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BIKES

A new year, a new section added to the BCMCT website. Bikes will include reviews of individual models, stories about favorite motorcycles and anything else we deem suitable for this area.

Our intrepid reporter, Brian Agron, again supplies us with something interesting. Being an individual of rare distinction and refinement, he peruses just about anything in print that is motorcycle-centric. The below letter and story piqued his interest enough to contact the author and ask him if it would be ok to reprint the letter and story in the BCMCT website. Read on and see what transpired!

Ride Safe,

Ryder

The RE and the Duck

Greg,

Your recent letter to the editor of Motorcycle Consumer News was absolutely wonderful!

I and some of my motorcycling friends have an informal website that we add to now and then. We use it to share future ride information (we ride in the north San Francisco Bay area every Sunday), review various eating establishments that we have ridden to for breakfast (some great, some awful) or just share our opinions about this or that ot various motorcycle related topics.

I would very much like to post your letter on our website ( barbarycoastmct.com ) and I am asking for your permission to do so. Needless to say, we would give you full credit for it of course, and MCN too for that matter. If that would be OK with you, do let me know. Sending a copy with your reply (assuming you do give us permission) would save me the arduous task of retyping it from MCN and possibly making small errors in the text.

If you have ever considered writing for the motorcycle press, I would strongly encourage you to do so.

Brian Agron


Brian,

Wow! Thanks for the compliments. Yes you do have permission to print the letter. The softcopy below is in Word formats. let me know if you a different format. The second story is about where the RE came from. Of course I must pictures of the RE and Duck. Sometimes pictures can spoil a good story. I hope that is not the case but if you are worried that they will then just trash the pictures. The Distant memory.jpg file is a picture of the RE in the late 1960s when it was owned by my buddy. You can post any of the stories or pictures as you please. Let me know if you need anything else.

My wife and I took a trip to California last May starting in SF. We rented a convertible and drove to Monterey, then down route 1, over to Yosemite, down to Sequoia National Forest then down to San Diego. California is a fantastic state. We have vowed to come back with the Duck to do it again. Maybe we can meet for breakfast!

Thanks again for all of the accolades.

Greg Pappas

The RE Interceptor

I started riding in 1966 after graduating from high school. I had a friend that owned the 65 RE Interceptor at  the time. He said he bought it because it was the fastest machine you could buy at the time. We had many crazy rides on it in our youth from which I was lucky to have survived. One week in the spring of 1968 I swapped my car for his Interceptor while I was attending Michigan State U. A girl I was dating at the time asked me to take her girl friend for a ride because she had never been on a motorcycle before. I rode over to Landen Hall to pick her up and when she walked out of the dorm past the apple blossoming trees I got hit by the lightening bolt of love. The lady liked the bike and I liked the lady. We got married a year and half later. 

After college I lost track of my RE buddy and learned later that he died in 1979.  My wife ran into his brother in 1992. He said that his brother was trying to restore it and after he died his mom sold it to someone in Ann Arbor. My wife tracked down the bike. It was not an easy task because the owner was from Ann Arbor, MI and had dozens of old English bikes that he collected along with Civil war marbles. He fit right in with the Ann Arbor loonies. The RE was a genuine basket case. It had a cracked fork because the parts sat outside for a few years and water got inside the fork and froze. The engine was together but missing many pieces such as a dip stick, bolts, etc. Later I found out that it had a bad main bearing. 

We bought the bike for $500 and after a couple of years trying to restore it myself I took it to Mike Urschel’s Friendly Royal Enfield Service in Chicago after reading about him in Cycle World. After years of pressuring Mike to get it done it was 90% restored in 2003. He did a good job mechanically. It took 11 years but it was worth the wait and we both love it.

I have done additional restoration after getting it back from Mike. Now the mufflers are broken in and it rides well and sounds great.

Greg Pappas
Plymouth, MI


Letter to Motorcycle Consumer News

Dear Editor,

Based on your Oct 2005 sport touring comparison, I purchased a 2005 Ducati ST3 while retaining my old 1965 Royal Enfield 750 Interceptor. Nobody would need to explain why a 2005 Ducati ST3 is more fun to thread through the country side than a 40 year old 750 Interceptor. It does take some explaining why half the time I would rather be driving the Enfield.

This is my humble attempt to explain why that is true. Humble because of the mystery as to why I feel this way. It may have something to do with not knowing myself well enough. It may also be that I haven't discovered all the mysteries of the RE and the intention of those that designed it. With Amal carbs and Lucas electrics their are a lot of mysteries.

What I do know is that the items listed below are tangible reasons I do like the my much slower, oil leaking, eye blurring, vibrating, part dropping, English ride sometimes more than what the boys from Bologna have built.

  1. Don't need to worry about keeping track of the ignition keys. The RE has no key. Which leads me to the second reason I like the bike.
  2. I don't worry much about anybody stealing it. First, it would take some time searching for where the key is to hot wire it before the thief would realize it has no key. Secondly without intimate knowledge about the art form of how to kick start this vintage twin your local bike bandage could find himself being thrown over the side with the back of his heal ripped to shreds from his vein attempts to kick start it. This leads me to reason number three.
  3. The accomplishment I feel once I fired up the old beast. It proves I'm still a man's man. After some crazy terrorist nukes the upper atmosphere to toast all the microprocessors that run everything from your rifle to your refrigerator I will still be able to fire up the old RE to get myself and my bride out of Dodge before the bad guys from Baghdad put cyanide in the local drinking water.
  4. Buying 110 octane leaded racing fuel, the smell of which remind me of my youth, which is needed for the RE. Another ego boasting manly thing. "Hey Mac turn on the pump for that there fancy racing fuel. I need some in this here 5 gallon container for my bike." "What kind of bike is that" to which I proudly reply "A Royal Enfield". Of course this leads to reason number
  5. Nobody knows what the hell a Royal Enfield is. This leaves a lot of room for lies. More manly stuff.
  6. Everybody likes to ride a good sounding machine through a long tunnel. Open the throttle and listen to all the neat noise rattling off the walls. Advantage Enfield. The Ducati is twice as fast as the Enfield giving the Enfield twice the time to make the sweet amplified sounds of the hardworking twin.
  7. Those manly sounds are not restricted on the RE by anything so mundane as an air cleaner. Another advantage of the RE. Without an air cleaner you get the full spectrum of sounds of intake air at various throttle setting and engine loads. In addition you can adjust engine idle speed while sitting at a street light by sticking your finger into the carb to reduce rpm. (This is common require to free up those sticky Amal throttle slides). Try that on your Gold Wing.
  8. The RE has a right-foot one up and three down shift lever. Another anti-theft device. The crook will kill himself at the first curve hitting right foot gearshift instead of the left foot  brake. If he is unlucky enough to live he will drive himself crazy trying to use metric or American standard wrenches on this machine that only understands 19th century Whitworth tools, bolts, and nuts. More unique stuff to makes others think you have a specialized skill set.
  9. The RE is a straight up standard without a fairing like the one on the Ducati that pushes bugs into my face at low speed.
  10. I'm always at low speed because vibration is a better at speed control than an expensive radar detector which is a necessity on the jet smooth Duck.
  11. My rides last longer on the same amount of gas because the RE is in harmony with nature somewhere between 40 and 55 mph rather the 60+ mph that the Italian rocket feels comfortable with.
  12. Automatic turn signal cancellation. You must pull in your left arm from signaling to use the clutch while making a turn. On the Duck its easy forget the turn signal is still on because your trying to look cool rapidly accelerating away from a corner showing off only to find you look like an idiot with a left signal still on while doing 110 mph without a corner in sight. Never happens on the Enfield.
  13. The RE provides a personal sense of accomplishment on trips of more than 5 miles and making it back to base under its own power. Modern machinery can only begin to provide this same feeling after some serious canyon carving without the long arm of the law tapping you on the shoulder or Mother Nature pull you in traction for 2 months. The difference on arriving home is saying to yourself "I'm back without walking 3 miles" rather than "I'm home, I'm still alive, and I still have money in my wallet."
  14. Many of us like to "tinker". The Enfield mandates 1 hour of "tinkering" for every 2 hours of riding. Just another way of staying intimate with your ride while providing an excuse to not cut the lawn.
  15. Owning something that I can actually fix. It may break often but it is a fairly straight forward machine to machine to work on. Taking off both carbs, taking them completely apart, cleaning everything, and reassembly is a 45 minutes operation. It takes me 45 minutes to find the air cleaner on the Duck.
  16. Lastly, I like all the wonderful stories I can tell my friends about the quirky things old English hardware can do. Like, while waiting in the left lane of a busy intersection the RE engine can spit back through the carb and stall for no reason. (Amal's don't need reasons for the things they do. It’s all part of their English charm). One must frantically kick start quickly before the gas dripped out of the right carburetor drips any more fuel onto the magneto. All this while the wife on the back says "should I get off honey?"

All these reasons and many more make me search my soul to understand why I like the RE so much.