Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pictures of the Week - Kelly (K-man)

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Web site. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery.

See Kelly on his Honda Gold Wing.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Polar Bear Grand Tour in the Pine Barrens

Another rainy day! This is supposed to be the Polar Bear season. Even though it's now officially winter, it continues to be more like spring with 58 degree temperatures.

This was our first run to the Sweetwater Casino. It's located in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey in the middle of nowhere right next to the Mullica River. The place is big enough to hold the Polar Bears when we show up in force. They even have motorcycle parking up front on concrete -- this works fine except when the Polar Bears show up.

Here are pictures and videos from this rainy run.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Big Dog Motorcycles Recalls Bulldog, Chopper, K-9, Mastiff, and Mutt for Fender Defect

Big Dog Motorcycles has issued a recall of certain 2005 and 2007 Bulldog models, 2005-2007 Chopper models, 2006-2008 K-9 models, 2005-2008 Mastiff models and 2008 Mutt models.

On certain motorcycles, the rear fender strut attaching bolts can fail allowing the rear fender to detach from the motorcycle. This could occur without prior warning and could result in an injury or a crash.

8061 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Honda Recalls 2006-2007 CBR1000RR for Fuel Leak

Honda has issued a recall of certain 2006-2007 CBR1000RR motorcycles.

Certain motorcycles have an improper welded vent pipe in the bottom of the fuel tank. Due to vibration the improperly welded tanks may crack and drip fuel. Fuel leakage in the presence of an ignition source can result in a fire.

25422 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top 8 Motorcycle Views Blog Posts for 2007

The top eight Motorcycle Views Blog posts have been selected from a total of 150 posts made in 2007. These eight blog posts were chosen for a variety of reasons.

If you haven't been a regular reader of the Motorcycle Views Blog, you may be missing important information about motorcycling. You might also be missing some of the personal aspects of my life that may give you a chuckle or an insight into my take on motorcycling.

Check out my picks for the Top 8 Motorcycle Views Blog posts for 2007.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Top 10 Motorcycle Pictures of the Year for 2007 from Motorcycle Views

The top ten motorcycle pictures were picked from pictures submitted to Motorcycle Views in 2007. The pictures are not ordered.

They include four pictures of women on motorcycles, four pictures of men on motorcycles, and two pictures of motorcycles only.

The pictures were chosen for a variety of reasons. I looked at each picture, read each description, and picked those pictures that held my interest.

Check out the Top 10 Pictures for 2007.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Triumph Recalls Sprint ST and Tiger for Luggage Rack Problem

Triumph has issued a recall of certain 2004-2008 Tiger and 2005-2008 Sprint ST motorcycles.

On certain motorcycles equipped with an optional accessory luggage rack, undersized washers were used which prevents the sliding carriage from moving as intended. Reduced stability can occur if the motorcycle is ridden with the fitted accessory, exceeded maximum weight, and at speeds far in excess of the 80 mph limit warning, increasing the risk of a crash.

3698 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Ed Fox sent one of his test shots from the SFMC 'Garage' shoot.... now I'm kind of glad I couldn't take photos with my little Canon digital Elph! The lighting accentuates the 'landscape' of the Norton, and if you click on the photo, you can read the engine number on the crankcase...and the bike is shockingly clean for not having been washed since the Legends show in '06 (yes, it was ridden since then).
My project for this winter is to remove the wheels and rebuild them using the period-correct 21" rims front and rear, which of course means new fenders and stays...but at least the bike won't bottom out so easily when I push it into the truck. It will also lighten the 'feel' when riding.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


In total contrast to my previous post on a photo shoot, Garage magazine shot a feature spread on 'motorcycling gear through the decades', using the San Francisco Motorcycle Club as their backdrop (the SFMC is the second-oldest m/c in the US, and the oldest continuously operating). This was an expensive studio shoot, with stylists, makeup/hair artists, hired models, a photographer and assistants, lots of lights and camera eqp't, and several vintage bikes as props. It hurt to be relegated to 'prop' status, but I'm always happy to help encourage the old bike scene.

Top pic is my 1926 Norton Model 25 racer, looking spooky in the dark with some up- and back-lighting on wall of the SFMC. This was 'Jimmy's bike' - it belonged to Jimmy Shaw (a 'works' rider for Norton in the 'teens thru '30's), and was a factory race machine. It was restored about 15 years ago by Ken Blake in England, then my friend Ken Boulter purchased it to settle the unpaid restoration bill(!), and he sold it to me about 8 years ago (after much needling, I assure you). It's a bit of a bear currently, as I need to rebuild the carb and replace the magneto (very hard to start), and the soldered-up gas tank is a little leaky. Still, the bike is fast, having been timed at 94mph, and handles beautifully.

The interior of the SFMC is packed full of photos, memorabilia, and trophies on the walls, with two bikes hanging from the ceiling - an Aermacchi/Harley Davidson CR flat-tracker with a custom chrome-plated frame, and 1904 Curtis v-twin in original condition. Plus, there are pool and foosball tables, and a full bar. Pretty much ideal, really. The second photo shows one of the models (Nicole) being done up beneath the Aermacchi. Third pic shows Anoush having her hair done against the backdrop of vintage racing photos - mostly of former SFMC members through the decades.

Fourth pic shows 'Slim' Jim Hoogerhyde, SFMC member and vintage racer, who's modeling a pair of odd German goggles I found on ebay. Slim let everyone into the building and hung around all day during the shoot...which might be seen as tough duty, but there were 3 beautiful women changing clothes there all day. He doesn't look bothered at all.

Next pic shows Stephanie sitting on Stewart Ingram's little Morini racer (don't know the model, but I think it's a 175cc Settebello, with cool little Fontana brakes), amongst all the light boxes and light stands, etc. The Curtis and Aermacchi can clearly be seen hanging from the ceiling. The stylist was fussing constantly over the girls, getting hair and clothing just so, as lights were adjusted and the photographer crouched all over the place taking photos. Third pic of Stephanie shows everything in place and ready; what you can't see are all the clips and clothespins which are keeping her leathers tight against her hips, and her blouse pulled back to reveal her racy curves. 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!'

Next pic shows Anoush all dressed up in 40's hottie gear, and straddling 'Red' Fred Johansen's totally time-warp '47 Indian Chief . I ran out of memory on my camera... which I should explain was my cell phone! I didn't have my camera with me, but I did my best with no flash, courtesy of my Palm phone; I think it gives the whole series a moody look - sorry about the low-resolution.

Next pic shows the photographer, Ed Fox, setting up some of the lights to shoot John Goldman's '47 Bianchi, which is a totally original machine, except for the seat cover. Anoush sits before the bike in the finished shot, backlit against the wall of photographs. She's actually wearing a new Belstaff waxed cotton jacket, cut very Brando-style ('whaddya got?'). There was
another Belstaff in white cotton, which was very chic but looked pretty useless for a bike, as it wasn't waxed cotton or particularly waterproof.

I've owned Belstaff rain gear before - once it's been ridden in the rain for a few weeks, you don't want it anywhere near nice clothing, as it will leave dirty streaks! It also tends to collect cold water in the crotch after about an hour in a steady downpour... I have bitter memories of a ride through the Tatra mountains in Czechoslovakia, after leaving communist Poland (1987), being completely soaked through despite my waxed cotton gear... even the MZ I was riding (which breathed through its frame backbone!) was gasping for air and choking on the waves of muddy water thrown over us by trucks passing the other way. Luckily, I was young, and arrived safely in Vienna after 12 hours, whereupon I KISSED THE GROUND. No kidding. Then I had a beer at a MacDonalds (and I hate Mickey D - that's how bad the food was in the 80's Eastern Bloc). Sorry for the digression!

The last
set of photos involves Nicole (don't ask for her phone number, as I don't have it!) with my Norton. Top photo shows the setup with Nicole silhoutted against the dome light. Dan Stoner, editor of Garage, stands to the left. Second pic shows Nicole wearing a leather helmet and my Avionix goggles (contemporary, from France), and a sort of Art Deco blouse. The bottom pic shows her outfit better; jodhpurs, Deco blouse, leather helmet, tall boots - a nice look... motorcycles do look better with a beautiful woman next to them!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - VaRyder

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Web site. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery.

See VaRyder with his Victory Vision Tour.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Motorcycles, Medical Problems and Christmas

I've always worn a full face helmet when riding my motorcycle. Of course, living in New Jersey kinda forces you to have this mindset since it's the law here. The only time it gets to me is when I have medical conditions that don't allow me to put the helmet on in the first place.

The first time that happened was when I had a basal cell carcinoma on my right ear that required mohs surgery to remove it. That was a major deal for me that took months to heal. I had to forego riding all that time.

Now, I found out that I have two more basal cell carcinomas, one on my forehead and one behind my left ear. All this occurring during the prime Polar Bear Grand Tour riding season. I happen to run their Web site and I go to all the runs to take pictures for the site. Needless to say, I will probably go another two months without being able to put the helmet on again. Worse than that is that the healing of the one on my forehead is slow with a big black scab that is quite unsightly in public. And, of course, I have so many functions to go to and I have no way to hide the healing. I'm either embarrassed when people see me or find myself constantly trying to explain the medical problems. I seem to be cursed to have all these maladies so prominent on my head and also unable to hide them with a helmet or even to ride my trike. I guess all those years toiling in the sun while I worked in the corn fields nearly 50 years ago have finally come back to haunt me.

Now I find out that after the surgery on the left ear that the pathologist's final report indicates that they may not have got all of it and I have to undergo radiation -- perhaps as many as 20 visits. Turns out that one of the members of my Gold Wing chapter heads a team at my hospital that does the treatments. At least I have someone in my corner.

All this is going on right now but still the Polar Bear pictures have to be taken and I need to be at the runs. I do have a couple of backups who can take pictures and they have come in handy in the past. But, I like to go to the runs as much as I can. This week the run was to Snydersville, PA to Schoch's Harley-Davidson and I was determined to go.

Turns out that many family events were also going on this weekend. On Saturday, we drove to our son's home for a combined birthday party and tree trimming party. I heard that there would be about 10 little kids there to celebrate the second birthday of my granddaughter. I think it was actually closer to 20 kids. After that we drove farther north to my other son's home where we ended up babysitting for the other five of our grandchildren (all under 10) and then staying overnight. The next day, we had breakfast, said our good-byes to all the kids and grand kids and headed down route 80 to Snydersville, PA for the Polar Bear run.

It was a day that was overcast, cold, and threatening rain or snow. We were in the car so we didn't much care. When we arrived, there was a smattering of bikes in the parking lot. As I walked around the parking lot with my camera, I didn't notice as many bikes coming in. Apparently, the threat of bad weather had reduced the attendance. Maybe we got 100 bikes. Normal would have been 400-500. Anyway, I did get some pictures and three videos. Check out the Polar Bear Grand Tour - Schoch's Harley-Davidson/Buell Run for pictures and captions.

After the run, we drove home and had a couple of hours of free time before we had to attend our Gold Wing Chapter's Holiday party. It was fun as usual but I did have the usual set of medical questions. At least I was with friends. I spoke with the member who heads the radiation team at the hospital and he offered me his personal help. That was very comforting and appreciated.

I also had to part company with my 1994 Chrysler today. It's been sitting in my driveway most of the time for the last two years since I bought my new Honda Accord. It was time to use it as a donation to one of my favorite charities, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I had arranged with for the auto donation and the big flatbed arrived this afternoon to cart it away. The end of an era. Getting to be too many of those recently. At least I won't have to worry about hitting it every time I back my car out and I also won't have to move it so I can get my motorcycle trikes out of the garage.

I guess I'm a rambling man today but that's what's been happening. The calendar is almost completely filled with events for the next month. My wife is having physical therapy while I'm going to be busy with radiation treatments. Christmas is coming and I haven't been out doing much shopping or even leaf raking. I was told that retirement meant I would be busier than when I was working. I'm getting that in spades.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I've kept mum about two Vintage gems arriving from faraway lands, until the deals were secure and the bikes paid for. How I found each of them is exemplary of how to find a Vintage motorcycle today. The first bike is a 1925 Sunbeam Longstroke, which popped up on Mark Upham's website, British Only Austria.

Having found my favorite Sunbeam, a '28 TT90, some years ago out of Yesterday's in Holland, I have been hankering for an earlier sports/racing model, with a sidevalve engine. Frank Mace in England had been kind enough to allow me to ride his '23 Isle of Man TT Sunbeam (original condition, still wearing its IoM number plates) many years ago, although I found the experience somewhat frightening at the time (a combo of narrow muddy roads, dummy-rim brakes, and a quick machine).

Ever since, I have kept in the back of my mind a desire to live with and get to know such a machine, never having owned a sports flathead from the period in which they were relevant (late 'teens thru early 20's). Mark, who is always a reasonable dealer, was willing to work with me on price and payment, easing the pain of our rapidly deteriorating dollar. It should be here in early January.
Robert Gordon-Champ calls the Longstroke, "...the high point of the 'motor bicycle'. As the 'twenties progressed, weight and complexity crept in. If you can, try to ride one of these to taste the magic of a great design". (ref; 'The Illustrated History of Sunbeam Bicycles and Motorcycles'). This model is a replica of the Sunbeam which won the French GP in 1923.

The paint seems to be original everywhere except the tank, which has been repainted at some time, hopefully to fix any leaks! I won't be doing any cosmetic work to this bike, as I think it looks perfect with its period patina, although I might 'age' the petrol tank to match the frame and mudguards, using some of the techniques gleaned from Mike Smith (buffing down 'wear spots' using pumice powder, creating white streaks near the filler cap with methyl alcohol, rubbing off some of the gold leaf pinstripe where knees would have touched the metal, etc)

The period racing shot shows the Austrian racer von Nodherny, on a similar Longstroke (a slightly earlier model, as evidenced by the dummy-rim brakes - '25 was the first year of drums at the front), after a race in 1924. He looks wonderfully Teutonic with his slicked-back hair and aristocratic features. Where is his monocle?

The second bike is from an elusive source; word of mouth, from halfway around the world. My friend Pete Young has been searching all over the world for a Pioneer Velocette (I think two are confirmed to exist, with a rumor of a few more), and tends to find gentlemen with very large collections. A fellow in Western Australia told Pete that while he didn't have a Velo, he had many other Pioneer and Veteran bikes for sale, in various states of repair or decay. Pete forwarded some photos to me, and in the background was an early saddle-tank Rudge, with the characteristic twin-filler gas and oil tanks, and straight pipes of a Vintage period racing machine. I inquired, and was told that the machine was not for sale, but that I would be kept in mind just in case....
a few prodding emails later, and a lot more haggling about price, and we struck a deal. The bike is a '29 Rudge Ulster, which is the first year of this model, created initially as a replica of Graham Walker's works racer, winner of the Ulster GP at an average speed of 80mph (the highest avg speed of any international-level road race at that time). The '29 Ulster was almost a unique model, as the engine is still oiled using a total-loss system (oil is pumped into the engine, but not returned to the oil tank; 'a constant supply of clean oil'), and in '30 they moved to a dry-sump engine with a proper oil pump. The '29 is closest to that original racer, for as far as I can tell, later Ulsters didn't use double-sided tank fillers; this bike has a filler cap on each side of the petrol and oil tanks, for use on all types of racing circuits - Isle of Man bikes always have only left side fillers, as bikes come into the pits with mechanics on their left (click on 3/4 view pix for details).
The Ulster grew into Rudge's hot sports/touring machine in later years, but they also offered a TT Replica model, which was a genuine racing machine, with many differences from the Ulster (extra stiffening ribs on the crankcases, twin-filler gas and oil tanks, etc).

The bike is amazingly standard for something so old and still in use - the former owner used to race it in hillclimbs, and said it would 'pull' any 650 twin at the time, as it is so light and powerful. As the bike has been repainted at some point, and the fenders are likely later, pattern items, I'll probably paint and plate everything to give it the look it deserves. Below is a pic of Graham Walker's bike as it exists today - that's the goal!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Harleymike56

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Web site. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery.

See Harleymike56 on his Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200. Mike is also a member of my Motorcycle Views Forum.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Motorcycle Santa - The Game

Recently, I mentioned in this blog that I had written five children's stories about a special character, Motorcycle Santa. I have just finished writing the sixth story in this series. It's based on a true incident in my life. I hope you'll enjoy this story of a little girl who is awakened by the arrival of Motorcycle Santa as he is placing gifts under her tree. Santa agrees to open one present for the girl to get her to go back to bed. The girl startles Santa by devising a game that uses the gift in a new way. I hope you enjoy "Motorcycle Santa - The Game."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Polar Bear Grand Tour Meets the Winter Head-on

A winter storm was approaching the PA, NJ, NY region this morning. Since I was still unable to put a helmet on owing to my two recent surgeries and I also had two of my grandchildren spending Saturday and Sunday with us, I was not going to the Polar Bear Grand Tour run to Montgomeryville, PA.

I had already made arrangements with my backup, Bill, to take pictures at the run. When I got up today, there was a quarter inch of snow on the ground in NJ and the temperature was about 36 degrees. It felt good not going out and attempting to travel the 60 some miles to Montgomeryville. But, I knew that many Polar Bears would be making the trek so I looked forward to receiving the download from Bill later this evening to see just what it looked like over there.

Bill tells me that eight bikes showed up and two were sidecar rigs. The rest were cars, trucks, and SUVs carrying other Polar Bears. See for yourself by viewing Bill's pictures and reading my captions. Check out the pictures from the Montgomeryville, PA run.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Jeff

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Web site. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See Jeff on his Harley-Davidson FXRS.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Motorcycle Daredevil Evel Knievel Dies

The end of an era. Evel Knievel has died in Clearwater, FL.

According to Mitch Stacy, AP, "Evel Knievel, the red-white-and-blue-spangled motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho's Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69."

Makes me feel old. I'm also 69. I thought he was older. In recent years his son Robbie has carried on his exploits.

Read the complete story.

Here's a YouTube video of Evel pronouncing his faith -- a different side of the man who lived life on his own terms.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Polar Bear Grand Tour Visits the Hillbilly Hall

I awoke this morning to a 29 degree temperature on the thermometer outside my kitchen window. That was at 7:30 a.m. At 8 a.m. Jane and I were inside the local Old Country Buffet to have breakfast and participate in our Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) NJ Chapter F meeting. We are the treasurers of that group. Today we weren't on motorcycles. I couldn't put on a helmet because I've just had two surgeries to remove basal cell carcinomas, one at the top of my forehead at the hairline and the other just behind the top of my left ear. Wearing a helmet is impossible until healing takes place. That's why today was a series of motorcycle adventures without motorcycles.

After the chapter meeting we drove to Hopewell, NJ for the fifth run of the Polar Bear Grand Tour. History was not kind to Hopewell. It was in Hopewell in 1932 that the Lindbergh kidnapping case occurred. In fact, Lindbergh's mansion is just a few miles from the Hillybilly Hall where the Polar Bear Grand Tour met today.

It was a perfect winter day. Clear skies and brisk temperatures greeted the riders as a seemingly endless stream of motorcycles rode into Hopewell. I got there early today and recorded in pictures and videos what I saw. Take a look.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Nick Cedar, a photographer with many books, magazine articles, and calendars to his credit, took some photos of my mkIV KTT Velo this weekend, for an upcoming article in 'Motorcycle Classics' magazine (Margie Segal will be writing the text).

He chose the Marin Headlands as the backdrop; the day was crystal clear and warm, almost too warm for the vintage outfit they requested from the rider! The view from the headlands is directly over the Golden Gate Bridge, back towards San Francisco, as can be seen over my handlebars in the second photo. The Headlands is a State Park, and used to be part of the greater military defenses of SF bay, which have all been decommissioned since the 1970's. Thus, there are many gun emplacements and concrete batteries along the cliffs, making for dramatic backdrops, with stunning overlooks.

Pic 3 shows curious tourists - it's always the men who talk, and 80% of the time they ask if the bike is a Norton. Aussie and Kiwi tourists seem to know the most about bikes in general; for some reason I'm rarely approached by English tourists.

Apparently a $200 fee is required to take commercial photographs in the park, to help deal with the congestion caused by a photo shoot (there are always a zillion tourists clogging the first 1/4 mile of the road into the park, who all take three photos of the GG Bridge, but very few venture further into the hills). A park ranger stopped and quizzed us about the photo setup, but I told the truth and said I would be posting them on my blog (Nick kept mum).

Nick's getup was completely minimal - not tripods or lighting rigs, just a camera and the occasional fold-out reflector, to cut through the oily gloom around my engine! And, as you can see in the pix, I haven't washed the Mule in 18 mo's (I do wipe it down to check for loose bolts), which is how they wanted it for the article.

Pic 4 shows crumbling decay at the Headlands, and I do mean the concrete. You'll note my helmet acting as a kickstand - it works well, but I should stop using this particular helmet, as it was reputedly used by a privateer racer in England, who raced a mkVIII KTT in the 50's. I haven't found a pic of the helmet anywhere though, so if it rings a bell, drop me a line. It has a yellow stripe which ends at a 'V', forming an arrow of sorts, but also the Velocette V (there's a Velocette tank transfer on top of the yellow paint). Click on the first photo for a better look.

Pic 5 isn't the ranger, he's one of a group of Alameda Police who happened to show up, circle the Velo, and stop to chat! They had just completed their motorcycle training, and were out for a celebration ride on a beautiful day. You meet the strangest people on a Velo.

That's Nick on the bike - now he has an oil stain on his pants. Sorry!

Motorcycle Santa Stories

I started writing these original stories of Motorcycle Santa in 2002. My wife, Jane, had a large collection of POSSIBLE DREAMS® Santas that had to do with motorcycles. They seem to come out with a few new ones every year so her collection grew correspondingly. I wrote a short fantasy children's story illustrated with pictures of these Santas. I have added a new story each year.

Here are the first five stories. A new one for 2007 will be out soon.

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - Dragon Rider

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Web site. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See Dragon Rider on his Honda Gold Wing.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hot Sexy Stars on Motorcycles has an article and pictures about seven well-known stars of TV, music, and the movies who also ride motorcycles. They have some of my favorites including Vanessa Marcil of the TV show Las Vegas. Read the article and view the pictures. I blogged about this three months ago but many may not have seen it. I actually had forgotten that Vanessa was in this gallery and I just saw Keith Urban on Good Morning America today.

Stars have always ridden motorcycles. Check out my article, Famous Motorcyclists, for a few more riders who are not in the news anymore.

Do you know any other famous riders and what they ride? Tell us by leaving a comment, below.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Kenneth Howard, aka 'Von Dutch', became a legend in California hotrod circles as the originator of the modern style of pinstripe decoration. I think he can also be credited with the creation of the logo t-shirt, and probably the logo trucker hat as well, for better or worse. Since his death, the cars and motorcycles which he owned or decorated have exploded in value, and to take advantage of this situation, Bonham's auction house held a sale of his motorcycles and related memorabilia at the Peterson Museum. Most items were from the collection of Stan Betz (who was also famous in hotrod circles, and supplied V.D. with his paint). Betz was a master paint mixer/matcher for show cars and motorcycles.
Von Dutch had Hollywood friends as well, including Steve McQueen, and the auction included a few items which had this double-whammy provenance, including a lowly Kawasaki 100cc dirtbike, and a Scott two-speeder (pictured below). Both machines sold for many, many times what a normal example would fetch.
Top pic is my favorite item from the auction - a sign from Von Dutch's shop in Tempe, Arizona (he moved back and forth from LA over the decades). This sold for $16k, and frankly, I regret not having stepped up for it. I don't consider the man a tremendous artist, but he did some very nice work at times, and is an important figure in the now-huge world of 'kustom kulture'. It's about 4' in diameter, and an impressive piece of folk art.

Next two photos show a '53 BMW R51/3 - not a bike you would expect Von Dutch to customize, and he's noted the fact on several locations - the tank logo says in very small letters 'would you believe its a' , then a normal size "BMW?". The tank is from a Ducati single, although a similarly painted Hoske tank was included. I like the detail shot from the rear of the tank - "Von Dutch is still alive! '66", perhaps indicating that his popularity was waning at the time, due to changes in youth culture post-British Invasion, and the advent of the psychedelic era, which repudiated the macho image of hotrodders and Boozefighters. Speaking of whom, the Friday night reception at the Peterson Auto Museum was filled with a neo-Boozefighters club, so I presume someone has resuscitated the name. Who were they originally? If you've seen 'The Wild One', that's who they were; a SoCal bike gang made up primarily of demobbed WW2 soldiers, roaming around the state, and eventually morphing into the Hell's Angels.

What was Von Dutch's motorcycle pinstriping like? Here's a '55 Moto Guzzi Falcone which he personally owned. If you squint, I think you can see the seed of the Modern Primitive movement on this Guzzi - picture all the young hipsters you've seen who have tattoos just like this.

This young lady, who shall remain nameless, chose to provide the sexual drama she felt necessary to spice up the auction preview party on Friday night. She's standing behind 'Ringadingdoo!', which was Steve McQueen's 1970 Kawasaki 100cc G31M Centurion, which Von Dutch decorated, as apparently McQueen didn't like the original Kawi green. The Ringading bit refers to the sound of a two-stroke dirt bike... some of the foreign auction attendees didn't get the reference, so I'll explain it to the world. It sold for $45,000, plus auction fees and tax, which totals out at $57,125.25... Kaching-adingdoo is more like it! By the way, the dapper fellow on the far right of the photo is Andrew Reilly, who works at Bonhams in SF, in the motoring division.

Next pic is your selection of Triumphs for the day, sir. Is it good marketing to line up 12 nearly identical bikes? Well, it looked cool anyway, and there were some very nice machines on offer, including a '59 Bonneville which sold for around $25k.

These two women were considering the prospect of owning a piece of history, but I don't think they bought anything on the day.


Here we have three photos of a 1912 Indian Board Track Racer; the first shows what appears to be a lovely, patinated, racing machine. Detail shot #1 shows the conjunction of the frame, seat, fuel tank, and oil tank. Note the different colors for each of these items.
I've learned a few things rubbing elbows with restorers and other concours judges at events over the years, and a most useful skill is spotting when a motorcycle (or part of one) has been updated, replaced, or faked up to appear 'original'. This Indian was advertised as being in 'complete, unrestored, and original condition'. So, here we see that the frame is a darker color in the photo than either of the tanks, or the wheel rim. Logic would indicate that they would all oxidize at the same rate, given that they were painted at the same time and with the same material. So why should the tanks and wheel rims be brighter? They've clearly been repainted at the very least, more likely replaced, and might be brand new in fact - there's almost no way to tell within the time confines of the auction.

Years ago I discussed this with Mike Smith, who's since passed away; Mike restored and sold early American machines. As I have extensive experience with faux finish painting, we dissected the techniques he used to 'patinate' a new part for an 'original paint' motorcycle, in order not to disturb the visual continuity of the machine. He was quite frank about doing this, not wanting to deceive, but to harmonize. But of course, a later purchaser might not be so clear when re-selling the machine, which muddies the whole picture.
The third photo shows the nickel-plated handlebars; close inspection showed the nickel in perfect condition, but with an interesting overlay of what looks like a liquid chemical antiquing agent, to make it appear old. Caveat Emptor.

Enough school, time for TV! The Bat Cycle, from the original Batman TV series... the Peterson Museum has quite a lot of retired movie and television props on display, from Laurel and Hardy trick cars to a full-scale working Mach 5 from the Speed Racer cartoon. The Bat Cycle turns out to be...a Yamaha Big Bear 305... how disappointing. With all that fiberglass, PLUS Robin in the sidecar (which you can barely see), there's no way Batman would be catching criminals in any hurry.

Sitting in the parking garage is an icon of my youth, the Green Monster, a land speed record machine which used a Pratt&Whitney jet engine from a B52! I think my youthful priapism was stimulated by the nose cone. And yes, it used to be green, but the original builder sold it along and someone else risked his life breaking records for a few more years.

There are quite a few motorcycles in the Peterson, and this section was entirely ex-Otis Chandler, former owner of the LA Times and a big motorcycle and car collector.

Most beautiful bike on sale at the auction was this '56 Matchless G45, which came complete with its original crate and a bunch of spares which came in the box. Discovered in South Africa, the restoration was very high quality, as apparently the bike was totally correct and complete when found. I've always thought the G45 one of the best looking machines ever; it wasn't especially successful as a racer, having been developed from their G9 roadster (and thus a humble pushrod parallel twin 500cc).

Coolest bike on offer was this Crocker-engined special, with the big v-twin shoehorned into a badly abused Triumph rigid frame and forks, and topped by an Ariel tank. This machine was clearly a barn find, and always had a diaper underneath as the oil was still oozing out.

Best surplus part on offer was this Crocker racing engine, a unique prototype 500cc chain-driven ohc item, clearly inspired by the AJS K10/R10 series. Al Crocker made this up as his ultimate Speedway motor (which is what he was known for until that time), but soon decided to embark on his high performance v-twin motorcycles which bore his name. Thus this engine is unique...if you had shown up with $100k last Saturday, you could have taken it home and built it into a real giant slayer.

Here's the other McQueen/Von Dutch machine; Pete Gagan's '23 Scott two-speeder. I've ridden this machine through the hills of NorCal, and enjoyed it, once I'd gotten the hang of the two-speeds and keeping up momentum. If speed was maintained at 30-40mph over the hills and through the corners, it would go up any incline with no problem. Cornering hard to keep up the pace was a breeze as well, as the frame is excellent. The water in the radiator tended to boil off after a while though, and Pete cautioned that if it suddenly seemed to lose 20% of its power, it needed water! His reason for selling; given the intere$t in McQueen/Von Dutch, he could sell this machine, buy another Scott, and pocket the balance. As the bike went under the hammer at $38,000, I'd say he was quite right...

There was a Clark Gable Harley for sale, and a collection of Charles Bronson dirt bikes too. Then, 'Along Came Zaugg'; Jared that is, founder (with Brooke) of the Legends concours, who wanted a piece of Hollywood history too, and bought this '72 Honda XL250, complete with Bronson's tools, registration, and old gum packets in the tool bag, for the princely sum of $800, which is probably what it would sell for on ebay w/out the Bronson connection. Auctions are funny things.