Monday, October 28, 2013


Steve Brindmore and his Featherbed Commando, leaving our warehouse in the last industrial area of San Francisco 
Pete Young and the Yerba Buena chapter of the AMCA host the annual 49-Mile Ride on the last Sunday of October, which is open to all pre-1975 motorcycles, and is regularly swarmed with over 300 bikes of all makes and configurations.  I was on the first 9 editions of the 49-Mile, but missed a few while abroad - it's always great fun to confound automotive traffic in SF, although a few times I reflected on the unfortunate 'New York Incident' while hordes of bikers maneuvered around cars; honks and fingers were occasionally exchanged, but no trouble ensued.
Chris Bonk and his original-paint 1951 MV Agusta 125cc two-stroke
The polyglot nature of the bikes present is what makes this ride special; mopeds, scooters, pre-War, military, Choppers, Cafe Racers, Britbikes, Italian 70s hotrods, Japanese 60s two-strokes, literally everything under the sun.  Everyone rides an old motorcycle, and that's good enough.
At the meeting point, the Bayview Boat Club (pointedly NOT a yacht club), a lovely ca.1978 Ducati 900SS
I discussed the 'club scene' with one attendee, who's invested much time over the years in the BSA Owner's Club.  He lamented that 95% of the bikes riding the 49-Mile Ride would not be welcome at a BSA Club ride, which I opined was an excellent way to ensure the death of one-make and Vintage clubs.  The most popular and vital vintage motorcycle scene worldwide, and the one which attracts younger riders, is the broad spectrum of Custom bikes - Cafe Racers, Bobbers, Choppers, Street Trackers, etc.  Plenty of Custom riders have 'stock' vintage bikes too, but who wants to hang around with old farts who look sideways at their cool creations?  Food for thought.
A pair of BSAs, distinctly different cousins; an A65 chopper, and a B44 Victor Special
Enjoy this stop-motion tour of San Francisco, the photos are in order from the trip to my warehouse (Motopia) and back; I'll point out touristy hightlights for those far away!
Wonderfully ratty Harley Knucklehead
A buyer's choice of redness; Benelli (Motobi), Puch Grand Prix, Moto Guzzi Falcone Tourismo
An interesting pair of Bobbers; Knucklehead and Trophy

Hanging out with Max Schaaf, vintage chopper revivalist with his blog 4Q Conditioning (Kim Young photo)
Host club Yerba Buena M/C provided the legal release forms and prepared the food!
Lots of Street Trackers, like this Triumph, and the Rickman behind
Lovely old Matchless G80
Honda CB750 in front of a Chevrolet Impala, just like the one I grew up in!
This young man has earned his imperious visage, riding a Simplex around the parking lot
Most 'CB' Hondas are now accepted into the AMCA under the 35 year rule...
We're off!!  More Hondas, this time a rare (for the US) 'Black Bomber' CB450 in original paint
Crossing the 3rd St drawbridge, right beside the Giants' baseball stadium downtown

Beside the ballpark...
Heading along the Embarcadero, towards the Bay Bridge
This youngster was excited to see all the bikes ride by, and eager to be included by the SF Piers
The old Fire Station on the Embarcadero 
The Ferry Building, which is now a shrine to fine foods
From left: Coit Tower, an 'F' Line vintage streetcar, a lovely Sunbeam with wicker sidecar, and the Piers where the America's Cup sailing races were recently centered
Max Schaaf of 4Q Conditioning and his custom Knucklehead 
Yes, SF has hills; this is the climb up Lombard St.
Mid-Lombard St descent, down a one-way brick road.  Not 'the crookedest street in SF', but picturesque
Kim Young with daughter Sirisvati on the back, heading downhill towards Alcatraz
A nice AJS Model 16 at the Marina
A Whizzer, the smallest machine on the ride, near the Golden Gate Bridge
A hot Puch Grand Prix and BSA A10 Road Rocket
Mondial 175 and Yam SR500...
The 900SS riding through the Presidio, towards Baker Beach and the Seacliff neighborhood
The BSA Road Rocket passes before the Palace of the Legion of Honor, a replica of the one in Paris
Akiko recently bought her Honda Dream after getting her license a year ago - this was her first Vintage ride!  Hope you dug it!
Paul Zell on his home-built NorVin, at the Cliff House
Beside the Cliff House, with Ocean Beach beyond
Rick Najera on his Knucklehead Bobber, in front of the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park
Heading south on the Great Highway along Ocean Beach
A Harley/Aermacchi Sprint SS350
A full-dress Moto Guzzi Ambassador in Golden Gate Park
An ex-Military Indian Chief
'Indian' Rick deCost
Guiding my Triumph Bonneville through familiar turf
Charlie Taylor and his Matchless Model X beside Laguna Honda reservoir
Atop Twin Peaks; a young lad is hooked!
Pete and Kim Young looking over SF from Twin Peaks
Blaise Descollanges on top of the world
Lovely Zundapp K700 and Nimbus outfit
Twin Peaks is ripe for a bit of scratching; no cars, nice bends
Heading down Twin Peaks towards downtown
The end of the day, back at the Bayview Boat Club, Steve Brindmore and Roland Batterscher
...and back to Bayview, with Ana and Katie at the BBQ


B.C. said...

Textbook example of a nice day.Thanks for the report.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul -

Nice post and photos of the 49 Mile Ride - and you got them posted so quickly.

Yesterday was my first group ride and my first vintage motorcycle event. I have always loved vintage bikes, but only became a rider last year. I love it and am now hooked.

Akiko H.

Anonymous said...

The 49 Mile ride is the only time I've seen a Nimbus in the US outside a museum. Neat bikes.

Ivan Downdat Roadbefore

Vorhese said...

Pete and Kim do such a great job every year!

Dennis O'Dell said...

What a great surprise I had reading through this recap of the the 49 Mile Ride. First, since SF is my old stomping grounds, it was great to see the superb pictures. I live in Nürnberg Germany now and do miss SF. But, the big surprise was seeing my very good friend's Triumph Street Tracker (the black and orange one with the For Sale sign). I know this bike well from the very beginning. I provided some help with the initial build, a little wrench turning, but mostly encouragement and passing a beer or two. The bike has gone through a couple of interations since the original, and at this point it is one of the finest Street Trackers you'll find anywhere.

Don OReilly said...

Aloha Paul,

many thanks for this post featuring many great bikes and views of my favorite city… though it does look cold!

This event is most definitely on my bucket list, sometime within the next few years. I seem to have read somewhere that it is a charitable fund raiser. Is that correct, and how much money was raised for who?



The Vintagent said...

Don, I'm remiss in not mentioning this is a fundraiser for the Shriner's Children's Hospital. Kim and Pete's son Atticus was burned while camping a few years ago, and the Shriners fixed him up free of charge - that was weeks of hospital be, repair, skin grafts, etc. They're doing what they can to repay, a bit at a time. The ride is free, but the luncheon is the fundraiser. Not sure how much they raised - I'll ask Pete!

occhiolungo said...

Hi Paul.

Thanks for sharing the great pics and stories. And thanks for coming on the ride so many times since 2001. As you mentioned, the 49 Mile Ride is remarkable for the variety of machines that attend. I used to keep a list, but it was too much to capture. Bikes made in Germany, England, USA, Japan, Italy, Russia, China, Czech Republic, Spain, Denmark and probably a few more places that I have forgotten. Stockers, bobbers, choppers, cafe racers, hybrids, mopeds, sidecars, antiques and a few POS's. The oldest bikes have been from 1913, the newest were altogether too modern!

Kim and I worked to invite people with varied tastes, and it seems to have worked. I'm always pleased to see that Uwe comes over from Germany for the ride, or Jim from Arizona, or the guys from L.A. and Oregon. It is so nice to see that they think highly enough of the event to travel here and ride around for 3 hours with like-minded folks. Seeing it grow from 10 people to over 300 was a trip; strangely exciting and stressful at the same time. Kim has continued to talk me into hosting the event for the past 4-5 years, and she ~might~ convince me one more time. But if not, I think that we can be happy with how the event has been enjoyed for these past 13 years.

There are still many other great rides to do, and more to come. And I hope that whoever reads this note takes it upon themselves to organize a ride in their city, town, village or crossroads.


Loub Ranch said...

I can't believe I showed up at one of the early starts at T.I. and then rode off to do something completely boring! Then the start became the Bayview and that was the kicker for me. I've been hooked since. The variety is unparalleled by any other ride I have attended. Cheers Pete and KIm. Oh and I guess to Paolo for recording and sharing in this forum. Great pics.


Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

An article about Lou Reed and motorcycles would be in order. His song "Bottoming Out" alone is worthy for consideration here even if he never rode a Rude Norton.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

I am terribly sorry to have missed the ride this year. I was working our club booth at teh San Mateo show. I have to take exception to the remark that 95% of the bikes would not be welcome at a BSAOC ride. With the exception of the All-British Ride, adn perhaps the California BSA Rally, our rides are open to all enthusiasts. We do tend to encourage vintage Brit-bikes, especially BSAs, but do not exclude others. I cannot speak for the individuals that make up the club, but as a club we try to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

David James

The Vintagent said...

Hi David,

the remark - that 95% of the machines on the 49Mile Ride would not be welcome at, for example, a BSA Club ride - was made by a one-time committee member of said club, and a regular attendee of meetings and the events mentioned.

I quoted him as we were having a discussion about inclusiveness, and finding the magic formula for attracting young riders. If a club member is convinced 'the custom kids' wouldn't be welcome at such a ride by the club's rules, then what must one of those younger riders conclude? How many 25 year olds riding BSA bobbers are showing up at BSA club events?

Please don't misconstrue this as an attack on the BSA club; I belong to many one-make clubs myself, and this discussion has been raging in all of them for many years...

Kevin Johnson said...

The lovely Zundapp with nimbus outfit is a KS600. Thay didn't make a 700, though they did make a KS750 and K800 (S denotes overhead, No S = flathead)