Rebel without a Cause

James Dean looks on somewhat bemused as Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo among other roles!); possibly extolling the virtues of wearing a frilly and flowery pinafore. Jim played Frank Stark, Dean's anguished character Jim's father. "You're tearing me apart!!"

Lovely Thunderbird sits waiting for a twist of the throttle. Fancy a ride up to the Observatory?


Bang Bang

The actor Ryan Phillipe with his black Bonneville.

Taylor Kitsch aboard an ebony Bonnie too; with camera. The link?

They both star in the film 'The Bang Bang Club' about a group of photojournalists in South Africa during the demise of apartheid; a period on unrest, violence and their pursuit to stand witness to it for the world.

Kevin Carter

The savage and iconic picture that Kevin Carter took in 1994 that gained him a Pulitzer Prize; A starving Sudanese child slumped in the sun while a vulture looks on. Sadly he took his life a few months after that unable to take the horrific images he'd wintessed from famine and war zones.

The Bang Bang Club (2010) www.thebangbangclub.com/

The Welsh band Manic Street Preachers had a song 'Kevin Carter' from their award winning 1996 album: "Everything Must Go".

...another hit of theirs is 'Motorcycle Emptiness' a great early nineties rebel song from their debut album 'Generation Terrorists'.  Inspired by SE Hinton's book 'Rumble Fish' it was made into a cult youth/counter culture film by Francis Ford Coppola starring Mickey Rourke and Matt Dillon.

Rumble Fish (1983)


Rocker Rebel Tattoo

Dedicated to the lifestyle of the motorbiker rocker.
Danger ~ "Live Fast Die Young!"


The Wild One

Johnny Strabler taking a laid back approach to life as the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club leader in the classic biker picture The Wild One. A movie loosely based on the events of a fictiionalized hell-raising by a motorcycle gang in Hollister CA in the early Fifties. A Time magazine article spread the word about the Bad-Boy image of bikers that still lives to this day; helped with a not too bad part of Brando in the lead role.

Atop his Triumph Thunderbird 6T, this film andoubtedly promoted the popularity of Triumph motorcycles in the US when they, along with BSA, were the dominant world force of motos. A reign that would last two strong decades until the Japanese bikes came along. His white t-shirt, askew cap, black leather jacket, engineer boots and turned up jeans and surly sideburned appearance became the image of the rocker-rebel for generations.


Pitt the Motorcyclist

Another action guy used to hauling around on or being seen with British Iron is Brad Pitt. Obviously at one with the cool value offered by this great marque. Here he is in the retro-life Benjamin Button.

The silver blue Thunderbird coloured Tiger with nacelle headlight is a beaut!

Trying on the McQueen mantle of two wheeled freedom.


Adamant Rider

Hugh Jackman a.k.a. Wolverine is a keen motorcyclist it seems. Being seen here with a nice looking 70's Bonnie.

Even the comic-book Logan is seen cruisin' on a Trumpet...

Of course in the X-Men: Origins movie has Jacko haring around on a big American Iron. Get those claws out!

He's the baddest, meanest, best superhuman mutant out there!

Of course, as with all Stan Lee creations the supporting merchandise must follow!


Short Back & Sides

In the satirical movie Shampoo Warren Beatty plays a womanizing hairdresser haring around Beverly Hills on his Triumph Tiger; his Mason Pearson hairbrush sticking out of his back pocket. Julie Christie & Goldie Hawn play the love, or more accurately sex, interest. Nevertheless he looks cool on the 500.

n.b. this was a pre-Princess Leia debut role for Carrie Fisher with a very Lolita-esque character.


That's one point to Slytherin!

You can keep yer Nimbus 2000! Get on yer bike and ride! This here's Tom Felton; known to folk as the sly bleach headed young Draco Malfoy. Good black & white photography with a 60's look to it: looks like 'es ready to ride down Carnaby Street.


Ooh err Missus:

Seen on Craigslist today:  '95 Triumph Speed Triple (885 cc). $2,950.00. A storming naked muscle-bike from the nineties. In black...


A Fairer Race Line-Up.

Rosie the Riveter watch out! Here are some gals ready for the off at a period hare across some sun drenched desert. Hair scarves to keep the locks in check, bikini (see the second one on the Triumph dressed for a tan) as cooling attire.

A mix of British and Yankee Iron.


The Sand Pebbles

A McQueen film from '66 was The Sand Pebbles; seeing him play a gunboat engineer, Jake Holman, parolling the Yangtse River in the twenties amidst the turmoil of a chinese revolution. He received his only Oscar nomination for this role.

Here's a great shot as the actor relaxes with co-star Richard Crenna, who played the 'boat captain. Steve atop a fresh loooking Triumph, Crenna a rickshaw.



Cleaned up the large british Triumph tank; couple of dings filled and smoothed; liner applied (after 2 attempts!), and rubben down.

Placed on bike to see how it looks...

Much more solid looking, nearly Guzzi-like even; the longer 70's frame's line need this tank to give it a visual balance.

The seat sits okay, but a wide nosed one will improve the line too.


Foursome Triumph ....

Scrambler; Thruxton, Speed Triple and a Bonneville: what beautiful models to admire.


It's Easy on a Triumph - the further adventures!

Whether running against a stagecoach, ascending an alp, laying bricks (with a hod), or eloping to Gretna Green, it is, as they say " Easy on a Triumph!


Slap a Sloper

Whilst searching for the M21 outfit information I happened upon this item needing much TLC. It's the earlier M33 'sloper'; the early thirties model with distinctive engine angle. About 6 hp thumping from the single pint sized jug just enough low end to haul around a chair. Suitable for the country lanes of England at the time for sure!

Here's a happy owner on their BSA enjoying the delights of a countryside jaunt.

n.b. "slapping slopers" is a climbing move practised in the rounded but rough gritstone edges of the Peak District. Here's a climber craggin' on a Stanage Edge classic: Congo Corner HVS 5b stretching out on a long reach sloper. "Slap it youth!"


Pull a Chair up and have a sit down!

The combination wartime ride was the enlarged BSA single, the 600cc M21. Again my grandfather George Lawrie is seen atop this machine during traffic control and other MP duties in Egypt, through Tunisia and Libya. No doubt shadowing Monty's Eighth Army as they chased Rommel 'The Desert Fox' back through El Alamein into Tunisia. Amongst his medals and cap badge is a cloth badge of the Jerboa, used as the Desert Rats insignia of the 7th Armoured.

Here's a recently restored hack with sidecar trunk in lieu of the chair; also emblazoned with the AA (Automobile Association) emblem. George was an AA man both before and after the war, the roadside assistance skills being useful for MP work; and, indeed many AA men ended up in that branch of service.


The Cavalry's here!

A truly evocative image of a mid-Twentieth Century cavalry. Here an army rears up on their new BSA M-20 motos heading into the fray! Wonderful artwork in the clean 30's graphic vein.


George Lawrie and his BSA

My grandfather, George Lawrie (1909-1965) served in the Military Police during the Second World War; spending the duration mostly in North Africa. I recall from a very early age pictures of him in the desert on an old motorcycle. Some old photo albums of my Gran recently resurfaced and a photo of him astride an M20 was amongst them. Great Stuff!

It just so happens that there is similar early 40's military spec M20 up for auction at nearby Glenview IL; part of a lifetimes collection by a chap called Lee Roy Hartung of automobile's and motorcycle's. Hartung specialized in interwar items including: Hendersons, Excelsiors, Harleys, Indians, Flying Merkel and a 1913 Pope. Outstanding selection of important bikes from the teens, twenties and thirties. I spied the BSA amongst them on the aution page; here are a few detail shots of it in splendid original patina.

Given the coffers, and space, I would try and get it running as-is, and enjoy its simple thumping ride as my grandfather would have.


The True Dedicated Ownership of a 40 year old British Bike

Well, I thought I'd get out for a spin with this beautiful autumn weather. Leaf colour, blue skies, a slight chill in the air.

A quiet road, sun behind me, all afternoon...

...until the old gal started hicking; I turned for home but only made it halfway through Highland Park... ... Engine dead; a sort wait for a kind fella cycling with his sons, he went home to drive back with his Prius, we tried to jump the bike with his big motor battery; no luck. However Dean called back from a message I left, he'd be up in his Ford Ranger.

In the meantime I pushed the bike down to Bob's Pantry so I could sit and wait. Just as the sun was setting over the Braeside Metra station Dean arrives and we tote the bike back to Evanston. Well that puts paid to this years riding; a strip down of the electrical sysem is in order, a new harness and hopefull all good to go for Spring 2012!

Loaded on the Ranger; lifesaver!

B.S.A. continues tomorrow!

BSA in Wartime

As mentioned in the Che piece a couple of days ago, the British motorcycle industry turned manufacturing over to military needs during the Second World War. As well as Norton and Matchless; B.S.A. (Birmingham Small Arms) were to create some trusty rides that saw action across the globe. The Small Heath works created the side valve 500cc single designated the M20, which became the model of choice by the armed services. At its height 1,000 machines were coming off the assembly line per week - over 126,000 manufactured overall; some still in service today. The M21, a 'big brother' 600cc used for sidecar work was also produced.

Ride like an Egyptian...   ... the telescopic forks confuse me somewhat, so if anyone can enlighten: they are typically fitted with girder forks.

Sturdy looking sidevalve motor:

Here's a great link to the specifics of owning a wartime brit-iron:

It looks a smasher in olive green, a veritable two-wheeled Jeep!