Clymer, a racer, dealer, Indian distributor, promoter,
and publisher, was one of the true characters of the American
motorcycle industry, both before and after the Second
World War. While people joked that Clymer never met a
motorcycle he didn't like, he was especially partial toward
Indian, and in the 1960s he became the first of many to
try to resurrect this classic American brand. Undoubtedly,
Clymer had genuinely sentimental feelings toward Indian,
but he was also a businessman who never passed up an opportunity
turn a profit while enjoying a motorcycling endeavor.
As a publisher, Clymer paid attention to the international
motorcycle scene, and he became fascinated with Friedel
Munch's four-cylinder NSU-powered Mammoth, introduced
in 1966. In August of that year Clymer published in his
Cycle Magazine a cover story
about the bike (pictured above), based on a road test
of the Mammoth published in the German magazine Das
Das Motorrad road test editor Ernst Leverkus,
Clymer arranged a meeting with Munch. He was most impressed
by the man, and while Clymer was interested in selling
the Mammoth in America, he also saw in Munch a “Meister”
who could help him fulfill his dream of resurrecting Indian.
Already three years into his costly Mammoth project, Munch
was in financial trouble, which gave Clymer an opportunity
to acquire the company, paying off its debts to become
the owner of Munch-Motorradfabrik. Munch may have been
happy to have Clymer as a white knight to rescue his company,
but he was not so enthusiastic about building Indians.
Clymer moved forward with his dream, sending Indian experts
Frank Christian, Art Hafer, Dick Gross, and Max Bubeck
to Germany as advisers on the design of a new
motorcycle. Bubeck, for one, did not share Clymer's first-impression
opinion of Munch. He says, “Munch was a big talker, but
he wasn't getting anything done. When Floyd came to Germany
a little later I tried to warn him, but he didn't want
to hear it.” Munch expert Mike Kron concurs.
He says, “Mr. Munch was not happy that an American was
now his boss – I think his feelings may have dated to
the war when Americans were his enemy – and he worked
very slowly on the project.” Kron adds, “I think Clymer
may have had a dream to build a new OHV twin with modern
technology, but Munch
never started it so Clymer built his Munch-framed prototype
around an old 45 side-valve Scout engine. (pictured above
clearly had faith in his vision, because despite the problems
with product development, he announced his new 1968 Indian
Scout 45 and distributed a brochure
(pictured above) promoting the machine. Technologically,
it was an odd marriage
of Munch's modern Mammoth chassis, complete with costly
light allow components, and an antiquated engine based
on the Big Base Scout that had been introduced in 1948
with a victory at Daytona in the hands of Floyd Emde,
and won its last AMA national race in 1953. Bear in mind
also that by this time Harley-Davidson had stopped using
side-valve engines in 1957 (except for its utilitarian
Servicar), overhead cams had been state of the art in
Japanese and German imports for a decade, and Honda was
just a year away from introducing its revolutionary and
mighty Honda 750 Four. To some, the flathead-powered Indian/Munch
might have seemed a little like putting a Plymouth Slant
Six into a Corvette. Justifying use of the aged engine,
Clymer's brochure bravely declared, “America is a V-POWER
country. 92% of all cars have V-power engines. Rolls-Royce,
the fastest racing boats, the fastest Italian racing cars,
Ferrari, and Maserati,
use V-power, as do Indianapolis race winners.” The brochure
blathered on, giving example after example of the success
of “V-power,” but it conveniently avoided the topic of
the Scout's obsolete side-valve configuration.
brought his prototype Scout 45 and a Mammoth to the Los
show early in 1968, announcing that he would deliver 1,000
Scouts in the coming year, and that he expected to sell
one Mammoth in America
for every 20 Scouts.
While a price for the Scout was not announced, the Mammoth
carried a sticker of $4,000, which was
simply breath-taking for that era (a Sportster XLCH, possibly
the only American hot rod bike comparable to the Munch,
was $1,500 at the time). While limited production of the
Mammoth continued, no Scouts
were ever built. About the Mammoth, Kron states, “The
literature claims that 450 were made, but I think no more
than 250 or 300 were ever produced.” Still, Munch had
the funding to continue with his beloved Mammoth while
Clymer's Indian lay
stillborn. Kron explains, “Mr. Clymer became unhappy with
Mr. Munch who did what he wanted to do and not what his
boss Clymer wanted.” As a result, Clymer sold his interest
in Munch to Florida
Bell and began collaborating with Italian frame builder
Leopoldo Tartarini to realize his resurrection of Indian,
building Velocette, Norton, and Enfield-powered Indians
which he imported into America
until his death
in January, 1970. Below is a photograph of Clymer
aboard one of his Velocette-powered Tartarini-framed Indians,
taken shortly before his death and published in the April
1970 issue of Cycle.
sole Munch-framed Scout prototype that Clymer brought
to America in 1968 remained in the country. It has passed
through several hands and appeared on display at the Legend
of the Motorcycle International Concours at Half Moon
Bay, California, in May 2006 (pictured above with Mike
It is more compact and has better lines than its brutish
NSU-powered Mammoth cousin, but the combination of an
obsolete engine and a chassis built for a large OHC four
makes it arguably odder than any of the many subsequent
attempts to create a new Indian. As it turned out, all
of Clymer's adventures in this regard would depend on
engines on the verge of extinction, but none quite as
old-tech and outdated as the Scout-powered Munch.
read Floyd Clymer's official Hall of Fame bio, click here.
To read Max Bubeck's Hall of Fame bio, click here.
For photos of Friedel Munch and his Mammoth motorcycles,
To read about Mike Kron's Mammoth restorations and reproductions,
go to Motohistory News & Views 3/8/2005
To read about the latest attempt to resurrect Indian,
see Motohistory News & Views 5/24/2007
for our interview
with Stellican founder Stephen Julius. For Mike
Kron's Mammoth site, click here.
from Floyd Clymer's Indian Scout brochure appeared in
Walneck's Cycle Trader , July 2007.
of the Clymer Indian Scout 45 prototype from the 2006
Legend of the Motorcycle International Concours provided
by Mike Kron.
of Floyd Clymer from the April 1970 issue of Cycle.
people who pick up Walneck's Classic Cycle Trader
are interested in buying or selling unusual, rare,
and collectible motorcycles. However, mixed in among the
classified ads are some of the best nostalgia-triggering
articles you will find in any American motorcycle publication.
Walneck's frequently reprints road tests and
articles from years gone by, and often from magazines
that no longer exist. Some of the graphics for the above
story were taken from the July 2007 issue of Classic
Cycle Trader, in which editor Buzz Walneck reprinted
the whole of Floyd Clymer's brochure about the Munch-built
Indian Scout 45. The same issue contains a story about
E.J. Potter's Bloody Mary 5 drag bike from the October
1970 issue of Supercycle, plans for how to motorize
your bicycle as printed in Mechanix Illustrated in
July 1942 (Walneck's father actually built a bike from
these plans in 1942, and Buzz publishes a photo to prove
it), a road test of the Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH
that appeared in Cycle World late in 1966, a
road test of the Triumph Speed Twin published in Classic
Bike in May 1955, and road tests of a Ducati 250
scrambler and a Bridgestone 90 Sport that appeared in
Cycle World in January 1966. In addition, there
are restoration tips, news of the vintage bike scene,
and Mark Zimmerman's always entertaining technical Q &
A. Even if you are not in the market to buy or sell a
collectible motorcycle, Walneck's Classic Cycle Trader
is always an entertaining and informative read. To
learn more, click here.
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days 2007 (July 27 through 29)
fast approaching, we have a special VMD history quiz that
will award a pair of tickets to each of three winners.
To win, be one of the first three readers to correctly
answer any one of the questions below:
What are the three venues where AMA Vintage Motorcycle
Days has been held, and what were the years at each of
What was the commemorative marque for each year at AMA
Vintage Motorcycle Days throughout the history of the
Who were the Grand Marshals and what year did each preside?
your answers to Ed@motohistory.net
prior to July 15,
Vintage Motorcycle Days
full gate of past motocross champions is expected for
the American Historic
Racing Motorcycle Association vintage motocross race on
July 28 during AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. The list is
expected to include Tony
DiStefano (pictured here at age 13), Brad Lackey, Danny
LaPorte, Rick Johnson, Gary Jones, Billy Liles, Andy Stacy,
Graham Noyce, Gary Semics, Mickey Kessler, Marty Smith,
Tommy Croft, Ron Lechien, Rick Sieman, Marty Tripes, Jeff
Smith, Dick Mann, John DeSoto, Jimmy Weinert, Mike Bell,
Rex Staten, Donnie Hansen, Mark Barnett, and Ron Pomeroy.
The Champions Race will run at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday,
July 28, during the VMX program on the Mid-Ohio Sports
Car Course motocross track next to the spectator camping
area. An autograph session will follow. Additionally,
Tony DiStefano is being saluted as the Legends of MX Honoree.
DiStefano, who won three 250 national titles and is a
member of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, will also present
a session of his motocross school on Friday, July 27.
AHRMA is honoring a different motocross legend at each
of its 17 vintage motocross nationals during 2007. For
more information, click here.
of Tony DiStefano taken by Carl Hess in 1970.
Wheels Through Time Museum has an all-new web
site. To check
it out, click here.
If you use this site often, you may have to hit your refresh
button to get to the new site.
Blood: The Story of the KRV5 Tracker
Sands, son of Perry Sands of Performance Machine, brings
a perspective to custom bike design that differs from
that of many of his contemporaries. Instead of the long
and laid-back cruisers favored by many of today's builders,
Sands' work tends toward short-coupled trackers, in part
inspired by his personal racing career (Sands won nine
AMA 250 Grand Prix Nationals between 1998 and 2002, and
in 1998 was the AMA 250 Grand Prix Champion), and in part
by the vintage racing bikes in his father's collection.
In addition, he must pay more attention than some builders
to what “works,” because his day job includes designing
and developing commercial products for Performance Machine,
and often his one-off designs are used to prototype parts
that may appear the following season in the PM catalog.
A good example of the Sands' race-bred vision is the award-winning
“No Regrets,” but his ultimate (so far) is surely the
“KRV5 Tracker,” built around an ex-Kenny Roberts five-cylinder
Roberts agreed to provide one of his 200 horsepower motors
for a custom bike project, Sands promised that within
one year the bike would be delivered, on the eve of the
U.S. GP at Laguna Seca, 2006. “New Blood” is the story
of that project, from drawing board to a running motorcycle
and King Kenny's test ride, which he compares to his night
aboard the horrific four-cylinder Yamaha TZ750 dirt tracker
at the Indy Mile in 1985. This video documents the process
in detail, sharing insights into the way Sands overcomes
design problems by applying
a combination of modern CAD technology available at Performance
Machine, and the old tried-and-true method of cut-and-fit
and cut again that builders have been using for more than
a century. And the design problems are many, inherent
in the shape and complexity of the liquid-cooled, five-cylinder
engine. For example, Sands does not have the benefit of
a narrow footprint provided by the V-twins favored by
most builders. Rather, the MotoGP engine is wide, and
how to keep the motorcycle looking small and sleek requires
many hours of taping up mockup fuel tanks from card stock.
This is the kind of aesthetic challenge -- requiring more
art than science -- that a CAD system just can't seem
to solve. Then there's the bulky radiator and all of the
ugly guts of the liquid cooling system, the problem of
routing five exhaust pipes through a compact package,
and figuring out what to keep and what to trash from the
complex and massive electronics system of the MotoGP engine.
video also provides interesting insights into the human
dynamics of the Sands operation. When both Sands and a
key staff member are injured in separate accidents, Sands
must find additional talent to keep the project on schedule,
and he hires Hoops, a young craftsman with a face full
of metal who probably earned his name from the enormous
his ear lobes. Sands says, “What can you do?” and Hoops
replies, “Everything.” As it turns out, he is right, bringing
to the task an incredible range of skills and craftsmanship.
Furthermore, Hoops brings an understated sense of humor
that defuses a lot of the tension in a shop behind schedule.
Explaining why a vice is a good tool, he says, “It's just
like having another hand.” Still, at moments the job becomes
overwhelming, and at one point when the jokes have been
stretched too thin, Sands, who is also the executive producer
for the video documentary, glances at the camera and says
quietly, “I don't want to film right now.” Scene
me, the high achievement of the KRV5 build comes clear
when the frame alone, cleaned and undercoated, is displayed
hanging in the paint booth. It is a graceful, truss-like
arch of triangulated tubing, bristling with tabs and brackets
where the engine, radiator, tanks, seat, and other parts
will be mounted. Sitting on a plinth in a gallery, it
would be worthy of contemplation as a work of art in its
own right; forget the fact that it is only the skeleton
for a motorcycle that has not yet been born. With no down
tubes or under-cradle, it is about as far from a conventional
bobber or chopper frame as a Bird Cage Maserati from a
Model T Ford. When the bike becomes ready for paint, Sands
returns to his board track inspiration, paging through
a motorcycle history book and finally settling on Army
Green Metallic, similar to the olive green of an Iver
Johnson. For the seat for his tracker, Sands pretty
much duplicates the saddle from one of his dad's Indian
racers. Smiling, he considers just stealing the seat from
his father's collectible, but wisely does not ponder that
option for long.
is sometimes amusing to watch the Roberts/Sands relationship
unfold. Roberts (pictured here with Sands on the occasion
of his test ride on the KRV5 Tracker) just shakes his
head when Sands decides to polish the cases of the racing
engine to a mirror finish, but he recognizes that as much
as he might know about road racing and MotoGP, he is simply
out of his depth in the world of a visionary artist. They
attempt to bridge the generation gap by agreeing that
the polished engine is “insane.” Still, and perhaps unknowingly,
they remain miles apart. Sands is using the term in the
slang of his generation, meaning it is exceedingly cool.
Roberts, on the other hand, just considers it “insane”
in the most literal and conventional sense of the term.
Insane or not, the KRV5 Tracker is one of the most innovative
and unusual custom bikes ever built, and this video documentary
will give one a greater understanding of the design philosophy
as well as the work that went into executing the vision.
At least, it did for me. I loved this bike the first
time I laid eyes on it. Now I appreciate it as well.
Blood: The Story of the KRV5 Tracker,” is available through
the Roland Sands' web site. For more information, click
here. In addition
to the main story, there are shorts about Sands' visit
to the Kenny Rogers Ranch in Northern California ,
and the unveiling of the motorcycle at Sturgis, where
a bike like this seems like something brought from the
future by aliens. For more about the KRV5 Tracker at MotorcycleUSA.com,
of KRV5 Tracker provided by Roland Sands Design.
National Motorcycle Museum 2006 Tour
haven't found the time to make it to the National Motorcycle
Museum in Anamosa, Iowa? You should, but if you can't,
now there's a video tour hosted by Museum Chairman John
Parham. In a 77-minute walk through the facility, Parham
discusses bikes and artifacts in considerable detail,
effectively mixing objective history with his personal
views on why certain machines and objects are important
to him. Parham confesses that if the Museum were for him
alone, every motorcycle in it would be a pre-1920. But
this is not the case. Instead, the National Motorcycle
Museum appeals to a broader audience with everything from
priceless original antique motorcycles in glass
cases to latter-day sport bikes to choppers to art bikes
to one-off V8
monstrosities. The Museum promotes itself
as "The experience of a lifetime." It
is a supportable claim, since you will find on display
the oldest original-paint Harley-Davidson and Cleveland
in the world, and the largest collection of Broughs and
Vincents on public view in America. This video covers
it all, and it is available for less than $10.00. For
more information, click here.
To read our most recent story about the National Motorcycle
Museum, go to Motohistory News & Views 4/26/2007.
to the City of Springfield
decades, Indian enthusiasts have wondered what would eventually
happen to the contents of the Indian Motocycle Museum
at 33 Hendee Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, the
city where Indians were manufactured until 1953. Well,
wonder no more, because 91-year-old Museum owner Esta
Manthos has announced that almost all of her multi-million
dollar collection of motorcycles and artifacts will be
donated to the Springfield Museums Association. For more
on this important development, click here.
I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand.”
can't count the times I have heard this explanation of
the motorcycling experience, and I have always found it
wholly unsatisfactory. Granted, the role of the motorcycle
in our culture is complex, as is its personal meaning
to those of us who ride, but I have always suspected this
explanation says more about the inarticulateness of the
speaker than the complexity and true nature of the experience.
Furthermore, it is exclusionary and arrogant, suggesting
that if you don't know what I already know, then you don't
last, in their upcoming book “Motorcycle,” Steven Alford
and Suzanne Ferriss have given us a more comprehensive
and satisfactory explanation of what motorcycling is all
about, and if anything, they have confirmed in 240 pages
of text that the answer is complex indeed. While this
work has feeling, it is not the touchy-feely kind of drivel
we had seen too often by writers trying to express why
they like motorcycles. Rather, this is a rigorous and
scholarly exploration of history, technology, literature,
film, fashion, and aesthetic design related to motorcycling,
and through this wide-ranging study the authors create
the most extensive, perceptive, and rewarding inquiry
yet into the role of motorcycles and our fascination with
and Ferriss, who edit “The International Journal of Motorcycle
Studies,” an on-line quarterly scholarly publication about
motorcycling, teach at Nova Southeastern University in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Motorcycle,” which will be
available in October, is published by Reaktion Books in
Great Britain, and will be available in the United States
through the University of Chicago Press.
For more information or to order a copy, click here.
For more information about Alford and Ferris, click here.
first motocross races in America took place in 1959 at
Grafton, Vermont, and at least one California club was
hosting motocross events
as early as 1965. However, the sport did not attract popular
attention until the autumn of 1966 when world champion
Torsten Hallman conducted exhibitions at several California
tracks, including Corriganville, and at Pepperell, Massachusetts.
Fans were astonished by his smooth and acrobatic style,
and riders became eager to learn more about this European
form of off-road competition. By the end of the decade,
American motorcyclists had gone crazy for motocross, though
they still had a lot to learn. Our Pennsylvania photohistorian
Carl Hess shares with us an image from the first motocross
ever held in eastern Pennsylvania, hosted by the Flying
Dutchmen Motorcycle Club on July 19, 1970. CHess reports
that 72 riders signed up for the event, riding an odd
mixture of motorcycles that ranged from true motocross
bikes to modified street machines. Pictured here is Roy
Schaeffer, riding a Yamaha enduro bike, complete with
headlight. But he is definitely having fun!
of the Motorcycle Concours
entries for 2008
organizers of the Legend of the Motorcycle International
Concours d'Elegance have announced that the featured marques
for 2008 will be MV Agusta and Norton. Owners of exemplary
motorcycles of any make up to the 1977 model year are
invited to submit entries. To access a downloadable entry
form, click here.
For photographs from the recently-completed 2007 event,
from down under
speedway expert Garry Baker sends this vintage photo of
American speedway pioneers Jack (right) and Cordy Milne
(left). Between the brothers is Bill Longley, nine
times Australian test
team captain. The photograph was taken in England,
but the date and exact location are not known.
Milne's established themselves as world-class riders at
the first Speedway Individual World Championship in 1936
where Cordy finished fourth and Jack tenth. Then
Jack led an American podium sweep in 1937 when he won
the individual world title, followed by Wilbur Lamoreax
and brother Cordy. Jack was runner-up and Cordy
finished sixth in the 1938 championship, the last world
speedway title race before the outbreak of the Second
World War. Milne was the only American to win the speedway
individual world title until Bruce Penhall won in 1981
and 1982. Subsequent American world champions have
included Sam Ermolenko (1993), Billy Hamill (1996), and
Greg Hancock (1997)
methodology used to determine a speedway individual world
champion has changed over the years. For an historical
overview, click here.
have no winner.
usually have correct answers to our Motohistory Quizzes
within minutes, and experience has shown that if the correct
answer does arrive within 24 hours, it probably won't.
Still, I decided this time to let the quiz stand about
a week to see if something might finally roll in, but
it did not. This is only the third time out of 41
that a quiz has stumped our worldwide Motohistory readership.
engine in our Motohistory Quiz #41 (posted 6/17/2007)
is from a 1953 CZ racer currently on display at the Barber
Vintage Motorsports Museum near Brimingham, Alabama.
The answers we received included ESO,
which is at least in the right neighborhood (Czechoslovakia),
but no one gave us a correct answer.
label that describes this motorcycles states that it is
a 488cc single overhead cam with four speed transmission,
capable of 26 bhp at 5,500 rpm. It was designed
for CZ by Jaroslov Walter, whose name is cast into the
timing cover. It was never known to have been raced
outside of Eastern Europe. Its resemblance to the
1950 Norton Manx is obvious. I thought some of our
readers might identify the engine as a Manx, but no one
did. For more
information about the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum,
and Rebels” opens in Flint
and Rebels,” a wide-ranging exhibit of motorcycle culture,
opened at the Alfred
this month, and is scheduled to run through March
23, 2008. The Sloan
noted for its fine collection of futuristic concept cars
that toured America
with the General
Motors Parade of Progress during the 1950s, is well-known
among motor enthusiasts, but “Rides and Rebels” is sure
to broaden its audience and provide its visitors with
new insights into the motorcycle as transportation, pop
culture, sport, entertainment, personal expression, and
art. The show's 58 motorcycles include something for everyone,
from an endearing Hodaka Wombat to the magnificent Brough
Superior SS100 that greets visitors when they enter the
gallery. There are also oddities, such as a 1967 Marusho
and a 1974 MZ. And there are several astonishing art bikes
by Michigan builder
and artist Bob Katrinic, including the “Leatherbike”
on which all sheet metal is covered with exquisitely
tooled black leather, and his “Tea Service Bike,” encrusted
with silver serving dishes. In the lobby of the Sloan,
one is greeted also by strange robotic sculptures built
by Katrinic entirely from motorcycle parts. These
will certainly appeal to children and invite them into
an exhibit that they otherwise might not fancy.
motorcycles are only part of this dense and busy display.
photographs, clothing, advertisements, parts, and other
ephemera, the artifacts in this exhibit must number into
In addition, there are constantly-running motion pictures
and a dozen touch screen consoles that will attract the
computer-literate visitor. The visual impact is
There are also video games and an especially ingenious
display where small children can mount tiny motorcycles
on which they can turn the throttle to make a fan blow
wind in their faces. While the youngsters are getting
the feel for why their parents like to ride, there is
a shop-like exhibit where dad can see how motorcycles
are put together.
panels in the 5,500 square foot display are informative
and well-written, and space is managed with carefully-positioned
grid dividers and a curb system – made from curbing, no
less – that supports the motoring theme and mood of the
display. Consultation for the exhibit was provided by
local motorcyclists Rocky Roll, Larry Klein, and Bob Schmelzer,
and design and floor plan were executed by Sloan Exhibit
Manager Warren Lehmkuhle. This is a winner. If you can't
make Flint a destination ride this summer, get in your
cage and visit the Sloan this winter before the show closes
next March. For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan
Museum, click here.
kids, it's time for another Motohistory Quiz.
you have to do is be the first to identify the brand and
nation of origin of the engine shown here, and you'll
receive a rare and valuable Motohistory hat and a personalized
Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma.
send your answer to Ed@motohistory.net.
here's a hint and a word of caution. Don't respond
with the obvious.
Kustom Kulture was spawned by the Great Depression, when
young men with no money, seeking freedom and mobility,
built cars and motorcycles from whatever worn-out and
hand-me-down components they could find, applying creativity
to necessity to give birth to roadsters and bobbers, which,
over time, would become recognized as examples of a uniquely
American art form.
In our age, when the chopper has become a garish media
phenomenon, built from off-the-shelf parts for clients
with lots of money and little taste, it is refreshing
to know that the originals are still out there, making
motorcycles that are built to ride, not just to look at.
The Sinners” is a documentary film by Scott Di Lalla and
Zack Coffman that tells the story of a thirty-year-old
club of working-class enthusiasts who pool their resources,
talent, and moral support to see that everyone has a ride.
Its plot centers on club member Kutty Noteboom's build
project, starting with a salvaged frame, a homemade flea
market oil tank, and a well-worn Bates saddle. Kutty,
whose parents named him after a bottle of Scotch, turns
to Sinners patriarch Rico Fodrey to shepherd him through
the project. Along the way, Rico tells us why bobbers
and choppers should be built from old parts, explaining
that each of those well-used components has given someone
a lot of joy, and that they all bring karma to the project
and join together to give the new machine a lot of positive
movie is not about choppers. It is about camaraderie,
creativity, and community. The Sinners, and affiliated
clubs, are composed of men with little pretension who
have learned how to find joy in motorcycles, their friendships,
and the road. The story begins with Rico opening his garage
as a passing freight sets the mood with its clatter and
horn. Kutty arrives in his customized '53 Chevy and opens
the trunk to proudly display the $200 second-hand frame
on which he intends to build his motorcycle. Rico, Kutty,
and other members of the club tap resources they know
to bring together
the components and craftsmanship the project will require.
In the process, we learn about their philosophy, their
theology, and their music (Kutty
also plays guitar for The Whitewalls, a traditional rock
and metal band). Music plays a central role in this picture,
and it is used expertly to accompany the excellent cinematography
by Di Lalla, Coffman, and Armando Koghen. Some of the
most beautiful images are of the Sinners and their bikes
at speed, taken in the evening when the combination of
sun and smog gives the air a brassy glow. It's story notwithstanding,
this video bears repeated viewing just to study the way
its creators have framed their shots and manipulated color
to achieve mood.
of the most amusing segments in the film is when Rico,
Kutty, and crew travel to Northern
California to seek
a special gas tank where they meet Jason, an eccentric
collector and craftsman who may have spent way too much
time in the paint booth. Jason is self-conscious, obsessed
with his hair, and can't confront the camera without whipping
out his comb. To entertain his guests he dons his thrift
store superhero outfit and performs a skateboard exhibition
on the makeshift course behind his shop. It is during
this outing that we also get some insight into Sinners
theology, or at least that of one of its group. Brandon,
a young struggler who says his mother constantly
tells him he will amount to nothing, asserts, “We'll be
fucked until we die, then it'll be bitchin'.” Then he
elaborates, “It'll be awesome, but until then you gotta
pick weird shit out of your nose.”
know a lot about the Sinners, their views, and their values
by the time Kutty's motorcycle comes together and is taken
for its first ride. It is indeed a work of art. Kutty
christens his newborn machine with a performance of The
Whitewalls, announcing from the stage how much his three
families mean to him. These families are his wife and
child, his band, and the Sinners. The movie ends with
a long sequence of riders on the highway over “The Sinner's
Prayer,” a hymn written and performed by James Intveld.
For me, this ending lapsed a bit into sentimentality.
But that's just me, and I'm probably nit-picking. I expect
others will find it comforting and even uplifting.
is an excellent movie; a film by real people about real
people. Nothing here is scripted, contrived, annoying,
or bombastic as we have learned to expect from cable television
coverage of Kustom Kulture. For more information, and
to access your copy of the DVD, click here.
And by the way, Coffman and Di Lalla are currently in
the post-production phase of a movie about the vintage
Brit Bike scene. I can't wait to see it!
previewed in California
an exhibit celebrating the life and career of off-road
racing ace Malcolm Smith, due to open at the Motorcycle
Hall of Fame Museum on July 26, was previewed recently
at a reception at Tom White's Early Years of Motocross
Museum in Southern California. The exhibit, curated by
Tom White, will include several of Malcolm Smith's motorcycles,
photographs, and other memorabilia. For more information
about the June 7 reception, click here.
David Uhl's latest work, entitled “In Tune,” depicts a
young Elvis Presley outside his Graceland
home, tuning his
old Gibson with his 1957 Panhead in the background. The
painting is endorsed by both Harley-Davidson and Elvis
Presley Enterprises. A series of 350 numbered, 24 inch
by 30 inch framed prints are available for $1,850 each,
and a series of only fifty 36 inch by 46 inch oversized
prints are available for $4,500 each. All prints are on
canvas, hand signed and numbered, and accompanied by a
certificate of authenticity. For more information, click
three-times Grand National Champion and Motorcycle Hall
of Famer Bubba Shobert will be the guest of honor at the
Fifth Annual Sandia Classic at Albuquerque, New Mexico
September 14 through
16. The event is AMA and AHRMA sanctioned and Honda has
been designated the commemorative marque. For more information
about the Sandia Classic, click here.
To read Bubba Shobert's Motorcycle Hall of Fame bio, click
Lane Motor Museum, in Nashville, Tennessee, offers a collection
of 150 unusual and mostly-European cars, motorcycles,
Situated in a 132,000 square foot former bakery, the collection
is mostly automobiles, many of which will not be found
elsewhere in the United States. The same is true of some
of the motorcycles on display, such as the 1968 Russian
IZH Planeta 5 pictured here. The Citroen-powered French
BFG pictured in our Motohistory Quiz #40 was also from
the Lane Museum (See Motohistory News & Views 5/29/2007).
A small scooter collection includes a Zundapp Bella and
an excellent Salsbury,
pictured here. For more information about the IZH Planeta,
Lane also has an outstanding collection of micro-cars,
those diminutive vehicles born of post-war adversity that
fall into a netherworld of design between cars and motorcycles.
Many are three-wheeled vehicles and thus are technically
motorcycles, despite the fact that they are enclosed.
They often used motorcycle engines, and some were built
by motorcycle manufacturers. One interesting example
is the Scootacar (pictured here), introduced
in Great Britain in the late 1950s. The Scootacar is pretty
much what its name implies: a three-wheeled scooter enclosed
in a tiny fiberglass body. In fact, it was advertised
as “the covered scooter with a car-sized door.” It is
powered by a 197cc Villiers engine, the operator steers
with a set of handlebars, and a single passenger can squeeze
in behind the driver, straddling a narrow seat mounted
above the engine. For more information about the Scootacar,
will be the host
of the 2007 Great American Race, scheduled to depart on
July 7. For more information about the facility, click
events coming up in Utah
Utah British Bike Club is hosting two big events this
summer. The International Norton Owners Association Rally
will take place at Torrey, Utah July 18 through 22. Next,
the Bonneville Vintage GP Road Race, sanctioned by AHRMA
and the AMA, will take place at Miller MotorSports Park
at Tooele, Utah, just 90 miles from the Bonneville Salt
Flats, September 7 through 9. With the International Motorcycle
Speed Trials by BUB going on at Bonneville September 2
through 6, it will be a major week for speed and excitement.
For information about the Utah British Bike Club, click
For information about the INOA Rally, click here.
To learn more about the Bonneville Vintage GP, click here.
For information about Miller MotorSports Park,
For information about the International Motorcycle Speed
Trials by BUB, click here.
World War II Weekend
Hess, our provider of nostalgic racing images from the
1960s, recently attended the 17th Annual World War II
Weekend at the Mid-Atlantic
at the Reading
The event is an extravaganza of WWII-era military equipment,
including jeeps, trucks, weapons, airplanes, and motorcycles.
Participants conduct re-enactments in accurate period
uniforms of the U.S.,
British, and German forces.
loved the Hellcat and other military aircraft on display,
but since Motohistory's theme is motorcycles, we will
limit ourselves to photographs of motorcycles
used by various nations. These include, in order of appearance
here, a group of American machines
featuring a Harley WLA flanked
by two Indian 741s in the foreground,
a U.S. Navy Harley-Davidson
WL in gray livery, and a German Zundapp with sidecar.
Check out the big Mercedes military truck behind the Zundapp.
That is not something you see every day. There were also
an abundance of military Brit bikes on hand. For more
information about the World War II Weekend, click here.
For more information about the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum,
photohistory by CHess:
having fun was all that mattered
our photohistorian Carl Hess sent us pictures from an
observed trial hosted by the Lebanon Valley Motorcycle
Club on March 16,
1969 at their club
grounds north of Bethel,
He reports that this event was the first of its kind in
and that most of the riders showed up on street-legal
trail bikes. Then there was Lebanon Valley President Skip
Fox who decided to tackle the course with a Sportster,
seen here on the verge of a treacherous stream crossing.
CHess remarks facetiously that the club probably modified
to rules to award Fox extra points if he could fall into
the stream and come up without extinguishing his cigar.
He adds, “Fox was one-of-a-kind,
and immediately likeable by all who met him. In keeping
with the spirit of District Six Sport Association motorcycle
events of the era, club members supported each other's
activities and often participated with some rather unusual
steeds.” Who cares about winning when you're having this
of Fame Museum hosts Japanese motorcycles
Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington,
held its second annual Japanese Motorcycle Day on June
2. The event, sponsored by the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle
Club, included an unjudged bike shows and seminars by
vintage Japanese motorcycle experts. Pictured here are
Terry Naughtin and his Mike Hailwood GP Honda replica,
and a Honda café racer built by Greg Gronbach.
Naughtin runs the Team Hanson Honda Racing Team, and his
GP look-alikes are AHRMA-legal. Gronbach, a custom builder,
is owner of Ohio Café
Racers, which specializes in customizing motorcycles of
and early ‘70s.
Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum will host its British and
European Motorcycle day, presented by DomiRacer Distributors
on July 30. For more information about this upcoming event,
For more photos from Japanese Motorcycle Day, click here.
To contact Team Hansen Honda, click here.
To contact Ohio Café Racers, click here.
To learn about the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, click
you are a fool for Zundapps, especially
the elegant four-stroke touring models, you
are sure to like Zundappfool.com. The site provides links,
a bibliography, a used parts section, and lots of nice
photos of shaft-drive Zundapps. Just click here.
guys a VintageFocus.com have been compiling vintage
motorcycle photographs since 2003, and now have
a library of over 30,000 that are available on CD and
DVD. For more information, click here.
of the new and growing vintage events in the United States
is the Barber Vintage Festival, coming
up on its third year this October at the Barber Vintage
Motorsports Museum near Birmingham, Alabama. To check
out the photos from last year's event, click here.
To reach Barber's main web site, click here.
is offering a 20 percent discount on “On Any Sunday.”
Other motorcycle flicks at favorable prices in their catalog
include “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “The Wild One,” “The
World's Fastest Indian,” and “Easyrider.” For more information,
show set for June 23
Second Annual North Alabama Swap Meet and Bike Show will
take place at the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Decatur,
Alabama on June 23. For more information, click here.
report about the death of Edison Dye
(see Motohistory News & Views 5/14/2007) brought a
warm letter of tribute from Mark Blackwell,
once a young Husqvarna motocrosser and protégé
of Dye, later an executive at American Suzuki, and now
a vice president with Victory Motorcycles. Blackwell writes:
had a profound impact on my life. He got me onto a Husky
in 1969 (with Dick Miller's help), and sent me to Europe
during the summers of my 16th & 17th years. I earned
my trip to Europe
the second year by driving his VW van and hauling the
luggage for one of his BMW motorcycle tours through the
We spent many evenings together and he always took time
to coach me and give me advice. He got me into the Husqvarna
factory to learn from the engineers and mechanics. Of
course, we know Edison
brought the sport of motocross to the United
with his Inter-Am series in 1967. I am truly not sure
what I would be doing today if I hadn't become so enchanted
by those early motocross exhibitions
were delighted to get an E-mail from 62-year-old Dottie
Mattern, a member of the Cheap and Shameless
Racing Team, who rode a 70-year-old Indian
to a class record of over 91 mph at the Maxton
Mile. To read her account of the world's fastest
Indian with a lady on-board, posted with photos, click
Motohistory Quiz #40 about the French BFG and
MF motorcycles designed around Citroen
power trains prompted a fascinating
letter from John Wiser, complete
with a photo of one of the strangest motorcycles we have
seen of late. John writes,
was at the Citroen world meet near Tuscany
in northern Italy
a few years ago, and at this meet everyone brings their
Citroens and great projects built from Citroens. I
am pictured here on a home-made motorcycle built on the
twin-cylinder 604cc boxer that is standard in the 1980s
Cintroen 2CV. It also uses the steering mechanism from
a 2CV. The rear suspension is the same as the front and
it has 10 to 15 inches of travel. The Citroen-crazy guy
who built it said he uses it as a daily rider. He also
built the miniature 2CV kiddy car shown in the picture.
reports that the Citroen gathering attracted 7,000 enthusiasts
and lots of unusual eye candy.
Motorcycle Hall of Fame
names Peter Sheppard President
A new Board of Directors has been appointed for the Canadian
International Motorcycle Heritage Museum Foundation, with
Peter Sheppard its President. Sheppard, pictured here,
is also Chairman of the Motorcyclists Confederation of
Canada. In addition, the Board has been expanded from
five to 13 members to better represent all Canadian regions
and interests. Hall of Fame founder Bar Hodgson will continue
as a member of the Board.
in 2005, the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame conducted
its first induction of members on May 6, 2006. The organization
has begun its nomination process for 2007, and nominations
must be received by July 13, 2007. The 2007 Induction
Banquet and Reunion, sponsored by the Motorcyclists Confederation
of Canada (MCC) will be held Saturday, October 27, near
Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Nomination forms
are available on the Hall of Fame website. To access the
site, click here.