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Old 03-06-2009, 11:52 AM
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Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

Old School Motorcycles

The vintage bike look without the headaches




The Time Bandit Deluxe by Old School Motorcycles



copies the Harley-Davidson Knucklehead.
Classic bikes are a beauty to behold, but a beast to keep running.

Now you can have the best of both worlds



Ted Laturnus
From Thursday's Globe and Mail,

Friday, May. 29, 2009 03:43AM EDT





Whether you're into classic American, British, Italian, Japanese or German bikes, most motorcycle aficionados would agree that North American bikes built during the 1940s and 50s are stunningly beautiful machines - maybe even works of art.
The problem is, keeping one of these beauties running requires patience, fairly deep pockets, some measure of mechanical aptitude and dedication - not to mention a fully charged cellphone.
Stunning they may be, but original Indian Chiefs and Harley Knuckleheads are temperamental, leaky, disaster-prone and difficult to get along with. Lovely to look at, hard to hold.
But for vintage motorcycle enthusiasts who still want the "old school" riding experience without the mechanical headaches, there's help at hand.
With the march of technology, it's possible to get your hands on a retro bike built from scratch, utilizing modern parts and up-to-date components, with all the presence and style of the original, but without the capriciousness. At least, that's the thinking behind Old School Motorcycles, a Vancouver-based builder owned and operated by Simon Sorriento.
"I bought a 1946 Harley-Davidson a few years ago," he explains, "but it just kept breaking down and I got tired of getting it fixed. I wanted an everyday rider, but Harleys these days are too plasticky - plus everybody and his dog has one. I wanted something that would stand out."
Sorriento started to get in touch with various aftermarket suppliers and set about building a classic vintage bike from scratch, with a view to reliability and rideability.
Manufacturers such as S&S, Paughco, Andrews, Baker, Santee, Vance & Hines, and especially Flathead Power, are household names in the vintage bike community, and have vast warehouses chock-full of NOS (New Old Stock) retro parts and odds and ends.
Flathead Power in particular, is noteworthy. Originally based in Sweden, it reproduced legendary V-twin engines such as the Harley-Davidson knucklehead and panhead, but updated, with contemporary materials, modern manufacturing techniques, and closer tolerances. U.S-based engine manufacturer S&S recently purchased Flathead Power and everything now emanates out of Wisconsin.
Arguably the biggest flaw with old motorcycle engines has always been the inability of the original manufacturers to make things fit tightly. If you rebuild an old motorcycle engine, especially an air-cooled one, oil leaks, starting problems and fragile internals are all part of the experience.
After all, the technology is ancient, and these powerplants were never designed to be used for half a century or more. Nowadays, with computer technology and sophisticated manufacturing equipment, those kinds of issues are a thing of the past.
Newfangled upgrades such as electric start, five-speed transmissions, belt drive, electronic ignition and disc brakes are all readily available and can usually be retrofitted to just about any make and model of American motorcycle.
Hardcore purists can actually have it both ways, with all of the above as well as traditional technology such as kick start, hand-operated gearshift lever, chain drive or mechanical brakes.
Inevitably, after Sorriento built his new-old bike from scratch and put several thousand kilometres on it, one thing led to another. Old School Motorcycles Inc. was born and he set up shop in 2007. So far, he has sold just eight bikes in the intervening two years, but a line of stylish clothes and shop service work is helping to get him through the tough times, and he is in the process of moving to larger premises.
"I want customers to be able to walk through the shop and see how their bike is progressing and how we do things.
"There's something about the art deco look of old bikes," he adds. "I love old black and white movies, especially if they have a motorcycle in them.
"And I've always been drawn to old Harleys and Indians - to be honest, I love the attention they get when you take 'em out. I like being noticed."
Old School's lineup includes faithful reproductions of models such as the Harley-Davidson Knucklehead EL and Indian Chief, but buyers craving the Lee Marvin 1950s bad boy look can opt for one of several cut-down "bobber" models.
On the floor at Old School, in fact, was one of the "Time Traveller" bobber models that had just sold for $39,000. "We have eight models right now, and we can build you one in about eight weeks," Sorriento says.
Old School's most popular model is the Time Bandit Deluxe, which is a reasonably faithful reproduction of a 1936s-era Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, or EL. Prices range from about the mid-$20,000s to $40,000 and up, depending upon what size engine, paint job, extras and so on you want.
"We can build just about anything," Sorriento adds. "It's up to you."
Every bike comes with a one-year full warranty and optional three-year coverage.
Sorriento, who still has a day job as a family counsellor, has yet to get a handle on a typical customer. "Sure, we get a lot of older guys trying to recapture their misspent youth, but you'd be surprised how many younger guys and women come in as well."
For more info: Old School Motorcycles - Vancouver Classic Motorcycles .
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Old 03-06-2009, 12:11 PM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

Those S&S/Flathead bits are top quality *IF* your OEM stuff is buggered. Plenty of guys running STD/S&S heads/cases in otherwise stock oldies.

Quote:
If you rebuild an old motorcycle engine, especially an air-cooled one, oil leaks, starting problems and fragile internals are all part of the experience.
That's just rubbish, if it is rebuilt right.

The total fakery of this particular sales pitch, down to the tiresome ''Old School'' name, is just lame.

Strictly for the rich poser who wants to roll up on one and have everyone ask: ''wow, is that a 1950s model?''

Buy the real thing for a third of the price, get it totally refreshed for another third if you don't want to get dirty hands, and enjoy a bona fide classic.

That's my view.
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Old 03-06-2009, 08:23 PM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

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That's my view.
And mine as well.
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Old 06-06-2009, 07:52 AM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

Disk Brakes....Electric start......Oil tight engines.

Is it japanese then? Definitely not a proper motorsickle.
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Old 06-06-2009, 07:59 AM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

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Disk Brakes....Electric start......Oil tight engines.

Definitely not a proper motorsickle.
cross out the oil tight but it has electric start, disc brakes and 5 speed box
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Old 06-06-2009, 08:32 AM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

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Disk Brakes....Electric start......Oil tight engines.

Is it japanese then? Definitely not a proper motorsickle.
Tongue in cheek I presume Boris, since a well-sorted 70's Shovel or Ironhead would fulfil all three of your criteria, at least for short periods between rebuilds?

I often wonder if there's a hint of inverted snobbery in all this; those of us who own and ride older iron can easily fall into the trap of looking down our collective noses at people who simply buy into it. Pretty similar to the "cheque book custom" scenario really.

In a sense it's also similar to "coming up through the ranks" in the armed forces; officers who joined as rank and file tend to be given more respect than those who went in as graduates at Sandhurst, simply because they have jumped through a lot more hoops to get where they are. Likewise the old geezer with the battered 45 will command more respect and admiration from those who are really "in the know" than the millionaire who buys a perfectly-restored example, no matter how genuine his motives and enthusiasm may be, and no matter how many rallies he goes to.

I make no secret of the fact that my own preference is for bikes that look "lived in" and tell their own story. Yes, I can (and will) admire an immaculate "100 pointer" because I appreciate the sheer persistence and determination which goes into making a bike that way, even if it means that personally I'd be reluctant to actually ride the thing in case it got spoilt. What doesn't do it for me is bikes like the one Baza describes; they're as authentic as a quartz Rolex.

In short, it's as much, if not more, to do with the owner as the bike he rides; which happens to be the essence of HDRCGB's culture.

Just noticed Kiwi's post; yes sir, that is DEFINITELY my kind of bike!
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Old 15-06-2009, 03:33 AM
jules45 jules45 is offline
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

Couldn't agree more Kev. Modern "classics" do lack the character and patina of the originals,plus you can't get free road tax. I'm about to get bucketloads of "character" shortly from the aquisition of a '64 XLCH Sportster. May need some advice from anyone who has owned one, such as the nearest "Harley Knee" specialist.
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Old 15-06-2009, 10:07 AM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

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Couldn't agree more Kev. Modern "classics" do lack the character and patina of the originals,plus you can't get free road tax. I'm about to get bucketloads of "character" shortly from the aquisition of a '64 XLCH Sportster. May need some advice from anyone who has owned one, such as the nearest "Harley Knee" specialist.
Take your pick from Patrick (acknowledged guru of everything Ironhead) myself (longtime sufferer and former 66 XLCH owner) and good few others who either currently (or used to) own Ironheads.

If you've never owned one before, there are no doubt a few threads on here about it. First thing you do need to know is this; Ironheads are NOT unreliable. Temperamental, quirky, sometimes downright awkward, yes; and every one has its own starting procedure which can only be acquired through patience, trial and error. If yours is a runner, make certain you note that procedure in writing from the previous owner; can save you a lot of sweat and swearing!

Pics would be good when you've got it mate.
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Old 15-06-2009, 05:10 PM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

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Originally Posted by kevscrivener View Post
take your pick from patrick (acknowledged guru of everything ironhead) myself (longtime sufferer and former 66 xlch owner) and good few others who either currently (or used to) own ironheads.

If you've never owned one before, there are no doubt a few threads on here about it. First thing you do need to know is this; ironheads are not unreliable. Temperamental, quirky, sometimes downright awkward, yes; and every one has its own starting procedure which can only be acquired through patience, trial and error. If yours is a runner, make certain you note that procedure in writing from the previous owner; can save you a lot of sweat and swearing!

Pics would be good when you've got it mate.
100% agree with the above.
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Old 15-06-2009, 05:38 PM
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Re: Old School Motorcycles: The vintage bike look without the headaches

My shovel starts on the kicker and button, doesn't leak and has disk brakes - I'm worried now that it might be working properly ! what should i do to make it like a real one ?
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