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From the Owner

The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle


Jamie Spitzley’s 1957 Type C Nimbus Motorcycle

1957 nimbus type c 

Bike: 1957 Nimbus Type C 
Owner: Jamie Spitzley
Hometown: Cambria, Calif.
Occupation: Vintner/fabricator/machinist/handyman
Bio: Jamie Spitzley’s probably the only person you’ll ever meet who got crossed up with the law on a Whizzer. “My first infraction with the law was as a kid on a friend’s Whizzer, running a straight pipe with no muffler,” Jamie says. And he got his first bike, a 1961 Norton 99, the old fashioned way. He lied for it. “When I was sent away to college, one of the first things I did was write my dad and ask him for money for books and clothes. ‘Jeez, that’s a lot of money,’ he said.” The Norton was sold when the military called, but bikes returned when Jamie’s service stint ended, and in 1967 he and a buddy opened Crossland Cycles in Boulder, Colo. The cycle shop only lasted a few years, followed by marriage, kids and running a ranch in Colorado. Jamie moved away from motorcycles again, but following a divorce and a move out of ranching, he rekindled his motorcycle love affair. These days you’ll find Jamie and wife Suzie (“Guzzi Suzie”) tending to their vineyard, Boulder Ridge Estates, near Cambria on California’s West Coast, and to Jamie’s collection of 40 motorcycles. The collection ranges from the 1957 Nimbus Type C featured here to a Bultaco Metralla and a Harley-Davidson XR1000.

Etc: “When I was a rancher, one of my neighbors had a 1922 REO in his barn. I bought it with the hope of restoring it someday, but it never happened. I hauled it out here and it sat in my shed. Somebody heard about it, and a car collector came by and asked if I’d be interested in selling or trading: He offered a 1957 Nimbus Type C and sidecar in trade. The Nimbus takes less space, and I could put four more bikes in with the REO gone. That was in 2000. I didn’t know anything about it, really. It was running when I got it, the engine had been rebuilt, and shortly after the trade there was a Nimbus for sale for $15,000, so I didn’t feel too bad.

“It tracks well, but you have to muscle it through corners, and it’s a slow shifter; you need to count to three before you shift to the next gear. “I like that it’s not typical, it’s not like other motorcycles in design. The engine is very innovative, it’s very smooth, but I don’t want to push it too much for fear of something letting go.

“The brakes are minimal. They slow it down pretty well, but I don’t know if I could lock it up on pavement, but I haven’t really tried. I live on a steep hill, it’s a gravel road, and when I go down I just skid all the way down. “It’s happiest in a straight line at 45mph — you’re not going to get anywhere fast, but it’s a pleasure to ride. And it’s fun because Suzie and I can take it to the farmers market and get produce; it’s just nice.”

Read more about the motorcycles mentioned in this article:
1957 Nimbus Type C
The Whizzer Sportsman
Harley-Davidson XR1000 

tore skjaeveland
1/20/2011 9:33:22 AM

Wonderful, eccentric bike! Had one, a 1954, many moons ago, and have off course regretted selling it many times! The OHC 750cc inline-four engine is a beauty, albeit no screamer; the crank is only supported by two giant ball-bearings (one each end), and one can only imagine the flex at 5000rpm! (on the positive side; severe flexing would actually lead to microscopical cc and CR increases :-0!! ) One of the nice things was to watch (part of)the valve gear doing its job at junctions, great entertainment! And the manual stating that when (not if, when) the clutch started slipping, there was a 1/2" (?) plug both at top and bottom of the clutch-housing. Remove those, flush some petrol through whilst turning the engine and let drain. Freshly washed clutch equaled slip gone! (and, might I add, it realley worked too!) Well, if only youth had come with more brain and money, I might`ve been out riding my Nimbus instead of writing this,,,, Tore, Norway