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Bikes Cafe Shit Other Shit

Roads We Ride | Kangaroo Valley

The Roads We Ride collaboration between Transport for NSW, Pipeburn, and Stories of Bike, continues with a great ride through the Kangaroo Valley on the Moss Vale Road. 

Join local Kawasaki Rider, Dan Sharp, on his custom café racer as he explores one of NSW’s most picturesque historical locations, via one of the State’s most spectacular roads – and Australia’s oldest suspension bridge.

Click here to watch as Dan focuses on the changeable weather conditions, the challenges he faces with local wild life and and visiting tourists within the region.

Visit Kangaroo Valley for a ride sometime; and as always, keep the shiny side up.

Categories
Bikes Reviews

Unveiled – The Bobber Black

Being a mad Triumph fan (and to help a brother out) I was kindly asked to represent Throttle Roll at the Triumph Australia official launch of the new Bonneville Bobber Black and new Bonneville Speedmaster.

Having never been on a bike launch before I asked His Holiness Hawwa what’s involved.

The short answer was “thrash some bikes around Sydney, be wine and dined, get photographed, critique the bikes, pretend you know what you’re doing and spin some shit with other top journos. Oh, and hang out with Charley Boorman, all for a couple of days.”

“Hmmm…” I said, “let me think about that for a minute.”

Nek minnit, I’m online applying for extra leave to extend my Easter holidays, and immediately the excitement butterflies begin to build up in anticipation.

I was lucky enough last Easter to have borrowed a brand new Triumph Bobber for the Throttle Roll pre-Party Bike Ride. Being the lead rider, it was a great way for Triumph to show off their latest 1200cc High Torque monster, which really wanted to fit in with the cool cats of the custom bike world. It turned out shortly after its launch that, the bobber became so critically acclaimed by fans around the world that it became Triumph’s fastest selling motorcycle in its 115 years of existence. Who would’ve thunk it.

I had that Bobber for 5 full days and enjoyed every 800 km’s that I put on it– around the city, along country highways, and into the twisties. It was comfortable, gave a spirited ride, looked and sounded bad-ass, and it hit its design purpose on the head. But Bobbers just aren’t for me. I still commended Triumph with what they did with that bike – and that engine.

It did have a few downsides tho, most notably in the braking department. It went like the clappers, instant torque when you flicked the throttle and quickly built up speed. But pulling that 228kg (dry) beast up with a single disc and caliper was always going to be a tough ask. You see, the Bobber wanted to go – and it did. It wanted to turn – and it sort of did… Ground clearance was the biggest hurdle. But it really did not want to stop. In fact, when you needed it to stop you would have to allow sufficient time so you could perform the braking evolution without overshooting a corner or ramming it arse up into a tin top. Don’t get me wrong; it was adequate – especially for a Bobber – but its stop didn’t quite match its go.

Fast forward a year and enter stage left the Bobber Black – or as I like to call it, Bobber 2-point-ohhhh.

It’s meaner, more muscular, more imposing, and ‘more blacker’. You can pick any colour of the rainbow that you want, so long as It’s black – Jet Black or Matt Jet Black.

You see, Triumph listened to their customers and they changed a few things – for the better.

The first big difference you’ll notice is the front end. It’s now chunky, with extra beef. This is a result of new 47mm Showa cartridge forks (up from 41mm KYB forks), a smaller 16” blacked out rim (down from 19”) wearing a 136mm wide high profile tyre (up from 119mm wide), and twin discs each gripped by 2-pot Brembo calipers (up from a single disc with a Nissen caliper) which immensely improved its braking capability.

All up, it not only adds to the Bobber Black’s beefy hunched-forward appearance, but it also helps pull-up the black beast quickly and easily. A light squeeze on the lever with 2 fingers is all that’s needed to quickly pull the reigns in and come to a halt. It’s definitely a good upgrade over the standard model.

The clutch is the same in regards to ease of use, it’s torque-assisted, and only requires a light squeeze with a couple of fingers in order to swap cogs. Wanna race? Turn off Traction Control, make sure it’s in Road mode, apply revs, dump the clutch and hold on. It’s so easy with that clutch. In fact, this is exactly what Triumph encouraged us to do with the Bobber Black by sending us out to Eastern Creek Dragway in Western Sydney. They say the bike is at home in a straight line with power applied, and I couldn’t agree more.

After our safety brief, a photoshoot and a couple of practice runs we then went into a knock out competition. This started off all shits and giggles until we were told some prizes were on the line and then all hell and rear tyres broke loose.

I eased through my first round but unfortunately got done by an ex Australian Superbike racer in the second. I had the jump but he rode around me when it mattered.

In the end, it was he who got the quickest time of the day down the quarter mile with a 12.3 second run @ 168 km/h. And it was Charley Boorman who took out the competition by knocking everyone out. Well-done, Mr Celebrity-Who-Can-Actually-Ride!

And just for the record… I ran a 12.4 second pass @ 166 km/h

After our half day at the drag strip, we headed south to the Royal Nasho to test the Bobber Black through some twisties.

Triumph supplied the Bobber Black in a few variations, one with the Quarter Mile kit which included clip on bars, upgraded Fox mono-shock suspension (rebound adjustability only) and Vance & Hines silencers. And another with the Old School inspiration kit, which included a brown leather seat and Ape Hanger style bars – among other additions.

For me I love the look of the clip-on’s as it’s more my riding style, so I found myself on the Quarter Mile more often than not. It also helped that the other blokes on the ride liked having a photoshoot or a short squirt with the clip-on’s, but didn’t want it for too long. It does get to your lower back a bit with the foot position. The seat is still adjustable back and down or up and forward. I left it as it was (up and forward I believe), and the riding triangle just never quite felt right with the clip-on’s. It definitely wasn’t as comfortable as the stock Bobber Black with its low rise straight bars on the highway, which was a bit more of an upright position and very ergonomic. Like the original Bobber, the bike will still send a jolt up your back if you hit a decent bump. Even on the Fox equipped bike, the hard bumps were still felt on the factory setting. Playing around with the Fox’s one and only adjustment (rebound) may help with this, but I didn’t get around to fiddling with this. All up though the stock mono-shock does an OK job.

Once in the twisties, the Quarter Mile felt more at home with its forward weight bias, and it was here that it was the red hot favourite Bobber Black again amongst the boy racers. Sometimes it pays to be selfish.

Performance wise, the Bobber Black is the same HT 1200cc engine that’s found in the Bonneville T120 but with its own unique tune. What this ‘unique tune’ statistically translates to is 10% more torque and horsepower than the T120 at 4,500 rpm. The Bobber Black does have 2% more torque overall (106Nm) but lacks about 2% in neddies in total (77PS). What this means in real-world speak is the Bobber Black, like the original, is a low-down grunt monster that doesn’t need high revs, and loves traffic light drag racing. And this all comes down to a change of exhausts from the T120’s.

What this also means in day-to-day riding, whether in the twisties or in high-speed sweepers, is you just simply leave it in a gear, wipe off a little speed using two fingers or a right foot (the rear brake is quite sufficient), turn until you hear those hero knobs screech (oh it happened a lot), hit the apex, apply a fist full of throttle, listen to that glorious 270 degree offbeat thump reverberate all around, grin like a little school boy and repeat.

Coming in at an extra 9.5 kilos over the original Bobber with 100% of that forward of the head stem, you can feel the difference in the unsprung weight department at the front when turning. It’s not difficult to turn, but it is noticed. The overall diameter of the wheel and tyre is the same as the original, but the extra weight, bigger forks and gyroscopic forces of the twin discs does add to the weighted effect. It’s certainly not a deal breaker – especially once you consider the beef it now brings.

In fact, the Bobber Black is a mega fun bike to ride. It has oodles of torque and plenty of power. It now stops as good as it goes, and with or without the V&H pipes it sounds aggressive and deep. Throw in a heap of black stuff on the bike and you’ve got one seriously aggressive looking, blacked out hot rod of a bike – exactly what Triumph were aiming for.

From a custom bike tinkerer’s perspective, what else could be done or changed to the Bobber Black? It would all be cosmetic, really. Besides the usual shorter front and rear fender, smaller indicators and maybe a custom paint or wrap job, I’d look at putting a wider rear tyre on the back to give the rear end a bit of a beefy look too. But squeezing a wider rim and tyre inside that caged swing arm would prove pretty difficult. Normally, a headlight would be one of the first things I’d change on a bike to give it its own character – it’s own eyeball, so to speak – but the 5 inch LED DRL on this bike is a thing of beauty and I absolutely love it and wouldn’t change it for anything else.

It goes to show that Triumph have done an exceptional job with this bike straight off the showroom floor.

Stay tuned for the next blog where I tackle the Bobber Black’s less bobbed (and less black) brother, the Speedmaster.

Words by Tremayne East.

Photos supplied by Triumph Australia.

Categories
Bikes Other Shit

The 2017 Custom Bike Highlights

2017. It left just as quickly as it arrived. What an amazing year for the Australian custom motorcycle scene with so many incredible builds taking place. We were fortunate enough to shoot shit-loads of content, host a kick-ass street party along with a couple swap meets and above all, go riding with some absolute legends!

We thought we would take some time to showcase 10 of the amazing bikes we documented this year in no particular order. This is not a dick measuring contest so there will be no 10 to 1. In order of how we captured and documented the bikes here are 10 machines for your spank bank. Make sure to click on the title to see the full set of photos and blog.

Rob’s 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead 

Tom’s 1953 Triumph Bobber

Wenley’s Triumph Rocket 3

Olly’s Mono

Bruce’s Norton Cafe Racer

Sandy’s 1973 Vespea Sprint Veloce

Aaron’s 1974 Honda C50 Deluxe

David’s Royal Enfield Special 

Harley’s Triumph Speed Triple 

Bryan’s 1991 Kawasaki Zephyr

Thanks to everyone who made 2017 a year to remember, we look forward to working with all the builders, riders and brands that make motorcycling great in 2018!

Categories
Bikes

Samson Royal Enfield Special

David’s fascination with weird and wonderful contraptions is no secret. We’ve peeked and pried into his incredible dimension of vehicles. One such creation caught our attention – and so here it is.

The story behind this machine begins with another. David was finishing up some work on his Rolls Royce Merlin Hydroplane Aggressor (as you do). The fact that David has a boat with a WWII Spitfire engine in it says a lot about the kind of stuff he’s into. An issue had arisen in running this wartime water-basher. “Getting the Avgas required to run it was a major issue. It simply guzzles the stuff, and buying it at $650 per drum is simply unaffordable.”

Fortunately for David, he’s remarkably resourceful. He began inquiring with a mate who was a pilot – pilots get charged less for Avgas. Avgas has a shelf life. Cheap “expired” Avgas is the ticket for his fuel guzzling Merlin. “So this was about 10 years ago. My mate found me some cheap Avgas so we went to this guys place to pick it up. It was in the corner of a shed amongst old motorbike parts – and this weird looking little racer.” David instantly gravitated to this mysterious little machine. The aircraft fuel would have to wait, some treasure has been found.

Not much could be told about the history of the bike from the owner, who had picked it up from a deceased estate sale. “He said it hadn’t raced in at least 50 years. I asked him if he was attached to it and he quickly replied “Not really”. We agreed on a price, and a few weeks later I brought it home. It sat at my place for several years. I spent a lot of time asking anyone who would listen if they recognised this little bike so that I could find out more of its history. Unfortunately life then got in the way and although I still very much loved this bike, I didn’t take much notice of it.”

What had attracted David to this little forgotten-about machine was the fact that it was someone else’s creation. It was a handmade machine that wasn’t born in a factory and mass-produced. “Every part on this bike was built obviously from trial and error over many years. It absolutely evolved. The frame is hand made. People who know a lot more than I do can’t even identify the several different bikes that complete it. The modified 1936 Royal Enfield 250 engine and the Sturmy Archer gearbox are the base of this machine. We think the front forks are Norton. The brakes are BSA (and hopeless).”

 

The Akront alloy rims and GP Dellorto Carb must have cost the original owner a fortune back in the day. “The open dry clutch with double primary chain and the home-made exhaust complete the picture. Every other metal part is hand made from scratch, complete with the mandatory “Swiss-cheese” lightening treatment. The final touches are the extra low clip-ons and the Yamaha trials tank with “SRES” painted crudely on the side – Something Royal Enfield Special. There is absolutely no known history on this racer but the general consensus, especially after riding it, is it probably was a time trials bike raced in a straight line on beach tracks. One day, I’ll be able to replace the Samson name I have given it with the name of the original builder, starting with an S. Gee, it would be nice to bring him back to life and give him the credit he deserves for an amazing backyard build!”

David is no stranger to bringing old machines back from the dead. He’s a bit of a Techno-Necromancer (that’s definitely a thing) and is always finding new skills to acquire – one such skill was how to shape sheet metal into a desired form. After a lot of dreaming, a Dustbin fairing was in the works and this little racer would be the guinea pig. “I hand-formed the alloy skin over a wire buck, oxy welding it all together. I was feeling pretty good with the results, so I went ahead and made the streamlined tail section and seat. My aim was to run a bike at the Sydney Café Racer ride day at Eastern Creek, as yet the bike had never run.”

This bike now had a goal, and it was fast approaching. Days crept closer to the SCR track day as David burned the midnight oil, pushing this little racer to be in riding condition. “I pushed the little bike out of the shed, primed the grand prix Dellorto carb, and in the pitch black night pushed it for all it was worth. I dropped the clutch and was surprised that the little fucker spluttered and fired! Needless to say it took off and I fell arse overhead. Luckily, and wisely, I executed this procedure with the fairing removed. One more go and I was doing a midnight run, the first one for this bike in almost 60 years.”

With a smile on his face, the long hours into the night had truly paid off. And the big day approached. At the SCR track day, Samson the little Royal Enfield Special garnered a tonne of admiration, adoration and attention. Unfortunately though, the fairy-tale ending was not to be. After a lap and a half, the little racer refused to proceed. “After a while I gave up trying to get it to run right, and spent the rest of the day riding my ’71 Ducati 450.” Despite the shortcoming, the bike still had a taste of its glory-days on the track, one that David knows the previous owner would be cheering about. “I’m so proud of what the two of us, 50 or 60 years apart, have created.

For now, the Samson Royal Enfield Special takes pride of place in my man cave.”

 

Categories
Bikes

Ross’s 1956 Norton Dominator

Developed by Norton as their answer to Triumph’s Speed Twin, the Dominator would set the pattern for Norton Twins for the coming three decades. Today, a restored 1956 Norton Dominator Model 88 rules once more.

Riding since the tender age of 5, Ross’ father made sure to share his passion/addiction that was motorcycles with his son. Everything from Laverda’s, Norton’s, Ducati’s and BMW’s would grace the garage of their home. For Ross, he’d be smashing about on is own machines that were more appropriate to his age and stature at the time; QR50’s, XR’s, MX80’s and, of course, the quintessential postie bike. Racing these machines came next, hitting the flat track and motocross back when you could buy AVGAS from your local servo. “After racing came cars, for me. AKA, going out and chasing girls. I eventually got hold of an old RM250 before leaving for the Defence Force. After a long period of being deployed and not being able to have both car and motorbike, an opportunity presented it self in the form of an old Norton Dominator. It was too good to resist.”

One fateful day, Ross got wind that one of his Dad’s mates was selling 2 old Norton motorcycles. Being in the market for not just a bike, but a project, this opportunity was ripe. “I had test ridden a few bikes, but knew that they weren’t for me. I had a choice of these 2 from my Dad’s mate, and simply couldn’t resist the famous featherbed frame of the Model 88. I would have been happy with any Norton, so the bike really just came my way.”

   

The Model 88 Norton Dominator featured the famous featherbed frame, which was developed to improve performance of their machines around the demanding course of the Isle of Man TT, which Norton had dominated (see what we did there?) since the events’ inception in 1907. This frame was revolutionary for its time, and was the very best handling frame a rider could have. This featherbed frame led to the Model 99 Dominator, developed in 1951, it was originally for export but entered the home market from 1953. The proud engineering and racing history behind Norton makes it easy for one to tumble-down-the-rabbit-hole in finding out more about this legendary manufacturer and the passionate people that restore and ride them today.

The 1956 Norton Dominator Model 88, that was now in the proud ownership of Ross, had been set up as an airport tarmac racer. “It looked really cool. It had aluminium guards, a racing tank, solo seat – anything that wasn’t needed on the bike wasn’t there. My first time riding it was around Carnel Raceway, it was there that it put a conrod out the side of the crankcase, right next to my boot. From there it was rebuilt. Luckily my dad had a spare crankcase. I reconditioned the barrels, reconditioned the head, new valves, pistons, conrods, crank re-ground and balanced, new rims, and wheels and then stripped and repainted the frame. I wanted to rebuild this machine to get it as close to original as possible while running to reflect that.”

Getting to work on this 61-year-old machine would be a learning curve for Ross, but his sincere passion for these old British machines pushed him across and bumps in the road. “When I started work on restoring it, I wasn’t too sure what it was going to look like. When you have so much prep work to do it’s really easy to become disheartened. Once the build started coming together though – boom! I knew nirvana was around the corner.”

Restoring a machine like this means a whole new level relationship between man and machine. Each solution to a problem is an achievement, and it makes the ride and quirks of the bike all the sweeter. “The noise and handling of this machine… It’s music to my ears and good vibrations to my bones. It’s unique to me as I know every nut, bolt, and washer on it and I doubt I will ever get to restore or build another Norton, ever. The quirks are probably just how individual it is, I doubt there is another quite like it in Australia.”

“Every time I walk into the shed, I’m drawn to this bike – is a magnet. I can’t help but stare at it. Riding it brings so much joy especially when I can keep up, but even by myself it’s a joy. It loves the short corners and other riders are often surprised at the handling it provides. Care and effort don’t cut it; you need to be obsessed to keep her happy and willing to be ready to roll. Or maybe I’m just over protective. Probably the latter… “

“I take her to events all around. We’ve headed north for the Frostbike Rally, and south for The Machine Show. We do laps around Mac Pass, the national park and the old pacific highway being the usual Sunday fang.”

 

Categories
Bikes

Bruce’s Norton Cafe Racer

Café Racers come in a huge array of models and forms today, from cutting edge modern custom machines, to the more traditional classic bashers. This Norton Roadster is a remarkably British, classic machine that’s the perfect marriage between customisation and modification.

 

The Norton 850 Roadster (or Commando as it was also more commonly called) is a machine of legend. Being produced by Norton from 1967 until 1977, they initially had a 750cc displacement which was then boosted up to 850cc in 1973. Note: actual displacement was 745cc and 828cc, respectively. The Commando saw various upgrades and incantations over its hugely popular lifetime – with the ’Roadster’ making it’s debut in June of 1970.

And so we come back to this particular Roadster – a 1974 model, to be precise. Our mate Bruce had picked up this machine back in 1981, off a mate’s brother. From the day the bike was picked up it was destined for finer things, with a hearty dose of customisation and modification spinning in Bruce’s head. “I had only ridden the bike for a week before the motor developed some lower end noise, and so we stripped it and then rebuilt it as a 920cc.”

The bike would remain somewhat unmolested for now, with Bruce enjoying its extra bit of chutzpah until 2010 when some custom gears started turning in his head once more. This time the bike would receive an aesthetic injection of work paired with performance upgrades, making it walk the walk and talk the talk. With plenty of Café Racer builds popping up all over the globe, inspiration was rife. “Wanting to convert the bike into a complete custom café racer, I got to work completely stripping it down so that I could then rebuild it to suit.” The engine is a complete Steve Maney 1007 engine. Forge Pistons, Carillo rods, S3 Cam upgrade push rods and head work.”

This is where the marriage of customisation and modification shines in its greatest form. A machine that is created not only to look like something new, but to perform an equally different way. The 1007cc engine would certainly do that. “I changed the Carbi to a Mikuni flat side 40mm pump action system, modifying the intake manifolds to suit. The gearbox is a TT extra heavy duty 5 speed, and a primary belt drive which is a 40mm race pulley and belt kit. The front braking system is a Norman White twin disc and A.P calipers, with front forks being upgraded with improved internals. The faring, seat, and foot peg assembly is a Mick Hemmings kit. I had the alloy fuel tank handmade in Scotland which really bolsters the British racing vintage that machine shows off so well.”

“The thing I lost most about the bike is the exhaust noise, along with the combination of the torque, handling, and braking. It’s great fun for an old bike! The Norton is now famous, as I had Giacomo Agostini sign the backseat housing that I have had clear coated.”

 

Categories
Bikes

Beach Moto’s Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic

On a strangely overcast yet humid morning in Southern California, I am sitting outside the Shack Cafe in Playa Vista sipping on a much needed cup of coffee. In the distance, I hear the unmistakable rumble of a Ducati from down the block. Dennis is stopped at the lights. With a fervent and throaty roar, he approaches, pulls into the lot and parks 4 feet in front of me on this beautifully customised 2009 Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic.

We got to talking as motorcyclist’s do about the machine before us. Dennis acquired the bike originally from a friend out of state after trading a Moto Guzzi V7 for the GT1000. It turns out the owner of the GT1000 had a soft spot for the V7 and it became a win-win for everyone involved.

Ultimately I asked Dennis, “What compelled you to buy this bike and use it as a base for a custom project?” His answer was simple and to the point, “The GT1000 Sport Classic is by itself a beautiful motorcycle which retains a modern classic look. I like the simplicity of the air cooled engine and feel like the engine has loads of character.”

Dennis stressed to me that he himself is not a “bike-builder” however, he is fairly mechanically inclined. “There are always times in building or customizing a motorcycle where some custom fabrication is needed to really pull the bike together. Sometimes parts do not fit, screw threads need to be re-threaded, or a part made. This was case regarding a few design elements on this build.” To make it all work, Dennis sought out the assistance of StradaFab for custom fabrication and design troubleshooting.

Their first and largest contribution was a full custom exhaust system which produces a lovely deep-throated tone at speed. The rear turn signals were elegantly mounted and the rear brake reservoir is completely hidden due to a custom mounting bracket. While it took a ton of research and time to design, the results are undeniably beautiful. The GT1000 has a classic vintage appearance without tasteless mods and unnecessary shiny bolt on parts. Everything on it manages to be functional and practical.  A full list of aftermarket additions on this lovely machine can be found at the end of our article.

What also sets this bike apart is the paint scheme. It retains a level of flash without looking overtly flashy. “To achieve this we sought out our friend, neighbor and tattoo artist, Zach (@themachine13). Zach too builds wicked motorcycles and we really wanted to utilize his amazing artistic and creative talent for our bike.”

While a lot of work can go into designing and creating a custom motorcycle, none of that matters outside of the ride. The visceral feeling of being in the saddle. “This bike was never meant to be a track weapon even though it’s probably really capable. We were able to strike some weight with the removal of some of the stock parts and the addition of a light wheel set and awesome suspension,” Dennis tell me, “It is mostly used for city riding but the the power delivery makes this bike very fun. I mean it’s under 400lbs and has nearly 100bhp on tap, that always manages to put a smile on my face when I twist my wrist.”

FULL PARTS LIST

OZ Racing Piega forged aluminium wheels

Brembo 4 piston front calipers custom painted black

Brembo 2 piston rear caliper custom painted black

Brembo T-drive brake rotors  

Brembo RCS19 brake master cylinder

Brembo RCS16 clutch master cylinder

Rear brake reservoir hidden custom mount

Oberon clutch slave cylinder

Custom brake and clutch lines

Corse Dynamics under swing arm rear brake caliper bracket

Corse Dynamics 7” headlight

Corse Dynamics upper and lower triple clamps

Andreani front forks inserts

Ohlins rear shocks

Ducati Monster 1200 brake and clutch reservoirs with Rizoma custom mounts

Driven clip-ons

Rizoma mirrors

Biltwell grips

Beast-R high inflow intake kit with K&N filters

Custom blacked out valve covers

StradaFab custom belt covers

StradaFab custom exhaust system

StradaFab custom exhaust hangers

Ducati Hypermotard oil cooler

Ducati Hypermotard oil lines

Diopa tail

Custom seat

Custom Woodcraft rearsets

Rizoma turn signals with custom mounts

Biltwell brake light with custom mount

Words & Photography by Sam Bendall @livemotofoto

Categories
Bikes

Ray’s ’42 Harley-Davidson WLA

It took a commemorative convoy of WWII Army vehicles making the trip from Alice Springs to Darwin to firmly get the spark of a wartime era motorbike engrained in Ray’s head, and it would’ve be long after that fateful day that a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA would turn up in his life.

Ray’s always been into machines of every shape, from old cars and motorcycles to more eclectic work machinery. Having grown up with a father and an uncle that rode and raced motorcycles; there was very little choice for a much younger Ray to be addicted to anything else. “My uncle Ray Blackett Snr raced motorcycles with the Hinton brothers. He also raced Triumphs at Bathurst and won many races. I spent a lot of hours at the race track and developed a real love for motorcycles back then at a young age.”

Over the years, Ray’s owned just about any and every Harley-Davidson that has hit the street. His love of old machines would have him drawn to a HD 1942 WLA, as an old friend of his from the Pittwater Motor Enthusiast Club put the bike up for sale. A regretful sale from the owner, but as he was getting too old to ride it and kick the bike over he thought it best to pass this machine onto someone who would give it the use it still deserved.

“He ask me if I was interested in buying the bike, which I was, but I hadn’t the money that a bike like this was worth. Another buyer was due to check the bike out so I told him I’ll come back in half an hour, and if the bike wasn’t sold, we’ll take it from there. Sure enough I come back, and I ask him if the bike was sold. “Well, it is and it isn’t” he said, which confused me. Turns out the other buyer had made a higher offer, but my mate new he was only going to flip the bike for more money down the track. My mate wanted for the bike to go to me, so we came to an agreed price, knowing I’d look after it right and most importantly ride the bloody thing!”

And riding is something Ray certainly does, as he takes his 74 year old bike out on the roads and off them, bouncing down fire trails through the bush as we found out on our recent shoot. “She’s like a dog, in that the bike leaves her mark wherever we go. A little patch of oil wherever I stop on this bike has become my calling card!”

The Harley-Davidson WLA comes from a history of both purpose and leisure. These bikes were built during WWII, having been based on the existing civilian model, the WL. Production of these Army specific bikes began in small numbers in 1940 as the States made increases in its military production. By the end of the war, over 90,000 of these bikes were manufactured; along with enough spare parts to create the equivalent of many more. After the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1942, all WLA’s would be given serial numbers indicating a 1942 production, regardless of the actual year.

As these WLA’s found their way into civilian hands, being sold off as surplus, new bike styles began to be seen in the streets as the rise of the chopper and other motorcycle styles grew through popular culture. It’s a bike with a long and rich history, from the battlefield to the streets. Nowadays this bike is purely about fun and leisure, as it happily spends its years away from military life.

  

Categories
Garage Sessions

Keith’s Restoration Redoubt

Since Keith’s teens he’s always had projects to work on, and sure enough he turned this passion into becoming an Industrial arts teacher. Now that he’s retired, these projects have only grown, as he breaths new life into old machines.

Growing up around the bush, there was always something for Keith and his mate’s to get up to be in the ‘60’s. “I always had some projects to work on with my mates, there were plenty of cars and bikes to find as well as plenty of bush tracks to explore”. This natural love for working with his hands and creating would lead him down the path to become an Industrial Arts teacher, spending years at various TAFE colleges all the while accumulating more and more skills, which he could then pass on to future generations whilst also applying to his own projects at home.

When you first arrive at Keith’s place, you’ll immediately notice the stripped back 1960 Fiat 500 Model N that is propped up on a workbench, with it’s bright red bonnet sticking out like dog’s bollocks. Tools orbit around this machine as Keith gets to work restoring this small Italian car to a new glory, replacing and fabricating parts where he needs, and order others online that cannot be made.

“The first Fiat I got was an attempt to involve my youngest son and his mate in a restoration project. That didn’t work out, but these little fiats are good to restore, light weight, small and plenty of new parts available.

The first car was a serious rust bucket and a steep learning curve. The second car, although rusty, is potentially a better car. I have tried to do all aspects of the restoration work, mechanical, panel work, rust repair, trim work and painting.”

A similar Fiat 500 is tucked away behind this work in progress, this one much more complete however. This little blue machine is the same year and model as the one sitting outside, however with a transformable convertible top. The terrific blue interior, completed by Keith as well, is a crisp reminder of ‘60’s style and sunshine. “Bikes and scooters are nice to paint, and I did paint the blue Fiat 500 completely; but would never attempt that again, it’s simply too hard. I’m better off paying someone.”

A man of many skills must, in turn, work on many styles of vehicles. His first Harley, this 1925 Harley-Davidson JD 1200cc coil ignition with sidecar is pure 1920’s style. “There’s plenty of specialist suppliers for these early Harley’s, but they can be very challenging with broken frames, forks, crankcases and just generally worn out – but I do really love the style of these early American bikes”. The transition from the early ‘20’s models of Harley’s can be see in the tank as the more traditional look of Motorcycles we know of today is taking shape, in contrast to the 1921 Harley-Davidson that Keith also owns.

“This 1921 Harley-Davidson F 1000cc magneto ignition started life as a basket case. This is a loop frame model that didn’t change much between 1917 and 1924, so I liked the idea of a bike that had hints of WWI in it’s style, with many of those bikes ending up in Europe with the American troops towards the end of the war.”

It’s not just Italian cars that Keith’s keen on restoring, as a couple of Lambretta’s sit nearby the Harley’s. The 1955 F Model 125cc 3 speed with open frame is a fantastic representation of a restoration, and showcases 1950’s scooter style. Remnants of more open and raw style from the previous decades are present, while the more curved and stylized trend of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s can be seen to have its beginnings. Next to it sits a white and red 1957 Lambretta LD 125cc with dual seat. The fairings, curves and shape of the well known retro look has taken form now in this machine’s design, a great example of what 2 years can do in the industry when compared to the previous 1955 model.

        

Categories
Garage Sessions

Johnny’s Pump Paradise

Johnny is a self diagnosed motorhead from birth. After walking into his shed (and picking your jaw up from the floor) you’ll soon see this is an accurate diagnosis with no cure in sight, which we’re sure is fine with Johnny.

When Johnny was 14, he was riding bikes and working at a service station. “I was obsessed with being a mechanic and anything mechanical, I was interested in hot rods and bikes from watching all these old movies as a kid. I then started my apprenticeship at age 16 in 1981.

I’ve had every type of bike and car you could think of. I started with trail bikes, built up to road bikes of every brand; I got into Ducatis and then Harleys to slow me down a bit. With cars, I’ve had numerous early Holdens, Valiants, Fords and hot rods. I’m not loyal to any one brand, as long as it has nice aesthetics to me. I’m more interested in traditional style machines in both cars and bikes; I’m not into high tech style at all.”

Johnny’s got a proper looking original bobber sitting contently in his shed, a 1942 Harley WLA. “As a collector, I’ve always been a bit of a horse trader – wheeling and dealing to get something better or more interesting. As part of my searching, I found this WLA in a shipping container at the side of a house, it was a deceased estate but the price was too high. I kept in touch with the wife of the owner for over a year, and finally after buying the bike I found out that I had known her husband who owned it!

It’s had a total nut, bolt and beating rebuild of every component. The will be a period correct bobber, very close to a restoration other than just colour with a bobber rear fender and Sparto tail light. It will look like some guy came along after the war, bought an army surplus Harley and bobbed. I have left as much genuine HD stuff on it as I could. When I had the speedo rebuilt I asked them to leave the original worn out face on as a contrast to the finish of the bike.”

And now for his other machine, a 1932 3 Ford (deuce) Coupe 350 Chev with a 671 GM Supercharger, 4 speed top loader and a ford 9 inch diff. It’s been dyno tested at 537hp and 500ft pounds of torque. “Over the years I have had hundreds of cars, always trading up and value adding where I could. A mate told me of the a mutual friend who was selling his hot rod after a 14 year build, the car was fully engineered and legally registered including the super charger, a very well finished car but only a basic interior.

I saw potential to add value, so I bought it! I have since had it retimed which has made it more comfortable, but this is still a very raw true to form hot rod. It’s massively over powered for a car that is 1200kgs with a manual transmission and cross ply tires, the torque twists you into the next lane if you accelerate hard then swings back the other way when you back off, it’s serious business when you put your foot down.”

This is barely the surface of Johnny’s shed, and you’ll find yourself pouring over old petrol pumps as soon as your eyes drift away from the hot rod. Growing up in country NSW, Johnny would find himself at a family friend’s service station and had fallen in love with the look of the place, the equipment, tools, pumps and even the black floor. It was then later as a teenager he decided that since all this stuff looked great, he best get some of it for himself.  “I got my first pump from a ditch on the side of the road in the late 80’s, that’s when my collecting really started. I have sold off a few times, for various new cars and bikes, and also lack of space. I have found things anywhere from old sheds, under houses, swap meets – you name it.”

“It’s nothing for me to head off on a 300km drive after work at the drop of a hat, when a lead comes on I’m gone – you have to be. The internet and TV has seen the interest in automobillia, signs, petrol pumps, oil bottles just explode – as have the prices. Some of my favourite items are my king Neptune sign and my Art deco Erie clock face petrol pumps, the first type of electric pumps we had in Australia. Also my bullseye pumps, they were only used by Ampol, I have 6 of those I love that tombstone shape!”

Johnny’s shed is a castle, a tribute, and a museum all in one to everything vintage, classic and auto. The fact that he doesn’t actually live in it (he’s got a home too, apparently) is baffling, however I’m sure the wife would have something to say about him living in a shed. This was a purpose built space however, and was no accident.

“A few years ago the chance came to excavate my back yard so I could construct a purpose built shed for my collection. Once I had completed it I realised I had built my childhood dream house! The building of the shed was a massive job; I had to take 30 truckloads of dirt out of my yard to build it.

Fitting out the shed was also massive job, my brother is a carpenter and a lot of credit goes to him for all the work he did, it took months to finish off inside working nights and weekends scrounging the right kind of material etc. I was lucky finding materials from all over the place. I had a lot of help from my mate ‘Slick’ with the corrugated iron, which was a gigantic job on its own. The best advice I could give anyone building a shed is make it as tall as you can and insulate the shit out of it. The shed is super insulated and as 2 A/C units in it. When I walk out into the shed I feel like I have just walked into a 40s or 50s garage and the mechanics have just walked out and left it, it’s just like that country garage I walked into at 4 years old and it’s all mine.”

   

Categories
Bikes

Rocky – Andrew’s 1955 BMW R50

On a chance encounter browsing an estate auction for old film cameras, Andrew came across a beaten down 1950’s BMW R50. The word ‘disrepair’ does the state of this machine no justice. Life was about to be poured back into this old soul of Bavarian engineering, and with plenty of fond memories of riding back home in Odessa, Andrew was the man for the job.

Andrew was born in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, an area drowned in history that sits contently by the Black Sea. It was there that he first started to explore the world of motorcycles, but due to politics and a much different Europe at the time, his options were different to that of those living in the western world. His first bike was a secretive purchase; a Dnepr MT 650cc. Safety concerns from his parents meant that new machine would be parked late at night in the furthest corner he could find near his home.

“The ugly duckling I first bought was supposed to be pulled apart piece by piece, and then resurrected as one of a kind machine that could rival the best examples of so desired and so inaccessible Western bikes, if not in performance but at least in looks (since the looks is all that really matter, right?).

The fall of the iron curtain was akin to establishing contact with aliens. Everyone knew they were somewhere out there, but no one ever communicated with one… until there came this sudden avalanche of ‘alien culture’ in form of poorly translated and dubbed Hollywood movies on VHS tapes.

The avalanche brought a whole new perspective to the unspoiled generation growing up in the eastern block in the 90s, with one of the side effects being the exposure of ‘real’ american motorcycle culture and its choppers and bobbers as a backbone of cool.

Never seen before ­ these styles have captivated the minds of youngsters and made them instant but unreachable objects of obsession. Unreachable, because sourcing one like these was like getting something delivered from Mars ­ kind of possible in theory, but nah, not really. “

Andrew’s love for two wheeled machines would be brought over with him when he moved to Australia, and sure enough he found himself another ugly duckling to work on and make his own. This time, in the form of a 1955 BMW R50, named Rocky. “There’s a number of reasons behind the name: It’s a “boxer”, it came with the American number plates, it’s from the 50s like the actual Rocky Marciano (prototype for Rocky movie character)

And despite of being “knocked down” for a number of times, the bike managed to get back to the glory it deserves (with a bit of a help)”

First intentions for this bike after acquiring it from an estate auction was to simply get it running and on the road with minimal effort, but this slowly progressed into each part being taken off –every last bolt- and given a repair and clean.

“I guess each “next” serious challenge along the way naturally becomes the next “hardest part”, cause as soon as you get over it – it just turns into the “experience”.

Fighting my own impatience and rushing things was probably the hardest personal challenge, as almost every rushed decision even on smallest of things led to a much bigger setbacks.
I guess not having a garage and having to do all the work in the apartment (including soda blasting and some painting) made things pretty tricky overall”

Andrew’s bike is a glowing example of a proper restoration, sourcing all original parts where possible. This bike isn’t for show however, and after decades of sitting around lifeless this bike is born again as it’s ridden throughout the streets of Melbourne. “It’s an amazing piece of design and engineering that’s an absolute pleasure to ride and look at.

They just don’t make them like they used to, and knowing that I managed to rescue one and put back on the road instead of doing “rational” thing and making it a donor bike is really the best feeling.”

Andrew’s wonderful wife is an artist who creates photo realistic images, and has recreated the bike in another form, to check out more of her work find her on Instagram @mrovenko

     

Categories
Culture Events

Motorclassica

Housed in the iconic, heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Motorclassica was on for it’s 6th time showcasing some of Australia’s finest rare and exotic cars and motorcycles. With over one hundred years of motor vehicle history being represented, this is the Mecca for motoring enthusiasts.

Every nook, cranny and spare bit of flooring had it’s own machine in this beautiful 19th century building that was the perfect place to host such a celebration of motors. The event opened doors this year from 23-25 of October. Young and old were in attendance, with some enthusiasts matching many of the older vehicles in age, while there was also plenty of fresh young faces experiencing a glimpse into the past of motoring history.

The ground level was laid out with a huge assortment of cars covering every decade from the past century. Lamborghini, Mustang, Bugatti, Holden, and just about every other major auto brand had it’s own representation on the timber floors. The juxtaposition of car styles, and of modern and classic blended together in perfect harmony.

The second level of the exhibition centre was filled with a huge selection for motorcycles (unsurprisingly, staff weren’t keen on lugging cars up the stairs) as well as some other odds and ends form antique auto retailers, and even an array of vintage espresso machines. Motorbike brands such as BMW, MV Augusta, Royal Enfield and others had displays, showing off vehicles from their past and present. Other vintage clubs also had a large variety of bikes present. Some were true restorations, an immaculate image of the past – whilst others were left to be changed by time and celebrated their own unique patina.

  

Categories
Bikes

Anthony’s Ducati SportClassic

When Anthony was a young lad, kids either had a Ferrari poster on their wall or a Ducati. For him, it was the Ducati. Many years later, Tony has traded that poster in for the real thing – Here’s Tony’s Ducati SportClassic.

Anthony first started on bikes by jumping on Peewee 50’s at the age of 4, and as he grew the bikes did along with him. “I moved on to 80cc and 125cc race bikes on the dirt with an official sponsorship through HRC in Australia from the ages of 9 to 13.  As soon as I turned 16, I got my road license for bikes and have never looked back. Having raced on dirt, and fallen off on dirt – it was only a logical progression to go to road.”

Anthony’s ride is a 2007 Ducati SportClassic 1000s Biposto, with a few extra details including –

– WASP air intake kit with new fuel maps

– High compression pistons

– FLEDA rear brake lights with WATSEN indicators

– Rizoma goodies (bar ends, handle grips, mirrors, brake and clutch reservoirs

After riding and owning a few other Ducati’s, Anthony finally settled on his SportClassic after a bit of swapping about. “Having come off an immaculate Ducati 1098S, I was fortunate enough to meet the guys from SHED-X and had seen an article on their build Bastardo which was a heavily chopped and modified Ducati ST2 tourer.

I ended up doing a key for key swap on Bastardo for my 1098S. The short of it was that I realised, at that moment, that I am getting older – and wiser, and wanted something that would reflect and compliment my changing riding style. I wanted something cooler than cool, something that was not overly common on the roads, hence the full OEM fairing, and something that was more comfortable than my previous 2 bikes had been.

BOOM! Long live the Sport Classic! It looks like it was made in the 1970’s, goes like a modern bike, and best of all it has no oil leaks, no carbies to tune in the rain, and no kick starter!”

There’s a lot to love about this bike. Truly a modern classic – all in the red paintwork that fits Ducati so very well. “I love the way it looks from behind, especially with the new brake light and indicator unit. But, then again, it looks pretty sweet from any angle to be honest. I catch a look in the reflection of cars or shop windows and still love the look of it more today than I did yesterday. And yesterday, I loved it more than the day before! I guess I will be hanging on to this bike for a while. Looks like my son will get a pretty awesome 17th birthday present!”

Careful Anthony, he just might hold you to that.

“I love that moment when, at 6am – you throw the garage door open, rip a dust cover off, exposing your ride for the first time that day.  I love the noise the bike makes when you thumb the key to ON, flick the ignition switch to RUN and listen to the whir. You know the one? The one that really gets your heart skipping because you know you are seconds away from the rumble that you know so well!”

“I also love riding with the “trusted few”. That inner-sanctum of mates that you know as well as you know yourself. It’s that group of riders, the ones who are happy to get home ‘later than expected’ because they are there for you.  That group of mates whose riding styles you know – the one’s who’s wheels you can be inches off all day, knowing that they would never brake suddenly, because you know that they know that you are there. THEY are the ones I like to ride with.”