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2014 Irish National Rally, part 3.

September 19, 2014


21 year old Paul from Germany. 


Antique motorcycle clubs all over the world have been up in arms for the past few years.  The average age of an antique bike enthusiast seems to be 90 years old. Who will ride these machines when we are gone? How do we get youngsters to be excited by oily machines instead of video games or Instagram? Hmm, tough questions. I’m doing what I can to spread the gospel of old motorbikes via the OcchioLungo site, the Facebook page and even an Instagram account.  (click on them to see more). But the future belongs to guys like Paul. Granted, his dad Dirk is a veteran of 32 Irish Rallies, and supplied the fine Triumph complete with a rubber chicken on the rear mudguard. But Paul is a young man who is having fun on an old bike.  Even more exciting, he is a new rider, with only a little experience before he set off for Killarney. After spending a week on the tough roads, Dirk said that Paul now has gained the experience equivalent to riding three years on normal roads.

Triumphs and Velocettes seem to be somewhat in fashion with the younger riders today. Hopefully more people will realize what fun they are and keep the hobby going for another generation or two.

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Andy Tiernan brought this neat Panther outfit.


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Another great AJS big port.  In this view you can see that there are no screws/nuts holding the barrel to the crankcase.  The long bolt between the pushrods connects to a stirrup that crosses the head to another long bolt.  Loosen the two coupling nuts and the various carb/exhaust bits and the head and barrel can be off the crankcase in just a few minutes.

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Mike and his 1930 SS80.


So many great roads!

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by the water’s edge in Killmac

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This Indian is owned by an expat Irishman who lives in Arizona and shipped the bike over for the rally.

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Chris had a little roadside maintenance when one of the bonded plates in his AJS Vtwin clutch shed the friction material. But he was back on the road about an hour later.



The sticker bushes creep out over the road. Which looks nice, but they sting when you hit them at 30mph with the visor open on your helmet.

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Three pics of Sally’s Black Ariel. Testament to the skills of Val Page. These bikes perform very well, and look good too.

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Climber’s Inn is a nice place for a beverage. I think that it started as a type of hostel for hikers 100+ years ago, but now we invade the premises once or twice during the rally, with 165 people looking for a Bulmers, Smithwick’s or Murphy’s.

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On the Ring of Beara. Not part of this year’s route, but we rode there for a few days before the rally began.

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Mick brought his 1923 BSA from Southport England.

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Jack’s Norton is always a treat to see and hear. He promises to have his Ariel/Jap twin ready for next year’s rally.

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Harry Wiles drove this little BSA car all week.  It sounded really good with the inline 4 cylinder motor.

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Big Dave, Chris and Kim at Killmac. If you ever find yourself in Southwest Ireland, seek out this place and others like it. You’ll be glad you did.


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Waterfalls. Rain. But I’ve changed my mind about riding in the wet.  After 34 years of avoiding it while riding, I found this year that rain doesn’t have to spoil a day of riding. And good riding gear makes all the difference!

2014 Irish National Rally, part 2

September 12, 2014


If you’re ever in Glengarif, stop by the Blue Loo. You’ll figure out how it got the name…

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Dave’s JAP Trump and Chris’s Zenith both attracted some attention.


This was not the worst road we travelled on.

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Local color


A few days before the rally started we rode out to Allihies on the Beara Penninsula.  This isn’t quite the westernmost point in Ireland, but it is close. The pub has a great view of the North Atlantic, but of course I snapped pics of the bikes, not the view!

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More pics of John Quirke’s beautiful 1912 Sun Precision. He restored it from a very rough pile of parts that had been used to power a saw in a woodshop.

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The rider’s view includes a route sheet holder, Bonnikson speedo, clock, hand operated oil pump, timing lever on the left side of the tank, shifter for the 3 speed Sturmey Archer rear hub and the right foot pedal controls the hub clutch.


This is what the bike looked like when John found it!


Another great little road. These are so fun compared to the big highways. Almost no traffic, no litter or graffiti, lined with fuchsia flowers and great views.

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This 1933 Magnat Debon come up from France for the rally.

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Triumph Speed Twin and Ariel Red Hunter. Each received styling from Ed Turner in the 1930s.

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This 1930 Brough SS80 looked great and did the tour without any issues.

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Another SS80.  There were three of this model, plus a 680 this year.

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On the Ring of Beara, near the old copper mine.

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Norton Manx and Brough SS80


The Robinson family at the top of Goat’s Path, overlooking Dunmanus Bay.

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Ariel Square Four in a Norton frame

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Viv and Sally at one of the beverage stops.

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Bobby is being welcomed into the KOBI, and therefore has to wear the necklace for a year.  It does weigh quite a bit, with lots of little metal trinkets from past inductees. He’s happy here, but was less happy the next day when the big end gave up in his 1937 BSA Empire Star.

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to be continued…

2014 Irish National Rally, part 1

September 9, 2014

The 48th Annual Irish National Rally was held August 25th-30th 2014 in Killarney Ireland. K and I arrived several days early this year to enjoy the area around Kenmare with friends, and found several others who had the same idea. Good friends loaned us a 1939 Norton ES2 for two up riding with a comfy pillion seat and rear suspension, natch. This also allowed K to snap some pics of the wonderful roads, sheep and other scenes that we came across:P1010979

A couple of days into the vacation I realized that while it wasn’t stressful, I was doing some intense riding: On the wrong side of the road, on a borrowed bike, in a foreign country with street signs that made little sense, in the rain, with my wife riding pillion, on tiny one lane roads with either slippery grass down the middle or being a road of dirt and rocks, and occasional oncoming traffic that needed some road space. And trying to keep up with very skilled riders who knew the terrain from 15+ years of tours. Throw in the beautiful views and scenery and a few suicidal sheep and it made for a challenging time.  Challenging, but rewarding beyond measure. And oh so fun.  I’ve done rallies with police escorts through towns, or with 500+ bikes riding in tight formation. But the old saying is “If you’re not the lead dog, then the scenery never changes”. A bit of chaos keeps me on my toes and brings the fun level up too. I’d like to think that the challenges, and especially riding in the rain, made me a better rider at the end of the 10 days. 


It should go without saying that I also had the time of my life! Smile

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Arriving at the rally HQ on our 5th day I saw this striking combination of Big and Little bikes.


2014-08-26 11.34.50The howling Scott at the coffee stop in Inchigeela.  I wish that I had photos of the wonderful dirt road that led us to town, filled with potholes, weeds and animal dung. Almost all riders agreed that it was a memorable highlight of the week. Even K enjoyed it, and she’s terrible at riding off road. I kept up with big Dave Miller KOBI on his fixed gear 1000cc JAP Trump, and he did very well on the tough sections. He had to, as there is no clutch on the bike and his minimum speed is about 8-10mph without stalling. Great fun.


P1020023This reminds me of the magazine pics from the 1940s.



The most expensive traffic jam in the world? The Rolls Royce pulled slightly over to allow Paddy on his 680 Brough Superior to pass and stop for a chat. Sally went by in the grass on her 1929 Black Ariel. Just how wide are the roads of the rally? This is typical I suppose.  Narrower than some, but wider than many that we rode.

  2014-08-29 12.06.47Tony’s beautiful 30M Manx. Brooklands can, magnesium crankcases, and ridden with style.


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The other side of the Manx.

 P1020029My ride for the tour, a 1939 Norton ES2. At the top of one of the hills.  I’m terrible remembering the names of all the places. Sorry.


P1020054 Lunch stop in Bantry: Brough, Brough, Enfield, Brough.


P1020072James Robinson on the family Sunbeam. 1930 model 90 spec. It flew.


2014-08-29 09.35.05 An earlier Sunbeam, this model 5 was more to my liking. Sidevalve 492cc. These were the last sidevalve bikes to win at the Isle of Man TT. If you have a minute, study all the oil lines in this photo and the next and try not to get confused.

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 2014-08-29 08.53.18 Where did we go? All over!


Stare at the pic for a second and it makes you feel like you are falling backwards.


2014-08-29 09.29.56Ravas was made in St. Etienne, France.

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Two photos of John Quirke’s wonderful Douglas. I love this machine.2014-08-29 11.25.51 

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A very nice looking BSA. Clean, and simple lines. I’d say that it looks better than many of the customized bikes being built these days.



James models his new rain gear. It kept the rain out, as intended.

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Dummy rim brakes.


The engines-off coasting race down Healy Pass.




to be continued.

2014 Rigid Ride

August 14, 2014

Sunday was our 8th Annual Rigid Ride. Twenty brave souls fought the elements; the warm 70 degree starting temp, the slightly brisk fog up on Skyline, the minimal ocean breeze at Pigeon Point light house and the comfy 85 degrees at lunch. Ahh, the SF Bay Area is blessed not only with great roads and weather, but a nice bunch of antique motorbike fans too. This year we were joined by riders all the way from San Diego, The Sierras, Portland Oregon and Australia!P1010711

Bill Huth has attended all of the rides I think, and the past few years he’s brought his neat 1940 Sport Scout.  It was in bare metal for a while, but now has some paint, some rust and some dirt. It has become a nicely worn bike and did the route without any issues. In fact all the bikes made the distance without assistance from the trouble truck. Remember folks–the best way to have a reliable bike is to ride it a lot.


The Fish Fence is still there. Just barely though.  This guy is the last remaining carcass and he looks a bit worse each summer. There is some sort of a story about it all, but you’ll have to chat up the barista at the San Gregorio General Store to get the info.  While you are there, be sure to check out all the bumper stickers and Socialist books… California is just as weird as everybody thinks it is. Winking smile2014-08-10 11.24.33


Chris Carter brought his 1915 HD again.  The bike always does well and looks good doing it.  He almost had the Henderson four ready, maybe next year.2014-08-10 11.10.43


A prewar Indian Chief always looks good, and these red and orange colors work surprisingly well together.



After we crested Old La Honda Road from the east, we continued across Skyline and down the western slope.  What a wonderful road!  We’ve done it a few times before, but this time it was even more special.  There was a slight mist in the air as we rode through the Redwood groves. The one-lane road had zero traffic on it other that our bikes and some small varmints.  Great twisties, some views, good tarmac.  What else could you ask for? And going this route we bypassed all the squids on their way to Alice’s and the policemen who follow them.P1010734


Eventually we did make it out to the Pigeon Point lighthouse.  Parking was ad hoc in a plowed field.  Here is Terry’s custom Triumph TRW flathead twin.  They run well, with surprising engineering details in a motor design that looks primitive on the outside.P1010766


Our start/finish point each year is the Alpine Inn, still called Rossotti’s by the longtime fans. It was a card house and drinking establishment back in the gold rush days circa 1852. Now they have pinball instead of cards. And the occasional venture capitalist.P1010713


Terry’s Velocette with a Honda OHC top end, Kim, Atticus, Dave, Rick, Victor and Ben Binns.  Ben came all the way from Melbourne Australia. He seemed pleased to see that we have an assortment of Eucalyptus trees here in addition to the Redwoods.P1010769


Coffee at the General Store. Chris calls a chat line while Don Danmeier and Charlie chat face to face.P1010761

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Rick parks his genuine Rocket Gold Star in the dirt, ‘cause that’s what you do.

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Jim Romain and his swell 1937 Velocette KTS.  He restored it last year and it is perfect.


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Here is Victor being Victor. His 1914 HD is ready for yet another ride across the USA next month.  The prewar Zundapp reminds of the great variety of machines that attend the Rigid Ride.  20 bikes, and almost no duplicate makes/models. Here’s a partial list: Knucklehead, Panhead, Chief, Sport Scout, Zundapp, ‘14HD, ‘15HD, Levis, Velo KTS, KSS, MSS, Triumph preunit twin and TRW twin, Matchless model X,  and probably 1-2 others. That’s the kind of variety that we normally see only on the 49 Mile Ride, and it is fun to be around so many different machines and riders.P1010762P1010773


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Two dogs to keep him company.P1010764


Along the way we stopped at a friend’s house to look at some old bikes and cars.  Here are a few pics from the garage: 2014-08-10 09.59.05


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Rigid Ride is Aug 10th.

July 20, 2014

Everybody on an old rigid bike is welcome. The ride is free; tell your friends.  No 49 Mile Ride this year, but the Rigid Ride is always a good time, with scenic views on quiet roads through the Redwoods, the Ocean and the backcountry farms on the peninsula.


rigid ride 2014

c1920 AJS Model D Project

June 30, 2014

Adi recently sent a comment via one of the articles asking for info about an AJS motor that he found.  He then went back to the barn, as the owner had mentioned that the frame was still around somewhere! And it was there and Brampton forks too!  Alas they have been buried in the soil for quite some time.  But Adi is motivated and has begun the restoration.  He writes to ask if any of the OcchioLungo readers may have c1920 AJS parts for sale or trade, as the the decades underground have not been kind to the good work of the Stevens brothers.  All the sheetmetal has disappeared, and he could also use some other bits like carb and a correct magneto, etc.  Note the special saddle tank that covers the frame top tube!  A few marques used them before they became ubiquitous in the late 1920s. 

I’ve already pointed him towards the Yahoo group for PreWar Ajays, and of course told him to chat with Jake Robbins regarding those forks.  If you can help, email Adi here: ron.adi9 AT (replace AT with @).  Comments via the link at the bottom of this page are also welcome.



The motor looks pretty good, but the AMAC carb is missing a few things and the magdyno is from a later model:

The frame and forks have seen better days.20140404_175853




Here is what it should look like after the restoration:Capture2

Most of the parts shown in on this page are needed.Capture4

a new book about old motorbikes

May 23, 2014

A good book is hard to find. Chris Price is working on one right now, titled Georgia Motorcycle History: The First 60 Years 1899-1959.  It will feature photos and stories of the early racers, pedal cycle pacers, policebikes, etc. To help offset the costs of publishing rights of the various photos, Chris has started a kickstarter program here.  If you are interested, click the link and think about giving. $40 gets you a special copy of the book and also helps him to pay for the publication.


Looking thought the O.L. Bibliography, I see many books that have been published by the author. Most of these were not money-making projects and the first publishing run was also the last. Then years later the books are in high demand, but are nowhere to be found. Last week I mentioned Rob Saward’s book on my instagram feed and many people excitedly said that they were looking for a copy. The $30 that I gave to Rob the author ten years ago is now dwarfed by the very rare appearance of a copy on ebay for $200. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.





If y’all are interested, there is a bumper crop of new old bike books that have been published by enthusiastic rider-writers in the past year. I have about a dozen that focus on pre WWI machines alone. These are not widely publicized and don’t show up on Amazon’s top 10 lists, but can be purchased for decent prices directly from the authors. Comment below, and I’ll post info soon on the titles and do some mini-reviews.


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