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17th October 2016

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Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

If the size of the car park and the long walk to the showground were anything to go by then the Copdock classic bikes show was going to be big – and it was. Richard Jones dodged the crowds to take photos for us...

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

No wonder it was busy. The show featured motorcycles old and new, nearly 100 trade stalls, a huge autojumble, food stalls, live music, a small fair and what seems now to be an obligatory attraction – a Wall of Death. I have never been to see one of these and I must try and make the effort. One day. Perhaps.

This event has being running for about 25 years after a group of friends decided to hold a small show of their own motorcycles at Copdock village hall. As is so often the way, the show just grew and grew and these days it is held at Trinity Park, Ipswich, where the large acreage is far more appropriate to the tens of thousands of visitors who attend rather than the village hall. The Copdock Classic Motorcycle Club organise the show and it is a rather unusual club in that its only members are the 16 strong committee who devote their time to organising the show as well as a number of fun runs. In fact so successful have this small band become that they have raised a substantial six figure sum for local charities over the quarter-century that the show has been in existence.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

I had to show you this machine from the show bike hall even though it was difficult to photograph. Between 1961 and 1962 Ferrari built their 250 GT SWB which became known by the rather derogatory nickname of the ‘bread van’, probably because of its very un-Ferrari styling, particularly at the back end. The tricycle you see here – or Triporteur as it was known in France – has taken the concept several stages further and it actually can deliver bread, albeit without the Ferrari’s 292bhp power output.

Triporteur is the Gallic term for tricycles, both human powered and motorised, which originated in the UK in the latter part of the 19th century, one of the more famous being James Starley’s Coventry Rotary. The French took these machines to heart and used them as a means of delivering goods although it was not for everyone – in 1909 French delivery tricycles could not be driven by boys under fourteen years of age and women and girls were strictly prohibited from using them. Sacre bleu!

Unsurprisingly engines were soon seen as a useful addition and the machine you see here is a 1953 Peugeot Triporteur TN55, replete with a 100cc two-stroke engine and an innovative cooling fan driven by a pulley from the magneto. The addition of the storage cage at the front end meant cooling was limited so the fan was essential to avoid overheating. Another interesting feature is the car-based independent front suspension with a single transverse leaf spring and independent front axles. Peugeot offered four types of carriers, a waterproof canopy and a choice of five colour options as well as 28mph top speed, a payload of 150kg and 94mpg. With this type of specification how soon will it be before we see them back on the roads?

This example came to the UK in a parlous condition and has been extensively restored although the scarcity of parts meant the cooling fan had to be manufactured from scratch by creating scale drawings from photos on the internet. Naturally it won a red rosette, presumably for the Triporteur rather than the French bread to which the rosette was attached – although they did look rather appetising…

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

It’s difficult to believe that a marque renowned for its V-twins, desmodromic valve technology and success in MotoGP has its roots in the humble 48cc moped that we see here but then truth is often stranger than fiction. The Cucciolo – little puppy – was an engine designed by lawyer Aldo Farinelli during WW2 and which was built in the Ducati plant in the Borgo Panigale district of Milan. Launched in 1946, the T1 was intended to be a cheap and economical engine that could operate on post-war low-octane fuel, hence the a low compression ratio of 6.5:1 and a 9mm Weber carburettor.

The interesting thing about the engine was that not only was it an ohv four-stroke, when other small utility engines of the period were two-strokes, but also that the valves were operated using pullrods rather than pushrods. Starting was accomplished with the pedals whilst the engine was in gear, and the pedals also selected one of the two gears via a handlebar mounted clutch lever. By 1950 Ducati was producing complete motorcycles but the engines were also being widely exported, including to the UK where the importers were Britax who later sold complete machines using Royal Enfield cycle parts.

So successful was the Cucciolo in its various forms over its 10 year lifespan that it provided the foundations for Ducati’s revival. Owner Colin brought this 1954 example to the show and, apart from new tyres, tubes and a spoke, it is largely original although missing the silencer and a speedo drive. ‘Do I restore it or preserve it?’ he asks. A question which bedevils many a classic motorcycle owner.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016
Well Preserved BSAs on Now...

Moving away from the exotica but remaining in the club hall, I came across this BSA A10 from 1960. What is unusual about this 650? It’s 66 years old and looks a whole lot younger. Sometimes that’s the problem with shows – you find yourself looking for the unusual to excite the readers’ attention but, very often, simple and straightforward is as good as (or even better than) special.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

The cynics amongst you may say that this one is only included as it was up in the air and easy to photograph. You would be partly right but it’s red and Italian and, as I have said in the past, that’s something I can’t resist. Back in 1956 Mario Malanca began producing hubs and other parts from motorcycles in Bologna but, unable to resist the temptation, he started making complete machines with his own name on the tank and the Malanca continued in production for 30 years. As well as selling in the Italian home market they were also exported to the USA and Asia, first using engines from Franco Morini but then producing an in-house power plant during the 1960s. The marque appears to have some road racing success with Walter Villa having ridden them at one time.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

Another bike I can’t resist photographing is a Vincent, especially when it looks as good as this 1934 Python Sports model that was gifted to a local club ‘for the enjoyment of our members.’ What a fantastic gesture. As you can tell from the name, the model was bought in from Rudge – a 499cc air-cooled 4-valve ohv single apparently capable of moving the bike along smartly at 85 to 90mph.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

Expediency once again comes to the fore – this handsome 1964 500cc Velocette was sitting up on a stand with a backdrop and looked too good to miss. Huge thanks to the VMCC who took the time to stage this bike so well for aging photographers.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

Before we go outside let’s quickly go back to the show bike hall and have a look at this Yamaha X7 250 from 1980. As with the BSA A10 it’s remarkable to think that this motorcycle is 36 years old – the uninformed onlooker may have assumed it had only just left the dealer’s showroom. No wonder it had a red rosette pinned to it – a prize winner if ever I saw one.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

Back out in the sunshine we came across this Commando but a question arises – is it a true Hi-Rider, as the bars and diminutive petrol tank suggest, or has someone fitted these for show and missed off the bizarre raised seat and grab rail? I think we should be told.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

In autojumble land you could pick up a 1955 BSA Winged Wheel for £900…

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

…a 1971 BSA B25SS for £3350…

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

…or a 1960 BSA A7 for £4200.

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

Let’s finish with something quirky. I understand that early Vincents were known as being a plumber’s nightmare but this racing outfit would surely need the skills of a neurosurgeon to first construct it and then keep it in order. The things people do to go racing!

Details about next year’s Copdock Show: www.copdock-cmc.co.uk

More images from this and other classic bike events can be found at Richard’s photo-feed

Copdock Motorcycle Show 2016

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