Monday 31 October 2016

The Day Billie Joe MacAllister Jumped Off The Talahatchie Bridge

Last time I was in America this song came on the rental car radio and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.
Bobbie Gentry was a female Lee Hazlewood. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Great soundtrack for a melancholic Autumn day. G

Panther Triumph at Mule

From Mule Motorcycles in Southern California...

Saw your featurette on the Panther and thought you'd like to see the one I have in work. Updated bodywork, Storz tank and modified Woods seat. All new 750 motor.

Read about the modern Bonneville street tracker Mule Built for Arctic Monkeys drummer, Matthew Helders in Sideburn 25.

Saturday 29 October 2016


Another instalment from Sideburn ambassador, John Harrison.

My Harley found me sometime in 1983. The father of one of my friends had built it up from three tea chests of parts that he swapped for a complete and running V-twin BSA that was promptly sold to a Japanese collector. He'd built it but ran out of steam before finishing it off. It was copper metallic with white grips and running board rubbers and lots of chrome. I wasn't into Harleys, but saw those 'bars and fell in love. The fact that it had a hand shift and foot clutch added to the appeal.

I haggled him down to £650 because I had £50 saved and a two-year loan for £600 was all I could afford to pay off. Even then I knew I'd stolen it. I finished it off, which only involved wiring it and fitting a saddle.

This picture was taken in 1984, when it was my only transport and I was doing some weekend maintenance. My sister and her toddler were visiting. My girlfriend had recently passed her driving test and bought herself the lemon R5. She was evidently going for the complete French gamine look. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary this year. My little niece Emma, who is copying me by playing with spanners on the bike, grew into a bona fide rock chick with a group called Band of Skulls who are quite popular with the younger generations, I understand. Sometimes I look at this pic and wish I'd left it like that, with the lovely colour and 18in front wheel, but maybe it's just the atmosphere in the photo that I like.
In time it needed an engine rebuild, so I took the opportunity to paint it and fit a 16in front wheel. This pic was taken in about 1993, soon after I got it back together. My children loved getting rides like this, sitting in my lap. I would deliver them to their friends' birthday parties with them wearing a bicycle helmet. It has stayed pretty much the same since, except that I've let it get dirty and look its age.
The most memorable ride I've made on it was to Pendine and back to watch the VHRA racing along the beach in 2015. That was 220-odd miles each way. Fine weather, wonderful roads (the Welsh A40 with its endless, fast, long sweepers), good convoy company and the bike running well. I felt like I was flying. Vintage motorcycling can be slow, uncomfortable and unreliable and isn't for everyone, but it suits me fine. Pic: James Bad JuJu Mitchell

I rode it in the Harley class at Dirt Quake V and came in last in all three races. But I had the best seat in the house when Dimitri Coste lapped me at great speed on the inside with Wiggo chasing hard flying down my outside blatting into turn 3.

Friday 28 October 2016

This Weekend: Revival Show

We'll be there. Come say hello. Weather looks cloudy but dry. G

Thursday 27 October 2016

Dirt World Needs Support

Dirt World, an off-road riding and driving area in a quarry near Peterborough in the East Midlands is looking to expand and become a more professional set-up and offer more for dirt bikes.

They're looking for support, not money, just an email with your details. It took me two minutes.

Fill in the form here.

Thanks to Ross J for the tip-off on this.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

The other Panther

Talk of the Panther monoshock made me wonder about the bikes built by Phelon & Moore that came out of Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire and whether they'd ever turned out a dirt tracker. Seems they did, right back at the dawn of speedway in the late 1920s.
But this, below, also caught my eye, a Panther-Cotton hybrid that sold at auction (I'm not sure when) for around £2500. You can get more info on the Bonhams site. Looking at these bikes now, they seem like a precursor to the laid-down motors typical of speedway's modern era.
Panther built bikes from 1904 - 1967 and the big slopers were by far their most famous models, though always more associated with sidecars than hot shoes. MP

Monday 24 October 2016

Panther Monoshock

I was recently racing, riding and spectating at the Santa Rosa flat track weekend. There were loads of framers at the Friday and Saturday CFTA races and  I came across a Panther Honda. I'd never heard of Panther, so I spoke to the owner, Don Galloway and organised a feature on his bike for the next Sideburn. Don came from Ontario, Canada to race and was flying. He told me a little about Panther, a Canadian, one-man company that made incredibly sweet-handling framers. G

Don followed up our conversation with these photos and a note...

A picture of the just rediscovered TT500 mono Panther from 1975.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Travis of the Himalayas

From Anthony Brown who rode on the recent Sideburn x Helmet Stories Himalaya tour...

The riders on the Sideburn Himalaya trip were generous people.
Travis had packed light and we all set about kitting him up with some new riding gear

Newbold Wears:

Kufi Hat - purchased from hippy shop in Daramasala (£1.50)
Tibetian wool scarf - Purchased from a small shop in Killar (£3.00)
Sunglasses - Models Own
Axo original Finnish MX pants - Found on market still in small village close to Pangi Valley (£5.00 we didnt barter too much they were unworn)
Woolie Jumper- Colorado thrift store
Mandels - Models own
Backpack - Brought from outfitters enroute (£2.50)

We blew the £10 budget by 50p but I think the backpack bonds the whole outfit together.

Saturday 22 October 2016

John Harrison: The Early Years, pt2

As we explained ahead of part one of John Harrison's look back at his early biking years, his attitude and style caught our eye at DTRA races, so we invited him to share his thoughts on the blog. We're glad we did, and here's his latest instalment.

I was really lucky when I turned 16, because I coerced my mum into getting me what I reckoned was the best moped of the lot, a Fantic Caballero. She wasn't best pleased when my O level results came through a while later, though.
It was a proper little trail bike. High-level pipe with a natty heat shield, knobblies, enduro-style pouch on the tank, satin black with Italian stripes and raised, polished guards. Most of the lads went for FS1-Es or the rather more sluggish four-stroke Honda SS50, but me and my mate (who got me onto bikes with his BSA Beagle) both had Caballeros and never had trouble outrunning the other mopeds. The rings went at 3000 miles and it blew tail light bulbs weekly, but that was worth living with. We rode them down to Cornwall for a week's holiday and I thought nothing of riding 50 miles each way to visit my girlfriend every weekend. Great off road, too. My ride to work took in some green lanes so it saw plenty of trail action.

At 17 I traded it in on an RD250C Yamaha, but I couldn't keep up with the repayments and had to let it go after nine months or so. Still, I had it for the fabulous summer of '76. A lovely, good-quality bike. I've liked Yamahas ever since.

Pics of the RD and Caballero from the internet, they're not my bikes.

A little later I bought a clapped out 250 Bultaco Sherpa and rebuilt it. I had the frame nickel plated and replaced all the knackered bits.
But, much as I love trials I'm no good at it and trials bikes are not much use for daily transport. So I bought a DT250 that had been stripped down and used as a common basher. Luckily, the road equipment had been kept so I put it back on and it was a fun road bike, really rideable. I'd love it now to convert for DTRA racing.
This is the only picture I've got of it, peeping out from behind a project that inevitably never got finished. A friend and I went halves on the Capri,  which was going to be a high-steppin' gasser with a straight-tube front axle. We got as far as the chassis and bulkhead work seen here, and bought a flip front and a (supposedly) hot small-block Chevy before running out of steam. JH 104R

Friday 21 October 2016

Worms To Catch

Long-term Sideburn supporter and regular columnist, Guy Martin has a new autobiographical book, Worms To Catch, out this week.

Wait a minute, you're thinking. Didn't he have an autobiography out a couple of years ago and a follow-up called When You Dead, You Dead?

Well yes, but Guy lives life four times quicker than everyone else and these autobiographies are long-form diaries of one of the most interesting, daredevil, hardcore lives being lived anywhere in the world. This one includes the behind-the-scenes stories of the Wall of Death record, Land Speed record attempts, Transit van at the Silver State Classic, the 2400-mile Tour Divide mountain bike race, Dirt Quake and much more.

The books are available at all good book shops, online and some British supermarkets are doing deals on them.

Not only that. The cover of this soon to be bestseller was shot by Sam Christmas and taken from the Sideburn 26 shoot of Guy's Rob North wall of death bike. Buy Sideburn 26, then buy Worms To Catch.

Guy's own Guy Martin Proper website is selling an exclusive version of Worms To Catch that is personally signed by the rider and had a cover illustrated by Ryan Quickfall. G

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Jason's CB750

Our old mate Jason is selling this wonderful CB750. It has the best of everything (with the exception of the tyres...). Yoshimura pipe, Mikuni/Yoshimura TMJ carbs, Fontana front drum brake, finishing by Old Empire. It's a stunner.
Price £14,000.
Email us at dirt @ if you're interested.

Monday 17 October 2016

Flat Out Friday: The Bikes

I flew out to Flat Out Friday in Milwaukee, earlier this month. The race was debuted on the Friday before the Mama Tried Custom show in February this year. A crowd of 7000 turned up to the inaugural event making it bigger than many AMA Pro National races. The organisers were buoyed by the success and decided to organise another race, in October, not tied into the show.

It was a risk, but there was a massive entry, hometown company Harley-Davidson partnered the event and livestreamed it online, through their facebook, with Dirt Quake racer Chris Wiggins and US mover/shaker Leticia Cline anchoring the very professional looking coverage.

With no show in town, the crowd was down on the Mama Tried weekend, but there was still a strong 3000 or so locals, which is nearly double what the US Superprestigio attracted in Las Vegas 11 months before.

The track was a tight syrup track, concrete with sticky, sugary syrup from Dr Pepper sprayed and left to go dry. It was just big enough for good racing even on heavyweight bikes.

Above is one of the organisers bikes, Scott from Fuel Cafe's Harley WL45, hopped up by JRs Cycle Products. It lacked some ground clearance on the tight track and he went down in a shower of sparks. He wasn't the only one to crash due to decking out.
There was a huge field of hooligans, the regular Californians came out en masse, but were joined by plenty of mid-westerners. The Noise Cycles team had three riders.
While The Speed Merchant team brought from out from So Cal.
This fella, one of the Fealy family, rode his Trackmaster twin so hard to win the vintage class. It was a joy to watch.
There was a strong and eclectic brakeless class, with a bunch of Aermacchi Harleys battling with older heavier WL45s and Ducati bevel singles.
 This old boy on a BSA single looked the business, and raced even though he had trouble walking!
 One of a couple of neat Bevel singles. This one is brakeless and rigid. 
 So is this one!
There was a boonie bike class that was great entertainment. Not all of them looked this
One of five or six mint Astros that entered. 

Thanks to the Mikes at Harley-Davidson and Scott and Beth for all the hospitality.

Wisconsin really loves flat track. G

Sunday 16 October 2016

I never knew they came in boxes

Brand new Rotax ATK 600 motor in box on UK eBay.
Thanks to Ross for the tip-off. Bit expensive for me... G

Saturday 15 October 2016

Santa Rosa Mile now on Fanschoice

Last month's Santa Rosa Mile was unforgettable for a number of reasons, good and bad. We've covered the bad, now the good. This race was something special. 25 miles of incredible skill, tension and groundbreaking performance.
It marks the beginning of Indian era.
Click Santa Rosa Mile 2016 to watch it, and you really should. G

Friday 14 October 2016

Icon Trick or Street

We don't really do Halloween in the UK, it's a very half-arsed affair, but the Americans do.

This design is limited to 1000 and cost $260 (in the US). I've never worn an Airmada, but I've raced in an Airframe Pro all year and like it a lot. G

Revival Show

The next show Sideburn is attending is the Revival Show put on by the good folks at Down and Out Cafe Racers. It's on 29-30th October in Rotherham, Yorkshire.

We'll have some great bikes, good tunes and special deals on merch. Come along and support this new show.

For more info go to G

Thursday 13 October 2016

Dunlop Commit to American Flat Track

The bones of a press release from American Flat Track...

AMA Pro Racing and Dunlop Motorcycle Tires are excited to announce a renewed, multi-year partnership with the recently-rebranded American Flat Track series. Dunlop will hold the exclusive category rights as Official Motorcycle Tire Supplier for the series and will extend their support into the marketing, competition and broadcast efforts over the next three years. 

 'Dunlop has more than proven their dedication to motorcycle sport over the years, and we are proud to expand our partnership with them,' said Michael Lock, CEO of AMA Pro Racing. 'Starting in 2017, Dunlop will put more money into the paddock by substantially increase their contingency. This shows just how much they care about the paddock and how serious they are about joining us as partners as we build a bright new future for the sport.'

Starting in 2017, Dunlop will increase their per-race contingency payout to riders by nearly 300% and will pay contingency in both the AFT Twins and AFT Singles classes. At select rounds for the AFT Twins class, the tire manufacturer will begin to offer two rear tire options, giving each rider the opportunity to select their preferred compound.

Photo: Chris Hinkle/ AFT

Contingency - this is a fancy name for prize money. I spoke to Michael Lock at length recently, for an interview in the next Sideburn, and he says contingency is good for everyone. If Honda put in a load, for the GNC2 class, then other manufacturers are obliged to do the same. I'm not sure I see it that way, but Lock is far better informed than me.
The Dunlop contingency is different, because it is guaranteed. Honda might not win, but Dunlop will. G

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Dirt Quake V by Motor Rausch

See more of the German photographer's Dirt Quake V album. Thanks for the great photos, Motor Rausch.

(above) Sideburn 26 cover bike, El Solitario's Pluto, and Sideburn blog contributor, Hubert 'Marge' Bastie.
Lovely Dimitri on his way to win the W&W Harley class on the gorgeous Shaw's Mert Lawwill Sportster
 Michael Herman's Kawasaki stroker
 Don't forget to get our questions in for the next instalment of Ask Guy
 Dirt Quake virgin, Carl Fogarty
 Sideburn ed remembering to put keep his elbow up
Blog contributor, John Harrison
Richard Rowden and Drogo Michie, plus one of the Greenfield Girls, on DTRA Friday.
 The Stags' Conway Castle, letting his hair down
 Happy punters
 The Brinkmobile
Hubert v David El Solitario

High Noon Scramble: Coming Soon

From Norm Motorcycho...

High Noon, the wild west, dirt, grime, spit, shit... For some people, motorcycles are utilitarian - it's all-about gas mileage, economy and practicality. Others it's more about speed, horsepower and go fast gizmos. There are, of course, the weekend warriors, the brand specific urban outlaws. And finally, those of us who sum motorcycles up in one simple word - Fun!

Whether it be rolling some canyon highway on vintage tin with a bunch of buddies; exploring the back roads, two up on a sport tourer, cruising the back alley on minibikes keeping careful watch for cops like you did when you were 11 years old, or dressing up in bad costumes and riding crappy enduros with a bunch of like-minded hooligans at the local sand dunes. Motorcycles are fun! 

The High Noon Scramble was the brainchild of the Filth Mode Dirt Club. They ran their first HNS in 2008 just after the big stock market crash. Times were tough. Ducatis and Harleys were sold for quick cash. Cheap '70s and '80s enduros, with the XT500 quickly becoming their "Tesus", were bought to satisfy the urge to ride. "Dirt First" soon became their moto. 1% Outlaw - 99% Dirt Enthusiast. The HNS is the celebration of this re-birth.

The race itself is simple. Drag out whatever dirt bike you have and try to complete nine laps of sandy, hilly, bumpy torture. Teams are encouraged to make the race bearable. Hydration in necessary to keep the body going. Friends cheer you on as you quietly pray your bike doesn't blowup. Utter exhaustion determines your fate. By the end of it nobody really knows, or cares, who won. The fact that you attempted it at all is worthy of all the accolades. 

Photos by Blaine Connolly

Read all about Filth Mode in Sideburn 24.

Check out Norm's Motorcycho blog.
The next High Noon Scramble is coming up on October 30.