The Classic Motorcycle

BLACK FRIDAY DEALS – SAVE ON SUBSCRIPTIONS, TICKETS & MERCH!

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For a limited time only, you can save £££s in one of our biggest sales of the year! Treat yourself, or get started on your Christmas shopping early with up to 50% off books, 10% off advance show tickets and 30% off merch and bookazines!

Whether you’re in to classic or modern motorcycles, reading about railways, classic American cars or getting out in the garden, we’ve got a Black Friday bargain waiting for you!

Click the links below and you’ll be redirected to our hot Black Friday deals! Hurry though, offers expire Tuesday, November 29, 2022!

Magazines – www.classicmagazines.co.uk/bf2203

Tickets – www.classicmagazines.co.uk/bf2206

Merchandise and Bookazines – www.classicmagazines.co.uk/bf2205
 
Noisy Neighbours

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Members of The Motor Cycle’s editorial team take to the residential streets, for a noise testing experiment.

The sound made by motorcycles has long been a source of consternation and debate, one which still rages today, but which, in 1952, The Motor Cycle chose to investigate, using a modern, newly available piece of equipment – the noise meter.

The devise used was made by Dawe Instruments Limited, founded 1945. The firm later changed its name to Lucas (yep, the self-same Joseph Lucas company) Dawe Ultrasonics, then formed an alliance with American company Branson, with the British arm later making products under licence.

At the time of The Motor Cycle’s test, though, the noise meter was being made in Hanwell, Ealing, west London, while The Motor Cycle ‘research team’ first took the meter out in Oxford Street, to record some general noises.

After an explanation about how and what noise testing was, and how it was monitored, The Motor Cycle crew set about recording some background comparisons, so that readers would be able to put into some kind of perspective what they were reading, in an article which was published in December 1952; so 70 years ago this year, and slap bang in the middle of the period between when the current Queen had ascended the throne (February 1952) and her coronation (June 1953), the time when Britain was coming out of its post-Second World War greyness and into a bright, brave new era, encapsulated by the incoming 25-year-old monarch. And by technology like the noise meter.

In Oxford Street, some recordings were made – ‘general noise level, no traffic close’ was 64 decibels (or db), then a bus ticking over 72db, taxi at 30-35mph, sports car at 40-45mph 88db, accelerating bus 94db. A small note was added underneath: “For comparison it is interesting to note that a typewriter placed on a wooden desk gave a reading of 67 to 68 decibels at about 4ft range. The general noise in the office when the typewriter was not in use was 42 decibels.”

Then it was out with the motorcycles, four of which are shown above, these being (from nearest, to furthest) Matchless G9 Super Clubman, Ariel Square Four, then 197cc James and Norman two-strokes, which would both be powered by the same Villiers engines. The riders are, again nearest to furthest, editor Harry Louis, assistant editor George Wilson, ex-racer and road tester Vic Willoughby, then ‘J H Everest, sound meter operator’.

Other machines brought along on the day were a 45cc VelocSolex autocycle and a Ford Anglia car.

At ideal speeds the Ariel and the Velosolex (64db) were quietest, though the car bettered them at 57. Loudest motorcycle was the Norman, at 73. Things of course changed at different speeds, the only (almost) constant being that the car was quietest, the only time it being bettered was by the autocycle under ‘normal’ acceleration – though the VeloSolex didn’t take part in the harsh acceleration, cruising at 30mph, overrun at 30mph and accelerating uphill tests, for obvious reasons!

Of the four motorcycles, consistently the Square Four was quietest, though it was no match for the car, explained The Motor Cycle: “The Ford Anglia is a sedate family saloon with appropriately sedate performance. Yet if the Ariel Square Four is compared with the Ford – and the Ariel has a remarkably high performance – the excess noise over that of the car is only 2db on normal getaway and 4db when cruising.”

Loudest of the motorcycles was, probably unsurprisingly, the Matchless, which recorded 101db, the highest number of the day, in the ‘accelerating uphill’ test – though still somewhat shy of 105db, which is the usual static track noise limit in the UK, though it can differ from circuit to circuit. So no open meggas allowed!

Though the Matchless does look like it has open megaphones fitted, it was just a styling exercise, peculiar to just the Matchless twin range – its sister AJS Model 20 had conventional tubular silencers. The Matchless in our picture was described as a ‘G9 Super Clubman,’ but no further detail was given in the article, though more research and investigation revealed its usage in an article in February where it was described thus: “A two-year-old staff Matchless Twin with over 17,000 miles to its credit.” This time, it was used to tests different fuels and compression ratios, recording a best speed of 84.04mph. One reckons that at that speed, the noise would have rather been bellowing out.
 
January Issue

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The January edition of The Classic MotorCycle magazine offers a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races, and news, reviews and rare period images from the golden age of motorcycling.

Drawing on an archive stretching back to 1903, The Classic MotorCycle magazine provides an unparalleled insight into more than a century of motorcycle design, development, riding, racing and much more.

The January issue includes:

Going Live​


The National Motorcycle Museum’s two-day event.

The art of the motorcycle​


Utterly stunning Ducati V-twin.

Best of the Bullets​


Late – and very good – Royal Enfield example

In the country’s service​


Triumph military history – part I.

A subscription to The Classic MotorCycle magazine means you can enjoy all of this, plus plenty of other benefits such as making a major saving on the cover price and FREE postage.
 
Treat someone special with a subscription for just £20!

The big day is only a few weeks away and we have yours (and your loved ones) perfect reads covered – you won’t even have to leave the house!

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From modern and classic bikes, to growing your own fruit and veg, model engineering or railways – you can finish off your Christmas shopping with these festive deals on subscriptions.

Subscribe today and receive 6 issues for just £20*! Click here for more information!

*UK only. Offer ends 31/1/23.
 
Prescott Bike Fest aims to break £30k donation record for Blood Bikes charity

The Prescott Bike Fest returns to Gloucestershire later this month and organisers are determined that it will be its biggest fundraiser yet.

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On Sunday June 25 the Prescott Bike Fest will return to raise money for Blood Bikes. It is organised by , the Severn Freewheelers, the region’s group who save lives by making vital medical deliveries on two wheels.

There will be plenty of incentive to go along, including a huge display of motorcycles, the famous Prescott Speed Climb, an exhibitor zone and special guests – and all while supporting the volunteer emergency service.

Organisers hope to surpass their previous 2015 record of £30,119 raised for the charity’s pot this year.

Gordon Downie, Severn Freewheelers’ treasurer, said: “All of the favourite stuff is back and we’re excited to welcome people to another bike fest – it really is a brilliant day out and the one stop shop for bike lovers and their families everywhere.

“We’ve already raised over £250,000 for charity and we’re hoping to make this year our record in terms of donations. Bike Fest is lots of fun but it really is all about Blood Bikes and raising money for them. They are still out there, 365 days a year, delivering their precious cargo but getting busier than ever.

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“We know cash is tight but even a few quid will help this vital volunteer emergency service and we hope to boost their coffers while people have a brilliant time at our festival.”

Steve ‘Stavros’ Parrish, a former professional motorcycle and truck racer turned commentator and media personality, will return as a special guest to entertain the masses.

Rob Balls, Bikesure general manager, added: “We’re proud to support this brilliant festival that shines further light on the wonderful spirit within the biker community.

“The kindness, camaraderie and desire to fundraise for good causes can be seen up and down the country and Prescott Bike Fest brings that, and more, to Gloucestershire.”

Admission for the event, being supported by Bikesure, the UK’s largest motorcycle insurance broker, and BMW Cotswold Motorrad, is £15 in advance or £20 on the day. It runs from 9.30am-5pm.

For more information visit the festival’s Facebook page, webpage – where you can also donate to Severn Wheelers online.

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The thrill of the speedway world championship: How to experience the action live

Speedway’s world championship is one of the most exhilarating and adrenaline-fueled events in the world of motorsport.

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IMAGE: iStock. Speedway championship in Hofheim near Frankfurt

It’s a high-octane spectacle that brings together some of the most skilled motorcycle racers from around the globe, as they compete for the prestigious title of world champion.

The roar of the engines, the smell of the fuel and track, and the sheer speed and skill of the riders make for an unforgettable experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat. But how do you go about experiencing the action live?

Here we explore everything you need to know to catch all the excitement and thrills, from the best venues and events to the key players and standout moments. So, buckle up, hold on tight, and get ready for the ride of your life!

Understanding speedway​


Speedway is a form of racing that takes place on oval tracks. The bikes used are stripped-down, lightweight machines that can reach speeds of up to 80mph. The riders compete in heats, with the winner of each heat earning points towards the championship.

One of the unique features of speedway racing is the use of clutch-less, four-speed gearboxes. The riders must use their body weight to control the bike and maintain balance, as they slide around the corners of the track. The races are short, typically lasting just a few minutes, but they are intense and action-packed.

Understanding how speedway races work is a good way for fans to better enjoy the events. Those betting on speedway should also learn more about these events to make informed decisions. Interested fans can bet on the speedway world championship here.

History of the world championship​


The championship can trace its roots back to the early 1900s, was first held officially in 1936 but the sport was popular in both Britain and the US before then. At first dominated by British riders, other countries’ racers have made significant strides within this sport over the years.

In the 1970s, Ivan Mauger reigned supreme as; winning six championships within seven years. Other notable champions include Ole Olsen who claimed three titles during the 1980s; Tony Rickardsson won six championships in the 1990s and 2000s; today the world championship is truly international, featuring riders from Europe, Australia and the Americas.

How to experience the action​


If you’re a fan of motorsport and want to experience the thrill of the championship live, there are a few things you need to know. In this section, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right event, plan your trip, and get your tickets.

*Choosing the right event​


The championship is a series of events that take place throughout the year, in different parts of the world. The events are held in countries such as Poland, Sweden and the UK, and each event has its own unique atmosphere and vibe. When choosing the right event, consider factors like the location, the size of the venue and the reputation of the event.

*Planning your trip​


Once you’ve chosen the right event, it’s time to start planning your trip. Start by deciding on the dates you want to attend, and then book your flights and accommodation. It’s best to book early, as it is a popular event and hotels tend to fill up quickly.

*Getting your tickets​


Getting your speedway world championship tickets is pretty easy thanks to the internet. You can purchase tickets online from the official world championship website, or from third-party ticket resellers. It’s important to buy your tickets early, as the best seats tend to go quickly.

*Accommodation and transportation for the championship​


When it comes to accommodation and transportation, it’s best to plan ahead. Look for hotels that are located near the venue, or that offer shuttle services to and from the event. If you’re driving, make sure to check the parking situation at the venue, as parking can be limited.

What to expect​


The championship is a thrilling and action-packed event that will leave you on the edge of your seat. When you arrive at the venue, you’ll be greeted by the roar of the engines and the smell of burning rubber. The atmosphere is electric, with fans from all over the world cheering on their favourite riders.

The races are short but intense, with riders battling it out for the top spot. The noise and speed of the bikes is exhilarating, and the skill of the riders is truly impressive. Attending the championship is an experience that you’ll never forget.

Speedway world championship fan guide​


If you’re planning to attend the world championship, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:

  • Dress for the weather: Speedway events are held outdoors, so make sure to dress appropriately for the conditions
  • Arrive early: To get the best seats and avoid the crowds, arrive early
  • Bring earplugs: The noise of the engines can be deafening, so bring earplugs to protect your hearing
  • Bring cash: Many vendors at events only accept cash, so make sure to bring some with you
  • Stay hydrated: It can get hot and humid at speedway events, so make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Conclusion​


The speedway world championship is a thrilling and exciting event that is not to be missed. Whether you’re a die-hard motorsport fan or just looking for a unique and exciting experience, the championship has something for everyone. By following the tips and advice in this article, you can experience the thrill of the event live. So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets today and join the action!
 
The brand-new TCM archive is here – and it's completely free!

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The Classic MotorCycle magazine has taken a remarkable leap into the past by introducing its expansive digital archive, granting current subscribers the opportunity to explore a collection of vintage issues dating back to the early 1900s. This platform invites enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the rich history of motorcycles, providing a unique window into the evolution of this iconic mode of transportation.

Subscribers now have the exclusive privilege of unlocking a virtual time capsule within the archive, where meticulously preserved copies of the magazine await their eager perusal. Each page exudes nostalgia, offering a captivating journey through the annals of motorcycle journalism.

The archive houses a wealth of information that is sure to captivate motorcycle aficionados and collectors alike. From riveting accounts of legendary races to comprehensive reviews of iconic motorcycle models, every issue holds countless tales waiting to be rediscovered. The availability of this digital archive stands as a testament to The Classic MotorCycle’s commitment to preserving and sharing the heritage of this beloved pastime.

Not only does the archive provide a trip down memory lane for enthusiasts, but it also serves as an invaluable resource for researchers, historians, and motorcycle fans worldwide. It offers a remarkable opportunity to trace the evolution of motorcycles and witness the milestones, triumphs, and challenges that have shaped the industry over the past century.

Through this initiative, The Classic MotorCycle magazine invites its subscribers to embark on a journey through time, where the roar of engines and the spirit of adventure permeate every page. The digital archive ensures that the magazine’s illustrious past remains accessible, inspiring generations of motorcycle enthusiasts to continue embracing the passion and thrill of riding.

To access the archive all you must do is go to www.classicmotorcycle.co.uk/extra and log in with your email and customer ID.
 
Krazy Horse presents The Weekender – and all profits go to charity!

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Krazy Horse are hosting a 3-day festival of bikes, cars, music and food – and all profits go to charity! What’s not to like?

“The Weekender” is a 3-day festival of motorcycles, classic cars, hot-rod’s, American cars, live music including Dr Feelgood and ZZ Top GB (cover band), street food, a market place and likeminded people.

Held between the 7th and 9th of July 2023 in Bardwell, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, the festival is not-to-be-missed.

And even better, all profits are going to East Anglian Air Ambulance, The Samaritans and Bardwell Cricket club!

Find out more here: https://krazyhorse.co.uk/pages/krazy-horse-festival
 
Little Engine touring

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Velocette’s LE – for Little Engine – doesn’t perhaps spring immediately to mind as a long-distance mount, but that didn’t deter this 1956 tourist.

Image: MORTONS ARCHIVE

Writing in the September 6, 1956 issue of The Motor Cycle, Harold Briercliffe detailed how he’d covered 1400 miles in nine days, on a 192cc side-valve flat twin Velocette, riding from his home in North Hertfordshire to the “wild, lonely, fantastic grandeur of the far-off Highlands of Wester Ross.” An asterisk by Briercliffe’s name explained: “Mr Briercliffe is the editor of our associated journal, The Motor Cycle, and Cycle Trader.”

Rather than motorcycling, Rochdale-born Briercliffe (1910-1994) is best remembered for a series of cycling touring books he wrote (for Temple Press, publisher of The Motor Cycle) covering cycleways in the British isles – he wrote six in total, with numbers one (Northern England) and two (Wales) in 1947, three (Scottish Highlands) and four (South West England) in 1948, 1949’s number five on the Midlands and, in 1950, the sixth, on southern England. In 2010, Clare Balding presented a television series called Britain by Bike retracing some of Briercliffe’s routes – and using his old Dawes Super Galaxy – and such was the popularity, that one, five and six were republished.

So for Briercliffe, a man clearly used to generating the power bodily himself to get up hills, the sub-200cc Velo would’ve seemed like cheating; to time-served motorcyclists it may seem a small machine, but, compared to pedalling, it would’ve been a life of luxury! Introduced in late 1948 in 149cc form, the little machine was advanced in some ways – it’s construction, shaft drive, water-cooled – but then outdated in others, specifically the side-valve configuration and three-speed gearbox, and just plain quirky in others – see the pull-start and hand-change.

Its engine enlarged to 192cc in 1951 (giving the Mark II), then came 1958’s Mark III with four-speed footchange gearbox and kick-start. Popular with the police, the LE remained in production until 1971; in fact, the last Velocette ever made was an LE.

Briercliffe detailed his plans at the start of his article: setting the scene, he explained how ‘for 25 years I have known the little settlement of Ratagan, in the Macrae country of Kintail, Wester Ross, nearly 600 miles from London… Since the end of the war I have visited Ratagan five times… finding myself in Glasgow in late June with a little time to spare, I decided to spend three days touring from Ratagan. On the first I intended to journey to Elgol, in Skye, most accessible of all ‘platforms’ from which the Coolins can be viewed; on the second to jaunt over to Applecross from Tornapress by the Pass of the Cattle, one of the highest road-passes in Britain: and on the third to ride over to Glen Elchaig, where I hoped to cache the LE and seek afoot the Falls of Glomach, highest waterfall (370 feet) in Britain.”

Briercliffe was to stay at ‘the modern, Swedish board-house of a young forester, Jimmy Allison, and his wife.’ It’s Mrs Allison to the left and that building in the background of the photograph reproduced here. There’s no further details apart from that the other pair are ‘two young Bantam owners from London’ while that’s Briercliffe’s trusty LE in the centre.

The Allisons were native Glaswegians who had lived in Canada for three years prior to Ratagan and their house ‘was decorated and finished in Canadian fashion.’ Jimmy was a motorcyclist too, owning a 250cc BSA, it being ‘essential in a way undreamt of by town dwellers,’ with no bus or rail services and the nearest large shopping centre over 50 miles away.’

From his Ratagan base, Briercliffe was able to successfully complete all his stated aims, the day three endeavour to find the Falls of Glomach sounding particularly arduous – the LE was engaged in four miles of green laning, before he set off on foot and ended up ‘wading calf-deep, stepping on submerged boulders.’ Then it started to pour with rain too – but he survived it all and (after four hours of exploring), “It was a relief to start the LE with one pull on the handle.” He ‘glided’ back to supper and bed, exhausted. Two days later, he journeyed home, a good trip completed. And easier than pedalling.
 
The second coming – 1972 Moto Guzzi V7 Sport

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After a long lay-up, this 1972 Moto Guzzi V7 Sport is back on the road and enjoying a second wind, though still sporting much of its original patina.

Words: PHIL TURNER Photographs: GARY CHAPMAN

By the late 1950s, Moto Guzzi was struggling. Cashflow was in such dire straits that the factory pulled out of racing in 1957, instead channelling development and resources into their road-going range, and towards securing more lucrative contracts.

One of those was to design an engine for Fiat’s new ultra-compact car, the Cinquecento. Guzzi’s chief engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano (designer of their famous 500cc V8 GP bike) came up with a 90-degree V-twin – initially 500cc, then increased to 650cc – compact enough to fit in the car’s tight rear engine bay, but it was rejected by Fiat and the engine was shelved. Several of the engine’s features were also used in the equally fruitless, contemporary ‘3×3’ military trike.

Carcano’s design efforts wouldn’t be in vain, though, as shortly after a lifeline came their way when the Italian police requested a replacement for the ageing Falcone. The V-twin was brought down off the shelf and a new machine was built around it. Dubbed the V7 (by then it had jumped to 700cc) it was a success, in both police and civilian versions, but it couldn’t resolve Guzzi’s woes. By 1966 the company was in receivership.

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Producing 70bhp at the crankshaft (52bhp at the rear wheel) the V7 Sport was one of the most powerful motorcycles on offer in period.
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There’s nothing else like a Guzzi. Apart from a Honda CX500. And an AJS S3. And probably others. But the engine format is special to the company.
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Though the cylinders stick out, overall, a very slender machine.

A masterpiece​


A year later, new management brought in renowned engineer Lino Tonti, along with his favoured test rider and racer Luciano Gazzola, to breathe fresh life and ideas into Mandello; the writing was on the wall and Guzzi would need something in their range to compete with the multi-coloured, multi-cylinder superbikes of the late 1960s.

Tonti’s experience and expertise was considerable – he had worked with Aermacchi, Benelli, Bianchi, Gilera and Mondial, among others, and left a mark on them all. He set about tweaking the V7 platform (upping capacity to 757cc, increasing compression, fitting Dell’Orto SS carburettors and adding a fifth gear) securing lucrative American police contracts and notching up speed records at Monza. He also took the new engine racing, but the V7’s existing touring-style ‘loop’ frame was too tall, heavy and flexible, and offered limited ground clearance, so the bikes weren’t competitive. Tonti’s first experiment was to move the generator from the top of the engine to the front, but it wasn’t enough.

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Perfect illustration of why they’re called ‘swan neck’ clip-ons. Non-standard, but a boon for comfort.
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The alternator is mounted on the front of the forged one-piece crankshaft.
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Twin Veglia clocks are as to be expected. Note the 7250rpm redline; peak power was claimed at 7000rpm, but the Guzzi likes to rev.
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Somewhere along the line, this V7 has gained front disc brakes, which although not as pretty as the big, standard front drum, is no bad thing.

Frustrated, he set about hand-crafting a replacement frame; though primarily for the track, he had one eye on it becoming the basis for a road machine. A masterpiece of simplicity, his design used triangulated straight tubes, with the backbone set significantly lower than the loop frame – helped by the generator’s new position. It was incredibly compact, and ran very tight to the V7 engine’s casings and cylinders; so much so it had to have removable lower rails to allow the unit to be removed.

Into the new chassis was fitted one of the record-setting Monza engines: now 748cc, 70bhp and with a 9.8:1 compression ratio, chrome-plated bores, a high-lift gear driven camshaft, strengthened bottom end to deal with the power increase, and a lightened flywheel – among other improvements.

It was the package Tonti had envisaged: a Moto Guzzi that could compete on both circuit and street.

Fast, agile and characterful​


Though reluctant at first, Guzzi management gave the road-going version the green light towards the end of 1970 – Tonti twisted their arms by threatening to resign – on the proviso it would be ready for the company’s 50th anniversary the following year.

Labour problems and a long wait for tooling meant the target wouldn’t be hit, but determined to have it ready (and to meet homologation rules for production racing) the reformed racing department began hand building pre-production prototypes. The bikes wore a seriously eye-catching livery of lime green tank and side panels, and red frame tubes; they were dubbed the Telaio Rosso (red frame) V7 Sport. Only around 150-200 were produced – depending on who you talk to – so naturally they are exceedingly difficult to come by today, though plenty of replicas have been built.

Full production started properly in November 1971. The first batch featured the eye-catching lime green metallic finish of the Telaio Rosso on the tank and toolboxes, but with a black frame and stainless-steel mudguards. Later versions were offered in lime green with a silver frame, and slightly more sedate metallic burgundy/silver, and red/black.

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Original shock absorbers would’ve been Koni, but Hagons do a good job.
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There’s nothing delicate about the Guzzi – all the castings are big.

Whatever colour the buyer chose, they were essentially getting a full factory racer on the road. Aside from a thicker, steel-tube frame replacing the chrome-moly ones of the Telaio Rosso; smoother-casting on the engine casings; and a more durable gearset, the showroom bikes were pretty much exactly what Mandello’s racers rode.

The V7 Sport was fast, agile and characterful, but it wasn’t uncompromising and had some typically Tonti touches that marked it as ‘a cut above’ the competition: a pivoted seat and courtesy light allowing illuminated access to the battery and fuses; two generously-sized and lockable tool boxes, sitting neatly inside the triangular frame structures; and ‘swan-neck’ handlebars that could be slid up and down the fork tubes for a tailored riding position.

It went down a storm with the motorcycling press and buyers alike, and instantly re-established Moto Guzzi as a maker of high-quality performance motorcycles. Though short lived – it would be dropped in 1974 to make way for the Le Mans – the V7 Sport would shape the way Mandello would make motorcycles for the next 50 years.

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Handling is – to use a cliche – ‘on rails.’ Such terms were invented for these mile-munching high-speed thoroughbreds.

“Pillion? Sorry?”​


Paul Abbott’s V7 Sport is one of the early batch: a 1972 model. Though it came to him resplendent in red, he suspects it may have started life lime green: “Recently, I’ve had reason to poke around a bit, which I never really had done before. Inside and behind the side panels there’s definitely green paint underneath that red.”

Paul didn’t know much about the history of his V7 when he bought it in Turin in the mid-1980s. It was actually his second trip out to Italy to buy a bike: “My good friend Jon Fraser had a very good contact in Turin called Dr Carelli; he was an academic doctor rather than a medical one.

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Paul Abbott, who bought his V7 Sport in 1986, and duly rode it home from Italy.

I had a Ducati 750GT at the time, but it was getting a little tired. Jon told me his contact had a 900SS for sale – a silver/grey one – and I decided to buy it. I did the deal through Jon: no email, no internet, no nothing. I think there was maybe a photograph of it faxed over to us, if I remember rightly.

“My partner Trisha and I decided to fly out and ride it back home to Suffolk over a few days. It was all a bit of a novelty: helmets in our bags, money in an envelope… £1200 if I recall correctly.”

Youthful enthusiasm completely overtook any form of preparation, and when Paul and Trisha arrived in Turin they were somewhat surprised to see that the 900SS had a racing seat – complete with the rather lovely, but uncomfortable, sculpted hump at the back. “Pillion? Sorry?”

All was not lost, as Paul recalls: “Thankfully it had rear pegs, but the good doctor had to supply us with a temporary seat!”

Pillion provision sorted, Paul and Trisha took a few days to ride back over the Alps, through France and home, a journey which wasn’t without its challenges. “I remember riding up the Mont Cenis pass. It was lovely and sunny all the way up and it rained all the way down the other side. The Ducati didn’t much like wet weather and it started to conk out, and was only running on one cylinder. I remembered the extent of my preparation stretched to a can of WD-40 in my bag, so we took shelter on a railway platform in Chambéry and I sprayed it all over the electrics, and it worked! We rode back through France over another two or three days.”

Paul ran the 900SS for a few years and then fancying a change requested the latest ‘Carelli Catalogue’ from Jon. A list was duly faxed from Turin and on it was the V7: “That was in 1986, I think. It didn’t look like it does now, it had a big black and red fairing on it; quite handsome in its own way, but clearly not original. The front disc brake must have been added at some point too, as originally it would’ve been the big, double-sided drum Grimeca twin leading shoe item.”

The deal was done and once again Paul and Trish were bound for Turin to pick up the bike: “We did the same thing: flew over with helmets, money, a change of clothing and that was it.

Hard to imagine now really, but we were given absolutely no paperwork: no receipt, no logbook, no MoT. Back then, customs just weren’t interested and we simply cruised through the borders. I don’t remember anyone asking for papers. It wasn’t actually that old then either, only 14 years-old, so technically it should’ve had all those things.

“Incidentally, unlike the Ducati, the Guzzi came back without missing a beat.”

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The Guzzi has been sympathetically recommissioned, rather than restored. ‘Rustoration’ reckons owner Paul Abbott.

Rustoration​


After the successful ride home, the V7 was parked up in Paul’s shed, but was then left largely unridden: “I didn’t really use it as much as I should’ve done, to be honest. By then, I had three bikes: I ran a BMW as a daily ride-to-work, the Ducati was still in the shed and now there was another one. I kept the Guzzi running and went out for odd little trips, but I didn’t use it very much at all. It still had the Turin plates on it, and the fairing, I just ran it around as it came to me really. I probably stopped doing that around 1990. After that, it just sat in the shed.”

That’s where it stayed until 2018 when Paul (by then semi-retired) decided it was time to resurrect the Guzzi. Although stored in a dry(-ish) shed and kept well protected, time had taken its toll, as he recalled: “The fairing had to go, it was getting seriously rusty, even indoors. To be honest, the whole bike was in need of quite serious care. The fork legs were completely gone, the exhaust wasn’t that bad but it was covered in rust. I had an attempt at restoration with another friend, we took it all to pieces and just didn’t really get much further.”

Freely admitting it was a little beyond his abilities and equipment, Paul started looking around for someone to take it on. He didn’t want concours, just the necessary work to get it back on the road: “I look at immaculate bikes and think, ‘well, I could have that but do I really want to do it?’ In the course of this project I’ve realised that age is hard to re-create and the ‘rustoration’ concept has started to settle with me, really.”

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The original – highly-prized Telaio Rosso (red frame) was hand-built by the Guzzi racing department.

‘That was hard work!’​


Through another contact, Paul found Dave ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson of HTE Motorcycles in Norfolk, and drafted in Jon and his van, to take the V7 up for an assessment. It wasn’t quite as bad as initially feared, as Paul explained: “The engine had fared fairly well and it actually stayed in the frame throughout. Being a thorough guy, Hutch of course investigated it fully, but there wasn’t that much wrong: a loose bearing in the alternator, and a bit of an oil leak. He went into that and sorted it all.

“He cleaned up the carbs and rebuilt the front end – the original forks were shot, so I purchased a new set from Stein-Dinse, an Italian motorcycle specialist out in Germany. Hutch also respoked the wheels. It’s still on the original Borrani rims, which I decided to polish. That was hard work!”

A bit of electrical work was also required, as during the course of the first attempted rebuild a fruitless attempt to get the engine to run caused more harm than good, as Paul admits: “Unbeknownst to us, we’d misconnected the coils, causing a massive short and melting a good deal of the wiring loom. Hutch had to repair all that and fit a new ignition switch.

“There wasn’t much else that needed doing really. Like the 900SS, it also came with an original racing-type seat, which poor Trisha perched on – complete with our luggage – for 900-odd miles without complaint! I don’t know how she did it!

“I decided it had to go, so Hutch took the original seat base, and had the foam reshaped and reupholstered. I also bought some extended swan-neck handlebars, that sit higher than the originals, for a less extreme riding position.

“All the basics are there now, and apart from some slight problems recently with an ignition capacitor, it’s running well.”

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Though a ‘race replica’, Phil Turner found the V7 Sport – mainly thanks to its torque – relaxing to ride.

Shove of torque​


That I can confirm, and with a touch of throttle and a prod on the starter button the big twin burst into life and settled into the unmistakable ‘chugga-chugga-chugga’.

Slinging a leg over the freshly upholstered seat and reaching for the bars, it immediately struck me just how low and long the Tonti frame sits. It felt like a very long way across the tank to the controls – even with the additional height from Paul’s higher bars – yet even in a prone position, I had little problem getting my feet firmly on the ground.

The B1117 between Hoxne and Horham isn’t the ideal road for an outing on a 1970s superbike – narrow, bumpy, busy – but once underway and climbing up the gears the shove of torque from the big ‘vee’ and the accompanying roar from the twin pipes did a good job of goading me into pushing the pace perhaps a little more than I should have.

Guzzi’s have a reputation for lazy, low-down grunt but the V7 doesn’t really come alive until the revs are in the mid-range, when it starts pulling hard and doesn’t really stop until near the 7250rpm redline.

It is, of course, easy to keep it in that sweet spot, so stable and predictable is Tonti’s masterpiece of a chassis. I hesitate to use such a motoring cliche, but Paul’s V7 Sport really did feel like it was running on rails. Even over the rough, rutted and undulating surface of the B1117, it held its line impeccably and never once felt unsettled. The long wheelbase and 227lb kerb weight required a bit of muscle getting into the tighter turns, and for quick changes of direction, but once tipped in and the line set it tracked perfectly, and filled me with confidence.

It wasn’t long before I settled into a rather nice rhythm. There’s little need to dance up and down the gears, so torquey is the V7’s motor, and with the stability and confidence inspiring handling, it’s actually quite a relaxing ride for a pure-bred race replica. I can imagine just how much fun Paul and Trisha must have had coming over the Alps in 1986…

Finer Details​


1972 Moto Guzzi V7 Sport

Engine: Four stroke, air-cooled, OHV, longitudinally mounted 90-degree V-twin

Capacity: 748.4cc

Bore x Stroke: 83x70mm

Compression Ratio: 9.8:1

Fuel: 2x 30mm Dell’Orto VHB 30CD carburettors

Starting: Electric

Max Power: 70hp@6300rpm

Transmission: Five-speed

Final Drive: Shaft

Suspension: Front Hydraulic forks. Rear swinging arm with twin hydraulic dampers preload adjustable

Brakes: Front: 2x 220mm drum, Double-sided with twin leading shoes per side drum (Original). Rear: 220mm drum

Tyres: Front: 90/90-18. Rear: 110/90-18

Wheelbase: 1500mm

Seat Height: 760mm

Kerb Weight: 227 kg

Fuel Capacity: 17 Litres

Top speed: 120mph
 
July Issue

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The July edition of The Classic MotorCycle magazine offers a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races, and news, reviews and rare period images from the golden age of motorcycling.

Drawing on an archive stretching back to 1903, The Classic MotorCycle magazine provides an unparalleled insight into more than a century of motorcycle design, development, riding, racing and much more.

This month:

Extra shiny stunner –​


Norton Model 20 in special finish.

Subtly non-standard Tiger 100 –​


Lightly modded 500cc Triumph.

Australian ingenuity –​


The remarkable Eldee Velocette racer.

Adorable antique Ajay –​


Lovely vintage Model B1.

A subscription to The Classic MotorCycle magazine means you can enjoy all of this, plus plenty of other benefits such as making a major saving on the cover price and FREE postage.
 
WIN a book bundle worth over £36 by reading MoreBikes online!

Now there are MoreReason than ever to read the latest MoreBikes, with a chance to win four fantastic biking books worth over £36.

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Did you know that you can read the latest issue of MoreBikes for FREE online, every single month? The June issue is live now, this time around including a big Scotland road test of three of the most exciting new sports tourers, a beginner’s guide to trail riding, and much more.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, now you could be in with a chance to win just for reading. But make sure you read carefully and keep your eyes peeled…

To enter, fill out the form below with your contact details, and the answer to the following question: what colours are the Tempest Scrambler Ross rides in this issue?

The winner will receive a bundle of the following Mortons Books titles: Café Racer International Volume 2, Classic Superbikes 2, Fireblade – Three Decades in the Making, and Moon Eyes, the John Cooper story, worth a total of £36.96.

Not read the June Issue yet? Click the link here or scan the QR code, have a read, and then come back with your answer.
 
The Bike Shed Show returns for 2023

The 2023 Bike Shed Show takes place at London’s historic and beautiful Tobacco Dock across the weekend of 26th/27th/28th May.

Over 300 carefully curated custom motorcycles from across the world will be on display, along with retail stands, food, drink, live music… if you want you can get a haircut and even get a tattoo! This is definitely not an average bike show!

On show are creations by the world’s best customisers, plus “shed builds”; literally created by home mechanics in their own workshops. This year’s theme is ‘Past, Present and Future’, looking at how history has shaped present design and where motorcycling will go next.

There aren’t any ATMs at Tobacco Dock but most retailers will take cards, and we take card payments for tickets on the door.

Bike Shed has secured most of Pennington Street for Free street parking, plus, Roof-Top parking for almost 1,000 bikes, behind 60 The Highway, which will be marshalled with security during our opening hours only.

OPENING HOURS:

FRIDAY EVENING 26th MAY

VIP Preview Event: 7pm – 11pm

(Limited public tickets available – in advance only)

SATURDAY 27th MAY: 10am – 8pm

SUNDAY 28th MAY: 10am – 6pm

TICKET TYPES:

1. VIP/Press Ticket – £38 Early Bird if you Book NOW

Limited Numbers | Not Available on the Door. Limited to just 3,000 attendees

Covers Friday Evening (with a free drink on us), plus re-entry on Saturday & Sunday.

2. Standard Weekend Ticket – £25 Early Bird if you Book NOW

Covers Saturday and/or Sunday, Multi-entry.

Single-person use.

For more information: Bike Shed Moto Show

To book tickets online: BIKE SHED MOTO SHOW LONDON 2023
 
From the archive: More questions than answers…

Mysterious picture of a motorcycle with right-hand attached sidecar in 1911 London, being blown a kiss by a stage star…

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Photograph: Mortons Archive

This photograph at a glance seems perhaps innocuous enough, but closer inspection turns up a few anomalies – the most obvious being, why has the motorcycle – which bears the British registration plate DC293, with DC a Chester-issued number – got its sidecar mounted on the right side, thrusting the passenger face-first into oncoming traffic. The second question is – what is it?

Again, on first inspection it seems to have NLG on the fuel tank, thus answering that one. But on blowing up the picture, it also has Peter Pan on it – which clears things up a little. For the caption which accompanied it in the January 4, 1912, number of The Motor Cycle read: “Miss Pauline Chase christening a new motor bicycle before proceeding to the Duke of York’s Theatre to resume her part of Peter Pan. Miss Chase has played the role nearly a thousand times.”

That gives a few more things to consider – the fact the caption states the motorcycle is ‘new’ must come from somewhere and it certainly looks to be modern by 1911/12 standards, while NLG would make sense as the maker.

NLG stood for North London Garage, with the 1908 founded maker having the honour of being, with Will Cook in the saddle, winner of the first motorcycle race at Brooklands. Cook went on to campaign the gargantuan 2700cc JAP-powered V-twin, of which Czech Pavel Malanik built a replica and which was seen at events, including the Montlhery Vintage Revival.

NLG – based in Highbury, Corsica Street, St Paul’s Road – was a short-lived maker though it did list models such as that which appears to be shown, with either Peugeot (as powered Cook’s first Brooklands win racer) or local firm JAP (as in the 2.7 litre behemoth) the engine suppliers. It could very well be that it is an NLG, though the script on the tank does have something of the hand-painted look to it. And it does look to say ‘Peter Pan’, suggesting some kind of publicity link to the production, perhaps?

J M Barrie’s Peter Pan (also known as The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up) had debuted at the Duke of York’s Theatre in December 1904, becoming a huge success. Chase (born in Washington DC and who travelled to England at 15 to star on the stage), was in the cast (one of the Lost Boys) for the first staging ,and performed other roles too, before getting her big chance when the star turn became ill, allowing Chase, as understudy, to step in.

Barrie was so impressed with Chase’s turn that the role became hers – she returned as Peter Pan every year until 1913, when, aged 28 and a reputed 1400 depictions, she retired from the stage to marry. Chase was a committed Anglophile, who remained in the UK all of her life; she was baptised in the Church of England in 1906, with J M Barrie her godfather. Her only film appearance was when she came out of retirement to appear in The Real Thing at Last, a satirical film written by Barrie for the benefit of the YMCA. Famously, Barrie gifted the copywrite of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.

But who is the man on the motorcycle, which may or may not be an NLG, but which undoubtedly has ‘Peter Pan’ written on its petrol tank? It may well be Charles Frohman, an American theatre manager and producer, who was a great friend of Ms Chase’s. Perhaps, as an American, he had bought the combination – which sports an additional, huge carriage-type lamp – with the intention of taking it back to his home country? Born in Ohio, in 1856, Frohman controlled five theatres in the UK and was a frequent visitor to London. He was aboard the Lusitania in May 1915 when the ship was struck by a torpedo from a German U-boat. Apparently, after tying lifejackets to the Moses baskets containing babies which had been asleep in the nursery at the time the torpedo struck, Frohman clasped hands with his various friends including the actress (and Frohman protégé) Rita Jolivet, and quoted the words from Peter Pan; “Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure life gives us.” Jolivet survived; Frohman and 1197 others (including the other three friends with whom he had joined hands) perished in the sea, seven miles off Cork. Frohman’s body was returned to America and he was buried in New York.

There is a Charles Frohman Monument in the Buckinghamshire town of Marlow,a place with which he formed a greatbond. Created by sculptor Leonard Merrifield and unveiled in 1924, itfeatures a nude woman, who iswidely speculated to be Pauline Chase, Frohman’s great friend and another fan of Marlow.

Ms Chase, who had three children with her husband, died in Tunbridge Wells in 1962.
 
Calling all bikers – help make Peter’s wish come true!

Wrawby Hall Care Centre are asking bikers in the area to help them make a former professional rider’s wish come true.

Credit: Lawrence Sparks

Peter is a resident at the Care Centre and used to ride professionally on off road trails bikes. He owned a 1959 Matchless 650 Sports Twin.

Wrawby Hall Care Home have a wish tree and try to grant as many of their residents wishes as possible – so they’re calling out to the general motorbike-riding public to help make Peter’s wish of seeing as many different bikes as possible come true.

So mark your calendars for Sunday 16th of July, when bikers will be travelling from far and wide over to Wrawby Hall at 2pm to make Peter’s wish come true.

Over 100 people have already said they’re going on the Facebook event set up by Wrawby Hall, but the more the merrier!

Find out more about the event and mark yourself as ‘going’ here.
 
August Issue

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The August edition of The Classic MotorCycle magazine offers a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races, and news, reviews and rare period images from the golden age of motorcycling.

Drawing on an archive stretching back to 1903, The Classic MotorCycle magazine provides an unparalleled insight into more than a century of motorcycle design, development, riding, racing and much more.

This month:

One from new​


This R75/5, a gleaming example of BMW’s seminal ‘boxer,’ possibly the firm’s most important motorcycle, has had just a single keeper – and done minimal mileage, too.

Three of a kind​


Trio of Brooklands 1920s-style racers, taken along to the famous Surrey circuit, their spiritual home. Examples are from Cotton, Zenith and a Francis-Barnett two-stroke.

Long-term servant​


This KSS has spent over 50 years in its current ownership, during which time its proved a solid and dependable example of the in-the-past-overlooked ‘Mk.II’ cammy.

A subscription to The Classic MotorCycle magazine means you can enjoy all of this, plus plenty of other benefits such as making a major saving on the cover price and FREE postage.
 
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