Could you imagine going to your local BMW or Yamaha velocipedraisiavapiraña dealership?
Image from ‘Motorcycles: A Technical History’.
On a fresh sunny morning, on tarps and in stalls as far as the eye can see, the phenomenon that is the parts swap meet is underway. Buyers shuffle along, picking up pieces that most would consider fit for the scrap heap, ascertaining as to whether it might be worth purchasing. Bikes of all shapes and sizes, makes and vintage, litter the stalls and give punters a chance to pick up a possible bargain.
The entire grounds are filled with knowledge of a thousand years of experience in working on two wheeled machines. You can find out how to tune a GP Amal, rebuild a Villiers or how to replace the swingarm on a Triumph Tiger, and the only payment these elders of the motorcycle world is that you pass on any useful information that you may possess.
While wading through a crate of lightweight British motorcycle parts, an older gentleman wanders up to me and ask what I am looking for. I tell him about my BSA engine and he tells me has a complete rolling chassis, including a transmission, to suit my engine. We chat about it for a minute, I get his contact details and continue perusing the oily relics that you must have a keen eye to recognise what is worth something.
Yes this project bike may look terrible, or these inlet manifold gaskets are actually cut up cardboard, but think of the potential. Think of what is possible when I have access to so many parts, surely there are enough parts here to build numerous bikes.Or just one amazing one.
Here is a sweet video of a BSA Gold Star opening up on the road. Sweet sound, sweet bike, sweet carb opening view.
with thanks to theclassicmotorcycle for posting this clip on YouTube. Go have a look at their channel, there is much more to see.
Today the term ‘cafe racer’ is thrown around a lot, and the proper origin of the term is lost in the mists of time. In the interest of public knowledge, please watch the following video:
With thanks to Idnshabba for putting the clip up on YouTube, giving a view of the British bike scene that is more realistic.
In life there are a few occasions that really stand out. Special moments that you know will stick with you forever. In my experience, one of these is the moment when I was discussing clubman bars on a Vincent motorcycle, with one of the true gentleman collectors of the vintage bike world. That moment, one moment, that stands out in relation to my motorcycle based journalism.
It can be hard to customise old school scooters. Their flowing lines don’t lend themselves to modification as they tend look sweet enough in standard trim. Today’s feature bike is a scooter that definitely breaks the rules though. Built by Berlin’s premiere custom workshop, Berham Customs, this 1953 ACMA Vespa was given a new lease on life, showing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
From the start of the build, Martien from Berham Customs knew how the build should look: ‘I just wanted it to look like someone had found a 50 year old custom project and fitted a new fork & engine to it’. Luckily at the start of the build, the standard scooter had all the patina of a barn find, it’s brownish reddish colour scheme matching the look Martien wanted in the build. To ensure the theme carried on throughout the bike, any new parts were painted brown, then red, and a hint of grey added. To add to the look, the paint was then rubbed back with oil and steel wool.
Once the paintjob was finished, a bar was mounted to fit the MZ fuel tank, already painted in the same style as the rest of the bike. To round out the look, the shock was painted in the original colours of the scooter, and wrapped in a wet salty towel for a few days. Once the desired aesthetique had been achieved, the whole lot was sealed up with Zapon, to ensure the scooter will be around for another fifty years.
Powering the scooter is a 230cc Vespa unit, the engine that served in Martien’s daily rider before being fitted to the rat rod ACMA. For go power, Martien had blown out the factory capacity by the fitment of a Scooter & Service crank. The head is a modified Malossi unit, working with a piston from the same company. Fuel duties are taken care of by a trusty Mikuni TMX35, while the exhaust is a Scooter & Service system. The whole drivetrain works well, with the scooter being dyno’ed at 32 horsepower.
From a weather beaten EBay find, this bike has been rebuilt in true hot rod style, using whatever was available and worked. Using whatever means possible to stick to the original idea, this is definitely one scooter that won’t be found sitting at the back of the shed anytime soon.
many thanks to Berham Customs (Berham.com) for supplying the pics and thank you to Scooter Magazine for the information on the build.
A trip to the Australian Transport Museum at Alice has given me some unexpected inspiration for the little C10 engine I am rebuilding. I think I would like to go for a full vintage look, using these bikes as the starting point for my ride.
The New Hudson is the look I want to aim for, with a few mods to make for ride ability. The New Hudson is a stressed engine bike with an under slung tank, and total oil loss system. The biggest problem is the lack of a transmission, meaning that the rider has to push the bike to start it, and the lack of a drive system means the engine is either running or stopped. Which may be a problem if riding through traffic.
The Indian is a good look as well, the larger guards making the bike look much bulkier. The suicide shift is a plus as well, something I would like to incorporate into my project, if it ends up going that way.
The final inspirational bike is the De-Luxe, a v twin that I haven’t heard of before. This bike has features I really like, long swept back handlebars, foot boards and acetylene headlamp. Not sure about the belt drive setup, going to try to find a way around it.
Sometimes you can find inspiration in the least expected place.
Today, Ducati is one of the first names a person might think of when asked to name a major motorcycle manufacturer. It wasn’t always that way, with Ducati starting out as an electronics and appliance firm. Oh how far they have come.
In the mid 1940s, a Turin lawyer and a self taught engineer had an idea to build a clip on engine, that could be fitted to bicycles. By 1946, the prototype had been manufactured, the short muffler giving a yipping sound as it kicked over, the nickname given to the power unit was Cucciolo, Italian for ‘puppy’. The engine was a success, with demand far outstripping supply, the lawyer and engineer turning to the Ducati company, to attempt to mass produce the little engine. The ploy was a success, with Ducati making their way into the motorcycle market, where they have existed since. Ask anyone what they think of when they hear the word Ducati, and I can guarantee it won’t be electrical appliances.
Cucciolo picture courtesy of Neill Green.
The term ‘cool’, defined, Zero Engineering is one of the top boutique bike builders in the world today. Based in Japan, but distributed around the world, the bikes showcase the Kimura styling in a more easily attainable form. I caught up with Akinobu Nakamura, one of Zero Engineering’s managers for a few questions about the brand:
What are the plans for the future of Zero Engineering?
A future plan of ZERO is that all the countries of the world have a
Are Zero Engineering bikes coming to Australia?
ZEROEngineering approximately ten are registered in Australia. Unfortunately there is no distributor in Australia now.
What is the most highest selling model Zero Engineering sells?
type9i having a rear suspension is a flagship model.
Do emission controls for any markets affect any aesthetic aspect of the bikes you sell?
It is an always difficult problem to clear the regulation of each country.
The pictures are all from Zero Engineering’s websites.