Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ducati Recalls Sport Classic for Fuel Hose Problem

Here's a motorcycle recall from Ducati.

Ducati Models Affected:

2007 Sport Classic
2006 Sport Classic

Component: Fuel System, Gasoline: Delivery: Hoses, Lines/Piping, and Fittings

NHTSA Campaign ID: 07V017000 on January 16, 2007 affecting 817 motorcycles

Summary: On certain motorcycles, the fasteners from the fuel line to the fuel filler were not tightened properly. The fuel pump hose inside the fuel tank may separate from the fuel filter. This condition will stop the engine from running.

Consequence: If the engine stopped while the motorcycle was being driven, it could increase the risk of a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will replace the fuel pump to fuel filter hose and fasteners to prevent the engine from stopping. The manufacturer has not yet provided an owner notification schedule. Owners may contact Ducati at 1-800-424-9153.
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Hyosung Recalls 2006 GV650 for Handlebar Problem

Here's a motorcycle recall from Hyosung.

Hyosung Model Affected:

2006 GV650

Component: Steering: Wheel and Handle Bar

NHTSA Campaign ID: 07V015000 on December 29, 2006 affecting 862 motorcycles

Summary: On certain motorcycles equipped with Edward Park handlebars, the bolts retaining the handlebars are too short.

Consequence: These bolts could loosen causing a loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will replace the bolts. The manufacturer has not yet provided an owner notification schedule. Owners may contact Hyosung at 770-447-5571.
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Not much is heard these days about Douglas motorcycles, but their racing machinery in the 20's was among the best and most innovative in the world. They built the first 500cc motorcycle to record 100mph in Britian (1921!), won many Isle of Man TT's, and developed the first disc brakes. Shown in this photo are two 'RA' models, after a race on a banked circuit. The 'RA' was so named after the Research Association, a group attempting to advance motorcycle technical development, and which created the disc brakes on these two machines. Hydraulic calipers, as used today on discs, weren't developed yet (not until the late 30's), so they used mechanical leverage on a steel 'shoe', which pressed on the disc, which was made of friction material - the opposite of today. Still, there were much better brakes than the 'dummy rim' type on my motorcycle - basically a flimsy secondary wheel rim attached to the spokes, onto which a shoe of friction material is pressed (a design cribbed from horse-drawn carriages!).
These RA's would have run on alcohol, and in full flight would have probably hit 110 mph; this is 1924. Amazingly, these 1920's racing Douggies are still used in competition today, albeit in vintage sprint meetings, where they win regularly against bikes from the 60's and 70's, pulling 1/4 mile times in the 11 sec range.
I love the old one-marque sweaters which were fashionable in the 'teens and twenties, probably knit by a sympathetic mother. If you look closely at the lettering on the right rear mechanic, it's a different font from all the other 'Douglas'. Also, the American rider is wearing a football helmet, which was a common sight on board track and dirt track racing in the USA.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

HOW YOU FIND THEM #1: '23 Douglas OB Racer

I'm often asked how I find such rare motorcycles; the answer is being ready to buy when the opportunity arises, and by keeping my eyes open.

I found this 1923 ohv 600cc Douglas racer on ebay of all places. I was the only serious bidder; perhaps no one else recognized it for what it was; I knew that an intact overhead valve racing bike from the early 20's was extremely scarce proposition, especially in basically unmolested condition. I was reminded of my purchase of a 1925 Zenith supercharged JAP twin - similar condition...a little rusty on the surface, yes, but Australia has a dry climate like Southern California, and metal might have a haze of red, but it doesn't grow real rot, and can easily be cleaned up.

The seller knew the bike had been raced on the dirt tracks near Sydney in the 20's and was able to provide a photograph of the machine in the day - ridden by a fellow named Ted Reese. I've subsequently found a photo of an identical machine, ridden by an L.C. Peterson; the bikes are so close in spec and geography that I have to think they are the same machine - that droop of the silencer is distinctive.

Both photos were taken near the Newcastle track - Peterson is shown after winning a race on his Douglas. The OC engine of 600cc is from 1924, and would have been a capacity increase, and/or a spare engine!

Douglas was almost alone in 1923 in offering an overhead valve racing machine; almost universally among other manufacturers the norm was a sidevalve engine, and the overhead valve system was considered fragile and unproven. Douglas led the way with successful efforts at Brooklands and the Isle of Man, winning the senior and sidecar TT races in 1923 with machines very similar to this bike (Norton's Model 18 was also introduced in '23... and they fetch astronomical prices). The
OB/OC used a total-loss oiling system, with an oil pump driven by the camshaft (inside the airbox). It uses two Amac TT carbs, which are linked by a rod system for synchronized slide movement. The airbox was a Freddie Dixon innovation - he reckoned that motorcycles would breathe better using a 'still air box', rather than sucking from a swirl of moving air. He was right, of course, and big ugly airboxes can still be found on Buells for the same reason; they make better power with them fitted. The airbox also makes a convenient air filter housing for dirt-track racing, which must have increased the longevity of the piston rings... Douglas made their own 3 speed gearbox, and the clutch is housed within the flywheel. Two 'dummy rim' brakes, and an EIC twin-spark magneto complete the picture.