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19th August 2011


2011 Festival of 1000 Bikes (3B)
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Did you miss this year's VMCC Festival of 1000 Bikes? No problem. Richard Jones reveals all in the second part of his weekend adventure...

Having exhausted the pleasures and excitements of the Paddock it was time for a swift stroll back to the hairpin to try and catch some of the early machines and Cyclemotors session. I did pause on the way to indulge in a growing obsession with photographing motorcycles I'd never heard of before, in this case a Carlton.

I used to have a Carlton pushbike. It was faster than the moped that replaced it... It's a motorcycle, Jim, but not as we know it

Back at Jones Towers I consulted my reference book - 'Everything You Wanted to Know About Classic Motorcycles But Were Afraid To Ask' - and it turns out that Carltons were manufactured between 1936 and 1939 by a bicycle company. Using a 122cc Villiers engine they were also sold by a London motorcycle dealer as the Grose-Spur; Carlton is now part of Raleigh bicycles. Well that's another one to add to the collection.

I'd settled back at the hairpin with camera at the ready when Trevor turned up. I'd assumed he'd seen me taking photos as he did his track session but not the case - apparently he'd been focusing on riding the Moto Guzzi which put me in my place. Instead he'd reasoned that where else would I have been if I had a camera with me - sadly, I really am that predictable.

I like photographing the early machines - the hairpin slows down most bikes enough to get them in focus but these travel relatively slowly anyway so even a duffer like me can get a reasonable picture. They are also a lot of fun and you have to admire the people that ride this type of machinery around a race track

Natty Headger No.1... Occasionally a little light pedalling is required

Robert Hummerstone was riding a 1959 Power Pak Synchromatic which boasted a 49cc displacement. With a space-age name like that you would have expected it to be a bit of a beast although, as you can see, Robert took the session in a leisurely fashion and who can blame him - this was about fun. The Power Pak was announced in 1950 by Sinclair-Goddard Co Ltd of Bayswater who claimed its main features were 'light weight, simplicity, a positive non-slip drive, ease of fitting, and lack of vibration'. It was also claimed that the Power Pak would cruise at 27 to 30mph and would return 200mpg at 20mph - with fuel economy becoming increasingly important you could see this device coming back into vogue. The Power Pak motor was clamped over a bicycle's rear wheel but was not the most powerful piece of kit and pedalling was required on occasion. That being said an intrepid cyclemoteer (sic) named Peter Lee-Warner rode around the world on a bicycle equipped with a Power Pak in 1953 and was reported to have achieved the claimed 200mpg. I'd have thought he also came back with improved calf muscles too but I can find no mention of this

Others did take things in a more competitive fashion and processed in a far more spirited manner

Wonder what's in the cases on the back?... Tucked in and really going for it

This Coventry Eagle dated from 1922 and was a 300cc S25 model ridden by its enthusiastic pilot, Ken Hailstone. The marque dates from 1901 when a bicycle company started installing MMC, De Dion and Buchet engines into its frames. Manufacture slowed right down in 1904 but resumed in 1921 with 500cc single cylinder and 680cc V-twin JAP engines with later models featuring engines capacities from 147cc to 996cc, the latter being known as the Flying Eight. Regrettably in 1939 World War II intruded and put a stop to production.

No bike that colour will ever be fast. Fact... "Faster, damn you, faster!"

Roger Howe was riding a 1961 Mobylette AV78 and it is clear that he is expecting everyone of its 49cc to work as hard as possible and then some. These French mopeds were manufactured by Motobécane from 1949 to 1984 and they sold in millions; Motobécane became MBK in 1984 and were soon acquired by Yamaha. I think Roger deserves recognition for being the second most dedicated rider in terms of getting his entry around the track. First place must surely go to Mark Gibb on his 1971 BSA Ariel 3 - I know it's horrible of me to say so but he is a very brave man to ride it from wherever it was parked up at Mallory to the track, let alone do a session around the circuit.

Note: Honda engine fitted... Go, Mark, go - you will get your knee down if you try hard enough

I have been let down by the less than encyclopaedic content of my reference tome for this three-wheeler although that highly reliable and authoritative resource, Wikipedia, came to my aid with a snippet. The Ariel 3 was seen as one of the NVT group's less than sensible marketing decisions; the project to produce an ultra stable moped was not what could be described as a success and lost £2m which in the early 1970's was an expensive mistake. Still, compared to some lending decisions made by banks in the 2000s it pales into insignificance and at least Mark still has his Ariel 3 to ride around at Mallory

As at the Banbury Run there were instances of Extravagant Facial Hair and it would be rude of me not to award first prize to Mr Pat Davy riding his 1921 Dot Lightweight. Although, to be honest, it was a close run thing and Mr Moz Needham crossed the line a very close second on his 1911 Triumph Roadster.

Mr Pat Davy, left, and Mr Moz Needham... Did I choose the right one to be first?

Third prize was awarded to Mr Alan Hummerstone on his 1952 Ducati Cucciolo; I'm assuming he is related to the aforementioned Robert of Power Pak fame and I'm also assuming a passion for cyclemotors runs in the family. The Ducati Cucciolo was a 4-stroke clip-on engine conceived during and shortly after World War II by a Turin lawyer, Aldo Farinelli, and developed with a self-taught engineer, Aldo Leoni. The first units were produced in 1944 by a Turin firm, Siata, but soon demand outstripped supply and Ducati signed up to a licensing agreement to help out. Production rose from 15 units in 1946 to over 25,000 in the following years, when Ducati reached an exclusive agreement for the production. By 1952 200,000 Cucciolos had been sold and Ducati then decided to make its own moped; incidentally Cucciolo means 'little puppy' - a reference to the yapping sound of the engine.

Next years Factory SBK entry?...
SS Ducatis on Right Now......

A regular attendant at these events is Graeme Hardy, aka George Shuttleworth aka Forge Formby. A fan of the 1935 George Formby film 'No Limits', where George plays a rider in the Isle of Man TT, Graeme has recreated the Shuttleworth Snap ridden by Formby in the film based on a 1924 500cc Triumph. I suspect he is one of the most photographed classic motorcycle riders in the UK

Entertaining, or creepy?... Ay up, mother, put kettle on - there's trouble at mill

I couldn't resist this 1958 Motom Super Sport ridden by Maurice Drew - mainly because it's red and Italian, a combination I defy anyone to ignore. This is a 50cc model from a company that started moped production in 1947 but in 1950 produced its first motorcycle - the Delfino - which somewhat unusually had a 147cc fan cooled engine mounted under the rider's seat. Must have been a boon in winter but in those long Italian summers? Anyway by the 1950's they were using conventional 4 stroke engines mounted in a less radical position and I assume Maurice's is one of these.

Now that's more like it... Red, Italian and proud of it

It was refreshing to see that this session wasn't purely the preserve of the male of the species and Ann Davy entered her 247cc 1927 Levis K into the lists.

Drove my Levis to the levy, but the levy was dry... Levis but no blue jeans (oh please - he goes too far)

Given the date of the machine and its capacity my oracle tells me this is a two-stroke; that's all well and good but I found out that Levis were built by Butterfields of Birmingham - what a marvellous name. But where did 'Levis' come from? Levi Strauss the clothing manufacturer, Levi-Strauss the anthropologist, none of the above? Answers on a postcard please (Post Script. I wrote this on a Sunday afternoon; that evening I settled down to read RC87 and, lo and behold, there was an article by Mr John Lay on the Levis. Strange but true and the goosebumps have only just subsided. The answer is, of course, found in the company's motto 'Levis et Celer' - Light and Swift. Thank you Mr Lay).

Last but by no means least Jacqueline Bickerstaff - aka PUB - riding her 1909 490cc Triumph TT with its single gear making small work of the Mallory circuit and the hairpin.

Riding in the third person... PUB powers out of the Hairpin

The commentator waxed lyrical about PUB, deservedly describing her as the foremost authority on the HRD Vincent marque in the UK. He also mentioned that she wrote a monthly column for a well known classic motorcycle magazine - a column which he always turned to first. No mention was made of the name of this august publication… some work required by the Marketing Department at RCHQ then.

There were other track sessions and lots of photographs taken together with another wander around the Avenue of Clubs. However the Jones Boy became gradually more worn out as the heat, sunshine and weight of not only the camera but also his motorcycle kit took their toll. The camera batteries were also failing - original and spare - and the storage cards were almost full. Time to take one last look over this idyllic track before setting off home on Tessie, weary but happy - after all tomorrow was another day

Can you hear the sizzling?...

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