Ed Youngblood's Motohistory News July 2008 | Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions

Ed Youngblood’s Motohistory News July 2008

13 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ed Youngblood’s Motohistory News July 2008
Zündapp 250 S Trophy

Motohistory Quiz #57:

We have a winner!

(7/31/2008)

We had a lot of response to Motohistory Quiz #57. Dozens of people guessed the Russian Vostok. Quite a number thought it was the URS.

However, our quiz bike is a Nougier, built by French designer Jean Nougier, who created a series of single, twin, and four-cylinder hand-built racing machines between 1937 through 1972. His beautiful Four, built for Grand Prix racing in 1954 and capable of 10,000 rpm, was designed to challenge Gilera and MV. Nougier died in 1999 at the age of 90.

His motorcycles are on display at the Marseilles Motorcycle Museum. For more information about Nougier, click here. here. or here .

Winner of our quiz was Kevin Cameron, the motohistorian and technical writer well known for his Top Dead Center column in Cycle World magazine. Cameron was also a contributor to our Motohistory Tribute to Phil Vincent last March. To read what he had to say about Vincent, click here.

To order a compilation of his work in Cycle World . click here. Congratulations, Kevin, your Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way.

(7/31/2008)

Okay, readers, it is time for another Motohistory Quiz. Be the first to tell us the brand of this engine, and you will receive a personalized diploma declaring you our latest Motohsitory Know-It-All.

Here’s a little hint that might eliminate a lot of bad guesses. It is NOT Italian!

So, rush to your keyboard and send your answer to Ed@Motohistory.net.

The Rossdorf motorcycle mélange

(7/31/2008)

By Ralf Kruger

Rossdorf. Germany is a village of 12,000 inhabitants and has a rich history in motorcycling. It once had a state-of-the-art motocross racing facility—finally closed during the 1980s—and there is local Hercules/DKW dealer Ernst Brehm, who has organized competitions and provided service for Geländesport riders for decades.

These traditions continue, because this last May 4th, Rossdorf hosted its fifth annual old-timer’s meeting, hosted by IG Historische Zweiräder Rossdorf, an organization of individuals interested in historical motorcycling, founded in 2003.

This year’s meeting took place in the parking lot of the Rossdorf public baths, and all owners of motorcycles aged 20 years or older were welcome. It was a casual format, and motorcycles were not arranged in any particular periods or categories. Instead, bike owners simply registered and placed their motorcycles where they pleased, creating a mélange of machinery that worked out surprisingly well. Many of these vintage motorcycles were not museum pieces or overly-restored show bikes.

Rather, they are ridden on a regular basis, but have been lovingly maintained in excellent condition. The public were invited to the show, and no admission fee was charged. Walter Herold (pictured above), an amusing and knowledgeable historical motorcycle expert, provided entertainment and commentary by walking through the gathering to conduct interviews with the motorcycle owners, who proudly described the importance and special features of their beloved bikes.

Herold is seen here with a 1930 Neracar, built first in America and later in Great Britain. This example has the English Blackburne engine, available only for the European market.

I especially enjoyed the small Italian motorcycles on display. Though they are often overshadowed in the press and the public eye by the big 750 Laverdas and Ducatis, the little bikes from Italy attract a dedicated following among own ers and enthusiasts who love to test their speed and handling at over-the-road events modeled after the famous Motogiro.

At this exhibition were several beautiful examples of the Motobi 125SS (pictured above), a brand founded in 1948 by Guiseppe Benelli, one of the six Benelli brothers from Pesaro who had such a profound influence on the Italian motorcycle industry. But it was technical designer Piero Prampolini who embedded in these little machines a temper of both sportiness and durability that has made the Italian bikes of this era so appealing.

Others of this category on display were a 1957 Moto Guzzi Londola 175 and a Stornello 175 Sport (pictured above). Newer examples included a Moto Morini 3 1/2 and a Moto Guzzi V7 Sport. When gazing upon these machines, one can only declare, Molto bene.

British bikes, represented by 1970s Triumphs and Nortons, drew a large crowd of admirers. Such bikes, though rather common in Great Britain and the United States. are seen less frequently in Germany. as British bikes were never cheap nor did they benefit from any well-planned sales and marketing strategy for the German market. Consequently, only racers and Britbike enthusiasts ever bought these machines.

This aspect of our history was even more evident in some of the other unusual British bikes on display, such as a 1956 Panther—which I will admit is the first I have ever seen—a 1930 BSA 500 Sloper (both pictured above), and an especially rare 1927 Bigport AJS. Well done, gentlemen. I say there, good show!

Slowly, vintage motorcycle enthusiasts are becoming aware of the powerful influence Japanese motorcycle marketing and technology has had on the history of our sport and industry. In their early days, they were so common that no one took them seriously, and because of this lack of appreciation, few have survived. For example, on display was a 1976 Suzuki GT 125, which is one of only three such bikes still licensed in the State of Hessen.

Also, there was the King of Japanese motorcycle, a Z1R Kawasaki (pictured above), which gave us exciting technology and power, but may be better remembered by Germans for its ill handling. Far more accepted for its riding quality was the Honda CB500, one of the best balanced bikes of the era. To those who have begun to appreciate and preserve these important machines, we say, Domo arigato.

There was no published program for the event, but one could learn much from a hand-written label containing fundamental data, placed on each motorcycle. One of the oldest German motorcycles I saw on display was a restored 1926 DKW E206 (pictured to the right). This bike, with its single-backbone frame of conical tubing, welded at the joints, represented a technical breakthrough that resulted in more economical manufacturing.

Also, there were examples of the DKW RT, one of the most popular motorcycles ever in Germany. Some of the most sold were the 1952 RT 175cc plunger-type and the more modern 1954 RT 175 with porcupine finning and swinging arm rear suspension (pictured to the left).

Seldom missing from any German exhibition are the various bikes of NSU. In this case, there was a big Supermax 250 (pictured below), whose hefty 300+ pound bulk was conspicuous among all the slender 125cc Foxes and the little 98cc 1953 two-stroke Quick. Other two-stroke NSUs on display included a Lux (pictured below) 200 and a 1937 98cc Pony, which was the oldest of the brand at the show. There were also a 1940 Torpedo moped and a 1939 Wanderer moped model Sp1 with Sachs engine.

And while there were also many 1950s BMWs on display, one of the rarer examples was a 1952 R50/3, set up in the Georg Meier racing style. Perhaps the youngest of the BMWs there was a R75/6 with only 751 kilometers on its odometer.

But, in my opinion, the star of the show among all these pristine motorcycles was a 1952 Zündapp KS601 sidecar rig. Despite the fact that three of these exciting machines appeared at the meeting, they are not all that common. Owner Dieter Daab acquired his vestige of the green elephant in spring of 2006 in the form of 12 boxes of precious parts.

Daab, who is no novice at complex restorations, also owns a 350 Horex Regina and a BMW R25/3. For his Zündapp project, he acknowledges that it would have been quite impossible without the support of the Zündapp Club of Germany, of which he is a member. About the importance of technology sharing and collaboration, Daab says, To be on your own with this kind of operation means you are lost from the beginning.

You need many friends who will help. So, with a little help from his friends, it took Daab only two years to turn some boxes of Zündapp parts into his splendid, linden-green “elephant.”

Perhaps it is Daab’s example that makes events like the Rossdorf meeting so important. Through such gatherings, we can not only share the beauty and excitement of our vintage motorcycles with the public, but we can make the crucial connections among enthusiasts who, through collaboration, can bring more restored and preserved motorcycles onto the scene. And, IG Historische Zweiräder Rossdorf has demonstrated that an outstanding show can be made without complexity or a big budget.

It is an example that more of us in vintage motorcycling would do well to follow in our own communities. For more information about the Rossdorf meet, click here. To reach Ernst Brehm’s dealership on the web, click here .

Mike’s excellent adventure:

The man who once raced a Honda Dream

returns to the scene of his crimes

(7/29/2008)

By Mike Traynor

Recently, I experienced a flood of memories, felt fortunate to be alive, laughed as hard as I ever have, and fought back tears of loss, and it was all because I once tried to race a Honda Dream! These feelings swept over me almost all at once while my wife Dianne and I were working in Japan, meeting with Japanese medical researchers and visiting hospitals in connection with our work with Ride for Kids and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, the official charity of the Honda Riders Club of America.

One morning, when I awoke in Chitose, Japan, my emotions kicked into warp-overdrive as I headed out to exercise in Aoba Park. I needed to settle my mind because later that day I was planning to meet two Japanese brothers who had befriended me while I was here from 1959 to 1962. They were Shigehiro and Takahiro Takakei, owners of a motorcycle shop that I once raced motorcycles out of when I lived in this city (pictured above and below).

I had last seen them in 1962 when I was unexpectedly airlifted out of Chitose, never to return until today, 46 years later. My hasty and unplanned departure was because my father had been in an accident, and as the eldest of six children, I was sent home to finish my enlistment in the states while I took on the job of becoming the breadwinner of our family. During my two years in Chitose, the Takakei brothers had become great friends and companions to a young GI a long way from home.

They surely were a far greater influence on my life than I realized at the time.


After my run, as I donned my business suit back at the hotel, I wondered how much of our time together they would recollect, especially the incredibly funny exploits we shared as we tried to keep my 1957 250cc Honda Dream in racing condition. It had a propensity for eating piston rings, and we had rebored it so often that we began having trouble finding oversized pistons that would fit.

Racing a Dream was especially difficult on an Army corporal’s pay, because punishing this gentle engine on a quarter-mile short track had never been part of Soichiro Honda’s vision for an Earl’s Fork street bike. It was a fine commuter, and indeed it was also my daily rider year round, regardless of weather, but I insisted on beating it to death in a vain effort to further my budding career as a motorcycle racer.

To honor our meeting, I brought along 25th Anniversary Ride for Kids tee-shirts for the brothers as a memento of what they had unknowingly helped birth. They had been mentors in the earliest days of my 48-year love affair with motorcycles, which eventually led to the creation of our charity and its long-standing relationship with American Honda. Also, I had created a photo album of old racing photos and pictures of the Takakeis at their modest shop.

As I made contact with the brothers in preparation for this trip, I could not help but notice that the messages coming out of their Mitsubishi dealership (they sold the motorcycle shop several years ago) never included much information from the older brother, Shigehiro. Communication was always from his younger brother, Takahiro. So, as I dressed that morning, I had an uncomfortable premonition about Shigehiro’s well-being which, sadly, proved to be correct.

Then the phone in our hotel room rang, and it was the happy voice of Shigehiro’s wife, telling us they were in the lobby and could we please come down. We scurried down to find Takahiro and his wife, Shigehiro’s wife, a pretty young translator, and a reporter from the Chitose bureau of the Hokkaido Shimbun Press newspaper, all standing in a line with bags of mementos and giant grins. I was about to cry.

Takahiro (pictured here) looked nearly the same as he did 46 years ago. I could not believe that I recognized him and that he knew exactly who I was. Cameras flashed a gazillion times as we enthusiastically greeted each other, laughing and all talking at once.

The reporter furiously scribed, recording the excitement of our reunion.

We shared story after story about the great times of the past, and I could not get over seeing Takahiro, resplendent in an expensive sport coat and slacks. Before that day, the only clothes I ever saw him in were greasy white coveralls. Then they took us to the old bike shop location, which has become a vacant lot, now empty of the howls of laughter and the noisy race bikes being tuned, right across the street from the telephone company.

There was no air conditioning at that time, and in the summer the telephone operators opened their windows. They would yell out at us, telling us to quiet down. Then the police would show up to try to teach us better manners.

Takakei even claimed that the U.S. Army Military Police would sometimes visit the shop and tell them to make sure the GI’s quit making so much noise. That really embarrassed me, because I never knew that it got that out of hand.

As our hosts explained their plans for the rest of the day, the mystery of Shigehiro’s absence emerged. He had suffered a blood clot in his brain and was hospitalized, but we were planning to go see him. They said he remembered who Mike was and that he was pleased we were coming to visit.

When they wheeled him out of his rehab session, he too looked every bit the same as I remembered him, but the distant look in his eyes atop a gentle smile broke my heart, and I fought with all my might to hold back a flood of tears. Dianne said it was obvious I was having a tough time, because it was written all over my face, despite the big smile I mustered up.

I was at once incredibly delighted to see him and greatly saddened to see how the vibrant young man I had known was today in failing health. Our visit may have been just in time, because they said he was not expected to come home from the hospital. We talked for about a half-hour, and some stories he recalled, but others were just words from a stranger.

They say you can never go back, but do not believe it. My visit to Japan took me back to some great memories as we recalled many hilarious incidents between two Japanese motorcycle shop owners and a handful of wild-eyed young American soldiers, all trying to learn to be racers.

I think back on the craziness of trying to race the Honda Dream that I also relied upon for my daily transportation, and I realize that we could not have known then that those infernal two-wheeled machines would bring us back together in a way that probably no other catalyst could achieve. If life is meant to lived to the fullest, back then we did it to the nth degree. And I became one of the fortunate few who was allowed the great privilege to go back and relive it again.

Editor’s Note: To read about Ride for Kids, the international charity founded by Mike and Dianne Traynor, click here .

David Uhl creates

“An August to Remember”

Zündapp 250 S Trophy
Zündapp 250 S Trophy

( 7/28/2008 )

In a commemoration of both the Sturgis Rally and Harley-Davidson’s 105th anniversary, fine artist David Uhl has created “An August to Remember,” featuring a seasoned rider adding the 105th pin to his collection while preparing to ride from Sturgis to Milwaukee. Describing the painting, Uhl says, In the spirit of the 105th anniversary and my old friend the Witness, I present a portrait of a breed of rider who is becoming increasingly more rare. His home and garage are one and the same.

This man never misses a rally or a reason to hit the open road. He has collected so many bikes and parts over the decades that he can literally create a scooter that spans thirty years. One of many, his ride in the painting is called ‘The Little Bastard,’ for it’s parents are diverse.

Its 1951 WR frame holds a 1942 WLA lower end, topped off with 58 KR heads. It’s fuel drops from a sliver of an XL Sportster tank, which is adequate, because the whole bike only weighs about 250 pounds.”

Canvas giclee prints of Uhl’s original painting are available, hand-signed by the artist and numbered with certificates of authenticity. The painting, along with others by Uhl, will be available for viewing during the Sturgis Rally at the Gold Dust Casino in Deadwood, South Dakota. To reach David Uhl’s web site, click here. For information about the Gold Dust Casino, click here.

For information about the 68th annual Sturgis Rally, click here. For information about Harely-Davidson’s 150th anniversary celebration, click here .

When did a Vincent HRD

(7/27/2008)

By David Wright

Editor’s Note: David Wright contributed to our Motohistory special feature in celebration of the centenary of Philip Vincent’s birth, published March 14, 2008. Here he combines his interest in the Vincent HRD marque and the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy and Manx Grand Prix races to describe an unsolved mystery from 75 years ago. To read more of David Wright’s work about the Vincent in our Motohistory Tribute to Phil Vincent, click here .

During the 1920s and 1930s, a sure-fire way for small manufacturers to gain favourable publicity for their products was to enter the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) races. It wasn’t uncommon to have 20 different makes contesting a race, and although victory usually went to one of the big boys, mere participation in the TT brought glamour to smaller marques and thus a useful image boost in the eyes of the buying public.

The Vincent HRD Company Ltd. was a small firm with sporting pretensions, and it is generally accepted that the ‘works’ Vincent HRD entries in the 1934 Senior TT represented the first appearance in Isle of Man racing of the Stevenage-built marque. But is this correct?

The photograph below shows Philip Vincent (left), Phil Irving, and Keith Horton with a 350cc Vincent HRD built for a customer to race, not in the TT, but in the Junior class of the 1933 Manx Grand Prix ( MGP )—the “amateur” version of the TT—and if this bike was ridden in the 1933 MGP. then it should rightfully hold the title of being the first Vincent HRD to contest a race on the Island. However, because Vincent’s Chief Engineer Phil Irving says in his autobiography that the bike “never competed in the MGP ,” and Roy Harper in “Vincent HRD Story” quotes Philip Vincent as saying “it did not compete after all,” any suggestion that this Blackburne-powered motorcycle took part in the 1933 event on the Isle of Man would seem to be ruled out because, surely, Messrs. Vincent and Irving were the ultimate authorities on Vincent HRD matters of that era.

The MGP bike was unusual for a Vincent HRD in using a Blackburne engine, and it was also the first of the marque to be fitted with a sprung pillion-seat (in this instance to allow the rider to “get down to it” in race mode). Also unusual is that Messrs. Vincent, Irving, and Horton were photographed with it just prior to its completion, for it was not customary for them to line up for a photo session with every new machine that left the Factory.

Although Vincent and Irving both wrote that the bike was built to compete in the MGP. neither provided an explanation to support their claims that it did not do so. Reference to the company’s Works Order Form dated July 12, 1933 shows that the machine was required “Earliest,” although that was later amended to August 15. It is recorded as being built and tested by Keith Horton, passed by Phil Irving, and signed-off by Philip Vincent.

The young man who ordered this bike with its rare parallel-pushrod Blackburne engine was intending MGP competitor 22-year-old Frank Harvey, and the completed machine was eventually delivered by road to his home at Broxbourne (just a few miles from the Vincent HRD Stevenage factory) by Keith Horton on Saturday, August 26. As opening practice for the 1933 MGP was due to start on the morning of Monday, August 28, 250 miles away by road and sea on the Isle of Man, the factory cut things a bit fine! (From this point, readers should bear in mind that the machines produced by the Vincent HRD Company in the period 1928 to 1949 were badged “Vincent HRD,” but were commonly referred to as just “HRD.”)

S0, whilst the words of the two Phils (Vincent and Irving) make clear that, in their memories, this interesting 350 was not raced in the 1933 MGP. Frank Harvey is certainly shown as due to ride an HRD in the official entry-list of 56 competitors. Of greater significance is the fact that several publications of the time say that the bike did take part in practice sessions and that it contested the 226-mile Junior race.

As examples: The Motor Cycle commented on riding styles at Creg ny Baa during the Tuesday morning practice session and mentioned that “Riding a 346cc HRD, F. Harvey was pretty good,” and of the Monday practice before race day it said “F. Harvey (HRD) struck sparks from the road with his footrest” at Brandish Corner. As riders passed both of those spots at speeds modest enough to permit visual identification of the machines ridden, there is a ring of truth about the reports.

Understandably, many will still prefer to take the words of Vincent and Irving over those of The Motor Cycle . but a look at the next photograph gives another indication that the bike may have raced. It shows Frank Harvey on the new machine in front of the garage used by competitors who stayed at the popular Acacia guest-house, off Bucks Road in Douglas on the Isle of Man. and it is fitted with racing number-plates carrying his MGP entry number of 12.

There is little doubt that these are official MGP plates, for the distinctive style of the numbers matches those of other competitors’ plates in 1933. Of further significance is the fact that the race-organisers only issued number-plates to competitors after they had “signed-on,” with another point worthy of note being that riders practised with just a front number-plate fitted and only added their side-plates for the actual race. Therefore, one reasonable (but unconfirmed) interpretation of the photograph is that it was taken after completion of practice-week and shows Frank Harvey ready to ride in the 1933 Junior MGP .

Come Junior race day on Tuesday, September 5th, and out of the 56 original entries there were 48 starters. Harvey ‘s name did not appear on the detailed list of non-starters and having already been told by the press that he practised for the event, we then find a very specific paragraph in the report on the Junior MGP in Motor Cycling regarding his participation in the race. It said: “F. Harvey (HRD) could not get his plug to fire after his pit stop.

Alas! the special spanner had been lost when dealing with a previous bout of plug trouble, and he was forced to pack up.” That retirement took place at the pits at the end of the third lap of the race and Motor Cycling’s words read very much like an eye-witness account of the event. A local newspaper, The Manx Examiner . also reported that Harvey retired his HRD from the race.

So, with three contemporary publications printing four separate reports of Harvey ‘s participation in the 1933 MGP meeting on an HRD, were they really likely to have mistaken the identity of the machine on each occasion? Even if Harvey had changed his machine from the HRD listed in the Programme, the press would have been made aware of such change by way of official information issued by the organisers, and so could have been expected to amend their reports on the make used.

Other photographs exist of Frank Harvey at the 1933 Junior MGP (two stationary shots with a batch of other racers and two racing shots are to hand). Unfortunately, none are sufficiently clear to confirm the make of machine, although a head-on shot does appear to show the marque’s distinctive footrest hangers, a distant view of the rear near-side looks very HRD, and the two long-range racing shots are of riding number 12 on the Mountain Course.

Seventy-five years after the event, it is very difficult to determine why the memories of Vincent and Irving are so at odds with press reports of what happened at the 1933 MGP. There is a strong likelihood that when he agreed to build the MGP model for Harvey in mid-1933, Philip Vincent’s thoughts had already turned towards making factory entries in the 1934 Isle of Man TT races, for at the 1933 autumn Motorcycle Show he reached agreement with J. A. Prestwich Ltd. to enter a Vincent HRD team in the following year’s Senior TT, powered by their JAP engines.

Under those circumstances, it is difficult to believe that Vincent and Irving would have failed to remember the earlier Island debut of one of their machines, and, living so close to the factory, Harvey would quite likely have called in for a discussion after the event. Books such as “History of the MGP ” by Norman Brown (a Shell publication of 1960) and “History of the MGP 1923-1998” by Bill Snelling and Peter Kneale, repeat the information that the HRD competed in, but retired from, the 1933 Junior race. And Peter Carrick, in “Vincent-HRD,” also says that it raced.

So, there are the conflicting “facts” for your consideration, but what is the truth? Seventy-five years after the event it is perhaps not seen as important, but it would be nice to know the answer and thus to resolve the mystery of young Frank Harvey, his Vincent HRD, and participation in the Junior MGP of 1933. As it is, we are left with the unanswered question: Did he, or didn’t he?

“Awsome-Ness” and “Red Bikes” open

at Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum

On July 24, Arlen Ness (pictured here) cut the ribbon on a new exhibit at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum honoring his life and the body of his work and influence on the worldwide custom motorcycle industry. Entitled Awsome-Ness, the exhibit features 11 of Ness’s creations, ranging from his career-launcing 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead named Untouchable to Mach Ness, a motorcycle powered by a jet turbine from a helicopter.

In addition to “Awesome-Ness, a new photo exhibit entitled “Red Bikes,” featuring the work of Dawn Deppi (pictured here), was unveiled. The two exhibits at the Pickerington, Ohio museum will run through mid-July 2009. For the whole story, click here.

To read Arlen Ness’s official Motorcycle Hall of Fame bio, click here. To reach the web site for Arlen Ness Enterprises, click here. To reach Dawn Deppi’s web site, click here .

Zündapp 250 S Trophy
Zündapp 250 S Trophy
Zündapp 250 S Trophy
Zündapp 250 S Trophy

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