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26th August 2004


Britbikes in Canada

It may have rained non-stop in Britain but on the other side of the Atlantic it looks as if classic bike enthusiasts have been basking all summer. The Other Rod caught sight of some handsome kit, gleaming in the sunshine...

The town of St Albert, Ontario lies about 30 miles east of Ottawa, Canada's capital. It is in the center of eastern Ontario's dairy country, and one of the town's principal industries is St Albert Cheese, manufacturers of a variety of specialty cheese products. But it wasn't the cheese that brought hundreds of visitors to a large field behind the cheese factory on this sunny, July Saturday. It was seventy to eighty vintage and classic bikes as well as a sprinkling of classic cars, light commercial vehicles and even a few early farm tractors.

On Saturday, 10 July 2004 the Ottawa Section of the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group (CVMG) held its 25th anniversary classic bike show in St Albert. And the weather could not have been better. A temperature around 30C, a light breeze, blue sky but with a few clouds providing occasional shadow all combined with a good variety of machines in conditions ranging from never-started show piece restorations to veterans which probably hadn't run in over 70 years and had only recently once more seen the light of day. All these gave show-goers a wonderful day out for their $5 admission.

Fork gaiters. The mark of a real bike.

Typical of the machines on display was the 1962 DBD 34 of Don Cutts, Secretary of the host section of the CVMG. Don explained that he had brought the bike from California and has not had to do very much other than routine maintenance to keep this regularly used machine on the road. The fact it needed thorough cleaning before arrival at the show confirms this is a working bike. Don has mounted a 1 1/8-inch Concentric in order to improve the machine's tractability and, because he doesn't really fancy clip-ons, the handle bars are from a Vincent. A machine well set up to be used regularly by a man who knows exactly what he wants.

Also available in matt finish...

There was also a positively stunning 1968 Royal Enfield Series 1A Interceptor. This bike apparently was built to GP 7 specification, with larger fuel tank, flatter, unbraced handlebars, and straight exhausts. The few Interceptors to be seen in North America are almost all TT 7 Road Scramblers. The timing and chain cases on this bike had been polished to a chrome-like finish, and are in marked contrast to those which live in my workshop in hopes of a not-too-distant day of resurrection.

One of the highlights of the day was a Brough Superior SS100. We happened on a small crowd gathered round the bike just as the owner was applying boot to the starting crank. With one firm prod, the bike leapt to life and after perhaps 15 seconds of warming up, settled into a slow, dead-steady idle. While such a sight and sound might not be all that unusual to you chaps on the right side of the Atlantic, this is only the second Brough I've seen in my 55 years, and the first I've heard running. That alone was worth the price of admission for me.


H-e-a-v-e... ker-chuff chuff chuff chuff chuff...

Not all the machines on display were restored or ridden-in. I was unable to find the owner of this 1919 Excelsior which appeared to be complete, although in definite need of kind attention. It was last licensed for the road in 1931 in Ontario. Its story of survival since then would undoubtedly be of interest.

Lick of paint, it'd be as good as new...

There were several vendors of parts but their wares were almost exclusively for either Harley Davidson, Japanese bikes or the well-known 'I'm not sure what it's from'. I searched every table in vain for any Smiths instruments but did find a rather nice collection of Lodge plugs. Unfortunately, most of these were (understandably) well past their sell by dates, but if one were really bent on absolute originality, then here were the plugs you'd need.

The Ottawa Section are to be commended for a well organized show featuring a representative exhibition of high quality machines. If you happen to be in the neighbourhood next year, then it's certainly an event worth trying to catch.

If you want to look in on the CVMG's 2005 event then check their calendar at www.cvmg.on.ca

Good Show?


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