Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorisca patente e libretto.

That is one of the most soul-crushing things you can hear on an Italian road.

Thankfully though, this lovingly restored Moto Guzzi Nuovo Falcone 500 belongs to my friend Brian, and is no longer in the hands of the fuzz:

This bike has never looked this good I'm sure, and I'm glad to see it complete with its lovely panniers...

Enjoy the Falcone Brian, just remember you might want to cover up that insignia next time you're down this side of the border!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Season's greetings!

I'm dreaming of a white Alpinweiß Christmas...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

International Mountain Day

From a brisk 1,477 meters above sea level, the airheads wish you a happy International Mountain Day, and would like to remind you that all mountains are sacred places of mystical worship, pilgrimage and rituals; so no littering!

Once again, to paraphrase Henry Beston, "we need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of mountains".

Bocca à Verghju - 2012

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The only social network worth the trouble.

I think there is a difference between modern motorcyclists who accept nothing but the very latest technology, brand new models, and the weirdos (such as myself) who go the opposite direction and revel in the satisfaction that comes from owning, riding and maintaining older machines.

One thing that makes that easier, or at least much more fulfilling, is cultivating, nay, curating a network of high-quality specialists that we can turn to to perform certain specialized tasks.

Sometimes it's because the expertise, knowledge and technical understanding required far surpasses the average dude: anyone who's attempted getting a degree in mechanical engineering will attest to this.

Other times it's because although we could turn a couple of spacers on a lathe, realistically we won't be doing it often enough to justify buying a lathe, or a milling machine, or an arc welder, or a pipe bender.

They're all very cool toys that most of us actually know how to use, but can't really justify paying for.
So, that's where outsourcing comes in.

No man can do it all. Those who stubbornly insist that they can, will inevitably deliver lower quality overall, than those who focus on doing a limited number of things (even just one) but do them well.

Now, finding a machine shop is not hard. Finding a good machine shop, however, one that will not destroy your parts, one that will understand what it is you want to do, what clearances should be and how it should all work is an altogether different proposition. The same goes for any service that's even vaguely pertinent to the subject matter.

Once you start putting together this network of metalworkers, machinists, artists, painters, upholsterers, and other assorted wizards, it can all translate into a very high quality motorcycle: a perfectly crafted seat, beautifully designed decals, a stunning paintjob, flawless chrome plating, etc. all together on one bike will be apparent to anyone.

Also, the phrase "more than the sum of its parts" applies to this scenario, and I'd like to think that my Norton is a very good example of that.

My latest addition to my ever-growing list of specialists is Alldens Exhausts, which I discovered quite by accident, while I was hastily leafing through an issue of Classic Bike magazine. The owner and operator works as part of Tube Engineers, and after looking at their website I'm sure you'll agree it is a very interesting outfit, sure to come in handy.
I sent them an old handlebar that was bent on one side, and they were able to reproduce it based on the side that was still intact.

Below, you should be able to tell how it all worked out:

You're looking at the underside of the handlebars, it was the only way I could put both really close together to compare the "replica" handlebar.

The original is the one at the top of the photo, you should be able to see that on the left it is bent inwards by a good few degrees.

The tightest bends are perhaps not quite as smooth as on the original and there is a bit of a nick in one spot, but the crucial dimensions of rise, width and pullback are spot on.

Have a look at the following two photos, the very next one is the original, and you can see it has a very smooth curve to it; the one after is the replica, and the same curve is a bit more... abrupt:
Below you can see they matched the width of the handlebar very precisely:
All in all this is a great resource to have on speed-dial, which obviously goes well beyond being able to replace a bent handlebar. Good to know...

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wax on, wax on.

Those of you familiar with the 1980s adage will be perturbed by the title of this post, however, when doing what I'm doing, you want the wax to stay right where you put it.

It was time to re-proof my Belstaff, so I got to it.
Like any decent waxed cotton jacket, my Roadmaster needs re-proofing with paraffin or vegetable-based wax every so often. I try to do this at least once a year, and it pays off: this jacket is over a quarter of a century old.

Any self-respecting motorcyclist should have one of these in their closet; they are comfortable, warm enough for a mild winter and light enough up to late spring, they'll keep the wind off you and even a little bit of rain, within reason. Above all, they are just so damn cool.

It takes time to do this, you have to be methodical and not feel overwhelmed by the task, which can seem tedious. I think that's why a lot of people don't do it, and pay good money to have someone else do it for them. That's fine, so long as you get it done, or the cotton will dry, crack and tear.
Instead, the way to do this is to think of it as a practical meditation exercise; let yourself be absorbed (pun intended) by the task and watch as the fabric is slowly restored to its former glory.

You'll know you got it right when you yourself start feeling more serious and take on a stern, no-nonsense expression, like it's the 1930s outside, and like you should be getting on your exposed valves motorcycle, racing across a countryside devoid of traffic, shopping malls and other contemporary distractions.

You'll also know you got it right when you get that oilskin look, exactly like this:

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Uh oh...

They're at it again, swapping engines and who knows what else.
What's the plan here? We'll have to wait and see...

Friday, October 14, 2016

the Campotosto Mystic Trip 3 - "the belly of the whale"

Down and dirty, just one night into the belly of the whale, to seek Truth and emerge renewed.

You cannot hold onto the knowledge you gain, just know that you have known.

By the end of the first day, when you settle into your tent surrounded by the white noise of the Eternal Cosmic Cymbal, the tent is no longer just a tent, it is the Lotus, where upon its one thousand petals do you rest to contemplate each one as a different world and see yourself be all that you can be, and do all that you can do. You might even see yourself on a totally different motorcycle!

I am grateful beyond words for us to have been able to go on this trip, it was a welcome return to the best possible way to go motocamping; or to paraphrase the Avestan "Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta", good motorcycles, good roads, good friends.

I took the Honda this time, because I really wanted to. I wanted to fit everything I needed in the aluminum top case, and I did. I wanted to swap the handlebar for a braced one, and I did. I wanted to see how it would actually ride with all the little things I've done to it: the Dynojet kit, the new exhaust headers, the larger gearbox sprocket, and the wider handlebar.
And I did: it is one hell of a fun ride, very lithe, very easy and only limited if compared to the big bavarian twins. I am sure that a group of four RFVC monobackbone Hondas would be a very, very fun thing to do...

If you want to experience the boundless mysticism of this event, and the altered state of consciousness that comes from shedding our linear understanding of time and embracing new dimensions, then join us next year when we return to the mountain, the lake, the forest and the temple.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Do you guys realize that this flat twin is up for sale?

It's not second hand, it's battle-hardened.

What are you waiting for, you know you want it. Just get in touch and I'll hook you up, easy.

Friday, September 30, 2016

So much better!

Alright, real quick just to show you what I've changed on the bike to get rid of all the tacky details and make this a classier ride.

Some parts were sent off for bead blasting and I then gave them the rattle can treatment. They turned out ok, and as a whole the bike looks much better.

Here's the battery holder:

Below: indicators blacked out, front and rear (thank you Witold for wiring them back onto the bike for me!)
Above: much better grips, and a cool original handlebar clamp.
Below: the license plate holder is still tilted but this is a much more discreet original H-D part.

You like?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Getting the chopper back on the road.

My BSA, the Rising Star, is the reason I started this old-fashioned blog in the first place.

It is a wonderful little bike, light, nimble and with one of the all-time best frames I have ever tried... by a long shot.

It's had a troubled beginning but I managed to use it for a few outings and even as a daily driver for a couple of months: that was a bit of an epiphany!

I've had to faff around with the carburetter, but not because of the carburetter; that's a story to share over a couple of beers.

There is one thing though that was not well made from the start and that's how the gas tank is mounted to the frame, and it shows because the tank's rear mounting tab broke pretty quickly.

This is obviously because of vibration, and there's not much you can do about that other than try to manage it somehow. Initially we just placed a thick rubber spacer under the tab and just bolted the whole thing down, as was done on pre-OIF Triumphs.

Since this clearly didn't work, I thought that the attachment point to the frame needed to be improved.

As you can see above, it was originally just a piece of threaded bar stuck in the frame and simply welded; my initial idea for improving this is neither my own recipe nor a secret.

I don't know how to weld and I don't have the equipment, but I knew how this should be done so I turned to uncle Fester for help.

After we talked about it for a little bit however, he came up with an alternative solution that would have required working only on the tank, leaving the frame alone and not having to get the bike to his workshop.

This could either be a permanent fix, or at least a major step in the right direction: he fabricated a new tab from a piece of marine grade steel, shaped it and drilled a hole sized for a H-profile grommet. Then, using two metal top-hat bushes, he essentially made an internal bush and external supports for the whole assembly, so that a new sleeve nut can now be torqued down, metal on metal, while the grommet is free to better absorb vibration on all three axes.

Below you can see the old mounting tab compared to the new one, old and new rubbers, and the sleeve nut (unfinished, in the photo):

A beefy, clean set of TIG welds secures the new tab to the tank. Those suckers should be staying put.

Say what you will about uncle Fester, but this cat works just like he rides: hard, and very fast.

Lots of thanks and respect bro.