Motorcycles – Silodrome https://silodrome.com Gasoline Culture Tue, 18 Sep 2018 09:20:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 18077751 MV Agusta Three-Cylinder 500cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle https://silodrome.com/mv-agusta-three-cylinder/ Tue, 18 Sep 2018 08:01:29 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83621 MV Agusta Three-Cylinder 500cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle

The MV Agusta three-cylinder, known as the Tre Cilindri, was ridden by Giacomo Agostini to 13 of his 15 World Championship titles between 1966 and 1973. MV Agusta had started with a 350cc version of the three-cylinder in 1965, this engine would be expanded to 500cc for 1966, allowing the Italian company to challenge both the 350cc...

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MV Agusta Three-Cylinder 500cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle

The MV Agusta three-cylinder, known as the Tre Cilindri, was ridden by Giacomo Agostini to 13 of his 15 World Championship titles between 1966 and 1973.

MV Agusta had started with a 350cc version of the three-cylinder in 1965, this engine would be expanded to 500cc for 1966, allowing the Italian company to challenge both the 350cc and 500cc classes with what was almost the same motorcycle.

The MV Agusta Three-Cylinder

The original plan to build a three-cylinder had been put forward by Count Domenico Agusta, though not an engineer he was an enthusiastic amateur, and he realized they could build a 350 triple using their 250 twin as a starting point.

Though a complete and functioning engine was built, it proved incapable of the performance needed to take on the best in the world. MV Agusta’s Chief Technical Designer Mario Rossi and his Technical Draftsman Enrico Sironi and seen the inherent issues with the original three-cylinder ahead of time and had begun to develop their own design.

This alternative engine would prove to be the most successful in MV Agusta history, and it would show once and for all that it was possible to trounce the might of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, you just needed the right team of engineers, with enough funding to do their jobs.

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder Main

The exquisitely engineered MV Agusta Three was an inline engine with twin overhead cams, a large cooling oil sump was added that runs longitudinally between the frame rails, a pressed-together crankshaft, and there was extensive use of either needle or ball bearings throughout.

The double overheads cams are driven by gears that run up the right side of the engine, each lobe directly operates a valve, with four per cylinder and a compression ratio of 11:1 on the 500cc version of the engine, with a bore/stroke of 62mm/55mm.

When tuned in full race mode these 500cc engines are capable of 84 hp at 13,500 rpm or 168 hp/litre, remarkable figures even before you learn that the dry weight of the complete motorcycle was just 118 kgs (260 lbs). Top speed is a little contentious and it’s not easy to narrow down an accurate figure, however 161 to 163 mph seems to be the general consensus.

The one thing the engineering stats don’t give you is a sense of just how the engine actually sounds, so I’ve included a clip of Agostini himself starting and warming up a Tre Cilindri, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s the best thing you’ve ever heard with the exception of Queen Live at Wembley.

The 1973 MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder Shown Here

The motorcycle you see here represents the final version or iteration of the iconic 500cc Tre Cilindri, with the improved “Testalarga” cylinder head with steeper inlet ports and repositioned camshafts.

Though MV Agusta didn’t keep accurate records about which specific motorcycles raced in which events, it’s likely that this motorcycle was used earlier on in the 1973 season before the new four-cylinder rose to prominence.

In later years Count Agusta personally donated this motorcycle as well as a 1971 500 Triple and a six-cylinder factory prototype, to former MV race mechanic Lucio Castelli. Castelli paraded and displayed the motorcycles throughout Europe for years before selling them on to collector Roberto Anelli who displayed and paraded the bike at the Isle of Man TT, Spa Francorchamps, Assen, ASI Motor Show, Jarama, and the Goodwood Revival.

Documented riders at these events have included World Champions Giacomo Agostini and Angel Nieto.

The bike is now due to cross the auction block with Bonhams on the 23rd of September with an estimated value of between £120,000 and £160,000. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder

MV Agusta Three-Cylinder Engine Engine 3

MV Agusta Three-Cylinder Engine Tachometer

MV Agusta Logo

MV Agusta Three-Cylinder Engine Exhaust

MV Agusta Three-Cylinder Engine Engine 2

MV Agusta Three-Cylinder Engine Carburetor

MV Agusta Three-Cylinder Engine Sprocket

MV Agusta Three-Cylinder Engine

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder 5

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder 4

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder 3

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder 2

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder Naked

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder Rear Wheel

MV Agusta 500cc Three-Cylinder 1

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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Film: The Golden Age of American Motorcycle Hill Climbing https://silodrome.com/vintage-motorcycle-hill-climbing-film/ Sun, 16 Sep 2018 08:00:37 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83650 Film: The Golden Age of American Motorcycle Hill Climbing

This film is a little different to many that I’ve featured here on Silodrome in the past, there’s no commentary or sound of any kind, just 17 (and a bit) minutes of people sending their motorcycles up a hillside somewhere in the USA in the 1930s. The machines are mostly American V-twins from Harley-Davidson and...

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Film: The Golden Age of American Motorcycle Hill Climbing

This film is a little different to many that I’ve featured here on Silodrome in the past, there’s no commentary or sound of any kind, just 17 (and a bit) minutes of people sending their motorcycles up a hillside somewhere in the USA in the 1930s.

The machines are mostly American V-twins from Harley-Davidson and Indian, but there are a number of British bikes in there as well. I know that many may not watch the film because it has no sound but if you have a few minutes to spare I’d encourage you to make a coffee (or open a beer depending on the time of day) hit play.

There’s something cathartic about silent films like this one, it shows countless people who may have only been captured on film once in their lives – forever immortalized as a motorcycle hillclimb racer.

If you know where this film was made or which hillclimb this was please shoot me an email and I’ll update this post to include it, the email address is in the footer or you can use the contact form that’s linked in the footer on the right.

Motorcycle Hill Climbing

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The Must Watch Short Film Of 2018: Stronger https://silodrome.com/stronger-film/ Sat, 15 Sep 2018 08:01:37 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83253 The Must Watch Short Film Of 2018: Stronger

Editor: If you only watch one motorcycle film this year, make it this one. Seriously. Stronger is a short film about the recent experiences of Chris Livett, an avid motorcyclist and a survivor of both cancer and depression. Although that may sound somewhat melancholic, it’s not actually a film about cancer or depression, it’s a film...

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The Must Watch Short Film Of 2018: Stronger

Editor: If you only watch one motorcycle film this year, make it this one. Seriously.

Stronger is a short film about the recent experiences of Chris Livett, an avid motorcyclist and a survivor of both cancer and depression. Although that may sound somewhat melancholic, it’s not actually a film about cancer or depression, it’s a film about survival.

The film is the work of Cam Elkins, a name you may recognise from his hugely popular Stories of Bike series. It was created in collaboration with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, a global motorcycle charity event that raises millions of dollars a year for men’s mental health and prostate cancer research.

Stories of Bike was started in 2012 as a way to document unique stories in the world of motorcycles, the original crew was just Cam Elkins (filming, editing) and his brother Jack (original score composer). This two man crew is still unchanged, though additional help is brought in from time to time when needed.

Over the years the films have won a slew of awards including Outstanding Direction in a Reality Series and Oustanding Editing in a Reality Series at the LA Webfest 2015, as well as Best Documentary, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography at the 2013 Australian Webstream Awards, and Best Non-Fiction Series, and Best Editing at the 2014 Melbourne International Webfest.

Follow Stories of Bike here – Register for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride here.

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Harley-Davidson Sportster Flat Tracker – A Swedish-American Tracker With Soul https://silodrome.com/harley-davidson-sportster-1200-flat-tracker/ Fri, 14 Sep 2018 08:01:51 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83785 Harley-Davidson Sportster Flat Tracker – A Swedish-American Tracker With Soul

This post was written by Anton Knutsson, the founder of Swedish custom motorcycle garage Injustice Customs. When possible we like to bring you the story of a custom in the words of the people who built it to give you insight into their process and methods, and to cut out the middle man. Meet Anton...

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Harley-Davidson Sportster Flat Tracker – A Swedish-American Tracker With Soul

This post was written by Anton Knutsson, the founder of Swedish custom motorcycle garage Injustice Customs. When possible we like to bring you the story of a custom in the words of the people who built it to give you insight into their process and methods, and to cut out the middle man.

Meet Anton and Injustice Customs

The passion for motorcycles started when I was two years old and got my first bike for Christmas, a brand new white and pink Yamaha PW50. Since my father was a professional motocross rider during the 70-80s and I spent most of my youth in camper vans around Europe racing 85cc and 125cc motocross bikes, that’s where I got my mechanical knowledge and the feeling for tuning in a perfect bike.

I also started professionally and being a bit of an adrenaline junkie I tried to make one BIG jump out of two double jumps during the qualifications to the Swedish championship. I landed 2 meters short which resulted in a broken hip and two broken arms. That was the end of my motocross career.

But I just couldn’t stop riding, I bought a street bike instead and started do some small modifications to it. I sold the bike with good profit and put the money in to the next project, and that’s how the story continues for about 5-6 years until I took it to the next step and started Injustice Customs in 2016. It’s been a fantastic trip and I love every day of it.

Despite my mechanical skills from all the years on the race tracks, I’ve always been really creative when it comes to design, colors and shapes. I try to pick up inspiration from everything around me, the local sneaker store is the best hack when it comes to finding cool color schemes.

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Main

The Harley-Davidson XL1200CX Flat Tracker Build

To exhibit on of my build at the Bike Shed Show has been a dream and goal for a long time. When I got the invitation, March 2018, I decided to challenge myself. I’d never put my hands on a Harley-Davidson before, and Flat Track doesn’t exist in Sweden so I didn’t have so much inspiration to start with. Thats why I called the project BORN WITHOUT RULES.

I decided to mix the American flat track with the European MotoGP in one bike. Right now one of my biggest inspiration is factory road racing and motocross bikes from the 80-90s when everything was super handmade and one-off. Back then they used a lot of magnesium so I used a burnt brass coating on brake calipers and other details to bring back a bit of that feeling. The rainbow titanium nitride coating on the front fork stanchions also has a smell of the 80s!

One of the coolest parts on a MotoGP bike is the exhaust system, the way they turn and twist it around the engine to get the perfect length is just wicked, and the colorful titanium welds!

I’d never seen a flat track bike with titanium exhaust before so I decided to give it a shot. Italian exhaust manufacture SC-Project hooked me up with two awesome carbon fiber mufflers straight out of their racing department that we modified and I started to build headers…56 joints later and we had come up with a beautiful pie-cut titanium exhaust which hardly weighed anything.Titanium gives Harleys a fantastic sound, a bit sharper
than when you use stainless!

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Left Side

I know that brakes are not a priority on a real flat tracker, but this one is for the streets and to again mix flat track and road racing I went for cast iron Beringer disks, squeaks awful but what a grip when you need it! I decided to create two different sides on this bike. One is mostly black which is inspired from the American flat trackers, and the other one is black, white and neon yellow which is representing European racing.

As with all our bikes, it comes with a big lightning flash on the gas tank, I like the shape of lightning and since the beginning I’ve always put a lightning flash somewhere on my bikes. Dan Gold even tattooed one on my arm at The Bike Shed.

I bought this bike vandalized!

As it’s a promo build, I needed to find a good base to start from and didn’t wanted a bike that was too old. I managed to find this almost new bike for a good price via an insurance company, it had been stolen, hijacked and covered with black spray paint. So lot of hours has been put in to cleaning, blasting, re-coating on this project.
It feels nice to build a high spec project for the Bike Shed Show on such a low mileage bike. I also brought it to Wheels & Waves in France and then rode it back home. A 4000 km trip from Biarritz through the Pyrenees, the French Riviera and the headed north back to Sweden via the Alps, Probably the longest flat track race in the history!

Me and my girlfriend Susanna Gray were the odd couple when we met big groups of BMW adventure bikes and we had one flat tracker and her little single cylinder Yamaha SR400 Scrambler, riding around in Vans and just a small backpack.

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Back

The fact that I decided to build my masterpiece on a bike brand that I never worked on and a style that I haven’t done before might not have been my smartest choice. I have built a lot of Triumphs before and could do lot of the customizations on them without thinking. But I’m not the kind of person that likes to go the easy way, and when The Bike Shed gave me this opportunity I wanted to surprise people with my build.

Another scary moment was the exhaust! All Sportsters built after 2004 have rubber mounted engines, this means that when you’re building a longer exhaust you need to mount your rear supports somewhere on the frame. So the engine that is rubber mounted can shake a lot and the exhaust frame mount will be stiff. The most important thing when welding titanium is to get it 100% clean which means that if you get a crack in it on your first ride, it’s really hard to clean it from soot and stuff on the inside which puts you in big trouble fixing it.

I remember the first test ride, my eyes were more on the headers than on the road.

I’m proud of how the whole bike tured out, I think the lines are great, it looks like a flat tracker but it’s also aggressive and fast. I use it as my daily ride and a fun thing with this bike is that wherever I park it, people come up and ask questions and take photos. When I tell them it’s a Harley-Davidson people get very fascinated, I even had a bunch of Ducati superbike riders that loved the bike until they realized it was a Harley :)

The most important thing I learned from this project is to rely on your ability and stay true to your personal style. There are so many great builders around the world and just logging on to Instagram could make you feel unsure about your style and ideas some times. I think too many builders out there look at the big guys and dare not fully follow their own ideas.

Injustice Customs Logo

With all the great feedback I got on this project, I’m confident in my style and will continue build bald bikes with big lightning flashes on!

Original Bike: Harley-Davidson XL1200CX Sportster

Build Time: 4 months

Engine: 1200cc Harley Davidson 45 ́ evolution engine. Modified fule injection. Exhaust: custom built headers in titanium (56 joints, 44h of non stop welding..) customized SC-Project carbon mufflers, same as used in MotoGP

Air Cleaner: RSD Slant Carbon air cleaner

Frame: shortend OEM Harley frame

Forks: Harley OEM forks, Polished, re anodized and titanium nitrid coated for the right factory colour. Stiffer springs.

Shocks: Öhlins STX36P Black-Line 13,3” (Swedish quality!))

Wheels: Custom made 19” wheels both front and rear, 3,5” rear and 3,0” front with Maxis DT-R1 tires

Fuel Tank: OEM Sportster big model

Handlebars: 1” Flat Track style

Grips: RSD

Brakes: Beringer disks in cast iron with racing pads. re coated calipers with laser engraved logos (my logos on the calipers are actually engraved on grinder down 20 cent dimes)

Headlight: Small and really bad for night riding.. :)

Taillight: Rizoma integrated tail light and indicators, custom mounts

Seat: Biltwell Speedway

Paint: Håkan Lindberg, This dude has painted choppers longer than I lived! Amazing guy that was part of inventing ”the Swedish chopper style”

You can click here to visit Injustice Customs

Follow Injustice Customs on InstagramFacebook

Photographer: Mihail Jershov

Susanna Gray (black jacket)

Nicole Gray (blue jump suit)

Additional information via Iron & AirFacebookInstagramTwitter

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Seat

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Parts

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 10

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 9

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 7

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 5

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 4

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 3

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 2

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 1

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The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica – An Endurance Racing Legend https://silodrome.com/laverda-750-sfc/ Thu, 13 Sep 2018 10:01:38 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83814 The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica – An Endurance Racing Legend

The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica is the most desirable of the Italian company’s first big twins, and it’s not just sought-after for its looks – the 750 SFC took a slew of major endurance racing wins in the early 1970s against the best in the world. The Laverda 750 SFC – The Big Twin The...

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The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica – An Endurance Racing Legend

The Laverda 750 SFC Elettronica is the most desirable of the Italian company’s first big twins, and it’s not just sought-after for its looks – the 750 SFC took a slew of major endurance racing wins in the early 1970s against the best in the world.

The Laverda 750 SFC – The Big Twin

The Laverda 750 SFC started out as an argument between a son and his father. The son (Massimo Laverda) being convinced that the company needed to diversify into larger capacity motorcycles to appeal to the large US market, with his father (Francesco Laverda) being more conservatively minded and wanting to stick with what had been Laverda’s bread and butter up until that point in time – small-capacity commuter motorcycles.

In the end the son won out, fortunately for us all, as Laverda would go on to build some of the best engineered large-capacity parallel twins of the era.

Unusually for the time the development process involved reverse engineering a 300cc Honda CB77 Superhawk engine.

Up until this point the flow of technology had mostly been from the West to the East, but in this instance it flowed from Japan to Italy.

Though not a direct copy there is certainly a lot of external and internal similarity between the Laverda big twin and the CB77 engine, though in the 1960s this was largely seen as a good thing, as the Japanese company had a good reputation for reliability.

Laverda 750 SFC

The Laverda twin started life as a 650cc unit but not many were made at this size, with the engine quickly being upgraded to 750cc to better compete with the popular parallel twins coming out of the UK. Internally the engine has a single overhead cam (chain-driven) with two valves per cylinder.

The engine was designed to be strong enough to be used as a stressed member with an open cradle steel frame, suspension is traditional double shock absorbers in the rear and hydraulic forks up front.

Laverda Big twins are often separated into four major versions, the Laverda 650, the Laverda 750, the Laverda 750 SF and the Laverda 750 SFC. All four generations would take notable wins, starting with the 650 which won its class at the 1968 Giro d’Italia, with three Laverda 750s finishing in the top ten.

The Laverda 750 SF (an initialism of “Super Freni” or “Super Brakes” due to the updated brakes) won the 500 kilometers of Monza in 1970, they took a first, second, and third podium sweep at the 24 Hours of Oss (in Holland), and they took third and sixth at the 1970 Bol d’Or.

Laverda 750 SFC Left Side

Laverda 750 SFC Specifications

A year later in 1971 the Laverda 750 SFC was launched, its name standing for Super Freni Competizione, or super brakes competition.

As you may have surmised, this was the competition version specifically designed and built for racing.

Each example of the 750 SFC was painstaking hand-built for top flight endurance racing against the best in Italy, Germany, Britain, and Japan. The engines were carefully built away from the main production line with a larger valves, a racing cam, a reworked cylinder head, polished rockers, the crankshaft and rods were polished and balanced, and 36mm Amal concentric carburetors were fitted.

A close-ratio five-speed competition gearbox was installed, and the original frame was strengthened. Before they left the factory each bike was dyno-tested to ensure it was producing 70 bhp, and running perfectly as a turn-key race bike.

On the race tracks of Europe, the 750 SFC proved immediately successful, with a one-two finish at the 1971 Six Hours of Zeltweg, then first, third, and fourth at the 24 Hours of Montjuic in Barcelona, first and third at the 24 Hours of Oss, and a win in Vallelunga.

As the year progressed the new Laverdas would take a second place finish in the Bol d’Or, the top two steps of the podium at Imola, and the same again at the 500 kilometers of Modena.

Laverda 750 SFC Front Angle

Over the course of its short production run the Laverda 750 SFC  would see a range of performance and reliability upgrades capped off with the top-of-the-line 1975 Laverda SFC Elettronica with its Bosch electronic ignition and a slew of performance upgrades pushing power to 75 bhp.

Due to the exceedingly low production numbers the 750 SFC Elettronica is a unicorn for many vintage motorcycle collectors, and finding unmodified originals for sale is a rare event indeed.

The 1975 Laverda 750 SFC Shown Here

The beautifully presented original 750 SFC shown here was imported into the UK by Made in Italy Motorcycles in 2016 before being sold into the hands of the current owner.

It’s a matching-numbers example with an ASI identity certificate and what appears to be the original fairing, fuel tank, and seat. Its racing number is 88 which is hugely lucky if you happen to be from the Far East, and as a 1975 model it benefits from the upgraded brakes, upgraded 75 bhp engine, and long list of competition successes against the fellow Italians at Ducati, as well as the best of Britain and Japan.

The bike is now being offered for sale with SORN paperwork, a V5C document, and an instruction manual (in Italian). Estimated value is £24,000 to £28,000 which actually isn’t bad at all for a motorcycle that’s widely regarded as solid gold Italian royalty.

If you’d like to read more about the bike or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Bonhams.

Laverda 750 SFC 3

Laverda 750 SFC Rear Wheel

Laverda 750 SFC Front Brake

Laverda 750 SFC Fairing

Laverda 750 SFC Front

Laverda 750 SFC Rear

Laverda 750 SFC 2

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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The Greeves Challenger – The Unusual World-Beating Two Stroke https://silodrome.com/greeves-challenger/ Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:01:04 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83566 The Greeves Challenger – The Unusual World-Beating Two Stroke

To say that the Greeves Challenger, and all Greeves motorcycles, were ahead of their time is to significantly understate the remarkable foresight of Bert Greeves and his lightweight two-stroke off-road racing motorcycles. Bert developed the first examples of his scrambles and trials machines in 1952, almost 20 years before lightweight two-stroke motorcycles would rise to...

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The Greeves Challenger – The Unusual World-Beating Two Stroke

To say that the Greeves Challenger, and all Greeves motorcycles, were ahead of their time is to significantly understate the remarkable foresight of Bert Greeves and his lightweight two-stroke off-road racing motorcycles.

Bert developed the first examples of his scrambles and trials machines in 1952, almost 20 years before lightweight two-stroke motorcycles would rise to dominate off-road racing competition.

Bert Greeves and the Invacar

Greeves Motorcycles originally started out as a small company in England manufacturing three-wheeled motorized microcars for disabled people.

Bert Greeves had previously worked at the Austin Motor Company, but he set about designing and building a petrol-powered microcar for his wheelchair-bound cousin Derry Preston-Cobb who had been complaining about the many shortcomings of his battery-powered wheelchair.

The new Greeves-designed vehicle was named the Invacar for “invalid car” (pictured below) was essentially a weather-proof personal mobility scooter. The choice to use a petrol engine rather than an electric motor gave the car class-leading range and speed, and they could be fitted with either hand controls or foot controls.

A special “racing” version of the Invacar was built for Derry who was every bit the speed freak, his high-performance version was fitted with a 250cc racing engine that reportedly gave it a top speed of over 80 mph. There are countless stories from the era of Derry driving the car at high-speed, often flying past motorists much to their surprise, and apparently he needed to be rescued a number of times after flipping it onto its side or roof.

The British Ministry of Pensions ordered thousands of Invacars, and they revolutionized the lives of countless disabled people across Britain, this success allowed Bert the funding he needed to pursue his own personal passion project – motorcycles.

Invacar Disabled Wheelchair Car Greeves

Greeves Motorcycles

The commonly used off-road and scrambles motorcycles in the 1950s and 1960s were larger engined four-strokes, these were also preferred by the American off-road racers, particularly the Triumph TR6 Trophy, the Matchless G80SC, the Norton P11, and the Ariel HT5, though there were many others.

Bert realized that low weight was paramount for off-road use, and he recognized that a 200cc two-stroke engine could be ideal for this application. many at the time thought this would result in a motorcycle too fragile for aggressive off-road riding, but Bert set about designing a bike that could handle anything the world’s top riders would throw at it. The first person he hired to work on the new project with him was his cousin Derry, who proved an invaluable asset to the company, sharing Bert’s inherent engineering abilities.

Fortunately Bert was able to source a simple 200cc two-stroke engine from Villiers Engineering, he combined this with a bespoke frame with an exceptionally tough steering head and down tube created by casting LM6 silicon-aluminium alloy around a tubular frame member.

Perhaps the most famous feature of many (if not most) Greeves motorcycles is the use of leading link forks, often nicknamed “Banana Leading Link” forks. These are exceptionally tough and provide benefits including increased suspension travel over the still somewhat primitive motorcycle forks available in the early 1950s.

Greeves motorcycles would prove both very successful in off-road competition and very popular with consumers in Europe and across the pond in the USA.

During races Greeves bikes would often beat motorcycles of over double their engine capacity, and they would take wins in the International Six Days Trial, the Manx Grand Prix, the Scott Trial, the European Trials Championship and the Scottish Six Days Trial, as well as gold medals in the ISDT and the ACU 250 cc Road Race.

Greeves Challenger Motorcycle

The Greeves Challenger

The Greeves Challenger is perhaps the most famous of the motorcycles made by the British company, the engineering that went into the two-stroke engine changed significantly over the years, and both on and off-road versions of the model would be offered.

That leading link front end gave the Challenger 6.5 inches of travel with almost no sliding friction, whereas comparable motorcycles of the era had approximately 4 inches of travel.

The Challenger is the motorcycle that proved Bert Greeves right, and arguably inspired the slew of two-strokes that would eventually swamp it. Today the surviving examples of the Challenger model fetch consistently solid prices when they change hands.

The 1965 Greeves Challenger you see here is a beautifully restored example with a 250cc two-stroke engine, and all of the signature engineering elements you’d expect with a Greeves. Bonhams are estimating that it’ll sell for between £4,000 and £5,000 when it crossed the block on the 23rd of September.

If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.

Greeves Challenger

Greeves Motorcycle Front Suspension 2

Greeves Motorcycle Engine 2

Greeves Motorcycle Rear Wheel 2

Greeves Motorcycle Rear Wheel

Greeves Challenger Motorcycle Engine

Greeves Motorcycle Front Suspension

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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1960 Triumph TR6 Trophy – The Iconic Desert Sled https://silodrome.com/triumph-tr6-trophy-desert-sled-motorcycle/ Mon, 10 Sep 2018 10:01:04 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83508 1960 Triumph TR6 Trophy – The Iconic Desert Sled

The Triumph TR6 Trophy is perhaps better known by its legendary nickname – “The Desert Sled”. It’s not known who coined the term, but it stuck like glue, and it’s followed the intrepid Triumph off-road racer for decades. Even if you don’t immediately recognize the model, you’ve seen it before if you’ve seen the movie...

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1960 Triumph TR6 Trophy – The Iconic Desert Sled

The Triumph TR6 Trophy is perhaps better known by its legendary nickname – “The Desert Sled”. It’s not known who coined the term, but it stuck like glue, and it’s followed the intrepid Triumph off-road racer for decades.

Even if you don’t immediately recognize the model, you’ve seen it before if you’ve seen the movie “The Great Escape” featuring Steve McQueen and a slew of other Hollywood icons. McQueen was a highly capable motorcycle racer in his own right, he even funded his acting classes with winnings from his motorcycle racing earlier in his career.

The famous scene in the film where he attempts to jump a stolen German motorcycle over the barbed wire border fence was actually a little misleading, as he wasn’t riding a German motorcycle at all – rather it was a Triumph TR6 Trophy that had been repainted to look as much like a German military bike as possible. Steve was very familiar with the model and he specifically requested one for the scene, sadly the film’s insurers wouldn’t let him do the jump himself, and instead had his friend and racing partner Bud Ekins do it.

Triumph TR6 Trophy Left Side

The Triumph TR6 Trophy

The Triumph TR6 Trophy first appeared in 1956, its genesis is equally attributable to the already famous Triumph TR5 Trophy and the then-new Triumph Thunderbird with its 650cc parallel twin engine – a large engine capacity for the era.

The Triumph TR5 Trophy was released in 1949 as a trials and off-road motorcycle that was also road capable, it proved both successful and popular, winning almost all the major off-road racing events of the time. James Dean owned one, as did Fonzie from Happy Days, and pre-production versions of the model won the 1948 Italian International Six Day Trial with three gold medals and the manufacturers team trophy.

The Triumph TR6 Trophy was designed specifically to follow in the off-road tradition of its forebear, though now with a larger and more powerful engine from the Thunderbird. The first examples were called the TR6 Trophy-bird to reference the names of both models.

The new TR6 used the “Delta” alloy cylinder head with a cast iron barrel, it had an 8.5:1 compression ratio and was capable of 42 bhp. The headlight was designed to be easily removable for off-road competition, and most riders would fit knobby tires, thicker seats (suspension travel wasn’t ideal), and open exhaust pipes.

Over the course of its competition life riders would pilot examples of the TR6 Trophy to wins in the Barstow to Vegas 150-mile desert race, the Big Bear Run, the Hi-Mountain 200-mile Enduro, the ISDT, the Catalina Grand Prix, the AMA Cross Country Championship, the World Championship Hare and Hound, and the AMA National Hare & Hound Championship – to name just a few.

Triumph TR6 Trophy Hero

The eventual arrival of the Husqvarna two-strokes would spell the end of the line for the TR6 Trophy, but today they’re amongst the most highly sought after of vintage off-road motorcycles, and their reputation is second to none.

The 1960 Triumph TR6 Trophy Shown Here

The TR6 Trophy you see here is a presented in excellent period-correct condition, and appears to be ready to take part in the Catalina Grand Prix with minimal preparation.

It was supplied new to Comerfords of Thames Ditton and it was one of the first with the uncommon duplex frame, these were only manufactured for two years, making this bike desirable in the eyes of collectors.

If you’d like to read more about this bike or register to bid you an click here to visit the listing on Bonhams, it’s due to be auctioned on the 23rd of September with an estimated hammer price of £8,000 to £14,000.

Triumph TR6 Trophy Front

Triumph TR6 Trophy Front Drum Brake

Triumph TR6 Trophy Engine

Triumph TR6 Trophy Engine 2

Triumph TR6 Trophy Desert Sled

Triumph TR6 Trophy Desert Sled 1

Triumph TR6 Trophy

Triumph TR6 Trophy Rear

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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A Brief History of the Ariel Square Four https://silodrome.com/history-ariel-square-four/ Mon, 10 Sep 2018 07:00:56 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83159 A Brief History of the Ariel Square Four

The Ariel Square Four is one of the most famous names among Britain's original "big" bikes, standing side-by-side with the likes of Brough Superior and Vincent HRD.

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A Brief History of the Ariel Square Four

Introduction

The Ariel Square Four is one of the most famous names among Britain’s original “big” bikes, standing side-by-side with the likes of Brough Superior and Vincent HRD. The Square Four is a motorcycle that was born of a surprisingly simple idea, a motorcycle not made for racing or raw performance, although it was capable of that, but a motorcycle made for comfortable long range cruising with or without a sidecar.

Edward Turner and the Birth of the Ariel Square Four

Engineer Edward Turner was a man who had a great influence on Britain’s motorcycle and car making industry. He first rode a motorcycle at the age of fourteen and when we look at the career path he would later follow he must have been bitten hard by the motorcycle bug because it became his life’s work.

Ariel Square Four Engine Cutaway

In 1925, ten years after that fateful ride on a New Imperial Light Tourist motorbike, Edward Turner had a design for an overhead camshaft single cylinder motorcycle engine published by “The Motor Cycle”. Two years later in 1927 he had built his first motorcycle, the “Turner Special”, powered by a newly designed OHC 350cc single cylinder engine and fitted with a Sturmey-Archer three speed gearbox.

The best was yet to come however and by this time, legend would have it, that Edward Turner had taken up smoking and one day he had something of a “Eureka” moment. He was a fan of the parallel twin motorcycle engine and later in his career his parallel twins would power such iconic motorcycles as the Triumph Thunderbird, ridden by Marlon Brando in the movie “The Wild One”, and the Triumph Bonneville.

But over a smoke or two back before those motorcycles were thought of, Edward Turner thought of putting two parallel twins together to make a square four cylinder engine. He used his cigarette pack to make his concept drawing whilst sitting in a cafe, presumably over a nice hot cup of tea and the last smoke out of the pack.

Ariel Square Four motorcycle

One might wonder why an engineer would consider the complexity of making an engine twice as complicated by joining two engines together but there was indeed a method to the madness. By joining two parallel twin engines together there would be two crankshafts, turning in opposite directions to cancel out each other’s gyroscopic effect. Additionally the engine could be set up so that diagonally opposite pistons would be in top dead center, and bottom dead center thus counter balancing each other’s movement. The result was intended to be an engine that was perfectly balanced and thus smooth.

Edward Turner got busy over a drawing board with a T-square and set about proper drawings and a detailed design for this new engine which he completed in 1928. He was a fan of overhead camshafts and so he gave his new square four an overhead camshaft driven by a chain from the gear on a shaft driven by the two crankshafts.

At the time he designed the Square Four engine Edward Turner was managing Chepstow Motors in Peckham Road, London, which was an agency for Velocette Motorcycles. Turner decided to try his luck approaching the major motorcycle makers to see if any would be interested in his engine design. At BSA he was refused, but Ariel were interested with the result that in 1929 he was invited to join the Ariel staff as an engineer working alongside Bert Hopwood and under the direction of Val Page.

The Ariel Square Four 4F, 4G and 4H

Turner’s square four design was very compact, so much so that it was able to be fitted into an existing Ariel 250cc Colt frame designed for a single cylinder engine. In his original design the Square Four engine was made in unit with a three speed gearbox which was driven from the rearmost crankshaft, keeping the whole assembly very compact.

This ensured that it was a relatively easy process to go from new engine to complete prototype motorcycle. This prototype was not to make it into production however. The unitary construction was deemed too expensive and economies were also made in the engine’s cooling fins. The reduction in engine cooling fins in particular would turn out to be a bad move indeed. The cylinders were cast en-bloc and the cylinder head was also a one piece unit.

Ariel Model 4F.31 Square Four motorcycle

The new 498cc Ariel Square Four 4F motorcycle was shown to the public at the Olympia Motorcycle Show in 1930. The show bike had a separate Burman four speed gearbox with hand change gear lever (this would later be changed to foot control during production), and the engine was fitted into a modified Ariel SF31 499cc Sloper rigid frame.

The bike used the same fuel tank and other components of the 499cc Sloper model, the main difference being the engine. No doubt the thinking was that they were both 500cc bikes so it was most economical to use shared components as much as possible. The Great Depression was underway and so economy was all important.

Ariel SF31 Sloper motorcycle

In 1931 the Ariel Square Four was entered in the Maudes Trophy and won the event. This is particularly impressive when you look at the list of challenges the Ariel 4F Square Four successfully completed and the margins within which it did so :

  • Seven-hour endurance run at Brooklands: 368 miles covered.
  • Consumption test: approx. 700 miles on seven shillings worth of petrol and oil.
  • Head decarbonised in 4 min 19 sec using only spanners from the motorcycle’s tool kit (target time: under 7 min).
  • One-hour speed run at Brooklands: more than 80 miles covered. (target distance: 70 miles).
  • Run for 70 minutes in each of four gears on ordinary roads.
  • Seven non-stop ascents and descents of each of seven famous test hills: Porlock, Lynton, Beggar’s Roost, Countisbury, Bwlch y Groes, Dinas Hill, and Alt y Bady.
  • 700 miles in less than 670 minutes (target time: 700 minutes).

Ariel Square Four 4F OHC motorcycle

Another quite fun marketing stunt was the “Ariel Sevens” test. This involved getting seven schoolboys to kick start the Ariel Square Four seven times each. This resulted in the engine starting on the first kick 48 out of 49 attempts.

Perhaps the “piece de resistance” for the Ariel 4F Square four was accomplished in 1933 when Ben Bickell took his supercharged modified Ariel Square Four to Brooklands, put down a lap speed of 110 mph, and only just missed out on becoming the first British 500cc motorcycle to achieve one hundred miles in one hour (the top image is of this supercharged motorcycle).

Ariel Square Four Mark II

The OHC engine was nicknamed the “Cammy” engine and it acquired for itself a bit of a reputation for overheating at the rear of the cylinder head which could result in deformation.

Nonetheless the engine and bike performed pretty well and even achieved a win in the London to Land’s End Trial. Power was thought to be a bit lacking for sidecar use however so in 1932 the engine was revised with an increase of 5 mm in bore size to bring the capacity up to 601cc. Both 498cc and 601cc versions were sold up until 1933 when the “500cc” was phased out.

The Ariel Square Four 4F was a motorcycle that produced the quiet and smooth power it was intended to back in Edward Turner’s first vision of the engine back in the cafe over a cup of tea and his last smoke. There was however room for improvement and those developments were in the pipeline.

In 1936 Edward Turner became General Manager and Chief Designer of Ariel and one of the decisions he made was to fully address the overheating problem that was evident in the original 4F model. He entrusted this work primarily to Val Page who had established a great reputation having been the designer of the J.A. Prestwich V-twin engine of the Brough Superior SS100. Val Page made the significant changes to the Square Four engine needed to improve it, enlarge it, and solve the rear cylinder head overheating issue.

Ariel Square Four engine 4G

Val Page changed the Square Four engine by providing a cooling air channel between the front cylinders and adding fins to the cylinder head to better dissipate heat and improve air flow. He also moved away from Edward Turner’s chain driven overhead camshaft to an overhead valve system, with the valves being operated by a single camshaft located between the crankshafts with pushrods and overhead rockers.

The Square Four was a touring motorcycle engine that needed to be smooth, reliable, and easy to maintain: it did not need to be a high revving racing bike engine. Val Page’s changes were all about making the engine “boringly reliable” and he achieved this well. No doubt it was an engine that George Brough would admire, it was certainly an engine that Phil Vincent appreciated.

Ariel Square Four 4G motorcycle

For 1937 both the 600cc (i.e. 601cc) 4F and the new 1000cc (i.e. 998cc) 4G models were made to the revised Val Page OHV design. Both models were made with girder forks and a rigid frame. In 1938 Ariel dropped the 600cc 4F and listed two versions of the 1000cc bike, a “De Luxe” model 4G, and a “Standard” model 4H. This changed again in 1939, as the Second World War loomed over Britain, with the return of the 600cc 4F in addition to the 4G and 4H.

The De Luxe 4G and the Standard 4F seem to have had minimal differences in Ariel promotional literature of the time. The De Luxe 4G featured valenced fenders and a side-stand (aka “prop stand”) while the Standard 4H was listed as having standard fenders and no prop stand. Also for 1939 Ariel offered their patented Anstey-link plunger rear suspension as an additional cost option.

Ariel 4G Square Four motorcycle

Despite the hope offered by the Munich Agreement of September 30th,1938 and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “Peace in our time” speech, Ariel Motors Ltd. was about to be engulfed in the Second World War which would begin with the Nazi invasion of Poland just under a year later on September 1st, 1939.

So, instead of battling for motorcycle sales, Ariel Motors would be playing its part in the battle for Britain’s survival. Ariel’s contribution to the war effort was the manufacture of simple, tough and reliable single cylinder military motorcycles, and manufacture of the Square Four was suspended until the war’s end in 1945.

Ariel 4G Square Four motorcycle

With the war over in 1945 Ariel Motors quickly resumed civilian motorcycle production including putting the pre-war 1939 4G De Luxe 1000cc version of the Square Four back into production. This model was improved the following year in 1946 with rear suspension becoming standard and the changeover to telescopic front forks. This model would remain in production until 1949.

Ariel Square Four motorcycle

The Ariel Square Four Mark I

The Ariel Square Four Mark I made its debut in 1949 and, at long last, saw the cast iron cylinder barrels and head changed over to aluminum alloy. The change to aluminum alloy shed 30lb from the weight of the bike but, even more importantly, brought much improved cooling because of the aluminum’s far better heat dissipating characteristics. The electrical system was changed from the old Lucas Magdyno to a car type coil ignition with distributor and a 70 watt dynamo/generator.

Ariel Mark II Square 4 motorcycle

In 1950 the speedometer was relocated from the fuel tank top to the front forks top and then in 1951 the tank top instrument panel was omitted and the speedometer housed in the alloy casting that formed the fork crown. The Mark I weighed 435lb dry, its engine produced 35 bhp @5,500 rpm, and it was capable of over 90 mph.

The Ariel Square Four Mark II

Even with the change to aluminum for the barrels and head there were still concerns regarding the Square Four’s heat dissipating characteristics. This is an issue for air cooled engines and Harley-Davidson had to face a similar set of problems with their V-twin engines. A square four engine however requires a more strategic approach to cooling for the rear cylinders because they are receiving a different air flow than the front cylinders.

The cylinders at the front are directly in the air flow, while the cylinders at the rear tend to get an air flow already heated by passage by the front cylinders. Ariel made significant changes to this engine to once and for all resolve the uneven cooling issues. For the 1953 Mark II model the cylinder barrels were all separated and the cylinder head was completely re-designed. The exhaust for each cylinder was separated and fitted to the cylinder head by left and right exhaust manifolds each accommodating two exhaust pipes. Similarly the inlet manifold and rocker cover were combined and the carburetor used was a classic British SU, which sat up a bit taller than the previous arrangement and so required a frame modification.

In 1953 both the Mark I and new Mark II models were sold side by side in dealerships and by 1954 only the Mark II was on sale. The single solo seat was replaced with a double seat. 1954 saw the addition of a fork lock, and then in 1956 the headlight was given a hooded cover integrated with the fork cover and instrument panel. The fork top instrument panel included speedometer, ammeter, and light switch etc. The front hub was also updated to a lightweight alloy unit.

Ariel Square Four Mark II

This new version of the Square Four engine proved to be the cream of the crop and produced 40 hp. The bike weight was a bit less at 435 lb dry and it was capable of “the ton” (100 mph).

The Mark II remained in production until 1959. However, even after it had been withdrawn from manufacture there were people who lamented its passing and wanted to see it come back.

The Healey 1000/4

Two brothers, George and Tim Healey, were Ariel Square Four aficionados who decided to try to put a new version of the bike into  limited production. Not having the ability to manufacture the parts for the bikes themselves George and Tim set about buying all the Ariel Square Four parts they could so they could build a few special bikes.

The Healey brothers had already built up a great deal of experience modifying Ariel Square Four bikes having been setting up custom competition bikes for racing and sprint (i.e. drag strip) use. They had also built supercharged sprint bikes which had doubled the standard engine’s power.

Healey 1000/4 /Ariel Square Four custom motorcycle

George and Tim wanted to create the ultimate Square Four motorcycle so they approached a man named Roger Slater who had purchased the rights to manufacture the Fritz Egli tubular spine frame with a view to building their new bike on a custom Egli frame. The Egli frame was the lightest and stiffest design available at that time (1971). Looking for the best components the front forks were sourced from Metal Profiles while the drum brake assemblies were imported from Italy.

The new bike weighed 80 lbs less than the last model Ariel Square Four Mark II, so the weight was around 345 lb dry, with the engine tuned to produce 20% more power giving it 50 hp @ 6,000 rpm. The original Square Four engine used a dry sump and the new Healey kept to this and used the central tube of the Egli frame as the oil reservoir.

An oil cooler, better oil pump and larger oil filter completed the main list of improvements. The end result was a true British superbike, but with a smooth and beautifully balanced engine. Interestingly the light and lively Healey 1000/4 proved to be a modern take on Edward Turner’s original concept of the bike back in 1930, a light, powerful and excellent handling motorcycle: a 1930 concept but with 1970’s technology.

Healey 1000/4 /Ariel Square Four custom motorcycle

The Healey 1000/4 was a limited production bike with just twenty eight being made before the brothers decided they’d run out of parts and they went on to other projects. Tim Healey went on to work with Laverda. Production ceased in 1977.

The Healey 1000/4 gives us a glimpse of what the Ariel Square Four could have become had production kept going past 1959.

Conclusion

The Ariel Square Four has been affectionately nicknamed the “Squariel” and it was a classic among classics. It produced a smooth and beautiful exhaust note, not at all like the thump of a V-twin or a parallel twin. It was a motorcycle for all day cruising and it was perfectly adapted for sidecar use.

Its designer, Edward Turner would go on to create some of the most iconic motorcycles ever to be made in England’s green and pleasant land, and he also created the 2.5 liter and 4.5 liter Daimler/Jaguar V8 engines. But it is his first and most unique design, the Square Four, that he is perhaps most remembered for.

Photo Credits: Bonhams, Ariel, Ariel North America.

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1926 Isle of Man TT Competitor – Scott Flying Squirrel Racing Prototype https://silodrome.com/scott-tt-racing-motorcycle/ Fri, 07 Sep 2018 08:01:07 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83434 1926 Isle of Man TT Competitor – Scott Flying Squirrel Racing Prototype

The Scott Flying Squirrel is almost certainly the most famous motorcycle made by the revered British marque, though it’s hard to tell if its fame comes from its brilliant name, or from its remarkably advanced engineering (for the time). The motorcycle you see here is a Flying Squirrel racing prototype of sorts, it was one...

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1926 Isle of Man TT Competitor – Scott Flying Squirrel Racing Prototype

The Scott Flying Squirrel is almost certainly the most famous motorcycle made by the revered British marque, though it’s hard to tell if its fame comes from its brilliant name, or from its remarkably advanced engineering (for the time).

The motorcycle you see here is a Flying Squirrel racing prototype of sorts, it was one of three new Scotts built to compete in the 1926 Isle of Man TT, and the improvements incorporated into these three bikes rolled into the production Flying Squirrel that would be launched at the Olympia Motor Show later in 1926.

Scott Flying Squirrel

The Scott Motorcycle Company

It’s hard to adequately explain just how far ahead of the curve the Scott Motorcycle Company was when they released their first production model in 1908.

It was a liquid-cooled, two-stroke parallel twin with deflector pistons, a lightweight duplex frame, telescopic forks, and a two-speed transmission. The engine was slung low in the frame to give a low centre of gravity, and the engine was also used as a stressed-member.

This is a spec-sheet that wouldn’t look out of place describing one of the 500cc Grand Prix bikes that would rise to dominance in the 1970s and carry on well into the 1990s (well, with the exception of the two-speed gearbox of course).

Scott Flying Squirrel Front Side

The Scott company was founded by Alfred Angas Scott, that’s a name you should almost certainly know if you’re interested in motorcycle history, as it was Scott who invented and/or patented the kickstarter, monoshock suspension, rotary inlet valves, drip-feed lubricators, centrestands, and perhaps most importantly, his patented two-stroke engine designs still form the basis of modern two-stroke engines.

When not designing motorcycles Scott was an avid spelunker (cave explorer), sadly it was a hobby that would lead to his early death at the age of just 48. He was piloting one of his motor vehicles home after a day of caving in wet clothes, and it led to him contracting pneumonia and dying.

Scott wouldn’t live to see his belief in the two-stroke engine (and many of his own designs and patents) go on to dominate both on and off-road motorcycle racing, and remain dominant until emissions restrictions proved to be their undoing.

Scott Flying Squirrel Left Side

The Scott Flying Squirrel Racing Prototype Shown Here

The Scott you see here is an original Isle of Man TT racer from 1926, three bikes were sent to the island for the races that year accompanied by riders Harry Langman, Ernie Mainwaring, and Jack Welsby. Langman and Mainwaring were both out on lap one, but Welsby rode this bike to an 18th place finish by the time the checkered flag fell on the seventh lap.

Years later Welsby wrote to Bob Currie who published the following account of Jack’s race in “The MotorCycle” on the 18th of April 1957:

“On the third lap, he recalls, he took the jump at Ballig Bridge at too high a speed, and the resulting jolt on landing stripped every tooth from the second-gear pinion. From then on the Scott was ridden in top gear only, a feat which placed quite a handicap on braking and cornering. Ramsey had to be negotiated in short, sharp skids, while Welsby was able to make the Mountain climb only by playing tunes with the clutch, which he fully expected to burn out at any moment. However, it was strongly constructed and stood the racket with only minor protest.”

The same article tells us that in the practice session “Welsby was timed at 92.2 mph on the Sulby Straight, and the drop to Hillberry was made at 107 mph.”

The bike is now due to be sold by Bonhams at the Alexandra Palace Sale on the 23rd of September, with an estimated hammer price of £30,000 to £40,000. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.

Scott Flying Squirrel Two Stroke Engine

Scott Flying Squirrel Rear Wheel

Scott Flying Squirrel Front Wheel

Scott Flying Squirrel Engine

Scott Flying Squirrel

Scott Flying Squirrel

Scott Flying Squirrel Right Side

Scott Flying Squirrel

Scott Flying Squirrel Vintage

Scott Flying Squirrel Vintage Motorcycle

Scott Flying Squirrel Vintage Motorcycle

J H Welsby, Isle of Man TT Scott Motorcycle

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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MV Agusta 861 Magni – Italian Motorcycle Royalty https://silodrome.com/mv-agusta-861-magni/ Thu, 06 Sep 2018 08:01:20 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83482 MV Agusta 861 Magni – Italian Motorcycle Royalty

This MV Agusta 861 Magni is the work of Arturo Magni and his sons, Arturo was a legendary Italian engineer who joined MV Agusta in the early 1950s after a stint with Gilera. Any student of motorcycle racing history will immediately recognize the importance of seeing the Magni name on the side of an MV...

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MV Agusta 861 Magni – Italian Motorcycle Royalty

This MV Agusta 861 Magni is the work of Arturo Magni and his sons, Arturo was a legendary Italian engineer who joined MV Agusta in the early 1950s after a stint with Gilera. Any student of motorcycle racing history will immediately recognize the importance of seeing the Magni name on the side of an MV Agusta – these motorcycles are unadulterated two-wheeled Italian royalty.

Arturo Magni

With Arturo heading the R&D, engineering, and race team, MV Agusta would utterly dominate motorcycle racing up and down the classes, taking 270 Grand Prix victories and 75 World Championships between the beginning of his tenure in the early ’50s to the time the racing department at MV Agusta shutdown in 1976.

After MV Agusta’s step back from racing, Arturo and his two sons Carlo and Giovanni set up their own bespoke motorcycle company named EPM, later known more simply as Magni. Initially the company would work only with MV Agusta motorcycles for obvious reasons, but over the years they branched out and built high-performance Hondas, BMWs, and Moto Guzzis.

MV Agusta 861 Magni Left Side

The MV Agusta 861 Magni

One could argue that the MV Agusta 861 Magni, often just referred to as the 861 Magni, is the ultimate example of a Magni bike, with the obvious exception of the track-only race bikes of the 1950s and ’60s.

These bikes often started with a stock MV Agusta 750S, which was then disassembled before being rebuilt with a new Magni frame that had been designed with the benefit of the Magni family’s long racing heritage.

The inline-four cylinder engine was rebuilt with new high-compression pistons, swept capacity was increased from 750cc to 861cc and fitted with a pair of street cams, four Dellorto carburetors were bolted on as well as a chain-drive conversion, front and rear suspension was replaced with higher performance units, the original exhaust was swapped out for Conti pipes, and a new fairing, fuel tank, and seat were fitted too.

Not all of Magni MV Agustas received all of these upgrades, and the exact specification list changed over the years, as enthusiasts were sending in their 750 MV Agustas to Magni for 20-plus years.

MV Agusta 861 Magni Front Side

The 1978 MV Agusta 861 Magni Shown Here

The Magni you see here is once of the nicest examples of this rare motorcycle we’ve seen come up for public sale in some time.

This was one of the earlier Magni-modified MV Agustas, likely recieving its rebuild back in 1977, the same year that Magni first went into business as EPM. The front and rear drum brakes and earlier-style bodywork are immediate cause as to its vintage, as later Magni MV Agustas generally received disc brakes and differently styled fairings, seats, and fuel tanks.

It was first road-registered in Germany on the 21st of January 1978 and it’s now accompanied by German registration papers and a TüV (dated 4th July 2012).

Bonhams are estimating a hammer price of between £60,000 and £80,000 which represents a handsome appreciation in value for those who picked one up decades ago when they could be had for notably less money. That said, any red-blooded motorcyclist who’s heard one of these bikes being ridden in anger would happily sell their house to own one.

If you’d like to read more about this bike or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Bonhams.

MV Agusta 861 Magni Rear

MV Agusta 861 Magni name

MV Agusta 861 Magni Head

MV Agusta 861 Magni Front

MV Agusta 861 Magni Front Right

MV Agusta 861 Magni Front Drum Brake

MV Agusta 861 Magni Front 1

MV Agusta 861 Magni Engine

MV Agusta 861 Magni Engine 1

MV Agusta 861 Magni

Images courtesy of Bonhams

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