As well as working my way through 1926 I’ve added dozens more pics to the Melange, courtesy of my chum Fanfan; many of them are images of motor cyclists doing their bit in the Great War.
Many of you will already be familiar with the site A-Z of Motorcycles which is a serious attempt to list every motor cycle marque. Its author, Murray Barnard, has also produced timelines of some of his favourite bikes ranging from 1910 to the 1980s and I’m delighted to report that Murray has allowed me to reproduce them here. You’ll find them via Murray’s Timelines in the main menu. I’ve also updated the Introduction and added a Contents section explaining what you’ll find behind the headings.
Having brought the timeline up to the mid twenties I’ve leapt ahead to review 1969 because that was the year I bought a motor cycle and changed my life, totally and forever. It was a pivotal year for motor cycling. The Honda CB750 set a new standard for road going motor cycles; the film Easy Rider reflected a sea change in the image of motor cycling. It was a good year to buy a bike, though of course every year is a good year to buy a bike. OK, I’ve had my fun; time to get back to 1926 when electric starts and 140mph roadsters were as unknown as Z-bars and ‘Frisco-mounted gas tanks.
Regular readers of these notes will know that the timeline is reasonably complete up to 1925 (although more stories and pictures will be added as I come across them and find time to upload them). A change being as good as a rest I’m currently working my way through 1969, that being the year I wobbled onto the road aboard a 1959 Ambassador. But a story published in 1969 by Motor Cycle (which by now had dropped the The) belonged in 1962, so that’s where you’ll find it. This prototype Ariel looks distinctly Leaderish, but you’re looking at an in-line four, complete with luggage equipment, fairing and tidy leading links. No doubt it’s a case of convergent evolution, but you’d almost think the designer of the BMW K100RT had spent some time in Selley Oak. It might have been a final flourish from a great marque; instead we got the Ariel 3. Funny old world, innit?
Lots more stories and pics have been uploaded from 1969. Amid the serious race reports and bike launches you’ll find James Bond, as portrayed by George Lazeby, who bought the first Rocket 3 and Trident, only to be banned from riding them by Cubby Brocolli; and there’s the tale of a teenage works rider defying a racing ban from his mum and dad.
Just finished uploading a batch of contemporary ads so, until more stories come my way, the listing for 1925 is now complete. A change being as good as a rest I’m now taking a break from the 1920s to concentrate on 1969, the year I caught the motor cycling obssesion (though truth be told the Villiers 2T-powered Ambassador I bought from a school chum nearly cured me of it). So farewell Wal Handley and cool, man to Peter Fonda. Easyriders and CB750s here I come.
Having started updating the stories in 1925 I was happily engaged in sorting out some pics of the glorious Czech Bohmerland when I came across the Bohmerland 21, a resurrected “Bohmerland for the 21st century” which, unlike the reserrected Jawas, is produced in the Czech Republic. You’ll find pics in 2019. Also in 1925 you’ll find a report on the TT, including mention of a scarily close shave. Pics will be added soon with more stories and pics to follow. And, while I think of it, Happy New Year. My resolutions incolve a 1936 Panther M100, a 1952 BSA Golden Flash and a 1971 MZ ES250/2. May your motor cycling resolutions come to pass.
The MSS and MSS500 are on-line and they are magnificent hunks of motor cycle. Look for them in 1949 and 1957. The Antwerp Demon story is in place too, complete with a surprising BSA connection; Jan Oliesagers (in the A-Z Galimaufry under ‘O’ for obviously) had two cool nicknames and earned them both. The King of the Belgians was certainly an admirer. And by good chance I came across not one, nor even two, but three gorgeous streamliners which you’ll find in 1938 and 1947.
Just uploaded to the 1911 features list: The Motor Cycling Club’s Boxing Day Run, which took 100 hardy souls from London to Exter and back. Uploading it even inspired me to get off my backside, still suffering from a Christmas surfeit, and go for a ride. It’s a great yarn, including personal reminiscences from the likes of Dreadnought builder and rider Oily Karslake who concluded: “Every man who has won a medal thoroughly deserves it.” I’ve also been adding lots of pics to Le Melange and to most years from 1910-23 as well as unearthing details of what happened to the The Shilovsky Gyrocar in 1912 and the 4.5-litre V-twin MSS in 1949. And the Gallimaufry, which has been sadly neglected, is about to gain a few words on the Demon of Antwerp (look under O for Olieslagers; yet another ripping yarn).
I’ve been busy sorting and posting illustrations in 1908-12 as well as more contemporary adverts, including a particularly interesting selection from 1912.