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Bristol Blue

Laurence O'Brien

16th.  Classic Bike Show, Bristol, 27th-28th January 1996
NACC Somerset & Avon Section

The title is not referring to the admirable and collectable glass artefacts that our city is famed for, no it's the colour of NACC members' extremities after exhibiting in a tent in sub-zero temperatures.  Visitors who had to queue outside (and there were many at door opening time on the first day) suffered even more privations in order to view our splendid machines assembled in serried ranks on their regular stand.  Well, they wouldn't be queuing for anybody else, would they?

Bob (Wayte) had decided that last year's stand, whilst good to attract attention by the variety and number of machines on display now needed to be more selective, more for the discerning, more for concours d'elegance standard machines, possibly more autocycles.  Any one of those criteria would rule me out, but, Bob was quite clear; we would all be exhibiting within this loose framework.

Well, that was the plan - what we achieved was something else: 14 cyclemotors plus just two autocycles.  Bob's brother Steve had restored a Cymota, an Itom, a Cyclaid and a Cairns each with a restored cycle frame, and a Power Pak engine all in the last year (I'd managed to replace some manky electrician's tape holding my cables on with those natty tie-wrap thingies in the same period - these meetings can make one a bit sick) so Steve was quite clear about his policy, he was exhibiting cyclemotors, and he wanted his Winged Wheel Raleigh ATB on as well.  Mike Jones launched in to support the plan with an autocycle (a 1950 James which he had just restored and was justifiably proud of) supplemented with his Mercury Cyclemaster with pillion and his Teagle (" ... because they're both rare ... ").  Bob followed his own plan to the extent that he brought his Norman Cyclemate but his resolve caved in and along came a couple of Cyclemasters as well.  Together with my and Pete Eveleigh's Cyclemasters the allotted space - a generous amount considering the size of club and machines - was fully occupied.  Philippa Wheeler came over from Abergaveny sporting her Lohmann diesel ("It's only 18cc so it won't take up too much room!") and a Ducati Cucciolo.  She had removed one pedal from the latter to assist transport in her Morris 1000, and left it off giving up a few precious inches for more machines.  Yes, there were more!  Ian Edwards rode in on a Mobylette Speciale Sports 50 and also brought along a Zündapp Falcon and a Raleigh Supermatic.  The Raleigh was loaned out to the Raleigh-Reliant stand; the Zündapp presented the club with a conundrum - it hadn't got pedals so it must be a motorbike.  "No," says Ian "it's too small for a motorbike so it's staying here!" Cruel things were said about Ian and his collection of 120 bikes; or is it a collection of the parts of 120 bikes?  Anyway, a dark corner was found for the Zündapp.

Pete Eveleigh had managed to get his photograph in the local press and on the front cover of Buzzing all in his first few months of cyclemotoring and was looking for even more publicity at the show to promote his Davida helmet franchise.  I wouldn't care but he has had to do nothing to build up his bike, he bought it off-the-peg, and it appears that the frame is some real vintage pre-war beast!  How do these people do it?

Philippa's Lohmann proved a very popular exhibit at a very well attended and busy show.  The engine is mounted in a Royal Enfield frame c1933, which apparently had been with the Wheeler family since new.  Her Ducati drives through a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed giving six ratios overall, which may seem excessive at first sight, but Philippa lives in Wales, and Wales is an old Celtic word for hills.  Any notion about 25mph and 230mpg on a single speed machine goes out of the window as soon as one crosses the Severn Bridge.

After last year's hiccup on the judging front and distinct lack of rosettes, the judging team was more aware of us.  Oh yes, we were visited, and the Cyclaid was singled out as the most representative of our class, and it would be nominated for the best bike award.  Well, this caused some amusement in the camp since it wasn't actually complete.  Steve was awaiting the wheel drive components, and we all thought that this was a real hoot.  Sure enough, come the judging, the very bike was awarded "Best Cyclemotor" prize and given the prestigious cup; Steve generously spread benefaction amongst the team for a team effort.  In the end we all came away with something - the organisers donated a commemorative show mug for each exhibit, which gave 16 mugs between the 7 exhibitors; this, combined with a similar arrangement last year, leaves some families rapidly running out of kitchen space.

Now, on the subject of judging, the Cyclaid was alongside some really interesting stuff, like the Cairns and the Itom.  The Cymota exhibited was brand new from an old cycle shop, and had had no more than a touch of Mr Sheen, so why had the judge picked out an engine that was no doubt attractive, but did not stand out as something special?   "Ah!", said the judge - "it wasn't the engine we looked at, it was the cycle frame: lovely restoration, lovely mudguards!"  I'll remember that.

First published - April 1996

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