Ancient motorbikes

Lone Rider

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My brother in law is a bit of an ancient motorbike aficionado and he owns quite a few of very old bikes. Here's one of his pre 1915 bikes with him cruising through the north of the Netherlands.

Brother in Law on one of his many bikes.jpg
 

Captain_Slash

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Most definitely older then vintage bikes, good to see it still ridden out on the road
 

DrGMIA

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Thailand, and Chiang Mai, is a treasure trove for the serious antique motorbike motorhead, if they are willing to follow some vague leads, sniff out the old stuff. Passing through Chiang Mai in 2017, this beauty was found on the third floor of the big 71 clothing shop:
View attachment 61812Jan 15 019 (600 x 450).jpg
It's a basic Whizzer (1939 - 1965) that was a small USA engine "kit" that initially sold for about $55.00 USD. The buyer would assemble it and install it in a bicycle frame. This one threw a low outside curve ball past me - I had to go to the National Motorcycle Museum's antique motorcycle guru guy in Iowa, USA, who told me someone had made the gas tank to look old, like from the early 1900's, and possibly did some creative paint scraping/acid work to give it an older look. It has a USA Nebraska license plate, which could have been on the motorbike, or added.

In 1997 Whizzer made a come back (and died again), but in 1998 sold a kit to install in an old Schwinn-style bicycle frame, an interesting twist in motorbike history. A fellow by the name of Schwinn was manufacturing Excelsior Motorcycles in the 1901-17 era in the USA (Chicago). In 1917 he bought the Henderson motorcycle company (arguably the best USA made motorcycles at the time, faster than the H-Ds and Indians, and a four cylinder first for speed), and moved the Henderson factory to Chicago. The USA Depression knocked him out of the motorcycle business in about March of 1931, when he stopped motorcycle production and said something like, "Fellows, this is the Depression, we can not make money manufacturing motorcycles, so we're going to manufacture bicycles," and thus came Schwinn bicycles.

I'm lucky, and after a long and expensive search some years ago, bought a running Henderson. So when I saw this "kind-of-maybe" Whizzer my radar pinged, knowing where in Chiang Mai I might acquire a Schwinn bicycle. See my Chiang Mai Schwinn below:
View attachment 61813Schwinn.jpg
Next step may be to find some creative Thai mechanic to stuff a 125 cc (or smaller) engine in it, and some'Thai" electrical work with metal fabrication. When asked "Why?" my stock reply has been "Because, maybe, I can." There are 1,000's, maybe 1,000,000s of older Honda engines around Thailand.

Dr. G
Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
 
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DrGMIA

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Ancient Indian (600 x 450).jpg
Another antique beauty found in Phuket.

5-6 years ago, research, with local Indian motorcycle (sic) owners contributing, found there were only 11 known antique Indian motorcycles known to be in Thailand, one having been titled in the King's name, an escort motorcycle for parades, etc.

Some more classics, vintage and antique motorbikes are slowly finding their way into Thailand, like the one above. More recently a 1940's era Indian, unrestored, cost the Thai buyer a reported 2,000,000 THB import tax (Customs), above what the buyer paid for the vehicle. Tax was determined by a government pubic auction. One bidder was reported to have been the new Indian dealer in Bangkok (who did not win the auction). So a $20,000-$25,000 Indian Chief out of Germany could be real pricey when the new owner was done with shipping, import tax, handling, purchase price and Thai taxes.

A local researcher in Chiang Mai last year sniffed out an early Indian Chief hidden in a small room at the motorcycle rental shop called "Pop's," on the outside of the moat. The new owner/manager was vague on the history, but there are surely tales to be told. See below:
Photo 5.jpg

Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: www.greataroundtheworldmotorcycleadventurerally.com
 

brake034

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Tax was determined by a government pubic auction. One bidder was reported to have been the new Indian dealer in Bangkok (who did not win the auction). So a $20,000-$25,000 Indian Chief out of Germany could be real pricey when the new owner was done with shipping, import tax, handling, purchase price and Thai taxes.
Can you elaborate how such a public tax auction works? I can imagine if someone has the official import license and invoices he/she is the official owner, how would a higher bid by a party that does not hold the import license/ownership (so a higher 3rd party bidder) at such an action have any right of ownership??
 

DrGMIA

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This thread not the place to elaborate on Thailand Customs, more for Antique pics like this:
Vintage, not ancient (600 x 335).jpg
This BMW was a nicely trimmed find in Thailand, but threw another curve ball at the researcher. Underneath the R69S look is a 1968 R50US which would have been 500 cc with telescoping forks, very rare. Owner(s) changed the front end to an Earle's Fork, and top end to 600 cc R69S. Tank, seat(s) and rear luggage rack are not original. The R50US was designed solely for the US market. This is a rare piece that had 49,000 + miles on it, and likely an interesting tale about how it found it's way to Thailand. It "may" have come through Japan, where the modifications were done, or been shipped into Thailand as parts and reassembled with mods.

As for the question above re: "tax auction," a quick reply would be by wordsmith Christopher Bullock in his tome The Cobbler of Preston (1716), wherein he wrote "'Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes."

Brake034, I've sent you a PM, with a bit more detail on the poor fellow who got bid up to 2,000,000 THB in the import tax auction, to not muddy this thread.

Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

DrGMIA

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Per requests, below pic was the Indian Chief sniffed out at Pop's Rentals in Chiang Mai, Thailand, referenced in post # 6 above. Engine # indicated it was a 1941 Chief, and the first letter in that engine # implied it was produced for "government." Might have been a cop bike, or for US military. In it's condition captured here (fenders were on the floor behind it), while an antique, the fresh (?) battery implied it was (is) a "runner."
Indian Chief 1941 (600 x 450).jpg
If it is a 1941 made for the military (or cops), it is one of 3,000 units Indian made, and on each one the company lost money, contributing to the eventual demise of the company. This particular model was called the "340."


Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

DrGMIA

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Norton from Burma (600 x 450).jpg
This beauty was found in a Chiang Mai, Thailand motorcycle repair/rental shop. It was reportedly spirited out of Myanmar. Oddly, it was fitted with a Bing card, likely from a BMW.

Very tricky to kick start to life, this one was reportedly responsible for breaking the leg of it's next owner in Oz when he was trying to start it.


Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

brake034

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That looks like a postwar Norton 16H to me, I would not mind a BSA or Norton out of Myanmar :-)
But me thinks, the prices will be crazy........
 

DrGMIA

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Yes, the prices "will be crazy." When I was motorcycling around in Myanmar in 2006, following leads for vintage or antique motorbikes purportedly left when the Brits pulled out, the only running and oil leaking BSA I found was this pictured below, in Mandalay. I did find boxes of bits and trashed out frames and wheels in back rooms throughout the country, but even those were priced higher than the same "junk" in GB or others places.
Myanmar Nov. 06 #2 203.jpg
Here's what I wrote in an article that that can be found here:

http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/2007/12/article/dr-frazier-rides-through-burma/

"My research had found that the British had left a great number of BSA motorcycles in Burma when they pulled out of the country. I was led to believe many of the old Singles were still running around, but I found only one. It seems the Brits lust for these old bikes. Entrepreneurs had flown into the country and purchased nearly all the old British bikes they could find, complete or in parts, containerized them and shipped the lot back to Great Britain."

Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

The Bigfella

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KTM 950Super Enduro R, KTM 525(613)EXC, BMW R90S, BMW 650 Dakar, 2 x Postie bikes (CT110s), MZ250, BSA B31/33, Norton 16H, 2 x Honda CB500F, Honda ...
That 16H Norton is (IIRC) a 1938. It was carried out of Burma and I now have it. It's an ex Royal Indian Air Force bike. Same as my father rode as a Provost / Despatch Rider during WW2 in the Middle East, Greece and Crete (where he was captured). I'm dealing with a broken gearbox mounting lug on it.

The bike that broke my leg was this one - a B31 BSA from 1947 - fitted with 500cc B33 crank and barrel. The kick starter slipped the first time I tried to start it... resulting in a tibial plateau fracture. It had just come in from Burma when I bought it.... as a temporary import, and legally exported it.



I still have both bikes, but in Oz
 

brake034

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Thanks Bigfella, so that means you own two ex Myanmar motorcycles, the pictured Norton 16H and the BSA B31 with B33 mods, but both moved out of Thailand into Australia?
 

The Bigfella

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KTM 950Super Enduro R, KTM 525(613)EXC, BMW R90S, BMW 650 Dakar, 2 x Postie bikes (CT110s), MZ250, BSA B31/33, Norton 16H, 2 x Honda CB500F, Honda ...
Thanks Bigfella, so that means you own two ex Myanmar motorcycles, the pictured Norton 16H and the BSA B31 with B33 mods, but both moved out of Thailand into Australia?
That's correct.

I'll add... neither could stay in Thailand.
 

brake034

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I think that's true, no being able to stay and ride in Thailand is hardly usefully for the "expats" here. And on top of that, I think most has been exported a long time ago?!
 

DrGMIA

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Our team found the below possible antique, but surely a vintage motorcycle on a street in Pattaya, Thailand. The owner said it was a "runner," that he piloted it around town occasionally.
FN 2007 (600 x 450).jpg
It's a Denmark manufactured Nimbus. The Fisker & Nelson company from Denmark produced motorcycles from 1919-1958. Not unique to the four cylinder inline motorcycling world at the time, Fisker modeled his prototype 1917 Kokkenror (Stovepipe) loosely on the Belgium FN motorcycle first produced in 1903. Sales in Denmark were moderately successful. Total production of the MKIIs was estimated to be 12,000 and in 1939 accounted for a whopping 40% of all Danish motorcycle registrations. It's possible someone on this forum can remember riding on a Nimbus or in a sidecar occasionally attached. One noted down side was it was slow at 22bhp - topping out at 96kph, and if the owner ran it long enough at that speed the cylinder head would warp.

Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 
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brake034

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Dr. G, are you sure that is an FN? My first reaction was that it is a Nimbus?!?!
 

rdrokit

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Korat, Thailand
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Stallions Scrambler 400, Honda AirBlade
Came across this shop while riding the B roads east of Pattaya. The Honda looks retro but the other bike looks like an early panhead. Plus he was working on some bikes in the back of the shop.
 

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DrGMIA

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Good eyes brake034 - you are correct, and I stand most humbly hanging my head and been tagged as having produced a false report. Immediately here upon I will correct the post above to reflect the motorbike in the posted image as a Nimbus, far less rare than the FN. Our file notes only record re: that photo, "Produced by Fisker & Nelson" thus the jump to "FN." The tank, tubular frame and ID plate on the side of the frame are clear indicators of it's being a Nimbus. Even after the factory ceased production in 1958, they continued to manufacture parts to principally honor its obligations to the Danish Army, even in the late 1960s, when, if a customer really wanted one they could buy one manufactured from new parts. Somewhere deep in the adventure archives I've a close-up of the ID plate which might even show the year of production. It could be an antique or merely a vintage production model. Classy looking though, and a solid daily runner, unless "flat-out cruising [at 60mph] that eventually warped the cylinder head "like a banana." Oooops.


Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

brake034

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DrGMIA

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Vintage and antique motorcycles in Malaysia?
In 1913, when Carl Stearns Clancy was becoming the first motorcyclist to circle the globe on his 1912 Henderson, he planned to take his motorcycle off the ship from Ceylon at Penang (Georgetown) and "motor down the peninsular to Singapore," and catch the same ship there and sail onward. However, upon arrival in Georgetown he discovered the road south only went south as far as Malacca, "or l50 miles short of Singapore." Clancy and a Scotchman took a rickshaw to explore the city, and noted that soon "several motorcycles raced in, bringing their riders to business." Thus, we concluded motorcycles were in and around Penang/Federated Malay States in 1913.
Malaysia Honda Penang (600 x 450).jpg
Three journeys in Malaysia has failed to turn up of a significant stash of antique motorcycles. When asking about old motorcycles, collections, or where to find them, we were often been sent to places where there were plenty of vintage motorcycles, like the Honda above (1960s). Another research journey is planned with more time to sniff out stashes. However, locals have indicated that like what happened in Myanmar, foreigners have bought up many of the antique motorcycles and shipped them by container out of the country, a majority going to Great Britain.

Sunny K H OH, well known motorcycle dealer/rider/historian and resource in Kuala Lumpur, pictured below holding a copy of the book MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURER, which had a section devoted to Clancy's time in Malaysia in 1913, has invited us to return for a deeper look at antique motorcycles in Malaysia. Sunny's father was the first Honda dealer for Malaysia and Sunny claimed he grew up sweeping the floor of the motorcycle workshop, breaking down crates and washing antique motorcycles as well as new ones.
Malaysia  2 (450 x 600).jpg

Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

DrGMIA

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Vietnam in 2011 provided fertile ground for seeking vintage motorcycles, but less easy to find were antiques. This Ural below was left in Vietnam after the War. An enterprising team of motorcycle tour operators bought as many as they could find and afford, eventually acquiring 50-100, shook them up in a bag, got 20-30 running and legal and are using them as tour bikes. They are 650cc, and the owners have been upgrading them over the years to incorporate disc brakes, electric starters and 12 volt electrics. Note on the one pictured below a 12 volt alternator was being installed.
Ural.jpg

Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

bsacbob

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After an impromptu stop in Phrae a few years back i stumbled on this little stash, some nice projects there, the owner had plans to open some kind of museum. I must stop by some time to seen how it worked out, sorry about the poor pictures taken on a very old Nokia.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e1d.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e2d.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e2f.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e15.jpg

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e21.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e23.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e25.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e27.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e29.jpg
 

brake034

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By far the Triumph twin is the most desirable of them, it seems the Ariel is lacking a lot of stuff, like a gearbox.....
I wonder what brand the cream colored bike is, between the scooter and the Ariel?
 

bsacbob

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He did have a bunch of part but was still looking for bit's. Not sure about the single, could be a Matchless ?

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e31.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1e33.jpg
 

DrGMIA

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In Vietnam it was hard to translate " old," "antique" and "vintage" motorcycles, to differentiate between the eras. It seemed when motorcycles were tired, crashed or put away they were eventually scrapped, or converted to other uses, that nothing was thrown away. The former motorcycle in this photo was converted to a street sewer cleaning machine to pull objects through blocked passages.
Antique Mocy.jpg


Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 

DrGMIA

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BMWs in Vietnam.jpg
In Da Lat, Vietnam were found these vintage BMW's, all from the 1950-60's era. Very well maintained exterior wise, but members of this small BMW club (mostly younger drivers) admitted some internals, like magnetos, were tough to get right and impossible to replace. No R69S's in collection (R69S was high compression, first produced in 1960) These motorcycles were all R60's and assumed to have been police escort motorcycles that eventually found their way into private owner's hands. At the gathering of 50-75 motorcycles for a parade the BMWs were the second most popular for spectators to look at. The # 1 looked at motorbike was the only Honda Gold Wing in the country, and the people were fascinated not only with the huge size but the radio. It was 2010-2011 and big bikes were starting to slip into the country.


Dr. G, Chief of the World Adventure Affairs Desk, CITY BIKE Magazine www.citybike.com
Sexual Survivor: http://www.greataroundtheworldmotorc...nturerally.com
 
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