Archive for the ‘Ace Cafe’ Category


Not too long ago I received an email from someone looking for parts who lives in the UK and you can see his bike above.

This is probably one of the nicest if not THE nicest MKIII I have seen, and if you have a long look you can see a lot of mods that are not obvious to the casual observer. 

Fat rims and tires stand out along with the twin discs and probably a big bore exhaust. The 5 speed sticker gives away the transmission upgrade, the rear sets are more discreet along with the finned valve covers etc etc. 

There are (a lot) more mods, but suffice to say this one is a labor of love and I’m sure it goes as well as it looks.

‘Good on yer lad…



I haven’t posted in a while so I thought it’s a good time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here’s a couple pics that should bring a smile to even the Scroogiest among us…


A very natty Paul Dunstall






I was reading an article in Car & Driver about brand loyalty and thought to myself: You should do a little writeup about brand loyalty for the bikers out there. Shouldn’t take but a minute or two.

After thinking about it for a while, I don’t think it’s that simple. At least not for me.

I mean, back in the day you were generally a Ford or Chevy (GM) man and that was that. Dad drove one so you were inculcated into the fraternity without even realizing it until it came time to put down the newspaper route money on your first set of wheels. It was then that you realized you were hopelessly locked into a path that you were unable escape from. (I’d rather see my sister in a whorehouse than a friend driving brand X and all those similar tee shirts).

When you start talking about bike brand loyalty the 900 pound gorilla (or FXRSLTHDFLH) in the room is of course the bar and shield.  The owners won’t even consider anything else and will defend the brand against all rational argument. Probably goes back to toilet training or something because most dads didn’t own one, so that influence goes out the window.

I’m basically addressing the vintage bike market here, relevant or not. The basic battle lines are drawn between BSA, Triumph and Norton I suppose. Triumph had the numbers in the US, but I think overall the BSA and Norton crowd may be more vocal in their support. A little further down the production scale you have the BMW and Ducati crowd. Ducati only lately has had a stable enough production facility to even be considered legitimate. Over the years they lurched from bankruptcy to bankruptcy with a brief period of actual production in between. But given all that they certainly have their supporters. Back in the bevel drive days (yes I owned one) you could spot them by their nervous expression of anticipating impending mechanical mayhem and fingers burned by a combination of scalding oil and errant electrics. Nowadays, just they stand around drinking overpriced coffee and complaining about their stock broker. The BMW guys…well unless they cover 500 miles to get their coffee they’re bloody antisocial anyway.

So which is it, BSA Norton or Triumph? I had hoped that this far into the writing I would have come up with some foolproof logical indicator of who would prefer what.  By that I of course mean that the truly intellectual giants among us would own Nortons, the fleet of foot would opt for the Triumph and the hopeless romantics among us would be astride a BSA.

Or not





Finally got the seat back from the upholstery shop and pretty pleased with the result, not so pleased with the price. (I ain’t tellin’). I can’t complain too much I guess, they did what I asked and I didn’t get an estimate so shame on me.
Anyway, have a look at the pics, she stands up pretty good. I threw some tape at the tank and I’m pretty pleased with the look. Only took a few minutes and I can always peel it off and do something else. Or have it striped with paint if I hit the lottery.
I have had it running a few times and overall it seems pretty peppy. but 750’s always seem revvier than the 850’s. It acts a little “cammy ” down low but I expected that with an aftermarket hot rod camshaft.
Every time I walk past it in the garage I think I like the look. Any feedback would be appreciated.
I’m trying to think of a price too, so if you’re interested let me know.


Finally got the front wheel laced up to a new rim and a hub I have been saving for just such an occasion.
It took a couple of tries to get the pattern right as it isn’t the stock layout or even the alternative alloy rim pattern. In the end I put in some nipples without spokes to get some starting angles and went from there.
Then there is the usual trick of jumping on the wheel to get it over far enough to center in the forks. Good times.
Anyway, it got done and looks pretty nifty, now I just have to polish out all the scratches I put in it. aaaarrrrrgggghhh
20141016_183719Here’s what it looks like for the initial mockup and measurement. It’s centered and trued, but Ill check the runout again after it rests.
20141016_183731Is it possible to have too much polished alloy?




Here’s a Beeb documentary about the “glory days” of British motorcycling that’s worth a look.

It starts out with a general overview and then meanders into the TE Lawrence era with some good vintage footage mixed in with new stuff.

(Minor complaint: The Brough they are filming in the present day is in dire need on a set of rings, you’d think they could have taken care of that at least. )

Anyway I digress; we then move on to the Isle of Man which can’t be underestimated when it comes to Brit Bike history. It was really a case of Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday! The bikes that took home the trophies at the Island not only proved they were fast, they also stood up to 7 arduous high speed laps of a heavily publicised race. Reliability was very  important in an era of bad roads, nascent metallurgy and owner ineptitude.

Norton dominated in the pre war years but in 1939 BMW was backed by the Nazi juggernaut and finished first and second to stake their flag on foreign soil.

The mighty Norton Manx did soldier on for long after their sell by date just by being very good at what it did. The big lazy single was developed to within an inch of its life and dedicated riders knew how to use every bit of its meager horsepower and predictable handling.

Mark Wilsmore related the tales of the ACE cafe, with some help from Dave Degens and Dave “crash” Croxford.

The 59 club came into being around the time of the iconic 1959 Triumph Bonneville and finally the motorcyclist got some grudging respect.

“Reverend Bill” seemed to come along at the right time and make friends with the biking community on his terms, and in the process his accepting and unthreatening attitude spread the gospel far and wide.

The final chapters of the whole scene were brought about by the increased traffic and its handmaiden , heavier law enforcement. Also not to be overlooked is the advent of the BMC Mini; for the price of a motorcycle you could get a real car and not be so exposed to the elements, and do a little snogging with your bird in relative privacy.

Anyway, if you have an hour to kill, it’s worth a look.

Here’s a charming period piece from a simpler time.

Father Bill, the 59 Club, Rockers and some classic bikes from when they were used as practical transportation.

The Mini was so cheap that it made bikes a lot less attractive and the scene was changing rapidly but have a look at 9 minutes of cafe racer history.