Motohistory Quiz #93:
We have no winner!
We had no winner for our Motohistory Quiz #93. It is becoming clear that Argentine motorcycle history is a weak spot in our curriculum. The last time we had no winner was Quiz #87, which was the Argentine Puma motorcycle (see Motohistory News & Views 12/31/2010).
The engine pictured here is the very rare Tehuelche, built in Argentina from March 1957 through mid-1969. The Tehuelche, named after an indigenous people from Patagonia known for their fierceness, was a unique and original design created by Juan Rafaldi and Roberto Fattorini, who came to Argentina from Italy in 1949. In an era when Argentina was emphasizing the development of domestic products, the Tehuelche was a cause for pride because it was a truly unique and original design. Other motorcycles produced in Argentina at the time were licensed European designs, such as the Puma from the German Göricke and the Zanella from the Italian Ceccato.
The production Tehuelche had a 75cc single overhead cam, all-aluminum engine with gear drive to the cam. It had a wet- sump/splash lubrication system. Just before production ceased, the gear drive to the cam was changed to chain drive. About 5,000 of these motorcycles were built, and it is believed that only about 100 still survive. High inflation and government instability contributed to the decision to cease production in 1969. Afterward, Rafaldi and Fattorini created a small business to support customers using their motorcycles in competition. For this purpose, they built the “Topo 100,” an upper end that increased the capacity to 100cc. Pictured above is a 1959 100cc racer.
Better luck next time, Motohistorians.
A friend of the marque
While he was studying architecture at Yale in 1963, Jeff Dean noticed numerous black motorcycles going into and coming out of an alley across Chapel Street from the Yale Art Gallery. He had no idea what they were, but he thought they were unusually handsome. One day, he walked up the alley and talked to a mechanic working at a place called Libby's Sales and Service.* The man was working on one of the black motorcycles. Dean asked, "What are these?" and in a German accent the man told him all about BMWs, their quality, and why they are special. Dean relates, "I couldn't afford one, but I started buyingBMW owner's manuals for the various models for $1.50 each. At that time they were printed in three languages, and I would read and cuddle them." It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair.
Jeff Dean was born in Madison, Wisconsin, in March 1940. After high school, he earned a BA from Lawrence University in Appleton, and then studied architecture at the Yale School of Architecture. Having been infected by the unaffordable BMW bug, Jeff bought a 150cc Vespa GL, which, on one occasion, he rode from New Haven to Manhattan and back. He recalls, "New York City police were using Vespas at the time. I saw a scooter cop giving a guy a ticket, and I thought that was cool so I stopped and took his picture." He adds, “I used the Vespa to commute to a part-time job as a reporter for The Waterbury Republican." About his time at Yale, Dean adds, "I decided I was never going to be the second coming of Frank Lloyd Wright, so I left and returned to Wisconsin where I got a job as a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.”
Later, Dean took a job with the Madison City Planning Department, and over time progressed to the position of Principal Planner. Now gainfully employed, Dean bought his first BMW, a year-old 1967 R60/2 (pictured above right). He laughs, "The guy I bought it from told me I had to put oil in the gas. One day it quit running, and I learned I had gummed up the valves. What did I know? It made sense because it is what I had done with my Vespa."
Dean noted other BMWs around Madison, so he printed a flyer announcing the date of a get-together and put them under the seat straps of BMWs he saw parked around town. He recalls, "On the evening of the meeting, twelve people showed up. I couldn't believe the response. There was evident common interest, and we formed the Madison BMW Club." Organizing became one of Dean's fortes, and in 1972 he became one of five men who met in Chicago on a 13-below-zero winter day to form the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMW MOA). Pictured above left are the founders of the BMW MOA, from left to right: Vern Hansen, Dean, John Moore, Charlie Smith, Frank Diederich. Later, with John Harper (pictured with Dean above right), he co-founded the Vintage BMW Motorcycle Owners, Ltd.
The year prior to buying his first R60/2, Jeff married Jill Weber (pictured left), who would later become the editor of Wisconsin Trails Magazine and eventually earned a degree in law at the University of Wisconsin and became a partner in a local law firm. Jill is supportive of Jeff's intense involvement in motorcycling, but did not share his enthusiasm for actually operating one. Dean relates, "Jill took a motorcycle rider course in 1989, and I took the class with her. One day, in a pouring rain, she climbed off her bike and walked off the range. That was it for her. However, I enjoyed the course so much that I thought I would like to become a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) instructor." Jeff earned his instructor license the following year. In 1994 became an MSF Chief Instructor, which was later renamed Rider Coach Trainer. On a voluntary basis, he created the BMW MOA Foundation’s rider training program and directed the Experienced Rider Course workshops at BMW MOA international rallies for 14 years, from 1991 through 2005.
In 1970, Dean acquired his first collectible BMW, a 600cc 1951 BMW R67 (pictured right). He recalls, "It was the first year for that model. It was so cool, and I wish I still had it." The R67, however, was sold; the first in a long process of buying and selling that would make Dean the owner of more than 60 BMWs over the next four decades. Today, he owns 15, both vintage and modern machines. During this time he has ridden more than 350,000 miles on his Bavarian bikes, and about his preferences explains, "I had a series of K Models in the 1980s, but I have settled in today as a dedicated boxer guy." He confesses, "I also had a Yamaha SR500 street bike and a Yamaha 250 dirt bike for a while, but they didn't last long." Jeff's collectible BMWs are not just show bikes, because he rides them all. He has a 1973 R75/5 with more than 100,000 miles on it.
In 1972, Dean joined the staff of the Wisconsin Historical Society where he was hired to launch the state's historic preservation program. It would become his lifelong profession, and by 1997, when he retired, Dean's one-man job had grown into a department of 22 people under his direction. As retirement approached, hto e and Jill purchased land in saguaro “forest” adjacent to the Sweetwater Nature Preserve near Tucson, Arizona. It is an ideal place for Jill pursue her love of nature, and for Jeff to build what he describes as his "man cave," a separate building dedicated to storing and maintaining his collection of BMWs (pictured above and above right). One bike, an R60/2, was displayed at the AMA’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. He owns a very rare 1954 BMW R68, restored by Tim Stafford, of San Diego, that won a major award at California’s Quail Gathering last May (pictured below right), and he was the founder of the vintage BMW motorcycle display that takes place each year at the BMW MOA international rally.
Jill (with jeff left) also is a collector, but her vehicle of choice is quite different: the canoe. At one time, Jill and Jeff owned 27 historical wooden canoes, but have since donated them to the creation of the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum, in Spooner, Wisconsin, the only canoe history museum in the US. Famous historic brands there include, among others, Gerrish, Rushton, Morris, Old Town, Vaillancourt, Seliga, and Walter Walker.
About a decade ago, Dean created his own web site, which he modestly bills as "The Dean of BMW Motorcycle Web Sites." It is an amusing play on words, but really not that far from the truth. The site is rich in content and graphics about BMW motorcycles and BMW motorcycle history. Arguably, it is one of the best and most extensive private web sites dedicated to the brand. It also promotes the BMW MOA Foundation, and includes a respectful nod to Jeff's continuing interests in architecture and historic preservation.
During his 40-year devotion to BMW motorcycles, Jeff has served on the board of the BMW MOA, and is also a member of the BMW Riders Association. He was vice president of the BMW MOA from 1995 to 1997, and president from 1997 to 1999. In Tucson, he is an active member of the South East Arizona Touring club (SEAT), a BMW MOA-affiliated club. In recognition of Dean's dedication to the BMW motorcycle brand, his service to rider education and organized motorcycling, and his efforts toward historical preservation, BMW RA former president Robert Hellman proposed Jeff Dean for the prestigious "Friend of the Marque Award," bestowed by the International Council of BMW Clubs. It is the highest honor a BMW motorcycle enthusiast can receive, and one that many in the BMW community agree Jeff Dean has rightfully earned.
To visit Jeff’s site, click here. To learn more about the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, click here. To learn more about the BMW Riders Association, click here. To learn more about the Vintage BMW Motorcycle Owners, click here. For more about the Friend of the Marque Award, click here. To learn more about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, click here. To learn more about the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum, click here.
* Libby's is still in business in New Haven, but no longer sells BMW. For more information, click here.
American antique motorcycle groups
explore state of the community
Several organizations dedicated to vintage and antique motorcycling in America met July 21 at Mansfield, Ohio to explore the current state of the American antique motorcycle community. The meeting was organized by the Antique Motorcycle Foundation and included representatives from the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, the International CBX Owners Association, the Penton Owners Group, the Spanish Motorcycle Owners Group, and the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (above, participants follow a presentation of survey results). In addition to the club delegates, representatives from the National Motorcycle Museum and Moto Retro Illustrated participated in the meeting. The discussion focused on a review of results of a voluntary survey questionnaire that had been circulated to nine organizations earlier in the year.
Results from the survey indicate that there are common concerns among all of the clubs, mostly involving an aging membership and difficulty in getting members to step up to leadership positions. However, it was discovered that none has been adversely affected by the current negative economy. Many reported that membership roles are holding steady or improving, as is true also of finances. It was noted also that at present, antique motorcycles have a high profile and positive image in the national media. With the great interest in old motorcycles as objects of art following the 1998 breakthrough exhibit by the Guggenheim, with stories about great classic motorcycles in leading publications, with popular television shows about collecting, preservation, and restoration; and with the welcoming of antique motorcycles into prestigious automobile concours events, today the antique motorcycle and motorcycle collecting are well regarded.
To read the final report of the survey on the Antique Motorcycle Foundation web site, click here.
The Change Agent:
A tribute to Guy Maitre
on the eve of his retirement
By Ed Youngblood
At the end of this year, Guy Maitre (pictured left) will retire from his position as CEO of the Federation of International Motorcycling (FIM). While there are millions of motorcyclists throughout the world who will not have heard his name, in my opinion he can be regarded the most important change agent for motorcycling in our time. He has been a pivotal player in bringing the FIM into the 21st century as one of the most successful, progressive, and corruption-free international sporting organizations in the world. While Formula 1 has made headlines with the extravagant and scandalous behavior of its executive officers, and other world governing bodies -- namely the IOC and FIFA -- have suffered from the actions of corrupt political leaders, the FIM has quietly reinvented itself from a clubby organization of guys in blue blazers to an efficient, modern marketing machine while advancing the status, reputation, and professionalism of the world motorcycle sport. This has been a relatively inconspicuous process that I believe is a reflection of the personality of its guiding hand, Mr. Maitre.
As a delegate of the AMA, I was elected to a committee of the FIM in 1971, then to its Management Council as a Vice President in 1974. At that time, the organization worked under the singular leadership of Don Nicolas Rodil del Valle, a Spanish aristocrat with a mercurial personality who ruled over the General Assembly like a school master over children. Rodil's life was the FIM, and while we had a small professional staff, he was the true CEO of the organization, so hands-on in his work that he kept residence in Geneva most of the year. Rodil was probably the right man for the time, because the FIM was an organization of elected national delegates -- mostly aging sportsmen -- who had ideas of sporting purity akin to that of the old IOC, and for whom "professional" was a dirty word. Everyone wore blue blazers with their national club crest on the pocket, and much of the "work" of the FIM consisted of hashing over old war stories and identifying reasons why it was not necessary for anything to change.
In fact, within the context of this body, Nicolas Rodil was a progressive thinker, and he had big plans for how to improve the FIM which included sponsorship and television income and expanding the organization's influence around the globe by bringing more national federations into membership. With the latter he did a good job, but modernizing the old girl -- Rodil himself frequently referred to the FIM as "an old lady" -- eluded him. Part of the reason was that we were never successful in assembling an enduring professional staff. My recollection is that during the Rodil years, we were almost always "between" executive directors, and when we finally hired one, he or she did not last very long. Some of us credited this mostly to the relentless Rodil, and presumed there was no one who could work with him.
This changed when Guy Maitre, a young man fresh out of the University of Geneva with a degree in Political Science and an ability to work in six languages, was hired as Executive Secretary in 1978. We didn't give him odds of lasting much longer than his predecessors, but three years later he was still there, and Rodil signaled his great satisfaction with Maitre by expanding his responsibilities with the title of Secretary General in preparation for his own retirement in 1983.
Since his arrival at the FIM, Maitre has served under five presidents. Each has been a different nationality with different personalities and differing leadership styles. Still, he has guided the work of the staff -- which has grown significantly -- with apparent seamless efficiency from one regime to the next.
As a CEO of a national organization, my point of view was probably closer to Guy's than to my fellow members of the Management Council, and I developed a high admiration for his patience and ability to adapt to the styles and requirements of the presidents who came and went. As I prepared to retire from service to the FIM in 1996, Mr. Maitre confessed to me that he was not sure he could survive another regime. But he did, and for the FIM the subsequent 15 years were his most productive ever.
During his service to the FIM, Guy Maitre has built an effective professional staff and supervised the creation of a fine headquarters to house them. He has helped change international competition from events supervised by national volunteers to well-run series managed by professional organizations. He has managed relationships with marketing and media companies that have provided outside revenue beyond anything the sport could generate through its own resources. He has fostered a marketing and media mentality within the staff who have produced a slick and professional web site and an attractive international monthly magazine.
Politically, the FIM has been restructured to make its decision-making processes swifter and more flexible. Whereas the FIM once focused nearly 100 percent on the sporting aspects of motorcycles, today it is an active and respected authority in road safety and advocacy for the interests of everyday motorcyclists. Indeed, long gone are the old guys in blue coats who could find countless reasons not to change, and in terms of image, marketing, and revenue, Maitre has helped the FIM achieve success beyond President Rodil's wildest dreams.
One might argue that these changes are simply the fundamentals for an international organization equipped to survive in today's competitive climate. Perhaps so, but in at least one respect, the FIM has leapt ahead of its counterparts. The FIM has embraced a "green" agenda for the world motorcycle sport, and has taken a leadership role in seeking ways for hydrocarbon-fueled sports -- including boats, cars, and aircraft -- to become sustainable. This is a brave vision that will position the FIM well for success in tomorrow's world. Of course, we cannot credit Guy Maitre alone for the FIM's progress, change, and solvency, but there is no doubt that he is the one constant at the heart of an evolving organization. And he did it all so quietly as the consummate diplomat, always letting various presidents and committee chairmen take the credit and pose for the photo op.
At the turn of the year, Mr. Stephane Desprez will fill the vacancy left by Mr. Maitre. He is a young man with excellent credentials. Born in Nancy, France in 1966, he holds an MS in Engineering from ENSAM Paris and an MBA in Strategy and Finance from Purdue University. He has worked in the United States, and since 1999 has worked in France in sports management for Rugby at both national and international levels. In 2004, he became Secretary General for the International Aeronautic Federation, which should give him rare and relevant experience.
At this juncture, one might utter a cliché about how Mr. Desprez will have big shoes to fill. Perhaps so, but the difference with Guy Maitre has been not just the size of his footprint, but that he walked so quietly, ever interested in the results rather than the credit. He has served motorcycling well by bringing and administering beneficial change within the FIM, and I hope he will find great rewards in his retirement.
For more information about the FIM, click here. To see an interview with Guy Maitre about the FIM's green policy, click here.
Did you realize you can get a Bultaco VISA card. Click here.
And while we are on the subject of Bultacos, here's a team (right) that is still going strong. Click here.
There's a new book about Evel Knievel, to read a review, click here.
David Lloyd is organizing the Race of the Century for the upcoming Barber Vintage Festival at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum near Birmingham, Alabama October 7 through 9. The race, open only to motorcycles 100 years old or older, is one of the most popular fixtures of the event. So, if you have a centurion and want to know more, e-mail Lloyd at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Festival, click here.
Recently we reported on the restoration of Jack Silverman's 1955 125cc GP Ducati (see Motohistory News & Views 3/31/2011). For more photos and detailed notes, click here.
A hell of a video of Rocky Robinson's world speed record run: click here.
You don't have to won a Yankee to attend the Yankee Reunion August 27 and 28. Just go there, and maybe you can buy one. Click here.
Earlier we reported on Peter Gagan's plan to celebrate the centenary of Indian's 1911 victory at the Isle of Man with his IOM Indian replica, with Dave Roper twisting the grip (see Motohistory News & Views 12/26/2010). It turned out to be a difficult week, then Dave came home and blew up his 1946 Guzzi Dondolino. To read about it on Dave's blog, click here.
Shell Thuett (left), one of the great American tuners of the 20th century, died July 8 at the age of 98. To read his official Motorcycle Hall of Fame bio, click here. To read more about Thuett, click here.
For you Ducatistas, the 11th Annual DESMO Bar-B-Que will be held at Hamptonburgh, New York, August 14. For more information, click here.
The Fast From the Past Vintage and Classic Motorcycle Show will be held September 24 and 25 in Plainfield Village, New Hampshire. For more information, e-mail Brian Keating at email@example.com.
There are a slew of great classic brands to be auctioned off at Pebble Beach August 18 and 19. For more information, go to the Bonhams web site. Click here.
Did you know there is a Motorsports Memorial web site? Click here.
Cycle World has done a lovely video of old-style scrambling aboard a new Triumph. Click here.
For a video of what's happening at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, click here.
Read about legendary Harley-Davidson racing chief Dick O'Brien at Cycle News Online. Click here.
The Sunshine Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America has launched a new web site. Click here.
We reported earlier that Mecum, one of the largest prestige automobile auctioneers in the United States had jumped into motorcycles. Check our their stunning inventory for the upcoming Monterey auction, August 18 through 20. Click here.
David Uhl's new Sturgis commemorative painting (right) has been unveiled. To read about it on the Cyril Huze Blog, click here.
To read an exciting story about the board track racing class at the Wauseon AMCA meet on Matt Walksler's blog, click here.
Some very nice stuff lately on Bike EXIF. Click here and here and here.
Outstanding German two-strokes
we shouldn't forget:
Part Two, the 1920s
By Ralf Kruger
Editor's Note: To read Part One of this series, covering the years 1860 through 1908, go to Motohistory News & Views 6/20/2011.
A severe economic crisis in 1907 led to the collapse of the German motorcycle market, and motorcycle manufacturing in Germany was virtually abandoned until the early 1920s. The peace agreement enacted at Versailles following World War One--dated June Jun 29, 1919―between Germany and the Triple Entente imposed on Germany a high reparation. Hyper inflation followed in 1923. So it is understandable that during the severe decade that led up to the Great Depression in 1929, there grew a new demand for inexpensive transportation, thus a rekindled interest in motorcycles in Germany. While the typical American was pondering the purchase of a Ford model T, which outmaneuvered and bankrupted most American motorcycle manufacturers, Germans began to think about an upgrade from a bicycle to a small, lightweight motorcycle.
Evans, Amstea, and Stock
The Cyclemotors Corporation of Rochester, New York, began to produce a motor attachment for bicycles as early as 1916, announced in September 1915 at the Chicago Motorcycle Show. The engine kit consisted of a 91cc, one horsepower two-stroke engine which could be bolted into nearly any bicycle frame of the time. It sold for the low price of $55.00. In summer 1917, a complete lightweight motorcycle called the Evans Power Cycle (pictured below left) was introduced as an alternative to the retro-fit kit. It's price was $100.00. With simple engineering that made it suitable for mass production, it proved quite a sales hit from the beginning. This was supported by a novel sales strategy that offered a vehicle for only $35.00 down and monthly payments of $3.00. By 1918 the factory claimed about 2000 dealerships in the US and a factory capacity of 5,000 motorcycles per year.
Even with a decline in sales during World War One, there was good reason to believe that even better sales would follow after 1920, which Cyclemotors Corp provided for with a new and larger factory in 1922. By that time, about 14,000 Evans motorcycles had beenbuilt, with 8,000 of them exported to foreign markets. In 1921, the engine (pictured right) was almost completely redesigned to provide 2 hp from 119cc. Despite this improvement, sales were not as high as the company had hoped for. Sales were still good, but having fallen short of projections, Cyclemotors discontinued the Evans in 1926.
In 1921, the German trading company Amstea AG of Berlin began to import the Evans motorcycle, which sold in relatively large quantity. The Evans exported to Germany (pictured below left) was absolutely identical to the American version of the bike, since the German customer was interested primarily in economy. Amstea sold the original American Evans as late as 1924, despite the fact that Evans announced in 1922 that motorcycles would be built under license by Stock Motorpflug AG of Berlin. German production at Stock Motorrad AG, however, did not begin until 1924, a delay that was unquestionably caused by the hyper-inflation that began in 1923.
The little Stock motorbike (pictured right and below) was loved by many. Its modest impact on its owner's wallet, its nearly indestructible engine, and the light weight of the machine made it everybody's darling. About 30,000 were produced in Germany, making it the most frequently used lightweight of the 1920s and beginning and early '30s.
While the original two hp short-stroke, 119cc engine (55mm x 50mm) was a simple piston port design―which was more conventional than any of the more advanced alternative designs―it really worked quite well. The little Stock got its nickname "Knüppel" (truncheon) in Berlin's slang of the time, as a play on the words “stock” and “stick.” It was said that if you drowned it into a creek for three days, it would start instantly with a gentle push. Could anyone ask for more?
Surprisingly, yes!, customers did ask for more. While the original Stock had been updated slightly with a leaf spring suspension early in its German production, its decade old design was beginning to show its age. Customers became fewer and its official price was reduced from 410 to an all-time low of 375 Reichsmarks. An updated motorcycle made its debut in 1933 with the arrival of the Stock-Extra, a more comfortable version with altered frame, more compliant front suspension, and a saddle tank. But still, sales were slow and production ceased at the end of the year.
An entirely different motorcycle (pictured right) arrived in 1929 with the Kardan Stock, designed by Josef Heuss. Its retail price of 780 Reichsmarks was nearly double that of the "Knüppel," but it featured real luxury. Displacement was raised to 197cc, providing six hp, which made perfect sense because a new regulation instituted in April, 1928 allowed motorcycles of under 200cc to be ridden without a driving license and without paying tax. A 300cc, ten hp version was also offered. It was a real gem of a motorcycle because of its slick engine appearance and generally smooth lines were considered very sporty. It also offered a three-speed gearbox and a clean and quiet shaft drive! For foreign countries, a 250cc version was built.
In 1930, after production was moved from Berlin to Heidelberg, a revised 200cc engine making seven hp and featuring an aluminum head and double-port exhaust pipes appeared (pictured above). In 1931, the GR300 could be bought for 1045 Reichsmarks, which was twice the price of the original two hp Stock. Hence, it was only an unattainable dream for the average customer. By comparison, BMW's new six hp "discount" R2 was 975 Reichsmarks. Stock motorcycle production was phased out in 1933 due to political reasons.
The Bekamo engine (Berliner Kleinmotoren Aktiengesellschaft, meaning “Berlin small-power-engine Corporation”) was another very popular, if not the most asked for engine, for lightweight motorcycles in Germany during the early 1920s. It was supplied to various manufacturers. The Bekamo motorcycle was designed by Hugo Ruppe (1879-1946), one of the brightest engineers Germany has had. Ruppe was born into a family with a generation-long experience in producing farm equipment. His grandfather Albert guided this enterprise, which was located in rural Apolda, Thuringia. When Hugo's father, Berthold, inherited the business, its name was altered to Maschinenfabrik A.Ruppe & Sohn. Berthold identified the new trend for the mechanized agriculture of the future, and began developing steam-powered engines for field-work around 1870.
In 1900, a new business segment was opened. Hugo Ruppe, with his recent engineering degree in hand, began to think about a motorcycle and, following, a car. In 1902, he presented his first motorcycle with an air-cooled, four-stroke single-cylinder that produced two hp, and announced motorcycle production for 1903. But because his new ideas for a car took most of his time, motorcycle development was somewhat neglected. His second generation car engine was a very promising V-twin of 707cc (75mm x 80mm)featuring ioe valve distribution (pictured above right). It developed five to se ven hp and sold well. Despite its modern layout with shaft drive, its price was modest.
Following disputes with his father, Hugo Ruppe founded his own MAF car plant in Markranstädt, near Leipzig, Saxony in 1907. There he stayed as technical director until 1914, when he was called up by the German Army. When the war was over in 1919, he joined DKW in Zschopau. There he would develop his first two-stroke engines. The "Des Knaben Wunsch" (the knave's wish, pictured left), an 18cc toy-engine for children, which should replace a kid's steam-engine, became omnipresent in the nurseries of wealthy families at the time. His second engine, introduced in 1920, "Das kleine Wunder" (The Small Wonder, pictured below right),a 118cc auxiliary engine for bicycles. This proved a huge success and sold in extraordinary quantities. So Hugo Ruppe's little two-strokes set the stage on which DKW would become famous throughout the world.
In early 1922, Ruppe left DKW. Director Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen had decided against Ruppe's desire to design supercharged two-stroke engines for series production. With Ruppe gone, Rasmussen called on young Hermann Weber, who would later become DKW's chief engineer. For the record, it was Rasmussen's decision to use Ruppe's principal ideas for DKW racing bikes instead. And they stuck with supercharging even after the promising Schnürle reverse scavenging design was adopted for DKW production bikes! (For an overview history of the two-stroke engine, and more about the history of DKW, see Motohistory News & Views 3/27/2009 and 4/10/2007).
Upon leaving DKW in 1922, Hugo Ruppe founded Bekamo in Berlin, and his new 129cc engine was an instant hit. There were many two-stroke motors of the time that were of dubious quality, but his engine technology was state of the art. While working for DKW on "The Small Wonder," his main task had been the "user-friendly two-stroke," which included the adoption of a primary gear reduction for more pulling force, a flywheel/magneto, and a simplified carburetor for easier starting and smoother running of the auxiliary engine.
Now, Ruppe designed a more powerful engine for small motorcycles that would draw even with or even outdo common four-strokes. So he applied not only his special type of scavenging, but an additional piston for supercharging (pictured left)! The idea to achieve supercharging effects from an additional piston seemed easy to do. Aspired volume is achieved not only by the working piston, but by a second piston working as a pump to expand the crankcase volume on the intake stroke and decrease it the same amount while scavenging. Hence, there is a principal gain in power, in reference to displacement, as compared tohe single working piston only.
A second specific feature was his development of scavenging with advanced, stored air. Ruppe had noticed that in a conventional piston port design, a good part of the fresh mixture is lost into the exhaust port while exhaust gas is being expelled. This inefficiency not only reduces power, but it raises fuel consumption. His new idea was to flush out residual exhaust gas with pure air before the fuel mixture would be given access into the cylinder. This was achieved by an additional inlet port that would transport pure air through a channel embedded in the piston to the single transfer port. Here the air would be stored, until scavenging begins. Then, the air, in advance of the mixture, would enter the cylinder first to drive out residual exhausted gas, followed by the mixture for combustion. Because the access of the air-port (pictured left) was controlled by a throttle valve, the additional air supply could be regulated and used additionally for leaning out the mixture for better running and lower fuel consumption.
The result was an extraordinary good engine of 3.5 hp claimed power, which was, in reality, was running like a 4.5 hp engine. It was a power that no unmodified production engine of comparable volume could be credited with at that time. It could easily spin to 4,500 rpm and had a two-speed gearbox and cone clutch that clearly set it apart from competition. Ruppe's Bekamo engine was Germany's first two-stroke engine to apply future racing technology in the smallest capacity class. Experts agreed, it could hold an edge on the competition.
The look of the Bekamo motorcycle (pictured above and left) was similarly uncommon, borrowing a lot of its visual appearance from the famous "white Mars" motorcycle (pictured below right). The Bekamo's frame was made from ash tree wood, which added to a sound design. Downside of the motorcycle, however, was that fine details and a complex engine were much more expensive to produce. Despite the fact that the motor was sold in good quantities to other firms, profit dwindled through the inflation of the currency in 1923, and a premature end came in 1925. Ruppe was bankrupt.
But this was not the end of Ruppe motorcycle design. He went to Rumburk in the Czech Republic and founded Kaehler & Ruppe to produce the TX, a second generation of Bekamo motorcycles. But again, it was not for long. The 1929/1930 economic crisis hit hard, the factory was closed, and Ruppe went to Framo Werke, a subsidiary of DKW and a supplier of components. After the Second World War, he returned to Zschopau where he barely survived, living in a single room with his wife. Here he worked on new simple auxiliary two-stroke engines for bicycles. He knew that, once again, Germany would need inexpensive transportation if it were to arise from the ruins. Now a nearly-forgotten pauper, the great two-stroke pioneer Hugo Ruppe died in 1949.
Berlin of the 1920s became the epicenter of the German two-stoke engine industry. There were about 100 brands, and most of them were manufacturers working out of the backyard with very few resources and no backup from investors. Consequently, many did not last long. It was a different story with Schlüpmansche Industrie- und Handels- GmbH, Niederschöneweide, launched in 1924. Heinrich Schlüpmann, designer and owner of "Schliha," did not limit his engine portfolio to small commuter-bike engines, but offered motorcycles (pictured above) of 125cc to 500cc capacity, all single cylinder two-strokes. Schlüpmann's design was a completely different, exceptional, and interesting approach for a highly efficient two-strokes (pictured below right and at the head of this feature). To avoid scavenging short-cut, a frequently found drawback of many two-stroke designs, he applied his own version of "uni-flow" or "direct-flow" scavenging, which he called a “head controlled" two-stroke. While the inlet port into the crankcase was conventionally controlled by the piston skirt, and the exhaust port by the upper edge of the piston, the transfer port was not imbedded in the cylinder. Instead, a tube attachment―called the “scavenging tube”--was concentrically mounted in the middle and on top of the piston (pictured left). This tube was connected to the crankcase through the hollow piston, and moving in a liner in the cylinder head (pictured below right). The far end of the tube was closed by an end cap (pictured below left).
After combustion took place and most of the high pressure burnt gas had left the cylinder through the exhaust port, scavenging set in near BDC. The pre-compressed fresh gas in the crankcase flowed through the tube, making its way through a set of 5mm bores into the cylinder. These bores were located near the top of the scavenging tube, normally covered by the liner in the head. They opened only around BDC. Because the scavenging flow set in at the most distant area near the head, far away from the exhaust port, scavenging short cut is almost impossible and gas waste greatly reduced. Instead, the fresh gas remains in the "back" of residual exhausted gas and pushes out the remain exhausted gas, never in danger of being drawn into the exhaust port. Like the head of water in a fountain, the gas spreads 360° around the scavenging tube and into the cylinder for even flushing. The exhaust port covers nearly 180° of the lower cylinder-liner to support even scavenging.
There are drawbacks, of course. The scavenging tube, standing in the middle of the cylinder, is prone to over-heating while the combustion sets in. For this reason, the liner in which the tube runs is screwed into a heavily finned aluminum head for cooling (pictured below). The liner/scavenging tube combination is sealed against combustion pressure by a piston ring, imbedded into a groove in the liner. Another problem is good combustion because the flame front must make its way around the scavenging tube. To fight slow and imperfect combustion, Schlüpmann used two spark plugs. So, to my knowledge, the Schliha engines were the first German production motorcycles to offer double ignition. The long scavenging tube adds approximately 150 grams to piston weight, but if you consider the usual bulky and heavy deflecting piston design for comparison, the weight is not as unusually high as it seems on first glance.
The 350cc Schliha, pictured dismantled above, offered a healthy 16 hp, which can match the best British ohv 350cc road sport machines of the era. The 1926 Schliha pictured below is a 500cc model. I'm not sure how the big 500 two-stroke single (22hp) behaved, but there is a good possibility that these had a surge and pinging problem even on low load, which was common with large capacity two-stroke capacity engines even in the 1970s. Certainly, in the 1920s a conventional piston-port single-cylinder engine this large would not have run flawlessly.
When Schliha closed its doors in 1932, it was not its engine design which caused it. The time for small manufacturers building unconventional big capacity motorcycles had passed away. DKW and Zündapp offered mass produced motorcycles, which were built to an unmatched level of sophistication and distributed through a very big dealer network. Schliha couldn't offer such service or beat the retail price of Germany's biggest brands. What remains today is a memorable two-stroke design made by an independent thinker, Heinrich Schlüpmann, and very few remaining Schliha "birds," painted in the blue cooperate color of Schliha motorcycles.
Today, Friedrich "Fritz" Gockerell (1889-1965) is best known as the inspiration behind the technical development of the famous and imposing front-drive, five-cylinder Megola motorcycle, built both in sport and touring configurations (pictured left). As a young man, he worked as a mechanic on the German "Parseval" airships (pictured below right) and came to the Rapp Motorenwerken (Rapp Engine Works) in 1916. The Rapp works would be reorganized a year later and its name changed to BMW.
As early as 1914, Gockerell secured a patent on his version of a ring-channel control for radial engines. In 1916, he constructed his first PAX motorcycle which used a three-cylinder radial two-stoke design, driving the rear wheel. In 1918, a four-stroke version followed. American John Newton Williams designed a similar bike in 1915 (you can see an example of the Williams motorcycle at the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York, pictured below left). When the sale of the Megola (1922-25) faded after 1925, Gockerell had no ambition to delete its shortcomings with a more refined version. Gockerell still had to learn that the best motorcycle can't be sold in quantities if user-friendliness and price do not convince the customer.
Gockerell was a man full of ideas, and simultaneous with the development of the Megola he turned his attention to two-strokes again. He founded Gockerell Fahrzeug-Motorenbau in late 1919 and the Gockerell Fahrzeug-Motoren-Werk (Gockerell vehicle-engines-works) in München in 1921. This was about the time, when he changed his name from Gockerell to Cockerell. So all his motorcycles after the Megola were spelt "Cockerell". There were three versions of Cockerell motorcycles (pictured below right) with different capacities of 119cc (54x52), 146cc (57x57), and 151cc (58x57) The fundamental construction for this development came from his early 110cc auxiliary engines for bicycles. The 119cc motorcycle, called "small Cockerell," had 1.5 hp and reached a reported 60kph (37.5mph). Top speed of the bigger models reached 65 and 72 kph respectively.
Competition among the lightweight motorcycle brands for market share was fierce, and product update followed update. There were even water-cooled series bikes for an additional charge (pictured below left). The apex of Gockerell's work was certainly the "Red Cockerel (pictured below right)l". The engine was pushed to 170cc (60x60), and Hans Letnar won the 1924 German road racing 175cc class championship on such a motorcycle. The Red Cockerell featured a three-speed gearbox, unheard of in these times for the smaller classes of motorcycles, in addition to all chain drive and an output of three hp. Together with Bekamo, they became the most popular lightweight motorcycles in Germany for their speed, only slightly behind the Evans/Stock motorcycle in sales. But while Ruppe's Bekamo brand constantly fought for financial survival, the Cockerell motorcycle enterprise flourished.
There were reasons for this: While the impeccable Bekamo was a costly design, the Cockerell engines were much easier to produce without sacrificing any essential features or qualities. The crankcase was executed as a tunnel case so it was very rigid. It was cast with an elevated flange to integrate inlet port and exhaust port. So, the lower part of the cylinder, where the ports are arranged and have to meet the crankcase, is a liner only that could easily be machined. The upper half of the cylinder was conventionally finned or accommodates the channels for the water-cooled version (pictured left), and mounted onto two studs. There was no removable head.
Still, the biggest market for transportation in Germany in the 1920s was the bicycle. Fritz Gockerell also was intrigued by the idea of propelling all these bicycles with auxiliary engines, like DKW had already begun, and in 1924 he built his first such engine for a bicycle. He named it "Piccolo" because of its small size (pictured below). The engine weighted only 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) and had a capacity of 34cc, producing a quarter horsepower. It transmitted its power with the help of a friction roller onto the front wheel of a bicycle. But fewer than anticipated were actually built, due to financial woes. The Piccolo was followed by the "Kolibri" (hummingbird) and the "Rekord" (record), which transmitted power through a chain, but still to the front wheel.
Gockerell's most successful bicycle engine―the Rex--was born in 1947 (pictured below left and below right). It featured the same basic main dimensions as his first Piccolo engine. Sadly, profits from sale of the Rex were small, and Fritz Gockerell died in a state of destitution in 1965.
Of course, there were other very interesting two-stroke developments in the 1920s. For example, the Orionette (1921-1925), made in Berlin by Engelbert Zaschka, featured a conglomeration of progressive details. Its most advanced engine was designed as a 250cc stepped piston engine ("supercharged") with controlled inlet valve into the crankcase and a form-closure actuated poppet valve in the aluminum head! This engine was clearly superior, even when compared to the Bekamo design, but success was not to be. The firm ran into financial problems and had to close its doors in 1925.
Then there was the Dolf engine from Frankfurter Maschinenfabrik Stein, featuring a cone rotary valve for inlet timing and a special type of scavenging called fountain scavenging.
The last I will mention is the Ermag engine from Nürnberg, designed by Albert Roder, who was later in charge of NSU. Roder also used a stepped piston design to gain more power and, like Bekamo, his engine worked with an advanced air pillow, adjusted by a rotary valve controlling the transfer port.
If you take into account only the engines mentioned above, it is easy to see that Germany of the 1920s was a very exciting place for motorcyclists and especially the development of two-stroke engines. Many brands battled for prominence on the cement racing tracks or on the road, and more important still, motorcyclists became slowly but steadily more socially accepted for the first time in Germany's history. It was a break-through time in Germany.
My black beauties
need a loving home
By Ed Youngblood
I am a pre-boomer, born in 1943. Thus, the nostalgia bikes of my school days were mostly pre-Japanese. The well-heeled guys at our high school had Triumphs or a Harley K, but I gravitated toward the sleek and graceful styling of the Germanic machines of the era: NSU, Zundapp, Maico, Allstate (Puch). I loved the way every aspect of these motorcycles—their frames, engines, and sheet metal—were integrated into a total streamlined package, enhanced by careful striping and chrome-paneled tanks.
Now, many years later, it is time to downsize, and I am looking for a new loving home(s) for my two black beauties. Pictured here are my 1957 175cc NSU Maxi (pictured above) and my 1966 Allstate 175 (pictured below).
The Allstate is absolutely original, down to the tires, and shows only 1,199 miles on the clock. It has a small tear on the seat, a scuff on the headlight rim, and it ran when I parked it a couple of years ago. I have not seen another original Allstate as clean as this one. It needs a battery.
The NSU has been fully restored and is an AMCA Winner's Circle motorcycle. In three rounds of judging in 2009, it earned 96.25, 97.50, and 98.25, which can be credited to “NSU Jeff” Borer, the man who brought it up to like-new condition. As pictured here, it is missing a hard-to-find exhaust pipe heat shield, but this has been corrected. My plan was to use this motorcycle as a vintage road run bike, so we converted it to 12 volts with electronic ignition. However, Jeff's restoration was so exquisite, I decided I did not want to give this bike hard use on the road or ride it in bad weather. It remains as clean as the last day it was judged.
Anyone who is interested in either one of these motorcycles should e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is Louis Rocket Re?
Introduction: In the post-Knievel world, jumping has changed. First, no one has yet come along with the Evel one's charisma and talent for showmanship. But there are also technical reasons. Today's light, powerful, long-suspension two-stroke motocross machines enable practically any kid with sufficient courage and skill to utterly eclipse anything that Knievel could do in terms of style and distance.
Recently, at the Antique Motorcycle Club of America National Meet at Rhinebeck, New York, a showman named Louis Rocket Re came rolling out of the past aboard a 450-pound American Eagle (750cc Laverda), and delivered the kind of show that Knievel made famous, jumping a line of cars with an anvil of a bike that was never intended to get air.
So who is this Louis Rocket Re? Fortunately, the Rocket granted us an interview and an opportunity to find out.
MH: So who is Louis Rocket Re? Where are you from, what's your background in motorcycling, how did you get into the stunt riding business? And what does Louis Re do when he's not being the Rocket.
LRR: I was born in Brooklyn NY and grew up where I live today, Long Island, NY. Some people might argue the "grown up" part, but I live my life the way I want to live it. I started riding late in life compared to most professionals as I was 22 the first time I owned a motorcycle. My parents just feared bikes and they feared Evel Knievel even more. I begged my parents for the Evel toys for Christmas when I was a kid, but all I ended up with was a few pairs of Sears blue jeans with extra patches sewn in by mom; wool gloves, and books. Kidding aside, I had great parents, but they were just very protective.
MH: We note that you are a member of a stunt riding team that uses modern, lightweight two-strokes. Can you describe the difference between using one of these versus a 400+ pound road bike?
LRR: Yes, I work with Doug Danger one of the greatest jumpers of all time. We do up to 30 shows a year. All jumps are dangerous. It's the ones you think will be a routine that come back to bite you. So many factors can change, the distance you have to get up to speed to clear the gap and stopping before slamming into a fence or cement wall (see Doug Dangers crash in 1992). Surfaces are always different: asphalt, dirt or gravel, and weather is a major factor. Rain is bad but winds can be deadly. Jumping the 480 pound American Eagle had me up at night for weeks. Fun Wheels Honda and Race Tech helped with internal suspension parts, but the bike was 98% stock. There was no manual to research for jumping that bike, only Evel's films and stats. The stats for Evel jumping the Eagle are 13 jumps with 6 crashes. The Eagle is smooth and accelerates, putting the power right to the ground, but once you hit that take off ramp that's when the fun begins. My take off ramp is better than Evel's. The the angles were change from 7 degrees to 14 degrees and still the bike bottomed on each section. My wrists and shoulder still hurt. The flight is quick, the bike wants to nose dive so a few quick blast of the throttle in the air brings the front wheel up. Just upon landing you have to blast the throttle again to drive the bike forward or you're going to bounce. Either way, its like duct taping yourself to a 1,000 pound safe and pushing it out a three-story window.
MH: During his career, Knievel used a number of brands, including Norton, Triumph, Harley-Davidson, and Laverda, branded as an American Eagle. Why did you choose the Laverda to emulate Knievel? And how difficult is it to keep one of these machines in jump-worthy condition?
LRR: I remember as a kid studying photos of Evel on the American Eagle Laverda. That red, white, and blue paint with the gold eagle was just cool. The way there was no down tube, the engine was the frame with those big exhaust pipes made the coolest sound. Laverdas were called the machine built to stay built and that was true. I helped the suspension, added a digital speedo, and went over every nut, bolt, and cable, making sure everything was set up just right. The week before the jump, the clutch cable just snapped; just a 40-year-old part. That's one of the reasons I was up late thinking of all the things that could go wrong.
MH: Did you know Knievel? And do you currently have a relationship with the Knievel family?
LRR: As a kid, I called Evel Knievel my hero. As an adult, I was lucky enough to call him my friend. He always treated me great. I broke the motorcycle firewall record at Evel Knievel Days 2007 in Butte, Montana, with him watching. He was at peace with himself and the world before he passed. Seems the day he died a lot of excitement was taken from our world. Yes, I miss my friend. I'm close with most of his family; his granddaughter Krysten sings the national Anthem before my big jumps. The rest of the Knievel family are just good people. They will always invite you over for dinner and drinks, and always have a million great story's to tell about Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel.
MH: Do you have a big Knievel-like dream? Buses at Wembly? A canyon?
LRR: Yes, I have that big dream. It involves Cheryl Ladd, Carmen Electra, and Marie Osmond in one special night. Wait, I'm 46 now, make that a weekend so I can hydrate properly and give them all the attention they deserve.
MH: Any final words for Motohistory readers?
LRR: I have so many of my buddies that want bikes but keep saying, “well maybe next year I'll get one.” If you want that bike, go out and get it, don't want for next year. If you want a vintage bike, don't go out and get a modern bike that looks retro. Get a real classic bike, roll up your sleeves, man up, and get to work. T he hardest part is getting started. Two things that Evel said have always stuck in my mind. " A man may fall many times in life, but he's never a failure until he refuses to get up and try again" and "I believe I was put here to do my best and be my best, not to just exist". I hope to keep jumping the Eagle, adding cars each jump until I tie Evel's record. What's after that, I'm not really sure. I hope to see all you motorcycle enthusiasts out there this year. If you see me, stop by, have a cold beer, and talk bikes.
Editor's Note: To learn more about Louis Rocket Re, click here. To see a video of his Rhinebeck jump, click here. To see one of LLR’s fire wall runs, click here.
As flashy, oversized, and imposing as the motorcycle it celebrates, Ian Foster's “The CBC Book” is a large-format, hard cover, 404-page tome that tells you practically everything there is to know about a motorcycle that was produced for only four years but left a lasting impression that has brought comparisons to the Vincent as the unique overdog of its era. Foster provides chapters about the design, pre-production, and production phases of the CBX; the four annual models from 1978 through 1982, including production numbers; aftermarket frames and bodywork, custom and modified CBXs, racing CBXs, Honda's range of smaller motorcycles that carried the CBX prefix, other inline sixes not made by Honda, CBX clubs from around the world, famous people and their CBXs, CBX rallies, CBXs in museums, and toy CBXs. There must be 2 or 3,000 photos in this book; I didn't bother to count. Glossy paper stock is heavy, and printing quality is excellent, but I doubt the binding is up to the weight of this impressive book, especially since it will undoubtedly receive heavy use by fans of the CBX. Price is advertised at £26 UK and $40 US, which is a bargain given the price rise we've seen in limited production special interest books. For more information, click here. U.S. customers contact Jan Ringnalda at email@example.com.
Motohistorians will note that Harry Sucher, author of “The Iron Redskin” and now the lead author of the soon-to-be published “Franklin's Indians” is deceased. Sucher worked on this book with Tim Pickering and researchers Liam Diamond and Harry Havelin during his final days, and had it in first draft form when he died. Pickering and the others took over to finish it. The book brings the value and great contribution of Charles B. Franklin into perspective as designer of the side-valve engine that carried Indian for the next 30 years. Charles Franklin was Ireland's first great motorcycle racing star, and his name became linked with Indian when he finished second among the Indian team sweep of the Isle of Man TT in 1911. However, his racing achievements were shortly eclipsed by his reputation as Indian's chief design engineer. With features like helical-gear primary drive, “semi-unit” construction, and a double-loop cradle frame, Franklin's 101 Scout earned a reputation as the best Indian ever built and provided Indian with a winning motorcycle as American racing moved into the era of Class C. In hard cover with 337 pages and 140 photos, “Franklin's Indians” will be released by Panther Publishing in September at a price of £34.00 UK. For more information, click here.
Issue #5 of Moto Retro Illustrated has arrived. This issue contains features about the 1972 Superbowl of Motocross, Yamaha's amazing OW27, ridden by Bob Hannah and tuned by Bill Buchka; the 1979 RD400, the last and best of Yamaha's RDs; the 1986 introduction of Honda's VFR750E Interceptor, and a look back at the international motocross circuit at Lexington, Ohio. For some reason, there have been a rash of stories lately about the Superbowl of Motocross, but this one is unquestionably the best, with 18 pages--and huge photographs--devoted to the legendary event. The Interceptor story also consumes 18 pages and contains large historic photos. Moto Retro uses a large format to take advantage of its outstanding historical photography, much of which is in black and white. To subscribe, click here.
CBXPress is the official magazine of the International CBX Owners Association. Compared to many club magazines, it is a slick and flashy journal, thanks to the graphic skills of Stephen Pite. The latest issue—Volume 30 Number 1—features a cover story by Sean Bice about Tryg Westby’s radical streetfighter CBX, built around a like-new engine from a crashed machine. The plated frame is by Spondon, only one of two of its type in the world; and suspension is by Ohlins. Weighing in at 375 pounds, it is unlike any other CBX or streetfighter anywhere. Another story is “Six Addict,” about a member who one day realized that every vehicle he owned, including a couple of CBXs, a Benelli Sei, his Jeep, his Austin Healy, his Porsche, and his motor home are all six-cylinder vehicles, plus an handful more I’ve not bothered to mention. There are also touring stories, tech articles, club information, and a club membership directory. To join, click here.
This summer brought the 35th anniversary of the High Point (West Virginia) motocross national championship, created by the late Dave Coombs, whose family has continued to guide American motocross with a firm hand while other leading AMA national series have descended into irrelevance. The September issue of Racer X Illustrated covers this landmark event with a feature story about the race and the track. Incidentally, on the occasion of the anniversary race, all eight of Dave’s grandchildren lined up on stage to see him honored by the Legends and Heroes of Motocross Tour (to read our feature about this worthy operation, go to Motohistory News & Views 2/22/2011). In “Rusty Roots,” publisher Davey Coombs travels to Diamond Don Rainey’s 9th Annual Riverport National (Texas) to explore (and ride in) the world of vintage motocross racing. Also in this issue is “The Fall Guy” by Steve Matthes, which reviews the ten-year career of extreme motocross rider and rally driver Travis Pastrana. Finally, do you remember when you were a kid and saw your first 3D comic book? Here were these jumbled red and blue images that looked like the printer had not aligned his press. Then you put on those red and blue glasses, and pow! Not only did the images become clear, but they popped right off the page. I remember raising my glasses up and down, trying to understand how this marvelous technology could possibly work. Well, this issue of Racer X has a section that takes us back to first-generation 3D, complete with a free set of glasses. Impossible to say what the guys from Morgantown will do next! To receive Racer X Illustrated monthly, click here.
In the latest Seasoned Citizens feature in the August issue of IronWorks, Margie Siegal reviews the history of the Harley-Davidson Panhead (1948 through 1965), which she describes as “middleground” motorcycle poised between antiques a modern machines. While you have to kick start all Panheads except the last year, they remain fast and civilized enough to function as modern touring bikes. In fact, the motorcycle used for Sedrick Mitchell’s photography for the story is a gorgeous 1961 whose owner uses it more than the 2005 Electra Glide in his garage. Siegal reports that another of the Panhead’s virtues is that most parts are still available and can be ordered on line, though you may have to prowl a swap meet to find replacement sheet metal. Most of IronWorks is devoted to the modern Harley custom scene, but you will always find Siegal’s Seasoned Citizens feature, and often you will find other stories relevant to historical motorcycling. To subscribe, click here.
American Iron is also aimed at the modern Harley-Davidson enthusiast, but Classics Editor Jim Babchak invariably serves up something interesting to the motohistorian. For example, the September issue contains “Talk About Brand Loyalty,” a feature about American motorcycle culture built around a 1928 Indian 101 Scout currently owned by Dick Gaudio, an Indian loyalist. While Gaudio’s motorcycle bears the modifications of one once used for Class C racing, today it has been returned to roadworthy condition, though it remains largely original except for paint. Bob Feather’s photography enhances Babchak’s words about this example of the Indian that many believe was the best ever of the brand. To subscribe to American Iron, click here.