Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Go Raceretro

Tomorrow starts a 1,000+ mile marathon in a rented Transit (that has no radio and 220,000 miles on the clock) to sort Benzina's appearance at Race Retro - but thanks to Matt, Chris, North Leicester Motorcycles and Bob Dixon it'll be worth it.

We'll have giro bikes from MV, Morini, Mondial, Laverda, Ducati and Gilera plus hopefully a very special Aermacchi racer. That's as well as the show organisers promising a Guzzi V8, MV500/3, Ago and Ready. Come say hello before I collapse...and sorry, this means I'm out of reach till Tuesday

(and sadly neither Classic Ducati's F3 or Giuliano will be there)

Monday, 21 February 2011

Motobi Spring Lasting

Spotted on eBay USA - a rather lovely Motobi Spring Lasting B200 race replica. Bidding ended at $5515, but that was below reserve so it's presumably still available. Nice to see someone on eBay using high quality photos for once, too

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Bristol Classic Bike Show

Took well over an hour to get in(damn traffic - one chap turned round, drove home and came back on his bike: I had the Magazine man's entire supply of Benzina #4 - that's nearly 100kgs, so a bike's out of the question) but it was just about worth it: more people than last year, but less to see. Still, met some interesting people, learnt more about old Pattons than I'd expected and got home in time for pizza. Excellent. See more pics on Facebook

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Pure Class - entering the Motogiro

People keep asking, so here are the definitive Giro categories for the Dream Engine event: but basically if you've a motorcycle, you're in (unless it's a 1960s tiddler)

Vintage Class
Motorcycles up to 175 cc built before 1958, although (as with all classes) if the model was in production before the cut-off date it will usually be admitted.

Memorial Taglioni
Motorcycles over 200cc built between 1968 and 1978.

Touring Super Sport
To complete the travelling museum, which the new TSS class open to motorcycles and sidecars over 250 cc built before 1968.

Tourist class
Open to those who want to live the atmosphere of the Motogiro in a more relaxed way and at a non-competitive level. Bikes of all makes admitted (including hired motorcycles) follow the same itinerary as the classic classes, but are divided into groups of about 25 with a group leader who serves as a guide.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Spa 4 Hours - another bloody addiction

Resistance is futile - on the back of my addiction to the Motogiro comes a need to get back to the Spa 4 hour race covered in Benzina #3.

So I hope to be at Spa Bikers' Classic again come 2nd July, helping a Guzzi team ( http://teamguzzinerd.blogspot.com/  ) and maybe a Laverda team too - Team Rufus. They have one of the 2nd batch of Laverda space frames produced, and a couple of French riders from Team Lavergnac http://www.team-lavergnac.com/ . I'm just a bit worried that a clumsy oaf like me has been asked to wear fireproof overalls - how hot do these guys like their coffee?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Last chance Morinis

Researching "The last single men" for Benzina #4 (on Morini's 250 single that nearly beat Honda's multi to the 1963 title) I didn't think we'd be seeing the last ever Morinis - but we are. It makes Pete Crawford's interview in the issue with Morini designer Franco Lambertini even more poignant. But Stuart Mayhew at North Leicester Motorcycles tells me it definitely all over, and if you know Stuart's Morini connections you'll know that this time it's definite.

The good news is that the receivers have been persuaded to tidy up the factory by turning what's left into around 40 bikes; the modern Morinis are underrated smashers (the Scrambler's my favourite) and given Stuart can still supply bits for the 350s, spares shouldn't be a worry.

The tragedy is this was just a short term funding problem caused by the banking crisis. Sadly the Italian government's in no position to help Morini out, and infamously the banks are still refusing to lend to private entrepreneurs. I suspect this won't be the last bit of bad news, because the roof's about to collapse at Guzzi's abandoned Mandello del Lario facility and there's no sign of owner's Piaggio started on their promised refurbishment.

Franco finishes his interview by saying to Pete "There is a lot of knowledge and technology in (Morini), good management and importantly a young staff: the young ones can fight, they are committed. Moto Morini can never die: for me it is impossible."

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Moto Martin bevel Ducati racer

Super rare Moto Martin 900 bevel racer with Bol’dor history - for sale! No price yet - for more info contact John Fallon

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Project bike

Oh no - that most dreaded of things: a project. Beloved of mothers-in-law and magazine editors (um...but not this one), projects nag away like clingy mistresses until they're over (one way or another)

This one shouldn't need much work (famous last words) because it's been sat in a private collection until the recent hard times meant it came to market with the intriguing claim that it had been built with a Hemi (Sferica - ie hemispherical) head for the Milano Taranto. Surely BS, given that Gilera focused on the 500 class in the Milano Taranto and that only a handful of Sfericas were ever made. But the bike came via the highly trusted John Fallon so I dug a bit deeper.

First investigation was the engine number - hmmm, this included the stamping Gilera put on their Motogiro bikes, and the Gilera register confirmed the number went on a 175V (the V suffix was for the racers) supplied to a Rimini dealer in 1956 - the Giro went right through Rimini in '56, with a Bologna start/finish.

But engine numbers can be faked, and the only Sferica I could track down (with the help of Jim Dillard at Vintagemotos Museum no longer had it's hemi-head. Time to have a closer look...

The bike was on mainland Europe but John took a deep breath and shipped it over. Ace mechanic Neil Ridgewellf lifted the head, and there it was - a hemispherical head with vales set at right angles, just like the Gilera 500/4 racer. The standard 175 Sport had parallel valves and a flat head - and no dry clutch. The engine had clearly been run, so it's no fake: and for less money than a Ducati 175 it was mine. What? Does it run? Er, not yet

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Emilio Mendogni's Morini 125

I thought thirty grand was the going rate for a Ducati Mariana, but here's an OHC Morini 125 on eBay at almost that - OK, it's a 1948 ex-Emilio Mendogni restoration, but even so...

(And thanks to Paul at Morini Mania for the tip off)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Uh oh...Valentine's day coming up

Time to build those brownie points, because it'll soon be the riding season and already there's the question of bailing out of the usual Easter family get-together because some fool's put the Stafford Bike Show on over the Easter weekend.

But cook the lady (or chap) in your life a fine dining experience on Valentine's Day and who knows what you'll be allowed to get away with. If you can't cook this, you shouldn't be allowed out on a bike.

You'll need a couple of salmon fillets and some ready made puff (or filo) pastry (easily found in the supermarket) plus maybe some bits and bobs to titivate. Goes really well with grilled courgettes/zucchini (try Fab Frugal Foods idea, pictured)

Roll the pastry out (the packet will give advice, but you want it quite thin) and cut into a shape that'll let you make a parcel with each salmon fillet. I usually put a bit of butter and dried dill on top of the fillet, plus maybe some chopped capers - if you're feeling flash baby spinach or asparagus (pictured) works well too): seal and brush with milk and sit on a oiled baking tray to rest in the 'fridge for half an hour.

Oven on to around 190 degrees (check the pastry packet for more info) and cook for 25-30 minutes when the pastry should be golden. Serve with the zucchini or even frozen peas if you struggle with cooking. Piece of cake, and now you're owed a favour

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Health and Safety Italian style

I once asked a garden designer when you could think of a garden design as finished, given my wife is forever tinkering with ours. "When the budget is spent" was the initial, rather cynical answer, followed by a more thoughtful "when the client needs it finished by."

So it is with stories. When I put the feelers out for info on the Circuito del Lario for the piece in Benzina #4 I had no idea how the tales would trickle in. Here's one that came in yesterday, too late to make the printed copy.

High up on the circuito is a 12th Century church, perched on a sharp bend the riders took at speed. Not all of them made it, and crashed into the church doors damaging rider, machine and the church. The solution in 1930s Italy? Leave the church doors open during the race, so that wayward riders could use the church aisle as an escape route. Only in Italy...

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Single minded twins

According to Morini heroes North Leicester Motorcycles Moto Morini's receivers have been persuaded to build up around 40 bikes from what remains at the factory, and then that's it - Morini are no more. The Italian government is flat broke and out of credit, so the wonderful people who made so much history are scattered to the four winds, together with their immeasurable talents.

Peter Crawford very kindly contributed the last ever English interview with Franco Lambertini to Benzina #4, and it's a poignant reminder that this lovely man was just 25 when he designed the Morini 350. One insight is that the narrow 72 degree angle of the V was chosen so that the design could easily be modified to produce a smaller single. Singles of course are what Morini are famous for - they nearly beat Honda and Jim Redman to the 1963 250 world championship with one, despite missing rounds. Once I'd read the interview with Franco I was so moved that I knew we had to tell the incredible story of how Provini so nearly achieved the impossible, and how with a better economic background Morini would be doing the same today. Lambertini was especially proud that most of the components for the current bikes were sourced within 100km of the factory, an incredible feat in a world where too many think the food we eat has to be flown in from across the globe

(top pic vespamore-uk.blogspot)

Friday, 4 February 2011


Brother-in-law is Royal Marines and suggested we stick a couple of these light sticks in the car. Glad we did - a puncture on a dark lane would normally have left me cursing the flat battery in the torch, calling the AA and flattening the car battery with the hazards. But these glow sticks were (just) enough to see to change the wheel, and mark the offside of the car for passing traffic.

They work when you bend them to crack and inner capsule and mix a couple of chemicals, creating an unstable reaction - basically electrons jump orbit and give off light: a similar idea to fluorescent paint, but turned up to 11. The sticks don't get hot, and were still giving off light 24 hours later. Readily available for pennies on eBay, they'll fit in a glovebox or under a bike seat no problem. Genius - don't leave home without them

Thursday, 3 February 2011

New home for old Ducatis

Spotted on Ottonero's blog, a Ducati engined Lefas. Not sure about the paintwork, but then John Britten's incredible racer was that colour(-ish) so maybe it's of an era

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Standard paintjobs

Looking for a Guzzi S3 reminded me that we painted my brother's 400/4 that way back in the seventies: there it is tucked behind my recently acquired F2, which would finish up fully Yoshimured (below); back then keeping a bike standard just showed a lack of imagination, even though the paint job's were via cans and kitchen tables. These days "original" (ideally shinier than original) is all collectors dream of. Nostalgia originally was a word for a type of sickness. Odd, that...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Looking for a Guzzi S3 750

Currently looking for a nicely shiny Moto Guzzi S3 for a pro photoshoot - as original and ideally recently restored. A V7 Sport might do - needs to be in the UK, though: it's for a mainstream magazine so you might get to be rich and famous (or not)

Pic Rich Bourne/Flickr