2015 Travels

The last two months have been incredibly busy for Dian and me.

Early March was a field trip for the restoration staff at Barbers to the Amelia Island Florida Concours. We took 6 bikes and a F1 1964 Ferrari Type 158 that John Surtees won the drivers` championship with. The theme for the bikes was the high banking at Daytona which is why we took Daytona winning race bikes, including the Britten, that drew a crowd every time it was fired up.

The following weekend found me in Las Vegas for the Mecums Cole Auction of early American bikes. Pretty amazing prices, would you ever imagine bidding half a million on a bike and being passed like you had the brakes on! The Barber Museum did take home two bikes, a 1907 Merkel light and a 1903 Apache; both single cylinder models and single speed

April was Kevin’s, our son, 30th birthday. Three weeks later he got married to a wonderful woman, Banu, in Jackson, Mississippi. The wedding was a good excuse to get all of our friends together to celebrate. Dian really wanted to see her hero, Valentino Rossi, at the MotoGP in Austin, Texas in April, but as we were unofficial wedding planners, it would have been a little tight. Even Rossi fans have their priorities!

May was just as busy. I was invited to Pinehurst Concourse in NC, about 90 miles from Charlotte. This was the first year for bikes, third for automobiles. Pinehurst Golf Resort is famous and the 1895 hotel was fabulous. I had to sing for my supper by being a judge with Somer Hooker. This is always a tough job, as there were some really beautiful bikes on show. The winner was a 1970 BMW, which I thought as too modern, until Somer reminded me that it was over 45 years old – reality check!

Just returned from Pinehurst and left for a State liquidation sale in Cuba, MO. Cuba is a small farming town 100 miles west of St. Louis on I-44 (Route 66 used to go through the center of town). This was a two-day sale, everything to be sold so the State could take care of the elderly owner. This guy collected everything, cars, bikes, farm engine, outboards and Aero motors. It took two weeks to move

bikes and cars to another location so you could get in the four buildings to look at the contents. This guy set light to his trailer and truck bodies and they contained two Porsche 356s and a 1950`s Manx Norton. Need I say more.

In May we had the first Barber’s Historic, a vintage car race based on the bike event, which will be the 11th year this October. I loved the old F1 cars, in particular a 1960’s Lotus with the driver sporting a open face helmet with a white scarf over his mouth, shades of Jimmy Clark. For a first time event it went really well and will continue to grow.

Dian and I have been invited to the Riding Through History Show in St. Augustine, FL. This will be the third time I’ve attended the show, with David Aldana being Grand Marshal, things should get lively! I did a live radio show for the event, at this rate I’ll need an agent!

Only downside is all this socializing has cut into my riding time, so that has to change. I actually sold the KLR 650, which had been in the family for at least 10 years. I tipped it over in the yard and Dian and I struggled to upright the KLR, she told me I needed a lighter bike, so I went all retro. Found a 1988 Honda NX250, 260 lbs. dry and about 25 horsepower. The latest Honda 250 street legal bike is
over 310 lbs. and only 23 hp and mine was cheaper and is rated at 70 mpg! Been checking it over and typical Honda from the 1988-89 era. Remember the Trans Alp, Pacific Coast and Hawk, all a little ahead of their time – nice details and quality. Honda is going to release a new Africa Twin here next year, where was that 25 years ago?

On the horizon is a BMW un-rally in Wisconsin and the Norton Rally in Asheville, NC. That rally will be a lot closer than 2 years ago when we rode to Buffalo, WY.

That’s it for now. Oh, the Museum has a new Kawasaki H2 and its powerful brother the H2R.

Ride safe
Brian

2015 Travels

The last two months have been incredibly busy for Dian and me.

Early March was a field trip for the restoration staff at Barbers to the Amelia Island Florida Concours. We took 6 bikes and a F1 1964 Ferrari Type 158 that John Surtees won the drivers` championship with. The theme for the bikes was the high banking at Daytona which is why we took Daytona winning race bikes, including the Britten, that drew a crowd every time it was fired up.

The following weekend found me in Las Vegas for the Mecums Cole Auction of early American bikes. Pretty amazing prices, would you ever imagine bidding half a million on a bike and being passed like you had the brakes on! The Barber Museum did take home two bikes, a 1907 Merkel light and a 1903 Apache. Both single cylinder models and single speed.

April was Kevin’s, our son, 30th birthday. Three weeks later he got married to a wonderful woman, Banu, in Jackson, Mississippi. The wedding was a good excuse to get all of our friends together to celebrate. Dian really wanted to see her hero, Valentino Rossi, at the MotoGP in Austin, Texas in April, but as we were unofficial wedding planners, it would have been a little tight. Even Rossi fans have their priorities!

May was just as busy. I was invited to Pinehurst Concourse in NC, about 90 miles from Charlotte. This was the first year for bikes, third for automobiles. Pinehurst Golf Resort is famous and the 1895 hotel was fabulous. I had to sing for my supper by being a judge with Somer Hooker. This is always a tough job, as there were some really beautiful bikes on show. The winner was a 1970 BMW, which I thought as too modern, until Somer reminded me that it was over 45 years old – reality check!

Just returned from Pinehurst and left for a State liquidation sale in Cuba, MO. Cuba is a small farming town 100 miles west of St. Louis on I-44 (Route 66 used to go through the center of town). This was a two-day sale, everything to be sold so the State could take care of the elderly owner. This guy collected everything, cars, bikes, farm engine, outboards and Aero motors. It took two weeks to move bikes and cars to another location so you could get in the four buildings to look at the contents. This guy set light to his trailer and truck bodies and they contained two Porsche 356s and a 1950`s Manx Norton. Need I say more.

In May we had the first Barber’s Historic, a vintage car race based on the bike event, which will be the 11th year this October. I loved the old F1 cars, in particular a 1960’s Lotus with the driver sporting a open face helmet with a white scarf over his mouth, shades of Jimmy Clark. For a first time event it went really well and will continue to grow.

Dian and I have been invited to the Riding Through History Show in St. Augustine, FL. This will be the third time I’ve attended the show, with David Aldana being Grand Marshal, things should get lively! I did a live radio show for the event, at this rate I’ll need an agent!

Only downside is all this socializing has cut into my riding time, so that has to change. I actually sold the KLR 650, which had been in the family for at least 10 years. I tipped it over in the yard and Dian and I struggled to upright the KLR, she told me I needed a lighter bike, so I went all retro. Found a 1988 Honda NX250, 260 lbs. dry and about 25 horsepower. The latest Honda 250 street legal bike is
over 310 lbs. and only 23 hp and mine was cheaper and is rated at 70 mpg! Been checking it over and typical Honda from the 1988-89 era. Remember the Trans Alp, Pacific Coast and Hawk, all a little ahead of their time – nice details and quality. Honda is going to release a new Africa Twin here next year, where was that 25 years ago?

On the horizon is a BMW un-rally in Wisconsin and the Norton Rally in Asheville, NC. That rally will be a lot closer than 2 years ago when we rode to Buffalo, WY.

That’s it for now. Oh, the Museum has a new Kawasaki H2 and its powerful brother the H2R.

Ride safe
Brian

Video

AMA Hall of Fame Induction

I was inducted in to the American Motorcyclist Association’s Hall of Fame on November 16, 2012 in Las Vegas.

My Latest Adventure

Being of unsound mind and advancing years, it occurred to me that I should return to my roots and enjoy my senior years on a British bike. My options were rather limited as it’s very difficult to locate a modern AJS or Matchless , but Triumphs, another company I had been associated with , are plentiful.

Scanning the bike ads on Adventure Rider (an excellent web site, by the way), I found the ideal mount, a 2005 Tiger 955i. The only snag was that it was in Seattle, Washington.
The Triumph Tiger
Now any sane person of 73 would have the bike shipped, but that would have been too logical, so come this 21st of June I, along with my wonderful co-rider, Dian, will fly and ride. We will be crossing this great land keeping as north as we can to hopefully avoid the brutal heat of the lower Western states, dropping down into Wisconsin and ride the Great River road alongside the Mississippi back to Alabama.

We have never been to Montana and have friends there to see, and also a good friend in Idaho, who took me under his wing in the 60’s and showed me how to race in  the desert. We have more great people to visit in Wyoming and Wisconsin, so we are not sure how long this adventure will take, but we hope to keep our friends posted of our progress.

Manhood

Manhood, (no, not that kind), can be reached in various forms, especially if you are a motorcyclist.  For a kid growing up in the heady bike atmosphere of Britain in the 1950’s mounted on a humble 4 1/2 horsepower BSA Bantam any thing in excess of 45 mph required a very steep hill with good run off at the bottom.  One graduates to a ’53 Matchless 350 rigid trials model, which with its low gearing would do an honest 70.  Thus when one is given the opportunity to ride a real road burner, the heart pounds and mouth is dry in anticipation.

Picture a warm summer evening in rural Suffolk, a bunch of teenage guys doing their National Service, two years in the military, hanging around the local  pub kicking tires.   My roommate, Fred McDowell (how come we can remember these names) was a lot older than the rest of us; he was at least 25, a senior citizen in our eyes.  Fred commuted on weekends to his home in London on a Black Shadow, in record time ( I may add as he was recently married)  As the stories got deeper, Fred casually asked me if I would like to take the Vincent for  a gallop.  With butterfiles in my stomach I sat on this mighty beast, but was surprised to find that it felt quite compact with the bars close to me.  Naturally, all eyes were on me to see if I would stall the thing, but away I went along one of the narrow tree lined lanes that surrounded our airfield.  This machine was so effortless that 60 felt like it was idling.  After a mile or so I gingerly made a u-turn and then wound on the throttle up into gear, eyes glued to that big 5″ speedo that was unique to that model.  The road suddenly got very narrow like flying through a green tunnel.   Naturally,  being young and stupid, I had neither helmet or goggles, but through streaming eyes I could see that speedo needle was firmly on 100, I  had done it, I was now a “ton-up boy”!  Coming back to the pub they all knew what I had done by the expression on my face.  I had done what seemed out of reach, a hundred miles an hour, and what better machine to do it on than a Black Shadow.  It’s something that I will always remember,  like getting to the crest of a mountain.   Needless to say, I plied old Fred with a few pints of the best ale.  To this day when I set eyes on a Shadow, I can’t help gazing at that big speedo and go back to those uncomplicated days of carefree youth.

Now the young bucks tell me their ambition is to do 200 mph, and if they achieve this, I hope it will live in their memory as long as my “manhood ton”. Double-ton, maybe?

Las Vegas Auctions of 2011

I was lucky to get back to Alabama from Las Vegas before the snow and ice shut everything down. His is my third year to attend the motorcycle auction and thisyear we were able to attend the Bonhams event preceeeding the Mid-America auction.. This weekend gets better attended every year, and is getting to be the place to see old friends and aquaintancies, reminicient of what Daytona used to be. With everyone under one roof,and 400+ great bikes for sale,there is a bike for everyone, plus you just keep running in to people that you had not seen for 20 to 30 [or more] years.

I had to sit on my hand when the European only Honda 750 Paris Dakar replica came on the block!

Honda XLV 750

It was a great auction, but it top it off you could walk a hundred yards from the auction room into an indoor horse arena and watch short track races! Ably run by Gene Romero, the slick surface was conditioned by spreading 150 gallons of Coca Cola syrup on the course, but there were still plenty of thrills and spills. One surprise was the performance of 1970’s Ascot ace Rick Hocking who raced to a splendid second place in the main at 57 years young. I mentioned to Gene that he shouls get David Aldana next year in his famous skeleton leathers! One of my old customers thanked me for talking him into purchasing the #1 Seeley Condor from me in 1980 for the heady sum of $3500, a very high price at the time. Hip problems made it impossible to kickstart it and he sold it last year for 23 big ones. Thirty years of motorcycle enjoyment and he made a handsome profit, how can you top that?
Wearing my Barber hat, we bid on a few bikes, but they exceeded our estimation of their value. We did however purchase a replica of a 1903 Harley Davidson Why a replica? The chances of getting anoriginal are extremely slim, and with this bike which is fully functional, we can demo it around the perimeter road at the next Vintage Festival.
So, put Las Vegas on your bucket list, you can’t beat the entertainment of serious tire kicking and short track racing, not to mention that you will run in to many old friends, see you there!

I won’t bore you with the auction results as there are available online, but there were some very high prices paid (Bonhams Catalog and Results, MidAmerica Auctions catalog and results).

Welcome!

Welcome to the new Brian Slark Motorcycles! Please check out Who is Brian Slark? to get a feel for what’s going on my new site. I hope you all have had a Merry Christmas and are getting ready for some great motorcycling adventures in 2011!