Sunday, 30 May 2010

The 2011 Projects Bikes No.7 & 8

When I set up 7Ages, the aim was to try and do about 1.5 bikes a year - on the basis that each bike takes about a year to materialise and getting 2 out a year was just too much effort for what is a part-time project.
So 2008/9 produced Macbeth and Hamlet, 2010 has produced Othello and later on in August Bike No. VI  Caesar Racer will appear.
I now have the projects ready for 2011 and its good to know that there is something to plan ahead and look forwards to:

  • Bike No.7 - I have already posted about this on the blog and its provisionally called Romeo's Beemer - a 1982 BMW R80 I bought on Ebay earlier this year.  I have just made the first investment in this bike by commissioning a set of wheels for it, from Taylormade Wheels in Wales - they will be matching 23" diametre wheels like on the last three bikes, but this time I am having them made from Billet Aluminium with the same spoke pattern as the original wheels.  In addition I have had to have the old BMW shaft drive and drum brake hub incorporated in the rear wheel - not an easy job.  Once the wheels are here I can then think about how the frame is going to work and how I am going to style it.

  • Bike No.8 - I have agreed to buy the remains of the Blower Bike (see earlier post), and I am going to restore it to its former glory - only without the twin superchargers - by putting a brand new 93" S&S Shovelhead engine in which is totally appropriate for the 1971 vintage of the original bike.  When it was created as the Blower in 1995 all the styling cues were very much of Arlen Ness  - the undisputed King of custom bikes, such as the masses of billet aluminium and the huge extended fenders.  I really want to retain this feel, as I believe its due a resurgence in the custom field, after a period of back to basics bobbers.  The bike will be a beach cruiser with wide bars and a summery Californian paint job - I also want it to appeal to women riders after I watched huge crowds admiring a friends' female designed Sportser in St Tropez - and of course this bike has a very low seat height and ride position.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Caesar Racer (Bike No. 6) - Powder and Polish Back

Following on from the polishing post, I am pleased to report that my frame and various other brackets and bits are now back from Colour Coatings in Edenbridge where they have been powdercoated Orange RAL 2010 - so all thats left is the new paint from Image Design which will be towards the end of June - Exciting.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Polishing Stainless Steel

One thing that is synonymous with Harley Davidson is Chrome - and I must admit that once upon a time I was addicted to it and I would add Chrome everything to my bikes.  These days my love affair has moved onto Stainless Steel (normal steel with up to 13% Chromium added) - its super shiny and corrosion resistant.
My current bike is No.6 The Caesar Racer and it has loads of Stainless, pipes, swingarm, battery cover, bars, peg supports, gear shift etc.   Just got it all back today from Andy who has spent hours polishing it all up at his shop in Hove - looks great.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Harley Owners Group HOG

As I have said before I ride with a number of HOG Chapters depending on the rides available.  Today I went out with my local Chapter 1066 HOG, for a very short ride of 20 miles from our start point to Hever Castle - ancestral home of Henry VIII - which is conveniently about 6 miles from home - so a round trip of about 40 miles in all.
I have been a HOG member now since 1996 and whilst I have a large collection of badges and pins I can never quite bring myself to attach them all to a vest and throw myself in with the whole thing - not sure why maybe I had a bad experience in the cubs!  Having said that it is great to go on a big rideout with 45 bikes like today - the ride was so short I didn't even have to be a drop off.  Here are some pictures:

Saturday, 22 May 2010

My 2005 Screaming Eagle FatBoy

When Harley started re-doing their CVO range in 2005, I ordered a FatBoy - a great bike 103"engine and all the bling you could ever ask for.  Even so I put a Road King nacelle and running lights on straight away.  A year later  I fitted a W&F 240 section rear end with a new tank, fenders and paint job, and happily run up about 15,000 miles on the bike riding it to France and Spain.  Here are the bikes before and after.

In September 2008, after the bike was three years old I traded it in for a new 2009 Streetglide which I wanted as a practical everyday bike, and was absolutely delighted with the new bike - until today!  I went down to Shaw Harley Davidson. on a gorgeous day with temps around 27 degrees C, and to my surprise there was my old Fatboy looking resplendent in a new paint job, and new shiny chrome and exhausts.  This is one of the great things about Harleys, no matter what happens to them you can always take them and change them and make them into something new and special.  Well done to Shaws and the new owner.

Riding Hamlet in South of France

One of the points nearly always made to me when I meet other bikers when I am on a custom, is that its all SHOW and no GO.  To prove a point last year I rode Macbeth to St Tropez for the Harley Euro Festival and it happily went some 1200 miles - and surprised me at how usable it was.  This year I had Hamlet shipped down there  - mainly as I was going down with 9 other guys on Harleys with big fuel tanks, and Hamlet is to be sold and I wanted to keep the mileage down - but still did around 300 miles.

One of the highlights of the trip was a rideout with Chelsea and Fulham HOG, of around 60 miles around the hills and coast of St Tropez.  The film was made by my friend Gary France (see above photo) with two Go-Pro cameras mounted to the front and back of his brilliant custom Tailwinds.  Later this year Gary is going on a huge solo tour of the USA -so follow his blog

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

35mm vs. Digital

Here in Tunbridge Wells we have a photowalk competition organised using 35mm film - having not used real film for at least 15 years I decided to have an experiment with some Ilford XP Black and White film in preparation.

Here are the test snaps and my view is that B&W is not right for the messy (certainly in background) pictures that I take, and also the 40mm pancake lens I used does not provide enough depth.  Next time I will use 400ISO colour film and a 50mm fixed lens.  The camera is an old Pentax P30.  Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

7Ages in the Press

Nice to see the bikes in the press - first a great 8 page spread in Italy's Kustom Magazine (No.67) featuring the Macbeth and Hamlet bikes.  Then a picture of Hamlet from the Ace Cafe Show in this months BSH (Issue 314).

The Blower Bike

My partner in 7Ages is called Richard Taylor, who has been building bikes for years and is a genius engineer (he is my Mentor!) - he first came to fame in 1995 with the Blower Bike which featured on Top Gear, Big Breakfast, numerous magazines and show awards too.  In a bizarre quirk of fate this bike which he sold in 1995 has come back home, having completed about 700 miles all in - although the original Harman engine has gone.
The bike is registered as a 1971 Harley (so no TAX) and is a complete hand built beauty which has TWO superchargers, one for each cylinder, and when working is the nearest thing to a road going rocket on two wheels you could find - it needs a new engine and a restoration and styling to bring it into the 21st Century - and I am tempted - but anyway here are some pictures to show you what its like.  I would also add that when started up with the 2 blowers feeding a 120 cubic inch engine its going to sound like the Starship Enterprise.

Harley Euro Festival - St Tropez 2010

Well back from this great weekend event - and despite the weather it was a superb rally - and a must for my 2011 calendar.
Brief highlights:
Tues Day 1 - Met up with 9 other riders in Kent for a blast down to Beaune - unfortunately I got some engine trouble on my 2009 Streetglide and had to divert to Lille where a really helpful team from the main HD dealer drilled out my breather bolts and gave me an oil change.  So I now had 400 miles to catch up the rest of the group on my own, which I managed in around 5 hours.
Weds Day 2 - It was raining and very cold, one of the group decided to head direct to St Tropez, while the rest of us followed the plan to head for Gap and then the Route Napoleon to the Italian border at Jaussier. It was about 275 miles though twisty mountain passes - but in cold wet rain and hail lost a bit of its shine.  Still we arrived in Villa Morelia for a nice group dinner.
Thurs Day 3 - The rain held of and we completed the last 200 miles through Gorges Verdun into St Tropez - cold but dry - and were soon ensconced in a nice bar overlooking the arbour and checking out the scenery.
Friday Day 4 - went for a ride out with the guys in the morning and then headed up to Grimaud for the bike show where I met my friend Gary France on his bike Tradewinds and Steve Willis of Shaws on his new V-Rod (he came runner up in class).  Bands and bikes were great and a very nice sunny afternoon.
Saturday  - Day 5 - met all the Chelsea and Fulham guys for a ride around the coast and ended up at the beach for a nice party courtesy of Warrs.  I went on the Hamlet bike and lent my Streetglide to an old friend Gavin.  On return to the main campsite I stupidly accepted Gavin's offer a drink, which lead to an 8 hour Rum and Pernod session, with the C&F boys - great at the time, but........
Sunday - Day 6 - had to be up at 8 to pack and get ready for the ride back with the group of 14 from 1066 - now a day of hell is riding 450 miles in the rain in an open face helmet with a monster hangover - how I survived I dont know - but it must be thanks to Bealy being a great Road Captain.
Monday - Day 7 - up at 7:00 am and a blast on my own to Calais and home (dry but very cold).
A great trip and adventure covering 2000+ miles, and special thanks to: Oren, Nicholas, Paul, Gary A, Mark, David, Adrian, Rob, John, Gary F, Gavin, Janet, Oliver, Grizz, Mrs Grizz, Manuela, Terry, Sarah, Maz, Bealy and anyone else I met.