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Ride to the Moon: Motorcycle Adventures in Argentina

By General Posts

Behind the scenes in Argentina: Ride to the Moon

Argentina: vast open spaces, salt flats, lunar landscapes and Andean peaks towering over 4,500 m altitude. You’ve been asking us about it since our very first tour across the Himalayas back in 2006: “Since the Himalayas, I can’t stop thinking about Argentina. When will you take us there, Vintage Rides?”

Expectations are running high for this legendary destination. So, challenge accepted! 😉

Alexane and Simon: the dream team

During the summer of 2021, Simon suggested entering into partnership and opening a Vintage Rides office in the heart of the Andes. “I have been riding here for more than 10 years and know the region like the back of my hand. I have hundreds of unexplored tracks under my belt, ready to design new tours. I knew it was time for me to set something up”. A friendly, enthusiastic biker, he is smitten with his adoptive country and its culture and shares many common values with us. We speak the same language. So we decided to take him up on his offer and set up Vintage Rides Argentina together with the headquarters in Salta, in the north of the country.

At the mercy of nature, which reigns supreme, the tracks are constantly changing. While the borders were closed, Simon had all the time in the world to do what he loves most: criss-cross the tracks, try out all the roads and uncover the best places, which you won’t find on Google maps – believe us, we’ve tried!

From the Lyon office, Alexane is on hand to help get the joint venture up and running. She’s been thrown in at the deep end: she’s only just joined us at Vintage Rides and she’s opening a new office in Argentina! That’s a big adventure in itself. ¡Bienvenida, Alexane!

Spring 2022. The routes are ready, the tracks tested and the restaurants and hotels selected. We are raring to go and can’t wait for you to come and join us.✌

The bikes are set for adventure

“And what about the bikes?” we hear you cry! Simon isn’t just an adventurer, he’s also a motorbike mechanic and a fan of Royal Enfields. We asked him to work on the Himalayans, which are ideal for tours that alternate between small roads and winding tracks through the Andes. Simon came up with a series of improvements to make them unique, robust and ready for adventure without scrimping on comfort: reinforced sump guards, side saddlebags and tanks. You won’t have seen anything like them!

So far, we are the proud owners of 10 Royal Enfield Himalayans, fresh from the factories in Buenos Aires. Simon has fine-tuned them in our Argentinian workshop and they’re dying to be ridden under the Andean sunshine.

Ride to the Moon

As you can see, Argentina makes us dream as much as you do and we are so happy to set our wheels in motion there. And we are not the only ones. Thanks to support from our partners, Mutuelle des Motards, Bell and In&Motion, the film-maker, Florian Moscat, will follow our first group of Vintage Riders this spring and capture their adventure. We’ll tell you more about it in the coming months, but for now, we can give you a sneak peek at its name: RIDE TO THE MOON. Try as you might, the landscapes will be even more impressive than you could ever imagine.

Today, we couldn’t be prouder of the local knowledge we have on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We can’t wait to share all the emotions that have kept us going these past few months with you.

Do you want to help us write the rest of our adventure story?

Argentina : Next departures

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CONTACT: Vintage Rides

teamvr@vintagerides.com

+442070316050

https://www.vintagerides.com/

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Vanishing Breed of gear-heads

By General Posts

Service with a Smile

In a few years if a collector wants to keep the old stuff running he may have problems
Photos and text by Bill May

The cars and motorcycles of today run awesome and last a long time, but they do nothing for me.

People who can work on those old engines are few and far between. We are a vanishing breed.

In a few years if a collector wants to keep the old stuff running, he will have to get out the old manuals and train some young guy with an aptitude for it.

Me, I’m just going to keep flying down the road on my old bikes and my ‘34 Ford.

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What is Hub-center Steering Motorcycle & Why it is Better

By General Posts

by Todd Halterman from https://www.autoevolution.com

Hub-center steering is one of several different types of front-end suspension and steering mechanisms used in motorcycles and cargo bicycles. It is essentially a mechanism that uses steering pivot points inside the wheel hub rather than a geometry that places the wheel in a headstock like the traditional motorcycle layout.

Perhaps the most venerable example of the idea came in the form of the 1930 Majestic. This Georges Roy design used a novel pressed-steel monocoque chassis, and it incorporated an automotive-type chassis with hub-center steering. Other bikes had already used the configuration in such machines as the Ner-A-Car and the Zenith Auto-Bi, but the Majestic made it lovely to behold.

Another bike, the Vyrus 984 C3 2V Razzetto, was one such motorcycle that used hub-center geometry.

Vyrus is a small Italian motorcycle manufacturer based in Coriano, Italy, and their bikes such as the “Tesi” – Thesis in Italian – had their designs originate from a university engineering project linked to the motorcycle legend Massimo Tamburini. The Tesi, and the Vyrus 984, were instantly identifiable by their use of their hub-center steering front suspension and steering arrangement.

Those fabulously expensive bespoke motorcycles have been called “functional works of art,” and they look a bit like something you might see in a video game.

In hub-centered bikes, the front wheel is attached to a swingarm with a shock and an internal pivot point. Steering is achieved using those linkages to turn the wheel on a pivot point. Hub-center steering has been employed on motorcycles for more than a century, but the design, despite what some engineers say offers a distinct advantage, never took hold.

But the founder of Vyrus, Ascanio Rodorigo, once worked for Bimota as a race mechanic and engineer during the 1970s and his tenure there lasted until 1985. When Rodorigo finally left Bimota, he started his own company but partnered with Bimota on the hub-center-steered Tesi. He then went on to take the steering concept deeper and refined it for his own company’s motorcycles.

A Ducati dual spark bored out to 1,079cc and making 100hp L-twin provides the power for the 319 lbs (145 kg) Vyrus 984 bike, and it’s delivered to the road for via a six-speed transmission.

Now builders like Bryan Fuller of Fuller Moto, Revival Cycles, and others have built beautiful machines which harken back to the hub-centered glory days of the Majestic. Builders such as Stellan Egeland used a hopped-up 1200 boxer engine from a BMW HP2 Sport. He also added his own hub-center steering setup from ISR to a frame he made from a 2391 steel tube. The ISR kit is a thing to behold.

Revival’s ‘The Six,’ which features a ballsy Honda CBX motor, is another take on the hub-steer geometry. It was commissioned by museum owner and bike collector Bobby Haas for his Haas Moto Museum in Dallas and made by Revival’s Alan Stulberg and his crew.

Stulberg said the commission was aimed at paying homage to the Art Deco classic Majestic and added that he and the team became “obsessed with its design language and flow” since they first saw the bike at the Barber Museum.

Hub steering systems don’t dive as much under braking and hard cornering as do conventional telescopic fork setups. They push braking forces back into the chassis more efficiently rather than transferring immense bending forces to a pair of upright forks. The ride experience is exceptional as braking performance throughout corners is greatly enhanced.

It works like this: A wheel hub pitches back and forth on a central pivot and is supported by two large steering arms actuated by handlebars. The handlebars connect to the front steering and swingarm using complex linkages. A fixed arm connects a pull-and-push rod on either side of the hub-center to help steer the bike. The geometry also includes a second pair of static rods to ensure the axle stays level with the bike’s mass.

While hub steering has a number of clear advantages, its downfall is that it is considerably more expensive to manufacture and maintain and requires exceptionally experienced mechanics to tune and repair.

But it does look good, works more efficiently from an engineering standpoint, and directly addresses the most important factor in the motorcycling experience: braking.

The Majestic – Artistic Design from the 1920s
from https://www.odd-bike.com

While the engineering of the Majestic might have been relatively conventional, what was unprecedented was the styling, the hallmark of the Majestic to this day.

All the oily bits were fully enclosed under louvered panels, with partially enclosed fenders covering the wheels at both ends. The rider was completely isolated from the grime and muck of the running gear and powertrain, perched upon a sprung saddle and controlling the machine via levers and bars that poke through the all-encompassing body.

Presented in 1929, the prototype Majestic (which was reported as Roy’s personal machine) featured an air-cooled 1000cc longitudinal four-cylinder engine from a 1927-28 Cleveland 4-61. This would not remain for production, however.

While at least two Majestics were built with a 750cc JAP V-twin (arranged, like a much later Moto-Guzzi , with the Vee transverse and the heads poking through the bodywork) and records note that JAP singles, a Chaise Four, and at least one Gnome et Rhone flat twin were also employed, the majority of production machines coming out of Chartenay featured air-cooled Chaise engines.

These were overhead valve singles featuring unit two or three-speed gearboxes operated by hand-shift, available in 350cc and 500cc displacements. Distinctive for their single pushrod tube that resembles a bevel tower (but contains a pair of tightly-spaced parallel pushrods) and external bacon-slicer flywheel, these powerplants were a favourite of French manufacturers during the interwar period and were used by a variety of marques in lieu of producing their own engines.

The base price of the Majestic was 5200 Francs for a 350 with chain final drive; an extra 500 Francs netted you optional shaft drive.

An additional option that is rarely seen on surviving examples was a fine “craquelure” paint option that was applied by skilled artisans. It involves a process of deliberately screwing up the paint job in the most controlled and flawless way possible, applying a contrasting top coat over a base using incompatible paints that will cause the top coat to crack in a uniform fashion, something like a well-aged oil painting or antique piece of furniture.

The result is spectacular – and perhaps a bit tacky, giving the machine the appearance of a lizard skin handbag. (Maybe a later Rock Star would have loved to ride it as the “The Lizard King” ? )

The Majestic was impeccably stable at higher speeds compared to the other motorcycles of that era.

It was also agile and light footed in a way that similar machines, like the Ner-A-Car, were not.

The relatively low weight, around 350 pounds, carried with a very low centre of gravity made for tidy handling that was more than up to the meagre output offered by the powerplants.

Majestic was targeting a clientele that didn’t really exist: the gentlemanly rider who might desire a superior (read: expensive) machine as a stablemate to their elegant automobiles.

Georges Roy’s previous design produced under the name “New Motorcycle”

Georges Roy’s earlier 1927 brand called New Motorcycle was a far better barometer of things to come, predicting the style and design of machines that would emerge during the 1930s and beyond. The Majestic has far less impact and was more of a curiosity than predictor of trends to come.

Georges Roy’s brilliance as a designer is unquestionable, and deserves more praise than he ever earned during his lifetime.

Majestic is a little bit of elegance floating on the sea of staid machines that clutter up the history books.

Georges Roy was a French industrialist and engineer born in 1888 who achieved success in the textile business – specifically in knitting and sewing equipment. He was, however, an early adopter of motorcycling at the turn of the 20th Century – reportedly his first machine was a Werner, a Parisian machine that introduced the term “Motocyclette” in 1897.

Five Tips for a Time-Sensitive DIY Job

By General Posts

Learn to tackle your next time-sensitive project with confidence
by Kyle Smith from Hagerty.com

The garage is a strange place.

Some projects you tackle with all the time in the world, and others are on a deadline tighter than ten-year-old denim. Anyone that has rushed to wrap up a project understands the stress and frustration that accompanies a time crunch.

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Mechanics with good eyesight bring motorcycles for me to fix – Abugu, blind mechanic

By General Posts

from https://thecitizenng.com/

Mr Emeka Abugu is a blind mechanic who specialises in fixing motorcycles and generators.

He discloses in his workshop in Aji, Umu-Ida in the Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, how he lost his sight and learnt to fix motorcycles and other things.

Excerpts:

How did you become visually impaired?

I was not born blind; it was when I was five years old that I had measles. And because of that, I could not go to primary school.

Is your visual impairment partial?

No, I don’t see anything. I am completely blind. At some point, it was partial and like I told you, I wasn’t born blind. It started getting worse gradually and it was around 1992 that I went completely blind.

You repair motorcycles, generators and bicycles, how did you learn to do that?

I didn’t learn it; I started by repairing bicycles in 1993. Three years after, I started repairing motorcycles. I started by fixing tyres and gradually, I started repairing engines and doing wheel balancing. I also work on electrical parts. My father bought the tools I use for me.

It is difficult to believe you didn’t learn how to fix motorcycles and bicycles…

I cannot explain it because nobody taught me. My father had a similar gift; he repaired his bicycle. He would go to market, buy the needed spare parts and fix his bicycle. But he never repaired for any other person. He had tools that he used and sometimes, I used the tools to fix his bicycle when I was a kid. I used to also make a kind of local basket popularly called ‘Abor’ or ‘Nkata’. Apart from motorcycles and bicycles, I also fix generators.

Could you identify the kinds of motorcycles you can fix?

I repair different kinds of motorcycles like CI-80, CG, V-10, RX, C-75, CY-10 and the one called ‘Ladies’ motorcycle’ (scooters). I service them as well. I also repair or service small generators and other similar ones. Any generator or motorcycle engine that has difficulty working, I service it. I also replace parts that are not good or useful to get the engines to work.

How were you able to fix your father’s bicycle despite your visual impairment?

I just kept trying till I knew how to do it. I think God made me understand it. I had to help him because I wouldn’t have rest of mind if I did not help him. Once he knew I could fix it better than he could, anytime his bicycle developed a fault, he would ask me to fix it. It is God’s gift.

Since you started repairing motorcycles and others, was there any time you had difficulty on the job because of your visual impairment?

Yes, when I started, I found certain things difficult to fix. But on such occasions, I would become very restless. At times while sleeping, God would show me how to fix it and when I woke up, I would go back to it and do it. From there, I became good at it. I could dismantle the engine of a motorcycle and reassemble them.

How are you able to identify the different parts of the engines you work on?

I’m able to identify the parts by touching them. Once I touch any part that is worn out, I know.

How do you buy spare parts and replace bad ones if you can’t see what you are buying and replacing?

I always take a motorcyclist along to the market when I need to buy spare parts. I buy the things I need; he brings me back to my workshop and I pay him.

What if the trader sells a bad spare part to you?

I will find out because I started doing this work a long time ago. I touch and feel the spare parts before taking them away. And if it is sealed, I always tell the trader that if there is any defect, I will bring it back.

Does the motorcyclist who takes you there assist you in buying the spare parts that are genuine?

No, he doesn’t know genuine ones. He only takes me to where those parts are sold and he waits for me. Once I finish my transactions, he brings me back to my workshop.

In what ways have people tried to cheat you because of your visual impairment?

Some people will give me N100 and say it is N200 or N500 or N1,000. That is how people try to cheat me.

Many people complain that there is no job out there for them, what message do you have for them?

I will advise them to humble themselves, learn a skill and be productive. That way, they can become engaged and fulfil God’s plan for their lives. With the situation of things in Nigeria, one needs to have one skill or the other.

Since you didn’t go to school, how did you learn to speak English?

I learnt from the people around and in church. When people speak English, I listen and try to remember the words later. And if there is any word I don’t understand, I ask educated people around me to tell what it means and how to use it. Then, I start speaking it. In church, they speak English and translate into Igbo; I also learn that way.

Will you be able to teach an apprentice to do the job?

If anybody comes, I will teach them. However, no one has come to learn. Many mechanics around here bring motorcycles they are unable to fix to me. It is either I tell them how to repair it or I fix it for them. Then they pay me and take it back to the owner.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

With God’s continued support, I hope to become famous. I also want to make money to give all my children good education and build a house of my own. Although I have started building a house, I have not been able to complete it. This is also because of family problems. I have roofed the house but it hasn’t been plastered.

Are your parents still alive?

No, both of them are dead. In fact, all my siblings from the same mother are dead. I am the only surviving child of my late mother. We were three but two have died. My mother was ill before she died. My father fell from a palm tree and died. My father was a palm wine tapper. My mother died in 2019 and my father died in 2013.

Are you married?

Yes. I’m married with seven children – three boys and four girls. I didn’t want to have up to seven children but God in his wisdom gave us a set of twins twice. I give God all the glory. I got married in 2000. I am 44 years old now. So, I was about 24 years old when I married.

How did you find your wife?

My mother helped to get a wife.

Where are your children?

Some of them live with me while the older ones live with other people so they can go to school. It is not that if all of them are with me, they cannot go to school but my job is all I have and it does not pay well enough. However, I thank God.

Is any of your children visual impaired?

No, none of them has visual impairment.

What does your wife do?

My wife is not working. I am making arrangement for her to start trading but I don’t have the money required for that yet.

What kind of discrimination did you face as a child?

When I was young, other children tried to tell me that I could not do anything. Sometimes they would hit me because they knew I could not chase them. Even my peers insulted me; some flogged me because they knew I could not fight them. They would snatch things from me and run away. And I would not know the person except they spoke and I heard their voice. But if they didn’t talk, I would not know who it was. But I thank God nobody does such things to me now.

Were you able to play with your peers as kids?

I participated in some games like the one where everyone involved would be required to close their eyes except for one person who would run around them.

What kind of discrimination do you face now?

Now, I cannot join my peers to do anything.

Did you have any challenge with having relationships with people of the opposite sex?

I didn’t have friendship with someone of the opposite sex while growing up. I promised God that I would not have sex or have carnal knowledge of a woman until I got married and that was what I did. So I didn’t have any girlfriend while I was growing up.

Did you have any challenge getting a wife?

It is not every girl or woman you propose to that will accept your proposal of marriage and it wasn’t different during my time. However, I didn’t approach many women for marriage. I tried only two women; for the first person, her family initially rejected me though the girl accepted me. Her family later accepted me. When I wanted to know her house, her father asked me to see him and to come with drinks and other things if I felt I was ready to marry his daughter. When I saw him, I told him I was only there to know their house. Then a date was fixed for me to commence the rites required for marriage there but unfortunately, I didn’t show up that day.

Why?

I didn’t go because I felt insulted during my visit to their house. I didn’t like the way I was addressed during my first visit.

What kind of reception did you get from the second family from which you found your wife?

God followed me to the second family. That was where my mother married from because my mother at some point divorced my father and married another man. So, that was where she found the woman I married.

What kind of assistance do you want from the government and society?

I want help; I am getting old and don’t have the kind of energy I used to have when I was young. The Federal Government should extend the Conditional Cash Transfer to people like me and others suffering from deprivation. Are we not citizens of this country? The state government should also help us. – Punch.