Thursday, October 30
If you read the last issue of GK, you'll remember Jeff Baer. He has the most incredible collection of old bikes... although 'collection' makes it sound like they sit around being looked at. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jeff builds bikes out of boxes of bits, and then rides them. His Knucklehead in the last issue featured all 'as found' parts. Another of his bikes is in issue 8, and to be honest, we could could put a bike of his into every issue and never run out – or get bored.
This is his flat-track bike, and these photos are from races in Ohio over the past couple of years. Jeff says: "I built it for flat track racing about 4 or 5 years ago. The chassis is basically 1941. The fork is an XA type with the extra ground clearance. As you may well know, HD used these on some 1941 WLA’s as well as Canadian Knuckles also. I used it so I could run the bigger clutch and still have room to lean in the turns.
"The motor came out of an Ice Racer that belonged to a Champion Hill Climber named Charlie Jacob and hadn’t run since the early 1960’s. I unstuck a valve (as usual) cleaned the points on the magneto and have been racing this engine ever since without a tear down…yet. It’s a real testament to the simplicity and dependability and durability of these 45 ci engines."
This guy is beyond cool.
Tuesday, October 28
Monday, October 27
I took this off the JJ.
How utterly perfect is John Edwards' Pan?
I don't know him or anything about him; I have no contacts that could secure me a feature on this bike for the magazine, more's the pity; but every time I stumble across another shot of this Panhead from yet another alluring angle, it stops me in my tracks.
And FD tells me John's a really nice guy, too.
How good is that?
I got sent Wes White's Triumph rebuild DVD (thanks Tyler!) and sat with a couple of litres of ice cream (the dogs had half) and watched the whole damn thing. I found it riveting. Honestly. From beginning to end. The explanations are clear, and Wes is an engaging presenter. And I don't even own a Triumph.
That probably makes me a bit sad, but if you do own an old Trump, you need to buy this DVD from Lowbrow Customs or One World Studios, or Wes himself.
You won't regret it (unlike giving ice cream to bull terriers, which we all regretted).
Sunday, October 26
When my mates were putting bangers in frogs' mouths at the park on a slow Saturday afternoon, I was more likely to be found putting an Airfix kit together in my bedroom. I love model kits. And I started hoarding bike-related ones years ago. This is one of my favourites.
Thursday, October 23
Blackey sent me pictures of his 'U' model flathead; he's another local here in NSW. It's an original custom done in the Australian style (!) with added rake and a trailer fender. Blackey's gonna restore the frame to stock and add an original front end (it has an extended Pan wide glide on it now). He says:
"Ok, got a phone call from a mate in Brisbane one night about 1 1/2 years ago, he took a pic with his phone and sent it to me; I called back, he started it up for me, ran like a mouse with slippers, told me how much his old mate needed for it, I said yes, EFT the bucks, ordered a truck, got it here 2 nights later at 9pm, started it 3rd kick next morning, plated it, am riding it - it's a 1946 "U" (low comp, 5:1), Pan front end, couple degrees rake, 16" rear, 21" front, what a keeper!"
OK, I always looked to the Scandinavians for classically-styled choppers (see below) back in the day, but there were one or two people in the UK building cool bikes too: you just had to look for them.
And coincidentally one of them lives up the coast from me here in Oz. Fellow ex-pat Pommie Keith Green built the cover bike in the second-ever issue of BSH magazine, in 1984. He's built a lot of bikes before and since (Jap and H-D) and is a big fan of GK. Cheers Keith!
Wednesday, October 22
I have always been attracted to Harleys. I remember going on a carousel ride on a British seaside pier when I was tiny, sitting on a little model Electra Glide, and deciding I wanted a real one.
But what about the transition from liking stock bikes to a love of choppers and bobbers? I always liked the stripped down look of the bikes in 'The Wild One', but this blue Pan is one of the first I remember reading about in bike mags that made a real impression on me. It was in UK rag 'Heavy Duty', from summer '92, before I'd really discovered 'Iron Horse'.
I didn't understand what a 'bobber' was, exactly, but I loved the beefy, stripped down look of this bike, and the oh-so-fifties chrome and blue paint. My tastes continued changing (slowly reaching a higher level of H-D consciousness!), but this kind of style defined the bike I'd get next. (This Pan was from Sweden, by the way ... no one in the UK was building bikes like this then).
Monday, October 20
Friday, October 17
If I try to get to one show next year in the USA, it'll be this one. Those guys at Biltwell are totally sound. When we started the mag, they emailed me to offer advertising, advice and support. (Some CA chopper scenesters offered the opposite; but that's another funny story).
This show has already got a great reputation. And no wonder: all the quality choppers you've seen in the mags were there, and those Biltwell guys know how to organise a shindig. Photos by Blue Collar Moto: thanks man!
Saturday, October 11
I've been collecting these books for years, after loving them as a kid. Titles cover all the early seventies English youth cultures from bikers to skinheads, greasers to suedeheads, and offer a great lurid mixture of chain-wielding thuggery and up-against-a-wall teenage sex.
Wednesday, October 8
Most people in England agree that the country's going down the shitter. But if you look hard, there are still corners of the Old Dart that thankfully haven't been ruined by unchecked immigration and nannying politicians. My parents retired from London to a sleepy village near Thame, where pre-eminent Velocette specialists RF Seymour have been located for as long as anyone can remember. Not all motorcycle shops have turned into boutiques, and this one remains unimpressed by passing trends or any pressure to get 'up to date'. Want your bike rebuilt by a man in a white coat? Come here. My brother took these evocative photos.
Just returned from the land of real ale and fat chavs to the land of kookaburras and thongs, and got some good material for GK while we were away. Now need to get a backlog of mags out (what, you think we have employees who do this stuff?) ... thanks for waiting if you ordered a sub.