p. heavy combination. The machine can always be recognized by the French grey finish and the cylindrical tank.

Editor's Note: The initials “BAT” were for “Best After Test.”

 

Sixth in a series of 50:

Beardmore-Precision

BeardmoreThe text on the back of the card reads:

A steel frame model, fully sprung on the cantilever principle. The engine is a “Precision” 41/2 h.p. single cylinder, four-stroke; A.C.U. 5'98 rating; cylinder is detachable. Petrol tank – capacity two gallons – is of steel, and forms part of the frame; automatic lubrication; external contracting band brakes; all-chain drive; Dunlop light car tyres. Constructed for heavy touring purposes, either as solo or sidecar machine. Made at King's Norton, Birmingham.

 

 

Inquiry

(12/3/2007)

 

E.C. Smith was Executive Secretary of the American Motorcycle Association from 1928 through 1958. At some point during his tenure – probably in the early 1930s – Smith issued exclusive membership cards made of brass to the leading personalities and supporters of the Association. It is not known how many such cards were issued, but it may have been as many as 100. The AMA has no records that tell us to whom these cards were issued, thoughMembership Card we do know the following: Joe Petrali #1, Walter C. Davidson #10, Herb Reiber #11, Red Wolverton #28, Horace Fritz #77, Jules Horky #88.

 

Jack Vanino, former promoter and AMA Referee, has sent us a photo of the card issued to Wolverton (pictured above), who was Vanino's father-in-law. We hope any Motohistory reader who knows of the existence of any such membership cards will send us the name and number. Send this information to Ed@Motohistory.net. We would like to create a listing that is as complete as possible.

 

 

Feedback

(12/2/2007)

 

In response to our story about the Kawasaki development project run by Jack Penton and Dane Leimbach in the early 1980s (See Motohistory News & Views 11/13/2007), motojournalist Larry Smith of Youngstown, Ohio writes:

 

As usual you have brightened my days.  Thanks again for your web site.  The story of Jack Penton and Kawasaki brought back memories. I was called in JanuaLeimbachry of 1978 by Cycle News' Gary Van Vooris to see how close to Western Reserve MC I was located and if I wanted to go down and see about their "high dollar" winter hare scramble series.

 

I had, over the years, attended flat track during the summer at the facility.  So I headed out to see what a hare scramble was about.  It was 8 degrees out when I got out of the truck that Sunday morning.  The snow was hard packed on the surface and about 16 inches deep, having drifted to several feet in sections.  Over a hundred bikes were on hand.

 

I went to work, but none of the riders knew me as I had been spending my time writing about the Teddy Leimbachroad races at Nelson Ledges.  Near the half-way point of the race, a young rider pulled up and said, "go to the jump!"

 

I followed the course, jumping off into the deep snow each time bikes came along.  After coming out of a heavily wooded section, I climbed a steep hill.  I turned upon hearing a bike approach at speed. Before I could get my camera up to my eye, the bike with the young rider flew over my head. He waved. 

 

That was my introduction to Teddy Leimbach. Through his friendship, I got to love covering hare scrambles and the great folks at Hi-Point. Here are two photos of Teddy.  It is a shame motorcycling lost him when he was so young. He was a great ambassador.

Editor's Note: Teddy Leimbach was the brother of Dane Leimbach and cousin to the Penton boys.  Like the other young men in his family, he was a world-class off-road competitior.  Three weeks before the 1980 ISDT in France -- for which he had qualified to ride -- he had an automobile accident.  He died on the opening day of the ISDT.