MC Dispatch
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Honda CB750A: Honda's Automatic Motorcycle

Honda CB750A: Honda's Automatic Motorcycle 

Hondamatic. To most Australians it is associated with the Honda automatic cars that were sold in the country in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. It seems a little known fact in Australia that Hondamatic is also the term given to Honda motorcycles equipped with automatic transmissions, and that Honda attempted offering these automatic motorcycles to the Australian bike riding fraternity with no luck. The feature bike in this article is a relic from this era, a California-spec CB750A brought to Australia for testing in the local conditions. Even though Honda Australia decided against selling the model here, the bike stayed, and has found its way into safe hands. 

At the start of 1977, Honda was producing two automatic motorcycle models: The CB400A, known in the U.S. as the Hawk, and the CB750A, a reworking of the CB750F. These bikes were initially conceived as a way for learner riders to get comfortable riding motorcycles without fear of stalling. This allowed for the novice to practice staying upright, braking and riding in traffic, all without having to focus on changing gears constantly as well.

I say changing gears constantly because the automatic transmissions offered on Hondamatic motorcycles were not automatic in the true sense of the word. A shift lever in the same position as a gear changer on a manual Honda allowed the rider to shift between neutral, low and drive. The ability to manually shift between high and low made sure the bike wouldn’t shift gears through a corner, throwing a rider off balance. Also built into the automatic models was a linkage from the kickstand to the gear lever, so when the kickstand was operated, the bike would put itself into neutral. This would stop the bike from starting in gear, something someone new to riding might overlook after getting back on the back.

The automatic motorcycles lacked the performance of their manual brothers. Quarter-mile times and top speeds were slower, the added weight of the transmissions not helping. The CB750A didn’t allow enough acceleration on the downshift to pass cars, and the CB400A transmission allowed too much chance of over run when heading into corners at speed. Performance issues and a change in the demographic of bike buyers meant Hondamatics only got a 3-year run before being dropped from the lineup.

In an engineering sense, the CB750A wasn’t just a CB750 with an automatic transmission fitted. Much work went into this model to make them stand apart from their CB750 stable mates. The engine gained different rocker covers and crankcases to suit the different engine/transmission combo. The engines were changed from dry sump to wet sump, the same oil going from the torque convertor through the engine to be cooled. The torque convertor is of the same design as the Civic cars of the time, as well as the Moto Guzzi V1000, which would have been a competitor to the CB750A. A three-part unit, the convertor was made up of a centrifugal oil pump, a turbine wheel and a stator. The oil pump, driven off a primary drive connected to the crank, would spin inside the turbine wheel, both of these components being bowl shaped. The oil from the pump would travel along the vanes of the turbine wheel, where it is then directed to the cup-shaped vanes of the stator wheels, and deflected back to the oil pump hub. Simple but rugged, the Hondamatic motorcycles gained a name for reliability that still stands today.

Honda CB750A: Honda's Automatic Motorcycle 

In regards to the fuel system, the standard CB750 fare was not going to suit the Hondamatic. Four 24mm slide/needle Keihin carbs are fitted, along with an accelerator pump so when the bike is accelerated from idle it does not suffer from the “Honda Burp” of the period. On top of this an electronically controlled diaphragm on the throttle linkage automatically bumps up the revs as soon as the transmission is engaged to make sure the bike doesn’t stall. Breathing out is taken care of by a 4-into-2 exhaust system, the silencers swept up and back in the custom style of the time.

Aesthetically, the Honda CB750A looks very different to the other CB750 models, the designers looking to the GL1000 for inspiration. GL-style rims are fitted front and rear, a 19.5 litre GL-styled tank is fitted, and the handlebars are high and wide. The larger GL rims give more ground clearance, but they also make the bike look bulkier than it really is. Stopping duties are covered by standard Honda fare, disc in the front, drum in the rear. The front caliper is slightly different to standard CB spec. A road test of the period rates the rear drum as adequate and the front disc as “not being the best disc brake, but for the design of the bike it works well.”

Honda CB750A: Honda's Automatic Motorcycle 

Instruments are basic, the tachometer making way for a large light readout showing whatever gear the bike is in at the time. The speedometer gives the range for both low and drive gear to ensure the rider does not overwork the engine. Drive gear is good from 0 up to 100mph, the low gear being only from 0 to 60mph. Although it is possible to use high gear all the time, using low gear in traffic is the better option, leaving drive for the open road. A large 20-amp hour battery takes the traditional place of the Honda oil reservoir, fed by a 290-watt alternator. Kickstart is in case of emergency only, with a kickstart lever mounted under the seat in.

Honda CB750A: Honda's Automatic Motorcycle 

The Australian Automatics

In early 1977 Bennett Honda, Australia’s Honda motorcycle importer, brought in two California-spec CB750As for evaluation in regards to selling them on the Australian market. These bikes were given to local motoring journalists on the proviso that no one was to write up a road test. One magazine broke the pact, and published their thoughts on the CB750A. This prompted Honda Australia, who had taken over from Bennett in importing bikes, to release the bikes for a second full road test. This time journalists would be allowed to do a full review and publish their view of the automatic motorcycle. This was all for naught, as in the end Honda Japan decided that it would be a waste of money to specify such a small batch of bikes to sell on the Australian market, and the two test bikes were the only CB750A bikes brought into the country by Honda.

After Honda Australia gave up on the idea of importing CB750As into the country the test bikes were sold to Jim Airey’s dealership in Sydney. One of the Hondamatics was purchased by a local car dealer, who painted it white. It was stolen not long after and hasn’t been seen since. The second test bike found its way into the hands of the current owner, who after 35 years is still happy with the purchase. Modifications over the years include an oil cooler, lower handlebars for better riding position, and the original exhaust pipes put away for safekeeping. The only other noticeable modification is the retrimmed seat; foam doesn’t last forever and this bike has racked up some miles.

The bike being California spec, the indicators and headlight come on as soon as the ignition is turned on, not something you normally find on bikes in Australia. The bike looks immaculate for all its years, looking no worse than pictures of it taken for a magazine review in late 1977. This CB750A is definitely no trailer queen, either; if it goes somewhere, it is under its own power, and the owner likes to take it out at least once a month to stretch it’s two-speed legs. This remnant of an attempt to produce a whole new class of motorcycles is in good hands, the owner showing it is possible to have a rare bike and not hide it away in the garage under a cover.

Honda CB750A: Honda's Automatic Motorcycle 

Ultimately, the automatic motorcycle craze did not take off. The CB750A was classed as too heavy for novice riders and too slow for experienced riders. The bulk of the transmission worked against both classes of riders, leaving the over-engineered CB750A without a demographic to sell to, thus prompting its demise in 1978. Interest in these Hondamatic models is rising, with riders realizing they aren’t bad bikes per se, they just require a different riding style. It’s good this CB750A has found its way into the feature bike owner’s hands and that he is willing to show it off. Or to put it in Motorcycle Classics terms: To ride it, not hide it.

Thanks to the owner of the bike for his time and information. Also to Tom Day and Stewart MacDonald for their assistance researching this piece. 

A View From the Central Florida Highlands

The Suzuki SV Riders held their third annual bike rally at the Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont, Florida, and I was honored to be invited by Tom Swartz, the event organizer, his lovely wife, Lori, and Craig Freger. We were greeted by cool crisp nights, bright clear skies and dry, well-paved twisty roads.

Florida Highlands 1 

Lake County Florida is situated only 25 miles west of Orlando, with towering 400-foot vertical elevations. Certainly not the Florida seen on “Wish you were here” postcards. Hell, back when I lived in upstate N.Y. we snow-skied at such staggering heights. For this ride I joined a mixed group of riders with a diverse mix of bikes other than Suzuki SVs; among the non-conformists were a Kawasaki ZRX1100, Moto Guzzi California, Kawasaki ZX636, BMW R1200ST, a real, authentic, raced-back-in-the-day Yamaha RD350 and my own fresh from a frame-off restoration Honda CB650 Café.

Florida high lands 2 

Florida high lands 3 

The ride was led by our trusted friend and local Russell on his trusty BMW ST1200, which has logged an incredible 119,000 miles and still looks and runs pristine. The route, while not rivaling the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Tail of the Dragon, was an incredible 180 miles filled with enough switchbacks, corkscrews and decreasing radius turns to keep us well entertained for a full day of riding, broken by a spectacular lunch at Gator Joe's, where we witnessed a sea plane land on the placid waters of one of the hundreds of lakes surrounding the area.

Florida high lands 4 

 Florida high lands 6 

And of course what self-respecting bike event would be complete without a spectacular cookout, a few cool ones, some tall tale telling (you know the older I get the better I was) and camaraderie second to none.

Florida high lands 7 

Florida high lands 8 

Pleased to report everyone survived and returned home safely only to begin plans for next year’s even more spectacular riding event. You can keep the beaches and seashells; I’ll take the Florida high country anytime.

Nevada Desert Ride

Hey, y'all,

Recently back from the Mountaineers MC 2012 Octoberfest desert ride in Nevada, this year about 40 miles Northwest of Lovelock, Nev., at an old mining site called Placeritas. And I gotta tell ya, I'm very glad to be back and very eager to forget the whole damn thing!

We had to drive about 26 miles of pretty good to pretty bumpy gravel road starting maybe 15 miles out of Lovelock. The smooth parts kind of lulled us into complacency, and Ray drove the motorhome fairly fast the whole 26 miles. When we got to camp, just at dark, we were startled and dismayed to find the right tire on the motorcycle trailer was blown and shredded; the three-leaf spring had broken clean through in front of the axle, and my poor little Honda was gone!

All that had occurred somewhere in that 26 miles and we had no idea where the hell my bike was. We had to quickly disconnect the trailer and drive the motorhome back about 5 miles before we found it in the middle of the road, where it had fallen at maybe 25 or 30mph. Even badly beat-up, that faithful, ol' Honda started when I tried it and then I had to ride it back to camp, badly-bent bars and all.

Bent-up honda 

Notice the back directional signal is gone, and the handlebars, license plate, and footpeg are badly bent. What you can't see are the broken headlight lens, front directional signal lens, and front brake lever.

I managed to bend the bars back enough in camp to be able to ride it the next 3 days, and I'm not sure that was the smartest thing I've ever done because the riding was a true bitch: rough, hot and dusty as hell, and we seemed to be continually lost and not able to find anything we were looking for. 

 Nevada ride 2 

This is a panoramic shot of our camp taken after a number of guys had left. The camp is on the center right, and a motorhome leaving, is kicking up a dust plume at the center left. That road, the last mile or so into camp, is the next picture ...

Nevada 3 

This is an example of what all-too-much of our riding was: talcum powder-fine dust maybe 4"-to-6" deep that provided little traction for steering but just enough, if you hit it wrong, to kick the front wheel out of your control and then, FLOP, down you'd go. Notice the disrupted area in the foreground of this shot; that's where one of our riders crashed coming back into camp. And I flopped in the same kind of stuff the day before and miles from camp and broke the clutch lever; I had to pull the just-replaced front brake lever off to use for the clutch, and then ride — carefully — without a front brake. And you can imagine the dust this stuff kicks up when a guy rides into it, on the gas, trying to power his way through it.

Nevada 4 

This, I'll admit, is the compensating positive of this desert ride: the great scenery without anything like a crowd to deal with. That's our old Scoutmaster, Frank Dickinson, staring back at you.

Nevada 5 

This is the completely appropriate shot to end this story: A gravesite. I want to bury the memory of this 'Fest just as finally and fully as these people were laid to rest. Notice, though, the site is given as "Barrel Springs"; trouble is, we thought we were at the site of Scossa, which is actually about 7 or 8 miles away. A good example of how turned-around we got out there, which is not good in the varied desert, with a hundred trails leading who-the-hell-knows-where, small dirt-bike gas tanks with limited range, and my GPS proving to be only marginally effective for a number of reasons.

Sights From the Humboldt Bay Classic Motorcycle Show

Contrary to popular belief, Northern California does not end at San Francisco. The roads into and out of Humboldt County, about five hours north of San Francisco, are lined with redwood trees and ocean, and the Humboldt Bay Classic motorcycle show, sponsored by North Coast Cycle of Eureka, Calif., takes pride in being the only vintage motorcycle show of its type in more than a 250-mile radius.

Humboldt Bay Classic 1
A 1950 BMW R25 with sidecar at the Humboldt Bay Classic motorcycle show, owned by Becky Fisher of Blue Lake, Calif. 

Held in the autumn each year — taking advantage of Humboldt County's best weather — the show pays homage to bikes of all makes, built in 1985-and-earlier. Some gems from the third annual event included a 1943 BMW R75 with sidecar owned by Stefan Fisher of Blue Lake, Calif., and Bruce Braly of Eureka's 1968 Yamaha DT1 and 1978 Yamaha XT500. Peter Dubaldi of Eureka took home gold medals for his 1981 Husqvarna 250XC and 1979 SWM RS250GS TF1, the latter of which also picked up the Promotor's Choice award. A 1966 Triton, owned by Karl Sperling of Arcata, Calif, took a gold medal in the Chopper/Bobber/Custom category. The Triton, built by North Coast Cycle, also took Best Cafe Racer at the 2012 Clubman's All-British Motorcycle Show in San Jose, Calif.

Humboldt Bay Classic 3
1968 Yamaha DT1, owned by Bruce Braly of Eureka, Calif.

Humboldt Bay Classic 2
Judges mull over Peter Dubaldi's 1979 SWM RS250GS TF1, which won a gold medal in the Dirt Racer category, and took the Promotor's Choice ribbon. 

Bikes shown in the Humboldt Bay Classic are judged based on their own merits — for example: originality, quality of workmanship, rideability — as opposed to being judged against each other. As a result, a single category may have multiple gold medals, or none at all.

Humboldt Bay Classic 6
This 1966 Triton, owned by Karl Sperling of Arcata, Calif. took home a gold medal. 

Set right on the picturesque Humboldt Bay and surrounded by historic Woodley Island Marina, the 2012 Classic drew fans of vintage motorcycles, good music, and delicious local microbrews. Proceeds from this year's event benefited North Star Quest Camp, a non-profit summer camp for middle school-aged girls.

Aside from motorcycle-only swap booths, local food vendors, and microbrews from Lost Coast Brewery, Six Rivers Brewery and Mad River Brewing Company, the Humboldt Bay Classic offered live music from local bands Gunsafe and Slingshot, and music of all genres by DJ Gabe Pressure.

The Humboldt Bay Classic will return in September of 2013 with more show bikes, music, vendors and entertainment.

Photos by Debbie Topping and Greg O'Leary.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012

Some things go well together. Spaghetti and meatballs. Spoked wheels and trailbikes. Early mornings and coffee. Some things do not go well together. Like Ducati concours events and rain. I was pondering this as I listened to the storm outside give no signs of abating anytime soon, and drifted off to sleep, set on the idea of there not being a big turnout at the 2012 New South Wales Ducati Club Concours event the next day. My fears will ill-founded though; the sun beckoning me out to spend a morning amongst the singles, desmos, the bevels and the belt drives.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

Daylight savings always throws me out. I can never adjust to waking up earlier, but the thought of good Italian coffee spurns me on. Along the way I come across a Honda CB750/4 and a Kawasaki Z900, I ask the owners if they are heading to the Ducati day, but they tell me they are headed elsewhere. Which gives me an idea. But that’s a story for another time. Continuing on, cursing my own stubbornness when it comes to buying a GPS and using a 1997 UBD, I make it to Silverwater Park.

Started 35 years ago, today the Ducati Owners Club of New South Wales is 400 members strong. This Australian Ducati concours event is run annually, with all profits made going to the Royal Rehabilitation Hospital at Ryde. This is sort of fitting, as I have no doubt that the hospital has had to care for a few motorcyclists during it’s time. This year has been a bit more of a challenge in planning than usual, with a change in venue and the unfortunate passing of the stalwart planner of the concours event, Steve Chew. For all the changes though, just looking around it looks like everything is running nicely. The day has only just begun, but even just these earlybird bikes scattered across the oval would be enough to write an article on. I fall into conversation with Michael Berry, a Ducati specialist from the Desmo Clinic in Ryde. His military green 1979 GTS900 catches my eye, and he is more than happy to share the specs of this unique machine.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

This olive green thoroughbred is motivated by a blueprinted, crank-balanced powerplant, with 2mm overdrive desmo heads. 88mm Hi-comp pistons are fed by Keihin 39mm flatslide carbs. Four pots up front make sure this bike stops as well as it goes forward. I am struck by how open and friendly these Ducatisti are with their machines. If I owned bikes as beautiful as this, I would be scared to bring them to a show where people could get this close.

I move on, dodging Ducati club members waving hammers, who I assume are still setting up for the day. Bikes start to arrive in larger numbers now, the unmistakeable sound of ducati horsepower fills the air as riders filter through the already parked bikes. I get lost in the little touches that these bikes have been blessed with, little details that show attention has been given to these machines, both aesthetically and in an engineering capacity. For instance, look at the horns on any 1960s/70s Ducati. They are just plain pretty. I move from bike to bike, taking numerous pictures of each, never getting bored, always noticing different aspects to admire. The timeline of these these bikes ranges from the 1940s right through to today, with Fraser’s Motorcycles setting up a stand with a few of their new bikes on demo to paw at and sit on. Fraser’s and the NSW Ducati club have a rather good relationship, with Fraser’s sponsoring the club for different events over course of the year.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

The ‘other Italian makes’ section is filling fast as well. A Moto Guzzi half-truck contraption takes center stage in the display, a 350 single mounted in its tray. New and old MV Agustas park side by side, showing how far this company, as well as bike design, has come over the past 60 years. I see my dream Italian mount, an orange Laverda Jota 1000, with headlight fairing and 2-into-1 exhaust. Today just keeps getting better and better.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

The morning flies by. I take up position by the front gate to get personal time with the interesting bikes before they go in and are swamped by showgoers. An orange 450 Desmo single rolls in; I am in awe of its beauty. The owner even jumps off the bike for no reason than for me to get a good pic. Gosh these Ducati guys are too helpful. I check out the carpark, it is filled with bikes that should be in the show, being judged and most probably winning ribbons.

I have to duck out for a bit, and when I return it’s presentation time. The club president, Craig, hands a 5000 dollar cheque to the head doctor at the Rehabilitation Hospital, then it’s on to the awards. The coveted prize this year is the inaugural Steve Chew ‘People’s Choice’ award, which goes to an incredibly neat Ducati 748R. Even though I am generally a fan of older Ducatis, this one is amazingly clean, looking like it has never turned a wheel since leaving the factory.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

All in all, it’s been a good day. Ninety-seven bikes have turned up and entered in the show, it has been sunny, and the soundtrack is desmodromic. Ducatis are bikes built by passionate people for passionate riders to ride, or passionate people to admire. I think it was said best when Ian Fulsom said: “People don’t get Ducatis; then they see them.” Ducatis are completely beautiful, they are art.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

I would like to thank everyone in the New South Wales Ducati Club who took time out of their busy day to talk to me and answer my questions. 

The Laverda Whisky Run – Oldies on Tour

Bladnoch 16-year-old single malt Scotch whiskey 
The inspiration: Bladnoch Distillery 16-year-old single malt Scotch. 

It was the middle of probably the worst winter for years. I was sitting in front of a roaring open fire, the Laverda safely wrapped up warm in her garage, a glass of a suitable chilled Bordeaux Blanc in hand when I was jolted back to reality remembering an email I had received earlier in the day. 

It was from one of my oldest friends (yes, I do have more than one) and we go back nearly 50 years. He was suggesting a ride to Scotland in late May when the weather would be good. It was such a long way off that without hesitation I sent my reply in the affirmative.  

The ride was to visit Bladnoch Distillery, a tiny distillery in Wigtown, South West Scotland. My usual tipple is good wine and good ale. It seems that my old friend David Minton has acquired a taste for Lowland whiskies, in particular Bladnoch whisky. The initial plan was for me to meet David and four of his friends from Herefordshire at the Kendall services on the M6. I believe the combined age of the gathered oldies would have been in excess of 400 years, hence the sub title. 

Over the next four months, four of the six dropped out, leaving David on his 3CL and me on my RGS. So now it was a Laverda run. 

Bladnoch run, Laverdas resting 
The motivation: A fine pair of Laverdas, in 180- and 120-degree versions. 

Now that it was only the two of us, Dave suggested that on the return from Wigtown we call in to visit Cyril Ayton in Carlisle and his sister in Rookhope, Weardale. 

The end of May arrived all too quickly (something to do with getting old – time goes by so quickly), the weather was good and the RGS had been fettled. 

I left at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning to meet David at the agreed services on the M6 at 10:30 a.m. A quick chat was necessary as I had not seen Dave since Malvern the previous year. We rejoined the M6, but as soon as practical went onto the A6. This is a super, relatively unused road that swoops up and over Shap. Just before Shap village my gear linkage lost a bolt. A short stop, tools out and a suitable replacement nut and bolt fitted and we were on our way again through Penrith to Carlisle. Here we joined first the A74 then the A75 to Newton Stewart, where we turned onto the A714 to Wigtown, our destination. 

We booked into the Bladnoch Inn, and changed into civilian clothes for a tour of the Bladnoch Distillery. This was a most interesting hour or so spent in the capable hands of a pretty museum guide who enthused us with the intricacies of whisky distilling and the history of the distillery, followed of course by a tot of the special stuff.  

We returned to the hotel where we enjoyed a pint or two sat outside in the early evening sunshine, followed by a very satisfying meal. As we later sat in the bar, a guy popped in on his way home from his office, having seen the two Laverdas outside. He introduced himself as Robbie Murphie, who lived locally and had a Jota. His Jota is looked after by Keith Nairn, the Glasgow Laverda ace. It was Keith who had rebuilt my RGS earlier this year and I had mentioned to him our Scottish trip. Typical Keith, he had said “oh, I will pop down for a pint and a chat.”  

Bladnoch run, chatting at the pub 
Chatting at the pub (from left): David Davies, Robbie Murphie, Keith Nairn and David Minton. 

Robbie left and quite frankly we were both relaxed and probably ready for sleep. Not so; Robbie returned about an hour later and said he had telephoned Keith, who was now on his way down. What followed was a really great evening of mainly motorcycle chat, beer, and more chat such that Robbie sorted out a bed for Keith to rest his head. Thanks to our accommodating host we eventually retired after midnight. 

The following morning it was another fine day. At breakfast we were joined by Keith, and more chat before he was off back to Glasgow. There were Laverdas to be fettled. 

The previous evening when we were discussing our return journey, Robbie had advised us to avoid the A75 and take the A712 out of Newton Stewart through New Galloway to rejoin the A75 at Crocketford. 

What a fantastic road the A712 is, through beautiful scenery with dips, crests and curves. The 180 and 120 Laverdas were really on song. Both David and I agreed later that it was the best 50 miles or so we had traversed in a long time. Thanks, Robbie. 

We arrived in Carlisle at 12:30 p.m. to meet with Cyril Ayton, who was the editor of that illustrious monthly Motor Cycle Sport through the 1960s into the 1980s. David had been a regular contributor to MCS during that time. Cyril is now in his 80s, but still rides the three motorcycles in his garage. What an interesting guy to listen and talk to, so much information and history about motorcycles and motorcycling in his head. It is worth mentioning he even owned a Laverda at one time. We could easily have stayed longer, but after three hours or so we had to leave to continue our journey. 

Bladnoch run, resting  in Weardale 
The two Laverdas pause to rest near Weardale on the B6278. 

We left Carlisle on the A69 with the idea of branching south onto the A689 to Alston. However, we were enjoying the ride in spite of the traffic so eventually turned south at Hexham onto some super roads to Blanchland then to our destination at Rookhope. I must say that we found other traffic on the A69 in particular very courteous to our two Laverdas. One courtesy remembered was a trucker coming towards us who flashed his spotlights on his cab roof. A sign? There was a camera van parked in a lay-by just a couple of miles further on. Thank you to that trucker, surely a fellow motorcyclist. 

We arrived at Trish and Peters house about at about 5:30 p.m., again changed into civilian clothes and relaxed with a nice cup of tea (it was too early …). Peter had thankfully booked a table at a nearby hostelry to which we later adjourned for, apart from the food and the alcohol, more reminiscing. Another full and interesting day. 

Wednesday dawned overcast but dry, and following a delicious breakfast prepared by our hosts, David and I headed south to Middleton-in-Teesdale. Here we parted company, David heading towards Brough and the M6/A6 south to Herefordshire, and I heading towards Barnard Castle, Scotch Corner then south on the A1 to my home near Wakefield. The final part of my ride remained dry, but David encountered heavy rain through Cheshire. 

My ride finished about midday with the RGS parked again in her garage. I was buzzing when I went indoors; my dear wife and her daughter, who was staying with us, do not understand the pleasure we get from just riding motorcycles. Five hundred twenty miles, nearly three days, and 41 mpg. It had been a really great ride with a great friend, something I do not do enough of these days. 

Bladnoch run, David Davies' Laverda RGS 
David Davies' Laverda RGS looks as a Laverda should; ridden! 


Les Trois Musee de Saint Louis

Motorcycle Classics readers should be aware that, in addition to the well-known motorcycle museums like the incomparable Barber, Harley-Davidson and AMA, there is a trio of very thorough and highly interesting collections all conveniently located in the home city of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The museums are The Moto Museum, Classic Motorcycles Museum and Donelson Motorcycle Museum

There is a wide range of motorcycles on display in these three motorcycle museums, from rare lightweight German street bikes to the most complete collection of off-road competition bikes (trials, scrambles/motocross, ISDE and flat track) I have seen anywhere in the world. This is explainable when one realizes the knowledge and backgrounds of the museums’ curators. 

The Classic Motorcycles Museum 
There are many fine Husky's at the Classic Motorcycles Museum founded by the late, great Dave Mungenast. 

The late Dave Mungenast, founder of the Classic Motorcycle Museum, had a long career of ISDE rides in addition to being a card-carrying Hollywood film stunt rider.  

The Donelson Museum 
The Donelson Museum features many thundering, dirt-slinging flat-trackers. 

Carl Donelson is familiar to most off-road enthusiasts as the founder of the landmark Donelson Cycles and himself an accomplished rider.

The Moto Museum 
All der kinder can ride to kirche un der Moto Museum Böhmerland. 

An added attraction to the Moto Museum is that it’s adjacent to the Triumph grill. This upscale bistro/restaurant is entirely appointed in motorcycle-related décor by architect and owner Steve Smith, an accomplished competition motorcyclist and collector. You pass from museum into the restaurant, which then leads to a beautiful new dealership (Moto Europa) offering Ducati, KTM and Trumph motorcycles, and then into the stunningly modern Hotel Ignacio. This complex has to be seen to be believed. When traveling through the “Gateway City,” pop these museum names into your Garmin and follow the arrow to great motorcycle viewing.

The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

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