WESTERN Australia’s oldest settlement seems a fitting location for perhaps the State’s most impressive gathering of classic and vintage bikes for 2016.
More than 350 bikes, ranging from a replica of the oldest motorcycle in the world to several brand new Harleys and Hondas, lined the historic Stirling Terrace, overlooking Princess Royal Harbour.
Many bikes and their owners made the trek south from Perth, but a whole bunch rolled out of their hidey holes in Albany and surrounds.
It’s easy to forget what a mecca the south coast is for riders. While Albany Highway is boring as bat poo on a bike, if you’re prepared to take a few extra hours and go the long way, you’ll be rewarded with a ride to write home about.
I rode Perth to Pemberton via Donnybrook and Manjimup after work Friday and stayed the night, then took the last stretch from Pemberton to Albany via Northcliffe at sparrow o’clock on Saturday.
That last leg was absolutely glorious. Bitingly cold at times in the shadow of the huge karri trees, and occasionally spooky with corners that tighten unexpectedly and giant suicidal kangaroos (ok, just one) keeping your mind alert and your sphincter taut, it’s hard to imagine why some of us travel the globe looking for great rides. Just wonderful.
And then there was the bike show.
There was a huge turnout, as I said, boosted of course by coincidental attendance for tomorrow’s Albany hill climb up Mount Clarence, the regional city’s dominant physical feature.
And a diversity of machinery reminiscent of the rooftop retro show in Fremantle earlier this year.
The trusty Nikon got a workout. Here are some of our favourite shots.
CAPTION: We don’t think this shot needs a caption. Gotta love the south coast vibe.
CAPTION: When Mark Bennett was about 40 years younger than he is today, he swore he would one day own a Kawasaki H2. The triple-cylinder 750cc two stroke was blisteringly fast, with 74 horsepower and a standing quarter mile time of 12 seconds flat. Mark’s needed some love when he found it a couple of years ago. He did the mechanical work himself, and outsourced the pretty bits like paint and bead blasting. The old kwaka looked a treat. “It’s terrifying in a straight line,” Mark told us “but nowhere near as terrifying as it is if a corner gets in the way.”
CAPTION: Motocross royalty here, and winner of The Bike Shed Times ‘Bike Of The Show’ award. Once upon a time, four strokes ruled the dirt bike world. They were mostly BSAs and other wonderful British dinosaurs. Then Japan started making two strokes and, despite an heroic effort by a small outfit called CCM (Clews Competition Machines) that used BSA bits and lightweight high-tech frames, they pretty much wiped the four strokes off the map. The two strokes went on to dominate the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, until legislators and manufacturers tipped the rule book in favour of the cam-and-valve brigade. But there was an aberration in the global two stroke domination, and this bike was it. The Yamaha HL500 was basically a privateer project in CCM style, starting with a Yamaha XT500 and adding a truck load of high-tech lightweight bits and engineering genius. Bengt Aberg raced an HL500 in the 1977 world motocross titles and shocked everyone by winning a moto at Luxembourg. Yamaha never supported the project, but Norton (yup, Norton) built a couple of hundred for the masses. They weighed less than a 2016 WR450F.
CAPTION: Some motorcycle history here, albeit in replica form. The oldest motorbike in the world. Beware white ants, we say. Read the blurb in the next pic for details.
CAPTION: So we bet you didn’t know that …
CAPTION: Hands up anyone who’s actually seen one of these in the flesh before? Not us, that’s for sure. Rotary-powered, long before Suzuki’s RE5 and Mazda’s RX series. We have made contact with the owner of this beauty and plan a longer piece when we get the full tale. Apparently it had zero, that’s zero, miles on the clock when he bought it two years ago. Zero. Stay tuned.
CAPTION: A bike show’s not a bike show without at least one pristine silver-blue 900SS. Beautiful.
CAPTION: For all those people who loved two stroke road bikes but couldn’t afford H2 Kawasaki life insurance, there were RD Yamahas. This example was very clean.
CAPTION: What do we say? Beautiful Laverda, in orange, of course.
CAPTION: Funky patina and headlight shroud, but check the indicators. Very cool.
CAPTION: Neil and Tanya Sandilands have owned their 1975 Ducati 900SS for more than 20 years. It found the perfect spot to park today. Very dark.
CAPTION: The Bike Shed Times’ trusty LeMans 1000 made the trip south via Harvey, Pemberton and Northcliffe. We terrified a huge ‘roo in the karri forest. He reciprocated.
CAPTION: Not all the musical notes came from exhaust systems.
The Bike Shed Times
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