Friday, March 9, 2012

500 Moto Guzzi bicilindrica with an ABC behind it

Just finishing a week long visit to California. The excuse was to attend a dear old friend's b'day party/reunion with college era buddies. But, I managed to squeeze in a couple of motorcycle fixes, too. Sat. I went to Virgil Elings Vintage Motorcycle Museum in Solvang. Solvang is a ultra cute tourist town with a completely Danish theme. Completely Danish except for this superb m/c museum in the middle of it. The museum doesn't have a Nimbus in it. It's almost all road or roadrace bikes, the oldest being one I never heard of: a 1902 Mitchell, with a huge single cylinder in front of the downtime. The newest bikes are a NS 750 oval piston Honda and a Britten.

Moto Guzzi V-8

There were three nice Guzzis: a Falcone road bike, a 120 degree 500cc Bicilindrica racer and a beautiful reproduction 500 V-8, one of the most complicated motors ever made.

500 Jawa DOHC twin with a 1902 Mitchell behind it and a Benelli 420 four behind that

There are four Jawa and/or CZ four stroke racers; two 500 twins, a 350 single and a 250 single with a dustbin fairing. A Rennsport solo was one of three BMWs.

A bike that always makes me scratch my head in the Megola with the 5 cyl. radial engine in the front wheel. There's plenty of access to get right down and study this motor, but I still don't understand how the stationary carb and magneto distribute their mixture and spark to the spinning cyl.s. There are two Douglas twins, one a fore/aft racer with the gearbox above the rear cal. and the other an across the frame road bike. There were three oval track racers: a '75 XR750 H-D, a Jawa speedway bike and a Jawa ice racer. It's a personal collection and I'm sure Virgil wrote all the explanatory plaques himself. The museum is normally open 11a-5p Sat. & Sun. This was my third visit over more than 5 years and the exhibits rotate, so I'm sure I'll be back.

1928 Sunbeam Model 90 with a Matchless Silver Hawk V-4 behind it

Sun., my friend John Stein, who's book 'Drag Racing, a History' I reviewed, arranged a tour of Urban Hrisch's collection. Urban started riding dirt bikes in the '50's and got friendly with Bud Ekins. When Ekins got interested in early bikes, Urban followed. So now, in addition to three Cheney Triumphs, an Excelsior Manxman, a Ner-a-car, and many others, he has a big collection of pre-1916 motorcycles.


While he has some Indians and Harleys, the bulk of the collection is the more obscure brands: Pope, Yale, Reading Standard, Cleveland, Ace, Thor, and more. It's almost all American, but he does have a four Cyl. FN next to his four Cyl. Pierce.

Reading Standard (?) clutch pedal

two speed rear hub

Probably the standout of the collection is a Cyclone (one of 12 extant?). This OHC V-twin reputedly far out preformed the Indians and Harleys of the day.

Cyclone leaf spring rear suspension

Some of the bikes are beautifully restored and some are totally unrestored. Urban is quite a character and there are sculptures of gorillas, cows, hands and more around. The den upstairs from the shop has incredible woodwork with gargoyles with red lights for eyes. One can get a sense of Urban's personality from this Youtube:

Three days after seeing Urban's pile, I was driving my van down to Roebling Road for my first race of the year.

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