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  #1  
Old 21 Mar 2013
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old bikes

separated from push starting an efi as roaming off topic

The more I learn about modern bikes the more I like the old triumphs I had back in the sixties and onwards.
In well over 100K Miles I Only once had a flat battery, and it was because I had parked the bike the night before with the lights on. I knew something was up the following morning because the bike did not start first kick. I did try a second kick as I wasn't feeling too bright. When that didn't work I looked around the bike and realised I had left the lights on and had a flat battery. The FIx?
Switch the lights off and turn the ignition switch to EMG instead of IGN. then One kick and it started. After half a minute switched it back to IGN and that was that.
I always felt secure on my old Triumphs. True they need more routine maintenance but because they needed it it was easy to do. Plus nearly any fault came on gradually so you could always fix it before it became a problem. EFI is maintenance free until it suddenly, without warning fails completely. Then it can cost more to fix than a new crank. On my old Triumphs the ignition was one wire taking power to the coil, a wire from the coil to the points and a HT lead. That was the wiring harness. Then there were three componenents. the coil, plug and the points. The points cost less than a gallon of petrol, you still have the coil and the plug.

Last edited by Chris Scott; 22 Mar 2013 at 08:42.
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  #2  
Old 21 Mar 2013
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Sounds like you had the good ones the factory turned out. My experience of 60's / early 70's Triumphs / BSAs etc is that they were for the most part unreliable and fragile - a bit like recent decades Land Rovers!

No point in giving chapter and verse on every fault that had one or other Triumph grinding to a halt in the corner of some foreign field but a trip to Greece in 1973 went through two Triumphs (one new, one 1yr old) vs zero faults on the accompanying Yamaha. That was about par for the course back then.
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  #3  
Old 22 Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
Sounds like you had the good ones the factory turned out. My experience of 60's / early 70's Triumphs / BSAs etc is that they were for the most part unreliable and fragile - a bit like recent decades Land Rovers!

No point in giving chapter and verse on every fault that had one or other Triumph grinding to a halt in the corner of some foreign field but a trip to Greece in 1973 went through two Triumphs (one new, one 1yr old) vs zero faults on the accompanying Yamaha. That was about par for the course back then.
I don't know, I was only stopped from completing a journey once at about 80, 000 miles with my 500. That bike went to and from Norfolk to Cornwall every weekend for two years and never missed a beat 435 miles each way. I was in the forces then and back in the early sixties there were no motorways except for the M1 which went from the North circular towards Birmingham. My first ever breakdown due to an electrical fault was about six years ago (on the BMW).

Oh and the Triumphs breakdown wasn't really the bikes fault. At 80,000 miles I replaced the primary chain and clutch sproket as they were worn. 45 miles later the primary chain jumped through the chaincase. All the teeth were missing from the clutch sprocket. Apparently a bad batch from Qualcast.

I admit I have been lucky. In all that time I only ever had one puncture on a bike Until I got the BMW. that one kept losing air from the seal between rim and tubeless tyre. Oddly the only time I had problems with flat tyres was once when I had a cortina with alloy wheels. they would do the same, drive it hard round a bend and the tyre would go completely flat in an instant due to losing the seal between rim and tyre. so I got a set of steel rims and never had a problem after. I did about 50,000 miles a year for 20 years as I was a service enginneer for an American computer firm for that time. After 1970 I only rode as a hobby on a 1970 Triumph Trophy. To my mind the best motorcycle ever made by anyone. If I had to have one: and only one bike for the whole of my life I would choose that model. From 1971 Triumph had real problems whilst BSA managed them into obscurity. and because older Brit bikes were simple to maintain. anyone with a hammer and chisel had a go. Even today when I buy a bike or car I look for one that shows no signs of "maintenance". If you can see where a PO has been, leave it alone for it is likely to be a can of worms. It was not knowing what PO's had done that persuaded me to buy the Enfield instaed of an old Triumph as that at least was untouched from the factory. The other reason is I twice wrecked my right knee in car accidents and don't always want to kickstart a bike.
The Enfield is now properly sorted and is fine. it has many features I like. Kickstart and electric start. a carb, gravity fed fuel. (gravity does not fail as often as electric pumps). can easily be changed to Right or Left hand gearshift. 95Mpg, low seat height. 180 kilos. and is Very manoeuvrable. I was able to do a Uturn on the ferry in one cars width and drive out. all the other bikes had to wait until the next lane cleared. I never saw one of them until about I was 50 miles along the road. I admit due to a manufacturing fault the crank failed when I went to Poland. But it rattled me all the way back to a friends house in Belgium where I left the bike. I delivered it to a specialist bike repair shop in the UK and collected it with a new heavy duty crank installed. for less than half the price I was quoted ten years ago to fix an engine management fault on my Volvo. So in my eyes its cheaper to replace two Enfield cranks than to fix one ignition fault on a modern car. I see lots a "good" cars written off because it is too expensive to fix their electrics. How is that being "green".
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Old 22 Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
I see lots a "good" cars written off because it is too expensive to fix their electrics. How is that being "green".
I'd agree with that - and it's not just the "OMG" parts either (the expensive engine management bits). I'm not sure I know anyone, in the trade or not, who's got as good a grasp of car electrical systems and how to fault-find them as they have of mechanical components and far more electrical issues tend to be abandoned rather than fixed; at least until it becomes an MOT issue anyway.

Maybe the 60's were Triumphs best decade; I don't really know as I didn't know anyone who had better than wrecks (and it's unfair to judge on those) until the early 70's, but our collective experience between '70 and '76 wasn't good. We did a lot of Euro touring in those years and never had more than trivial problems with anything Japanese but we never had anything less than a serious issue with a number of Triumphs - clutch failure, crank failure, that kind of thing. When the bike had to be recovered for the third trip in a row (and this was a new bike, still in warranty at the beginning anyway) you tend to lose faith in the engineering. The replacement Honda had no such issues.
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Old 23 Mar 2013
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Surely your average 80`s or 90`s Jap bike must have the best reliability/ease of maintenance compromise?
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  #6  
Old 28 Mar 2013
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As I said, I was in the forces in the early 60's and went home to Cornwall from Norfolk every weekend. I was never late back and in fact never had any breakdowns during that time except once a clutch cable failed just as I came off the A11 onto the North Circular. but I just rode the rest of the journey without one. My primary chain failed later after I had been invalided out.
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Old 30 Mar 2013
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Personally I believe the 50's and 60's British bikes were better than the 70's . Looking back at the early seventies , they were a time of asset stripping owners ,arrogant management and bloody minded unions fighting it out whilst industries went down the toilet . [ remember the three day week ?]
Obviously quality control and investment went by the wayside . Very sad .
However bikes from those days can be rebuilt and made into reliable and very desirable machines for those who understand and appreciate mechanical simplicity and are prepared to do the preventative maintenance .
I'd love an Enfield but a 500 is a bit small for me and the roads I ride , a 750 or bigger twin would be ideal . There are rumours that Enfield have a big twin on the drawing board , I hope it's true .
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Old 31 Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
Personally I believe the 50's and 60's British bikes were better than the 70's . Looking back at the early seventies , they were a time of asset stripping owners ,arrogant management and bloody minded unions fighting it out whilst industries went down the toilet .
You're mostly right I think. The rot started in the 50s, and it was nothing to do with the unions.
Take a look at this:
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/si...-counted-out-1

(Sorry about the adverts at the start).

BSA was brought to its knees by its own chairman and his wife, celebrities in their own lifetime. I remember my Dad getting quite angry about them and dispairing of the management of the British bike industry (and of the rest of British industry). He tried to help a smaller company succeed by selling his old BSA M20 and buying a brand new Panther about the time the Dockers were being kicked out of BSA. It was a huge sum of money for him to find, and the Model 100 lasted the rest of his bike-riding life. But his purchase didn't help of course.

This from Wikipedia: "The issues leading to the removal of the Dockers stemmed from the extravagant expenses they presented to the company, including the show cars made available for Lady Docker's personal use, a £5,000 gold and mink ensemble that Lady Docker wore at the 1956 Paris Motor Show that she tried to write off as a business expense as she 'was only acting as a model' at the show, and Glandyfi Castle, bought with £12,500 of BSA's money and refurbished for £25,000, again with company money."

Other than that I can't really comment as despite my Dad's faith in British bikes I only ever owned two, a Villiers-engined Greeves trials bike with added lights, great fun on the dirt, and a Norton Commando on the track, great fun too, but unreliable.
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Old 31 Mar 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
Personally I believe the 50's and 60's British bikes were better than the 70's . Looking back at the early seventies , they were a time of asset stripping owners ,arrogant management and bloody minded unions fighting it out whilst industries went down the toilet . [ remember the three day week ?]
Obviously quality control and investment went by the wayside . Very sad .
However bikes from those days can be rebuilt and made into reliable and very desirable machines for those who understand and appreciate mechanical simplicity and are prepared to do the preventative maintenance .
I'm sure whatever 30's design Triumph, BSA etc were knocking out in the 50's was perfect for the era and would have been thundering past Morris Minors and Austin A30s with ease. By the time I got into bikes in the late 60's though I didn't want something that harked back to "our finest hour" and looked like it was made out of whatever was leftover from the Spitfire production line.

That's how it seemed to me, even in my teenage innocence, at the time - backward looking arrogant complacent management running companies knocking out brand new "retro" bikes with sales buoyed up by semi hysterical press coverage telling us that these British world beaters were better than anything our vanquished "yellow peril" foe could come up with and that not "Backing Britain" by buying one was a betrayal of everything we'd fought for. I wouldn't have been able to state it quite like that back then but whatever patriotic feelings I had wasn't enough to stop me looking at the (second hand) Hondas in the dealers showrooms.

Given a choice between a Kawasaki H1 500 and a Velocette 500 (Venom?) (actually a magazine road test back then - which the Velo won!) I'd have sold my soul to the devil for the H1. The Velo looked, to my teenage eye, like something James Watt could have developed from his steam engines, whereas the Kawasaki looked like something NASA needed for the moon program. Strangely, and even though I have an H1 in my garage these days, I'd probably chose the Velo now. But that's because I don't need it for transport.
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Old 31 Mar 2013
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When I was getting into bikes I was influenced by the guy I worked for and his even older friend, the latter incidently, taught me to ride. The guy I worked for had a particular liking for Japanese machines(CB500/4) but due to family commitments had sometime previously only had a Honda 90, not the step thru, now his friend and my 'mentor' had always owned Brit bikes, AJS and Nortons but in his advancing years rode CB350, CB125 and CB360 and used the Norton for longer trips, I was told many times about the 'Dockers' and how the British management had their heads in the sand. Years later I read the Bert Hopwood book.....'Whatever happened to the British motorcycle industry?' I then understood !! We got what we asked for I'm afraid, even in racing, the Brits were trying with singles cylinder machines to take on Japanese and Italian 'multis'.
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Old 31 Mar 2013
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Materials

Quite apart from the design issues, a "wise old motorcycle engineer", long retired now, once advised me to never buy anything from pre mid-1960s.
With the obvious, inevitable question of why, he responded that the technology developed during WW2 (necessity is the mother of invention) took until about that time to be adopted in the mass production of consumer products; prior to that, in his view, the materials technology in use went all the way back to the invention of the internal combustion engine.

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  #12  
Old 1 Apr 2013
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Originally Posted by MarkShelley View Post
Surely your average 80`s or 90`s Jap bike must have the best reliability/ease of maintenance compromise?
My 1983 Tenere would be right there (reliability/ease of maintenance)

Air/oil cooled 600 single, kick start, carburettor, big tank, light & comfy.

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  #13  
Old 18 Jun 2013
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I don't grasp, i used to be solely stopped from finishing a journey once at regarding eighty, 000 miles with my five hundred. That bike visited and from Norfolk to county each weekend for 2 years and ne'er incomprehensible a beat 435 miles every approach. i used to be within the forces then and back within the early sixties there have been no motorways apart from the money supply that went from the North circular towards Birmingham. My initial ever breakdown attributable to associate degree electrical fault was regarding six years agone..
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