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Ed Youngblood's News and Views
September 2012 News

Motohistory Quiz #102:
We have a winner

(9/30/2012)

It’s that big aluminium primary cover that threw everyone off.  One respondent said that it was Italian for sure, and another said it was French.  Who would imagine it is a Brit bike?  And just about the time I was ready to declare “no winner,” Ralf Kruger of Muhital, Germany identified our quiz bike as a Rover! 

In fact, it is a 1924 250cc Rover Lightweight. With unit construction of the engine and gearbox, wet sump lubrication, and right-side final drive, the Rover Lightweight was extraordinary for a British machine of its time. The 250cc single was sold in 1923 and 1924 before being supplanted by a 350cc version on similar lines.   

Rover started as a bicycle maker in Coventry before diversifying into motorcycles and automobiles around 1900.  Following World War One, motorcycles with single cylinder and V-twin engines were offered, but by 1924 only the Lightweight remained, and within three years two-wheeler production was ended as the car side of the business gained importance. 

The 249cc (63 x 80mm) unit engine has exposed pushrod valve gear with an aluminum structure atop the cast iron cylinder to support the rockers on roller bearings.  Primary drive is by a chain that also drives the magneto, tension being adjusted by altering the height of the ignition unit.  An oscillating plunger pump in the chaincase circulates lubricant, with the flow rate manually adjusted by a lever on the outer face of the large tri-oval cover.  

The four-speed crossover gearbox is in a self-contained compartment, hand-shifted by a lever mounted on the timing chest. Cycle parts were conventional, and while this example of the Lightweight in Birmingham’s National Motorcycle Museum has acetylene lighting, Rover also offered electric lights powered by an ML Maglita combined magneto and generator unit.  Tested by Motor Cycling in 1923, the 250cc Rover was described as “a very fine little machine.”

 

For this month’s challenging quiz, we thank Mick Duckworth, and the National Motorcycle Museum UK, where the bike can be seen on display.   

Congratulations, Ralf, for becoming our latest Motohistory Know-It-All.       

Dawn Deppi:
eye of the beholder

(9/29/2012)

Dawn Deppi talks fast, thinks fast, and moves quickly.  She seems to feel an urgency to say it or do it before the moment passes, especially when she is discussing art and photography.  With a camera in her hands, she becomes oblivious to everything around her except an infinitely small point from which emanates the beauty she wants to capture in the object of her attention. 

Dawn (pictured above right at the Simeone Museum) realizes that she sees things differently than others do.  Or perhaps it is that she knows how to capture the concentrated beauty that the rest of us know is there, butappreciate only vaguely.  Consider a Ducati, for example.  Most agree that it is a beautiful motorcycle, but have trouble explaining why.  Dawn moves in with her camera, gets close, and when she is done we understand. 

Deppi has a woman’s understanding of style, and a man’s appreciation of machinery.  Born in Philadelphia in 1960, she grew up with two brothers, spending a lot of her time in the grease pit of her father Bob’s Flying A service station (Bob Deppi and infant Dawn pictured left).  She explains, “I grew up under a car.  I learned to take them apart and put them together.”  She continues, “I was influenced in many ways by my father, and I gained a respect for men and the machinery they love.”  But Deppi was not the typical tomboy, climbing trees and rolling in the dirt (below right: in love with cars).  She adds, “I’ve always had a sense of my femininity.  People would ask me, ‘Why do you work on a car wearing makeup?’  I would reply, “It’s just who I am.’”

Later, after marriage, a divorce, and while raising three sons on her own, Deppi worked as a hairdresser, a job she found creatively satisfying.  She says, “I loved the work.  To me it was a art, and I don’t know any other way you can change a person and make them feel better about themselves in such a short time.”  She adds, “It felt good to make people feel good, and this is how I still think as a professional photographer.  I want my work to always show people the beauty and goodness of things.”

As with many mothers, there came a period when her time was largely occupied by the extracurricular activities of her sons, Joseph, Michael, and Austin, now 28, 26, and 21 respectively.  But Deppi was not a typical soccer mom, lounging in a canvas chair and gossiping along the sidelines.  She had a camera, and by peering through the view finder she learned that she could see and capture an intensity that most people miss.  Other parents and her hair styling clients recognized the quality of her work and began to ask her to photograph their children as well (above left: Deppi and her sons, simulating skydiving over a mirror on the ground).

Professional confirmation of Deppi’s gift came in 1992 when she met Joan Hoffmann, a student of the Barnes Foundation who owned her own gallery.  Hoffmann wanted to promote photography as an art form, and she invited Deppi to show photographs at the gallery (right: with Joan Hoffmann).  Deppi explains, “She became my friend and mentor into the art world.  I am forever grateful for the time and insight she gave me; I am an artist today because of Joan.”   

In 1994, Deppi’s hairdressing career was sidelined by a herniated disc, which required an intense operation.  She recalls, “While I was in a neck brace, recuperating, I submitted a photo of kids shaking hands at the end of a little league baseball game, sweating profusely and drinking iced tea, to a national contest called 'Picture the Plunge,' sponsored by Nestea.”  Dawn won, and in addition to a huge shot of self-confidence, she got a trip to Hawaii for her whole family.

Deppi began to earn her living as a photographer, shooting portraits, weddings, art, and commissioned commercial and industrial subjects, and in 1998 launched her own business called “Eye of the Beholder.”  In 2001, she was commissioned to illustrate “Me: Do I Really Matter,” an inspirational book by Lutheran pastor Dr. Ernst G. Schmidt.  The text was accompanied by her photographs of flowers and landscapes (left, at a book signing at the Caimwood Estate). 

In 2004, mutual friends arranged a blind date between Deppi and Gary Maucher, owner of an upholstery shop for high-end collectible cars.  Gary and Dawn learned enough about each other on the phone to realize they were not first date coffee shop kind of people, and in deciding what to do, Dawn suggested they take a ride on one of Gary’s motorcycles.  Dawn laughs, “Gary said, ‘Do you have boots?,’ and I said, “Of course I do,’ and the next day I was running around the mall, looking for a pair of boots!”  

She admits, “It had been a fantasy of mine to ride on a motorcycle ever since seeing “Top Gun."  The theme of “Top Gun” was “Highway to the Danger Zone,” sung by Kenny Loggins, and when Gary showed up on his BMW R1100S, Dawn—who had never ridden a motorcycle—was prepared to face the danger.  She recalls, “I wasn’t afraid at all.  It was wonderful.  We rode for probably three and a half hours.” 

The ride turned into a relationship between two people with similar views about what is beautiful and what is important (right: aboard Maucher's BMW; below left, with Gary Maucher).  Dawn learned that Gary also had a high appreciation of beauty and quality.  He owned 40 motorcycles, raced a 1936 hand-shift Indian with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, and his upholstery work had appeared many times in winning cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

Dawn began to photograph Maucher’s bikes and AHRMA races, where she discovered a rich, new, and compelling subject for her work that melded her artistic vision with the happy childhood days at her father’s service station.  “They started a joke about me at the AHRMA races,” she says with a laugh: ‘If Dawn’s knees are clean, she’s been photographing.  If they’re dirty, she’s been wrenching.’”

Motorcycles inspired and challenged Deppi more than anything she had photographed before.  She explains, “They have a complex and inherent beauty like nothing else I know.  In part, it is because their insides are on the outside.  Cars are beautiful, but they are mostly graceful shapes of metal and plastic, and there is little exposed that reveals their raw power.  With motorcycles you have a collision of graceful bodywork and exposed machinery that creates excitement and fires the imagination.  It’s like two different kinds of beauty that create a sum greater than its parts.” 

Recognizing this quality, Deppi began to move in tight on motorcycles, focusing closely on images of complex parts, shapes, and shadows, creating breathtaking images of aspects of a motorcycle that most people simply ignore.  She found it so inspiring that she built a studio in her garage expressly for motorcycle photography.

Now, the woman who had shot award-winning commercial images and been published in inspirational books began to show her work in the down-and-dirty venue of motorcycle swap meets.  Furthermore, with brilliant marketing acumen, Deppi asked swap meet vendors to place her booth near the men’s room.  She smiles, “Where else are you going to get more guys to see your work?”

One of those guys who took notice was Mark Mederski, then Director at theMotorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.  At the time, Mederski was working on an exhibit called “Awsomeness,” featuring the works of iconic custom bike builder Arlen Ness. (above right: at the opening of Red Bikes at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum; above lef: with Arlen Ness).  In Ness’ conjunction of flowing shapes with raw mechanics, Mederski saw a similarity to what Deppi was pursing in her images.  He had an available space for a second exhibit, and asked Dawn if she would like to open a display with the Ness exhibit.  Mederski gazed at the close up images, most of which were of Ducatis, and he said, “We can call it ‘Red Bikes.’”  Red Bikes opened on July24, 2008, helping trigger a demand for Deppi’s motorcycle photography in other leading museums (right: contact sheet from Red bikes).

In the mean time, Maucher’s upholstery business had grown to the extent that he had to move to new quarters.  That facility had plenty of space, and in part of it he built a huge light box where Deppi could pose motorcycles and cars in a brilliant white environment.  She began in earnest to expand her inventory, sometimes losing herself and the hours in a day to the perfectionism with which she approaches her subject (below left: with Gary in their giant light box).  She says, “I’m often very close to chrome and shiny paint and metal parts, so I always wear all black to reduce the likelihood of catching my own reflection.  I can work hours on a subject without realizing the time.” 

With motorcycles, Deppi’s mission took on an evangelical quality.  “I’ve always photographed things I believe in,” she explains, “but as I moved into the motorcycle community, I learned how many people still look down on them, and that really made me angry.  I wanted my photographs to help change all that.  I wanted to educate people to see the beauty and goodness where they had only expressed prejudice.”  She adds, “I believe in the beauty of life, and I don’t like negativity, and there is as much beauty in motorcycles as there is in everything.” 

Undoubtedly, Deppi is fulfilling this educational mission, because her motorcycle photography has now appeared in the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art at the Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan; andthe Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia (right: with BruceWinslow and Armin Mersman at the Alden B. Dow Museum opening).  Deppi’s original “Red Bikes”has expanded to a more eclectic representation called “Bike Parts,” depicting many eras and brands.  Several of its venues have reported it the most successful exhibit in their history.

Motorcycles have influenced Dawn’s life in other ways as well.  In addition to going racing with Gary, she now has her own vintage Vespa and a Ducati table in her living room that Gary designed and built.  It would seem that photographing motorcycles has become full-time work for Deppi, but this is not so.  She is too energetic and her search for beauty is far too broad to be confined by a single subject. 

For example, her understanding of the beauty in machinery brought her back to cars with a three-part book project, followed the long restoration of a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.  Her work of cars and motorcycles has also appeared in more than a dozen magazines.  And she has supplied photography to Irving Vincent in Australia that the company has used to develop its corporate image. 

Dawn still chronicles her family, which has grown to include a grandson, Mason, eight months, and she is workingwith other car and motorcycle collectors on books and artwork.  Her company, Eye of the Beholder, Inc., still serves corporate clients that include St. Mary's Medical Center and Princeton University (above left: with Henry Winkler at a St. Mary's fund raiser. To the left is son Michael, working as Deppi's assistant).

Deppi reflects, “I guess my photography is like being a motorcycle rider on an amazing journey (right: self portrait).  It is my vehicle, and I never know where it is going to take me next.”  Though she seems to understand that the journey is largely beyond her control, Dawn admits there are two destinations she would really like to hit along the way.  She says, “I would really love to see my work hanging in the Guggenheim, and I would really like to photograph a Britten

To see more of Dawn Deppi’s work, click here.

Dawn's actual

first motorcycle ride

We reported above that Dawn Deppi's first motorcycle ride was in 2004 aboard a BMW on her first date with Gary Maucher.

Well, maybe that is what she told Gary, but we turned up this photo of Dawn hitting the road with her brother, circa 1962.

Photos provided by Dawn Deppi.  


Commentary:
Polaris Indians roll-out at Sturgis

By Ed Youngblood
(9/25/2012)

By now, most people are aware that Polaris, the builder of Victory motorcycles, recently bought Indian.  This, many believe, offers an optimistic future for an iconic American brand that has gone through a half-century of chaos, uncertainty, and even embarrassment.

Since the failure of the original Indian Motorcycle Company in 1953, the trademark has passed through a number of hands, and at least eight entities have attempted to, or said they would resurrect Indian.  Chain of custody of the Indian trademark was a confusing mess for a number of years, which enabled some questionable parties to exploit the marque.  One owner—shamefully—just slapped the famous script logo on guitars and cigars before he went to federal prison for fraud. 

Since about 2000, the trademark issue has been clarified, and there has been a basic continuity in the manufacture of a modern Indian, first by a company in Gilroy, California, then by Stellican, Ltd., a British-based holding company that set up manufacturing in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.  The Kings Mountain company did a very good job of refining the product and creating a beautiful motorcycle with excellent fit and finish; arguably the first owner in 50 years to deliver a product worthy of the proud Indian name.

But Stellican found the task of penetrating and surviving in the American motorcycle industry tougher than it expected, especially during a recession.  Rather than let its product become another in the long list of Indian failures, it sold out to Polaris Industries, successful maker of snowmobiles, ATVs, and Victory motorcycles.  Polaris didn’t miss a beat, quickly moving Indian production from North Carolina to Spirit Lake, Iowa, where its Victories are built.  While the product announced for 2013 differs little from the Stellican Indian, it is clear that Polaris has embarked on an aggressive program for both product and dealer development.

I was hired as a consultant by Indian a few months ago to help with the historical content for a new mobile display.  Understandably, they aregrounding their marketing plan in the great traditions and legends that accompany the brand from 1901 to the present.  As part of this gig, I got to go to Sturgis to assist with the roll-out of the new display.  It is a flashy 18-wheeler that opens up to become an open-air show room for the new bikes, and the body of the trailer becomes a mini-museum of Indian history (pictured above right).

To tell Indian’s age-old story, Polaris has adopted the latest technology.  Between display cases containing rare Indian artifacts, there are big touch-sensitive screens where visitors can access photos and information about Indian history (pictured above left and below right).  And one can also learn from video interviews with Indian executives where they plan to take the brand.  There is even a simple touch screen where you can quickly enter your contact information for Indian’s e-mail newsletter.

I noted an extremely positive reaction to the motorcycles on display.  They are simply gorgeous (below left).  They are expensive also, but I noted no negative reactions to the prices, ranging from $27,000 to $37,000!  There seems to be an expectation that Indian is a premium brand, and will cost accordingly.  But, we can hope that this may moderate somewhat as Polaris broadens the model line and ramps up production to a greater economy of scale.

As for what we can expect in 2014 and beyond, Indian employees are totally tight-lipped.  They are delivering the message that there are great things coming, but offering no specifics at the moment.  There are rumors that a smaller and more sporty machine is in the pipeline (I wonder if it will be called “Scout”) and perhaps after that a three-wheeler (it is known that Stellican was prototyping a three-wheeler more than a year ago). 

Earlier this month, Polaris CEO Scott Wine dropped some hints about what may be in store.  He said a high performance Indian will appear next year.  In my opinion, it will take this plus a range of new models to re-establish the brand.  The task of “modernizing” nostalgia will not be ease, but undoubtedly the bosses at Polaris understand – as some others have not -- that there is a very small market of people who will indulge their nostalgic feelings at a price tag topping 35 grand.

Polaris is not the kind of company to pick up the ball only to fumble it.  You may recall that they had a rough beginning with Victory, but they have developed it into a viable, attractive, competitive, and profitable product line.  If anyone can do this for Indian, Polaris can. 

 


(9/22/2012)

Jerry Wood has just announced that he is conducting an auction and cyclemart at the 8th Annual Barber Vintage Festival October 11, 12, and 13.  Among the consignments are selections from the Bobby Sullivan Triumph collection.  The Barber Festival will also include the Motogiro USA South on October 11.  And we are pleased to note that Brian Slark, one of the guys who makes the Barber Vintage Festival happen every year, has been selected for induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

The Cannonball is finished, and Brad Wilmarth won again . . . on the same single-speed Excelsior he rode in 2010!  Bill Wood has reported this year’s trek on the AMCA wed site.  Here is the final edition, including full results.  For more photos from September 22, click here.  And here’s a first-person account by Darryl Richman, one of the casualties of the run.  For posts on the National Motorcycle Museum web site, click here.  For posts from the Wheels Through Time Museum Through, click here  

Here’s an excellent video tribute to Gary Nixon

Documents signed by board track ace Arthur Chapple in 1912 are going to live auction on October 26.  Learn more at Sports Collectibles

The Del Mar Concours is scheduled for October 28.  See pictures from last year’s show at Somer Hooker's SmugMug page.

Vintage motorcycle races are happening October 21 at the Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Tennessee, hosted by Both Barrels Promotions.

As always, there's interesting content for the motohistorian in the latest edition of "The Outpost," official newsletter of the BMW Outriders. 

Ed Kretz, Jr. has been named recipient of the prestigious Dick Hammer Award by the Trailblazers Motorcycle Club

There are some great updates on the Bud and Dave Ekins web site.

See the best of the Brit bikes at The Motorcyclist Cafe.

Still racing his Triumph at age 70, Mike Anderson (pictured left) is a frequent vintage dirt track winner.  Here’s the story.

This month the National Motorcycle Museum hosted its 9th Annual Sidecar Rally.  Photos can be found on Facebook.

In six separate auctions, beginning October 2, Cosmopolitan Motors, which has been in business since 1922, is liquidating everything!  Learn more at Alderfer Auction

Get a rider’s eye view of vintage racing at Wauseon

Motorcycle Classics gives us the story behind the famous photo of Bobby Hill, Al Gunter, and Paul Goldsmith at Indianapolis in 1952. 

See pix of this month’s MotoEuropa Vintage Bike Night in St. Louis

The Harvest Classic, a meet for European and vintage motorcycles, will take place in Lukenbach, Texas, October 19 and 20.

Anders Malmberg is interested in motorcycles on a small scale. Amazing!

Arlo Guthrie explains the origin of his Motorcycle Song

The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame will hold its 2012 induction ceremony on November 3 at the Detla Centre-Ville in Montreal.  For a list of inductees and to order tickets, click here.

Couple of nice racing bikes on the Cyril Huze Blog this month: a tasty littleHonda B350 Racer and a monoshock Harley-Davidson from Deus Ex Machina.

Dutch Brothers Garage has posted some lovely antique motorcycle photos on the Pinterest web site.

There is a series of videos YouTube of Ricky Graham during the 1993 dirt track season.  They are http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV27OoRdQGM&feature=relmfu,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AOa3nBnKY4&feature=relmfu, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwV47LYJ6m4&feature=relmfu, and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ0eIP8L7mk&feature=relmfu.

Over the Rainbow offers a 100% cotton print of motorcycle posters. Anybody around here still know how to sew?

Did you always think a Citroen 2CV was ugly?  Well, not half as ugly as a motorcycle made from a 2CV.  But ingenious, none the less.

Here’s a web site that extensively photo documents the restoration of a1919 Harley-Davidson JD F.

Can you picture an Indian/Guzzi hybrid?

Photohistory by Tom Mueller

In our abbreviated update last month, we did not include one of Tom’s historical photos, so we are giving you two this month.  Tom writes: 

Among photojournalists in the early 1980s, we couldn’t get enough of Bob Hanna.  These tight side shots allow for a close inspection of the latest in factory prototypes for the era.  What strikes me is the overall size of Bob's YZ, in comparison to the motocross bikes we see today.  The retro bikes were relatively tiny in perspective to the rider; and that said, we know The Hurricane is not a large man to begin with.

I also like to note the rake/fork angle on this bike . . . isn't it a bit chopper like?  I'm not an engineer, but would have to assume the Yamaha designers were looking for an aggressive wheelbase.  And once again, the simplicity of the air-cooled engine made it possible for most anyone to grab a set of metrics and go to work.

Maybe overall, it wasn't better or worse; just different.  But I look back with fondness as the personalities and machinery of my time on the National MX circuit. 

  

Our next photo is one of my favorites.  Actually, it was the first post on my Retromotocross blog.  Donnie Hansen (left) and Johnny O'Mara are relaxing in the pits, yet you can see in their eyes that these boys were about serious business when it came to the race track.  The image also celebrates the all-access world of motocross through the early 1980s when there were no motor coaches and you could see top riders everywhere throughout the pits, using box vans as congregating points.  I think with more access came a greater insight into the personalities of our sport. It was a great time to tell my motocross stories each week in Cycle News East.

 

“Micro Cars: Mini Wonders” now open
at National Packard Museum
(
9/18/2012)

Back by popular demand, “Micro Cars: Mini Wonders” is now open at the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio.  This award-winning special exhibit, that runs through December 30, 2012,  features over twenty very small  and economical cars and trucks built between 1930 and 1990,  displayed alongside the museum's outstanding  collection of very large and luxurious Packard automobiles.

 

Micro Cars are generally defined as vehicles with1,500cc or smaller engines.  Micro Cars became popular in the United States and Europe after World War I, and flourished again after World War II as an economical transportation alternative to more expensive full-size vehicles.  Some early Micro Cars were not much more than a motorized tricycle, seating only a driver and a single passenger.  Especially in Germany, many of them were products of, or affiliated with motorcycle companies.  

Last year’s Packard Museum “Micro Cars: Mini Wonders” exhibit wowed museum critics and the general public alike, smashing  museumadmission records and winning a first place award in the interpretive exhibit category from the National Association of Automobile Museums. 

Curator Bruce Williams has assembled an all new display of miniature vehicles from private collectors located in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, and there are no repeat cars from last year’s exhibit. 

 

They are exhibited in a fun "fall festival" atmosphere that compliments the unique and whimsical appearance of these mini wonders.  Among the more unusual vehicles on display are a 1962Amphicar, (a German-built amphibiousvehicle capable of speeds of 7 mph on water and 70 mph on land); a 1959 Autobianchini Bianchina, and a 1969 Subaru 360, which is considered to be the original minivan. 

This year's exhibit also features a display of extra-small motorized vehicles built for children, often referred to as "sidewalk racers," including a 1938 racer with a Maytag twin motor, a 1955 "Thunderbird Junior" built for the Ford Motor Company as a raffle promotion, and a 1959 quarter-scale Ford Model T "Tin Lizzie." 

The National Packard Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 12:00 to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.  Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors (65 and older) and $5 for children (7 to 12).

Still time to see Dusty Jewels
(9/16/2012)

Last April, the Antique Automobile Museum at Hershey opened an exhibit called “Dusty Jewels: Off-Road Motorcycles of the 1970s.”  The exhibit, which runs through October 25, illustrates the international diversity in the U.S. motorcycle market during an era that became a high water mark of motorcycle sales in general, and especially for off-road motorcycles. 

Dusty Jewels contains 21 motorcycles from eight different nations.  They are exquisitely restored and maintained by the owners who have loaned to the exhibit.  Last April, when the exhibit opened, we interviewed curator David Russell, a name that is not foreign to Motohistory readers.  Describing the era, Russell said, “It was a festival of variety and cultural/mechanical  identity.”  To read that interview, go to Motohistory 3/24/2012.

For more information about Dusty Jewels, including a list of motorcycles on display,  click here. 


Kaizen opens at Motorcyclepedia

(9/14/2012)

Last month we published a preview of the new exhibit named “Kaizen” at the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York (see Motohistory News & Views 8/20/2012 and 8/31/2012).  That exhibit, featuring 43 motorcycles, tells the story of how the Japanese manufacturers quickly penetrated international markets with superior products built through statistical quality control and the practice of “Kaizen,” or constant, incremental, beneficial change.

Kaizen opened on September 6, and is the first all-Japanese motorcycle exhibit shown at any major museum.  It was curated by Roger Smith and Ed Youngblood, and sponsored by the Antique Motorcycle Foundation.    For more photos and information about “Kaizen,” including a list of artifacts and lenders, click here.

Above right: Doerting Foundati on Director Jerry Doering and Antique Motorcycle Foundation President Dennis Craig cut the ribbon to open the Kaizen Exhibit. 

Lead photo by Dawn Deppi, Eye of the Beholder.

 


(9/12/2012)

Why the British motorcycle industry failed has been written about before, usually with focus on the period after the Second World War.  In “The Strange Death of the British Motorcycle Industry,” Steve Koerner takes us back to 1935 to lay the groundwork for the argument that the collapse was systemic, based to a large extend in closed-minded leaders who envisioned a relatively narrow product concept, stuck to it doggedly, eschewed suggestions for other paths, and typically blamed the government, labor, and even their own customers when their products didn’t sell.  The end was practically strategic, choosing to quit rather than do the heavy lifting required to renew an industry according to a modern, quality-controlled manufacturing model.  Author Steve Koerner is a motorcycle enthusiast, but more importantly an accomplished academic with degrees from the University of Victoria, B.c., Canada, and the University of Warwick in Great Britain. His book is exhaustively researched, often from sources not previously explored, and thoroughly documented.  It is available from Carnegie Publishing for $23.95.  For more information, click here.  

Ducati Belt-Drive Two-Valve Twins Motorcycle Restoration Guide” is scheduled for release October 1st by Octane Press Octane Press.  It is a hands-on guide designed to help enthusiasts ensure authenticity when buying, restoring, or simply living with this special breed of Ducati motorcycles introduced in 1979.  This guide specifically covers the 500/600/650SL, 750 F1, 750 Sport, 750SS, 900SS, Monster, along with other post '79 two-valve belt-drive Ducatis.  The book includes key components and model specifications useful for ensuring originality and authenticity.  Ian Falloon imparts rich historical context, practical details, and cautionary advice on specific Ducati models. The book also includes hundreds of photos illustrating mechanical detail and numerous sidebars suggesting model-specific modifications.   Appendices identify valuable sources for the restorer as well as detailed model specifications.  First published in 2000, this revised edition has been updated with new information for its 2012 release.  The price is $40.00. 

Classic Honda Motorcycles,” by Bill Silver presents an overview of Honda motorcycles produced from 1958 through 1990, including iconic models such as the CB77 Super Hawk, CB92 Benly, Dream, CB750 and many others.  Based on the Illustrated Buyer's Guide to Classic Honda Motorcycles, this revised encyclopedic guide offers more than 400 additional photos—one for every single collectable Honda built!  Enthusiasts will find a bounty of useful and interesting information about which bikes are likely to suit an individual rider's needs, which models are most collectible and how to find parts for rare Honda motorcycles. The book also offers general and mechanical evaluations of every model along with detailed specifications, riding impressions of select Honda models, and other useful tidbits.  The author is a leading expert on vintage Honda motorcycles. He has owned more than 300 vehicles, most of which have been Honda motorcycles. Bill Silver is also a former editor of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (VJMC) newsletter.  The price is $40.00.  More information is available from Octane Press.

Usually, American Iron Editor Jim Babchak writes the “American Iron Classic” feature devoted to a noteworthy antique motorcycle.  But in the October issue, this was turned over to Publisher Buzz Kanter who has devoted the space to his 1929 Harley-Davidson JDH twin-cam, specially prepared for the Motorcycle Cannonball Run. While the potent two-cam engine was originally available from 1919 only to special customers for racing purposes, in 1928 and 1929 the Motor Company installed it in its JDH model.  It is believed that 3,000 or less of these motorcycles were sold. Babchak’s column this issue is a tribute to Willie G. Davidson, who recently retired from Harley-Davidson after 50 years of service.  To subscribe to American Iron, click here.   


In the September/October issue of IronWorks, Margie Siegal’s “Seasoned Citizen” feature is about the Harley-Davidson WLC?  WLC? Yes, the WWII military motorcycles shipped north of the border to Canada were designated WLC.  The WLC differed in a number of features from the WLA, and Siegal delineates these in her article.  The motorcycle that is the subject of the article, owned by Charlie Kern, was found in Russia and brought to the United States by its owner where it eventually changed hands at an AMCA swap meet.  It was correctly but only partially restored when Kern acquired it, and he has outfitted it as a WLA.  He uses it for WWII reenactments and often as a local rider.  Also in this issues are stories about two retro-customs—a 1939 Knuckle and a 1981 Shovel—that have been built to look vintage, but with modern rider-friendly technology. 

The November issue of IronWorks contains a feature by Siegal about a 1920 Henderson Model K owned by Clay Hudson.  Siegal traces the history of the four-cylinder motorcycle back to the 1905 Belgian FN, then summarizes how William Henderson put the four-cylinder concept on the map in America.  Her history is told through a narrative about hot pursuit by a police officer on a Modal K in the Roaring 20s.  Most IronWorks contributors work independently, so I had no idea Siegal was going to take this approach, nor was she aware that my “Motohistory in Print” feature in this issue would be entitled “In Hot Pursuit,” in which I describe the origins of law enforcement use of motorcycles in America.  And speaking of Excelsior-Hendersons, there is a story by Editor Marilyn Stemp about people who still love and ride their “Hanlon Hendersons,”—actually called “Super X”—built briefly in 1999 and 2000.  To subscribe, click www.IronWorksMag.com

Lots of very serious and very heavy metal in the September/October issue of Motorcycle Classics.  On its cover are a Series A Vincent and a 1939 BMW RS255 Kompressor.  In addition to stories about these bikes, there are features about the 1976 Kawasaki KZ900, the MV Agusta 500 three cylinder grand prix racer, and the Moto-Guzzi V7 Sport. These are all high-performing big boys, so imagine my delight when I turned to the feature about the little 125cc Suzuki Stinger, a tiny twin that I consider one of the niftiest little bikes to ever come from Japan.  This is one of the things I like about Motorcycle Classics; its variety.  Plus, there’s that always-gorgeous photography.  To subscribe, click here.  

VMX No. 51 is the usualrich mixture of off-roaders of yesteryear, featuring a 1977 370cc Bultaco MK10 on its cover.  Inside, there is an excellent feature about the legendary Swedish Lito 500, arguably the zenith of the four-stroke scrambler dinosaurs.  There are also stories about the American-designed and Mexican-made (Moto Islo) GRM observed trials bike, the 1980 SWM 347GS enduro, the 1975 Ducati 125 Regolarita reliability trials bike, and the 1984 Suzuki RM80XE motocrosser.  There are features about Rod Spry, a leading dirt bike restorer in the UK, and American Hall of Famer Preston Petty.  VMX, which is based in Australia, really gets around, from the Australian Classic Motocross Championships to Hodaka Days in America.  In an oversize format with photography second to none, VMX comes out of the mail box a collectible.  To subscribe, click here