Saturday 31 January 2009

More than one way to skin a cat

Short track (flat track on speedway ovals, for those new to the blog) is still a fledgling sport in the UK. We don't have the history, so we don't years of old bikes to buy cheap to start on. That means people build their own. These designs show two ends of the spectrum.
Anthony Brown raced on an SR/TT500 last year. He decided he liked the sport, but a better bike would have him closer the front. So he has designed a frame for a Rotax engine on CAD. He's having Geoff, a welder for an F1 chassis makers, weld it. Yes, he knows the top one won't fit, he's redisgned it.

The other plan is from Rupert Diplo. It's a Ducati Monster, but to get around the lack of steering lock he's planning to cut the headstock in half then have a newly made headstock welded into the C-section that is left attached to the trellis frame. Got that? Can't wait to see both/either of them roll up in the Spring.
Bon chance, mes amis! GI

Friday 30 January 2009

No More Excuses

eBay winds me up rotten, so it's now categorized in the same sin bin as Easyjet. My last purchase back-fired in my face and they had the audacity to black-list Me. So my long hunted for 21" / 18" MX knobblies for my CCM are still just a wish. It's now been four months since I moved to the styx, and yet have until today not made use of the breathtaking surroundings of rocky goat tracks, twisty D roads and fallen trees.
Fak it! I just went out on silly 17" slicks. Even managed a river crossing without capsizing. Next time i'll take one of those roll-up Commando chainsaws. And some knobblies.

Don't fanny about waiting for the perfect day, the perfect bike, the perfect set-up. Get out there and ride the tits off whatever vehicle you have now. Today. You will come home smiling. BP

Yeah, and one day I'll get around to 19"s, Flanders bars, R6 forks.......

Ex-Roberts XS650 for sale in UK

Thanks to Steve H for point it out on eBay. Seems to be up for £23,500, but then says make an offer. Be our guest. This is from the advert... McQ, your thoughts, please.

'Thank you for looking at the famous and legendary Ex-Kenny Roberts (senior!) Yamaha Flattracker. If you are of a certain age, you might recall the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics magazine featured this bike as a series of rebuild articles, over several years, in the late 90’s. When they’d finished the bike (of which more later), Bob Berry, the then editor, sold it to me.
The history of the machine is very well documented, but in essence, this is the story:
Roberts was already world 500cc Grand Prix champion in 1978 when he agreed to take part in a ‘demonstration race’ with Dave Aldana, against some British speedway riders, at Haldon Raceway, in Exeter. This event was sponsored by Bulmers Cider. His bike was basically a works Yamaha flattracker, built by the legendary Sheldon( Shell) Thuet. Thuet was, and possibly still is, responsible for some of the greatest oval racers ever made, cutting his teeth on Enfields and Indians. Roberts employed him to personally look after his bikes when he raced for the US #1 plate, which of course he won. Although no longer racing flat track, due to his GP commitments, Roberts took everything very seriously and instructed Thuet to bring with him a competitive machine and to fly it over for the races.
The races are well recorded and I have a copy of the report in Motor Cycle News, at the time. Roberts lost, and had the ar*e over the bike’s performance, he has since told me!'

Spanish Sauce

Tom of the Dutch-Brothers team found this cheeky fish in his nets after a night trawling the internet. OK apart for it's 19" + Maxxis', it's basically a MX bike, but I still love it. No patience to wait for more before posting.

Nichole Cheza #15

I interviewed Nichole Cheza for my day job the other day. She is pretty incredible. She's 21, weighs about the same as a sausage roll, is just over 5ft tall, yet, we understand, she's the only woman to hold a National number (on an XR750) for a generation at least. And to explain, you only get a national number (so a number without a letter behind it) in the US if you qualify for a main event, a final. There are between 50 and 100 of the world's very best riders trying to be one of the 18 in the main. It takes some effort. Keep an eye out for her when the season starts this year.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Wise words

From Rouserworks

And Birmingham Small Arms via Poppawheelie

Human Cannonballs Dick Smythe & Co.

A horizontally opposed flat twin is not exactly the first engine configuration that springs to mind for flat track racing, but the 1929 Douglas DT was the dogs bollocks of it's day - and many consecutive years thereafter. This brochure was picked up by our vintage shingle antenna Mick Phillips, via our friends (step-cousins twice removed) at Classic Bike Magazine.

'Manufacturer to His Majesty the King' and 'By appointment to the King of Spain' you don't get accolades like that for motorcycles these days. 'Due to its low centre of gravity, even weight distribution and perfect balance, it can be "broadsided" at angles that would mean a spill with a single-cylindered mount. Power as silky sweet as that of a turbine. It accelerates with a snap and a surge. Speaking of this acceleration one well-known rider said that it was akin to being sucked up by a gigantic vacuum cleaner... If you have aspirations to Dirt Track fame, do as the Champions did - get the right machine - the Douglas.'

Why were those piss-pot helmets always so tall? - the retro Davida ones aren't quite so comedy. I guess they were originally developed for human cannon balls, and impact was only ever TDC. According to MP "Racers always carried several rounds of bread and dripping, and a flask of tea in their helmets."

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Kawasaki Nikki

Nikki is part of our Vegas team. She, along with Troy C, covered the recent Gene Romero race for the upcoming Sideburn. Her bike and style is right up our strasse. And it seems like we're not her only fans. We found this artwork on the Driverchris blog. Neat-o.
The photo is by Troy at Chicomoto.

Death Rattle

Mixing a methanol-gargling Jawa speedway engine, between the wars hillclimber chic, 70s disco font and religious iconography, Urban from Sweden has created one of best custom bike's Sideburn's seen in ages. It's not derivative, like so many bikes being built out there, but brings something new to the table. Urban is a genius when it comes to bike building (his copper-plated JAP/Husqvarna is a favourite too) and we think he's a sculptor or some kind of artist. We want to visit Urban, Marcus and the Belladonna freaks in the hot Stockholm summer. Smorgasbord!

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Lo Scorpione T-shirt compo

We met Alessio and Andrea, the brothers behind Italian kustom garage Lo Scorpione at the recent Verona Bike Show.
They gave us a couple of T-shirts but, being very British, rather than say they don't fit, we thanked them profusely and stuffed them in our bags. So we have another two T-shirts for the ever popular Sideburn comment competition. They're both black, both MEDIUM. To have a chance of wining, fill in the blanks, as a comment.

______ is the gosh-darn man because _____________.
So, for instance,
Gary is the gosh-darn man because he's giving away more free T-shirts.

Ones we like most win, our decision is final. Remember to put your name if you're an anonymous poster (I know that doesn't make sense). A woman can be a gosh-darn man too. Doesn't have to be bike related, just has to tickle our fancies...
Some Lo Scorpione bikes

Andrea Scorpione

Monday 26 January 2009

Las Vegas slider

And to get back on track (for those who dislike Sideburnblog's deviations) from Troy's trip to Vegas...

'Sideways? This kid in Vegas could put it sideways.'

Cave and AA Gill

Off-topic culture update.
I've been listening to Nick Cave again. He's an all-time fave, and I found a CD of Nocturama (released on Mute, 2003) that had a free DVD I'd never bothered playing in the five years I've owned it. It's a video of the the breathless 15-minute non-stop 'Babe, I'm on fire.' And it's funny. More so because Cave is viewed, by many, as a miserable get. Cave has been recording for nearly 30 years and, except for Boatman's Call - a mawkish bleat about breaking up with PJ Harvey - every new album has been bloody killer. He's relentlessly brilliant.

Also relentlessly brilliant is the book I've just finished, Previous Convictions by AA Gill. It's a collection of features about everything from stag shooting in Scotland to visiting Iraq with Jeremy Clarkson. It is superbly written. And, because it's a collection of newspaper and magazine columns (from The Times, Sunday Times, GQ and others), you can read a bit, leave it alone, read a bit more... But I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended... GI

I'll never see On Any Sunday in the same light

In a reply to the recent post on Gary Nixon's Triumph, regular correspondent, and owner of the Shell Racing XS650 in SB1, AlMcQ wrote:

'That's a Trackmaster frame - and doesn't it look great! The Team also tried the triples on the dirt with stock and Rob North frames. Jim Rice crashed a triple at Sacramento in "On Any Sunday" sadly the cartwheeling bike killed a photographer at trackside. "

I never knew that, and only have McQ's (usually encyclopedic) word for it. I guess Bruce Brown didn't want to bring the film down, as it was essentially good propaganda for motorcycle sport, that was at a low ebb, but the poor photographer deserved a mention, didn't he?
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame (where this photo is from) mention the bike hitting the photographer, but not the outcome. You can see the point before the impact. Grisly stuff.
So, belatedly, commiserations to the family of the unnamed photographer from all at Sideburn. GI

Sunday 25 January 2009

84 reasons to buy Sideburn 2

Kenny Roberts, Champion TZ750, the 1975 Indy Mile, SR Labo, Roberts BMX, Ben Miller, Jason's XR1000, Sundance carbs and Supertrapp exhausts, Fly TIpping, Douglas speedway bikes, Dan Mahoney, Amy Pruczinksi, Bultaco Astro, Houston Astrodome, Bubba Rush, John Hateley, Jay Springsteen, Ray Ninness, Lincoln indoors, Peter Boast, Mat Oxley, Wrench Monkees SR500, 1970s Speedway hair, Flakes SR500 from Japan, cross-continental Sportster odyssey, vicious sunburn, exhaust bodges, Mick Phillips, armadillo gloves, Auto Race, purple glitter jackets, Suzuki AR600 grasshopper bikes, Max Schaaf's chopper, Captain Highside's Skooter Farm KTM Transalp mutant, Ben Part, Rachel, Trophy queens, Gary Inman, Gary Nixon, Nixon's 650 Triumph...
Buy it here.

New Bell helmet review

Seems a lot of Sideburn fans like Bell helmets (and helmet fetishists in general), so when reader Andy bought one of the brand new ones (now Bell is American-owned again) we asked for his impression of it. Here's what he said.

Because I placed my order in July, it only cost £120, was it worth it. Feck Yes. lovely quality, looks the part, even with my head in it. Real nice lining although I would have made it Black not Brown. Very comfy and quiet, went out yesterday, looking like a 70's throw back in TS 185 Belstaff and Gold Top's. Dodgy peak, I've replaced it with one from Arai, which was £15, but have since ordered one from Davida along with some a pair of Bubble goggles. Let you know how I get on. When can we expect Numero 3.Got me a bad case of cold turkey.
Keep Your left leg out

Number 3 out in March. We reckon.


Love this. From Mobtown blog GI

Friday 23 January 2009

Thought you'd seen it all?

Some superb shots from Jan-Willem of the Dutch Brothers. The European flat track scene is like dirt track being stared at through the looking glass. There is a lot of enthusiasm, but not enough in-depth knowledge to go around (like the Sideburn office). There are some people (like J-W, Boastie and Marco) who know the sport inside out. There are others who just want to take part, and will do it on anything they can get their hands on. We Euros don't have the history or the secondhand bikes. So people build gems like the UK Honda Bros (which was the ONLY bike to beat Chris Carr on UK soil). And this BMW. Maybe he'd heard about the Ron Wood BMWs but didn't see any photos. Jan-Willem fills us in:

"Well, you know the famous 1000m track in Mühldorf, Germany? Well they were familiar with the Dutch short track for a while, tall MX bikes with knobblies. But when when we came with our framer twins, one Bavarian local obviously got inspired! And he was gassing it hard!!"

Thanks Jan-Willem. Keep em coming.

日本の訪問者はここにクリックする喜ばす CLICK


Beautiful Nixon Triumph Trident nicked from Troy
I bet this was a handful. But were they ever that shiny when they raced? GI

Verona Friends 2

From L-R: GI, Yone fromBull Original, Tom from Fork, BP.
GI and BP were in Italy speaking English to Japanese people. Thank God the world speaks English, because we're halfwits.
日本の訪問者はここにクリックする喜ばす CLICK

This is Mr Martini, who might just be the world's best modifier of Hinckley Triumphs. He does them on a budget, he keeps them rideable, but he's clever with it.

This is Sara from Chops 76, from near Bologna. That's her Triumph. It's matt brown, Tijuana themed, with brass turned parts and Persil white cam cover and engine covers. Oh, and she was lovely.

This is Luca. He runs Chops 76. He goes out with Sara up there.

The good folks from Kopteri magazine in Finland. From L-R Mala, Riikka, Segu and Sofia.
The Finns have been building traditional chops, that everyone's going wild about, for years. In fact, they never stopped.

Mr Chopper Paranoid came up and said 'Hey, do you work for Sideburn?'

Ben had a thing about this lady's champagne hair. Then said it reminded him of Limahl from Kajagoogoo, adding that Limahl used Lenor fabric conditioner on his hair. I never asked why he was telling me this.

Thursday 22 January 2009

We've found a new God(dess) to worship

Did I dream this photo? I've never seen it before, but I can't believe it hasn't been all over blogland. It is so perfect it is now my favourite photo of all time (the one of Iggy Pop stood on the shoulders of the crowd, pointing into the distance, is now number 2). Look at what she's doing! Smoking, crossed-up, handshift, in sunglasses and a bandana. And she looks beautiful. My heart, it flutters. GI
PS Here's our new God.