January 24, 2009 GMT
May 2008 - First adventure on a rebuilt BSA

Until such a time as I get the time to do a big trip again, a quick entry on this little beasty. It's a '38 B21 which I spent a year re-commisioning from a ton of pieces. I've been clocking up a few miles, and one weekend in May 08 set off on the longest trip yet, down to London to visit my brother, visiting the old stomping ground of High Beach, and go to the Vincent Black Shadow day at the Ace Cafe.

'Buster' as young Victoria has dubbed 'him' behaved in a very plucky manner, and although it was reassuring to be accompanied by my old mate Wynn on his custom Dr650, there was no need for him to tow me to the knackers yard. 90 miles of devious back road routes to the 'big smoke' were done without much drama at all, except for the rather poor front brake, and a 'quantity' of oil consumed in leaks from the top end.

However when we got to my brothers after a pleasant afternoon at High Beach, I investgated the dimming of the lights. It turned out the commutator of the dynamo had exploded, jamming it up and also burning out the friction drive. So I had to dismantle it and remove the drive gear. I also found one of the rear light filaments had blown.

Sunday was day off for Buster as we went to the Ace on other machines. The battery benefitted from a charge.

Monday I loaded up and just as I took it off the stand to hit the road the rear stand spring broke. This is why we love bungees.

Outside a lovely church, Furneaux Pelham, Essex

The ride back (once I'd stopped worrying about broken genny, oil consumption, broken stand and bad brakes) was again a pleasure, through lovely old villages, and amazingly in good weather. Here's a nice shot. The inscription on the church tower says, 'Time flies' and ' mind your business' which I took as a cue to look the bike over yet again before continuing.

Near Bedford I was weary, so stopped in the pretty Warden Woods for a breather

Eventually I got home, 90 back road miles and a couple of town centres in 3 hours, not too bad. Also something like 180 miles round trip and a few battle scars, not all on the bike, Rigid frames are for young men I'm afraid. But I guess it goes to show that these old bikes will take you anywhere so long as you're not in a hurry. Fuel consumption around the 75 mpg mark too! Oil consumption not far behind.

Posted by Rob Hodder at 12:19 AM GMT
January 25, 2009 GMT
September 2008 Northampton-Suffolk-Northampton on a Pre-war BSA

As promised, a few shots from the expedition to Suffolk to see my folks.
Apologies that this is not exactly RTW, but maybe doing a long ride in one country is an adventure if the bike is old enough?

This was on one of the last weekends in September when we finally got some clear weather.

I set off early on a saturday morning, a bit tired after a weeks work topped of by a Friday nite gig.

I had to zig zag around a lot so as to avoid main roads, as the tug was still running in and anyway is only really good for cruising up to about 50mph. This added a fair few miles and made it a good four hour journey.

I remember getting to one point somewhere after Offord Cluny where the road was bumpy in a particularly annoying jiggly way. No fun on a rigid frame. I pulled over into a layby, had a pee (all that jiggling) sat down an thought, cripes still another 80 miles to go. At that point I wasn't even sure if the bike was going to make it, or me.

Anyway after a while the road surface improved and things started to look up. Basically I did many miles at a relentless 45 mph, a good half throttle blare barrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!

I stopped for Fuel near Soham. The indian cashier says "What is your bike?" "a BSA"
"Is it, what type?" - "B21"
IS it, what year?" - "'38"
Is it, you are coming from? "Northampton"
Is it, you are going to? "Suffolk"
Isssss it? "Yeah".

So many questions, but it seems he is genuinely curious, anyway a few miles after that I hit the Suffolk border and cheer mightily to myself. Going down the road from Mildenhall to Bury St Edmunds a couple of power rangers zip into my space between two cars, give a low pointy acknowledgement and are instantly disappearing on the horizon, it was like being buzzed by hummingbirds.

Here she is in Suffolk , not far from the destination.

Then before you know it I'm at my sisters hamlet, just as I approach her house I spy an old stroker, a James or something bumbling smokily down the road. I find it necessary to buzz him by blaring past at a good 45mph, thus overshooting her house, and then have to loop round to get back to hers. Such childish behaviour.

Later at the pub;
Anyway a couple of days later it was time to trundle back home. Amazing how much easier the trip was knowing it'd been done once before..

Trudging back across cambridgeshire fens;

Patience required plappa-thrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrum;

Nearing the end of Cambridgeshire and nearly into Bedfordshire

Near the end of the return trip I am held up in a spot of traffic in Rushden, funnily enough outside a tattoo parlour. Of course just as the traffic clears the bike stalls, and some mean looking tattoo'd bikers laugh and cheer as I kick her back into life.

So a bit of an adventure, just under 300 miles and a testament to a 70 year old bike. Top end rebuild now nicely run in and as far as I know still on the original bottom end.

The tortuous route gladdened my heart by reminding me that there's still a fair bit of unspoilt countryside left in old albion, and that the best way to enjoy it is slowly on an old british or dare I say english bike.

Posted by Rob Hodder at 11:36 PM GMT

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