How many of us have heard of Nimbus motorcycles? Not too many I imagine. It might be one that you have seen in a motorcycle museum, or in the pages of Motorcycle Classics magazine but probably not on the road. Too bad. It’s a wonderful machine built by a vacuum cleaner company in Denmark. Interesting thing here…this company built the first vacuum cleaner in Europe!
Around 1910 one of the founders of the vacuum cleaner company decided he could make a motorcycle and by 1918 he had. That was the year the first prototype was built, in 1919 they built two more, mass production didn’t begin until 1920. The new Nimbus was a 746cc air-cooled, shaft driven inline four. The Nimbus put out a whopping 10HP and had a top speed of just short of 55MPH and that was with a sidecar attached.
As advanced and wonderful as it was sales were poor, mostly due to a poor economy so production ended in 1926.But, in 1932 the founder of Nimbus and his son started designing a new motorcycle and in 1934 it debuted. There are a great number of changes to the original design except for the inline Four motor and the shaft drive. Horsepower had upped to 18 and a little later to 22. The new Nimbus acquired the nickname of “The Bumblebee” because of its exhaust note. One of the things I find most interesting about this engine is the exposed valve springs…very cool
The model ‘C’ sold well particularly to the Danish police, the postal service and the military. In 1939 as WW2 was winding up the military bought the majority of ‘C’ models. But as the war went on, getting materials to make the motorcycles became more and more difficult, less than 1000 motorcycles were built during that time. After the war new engine designs were developed but, because Nimbus was already selling everything they could make they decided on minor upgrades instead of retooling the factory.
Nimbus continued production until 1960. The Police stopped using the ‘C’ model in the late 1950’s because it couldn’t keep up with faster cars and motorcycles, however, the Postal Service continued to use the Nimbus until 1972.
I found a really nice 1948 Nimbus on ebay this morning. Mechanically this bike been gone through with a fine tooth comb. The rebuild modernized the bike without taking anything away from its soul. This is honestly one very unique motorcycle that you want to ride, not , I repeat NOT, park in your living room or hide under a blanket in your barn. Yeah it’s a little pricey but when you look at what has been done…it’s worth the Kroners (Danish currency). I only wish it had a sidecar as most Nimbus did, but you can find one.
Click on the pics below for a few more pictures and a boatload of information. And look closely, there is a serious resembelence to a very famous American motorcycle…which one?
Everyday I find something interesting on ebay. Some motorcycles are waaaayy overpriced and some are values you can’t pass up. How do you choose? Hows your 401K doing and how understanding is your wife? or Bank?
It seems that lately I have been on a sidecar kick…I love sidecar rigs, what can I say. This morning I found a very beautiful Jawa 350 with a Velorex sidecar but…at an asking price of $16,000??? Give me and everyone else a break. Then, with a little more searching I found a really clean Chang Jiang rig for 1/4 of the price.And now you’re asking…Chang Jiang?
Who is Chang Jiang? A Chinese manufacturer producing motorbikes for the Peoples Liberation Army. The Chang Jiang is a somewhat direct descendant of the 1938 BMW R71 but more closely to the Russian M72, which is a decendent from the R71 with a few Russian modifications. It’s a bit convoluted but all three are basic Boxer twin/ shaft driven motorcycles with side cars. Germany is BMW, Russia is Ural and China is Chang Jiang. Here is the interesting part…BMW has progressed, Ural has progressed (kind of), Chang Jiang…not so much. It’s pretty much a 1938 BMW. Well, it works for them I guess.
In 1966 they made some upgrades, they went from the type 1 to the type 2. Here’s the fun part, when a type 2 needed to be serviced they (the Chinese military) would use left over Type 1 parts…makes sense to me.
Here really is the most interesting little tid bit…did you know that the Chang Jiang 750 is the longest running production motorcycle? 68 years! With virtually no modification. In a weird way thats pretty cool.
Click on the pic below for more info
1972 Chang Jiang w/ Sidecar
99% of us know Triumph as a British motorcycle company. Another 75% of us know that they started by making bicycles (very common in early motorcycle manufacturing) in the late 1800’s. 5% of us know that Triumph was started by two German brothers.
I was not part of the 5% until today. I found a very interesting old Triumph on ebay this morning. As I was reading the description it said it was German. OK? I looked at the pictures and noticed that the logo on the tank knee pads was different than what we are used do. Time for research.
1886 Bicycles in England, 1902 Motorcycles in England, 1903 Motorcycles in Germany (homeland of the brothers that founded Triumph). Then here comes World War One. In 1913 the company diverged.Triumph Germany became TWN; Triumph Werk Nuremburg
Triumph Germany mainly developed 2 stroke motorbikes while Coventry focused on 4 strokes. TWN built military motorbikes through world War Two. TWN used the ‘Twingle’ motor of which the bike I found today.
Twingles are really interesting. Two pistons in one cylinder. There are two separate bores, one for intake and one for exhaust but they share a common combustion chamber, a very efficient design. Sears and Roebuck sold Twingles (made by PUCH of Austria) under the Allstate brand for a number of years.
Back to the BD250. It was mainly designed for the military and was equipped with hardware to mount a sidecar, important during the war. It was also quite fast for a 250cc, again important in the war.
The one I found today is really nice and would be wonderful fun. It has had some renovation work done, not museum level (I like that) but looks great. It will probably need some work to become rideable but there again is part of the fun of owning a bike like this. A little side note here, the was nicknamed “the Hedgehog”.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
I love scooters and I love sidecars and when you can get the best of both worlds, what could be better? I found a very cool little set up today on ebay and got me to thinking back to a few years ago that a friend of mine and I went to the big Sidecar rally in Griffith Park California. There had to have been at least half a dozen scooter sidecar rigs there and I loved them all.
Most scooters that are out there are not freeway legal here in California but for getting around town and playing on country roads you just can’t beat a scooter. Some of them get nearly 100mpg (pretty important here in Cal), easy to ride, lots of storage space and a VERY HIGH cool factor. Not to mention a very high “giggle factor”!
Scooters can make life so easy in urban areas and add a sidecar to it you can take your dog with you or do a full Costco run. Well, maybe not a FULL Costco run. Even though I have done a pretty full Costco run on my Buell Ulysses (with all the luggage).
We all know about the “lifestyle” culture in motorcycling. If you ride a Harley you hang with the Harley crowd and wear black. If you ride a Ducati you hang with the Ducati crowd and wear red, the BMW group you wear BMW gear. But…the ‘Scooter World’ is all over the place.
From guys in shorts a T-shirt and flip flops (thinking “I’m on a scooter I can’t get hurt”), to vintage English “Mods” style to classy women wearing dresses and high heels. A scooter is totally non discriminatory…just twist the throttle and go. There are scooter racing organizations (these people are having way too much fun!!)
If you haven’t ridden a scooter you truly don’t know what you are missing, it is a great part of the two wheel experience we all love. You can get off your 200mph Hayabusa, your ground pounding Harley, your turn on a dime Ducati and get on a scooter and I promise nothing will give you the giggles a scooter can. The world slows down to 45mph and everyone smiles when they see you.
So, I found this really nice set up on ebay today. It’s in good shape has a really cool sidecar…too much fun.
Click on the pics below for more info
All too often I find motorcycles for sale that are way over priced. The seller bought a bike put all kinds of Chrome on it, or every high performance mod you can make, a $3000 paint job or thinks that just because it’s old it’s worth five or ten times the original price. The sad part here is that there are people out that buy them at silly prices. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean its classic…it’s just old.
And then there are motorcycles that can actually justify going to the bank and mortgaging your house for…provided you’re single or have a very understanding wife. I found one today on ebay, (bike, not wife) this absolutely beautiful 1951 Indian.
I have developed an affinity for Indian Motorcycles, OK, I do own stock in the company…got to say that for full disclosure. But my love of the bike came when back in the late ’90s when my friend Roger Herbison let me ride his newly restored 1937 Indian Chief. Everything about the bike was wonderful. The look, the feel, more things than I can describe.
In Newburgh New York there is Motorcyclepedia, an incredible motorcycle museum. If you ever find yourself on the East Coast you really need to go. At Motorcyclepedia, there is an entire room dedicated to Indian Motorcycles.They have bikes from every generation of Indians…for better and worse. Models from the first year to service vehicles to Clymer era mini bikes. Everything Indian is there.
Early on there was a great rivalry between Indian and Harley Davidson, mostly based on racing. Win on Sunday…sell on Monday. There were plenty of other American motorcycle manufacturers in the early 20th century but most fell by the wayside and eventually Indian did too. Indian went through many changes over the years and most of them not good. Today, Indian is in good hands. Polaris Industries (builders of Victory motorcycles) have brought Indian back. The classic style and feel are all there but with modern reliability.
But this website is all about Vintage bikes and I found one classic Indian that is well worth it.
First, I love Sidecar rigs and this 1951 Indian has a beauty. Here’s the deal with this bike and sidecar, it has modern upgrades but it also comes with most of the original parts. How cool is that.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and details. It was one of the rare bikes that I find that are worth the money asked.
Sometimes I just can’t help myself. I love Cafe Racers. Simple. A purpose built/modified machine that can get from here to there quite fast in high style. A cafe racer is a function before fashion machine but…the fashion is definitely there too.
A good friend of mine has recently discovered Cafe Racers. He started his life on a Harley Davidson Sportster, all blacked out, then moved on to a Street Bob (a big twin Harley), again all blacked out and loves it. He is a part time member of the “Harley Culture” but he is expanding his views. My subtle hints and sending pictures of cool bikes seem to be working!
I was living in Las Cruces New Mexico when the original Gold Wing was introduced. The GL1000 was at first thought of as a big bore Sportbike, but as we all know, it became the Supreme Leader in touring bikes. Why the change in thought? The original was a touring bike to go up against the Harley Davidson Electra Glide, but the molds for all the touring accessories were accidentally destroyed so the bike was brought out naked and American Honda tried to market it as a Sportbike. Well, the aftermarket (in particular Craig Vetter) had a field day with accessories. In no time at all you could make a Gold Wing as comfortable as a Winnebago. It is the motorcycle that changed touring motorcycles forever.
I rode it back in 1975 and thought it was rather Ho-Hum (I was riding a Kawasaki H2 750 at the time). Fast forward a few decades when I bought my father his Gold Wing, I came to realize just how good this motorcycle is. I started looking at Gold Wings as more than just an ‘old man motorcycle’ but as a platform for some serious fun. Granted, you can’t convert a modern Gold Wing to anything other than what it is but get an old GL1000 or 1100 and the fun begins.
I found a very nicely done Cafe Racer ‘Wing’ on ebay this morning and it looks very appealing. A little too blingy for my taste but very well done. Pretty low miles for a bike it’s age…my wife says the same thing about me. NOT. Some really nice upgrades and like I said, a little on the ‘Blingy” side for me but nicely done.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool bike.
I really dig Gold Wings with Sidecars. My favorite by far is a ’75 GL1000 with a Vetter Terraplane that I saw at the Griffith Park rally a few years back. Picture a Cafe Racer sidecar rig…it was perfect!
So today I found a more sedate (classic) rig on ebay. A nice ’75 Wing with a Watsonian Sidecar. Now, it is really pretty cool. It’s got a couple of different covers, to handle different weather conditions ands a very comfy seat. The bike has been given some good love but needs a bit more, not much but a little.
If you have never driven a sidecar rig (and the proper term is driving, not riding), what a blast! Your whole view of the motorcycling world changes instantly. Flying the car first time, makes you pull over and check your underwear. The first time you fly the car with some one in the car…well, you’re both checking your undies and your passenger is calling a cab. By the way, ‘flying the car’ means the sidecar is off the ground as you go around a right hand turn. Great fun seeing the look on your passengers face when all of a sudden they feel like they are on a carnival ride!
It’s funny, but when you are driving a Sidecar rig, everybody looks at you differently. You’re not a biker anymore and your cool factor just went up 100%
This is a nice rig, a little pricey but cool factor doesn’t always come cheap. Click on the pics below for more pictures and info
I put this in here today because I have a friend that I work with who lives in a ‘Retirement‘ community and does property management there. He likes vintage motorcycles but needs something a bit cooler than his golf cart to get around the community. I think this is the perfect vehicle.
There is a lot of strange and interesting history when it comes to Indian motorcycles, way too much to put here but I love it. At this period in time, post WW2, both Harley Davidson and Indian were trying any and everything to keep sales up. Small bikes, which both companies pretty much failed at, service vehicles (which Harley did a much better job at) and even scooters.
Indian partnered with Lowther Scooters to build up the 63D model. A three wheel service vehicle that was easy to drive, very functional and inexpensive compared to the Harley Servicar. In truth, the 63D didn’t even come close. As a matter of fact only 8 were built. The 63D had an either 4 or 6 hp motor, a centrifugal clutch, the 63D had a differential for 2 wheel drive, If you had a small farm or ranch (or a modern retirement community) it was probably just fine but as a true service vehicle…nah. However it is pretty cool.
Lowther Scooters built some of the craziest most futuristic scooters ever…check these out…
I found a 63D model on ebay this morning that is a good runner starts on the first or second kick, shifts through the gears just fine and the lights work. This particular model is the ‘high horsepower’ model….all 6 horses are there so it’s going to be quite a handful! It needs some love for sure but nothing too serious.
It ain’t cheap but it is really cool. Click on the pic’s below for a lot more info and more pictures. It is a very interesting peice of Indian history and now I’m really interested in Lowther Scooter company history. More to come.
I have always been a fan of oddball motorcycles…actually owned a lot of them, much to the bewilderment of family and friends. While doing my daily search of ebay for stuff I need and / or want, I found a bike I have never heard of before, a Junak?
In Post War Europe there were a ton of motorbike manufacturers, in Poland alone there were Twenty Eight, 28!!, between 1928 and 1972, the Junak is Polish. There is so much history in Eastern European motorcycle building its mind boggling. If you want to learn more about the Post War Eastern Europe motorcycling industry you will spend hours upon hours and days upon days at your computer and talking to motorcycle historians and then it goes back to Britain…and then….
Back to Junak. Junak was the first and only (at the time, post war) manufacturer of four stroke motorcycles in Poland. The best and most popular was the M10, a 350cc single cylinder that very closely resembled the Ariel single (with maybe a touch of BMW thrown in for good measure). Like I have said before, most of the Eastern Euro bikes had their basis on British bikes…who didn’t? Well, maybe the Italians?
The Junak M10 is a very simple 350cc single that had many uses. It was originally designed for the military (was there an Eastern European motorcycle that wasn’t??), and for touring.The Januk M10 became a very popular civilian motorbike especially with a side car, but also had good success in cross country racing
And, circuit racing (roadracing)
I found a very beautiful example of the Junak M10 on ebay this morning. It is a 1963 with just 400 miles (610 KM) on the clock. It is a first kick starter (most of the time) and good runner. Interestingly enough spare parts aren’t all that difficult to come by, there are a number of sources that can still supply you with parts to keep this bit of Post War Eastern European motorcycling culture on the road. Cosmetically it’s really nice, going to need a few things here and there but nothing to be overly concerned about if you plan on riding it. The seller is asking nearly $10K for it…is it worth that much??? You decide.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures
Starting a racing career in the California deserts in the 1960’s was great! These were the days that on the starting line were legendary names…Bultaco, CZ, Maico, Husqvarna, Ossa, Penton, Sachs, DKW, Zundapp and probably a half dozen others that I can’t remember right now. But, also were the heavy weights…Triumph, BSA, Norton, even Harley Davidson (yes, the big motors, not the little Italian jobs, even though there were plenty of them as well) and believe it or not once in a while a BMW?! The Japanese were making serious inroads into off-road competition as well, I rode a Honda SL350 for two years in Enduro’s and desert races. And then to add even more fun to these event were the ‘sidehack’ racers. Talk about nutballs!?
This was a period in time where innovation and experimentation ruled in motorcycling. Off-road racing had the Rickman brothers and Eric Cheney building better chassis’ than the OEM, Flat Track had Champion and Track Master, Road racing had their fair share of custom builders as well. This was a time to take a good motor and make it handle better. This may not be considered the ‘Golden Age’ of motorcycling to some, but to my generation, yeah, it was.
I found a cool Cheney Racing framed Triumph on ebay today and it got me to thinking and remembering…and doing a bit of research. My step-dad’s best friend Stan Hughes had a really cool Cheney/BSA single that I thought was the hardest motorcycle in the world to start, I think I’m still right on that one (but I did learn the secret to easier starting…a few years later). I never got to ride the bike very far but I do remember how good it felt. Everything seemed to just fall into place (ergonomics) and the bike steered with almost no effort. And, on top of all that it was beautiful.
There is a good amount of Eric Cheney’s history on the web, he built the frame for British MX Champ John Banks’ BSA, he developed ISDT (International Six Day Trials) for Triumph from 1968-71 and many other racers. Most of his frames were built around the BSA Singles of the time but also built kits for the Triumph twins. A Cheney framed bike was a prized possession.
Eric passed away a few years ago and his son took over the business. You can still get a Cheney frame built to your specs! How cool is that!
The bike I found on ebay is in very good condition, I don’t think it runs but the seller believes it’s an easy fix to get it going (weak spark…Lucas electrics?). If you want an interesting vintage off roader this is a good choice. And the Triumph 500 motor is a blast to ride!
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.