Sunday, January 13, 2008


So, the Hot Rod show (which is the continuation of the legendary Oakland Roadster Show of the 50's/60's) was certainly more crowded than Thursday evening, and somehow a whole hall full of bikes showed up. 99% of them were Harley or Harley clones, making all the 'brand x' bikes the '1%ers' for once. You always knew I was a rebel. I saw three British bikes, and perhaps 6 Japanese machines, and one monstrosity with 8' tall truck tires and a Chevy engine. And of course lots of cars... the big building had all the shiny cars, the little building had all the rust rods, and I was surprised to find no bikini clad babes hawking products this year, for better or worse.
Our local AMCA chapter managed an impressive display, and the top two photos show natural enemies from the late 30's/40's period; dirt-track 750cc sidevalve racers, a Harley WR and an Indian Daytona Scout. I've ridden a WR, it was surprisingly fast, and handled well even on those balloon tires. It was loaned to me by Dale Walksler of the Wheels Through Time Museum; I was at the Death Valley AMCA run about 8 years ago, and my Norton lost the stellite pad on the exhaust rocker, making for a big loss of power (it kept running though!). Dale brought a semi-trailer rig full of bikes - I think he had four WR's with his museum logo, ready to loan out. I got to grips quickly with the hand-shift/foot-clutch, and had a lovely race with Dave Edwards of Cycle World, who was riding his '8 Ball' Indian bobber (as seen in the Guggenheim show). After leaving Dave literally in the dust of Artists Pallette canyon drive (he had the audacity to pass me on the one lane dirt road - one of the best little stretches of close-wall canyon road anywhere), I caught up with Dale leading the pack on his super hotrodded 1800cc flathead Harley. After passing them all on the way up to Dante's peak at something like 80mph, the connection between the engine and rear wheel was lost somehow - the bike was suddenly all neutral and free-revving. Of course, this happened only 100yards or so in front of Dale, who didn't think it was funny at all, in fact he was furious, livid, jumping up and down mad that I had broken his motorcycle, and remained so the rest of the rally. I guess we're not pals anymore. Luckily, it's a 21 mile downhill run from Dante's peak to the Furnace Creek rally spot, and I was able to glide the bike all the way. If the bike had made it another 2 miles before crapping out, I would have given everyone a run for their money (literally, there was a $500 purse) on the engines-off race down the hill. Dee Cameron won instead that year, and continued to do so on his Velocette for years afterwards. Should you happen to attend this rides, try not to borrow a bike, and if you do, try not to have it break under you.

That was a big digression. Someone brought out their 125cc CR93 Honda, ca1960, with original yellow CA plate and full road-going spec, as they were offered at the time. Amazing that you could buy a dohc roadster like this in 1960, which is basically a copy of the NSU Rennmax, which won the world championship so many times, and was the first bike to reach 200hp/litre; Honda only copied the best! The only let-down on this particular bike - it appears never to have been ridden since restoration. I would have been much more excited had an original-condition machine been on display.

Next is our Yerba Buena display banner (spray-painted by the best), complete with 4-cyl Excelsior-Henderson to attract the eye. I've never ridden one of these; it's time someone offered... I promise I won't break it!

Next pic, yep, custom mini-bikes. When I was a lad, we customized them with mud from the local fields. I'll never forget that put-put sound, and the jingle of the chain rattling around as we rode over bumps and levees on the dirt trails. Nowadays kids have autoboxes with variable drive on their minis - we never minded how crude our lawn-mower bikes were, it was all just big fun.

Last pic, Messerchmitt flying low.

No comments: