And from other members…
I have been motorcycling since 1964 when I bought my first bike, a Triumph Tiger Cub, from my local dealer the famous David Tye in Cromford Derbyshire. David was a BSA works rider in trials/ scrambles. I have just been loaned a book -(Where BSA,s Dare) by Norman Vanhouse. It’s the story of a trio of riders on 500 BSA twins who all won Gold medals in the 1952 ISDE in Austria and rode there and back as well, 5000m. David Tye also won Gold. The BSA team also won the ACU Maudes Trophy at the same time. It’s a fantastic read.
For myself, I have over the years done trials ,scrambles, enduro and more recently LDT’s . I have owned my F-super NPO 477 now 50 years and owing to the bike activities it has taken a backseat for long periods. However it has been used more in the last ten years.
I still ride bikes (when we can again) I have 2 trail bikes and a 650 v- twin Suzuki road bike.
To prevent me going insane in lockdown I’ve got an electric mountain bike now and this is pretty addictive especially where I live in the Forest of Dean. I can do this from home so within the law.
Well hope the coming months bring better news,
Bye for now,
Interesting to hear about your bubbling experiences as at the moment I’m helping a friend in our village to rebuild a Heinkel Cabine 3w. Pic shows a rig to test the engine on my bench after I rebuilt the top end of it. I didn’t bolt it down with the result that my tools vibrated off the bench! However it sounded reasonably OK. It’s a 200cc 4- stroke 10bhp. The car weighs 250 kg and it’s claimed top speed is 55 mph – takes some believing. The owner is pretty ill and wants me to finish off building the car but due to lockdown I can’t go to his workshop at the moment so it’s all on hold. It’s a pity because most of the parts have been renovated so it’s mainly an assembly job.
I’m sure your comments about driving these micro cars are quite accurate and in line with what I was expecting. I’ve been loaned a pile of Heinkel magazines and one bloke drove one to Moscow and back a few years ago so there’s always nutty people about.
I suppose they’re no different to us mogmen.
Well me and Margaret have been jabbed this morning so at least that’s welcome progress out of this frustrating situation.
All the best,
Stan & Margaret Howitt ( Forest of Dean )
Glyn Lancaster Jones
Dave; Greetings and thanks for the Messerschmitt memories. I had the standard three wheeler – in fact more than one as another one came ‘suitable for spares’ A great little animal spoiled only by its appalling cable brakes. I think the four wheeler had hydraulics ? 1:1 steering like a bike it was a great runabout for a student at Manchester Tech. If they had put hydraulic brakes on I would kept it for ever. The longest journey was Todmorden to Stafford and back.
This is all good to hear, not long ago I nearly bought a TG500 kit, ut a lot of money, and a lack of room for it, resulted in my passing the opportunity, it was in Sweden which did not help, but was from a well known Messerschmitt man.
As you may well know, I own 2 KR200 Messerschmitt’s, and the first car I learnt to drive in, and passed my 3 wheeler test in, was an Isetta, at the time I was told you could drive a three-wheeler on a provisional licence, on your own, before passing a test, some said you had to blank off the reverse gear,. I checked this with the local police, who did not have a clue, but later came back, and said NO you could not, unless the vehicle was originally mad, with no passenger seat, and made without a reverse gear, so much for the myths that go around, even the sellers of bubble cars said you could, if the reverse gear was blanked off.
I them bought a ye;;ow one lady owner Messerschmitt KR200, I saw the car each day on my way to school, so when I saw it advertised, I had to buy it. Years later, it turned out see has one of the world war 2 code breakers, ay Bletchley Park, she then lived in a caravan park, not far away. A local friend found her, and made contact, meeting up with her, but she passed away before I could meet up with her.
Oh to be young, if only we could have our time again, I would buy up all the Messerschmitt’s, Morgan’s (3 wheeled) and Status cars I could, I raced a Status, the first of its type for 3 years, before buying DG 7120, the 1933 SS.
After years of owning DG I found out it had trials history form new, and ULK 733, my 1957 KR200 was owned by Peter Twiss, the famous world war 3 piolet, and late test piolet.
Wonderful stuff. I remember Copes when they had the big shop. My experience up to then had been with our small local motorcycle shop, and the biggest I had ever seen was Vale & Onslows on the Stratford Road. My dad informed me that Copes had got an ES2 Norton Watsonian combination for sale and he was going to buy it. We went on his Velocette with me clinging on the rear seat. I was in awe at the showroom wherein they had Reliants and some bubble cars’ as well as more bikes than I had ever seen. A deal was done and to my proud delight I travelled home in the luxury of an enclosed sidecar. Those were the days. Soon after that another brother arrived and the Norton was exchanged for an Austin 10 Lichfield which elevated us to a higher plane than most of the neighbours. Whatever happened to those happy days?
Keep safe, John.
All good stuff and so similar to many of our own early motoring memories. When I was bound apprentice… de dah, de dah, de dah. Anyway, as I was saying. My fellow trainee ‘engineers’ had got an assortment of various English motorcycles and I too badly wanted to join them. The guy I was under suggested that he had got an old motor bike that I could have for a few beer vouchers. I cannot remember the amount but as my wages were about £4.10s a week it would not have been much. It was collected in one of the company Morris 10 vans and deposited at my parents’ house. It being a Triumph Tiger 80 with upswept exhaust and reversed clutch and brake levers emanating from the extremes of the handle bars. As it was not yet my birthday so that I could become legal, I spent the next few weeks and most of my wages throwing away and replacing the pre -war handlebars and levers as well as the exhaust system. I also replaced the huge headlight with one from a more modern pre-focus type. The light was no better! In spite of the girder forks it was starting to look a little more like most of the other 1950’s bikes on the road at the time. I would sit and run it most evenings to my parents’ annoyance, and one evening after everyone had settled down to listen to the radio, I carefully wheeled it out of the garden and down the road a piece. Bearing in mind there were no helmet laws or requirements for protective clothing I did not look at all out of place as I set out on my first road trip. Oh, was I the dogs’ whatsits as I sped along the road for a few miles? About three miles out the engine suddenly spluttered to a halt. I knew it could not be petrol for I had carefully nicked my dad’s spare gallon from the sidecar of his Norton combination. However, by the glow of a street light by the railway station, it quickly revealed that the tank was dry. Nothing for it, as I had no money with me, but to start pushing. About an hour later in a muck sweat I tentatively pushed the bike around the corner of the house to find my dad leaning there smoking a cigarette. He’d known I wouldn’t be able to resist it, so he’d drained the tank to stop me going on the road before being legal. I’d got to where I’d stopped on the drop in the tank and the carb. I suppose I should say it taught me a lesson. The main one being, never under estimate your parents.
By the next Christmas I’d got a 350cc B31 BSA. The works Christmas do was at the pub next door and after 12 noon we all trooped in for company provided sandwiches and a few beers. Tom, the foreman told me to go easy as I’d got to ride my motorbike home. Well, after a few John Bull brown ales I was really starting to enjoy myself in spite of Tom’s repeated warnings. Eventually I decided that as my head was beginning to hurt and it was no longer as much fun, I crept out to ride home. Well, as much as I tried the bloody bike would not start. I was starting to feel a bit silly as well as a bit strange, so decided to push it home, it was only about five miles. My enthusiasm for this method waned after I had to stop and throw up at the side of the golf course. Pushing the bike, a little way off the road, a lie down and about an hour’s rest found me pushing again. When I got alongside the Church Army hostel building close to Whittington Barracks, I was exhausted and stopped for another rest. This time my head was a lot clearer. I noticed something hanging down from the engine. It was the spark plug lead. It transpired that good old Tom had taken it off, knowing I would not be able to start and the plan was to bundle me and the bike into a van to run me home. My pushing the damn thing had stymied that plan. Never underestimate your foreman!
Keep it up.
Many years ago, there was a member with a Matchless super Sports that had the radiator faired in and painted the same dull red as the body. I had met the owner a few times and got on with him.
At a meeting somewhere ‘up t’North’ which I cannot now remember what or why, I met him again. This time he was on a crutch and his arm in a sling. Various cuts and abrasions adorned his face. ‘What on earth happened’ I asked. ‘Oh, it was the Morgan’ he replied. I asked if he had crashed, for that was the obvious reason for his injuries. His reply was the killer. It transpired that he was trying to hand star it one winters morning. The thick oil was confounding him. so, with a stroke of lateral thinking he put the handle in and gave it a smart kick. The ensuing back-fire launched him over the garden fence and through his neighbour’s green house! It is very hard trying to look sympathetic whilst trying to stifle laughter. I hope he forgave me.
A long time ago, l think it was at the Abbey, a guy with a very rakish S/S Matchless had got a very nasty set of lacerated fingers. He’d had a new chassis, wider and lower. After the refit it was pushed out of the garage onto the yard, whereupon he set about starting it by hand. The lowered chassis coupled with motorcycle tyres took the handle too close to the floor! Ouch! John.
In 1969 I agreed to buy a Messerschmitt KR200, with MoT, for £20. The seller failed to turn up with it and I kept on saving (working Saturday mornings at the local Vauxhall dealer) and bought F Super, MOD 939, in May 1970.
I did, in 1992, get a motorbike with the frame built by Messerschmitt. A Krauser MKM 1000. I ran it for 14 years.
The details of Copes reminded me that I purchased my Honda ST70 Monkey bike from Bearwood back in the late ’70s.Used when I went boating it would fit in front of the cabin across the boat as well as standing upright with the handlebars folded down in the Volvo145 estate that I then owned.
They became Midland Canal Transport company standards with Tony Gregory and our other late partner Keith also buying one. Tony & I still have ours. The only problem was the small petrol tank with any journey over about 50 miles as I recall requiring stops for refuelling.
Happy days in another life!
Keep safe and I hope we can meet up soon
I do like listening to your ramblings as I started at 15 in the motorcycle trade < had enough and left school early although I was told to go back for 4 days just to do my exams > , there has always been bikes in my family , mum had a DOT and dad had various bikes < Matchless , Sprite , Triumph > and he had a Bond Bug , which was great in the snow as the front wheel just hopped from side to side on the centre ridge of snow . I was going to have it but the chassis was rotten so we sold it to another bug owner for spares . The first motorcycle I was passenger in was a 500 sprung hub triumph with sidecar I was 2 months old and my dad took me ,my brother and my mum to Skegness for a long weekend . The funny thing is when he first purchased it and rode 5 miles carefully home he took it back as the speedo didn’t work , came home embarrassed as shop told him you need to go over 10 miles an hour to get speedo to work . When I was at school he took me there on the back of his 350 Triumph Tiger 90 , no crash but I wore a red and white woolly hat < still got it > , my brother has the bike now so still keeping it in the family , as school was through the lanes I often sat on the front and did the throttle . Might add more later if encouraged , Chuck
Thanks Dave for a good read – life did seem so much more fun in those days!
I can’t admit to a Reliant 3 wheeler, but did get a 4 wheeled version [Kitten] for wife and kids’ school run – on attached pic with much more interesting motor in the foreground – and yes we did drive 4 up to a local car rally in Llanberis, 1982 I think – like I say, so much more fun …
Best wishes – keep well –
I accept your challenge, and yes, I owned a Bond Bug.
Like you, my two wheel experiences were somewhat limited.
My first job was at a jig and tool company in Colnbrook, Surrey.
(Shortly after starting there, Bruce McLaren moved in next door.)
The journey to work involved a trip across Stanwell Moor which was not much fun on my Lambretta.
This led me to look at buying a three wheeler and my first Morgan.
Much later I bought a Honda 125 to use for work but sold it to finance a trip to the USA.
I bought my Bond Bug shortly after they were launched and to say it drew a crowd would be an understatement.
(It may also have been that my girlfriend of the time had very long legs and a preference for very short skirts.)
It was the 700ES with alloy wheels and a ‘sports’ exhaust.
Much has been made of their instability but once you understood their limitations they were great fun.
There was one particular left turn with an adverse camber I treated with caution and I did scrape it on one occasion although
I then discovered the trailing link weld had broken.
It spent some time back at Reliant getting it fixed.
I used to attend Slough Technical College and some wag thought it amusing to steal all the wheel nuts.
I called the AA who sent a trailer with two ramps and a mechanic with one arm!
One of my most memorable experiences was a holiday in Cornwall.
I travelled down in the Bug along with a mate and some other friends.
We got split up in Truro and my mate got out to ask for directions.
He got back in the Bug the usual way with one hand on the central console.
unfortunately his hand slipped and he dislocated his finger.
We had no idea where Truro A&E was located but came across a traffic cop in the process of booking someone.
He took one look at my mate waiving his dislocated finger and agreed to guide us to Truro General.
He gave it the full ‘blues & twos’ and the local residents were treated to the site of a bright orange wedge with its own police escort!
My most recent involvement with a Bug was through a mechanic friend who had been tasked by a car resto’ programme to do up a Bug.
After he had resprayed it I was able to tell him where all the decals went.
I’ve enjoyed ramblings. I will plead guilty to a Reliant van, with the Austin 7 copy engine, which, in my recollection was just about unburstable- and I had a good try at busting it. I had a girlfriend in Pickering(Yorks) at the time, and it was my habit to load it up on a Friday morning, full as to tank, sump, and rad, and depart after a quick shower on finishing work, applying the boot firmly to the metal, up the Fosse Way, and onward, to arrive in Pickering in time for a pint, with tank, sump, and rad just about empty. The Reliant seemed to cope with it without a care. I later loaned it to a friend for a week or two, to have it returned on a trailer, minus a door, which ended its career. I also had a Berkeley T60, bought from the same friend who wrecked my reliant, which shows I never learn. The original motor had expired, and he’d attempted to fit a SV Fiat 500 engine, to no avail. I shoehorned an Enfield 700cc Super meteor engine into it, which rendered it fast, and f-frightening. I got over 90 out of it, but that involved using both sides of the only bit of straight road in the district. I think you could say that handling was not its forte. It also lost both front wheels- though fortunately not at the same time- cured by using nyloc nuts, as I recall. I had a run of 700 Enfields, mostly attached to sidecars ( I did like riding a “chair”, and did so for many years) People kept giving them to me, when they saw what I was riding “I’ve got one behind the shed, do you want it?” Quite unjust, they were very powerful, if looked after, though the frame was the same as the 350- you could feel the bugger bend when you opened it up! Never paid more than 15 quid for one, which helped a lot! The front brake was astonishing, only 6 inch diameter, but double-sided, with a whiffle-tree thingy on the cables. Had a floating pivot for the brake-shoes, which really pulled its weight (if you remembered to adjust it, which most people didn’t) Oh, and I drove a Messerschmidt a bit, belonging to aforesaid friend, who had previously had, and wrecked a Morgan. I remember it as being quite quick, for the period, but bloody hot, in sunny weather, as it was one of the Perspex canopy jobs. That’s my extra-Morgan activities (leaving out a load of motorbikes)
Have fun (if that’s still permitted) Dave W
I have loved reading about your years on motorbikes and I well remember riding my motorbikes to Copes in Bearwood and looking at all I could not afford.
Below is a précis of my motor cycling life ….so far?
1959 aged 16 bought my first bike a 125cc James passed my Test on it, first time, fell off it in deep snow. My local motor cycle shop was Bob Joyner on the Wolverhampton Road by the Hen & Chickens. Swapped my bike in 1961 for a 250cc Royal Enfield Crusader. Crashed into a runaway Pig, a Wessex Saddleback, one night on the A449 at Kidderminster.
My friend had borrowed a 350cc J.A.P. Grass Track racing bike running on Methanol, 14:1 compression at the time. We went all over the Midlands to competitions, riding his 500cc Triumph with a platform sidecar to carry the grass bike. We very soon became interested in Grass-track sidecar racing and spent the next 5/6 years racing a 650cc BSA’s and bored out 750 Triumphs and a friend had a Saab engine in one. I was always the passenger (enough said!) I swapped my Royal Enfield for an Ariel Arrow 250cc two stroke twin which went well. I crashed it into a steel flat truck outside a factory and decided that was the end of my motor cycling life.
I had old cars from then. About a year after wreaking the Ariel I was given an old BSA B31a real ‘cooking job’ 350cc. I now owned a car and a motorbike. Over a couple of years I changed the frame to a more modern swinging arm model, fitted clip on handlebars, fibreglass petrol tank, rear set foot rests, alloy mudguards etc. I also had four engines for it and eventually had a 9:1 piston, lightened flywheels, raised cans, bigger carburettor and so on. Not a Gold Star but as near as I could get. After I married I broke it up saying it was too dangerous, the brakes were rubbish. After this I kept my hand in riding other people’s bikes, including my brothers 250cc Square barrel Greeves with a Honda twin leading shoe front brake, best lightweight I ever rode.
About 1984 I gave in to temptation and bought a BMW R65 650cc horizontal twin and learned to ride with a left foot gear change. Had years of fun then changed it for a Suzuki SV 650cc, a fore and aft Vee twin. Loved it. Sold it about 2009 and bought a 1934 BSA Blue Star and had to ride with right foot gear change again. Sold it in 2017.
At the Black Country Living Museum as a volunteer I rode many bikes, the earliest being a 1916 3.1/2 hop Sunbeam and many many others.
We enjoyed your ramblings although when I read of your affiliation with Honda motorcycles I felt a little uneasy; however, I then remembered my first introduction to Jedi racing cars was when they ran 600cc Hondas- and weren’t they beautiful engines, producing close, often hectic, reliable racing, even more so than when the 1000cc R1 Yamahas superseded them with their 190bhp in a chassis weighing 320kilos all up – mind you they didn’t half go. When I stopped racing in 2015 they held the absolute lap record at Caldwell Park and other circuits, in the hands of some incredibly talented young drivers, the likes of George Russel, Norris and others – you can’t beat karting when you are three or four years old for developing racing driving skills.
I thought I’d do a “Last Morgan Race” account as I’ve abluted, walked the dog, dined, slept and generally got on the wife’s nerves already today. I hope it may amuse you – it’s good for my fingers if nothing else.
Sunday July 5th 1965, Vincent Owners Club , High Speed Trial at Cadwell Park. Alan Nash, a lovely friendly chap, was Clerk of the Course and Meeting Secretary. I was having a good dice with the leader, Brian Weeks, and coming down to the hairpin about mid-race I went in too fast and, trying something new, double-d’d it into bottom gear; however the inevitable roll took place and we came to rest upside down on the bonnet facing the way we had just come. The ali spoked steering wheel broke with the throttle bent around the spoke and stuck wide open.
One spoke had jabbed me in the chest, I had a broken wrist and collar-bone and was quite unable to do anything to correct the situation. Dave Shotton, by that time my rather subdued passenger, had broken his thumb but was otherwise ok. However three marshals ran up and turned the car over with both of us still sat in there and another marshal stood at the front. Still revving flat out, in bottom gear, we did a super fast start with the marshal lying over the engine and with his head by the remains of the screens, looking at me in horror. We catapulted forwards towards the spectator banking. In the very best trialling tradition we attacked this 10ft bank flat out still with the marshal on the front . The car climbed it with no problem and then rolled over to the right, upside down again. This time someone decided that this sort of thing should not be encouraged and managed to turn the electrics off.
Coughing up blood and giving a little concern I was rushed off to Louth hospital for a night’s observation and patching up. I heard later that Mike Guess, as Comp Sec, was summoned to race control later and advised to calm his lads down a bit. I’m pretty sure my injuries prevented any further Morgan races but they did allow me to start vintage solo bike racing which I enjoyed very much, starting with my 1928 Alpine Sports Brough bought for £17 when still a teenager.
Is there a sub-section in the club for those who have rolled over at the hairpin at Cadwell? – I’ll join!!
Best regards ,
Wow, what a wonderful story, you have great memories and clearly a very entertaining vehicular history…
I remember as a teenager, growing up in Halesowen, getting on my Chopper and cycling to either, Heron Suzuki, Harry Bastables or Copes when it was on the Hagley road in Bearwood… I guess that’s where my interest in motorcycles started…
My first bike was a Kawasaki KH 125, which my twin brother had off me after about 4 weeks as I was about to start my first job at Omega Racing Components in Blackheath and could afford a Brand New bike which was a Suzuki GT185 with Ram Air System �de01… I learnt a valuable lesson with my New Bike, NEVER let anybody else ride, as the first person that did fell off it and smashed it up �de22�de22�de22
Since then I have had all Sorts of motorbikes over the years and have been fortunate to never have never fallen off…
With regards to three wheelers, when my girlfriend passed her driving test she would use my Mini pickup to go out with her friend Karen, while I had to go out with Karen’s boyfriend Steve, who owned a Reliant Pig… Which was left hand drive and Steve could get it into two wheels going round the island by the Royal Oak PH in Halesowen…
I will share more of my memories when I’m sat at my computer and not using my iPad
And, finally, a challenge from Pat Hadley
Thanks for all that, I enjoyed it. They may be ramblings but they are still interesting.
I don’t have any ramblings but I do have a little poser….
From the letters of the phrase ‘MORGAN THREE WHEELER’ how many words can you make of 5 letters or more ?
I’m up to 60 so far – I’m sure there are more to come.
I can send my list of words if anyone wants to compare.
Some memories from Tony Birks My Memories
And finally Pat Rowbotham’s Motorcycling memories
I hope the above may help to bring a smile to your faces and while away some of the long evenings when we can’t go down to the pub….