Friday, September 25, 2020

Crocker Motorcycles- First Ride Review

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When the new Crocker motorcycle was unveiled at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering last May, Michael Schacht, who owns the Crocker name and built that first prototype, told me I could have a test ride next time I was in L.A. That would mean I’d be the only person besides Schacht to have ridden the new bike. I couldn’t  pass up an opportunity like that, so I met him at his warehouse/assembly shop, where sat the rough makings of the next 15 Crocker V-Twins.

Yep, Schacht is already making a limited run. As he put it, “Whether I have orders or not, I’m just going to build them.” He has invested heavily in cash, time and reputation to make the patterns and cast the parts necessary to build a whole motorcycle, and that first Crocker Big Tank discussed in Cycle World last May was made from the same batch of rough metal seen in these photos.

A deconstructed motorcycle is an excellent teaching device, and Schacht pointed out the changes that Al Crocker incorporated during the evolution of his big Twin between 1936 and 1942, when WWII restrictions put an end to civilian motorcycle production. Schacht doesn’t reproduce the first hemi-head engine, which powered the rare original models Crocker built in 1936. Although the hemi variant commands the biggest prices from collectors, issues with rapid wear on the valve gear means the later parallel-valve heads are more suitable for the modern road. Those first hemis had open rockers, springs and valves, whereas the valve gear in the later engine was totally enclosed. Because of these issues, the hemispherical cylinder head is the only option not available when ordering a new Crocker V-Twin. The early Small Tank frame with different steering-head lugs and unbraced gearbox/lower-frame castings is ready to assemble, as is the later Big Tank style, which most newbies love, since they’re more glamorous. Aficionados prefer the smaller tank, which really shows off that fantastic big Twin engine.

Michael Schacht has something to prove. He’s happy to regale anyone within earshot with tales of attempted intimidation from a few old-time Crocker collectors who take serious issue with his style, his business methods and perhaps the mere fact that he’s done what they said couldn’t be done. In a way, his tales mirror the difficulties Al Crocker faced after building a better bike than Indian and Harley, the last two American motorcycle manufacturers left standing following the Depression. After H-D allegedly threatened its wheel supplier (Kelsey-Hayes) with a massive loss of business if that company sold wheels to Crocker, Al suddenly found he couldn’t buy wheels for his bikes. Solution? If you wanted a Crocker, you had to supply your own wheels.

Such tales are meat and drink to Crocker lovers, who have embellished the reputation of their favorite marque to such effect that you’ll need $300K to buy an original. Schacht is asking half that for his new machine.

How does it compare to the originals? Schacht’s test machine is completely paint-free to show the world how it was built and that it’s indeed all-new. It’s a Big Tank, with those lovely cast-aluminum panniers customizers have been copying for 70 years now. Same with the taillight, as seen (ironically) on thousands of Harleys and bobbed Triumphs through the decades. Like George Brough, Al Crocker was a masterful stylist; unlike GB, he was also a trained engineer, and with the help of Paul Bigsby (inventor of the “whammy bar” on electric guitars), he built his own engine and gearbox. Those designs were an advance on anything available in the U.S. at the time, even after H-D introduced its Knucklehead six months after Crocker got the jump on big

Source: Crocker Motorcycles- First Ride Review

The Indian Enfield

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In the 1955 Indian started to import English built motorcycles, and branded them Indian Motorcycles. This was under a five year contract with Royal Enfield, which ran from 1955 – 1959 inclusive. After 1953 the Indian name survived only as the Indian Sales Corporation. The Indian Sales Corporation primarily imported Royal Enfields. These bikes were branded as Indian motorcycles for the American market. The imported motorcycles ranged in size from 150cc to the largest 750cc twin model. One model they imported was the Royal Enfield Bullet. This model was called the Indian Woodsman, and Westerner for the US market. Amazingly this same bike is still in production and is being imported into the United States as the Enfield Bullet.
Now one may ask, how can this be when Royal Enfield went out of business in 1970 ? It is not generally known that the Royal Enfield – after the closure in England – nevertheless went on in another place where the classic already had been manufactured for years. The Royal Enfield was also being manufactured in India. This was owing to the fact that the Indian government had set about purchasing a large number of motorcycles for its police and army in 1955. They needed a solid, economical, maneuverable and reliable motorcycle in order to cope with the miserable roads of the mountainous regions, the heat in the deserts and the humidity of the tropical rain forest. After doing a lot of testing of various brands, the Bullet of the Royal Enfield company was chosen as the most suitable. Thus the Indian government ordered 800 of the 350 cc model in England.
The Royal Enfield company was not able to keep up with the sizable orders coming in from India and a decision was made then to form an independent Indian firm (Enfield India) with British tools in Tiruvottiyur, Madras. There, various Bullet models were manufactured similary to those from England during the 1955 model year. After the closure of the Royal Enfield company, Enfield India was alone in manufacturing the Bullet.
During the 1980’s, the Bullet started being exported to foreign markets, among others, to it’s native country, England, and by the mid 90s the gradually refined classic was for sale in more than 20 countries including Canada and the USA among others. To this day more than half a million Enfields have come out of the modern production line in India, where six different models are being manufactured. On all the models, old traditions like the hand painted golden pinstripes on the tank and the mudguards are maintained. Where on earth did you ever see the like of it?
The Enfield Bullet comes in two versions – a 350 cc and a 500 cc. At the moment Enfield Bullet is available in three variant types: Standard, Deluxe and a Army model. The only difference between the standard and the deluxe models is that the deluxe model has a chrome plated tank, chrome plated mudguards, and chrome air cleaner.
The standard model comes in the colors grey, green, and black. The deluxe model is available in black, red and blue. It is possible to obtain the motorcycle in other colors as well. For both models, an option is available to convert the foot shift to the right side, instead of the British Left Side.
It can be said that everybody stares at the Bullet. Only a few own one. Everywhere you go, you will be turning heads, as people look at your new classic motorcycle. The 1999 Bullet is still a 1955 motorcycle. It’s a rickety ride compared to anything modern. It has huge amounts of character. For just under $4,000, it’s a reasonably priced bike. The Enfield India does have modern hand controls, mirrors, shocks and a seat that works, although, purchasing one of the accessory seats may be more comfortable. The motor is very peppy and has a high amount of torque, for a single. The quality is good, remember they now have 40 years experience building this motorcycle ! Most reviewers relate that overall the bike is very reliable, as well. In an age when we seem fascinated with what is classic, the Royal Enfield works. It’s a classic, hands down. You’ll be the first on the block with one of these. All that is needed, is to add the Indian Script to the tank, and you can claim it is an “Indian Enfield.”
Technical specifications
Engine 4 stroke, air-cooled, OHV
Displacement 499cc
BoreXstroke 84x90mm
Max. bhp 22bhp@5400rpm
Max. torque 3.5 kgm/3000rpm
Compression ratio 6.5:1
Transmission Four-speed gear box
Special features
– Top speed of 125 kmph
– Unique neutral finder lever
– Fuel consumption of 70 mpg
– Stunning black paint finish with gold line on fuel tank
– Tiger-head headlamp casing design
– Pilot lamp for parking
– Unique silencer beat
– Fulcrum lever on main stand for easy parking
– Adjustable rear shock absorbers
For more info please contact the U.S. Distributor:
Classic Motorworks PO BOX 917; Fairbault, MN 55021.
Phone: 800-201-7472. http://www.enfieldmotorcycles.com

Crocker Motorcycle Company Resurrected- Quail Motorcycle Gathering

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Crocker & Indian Shared a history – Let’s read about the revival….

After nearly twelve years of hassles and legal setbacks, a brand-new Crocker Big-Twin motorcycle has emerged from a hangar in SoCal. Learn more at Cycle World now.

After nearly twelve years of hassles, legal setbacks, a change of countries, and one nasty recession, a brand-new Crocker Big-Tank motorcycle has emerged from a hangar in SoCal. Michael Schacht is at no loss for words in describing the ordeal he’s overcome to reach the point of turning a key, kicking over the 80 cubic-inch V-Twin, and hearing an engine he literally built from scratch rumble into throaty life. His first complete Crocker sits unpainted, brazed joints bright and cast iron dull, spun metal fenders covered with a zillion tiny scratches, the big aluminum tanks resplendent in their own bare-metal shine.

Schacht was a staunch Indian man a dozen years ago, and still rides a 1929 ‘101’ Scout nearly every day. His restored Indians brought him to the attention of a branding company who owned the Indian name in Canada. His machines were used for promo work and he gradually became ‘involved’ with the company, which was mostly interested in T-shirt sales at that time. When talk began of making an Indian motorcycle by re-badging a Ural, Schacht ran away. The idea of resurrecting an important American motorcycle marque stuck with him though, and while looking over two Crockers at a friend’s restoration shop, the big light went on and his destiny was set. “The Crocker name is so pure, nobody had tried to make a new one, even though several people tried to claim the name. It took some work, but I was finally able to secure the name with the intention of starting production of Crockers.”

Few people have made an entire motorcycle from scratch. Schacht admits he knew little of making castings, metallurgy or even production machining before he embarked on his dream.  “I was lucky, and hired some incredibly talented people. I moved my facilities from Canada to Southern California, so that the Crocker would be made 100% in the U.S.A. It was important to me that such a historic name was built, again, in the country it started from. This is an all-American deal.” Schacht also wasn’t an expert on Crockers, but enlisted the help of collectors who are, such as Chuck Vernon. “These guys are the keepers of the flame. They know everything about these machines and helped me tremendously to sort out exactly how the original Crocker was made.” While the new Crocker is as faithful to Al Crocker’s original machine as possible, a few of the materials have been upgraded. “Better steels are available now, stronger and lighter, and while the appearance is identical with a 1939 bike, what’s inside is better.”

The Crocker Motorcycle Company does not, Schacht insists, produce ‘replicas’ of the motorcycles last produced in 1942. “These are continuation machines, built by the legal owner of the Crocker motorcyclename.” The new engine is certainly more powerful than a standard 61-inch Crocker from the 30s, pumping out a whopping 85 horses from the 80-inch V-Twin to push the same 500 pound machine. “We’ve just finished it, and there are a few minor bugs to sort out, but basically, she’s the best sounding motorcycle I’ve ever heard, is really, really fast, and handles beautifully. That was one of my biggest surprises about the Crocker; this is a serious performance machine.”

Stay tuned to Cycle World for additional information about production plans for these machines and a potential modern “retro-bike” in the works.

Source: Crocker Motorcycle Company Resurrected- Quail Motorcycle Gathering

1948 Indian Big Base Scout Restoration

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If Invercargill man Hamish Alan idolises anyone, it would be the Indian Wrecking Crew, a group of three motorcycle racing champions who rode their Indian Scouts to victory against Harley-Davidsons in the 1950s. Alan tells reporter Hannah McLeod how images of one of them racing inspired him to build his very own Indian racing bike.

I’m the only gearhead in my family but my love of bikes probably began when I was a kid, riding a little Benelli, or with my dad’s old Indian motorcycle, which was in our garage under a bit of canvas.

My brother, sister and I would pull the sheet off and sit on it, bouncing up and down, pretending we were riding it, as kids do.

I think that old motorbike was a bit of an impulse buy of Dad’s. It never ran during my lifetime, until I was about 18, when I decided to restore it.

I had to outsource a lot of the work because I simply didn’t have the skills.

But a few years ago I saw 1950s race photos of another Indian motorbike, which I decided I wanted to build.

Fortunately, in my 20s, I quit my day job and started an adult apprenticeship as a fitter-turner, purely so that I could develop my skills to work on motorbikes.

I’ve built a 1948 Daytona Scout. The body’s almost entirely original, but the engine is reproduction. I’ve managed to do most of the work on this myself, with a little bit of help from local man Ray McCulloch.

I hate to think how much it’s cost me. There’s a pile of receipts I haven’t even looked at, but that’s not the point.

This weekend, I’ll be racing it for the first time at Teretonga as part of the Burt Munro Challenge. I’ve had a couple of test runs, and I’ve already figured out I’ll never be satisfied.

I’ll probably rebuild this bike three times over to reach my goals of developing the engine and getting to a good top speed.

Racing in the United States. these bikes could do 120mph, but they had been rebuilt in aluminium, not steel.

This bike won’t get up there – it has brakes!

But, eventually, I’ll probably start developing my own skills so that I can work with aluminium and continue working on this bike.

I’ve owned fast road bikes before, a Honda and a Ducati.

Problem was, I was getting faster and faster on the road, and I was probably pushing legal limits.

While I certainly respect and appreciate Burt Munro’s achievements and his Munro Special, his Indian was a land speed bike, not a racing bike.

Mine looks like an everyday motorcycle but it’s built for the track.

You can do things there that you can’t do on the roads legally

Starklite Cycle Behind the Scenes Part1

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Starklite Cycle on American Thunder:

The Story of Starklite Cycle – told by Bob Stark