I found this pictures lurking under a pile of, er, stuff, and figured they'd be a reminder that we do occasionally have a summer. Even in Great Yarmouth. Thank you to the East Coast Pirates for hosting another fine Birthday Bash on the seafront.
A reminder that this weekend sees the first big UK custom show of the year as the North London event of Alexandra Palace opens its doors to the London International Classic & Custom Show. Once again, LICS will be hosting one of the two UK rounds of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, with the victor of the Freestyle class winning £5000 towards the cost of shipping their bike to the finals in Sturgis. BSH and Streetfighters will be providing the trophies while the good people at Zodiac will again be offering super generous prizes worth in total 4500 euros to the top three bikes in the Freestyle, BSH Invitational and Modified Harley-Davidson categories.
Tickets for LICS are £15 on the door, with various concessions for the very old, very young and families. You can find out more at the web site at LICS
Think of Swedish choppers and one name will probably come to mind: Hogtech. This year the company started by Peder Johansson and Andreas Jarledal celebrates 30 years of building world-class chops that are not only show winners but rideable – in 1993, Peder and his wife-to-be set off to ride around the world on a rigid Harley chop, a trip which took 14 months and covered 30,000 miles.
One of the nicest men in custom building, Peder is still passionate about Swedish-style chops, and Hogtech now produces the only true Swede chopper which is road-legal throughout Europe. After extensive development and testing, Hogtech’s Absolut Choppers (which you see in the last picture) gained TÜV approval in Germany to certify that they meet the highest standard of welding and strength. Peder, we look forward to the next 30 years!
Back in 1935 the first canned beer was launched, Monopoly was invented and the average speed of a motor car was 35mph. Although land speed records were already keenly contested, the idea of a motorcycle capable of breaking the 300mph barrier seems fantastical. But that’s exactly what Fred Luther, a Los Angeles racer, decided to attempt.
He asked his employers, Chrysler, to supply him with an engine, and it duly provided him with a complete 1934 six-cylinder Plymouth flathead engine and gearbox. Luther built the bike around a much modified Henderson-X Cycle, lengthening and strengthening the frame. Harry Miller worked on the engine, taking the standard 77hp motor to 125hp. Skid plates were attached, partly to keep the bike upright and also to keep the bike upright on the salt of Bonneville where Luther intended to make his record attempt. Not only was fame and glory at stake, but, apparently, a $10,000 prize to the first man to break the 300mph mark on a motorcycle (Donald Campbell had only just managed that landmark the same year in Bluebird, an achievement so prized that he was knighted for the feat.)
On his first run, Luther clocked 140mph and then stepped up the speed on the return run. Disaster struck at 180mph when a connecting rod broke while the bike was still in second gear. Although he brought the bike to a halt safely, it seems that he had decided that it was too hairy an adventure to continue. Although he was always certain that the Plymouth/Henderson-X could reach 300mph, no-one appears prepared – or brave enough – to try it. An added disincentive to any prospective pilots was that the $10,000 prize was found to be a hoax.
It would be another 76 years before a motorcycle managed to crack the 300mph barrier when Bill Warner took his Suzuki Hayabusa to 311mph last July.
Think jet trikes are a recent invention, brought to prominence by Paul Bailey's 'Colossus' in the 1990s? Think again. This splendid beast featured in Popular Mechanics in 1952, and the owner, Stanley M Eakin, of Grove City, Ohio, started building it just after the Second World War. We have no clue what happened to his jet-powered machine, but, now aged 90, Mr Eakin is still alive and living in Ohio. Hats off to him!
About a year ago the Blog brought you Pat Dolan’s splendid little Sportsman. Now his California-based Sportsman Flyer Company has unveiled its second bike, the Sportsman 200.
Like his previous builds, Pat has created a chassis which replicates early boardtrack racers, but then fitted it with a four stroke 200cc replica Honda with a mighty 6.4 horsepower. Pat says that, as these engines are often fitted to go karts, they have the potential to be uprated with a shedload of hot rod modifications. The bike you see here has a high performance cam, billet flywheel, 22mm Mikuni carb and a twin disc centrifugal clutch, and now outputs 15hp.
Many of the components are a mix of bicycle, motorcycle and custom parts, many modified or designed for the Sportsman 200. Pat plans to build just twenty 200s this year, each build with a certificate of authencity, serial number and record of first owner and build date. He also has plans for future models:
“I am working on a cruiser version which will have a charging system, electric starter, lights, turn signals, fenders, and a key ignition. I prefer the boardie, but lots of people want a vintage style cruiser.”