have a winner
object in our Motohistory Quiz #51 photograph is the cowling,
or “grille” around the engine of a DKW Hummel, first correctly
identified by Jim Dillard of Denver, Colorado. “Hummel,”
meaning “Bumble Bee,” was used by DKW several times throughout
its history. First, it was used on a 32cc hub-engine for
bicycles during the Second World War, then next on a line
of mopeds introduced in 1956. In 1961, it was applied
to this stylish little 50cc “Kleinkraftrad” – meaning
“small motorcycle” – which the press gave the less-endearing
name of “the Tin Banana.”
late 1950s and early ‘60s were difficult years for the
German motorcycle industry. Though they were building
some of the most stylish and technically advanced production
models the world had ever seen, Germans were abandoning
motorcycles at a rapid pace. The country was emerging
from the demoralization and poverty of the period immediately
following the war, and as its economy grew stronger and
its world status improved, Germans were shifting their
family transportation budgets from motorcycles and micro-cars
to full-size automobiles.
turning point came in 1958 when Daimler Benz AG gained
control of Auto Union, Germany's amalgamated motor industry.
Having no commercial or historical interest
in motorcycles, Mercedes-Benz led a movement among Auto
Union's member companies Horch, Audi, Wanderer, and DKW
to abandon motorcycle production. Victoria, Express, and
DKW, which had sold more than a half-million motorcycles
in the years following the war, moved to protect their
interests with the formation of Zweirad Union in November,
1958, which integrated these formerly independent companies.
Still, the die was cast, for it was conventional wisdom
that the automobile
– not the motorcycle – was the vehicle of the future.
NSU, for example, made the strategic decision to abandon
motorcycles in favor of cars at a time it was offering
some of the best two-wheeled products in the world.
DKW Hummel (pictured above), perhaps, can be seen as a
stylistic effort to cope with Germany's changing tastes
by building a motorcycle that was more “car-like,” even
to the extent of hiding its engine behind a grille. The
sleek little bike was also offered under the Victoria
and, as we can note in the brochure pictured here, like
Honda in America,
the German manufacturer
had its own “nicest
people” campaign in the early 1960s. The text of
the brochure reads, "Connoisseurs ride DKWs -- Small
motorcycles and mopeds."
the Hummel has become a prized collectible today, it never
enjoyed good sales in its day, and after 1965 was discontinued.
The fine example shown here is a 1965 model, and is currently
on display at Jim Kersting's World of Motorcycles Museum
in North Judson, Indiana. For
more information about the Hummel, click here.
For additional pictures, click here
To read a history of DKW, penned by Leo Keller, go to
Motohistory News & Views 4/10/2007.
Jim, for winning our latest Motohistory Quiz. Your
Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way.
Hummel brochure provided by Leo Keller.
kids, it's time for another Motohistory Quiz. Be the first
to tell me what this is and I'll send you your own personalized
Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma.
no, it is not a vacuum cleaner, nor is it a man's electric
your answer to Ed@Motohistory.net.
people would say it really doesn't do Vern Goodwin (pictured
here) justice to call him a “sidecar man,” because his
experience in motorcycling has ranged over practically
every aspect of the sport and community. But still, it
is that intrepid and relatively small gang of enthusiasts
who ride the asymmetrical three-wheelers who have claimed
him as their own.
was born in Lincoln,
in 1931, the son of an Indian motorcycle dealer.
From 1920 until 1938, Goodwin senior – also named Vern
(pictured below with young Vern)–
had a delivery business for which he used Indian 101
Scouts equipped with sidecars. He acquired his Indian
franchise in 1936, but continued the delivery business
for two more years. During this period, he became acquainted
with Charles Lindbergh, who was in Lincoln
for flight training.
Lindy rode an Excelsior, and used to frequent Vern Sr.'s
shop. Goodwin says, “Dad considered Lindbergh more an
acquaintance than a friend, and he thought him a bit of
a foolhardy fellow.” But foolhariness may be a relative
quality, because there were also local rumors that during
prohibition, Vern Sr. had set up a bootlegger's Indian
Chief so that one tank held gasoline and the
other held two and
a half gallons of hooch, so he could make regular runs
to Kansas City.
Vern's first motorcycle was a 1939 Indian Chief, which
his father gave him when he began working at the shop
in 1947, at the age of
16. Over time, he graduated to the position of head mechanic
for the dealership. Vern wanted to go flat track racing
at the Nebraska State Fair, and at first his father refused.
Having been denied his chance to race, Vern loaned his
front tire and transmission sprocket to a friend. Then,
just before the event, his father relented, and Vern rushed
back to the shop to find parts to make his motorcycle
track-worthy. He found an oversized sprocket that would
do, but the only front tire available was a whitewall.
He felt utterly humiliated to go racing with a whitewall
tire (Pictured above is the Goodwin's Indian dealership.
Out front is the white-walled Scout). However, more than
a half-century later he changed his mind when he saw a
picture of Johnny Spiegelhoff mounted on his Big Base
Scout after winning the Daytona 200 in 1947. Incredibly,
Spiegelhoff's factory racer was decked out with Firestone
whitewall tires, and Goodwin says, “Now I brag about looking
like a real pro after all!” Vern continued to race throughout
earning his AMA Expert license, which gave him the right
to carry the prestigious white number plate assigned to
Indian began to wane in the early 1950s, Vern Sr. switched
to a Harley-Davidson franchise, and in 1954 Vern went
to the Motor Company's mechanic's school. It was there
he met Omaha Harley dealers Dean and Priscilla Hummer,
after whom Harley's little 125 was named. Goodwin says,
“The Hummer's dealership sold more of that little Harley
125 in 1953 and '54 than any other dealer in the country.
Harley-Davidson sent them air fare to attend the 1955
new model showing, which was not a common practice, and
I was standing
there with my regional sales manger when they introduced
the 1955 model as a ‘Hummer,' in honor of Dean and Priscilla.”
his father had been a dealer for the leading American
brands, Vern turned to a far more unusual racing machine,
becoming the first, and probably only, person in the United
States to become
a Sears “factory racer” for its Austrian Puch-built Allstate
motorcycle (pictured above). He recalls, “In 1957, a Sears
national sales manager from Chicago
contacted me about
racing an Allstate in local competition. I agreed, and
a few months later went down to the local Sears loading
dock where my new racer had arrived. It was a 175cc, and
had been modified by the factory, apparently to European
racing standards.” Vern took the bike to Dodge
City for its first
outing, and finished fourth. Later he switched to a 500cc
Indian, built by Royal Enfield (pictured below), on which
he won some of his more than 250 trophies. In 1957, Vern
began working nights for the CB&Q railroad, later
to become the Burlington Northern, and during the day
at a local
Honda dealership. In addition, he was racing Hondas and
Nortons on weekends and moonlighting with his own motorcycle
repair business. He chuckles, “I used to be pretty good
at burning the candle at both ends.”
the 1970s, Goodwin went to the rally and races at Sturgis
to wrench for his son Rob, who as racing there, and who
owned a Kawasaki-Bridgestone-Moto Guzzi dealership in
In addition to continuing to race flat tracks, Vern dabbled
in hill climbing, TT scrambles, and motocross, and took
up vintage racing in the 1980s. It was at Sturgis where
he met racer Al Burke, one of the founders of the White
Plate Flattracker's Association, and was invited to join.
Finally, at age 65 he officially retired from competition.
Looking back over his racing career, Vern says, “The cash
winnings always went into the gas tank.”
Goodwin still operates a shop on Highway 77, just north
and for the last 25 years he has become nationally known
for his work on sidecars. At one time he manufactured
his own brand of sidecar, which he calls the “Good One,”
and one of his inventions is an electric “lean adjuster,”
designed to make sidecars handle better in turns. The
leaning sidecar dates back to the teens, when it was raced
by the Ohio
company Flxible, but Vern has applied modern technology
to refine the idea.
The device is operated with a thumb switch
on the handlebar, enabling the operator to instantly
lean the sidecar toward
or away from the motorcycle. Goodwin's
son, Mike, states, “Cornering performance and stability
are so enhanced to make the rig behave in a corner like
a sports car, if not better.”
of Goodwin's most unusual sidecar creations is what he
shamelessly calls a BMW, which he is quick to explain
means, “Backyard Motorcycle Works.” The diminutive motorcycle
was originally built as a solo bike and presented as a
Christmas gift to his son Mike when he was only three
years old (pictured above). Cutting down a bicycle frame,
Goodwin installed a twin-cylinder Maytag washing
machine engine, hooked to a 1937 Puch three-speed transmission.
Later, after his sons were grown, Goodwin built and installed
a miniature sidecar (pictured here), then painted the
rig in classic BMW black with white striping, thus making
it worthy of its name. In addition to building, installing,
repairing, and modifying sidecars, Vern restores classic
Indians, and on September
8, 2007, he was awarded
the Excellence in Sidecaring Award by the United Sidecar
Association and the Internet Sidecar Owners Klub. Goodwin
was only the third individual to receive the prestigious
award, having been preceded by Chris Dodson, editor of
Hack'd Magazine, and Doug Bingham, founder of
the Sidecar Industry Council.
learn more about the United Sidecar Association, click
here. To reach the
home base of the
Internet Sidecar Owners Klub, click here.
To reach Hack'd, the magazine about sidecars,
To reach the Sidecar Industry Council, click here.
Carl Edeburn is a retired professor from South
He has co-authored several
books on leadership and management, and is the author
of “Sturgis; The Story of the Rally,” a definitive history
of this event. He has three more books completed
in manuscript form that are awaiting publication, including
two more about the Sturgis Rally and one about the lives
and experiences of the great Indian racers and the brand's
success in AMA Class C racing from 1934 to 1953. He lives
in Brookings with his wife Cleo, and they spend lots of
time with his seven grandchildren. Edeburn is
an active touring rider.
provided by Carl Edeburn and Mike Goodwin.
Motohistory Tribute to Philip Vincent
has brought together a dozen leading Vincent experts from
Great Britain and the United States to share their views
about the great man and his great brand. Our special
tribute to Philip Vincent will be published on March 14,
the centenary of his birth. We will notify our readers
via E-mail when the file has been uploaded.
image of Philip Vincent provide by Roy Harper.
end of an era:
to cease motorcycle
night in Cleveland, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went
at each other during their 20th Democratic Primary debate
on the topic of the economy and jobs in Ohio. This morning
in Marysville, Akio Hamada, President and CEO of Honda
of America Manufacturing (HAM), announced that in the
Spring of 2009, nearly 30 years of motorcycle production
in Ohio will cease.
sprawling Marysville automobile and motorcycle manufacturing
campus has 260,000 square feet of space dedicated to motorcycle
production, and currently hires 450 employees, to whom
Honda refers as “associates.” In a memorandum distributed
to all HAM associates, Hamada said, “This morning I made
a very important and difficult announcement . . . Honda
will consolidate the Marysville Motorcycle Plant production
at a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kumamoto,
Hamada explained that the move was being made to strengthen
the competitiveness and appeal of Honda products by applying
advanced technologies available at the new factory.
He pointed out that Honda motorcycle manufacturing at
its home base of Hamamatsu had also shifted to Kumamoto,
which will be capable of producing 600,000 motorcycles
assured the Ohio
motorcycle facility employees that there would be no layoffs,
which presumes they will be taken into automobile and
engine manufacturing through attrition at Honda's other
Ohio facilities. Emphasizing solidarity, he said, “In
the past, many people have identified themselves as motorcycle
associates, or auto plant associates, or engine associates.
But the very important thing for all of us to remember
is that we are one team, a team of dedicated and committed
Honda associates whose number one objective is to satisfy
manufacturing venture in America began at the Marysville
plant in September, 1979, where its first product was
a motocross machine. Over time, a $165 million capital
investment was made in the facility, which became the
worldwide supplier of some of Honda's most popular models,
such as the luxury touring Gold Wing. Honda's experiment
proved successful enough that ground was soon broken for
expansion into a huge automobile manufacturing facility,
now covering 3.8 million square feet and representing
a $2.6 billion capital investment, where over 5,000 are
employed to build Honda cars.
motorcycle plant reached its peak production in 1997 when
it turned out 174,000 vehicles, including all-terrain
vehicles. In 2005, ATV production was moved to South
Carolina. Last year, the Ohio factory built nearly
61,000 motorcycles, 44,000 of which were Gold Wings and
VTX cruiser motorcycles. The company's Ohio automobile
production reached a record of over 701,000 units last
the rest of the industry, Honda's U.S. motorcycle sales
fell in 2007, but the company said that its decision to
end Ohio motorcycle production was not based on a softening
Amerian motorcycle market. To
reach the HAM web site, click here.
Kersting proudly bills his motorcycle dealership, based
in North Judson, Indiana,
“the little ship in the middle of nowhere.” The enterprise
began in 1962, when you could get a Harley-Davidson franchise
at almost any location. Jim and his wife Nella opened
the shop in 2,000 square feet of space that included their
living quarters. Today, Kerstings also handles Kawasaki
and Yamaha and is
nearly 50,000 square feet, which includes the 10,000 square-foot
museum housed in its own purpose-built facility opened
in May, 2003. We first visited Kersting's in the summer
(see Motohistory News & Views 8/7/2004),
and we decided it was high time to stop by again to see
how much the collection has grown.
only have the rare and collectible motorcycles on display
increased from about 100 to over 150, but many changes
have been made in the displays and presentation. The incredibly
eclectic collection – ABC to Condor to Dneper to Marusho
to Nimbus to Vincent – is surrounded by a vast array of
posters, signs, photographs, apparel, toys, bicycles,
scooters, and tools, and a partition has been installed
that creates a lobby as interestingly cluttered and comfortably
appointed as your grandmother's living room. Frequently,
sense of humor comes through with the artifacts and mannequins
scattered throughout the museum. For example, upon walking
in the door, the first thing one sees see is a rustic-looking
fellow aboard a Ner-a-car (pictured here).
a quarter of the motorcycles on display are Harley-Davidsons,
which might be expected for a guy who has sold them for
45 years, but don't get the idea that this is strictly
a monument to the Milwaukee firm. In fact, the American
V-twins are almost overshadowed by rare and usual brands
from more than a dozen countries. How often is it you
see a Cedos or a Hoffman or a Lilac in an American motorcycle
museum? There are also some interesting one-offs too,
such as a Zephyr V-12 powered motorcycle
(pictured below) and one of the best Daimler
have ever seen. And packed in among all the two-wheelers
couple of Rolls Royces and Excaliburs. With such breadth
and novelty, this is a museum that will bring you back
for more. You simply cannot absorb it all in a single
visit, and we're going to try to stop again before another
three years pass by. To reach Kersting's World of Motorcycles
Museum on line, click here.
Josh McCoy Hare Scrambles:
that history ain't always pretty!
and especially our overseas readers, may find this story
curious and even frivolous. However, we believe our many
American readers who know master-of-ceremonies and television
commentator Larry Maiers, or knew the late, great, popular
promoter David Coombs, will enjoy it. And besides, in
our quest to get to the bottom of the great historical
issues of our world of motorcycles, we have to face the
unwashed truth that it is our obligation to sometimes
publish the good, the bad, and the ugly. We'll let you
decide which this is.
of the fun of covering
motorcycle events for Northeast Ohio Motorcycle News
and other publications was meeting and interacting
with the characters who were the principal movers of the
sport. One example I recall was the weekend of December
2, 1984, when KTM
held an introduction of new models at its U.S.
followed by a party on Saturday night at the Amherst Meadowlarks
club house and the Josh McCoy Hare Scrambles race on Sunday.
Among the participants were Larry Maiers, president
of Penton Imports, Jack Lehto, head of the US Husqvarna
distributorship, and well-known West
possibility of these folks getting together and not having
some form of competition was unlikely, so the Saturday
night party included the “Bowling Champeenship of the
World Trophy” contest. The rules were simple. The participants
deposited their entry fees in a container and were given
a roll of duct tape. Over a designated period of time,
the contestants drank beer, taped their empty cans into
a trophy, and the one with the largest at the end of the
event – usually two hours – won the prize money, which
on this particular evening was over $500. Larry Maiers
won, defeating the defending champion, Dave Coombs. Maiers
is shown here brandishing his beer can trophy as Coombs
hides his face in shame (pictured above).
following morning, everyone was moving at a slow pace
as they prepared for the two-hour Josh McCoy Hare Scramble,
a race that took the competitors over the Meadowlarks'
motocross course and through the surrounding woods and
fields of the 200-acre club grounds. Shortly after the
start of the race, I was walking along the course, photographing
the action. As I wandered out of the wooded section, I
encountered Larry Maiers and Jack Lehto. As the three
of us walked across an open field at the back of the property,
we came across a discarded square top to a washing machine.
Maiers picked it up and examined it. I do not remember
who made the suggestion, but it was decided that it would
make a unique pit board for signaling a racer. It was
then decided that Dave Coombs would be the recipient of
a special signal. I proposed to take a photo of this,
and we went searching for an appropriate location.
found a section where the racers came down a hill out
of the woods and out onto the course across a field. I
climbed a tree at the edge of the woods so I could shoot
my photos from above and behind the riders as they came
down the hill, giving me a good vantage point to get all
of Coombs, Maiers, and Lehto in the frame. We recruited
a spectator who wandered past to go back down the course
and signal us when he spotted Coombs coming. Lehto and
Maiers moved to the side of the track, Larry dropped his
pants, and Lehto carefully positioned the washer top around
his buttocks. From my position in the tree, I was able
to shoot the picture shown here. Later we laughed that
Maiers must have been giving Coombs the signal to “gas
the entertainment of my readers, I published the coverage
of the race and featured a photo of the scandalous pit
board (pictured below) in the December 1984 issue of Northeast
Ohio Motorcycle News. In January, I drove over to
the Richfield Coliseum, near Cleveland,
where ice races were being held at the hockey rink. This
was one of the biggest winter events in Northern
Ohio, packing the
arena with over 7,000 spectators. Larry Maiers was the
announcer for the race, and I had been given
permission to distribute about 1,000 copies of my newspaper,
which contained the story about the Josh McCoy Hare Scrambles.
As I distributed the paper, I informed the fans that the
buttocks pictured belonged to Maiers, and I told them
he was available to autograph the photo. Soon, a long
line formed in the aisle leading down to the scoring table
where Larry was announcing, and finally Maiers boomed
over the public address system, “Ignore the man with the
newspapers! That picture is not me.” But it didn't work.
By intermission, the aisles were totally blocked by autograph
seekers, and for the second half of the evening, Maiers
announced from the ice in the center of the arena in an
effort to get away from the mob. “I repeat,” Larry exclaimed,
“That is not me!” Still, he was hounded for more than
an hour after the races by fans wanting him to autograph
next saw Larry at the Competition Riders of America awards
banquet where he was the master of ceremonies before more
than 700 amateur racers and their friends and families.
When Larry saw me he said, “We're not going to do this
with the photo again, are we? Please, tell everyone that
picture is not me!” “Okay, it's not you,” I said. During
the ceremony, while Maiers distributed over $4,000 in
trophies and prizes, nothing more was said about the photo.
Finally, when he thought he would escape without any further
embarrassment, he was presented a special award. It was
a real pit board on which I had glued an enlargement of
the offending photo that completely covered the board.
The place went crazy and Larry's face turned red. Next,
the wife of one of the racers presented a sculpture she
had made out of pink silk. Also mounted on a pit board,
it was a life-size buttocks and two small gonads. The
nearly thousand guests on hand roared with applause.
years later, when Larry was working for a cable sports
station in Atlanta,
I asked the president of that company it he had ever seen
the pit boards. “Hell yeah!” he exclaimed. “Larry has
those things hanging in his office.” I took the time to
explain the story of the Josh
McCoy race and the “gas it” signal. “That gives me a better
understanding,” he said, “but Larry is still nuts!”
Smith, former editor and publisher of Handcrafted
American Racing Motorcycles and Northeast Ohio
Motorcycle News, resides near Youngstown,
His principal motorcycle is a 1964 XLCH Sportster with
nearly 400,000 miles on the clock, which he has owned
for 42 years. He began contributing photos to motorcycle
magazines in the early 1970s, and became a contributor
to Cycle News while road racing at Nelson Ledges
in 1977. He started publishing his regional motorcycle
newspaper in 1982, then developed a chain of independent
regional publications, one of which became Keystone
Motorcycle Press, serving eastern Pennsylvania.
An all-Harley drag racing paper was begun in 1987, and
continued until an accident with a semi-tractor trailer
in 1996 ended Smith's publishing career.
Josh McCoy Hare Scrambles
Josh McCoy Hare Scrambles began during the Penton era
as a weekend of entertainment in conjunction with the
brand's annual dealer meeting at its headquarters in Amherst,
and it continued into the KTM era, as indicated in the
story above. It became a popular annual happening that
attracted the attention of many more people than the visiting
motorcycle dealers, thanks to John Penton's local civic
activities. Penton was an enthusiastic Rotarian, and many
members of the Amherst
Club turned out to support the Amherst
with the organization of the event. Jack Penton recalls,
“We had these local doctors and lawyers and businessmen
running all over the place and getting dirty, and we made
converts of a lot of them. As a result, some got into
dirt-biking.” But Josh McCoy never showed up for his namesake
race, because Josh McCoy was a fictitious person. The
origin of the name is shrouded in mystery, but Larry Maiers
does recall that he once got the AMA to process a membership
card for the nonexistent Josh McCoy. Any Motohistory readers
who can explain the origin of the name and why it was
used in the title of a race should contact Ed@Motohistory.net.
from Paul Danik
Penton Owners Group President Paul Danik has been digging
through a box of photographs and records not previously
available to motohistorians. Almost daily he sends us
exciting messages about the wonderful artifacts in his
trembling hands. Here's an example, a photograph of KTM
President Eric Trunkenpolz inspecting the air box on an
early Penton. Judging by the style of the air box, it
would seem possible that this photograph was made sometime
in 1968 or very early 1969. The type of air box
shown, adapted from a small KTM street
bike, was used only on early-production Pentons, proved
totally unacceptable for off-road riding conditions, and
was soon replaced with a “Husqvarna-type” air box.
the photo raises another history mystery. The engine in
the motorcycle is a Puch, not the Sachs that was chosen
for the prototype and the full run of the steel-tank models,
produced from 1968 through 1971. It is known that Penton
Imports experimented with the 175cc Puch engine after
the Penton was on the market, but this engine appears
to be the 125cc version. Did Penton hope to switch
to the Austrian-made Puch because there had been shifting
problems with the German-built Sachs? Then, did
the promise of a new KTM engine put the Puch project on
hold? These are questions that will keep Penton
fans digging through the available archives. To
contact the Penton Owners Group, click here.
Motorcycle Hall of Fame
plans for 2008
Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame has announced that nominations
for the class of 2008 will be open until April 30. The
2008 induction ceremony will take place at the Renaissance
Toronto Airport Hotel and Conference Center near Toronto's
Pearson International Airport. For more information
about the nomination and induction process, click here
or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
to unveil “Babe” at Daytona
year, artist David Uhl unveils a special commemorative
painting at Daytona. This year his subject is Babe Tancrede,
winner of the 1940 Daytona 200, unloading his Harley-Davidson
WLDR on the beach early on the morning of the race. Not
only did Tancrede win the big race that year, but he was
presented a huge trophy for being elected the AMA's Most
Popular Rider for 1939, and when he returned home to Rhode
Island he met a new-born son, who had arrived while he
was away racing in Florida. Uhl's painting will be on
display at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center,
along with Tancrede's 1940 Daytona-winning motorcycle,
now owned by the Wheels Through Time Museum. For Babe
Tancrede's Motorcycle Hall of Fame bio, click here.
For more information about David Uhl's fine art, click
legendary Catalina Grand Prix ended 50 years ago, but
thanks to desert and dirt track racing great Eddie Mulder,
Catalina will live on this coming April 26 and 27. Eddie
Mulder Ltd. is organizing a Catalina Grand Prix 50 th
Anniversary Reunion and Classic Motorcycle Show on Santa
Catalina, the Southern California island on which motorcycles
have not been allowed for many years. Many of the great
racers of yesteryear are expected to attend, and more
than 200 award-winning motorcycles will decorate Front
Street in Avalon. For entry forms or more information,
call 661-944-1184. For more about the event on Flattrack.com,
For a story about the Catalina Grand Prix published in
2006 in the Los Angeles Times, click here.
For the history of Santa Catalina Island,
admit it; sometimes I just don't get it. For example,
I always thought the 1970 film “ Little Fauss
and Big Halsey ” was the dumbest and most pointless
motorcycle movie ever. I disdained it more than the trashy
biker flicks of the 1960s because at least they didn't
take themselves seriously. But, judging by the viewer
comments about the snippet uploaded on YouTube,
I am obviously out of sync on this one. To check it out,
Indiana Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Enthusiasts
2008 schedule has been updated. To access a
printable PDF version, click here.
some wonderful 1930s and ‘40s racing photos on
IronWigwam.com, click here.
see the fine art of David Wayne Russell,
including motorcycle subjects, click here.
And check out his excellent writings as well.
will shine at Diamond Don's
Don's Sixth Annual Vintage Motocross, scheduled for April
3 through 6 in Jefferson, Texas will include a remarkable
lineup of the men and women who made motocross an American
sport in the 1970s. Mercedes Gonzalez, Sue Fish, Tami
Rice, and Nadine Holbert will appear in a Women Pioneers
of Motocross Race. 1975 500cc AMA Supercross Champion
Steve Stackable will be honored as a Legend of Motocross
and 12-times Six Day competitor Jack Penton will be honored
as Legend of Cross Country. 1972 Superbowl of Motocross
winner Marty Tripes will be honorary chef at a Friday
BBQ and catfish extravaganza. Brad Lackey, Danny LaPorte,
Rick Johnson, Tommy Croft, Jeff Smith, Tom Benolkin, and
Rik Smits are all expected to compete. Early camping will
be available on March 29. For more information, click
seems that 1969/70 was a turning point in the social status
of motorcycling in America.
For at least the previous 25 years, it had been branded
an unsavory reputation, and it was not uncommon for law-abiding
citizens who chose to travel on two wheels to be turned
away at motels and restaurants. Then, something changed
with the popular depiction of motorcyclists in the motion
picture “Easy Rider” in 1969. The protagonists, while
certainly not upstanding citizens, were no longer treated
as mindless thugs and gang
followers. Billy and Wyatt were complex, three-dimensional
characters who had intelligent debates about politics,
morality, and the meaning of life, and at the end of the
movie they fell victim to the true bad guys, who were
rednecks who represented everything thuggish and narrow-minded
about American society.
the small screen, the 1969/70 show “Then Came Bronson,”
told the story of a young man who turned his back on his
career to become a motorcycle gypsy in search of enlightenment.
Along the way, he enriched the lives of others, whether
he realized it or not. The show lasted only one season,
but it clearly settled the issue over whether motorcyclists
could be decent, non-violent contributors to society.
It would be a long time until the messages of “Easy Rider”
and “Then Came Bronson” trickled down to the bedrock of
our culture, but they were the beginning of a sea change
in thinking that eventually culminated in the Guggenheim's
unveiling of “The Art of the Motorcycle” in 1989.
Rider replicas have been built by the score, which might
suggest that the motorcycle was really the star of the
movie. With “Bronson,” however, it was the show's writing
and the acting of Michael Parks that dominated the screen,
and his near-stock 1969 Harley Sportster was only a prop,
albeit the essential “vehicle” for the story. Thus, far
fewer Bronson Bikes have been replicated than Wyatt's
April, 2008 issue of IronWorks contains an interesting
story about one man's quest to build a Bronson Bike replica.
Greg Patnik (pictured below), who acknowledges that his
life – at the age of 13 – was inalterably influenced by
the show, discovered that it was no easy task. In the
process of carefully researching the show, he discovered
three different Bronson Bikes were actually used in filming,
and the producers made only a casual effort to make them
look alike. Details on the motorcycle changed all the
time as the show progressed through its short run, so
Patnik had to make some judgment calls in deciding how
to replicate the “original.” American television nostalgia
buffs will appreciate the results, pictured here, and
in other detail photos with the IronWorks article.
The story reports that this motorcycle will be included
in the new Motorcycle Hall of Fame “MotoStars” exhibit,
currently under construction and scheduled to open later
this spring. For information about the MotoStars exhibit,
April IronWorks also contains another of Margie
Siegal's stories about an antique motorcycle, this one
being the two-stroke Cleveland
single built from
1916 through 1920. Siegel always treats her topic on three
levels. She provides a well-researched history of the
brand in question, a technical review of the model under
discussion, then finally a description of the history
and restoration of the specific example used for photos,
which also includes biographical information on its owner.
The coverage of the little Cleveland
benefits from her
thorough treatment, as usual. To reach IronWorks
on line, click here.
RacerX Illustrated grew from a down-and-dirty
tabloid (the ink always came off on your hands) to a slick
monthly ten years ago, it brought to its readers a level
of journalistic depth, graphic creativity, and a sense
of history and cultural context not often seen in motorcycle
magazines. With its
April issue, RacerX celebrates its first decade
in a highly-competitive industry with a 396-page monster.
Yeah, I know, 66 of those pages are a complete catalog
for DeCal Works, but even after deducting that, 330 pages
is a hell of a magazine. However, depth, sensitivity,
history, and variety are what make this a landmark issue,
not its gigundous page count.
example, fans of James Stewart who honor his achievement
first African-American motocross national champion have
an opportunity to read about his lesser-known precursors,
Andy Jefferson and Brian Thompson, two black men who broke
into the white world of American motocross in the 1980s.
“The Original Riders,” by Paul Willis, recounts their
careers and tells us what they are doing today. Thompson,
who rose to the level of an FIM international license
in 1983, was likely the first black man to compete in
a Motocross GP. Jefferson
was sponsored at
the national level by Mitch Payton and raced as a teammate
of Troy Lee. This is the kind of historical work, characteristic
of RacerX, that gives depth to our understanding
of the motorcycle sport.
both ends of the competitive age scale, the issue contains
features about Jeff Ward, age 46, and Adam Cianciarulo,
age 10. Ward, as we are reminded in “The Longest Wheelie,”
by Eric Johnson, was the first man to win a national championship
in all categories of AMA motocross competition, left motorcycling
to win a championship race in IRL open-wheel automobile
racing (and very nearly the 1997 Indy 500), then returned
to motorcycles at the age of 43 to
win 2004 and 2006 national supermoto championships. Cianciarulo,
just at the dawn of his motocross career, has already
made his mark by breaking Ward's 30-year-old record of
winning 15 motos and five division titles, at the age
of eight, in mini-cycle competition.
readers of RacerX are quite familiar with the
publisher's personal obsession with Evel Knievel, which
is sometimes reverent and sometimes whimsical, dating
all the way back to the days when his publication was
porous and better suited for soaking up oil spots in the
garage than the glossy stock of his latter-day publication.
With Knievel's recent final jump, the magazine's April
issue eulogizes him as a cultural icon through a feature
entitled “Sympathy for the Daredevil” that is both thorough
and sensitive. The words of publisher Davey Coombs are
lavishly illustrated with original works by artists from
the United States
(as illustrated above),
and a sidebar contains tributes from Jeff Emig, Rich Winkler,
Shaun Palmer, Bob Moore, and others. Editor Bryan Stealey
explains, “When it came time to do Knievel's tribute,
we knew we could work with the stock photos that everyone
else would use, or we could do something different.” Networking
with friends and other members of the staff, Stealey pulled
together original works from seven artists in three weeks.
This homage is a classy and fitting sendoff for America's
master showman of the 20th century.
a great deal more in the RacerX tenth anniversary
issue than we can address here, but the four features
mentioned above capture nicely what this publication has
brought to its field. Many motorcycle magazines are edited
by gear-heads who talk about technology and boast of flogging
test bikes beyond any level of performance that most of
their readers will ever attempt or even care about. They
will write ad infinitum for road tests, but
limit feature articles to 1,200 to 1,500 words, going
downstream on the Fogg Index to keep a grip on their less-literate
readers. The RacerX editors give a story the
length it deserves (the feature about Jeff Ward's long
career is 3,500 words), they don't write down to some
condescending assumption about the literacy of readers,
and they understand what motorcycling is all about. It
is not about the motorcycles. It is about the people who
RacerX Illustrated, for upholding high standards
for the last ten years. May it always be so. To reach
RacerX on line, click here.
Knievel graphic used to illustrate this story is a portion
of “Taking Flight,” an original mixed media collage by
Dalyn Szilvassy of Vancouver,
Originally published in RacerX Illustrated, it
is used here with permission and may not be reproduced
without the artist's permission. To reach the artist,
go to www.bruiser.ca.
Art and Science of Riding Really Well
was probably no one in America
who knew more about
riding a motorcycle safely, or at least no one who could
articulate its principles and practices as well as Lawrence
Grodsky. And Grodsky was no rider-ed egghead. He was a
long-distance rider who put the theories of street survival
into practice, every day. In fact, stepping beyond the
of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, he created his own
training program called “Stayin' Safe Motorcycle Training”
which took his students onto the streets where they learned
in an environment of the real-world factors we all deal
with: unfavorable weather, poor roads, and bad drivers.
In 1988, Grodsky became a columnist for Rider,
and through that magazine began to reach even more riders
with his advice for “Stayin' Safe,” as he entitled his
column. Over the years, he penned over 200 columns in
which he addressed complex and sometimes technical subjects
with a clear, witty, and entertaining personal style.
Whereas some believe that one cannot make safety exciting
and engaging, Grodsky defied conventional wisdom. He did.
tragically, on April
8, 2006, while Grodsky
was crossing the country from California
to visit his mother
on her 85th birthday, he was taken out by a deer near
According to an obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Grodsky had told a friend only weeks earlier this is how
he would go. He knew that no matter how much he learned
and taught about coping with the hazards of the road,
there was an unpredictable element he could do nothing
about, and this was deer. They are the bane of all motorcyclists,
an ever-present danger that some riders refer to derisively
as “long-legged rats,” the vermin of the road.
once knew an attorney who did a lot of liability defense
work who constantly lectured his clients: “Don't talk
about safety. Don't talk about being safe. None of us
can ever be safe, and no one can make us safe. The best
we can do is manage risk.” Grodsky's untimely death seems
to reinforce the view that none of us can ever be safe,
not totally. But he knew that “stayin' safe,” as he put
it, was about managing risk to the greatest degree our
training, skills, and attitudes will make possible. And
for Grodsky, managing risk was not just the grim process
of avoiding the inevitable. It was about increasing the
joy of motorcycling and the intensity of the experience.
We don't learn to be better riders just to keep from dying.
We become better riders to get more enjoyment out of motorcycling
while we are alive. Grodsky knew this, and Grodsky devoted
his life to teaching it.
we do not have to find old issues of Rider magazine
to discover or revisit the wisdom that Lawrence Grodsky
shared with us. The best of his work has been collected
in a book edited by his good friend and fellow instructor,
Pete Tamblyn. “Stayin' Safe,” published by Whitehorse
Press, is 352 pages of Grodsky's art and science of riding
well, with index, presented in a hard-cover 6¼
x 9¼ format. Listed at $24.95, it is a book that
every motorcyclist who wants to experience better riding
by riding better should own. To order a copy of “Stayin'
Safe: The Art and Science of Riding Really Well,” click
To read more about Grodsky, click here,
one does style like the Italians. They can achieve grace
and beauty with a line, a shape, or a splash of color
like no other people on the planet, and they understood
that a motor vehicle was an object of art long before
the Guggenheim declared it so. Within motorcycling, no
brand has consistently maintained the adherence to a high
standard of Italian style better than Ducati, and it is
carried through by Ducati owners all over the world, the
Ducatistas. In 2007,
when Ducati beat the mighty Japanese by winning both the
MotoGP and the World Superbike championships, it was a
very big story, and a very big story required a very big
book, and, of course, that book had to be executed in
classic Ducati style.
2007,” the official yearbook of Ducati Corse, gives real
meaning to the term “coffee table book,” because its 12
x 12 inch format will likely not fit on your bookshelf.
And, faithful to the Ducati image, it is gorgeously stylish
and printed in Italy
on a beautiful, heavy coated stock. Except for introductory
remarks in both English and Italian by Gabriele Del Torchio,
Claudio Domenicali, and Filippo Preziosi, this is largely
(pun intended) a picture book, many of which speak for
themselves without the benefit of captions. Among its
144 pages are 16 pages of statistics from the 2007 racing
season, but this book will give a researcher fits, because
there are no page numbers! The next time you and your
fellow Ducatista are having an E-mail argument about where
Casey Stoner finished at Catalunya, just tell him to grab
his big book and turn to page . . . "uh, what the
hell! It's the page with the beautiful, velvety black
background. Wait, they all have black backgrounds!"
This casual omission I find also so Italian.
Who needs page numbers when you have such beauty? And
the book is beautiful indeed, like few others I have seen.
And expensive. Will someone buy a motorcycle picture book
that costs $80.00? Ducatistas will. Just look how they
maintain their bikes. Look at the cost and quality of
their riding gear. This is the book for Ducatistas,
and if you are one and want one, E-mail Parker House Publishing
and Kyle to teach
AMA Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen and tuner
extraordinaire Woody Kyle will conduct a vintage dirt
track school on June 26 at the AHRMA Square Deal National
to be held at Harpursville, New York. Cost of the 15-student
class will be $375 per rider. Racing will be held in conjunction
with the Boots Oakley Vintage Show and Swap Meet. For
more information, click here.
are more motorcycle cards, distributed with Lambert &
Butler's cigarettes in the United
Kingdom in 1923,
from the Ken Weingart collection.
in a series of 50:
text on the back of the card reads:
Ultra Lightweight is designed to meet the needs of the
rider who requires a reliable motorcycle at low cost.
Fitted with 4½ h.p. Villiers engine and two-speed
gearbox, it is capable of a maximum of 25-30 m.p.h. Provided
with automatic lubrication, this machine (which weighs
only 115 lbs.) is extremely simple to manipulate.
in a Series of 50:
text on the back of the card reads:
Models are all fitted with overhead valve engines of 2¾,
3½, and 6 h.p. This machine won ten International
Championships during 1922. It was the first 3½
h.p. to do 100 m.p.h., and the 2¾ h.p. has exceeded
93 m.p.h. The Douglas
have two horizontally opposed cylinders, and are claimed
to be vibrationless.
the text is wrong
we carried a story about the LGC, a motorcycle built in
Great Britain in the 1920s by bicycle manufacturer Leonard
a discrepancy between a leading historical reference book
and information provided by British bicycle historian
John Faulkner (see Motohistory News & Views 2/2/2008).
“The British Motorcycle Directory,” by Bacon and Hallworth,
reports that the first LGC motorcycle was introduced in
1928, but Faulkner supplied a photo of Gundle aboard one
of his products at the London
End Run in 1926.
We wondered whether Gundle was photographed in 1926 riding
a prototype of the machine that would not be put into
production until 1928.
however has provided additional convincing photographic
evidence that the LGC was manufactured and introduced
for sale to the public in
1926. This includes a studio photograph of the production
LGC (pictured above) on the back of which Gundle has written
in his own hand, “The first of the clan. With love to
my Parents. Leonard, March 1926.” In addition, Faulkner
has provided photos of three riders named Bartlet, Bethel,
and Watkins aboard LGC motorcycles at the London to Land's
End Run in April, 1926 (pictured above), and a photograph
of an LGC with sidecar at the Solcombe Hill Climb during
the London to Exeter to London Run in December, 1926.
John, for continuing to provide interesting photographs
that clarify the history of the LGC.
Langen aus Wangen
Epiphany Day, January
6, 1951, I started
my motorcycle competition career at the ice rink at Isny,”
remembers Herbert Schek (shown here at age 45). “It was
my first opportunity to race, having just gotten my motorcycle
driving license a few days before,” Schek adds. And at
the end of the day, the tall, 18-year-old youth held his
first winner's cup. He explains with a laugh, “The others
were so fast that they all fell. I was slow enough that
I made it to the finish line without crashing once!”
Now, 57 years later, this 75-year-old German motorcycling
legend is still active in off-road competition, consistently
placing highly in vintage enduros. Week after week, he
pushes his red BMW to the starting line while his contemporaries
go walking with their grandchildren.
year after his first ice race, Schek, whose friends and
fans know as “den Langen aus Wangen,” meaning “the tall
one from the city
because he is over six and a half feet tall, participated
for his first time in “Gelaendesport” (enduro competition)
at the Oberallgaeuer Mountain Ride. Schek found enduros
the perfect form of competition for his limited budget,
requiring only knobby tires and a high pipe to convert
his road bike to a suitable off-roader. The German Enduro
National Championship program began in 1955, and Schek
entered with an Austrian Puch (shown above), but with
not too much success. Schek recalls, “Often the G'lump
'junk') failed me. Once the front forks broke, and another
time it was the frame.” While Schek placed well many times
during the series, the occasional machine failure kept
him from winning the championship. That finally changed
in 1962 when he earned a Maico factory ride, delivering
the Swabian company the 250cc title his first year aboard
the bike. During the 1960s and ‘70s, he would deliver
a total of six championships to Maico. He is pictured
here aboard a Maico at the Italian ISDT in 1974.
Schek won most of his championships aboard Maicos, most
people associate him with BMW, which he started riding
some forty years ago. Schek recalls, “In 1965, I won my
class in the very difficult Three Days of Passau,
and Hans von der Marwitz, the development manager at BMW,
asked if would ride his motorcycle in 1966.” Schek
delivered for BMW with a victory in the open class at
the International Six Days' Trial at Karlskoga,
but the very next year the Munich
firm shut down its
so it was back to Maico. Then, in 1968 he switched to
a 350cc Jawa, sponsored by Neckermann, the German Jawa
importer. Then again, in 1969, von der Marwitz contacted
Schek, explaining that BMW was coming out with an entirely
new motorcycle that would be built at its new factory
and he was looking for someone capable of riding a prototype
R75/5 at the ISDT, which would take place at Garmisch-Partenkirchen,
just weeks away.
Schek signed on, and Kurt Distler rode a second factory
machine. Paul Hanemann, the Director at BMW, told the
riders that the company had won 148 FIM gold medals, and
that he was counting on them to bring the score to an
even 150. Schek says, “When I asked why he had not prepared
four machines if what he wanted was two medals, he reacted
with utter astonishment that anyone could doubt the success
of BMWs.” As it turned out, Distler's motorcycle failed,
and in 1970 BMW returned to the ISDT with a four-man team
Shown above is the BMW ISDT team in the United States
Schek had discovered that the big boxer twins were too
heavy to compete effectively against the British singles,
and he advised von der Marwitz that the motorcycles needed
to be slimmed down to 150 or 160 kilograms. Von der Marwitz
responded that this was quite impossible, and Schek said,
“Okay, I will build my own BMW.” BMW provided materials
to Schek's specifications, and he reduced the machine
to an incredible 135 kilos,
then later to 125 kilos. So unique were these specials,
they became known as Schek BMWs. Schek is shown
here aboard one of his special BMWs in 1978.
the ISDT came to the United
States in 1973,
BMW wanted to put on a big show. The American market was
very important, and the Bavarian firm hoped to build its
image consistent with the reputation of the new /5 model
line, which was more sporting than the old, heavy /2s.
For bragging rights, BMW had already given ISDT organizer
Al Eames an R75/5 with special high pipe and other modifications
for his use in laying out the course, and at the parc
ferme BMW erected one of the largest displays of all of
the manufacturers. Schek took responsibility for building
four motorcycles for a Silver Vase Team, but between his
delivery and arrival of the motorcycles in Massachusetts,
someone at BMW made changes, without informing him. Schek
says, “I was annoyed because I was responsible for these
motorcycles, and after our arrival in America,
my own machine again.” He adds,“The nights in New
England were icy
cold, and we had never tested the motorcycles for cold
starting in the morning. They had no choke, and they would
fire, but it was impossible to keep them running because
they were too lean.” Schek modified the floats in his
carburetors to richen the mixture, and won another gold
medal, but after its expensive and unhappy American experience,
BMW again shut down its off-road factory team.
returned to Maico, which by now offered a 504cc – a motorcycle
far more suitable to his imposing size – and he won the
open class in 1975 at the ISDT at the Isle of Man (Pictured
above). Then Schek changed to what was surely the most
exotic and unusual motorcycle of his off-road riding career.
He explains, “Sachs asked me to help them build an enduro
bike with a Wankel rotary engine. We set the rotor longitudinally
in the frame and mated it to a seven-speed gearbox.” Schek
rode the Sachs Wankel in 1976 and 1977, after which Sachs
abandoned development of the rotary engine and
canceled its off-road program. But by this time, BMW was
developing its new G/S model, which would awaken a new
interest in Galaendesport during the 1980s, especially
when the OMK – West
sport governing body – created a new enduro class for
750cc and larger engines. There was suddenly so much demand
for big off-roaders that Schek found himself with orders
for seventeen of his ultra-light Schek BMWs, some with
engines even larger than 1,000cc!
the international level, the FIM had a class for 1,000
to 1,300cc machines. Perhaps others did not study the
rules closely enough, but Schek is what Germans call a
Schlitzohr, a clever follow who can see the gaps
(opportunities) in the rules. As a result,
in 1980 Schek became the only person to win an enduro
championship in the 1,300cc class aboard a 1010cc motorcycle.
The following year the FIM revised the rules to make the
open class 600cc plus.
1981, at the Isle of Elba, Herbert Schek entered his 25th
ISDT. He says, “After the event, an officer of the OMK
came to congratulate me. He said that 25 was a record
that could never be bettered, and now it was time for
me to step down for the younger ones.” Schek shakes his
head in disbelief, “It is an attitude I simply cannot
understand. Why would one ever quit?” (Schek's record
of 25 ISDT/Es held until 2006 when American Jeff Fredette
surpassed that number in New Zealand.) Schek went on to
prepare BMW rally bikes for the French distributor, whose
riders Hubert Auriol and Gaston Rahier won the Rallye
Paris Dakar in both 1983 and 1984 (Pictured above is Rahier
aboard his Schek-prepared Paris Dakar BMW). Schek also
has ridden Paris Dakar fifteen times, winning the Marathon
Class in 1984 before he was refused a racing license due
to his age. Still, Herbert Schek (pictured above) rides
on, and today der Lange aus Wangen remains one
of the most popular
figures in German vintage enduro competition, where he
can be seen week after week, pushing his original red
Schek BMW to the starting line.
photos provided by Leo Keller.
in 1951, Leo Keller (pictured here) rode his first Gelaendefahrt
in 1972. In 1995, he began to ride vintage enduros,
participating all over Europe
and three times
at the ISDT Reunion Ride in the United
States, 2001 through
2003. He writes a monthly “Klassik” page in the German
magazine Enduro, plus features in Enduro
and the Australian magazine VMX. He is
author of the books “KTM: Motorraeder seit 1953” and “Enduros
und Galaendesmotorraeder – Germany
1960 – 2006,” and has written features for Motohistory
about Sachs/Hercules (See Motohistory News & Views
and DKW/MZ (See Motohistory News & Views 4/10/2007).
remembrance of Herb Schek
as we were preparing the above story for publication,
we received an E-mail from Paul Dean, Vice President/Senior
Editor for Cycle World Magazine. As he mentions
in his message below, in 1972 he worked for Yankee Motor
Company. Dean wrote:
your latest Motohistory update, there's a mention of Herbert
Schek, a factory BMW rider in the 1972 ISDT. I was National
Service Manager for Yankee Motor Company at the time and
attended that event to head up the support team for both
brands. We had our OSSAs and Yankees garaged next to the
BMW team, and Schek seemed particularly interested in
the 500cc Yankee two-stroke Twins. The BMWs, as I'm sure
you know, were Boxer four-stroke Twins but with lots of
unobtanium pieces, and they used short-rod engines that
allowed the heads to be tucked in more
than on the streetbikes. Still, they were damned big bikes
to be wrestling through the woods in the mountains near
the Polish border, and all of us on the YMC team speculated
on the weight of those bikes and the formidable challenge
of riding them.
On the afternoon of the day before the start of the event,
Schek came into our garage and introduced himself, and
asked if he could sit on one of the Yankees. I said he
could, so he sauntered over to the one Barry Higgins would
ride, climbed aboard and, after bouncing the front end
up-and-down a few times, leaned the bike over first one
way and then the other while still in the saddle. He got
a puzzled look on his face, and after a moment of apparent
contemplation, did it again. Schek, who was a tall man
with an athletic physique, then got off, stood beside
the bike and leaned it way over to the left, almost as
though he was going to lay it on its side, before picking
it back up and propping it on its sidestand. He turned,
looked at me and, without a trace of emotion, simply said,
“Heavy.” He then thanked me and returned to the BMW garage,
where he surely told his teammates about the two-wheeled
tanks those poor Americans were being forced to ride.
In stock form, Yankees weighed about 330 pounds, and in
ISDT trim, they were right around 300. If Schek thought
the Yankees were heavy, one can only imagine how light
those factory BMW ISDT bikes must have been.
of Herbert Schek at the ISDT in Czechoslovakia in 1972
by Dave Armbrust.
celebration of the centenary of the birth of Philip Vincent
– March 14, 1908 – Motohistory is developing a monograph
that will publish writings in tribute to the man and the
machine by an international roster of famous Vincent historians,
technicians, and speedsters. It will be posted as a Motohistory
Special Feature on March 14, 2008.
Cannonball Baker, Part Two
we explored the development of rotary-valve engines by
Erwin “Cannonball” Baker, and examined patents he received
for the technology from 1934 through 1948 (See Motohistory
News & Views 1/29/2008). Baker achieved considerable
success with this project, having completed a marathon
ride across the United States on a motorcycle with a rotary-valve
engine of his own construction in 1941 (pictured below).
Baker continued development of this idea after the Second
World War, and built a second and far more sophisticated
prototype in 1948. Both motorcycles still exist. The earlier
example can be seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Hall of Fame Museum, and the later model is owned by the
Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
our research into the mechanical mind of Erwin Baker,
we learned that he also took a serious interest in fuel
economy, receiving four patents between 1940 and 1947.
Baker's pursuit of better fuel economy was based on the
idea that a more finely-integrated fuel/air mixture would
result in improved combustion and greater efficiency.
He first looked for a way to more thoroughly atomize fuel
flowing into an engine, then later he sought ways to take
the fuel/air charge beyond an atomized mixture to a true
gaseous state. All of his designs were fixtures intended
to be retro-fitted onto any internal-combustion engine.
first fuel economy patent (#2,194,377), awarded in 1940,
was for a simple device that could be installed between
the base of a carburetor and its manifold. Pictured here,
it was a double-conical device
that was suspended by wires within the throat of the intake
manifold. This device had rows of sharp edges that Baker
described as “knife-like in character,” which he believed
would help break up fuel droplets as they flowed into
the engine, thus better atomizing the fuel. He also argued
that the conical shape would function as a venture, which
would, as he stated in his patent application, “accelerate
the movement of the vapors through the intake manifold
into the engine.” The device seems naïve in its simplicity,
and any Motohistory reader who dates back to the 1960s
will surely be reminded of the little spinning fan device
sold by J.C. Whitney that, when installed between the
carburetor and manifold, would supposedly improve economy
and engine performance. Baker's patent application makes
no reference to experience or results, so we don't know
whether he actually built and tested such a device.
second fuel economy patent (#2,333,628), awarded in 1943,
is aimed at “cooking” the fuel/air mixture beyond atomization
to a gaseous state. Though it has no moving parts, it
is far more complex than his first idea, but, again, is
designed to be retro-fitted onto any engine. Literally,
this device (pictured above) is like a muffler through
which the fuel/air charge flows through a long passage
of coiled tubes. The exhaust from the engine is attached
to one end, and exits from the other, and in between it
heats the mixture to a level almost as hot as the exhaust
itself. Baker even asserts that the device will have a
secondary benefit of functioning as a muffler, possibly
even eliminating the need for a conventional muffling
device. One cannot help but question the wisdom of this
concept. The idea of a super-heated fuel charge flowing
through yards and yards of coiled tubing inside a hot
muffler sitting atop the engine, under the hood of a car,
seems a bit unnerving; especially when we consider what
corrosive exhaust gasses do to metal over time. To this
we add the possibility of metal fatigue, exacerbated by
a constantly vibrating engine, and we seem to have a nice,
hot Molotov Cocktail waiting to happen, right in front
of the passenger compartment.
1945 and 1947, Baker applied for patents on more sophisticated
versions of this device, each aimed at using exhaust gasses
to heat the fuel mixture entering the engine. The 1945
design (patent #2,389,714), pictured here, spreads out
the fuel/air charge through a chamber through which the
exhaust gasses pass through a kind of radiator device
designed to heat as much surface area as possible. Baker
explains that this design will “utilize heat from exhaust
gases (sic) to effect a major heat transfer therefrom
to the fuel mixture whereby that mixture is heated to
approximately the temperature of those exhaust gases.”
Again, he claims that the device will double as a muffler.
Information provided in this patent application suggests
that Baker actually built and tested a prototype of this
device, claiming that he has consistently achieved 40
miles per gallon, on the highway and in town. He even
explains that the jets in the carburetor must be reduced
when such a device is used, because less fuel is required.
final fuel economy design (patent #2,422,517), shown here,
is based on the same principle, except now the fuel charge
is routed through an exhaust-heated spiral passage, outward
to the ends of the muffler-like canister before it is
drawn into the manifold. Baker claims to have discovered
that the more hot surface area the fuel passes over, the
better will be the results. Consequently, in each of his
subsequent designs he has found ways to create more heating
surface for the fuel within a canister of reasonable size
(about 18 inches long) to be installed atop the engine
and under the hood of a conventional automobile. But still,
one must consider the safety issues of such a device,
mounted just feet away from the front-seat passengers
of said automobile.
when viewed in conjunction with the remarkable work that
Erwin Baker did with development of a rotary-valve engine,
his search for better fuel economy makes it clear that
this was a man of considerable creative genius, mechanical
ability, and skill for fabrication. He was far more complex
than his popular image as a “cannonball” who ceaselessly
piloted cars and motorcycles from coast to coast.
photo provided by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
about cop cycles
got a good reaction to Gary Smith's story about the development
of the police Moto Guzzi (See Motohistory News & Views
so we invited him back to tell us more about cop cycles.
a recent article for Motohistory, I related the history
of the Moto Guzzi police motorcycle designed for
the LAPD. In the mid-1960s, prior to the Moto Guzzi, other
motorcycles were tested for police use. The photo
shown here is a 1966 Honda 450cc police version loaned
to the LAPD by Honda for testing. I was one of many
chosen to test the Honda 450 on the LA freeways. It handled
nicely but was way underpowered. And, believe it or not,
it leaked oil (Shhhhhh! Don't say anything to H-D about
that). We also road tested BMW, Triumph 650s, Indian/Enfield,
BSAs, and a Harley with a huge white fairing on it. We
referred to this Harley as "the flying taco!"
I rode them all before the Guzzi came along, but
none fit the bill.
Honda came out with its CB750 Four, they did sell some
to the LAPD, and later some had the Hondamatic transmissions.
As the Honda 750s came in use at the LAPD, apparently
the management felt no need to familiarize the riders
with the first police bike having a disc front brake.
Consequently, one of the old-timer Harley riders
grabbed a handful of front brake, locked up the front
wheel, and dumped his bike, breaking his elbow in
the process. He sued Honda for "defective" brakes
(they actually worked, compared to the old H-D front drum)
and Honda said “bye-bye” to the police bike business
for many years, due to concern for liability.
I retired from the LAPD, I went to Honda as an employee
in 1981, and one of the first jobs they gave me was to
reinvestigate the police bike market. I had several Japanese
Honda Police 750s shipped to me, and I outfitted
them with correct lighting for local use and loaned
them to several police departments for trial. Most
of the cops who tested them were "Harley"
boys who felt that a 750cc bike was not big enough for
police work. I figured that if the Japanese can do
it, why can't we? But, alas, the Harley mystique still
held sway with most cops. Soon, Kawasaki
into the police bike market, and not long after that the
company was hit with a very large class action suit
from officers in Texas, I
that time, most police radio equipment was large and heavy,
and departments mounted it on the back fender over the
rear wheel. They were of different brands and sizes, and
there was no common mounting procedure. Some of the radio equipment
actually hung over the back fender, and allegedly contributed
to wobbles and crashes. Later, Kawasaki
remedied this problem by mounting shock absorbers
on the radio boxes that fastened to the rear fender, similar
to the anti-shimmy absorbers on the front forks of some
the law suits were all settled and Kawasaki
dominated the police market for many years. It still supplies
police motorcycles, but to a limited degree. Both
Harley and Kawasaki
have gained enough "case law" from previous
law suits that they can still compete in the police market.
Once again, Honda dropped the idea of police bikes after
hearing of Kawaski's problems.
gives a big boost to a company's reputation to sell cars
and motorcycles to police departments. Most people think
that police only buy "the best" automobiles
and motorcycles. The reality is that most cities with
big budgets purchase the lowest priced of the qualifying
vehicles! Specifications have stiffened over the years
with the development of ABS brakes and puncture proof
tires, but many of the old-fashioned traditions still
exist in the police motorcycle market. Footboards, so-called
"crash bars,” and engines that are at least 800cc
are mostly the rule. The specifications for most police
bikes still maintain "Harley-like"
standards. Even though current smaller engines can produce
double the horsepower of a Harley, there is still a preference
for larger engines.
on my 16 years as a motor cop, I believe the modern
urban motor patrolman could do most his duties aboard
one of the newer, more powerful scooters, but traditions
prevail. For example, motor cops still wear the high leather
boots and the riding breeches used since the Roaring
Twenties, and although some departments are now switching
to more of a “fatigue" type uniform, most still wear
the traditional outfits in the United States. Obviously,
old customs and traditions die hard, especially for cops.
Would I ride a scooter in law enforcement? Maybe. I remember
riding a 250cc Honda Helix while working the Sturgis Rally
for Honda. One would have thought that the world was coming
to an end to see a scooter on the streets of Sturgis,
and I got a few laughs from the tattooed guys, until I
blew them off the line from stoplights!
whole police bike market has changed in some ways, but
in other ways it has not. Honda is back in the market
(I think they waited until I retired to do it), and BMW
is going strong. Harley is back as if they never left,
and I suspect that forces using BMWs are suffering
from parts availability, just as we experienced with
Moto Guzzi. I hear rumors that the departments that have
the Beemers are starting to feel the squeeze of the
cost of maintenance. In some cases, the motorcycle companies
have subsidized the cost and maintenance of their police
models in order to get and keep their products in use.
police models are starting to appear more frequently.
After serving police needs in Europe
for many years, the Honda police model is now being accepted
in the United
But only time will tell how these newer styles of
police bikes survive. As for Harley, well.... how can
they go wrong? The bike is still thought of as the “traditional”
police motorcycle, and it is basically the same bike it
was when I rode them as a cop. Yeah, I know, many will
say they are better now. And in many ways they are,
but they handle like all the big bikes and still have
quality problems when cops beat them up in constant use.
The field of police motorcycles has always been controversial
and dangerous, and it probably always will be. Maybe
that's why I loved it so much!
off anniversary year
February 2, the Penton Owners Group held its annual meeting
at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, kicking off a year
of celebration for the fortieth anniversary of the Penton
motorcycle, and the tenth anniversary of the POG. The
guest of honor was Kalman Cseh, the KTM employee who served
as John Penton's consultant, guide, and interpreter when
he traveled Europe to lay plans to build the Penton motorcycle
in late 1967 (To read our interview with Cseh, see Motohistory
News & Views 12/23/2007). Pictured above are Cseh
and Penton, both of whom spoke and answered questions
about Penton history at the meeting.
club also brought together Pentons numbers one, two, and
three, pictured here, for the first time the motorcycles
have been together since they made their debut appearance
at the Stone Mountain Enduro in 1968. John Penton is standing
on the left with Penton V001, which is very likely the
motorcycle he rode at Stone Mountain. The motorcycle is
owned by Ohio Honda/KTM dealer Dale Barris. Dallas York,
owner of Penton V002, is in the center, and on the right
is Al Born, owner of Penton V003. Born was the original
owner of number three, and the first man to buy a Penton
motorcycle. The POG is planning other major events during
2008 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Penton.
For more information, click here.
Concours to feature
& Butterfields will host its second annual auction
at the Legend of the Motorcycle International Concours
d'Elegance at the Ritz Carlton Hotel at Half Moon Bay,
California on May 3. This year's event will feature the
Michael Corbin collection, consisting of 20 motorcycles,
collectibles, and art. For more information about the
Legend of the Motorcycle Concours, click here.
Motogiros in America in 2008
several years, the Motogiro USA, conducted in the Northeastern
United States, has provided a timed road competition for
small motorcycles, based loosely on the legendary Motogiro
d'Italia. This year, two such events will be offered,
on May 3 and 4 in Roxbury, New York, then in New Hampshire
in September on dates yet to be announced. For information
on the Motogiro USA, click here.
addition, the MotoGiro America will be conducted in Northern
California this coming July 13 through 20. Prior to departure
from Monterey on July 13, there will be a symposium on
Italian design and a Concours d'Elegance sponsored by
the Ducati Vintage Club. Classes for the five-day event
will include Vintage Racing, Touring, 70s Twin, Supersport,
and Vespa. For more information, click here.
into History Concours
for May 17
Riding into History Concours d'Elegance will be held at
on May 17. In addition to the concours, there will be
a historical ride, charity rides, and a Biker's Ball.
“On Any Sunday” star and former AMA Grand National Champion
Mert Lawwill will be the grand marshal for this year's
event, which will benefit the Buddy Check 12 breast cancer
more information, click here.
Any Sunday" Reunion
for May 21
Orange County Dualies will present an "On Any Sunday"
Reunion at the Regal Big Six Theater at Fashion Island,
Newport Beach, California on May 21. The event,
featuring personalities from the film from both in front
of and behind the camera, will include an outdoor expo
a 3 p.m., an autograph session at 5, and the movie at
8. The event will benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor
Foundation. For more information, click here.
For information about the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation,
watch a video tribute to 1970 and 1973 AMA Class A Hill
Climb National Champion Carl Wickstrand,
you own a Taco minibike, or were you
insanely jealous of the kid next door who did? For a minibike
ride down memory lane, click here.
check out Ray Ninnis's classic racing
photos, click here.
For his home page, click here.
contact the Confederate Chapter of the
Antique Motorcycle Club of America, click
often find reasons to link to the main web site of the
American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association.
However, there are also some good, independently-run web
sites dedicated to regional vintage racing activity. To
check out the AHRMA Northwest Motocross
site, click here,
or to find the AHRMA Southwest site,
was one of America's great pioneers of motocross, racing
in Europe and Down Under before most of his contemporaries
had ever heard of motocross. To access an excellent web
site about his career and his contribution to early motocross,
in 1975 when Jimmy Ellis showed his
competition the taste of "canned ham?"
If so, you will probably enjoy Mike Rydman's Classic Can-Am
web site. click here.
to see what a motorcycle with a Ferrari 308
engine looks like? Click here to
go to Randakk's site, then scroll down.
And, by the way, if you happen to be tooling around on
a GL1000 equipped with nitrous, turbo, or multiple carbs,
he'll give you free entry to his 2008 rally.
you looking for an art print of a 1976 Honda RCB1000
for your bedroom wall? Click here.
to honor Dick Mann
Nor Cal Classic
Lackey's Third Annual Northern California Classic, featuring
AHRMA vintage and post-vintage classes, will honor Dick
Mann as one of AHRMA's 2008 Legends of Motocross. The
event, scheduled to take place March 15 and 16 at the
Sandhill Ranch in Brentwood,
is sponsored by McGuire Harley-Davidson. For information,
E-mail Lackey at Bradlackey@comcast.net.
17th Annual Beezumph Rally at Cadwell Park in England,
organized by the Rocket III/Trident Owners Club, will
celebrate the first Trans-Atlantic Match Race, which took
place in 1971. Birmingham Small Arms, the builder of BSA
and Triumph triples, was the principal sponsor of that
event, and riders for both teams raced the 750cc three-cylinder
machines, built on Rob North road racing frames. The event
will take place August 15 and 16. For more information,
swap meet coming
Fifth Annual International Vintage Motorcycle Show and
Swap Meet, sponsored by the Vintage Japanese and European
Motorcycle Club of North America, will take place at the
Outagamie County Fairgrounds in Seymour, Wisconsin
August 15 through 17. New on the program this year will
be the Buzz Simmons Vintage and Classic Memorial Races
on August 15, sponsored by the Badger Racing Association.
For more information on the races, click here.
For more information about the show and swap meet, click
Publishing has several new titles coming in March, including
two in its Essential Buyer's Guide Series. These include
“Triumph Bonneville: The Essential Buyer's Guide,” and
“BMW GS: The Essential Buyer's
Guide.” Both are by Peter Henshaw, are 64 pages each,
and contain 100 color images. They contain information
on how to examine and evaluate a used motorcycle, how
to buy, and how to restore. Useful contacts, including
clubs, parts suppliers, and restoration services are listed.
Each title is $19.95US or £9.99.
coming soon from Veloce is “The Ducati 860, 900, and Mille
Bible,” by Ian Falloon. The book contains a full description
of model development and racing history. Complete technical
specifications and all engine and frame numbers by model
year are included. At 160 pages with 200 images, the price
is $59.95US £29.99. To explore all of Veloce's titles,
if you are not buying or selling, Walneck's Classic
Cycle Trader, now celebrating its 30th year, is always
a good read for motohistorians. It often reprints old
road tests and magazine articles. For example, the March
issue contains road tests for the 1970 Suzuki T50, a 1924
Harley-Davidson eight-valve racer (no kidding), the 1977
Moto Guzzi 850, and a comparison of the 1975 Triumph T160
and the Norton Commando. Especially interesting is a feature
by Buzz Walneck, with color photos, about Crosley's 1939
bid for U.S. military business with an unorthodox prototype
motorcycle (pictured here) that had shaft drive, forced-air
cooling, a gearbox with reverse, electric starting, and
its fuel tank in the rear fender. Crosley, a highly
innovative company best known for its small post-war automobiles,
was also a pioneer manufacturer of refrigerators and radios.
To subscribe to Walneck's, click here.
Wood auction in 21st year
Wood's 21st Daytona Bike week Antique and Classic Motorcycle
Auction is scheduled for March 5 through 7 at Stetson
University in Deland, Florida. Wednesday, March 5, is
Japanese Day, sponsored by the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle
Club. March 6 is American, British, and European Day,
sponsored by the America Historic Racing Motorcycle Association
and the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, and will feature
a British bike parts auction at 2 p.m. The main auction
will take place at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 7. For more
information, click here.
To review early consignments, click here.
report on the First Annual Daytona 200 Monument Day (See
Motohistory News & Views 1/25/2008),
scheduled for March 5, failed to mention the starting
time for the celebration. It will be noon.
For more information, click here.
are more motorcycle cards, distributed with Lambert &
Butler's cigarettes in the United
Kingdom in 1923,
from the Ken Weingart collection.
in a series of 50:
text on the back of the card reads:
Coventry-Eagle “Super Sports 8” is popular among the “Big
Twin” Class of British-made motor cycles. The engine is
neatly housed, giving a good riding position for a sports
machine with low saddle. This machine is produced by the
Coventry-Eagle Cycle and Motor Co., of Coventry,
and is one of seven models, ranging from 1 ¾ h.p.
to 8 h.p.
in a Series of 50:
text on the back of the card reads:
with the Coventry
flat twin engine, rated at 6-8 h.p. Equipment includes
twin carburetters, with air equalizer, extra large exhaust
pipes, and special silencer; Sturmey-Archer three-speed
close ratio gear box, with cutch, all-chain drive, plated
received recently an inquiry from British bicycle historian
John Faulkner, seeking any information we might provide
about the LGC. Unfortunately, all we knew about th e LGC,
which stands for Leonard Gundle Company, is the few words
we could find in “The British Motorcycle
Directory” by Bacon and Hallworth. Surprisingly, even
Tragatsch does not make mention of the marque. Based in
LGC built delivery bicycles and trikes. According to Bacon
and Hallworth, in 1928 Gundle began to manufacture JAP-powered
a Villiers-powered lightweight to his line in 1929, and
with motorcycles until 1931. After the
Second World War, LGC
returned to the motorized market with a
Villiers-powered delivery tricycle, but never built true
out, Mr. Faulkner knew a great deal more than we did,
having discovered some LGC archives in the possession
of one of Gundle's heirs. He shares with us here an undated
product brochure and a photo of Mr. Gundle himself, riding
his namesake motorcycle on the London
to Lands End Run
in 1926, where he won a silver medal. Given the date of
this photo, we must assume that either Gundle was riding
a pre-production prototype (the initials LGC are clearly
visible on the tank), or that our reference literature
is incorrect in reporting that LGC motorcycles were not
produced until 1928.
our story by Gary Smith entitled “The Goose Patrol,” (See
Motohistory News & Views 1/31/2008)
Roger Stang wrote:
Ed. Enjoyed your piece on the Goose Patrol. You
might get a little chuckle out of an experience I had.
In the late 1960s, I was a Berliner dealer in the East
In late 1969 or early 1970, I sold the first Moto Guzzi
police bike in Northern
to the Walnut Creek Police Department. The first
officer to be assigned the bike was named George (I can't
remember his last name) and he found the bike so nimble,
compared to the H-D he'd been riding, that one day he
couldn't resist the temptation, and decided to spend his
lunch hour at our local hill climbing venue. Needless
to say, the bike came into the shop on a truck with a
red-faced George not far behind. We put it back
together and got George back on the street. When
I left to join Norton Villiers, the Moto Guzzis we had
placed with the department were still running, much to
the chagrin of our local H-D dealer!
Roger, the story about the police Guzzis was so popular
that we asked Officer Smith for a little more about the
history of modern police motorcycles.
Mr. Stang was once the ceo of Norton-Villiers-Triumph
in the United States, and served for a period as Chairman
of the Board of the American Motorcyclist Association.