Desert Sled Issue! - Oregon Vintage Motorcyclists



Desert Sled Issue! - Oregon Vintage Motorcyclists
Newsletter of the BSAOC of Northern California
March 2016 Number 363
Desert Sled Issue!
Spring is in the air!
The Way We Were
Letters (lots of them!)
Guess the racer contest
Hooray for the Desert Sled
A Desert Sled primer
The one(s) that got away!
Calendar 2016
Doug Bingham
Rides and rallies!
A new poem from Art!
Hawkeye Hillbilly found!
Original articles from club members
Swap meat
The back page funnies
Dave Aldana Earl Bowlby Don Danmeier Eddie Dow Dick Mann
Neil Keen Bob Raber Jim Rice Jeff Smith Craig Vetter
Number 363 March 2016
The BULLETIN of the Northern California BSA Owners’ Club is the forum for the
exchange of information among the members. All material contained within this
newsletter is property of the BSAOCNC unless otherwise stated within the article.
Material is not to be reproduced or copied without the written consent of the
BSAOCNC. If you would like to use an article or picture found in this newsletter
please contact the Editor.
Deadline for submission of material for publication is the 10th of each month. Members are
encouraged to submit technical information, ads, letters, photographs, or any other items of
potential interest. Photos will be returned only if so requested in advance.
Opinions expressed in the BULLETIN are those of the respective contributors,
and do not necessarily represent the position of the Club membership or its
David James President
Gary Roper Vice President
Ray Pallett Secretary
Mike Crick
Jim Romain
Ants Uiga
John Magri
Patti Meadows
Randy Reiter
David James
Barry Porter
Bill Whalen
Thomas Stott (Pre-unit C Series Singles)
Heinz Batterman (Gold Star)
(M20/21) need volunteer
Jack Wheeler (Pre-unit Twins)
James Banke (Unit Singles)
Jerry Meadows (Unit Twins)
Bill Whalen (Rocket 3)
(Bantam) need volunteer
Maggie Neato (Personals)
Hap Hazard
Claud Baddley
Sigmund Fraud
I.M. Supaman
In Memoriam: Kenny Eggers Nick Nicholson Roland Pike
*** - *** - ****
Write c/o the BULLETIN
Write c/o the BULLETIN
Retired Lion tamer
Road tester at large
Bill Getty, Editor
Don Danmeier
Don Danmeier, Chair
Ray Pallett
Mike Crick
Don Danmeier, Chair
David James
Rick Price, Chair
Jeff Sunzeri, Chief Judge
Don Danmeier, MC
David James
Patti Meadows
Bill Whalen
Gary Roper, Chair
David James
Bill Whalen, Chair
Patti Meadows
Ants Uiga
David James, Chair
Patti Meadows
Jeff Sunzeri
Roy Bacon
1957 Triumph desert sled raced by Bob Rickard
in the day, Johnny Green photos
The Northern California BSA Owners’ Club is open to all BSA enthusiasts at $20 per year.
Associate membership is $5 per year for additional members in the same household.
The address for submitting material for publication in the newsletter is, 17320
Santa Rosa Mine Rd. Perris, Ca. 92570
e-mail: [email protected]
Cover: Unknown rider in the great California desert,, pure freedom!
Back cover: You know you’ve done the same thing!
The way we were
Swap Meat
Only British motorcycle related items will be listed, with BSA
items having priority. Unless otherwise requested, ads will run
for three consecutive issues. If you find/sell what you are advertising for during that period, please send the Editor a cancellation notice!
The methods for submitting ads for publication are:
Preferred: via Email, [email protected] with any photos in .jpg format
Next Best: Phone 951-943-5886. Good: mail to: 17320 Santa Rosa Mine Rd, Perris
92570. bikes sold through the Bulletin 2015 - 12- so place your add today!
We have a limited supply of Ron Halem Memorial T-shirts (L only) - $15 postpaid and Decals for $5. Please contact Patti at [email protected]
Misc. parts for sale:
For sale: Many boxes of BSA A10 gearbox parts, cases, gears, shafts, about 200 + lbs
in various pre-unit transmission parts sold in one lot
For Sale: NOS BSA A75 gas tank 1971 from Cycle Hub stash
1965 Bultaco Metisse frame, water pipe Spanish made one rusty w/title $250
Will be coming to the Clubman and can bring with me if you are interested.
All in Southern Ca. [email protected] or 951-943-5886
1960 Matchless G80CS. New paint by Dennis Lesea on gas and oil tanks.
New cover from UK on original seat pan. New cables, many new fasteners.
Rebuilt N1 magneto. Complete except for speedometer. No electrics; California bike by history; I doubt has ever been registered. $5500. (707) 8292464.
Your humble Editor
Being a child of the 50’s and coming of age in the 60’s it was
my fervent hope to own a chopper. With Peter Fonda showing
us the way my friends and I set about modifying our bicycles to
emulate the extended fork sissy bar look so popular in the later
60’s. Imagining ourselves to be rebels and outlaws we would
strive to be an individual in a crowd of squares. I bought my
first real big bore motorcycle in 1970, a beautiful red Commando. I went immediately across the street from Tom Orlando’s
Champion Motors to the chopper shop.
Chopper shops seemed to be on every corner in those days and any chrome rubbish
with a hole big enough to bolt it to you motorcycle would sell. Some of the purveyors of
this hideous merchandise became wealthy beyond belief. AE Choppers sold some of the
better stuff but even their chrome girder forks were made of twisted mild steel with nary
a bushing to be found. Steel riding on a grade 5 bolt didn’t wear too well! One local custom shop sold chrome plated railroad spikes as footrests. Called Frisco pegs these
things were designed to inflict maximum damage to the rider in a crash. Chrome twisted
struts replaced shocks. Mile high twisted chrome sissy bars some with a bayonet welded
to the top and chrome plated were as common at a bike gathering as pigeons at McDonalds. Then there were the chrome electrical boxes under your Amal carburetors to “clean
up” the electrics on your T120. These chrome boxes would fill with fuel from a leaky
Amal and had multiple sources for ignition, 2 coils and a tractor switch along with one or
two toggle switches’ and the deluxe ones has a red lamp to show when the ignition was
on. Six bend pullbacks and MC Supply extended cable kits to install them sold like fire
extinguishers at a Ford Pinto rally.
I went up to the counter and asked what extension would be good for the fork on my
new Norton. The salesman asked if I was going to go with a spool wheel with no brake
(!) or keep the stock wheel. No brake for me man, they just vault you over the bars and
are only good for holding you on a hill anyway. He asked if I was going to rake the
frame. Not sure what that meant so being seventeen I said yes. He pointed out that Norton was a hard bike to chop but they had the fork tubes and could rake the frame and
supply the struts and the spool wheel along with the 6 bend pullbacks, sissy bar and
high-back seat and lace up a 16” wheel. “Great” I said “how much that gona cost?”. So
my Norton was saved from a fate worse than death. In the days when I was making
$2.25 an hour and my new Commando was $1275.00 and my payment was $45.00 a
month, this move to freedom would have been almost the cost of the bike.
As the chopper craze ran its inevitable course brakes and other safety issues became
a matter of state regulation. Dealers began to offer new bikes with all the chopper stuff
added on and incorporated into the monthly payments. Some dealers like Bud Ekins
retained all the take off parts and indeed Bud had a veritable treasure trove of OE tanks,
fenders and mufflers under and behind his N. Hollywood home. Later he would sell this
stuff and make even more money than he did taking it off, sometimes re-uniting the
same parts with the bike it had come on originally.
I went to a road race with friends and watched transfixed as the ballet that is road racing unfolded before me. I immediately bought a used Vincent low handlebar and fit it to
my Norton. Later came Read-titan rear-sets and a Wixom racing fairing. The chopper
craze died out over time and has been replaced over the years with various and diverse
flash in the pan build types. The bobber craze is dying at the moment and it appears the
desert sled is on the way in again. Time to buy some snow shovels to make skid plates.
When a old Q air filter brings $350 on flea bay it is time!
Letters to the Editor
Send to: [email protected] or by mail : 17320 Santa Rosa Mine Rd,
Perris, Ca.
Hello Bill, I must have missed this quiz last issue. I'll try on the Feb
2016 issue page # 11. Rider # 44Q is Bob Birch. The rider behind him, #
16W is probably Jim Boist. Obviously they are from the WA/OR area
with Q & W letters. Shoot, I got one of these photo questions right a few
issues ago and gave a better description then the so-called winner. I felt
dissed! Hey, I may be wrong on this one but it is a tough one. Hope to
see you in San Jose. Dennis Burkman Y ou are right on Dennis! I will see you in San
Jose. You have won a box of spark plugs!
Hi Bill,, My guess for rider 196 is DeWayne Keeter of Gardena, CA
Good guess Ants but incorrect…. Ed.
Jim Long’s Power Products
16336 Third Street,
Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 869-2426
Hi Bill, This looks like Chris Carter of Motion Pro. Thanks, Neil Fergus
Is it Jeff Smith and can-am ?
Bob Ferry
Sorry, no
Looks like Norm McDonald racing a BSA on page14 of the Feb. 2016 issue.
Charlie Stewart You are correct! Note the K&N on his shirt and his name as well.
Hi Bill, I'm thinking that might be you on page # 14 except as I recall you bought JRC
and I don't think you'd be caught dead on an A-10. Dennis
I love A10s Dennis! That’s not me but another king of industry!
It is Norm McDonald
co-founder of K&N at Perris,
California TT race, in 1959. Bike
is 1957 BSA. (Shirt is the giveaway!) Ed.
EXPRESS LOGISTICS, Inc.-- is a family owned and operated business. WE ARE ONE OF THE TOP RATED
REVIEWS. We own 3 tr ucks, and all of our dr iver s ar e militar y
veterans. Our drivers are CDL Class "A" certified. . Regardless of the
condition, all bikes are treated as if they just left the showroom floor.
Rest assured that your bike is safe with us.
Hawkeye Hillbilly from On Any Sunday!
By Bob Ferry
This is in response to our humble Editor's call for articles.
Bear with me; this is the first one I've ever written! Last
month (January) was the Las Vegas auction. I go every year
to see a lot of show bikes that are for sale. It's a chance to
see friends that I only get to see but once a year; Bill and
Marla Getty, Don Harold, Yoshe from The Garage Company
and Martin S. from Holland. Martin brings beautiful BSAs to
the auction for sale. And many others I don't have room
enough to list here! Of course, all the "regulars" from our
local BSA club. This is one of the events every year that I
look forward to; this, to me, is a great time! Most people who go to this have something
in mind they would like to get if the price is right. I personally was looking at a Velo and
an (OMG!) Harley KR. Both went for more than I wanted to pay or had. Looking at the
bikes on the floor is another part of this that makes it so much fun. It was while I was
walking and seeing if I could find something in my price range (cheap), I came across an
old Triumph hill-climber that was pretty rough. Hmmm, maybe in my price range? Well,
the more I looked, the more I thought this was a neat bike with lots of great parts: Delta
head for starters.
Then I noticed a box behind the bike that
had trophies and an "On Any Sunday"
flyer. Now I see this is the bike from the
movie that was at the Widow Maker hill
climb ridden by Hawkeye Hillbilly. I noticed a guy walking toward us (and the
bike) and I asked, "Are you the Hillbilly?
You are THE guy who rode this bike in
Bruce Brown's movie?" And he replied,
"Yes." After talking to him about the bike
(a 1947 Triumph 500) and its parts, I was
Hawkeye himself!
able to introduce him to Bob Smith, Ron
Perconti, Fred Mork and Bill and Linda
Whalen among others. We were talking about the movie when he tells us he came in
second place that day in the hillclimb. (That was not in the movie!) And two years later
he was Number 1 in Canada on that bike. At one point, he asked how we all knew each
other. We told him we were all members of the NCBSAOC. Then he told us that he
loved going all over to hill climbs to beat 650
The author and the hillbilly
BSAs with his Triumph
500! Quite a neat guy.
You just never know who
you'll meet at this
event.PS. His reserve
on the bike and all the
stuff was $32,000. It did
not sell but the experience was worth a fortune
to me! Thank you, Hawkeye Hillbilly. Bob Ferry
Dear Editor: I want to pass on an experience I had with an Amal Monobloc
carburetor a couple of years ago. It was the night before the races at
Chowchilla Short Track and I was getting the B33 checked over. I snapped
the carb. slide to make sure there was no sticking. I did it once then twice
and then a third time. On the third time the slide stuck in the body, not
good! I pulled the carb. off and found the slide had gotten peened over
from hitting the idle stop screw. I dressed down the indentation on the slide and it
worked fine again. I want to warn other riders with Amal Monobloc carburetors on their
bikes not to snap the throttle. The slide is just a thin shell of a tube and snapping the
throttle had eventually peened the slide causing it to stick in the bore. This could have
been disastrous going into the first turn or on the street going into a corner. I would recommend checking your slide for this problem. Tom DiSalvo.
Good advice Tom, anyone else have a tip to share?
I hope next September BSAOC Corporate headquarters will
send a news team to the Reno Air Races. Perfect event for
people who like to see British machines going fast! I am a member of the FenceLiners who own 25 acres right on the race
course. Come on Sunday to watch the big race or bring camping gear for a couple of days, And for our members who are
“careful with their money” it is Free! September 14-18, 2016
Butch Gordo , [email protected]
Thanks Butch!
Anyone care to join me camping under the races? Ed.
Hi Gang, Here may be a useful tip that members might use
MY USES FOR OLD TIRE TUBES By John Magri In my shop I keep this handy material around for these helpful motorcycle uses .Cut crosswise to make rubber bands to
bind the tool roll and to keep loose item’s together. Keeping a couple cut bands in the
tool kit just in case say the kick starter spring breaks they can be use to secure the lever. Use to extend or join bungee cords when tying luggage loads. Cut and glue a patch
to prevent chaffing in places such as under the petrol tank or where side covers rub on
the frame tubes. I made washers placed under tank badges where the screws pass
through to tank and prevent the securing screws from loosing. I use a carabineer clip
attached to the grab rail to hang my helmet when parked and placed a rubber patch over
the frame rail to prevent chaffing. You can use a rubber cement type adhesive to secure
which makes it removable and damage free. My favorite use is to make wire and cable
ties similar to the accessory type found in stores but made to lengths for your specific
applications such as under the petrol tank to bind the main wire harness and cables
where a longer length is needed and shorter length ties for single cable or wire leads
attached to the smaller diameter frame tubes. A template can be made to the shapes
needed using a wavy pattern to create narrow and wide cross sections to control
stretching and length. For the locking “T” make this twice the finished “T” length in order
to fold over its self and secure with tire patch glue this will increase thickness to prevent
the tie from pulling through the locking hole after fitting. To attach the ties use a needle
nose pliers inserted through the tie hole wrap tie around objects and grasp “T” with pliers
Dan Lowery
Cliff Rezentes
Lawrence, Kansas
Brentwood, California
Hurray for the
Desert Sled!
When men were men and
bikes were cool.
The great western deserts of the United States were virtually empty prior to
WW2. The heavy American V twins and
the narrow tired cars of the 20’s,30’s
and 40’s did not do well in the deep
sand and vast distances encountered in the Mojave desert. Miners cut roads and built
trail’s but the former were limited and the latter were well suited to pack animals but
wholly inadequate for a Harley 74. World War 2 introduced American service men to
European lightweight motorcycles. Imagine the difference jumping from your 800 pound
Chief to a light and nimble Speed Twin. Or even more pronounced ,the Matchless competition 500 with a swing arm suspension at the back! Enterprising soldiers found ways
to bring some of these motorcycles back when they came home from Europe. Even
more enterprising men found ways to import and sell these machines to a ready clientele. My father had been born and raised in Chicago, but when he answered Uncle
Sam’s call to service spent some time in San Diego, California. Imagine his surprise and
delight to discover that there was no snow there in winter– ever. When he was released
from the service and had started his young family he determined that California was
where he wanted to raise his boys. And he wasn’t alone, tens of thousands of servicemen discovered California weather and flocked to the west. And there was Johnson
Motors (Triumph– Ariel), or Hap Alzina (BSA), or Cooper motors (Matchless-AJS) to sell
them one of those new foreign bikes.
Exploring the great western deserts became popular. There were military surplus
Jeeps for sale or if you could afford it a new Trophy, G80CS or Gold Star. British motorcycle owners quickly learned to jettison what wasn’t needed on their bikes and began to
form clubs. The Checkers, Shamrocks , Dirt Diggers, Hilltoppers MC, Jackrabbits, Lost
Angels, Lost Coyotes, Prairie Dogs MC, Prospectors MC, Rovers MC, Viewfinders MC,
Gripsters MC, Claim Jumpers MC, Soreheads MC and dozens of others sprang up. Famous races including the Bear chase AKA The Big Bear Grand Prix, Barstow to Vegas,
the Greenhorn Enduro and others featured starting lines consisting of hundreds of riders. In those days the sponsored factory riders rode the same bike Joe Sixpak could
buy, so in theory you could be just like them. Bud Ekins, Roger White, Mike Patrick,
Eddie Mulder, Jack Simmons, Buck Smith and dozens of others raced what in essence
was a stripped down stock street bike. An aftermarket supply group quickly saw a way
to make some money from this new form of cycling. Most of the founders of the companies started as racers themselves so knew what the riders wanted. Webco, Flanders,
Hap Jones, Graham Sheet Metal, MC Supply, Malcom Smith, IMS and other famous
names began as makers of skid plates and oil tanks and other replacement accessories.
The desert was tough on stock parts so the aftermarket quickly answered the call ,
making skid plates and oil tanks and eventually even frames. Unlike the sketchy chopper stuff , poorly made desert racing parts failed immediately and the maker either
changed his ways or went out of business.
Bud Ekins is probably the most well known of desert racers. He began riding on Matchless, but when Triumph introduced the swing arm T110 in 1954 he soon changed
brands. Bud became linked with Triumph products and with his winning smile and rugged good looks was one of Triumph’s best selling tools. Triumph became so popular
My hubby, "Angular Momentum", has recently started taking his 1970 BSA Lightning in for repairs to a new shop
owned by a very attractive older blonde lady named "The
Cougar". She assured him that both he and his machine
would be in good hands. Hmmmm. Right away, she convinced Angular that his BSA would run much better if he
hired her to switch the electrical system from positive
ground to negative ground. Maggie, I can't see how this
would be an improvement! I mean, the BSA doesn't care a
piff which pole goes to ground, right?! But The Cougar
batted her long false eyelashes at my hubby, and he instantly caved. To add insult to injury, she charged him double
for a "negative ground battery"! Then she sweet-talked him
into changing the perfectly good stock wheels on his BSA
for new ones, which she claimed were better because they
have clincher tires. She said that with these new wheels
and tires he'd be able to lean the bike over at even steeper
angles and go around curves faster. "It's a bit scary to be
going that fast," she warned him, "so you'll have to get used to tightening up your
sphincter muscles. Hence the term 'clincher tires' ". At this point, I pointed out that he
was spending far more time at The Cougar's shop than he was at home, and even more
troubling, he was spending far more money on his BSA than he was on me! He
claimed that he loved his bike and was merely being anal. I agreed with him, but I used
a word that was slightly different from "anal" although closely related to it.
Today he came home and said that The Cougar had talked him into installing new
brake pads front and rear. Maggie, his BSA is equipped with mechanical brakes, and
even I know that they have brake shoes, not pads. I think the only thing that's getting
padded here is the repair bill! Are all male BSA owners this gullible? Maggie, what
can I do to help Angular spend more time at home with me and less money on needless
repairs at The Cougar's? – SKEPTICAL IN PALMDALE
Dear Pants-in a-Wad:
As to your first question: no, most male BSA owners are not that gullible, but (and
here’s a hint) they do appreciate being appreciated. But slow down for a minute. Judging from what you have told me here, there are relationship metaphors all over this story. Don’t you think Cougar Woman’s ploy is obvious? The polarity issue is not entirely without merit (Henry Ford had the same idea as BSA with regard to that, look it up),
but that’s not the point. The clincher in this is not the tires, but the bold play she’s
making to get your dumbass hubby to do the old switcheroo – from you to her. Geez,
you must be tone-deaf and blond. I mean, blind. So go back to that last question again
and think about what you can provide in the way of feminine charm to overcome it .
that there was a long waiting list to get one. The
factory worked triple shifts to fill demand and
was remarkably profitable for the parent BSA
As the public’s environmental awareness began
to blossom in the late 60’s it became more and
more apparent that having 1000 motorcycles
race recklessly across virgin desert was not very
environmentally sound. An influx of even lighter
dirt bikes from Spain and Sweden soon gave
the thundering Triumphs a run for their money.
An upstart piano maker from Japan entered the famous Catalina GP with a Yamaha 250
twin. The Japanese soon outdistanced the Spanish Bultacos, Ossa’s and Montesa’s and
had the Swedish Husky dead in their sights. The DT1 Yamaha spelled the end of the
Desert sled, relegating them to special vintage classes or as curios for old timers to gush
The last serious race won by a true sled was the 1967 Barstow to Vegas race won on a
67 TR6 Triumph piloted by Dusty Coppage, who beat 500 other riders to the checkered
flag. That bike is currently owned by Donna Owens, wife of the late Pat Owens, who
along with tuning great Danny Macias were responsible for building the engine for the
bike. (The bike is on display in our shop in Perris Ca. on loan from Donna).
But as they say if history doesn't repeat itself it often rhymes and we are finding a renewed interest in building desert sleds. The beauty is that there is no definite way to do
it. Each bike is a work of the builders imagination. We are selling more Ekins high level
pipes than ever and have noticed a decided price increase on these classic race bikes.
In the day there were thousands of these bikes built from original street bikes and many
have been overlooked until now . Young riders who weren’t even a gleam in dad’s eye in
the day are eagerly researching these bikes and looking for the parts to
live those robust times over again. So find yourself a donor Triumph or
BSA and have at it. No worries about chrome plating or correct fasteners
here just will it go the distance. Front fender made of a strap of stainless
held with hardware store bolts. Seats with wood bases and home made
leather covers, or as my friend Rich Eaton used to say “you don’t need
long travel suspension, only a long travel seat”. Fenders with extra
holes? Who cares? Rims a bit out of true, so what? Tank has a dent or
two-add a few more for effect. Need a skid plate? Use an old snow
shovel (yes really). Don’t
need no speedometer or
tach. Oil tank filler moved
to the outer edge of the
tank so you don’t need to
remove the seat to check Charlie Hockie 1957
your oil. Weld on some
old folding pegs sourced
from the local cycle
wrecking yard and you
are in business.
Claud Baddley
The late Dusty Coppage at Trailblazers
by Art Sirota
c 2016 Art Sirota
Desert Sled primer,
Desert Sleds made easy.
By I.M.Supraman
So you want to pretend you’re Buck Smith,
do you? Want to feel like McQueen or maybe
Bud Ekins? Well you can do it on the cheap
and have a bike that will attract more attention than a red Vincent in Vegas, and be
398,000.00 cheaper . Here is where to begin:
1. Desert sleds were a run what ya brung affair. You can make most anything into a sled but the bike of choice is Triumph’s
500/650 twins. So begin by finding a frame/engine. Matching numbers? Who
cares! A little bent? So what! A frame /Engine/swing arm will do for a start. Missing cylinder fins are OK. Pealing chrome a plus. All this makes the bits cheap or
2. Watch CL for a doner bike for forks/wheel. Ceriani forks are great if you can find
them but a fork off a 1970’s Yamaha or the like will do nicely and be under $100.
You will need a Triumph rear wheel but bad chrome and dented a bit are perfectly acceptable so $75. Use whatever fenders you can find, rusty and dented preferred. Paint them flat black or whatever house paint you have extra.
3. Watch Ebay for used Desert sled bits. There were 10,000 of these converted in the
50’s and 60’s and the bits are plentiful. The pipes on my 1954 T110 came from
Johnnie Green for $25. The tank was dented so was $50, forks are H-D Sprint for
$75 with a Honda 305 front wheel $25. Tires are vintage 1970’s knobbies. Perfect!
4. Make your own seat. Use a plywood or aluminum base. Cut foam from the back
seat foam of a 1980’s Japanese car, cheap at Pick-ur-part. Use your wife’s carving
knife to cut the foam. Have the dear lady make a cover and rivet in place. My late
friend Rich Eaton always said you don’t need long travel, all you need is a long
travel seat so make it as thick as you can reach the ground with.
5. Footrests need to fold so take the old non folding rests and cut the foot part off or
trade your nice ones for someone else’s folding ones + some cash, after all you're
doing them a favor! Or get a set of folding footrests from a doner 70’s Japanese
dirt bike and have the local muffler shop weld them to your old footrest hanger.
Make sure they weld them on the right way around (my guy didn’t first try!)
6. You may want to look inside the engine to be sure it is in reasonable shape but
using a bit of oil is perfectly OK. My sled has a cracked sleeve with a long scratch
from a loose wrist pin and a ridge midway down from rusty rings. It runs perfectly! Valve seats in the head to deep? So what, you will never use the full power of
the bike anyway. Guides a little loose? No big deal. Clean it up and re-use in the
Desert sled moto. I re-used old rings cutting down used +.060 to my+ .040 bore.
7. Buy the best hardware store bolts you can, no worries about the correct head or
thread here so long as they fit the holes.
8. Make a bash plate from an old flat shovel. No worries about chrome, use cheap
rusty levers and a slightly bent handlebar, you can straighten it all when on the
bike anyway. You will likely get a lot of practice with this .
9. Assemble the whole thing without a bit of concern for appearance. No chrome
need be good, no rim need be straight, no tank undented. You get the idea.
10. Sounds hideous but I tell you that this mongrel will be the most fun bike you have!
the day I can't swing my leg over
the seat of my old BSA
is the day I will hang up my helmet
and put the old leathers away
but I still might continue to putter
on the old vintage dirt track and grass
on my Velocette 350 single
until I fall down on my KSS
when I blow up the engine and gearbox
on my Sunbeam S7 because
I'd forgotten to check the oil levels
then it's time to admit old age flaws
if I pull up in front of McDonalds
to get a hamburger and malt
but neglect to fold out the old side stand
and my Triumph falls on the asphalt
when I can't gather strength to kick over
my old Bantam of two-stroke design
then I might just sell off the collection
and to my sad fate be resigned
for nothing can go on forever
and everything comes to an end
but until I am deaf, blind and senile
I'll be racing around the next bend
Jim Varnes poses on the BSA Gold Star he
raced to an excellent fifth-place finish in the 1963
Daytona 200. This was the first year the AMA allowed the use of fairings on the bikes. The track
used then was a two-mile circuit that didn’t utilize
the banking. In 1964 they used the banking for the
first time. Varnes was the top finishing BSA in the
race. His son Kevin became a well known AMA
Grand National flat track racer in the 1990s.
Clubman’s Calendar
05 Mar (Sat)
NORE” RIDE Dave Zamiska, 714-962-0995 or Steve
Ortiz, 951-245-5287
13 Mar (Sun)
NCNOC Highway cleanup and ride Ken Armann, 408455-9388
19 Mar (Sat)
BSAOCNC NORTH BAY RIDE Gus Varetakis, 415265-2377
20 Mar (Sun)
Steve Ortiz, 951-440-3521
SCNOC “Bib” Bibbiani Memorial Ride, Frazier ParkKevin Nerden, 310-293-2843
20 Mar (Sun)
2 Apr (Sat)
3 Apr (Sun)
San Jose Don Danmeier, 415-898-0330 or Bill
Whalen, 707-837-0424
Ray Pallett, 510-456-6578
10 Apr (Sun)
Gardner, 310-920-3393 or Mike Haney, 760-365-9191
16 Apr (Sat)
17 Apr (Sun)
Greg Goris, 805 798-3573
16 Apr (Sat)
AHRMA vintage cross country, trials and motocross,
16 Apr (Sat)
17 Apr (Sun)
SCNOC Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum tour
Kevin Nerden, 310-293-2843
24 Apr (Sun)
RUN Steve Ortiz, 951-440-3521 or Barbara Barrett,
24 Apr (Sun)
NCNOC Santa Cruz ride Ken Armann, 408-455-9388
28 Apr (Thu)
29 Apr (Fri)
AHRMA Road racing, Sonoma Raceway
30 Apr (Sat)
Mike Crick, 916-797-0879
Sacramento Delta Ride
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Departs from Municipal Pier parking lot
Rio Vista
(west end of the bridge on Highway 12)
10:00 AM
be gassed and ready to go
Get out of town! Get back to Nature!
Travel scenic by-ways! Pick up a little California
history! Have lunch with your buddies!
Don Danmeier, 415-893-1650 (days)
415-898-0330 (eves to 9)
Doug Bingham RIP from the Trailblasers
With deep regret we report the passing of Doug Bingham ,
known as “Mr. Sidecar,” and for good reason. Since the
1960s he has raced, designed, manufactured and distributed motorcycle sidecars. He has also developed new uses
for sidecars, organized events that are enjoyed by enthusiasts as well as the general public, and served as an ambassador for both the business and pleasure sides of motorcycling. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Bingham grew up
in Southern California during World War II, where his father
worked as an engineer with the Curtis-Wright Aircraft Corporation. His father rode a motorcycle, and Bingham sometimes rode along. A
cousin gave Bingham his first motorcycle, a non-running 1941 Indian Chief.
Bingham got the Chief up and running with help from his grandfather. Bingham
began racing in the early 1960s. His first exploits were as the co-pilot aboard an
off-road sidecar piloted by Terry Hansford. He later graduated to pilot and competed in and won such events as the Jackpine and Greenhorn Enduros. The
American Motorcyclist Association began sanctioning the AMA Sidecar Road
Racing Championships in 1968 and Bingham won the inaugural championship
with co-pilot Ed Wade aboard a Harley-Davidson powered, Bingham-designed
racer. Bingham and Wade captured the title again in 1969. In 1969 Bingham
incorporated his sidecar business, Side Strider Inc., in Van Nuys, Calif. He then
began production of the Bingham Mark I, which was the first new sidecar design in decades. The Bingham Mark I was lauded in the Dec. 1969 issue of
Popular Science as being innovative, handsomely designed and reasonably
priced. Bingham continued to develop and market a line of sidecars, Including:
the Bingham Mark II; two-seater “taxi” models; a military model equipped with a
machine-gun; and special transport units. Bingham and Side Strider also became the U.S. distributor and part owner of the venerable British sidecar company, Watsonian, which later merged with the Squire sidecar company.
Bingham is also the founder of the Griffith Park Sidecar Rally in Los
Angeles. The event celebrated its 37th anniversary in 2008, drawing over 400
participants and thousands of spectators. The Griffith Park Sidecar Rally has
been named among America’s top 25 motorcycle rallies by Rider Magazine.
Bingham received the 1998 AMA MVP Award
for advancing the cause of motorcycling. He
served as Chairman of the Sidecar Industry
Council, which includes all U.S. sidecar manufacturers as well as Harley-Davidson. He was a
founding member and President of the U.S.
Sidecar Association, and is also a member of
the Trailblazers M.C. Hall of Fame. Summing
up his life’s work, Bingham said: “To me, the
beautiful thing about motorcycling is that I’ve
met a lot of people I never would have met, and
done a lot of things I never would have done.”
Nick Nicholson
was one of the
stars of the Catalina Grand Prix in
the 1950s. Here
he runs his BSA
through the downtown section of
the course.
North Bay
Saturday March 19, 2016
Ride leaves from 7th and Grant in Novato at
10 AM. We will stop in Tomales for Coffee and
Can you name this stylish BSA rider?
have a Gas stop in Bodega
Send your guess to :
Lunch at the William Tell House in Tomales
around 1:30
[email protected]
Winner gets 2 pair of Gran Turismo
grips for their British motorcycle!
Be ready for Green Scenery, Bumpy Roads,
Great Food, Better company, and maybe a
little rain.
Gus Varetakis
The Ones That Got Away
John M. Anton
In a recent Bulletin the editor lamented his sale of a BSA
Gold Star for $200. Who doesn’t have a sad tale of what is
now a classic, examples of which sell for tens of thousands
at Las Vegas, either sold cheaply, traded for something
forgettable, or worse yet, not bought when available?
I didn’t know my $120 Royal Enfield (#3460, but who’s
counting?) was one of 191 imported by Cooper Motors of LA to compete with the Goldies and
Matchless Typhoons around the ovals or across the deserts. I could have taken the hint when the
guys at A&A Motors in Redwood City tried to buy the pieces, the “big head,” the scrambler flywheels, and the Alfin roller bearing crankpin, from the boxes it came in. All I learned was that
most new parts had to made or had to come from England and then didn’t fit. A&A did lots of
machine work, I did get it running, and running sweetly at that. When I traded it for a rigid Triumph 3T plus cash, I was happy to learn that Joe Sarkees in Sacramento had in stock whatever
Triumph parts I needed. The 3T was traded for a 40 Ford coupe with a 56 Buick V8 and 4-speed
transmission that tended to select more than one gear at a time. The less said about that one, the
better, but next up was a duplex framed 62 Triumph in what at the time passed for TT trim. City
Bike later paid me $50 for the “Scariest Ride” I had aboard that one. It was sold for $450 to a
guy who unfortunately put a hardtail on it. About the same time my great-uncle, a rancher who
had seen me work on the Enfield, gave me a 4-cylinder Indian engine, all that remained from
somebody’s son’s fatal accident in the early 50s. My uncle had it about 20 years and had never
gotten around to making a roto-tiller out of it. I peeked inside and saw such things as big end
nuts secured by bent-over nails. I passed it on to a collector from Sacramento whose name I think
was Whitey Tompkins. With the proceeds of the two sales I bought a 60 VW bus and headed to
When I finally got a real job there were plenty of Brit bikes which by then nobody wanted.
Motorcycles Unlimited in Corte Madera had a Commando with the full Dunstall package including the double disk forks. $1200 seemed reasonable enough but it came back from a three block
test ride running on one cylinder. Angelo Rossi in Santa Rosa was selling off the last new BSA
A65s, with unpopular home market tanks, for about the same. A guy in the neighborhood offered
a tidy Commando for $1000. A guy in Woodland had an immaculate 65 Triumph Tr6C for only
$600. I wanted a café racer project, so bought for $500 a ratty Tr6. I found a Bonneville head at
a salvage place for $75. After Craig Hansen at Grizzly Engineering tricked out the brakes and
suspension, it broke a connecting rod. After Lem Corder in Citrus Heights rebuilt the insides, it
moved with me to Sonoma County where Fred Twigg helped with the oil leaks. That one went to
San Jose for $1800 in very crumpled small-denomination bills.
Prices were trending upwards but good stuff was still there. In the early 80s, Hall-Burdette in
North Sacramento, always my idea of what a bike shop should be, had on the floor a new John
Player Replica Commando and a nearly new Rickman Enfield. In Spokane, the last new Triumphs were going for about $2200. I test-rode but didn’t pay $2500 for a Rickman street frame
with the fat Rickman forks and a Triumph engine. I decided that I was over Brit bikes and went
looking for a Ducati. TT Motors in Berkeley had a 73 750 Sport for only $2000, but rough on the
outside suggested rough on the inside. Herb somebody (Willis?) in San Jose had in a garage full
of motorcycles (and a Manx in a bedroom) including another 73 750 Sport. He wanted about
$2800 for it. Dewey’s in Seattle had a 750SS for a whopping $6500. Craig Hansen showed me
an 860GTS (“the fastest one with valve springs”) for $1500. Hall-Burdette had a new Darmah
for about $4000. We all thought Ducati was going under so I bought from Cycle West in Petaluma, discounted to $6500, a new 49-state 750 F1B. Despite the “closed course competition only”
decal on the tank, I succeeded in getting it registered. A Reg Pridmore track day at Sears Point
convinced me I had no business trying to ride it as Ducati intended. A long trip in the extreme
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riding position with stiff cantilever suspension put me first in physical therapy and later in the
hospital. I did ride it to the first post-op appointment at UCSF, but with original tires and about
3500 miles on the odometer it was sold into Marin County. A “last real Ducati” in such condition now sells for at least three times what I gave and got, the 750 bevel-drives for well over ten
times what I could but didn’t pay.
With eBay and all the auctions, the market has become international. Prices continue to spiral
upwards but fortunately parts for the old stuff are easier to find. What in another 20 years will I
wish I had bought?
Norton got into the
desert sled act with
their 1960 Nomad
600cc twin. A very
rare bike these days!