Archive for ‘Engineering’

March 20, 2018


Suspended Season – On the First Day of Spring let’s look at what the boffins at the Triumph factory conjured up to make the ride smooth and rider content. It’s all about damping: taking the uneven jolting from the rough surface and dispersing the imparted kinetic energy into heat energy, typically an oil filled shock absorber, before it can transfer into the saddle.

February 27, 2018

The man who put the MPH in Triumph

Tuning Maestro – On this day in 2007 saw the passing of one of the great Triumph engine mechanics of the sixties. Jack Shemans cut his engineering teeth on Daimler cars and Armstrong-Whitworth aircraft before joining the Meriden factory of Triumph Motorcycles. In the thick of engine development he took the 500cc Tiger engined bike’s to racetrack victories such as Percy Tait’s Works 500GP seen in the posts image. Incidentally this months edition of Motorcycle Classics has a detailed article about this bike. Jack also helped beef up the horsepower of the Triples to get their Daytona successes. From the people who knew him he was a kind, generous and knowledgeable man.

February 19, 2018

Felix Frame Fame

Fritz the Cat – Egli frames are seen to be the perfect chassis for high horsepower powerplants such as this olympian KZ beast. The large diameter backbone and triangular geometry tubing give a stiff mount to impart the engines capabilities to the road. The cat approves in true feline curiosity.

February 11, 2018


Backfire! One of the unfriendly characteristics of a kickstarting motorcycle is the occasional pre-detonation that flails the lever back into your foot or shin. There aren’t enough curse words in the English language when this happens… Fantastic depiction by the talented pen and ink work of Dutch illustrator Charles Burki “The Recoil!”

February 8, 2018


Skeletal Remains – like some machine archaeology the bare bones of a Trident frame and accessory components hint at a fully assembled and running motorcycle. Fossil remnants of a T-Rex giant lizard displayed through the interior spaces of a museum are only a cursory attempt at the frightening might they must have been. Likewise this assemblage of rolling chassis need fleshed-out to achieve brutal speed along a roadway.

February 2, 2018

Sex Sells

Descriptive Leader – when illustrating the superlative virtues of a new and better item it was all the rage to label obvious physical particulars as top-notch characteristics you couldn’t do without. Of course… draping a lassie along the length of it goes a long way too…

February 1, 2018

The Gordon Clan

Homage to Loewy- further examples of Alastair Laurie’s ballistic bikes. Sleek machines which practically need a pilots license for sub-orbital flight.

January 31, 2018

a dhà

Special Three – polished to a high speed. Isle of Man custom racer with blown engine from 1981 built by scot Alistair Laurie. Hailing from Dalbeattie, Dumfries in The Borders he took great pains to ensure integrity with lightness and style.

January 30, 2018

See Through

X-Ray Spex – cutaway engine with internals visible. Typically the sliced faces are in red and a hidden motor drives the contraption so the workings can be seen in motion. Best way to see engineering at work!

January 7, 2018

Of Steam & Spire

D’ya like that? – Fred Dibnah, steeplejack: after a BBC documentary in the late 70’s he became the face and voice of a fading British hands-on industrial past. A lofty career starting in the repair of, and later felling, the chimneys of the Lancashire cotton mills. His interests broadened to the technology of Victorian steam power, both for machining and traction. It would come to no surprise then that one of his first modes of transport was a 1927 350cc AJS motorcycle that he purchased for 21 guineas. One of his first major jobs was to gild the weather vanes on Bolton parish church. He later claimed that he only got it because he turned up to give an estimate on this motorcycle, to which the vicar took a shine. Behind him is his beloved steamroller ‘Betsy’ named after his mother. He received an MBE from The Queen in 2003 just before he died.

December 19, 2017

Jock’s Bike

Banbury Road Racing Nutcase, Ken Drysdale on his Harris Framed 1976 Triumph T160 Trident. This is a serious piece of machinery whose sole purpose is to go quick. Some details gleaned off the interweb about it:

It was the first one Norman Hyde raced in the early 80’s. Geoff Johnson won on its maiden outing to Cadwell Park where it was running at about 1000cc at the time. Ken took possession in 1996. Neil Beadling built a new 930cc engine in 2015: Carrillo con rods; Neil own Nova big-bore barrels & pistons with 9.5-1 compression; Half race cam; head ported & flowed with bigger valves fitted; breathing with three 31mm Keihin smooth bore carburetors. Power transmitted to the rear wheel through a racing clutch with 40% stiffer diaphragm springs; and a Quaife 5 speed close ratio gearbox. Proceeding brought to a stop with AP racing brakes. Everything mounted to the Harris frame, Supporting Marzocchi forks and Maxton rear suspension. Racing Avons tires shod on race specific Astralite wheels…. It was advertised for sale in May… £16,000.00

(please email for more information)

December 18, 2017

Trois sur Cinq

Five of Three – though only in production from 1968 until 1975 the deathbed gasp of Meriden based Triumph was a stout hearted machine that came a little lacking and a little late with the appearance of Honda’s CB750. But in those short 7 years while the company was self destructing the model adapted as it could to meet the demands of the riding public. The first part of its life as the T150 saw a 750cc three cylinder, dry-clutch, with drum brake giving way to disc, and imaginative detailing such as the now classic ray-gun silencers. It’s final iteration under the T160 designation saw an electric start fitted, gear shifting moved to the left, and the confine tilted forward to improve weight distribution. The tank colors aren’t bright primary or indeed complementary ones, but are quite sophisticated hues that are very much associated with the late sixties and early seventies.

December 17, 2017

Cyclone Cycle

X75 Variant- typically the orange and yellow blaze tanked three cylinder Hurricane sits under a Triumph badge. Developed by bodywork guru Craig Vetter they have become much sought after Motorcycles. Here’s something a little more different and in some ways even better looking. A BSA Rocket Three ‘gin shoehorned into a Norton Featherbed frame… NorBSA X75s is the sublime creation. One-Two pipes, alloy rimmed wheels and decent front stoppers say this bike means business.

December 13, 2017


Trinity in One – still like the look of these three cylinder Meriden ‘super bikes’, especially with the big tank such as on this fine example. Designed by Triumph engineers Bert Hopwood & Doug Hele it went on in BSA Rocket Three guise to sweep the field at Daytona. Gold ‘n’ Black.

December 9, 2017

Hunting Dog

Buonacittà – the Triumph twin engine used in the Bonneville was imported to a town called San Lazzaro in Italy where Leopoldo Tartarini designed a limited run motorcycle called the Grifon. Built by Italjet around 600 were made between 1968 & 1971.