1/21/07

History of everything motorcyclic!

Well, I got my first motorcycle at about age 31, a 1968 BMW R50. I rebuilt it in a girlfriend's garage but was evicted soon after our breakup - fortunately it was at a stopping point. It moved to my sister's garage where it sat basically completed. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I then bought another older bike - a two- stroke that sat in a friend's garage until I bought a house. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting After I was moved in I decided to buy and ride a sportbike, a Yamaha R6............... for a while - long story with a very abrupt ending. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting After that learning experience, I got back into the older bikes - specifically cafe racers. Of particular interest are the Yamaha two-stroke road racers of the 70s. I bought a '73 Yamaha Ta125, a production road racer which is my only true race bike. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Here is what I ride now: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I have about six bikes now and the newest is 1976. For some reason my interests keep growing backward to the roots of motorcycles racing - where contemporary technology is alway tested. Prior to street sport bikes were the cafe racers. Prior to cafe racers there were dirt trackers and such. Before that? Board track racers! Board track racers were generally factory built, and often sponsored, motorcycles that had no brakes, no clutch, and no throttle! An ignition cutout switch was about the only control a rider had. At the turn of the 20th century, bicycling was huge in America and worldwide for that matter, as was racing them on velodromes - banked circular or oval tracks made of boards - 2X4s stacked side by side. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSimilar to bicycles, early racing motorcycles caught the eyes of Americans when they began being raced on similar tracks. Around 1908, tracks began springing up everywhere. One cannot fathom how popular this was - at least as big as NASCAR today. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingEvery major city had a "Motordrome." Few know there was one right here in Kansas city. It took up many city blocks and could park over 20,000 cars! Some of these tracks had banks of up to 60 degrees to keep the every more powerful machines inside the rails. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Speeds of 100mph were not unheard of. Motorcycle companies who made a name in racing sold more street cycles. Harley Davidson and Indian were two such companies that made a name for themselves and lasted through this innovative era and on past WWI. Well racing being what it is, many lost their lives - some were spectaters hit by a machine or rider flung out of the "bowl". One reported story was of two riders and six spectators killed in one crash. Public outcry brought displacement limits but, just like NASCAR today, progressive technology kept speeds high and the venues dangerous. Within a decade, such racing moved to dirt horse tracks. Dirt track racing is alive and well today. Harley Davidson and Indian were two companies that made a name for themselves and lasted through this era and on past WWI. If you have read this far(and I doubt it), you may see how my interests have evolved to building a board track racer replica. An actual BTR would run over $100,000. One with racing provenance, double or triple that! Now I like authenticity but I can't justify that this year. This leads me to the subject of this blog - building a BTR replica. I hope to chronical the building of this trumped up scooter. I always liked seeing such build blogs. Who knows if I will finish it? Maybe I will end up with just an unfinished heavy bicycle frame in my garage...... oh, wait.... I already have one of those.

1 comment:

mogman said...

Feel just the same as you bro,that was hero motorcycling and i'm trying to do something similar here in the uk. Boardtrack we never had but we had the TT and the Wall Of Death and i just cant wait to get it finished and smoke on down the road