Thursday, October 29, 2009

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Tom's Gal

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Website. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See Tom's Gal on his 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200. There are no women winners this week. Get your picture in. 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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

about suzuki

Anybody can drive. To ride, you need passion.

It’s that favorite road, where you know the pavement like a good friend. The wild stretch of woods that begs you to wander and explore. Or the call of the racetrack that has you up early on weekends. At Suzuki, we build bikes because we share your enthusiasm to get out and go. For us, it’s a Way of Life. And you’ll feel it here on our new site.

We’ve made it simple to comparison-shop multiple models, so you can find exactly what you are looking for. And we’ve upgraded the image galleries, so you can view our entire lineup of cycles or ATVs on a single page. It’s almost like visiting the showroom from your living room.
There’s something new here for everyone. ATV riders will dig the exciting additions to the KingQuad family. Road riders will be thrilled to meet our latest street beast, the B-King. So whether you’re a skilled rider scoping out the new Gladius or a beginner eager to put some miles on the friendly TU250X, you’ll feel the pure excitement that comes with owning a new Suzuki.A new year, a new website. We know you share the same passion for motorcycles and ATVs as we at Suzuki do. We've put that same passion into our website so we can better show you our latest and greatest.

With the new site you will be able to see more of those details you're looking for with larger images and an enhanced image gallery. What better way to better get to know new models such as the Gladius and the TU250X. We've also made it easier to compare related editons to each model so  you can now immediatley see the myriad of exciting new additons to the KingQuad lineup. And we'll bet you didn't fully realize the full breadth of the Suzuki product line until you view the Cycles and ATV pages that shows them all on one page.

You're curious and we've given you more ways to explore. Regardless of whether you are an experienced riding enthusiast or a beginning rider we're certain you'll find something exciting and new about Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs. With so many bikes and ATVs in our lineup that answer to the various desires within the Suzuki ridership, we're confident that you'll see why now, more than ever Suzuki is a Way of Life!

More Free Motorcycle Wallpapers

Just a quick blog entry to let you all know I've added two more great free motorcycle desktop wallpapers to the inter-bike wallpapers gallery for you to download.

They are the Rieju MRT50 Enduro Wallpaper and the updated 2010 Moto Morini Granpasso Wallpaper.

They are free for personal use, hope you enjoy them?

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Ride from "Bikers Point" on the Grossglockner

Just though I'd let you know we've recently added the video below of our ride down on a BMW R1200 GS from "Bikers Point" on the Grossglockner in Austria to the inter-bike Channel on YouTube. The ride down was in near zero visibility cloud cover on a cobble pavement road with 7 hairpins!

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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teknologi silinder block yang diterapkan pada : SPIN,SKYWAVE,SKYDRAVE,FU,SOGHUN FL


Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM ) merupakan teknologi Suzuki yang telah terbukti. Dibandingkan metode konvensional yang mengunakan liner besi tuang untuk melindungi dari gesekan dan panas, pada selinder almunium FU 150 SC menggunakan teknologi SCEM yang merupakan sebuah plat dengan ketebalan beberapa micron. Berkurangnya liner besi tuang membuat mesin menjadi lebih ringan dan ringkas dan almunium mempunyai konduktivitas panas yang tinggi dibandingkan dengan besi. SCEM membuat mesin melepas panas secara efisien untuk membantu menjaga suhu kerja optimum.

rumus menghitung perbandingan kompresi

merikut merupakan rumus menghitung pebandingan kompresi sepeda motor.

Dimana :
CR = Perbandingan kompresi
VD  = Volume langkah piston
VC  = Volume ruang di atas piston saat TMA
Contoh : CR = 9,5 : 1

Friday, October 23, 2009

2010 Moto Morini Granpasso details released

Italian motorcycle manufacturer Moto Morini have released details of the improvements to their adventure sport bike the Granpasso for 2010. These include:-

  • The handlebars have been upgraded with risers that allow greater adjustment
  • The redesigned seat decreases the riding height and is fitted with a moulded alloy heat shield underneath
  • Morini have homologated the Granpasso for use with knobbly enduro style tyres
  • Fitted high strength iron alloy motocross style footpegs too, these have removable rubber inserts.
  • New software for injection engine control has been developed
  • The lambda sensor has been moved to the front cylinder exhaust pipe, delivering smoother response, particularly during the initial opening of the throttle

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Rieju MRT50 released

Rieju the Spanish motorcycle manufacturer have released details of their new Rieju MRT50 series.

They will be available in Enduro or Supamoto form.

Manufactured near Barcelona they feature Yamaha Minarelli 6 speed motors combined with KTM radiators, Domino grips, AJP calipers & levers, IRIS Digital clocks. Michelin tyres.

The standard model is available in colours Red White or Black and the pro editions in White or Green.

The Pro editions feature race graphics, Marzocchi 40mm inverted forks, remote reservoir rear shocks, alloy bars and silencer and Galfer wave discs all round.

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

New range of zero-emission electric scooters launched in the UK

New brand e-motive has launched a range of zero emission electric scooters into the UK market place. This new british-based brand is hoping to make electrically-powered vehicles a real option for ordinary people in the UK.

Full details of the new range can be found in the inter-bike site here.

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Monday, October 19, 2009

New Yamaha X-MAX 250 and Yamaha X-MAX 125 for 2010

Yamaha Motor UK has announced the releases of revised X-Max scooter's for 2010. The X-MAX 250 and X_Max 125 have redesigned bodywork with one-piece construction of the front cowling, with a fixed instrument panel. The single-piece cowling allows for a larger, improved dashboard design. It comes fully equipped with red backlit analogue and digital instruments, which now include a large sports-style rev counter.

The 2010 models have a new shape of the new footboard position. A re-designed double seat conceals more than enough storage space to accommodate two full-face helmets. Up front there is an enlarged lockable glove compartment.

There is a completely new rigid frame, suspended on twin rear shocks – with 4 adjustable positions - and long-travel telescopic forks with 15inch front and 14inch rear tyres ans twin-piston 267mm front and 240mm rear disc brakes.

The X- MAX 250 is available in Competition White, Midnight Black, Aluminium Slate and Storm Silver.

The X-MAX 125 is available in four colour finishes: Magnetic Blue, Competition White, Aluminium Slate and Midnight Black.

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Favorite Von Dutch Sign/Taking Off

I'm going to be away from the blog for a bit. Feel free to leave your comments and I'll post them when I can. In the mean time....
I leave you with my favorite Von Dutch sign.

From the Brucker auction

Dumb Stuff: Ugly, Lame, or Stupid...

or How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Motorcycle.

I've been holding back for a bit.

This blog is mostly about what I like, but like the header says, also Dumb Stuff. Those of you who have been reading the blog for awhile probably kind of "get" what I like and what I don't, so here we go.

Ugly, Lame and Stupid... and a waste of Knuckle Heads.

Grubby old bikes are OK with me, but I don't see how just piling on Garbage is cool.

Speaking of Garbage....

Holy Swiss Cheese! It slices and dices! There's a lot going on here.

I believe Ness makes these foot boards. Money and chrome don't necessarily=Cool.

Theme Bikes. WTF? The guy checking it out basically sums it up.

I've said it before: "Just cause ya don't like it, doesn't mean it ain't fun to look at!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Lisa

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Website. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See Lisa on her 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster Custom. There are no men winners this week. Get your picture in. 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.

Buell closes!!

Shock news, yesterday Harley-davidson Inc announced it will be discontinuing the Buell product line and will concentrate its efforts on the Harley-Davidson brand.

Apparently a limited number of new Buell motorcycles remain available for sale through authorized dealerships and production will wind down by October 30. Harley-Davidson will provide replacement parts and service through dealerships and that warranty coverage will continue as normal for Buell motorcycles.

So a sad day for all those at Buell and us in the motorcycle community at large with the loss of such an iconic motorcycle brand.

Buell will surely be missed by the many of us who of have ridden Erik Buell's amazing machines.

You an watch Erik Buell's personal video message on the closure, by clicking on the YouTube Video above.

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Will Harley-Davidson Cut Buell?

Just saw an interesting report. Harley-Davidson's net income fell 84% in the third-quarter, 2009. Looking ahead, they are expected to discontinue production of Buell motorcycles. Read more.

Here's a video from Erik Buell.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Back in July 2000, my good friend John Jennings of Perth, Australia, rode one day of the week-long Velocette Owner's Club of North America Summer Rally on my 1933 MkIV KTT Velo. In its current incarnation, 'The Mule' was built up for historic racing by Eddie Arnold in the late 1970s. Eddie found the machine at Mack's Motorcycles in Massachusetts, where it had been imported as an engine only from the factory in 1933. Presumably a donor KSS chassis housed the engine (or Mack's also purchased a factory-spare frame; it bears no numbers).
As European-style road-racing was almost nonexistent in the US at that time, it must have seen competition on the dirt ovals popular on the East Coast in the 30s. My friend Rick Haner is convinced his father raced this very machine 'in the day', and had a photograph he believed showed KTT470 in competition. Sadly, his house burned a couple of years ago, so the search for documentation continues...

By John Jennings

“Who me? Are you serious? All day tomorrow? I sure would!” This was roughly the response Paul d’Orleans heard when he offered me a ride on the most impressive and desirable Velo in attendance at the 2000 Summer Ride. So the deal was done – Paul and Alison would ride Paul’s Viper, which had been my faithful mount thus far, and I would ride Paul’s delectable 1933 KTT. Because of its heroic passage along the treacherous dirt of Mule Town Road the previous day of the rally, the KTT has become widely known as the "Little Mule". The Mule and I have shared many happy miles in North America, including one dramatic day in 2005 when the friendly officers of the Lake Tahoe CHP decided that it should be impounded for 'registration irregularities' - but that's another story [It certainly is...]. What follows is my impressions after the first big day on the Mule.

It was a hot Thursday evening in Etna, in the mountain wilds of NorCal – the most northern part of our route. Friday we were returning to rally HQ, Redway some 250 miles to the south. Between Etna and Redway stood some of the most challenging roads of the week, including the infamous Forks of Salmon road, where legend has it that reclusive locals in beaten up pick-ups have been known to force unwanted tourists off the road and over the edge of the roadside abyss, never to be seen again. ‘Am I doing the right thing?’, came a small voice in my head.

Friday dawned to a crisp blue sky over the Etna City Park. KTT sat poised to go, on a convenient stump; a surrogate centrestand. After packing the gear onto the Viper and a final check of its vital parts, it was time to hand this mount over to Paul for the day. Paul gave some basic instructions and advice. Fuel taps. Tickler. Lots of oil blowing from the exposed valve gear onto the rear tyre. Upside down gearshift pattern (fortunately the same as the reverse gear lever equipped Viper). No rear view mirror. No kickstarter. No silencer. No horn. No lights. A front brake that works best once there’s some heat in the linings. How to bump start. ‘Am I doing the right thing?’, the small voice asked again.

Time to go. I looked at the long gravel access road and did a rough head count of the assembled onlookers. Discretion versus valour. ‘Righto Paul, show me how it’s done, mate!’ Paul is a special sort of Velo rider. I knew that he’d bumped and thumped KTT along the impossible, impassable Mule Town Road the previous day. I knew that he’d bump started KTT in loose sand when there was no-one else around in 98 degree heat. I knew this bit of gravel access road would be a piece of cake for him. And so it was. I pulled on the gloves, walked down to where he sat side saddle, blipping the throttle and threw my leg over the low slung sprung saddle. I rode down to the main road and did a couple of familiarisation laps while waiting for P & A on the Viper. I stopped the engine and did a trial bump start. Second gear, wind back off compression, clutch in, then run and bump. KTT fires but before I can get the clutch in stalls with a couple of kangaroo hops – my fault, not hers. Second attempt I grab the clutch, just in time. Before day’s end I have my own version of the bump start routine that suits me better. First gear, wind back off compression, clutch in, run and bump and clutch in. Then catch the engine on the throttle. The lower gear spins the engine faster and almost guarantees that it will fire immediately, so you don’t have to wait for things to light up, then respond with the clutch. Not recommended for sand or gravel bump starts, however.

Paul & Alison appear on the laden Viper and we turn east and almost immediately start a long climb. For KTT, with more power than Viper and far less unladen weight, this is no problem. But for Viper the added burden of all my camping gear plus pillion (albeit a lightweight one today) means each ascent becomes a second and third gear challenge. But Paul pushes hard and we enjoy a pleasant 15 minutes or so of climbing before the hairpins appear and the grade steepens. Paul waves me by and for the first time I feel the exhilaration of riding a Velo with a power to weight ratio that makes uphill as much fun as downhill. This KTT pulls strongly from low revs, and after each up change the bars literally tug on your arms as the clutch bites and the revs rise quickly to the next change point or braking point, whichever arrives first. After another 20 minutes or so we crest a saddle at 5500 feet. The view is spectacular in every direction. I stop at a viewing bay, dismount and reflect on the oily black and gold machine leaning against the stone wall. So far Paul’s advice is right - the oily rear tyre grips, but I wouldn’t like to try it on damp or wet bitumen. The riding position is more relaxed than racy, with flattish bars and mid mounted footpegs (definitely not rearset). The rear brake feels spongy (cable operated) but bites progressively. The front brake – well haven’t had much call for it yet, as engine braking has done most of the work so far. The clutch is a beauty, freeing cleanly for the bump start routine and not a sign of slip under power. Paul credits me with this, as it had started to drag during the previous day’s horror stretch and I spent 10 minutes with the adjusting peg on Thursday evening, and reset the cable. No cover on the gearbox sprocket so it was even easier than normal. Steering is precise, with the MkVIII style front end (forks and brake) giving clear signals as to what the front tyre is up to, and doing a ‘good for the era’ job of absorbing bumps. And the sprung saddle looks after minor bumps OK but after landing a little far back and copping the rear edge of the seat in the coccyx on one occasion, I decide to ride on the pegs for any substantial bumps I see in future.

The frenzied sound of a little engine working hard signals the arrival of the Viper. P & A soak up the view, then Paul decides a nearby rock cairn would be a great setting for a victory shot of KTT [above]. So we manoeuvre it gingerly out onto the cairn, engage first gear so it won’t roll away and prop the left footpeg on a substantial rock. Alison shoots photos from every angle, then we safely retrieve KTT and it’s off again, for my first taste of downhill KTT’ing. I must say that selecting the crest of a mountain for the first public demonstration of my prowess at the bump start routine was a masterstroke! However KTT fires up in the first 10 feet of the decline, leaving 4990 feet in reserve.

Paul obviously believes I‘ll get the plot home in one piece so I don’t feel the need for us to travel in convoy all day. I’m definitely a “travel at your own pace” sort of person, and generally detest the regimented riding which some Clubs force upon their riders. After a few gentle corners I begin to get the feel of the bike again and the pace quickens. But the first hairpin I encounter calls for an extraordinary amount of pressure on the front brake (and as much as I dare on the rear) to get down to a speed where I’m comfortable to tip it into the turn. Comfortable or not, there comes a point in every turn where tip it in you must, as the options are few. Lesson learnt – this ain’t no Tickle twin leader and I must adjust braking points to suit. Down through Sawyers Bar and on to Forks of Salmon I see few other Velos. The pace of the KTT on all the uphill riding means by this time Viper must be far behind. I come up behind a Velo pottering along at about 40 mph. I slip past and continue on at an enjoyable 7 or 8-tenths sort of pace. The road is bumpy and a little narrow but many of the corners have a clear view around. I look behind at one stage and see that the potterer has tagged on and we enjoy this ride for the next half hour or so. He drops back a little and then a little further down this winding road I hear another sound, at my left ear in the middle of a sweeping left-hander. Paul has cruised up on the inside. He waves, gives the thumbs up, shouts something (which is later translated to ‘it sounds great – I’ve been following you for 10 minutes’). Must look over my shoulder more often in future. I spend the remainder of the ride puzzling as to how the laden Viper could close what surely must have been a 10 to 15 minute advantage given the numerous climbs along the road this morning. Was there a shortcut I didn’t see? Or does he just ride downhill without touching brakes at all? [Yes.]

We stop at Soames Bar and the potterer turned tagger reveals himself as Frank Brennan, who admits to getting a real buzz out of following the KTT, simply to hear the note that she makes on the over run. This road must have given him a near overdose. I realise that the front brake has worked fine in the last hour or so, a combination of heat in the linings and my adjusting to its capabilities.

(photo above c.Nick Cedar, used with permission)
The remainder of the day passes with just a few incidents – major wildfire blocking the road, a broken clutch cable (replaced in 20 minutes when a spare was offered by a real Good Samaritan – thanks Victor), a much too close up view of a minor landslide, a fantastic lunch in the cool of a restored Victorian era Hotel in Ferndale (thanks again Victor for your good company), a severe lack of fuel (thanks Bill for getting me out of trouble) and a rough ride through the redwoods near day’s end. Back at Redway that evening, I leaned KTT against a tree near Paul’s room, closed the fuel taps, stood back, took a deep breath and smiled. I’d just heard a small voice say ‘You did the right thing!’

Thanks Paul for the opportunity of a lifetime. Thanks CHP for leaving us alone for the whole day, despite KTT’s doubtful legality on those public roads. And thanks KTT - you deserved the 'Machine of the Rally' award bestowed upon you on Saturday evening."
John Jennings

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last Born

You really don't need me to post a ton of photos of bikes that have already been all over the blogs, so this will be it.

History repeats itself. I predict... After everyone gets their fill of the Bates solo, contoured seats will be back.

Cool shirt

For the the last 10+ years guys have gone back to an aggressive riding position, but there's something to be said for the long laid back style of the early 70's.

Photo: Mike Davis
Final note: When I walked back to my bike, who was checking it out? None other than "Sugar Bear". A King of Long Choppers checking out a stock bike? I asked him if he wanted to cut it up? It turned out he once owned a '70. His ol'lady was trying to get him to leave so I didn't bother him for a photo. It was a pleasure talking with him and a nice way to end the day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I've had the good fortune of corresponding with James J. Ward, a professor of history at Cedar Crest College in PA, about South American motorcycle racing. His interest lays principally in a very elusive beast; the AJS '10R', larger sibling to the AJS 7R, and true twin of the Matchless G45. Never advertised or spoken of in the day, the '10R' magically appeared at the request of perhaps only two dealers, who had their own reasons to demand an AJS badge to their 500cc racing efforts. I've severely edited Ward's scholarly treatise on the subject, which you can read in full here at the International Journal for Motorcycle Studies website.

The Mysterious AJS 10R: A Motorcycle Detective Story

"British motorcyclists knew that the AJSs and Matchlesses in dealers’ shops in the 1950s and 1960s were one and the same, differing only in badges, transfers, and the shape of their silencers. In the 1930s, the parent company, Associated Motor Cycles, had made the marketing decision to continue producing the two marques, as each had its loyal following. At the height of its prosperity in the late 1950s, AMC offered a full range of single and twin cylinder-powered machines under both logos. This practice gave rise to the term badge-engineering, and while AMC was hardly the sole perpetrator, the London factory carried it to considerable extremes.In the 1960s, buyers looking for a 750cc heavyweight twin could choose an AJS, a Matchless, or a Norton, all assembled from the same parts bins.
When AMC collapsed in 1966, only Norton survived, living on in various government-subsidized amalgamations before finally expiring more than a decade later.

On the racing side of the ledger, AMC followed a different strategy. After the takeover of AJS in 1931, the Stevens’ family initials were reserved for AMC’s road racers [likely due to the disappearance of the 'Matchless' name from racing by the early 1920s - pd'o] while the company’s trials machines carried the names of both marques.
The most technically advanced AJS racer, the liquid-cooled, supercharged 500cc V-4 introduced in 1938, looked like a sure championship contender, but fell victim to the post-WW II ban on forced-air induction.In contrast, the normally-aspirated 350cc 7R single, first seen in 1948, was a winner right from the start, its affordable price and easy maintenance making it popular with private riders as the “Boy’s Racer".

Things changed in 1951, when the AMC race shop fitted a competition version of the company’s 500cc road-going twin into the 7R frame and entered the prototype, wearing Matchless badges, in that year’s Manx Grand Prix. A year later, the Matchless racer, now dubbed the G45, was back to win, leading from start to finish and setting new lap and race records. For 1953, the world’s “only multi-cylinder production racer” was part of the Matchless line-up. After several years’ campaigning, with modest results in the championship rounds but greater success on tracks in the Commonwealth countries, the G45 was replaced by the G50, a bored-out version of the 7R that came on the market in 1958. All told, perhaps 100 G45s were manufactured, some of them going to the works team, most sold to private racers seeking an alternative to the pricey and technically notchy Norton Manx.

Thus the standard history has it that AMC’s only postwar twin-cylinder production racer was a Matchless. Geoffrey Wood’s 1969 article for the American magazine includes an illustration of the G45 with an AJS-branded tank, but writes this off as a borrowed component from the 7R.
Recently, however, a variation on that theme has been sounded, lending confirmation to a story Alan Cathcart published in 1985 in Classic Bike ["Restoring the unique AJS 10R", Aug. 1985].

In 1954, at least three and possibly as many as five 500cc twin-cylinder racers were released by the AMC factory, all destined for South America. Designated the AJS 10R—a logical extension from the 350cc single-cylinder 7R—these unique machines were, of course, G45s wearing different livery.

The first tip about the elusive 10R racer came from Alan Cathcart, in the article already mentioned. A few years later, Roy Bacon provided further evidence in his "British Motorcycles of the 1940s and 1950s", which included a photograph (shown above) of an AMC race bike being loaded onto a plane. The wrappings carry a prominent AJS logo, but the caption beneath the photo reads, “Despite the packing, there is a Matchless G45 under there en route to Venezuela.”

According to Alan Cathcart’s report, the genesis of the 10R was in Caracas, not in London. AJS and Matchless were sold by separate dealers in Venezuela, rather than jointly as was sometimes the case in the UK and the US. The result was a good bit of competitive spirit that carried over to the racetrack, where in the early 1950s British bikes contested Italian makes like Moto Guzzi and Gilera. Much of the racing took place on public streets (closed off by the police), with competitors riding modified versions of factory-issued road bikes.

The well-known enthusiasm of President Marcos Pérez Jiménez (1952-58 see photo above) for motorsport encouraged local rivalries and rewarded risk-taking. In this freewheeling scene, any advantage that might be gained was not to be disregarded.

The Caracas importer for AJS was Julio César León, who was determined to keep his make at the front of the racing pack.When the G45 came on the market in 1953, León wanted the new racer, but only if it he could have it with AJS branding. After a year’s delay, in 1954 AMC obliged, “amazingly,” as Alan Cathcart put it. Five G45s were fitted with AJS tanks and timing cases and shipped, in AJS packing, to Venezuela. Entered in the race programs as AJSs, the bikes accomplished their purpose, keeping León’s riders in the battle for the national honors. They were raced, Cathcart wrote, until they were no longer competitive and were then retired. Only one had survived and was being restored to its original condition by a Caracas collector.

Neither Mick Walker’s scrupulously researched AJS and Matchless marque histories nor such other reliable sources as Cyril Ayton’s "A-Z Guide to British Motorcycles" and Mick Duckworth’s "Classic Racing Motorcycles" give any hint that—as Alan Cathcart cleverly phrased it—“a racing version of the AJS Model 20 twin” ever existed.
(AJS Model 20 roadster engine pictured)

Stories about this or that G45 have appeared in enthusiast magazines like Classic Bike and Classic Racer, especially when one of these veteran racers has been safely returned to its country of origin. But there has not been a feature on those one-off 10Rs that were shipped to South America in 1954.

In January 2008, Paul Mihalka, who now works for a BMW dealer in the US, posted a four-part memoir to an online riders’ site recalling his years as a young motorcycle racer in South America in the 1950s. Born in Hungary, Paul emigrated with his family to Venezuela after the war, where he learned Spanish by going to the movies and how to ride by hanging around motorcycle shops and race tracks.In 1953, Paul won his novice race on an AJS 350cc single.He then made a deal with the local Velocette dealer that enabled him to ride a much-modified 350cc MAC pushrod single in the national championship series. Engaging in spirited competition with local hero José Antonio (“El Negro”) Vivas, who was on an AJS, Mihalka won two races and finished second or third in six others, giving him the Venezuelan title. His success qualified him to compete in the South American Championship race in Lima, Peru. Running in the 350cc class against a field that included Swiss-born Theodore Roth on an Enfield Bullet and his nemesis El Negro on a race-modified AJS 16, Mihalka brought his Velocette home to first, no mean accomplishment in his first year of full-time competition.

(Paul Mihalka (Velocette) leads José Antonio 'El Negro' Vivas (AJS) in a 1953 race.)

The only cloud on the Venezuelan horizon was the appearance, toward the end of the 1953 season, of the AJS 7R, a production racer with an accumulating record of victories on British racecourses. The local AJS importer, Julio César León, had succeeded in persuading the championship organizers to open the competition to this new breed of machine .A national hero thanks to being the first Venezuelan to compete in an Olympics, in London in 1948 as a cyclist, León had plenty of political clout. The 7R quickly showed itself to be superior to the modified street bikes that until then had the racetracks to themselves. For the 1954 season, the team León was going to field looked to have the edge. Since the Velocette dealer for whom Mihalka raced also held the local Matchless concession, the intramural rivalry was intense.

Mihalka was now equipped with an overhead cam Velocette KTT, cobbled together from a worn-out European example brought back to life with parts from his previous year’s MAC. The KTT gave Mihalka a first and a second in the first two races of the series. He was then offered the opportunity to ride a brand new Gilera Saturno by the Venezuelan importer for Alfa Romeo and Lancia. Pre-war Gileras, especially the 500cc single-cylinder “Otto Bullonis,” were still competitive on South American tracks, and the Italian company’s multi-cylinder 500cc racers had carried Umberto Masetti to two world championships in 1950 and 1952 and Geoff Duke to another in 1953. Although it used a modified version of a 500cc single-cylinder road engine, the Saturno was light, nimble, and superbly put together. It had a broad power band, with plenty of low-end acceleration, and could top out at 120 mph, not quite up to a Manx but within striking distance of the 7R. In Mihalka’s description, “It handled like nothing else before. It was super light. Its Italian nickname was ‘la Piuma,’ the feather. . . . [It was] the perfect bike for the Venezuelan race tracks.” With his new mount and points already in the bag, Paul appeared set to repeat his championship.
(above; Gilera 'Piuma')

But Julio César León was not without resources. He had already pulled one rabbit out of the hat by getting the regulations changed to admit the 7R. Now he turned to AMC to provide him with a match for Mihalka’s Gilera.

Before the Saturno reached Caracas, León had taken shipment of three 500cc twin-cylinder racers from London. These were G45s, which AMC had transformed into AJSs so that León could enter them as part of his team. As Mihalka recalls, “They were in full AJS colors and trim, and the engines were stamped with a serial number that said AJS 10R.” If the bikes had arrived as G45s, to be re-branded in León’s garages, Mihalka was prepared to file a protest. Instead, he was invited to see the bikes unloaded, neutralizing his objections.

(Paul Mihalka on his Gilera Saturno leads 'El Negro' on an AJS in 1954.)

Few details are available on the races that followed. Despite Julio César León’s ingenuity, Mihalka won his second championship, with five firsts and a second. He recalls losing to a 10R in one race, but beating the AJSs in at least two others. They were quick, Mihalka admits, but they tended to break, a fault not unknown to other riders of the AMC racing twin (e-mail, April 2008). The fastest of the 10R riders was Pedro José Betancourt, who went on to become one of Venezuela’s most successful racers. Another of León’s riders, the German-born Lambert Danzer, also made something of a name for himself on the 10R. At the end of the 1954 season, Mihalka decided (as he puts it in his memoir) to get a real life. He retired from motorcycle racing and, using his skills as a draughtsman and engineer, went to work for IBM. What happened to the 10Rs is a mystery to him.

In the early 1980s, one of the AJS racers came to light when Caracas collector Gerald Römer discovered it in “a shady part of town in the hands of old time mechanics and street racers” (e-mail, July 2008). The bike still had its oversized fuel and oil tanks, alloy front fender, and racing brakes, but was missing the original engine. Instead, it carried a single-carburetor AJS road engine, possibly brought up to CSR specifications (hot cams, high compression pistons, different carb jet). In place of the Burman four-speed close-ratio gearbox that the racers used, an AMC transmission had been fitted. With these changes, the ex-racer would have been well down on speed, a deficit increased by the heavier weight of the road engine.

(timing side of Römer's machine)

The bike was not running when Römer bought it, and he could learn nothing of its history, although it had clearly been through the wars. By then few people remembered the AJS 10Rs. Most people thought the bike was a G45 that had been “locally modified,” as Römer puts it. This was the motorcycle that Alan Cathcart profiled in his 1985 story. Römer kept the bike for several years, intending to restore it to G45 specifications. In 1991 or 1992, he sold it, still with the road engine, and along with a 7R and a G50 that had belonged to Lambert Danzer, to a California buyer. Before that, Team Obsolete boss Rob Iannucci had come from the US to inspect the 10R but, failing to recognize it for what it was, had passed on the chance to add it to his collection of rare AJS racers.

(drive side of the M20-engined 10R)

James Philbrick, who administers the online G45 Register in the UK and perhaps knows more about the AMC racer than anyone else, has written that beyond Alan Cathcart’s 1985 article and one or two photographs, little evidence of the AJS 10R remains. Philbrick then adds a note that in 1953 AMC built a 10R racer for a Singer automobile dealer in Twickenham, Middlesex. This dealer sponsored a 7R rider in local races and, when the G45 became available, wanted one to complete his team—but only if he could have it as an AJS (e-mail, July 2008). So Julio César León may not have been the first, or the only, AJS vendor to exact his due from the London factory. For anyone trying to track down the pedigree of an AJS or Matchless motorcycle, the interchangeability of the two marques presents a challenge. With the racers, the odds are steeper. Bill Martin, who helped restore a G45 in New Zealand, notes that some of the bikes meant for sidecar racing were bored out to 600cc, so that a few “over-sized” G45 engines may be lurking somewhere, waiting for an advantageous moment to come on the auction block (e-mail, July 2008). For racers that were campaigned over a long stretch, with frequent repairs, on-the-spot parts swaps, and variations that individual riders may have insisted on, the challenge becomes more arduous. What the 10Rs that were shipped to Venezuela in the 1950s may have looked like twenty or thirty years later can best be appreciated by anyone who follows the “found in a barn” features in features in Classic Bike and The Classic Motorcycle. Unfortunately, none of those barns has been in Caracas.

(above; a sectioned drawing of a 10R/G45 engine)

For some time Gerald Römer has been trying to track down stories of a 10R that might still exist, hoping to replace the one he let go in the 1990s. His contacts include some ex-racers who competed during the 1950s, when Julio César León’s dealership made sure the AJS brand was well represented on the Venezuelan tracks. A couple of Römer’s leads appeared promising, even if they required him to re-visit those “shady” parts of town. But in a recent communication, the Caracas collector writes that the trail “went cold suddenly,” as it often does when stories about old racing motorcycles begin circulating decades after they last saw track action.

Even before Paul Mihalka published his memoir, bits and pieces of the 10R story were coming to the surface. In a 2005 issue of Classic Racer, British racer and journalist Bill Swallow raised the question of the G45’s clone, the AJS 10R. Several letters followed, one of which, from the US, reported that two-time world champion Umberto Masetti rode a Matchless G45 “disguised as an AJS” in a race in Valencia, Venezuela in 1957. According to the correspondent, Masetti was riding for a dealer who did not want his entrant mounted on a Matchless (“Letter from America”). Presumably this was none other than Julio César León, still looking for an edge on the Venezuelan marketplace for British bikes. Was Masetti’s bike one of the original 10Rs that had been shipped from London? In fact, a photograph of Masetti astride a 10R appeared in the British publication Motor Cycling in February 1958, with the caption noting that “the local AJS agent doesn’t deal in Matchlesses” (“Sports Gossip”). The magazine wondered how the AJS racer had impressed Masetti, given that by the time he rode it he had three years’ experience on the world-beating MV Agusta under his belt.

As elusive as the facts of the 10R story are photographs that prove the bike’s existence. Yet that is where the story might best be traced. In 2006, Paul Henshaw’s "Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle" included a photograph of a “1954 AJS 10R racing twin” Unfortunately, other than the caption, no information is provided. The photo itself looks to have been taken in the AMC works and includes what appear to be packing materials, raising the question whether the bike is one of those destined for South America. In December 2007, Paul Milhalka posted a photograph of former competitor Lambert Danzer on an online site, with the caption indicating that Danzer was riding a 7R (“Lambert Danzer”). One look at the photo suggests something else. The 7R uses a right side exhaust. Danzer’s bike has an exhaust exiting from the left side of the cylinder head, implying a matching right side pipe. Could the bike be one of the ultra-rare three-valve 7Rs, with which AJS won the junior TT in 1954? That would explain the second exhaust. There are stories that a three-valve 7R was raced in Venezuela in the 1950s. Alan Cathcart noted this in his 1985 report, and Paul Mihalka remembers a “triple-knocker” 7R when he was winning his championships.

(Although captioned as a 7R, Lambert Danzer is riding an AJS 10R in this photo. Photograph courtesy of Paul Milhalka)

But a closer look at the Danzer photograph indicates otherwise. There’s a rev counter drive coming off the left side crankcase, a mechanical improbability on the overhead cam three-valve 7R. On the AMC 500cc twin, the drive ran off the left end of the exhaust cam, as in the photo. So in all likelihood, Danzer, with the AJS logo on his helmet, is riding one of the 10Rs. The overall look of the bike, and especially what can be seen of the engine’s architecture, is that of AMC’s 500cc racing twin, and the way it is fitted out certainly does not betray a last minute conversion intended to fool the scrutineers.

('El Negro' Vivas on an AJS 10R in Caracas in 1954. Note the AJS timing cover.)

In July 2008 Venezuela’s motorsport press commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the death of José Antonio Vivas. Lauded as “the first great idol of Venezuelan motorcycling,” Vivas died at age twenty-six after he crashed his BSA Gold Star on the Los Próceres track in Caracas. “El Negro” Vivas was better known for his hard-charging style and fierce determination to win than for his riding skill—there were lots of spills, recalls Paul Mihalka, who patterned his own technique on the ever-so-smooth six-time world champion Geoff Duke—but he was a favorite with the racing public. Penalties, suspensions, and frequent quarrels with racing officials added to Vivas’s popularity.

For the anniversary of El Negro’s death, his family contributed some photographs, not seen for years, of the hero in action. In two of them, he is riding an AMC racing twin in AJS colors, which has to be one of the 10Rs. Paul Mihalka says that José Antonio Vivas did not have use of a 10R when they were competing, and given his penchant for dropping bikes, it is entirely plausible that Julio César León kept the daredevil rider away from the precious twin-cylinder racers in their first couple of seasons. But Vivas did take the South American championship twice, in 1954 in the 350cc class and again in 1955 in the 500cc class. In the latter year, the race reports listed him as riding an AJS.

('El Negro' airborne on the AJS 10R at the 1955 Championship Race in Lima, Peru. These two courtesy of Octávio Estrada, from the family of José Antonio Vivas)

So it could be that, for the championship, León relented and gave his charismatic driver the chance to show his stuff on the “big” AJS. Like Paul Mihalka’s photograph of Lambert Danzer in action, the photos of El Negro are spot on, one of them right down to the marque-specific AJS timing case, more evidence that the 10R ran, challenged, and won on South American race tracks. To the surprise of AMC’s directors in London—if they were even paying attention—and their marketing strategists, it was an AJS “production” racing twin, not a Matchless, that took an international championship."