Baseline photography for this 1971 Triumph Bonneville restoration project:
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Baseline photography for this 1971 Triumph Bonneville restoration project:
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Deerhurst Resort to Algonquin Park and back again, chased by the rain.
Algonquin Park in the rain at the height of autumn colours. The Theta 360 camera held up but I eventually pocketed it when the deluge become too heavy. The camera is mounted on a ball mount on the handlebars and set to fire automatically every 10 seconds. Photos captured in the Theta camera app and then modified/enhanced in Photoshop.
|This is the raw photo out of the camera. The fixed lense doesn’t collect a lot of light, so on a dim, rainy day like this the image is quite muddy. I brought up the shadows in Photoshop and the result (with a bit of cropping) is the same photo above.|
If you’re curious about how to put together on-bike photos, check this how-to out. It’s also available on Adventure Bike Rider Magazine’s site here. You can pick up a simple 360 camera for a couple of hundred bucks. Fully waterproof ones (which I obviously need) start a bit higher.
Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
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If you’re up in the Muskokas, this is a nice ride. It’s about 60kms through Canadian Shield/lake of the woods on some very non-southwestern Ontario windy roads. It started off overcast but then the sub broke through and painted the already incredible October Ontario fall-colours with a nuclear paintbrush.
The Concours and I managed it in about 90 minutes from Huntsville to just outside of Port Carling. The road is in reasonable condition (for Ontario) and it’s never dull. The initial bit on Muskoka Road 3 is a nice warmup, but it’s the 632/7 from Rosseau to Highway 118 that really pops!
It sure is pretty in October…
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|Heavy rain all week made Beaver Valley a
muddy mess. The Tiger waded through it all,
spinning it’s wheels in the deep mud but
always getting me down the track.
Sunday was a long ride up north to clear my head after another week of pandemic teaching where they pile on extra work going on two years into a pandemic and then reduce your ability to do it. The trusty Tiger was on song and we sailed and sailed, up past Horning’s Mills and through Creemore before tackling the Grey Highlands. I was timing the ride because I had a meeting!
Last week I joined the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group and then connected with their Facebook page (that part is free – if you’re into old bikes I’d urge you to join up!). By dumb luck the admin who accepted my FB group request happens to live nearby and has a lockup ten minutes from where I live. He asked if I wanted to see what he had kicking around in terms of project bikes I could buy. That CVMG membership is already paying off!
Four hours and three hundred kilometres later I rolled up to a farm just south of town and met Brian and his lovely wife Terry. We drove down to his storage containers out of sight at the back of the farm and he unlocked a hidden magical kingdom!
The bike I think I’m going to do a full ground up restoration on is a 1971 Triumph Bonneville. This year was the first oil-in-frame model. There are benefits to this model that suit me, the main one being that this bike has a taller seat than other Bonnies.
The bike in question has been partially ‘choppered’ with a big sissy bar and king/queen seat. It also has long front forks – someone was on their way to turning this into some kind of Easy Rider homage, but it won’t stay that way. I’m not stuck on the stock-at-all-costs angle but I like motorcycling for the dynamic feel of it and a chopper isn’t about that. A modernized custom that stays true to the original look but makes use of the bits and pieces that will make this classic a bit more dependable is where I’m at.
Fortunately, Brian has lots of stock spares which he’d include with it so I’ll be able to strip it down and begin working out how to put it all back together again without having to start from scratch. When I pick up the bike I should also be getting some tupperware boxes full of additional parts.
Classic Bike Magazine had a great issue in June about Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday and desert racers. McQueen himself did a Bonneville desert sled back in the ’60s. I like the stripped down scrambler look of that kind of bike, though I’m not going to go all knobbly tires and brown seat with it, but a simplified, high piped Bonneville for the road? That’s something I could get into!
I’m going to have to wait until after Thanksgiving Weekend to get my hands on it. I ‘ll also have to figure out how to get it over here, but I’m looking forward to my first deep bike resto after successfully putting a number of early retirements back on the road again. This one’s going to be an engine out, frame up restoration, Henry Cole style!
|Back to stock? The ’71 was the first of the oil in frame Bonnevilles and an odd duck with
a tall seat height, but it was also a handsome thing!
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Out for a ride the other day, I had a hybrid car driver go off unprovoked about how un-environmental motorcycles are. My son and I were two-up on my 2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 when we pulled in to a stop and got unsolicited advice from the ignorant.
This proud-Prius driver got his back up when I suggested that my bike gets better mileage than his dual-engined hybrid (it does – his AWD Prius gets 52/48mpg on its city/highway cycles, my C14 is currently averaging 4.5 litres/100kms mostly two up, which works out to just over 52mpg). That Toyota, like my Kawasaki, is made in Japan by unionized workers who are paid a living wage to build world-class machines. Being Japanese, they also both lean heavily on locally manufactured parts. More and more vehicles are being built in developing countries, which can be a good thing but can also be an excuse to force labour on people who could never afford what they’re building. Globalism doesn’t like to show the off-shore slavery that makes it run.
Where I think our two vehicles diverge are in the inherent compromises in the design of that Toyota. Lugging around two seperate drivetrains is incredibly inefficient. It’s impressive that the hybrid drive has evolved to the point where it can post the mileage numbers it does, but it’s still having to lug around a gas tank and gasoline powered motor in addition to batteries and electric motors. Other than the much-vaunted fuel efficiency, the cost of maintenance must be miserable. By comparison, the efficient shaft-drive and motor on the Kwak are designed to do hundreds of thousands of high-efficiency (or fast if you prefer) miles without any of that overhead.
The most onerous (and hidden) part of that mechanical overhead are the lithium batteries in that hybrid. I teach computer engineering as my day job and I’m well up on our medieval battery power development. We are stuck with poor performing, environmentally bankrupt, chemical battery technology from somewhere in the late 19th Century. Instead of addressing the immanent climate emergency by producing smaller, more efficient vehicles, we’re using electric and hybrid electric as an excuse to produce slightly more efficient behemoths.
Lithium batteries are a nightmare. From a safety standpoint they are a potentially explosive disaster and from a power to weight ratio they are next to useless, but they’re the best we have. The nightmare gets worse though when you look at how we’re managing lithium production in a world that desperately needs more of it. As you’d expect, transnational companies with no real oversight are abusing developing countries (as they have since colonial times) with aggressive economic tactics in order to strip local peoples of the natural resources beneath their feet. International mining concerns ferment government instability in order to ensure cheap access to in-demand resources. Money likes to condense where it already exists and the electric car battery market has all the hallmarks of blood diamonds in terms of the distribution of wealth involved.
There are a lot of advantages to electric vehicles and I hope to get into them sooner than later, but these early adopter vehicles are being driven by and for the privileged wealthy and are mined and manufactured by environmentally and socially bankrupt transnational companies chasing dollar signs (as it has always been).
If you’re all about leveraging your privilege in order to wander around with your chest out bragging about how much you care about the planet, do a bit of research first. There is a darkside to rushing electric vehicle sales before we’ve worked out the tech that amplifies rather than resolves our resource shortages. The immanent climate disaster needs solutions, not a shell-game where old white guys get to tell everyone about how much they care by driving overweight, compromised designs based more on marketing than actually solving the coming crisis.
That same day we filled up before riding home. I put $28 of premium in to fill up the bike. The guy next to me pulled up in a new hybrid F150 pickup truck that looked bigger than a house. He proceeded to put nearly $200 of gas into it. I asked him how far that’d get him and he told me about how the hybrid electric was so efficient that he’d get about a thousand kilometers to the tank. I get just shy of 500 to a tank on the bike, so for what he put in I could cover 2000kms. I know this is apples to oranges as that pickup could do things the bike can’t, like carry loads, except this one with its never used bed and chrome wheels wasn’t carrying much of anything, and therein lies the real issue with this hybrid fad; instead of directing us to use less (which would actually help us deal with the climate emergency), hybrid technology is being used by car companies to justify an unsustainable habit of ever larger and improbable vehicles. If we could all do more with less we might just make it out of this mess.
The Corvette owners club rocked up at the gas station then. The new Vette goes 0-60 almost a fast as my decade old Connie while using twice the fuel. With only two seats it makes a more direct comparison with the bike in terms of functionality and usefulness. The plethora of old white guys who hopped out of their new Vettes all spent 12 to 15 times what I did to buy their toys, the difference is that my gasoline powered recreational decisions aren’t burning a hole in the world.
If you really want to help out, get smaller and use less – riding a bike is a great place to start. Your other option is to keep playing into the enviro-marketing games until we’re all watching the world burn to the ground around us. I won’t go into how charging all these electric vehicles on our already overloaded and vulnerable electrical infrastructure is going to poke holes in other aspects of life. We need people to change their minds about what green is, and the first step isn’t to throw technology at old habits, it’s to do more with less.
Starving arid regions of their drinking water to feed the world’s insatiable appetite for lithium? If you know where the technology comes from, it gets difficult to stay on that high horse.
“The ethics of electric vehicles is far more complicated than the expensive car adverts and glowing newspaper headlines would have us believe.”
Lithium production is a messy business.
Lithium development has stalled and initial optimism is fading. You’re not going to be preplacing your worn out lithium batteries with something better in your EV any time soon – but you will be replacing them with yet more lithium.
Instead of immanent climate disaster modifying our driving habits and producing smaller vehicles that use less of everything, we’re leveraging electric vehicles to keep churning out excess. When people plug in behemoths like this we’ll end up having to turn on coal powered hydro plants just to keep the lights on.
With Ontario spending hundreds of millions to cancel carbon neutral electricity production, we all appear more than happy to simply hide our carbon output rather than actually reduce it.
Car companies are selling environmentalism hard, even when what they’re selling isn’t.
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The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group: https://cvmg.ca/JoinUs
“The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group (CVMG) is a not-for-profit organization aimed at promoting the use, restoration and interest in older motorcycles and those of historic interest.”
Sounds like my kind of people!
I just joined. I ran into them at the Toronto Motorcycle Show in 2014 but never followed up, I have now!
Being a member would allow me to participate in classic trials events with the Southwestern Ontario Classic Trials Group.
I’m sure there will be other connections to be made, more to come!
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Some selective motorcycle wishes for 2022:
TRIALS RIDING ON A BUDGET!
A well looked after old bike that comes with lots of spares. It would also let me tackle the Ontario Amateur Trials Association’s season of events and get my head around trials riding.
APEX TRIALS RIDING!
This is the accessible option in GasGas’s competition range of trials bikes. It’s a lightweight, 2-stroke competition machine that isn’t quite as mad as their 300cc beasts.
This is a tricky one! Old bikes are vanishingly rare in Ontario so I’d have to go overseas for this pre-war Triumph Tiger 100. It’s £12,000 ($21k CAD) and I’d need to get it shipped over this way which would probably add some more thousands on there in terms of shipping and duties.
BIZZARRE WINTER PROJECT
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Some more trials bike mathematical considerations on a Sunday night:
So, my option is to drop four grand on a 20 year old, broken bike, or spend the same amount on a brand new machine? Someone’s going to say, “yeah, but that’s a Chinese bike.” Where do you think all the parts on the GasGas were made? Bet it wasn’t Spain.
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This caught the eye of Alanna a few weeks ago and we rode out to Wellesley, Ontario to Ross Hergott Vintage Cycle today to have a look:
We’re both still in recovery from week one of year two of pandemic school, but we finally got ourselves into motion after noon and made our way through some fierce winds to Wellesley, which is one of those places that’s only 45 minutes away but I’ve never been too.
The goal was this all day vintage motorcycle ride-in and we saw old bikes on the road coming and going. While we were there at least a dozen riders were hanging about, chatting and looking over what Ross had on display along with what they’d ridden over on.
Ross has a fanastic shop – the kind of place that looks like it has grown out of the ground with layers upon layers of collectables, tools and bikes that could only look like it does because he’s been there for decades.
We had a chat with a guy who rode a 125cc 1950 BSA Bantam over to the meet. The tiny bike had been in his family for generations and he knew a lot about its history and restoration. Old bikes like these tell a story simply because they are survivors. Of the tens of thousands of BSA Bantams churned out in the 50s and 60s, only a handful remain, and to see one of them in fine fettle at this meet was a real treat.
My trouble-making pillion suggested the kid with the chopper pit bike take on the Bantam in a race. It wouldn’t be much of a race (they didn’t exceed the speed limit at any time because they couldn’t), but it was fun to watch the kid stall out and the old BSA putter off down the road to victory:
There were a couple of well looked after 70s Triumphs for sale at this meet. Going for about five grand, they put the lie to that Tiger I’d been looking at online in a previous post. I’m still hoping I can find a reasonably complete older British bike that I can rebuild from the inside out for a couple of grand and then bring it back to working order.
I’d thought that project would be a Triumph but after seeing some of the lovely BSAs at this meet (I’m a sucker for a polished alloy tank) I’m starting to think that perhaps one might be in my future. I’m hoping for a simple, light-weight, air-cooled machine that lets me get analogue in a deeply mechanical way. A twin would be ok but a thumper would be even more on point, and BSA made wonderful thumpers…
|That blue BSA back there scratches an itch!|
I’d feared it would be a Harley Davidson snooze fest but there was an interesting mix of old British bikes and HDs on hand – no Indians though, which was a shame. Harleys always make me think of mennonites (Wellesley is in the middle of mennonite country so they were on my mind). At one point Harleys were state of the art machines but they suddenly decided to stop evolving and just push out variations on the same theme for decades. The motor company’s recent bikes show a rejuvinated interest in modernizing their designs. From Charlie and Ewan’s latest Long Way Up on electic HDs to their latest Pan American adventure bike and newest Sportsers, HD is flexing some engineering muscle and suddenly considering them doesn’t seem as absurd to me. I hope this new forward-thinking approach pays off for them. I want to be a fan.
We had lunch at the Nith River Chop House (great food, but don’t be in a rush, they won’t be) and then rode over to a Eco Cafe on the Connestogo River in St. Jacobs for a nice coffee on the patio overlooking the river. There we ran into an old fella named Albert who must be closing in on 100 years old. He’s dealing with terminal bone cancer but told us some amazing stories about the decades he spent farming in South Western Ontario while the world evolved around him while we all enjoyed our coffee and watched the river flow past.
|HD have always had an eye for style – this modern art inspired badge is lovely, then they stuck it on with a couple of philips screws, which casts a light on the other side of Harley ownership.|
|I get the urge to customize but at some point throwing away a bike’s ability to handle for looks ceases to make sense to me, though you’ve got to appreciate the effort, I just don’t share it. I like a bike that prefers corners to straight lines.|
|A 1971 Triumph TR6 650. This fifty year old survivor was also in excellent shape, and only five grand!|
|If you love chrome, HD have you covered.|
|I can’t say Nortons have ever lit my fire, though I can appreciate the brand’s historical significance. Having said that, this 750 Commando is a lovely thing! Look at those pipes!|
|1970 Triumph Daytona, Seven-Thousand, five hundred of your finest Canadian Dollars! Restored in 2014, it’s been sitting in someone’s recroom ever since! A close-up look revealed a lovingly looked after old machine.|
|Birmingham Small Arms Bantam – and one of the smalled, simplest carburetors you’ll ever lay eyes on!|
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