Sunday, October 23, 2011

21-22 Oct, 2011 Fri. evening I rode up to Greenwich to see the bike show put on by my friend
Carlos Escudero at his shop, Solo Moto. Carlos had some of his and his clients significant bikes on display. These include a Matchless G-85 CS motocrosser, a Crocker, a Brough Superior, a Velocette Thruxton, and a Laverda SFC. There was Honda 'from mighty to mini' with a nice unrestored C102 Cub and a NR750 oval piston bike, one of about 300 made. And there was the 1930ish Indian 101 Scout that Carlos found in a basement and hadn't run in over 40 years. He got it running shortly and has left it as found with just basic cleaning up.
And, speaking of Indian 101 Scouts, when I was at the Fall Giro, I sat next to Will Paley at the Sat. dinner and he extolled the virtues of his 1929 Scout and suggested I come up to his house in W. Cornwall, Ct. to ride it some time. So, I stayed over in Greenwich and rode up to W. Cornwall Sat. morning. Fellow Giroist Bill Burke had called the other day and told me he was taking his NSU Special Max and Ken Richardson's Moto Guzzi Lodola to Pete Tallabach's Mohawk Garage in Washington, Ma. for some fettling, on his way to his sister's in Millerton, N.Y. Since these were all vaguely in the same area, I suggested he join our vintage ride.

'51 Moto Guzzi Falcone with my '90 Honda VTR250 and '29 Indian 101 Scout in backrounds

So, Will rode his '51 Moto Guzzi Falcone and I rode the '29 Scout over to Falls Village for lunch where Bill met us. The Indian has a left hand throttle, a right hand ignition advance/retard, a left foot clutch and right hand shift three speed gearbox, and 'normal' right hand front brake lever and right foot rear brake pedal. The ride started at the deep end of the pool with a very steep decent down Will's road to Rt. 4. There's not much front brake there, but the rear was adequate. Not only is the twistgrip throttle left hand, one turns it inboard to accelerate, so there was about 45 years of muscle memory to erase and relearn on the fly. To add to the challenge, the 2nd gear dogs are apparently well worn and when one got much speed in 2nd, it would pop out of gear. Time to change to 3rd, which was slightly hard to find. But, once in 3rd, the motor was very flexible. I started to learn about retarding the ignition when slogging up hills and advancing when the revs got up, but I'm sure this is something that takes a while to feel and do instinctively.
After lunch at the Toymakers Cafe, something of a motorcyclist destination run by a guy who says he raced with me at Loudon and Daytona years ago, Bill followed us back to Will's house where he got on Will's '56 R 50 BMW, which Will had hotrodded a bit with lightened flywheel, lumpier cam and higher compression pistons. Will led us on a couple of hour ride through the back roads of northwest Ct. on a nice dry fall day, if slightly cooler than ideal.

'56 BMW R-50

What an interesting collection of contrasting bikes that were still compatible riding together. A 750 V-twin flat head, and horizontal 500 single and an opposed 500 twin. A girder forked, leaf spring on the Indian; and male slider telescopic fork on the Guzzi, and an Earles fork on the BMW.

'29 Indian 101 Scout front brake torque arm detail

Rigid rear on the Indian, swingarm with friction shocks and springs under the motor on the Guzzi and swingarm with shaft drive and hydraulic shocks on the BMW. Foot clutch, hand shift on the Indian, right side, up for 1st on the Guzzi and left side, down for 1st on the BMW. We stopped for fuel and Bill got on the Guzzi and I got on the BMW, then finally I got on the Guzzi and Bill rode the BMW, he not being ready to learn the Indian in traffic.

Will gases up the Indian while I ponder the front brake /suspension. Bill Burke photo

Will Paley and Bill Burke with bikes spanning 27 years

I had not ridden an example of any of these bikes and it was a treat. The Indian is extremely impressive for an 82 year old machine. It steers very well and motor is delightful and quite quick. I've never warmed up to the BMW opposed twins, but this was a very competent ride. I've got to pick the Guzzi as my favorite. I'm smitten with the horizontal single. The motor is marvelous; torquey and responsive, with excellent shift and steering. It's very much like my beloved 250 Airone, but with more power and more stressed brakes. Maybe Guzzi should have made a 350 single road bike.

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