Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Perhaps every racing motorcycle has a unique story to tell, but this '39 DKW SS350 production racer has a very interesting tale. When found in Sweden a few years ago, it had previously only had two owners, and was originally a Polish racing machine. 'Why Poland, and how could it have been exported there after the war began?'

The story I heard; a Polish horticulturist (also an amateur racer) had perfected a variety of black roses which were unique. German officers were quite keen customers for his blooms, as they were especially appreciated by their Parisian girlfriends... one well-connected officer asked the Polish fellow how he could reward him for his special efforts on their behalf (the girls must have really liked those flowers!) - he wanted a racing DKW. So, this motorcycle was invoiced to him 'without a petrol tank', but the tank with the bike is from a Works racer, and must have come along with the deal as a special favor.

The DKW was dismantled when things turned sour for his patrons (and for Poland), and was eventually smuggled out of the country to a Swedish collector in the 1980's.

I enjoyed riding near this machine on the Hockenheim circuit; it has no 'ring-ding' of modern two-strokes, but emits a low and raspy bellow. The SS350 is water-cooled and has 'twin cylinders', but four pistons, as the two pistons/barrels for each combustion chamber are used to 'time' the intake/exhaust cycle accurately and push both the incoming and exhaust gases to the right places at the right time. I'll go into how this works in another post, but DKW weren't alone in using two pistons per 'cylinder' - even the last Sears Allstate (Puch) machines used a similar system in the late 1960's - some people call them 'twingles' (twin piston/single cylinder), although I suppose the DKW would be called a 'fourtwin'. These racers also have a Ladepumpe under the the engine, which is a separate cylinder (and crankshaft, on the Works machines) used to compress air into the crankcase - a kind of supercharger for two-strokes. Thus, while this motorcycle is technically a twin-cylinder two stroke, mechanically it is a 5-piston machine - hardly a 'simple two-stroke'. The SS350 produced around 34hp, and used magnesium for the crankcases, gearbox case, and brake hubs, and was what DKW offered to the public for racing. According to Wolfgang Schneider, this complicated multi-piston two-stroke engine is only competitive for racing when the extra 'push' of the Ladepumpe piston is used. The similar Works Ladepumpe 'UL350' racer produced 38hp, but by 1939, the Works machines used a rotary supercharger, and this 'US350' model produced 49hp. And clearly, I need to make a proper timeline for these racers!

DKW joined forces with Audi, Horch, and Wanderer to form Auto-Union in 1932 (making the four 'rings' still seen on Audi), while DKW was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world (and Auto Union the second largest motor vehicle mf'r). The DKW archives and many of their works racing machines can be found at the Audi museum in Ingolstadt. Audi also has a small museum in their showplace in Neckarsulm, home of NSU, which was absorbed by Auto Union in the 1969. There is a very nice collection of racing NSU machines in Neckarsulm; photos to come shortly.

Swap to Live/Live to Swap

Treasure trove scored at last Sunday's Long Beach Swap Meet. Ain't they purdy? Old H-D parts are like mechanical Art. I get high on this stuff.

Kawasaki Recalls 2008-2009 Vulcan Models for Gas Tank Leak

Kawasaki has issued a recall of certain 2008 Vulcan VN900C8F and VN900D8F and 2009 Vulcan VN900B9F and VN900B9FL motorcycles.

Fuel can leak from between the tank filler neck and the fuel cap gasket. Fuel leakage in the presence of an ignition source can result in a fire.

604 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gasoline Gallery Art show 9/21/08

The day after El Camino (Sunday 9/21), I rode up to Gasoline in Smell Segundo for the opening of the "In the Wind" motorcycle art exhibit. It's a cool small store/art gallery that katers to the Kustom Kulture Hot Rod scene. The name Gasoline fits well in a town named after a oil refinery.

A small group of Triumph owners, young beatniks, and hipsters were on hand when this old dude pulled up.

Every time I go there for one of these show openings, I see Slim and his bikes. Slim builds stuff in a way that Ed Roth himself would approve of. He and his bro are two downright friendly, creative, and positive dudes. Slim's available for all kinds of Fab. Keep an eye on him, or maybe two, he's going places!
www.slimsfab.com 951-217-9303

Kawa Trike by Slim

Dirt Nap by Slim

Nanook by Slim, under the watchful eye of "the man"

Brown Recluse. A lot of us got started with Minis

Ghost Rider panel by David Mann

Sara Ray Fortune Teller


Keith Weesner


Tat Style


Glitter Powered!

Finks by Sara Ray

Mosaic Tile Mania

Cycho tank by Road Dog

Shinya again ya

Store Winda Shovel

Cool little Chop Bob Cub 250 a Go-Go

I met the Gallery owner (Mark), for the first time. He instructed me to send some stuff for his artist file. Who knows, maybe some of my art will be there one day?

Current show runs only through October 5th?

Nuff said!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Bob

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Website. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery.

See Bob with his prize-winning 1982 Honda CB900 Custom. For details, see Motorcycle Pictures of the Week.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

El Camino Motorcycle Show 2008

It was one of those great weekends packed full of biking good times. Last Saturday the 33rd Annual Antique Motorcycle Show was held at El Camino College.

Two oldies. Nice but, perfect museum pieces are starting to bore me

It's always one of my favorite events of the year. My brother and I decided to put our bikes in the show at the last minute. We didn't do it cause we thought we'd win but instead for the comradeship with friends, spectators, participants, and to support the event. It's also the best place to park.

The old gal must of been proud, she didn't drip like usual

Cup 'o' second

I was really surprised that my 70 shovel placed 2nd in the American Classic 1965-1988 class. It kind of makes up for when they put me in the wrong (original un-restored), class in 2006.

This very nice fresh restored red 66 took first in the 65-88 class. It had been badly damaged in a fire. Turned out a friend of mine assisted with the restoration.

Paul Wheeler's Cop Bike. Many originally sought Cop bikes and Dressers only for their chopper potential. Funny how later, the "admiration of the potential" becomes the new cool. I think that's one reason why primered rods and bikes have become cool.

I thought for sure Paul Wheeler's 67 Police bike would take first and told him so. For some reason his bike didn't even get third, he did get a Sponsor's Choice Plaque. I didn't feel too bad for him as he built the second place bike in the Bobber class and has won a ton of trophies at this and other prior events.

My score, 96 points. Not bad for a ride in 14 year old restoration

Even though this year's event was the biggest ever , it might die. Glenn Bator of Bator International is weary of throwing it. He's hosted it for the last 9 years. There was one year it didn't happen between him and the previous promoter. Hope someone steps up. It would be a shame to see this traditional event die after 33 years.

Who doesn't like a Knuckle Bobber?

Coolest bike at show? My bro though so

This Salsbury is one Meaty Scooter

Clean Knuck by Paul Wheeler

Nice Captain America replica but, is the fork is too long and raked too much?

This year Indian Lewy was a Happy Loser!

The swap meet was great (I found a nice lower fork tree for my 65), and there was a ton of nice bikes. Like always, they were not just in the show but, in the vendors booths as well. Between hunting for parts, entering the show and talking with friends, I just wasn't up to the chore of taking a bunch of pictures this year. That will do pig.

Monday, September 22, 2008


An extremely generous fellow offered a ride on a 'spare' NSU Sportmax, complete with what seemed to be his extra leathers, helmet, gloves, and boots, for Sunday. When Sunday arrived, there were a few long faces, which I assumed was the result of the late-night drinking party going full swing in the garage when I left. The complete retinue of around 35 people sat in candlelight on long tables, talking, drinking, laughing - it was a quite a scene. As I walked back to my car, almost every other lockup garage had a similar party going on; all of them had quiet lights/candles, tables, food, and one even had a band! I had no idea - these folks know how to have a good time with their motorcycling.

The worried looks had more to do with the over-generosity of my benefactor - he is part of the 'team' and was expected to ride, especially as for various reasons he's had few rides this year, and in fact he had no spare leahters, they were his only pair! 'He is the type to give you all of his money and clothing too' Wolfgang explained.

But, since the ball had been put in motion, it seemed there was a 'spare' mkVIII KTT Velocette, and Wolfgang had an extra set of leathers (from when he was a bit thinner...), someone else had a helmet, and I had brought a pair of proper riding boots (as nobody's feet are the same size, eh?). So, I was set - first track session was 9:30am, and I was suited up and ready to go.

As I've had a bit of experience riding a mkVIII, the bike held no terrors barring the fact that it belonged to my host, and I hadn't seen more than 400m of the 4.4km course! It was a case of get on and go, and my principal goal was not to embarrass myself by 1. falling off, or 2. breaking the bike. Plus, the company was a bit intimidating - Jim Redman on a Honda, and several other World and German champions in the mix on a variety of Works and pukka racing machinery. I bump started the Velo without a problem, and sat warming it up while all the other bikes fired up, and I sat amidst the noise and smoke for a few minutes. I didn't see or hear a signal, but it suddenly got really LOUD and extra smoky, so I dropped the clutch and wound the throttle!

Hockenheim is a flat circuit made for F1, and owned by the municipality. Thus, it has grandstands for 80,000 people, and predictable corners; almost all right-handers, with one left hand hairping thrown in. The Velo had good power and excellent handling, although I was unable to hit top revs on the circuit, so must have been traveling between 40-95mph the whole time. Some of the other machines were sooo much faster than the Velo, especially the newer two-strokes, and of course several of the 80-year-old riders just flew by me - age hasn't diminished their GP-winning style a bit. I was able to hold my own around the bends as the bike was smooth and pulled well, so I did all my passing there, and followed the faster riders around for some warning about coming corners. I found I was chasing a '38 BMW RS51, which would pull me on the straights, but I reeled him in on the bends, so he made a good riding partner. End result; happy rider, intact bike, fun session. Whew.

In between my two rides I circulated the infield, looking at bikes, talking with people, buying books. The other riders were all very friendly, and the atmosphere was congenial and happy; everyone was there to have a good time and show the bikes in action to spectators.
My second session came quickly at 1:45pm - I had been invited by Wolfgang to 'ride with the team' on this session, which I took to mean, ride with the team. When the gang rode off, he wasn't quite ready and waved me on, but I found two team members to follow - my erstwhile generous friend on a Sportmax, and a dohc Norton Manx. We circulated together for 5 laps, when my motor suddenly cut out - scheisse! But, I was out of fuel, no big deal, and I got a free ride to the pits on the back of a flatbed trailer; 'sit on the bike, put it in gear, hold the brake' were my instructions, so I hammed it up and leaned into the corners and lay flat on the straightaways.

There were so many new faces and names, I'm afraid I got a bit mixed up at times, so bear with me on this aspect of the weekend. The photos show the atmosphere of the circuit, and a few of the riders and machines on Sunday. As you can see, variety was the rule; Motosacoche, Condor, Parilla, Gilera, Horex, NSU, BMW, (even Velosolex!).