PUCH 250 SGS

Restoring a barn-fresh 1966 Sears Allstate

Paris CVMG Rally – 2014

This year we decided to bring a plethora of bikes in a cubevan. We thought we were being smart and prepared but of course wrangling children, bikes and getting out of town on a Friday afternoon was a bit challenging.

We managed to stuff into a cube van the following:

  • 3 x Norton Commando
  • 1 x Honda Ascot
  • 1 x Puch with sidecar

As other years it was a scramble to Paris and we arrived at the registration desk with 5 min to spare (7:55pm).

Here are a few photos to give a taste of the weekend.

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Trev Deely museum: Vancouver

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This August, I had the chance to visit Vancouver for a week, ostensibly to attend SIGGRAPH. My wife wanted to go to the art museum, I wanted to see bikes, so off  I went with my daughter Sophie and headed for the Trev Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition. Of course being a British bike fan I missed the British Exhibition, End of Empire, by a year. Not as frustrating as missing the Norton Owners Club Rally that took place in Austria. I drove past it on my honeymoon heading from Germany to Venice. By “drove past it” I mean missed it I didn’t know it was happening until I got home and saw the ad in  Classic Bike Magazine. arrgh.

IMG_0132 Sophie and I zipped out to Trev Deeley,  a short drive from downtown Vancouver, located in a nondescript strip mall.  It is a contemporary Harley Dealership, full of halogen lights, branded merchandise, over-the-hill Barbie Doll receptionists, and a few bikes on the floor.
Luckily the museum is at the front door, it was mid afternoon and the dealership was quiet, the museum empty.  I was greeted by a friendly guy and asked for my suggested $5 donation.  It really isn’t a suggested donation, the $5 is suggested amount if you follow me.  I have no problem paying for the exhibit,  I just thought the wording was somewhat confusing.  At the entrance there is a Harley hack with a backdrop for photos, visitors are encouraged to hop on and take a photo. The couple behind me got offers of helmets and photos, somehow the guy with the toddler didn’t.

The exhibition space is nice, with a combination of natural light and professionally created displays. Although the current exhibition Made in America is mostly Harley and Indian, it does include bikes made in Toronto, Canada, such as Indian. The show says “more than 315 motorcycle manufacturers in the USA since 1895”.  The bikes are in varied enough in age and type to be interesting to a casual observer. I was more interested in the other older marques on display like Excelsior, Orient, CCM and Pierce.

I was enjoying the exhibit for about two minutes when Sophie started crying and holding up her index finger. Knowing that the bikes weren’t running I ruled out missing digits and hot exhausts, but it was a burnt finger. The halogen spot lights mounted in the stands are very hot. I spent the rest of the exhibit juggling an upset toddler, licking and blowing on her finger to cool it, trying to take photos all while trying to keep her from crying in the very echo-y hall. It wasn’t an ideal way to view a bike exhibit,  but I guess it was my penance for lack of parental vigilance….

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’69 Royal Enfield Bullet : Indian Style

A colleague brought a 1969 Royal Enfield Bullet back from India. It has been restored in India by (my deduction based on the keychain fob…) Ess Arr Motors, apparently one of the bigger Indian bike dealers. The Indian Enfield factory is the last outpost of the Great British Motorcycle Industry since the British factory closed down in 1970. Established in Madras in 1955 to supply the Indian Army, the factory has continuously produced the essentially unchanged 500cc Bullet for over 50 years.

He brought  over the other day to get a hand with it. I had the chance to get my fingers into the gearbox – which apparently the Indians pack with grease, not oil. It was interesting to compare with the Norton Commando (being the British bike I know best – ok the only British bike I know). I now understand the impression the Commando left of being a race thoroughbred, the Enfield Bullet seemed positively agricultural as my friend Paul noted.

The Indian restoration was decent, it’s hard to tell what has been done to the engine. The paint was ok – I found the pin striping to be a bit wiggly, vinyl logo on top of the paint, instead of under or waterslide as original. The Tires are period looking, couldn’t make out what mystery brand they were. The seat leather looked cheap (dry and cracking) and showed wear already.  The quality of the exhaust was on the low side. Most disconcerting was the modern switch gear and signals. They totally ruin look of the bike, and I’m not a rivet counting purist. The other item that seemed out of place was the knock-off Mikuni, but I can forgive that in the name of reliability, knowing what vibrations do to Amals.

With the choke on, the bike burst to life with one kick and settled down to a steady lump-lump-lump. I wound the bike up to 100km/h; it was happy to go there. For some reason my brain couldn’t wrap itself around the gear box, perhaps it was the two shift levers (neutral finder…?). There seemed to be massive false neutrals between every gear, especially between 3rd and 4th. Perhaps some fetteling needed or rider training.

If on a trip around India or loping down a country lane I can see this a a fun bike. It has a nice wind-me-up character to it, most likely derived from the big flywheel. It doesn’t like to be rushed, it will get there and get you there. The engine is in a state of very mild tune with very mild tune with a 5.5:1 compression ratio. The brakes, 7inch on front, 6 inch in back) do work, but I’m not asking much from 55 year old design on a 41 year old bike from India! The steering seemed very gyroscopic, but that could in part be from the giant handlebars and the fact I’ve been riding my Vespa scooter this week with it’s nimble little tires.

The Enfield seemed to be happy at a brisk, but relaxed pace, perfect for unwinding after a day at work and I could see this bike being a great solo commuter mount.  I was already envisioning myself with goggles, paniers , dodging sacred cows on dirt roads in India.

P.

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