Friday, July 31, 2009

Long Beach Swap 7/26/09

Some shots from Sunday's swap meet.

Kaptain Knievel. It would be fun to have a Sportster street tracker.

Hot Chicks?... Sexy Pipes? Proof that at least one set of these were sold.

What do you call a bike like this? Sort of a Fat Bob Dressed Chopper. You tend to see these types of bikes at swap meets. Bikes that have all kinds of little custom features and touches of creativity.

Note the kicker cover type electric starter. While I appreciate the engineering, I don't totally see the benefit of this set up. This starter system was featured on a bit ago.

Shoot'in the breeze while shopping for shovels.

That's one "S" load of shovels. And I thought they all left the country.

I overheard that this was a Von Dutch piece. Sure seems like I've seen it somewhere before. I believe it's steel. Possibly from a Beemer or Brit bike?

I'm sorry but, sometimes I get more of a kick from what's in the background of a photo. That defies gravity! No Photoshop folks. My apologies to the bike's owner, I was truly just shooting the bike.

Cool color. Hard tail stretch is a tad long for my taste.

In a sea of newness. Yet another example of an old swap meet blend bike. Bike served as an advertisement for the owners engraving skills.

Along with engraving, it makes use of bullets, horse shoes, chains, and barbed wire. It just doesn't make sense (to me), to put a great old mill in a after market frame.

I like it.

Noot will appreciate these. Trivia question: Can anybody tell me (besides Noot or Dr. Sprocket), what's special about the bags? Just some stuff I bought.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Free Battistinis Custom Chopper Wallpapers

Just put three more great Battistinis Custom Cycles wallpapers up on for you all to download. They are available on the Battistinis Wallpapers page.
Below are images of the next 3 stunning wallpapers available.

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Was it the heat or a confluence of bad luck which made Tuesday so chaotic and destructive. By the end of the day, fully 20% of the motorcycles had taken a free ride on the back of a truck or trailer, (at least for a short while), and 5 motorcycles had shaken hands with the pavement, with two bone breakages as the struck bargain. Four flat tires, two total compression failures, four clutch teardowns and rebuilds, a mysterious graunching transmission, horrible rich running, etc... by lunch, some of us wondered if this were indeed the Terminator Rally.

The day began innocently, clear and warm at 8am as usual, and the route promised to be fairly straightforward, with a pig-roast feast in a vineyard as our pot of gold at the end. My 'posse' of the morning consisted of me riding the Endurance (which I had happily escorted home the prior afternoon), Dai on the 'Zumac' (a bored-out Velo MAC at 430cc) which had gone spare as its eponymous owner wasn't feeling at all well, and Uncle Brian on a borrowed Moto Guzzi V65, surely the most reliable machine of the bunch. Which of course proved the folly of assumptions, when the u-joints on the drive shaft disintegrated 20 miles from the start.

It seemed prudent to let Brian wait for a Chase Truck to snatch the Guzzi, while I rode Dai back to camp to grab my Norton Atlas, which suddenly needed a rear tire after 240 miles at 100 degrees.

Dai thus took posession of the incredibly leaky and bits-falling-off Endurance, which was poetic justice, as Dai's machines are always immaculate; a wayward drop of oil merits a rise of blood pressure and hasty investigation. Thus, to be saddled on a machine purported to shed 2 quarts per day over itself, the rider, and the greater world, held a sweetly smirking irony. He would simply have to Cope.

I blasted into town on the Norton, and rode back out again wearing a new rubber sash over my shoulder - it took a visit to 3 motorcycle dealers to find an 18" tire narrow enough to suit an old bike, but who's complaining? I bought a spare innertube, Just In Case. Thinking I might have missed my ride-mates at Dead Guzzi junction, judicious throttle application had me at that lonesome spot in a jiffy - only to find... Uncle Brian slumped against a concrete barrier, with no Dai or Chase Truck in sight, 1.5 hours later. This was double-plus ungood (in Newspeak), as the temperature was now hitting the Ton, and Brian is nearly 70. Luckily, the Truck appeared soon, and the Guzzi was loaded up.

Now we had to sort out if Brian's artificial leg would shift the Zumac! Uncle Brian, (whose photo you may have seen here) you see, has a very long history of motoring miscreantism, and around 1960 he lost a leg on a Triumph Thunderbird very late at night, post-pub, taking a favorite bend quite a bit faster than his usual hot pace, just after passing a local in a car... 'I'll either make it or be dead' he thought, before waking up in hospital. In truth, he hasn't slowed much since then.
Finding he could in fact shift gears, we set off, wondering where on earth Dai had got to.

We had all agreed to have lunch at the Quilchina Hotel, a Victorian anomaly in dead flat sagebrush plain, and as I arrived first, goal #1 was to get out of the Heat and into the Kitchen for lunch. As I relaxed at my table, I saw Uncle Brian pass by, flat-out on the MAC, with nary a sideward glance for the big pink hotel. That was the last I saw of him until the end of the day...and I admit to a moment of concern, as Brian couldn't kick-start the bike with his lack of leg. I reflected that we all attend Rallies looking for a bit of adventure, but the adventure we get is usually not the adventure we've chosen! So, Brian's day would clearly be a little different than he might have imagined...

Within a few minutes, Dai appeared on the Leaker, and lamented both oiliness and a general looseness to every nut and bolt on his mount. Dai's disconcerting habit is to go over a borrowed motorcycle with sockets and spanners, tightening Every nut and bolt on the machine, prior to riding it. Having watched him do thus to two of my motorcycles in the past, I chuckled inside that our morning game of musical bikes hadn't allowed him time to spanner-tune his machine, and Things were Falling Off. Not 3 miles from lunch in fact, he motioned me to the side of the road for a navigational query, not realizing that the rear mudguard was swaying from side to side like a happy tail. Every nut holding it fast had jumped ship... luckily a stash of stray bolts on the Chase Truck made everything secure, except for the taillamp assembly, which required a veritable prosthesis of electrical tape to hold in place.

Thus we continued through the Country-music-star-mural bedecked town of Merritt, heading north towards smaller and more interesting roads. Which luckily included the wonderful Otter Lake road, which while unpaved, varied in terrain from snaking baked volcanic boulders to sweet floral lakeside grasses. The only real hazard was a succession of massive logging trucks, truly hauling ass down this firm dirt track, leaving just enough room for a motorcycle to squeeze alongside without damage, but giving no quarter otherwise. See the film!

And, something Happened for me along this 40-mile stretch... I've described the experience previously as near-sexual, when road and rider and machine find a harmony of movement and sensation. Suffice it to say it was a kind of two-wheeled Bliss, and I literally could not have been happier during that extended moment. If I could bottle the feeling, I'd be a very rich man. Perhaps I am already, simply having felt thus for so many hours. I was astonished when I asked Dai at the end of this road, full of energetic happiness, how his ride had been, and he answered, 'Tiring!'.

As we neared our destination of Keremeous and the Crow's Nest Vineyard, the temperature climbed further, and we heard tales of two flattened rear tires - one of which caused a dramatic wipeout, resulting in the rider's leg being broken in 3 places... That's the kind of event which sets every motorcyclist to wondering. Still, by the end of the day, the mechanical carnage seemed to have stabilized, and once again those with afflicted machinery set to work after a relaxing hour on the patio with German beer, and a meal of whole roast pig with spaetzle and kartoffeln salat - the winery is owned by Deutsche expats, in a river plain surrounded by high mountains. Sleeping on the grass next to the vines was just about nice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


One thousand miles from my home in San Francisco, Kamloops beckoned, hot and dry, soon to be ground zero for 70 old-motorcycle enthusiasts, intent on proving their machines over a week of riding through the remote mountain roads of British Columbia. The Velocette Owners Club of North America holds a week-long rally every July, somewhere in the West (that is, west of the Rockies), and usually covers a thousand miles over 5 days of riding. The club has three requirements for the location of the Rally; interesting scenery, an HQ which combines facilities for camping and hotels, and good roads... which translated means roads appropriate for Velocette - lots of twisty stuff for our light and good-handling mounts.

The South Thompson Inn served us well previously, in 2003, but rally organizer Cory Padula managed to create an entirely different route for this year, even better than last time. The temperature in Kamloops was on par with '03 though, hovering between 90 and 100 degrees during the day... certainly hot enough to cause a bit of strain on our quintessentially English vehicles. And thus it was to prove throughout the week, as a legacy of leaks, breakdowns, and flat tires was laid daily on the ramp of our support vehicle.

Or should I say vehicles. We've typically made do with one truck hauling a trailer to chase our old bikes, with capacity for at least 5 troubled machines. On day 1 my new belt-primary-drive conversion failed utterly within 10 miles of the start, the clutch basket growing so hot within this short distance that the industrial-grade polyurethane drive belt literally melted over the steel wheel, making an ungodly stench identical to, well, burned clutch.

The simplest fix for the moment, as our route was a 240 mile 'loop' that day (returning to the Inn), was to return to camp, grab my Sprinter, throw the Clubman inside, give one of my English guests my 1966 Norton Atlas to ride, and follow along in the van, taking photos, and picking up strays.
It was a good thing too, as the day proved a wrecking ball for rider and motorcycle alike. Within another 10 miles, our esteemed President's Velo Venom was hors de combat, with zero compression... a holed piston so soon? Into the Sprinter it went... with the official chase truck pulling up shortly with a lovely silver/blue Thruxton on the trailer... that made 3 bikes down within 20 miles. Not a good omen!

The canyons and mountains lining the Thompson river are brown and very dry, with the heat a blast furnace whenever the canyons narrow. But, as one pulls away from the river and gains altitude, greenery resumes with the evergreen trees, and the temperature drops to a very tolerable mid-80's. As we followed a small side track into a mountain pass, flowers and grass flanked the unlined road, and a freshet followed our progress. At one sharp hairpin bend which crossed the stream, we (for I had gained the Venom's rider Kiwi Dave, with the bike) discovered an actual sidecar lying forlorn and distinctly unattached in the dirt, near a very pretty scene by the flowing water, under a canopy of healthy (more on this later) green Fir trees. An orange ribbon, our signal for a vehicle in distress, was tied around the mounting struts of the solitary chair, and it was clear we were meant to fetch the thing.

Clearly, Something had happened; a little sleuthing revealed a deep Gouge in the tarmac, a banged up sidecar body, and a rag with blood spots... but, the motorcycle which had formerly been hauling the 'chair' was off and away, so the rider must have been basically healthy, if a little scuffed. The sidecar itself was an Indian copy of a Steib, reduced to perhaps 80% of the original size....but when hauling it onto the bed of the Official Chase Pickup, it took 3 robust fellows to drag the thing up a ramp - remarkably heavy! It was only later in the day, when an extremely dense blue brick was produced from the sidecar body, that the penny dropped; as the outfit had no passenger, the sidecar was filled with 200lbs of lead bricks as ballast! And we, the rescue-salvagers hadn't known/discovered/deduced that the weights were still laying in the thing when we carried it around... good for a laugh later, anyway.

Another 5 miles down the road found another rider, a very brave person who had only earned her motorcycle license the month prior, sitting quietly on a log, her newer Moto Guzzi resting upright deep in the weeds outside a curve... clearly yet another getoff. That made two crashes and 3 duff bikes within 50 miles; we still hadn't had lunch yet! The Terminator Rally had already gained a name... As the Guzzi was only a little bent, some judicious pressure made it rideable, but the rider was perhaps a little less easily fixed, and demurred a further ride (it transpired her collarbone was broken).

Kiwi Dave leapt at the chance to be on two wheels again, so my passenger changed sex, and away we went, shortly to discover a mammoth copper mine which had Altered the landscape dramatically, excavating an entire mountain, creating a 2000' high ridge of tailings, and a 20km long tailing 'pond', glowing fluorescent blue-green under the sun...nothing at all could live in a bath of copper sulfate, and the tourist signs assured the curious that the toxic liquid was 'totally contained and isolated from the groundwater'. As depressing as this devastated landscape might have seemed, copper works really well to conduct our electricity, so this place was merely the unseen underside of our various Conveniences...

We dropped down again to another section of the Thompson river, had an incredibly slow lunch break at an overwhelmed cafe, and followed another tributary upstream back towards Kamloops. At the Quilchena hotel, a Velo with an orange ribbon was sitting alone beside the road; it was the sidecar tug itself, a Venom Endurance. The rider, Jim Abbott, confirmed our suspicion about his crash, as he told of the sudden parting of bike and sidecar when a strut broke - he continued moving forward, while the outfit dug in and slew violently sideways. Sidecar jiu-jitsu, ouch. The bike appeared ok, the rider less so, and I prepared to ride it back the remaining 60 miles to camp, and handed Jim the truck keys.

After following motorcycles all day in the truck, I had a real 'wheee' of an hour on that Endurance. I was instantly reminded of just how much fun a good Velocette can be; light, nimble, with adequate power, and an intuitive resonance with the rider's every movement. Things improved further when we turned onto Campbell Lake Road; well-graded dirt for 20 miles, and the Endurance proved its intended purpose as a Dualsport machine, albeit 60's style.

I have a penchant for good untarred roads, as they provide a totally different riding experience. As the surface is loose, traction is questionable, and steering becomes a new art, in which a relaxed posture (and handlebar grip) is essential. Sliding motorcycle is viscerally pleasurable and best accomplished with the throttle and the hips...there would be plenty of opportunities to try my technique during the following days...

Monday night, very many men were seen huddling near their ailing motors, attending to clutches or pistons or magnetos or flat tires, with flashlights providing dim and insecure illumination to the scenes. It looked for all the world like an encampment the night before a battle...

Loving It

Jeremiah came out to sell at the Long Beach Swap Meet on Sunday. It worked out very well. We met and he picked up the XL forks I posted on the blog. I was hoping someone who would put them to good use would fetch them. If you don't know of him or Love Cycles, you live under a rock. He builds some nice 60's style machines. Go see what he loves.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Stupid Shit

This isn't quite as bad as the 4 engine 45 built for 5. After all, they only make a quarter million new Harleys each year.

It appears to say, "The Worlds Only 10 Passenger Service Motorcycle". Let's hope so.

Free Battistinis Custom Chopper Wallpapers

I'm delighted to announce that thanks to the team at Battistinis Custom Cycles we have series of nine stunning desktop wallpapers of some of their fantastic choppers in a variety of screen resolutions. The first three have gone up on the site today and can be downloaded via the Battistinis Wallpapers page on the site.

Below are images of the 3 stunning wallpapers currently available:-

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Harley-Davidson announce 2010 model lineup

Over the weekend Harley-Davidson released details of their 2010 model line up which includes 9 new models.
The highlights are:-

The Electra Glide® Ultra Limited model delivers the performance upgrade of a Twin Cam 103™ engine, and features standard equipment items previously offered only as accessories on regular-production Harley-Davidson Touring models.

- The new Road Glide® Custom model looks lean and mean, with a slammed suspension, 18-inch front wheel and a new 2-into-1 exhaust system.

- The Wide Glide® returns as an all-new Dyna® model done in old-school chopper style, with black laced wheels, a chopped rear fender, black “wire” sissy bar, 2-1-2 Tommy Gun exhaust and an optional flame paint scheme.

- The new Street Glide® Trike brings stripped-down, hot-rod styling to the three-wheel category, and joins the Tri Glide™ Ultra Classic® in an all new Trike family for 2010.

- The new Fat Boy® Lo presents a darker and lower interpretation of the motorcycle that still defines the fat-custom segment.

- Updates to the 2010 Street Glide® model include a larger front wheel, slimmed-down exhaust, and a new tail light assembly.

- Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations™ (CVO™) will offer four new limited-production models for 2010: the CVO Softail® Convertible, CVO Street Glide, CVO Ultra Classic® Electra Glide® and CVO Fat Bob®.

As always we've some pic's of a few of the models:-

The Dyna Wide Glide.

The Softail Fat Boy Lo

The Touring Electra Glide Ultra Limited Edition

Ride safe.

Jon Booth

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Thing

I had seen some old pictures of this bike on some other blogs awhile ago and I was surprised to find that it's still around. It's in a feature on right now along with a new Evo version of the bike built by the original bike's builder son. It's too bad the feature is mostly focused on the newer bike. Perhaps there's plans for another feature? It also appears the Thing now has new S&S cases. Makes me wonder how much of the original is intact? Yes, I know, racing engines tend to blow up.

Warning!... there's a couple of scantily clad women blocking most views of the bike.

I just found this old shot I had saved.