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Motohistory Quiz #50

We have a winner!



Quiz 50Bruce Williams, of Cortland, Ohio, was the first to identify the engine in our Motohistory Quiz #50 as a Royal Pioneer, built in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1909 and 1910. Only about 500 were built, and there was not even a full 1910 model year, since the factory burned to the ground in March, 1910. The first Pioneer motorcycle, designed by Emil Hafelfinger, was introduced in 1901, but taken off the market in 1903. It was a diamond-frame single similar to the Indian, but its engine was not a stressed member of the frame. In 1907, the Pioneer reappeared with a larger engine and front suspension. Two years later, the radically differenRoyal Pioneert and highly-advanced Royal Pioneer was introduced, boasting an overhead-valve engine with hemispherical combustion chamber and an exhaust system that routed into the frame. It also had four twist grips, one each for gas, air, spark, and compression release.


With a rather complex valve train of rods (they were actually pull-rods Royal Pioneer Enginerather than push-rods) and rockers, it was not a high-speed engine, but is reported to have produced four to five horsepower from its 500cc capacity. This example is owned by Bruce Linsday of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and is currently on display at the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio. About the overhead-valve configuration (shown here), Linsday says, “This was a highly-advanced design for its time. If they had just tilted the valves about 45 degrees into the hemispherical combustion chamber, they would have had a truly modern engine design.”  Linsday reports that only three complete Royal Pioneers, plus a partial bike, are known to exist. For another photo of the Royal Pioneer on the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum site, click here.


Bruce Williams now joins the elite list of double-winners of our Motohistory Quiz, having identified a rare Windhoff motorcycle featured in our quiz on April 26, 2007. Congratulations, Bruce, your Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way.


Thanks to Bruce and Inga Linsday for providing the cutaway drawing of the Royal Pioneer engine.


The Goose Patrol

By Gary Smith



Gary on GooseThe Los Angeles Police Department has one of the largest motorcycle squads in the world. Numbering around 400, the brands of motorcycles used by the Department have varied over the past twenty years, but it wasn't always so. When I joined the Traffic Enforcement Division of LAPD in 1961, the only bike available to motor cops was the Harley-Davidson. Over the years, Harley had been the mainstay for police bikes around the country to such a degree that most police agencies had developed specifications for purchasing police motorcycles that were literally Harley specs. Several other companies tried to enter the market in the early 60s, but failed to overcome the Harley advantage. Foreign makes such as Triumph, BSA, BMW, and Honda all made bids for the job, but failed to meet the requirements of the LAPD. In addition, a law still existed on the books in California that prohibited agencies from buying foreign-made vehicles for government use. Other reasons for their failure were, they were “too small” or “under-powered” or they just didn't “look” like police bikes.


In 1967, Berliner Motors, the Moto Guzzi motorcycle distributor for the US market, approached the LAPD with a proposal. They would build a police unit to the specific designs of the department! Having gained the interest of the LAPD, the Guzzi distributor then set to work to overcome the law prohibiting the purchase of foreign vehicles. Once that obstacle was eliminated, the LAPD decided to take Moto Guzzi up on the proposal, and began testing their vehicles for performance. After the first stock Moto Guzzi loaners were tested by the street cops, an experienced motor officer and a representative of the Motor Transport Division were selected to travel to Milan, Italy where the Moto Guzzi factory wasScotty on Goose located, and advise the designers of the requirements for the new police bike. There were many obstacles to overcome. First, there was no current motorcycle produced by Moto Guzzi that even came close to what was needed. So, they made one from the ground up!


George “Scotty” Henderson (pictured to the right in Italy and below during testing in Southern California), the Traffic Enforcement Division officer chosen for the mission to Italy, said, “They literally designed a bike right before my eyes. When we got to work with the design engineers, we were given Carte Blanch for ideas on how to make the motorcycle.” Since many of the “Harley oriented” specifications still existed (and many still exist today), some original designing was done. “We had to have a foot shift on the left side and the rear brake pedal on the right side. Many European bikes still shifted on the right at that time,” Henderson related. “They designed a linkage so the shift lever and the rear brake lever could be reversed. Of course, that made the bike shift up into first gear and down into the other three gears.” It was decided that the direction of shifting was not that important, so they proceeded. Handlebars, side stand, foot boards, seat and all other parts of the machine Scotty testingwere designed and fit around the 750cc V-twin Moto Guzzi engine. After several weeks of design and redesign, testing, and hassles between Moto Guzzi executives, the final product came forth.


In the summer of 1969, ten LAPD motor officers were called to a meeting attended by police management and representatives from the motorcycle company. I, and the other nine officers were assigned the first foreign-made police motorcycles used in Los Angeles. Most of us were excited and pleased to get off the, shall I say, less agile Harley-Davidsons. Some of the old-time officers mis-pronounced the name as “Moto Goosey,” and the bike soon was nicknamed “The Goose.” It handled beautifully, had more ground clearance than the Harley, and a drive shaft. The new bikes were also equipped with Pirelli tires that seemed to enhance the bike's capabilities on the street. The “Goose Patrol” gave the new bikes rave notices and the city bought a large number of the Moto Guzzi “Police Special,” a model that later appeared on the public market as the Eldorado. The Gooses rewrote the book for police motorcycles and made it possible for Kawasaki, BMW, and Honda (for a while) to get into the police market.


For Wikipedia's history of Moto Guzzi, click here. To reach the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club Gary Smithweb site, click here. To reach the LAPD web site, click here. For Wikipedia's report on the LAPD, click here.


About the author:           

Gary Smith is a retired LAPD officer who served 23 years on the department and 16 years on the motor squad, compiling over 300,000 miles on motorcycles in the line of duty. He worked 18 years with American Honda Motor Co., during which time he served on the Board of Trustees of the American Motorcyclist Association. He is now semi-retired and helps manage the Honda Hoot Motorcycle Rally in Knoxville, Tennessee. Smith started riding in 1950, and off the job has owned a Triumph, a Suzuki, a Guzzi, and five Hondas. He currently rides a 2002 Gold Wing.

Photos provided by Gary Smith.



Motohistory Quiz #50



Quiz #50Okay, kids, it's time for another Motohistory Quiz.

To move to the top of the class, tell us the brand of this engine and its nation of origin. The first person to give us the correct answer will received a personalized Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma.

For extra credit, tell us its year of production (plus or minus a year) and the name of the designer of this unusual engine, and we'll send you a Motohistory winter cap.

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



The MZs at Sinsheim

By Ralf Kruger



Recently, during the year-end holidays, I had an opportunity to visit a special exhibition entitled "MZ Racebikes" at the technical museum in Sinsheim, Germany.  This is not strictly a motorcycle museum, but includes a broad range of technology, such as aircraft, military equipment, steam Walter Kaadenlocomotives, and automobiles. The special exhibition of motorcycles included eight different MZ two-stroke racing motorcycles from the era of renowned engineer Walter Kaaden (pictured here), from 1955 through 1975.


In the spring of 1953, MZ technical chief Alfred Liebers was lucky enough to hire Kaaden to be manager and chief engineer for a newly-created racing department.  Liebers was impressed with the results that Kaaden had achieved as a privateer with his homemade 100cc DKW RT3. Since 1951, Kaaden's bike had featured a custom-made cylinder and a tuned exhaust system. Lieber was especially interested in this feature because DKW had begun to experiment with exhaust tuning for more power prior to the Second World War.  Kaaden was one of the pioneers who tuned expansion chambers not only by trial and error, but with scientific method. Thanks to his development of the expansion 1955 MZchamber, and his use of rotary- disc valves, Kaaden became the undisputed father of modern two-stoke technology.


The motorcycles on display at the Sinsheim Museum, in chronological order, were the following:


The oldest machine of the show was a 125cc single that delivered 13.5 horsepower at 9,500 rpm (pictured above). With a four-speed gearbox, 1955 MZ detailit was capable of 94 mph.  The motorcycle was built in 1955 for MZ factory team riders Siegfried Haase, Erhart Krumpholz, Bernhard Petruschke, and Horst Fügner, who won the German Democratic Republic National Championship.   The engine of this bike is air-cooled and is one of the first designs to feature a rotary-disc valve mounted on the side of the crankcase.  This design was invented by Daniel Zimmermann and kept secret until the end of 1952.   An additional unusual feature is the 1958 MZtwin exhaust port with two separate pipes without end cones.


The second-oldest bike on display was a 1958 racing prototype (pictured here) with a sloping 125cc single cylinder, which Kaaden developed in 1956 and '57, and which was never rolled to the starting grid.  The bike on display has the by-now typical rotary-disc valve on the side of the1958 MZ detail engine, axiel-mounted and driven from the crank.  But there was also a rotary-disc valve type with the disc located on the upper cases, driven by a 90-degree screw worm. This design, however, was not successful because the drive mechanism generated too much heat at high speed. Typical for MZ is the execution of the pipe directly from the rear of the cylinder, but now the exhaust features a resonating expansion chamber.  This air-cooled engine has a maximum power output of 22 horsepower at 11,000 rpm.


1961 MZNext, there was the RE 250cc two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled model from 1961 (shown here).  It was the first version fitted with a telescopic fork with forged sliders (shown below), which replaced the Earls-type fork used previously. It followed the design of the famous Norton Roadholder fork. The motorcycle features a single backbone frame, 1961 MZ detailwhich tended to show signs of exessive flexing during competition. The motorcycle on display has the pipe flange on the rear of the cylinder. There were also versions with the pipe flange on the front of the engine, intended to improve cooling. But these were not successful.  Perhaps better cooling was won at the expense of more erratic carburetor performance, and the front-exiting exhaust may have destabilized temperature in the expansion chamber.  At any rate, the design was unreliable and disappointing.  As a result, Kaaden turned back to his first design with rear-mounted exhaust flanges.  At the beginning of the 1961 season, this machine produced 47horsepower at 10,500 rpm.  MZ's team riders on the RE250 1962 MZin pursuit of the World Championship were Ernst Degner and Allan Shepherd.


Next on display was the tiny RE50 from 1962 (shown here). This bike was used only for a short time in the newly-created 50cc World Championship class.  Its early withdrawal from competition was not for lack of power.  1963 MX detailHowever, with such a small motorcycle, a small rider and excellent streamlining are essential, and neither was available to MZ at the time.   MZ had underestimated the speed of Kreidler's new double rotary-disc design with rider Hans-Georg Anscheidt aboard.   Furthermore, with Degner's defection and move to Suzuki, the new Suzuki RM62, with MZ's stolen technology, became the main rival.  At any rate, the motorcycle demonstrated its potention in the hands of Günter Hilbig, who had good results later in the GDR National1963 MZ Championship. The RE50 engine had a power output of 10.8 horsepower at an astonishing 13,400 rpm and was endowed with an eight speed gearbox.


Next in order, one could gaze on the 1963 RE125 (shown here), still owned by Siegfried Merkel from Zwickau, who raced it as a novice in 1967 and 1968.  Previously, the bike was owned by1963 MZ detail the MZ works team and participated in the World Championship series. The 125cc engine has a watercooled head and cylinder for the first time, and generated 26 to 28 horsepower. It has a six-speed gearbox and could achieve 116 mph. Its single cylinder no longer has a double exhaust like the earlier MZs.


Then came the 1969 MZ 125 RE II (shown below). This bike features for the first time a tandem design, with two cylinders located in a front-to-back configuration.  1969 MZIt was put into service in 1970 in the 125cc World Championship.  Its greatest achievement was a third place at the Isle of Man TT, earned by factory rider Günter Bartusch. The following year, MZ withdrew from FIM World Championship 125cc class.  The development cost of the highl1969 MZ detaily specialized engines was too much for Walter Kaaden's budget to bear.  He just could not get the funds he needed from the MZ board.  The specifications are: two-cylinder two-stroke, 43mm x 43mm bore and stroke, 34 horsepower at 11,500 rpm, six-speed gearbox, and top speed of 128 mph.


The 1971 MZ RE 125 (shown below)was the second bike in the exhibit owned by of Siegfried Merkel.  It was raced by him in 1971 MZWorld Championship competition in Brünn, Salzburg, and Hockenheim, in addition to international races that took place in Eastern Germany.  The engine is nearly the same as the 1963 model's power plant. Both use a single-cylinder, two-stroke with rotary-disc valve, though by 1971 the power had been increased to 34 horsepower at 12,000 rpm. Its main dimensions are 54mm x 54mm for bore and stroke.  The gearbox is six-speeds, and the top speed was 1977 MZ131 mph. The frame has a completly new design, differing from the 1963 model with a double-cradle loop.


The last machine presented in the display was a 1975 RZ 250 works racer (shown here) ridden by Finnish rider Tapio Virtanen in 1975 and 1976.  Its maximum power is an unblievable 64 horsepower at 11,500 rpm.  With the help of a six-speed gearbox, it was capable of 150 mph. Today, it is still ridden by Dieter Krause in historic races.  In 1977, MZ did not enter 1977 MZ detailthe World Championship anymore, but this bike was assigned to the West German Kuma racing team.  The machine was carefully crafted and had more than 60 horsepower. The front fork was made by MZ, and the rear shock absorbers were gas-pressurized Bilsteins. The engine cases are sandcast, split horizontally, with attached gearbox by stud bolts.  With 54mm x 54mm bore and stroke, it has liquid-cooled, aluminum alloy cylinders, and features center-drive from the crankshaft. Recirculation of the cooling fluid is by the thermosyphon principle.  It has 34mm Mikuni carburetors and a Kröber magneto ignition. 


To learn more about the technical museum at Sinsheim, click here. For a brief overview of the history of two-stroke technology (with music), click here. To read a history of DKW/MZ written by Leo Keller, go to Motohistory News & views 4/10/2007. For another history of MZ, click here. For MZ links, click here. To read the remarkable story of Ernst Degner's defection with MZ's two-stroke trechnical secrets, click here. For a bio of Walter Kaaden, in German, click here. For more about Walter Kaaden and MZ, click here.


All photos by Ralf Kruger.



The mechanical mind

of Cannonball Baker, Part One



Cannonball BakerFollowing up on our previous stories about Erwin “Cannonball” Baker's attempts to develop a revolutionary rotary-valve engine (see Motohistory News & Views 9/12/2007 and 12/7/2007) before and after the Second World War, Motohistory went looking for patents Baker might have obtained in connection with this project. What turned up was a double surprise, first because of the number of different patents Baker obtained for his rotary-valve ideas, and second because it was discovered that Baker had other engineering pursuits that we had not been aware of. As it turns out, Baker carried on development of the rotary-valve concept for almost 25 years, but he also pursued inventions aimed at improving fuel economy throughout the 1940s, the era when wartime rationing first taught Americans that petroleum products can become a dear commodity.


Baker, pictured above after a transcontinental record ride in 1914, began development of a Cross-type rotary valve in 1929, a few years after Roland Cross began work on the concept in England (we have not yet discovered any documented contact between Baker and Cross), and he demonstrated the viability of the design with a trouble-free transcontinental crossing aboard a motorcycle with a prototype rotary-valve engine in May, 1941. Baker continued his work on the design at least as late as 1948, and the prototype engines he built in 1941 and 1948 still exist. Between 1934 and 1948, Baker obtained four patents for rotary-valve designs and supporting components that will be described below.


The attraction of the rotary-valve concept is that it eliminates the reciprocating motion of a conventional valve train, including valves, push rods, and rocker arms. However, the advantage of a conventional valve is that the greater the cylinder pressure, the harder the valve is pressed into its seat, thus eliminating any possibility of leakage from a properly-seated valve. To the contrary, because a rotary-valve sits on the outside of the combustion chamber, compression tries to push the valve away, causing leakage, and the higher the pressure the bigger the problem. Thus, the valve must be held tightly against the port in the cylinder head, and the tighter it is held, the more friction is created by the rotating cylinder. And, lubrication Baker 1used to overcome this friction can be scraped off into the combustion chamber, contaminating the combustible gasses in the chamber to create smoke and residue.


Baker's first patented design (#1,969,734, shown here) was intended to overcome these problems. In application for the patent, he wrote, “It is my object to produce a mechanism in which the rotary valve will adequately confine the gases (sic) under pressure in the engine in order to prevent leakage and loss of power; in which the valve will at all times run freely without scoring in the casing which encloses it; and in which oil will be definitely excluded from contact with the gases that pass through the engine, whereby to prevent the formation of smoke resulting from burning or heating of any such oil.” Tangential to Baker's expressed purpose for this patent, his text and drawings reveal some additional novel ideas for rotary valve design. For example, he writes about a single rotary valve that has channels carved into it for both intake and exhaust, or two separate rotary valves that handle intake and exhaust separately. In addition, each of these can have one or two channels. With two separate valves, Baker is able to reduce the valve's rotational speed by half in relation to crankshaft speed, and with two channels in the twin valves, he is able to reduce valve speed by half again, Baker 10making the valves turn at one-quarter crank speed, thereby greatly reducing friction and lubrication requirements. Secondly, with this patent application, Baker reveals what may have been his greatest technical breakthrough in the development of his rotary- valve, and this is the use of porous carbon, rather than metal, for the valve cylinder.


In this case, the carbon valve cylinder (shown here) is not perfectly round. Rather, it has sides that are very slightly flattened so that it actually functions like a cam. The reason for this is that Baker has provided a spring-loaded roller (shown below)that presses the cylinder against the port in the combustion chamber. The cam action of the cylinder it timed so that itBaker 1reciprocates very slightly, pressing hard against the port only when pressure is needed to maintain compression, but relaxing and backing away slightly when compression is not taking place. As a result, the valve cylinder is not constantly grinding hard against the port or the head. Baker explains, “I have found that in a rotary valve of the type described the amount of wear and any tendency to Baker 3score may be materially reduced by reciprocating the valve axially as it rotates.”


In 1939, Baker obtained a patent (#2,156,749, shown here) for an idea that takes an ingenious and non-mechanical approach to modulating the pressure on the rotary valve against the combustion chamber port. Rather than springs and rollers, this time he proposes a hydraulic method to apply pressure against the rotating valve, controlled by a pump, driven by the Baker 4crankshaft, increasing and decreasing the pressure, as needed with each stroke of the piston. The metering of the pump to modulate hydraulic pressure inside a flexible-walled chamber eliminates the need to shape the valve cylinder like a cam, and with no springs and rollers, there will be less mechanical wear.

In a third patent, obtained in 1945 (#2,370,283, shown here), it becomes clear why Baker has chosen carbon, rather than metal, for his rotary-valve cylinder. This patent is for a pressurized oiling system that actually lubricates the valve from the inside out, forcing oil into the center and through the porous carbon cylinder so that lubricant constantly flows outward toward the surface that turns against Baker 5the metallic cylinder head and port. Baker claims that his experiments have revealed that, with running, the surface of the valve actually “builds up” rather than wears down, improving its compatibility with the channel in which the valve rotates.  He states in his patent application, "A further feature of the invention is in employing a lubricant having carbonaceous elements, whereby when subjected to heat, a film will be carbonized or baked over that portion of the face of the valve coming in contact with the heat resultant from combustion within the motor and thus providing a smooth glazed substantially non-wearing surface around the valve.


A fourth and final patent obtained in 1948 (#2,437,181, shown above and below) embodies Baker's rotary valve research in its complete and refined form. Now, rather than attempt to press a Baker 6rotating valve against a stationary head and combustion chamber port, Baker has created a cage in which the valve rides under adjustable spring pressure, and the entire cage reciprocates slightly toward and away from the mouth of the cylinder of the engine, thereby absorbing the force of compression while the rotary valve is free to turn under a nearly-constant and controllable pressure not affected by the changing pressure of combustion. The drawings submitted with this patent are so complete and detailed, it is clear that this is no mere theoretical design. In fact, it appears that these may be the actual engineering drawings for the 1948 Bakery rotary-valve proBaker Motorcycletotype that currently resides at the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, pictured here.  For more on this motorcycle, see Motohistory News &

Views 12/7/2007.


As reported above, discovered with Baker's patents for rotary-valve designs were other Baker patents related to his ideas for improving fuel economy. These will be addressed in Part Two of "The mechanical mind of Cannonball Baker" in a future Motohistory Update.


Researching Baker's mechanical mind

with a little help from our friends:

We are grateful to Johnny Sells, owner of Vintage Motorcycle Works, for his assistance with Johnny Sellsresearch into the patents applied for by Erwin Baker. Sells (shown here) is the undisputed patent research guru in the American vintage motorcycle community. Under the title of “History of Motorcycle Design,” he has reproduced many volumes of patents that we believe are essential to the library of every American motohistorian. Even if you don't need them for frequent reference, they are so beautiful to look at! To read our report about Sells' series of patent facsimile books, go to Motohistory News & Views 8/1/2005. To learn more about Sells' work, click here.

Photo of Baker rotary-valve motorcycle provided by the Wheels Through Time Museum.



AHRMA Legends announced



Ekins and MinertThe American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Legends Group has announced its honorees for the 2008 Legends of Motocross Vintage National Series and Legends of Cross Country Vintage National Series. They include Chuck Minert, Bud Ekins, Chuck Sun, Bill Baird, Dick Mann, Steve Stackable, Jack Penton, Marty Tripes, Sonny DeFeo, Marcia MacDonald, Don Cutler, Mike Bell, Gary Bailey, Paul Hunt, and Preston Petty. Pictured here are the late Bud Ekins and Chuck Minert, photographed on November 4, 2006 at the White Brothers World Veteran Motocross Championship at Glen Helen, in California. To reach the AHRMA web site, click here.


Photo provided by Tom White.



Badger is back for vintage



Years ago, the Badger Racing Association, based in Wisconsin, offered a non-AMA alternative for dirt track racers in the upper Midwest. It has just been announced that Badger is back, primarily to promote vintage dirt track racing, though modern classes may be included as well. Badger says it will generally follow the class structure and format used at the vintage dirt track races held annually at the Davenport AMCA National Meet. Badger will host the Buzz Simmons Memorial Race – named for the man behind the original Badger organization – in Seymour, Wisconsin on August 15, 2008, in conjunction with the International Vintage Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet. To learn more about Badger on line, click here.



From the web



To view the historical motorcycle photos in the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society, click here.

To reach the Mobile Bay Vintage Motorcycle Club, click here


Jarmo Haapamaki has created what he bills the largest Suzuki fan site in the world, containing information on practically every two-wheeler Suzuki has ever built. Check it out here.


To see Alan Wickstrand's photos from “Throwback Night” at the Anaheim Supercorss, January 19, where fans were encouraged to wear motocross apparel from the 1980s, and teams put ‘80s works bikes on display, click here. The event featured a replica of the 1986 Anaheim track, celebrating the epic battle between Honda riders David Bailey and Rick Johnson. In what is considered the greatest supercross race of all-time, Bailey went on to win the race and Johnson captured the championship.

Remember that beautiful 2 x 3 footVincent Poster poster with all of the great historical Harley-Davidsons that came out when Harley-Davidson was celebrating its 100th anniversary?  That was created by Carl Hungness, and he's done it again with a wonderful Vincent poster, just in time for the centenary of Philip Vincent's birth.  They are $10 each and can be laminated for an additional $10.   To order the Harley or the Vincent poster, just click here.  And, if you want to celebrate the car that almost obsoleted the motorcycle for good, Carl has some nice Ford posters too. 


To check out Scott Jacobs' Harley-Davidson and motorcycle racing fine art, click here. For Tom Fritz's motorcycle fine art, click here.


For curious and thought-provoking observations about the motorcycle in modern society, check out The New Café (Racer) Society blog. Just click here.


Terry Varner believes that web video is the future for classified motorcycle sales. Check out his web site here. He plans to have a section for vintage motorcycles.


To find out how much money you saved by not attending the recent Las Vegas Mid-American Auction, click here.


For a photo gallery of classic motorcycles in Germany, click here.


For images by Pete Wells from the Inter-Am international motocross series in 1970 and 1971, click here.


For links to wide-ranging news about the vintage motorcycle scene, check out the Old Bike News web site. Click here.


Bike show entry forms and vendor applications for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, to be held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio July 25 through 27, are now available on line. Click here.


The 2008 schedule of events for the Indiana Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Enthusiasts has been posted on line. To check it out, click here.


For photos from the Southern California vintage bike meet held at Huntington Beach, January 13, click here.


For information on the 21st Annual S-K Service Swap Meet for Japanese, European, and British motorcycles, scheduled to take place May 2 and 3 in Hatley, Wisconsin, click here.



Monument Day planned at Daytona



Daytona MonumentThe First Annual Daytona 200 Monument Day will take place March 5 on the boardwalk on the beach side of the Hilton Hotel at 100 North Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach, Florida. This year's special honoree will be Floyd Emde, who won the Daytona 200 60 years ago. His son Don Emde, also a Daytona 200 winner, will have a replica of Floyd's 1948 Indian Big Base Scout on display. All are invited to enjoy the many racers, old and young, who will be on hand for photos and autographs. To learn more about plans for the event, click here.



Agostini to be honored

at Legend of the Motorcycle Concours



AgostiniFifteen-times world champion Giacomo Agostini, pictured here after his Daytona 200 victory in 1974, will be presented the Legend of the Motorcycle International Concours Lifetime Achievement Award on May 3 during this year's event at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay, California. MV Agusta, the brand with which Agostini was most closely associated throughout his career, will be the featured marque, along with Norton. For more information about the Legend of the Motorcycle International Concours d'Elegance, click here.



Found in Print



Fredette StoryAs we were preparing our recent story about Six Days legend Jeff Fredette (See Motohistory News & Views 12/28/2007), Leo Keller was working on a similar feature for the German magazine Enduro. That article has just appeared. Keller explains that the headline,“Am laufenden Band,” is an allusion to a popular German television game show. TheEnduro same issue also contains a bio by Keller for Helmut “Speedy” Clasen, a former German off-road champion who now lives in Canada and is a regular participant at the American ISDT Reunion Ride. Keller reports that Norbert Bauer, the editor of Enduro, has a soft spot in his heart for history, and regularly publishes articles about the vintage enduro scene. To reach the Enduro web site, click here.


IronWorksThe March 2008 issue of IronWorks features one of the more unusual recent acquisitions at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa: an authentic and unrestored Harley Knucklehead dragster campaigned in the 1950s by Bill “Pearshape” Pearson, of Kansas City. Pearson set a quarter-mile record on this motorcycle in 1955, running fuel and achieving 126.76 mph. The most interesting feature of the motorcycle is how Pearson riddled it Knucklewith holes to make it lighter. Even the springer front fork contains more than 70 holes, which may be why they didn't call him Bill “Mr. Safety” Pearson. To reach the IronWorks web site, click here. For more information about the National Motorcycle Museum, click here.


SalvadoriTwenty years of worldwide touring is described in “101 Road Tales” by Clement Salvadori, just published by Whitehorse Press. The book is an anthology of 101 columns selected by Salvadori from the 225 he has written in Rider Magazine since 1989. Salvadori began riding over 50 years ago, when he was 16 and living in Rome, and his first motorcycle was an NSU Max. He toured extensively in Europe on the NSU, then loaded it on a ship to America. Since then, he has ridden in more than 70 countries on six continents. This book is a hefty 383 pages in hard cover, illustrated with cartoons by Gary Brown. To acquire it from Whitehorse Press, click here.


TragatschThe Illustrated Encyclopedia of Motorcycles” by Erwin Tragatsch, the most comprehensive and useful motorcycle brands reference book in the world, has been reprinted by Quantum Publishing, London. Originally published in 1977, then updated in 2000, the book contains a 56-page summary of the history of motorcycling and a 56-page chapter on the great classic brands. What follows then is an alphabetical listing of more than 2,500 worldwide brands of motorcycles with useful information on the history of each manufacturer, plus an extensive glossary of terms. I found a new copy of the new edition at Costco for $12.95. An amazing value, for sure! To reach the Quantum Publishing web site, click here.

Motorcyclist RetroMotorcyclist is launching in April a new magazine entitled Motorcyclist Retro, celebrating the bikes, riders, and motorcycling culture of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.  Editor Mitch Boehm adds, however, that earlier periods will be addressed as well, depending on reader interest.  An announcement of the new publication states, "Every issue will be pressure-packed with cool, classic-era content: Features on collectors and collections, racers and race bikes, readers' back-in-the-day photos and stories, news, event coverage and much more -- all of it researched, written, and photographed in Motorcyclist's credible and attractive style."  Motorcyclist Retro will begin as a quarterly, then increase frequency to a bi-monthly in 2009.  The first issue will appear in national outlets, such as Borders or Barnes & Noble.   To obtain more information, E-mail classicmail@sourceinterlink.com.



Packard Museum to host motorcycle

preservation and restoration seminars



The National Packard Museum, which has just opened its eighth annual motorcycle exhibit entitled “Masters of Sport and Speed,” is planning to host a three-part motorcycle restoration seminar series on the third Saturdays of February, March, and April. The first workshop will be about winter and long-term storage and insurance. The March workshop will cover the search for parts and convey information about the Antique Motorcycle Club of America judging system. The final workshop will be about wheel building and maintenance. Attendees should pre-register, since refreshments and training materials will be provided. To reach the National Packard Museum, click here. To read Motohistory's story about the new exhibit, go to News & Views 12/27/2007 and 1/10/2008.



Limited edition book

planned for Vincent centenary



Vincent BookTo celebrate the centenary of Philip Vincent's birth, the Vincent Publishing Company, founded in 1974, will produce a limited edition of 100 numbered vellum-bound copies of Vincent's “Tales of the Snarling Beast,” originally published in the 1960s. In addition, the volume will include Roy Harper's interview with Vincent, plus further recollections by Harper. Among its 192 pages will also be 32 pages with rare drawings by Phil Vincent. The limited edition book is priced at £298 with a special price of £283 if ordered by Vincent Owners Club members prior to March 31. A cloth-bound edition with laminated dust jacket will be available for £29.95. For details on how to order, E-mail Roy Harper at roy@royharper.wanadoo.co.uk.



BSA International Rally coming to IOM



The 45th International BSA Rally will be held August 16 through 23 on the Isle of Man. The BSA Owners Club has arranged for discounted ferry rates for BSAOC members, and members flying from overseas who want to camp can rent tents, complete with cots, pillows, and outside cookers. The rally fee is $125 per person, $65 for ages 12 to 15, and children under 12 are free. Reservations should be made prior to April 15. For more information and reservation forms, E-mail Lannis Selz at lannis@hughes.net.


Lambert & Butler's

vintage motorcycle cards



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


Eleventh in a series of 50:


Chater-LeaThe text on the back of the card reads:

The Chater-Lea 2 ¼ h.p. Sports motor cycle is designed to meet the growing demand for a solo machine of a really fast sporting type. Either overhead valve or side valve engines are supplied; and specification includes all-chain drive, shock absorber, three speed gear, handlebar controlled clutch, &c. Both wheels can be instantly removed without touching either brakes or chain, a great convenience for tyre repair.


Twelfth in a Series of 50:


ClynoThe text on the back of the card reads:

The 8 h.p. Clyno spring frame combination, with wind-screen and storm-proof apron; luggage grid, with carrier underneath for petrol can and took kit. The Clyno was chosen by the British War Office for the Motor Machine-Gun Outfits. The three-speed gear box is of the constant speed sliding dog clutch type. The sidecar is exceptionally comfortable. The spring shock absorber is a Clyno patent.






On reading our story about Japanese motorcycle collector Roger Smith (See Motohistory News &Views 1/14/2008), Dave Ekins wrote:


Ekins on SuzukiAttached is a photo of one of six Suzuki X6 Scrambler prototypes converted at Products Testing R&D, a company Jack Krizman and I created.  We also developed the Yamaha Big Bear Scrambler and the Harley-Davidson Baja 100.  I was taken by surprise when I saw the X6 Roger Smith had restored and, doubly surprised when it was mentioned he has a Big Bear Scrambler also.  These were the “stop gap” models rushed into production by Suzuki and Yamaha while they tooled up to make their off-road 250 singles.  The photo was taken at the 21st High Mountain Enduro near San Louis Obispo, California.


About our Feedback item from Mick Duckworth with the photo of Floyd Clymer and associates in the Canal Zone (See Motohistory News & Views 1/1/2008), motorcycle historian Jerry Hatfield wrote:  


ThruxtonHi Ed, Jerry Hatfield here. As an air force officer, I was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone from 1969 through 1973. I met Clois Duffie, shown in the photo on your site. Clois worked at the Canal Zone water works in Balboa, C.Z. He started his Velocette LE, which I couldn't hear running. I bummed a ride on his Velocette MSS 500cc single, which convinced me to order a new Velocette in early 1971. I received a letter stating the factory was no longer making motorcycles, and I got my money back. There couldn't have been many Thruxtons that were shipped to Panama or the Canal Zone. So the Velocette Thruxton in the picture may be the same Thruxton I borrowed for another Canal Zone ride one day.


Small world, huh Jerry?


BMW ScooterIn response to our story about BMW scooter development (See Motohistory News & Views 1/13/2008), Tosh Konya wrote:


The BMW Model 210B shown in the story about BMW scooter development reminded me of the retro look of the Suzuki SW1, which was for domestic sale in Japan only.

  Suzuki SW1

Tosh sent us a photo of the SW1, shown here. The motorcycle was introduced in Japan in 1992. It had weak sales, but has since become a sought-after collectible.  For additional photos and specifications, click here and here.


Motohistory Quiz #49:

We have a winner; two, actually!



Quiz 49We are going to award two winners of our Motohistory Quiz #49 because correct answers came in from Jean Roquecave and Jerry Ficklin within a second, illustrating again the wonders of the World Wide Web since Roquecave, a motorcycle journalist, is in Sainte Soulle, France, and Ficklin, the owner of Vintage Motorcycle Supply, is in Sheridan,Indiana, USA. Both realized that the object of our quiz is not a motorcycle chassis, but a tool used for moving and storing dismantled Vincent components.


The Vincent does not have a conventional frame. It has a strong “bracket” mounted to the top of the engine to which the front and rear suspension components are bolted. Thus, the engine itself is the main structural component of the motorcycle. When a Vincent is dismantled, one ends up with front and rear suspension components that are hard to handle and awkward to store. Sid Biberman, a builder of many Vincents over the years, designed this frame-like tool in 1955 to solve the problem. Biberman writes, “Working in a cramped garage mostly meant space was limited, so this idea was Quiz 2born.  Instead of two ungainly, crippled sections, here was a way to take up no more space than a normal bike, and which could then be  rolled outside.”

When Biberman showed me the photo, this idea seemed so fundamentally useful that I asked if it was a factory tool supplied to Vincent dealers. Biberman replied, “I never saw the idea repeated elsewhere, and it was not offered to dealers.  Certainly, a few others must have felt the same need and come up with a similar fixture, but I have never seen another one like it.”  Above is another photo that I chose not to use for our quiz because I thought all the Vincents in the background might be a dead give-away.


Biberman, known to his friends as “Big Sid,” is also a Motohistory Know-It-All, having won our Motohistory Quiz #48. Congratulations, Jean and Jerry, your Motohistory Know-It-All Diplomas are in the mail.


My Motown memories

By Roger Smith



Smith and YamahaDuring the summer of 1969, the temperatures in Detroit soared into to high 90s while the Viet Nam war raged on 10,000 miles away. Young men knew they had a high likelihood of being called up to serve, and, at 19, I was in the prime group of probable recruits.  But the battle on the streets of Motor City was between the Hemis, 409s, and other big-block muscle cars produced by all of the domestic manufacturers.  It was the pinnacle of America's street and drag strip racing era.  Blue Sunoco 260 was the gasoline of choice, its advertising warning: “Power to be used, NOT abused!" And at 21 cents a gallon, how could we go wrong?  The streets of southeast Michigan boomed with the sounds of Motown Records and ground-shaking vehicles on warm summer nights.


The Japanese were gaining a strong hold on the motorcycle market.  It wouldn't be long until the powerful Kawasaki triples and Honda fours would arrive, but until then the smaller displacement models had their day in the sun, often capable of giving the bigger Brit bikes a worthy challenge.  There was no Internet, Ebay, or even personal computers, so we would scour the used motorcycle ads in the Sunday Trophiesnewspapers for good deals.  I had already owned a 1966 Suzuki X-6 Hustler and a T500, so I knew something about two-stroke technology.  When I found an ad for a Yamaha 305 dragster for sale (pictured above), it caught my eye.


I made a call to my motorcycle riding friend Jim "Hazard" Moore, and we were off in his 1956 Ford F100 pickup truck to take a look at this "dragster."  To our surprise, it looked really good! The owner had stripped down a Yamaha Catalina and constructed a drag bike with all the excess weight removed.  It had a tiny lawnmower fuel tank strapped to the frame backbone, and its rear shocks had been replaced with struts.  The engine had been bored out, and it had tuned pipes with matching carbs.  He rolled the red-framed dragster out of the garage for us to see, hopped on, started it with one kick, and promptly roared down the subdivision street, wide open, to prove that it ran.  Boy, was that low-slung Yamaha fast!  And I still remember the sound of those two un-muffled expansion chambers ripping the air!  Even more exciting was the price.  The guy only wanted $125. SOLD!  All the way home, my friend Jim did his best to convince me that I could make a quick $25 dollars by selling it to HIM for $150.   No deal!


That Yamaha gave us many hours of fun and excitement when we would tow it to the Detroit Dragway on Saturday nights. Twice the 305 Yamaha set State Class E records, with runs of 105 mph and 109 mph in the quarter mile.  I credit that Yamaha for setting the records, because all I did was hang on for dear life!  As the announcer repeatedly commented on how little the bike was, I wondered what I was doing going 100 miles per hour on that creation!   I sold the Yamaha before I left for the Army, but my memories of that motorcycle will always be alive. Memories of driving home with a trophy in the front seat. Memories of the dragster I bought for $125!


About the author:

Roger Smith is emblematic of the kind of person driving a new wave of motorcycle restoration and collecting as the Japanese brands stir up nostalgic feelings Roger Smithamong their first generation of owners.  Born April 27, 1950, Smith came of age in the post-war era when hot cars and hot motorcycles were the object of a young man's fancy.  Smith enlisted in the Army in 1969, but was fortunate enough to draw stateside duty and avoid service in Viet Nam.  Many of his era got out of motorcycles to raise families and build careers, then returned to drive the recent boom in the American motorcycle market.  Smith, however, has remained involved with motorcycles his whole life, and has also cultivated an interest in ultarlight aircraft. His exquisitely restored Japanese motorcycles are consistent class winners.  In 2006, he won first place at the Gilmore Concours with his Suzuki X-6 Hustler (pictured below), then in 2007 took first and second with the Suzuki and his Yamaha Big BeSuzuki X-6ar Scrambler.  He also won his class in 2006 at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum Concours. Smith retired in 1999 after 25 years of service as a detective for the Pontiac, Michigan Police Department. Today he serves on the board of directors of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, for which he is also Public Relations Director.  He apparently is good at his task, having recruited talk show star Jay Leno to join the VJMC. For more information about the VJMC, click here.


Photos provided by Roger Smith.


Motohistory Quiz #49



Quiz 49Okay, help me out here, kids. What is this? There does not seem to be room for a very big engine, so I wonder what this is and what it's for?  All I can tell you for sure is that this is a one-off design.

The first person who can tell me what we're looking at in this picture will receive a Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma. So rush to your keyboard and send your answer to Ed@motohistory.net.


When BMW built a scooter



BMW 201BAs the nations of Europe began to rebuild their shattered economies following the Second World War, people were in dire need of economical transportation. The great luxury automobiles of the 1930s were no longer an option, and for many, the motorcycle, with its dirty and high-maintenance chain drive, astride riding position, and lack of weather protection, was not a viable choice either. A new concept in personal transportation was required, and the solution was found in 1946 when Piaggio engineer Corradino d'Ascanio created the Paperino, a forerunner to the Vespa. Scooters had existed BMW 201 C and Dbefore, but they were little more than crude platforms with primitive engines and small wheels. Drawing on the aeronautical design concepts that had advanced so rapidly during the war, D'Ascanio delivered a highly-sophisticated vehicle that was light and easy to operate, featuring a monocoque chassis incorporating good weather protection, a fully enclosed engine and drive train, and single-sided suspension for easy wheel removal and repair. With smooth and quiet operation and a pleasing, futuristic 201Eshape, it expanded the two-wheel market by appealing to women and young people.


The motor industry throughout Europe reacted quickly to this new idea as companies from Czechoslovakia to the British Isles began to develop modern and stylish scooters aimed at getting a piece of the fresh, new market opened by Piaggio's Vespa. BMW was no exception. The Munich-based company began as early as 1950 to develop the 210B (pictured at the top of this story), powered by a 200cc four-stroke overhead-valve single. This early project was abandoned, but as Zundapp and Heinkel began to enjoy good sales of their Bella and TouristBMW engine scooters throughout Germany, BMW renewed development in 1953 with models designated the 210C and 210D (the pair of scooters pictured above), both 175s with different engine designs. As 210D's engine grew to 200cc by the end of 1954, it was re-designated 210E (pictured above).


Typical of BMW, the prototypes featured shaft drive (pictured here), so the engine was mounted more toward the center of the vehicle, unlike the Vespa with its engine mounted outboard of the rear wheel. Reportedly, this contributed to very good handling and road-holding characteristics. It was characteristic of the German scooters, such as the Zundapp Bella, the Heinkel Tourist, and the Maicomobile (See Motohistory News & Views 10/11/2007) to be larger, more robust, and more “masculine” in styling than their IsettaItalian counterparts. This was true of the BMW as well, which had a fairly long wheelbase.


By early 1955, pre-production models had been assembled and mass production was ready to begin. However, the company remained wary of entering the scooter market, and production was never begun. With very limited resources, three major development projects were abandoned by BMW in 1955. These were the 210E scooter, the RS250 high-performance boxer motorcycle (See Motohistory News & Views 12/11/2007), and a new automobile engine. Rather, BMW, like many European companies, decided to go the way of the micro-car, turning its resources toward the Isetta (pictured above). Clearly, the Isetta served BMW well during a difficult time in its history, but one might still argue that BMW C1abandoning scooters was a strategic mistake, since Zundapp went on to manufacture and sell 130,000 Bellas over the next decade.


At last, with governments turning their attention toward environmental issues and urban congestion, in 1992 BMW returned to the scooter by introducing the innovative and unorthodox C1 (pictured here). With excellent weather protection, a bucket-type seat, safety belts, and a roll-cage enclosing the operator, the C1 may prove to be a breakthrough concept as revolutionary as the Vespa scooter. For more information about the BMW C1, click here.


Research provided by Ralf Kruger. 

Photo of BMW 210B and 210E from BMW. Photo of BMW 210C and 210D from Motorrad.



New at the National

Motorcycle Museum (USA)



Tri-CarThe National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa has just acquired two collectibles that are about as different as two vehicles can be and still be called motorcycles. One is a 1903 Indian with “Tri-Car” chassis (pictured here). The other is a streamliner built and piloted by Rick Vesco at Bonneville in 1970.


The Indian Tri-Car chassis appeared in Indian's 1906 catalog; however, it could be installed on any of the early diamond-frame motorcycles, including those manufactured prior to 1906. The Tri-Car attachment was designed for various fixtures, including a bench-type seat for a passenger and a small van body or trunk, as pictured above.  It was variously called a “Triplet (when used with three passengers),” a “Van,” a “Tri-Car,” or a "Tricycle.” This example, now on display at the National Motorcycle Museum, was restored by Yellow Spear Restoration of Merrill, Wisconsin.


UnloadingThe Vesco streamliner (shown here being unloaded), built on a 22-inch aircraft drop tank, is powered by two supercharged 650cc Yamaha engines. Builder Rick Vesco explains, “My brother Don was a Yamaha dealer and had been racing the 350cc Yamaha two-strokes at Bonneville. One problem with the two-strokes was that they didn't have much torque, so when the overhead-cam four-stroke came out in 1969, I thought that two of these, supercharged (as pictured below), might provide the kind of power we needed.”   Vesco campaigned the liner only one season, crashing it in 1970 at over 175 mph. With a short wheelbase and no stabilizing fin, the streamliner was notLiner Engines stable. Vesco attributes the problem in part to incorrect tire selection. He says, “I had no money to put a lot of work into it, so we never rebuilt it or ran it again.”


Kent Riches, owner of Airtech Streamlining, bought the derelict streamliner for $1,500 from Bonneville veteran Ron Secor in 2001. He says, “It was mostly just the chassis. Most of the body panels were gone, but Secor actually had the original molds. The engines and engine plates were missing also.” Amazingly, Riches discovered that Rick Vesco still had the engines, and Don Vesco had the plates. One blower was missing, but was discovered in the possession of a man who had bought it from Vesco in 1974. He sold it back, and with all of the critical components in hand, Riches made new body panels and restored the machine to better-than-new condition. In December, Linercollector John Parham acquired the vintage liner for display at the National Motorcycle Museum (as pictured here with technician Jeff Wiley).


For more information on Airtech Streamlining, click here. For information about the current activities of Team Vesco, click here. To reach the National Motorcycle Museum, click here.


New bikes at the

Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum



YamahaThree motorcycles with special history have been placed on display at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. These are the 1972 Harley-Davidson on which veteran, adventurer, and author Dave Barr – a double amputee – traveled 83,000 miles around the world; Doug Henry's 1997 Yamaha motocross bike that ushered in the current four-stroke era (shown here), and a concours-winning Rickman CR750. To read the whole story, click here.


Photo from Motorcyclemuseum.org.


Packard the Eighth opens



Packard 1On January 4 the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio, the home of the legendary Packard luxury automobile, opened its eighth annual motorcycle exhibit.  Entitled “Masters of Speed and Sport,” the exhibit, curated by Daryl Timko and Bruce Packard 2Williams, presents 26 motorcycles ranging from a 1909 Royal Pioneer to a 1984 Yamaha RZ350.  Some of the more notable bikes in the exhibit include an 1898 Columbia bicycle with 1913 Shaw Clip-on engine, a 1927 Raleigh 350 Sport, a 1948 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport, a 1950 Horex factory racer, a 1974 Laverda SFC (pictured below), and a 1981 Ducati 900SS.  Many of the motorcycles Packard 3provided for the exhibit came from members of the Lake Erie Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.


The Packard Museum's annual motorcycle exhibit becomes more popular every year, and this time over 200 guests packed the facility for the opening reception. The wide range of motorcycles displayed among magnificent Packard automobiles – plus a monstrous PT boat engine and other Packard artifacts – provide something for everyone.

Scheduled to run through May 31, the exhibit is sponsored by Warren Harley-Davidson, Little Wings Café, and the Trumble County Tourism Bureau.  For more information about the National Packard Museum, click here.


The Packard exhibit 1950 Horex racer:

Bruce Williams (pictured below) has owned his prized Horex works racer for almost 20 years, but only Williamsrecently finished restoring it just in time for the Packard exhibit opening.  In fact, the tank insignia were installed only after the motorcycle was placed on its display stand.  About this rare motorcycle, Williams explains, “The allies had imposed a ban on German motorcycles larger than 250cc after the Second World War. This restriction was lifted in 1949. The Horex was built for the 1950 season from a mix of prewar and current Regina parts. The frame was modified to become a full cradle, double down-tube style to fit non-unit engine components. The top end is a 1950 single-port alloy sport head on a Regina cylinder, with spacer to allow mating to 1933 cases.  It has a KS high-compression piston, and they variously used Hurth, Burman, and Norton transmissions. This example has the Norton gear box, sitting vertical. The carb was a 1-5/32 Amal 10-TT-9, and the magneto is Bosch. It has Avon 3.50 x 19 raHorexcing tires on Weinman alloy rims.  It was built with help from Herr Kleeman, the owner of the factory.  Gas tanks were available in different sizes and changed to suit the length of the race. The Germans were not allowed to compete internationally until 1951, so this bike was only raced in Germany.   Friedel Schoen won the German national road racing championship in 1950 on this kind of motorcycle.  One other of this 1950 model existed, but was destroyed by fire in Europe.   For 1951, the new OHC Schnell-Horex appeared, making the old pushrod motor obsolete. The engine in this machine is rated at about 25 hp – eight horses more than the stock motor -- and it had a top speed of around 100 mph. The fenders, oil tank, chain guard, and rims are alloy.”


Found in Print



Ducati CoverThe Ducati firm has made history by defeating the mighty Japanese companies in both MotoGP and World Superbike.  Its story, “Ducati MotoGP and World Superbike: The Official Yearbook from Ducati Corse,” is now available in the United States from Parker House Publishing.  In 12 x 12 inch format, this hardcover book contains 230 color photos. To order your copy E-mail tim@tgparker.com.


Hold OnPanther Publishing Ltd. Has released “Hold On!,” the autobiography of world championship sidecar rider Stan Dibben, a book in which he describes his experiences of hanging on the edge at 150 mph. Even more amazingly, before achieving fame in the chair of a motorcycle sidecar, Dobben had already been a professional trumpet player, electrician, and sailor, as well as a highly respected GP motorcycle racer. The publisher states, “With 113 illustrations on 128 pages, this is a book that will not just fill you with wonder, but one that will also open your eyes on a now rapidly fading era.” For more information, click here. For those who would like a copy autographed by the author, Dibben will be signing books at the 28th International Classic Motorcycle Show in Stafford, Great Britain, on April 26 and 27.


PantherPanther Since 1950,” by Steve Wilson, is also newly available from Panther Publishing Ltd.  Panther, which ceased production in 1966, was one of those British makers of motorcycles that produced surprisingly good machines that often outlasted many of the better-known brands.  In a reprint of his work, originally published in 1992, Wilson provides a comprehensive history of this Yorkshire company.  The book is 48 pages with 46 illustrations. To order it from the publisher, click here.


Lambert & Butler's

vintage motorcycle cards



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


Ninth in a series of 50:


BSAThe text on the back of the card reads:

The B.S.A. 6 h.p. twin-cylinder combination has an engine capacity of 770 c.c., three-speed gear, clutch, and kick-starter, while both front and rear brakes act on special brake rims. The tank holds 1 ¾ gallons of petrol and 2 ½ pints of oil. The sidecar shown is well upholstered, roomy and efficiently sprung, and has a large locker at the back.


Tenth in a series of 50:


CedosThe text on the back of the card reads:

A lightweight fitted with a specially designed two-stroke engine which embodies a number of novel features. A detachable cylinder head is a feature not often found in engines of this type, and tends to increase efficiency. The model shown is the all-chain drive three-speed, which is capable of extensive touring, and which scales barely 150 lbs. The carburetter is made throughout by the manufacturers of the motor cycle, and designed to secure the maximum efficiency from the engine.


From the web



ChromeClassics.com provides an outstanding list of American restoration services.   To check it out, click here.


Huze BlogDiverse and often surprising, Cyril Huze's blog frequently touches on custom motorcycles, vintage, and that interesting world of retro-vintage that fills the gray areas between, such as Stellan Egeland's creation pictured here. Check it out here.


Airtech Streamlining is noted for its land speed and drag racing bodywork. However, the company also produces a vintage product line.  For more information, click here.


Recently, we linked to SoCalMotorcycle.com for a bio of Bud Ekins. However, there is much more to enjoy on this web site. To read more, click here.


There's a lot to enjoy on the Blue Moon Cycle web site, such as a virtual tour of their Norcross, Georgia shop. For more about Blue Moon, click here.

Spring Thaw coming up



BMW Raffle BikeA 1974 BMW R75 (pictured here) will be raffled off at the 6th Spring Thaw Bike Show and Swap Meet, scheduled for March 29 at the Calsonic Arena at Shelbyville, Tennessee. A new feature of the meet will be an auction, sponsored by Bumpus Harley-Davidson. For more information, click here.



Vincent birthday coming in March



Phil VincentWith March 14 approaching as the centenary of the birth of Philip Vincent, David Wright reports that the Vincent HRD Owners Club newsletter, has put out a call for submissions relevant to the historic event.  Other Vincent fans who are aware of special celebrations can send information to Ed@Motohistory.net.  To reach the Vincent HRD Owners Club, click here






Seems like we are getting enough feedback about Floyd Clymer to start a new web site called TalesofFloydClymer.com, or something like that.  Responses from Motohistory readers who knew Floyd Clymer continue to roll in. For example, our sometimes contributor from England, Mick Duckworth, writes:


Hello, Ed. Seeing the piece about Floyd Clymer on your latest update (Motohistory News & views 12/26/2007) reminded me that some years Clymer in Panamaago I was lent some photos taken when he visited the World Wide Motor Cycle Club of Panama in 1966. The attached photo shows Clymer (middle) with Clois Duffie and Bill Weigle (on his Velocette Venom Thruxton) at the Miraflores Locks Wall. I understand that Bill Weigle, who apparently still owns this machine, talked to Clymer on this occasion about how the Velo needed a more modern and lightweight frame. I have not been able to trace Mr. Weigle to return the photos to him, and wondered if any of your readers might be able to help? Best wishes for 2008.


Okay, Motohistory readers, can anyone tell us the whereabouts of Bill Weigle?  If so, please contact Mick Duckworth at mick@upwrite.demon.co.uk.


In addition, Southern Californian Richard Ong, who lived only a couple of blocks from Floyd Clymer's office, writes about his use of Velocette engines and what happened to the Tartarini-framed Indians after Clymer's death:


Velocette was already in receivership, and Clymer bought the last batch of 100 to 150 500cc engines and had Tararini in Italy build the frames. Cylmer died only a year or so after the bike was introduced, and the remaining bikes were bought by Shell Thuet's bike shop in South Gate, California, and sold at a discount. I almost bought one for $350 back in 1974, but passed because it was in a rough condition. My friend Bill McNulty did buy one in a basket, and sold it before he finished the bike, but it gave me a good look at the construction, which wasn't as well made as an original Velocette. The frames were made of thin wall tubing that was prone to crack, and the fiberglass side covers would fall off. Mainly, I didn't like the bike because it sat so tall, but it did have excellent brakes and forks. The Thruxton engine models were rare, and I only saw one that was ridden by Steve McQueen at the Visalia Rally. I do know that Velocette guys were upset at this abortion of a bike with their favorite engine, and most wouldn't even think of having one, other than to strip the engine and keep it for spares.

And Don Brown, who worked for Clymer as the Editor at Cycle Magazine, writes about Clymer and the 1954 Mexican Road Race:

I remember when Floyd Clymer got himself into trouble by actually convincing the Italian driver Piero Taruffi that he would sponsor him in the Mexican Road Race. By then Taruffi was slightly ageing, but still a greatly respected and competent driver (he won the Traga Florio in 1954 and the Mille Miglia in 1957, at the age of 51). Floyd had actually entered a nearly-dead Ford Six in the event (it was the same car we used to pick up up the mail), and as the race date approached, we all wondered where the famous car was that Floyd kept telling Taruffi about. Then movie stunt man and racing car driver Bob Feuerhelm came to the office on Pico Boulevard to take the Ford to Denver to have it prepped for what was one of the most grueling races in the world. He got there just soon enough for them to overhaul the suspension and the engine upper-end, install tires, brakes, and internal safety bars, and that was about it. None of it was very special stuff. Then Bob drove the car all the way to Mexico City to meet Taruffi personally.

Bob and Taruffi tested the car together before the race, and despite the fact that it proved to be one of the slowest cars one could possibly imagine, the Italian was so polite he would not reveal that fact to any of the other drivers who believed that Taruffi actually had a secret power plant in that Ford. There was a story that Lincoln sent word to Taruffi that he could have the pick of their factory cars if he wanted to switch, but he said, "No, my friend Mr. Clymer has gone to a lot of trouble to get the car down here. I promised my friend I would drive it, and I will keep my promise!" He did, and he actually led his class for a while through the most winding parts of the course, and he finished third, I believe!


Later, Bob and I were in Dodge City for the races being promoted by Floyd, and he asked us to drive the same car back to Pasadena. We decided that if we had to drive that car some 1,800 miles, we would go all the way, non-stop. We took turns driving and made it in record time, according to Bob, who had done this a couple of times before. On the way we picked a few races, but lost none, especially through the mountains! And would you believe we did not pick up even one highway patrol during our road racing stunt? Sadly, Bob was later killed in a filming accident.


Floyd was a complex personality.  Many believed he was a bit nutty, and in some ways Mexican Road Race Bookhe might have been. But the more I think about it the more I believe he was truly an intellect with an outward demeanor that was sufficient to be misleading for many. He once fired me because he found out I was racing with a helmet brand that was not the one he was selling. I ignored him and came to work the next morning, and he never said another word to me about it.


Editor's Note: In 1950, Floyd Clymer published a book about the Mexican Road Race. With an original cover price of $2.00, it now sells for $100 on the use book market. To get your copy, click here. For more information about Piero Taruffi, click here.

Thanks again, Don, Richard, and Mick, for more Floyd Clymer lore.  Any of you want to become the editor of TalesofFloydClymer.com?

The following came from Dave Armbrust in response to our story about Jeff Fredette (Motohistory News & Views 12/28/2007):

SchekIn your article about Jeff Fredette, you mentioned a German rider named Herbert Schek.  The attached photo of Schek hangs in my den, and I believe is my favorite from the 1972 ISDT in Czechoslovakia. I followed Ed Schmidt and Dave Mungenast around the local enduro circuit and to the Six Days in 1972, '73, and '74. However, I was a better photographer than I was an enduro rider.


Thanks, Dave, for the fine photo of Herbert Schek. This giant German, who could manhandle a BMW like it was a Whizzer, was always a great friend and favorite of the American ISDT riders.  In my book about Dave Mungenast (“Take it to the Limit: The Dave Mungenast Way,” Motohistory, 2006) I tell how Mungenast broke his foot at the ISDT in Italy in 1974. He wanted to continue, but his foot swelled so badly he could not possibly get his boot on. So Schek loaned Dave one of his huge boots.


Runyard et alEarly American motocross star Mike Runyard sent us a wonderful photograph from the late 1960s when Europe's best came to the United States to ride Edison Dye's Inter-Am Series. Shown here left to right are Mike Runyard, Joel Robert, Dave Bickers, Godfrey Runyard, Roger DeCoster, and Ken Runyard. Godfrey Runyard, who is now 102 years old, once maintained the Brough Superior owned by T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia). Thanks, Mike, for sending this historic photo.