Vintage. Yes vintage, of course vintage but what vintage. The Cafe Racer Mania has taken over the power of Nostalgia. At 50, or even 40, a man finds a true pleasure investigating his youth with the machines he once dreamt of.
Much uncommon are the 40 years old fans dealing with very early machines, pioneers from the early XXth Century and flat-tanks from the 20s. Pete Young is one of these passionate ones, reminding us this is not about speed but rather about feel. Pete will participate to the Cannonball Run next September, crossing the USA on pre 16 motorcycles. Like a rolling pioneer.
Here are the 5 bikes that I wanted 10 years ago. I have since changed my mind about almost all of them, but this list was on my mind a lot back then.
Each one has some interesting bits, typically some engineering that differs from the average bikes of their time.
1922 Sunbeam TT Longstroke. 492cc sidevalve, dummy rim front brakes. The last sidevalve bike to win the Isle of Man TT race. Light weight, good breathing and the black Japanning finish that Sunbeam was famous for.
1928 Douglas SW5 OHV flat twin. Swan neck frame, low cg. Damn sexy bike, and performs well too. But I'm too tall to ride it comfortably...
1938 Velocette Mark 7 KTT. The last of the rigid racers. Much more handsome than the mk8, and without the added weight of the swingarm and rear suspension. With the great big fins on the head and barrel, a worthy member of the KTT family that brought innovation to the industry. I was able to borrow a ride on John Ray's bike last summer, what a hoot.
Brough SS80 1000cc sidevalve. I always wanted one of these to pull a sidecar with the kids. No point in spending the extra money for the OHV SS100 version. Matchless Model X is arguably a better bike and less expensive, but what price can you put on that shiny petrol tank?
1925 Rudge 4valve, 4speed. 500cc I did get this one, after a bit of searching and saving my lunch money. It's been a great bike to ride. Lever control on the Senspray carb and hand shift on the tank, constant-loss oiling. At a time when most bikes were sidevalves with 3 speed gearboxes, Rudge was trying some new things. The coupled rim brakes don't work very well, but the bike can hold a comfortable 60-65mph until stopping is deemed necessary. Most people thought Honda and BMW invented everything in the 70s and 80s.
1913 Premier. 500cc sidevalve, 3 speed Armstrong rear hub. I was able to find this one in the VMCC classifieds and have enjoyed it for a long time. A tidy example of veteran technology, with an extra exhaust valve, foot clutch, B&B two lever carb, hand-pump oiling, V belt drive, etc. It really opened the door to riding in the pre 16 events.
Pete Young circa 1999
Take a look at Pete's blog: www.occhiolungo.wordpress.com
Pete was good player, and sent us his actual selection too, for next time.
Hey fellows send your selection, we'll publish it.
Ah ah! ... You like it ?
rendez-vous next week...