Kick start

A VERY VERY SPECIAL thank you goes out to my wife and two beautiful girls for feeding my motorcycle obsession by letting me buy and hoard as I see fit and giving me the time to go out and ride.

 The motorcyclists of yore usually went about their business/pleasure on singles of which there was quite a choice of brands with there being, as many of them as the letters of the alphabets! The main players in the field, to name a few, being  Triumph, BSA, Ariel, Norton,Matchless, AJS and Royal Enfield. These single cylinder machines with big flywheels, normally four-stroke ( i.e intake, compression, power and exhaust strokes) side valves and later OHV-were cheap (comparatively), easy to maintain, easy to tune, worked good at low rpms and speeds. As such they underwent lesser wear and tear and were easily controlled as they thumped along. Competition machines of this era were also singles, their engines were basically of the same design but any resemblance ended there as they did not have to perform at low  rpms. Crankshafts being lightened, cams profiled differently and engine timing set accordingly were few of the mods. Old bikes are something  of a fixation to me. It’s a bug I caught when I rode an old hand geared BSA years ago and there’s been no looking back since. My ride at that time used to be a Yamaha RD 350 which could do 170 kmph in stock condition and did I have a need for speed! Once I got off that BSA-which belonged to a friend- I just had to get one of my own. Since then I’ve collected 17 bikes in all shapes, sizes and conditions and I’m still not done. I hope to share some of my experiences, thrills, spills, highs and lows in the fabulous world of old motorcycles that I’ve been caught up in, on here.

Old motorcycles…there’s just somethings about them that turns me on and they are a bit like Lays potato chips. “Can’t have just one” ! They look different, they sound different, they ride different, they drive you crazy when they don’t work right. But when it all comes together there’s just one word to describe them………ORGASMIC!!! They come in all shapes and sizes- little singles, light weights and heavyweight thumpers and then there are the twins with all the power and vibes that is typical of  parallel twins.   There are the horizontally opposed types aka flat twins or longitudinal twins typical of the BMW and historically by Douglas  and the transverse opposed twins more commonly seen on the V-twin Harleys, Moto Guzzi’s and Ducatis. There’s even a tandem twin that Kawasaki manufactured in the late ’70′s. The basic concept of the motorcycle remains the same today as it did when it first originated. It’s the ingenuity and engineering that is put into these old machines that attracts me to them. Today’s über-rides are amazing but lack the mechanical purity of their forebears. Everything that you see on one of these old bikes is a necessity, there are no pretenses to grandeur (the exception being the sales brochures-yes, they had their share of spin doctors) and if it’s grand standing then, that is because they were damn good in every respect like a Vincent or a Brough Superior-no time or place for poseurs here baby! Given the material and the ever evolving technology that they had at that time, they did a fantastic job ( ok, not exactly fantastic but definitely phenomenal ) on these machines both on the inside and outside. As they evolved the comfort factor was added to their practicability but the emphasis was on the performance of the machine which still remains a deciding factors to date as far as motorcycles go.

12 Responses to Kick start

  1. G. Charles says:

    Wow a nice find while looking around on the web! I own a Royal Enfield-Thumper and I love it even if it is the Indian made one, it’s a great bike. So to find someone else that loves the old Thumpers, great!!

  2. Marv says:

    I started on a thumper and over the years have gone full circle and back a bit. I began riding on a 1952 BSA 350 single, went through a brace of British twins and on to a succession of generic Japanese motorcycles. This year I bought a new Royal Enfield UCE Bullet classic. I regained my love of riding because the thing is so damn good! To get further into the groove, I just bought a 1938 BSA Empire Star 350. WOW! what an amazingly beautiful motorcycle. It is an original, non restored survivor and runs so good. Thanks for the article, you reflect my thoughts about these machines to a” T”

  3. vitto says:

    Great to read this all. There is something very special about these old bikes that keeps me going. I own two modern day Harley Davidson that are so common these days. But nothing beats the old bikes for their history and looks and engineering. I own a Bantam, Golden Flash, 1970 TR120 and a reluctant buy for $500, a 1980 650 BMW in running condition. These bikes will keep me busy. Thanks for this great article.

  4. Robert L. Wilson says:

    I especially liked both the military and civilian James MLs. Thanks, Bob Wilson

  5. Alexandre Santos says:

    Hi, after a long time looking for informations i found your page.
    I own a Norton ES2 1951 gave to me by my father and we both are restoring the old lady.
    We live in Brazil and here there are few information about those bikes.
    So thank you for sharing so precious informations with us.
    Good roads for you!
    Alexandre Santos

    • olethumpers says:

      Hi Alexandre ,
      After all these years of owning, riding & restoring vintage and classic bikes, I felt that this knowledge base should be shared so that others could also enjoy these machines which would have otherwise have gone the way of the dinosaur!
      I’m glad I could be of some help to you and your father in restoring your Norton. Do feel free to ask, if you require any help and we would also be obliged if you could share anything of worth with us. Good luck with your resto.

  6. Mike parr says:

    Have got a email address so I can contact you!! I’m bit of old dude an can just email don’t understand blogging! 🙂 regards mike

  7. Les Elmer says:

    Hi There. Just found your site by following my nose from your comment on Geordiebiker’s blog re his post on the new Triumph Thruxton… En-route to/from work I sometimes see on the motorway a very pretty and immaculate newish red Trumpy with a white race stipe, clipons; rearsets etc. Makes me wince to see him lane-splitting between the crawling lines of we motorway car drivers, however otherwise seeing him makes my day :-). Haven’t a daily-ride bike at present, just my 1929 upright single 500cc BSA 2 Port Light (his story is online at Barnstormers, a site with aspirations not unlike your blog – it’s Cheers, Les

  8. Les Elmer says:

    Hi There. Just noticed your homage to your wife and 2 x daughters…struck a chord as I have to likewise thank El Presidente (my wife) & 3 girls similarly for putting up with my various collecting obsessions :-). Cheers, Les

  9. John Beckham says:

    I enjoyed it read. Just picked up my first bike ever and it’s a 60s triumph? BSA? The person that sold it to me for $100 got it in a big buy of Harley stuff and knew nothing of the bike however he did throw around 441….. ya I think not. I haven’t been able to find any vins or at least one that makes sense. Nothing on the motor it’s a single. The frame has A65L6159 on the neck….. That’s all I can find. If u could help that would be great. Thank you ..

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