Archive for November, 2008

M23 Metralla

M23 Metralla

We’ve been big Bultaco fans here for years for a number of reasons, but for me it was down to the way they were built. My first real dirt bke was a 360 El Montadero, a brute of a bike in many ways. It had a big powerful motor and it was by todays standards a real heavyweight. I think it weighed about 250lbs but for a capable enduro machine it wasnt too bad for the day. Anyway, I bought it with the motor in pieces (I always crave a challenge) and wound up doing a pretty complete restoration in the living room.

Why am I turning this into a novella you ask? Well I saw by rebuilding this bike (and others) from the ground up, you get a feel of how the people thought when they designed and manufactured it. Bultaco motorcycles were the brainchild of Mr. Bulto himself and he had a clear vision of what he wanted. He was also a dab hand at riding himself so the end product had to work and work well.

Bultaco motorcycles are more than the sum of their parts. The motors were simple 2 strokes, servicing was straight forward, there weren’t a lot of fussy little parts to break and the hardware was robust quality stuff; usually nylon lock nuts etc. Power delivery was controllable, the frames were stout( with a few exceptions) and consequently Bultacos were frequent podium visitors in all disciplines of motorcycle sport including roadracing. The most amazing part of all was they came from a factory that consisted of a series of chicken coop buildings but were staffed by passionate people. Another notable thing was that the parts weren’t made in giant punch presses, you could see they were made by men who knew how to cast metal, weld steel and lay up fiberglass by hand. I always had the feeling than any one person in the factory could do any of the jobs.

What does this have to do with Norton Commandos you ask? I guess because Nortons are more than the sum of their parts and in the beginning were associated with one man; “Pa Norton”.


Not earthshaking news but I had to start with something here.

My supplier tells me a new Boyer is available that is suitable for Mark III electric start Commandos. It seems that the Mark III only had marginal voltage available when using the electric kicker so the earlier Boyers didn’t work that well on Mark III Commandos. Most MarkIII electric starters didn’t work anyway without some upgrading so it wasn’t that much of an issue.But I digress.

I don’t have the full scoop on these MarkIV Boyers yet but I’m sure I will get the lowdown soon. In any event IMHO the Boyer iginition system is a pretty durable and useful upgrade and I’m sure the new ones are even better.

The caveat with all these ignitions is that you have to have a fully charged battery in good shape, have heavy duty cables and connections. Most people ignore the basics at their own peril; KISS principle applies here. I hear about all kinds of electrical problems and it always comes down to the same thing: basics. Check all connections for corrosion, dirt etc. Even a cheap DVMM from Harbor Freight can diagnose voltage drops etc. If you have ANY connections with more than a .2V voltage drop, it will give you trouble.

The voltage coming out of the battery through a component and back to ground should equal the 12v battery voltage. This shows that even if you have a good circuit to the component you’re not done until you get the voltage back into the battery. If you have a crusty ground connection it equals a big voltage drop and consequently high resistance / low amperage (flow) connection.  E=IxR

Also, if you’re over about 14 years old, please don’t wear your cap backwards. Electrons are laughing at you.

Put your money in old bikes!

Posted: November 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

With the way this economy is going (which is unknown), I say buy old bikes! Cars too for that matter…..

I mean money in the bank isn’t really a money maker or for that matter all that safe a bet these days! A blue chip old car or bike will definitely hold its value and give you at least some enjoyment in this gloom and doom nonstop narrative we’re listening to now.

I suppose this is slightly tongue in cheek but not entirely.  By that I mean, I derive a great deal of pleasure just taking a little down time, cracking a beer and looking at the lines of a great car or bike sitting in the garage. If you buy something that has timeless appeal ( a Norton Commando of course) and is in fairly good nick you won’t watch the value plummet like your 401K! Will gas prices eventually skyrocket, yes I believe they will. In the meantime why not try another avenue for a little of that now useless stuff we call greenbacks?