Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Well, what do you know, I went and found myself some more vintage tools!

These are the Spearpoint spanners that were given as part of every Norton Commando toolkit (there was also a sparking plug wrench, tire levers, a couple of allen keys and other odds and ends). They are, of course, Made in England.

Besides from the fact that when I got my Norton, its toolkit was nowhere to be seen - typical careless disrespect of a motorcycle by the unworthy - finding this kit was a real boost to the Rising Star. I would like to get to the point where all the tools I carry are vintage ones that all fit into that vintage tool roll.
In addition to the Spearpoints I also got this:

Now, this is an adjustable wrench of the type know as "knuckle buster". Use one without paying attention and you'll soon learn why.
Different sizes were made, this one is by far the smallest. It is so small you might think it wouldn't be much use at all, but especially for small unidentified fasteners, this thing works a treat.
Here it is next to a SAK for size comparison.

And since I can tell you're dying to get some proper kit for yourselves, I will tell you where I got these, so that you too can get lost in the many, many photos and add to cart:
What's in your toolkit?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

one skinny tire...

Well, turns out that Dunlop K70 I got off my dad is a 3.25, not a 3.50 like I thought.
Put it this way, in terms of width, a K81 3.60 is thin, compared to a 4.10. So a 3.50 would be unmistakably thin. But, dang, 3.25 is just skinny. Oh well, the bike will be light and narrow anyway, it will probably be ok.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So, now that both wheels are ready, the time has come to pick some tires and get them on.
Provided you "keep it rubber-side down", tires are the point of contact with the road, a sort of frontier between you and the world, so an important feature. I don't need to tell you that modern tires on a classic bike are a faux pas. I also don't need to tell you that with so many classic tires to choose from it's easy to feel a little lost. Perhaps not surprisingly, people can get very vociferous when it comes to brand loyalty. The Metzeler fanatics have tattoos of the little elephant, certain folks have Pirelli tires with a Ferrari on top. Firestone, Carlisle, Michelin. Avon has an almost mystical, Arthurian ring to it and evokes a similar quasi-religious devotion. Then there is Dunlop who, much like Amal, is just content with making the best there is and just leave it at that. So, I'm a Dunlop guy.
I had originally thought of two possible options for this bike, think of them if you will as the beefy and the skinny.

Dunlop K81 4.10x19" front
Dunlop K81 4.25x18" rear

Avon Speedmaster 3.25x19" front
Avon Safety Mileage 4.00x18" rear

The beefy looks better on a standard OIF machine, especially if you shorten the forks a little bit to level out the frame. The skinny is cool for a chop and was my preferred option until last night. Then my dad went and did a bit of a re-shuffling with the Matchless and Norton tires, long story short we now have a brand new Dunlop K70 that needs a home. So, I started thinking, "new shit has come to light, man!" and being "privvy to all the new shit" I decided to go for this third option:

Dunlop K70 3.25x19" front
Dunlop K70 4.00x18" rear

Now, this would make it the same tires front and rear, the same kind of pattern with a decisively vintage flavour, pre-60s kinda stuff. Also, what I like about these is the idea of the "universal" tire, when you would fit them to a bike and really know that you could go anywhere. None of this overly purpose-built differentiation that happened later, effectively meaning that as motorcycles became more and more specialised and good at doing one thing, granted, it was only the one thing. You can't really do trials with an R1, and you can't really do fast road touring with a modern motocrosser. But what's wrong with doing everything with one bike? Sure, you won't break any records and you might not climb up trees but so what? What's the point spending a gazillion bucks for a fully kitted out "adventure" BMW or KTM if you're then going to use it for the commute from home to the office? Don't you think that's kinda silly? Same goes for any exaggeratedly performance-oriented bike.
But now think of this, a Triumph Tiger 650 with universal tires and you really are good-to-go. Simple transportation? Dry/wet? Check. A little dirt track to get to a country house? Check. A long trip across Europe? Check. 'round-the-world trip? Check. You see what I mean? And I say Triumph Tiger for the sake of argument, it could just as easily be any other British bike (a Thunderbolt, a Bullet, a G80, you name it).
So, I just need to get the rear tire, a couple of tubes and some rim tapes and we're ready to make a roller! Well, almost ready...