Sunday, 28 February 2010

Killing time

A wet and windy Wiltshire is no place to ride old Ducatis, especially in February. If the mud and falling branches don't get you, the road salt will eat your crankcases alive.

So while my lovely wife (Dr Girlie Nice-Smile) is experimental baking ready for this year's tea and cakes (back 1st Saturday in May) how to kill some time? Well, how about model kits - they still turn up on eBay, and can help with pre-teen bonding as offspring build up Warhammers kits. This was my first bevel 900SS - just need to change those Speedline wheels...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Benzina are indebted to Louis Stellar for this - a Ducati 3 wheeler called the Muletta (little mule). This one was probably imported to the States by long time importers Berliner, but apparently there are (were?) loads of them in Italy. Why have a two stroke APE three wheeler when you can have one powered by Taglioni's bevel overhead cam single?

And you can't help but wonder if a 450RT motor would fit in there...

Monday, 22 February 2010

Always in the wrong

Team Benzina helped out at the Bristol Classic Bike Show, trying to look knowledgeable on the very wonderful Ducati and MV Agusta owners' club stands. And occasionally creeping off to badger the ever helpful Magazine Man into selling more copies of the benzina magazine
But the day involved using up lots of brownie points, so much effort was made to seem positive and interested when returning to Benzina HQ, especially as the family had made pancakes for a postponed shrove Tuesday.

"But why are they green?" I foolishly asked
"They're not" came the reply "they're blue"
"Well they look green" I insisted
"Thats because the yellow of the egg yolks makes them look green, but the food dye's blue"

So lesson learnt; even when you're right, you're wrong

Never mind - the new mag looked fab on the stand next to the coolest mag out there Sideburn and the lovely Men's File. And the new Classic Bike mag featured an Interceptor article by TB - talk about sychronicity

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Folk love our tees, but keep asking for a simple little black number with benzina in our top speed typeface. Well here it is; when they're gone, they're gone - so get buying (please)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

While the cat's away...

February in the UK's even more flipping freezing than usual, and us soft southern types can't cope with artic garage antics. Especially when the kids have nicked the heater for their bedrooms - our electric meter's spinning like an old Guzzi's bacon slicer.

So TB member and arty type - no, let's not mention his name - needs to get his MV125 ready for the Bristol Classic show this weekend, and finds himself on the horns of a dilemma; frostbite in the garage or a frosty reception on the MV club stand when he tells them his bikes not finished.

But there's always another way, especially when his wife's taken the kids away for half term. Move the bike into the house - TV, beer and bike all within easy reach, and nice and toasty. Just watch those oily fingermarks. And be ready for that quickening heartbeat when you hear those three little words;

"Darling, I'm home!"

Friday, 12 February 2010

Pass me the crowbar

This is the Team Darmah - the perfect old bus for relaxed summer rides. But at some stage in its history the sidestand went AWOL, I'd guessed because a faster rider than me missed the ground clearance. Or succumbed to the temptation that comes every time you see the price sidestands make on eBay.

TB friend and pro bevel fettler Brian Silver (aka Moto Marianna) knocked me up a new one, and I thought even I could fit it. How hard can it be?

Buggeration. The non standard stainless steel downpipes have different bends to the original. So the sidestand goes on, but the exhaust won't. Or vice versa. Hand me the crowbar, Eugene.

Brian's sold me some new downpipes. And arranged to have them chromed. I might have to sell the sidestand to pay for them...

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Valentine's day

Sunday 14th is St Valentine's day. One of those days when treating the lady in your life well is a get out of jail card, safely tucked away for the next time you tread straight 50W across the hall carpet. So here's an easy Italian supper that looks posher than it is and won't make her worry it'll go straight to her waistline.

You'll need smoked pancetta strips (Sainsbury's sell them in packs of 12 for £2, on special offer right now) plus one skinless chicken breast per person (if you're Alan Clark, the Lord who took his mistress on Honeymoon, you may want the family value pack). Hopefully your storecupboard can do the other bits; olive oil, white wine, tarragon, sherry vinegar or balsamic.

Wrap each chicken breast with 3 strips of pancetta, pop into a shallow ovenproof dish. Splash in a little wine and smidge of vinegar, pinch of dried Tarragon, drizzle of the oil over the chicken. Into a 180c oven for 25 minutes Serve with pasta (I like the little fuselli spirals) or mash, maybe with pesto, plus green beans - or crusty bread and green salad.

Final cheffy touch is to cut each breast into 3 or 4 slices and spread out, but you don't need to. Bottle of white, tablecloth and candles - you never know, you might get more than Brownie points...

Racers on show

The race Retro Show at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry is on the lookout for period racers to display over the weekend of 12-14 March. There are prizes, and the chance to show off to Phil Read and Peter Williams. Entry details are here and if you need help with trailering a bike to the show or even a van, you know where we are

Sunday, 7 February 2010

On  a freezing February morn the final photoshoot for Benzina #1 took place, as newbie model Chikki Violet grinned and bared it for lensman Jeff May - our tribute to the genius of Bob Carlos Clarke's original. The printers start work tomorrow, and should have issue 1 ready before the end of the month

If you like the idea of spending too much time outside, the Rally season starts here. Ducati owners club start with the Severn Valley Rally early May (see below), and at the other end of the season there's the Southern Rally on 3th - 5th September 2010 at Newlands Campsite, close to beautiful Charmouth in Dorset - contact Chris Calton  01305 773990 H/M 07816371857 or

Friday, 5 February 2010

We all love shiny, but some Ducati bevel owners go a bit too far. Here's a 450 Desmo crankcase that some would buff to a mirror finish. Given some free time we'd rather ride than polish - better for the bike too, as discovered by the poor soul who took his Bacofoil bright Desmo for a service. See the unsightly ridges circled on our Desmo? His were gone. They're the timing marks...

"Oh bugger" was our oppo's surprisingly restrained response when a well known Duke fettler broke the news

Thursday, 4 February 2010

And now for something completely different

Now this is very special - an Arai handpainted in the style of a Rio Grande blanket, c1890

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Navajo and Hispanic weavers mastered the art of dying handspun wool with synthetic dyes, just as generations before them had mastered the art of dying with indigo. The intensity of colour carried from one dye lot to the next, allowing weavers to create depth within each colour - or so it says on the very wonderful and original Silverman Museum - and yes, you can buy one

Jack Silverman's pictured above in the white shirt; clearly a man of taste and keeper of good company

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Finally something worth reading, if you're into messing around with old Italians. The first issue of Benzina is at the printers - more a book than a traditional magazine, with heavyweight cover, decent paperstock and just a handful of ads by folk whose details you'll need. Issue 1 will be out late February with fabulous words on Phil Read, the Guzzi V7 and Ducati's Paso appear courtesy of masthead heroes Gary Inman, Mick Phillips and Rupert Paul, using previously unpublished photography. The international flavour of the magazine includes an exclusive interview with Cook Neilson on his win at Daytona in 1977, and Tony Kersbergen’s story of the modern Milano Taranto. The history of the original gets an in depth look, as do the bikes that won the toughest race in the world. Plus a very tasty appreciation of Bob Carlos Clarke.

Hope you like it...

More details at benzina's own site

Monday, 1 February 2010

Electric bikes? Give peace a chance...

Now that the FIM have stitched up the organisers of 2009's electric (zero emissions) TT, it's clear that they've joined those folk who think electric vehicles are the future.

This is being done because it's supposedly green (which it's not - it's just city dwellers making sure their carbon footprint stamps on country folk) and because oil's running out

But oil running out at least means one less thing to fight about - most wars in the twentieth century were about oil - even Hitler originally just wanted an Autobahn through Poland to get to the tanker ports at Gdansk. Refusal unfortunately offended...

What's this to do with electric vehicles? They need batteries, ideally lithium. Most of which comes from Bolivia. Does Uncle Sam know enough about managing unstable regions to protect supplies? I think not

If we're going to wean ourselves off the crude stuff, wouldn't this be the time to sit down and think about alternatives that were unlikely to lead to war? Especially since it can't be long before we're all fighting over fresh water - never mind Africa, Spain's nearly running on dry..