For the last four weekends, I’ve managed to get out on a vintage pre-1931 motorcycle, which is pretty pleasing. And I’ve only got soaked about 10 times… The weekend just gone, as I write, was the Banbury Run, where I was thrilled to be riding the 1928 AJS K10, owned by my cousin Peter, who lives in Australia.
The story of this K10 – which will be told in due course – is an interesting one, suffice to say an awful lot of Anglo-Australian engineering effort has gone into producing a stunning-looking motorcycle. And it goes pretty well too; of course there’s the usual vintage limitations to consider (look at the size of that front brake!) while it has a couple of other foibles too, but, really, it’s doing pretty well.
I had a largely fault-free run (just one stop to tighten up the gear linkage) and a thoroughly good time, splish sploshing through the mud and water strewn across the back roads… But more about that next month.
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The weekend before Banbury, I’d taken the Ajay out for a good canter round, about 100 miles, where it proved itself capable of maintaining sufficient pace to keep up with modern traffic.
I was put in mind of a comment Archie Beggs made about when, in relatively recent times, he’d go and visit his sister on his 1928 Sunbeam Bullnose Model 90, as it was best suited to the motorway!
I reckon the K10 would be all right on the motorway too, but I think I’ll get a few miles on it first.
That led me on to thinking about something else – a comment made to me at Banbury of how ‘there’s less and less early bikes out on the run’ and it does look to be a fair point.
The 1928-30 period now seems to account for a lot of the entry, and the fact is that those two years were a period of impressive development, or culmination of development.
Twist grips, recirculating oil, saddle tanks, and so on, and while hand-change largely remained, it was on the wane. Change was coming.
Seemingly like everything in the old motorcycles world, vintage can be split into subsections, and then split again.
It’s in some ways the same in, say, the 1950s; if one calls a motorcycle ‘typical 1950s’ what is that?
Could be rigid, plunger, swinging arm, between which there’s a lot of difference.
The same with the 1960s perhaps; there’s a gulf between the archetypal 1960 roadburner (a 650cc pushrod parallel twin, with SLS front brake) and a 1969 CB750, with its disc brake, electric start and single overhead camshaft engine – interestingly, the same format as the AJS K10, which just goes to show basically what happened to that relentless early progress in the British industry; it went from a fast pace, to a trickle, to static, to possibly backwards.
James Robinson, Editor