Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I know a lot of you have been wondering why my posts have been sparse these last few weeks, and now I can reveal the answer; I've taken up a new hobby! The Vintagent will become bigger and better, and the biggest expansion of content will be in the field of crochet. :0

Crochet is the perfect complement to Motorcycling, and it's really much safer than riding. My first project was simply a petrol tank cozy, but once I got the hang of the technique, there seemed no reason to stop.

The engine cozy was the most fun. My only regret, and I'm being vulnerable here, is I was too scared to make my first crochet project on my Sunbeam. Now that I've done the work, it's a little disappointing that I used my wife's Yamaha Radian. :(

But don't worry! The Brough Superior cozy is next! And I'm going to use black! That should be smart... ;)

Modular Motorcycles - New Obama Energy Plan

A joint statement released today by Steven Chu, Energy Secretary, and Ray LaHood, Transportation Secretary, unveiled a bold new plan to make future motorcycles out of modular components and to also enlist new renewable energy sources for their propulsion. This plan has become the latest stimulus package from the Obama administration. This time it directly affects all motorcycle riders. Read more.

'72 XLCH Update

I shot the tank and at first wasn't too happy with the shade of orange (not as red as H-D's), but it's growing on me so, it will probably be fine for now. MC art is Photoshop, graphics to be determined (hmmm...). It's interesting how the combination of an orange tank and no front fender makes the bike take on a street tracker look but I'll be running a fender.

A future notion I may explore: bob a very small front fender (cut even or just a bit in front of mounts and very short in the back), then paint it flat black to minimize it further.

These are not the bike's original tanks so, at some point, I'll probably paint the other set of tanks and fenders white (homage to my first bike), then I can switch them back and forth when I crave a change.

As this previously posted art shows, I've had orange in mind for awhile.

For now I'm going with the bobbed rear fender. With it, I can reach the rear bolt that holds the cobra seat instead of having to remove the wheel. Then, I can switch out the two seats as the mood strikes. I've even thought about a solo and pillion.

I'd always thought to make this a convertible bike. When you like so many styles, having a bunch of spare parts is great alternative to owning several bikes. Less cost and less space needed. Now, where did I stash that turtle tank and boat tail?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Da Devil Made Him Do It

Krazy Kevin sent over some pictures of his very wicked '41 chop. You might say it's a 41-41, cause he's owned it for 41 years. I had already admired this cool chop on his blog, and was only too happy to oblige in sharing it with those that may not have burned their retinas on it.

Old School Cool,... aaa.... make that, HOT. This scoot looks like it leaped right off of a early David Mann painting. Note the rare anti-vibe brace in the sidecar loops

Showing Class 101: Although it's chopped, Kevin maintained RESPECT for the old frame by fabricating a tunnel on the axed Harley tanks that does not disturb the stock frame brackets beneath it.

Have you ever seen one of these? Out of sight basket weave oil tank.

Is this full floating seat cool, I mean HOT, or what?

Need I say more?

Features and Credits: 21/16 rims-Avon Speedmasters. Stock drum brakes. XA springer. Sportster mag. One piece/one off exhaust system with Superior megaphones. Basket weave oil tank and pitchfork sissy rail with nickel plating. Free floating seat. 4 speed trans w/suicide shifter. Calif "stomper" brake pedal. Much thanks to Bob McQueen (motor&trans), "Sparkie"(welding&fab), Wendy(pinstriping), His loving wife Sue-Z-Q for all the hours in those cold & damp garages!

The Devil may have made Kevin build it but, I'm glad he sent it over, no matter what the motivation was.

For some East Coast Chopper History and Perspective, go check out Kevin and crew's blog.
White Knights in the House of Colors

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Timothy

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Website. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See Timothy on his 2007 Harley-Davidson Softail Heritage Classic. 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.

Decisions Decisions?

I REALLY! need to finish my '72 XLCH, and the only thing holding me up is paint. I'm building it on the cheap as just a simple bike for buzzing around town. It's been sort of a personal challenge to build it with as little money spent as possible and I've always thought, If I don't like the way it rides when it's finished, I'll just sell it. so again the less spent, the better.

I have spares of just about everything including three sets of tanks and fenders.

Should I keep it a classic '72 with the stock front and rear fender, air cleaner, original H-D cobra style seat, and Gary bang sissy bar?

Or, the same except with bobbed fenders? Rear ain't bobbed here. This what I originally had in mind.


Lately, I've been leaning to a more vintage look. Bobbed fenders, round air cleaner, and an old buddy seat? I could also do it this way but with stock fenders.

I grow tired of colors fast so, paint will be one of the following: Black, Gray, White, or Orange (how'd that get in there?), with depending on color, Orange, Black, or White pin stripping.

Yeah, '72's didn't come with fork boots but, I like them.

To make matters worse, I also have the early '61-'66 4 gallon turtle tank and a boat tail.

I shouldn't ask but,...
Any thoughts?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Honda Electronic ABS

Just a quick blog to let you know about the latests feature article on www.inter-bike.co.uk
Motorcycle journalist Ian Kerr tests Honda's revolutionary new electronic ABS. Now sports bike riders can have the benefits of ABS. Read Ian's article, how he could brake on loose sand on a Honda Fireblade equiped with the new ABS system!!

Ride safe.

Jon Booth
Email: webmaster@inter-bike.co.uk
Blog: http://bestmotorstyle2011.blogspot.com//
Swicki: http://motorcycling-swicki.eurekster.com/

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Dai spotted this circa 1962 Velocette Venom at the Kempton Park Autojumble last weekend; asking price £700. This is the 'Special' model, meaning cheaper! The Venom Special was sold between 1962-69, as a more economical version of the evergreen Venom; Veloce were canny about their expense-paring, and managed to make a bike which was significantly less expensive than the standard Venom. The crankcases, timing, and gearbox covers were unpolished, and the fiberglass covers over the power unit, made in conjunction with Mitchenall fiberglass (friends of the Goodman family), were cheaper than polishing up the raw aluminum castings. The hubs are cleverly disguised to appear as full-width alloy items, but have painted steel, ribbed covers over the single-sided, obsolete hubs, of which Veloce had many in stock. The petrol tank also is the 'old' 3.5 gal model (the larger 'breadloaf' 4.5g tank was introduced in '60), and ribbed aluminum strips were screwed to the sides as an alternative to chroming the whole tank. All this saved about £15 over the standard Venom (which sold for £285 in '62) - which might have been a few week's wages for the average yobbo.

The Specials were painted pale blue (see pic from the '62 Earl's Court Show, with a Viceroy scooter - the real nail in the coffin for Veloce, in back), which although very pretty, was like a blue flag indicating you'd bought the 'cheap' model. Performance (except for braking!) was identical to the more expensive model. As an indicator of how dire the economic situation had become for the British motorcycle industry after the drastic fall-off in sales post-1958 (the peak year for all Brit sales), Veloce sold only 20 Venom Specials in 1963, and 34 350cc Viper Specials.

The story of the Kempton bike is priceless though; it was recently discovered in a hedge! As evidenced by the foliage still attached to the bike, grass and bushes had overgrown and hidden the Velo for nearly 30 years. It's in surprisingly good shape for living outdoors for so long - it's possible that is was under a bit of overhead cover. The new owner has a lot of work ahead - best of luck!

Statistics taken from Dave Masters' 'Velocette: An Illustrated Profile of Models 1905-1971' (DMD, 2004), which is still available and a very useful book indeed.

Wallet Size Panhead

The loves of one's life. A perfect example of what a lot of guys carried in their wallet. The aging of the photo, the picket fence, and background now takes on an impressionist (artistic), feeling.

I have a friend that likes to make fun of guys (the "yeah, I used to have a bike" types), who still carry pictures like this 20-40 years after the bike (and the woman), is long gone.

Attack of the Dressers

Tony and Toni looking sharp

Go check this out:

He just posted some unreal photos from a dresser road trip circa 1965. The colors and styles will blow your lid.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


While Veloce Ltd. made a few iterations of motorcycle before creating their own engine around 1910 (as explored in an earlier post), very few of these earliest 'Veloce' models have survived. A few engines are laying in warehouses waiting for frames, but to my knowledge there are less than half a dozen of the earliest machines left intact.

It was a surprise to see this 1911 3 1/2hp 'Standard' Veloce, which recently sold on ebay for A$50,000, and it is entirely possible that this is the oldest intact Velo in the world. The engine number (#X129 - frame is A13744) is lower than the previous claimant to the title (#154), although there is some question whether the engine alone was supplied by Veloce to a dealer in Australia, to install in their own chassis, as was common in the day.

The first owner of the bike is documented as a resident of Benalla, Victoria, in 1911, who purchased the machine for 40 Guineas. It's truly a 'standard' product from the day, with direct belt drive and little braking power, the front having nothing at all to retard progress; the rear has a typical 'spoon' pressing on the dummy rim for the drive belt. Starting is push-and-bonk, and as basic as these machines were, they would have been very reliable in the day, with a decent Bosch magneto, and little else to go wrong!

These early Veloce sidevalvers were based on a Belgian Kelecom engine, installed in a chassis which is either Triumph made or on their pattern, as they are identical. Ironically, Triumph themselves made a machine which is the spitting image of this Velo, but with their logo cast into the crankcases. One could order engines thus from Kelecom's concern, or make them to pattern yourself while paying a licensing fee for the privelege.

There are a few suspect details on the machine, which could be rectified with a little research and effort - most glaring is the transfer, which is a shortened version of a later 'Velocette' logo, introduced with their later two-strokes; the Veloce should be in blocky, Wild-West lettering - examples of the original paint still exist (see pic below)!

If you have a hankering for the 'Oldest' of a major motorcycle manufacturer, here's your chance - it will be tremendously cheaper than the Oldest Harley, Indian, or Norton!

Top n' Tails


Class act. It's amazing what a set of handlebars can do. That, and the small headlight starts to move it from a bob to a chop. I found this image long before all these blogs got started. Where?, I don't know.


This should have made the Dresser post. There's a lot going on here. Lights are one thing but, when guys start adding those chrome balls everywhere? They must weigh at least a pound each. Who cares when your dragging a 200 lb. bumper? Ahhh, the good old days, when you could put a bike in the trunk. Don't remember where I grabbed this beauty.

Knuckle Couple

Dresser riders aren't the only happy couples. Great pose and stance. Would love to know the year.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Knuckle Sandwhiched

Here's a very cool and interesting old photo

Pre-war? Bob Jobs, does it get any cooler?

I don't know the date of this photo but we can somewhat date the bikes.

The first hint is they all have rectangular foot boards, making them '39 or older. the Knuckle's paint (tank panel), doesn't look quite right (to me), for a '39 but, it does have '39 and up fender trim. The tank panel may be the police type patern. All the 45's have RL tanks ('36 and earlier) and I beam springers. Two have air horns. The farthest bike has the old top of tank mounted speedo and a custom air cleaner instead of the air horn. You can also see the pre- '41, flatter derby cover on the closest bike. It also looks like it has a '34 (single) or '33 and earlier taillight mounted up on the tip of the rear fender. All three 45's have cool old style flamed paint jobs.

Did I miss something? Maybe the good doctor has something to say.


Unless you're a serious film buff, you probably haven't seen the work of. Kenneth Anger (below), whose short films have profoundly impacted cinema, advertising, and pop culture. Since 1947, when he was 17, he has been experimenting with difficult and obscure subject matter, using his own milieu as his inspiration, and his cast. I first saw Scorpio Rising almost 30 years ago at the behest of my pal Madeleine Leskin, who went on to work at the Berlin Film Festival; she urged me into a late-night screening... I've never forgotten the disturbing/alluring quality of the film.
I was prompted to track down a copy after Amaryllis saw Anger speak at a recent Hammer Museum lecture.

You'll see Anger's visual influence on later movies like Easy Rider (1969), The Loveless (1981), George Lucas' American Graffiti (1973) and Martin Scorcese's Mean Streets (1973). Specifically, his camera gazes adoringly at material objects, weighting them with an iconic, erotic power. Although never discussed as such, this camera work probably had it's greatest impact on TV advertising! His films remain almost unknown to a broader audience, and ironically his book 'Hollwood Babylon' (1974), detailing the sordid underbelly of the movie industry, is his most famous work.

Thanks to Google Films, we can now watch a Kenneth Anger film any time.

His movies are difficult, non-narrative, and certainly non-literal, almost dream-like (in fact the soundtrack of his ode to SoCal automotive culture, Kustom Kar Kommandos, is the Paris Sisters' 'Dream Lover').

Scorpio Rising
was completed in 1963, and its central character, Scorpio (Bruce Byron), is symbolic of the mythos of post-Wild One American Bikers. It's hardly flattering, as he projects a homoerotic, sadomasochistic aura, snorting methamphetamines from a salt shaker, humiliating a man at a party, and defiling a church. Through jump shots to clips of other films (including The Wild One and a very bad black and white Jesus biopic), comic strips, and nazi imagery, Scorpio is alternately compared to Jesus, Hitler, and the Devil. Pop culture icons like James Dean and Lucky Strike cigarettes wallpaper the scenery.

It was considered obscene in the day, but now we're all horribly jaded, and it merely seems shocking! Try to put yourself in the mindset of 1963 - Anger is a sly one and it's difficult to tell if he's celebrating Scorpio, or if he considers Scorpio a figment of a frightened citizenry's imagination - everyone's fantasy of what Bikers are Really Like. Using such imagery doesn't constitute an endorsement!

Scorpio Rising is 28 minutes long, and requires a bit of patience; its an avante-garde piece by a filmmaker who is way out on a limb. It still has the best 'title sequence' of any biker film, hands down. With its great period soundtrack (referencing the action of course), it's really the very first Music Video, predating the genre by a full 15 years, although no Music Video was ever quite like this again...

If you click on the 'expand screen' box on the lower right corner you'll get a better view; this is a hi-res video, not the usual Youtube horror. You can also watch it on the Google Film page.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Granny2Wheels and Rick

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Website. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See Granny2Wheels on her 2005 Yamaha V Star 1100 Classic and Rick on his 2008 Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special. 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.

Another Chromoholic

BMW Recalls 2008 F800 GS Motorcycles for Axle Shaft Problem

BMW has issued a recall of certain 2008 F800 GS motorcycles.

The axle shaft wall thickness may not have been manufactured according to specifications. If the wall thickness was not sufficient, the axle shaft could deform and could break increasing the risk of a crash.

BMW has not announced the number of units in the recall.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Full Dressers, the Other Custom Bike

Some of you might think I've lost it.

I shouldn't like this bike but I do, and I don't even like red bikes.

Most of us bike enthusiast dig Choppers, Bobbers, Racers, and Antiques, but Full Dressers? They are quite possibly one of the most maligned types of bikes there is. After all, the term garbage wagon ain't exactly flattering.

For Dressers, these two are pretty tastefully done. I prefer the one on the left.

Who can't smile when looking at these bikes?

Because of the chopper, I got into this whole motorcycle thing and over the years my appreciation of all things motorcycle grew. Okay, maybe not all things but, many.

This is what happens when you're born with an extra Chromosome, also known as a Chromosexual.

One of the acquired tastes was the Full Dresser. I went from yuck!, to that's sort of interesting, to later, bitchen! Now I'm not saying I'm going to build one but, there's something in a American folk art sort of way that I love about them.

I like the Dressers from the Duo-Glide era the best. The lights and accessories have a more organic feeling than the later ones.

Is it just me, or is there something kind of beautiful going on here?

Think about this. The Chopper rider generally thinks of themselves as a rebel or an outsider but, it's the dresser riders that never really got any media attention or much published about them. After all you never saw Dresser magazine. (I know, there's a Bagger magazine now but, it's really a different animal) Also, check the blogs, you hardley see any of pictures of them. Full Dressers are sort of the outsider to the outsider.

Even Chopper Dave posted a Dresser. Did he like it, or was he poking fun? It's another bike from the era I like.

Ed Roth was one who tried to reached out. Even though he got flack for it, he tried to include them in his magazine. He went on the major bike runs so, he got to know those folks and appreciated what they did to their bikes.

Here's a mild but sharp customized Dresser. It was restored to it's former glory.

Another mild one, set up more for touring than glitz. I can't help thinking Land Yacht when I look at it. I guess it's no surprise, it's original owner was a truck driver.

Yes, things can go overboard but, that's true of Choppers too. It's just human nature to take things over the limit. You can partly blame that on competition, sometimes just known as, plain old fashioned one ups man-ship.

Some don't know when to stop. If some is good, then more is better? It's funny to think about a guy in his garage adding the latest light or do-dad, then stepping back and thinking... now thats much better!

Anybody remember this one? This Gold Plated bike was in the window of George's Round Up, the country western bar that used to be in Long Beach, Ca.

Some guys get obsessive and can't stop. This one's in the Harley Museum.

Don't tell this proud guy his bike ain't cool... or is that a flying carpet?

"You guys better stop making fun of my bike"!
The rift between bikers was once much larger than it is today. Things have really changed. Just look at the popularity of custom Baggers today. Most of us would have never thought we might one day ride a bike with saddlebags and a fairing. Okay, I admit it, were all getting old.

Because of the rarity of photos and existing examples, I think it makes the old Full Dresser more fascinating than ever.

Keep in mind, many custom bikes, even those you think are ugly, can still be fun to look at.