Classic MX des Nations bike prep

With two weeks cycling in France before heading across to the Classic MX des Nations in Northern Ireland, it was time for some final bike prep. Unfortunately this was more major than anticipated as the bolt up wasnt running well at Hanbury. Luckily Paul was around to lend a hand. 

I decided not to ride after my poor showing at Teifiside and that Andrew Owen was available again to make the trip. However was going to be a reserve rider so the 1970 Hallman needed sorting. Also the Bolt Up was going to be needed by one of the 70+ team so plenty to do with 1.5 days of intermittent shed time. 

First up a look at the 1970 bike which had gotten a second consectutive puntuce. Got the wheel and tyre off on Sunday night after Hanbury before even washing the bike (which Ive worked out a system for after plenty of recent practice).  Checking the spokes at the track indicated only one loose one, but with the complete tyre off quite a few of the nipples were loose. The wheel is a relatively new build carried out by Jan before he sold the bike so made tightening and adjustment relatively easy. In with a new heavy tube and sorted. 

Some other tweaking with the bike on Monday but attention moved to the Bolt Up. Changed the RH crankseal and checked the carb manifold gasket as well as cleaning the carb. However getting ready for a test and there was no spark. The ignition timing on the Bolt Up has been a regular challenge later on in the season. Testing the stator and coil resistance as well as the continuity between and all seemed okay. Some debate between Paul and I on the spark plugs but nothing. Adjourning for dinner and to think I went back out later and tried a Bosch rather than an NGK plug and a spark was there.  

Still not starting so squirted in some EasyStart into the carb mouth. Fired up though again the engine running too quickly. End on Monday and only a few hours on Tuesday to fix as I also needed to work. Some thinking and decided that to put the older Bolt Up engine from the ‘more original’ bike into the frame. 

Good plan which though easy in principle than practice as it seems no two 4-speed engines are the same (though they might initially look this way). Some have an extra bead for strength which means they do not fit some engine mounts. 

So plan C was revert to the ‘original’  bike with small hubs, side float Bing carb and very wide (but period) handlebars. Should be good for Brian Walker’s nostalgia. 
The lack of a front brake on the bike was due to ingress of mud and water forming a vicose paste across shoes and liner, which through some workshop chemical engineering Paul managed to resolve. The engine was placed back in to the frame and the carb cleaned. These fail in two ways whilst racing when the bottom bolt comes loose or if the float chamber gets grit into it stopping the float from dropping and allowing fuel in. 

Quick test up the lane and all good with only a slight rattle from the engine. Ready to a practice session up at the farm. 

And then news from ECMO that due to the low number of entries for the 30+ in Northern Ireland they were allowing second teams from England, Scotland and Wales. So I will be riding after all. 

Hanbury Scramble : first visit and a good one

I’d never ridden at Hanbury for some reason and in my 7th season of racing I’d not managed to get to the track near Droitwich, until now. After some tuning of both the bolt-up and Hallmann Husky’s after frustrating day’s at Teifiside and Abbeycwmhir, I was hoping for a test run or two and maybe some good racing. Picked Paul up at 7am and headed up the A40 again after the National Motorcycle Museum visit the previous day. it rained all the way up to Monmouth and of course stopped as we headed over to the border into Herefordshire. Much brighter weather then ensued and arrived at the track just after 08h30, in a large field below the main track. 

Efficiency with signing on and picking up the transponders from Track Times, who have increased the presence at Classic MX events significantly over the last couple of years. Dai Walker on the recently re-engined BSA was on the preparation trail before the Classic MX des Nations and made the trip up with John, who is useful to have a long with the spanners.  Unlike Teifiside, felt pretty chilled, not too much pressure and looking for a nice days racing.

The track is known for the hills, off-cambers and the long start-finish straight and it lived up to expectations. Practice was also slippery and touching the rear brake on the Bolt-Up had me off on the first off camber corners. Good to know it wasn’t just me as others also came off, but struggled to get on the pace though was bit better when I went out on the Hallman for the final practice session after the sidecars. The Bolt-Up was running and revving high after the 3rd pass down the long straight. Still trying to get it to run cleanly though it’s starting is better. It wasn’t the idle adjustment, which I adjusted by the track (and then lost) and the cable wasn’t sticking. No joy in sorting this out and seems like a leaking crankseal or air getting in somewhere on the bike. Further research to be done.

First race in the pre68 up to 350cc went okay and the track was bedding in a bit, with some of the grass coming off the top of pretty firm soil. Lines were appearing on the corners and its a tricky track than needs to be learnt. Good battle with Andrew Davies and he got past me on lap 4 and I think we were 8th or 9th respectively in what was a pretty healthy line-up. Parked the bike up next to the pit box and walked over to find John and Paul before watching Dai out in the next race on the BSA.  They’d walked up to watch practice earlier and the second walk up the hill up from the paddock had resulted in more cups of tea and a thought of adjourning to the nearby pub and watching the racing from a distance. No complaints from me as managed to get some cups of tea, cake and even an ice cream later on. All very pleasant as the sun broke though and watching the racing with an excellent crowd. Not so pleasant was the rain shower that came before the first pre74 over 250cc race and the subsequent coming together between John Cash and Wayne Partington on the first lap. Both riders went down and whilst John as just shaken, Wayne ended up leaving in the ambulance with a dislocated shoulder and suspected broken collar bone.  Plenty of concern from the other riders, marshals and spectators, whilst Paul ‘Welsh Team Captain’ Prosser was thinking on running over to see if 1/4 of his 30+ team was still intact and inflicting a kiss of life if needed. Also, potential not so good for Wayne and his England ride, as was the fact the ambulance broke down on the way to the hospital.

The sidecar boys and girls, feeling left out as the normal banker for a race stoppage managed a red flag on their own as it all got a bit too keen after the start of the race and destroyed a large section of the track. These delays meant the Jeff Smith Trophy race was shelved and interval being taken. Rain had now stopped and we adjourned to the paddock and caught some sun and a nice chilled out and relaxed atmosphere. Happy with my first race, I was looking forward to more.

I missed a gear off the start and lost 4 or 5 places as result, but went much better on the bike and some of the confidence from Narberth was back and ended up with another battle with Andrew Davies, which I lost again on the final lap. Front brake adjuster had moved again, so took the bike back to paddock and did some quick fixes before heading up for the pre74 up to 250cc race. Had a good battle with Derek Brice on his Bultaco (more Classic MX des Nations prep)  who I got past on lap 3, but who got back past me whilst I slowed down under a yellow flag  (my opinion) as one of the Elsinore contingent crashed through the tape. Good racing and what was now an excellent track.

Parked the bike up again and Paul came over with a bottle of water and we sat on the grass watching some good racing, including the sidecars and the 2nd British Championship race (won easily by Tim Dallaway).  Alas, in the last pre68 race, I acquired another puncture which it was more than an isolated incident at Teifiside. Rather than trying to fix, decided after 4 races, that enough was enough and I’d park the bike up. Had a chat with a few people in the paddock and then after a 10 minute deliberation on what pub we’d go to, we eventually decided on the one who’s car park you needed to drive through to leave the track. Along with Jon and Reuben, the four of us sat in the sun and watched the end of the racing from afar. Very pleasant.

Post race diagnosis and pre Classic MX des Nations bike prep focused on getting rhe bolt up ready for the 70+ team (either Corwyn Jones or Brian Walker).

Hanbury Scramble 28th Aug 2016

View of the paddock and the track from the adjacent pub car park. 

Hanbury Scramble 28th Aug 2016

And the rain returned as we headed back into Wales



Hanbury Scramble 28th Aug 2016

More that a normal puncture. The tube had ripped, probably as a result of a couple of loose spokes, 

 Great event and well organised by the Moseley club. Will be back next year !

National Motorcycle Musuem visit

Whilst the daughter’s were enjoying the Insomnia gaming festival I managed a trip to Ikea in Coventry (as part of a current petit barn conversion) and a long overdue trip to the National Motorcycle Musuem (NMM) across the M42 from the NEC.

Last time I was here was at a conference whilst still working for Becta in 1999. Becta as a government quango is no more and same goes for the majority of the motorcycle manufacturers in the NMM. From Scott to Norman and Villiers to DMW most have passed though the branding is strong and some, like Triumph have grown again.

The NMM was nearly no more in 2003 after a fire which destroyed some of the bikes and part of the building and at the time I thought it might be a good thing as the whole place had the feeling and decor of a venue once frequented by Jasper Carrot [1] or Bernard Manning.  Brown walls and carpets and lined up exhibits are what the 1970s musuem experience was like based on a memory I had with Reading Town Musuem. The rebuild might to have looked to carry out a bit of an update, but somehow they’ve kept the ambiance that was there before, made up of low key atmosphere, workshop smell and general underwhelming initial impression.


National Motorcycle Museum

Greeves scrambler, with a road racer to the right. The last hall had the competition machinery, with lots of road racers but some off road competition machinery. 

When you’ve got 1000 bikes in the collection, the obvious thing to do is to line them up in date and manufacturer order across 5 halls; this is what they’ve done. Whilst the visitor with some bike experience and knowledge of the history of the British bike industry will get a lot from the well restored and presented exhibits, you can get a bit overwhelmed with the subtle differences between a  1956 and 1957 BSA model.  There are some great photos, of bikes and riders but the floor mounted descriptions of the bike aren’t easy to read and are a bit wordy.

What the NMM achieves is capturing the past glories of the British motorcycle industry that dominated the world market even in the 60’s but somehow, in some way lost the plot in a market being eroded by cheap car ownership, overseas competition from Europe and the Far East and a general complacency and inefficiency in the industry.  Every company, market or industry should look at this demise and understand how domination can easily become destitution.  Have just ordered an interesting book on the subject.


National Motorcycle Museum


You learn something new everyday and the Stepped Piston was that something today.  Bernard Hooper still has the patents and though the website is designed circa 1998, the piston design is an interesting one which makes for more efficient two-strokes with less emissions.

Managed a quick tour in an hour before adjourning for a tea and a scone to the upstairs restaurant and start on the very nice outside terrace. Actually open 08h30 -> 17h00, it’s a good place to stop if you are travelling up or down the M42 as it has a nice ambience.   Sitting on the terrace with one eye on the incoming storm, I also contemplated that the number of oily trays and display stands were indeed indicative of British bikes and their perceived mechanical troubles and that this was also a factor. You could pay good money for the Rolls Royce of bikes, the Brough Superior but a lot of the cheap workmanlike bikes were not that well built and not as well built as European scooters or your 125 Japanese machine.



Les Archer 500T Norton Trials. Liked the look of this. 

The last few years has seen the rise and rise of the retro bike and there is no doubt some of the machines are style icons. Whilst its also easy to lump British bikes into single cylinder BSA’s that leaked oil everywhere, there was significant diversity, from the Villiers engined bikes like Norman’s through the liquid cooled Scott’s. (see the model history, to understand how a 1908 bike was still being made in the 1970’s).


Jeff Smith’s last works BSA, a follow on from the titanium project of 1966. Lots of trick bits on this an and interesting 20″ front wheel. 

Overall, I would say that the museum is well work a visit, but you’ve got to be interested in motorbikes before you go and probably not best to drag along someone who isn’t. You could really do a lot more with the history and stories and Hall 5 with the sporting bikes is the best and you could build on that.  Some displays and thought could be put into the main motorcycle sports, like the Isle of Man TT, circuit racing, scrambles, trials and speedway and include some stories and interesting fact. To some extent, the museum is too full of bikes and it was the sporting events and success in them that to large extent made the companies successful.



[1] By coincidence, heard Jasper Carrots Funky Moped for the first time in ages yesterday.

Heading west…

Back to Penparc near Cardigan for the second time this year and the Teifiside club had made a few adjustments to the track, which is able to fit in plenty of interest in a relatively short space.  After the Bonanza, anything is more interestng than a stubble field with a sub 60 second lap.  Some off cambers and the lines that changed made it challenging for me. I didn’t race well here back in April and this time wasn’t any different and was well off the pace I had at Chester and Abbeycwmhir in July. Been a long week and along with brother-in-law Philip had driven over from Antwerp the previous day, though along with Karl, and Paul we had managed a practice up at Dai’s on the Saturday evening. Philip had selected the Husqvarna Automatic as his weapon of choice for the Sunday racing. The 1975 Husky didn’t want to run and this was eventually traced to the plug cap shorting out on the exhaust. The Automatic gives you time to focus on the track and lines round, rather you having to concern yourself about what gear you are in.


Though entries for the Teifiside had been steady again, but a late flourish with the rare delight of sunny weather promised meant that there were over 100 people racing (90 solos and 12 sidecars), which was another healthy entry for somewhere with the furthest travel for many competitors.
For the pre60/pre65 races and class, it was good to see Dai Walker back, with the bike and rider both running well and pushing Andy Carter in all the races, with Derek Brice well involved in the mix taking the win in the first race. Mick Maskelyne is showing some good form also, prior to his ride in the pre66 class for the Classic MX des Nations.  Matt Morgan had recently bought a bike from Brendan Owen and he’s beginning to get to grips with it and showed some better form.  Had Dai Walker pushed harder, he might have taking the overall win on the day and collected the Cardiganshire Shield from Andy, but probably a reflection of both his return and that for the bike.
The pre78 and Twinshock races were combined, though there were 7 pre78 regulars on the line. It made for some great racing on what is an interesting track, with plenty of ups and downs and choice of racing lines. Rhys Edwards has some great battles with Daniel Griffiths and 2 out of 3 from him, with Nigel Davies  riding consistently to get second overall, as Daniel had a DNF in race 3.  Sam Weaver is continuing to play catch up on points and gained some points on Anthony Guest, who in turned scored only a total of 12 points which only dented slight Kyle Noble’s leaded after he only completed the first race (and that well down the field).
David Weaver got the better of James Edge in all 3 races in the pre78 class, partly through horsepower (275cc more in David’s Bike) and partly though being in the combined race. Some great action though and David has taken the pre78 championship for 2016 as a result. Lee Johnson had a puncture prior to the 2nd race which kept the KX off the starting line, otherwise it might have been very different for the other places, but John Mainwaring and David Goddard scored well and continued as valued supporters of the championship.  Steve Gregson’s CCM enjoyed the return and also managed some consistent finishes in all 3 moto’s.
The sidecars seemed to be enjoying themselves and Rogers/Wernham just edged the points over Jones/Jones over all three races, where the method of points scoping means there is only 2 points between 1st and 2nd. Didn’t get to see much of the racing in the class, so apologies with the brevity here.
The pre68 up to 350cc and pre74 over 250cc class were combined, which meant and an excellent line up of 17 for the first moto and then 16 for the other two races. Phil Anslow won 2 races after Rob Jones was first to the line in race 1, and then broke down on lap1 of race 2. Andrew Owen hasn’t ridden too much this season, but his retun on the bolt-up Husqvarna resulted in some consistent finishes with a best of 4th in the 3rd moto, when he got ahead of fellow Classic MX des Nations teamster Geoff Taylor, who is really finding form on the twinport CZ after switcing from a later 70’s CZ.  In the pre74 class, Ben Weaver won the first two races with the same style and speed he’s shown all season, but he over cooked it in race 3, allowing Willaim Guest (only 17) to take a great win. He is showing some excellent form and style and will be a strong contender for the 2017 season.  Kevin Pettit continues to race well on the ecletic Can Am which is quicker than an Elsinore off the line.
In the Pre68 Unlimited and the Pre74 over 250cc, it was the races between John Cash, Rob Jones and Jonathan Randall which stole the show, with John Cash coming out on top (just) with two wins. Jonathan got the 3rd, with Rob slotting in 2nd for each of the rsaces. Nathan Jones continues to lead the pre68 unlimited class though will be need to race and finish at Llanthony in September to stay ahead of Phil Anslow.
In the Evo’s, the 3rd and final meeting of the season, saw Lee Jones will all three races head of Nigel Davies and Dave James, but it’s Nigel who takes the inaugural championship ahead of both of them. Not a strong turnout and the loss of the Saturday racing at Narberth (because of the separate Evo event) didn’t really help. Some thinking for 2017 is needed.
For me, not the best days racing, and though I missed one race because of a petrol soaked crankcase, I did manage to finish the others, despite a puncture in race 2. Thanks to Andy Carter for the tube and to John, Dai and Kevin in helping with the change. Typically after trying to bump start the bolt-up, it then only took 2-3 metres towed behind the van for it to fire.  However, mind and form were elsewhere and to some extent with Andrew Owen now available to ride in Northern Ireland it’s good to drop back to being the reserve, as like many sports, confidience is part of the mix, along with skill.

What Husqvarna or is it ?

Interested in this engine, and wondering what it is exactly. It is a 175cc and has the classic 4-speed bottom end and looks older than the mid 60’s bolt ups.  However the engine number might suggest that its a Lindstrom.