Monday, 11 February 2013

New Website

I have been running this blog since 2008 and its been fun, but with the advent of twitter and the growth of Facebook - I am not sure of the relevance anymore.

So I have had the website re-done, to make it more image based and set up a Facebook page and Twitter account to make it all a bit more social media friendly.

The Website

The Facebook Group

Twitter account

All future posts here will be driving you to these sites!



Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Ugly Duckling

This bike is really starting to annoy me now - I liked it before; it looked the part with its huge fenders   - but they were super heavy, rubbed the tyres and if there was ever a serious puncture would have stopped the bike like an anchor.  It was a good bike though and took me 1700 miles to Croatia in 2011 - reliable able to take luggage and sort of comfy.

But despite that and for all those reasons I cut them off, and now it looks like a ugly pig

Let me say there are some huge plus points about this bike still - it has a 1970 Historic V5 so no road tax, a brand new S&S Shovelhead Engine, a great set of Billet brakes front and back, some GSXR front forks.  So to keep any expense down on this beast, I have now gone through my garage and found some bits, and bought a few bits more:

  • Some 10.5" Burley Slammer rear shocks just to drop that back end down a bit, from the 12" ones currently fitted
  • A old small black headlight from SJP in Holland
  • Have to powdercoat that S&S air cleaner Black - maybe the bars too.
  • The front mudguard has to go; and will cut off the front existing front rim and send the hub to Devon Rim and have a 23" rim put on -as I have a spare and an Avon tyre to go on it.
  • Mini Apes what do you think?
  • Change the exhaust?
  • Paint - new Black job as it always makes ugly bike slook better - or something funky?
I want this all done by April.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Years Day

Went out for a test ride on ROMEO80 with a good mate Carl Abrams - he was on his Husky 900 which he uses for his voluntary role with SERV which transports Blood out of hours to wherever its needed.  He took this nice shot of our bikes in Ashdown Forest.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

New for 2013

Maybe its a sacrilege  - and I love my un-restored 1977 Harley Davidson XLCR, but every time I look at it, I think the rear wheel is not big enough and it needs to be set back more - so add some better brakes, suspension, mufflers, give the old Ironhead a tune, dress it in some new paint and away we go.....

ROMEO80 - Almost There

Yes - its nearly Christmas and ROMEO80 will be ready in a very short time.  I should at this point add some thanks to all those who helped with the project.

  • Chris McNamara  - it was his donor bike that was nicely restored, I bought on eBay
  • Steve Taylor of Taylor Made Wheels for the amazing new 23" wheels, with the drive hub for the shaft drive.
  • Dave Batchelar of P&D for all the sheet metal and frame.
  • Keith Baker of Classic Cycle Works for the sublime paint job.
  • Paul Leeson for the ROMEO80 logo
  • Colour Coatings for Powder Coat.
  • Andy from Hove for the metal polishing.
  • ..and Richard Taylor for everything else!
In January on a nice day I will do a proper photo shoot  - probably down at the coast in Hastings, real film with my Leica.

Friday, 16 November 2012

"Rip it up and start again..."

In the words of Edwyn Collins - Rip it up and start again.  One of the best things about old Harleys is that is exactly what you can do, and so I am going to completely re-model my Richard II bike, which to be fair is less than 2 years into its current incarnation.  However its done a few great road trips with me, including an awesome 1800 mile ride to Croatia in 2011 - and clocked up 5000 miles.  Over this time you find the issues that you dont like - which for me is mainly the mudguards.  I inherited theses beasts, from when it was first built as the famous Blower bike, and whilst I love the lines of them, they are extremely heavy and very low - so low that if I got a puncture they would dig into the road....which would not be pretty.

So the plan for Spring 2013 is to do a low key makeover, to make the bike much more practical and more of an everyday vehicle for me - and hopefully the bike I ride on the first big Road Trip of 2013 to St Tropez.

The key elements will be a plain Gloss Black paint scheme, featuring the number IX in white.  I am replacing the wheels with a set of old HD Thunderstar cast wheels left over from my old FXD (which became Caesar Racer) - these will be powdercoated Gloss Black.  For tyres I am going Old School and I have just taken delivery of some Avon Rubber - Speedmaster Mk II for the front and Safety Mileage Mk II on the back.  The exhausts are currently a 2-1 with a polished steel open exhaust - this last element will be replaced with a squat Supertrapp Race Can.  Then some new shorter mudguards cut back like a bobber.  Finally in keeping with my Shakespeare themes  - this will now be Tempest IX - with a quote "That Beasts shall tremble at the Din".  Here are some pics of the bits.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

2013 Road Trips (So Far)

Its never to early to look forwards to next years Road Trips - so far I have 3 booked and it looks like about 6500 miles!

Trip 1 is my annual pilgrimage to the HOG Rally at St Tropez - I am going with my regular riding buddies and maybe a few more  - we are doing a circular route taking in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

Trip 2 is with my local HOG Chapter 1066 - I think there will be about 10 of us and we are going to tour the Hebrides and check out all the distilleries, staying at this nice hotel there for 4 nights Harris Hotel

Trip 3 is with my wife Lisa to the USA - she has never ridden on a bike and is going to follow on in a car - which should be fun!

Really looking forwards to these trips which will all be made on a Harley Davidson Streetglide - my bike of choice for nearly every occasion apart from posing on the seafront.  Any recommendations from anyone on places to check out let me know.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

BSA Mereworth

One of my favourite pictures I have taken of my bikes is this one, I took it in July 2010 on a sunny days rideout, and then tweaked the spectrum in Iphoto to give it this dated look.
So I was extremely disappointed to hear via a good friend Carl Abrams recently that this lovely old garage is being knocked down and re-developed - here is a picture with Carl's Husky in front all done up for his valuable work as a Blood Runner for SERV.

Brightona 2012

my two favourite domestic bike days out are the Ace Cafe Brighton BUrn up in September and Brightona in October - I issed them both last year and missed the Ace this year, so I was determined to make Brightona!
In some bizarre the weather is always good for Brightona and this year was no exception, a huge turn out and a blue sky always makes for a great day.  I rode down with my friends and managed to blag a space right in the middle of the event in front of my friend Nutty's stand for his business Clean Bike Clinic.  We had a good look around and and then when it was time to leave I found the hydraulic clutch on my bike Richard II had failed.  So a top up with water and managed to get it going for the ride home.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

a little bit more ROMEO80

.....getting there, just needs wiring - "just" is a complete understatement, dragging loads of wires through the frame to the brainbox and battery and back again.  We are keeping all the original BMW switchgear, but new Oberon indicators and a sweet little German speedo which is marked out to 220  - I will only be using the first 30% of that dial - I might even calibrate it for kph so I can watch it move more.  After its wired, rear tailpiece goes on and the seat - get an MOT and hit that road.  Here are some pics.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Distinguished Gentlemans Ride London

I picked up on the Distinguished Gentlemans Ride via facebook - and right away it grabbed my attention.  For some time I have been getting tired of the Harley and HOG scene, and have been looking for some alternate riding events that are more for me, the emphasis being on alternate bikes and in many respects alternate dress styles to go with them.  Another event which I must do next year is "Wheels and Waves" in Biarritz, check out the video.....

Anyway to return to the Distinguished Gentlemans Ride - the aim was that worldwide on the 30th September, groups of likeminded people would dress up in suits and ride their cafe racers, old style, brat bikes and trackers around the city - just for the hell of it - no Hi-Viz, no rules, just fun.

The London event was organised by the Bike Shed and Untitled Motorcycles and in the end we had over 60 bikes meeting up in Kentish Town for a marvellous 1 hour ride through the centre of London to Wandsworth.  I have to say it was a fantastic experience and I would love to do it again, and other similar events.  Anyway here are some shots that I took of the LOndon Ride - I rode my Caesar Racer (I think we only had 5 Harleys in all - what a relief!).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Ian's got a brand new Jacket...

er....well its about 40 years old but its new enough.  I was chatting to Keith Baker at Classic Cycle Works about stuff and the subject of vintage leather jackets came up, and he said that old AMF Harley ones were very rare.  Of course I went straight on Ebay and found one in the USA - and as a result of a mix up in postage prices and the inability of our Parcel Force to tell me its in the UK - I struck up a email conversation. with Chris Baker of Bazooka Garage.  He has a great shop in Santa Barbara which specialises in converting old Japanese bikes into British Style Cafe Races, as well as selling other cool stuff - so check it out here

Anyway the jacket has finally arrived and I will be wearing it on my road trips next year.

Here is a small story from Chris about its original owner:

There is quite a story about the gentleman who owned this jacket. He was a deaf mute aerospace engineer here in Santa Barbara, very interesting chap, his son sat with me and translated a whole
conversation when I bought all his old riding gear and 1978 CB750.
We connected and he was very excited to pass this huge part of his life on to me. He also had a mid 80's BMW Dakar. He told me he road the Honda with this Jacket on from California to Belize and back. He had some very cool stories he would tell in grunts and noises and hand gestures, you could almost follow him and his excitement, then his son would translate it all to me with them using his Dad's limited vocal abilities and sign lanquage.

Boys Trip to Torquay (Third Year)

Last weekend was our annual boys trip to Torquay - this year, it was me on Macbeth, Preben went on the Othello Tracker, Paul on his Blackline, Andy on his XR1200 and a new recruit Steve, who went on some huge BMW tourer with a reverse gear (he will be getting a Harley soon - its inevitable) - I could see him checking out the Harleys in Dockgate 20 Dealership.

We had a slight route change this year as Andy (who was our Ride Captain) had heard about a great pub in Glastonbury, so after checking in at the Travelodge and having a Subway we set off on a pub crawl to end up at the mythical King Arthur.  Needless to say the pub was crap, and full of 14 year olds drinking alcopops - but we had had plenty beforehand and stayed in the excellent Mitre Inn (this is the best pub in Glastonbury).

The next day was a misty start, and my first port of call was Riders of Bridgewater for a quick oil change after I had topped up the day before with car oil - service there was great and well recommended.  The mist soon burned off and we made our way to the North Coast of Devon to visit the very picturesque Lynmouth - I would definitely go back here for an overnight stay!  On departing Lynmouth after Andy followed his rubbish Satnav for one more wrong turn, I headed off with Preben in the other direction and followed the course of the River Exe through Exmoor  - this is a great road.  Then seeing a sign for the M5 we blasted it to Torquay for some early beers.  Torquay is a top place - its a holiday resort and has a great vibe to the town., and so another heavy night followed with obligatory shorts in the Hotel Bar when we got back.

As usual its a slow ride back on the Sunday, but it was a warm sunny day and after a Mcdonalds at Chichester we were soon back on form for some final beers back in Tunbridge Wells.   600 miles in 3 days on a hardtail is not so bad!

Sadly this really marks the end of the riding season for proper trips - next one will be St Tropez in May 2013.....

......and finally here is Paul's video of the trip!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Caesar & Richard at the seaside!

Here is a great little promo film of the Caesar Racer and Richard II at the seaside at the weekend - shot and put together by Paul Leeson music by the amazing Song of Return and British Sea Power

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The English Summer

I was hoping for a great summer this year, primarily as I am not going away and was looking forwards to loads of great bike rides out and about.  Sadly it seems to have rained practically everyday and been winter like.  So when I saw that it was going to be 30 degrees C this weekend, I had to make the most of it and so with mate Paul we took the bikes down to the coast for a blast around and take some film which will end up as a short film soon.