My Instagram video reminded me how excited some were when the Yamaha RD350LC arrived: a “TZ or the road” they said. They were wrong and the work needed to convert the roadster to TZ spec was such that it wasn’t allowed to compete in the Formula 2 world championship. So here’s Ago on the real thing in 2011 on a celebration lap at Creg Ny Baa.
That the TZ was on the way was hinted at in 1971 when air cooled factory twins first appeared with four lugs welded on the front
This is Michael Dunlop at the 2017 Classic TT about to a the parade lap to mark 60 years since Bob McIntyre set the first 100mph lap of the Isle of Man’s TT course. The bike’s a replica of the Gilera Quattro McIntyre rode and Dunlop did actually manage a 100mph lap from a standing start to celebrate. Geoff Duke was initially credited with achieving the first 100mph lap of the mountain course in 1956 on a Gilera 500 four, but timekeepers subsequently downgraded it to 99.
This is Gene Walker, who set the first officially sanctioned Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) record in 1920, when rode his Indian V-twin on Daytona Beach at 104.12 mph (167.56kph). While he to record the speed over a course of fixed length, averaged over two runs in opposite directions it was still a long way shy of Glenn Curtiss' 1907 speed record of 136mph as per an earlier post. Like rivals Harley-Davidson, Indian used such world records and their success i
Not many people realise it, but all De Tomaso era four-stroke Benellis such as this 504 were built in the Moto Guzzi factory on Lake Como. They were even occasionally sold as MotoBis, and at least one Sei carried Moto Guzzi badges. The two-stroke 125s and 250s were built at the Benelli plant much further south, in Pesaro, regardless of whether they carried Benelli or Moto Guzzi branding. When the original Benelli 500 Quattro was launched in 1973 it raised many questions, the
Honda didn’t build the only sixes to race on the Isle of Man, and they didn’t have a monopoly on Joey Dunlop. In 1979 Joey raced a Benelli Sei at the TT, and he wasn’t the first.
In1975, seduced by the legend of Renzo Pasolini, a proven TT winner decided Benelli’s new six-cylinder 750 Sei should be his ride in both the Production and Classic races. As a production roadster the Sei escaped the FIM’s ban on sixes, but would have to race with the original six pipe exhaust
This is the Regolarità, Ducati’s final 125 and two-stroke. In 1975 Pat Slinn was service manager for the UK importers and was asked by the factory’s director Cristiano de Eccher if he would ride one in the ISDT (International Six Day Trial) on the Isle of Man that autumn. Pat had ridden off-road for years, winning three gold medals in ISDTs and even raced alongside Steve McQueen. So Pat tried the 125 in a couple of UK events with some success, including winning the gue
This is Pat Slinn, watched by a very happy Steve Wynne, removing the carburettors on Mike Hailwood’s TT winning Ducati after various protests from a very miffed Honda.
There is a huge amount of misinformation about the Ducati Mike raced in 1978, some of down to Steve’s PR genius. In May 1978, in a piece covering several pages of the UK’s best selling motorcycle magazine Motorcycle Mechanics, readers were invited to drool over the motorcycle Steve was building from a st
It’s easy to be seduced by the Mike Hailwood Replica’s looks, and just as easy to be cynical. Just two years after its launch, sales of the original 900SS were in serious decline. Its old Brit-bike café racer looks harked back to the sixties, and next to the eye-candy sparkle of the Jota and Le Mans it was in need of a make-over. One day in June 1977 decided what happened next.
After his magnificence at the TT, the market was desperate for a replica of Mike’s bike: tha
Pete ‘PK’ Davies with the trappings of success, including his Alfa GTV.
Tyres were a big deal in the Avon series but, rather embarrassingly, races were often won on ‘other brands’. One of the most memorable things about the races was PK’s entertainingly lurid riding style which had endeared him to race fans throughout the UK. Davies recalls his time aboard the Slater Jotas:
“In 1976 we competed in two championships, the Avon and the Motorcycle Mechanics. We were on the
Multiple British sidecar champion Colin Seeley bought AMC’s racing department when the company went bust in 1966. The year before he’d built the first Seeley racing frame to house a Matchless G50 engine, and the AMC purchase allowed him to produce complete Seeley G50 and 7Rs. With these frames - note the then revolutionary direct run from headstock to swing arm pivot - the ancient four-stroke singles enjoyed renewed competitiveness, Dave Croxford winning the British 5
The Matchless G50 – effectively a 500cc version of the AJS7R - was immediately popular and, like the 7R, while slightly less sophisticated than the Norton was far simpler to maintain and its lightness made it more agile. Swipe left for more photos. The reinventor of the AJS 7R as a Matchless was Jack Williams, a man who would endlessly fine tune it in search of fractions of a horsepower to keep the G50 competitive during its short five short years of life. Williams wa
The AJS 7R was launched in 1948, a 348cc SOHC single that looked remarkably like an updated Velocette KTT, although that was hardly fair. But, like the KTT, the 7R (quickly nicknamed the “Boy Racer”) was intended to be sold as an over the counter racer that would allow privateers to be competitive in grand prix racing, if not fighting for the podium. Nonetheless Geoff Murdoch took his 7R to fourth place in the 1948 Senior TT, only beaten by Manx Nortons with an extra 1
Les Graham with the E90 version of the Porcupine at Braddan Bridge, in the 1950 Senior TT. Photo from Bill Snelling and available in a variety of formats from TT Race pics. Again, the full story is in my book, Classic TT Racers #isleofman #isleofmantt #tt #britishbike #britishmotorcycle #ajs #bigtwin #classicbike #classicmotorcycle #vintagemotorcycle #1950 #motorcycleracing #motogp #lesgraham #blackandwhitephotography
The AJS Porcupine won the inaugural 500cc world championship, the only time a twin cylinder motorcycle has won the top flight 500 / MotoGP world title. Swipe left for more photos. The Duke of Edinburgh started the Senior TT, the opening round of the blue riband 500cc class, which saw a tie for the lead at the end of the first lap between the AJS Porcupine of Les Graham and his team-mate Ted Frend. Unbelievably, they were being chased by Bob Foster’s Moto Guzzi Bicilind