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Irish Rally, Part 3

September 6, 2012

A quick note on the photos.  My new camera is great, but each photo is 6-12MB and that’s too big for the WordPress host.   For the last few articles, I’ve been re-sizing pictures to around 800×600.  The smaller file size uses less server space and and it also makes the articles load faster on your computers.  Let me know if the resizing is too small, and if the images are too blurry.  I can go with a larger size if y’all can see the difference on your computer screens. 


And if you’d like a copy, I have the huge files for every pic featured in the last few years. I can send it to you without the OL watermark if you’d like a copy.  Just send a comment from the link on the bottom of the article.

 1915 Triumph model H and flowers 

This 1915 Triumph Model H was my machine for the week.  (Thank you Dieter!).  It ran faultlessly up and down the hills, through the potholes and puddles and the occasional downpour.  It even found its way back to the route when I made wrong turns.  It has a 550cc single cylinder motor, with a three speed gearbox and belt drive.  It also features Triumph’s patent forks, which move the front wheel toward and away from the motor when riding over bumps.  Some guys call this the self-adjusting wheelbase.  I didn’t find that they were terribly uncomfortable, but they made a bit of a clank with each pothole and softened some of the hits to give the rider some comfort.  They are equipped with the leather strap that dampens some of the motion, and I think it is supposed to keep the front end together in the event of a broken spring.  The straps were not standard equipment from the factory, but you’ll see them fitted on the majority of early Triumphs both in modern times and in old photographs.



ducati flowers

These orange flowers were in bloom all over our corner of Ireland.  The hedgerows were mostly green, but occasionally punctuated by large swaths of this orange.  Other colors were in bloom of course;  yellow daisy things and wild red fuscias!  After two days, I realized that the orange color was typically near the entrance to a home or a farm, and I figured that the custom must be to plant these flowers and then let them spread and naturalize.  Seeing the contrasting colors was a nice sight on the roads of the Emerald Isle.  Although I learned a little bit about William III and the Orangemen on my trip, we’ll leave the politics out of this colorful discussion.


green grass

Two wild cows and two wild girls, captured on film.


1925 RE 225

This little Enfield looked great!  225cc I think, a little twin port two stroke.  Not the slowest bike ever made, but not the fastest either!  The small front brake may not look like much, but it probably copes well with the size and speed of the machine.  Behind the bike are some of the fuscias that grow in Ireland.  I told some of the locals that in the Western USA, we buy pots of these plants as annuals and decorate our gardens with them.  It was a treat to see so many of them along the roadsides.



A coffee stop on Flat Tank Friday.  We’d find these little shops and pull up for a stop, a cup and a half hour talk about the bikes.  This particular shop had two rooms.  The front room had the bar and a tiny little billiards table.  The back room was a church with pews, crosses, etc.  I’m sure there’s a story, but I didn’t catch it.  Pictured is a nice selection of bikes under the Heineken sign:  Two Brough Superior SS80s, two Velocette Venoms, BSA A10, 1961 Matchless, and way in the back is a 1939 Triumph Speed twin, a 1930s Sunbeam and some others.


BSA J12 1935

Brian rode his 1935 BSA J12.  It is the 500cc OHV V twin that was made in small numbers in 1934, 35 and 1936.


ireland is colorful

Ireland has many colorful buildings.  Those colors would be bright even here in San Francisco.


1925 Royal Enfield 190

This 1925 Royal Enfield model 190 was ridden well all week with a pillion passenger.  Note the early magdyno and electric lights.


Norton left side

This Norton Model 18 is beautiful.  The 500 cc OHV motor was later eclipsed by the OHCs, but I think it is great.  Generous finning.  Cross over exhaust pipe.  Low down shifter.  Narrow mudguards and skinny tires.  Wide, flat handlebars and long grips.  And just the right stance.

Norton model 18


norton pipes


Kim on triumph

Kim had been riding a hand change 1932 BSA 500 all week (Thank you Katrin!).  But I convinced her to try the ‘15 Model H.  It wasn’t her first ride using lever throttles, but it was her first belt drive bike.  Slow and steady, she got the hang of it.  I should have told her a bit more about the steering, as she kept going wide in the first few corners.  After a spell, I mentioned that she should think of the handlebars like those on a wheelbarrow;  to turn at low speeds you have to pull and push the very long bars so they pivot around the steering head.  You cannot just lean, but must force the bike to go in the direction you want.  It is very stable however.  At medium-high speeds, it is just like a modern bike; you lean and turn.  She got the hang of it, and now I can continue to pester her into buying her own veteran (pre 1915) motorcycle…  Veteran bikes:  More smiles per mile!




Here is John Quirke and his wonderful 1912 Sun Precision.  He has rebuilt the bike, starting with a very rough pile of parts.  The bike frame, motor and tank were used to power a wood saw, while the other pieces were lost over the years.  What was left was run hard all day long, and covered in sawdust.  Here is a photo of the bike when he started (photo copyright J. Quirke):


The front forks were present, but bent!  The rear frame tubes were made by John, who showed me his method when I had to fabricate D tubes for the Veloce.  John has also done some great work on the B&B carb, making up slides and stops and fitting Oring seals.  He made the front hub from scratch, and the handlebars, and the levers, and many other parts.  The bike is now visually perfect and running perfect too.


belt drive

A photo of the Sturmey Archer 3 speed rear hub and clutch and the V belt pulley on the Sun.








the Blue Loo

The Blue Loo.  Not many bars are named after their men’s room…


triumph at healy pass

Another photo from the top of Healy Pass.



water crossing 

Kim on the BSA.


the early bike club 

Four friends at the end of the rally.  

Kim and I would like to thank Katrin and Deiter for helping us to attend our first Irish Rally.  For loaning us proper old bikes.  For leading us through the route and finding all the right and wrong turns along the way.  For following us and stopping when my V belt clip came loose.  For introducing us to so many fine motorcyclists.  For teaching us about the finer points of Irish coffee.  And for the weeklong camaraderie and geniality.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Abbott permalink
    September 6, 2012 5:39 pm

    What a a great ride! Me next.
    Jim A., Tucson, AZ

  2. Bob and Viola permalink
    September 6, 2012 7:20 pm

    Hi from Brandon, Manitoba Canada Jsut to let you know I have really been enjoying your posts. Please do keep up the excellent work. Bob Braun

  3. September 6, 2012 10:57 pm

    Not IT literate but the size of the shots work here and the articles have sold me on a visit that is long over due to Eire.

    Yes, the proportions of the Model 18 tick all the boxes.

    Katrin; overall winner ( person judged to have had most overall fun and satisfaction ) from last years Cannonball, right?

    Thanks for sharing.

    • September 7, 2012 8:31 am

      That’s the same Katrin. She and Deiter are the type of folks that DO things. They talk and plan like the rest of us, but then they follow through and finish what they’ve started. A really great couple.

  4. September 14, 2012 7:35 am

    Inspiring and fun. Thank you Pete.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    September 14, 2012 12:34 pm

    The flowers are Montbretia and they grow all around here in Marin but they love the soft Irish weather, Thanks for the pics and report.
    Parra O’ Siochain

    • September 14, 2012 12:41 pm

      Thanks for the info Parra. They looked somewhat familiar. Maybe I’ve seen them around norcal.

  6. December 6, 2014 6:22 am

    The Photos are great, both Kelsie, my wife and pillion, and I have enjoyed them all. Especially our Royal Enfield model 190 NY 7680. You have made the bike famous! We think your photo was taken at the National 2012. One day, taking a wrong turn we covered 170miles.! Now we ride the first 3 days on a 50s bike, with suspension, keeping a pre-31 for the Vintage Friday. David Erskine

    • December 7, 2014 1:36 pm

      Hello David. It is a wonderful bike. If I recall correctly, we had lunch together one day and you told me of your fruit orchard? Kim and I are looking forward to seeing you two on many more Irish Rallies!

    • October 9, 2020 8:42 am

      Hi David. Found you. Smart Machine, but i agree, 50s suspension and seating are better for older posteriors.

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