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2013 Clubman’s Show

April 8, 2013

Saturday was the big show in San Jose, hosted by Don Danmeier and the crew from the BSAOCNC.  The show is the symbolic start to our season, but of course here in Alta California, we’ve had good enough weather to ride for a few months already.  The event has many facets, including a big show of bikes, a swap meet (jumble for those in the UK), indoor flattrack racing, and a 100 mile ride on Sunday.  And no small amount of chit chat and catching up with friends throughout the weekend. 


Paul Zell’s Norvin features a Vincent Black Shadow motor in a Norton Featherbed frame.  It is a beauty.  If you like this bike, you’ll LOVE his Egli Vincent here and here.

Zell Norvin


1936 Vincent Comet.  500cc and full of Vincent ideas like the dual front brakes, high pushrods, rear springing, etc.  Vincent wasn’t the first to use some tech, but he did a good job of incorporating many details into the designs of the bikes.36 Comet



A replica of John Surtees’ race bike.  This one was just completed, and is almost ready to be raced in anger.  Surtees replica

Dual rear springs/shocks.  And not the rear brake lever.  It has a pulley that engages the ONE brake cable that connects to TWO rear brakes.  Pulling the middle of the cable allows for both brakes to equalize and provide the same force.  Remember that the tension in any cable is always uniformly equal at any portion of the cable’s length, including at both ends.surtess beauty


Barry brought his new toy, a pre war BSA.  Now he’s set for the Girder Fork Ride in addition to the Rigid Ride.  If you’re reading this and you want to attend on old machines, send me a note via the “Comment” button…

BSAbsa top viewbsa plate

The blue 1939 plate gave him some trouble with the workers at the DMV.  Dig the tapered taillight.


This one isn’t British.  But BP was messing about with this little MV OHC production racer.  That oil tank must have been a chore for the factory guy to fabricate.

barrys toyracy mv

Look at the little ports on the rear of the crankcase.  They are breathers, and look just like the ones on big ships like the Titanic, etc.  This one doesn’t feature the Disco Volante tank, but it is sexy in its own way.


Mark Frost and his M20, complete with tool kit in the display box on the floor. 

Mark Frost


Several bikes were for sale, this was my favorite.  A 39 Ariel VB.  600cc sidevalve in great condition.  The price must have been a bit too high, as the bike was still there at the end of the day.  But it would be a good bike for somebody who wants to get into preWWII motorbiking.

ariel for sale

Are there any Ariel fans out there?  When did they go with the speedo drive on the front wheel?   I thought it was during WWII?  This one has the speedo on the forks, and a blanking panel in the tank, and a plug in the top of the Burman gearbox.ariel top view


At the other end of the spectrum was this Norton 16H.  It was rough, but restorable.  There was a tank and mudguards and a few boxes of random parts.  The price was less than what it would take to get a restored Smiths PA tanktop speedo for an Ariel…norton 16h


Bob brought his Brough, which was looking great.  I love the little tit on the top of the headlamp shell.  Only Brough headlamps featured this (I think).bobs SS100


Clean handlebars look good without levers and cables.  But the controls are still needed, and the little lever is on the seat stay.brough left

The bike has a set of new Castle forks from Jake Robbins.  Note that leading link, with the wheel axle mounted out front.  At the rear of the link is a vertical chrome rod that goes up to the friction damper.castle forks


An interesting bike!  This Ariel Square Four has a chain on the sidestand, a vinyl seat cover and an unknown blue bottle hanging off the left side.  But by far the most interesting features are the twin SU carbs out front, mounted soldered copper pipe as used by household plumbers.  I think it runs, but I didn’t find the owner to get his story.

copper pipes


Spotted at the swap meet.  But no special tool was for sale with it, so this old Triumph sprung hub will stay as is for another day.



Dennis Magri and his Vincent-engined Indian.  Called of course, the Vindian.

Dennis vindian


No bathing suit for the rider, but here is a nice Vincent Black lightening


The one and only Jeff Scott with a special Velocette Mac that he has just built for a friend.  It is a hot rod, or a bobber or whatever you want to call it.  Brooklands can, limp sausage taillight, high pipe, no front fender, etc.  I loved it.  Here he is pouring in some fuel in anticipation of the first start.

hot rod mac

Check out the cool exhaust pipe clamp made from an old primary chain!  Neato.exhaust clamp


A pair of Royal Enfield V twins, 1930 and 1938, for good friends Fred Mork and Jeff Scott.

dual enfields


So you can see that there were a lot of interesting preWWII bikes at the show, and several more that I didn’t photograph.  As part of my volunteering duties each year, I get to pick one bike for the Best Pre WWII bike.  It was a tough choice this year as it always is, but I went for this little beauty:

coventry eagle

A Coventry Eagle from 1926.  About 250cc or 350cc of JAP power.  Lever throttle, hand shift Sturmey Archer 3 speed, nickel plating and beaded edge tyres describe the specifications of the bike, but they do not tell the story of it.


The bike has been loved and ridden hard for the last 87 years.  The beautiful shape of the tank, as used by the big Coventry Eagle and similar to the Broughs, has a big dent in the side, and numerous smaller ones too.  The clutch has some issues, the nickel is worn, the paint is in tough shape.  The rear stand lists to one side, but a handy little block is used to prop the bike up.  Now these things all sound like bad things, but they are not.  The bike was simply wonderful.  Each little divot and ding was just fine, as the bike was ready for a ride through the campground, or down to the corner store, or out to the pub.  You might complain that it is not as fast as other bikes.  However I’ve been noticing lately that my bad influence is starting to show on other guys, who now openly talk about the fun of riding slow.  This little bike is loads of fun at slow speeds, full of levers to twiddle and knobs to push and pull.  And at medium speeds it is exciting in a way that a modern plastic rocket bike might be fun at 150mph –once you had found a road for that.  Old and slow, that is the tempo.  Awards don’t mean much, but I think this one was deserved.

cov top view



10 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce Williams permalink
    April 9, 2013 2:37 am

    Nice photos, always enjoyed. Speaking of old and slow, my son once asked way i preferred the old bikes, I told him that I got the same thrill at 45mph on my Hendersom that he got at 90mph on his Honda 900RR. We could probably stop in the same distance.

  2. Mike Cecchini permalink
    April 9, 2013 4:28 am

    Serious iron here. Thanks !!

  3. April 9, 2013 7:51 am

    Some lovely machinery there. Wish we enjoyed your weather!

  4. Steve permalink
    April 9, 2013 10:00 am

    That’s a Rollie Free “Tribute” bike, not a genuine Lightning. Nicely done, though.

    • April 9, 2013 10:32 am

      thanks Steve. I wasn’t sure, and didn’t get the time to chat with the owner.

  5. Mitch Talcove permalink
    April 9, 2013 12:19 pm

    My 1937 HRD Comet shown in your photos was built by famous Stevenage Works employee Ted Hampshire and road tested by George Brown. Vincent build sheet states this was to be a “show bike” with polished engine and transmission cases. All hardware was chrome plated. Mitch Talcove

    • April 9, 2013 1:04 pm

      Thanks Mitch! I saw the works build sheet at the show, but didn’t get a good photo of it. It is a beautiful bike, thanks for bringing it to the show.

  6. April 10, 2013 8:21 pm

    Thanks to your pic of the exh header clamp I see I need to add a link at the top to balance the ‘look’
    Thanks for not telling the whole story.
    I fixxed the head leak and the rocker stiffness. Timing was pretty close at least I got that right.
    Should be able to fire off tomorrow.


  7. veloed permalink
    April 14, 2013 4:22 pm

    The best part of the show was going south on 85 after leaving and being passed at a very sedate speed by a vincent. Not a shinny new looking one but one that looked like it should,something made to be ridden and it was doing just that. Made the day!

  8. October 4, 2013 1:26 am

    Wonderful stuff!!

    It’s great to see so many enthusiasts and really neat machines! I got the link from a fellow AOMCC forum contributor and will be looking in from now on!

    Keith Owen,
    Bramley UK.
    AOMCC Member – 1950 Ariel VH and 1951 Ariel NH (under construction)

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