Wednesday 28 September 2011

Driven to Drink

Ballymoney isn’t a very big town. Besides the memorial garden you might want to visit 'Joey's Bar', the pub which Joey Dunlop used to own, and which is still run by his family.

It’s about 500 yards from the garden, next to the train station.

Unfortunately, whenever I've stopped off in Ballymoney the pub was closed, but I've heard that it does brisk business during the North West 200 races and they apparently do a very good pub-lunch. 

Going Postal

Many countries issue postage stamps featuring motorcycles.

The ones above are from Russia, the bottom ones are from New Zealand.

"Yer Maun"

Most motorcycling folk will have heard of the road-racer Joey Dunlop who died in 2000.

While not a big race fan, when I was in Northern Ireland I nonetheless decided to make a detour to see the memorial garden constructed in his hometown of Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.

The North West 200 races had just finished and it looked like many of those who had attended had made their way to the garden as well if all the flowers were any indication. 

The bronze statue looked somewhat familiar and I dug out some old photos and found this one of the same statue outside Murray’s Motorcycle Museum near the top of Snaefell Mountain and  on the mountain circuit stretch of the TT racetrack on the Isle of Man at the Bungalow.

They decided to make two statues. One for his hometown and one for the Isle of Man where his reputation was made.

There's an informative page on Joey Dunlop on the TT Website should you be looking for any further information.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

New British World Beater

I’ve always had a soft spot for the venerable Norton Commando, especially the later versions.

Here are a couple of the 850cc variants that I particularly like that I’ve come across on my travels.

And then there is now the ‘new’ Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer.

These photos were taken at the Stafford Showground last year. And very pretty they are too in their red, black or silver livery.

But would you be willing to part with a whole lot of money in exchange for the promise of one of these?

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Life in the Slow Lane

This was the first car that I ever bought. It’s a 1983 Trabant P601 Saloon in a fetching ivory/blue colour scheme.

Produced in the former East Germany (DDR), it had a 600cc two-stroke twin engine, a 5-speed manual gearbox, and a top speed of about 60 mph (100 kph). Pretty much the four-wheel equivelant of the small two-stroke MZ motorcycles that I'd been riding.

I’d wanted one ever since going to the 2003 Trabant-festival in Zwickau in German, the town where they were all built.

Only problem was that, at the age of 42, I didn’t actually have a car license when I bought it. I’d been riding motorcycles since I was 19 and had just never gotten around to getting my car license as well.

So, having bought a car, and after a mere twenty-odd years of thinking about it, I sat and passed my car test. Also, I guess, it was probably time that I join the world of the grown-ups and stop putting myself (and my bikes) through the hell of riding all year round whatever the weather conditions. Maybe I was just beginning to feel my age.

I had the little car for a couple of years before selling it for approximately what I’d paid for it. Not a bad deal all around.

What was it like to drive? Well, besides being a bit on the slow side, it was 25 years old after all, it was quite fun. Left-hand drive for one thing, column gear-change with the ‘gate’ in a different format to what most of you will be used to, and rather marginal drum brakes. However, since I didn’t have years and years of driving experience to un-learn it suited me just fine.

The wife, on the other hand, was less than impressed with it and insisted that I had to go and buy a ‘proper’ car as well. Good grief, I’d barely passed my test and already I was a two car household.

Wicker Man

My wife told me to fill the bird-feeder.

She says that I should grow up.

Bit on the Side

Sunday 18 September 2011

Getting On

When you’re young, it takes all week to recover from the weekend.

When you’re older, it takes all weekend to recover from the week.

Saturday 17 September 2011

British Engineering

A quick run to Fife in the morning sunshine on the Triumph Sprint ST 955i.

That's the Forth Bridge in the background.

Friday 16 September 2011

But is it Art?

What’s not to like?


With the weather taking a turn for the worse recently, one of these might come in pretty handy.

Probably more accurate and dependable than watching TV weather programmes.

Old Flame

I recently came across a photo of the first bike that I ever owned.

Honda CB100-N

I bought it from a bloke at work when I got a part-time job. As well as the bike, I insisted he throw in an old helmet.

With 99cc of rip-snorting power at my disposal, and a paperback book on how to actually operate the thing, it allowed me to escape the hell that is public transport.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Alternative Ride

Talking of MZs, here is a fabulous take on the chopper theme that I was sent by its creator a while ago. Imagine turning up to big motorcycle events on something like this. You've just got to smile, haven't you?

He put together a number of such groovy machines in the 70s and 80s. I might put a few more up later.

Although it was obviously built on a budget, there has obviously been a lot of thought and effort put into it. Note the serious pipework replacing the rather ugly standard MZ silencer.

For all of that, it was apparently a serious working bike onto which he says he put a good few miles.

Irish Eyes

At the weekend I dropped in on the MZ Ireland rally at Glengariff on the Beara Peninsula in SW Ireland.  Due to the distances involved I didn’t go by bike, it's just too far to go for a weekend rally. Instead, the wife and I decided to take the car and spend a few days touring round Ireland before heading for the rally and then taking a leisurely run back home afterwards.

Unfortunately, the weather turned out to be pretty crappy while we were there, so photo opportunities were few and far between. Nevertheless, here are a few that were taken on the campsite. I apologise for their poor quality, but they had to be taken between rain showers and the light wasn't great.

A quick mention must be made of the organisers, Jim and Catherine W., who, as well as cooking breakfast for those who wanted it in the morning, provided plates of sandwiches in the evening while we were in the pub indulging in that old rally favourite of drinking beer and talking rubbish.

If you've never been to a rally in Ireland, go and see what you've been missing. They do things a wee bit differently there.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Small but Mighty

On a trip to Thailand a few years ago I was amazed by the sheer number of small bikes and mopeds on the roads. It seemed that the entire population was whizzing about on two wheels.

You also came across quite a number of these small machines fitted with home-made sidecars which they then filled with quite staggering loads, mostly sacks of rice. You can get a lot of rice in a sidecar like the one shown above.

It was not uncommon to come across these heavily laden outfits wobbling down the highway at 5 mph with three or four people and a dog on board.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Soviet Icons (4)

Here is one decked out as a fire engine. From the cars in the background this picture looks to have been taken somewhere in the old Eastern Bloc.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Soviet Icons (3)

Neval Motorcycles also sold Ural 650 machines, both solo and sidecar variants.

This is one of their solo versions, the Soviet Knight. This came with some extra chrome and leather saddlebags.

Friday 2 September 2011

Grim Reaper

This was originally just a cartoon submitted for a newsletter that I produced. I thought that it was so good that I had some t-shirts made up with the design on it.

They were so popular that, about ten years after I first produced them, they are still being sold through the MZ Riders Club.

Many folk buy them for their friends who own big sports bikes.