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John Glimmerveen

John\\\'s Classic Motorcycles Blog

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Banbury Auction

Saturday May 24, 2014

Every year in the UK, vintage motorcycle enthusiasts converge on Banbury in Oxfordshire for the annual Banbury run. In addition to the run, is one of the UK's top auctions of classic and vintage motorcycles organized by Bonhams 1793 Ltd.

This year's auction has some rare and unique machines due to come under the hammer (including one with Royal connections!). And don't forget to check out the Bonhams site for rare hard to finds parts which will be on offer too.

Further reading:

Bandbury Auction Preview

Motorcycle Handling

Saturday May 24, 2014

I have ridden some of the worst handling motorcycles of all time, and I know this because I am lucky enough to have ridden some of the best handling too.

But what makes a bad handling motorcycle? The simple truth is that many things can contribute to turning that sweat handling British classic into an evil bucking mule with no mercy! And sometimes it can be something as simple as a deflating tire.

The challenge with finding and fixing a handling problem is to understand the problem. As any professional race team will tell you, throwing parts at a problem hoping to fix something is not the right way. And for a street bike you may be masking a fault (sometimes a serious fault) rather than fixing the base problem.

At the outset of diagnosing a handling problem is to decide (based on known facts) if the problem is related to one of three possibilities: component wear, component damage, or the need to adjust something. As a guide, component wear and the need to adjust something generally follow a similar path--the handling problem starts slowly and gets worse. A broken component, on the other hand, will have an instantaneous effect.

Further reading:

Evil Handling Racers

A Classic Among Classic Motorcycles

Wednesday May 21, 2014

The amazing thing about some manufacturers is that almost every model they produce becomes a classic--a classic among classics. So if you decide to select one bike as an example from a famous manufacturer for your collection, how would you decide which one?

Take Ducati, for instance. They have been producing motorcycles since 1946. Over the years they have produced some incredible ground-breaking designs. From their Cucciolo moped that launched the company into mass motorcycle production, to the gorgeous 918, Ducati motorcycles are outstanding.

But the classic among all classics for Ducati has to be the 750 Super Sport. The V twin, with desomdromic valve gear, launched the company to the forefront of sport bikes. Based on the inaugural Imola 200 race winner, ridden by Englishman Paul Smart, the 750 SS is a highly collectible classic.

Further reading

Affordable Ducatis

Photographing Classic Motorcycles

Tuesday May 20, 2014

If you were lucky enough to have a new camera as a present, it's time to experiment with it on your classic bike.

Although modern cameras tend to do all the work for you with focusing and speed settings, a good photograph can be spoiled because of bad preparation before the shot was taken.

How many times do you see a beautiful photograph of a classic bike and the photographer is visible in the fuel tank? Or what about the sign in the background? (Yes we all make mistakes!).

Besides ensuring the lighting is correct, it is very important to really look carefully at the screen or through the view finder. If you see things other than the main subject, it is simply a case of repositioning yourself.

With a new camera, it is very important to practice taking photographs. See how close you can get to an object, for instance, something that is particularly important when photographing a bike during a restoration.

Further reading:

Beautiful Racing Motorcycles, Form and Function in Harmony

Maintenance on Vintage and Classic Bikes

Sunday May 18, 2014

I'm quite sure the original designers of some of our current classics and vintage bikes would be amazed at the mileage the bikes have covered. Either that, or amazed at the fact these bikes are still around!

As these machines get older, their maintenance requirements change; they will still need to have all the usual service items attended to, but other items will need consideration too. For example, much of the exposed hardware (engine bolts, side stand pivot bolts, fender stay bolts, etc.) should be inspected and replaced if there are any signs of corrosion or if the threads are becoming worn.

When the age of a motorcycle surpasses typical total miles, many other items will need to be serviced or replaced. Unfortunately, every machine is different. But for the most part, a common sense approach is all that is needed for ongoing maintenance.

Further reading:

Motorcycle Maintenance, Classics and Vintage Bikes

Maintenance, Overlooked Jobs

British Motorcycle Names

Wednesday May 7, 2014

The name Associated Motor Cycles (AMC) may not be all that familiar to some motorcycle enthusiasts. But, in fact, this company eventually owned many of the famous British motorcycle names at one time or another. Names such as AJS, Matchless, Frances Barnet, Norton and Villiers were all once part of the AMC portfolio.

Today, only Norton and AJS motorcycles are produced. Although both companies are British owned, only Nortons are manufactured in the UK. The AJS name now adorns lightweight motorcycles made in China.

Further reading:

AJS Motorcycles

Collecting British Bikes

Today, only Norton and AJS motorcycles are produced. Although both companies are British owned, only Nortons are manufactured in the UK. The AJS name now adorns lightweight motorcycles made in China.

Further reading:

AJS Motorcycles

Collecting British Bikes

Norton Dominator

Vintage and Classic MX Dirt Bike Riding

Tuesday May 6, 2014

Many classic motorcycle riders had their first experience of a motorcycle riding on dirt as a child. Those first tentative feet, as you balance the bike and start to apply the throttle, often leave a lasting impression--some were good, some not so much!

For some riders the allure of riding on dirt never changes and they start competing in trials or MX. During the 70s MX (Scrambling in the UK) took off. Entries at MX events often exceeded 400 riders.

Today, classic and vintage MX events are very popular with many riders learning all over how to ride on dirt.

In addition, many old MX bikes are being restored either for display or to be ridden again in competition.

Further reading:

KTM 420 Restoration.

The AMCA (Amateur Motor Cycle Association)

Ducati and Their V-Twins

Saturday April 26, 2014

Looking back through the history of Ducati, it is interesting to note the emergence of the V-Twin engine in 1971 (In the US). Up until that time, Ducati had favored smaller engined machines which were popular all over Europe - their main market. However, as the US market grew for motorcycles, so, too, did the demand for something bigger than a 350-cc machine.

This demand was partly met by the introduction of the Ducati MK3 Desmo with its 450 engine (actual capacity was 436-cc), a machine that was highly regarded by both journalists and the buying public. But the US importers - Berliner Motor Corporation - wanted a much bigger multi-cylinder machine, Ducati responded with a 750 V-Twin (design by famed Italian engineer Fabio Taglinoni). The rest, as they say, is history. The V-Twin engine layout is still used in Ducatis today, and many are now being bought by classic enthusiasts wanting one of the iconic Italian machines.

Further reading:

Affordable Ducatis

Ducati Monza Restoration

Inexpensive Classics: They Do Exist?

Friday April 25, 2014

So you want a classic. It must be made by a famous named manufacturer. It must be in perfect condition and . . . oh yeah, it must be cheap--I mean inexpensive!

Believe it or not, there are many classic motorcycles out there that fit the above criteria. OK, $6,500 for a 1979 XLCH Sportster (1000-cc) in perfect condition may not be some people's idea of an inexpensive bike, but compared to a new one?

How about a nice Kawasaki K-series machine? A 1976 KZ900 can be had for around $3,300. And for the 2-stroke lovers among us, how about a 1979 RD400F Yamaha can be bought for around $4,000 in top condition.

The list is long for good quality classic motorcycles. As always though, make sure you do your research before parting with those hard earned dollars.

Further reading

Low Cost Harley Davidsons

Five Classics for Less Than $5,000

Classic Motorcycle Styling

Saturday April 19, 2014

I have to admit it, I like the look of bikes with bodywork. Be it a Bathtub Triumph, or an LE Velocette, I think they look good. But for manufacturers in the late 50s and 60s, going with the trend of covering the engines etc. with panels was almost guaranteed to bring financial problems. The designers of the time thought this was the future of motorcycle styling, buyers, however, thought otherwise.

One bike in particular with bodywork that appeals to me is the Aermacchi Chimera. These stylish machines were produced by the Italian factory (this was before Harley Davidson bought them out) from 1956 to 1964. And, although these bikes were well received for the mechanical reliability and performance, they never took off in the market place.

I guess the designers of the day were as perplexed at the lack of sales as I am today.

Further reading :

Aermacchi

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