Winter rallies, superbikes and Edwardians on show.

Hardy rallyists braved blocked passes in Wales and bitter cold in the Eifel mountains to drink, tall tall tales, sing their hearts out and mourn missing friends. Motor Cycle staffers joined them at the Dragon and Elephant Rallies. Indians were reborn with plans for a range stretching from 50s to an ohc 1,200cc four. Kawasaki upped the ante with a 500 triple—and Honda changed everything with the awesome CB750. Take a look at 1969 for this and much more (including the ticket collector who was given an Ariel) then back up a year where two of the finest roadtesters on the planet reviewed a year’s worth of bikes from the mighty Rocket 3s to the cute Suzuki B100P. After which do pop back to 1904 for a show report and an essay on one of the hot topics of the day: were motor cycles better off with or without pedals? That’s a lot of new copy. I’m going for a lie down.

The M120 left the party as the CB750 arrived. Which would you have bought?

Swinging sixties

More pics have been upoloaded to the melange but variety being the spice of something other I’d been working on 1969. That’s the year I bought my first bike (a 1959 Ambassador) and the year the last Panther M120s and the first Honda CB750s rolled onto British roads. Would Agostini put a movie career ahead of bikes? Would Mike the Bike really retire? It was a busy year; a batch of stories and pics are on the page now with much more to come.

M120 left the party as CB750 arrived. Which would you have bought?

The gallery grows and grows

Nigh on 100 more pics have been added to the melange, including lots of Indians and Harleys , one and four-pot FNs and a dozen more Great War snaps. There are getting on for 400 images to gladden your eye. Looking up dates for captions led to updated entries on the (1901) California and (1902) Bradbury. Which in turn reminded me to take another look at the (1903) feature on George Wyman, who rode/carried/dragged his California across the USA. Well worth a read. (And while you’re in the 1903 features section do take a look at the story ‘Dogs: Shoot, hang or poison?’ It says does just what it says on the packet (prussic acid, in case you were wondering).

No, not a Great War outfit—this Indian machine-gun carriage is in the hands of police officers. The Brits had to make do with their truncheons.

Continental capers

Just uploaded to 1905 you’ll find reports on roadraces in France, Belgium and Italy with some excellent pics of the top riders, notably the all-conquering Peugeot team. It seems our Continental chums even had races for touring machines, designed to imprive the durability of roadsters. And this was two years before the first TT. Who knew?

As these snaps show, Giosuè Giuppone took his racing seriously. The Turin Moto Club’s organised the Turin-Colle Serstrieres 87km mountain climb to help develop durable touring machines. The event attracted a dozen entries in the Touring Class from Peugeot, Zedel, Primus, Puch, Fafnir and FN. There was also a single 50kg racer ridden by Giuppone who stormed to victory in 2hr 1min.

Lest we forget

Yesterday was 11/11; the day after tomorrow is Armistice Day. So it seemed appropriate to upload the backlog of pics from the Great War to Le Melange. Young men with motor cycles from many nations, all of whom would have been happier riding their bikes to a pub with a well filled flapper bracket. Take a look, and join me in counting our blessings. Lots more pics have also been added to the first few years of the 20th century and as part of researching (ok googling) caption material I’ve come across some excellent coverage of continental races in 1905, including the Coupe Internationale which was a triumph (well, a Laurin & Klemen) for the Czechs. Or jump forward to 1922 and find out how to make your very own prop-powered trike.


Vienna or bust!

A race from Paris to Vienna…dirt roads, mountain roads designed for horse-drawn traffic…huge cars with huge engines tuned to the edge of insanity…and plucky Englishmen manufacturing chassis members from hotel furniture. Do yourself a favour: brew up (coffee or beer will do if you really don’t have access to tea), turn to 1902 and open the feature ‘Paris-Vienna or Bust’. You’re in for a treat.

1902 P-V EDGE
There’s something medieval about this sketch of Edge’s 40hp Napier being dragged back onto the road—the mountain roads were potential mankillers.

Busy busy

Having been otherwise engaged in the garage and on the road I’ve been busy again. So the melange picture gallery is about to pass the 300 mark; more pics and stories have been added to the early part of the 20th century (including a lovely contemporaneous report on the first Brighton speed trial in 1905) and I’m about to upload a car story. Yes…a car story that was simply to good to leave out.

More to see

I’m in the middle of loading another batch of pics to the melange but the sun’s out, rain is forecast for tomorrow so I’m taking one of the bikes our for a canter. Meanwhile, thanks again to Francois, you’ll find some smashing new illustrations at the end of the cartoons/humour page and at the end of the 1903 feature (accurately) titled ‘Dogs: shoot hang or poson?’. This is my favourite of all the yarns unearthed from the Blue ‘Un. It isn’t bylined but I’d bet a gallon of ethanol-free petrol that it’s by Ixion—if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and have a butchers.

This image dates from 1907 when, it seems, dog were still faster than bikes.

Go to the pictures!

Not least thanks to the continuing support of my chum Jean-Francois, I’ve been busy adding pics to the melange. There are now more than 200 assorted snaps of our motor cycling heritage on show. I enjoy browsing through them; I hope you will too.

That Scott seems determined to keep climbing…

Yesteryear: Vive l’amour!

My esteemed correspondent Francois has taken a detour down a motorcycling lovers’ lane in the latest instalment of his Yesteryear series. Drawing on his interest in postcards, Francois has combined a review of their evolution with a smashing selection of cards featuring happy couples and their bikes.