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British 250cc Racing Motorcycles 1946 to 1959: an era of ingenious innovation
By Chris Pereira
Traces the history and development of the privately built British 250cc'specials' and 'hybrids'that sustained this class of Road racing in Britain from 1946 to 1959.
From 1946 up to 1959, the 250cc class in Britain was supported almost entirely by privately built Specials and Hybrids. This book recalls the men and machines involved, and traces their history and development, in what was clearly the most technically innovative class of Road Racing in the 1950's
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Classic Motorcycling - A Guide for the 21st Century
By Rex Bunn
"I gained a great deal from this book and expect every other reader will gain likewise" Hugh Anderson, MBE, World Champion 1963,'64 and '65 writing in the Foreword.
A different and fascinating new look at classic motorcycling with an international flavour - sure to appeal to all owners (and intending owners) of classic bikes. Classic Motorcycling is about buying, riding and maintaining classic motorcycles. It comes complete with sections on survival rates of classics and their price appreciation over recent years with future predictions, and is literally packed full of advice for both aspiring and experienced owners. From choosing the right bike, training for today's traffic, clothing, safety, maintenance, how and where to buy those all important spares, equipping a workshop, projects to improve most classics to simply experiencing the joy of ownership - its all here.
This is a very different book from any other I have come across. It offers an honest, entertaining and refreshing insight into the world of classic motorcycling. It is written by Rex Bunn of Australia so the book has a truly international feel, but still certainly retained its relevance to biking here in the UK. I'm sure readers in other countries would also feel the same.
Classic Motorcycling is all about, choosing, buying, riding and maintaining classic motorcycles. It is packed with all sorts of advice, handy hints and amusing anecdotes that are good not only for novices, but also for more experienced owners. I certainly enjoyed the book very much and put one of Rex's handy hints straight into practice (how to check wheel alignment without the use of a miraculously straight piece of wood!).
There is also a very interesting piece of analysis on the recent increase in classic prices and how this may (or may not!) continue for your classic.
A very interesting and readable book!
- 1. Foreword by Hugh Anderson MBE
- 2. Why are classic bikes so popular?
- 3. Choosing the right classic bike
- 4. Where and how to buy your first classic bike
- 5. Licensing, registration and insurance
- 6. Bonding with your bike
- 7. Global resources for classic motorcycles
- 8. Riding, survival and shibboleths
- 9. From waders to kevlar
- 10. Maintenance at home and on the road
- 11. Wherever your classic bike takes you
- 12. Classic motorcycle survival
- 13. The Bonnie index - consumer price index for classic bikes
- 14. Improving perfection - projects for any classic
- 15. Some thoughts for the road
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Challenging Life on a 1948 Triumph: Daisy's Diaries
By Graham Ham
Give up the day job, buy an old bike and ride off into the sunset - a dream for most but reality for the author as he takes on the Landmark Challenge set by the Triumph Owners Club. But first build the bike, make peace with the family, then just go - meeting life head on. Often hilarious, always interesting this is a book which brings home the joys of classic motorcycling as Daisy, a 1948 Triumph Speed Twin puts in some 5,000 miles to win the Challenge - in spite of mechanical mayhem, fire, and just about everything else that can go wrong with an old bike. The author, armed with little more than a compass from a Christmas cracker, a dysfunctional map and a random selection of the wrong tools sets out to challenge life together with his young family. Great fun, just what classic motorcycling is all about and makes you itch to join him on the road!
Graham Ham is a journalist with a regular column, Daisy's Diary, in RealClassic and which forms the basis of this book. Graham is a well-known face to many classic motorcycle enthusiasts and rallyists, many of whom have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this book.
- The start of an obsession
- The Landmark Challenge and into the fens
- Back to the drawing board
- Diversion to Le Mans
- Practising on rabbits
- Heading west
- Fire in the shires
- Northern Landmarks and punctured in Durham
- Mountains, rain and perilous descents
- The world strikes back
- Wales, sheep and more trouble with Landmarks
- The final frontier
This is a thoroughly entertaining book! Daisy's Diaries charts one man's passion to rekindle his love affair with Triumph Speed Twins, an affair started with Ruby, his 1955 Speed Twin that had seen him through his early years. Having recently left his job for a life of reduced stress and increased fulfilment, the author, Graham Ham, embarked on a search for a replacement Triumph upon which a series of adventures would unfold. And adventures they surely are! This is not Jupiter's Travels. It is not a series of death defying escapades as a man battles for survival in inhospitable terrain. Instead it is a totally engaging description of a man's travels across England, Scotland and Wales astride an aged, but capable vintage motorcycle.
The book is based on his dream to complete the Landmark Challenge; an event organised by the UK Triumph Owners Club, where entrants have one year to visit 50 Landmarks, carefully scattered around the corners of our green and pleasant land. This is an achievement that most would be content and justly proud of, however, Graham is determined to win the Individual Gold Trophy for the oldest bike to complete the challenge. Needless to say - he does!
The whole year's travels are described in a fond, witty way that makes the pages turn, and left me wanting for more once I'd reached the end.
For anyone who likes bimbling around country lanes and enjoys the experience of travelling for the journey's sake, this book will delight you. I will be reading it again quite soon!Learn More
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Fay Taylour: Queen of Speedway
By Brian Belton
Fay Taylour was the most successful woman speedway rider - ever. Her short but meteoric career spanned just a few years in the late 1920s until women were banned from the Speedway in 1930. In these few years Fay made a name for herself first in Trials riding, in which she won several Gold Medals, and then in Speedway, one of the toughest of all sports on a motorcycle. Fay competed against, and beat, most of the well known male speedway riders in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and became something of a legend - the Queen of Speedway! This book is a biography of Fay and especially her motorcycle years in trials and speedway. It is a fascinating account of a truly remarkable woman and the early years of speedway in England, Australia and New Zealand.
Brian Belton has Speedway in his blood. His father and grandfather both worked at West Ham Stadium and knew many of the racers there. Brian is now an academic, a youth worker and a well known author of books such as West Ham Speedway, Hammering Round and Bluey Wilkinson - the Hammer's first World Champion.
- Forward, by Reg Fearman
- A Taste for Speed
- The Big Bang of Speedway
- Loves Labours
- Dirt-Track Queen
- To Australia
- Super Sig
- Fay v Sig
- Aussie Odyssey
- And so to England
- Wheels on Fire
- Haere Mai Wahine Wehi
- The Empire Strikes Back
- Appendix: Fay Taylour - Major Achievements
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The History of the Clubman's TT Races
1947 - 1956
By Fred Pidcock and Bill Snelling
Everyone with an interest in motorcycle racing, or in motorcycles of the 'Classic' era, has heard of the Clubman's TT. If asked, no doubt many could add some recollections from magazine articles describing these races held in the Isle of Man in the years following the Second World War. But question further, and it is likely that apart from remembering that the races were dominated by the BSA Gold Star, and maybe that Geoff Duke and Bob McIntyre took part in the early races, little else would be known.
The History of the Clubman's TT Races 1947 - 1956 gives a race-by-race account of the series, with full race results, a full list of riders and their entrant clubs, supplemented by many photographs illustrating the breadth of talent and machines that were pitted against the world-famous TT Mountain Course (and, for one year, the 10.79 mile Clypse Course). In addition, there are over 20 from-the-saddle articles by riders.
Foreword is by Bernard Codd, double winner of the last Clubman's TT races to be held in the Island.
The Clubman's TT is one of those events that most people have heard of, but many, including myself, know remarkably little about. This book aims to put this right.
It provides a detailed account of very race from the start of the event in 1947 through to the final race in 1956.
There are many great black and white photographs throughout the book including some of the more noted competitors such as Bob McIntyre, Bill Lomas and Percy Tait.
My favourite sections in the book were without doubt the "My Ride" sections. These are personal accounts and recollections of some of the event's competitors across the years. They each provide a very interesting insight into what the Clubman's experience was all about.
Reading the book, I was totally amazed at the variety of machines raced - I certainly never expected to see a Matchless G3L!
It is a book that can be picked up and browsed and never seems to fail to provide something that hasn't been spotted before. But it also provides a detailed reference source for anyone interested in almost any aspect of the event.
- Foreword by Bernard Cobb, Double Clubman's TT Winner, 1956
- CH 1 - How It All Began
- CH 2 - 1947 The First Clubman's TT And Off To A Good Start
- CH 3 - 1948 A Full House - And Vincents Rule The Senior
- CH 4 - 1949 Accommodating A Record Entry And Two New Stars Emerge
- CH 5 - 1950 A More Settled Format - TT Wednesday Was Clubman's Day
- CH 6 - 1951 Four, Take Away Two, And So Near For Triumph
- CH 7 - 1952 A Win For Triumph At Last, And An Island Debut For 'Bob Mac'
- CH 8 - 1953 Coronation Year - And A BSA On The Senior Leaderboard
- CH 9 - 1954 Changing Times - And What's In A Name?
- CH 10 - 1955 The Clypse Year
- CH 11 - 1956 Back On The Mountain
- CH 12 - The Problems Increase - How And Why It All Ended
This is an extremely informative book that has certainly filled a big gap in my knowledge.Learn More
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Stan Dibben - World Champion Sidecar Rider
"A pleasure to commend the book and to compliment the man"
Allan Robinson MBE
Stan lives life not just to the full, but right on the edge! There are no words to describe someone who has been a world champion sidecar rider - the one just barely in the sidecar, balancing the machine with his body at 150mph! Even more amazingly, by then Stan had already been a professional trumpet player, electrician and sailor as well as a highly respected motorcycle racer on the GP circuit. He worked with some of the well known names at both BSA and Norton, raced the first ever Dommie Racer, helped in the successful world land speed record set by Donald Campbell in Bluebird, and then became the man who did so much to introduce NGK spark plugs into the UK. He even designed supermarket trolleys that handled 'like a Ferrari'! This is the remarkable story of an amazing man who has managed to fit more fun and adventure into his years than most of us would even dream of. His story is uplifting, and a remarkable insight into the world of sidecar racing and British industry. A book that will fill not just fill you with wonder, but one that will also open your eyes on a now rapidly fading era.
I always look forward to reading a book on a subject that I am not too familiar with - particularly one that fascinates at the same time. And this book certainly provides everything I could wish for on both fronts. It is a very engaging story of a very gentle mild-mannered man who have lived a life of extremes.
It's a relatively light read of 128 pages, but jam packed with great stories. It covers his life from his boarding school, through several years in the Navy, his years spent on solo and sidecar motorcycles and his involvement with the 1964 Campbell Bluebird world speed record. His subsequent career with NGK spark plugs (Stan was instrumental in their introduction into the UK) is also included, right through to his retirement.
Stan certainly manages to convey the difficulty and danger of racing in a sidecar - I only wish there was more of it to see on the circuits these days. It's a fast, skillful and dangerous sport and it a pleasure to read a book on a subject that gets so little coverage.
I have never met Stan, but after reading this book, I certainly would like to!
- Foreword by Allan Robinson MBE
- Foreword by George Cohen
- Rude awakenings
- There's a war on!
- A war in uniform
- Back to civilian life
- Into the motorcycle industry
- Sidecar racing
- Out of racing and into industry
- The sidecar passenger (ballast)
- Bluebird and the 1964 Land Speed Record attempt
- A whole new life
- Shopping trolley folly
- Family life
- Final thoughts
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India - The Shimmering Dream
The First Overland Journey to India by Motorcycle in 1933
By Max Reisch
"A pacy read...entertaining reading" The Sunday Telegraph review
A truly great travel adventure through Iraq, Iran and Baluchistan to India in 1933. But what really sets this book apart are the wonderful descriptions of the people and cultures, now nearly forgotten, but still hugely relevant in today's age: all brought evocatively to life by the wonderful photos from 1933. At that time, the idea of traveling to India on a motorbike through the deserts was considered impossible; there were no roads and they were attempting to cross the burning deserts in the middle of August, on a tiny two-stroke motorcycle with barely enough power for the bike and rider, let alone a pillion passenger! Gripping stuff, yet perceptive and full of drama - definitely a must for all travel and motorcycle enthusiasts. Adventure riding at its best and one of the greatest ever motorcycle adventure books.
Max Reisch was a 20 year old student at Vienna when he set out on this epic journey to India together with Herbert Tichy. After Graduating he became a hugely successful explorer and travel writer, but this book about his motorcycle expedition to Asia is arguably his best. First published in German in the late 1940s, and now translated by Alison Falls, herself no stranger to motorcycles, it has been brought to life in the English language for an international audience.
- Youthful Optimism
- Where does Asia begin?
- Annoyances in Anatolia
- Joy and Woe in Paradise
- Baghdad - In the Footsteps of Haroun al Rashid
- Caution in Karbala
- The First Great Crisis
- The Paris of the East
- Desert Fever and a Missionary
- Our Life in the Desert
- Letters from Home
- The Salt desert of Dasht-E-Lut
- The Oasis of Water Thieves
- The Second Great Crisis
- Latif Hamid and the Dynamo
- The Map of India
- How We Lost Face in the Golden Temple
- Grass Fires and a Guilty Conscience
- Vaikunth - Heaven on Earth
- Crossing India; the Wish List
- What Happened Next
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Lost Motorcycles of the 1920s
By Jack Bacon
The 1920s were an amazing decade in motorcycle development. Lost Motorcycles of the 1920s describes, in as much detail as possible, over 50 of these lesser known motorcycles, providing a wealth of information on makes from Abbotsford and Alwin to Turner, Weaver and the Xtra Car - not forgetting the many transient, but somewhat better known marques such as Blackburne, Radco and Raleigh for example. Each model and make is described in detail and accompanied by as many illustrations as possible. Lost Motorcycles also offers some fascinating and helpful insights into the many facets of motorcycling during the 1920s - the roads and garages, suspension, tyres and clothing for example - all of which helps set these motorcycles in their period and gives a real feel for what motorcycling must have been like some 80 years ago. Absolutely invaluable to restorers and historians of early British motorcycles.
Jack Bacon edited by Roger Fogg. During his life Jack Bacon assembled a vast collection of information on his great passion - 1920s motorcycles and motorcycling. Jack not only rode 1920s motorcycles throughout his life but also experienced the 1920s first hand as a motorcyclist, which gives his writing great authenticity and authority. Unfortunately Jack was not to complete his book before his death, but now, more than a decade later Roger Fogg has managed to assemble all the information into book form. Roger, like Jack, rides 1920s motorcycles himself and is a well known enthusiast and authority on these bikes.
This is the book I've been waiting for! I can honestly say that this book fills a huge gap in my library. There is so much written about bikes of the 1950's and 60's and so little written of the amazing earlier decades - particularly of the 1920s. It really is an invaluable guide to restorers, historians and enthusiasts of bikes of this era. And as the publishers quite rightly claim, it probably contains all the information there will ever be in publicly available form on many of these old bikes.
How is this for a quick list of some of the marques discussed in the book: Abbotsford, Acme, AEL, AJR, AJS, AJW, Alecto, Alldays, Alwin, Ascot Pullin, Ariel, Atlas, Autoglider, Baker, Berwick, Blackburne, Brough, BSA, Castle Three, Clement, Coventry Mascot... right through to Wiseman and Xtra Car. There are many names that I am not familiar with, but even more that I have come across but know nothing about. Now that is going to change!
I don't often get excited when I write a review, but this one is different! Interspersed with the descriptive details, there are some extremely interesting articles offering an insight into the nature of maotorcycling in the 1920s, really giving the book a period feel.
- The British motorcycle industry in the 1920s
- Roads and Garages
- Forks and Dampers, Tools
- Lost Motorcycles of the 1920s (A-Z)
If you are at all interested in this piece of motorcyling history, then this is a great book for you!Learn More
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Matchless - In Name and Reputation
by Bill Cakebread
- A unique record of an apprenticeship and working life in the British motorcycle industry
- Fascinating insight to the working practices of the motorcycle industry in the 1950s and 1960s
- Includes period photographs and rare documents relating to the Associated Motor Cycles Ltd factory at Plumstead
- Bill worked at the AMC factory from 1958 until 1966
- AMC manufactured Matchless and A.J.S. motorcycles
A young Londoner had only one ambition in life - to work with motorcycles. That simple wish led to an apprenticeship that was to change Bill Cakebread's life forever as the training that Associated Motorcycles Limited provided enabled achievements that he never dreamed possible. This book gives a unique insight to the atmosphere and excitement of working in a motorcycle factory. It is an inspiring story, supported by a host of period photographs and rare documents, which provides a fascinating record of work within the British motorcycle industry in the final years of its decline into oblivion.
This is the inspiring story of how a young school-leaver with no academic qualifications and low expectations built a successful career based on an apprenticeship with Associated Motor Cycles Ltd, and eventually became Managing Director of his company.
It describes the very personal story of the ups and downs of factory life in the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, it conveys the unique atmosphere and excitement that surrounds the manufacture of motorcycles, an atmosphere that for those who have experienced it is like no other. The excellence of the training that was provided by the company enabled the writer to achieve far more than he ever anticipated.
The journey through the factory, starting with the lowliest of duties in the machine shops and ending as personal assistant to the top motorcycle designers of their time, is described in detail. It gives a rare insight into working practices within the different departments and the characters that were employed.
Supported by a host of period photographs and rare documents, it provides a unique record of work within the British motorcycle industry in the final years of its decline into oblivion.
Review by Chris Read for Jampot magazine, November 2008 AJS & Matchless Owners Club
For anyone who has a fascination with the marques of AJS and Matchless, those fabled yarns from the days when the factory was in full swing serve to remind us of how our present day pride and joy was once created. Bill Cakebread served an engineering apprenticeship after coming out of a grammar school education. It was often hard work in grubby surroundings, but he loved it, and it led him to far greater things in later life. Bill's account of his apprenticeship is a wonderful story of a man who lived his dream. The illustrations (many that I've never seen before) are a priceless record of the day, right up to the 2007 AMC revisited event at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. Recommended.
Being a bit of a youngster, I always enjoy books that tell me what life was about in the olden days.... OK, so I'm not that young, but I am certainly too young to have worked in the industry in its heyday. So books like this one, capably written by Bill Cakebread, are always of great interest to me. There are many, many books written about motorcycles, but remarkably few about peoples memories of the people and places that they are associated with. And afterall, many of us enjoy our bikes, not only for the wonderful pieces of machinery that they may (or may not..) be, but also for the piece of history that they evoke. And this book certainly brings a period of quite recent history to life.
Bill spent his apprenticehip and most of his working life at the AMC factory in Plumstead, London. and has an obvious passion for recording the way of life and his recollections of a time that has long gone. And he does so in a lively and entertaining way. The book is filled with many fascinating photos (what would I give for one of those G50's waiting for their road test..) that really bring it all to life. It is a very honest portrayal - I loved his confession that he has never really liked his former employer's bread and butter products and rode BSA's himself!
There is a nice section on the history of Matchless from the formation of the company by the Collier brothers in 1878 including the winning of the first TT 1907. And there are also interesting sections on some of the more recent AMC activities ending with "just another plaque on the wall" where the great factory used to stand.
A very interesting and easy read that I recommend to anyone with a sense of history and a passion for the British Motorcycle Industry.Learn More
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Motorcycles at War
By Gavin Birch
Motorbikes were widely used by all sides in WW2 due to their agility, adaptability and speed. A precious few survive today as rare collectors' items.
The author, who is the Photo Archivist at the IWM has unearthed images of all the major marques. Famous British names (Triumph, Norton, Matchless, BSA, Velocette, James and Rudge) feature along with the bigger American machines from Indian and Harley-Davidson. German bikes have their own chapter with classics such as NSU, Zundapp and BMW and include hybrid tracked motorcycles known as Kettengrad - with some shots actually taken by General Erwin Rommel himself.
Also covered are rare experimental prototypes photographed during trials and later in combat, the 'funnies' of the wartime biking world such as the Airborne forces Excelsior Welbike (British) and the Cushman parascooter (US).Learn More