British Motorcycle Enthusiasts Flood Hansen Dam
Southern California Norton Club hosted their annual Hansen Dam British Motorcycle Rally on Sunday November 5th and the number of participants easily overflowed the dam’s capacity. The event is unique because after fans walk through hundreds of impressive vintage and modern British motorcycles, the owners fire them up and head out for an epic road ride in the hills East of the dam. This is a motorcycle show and a ride. What could be better?
I’m not getting younger so maybe it is time to get my Bonnie out of storage for next year’s show/ride. Here are the bikes and people who caught my eye.
One Kick: I watched this guy walk up to his pristine BSA, tickle the carb and fire it up with a single kick! Dude, do you work on Triumphs? He obviously knows how to tune British twins. Many restorations go over the top (you’ll see what I mean next). This guy stayed true to the bikes’ roots. Kudos.
Chrome dreams: Speaking about “over the top,” you can’t get much farther from the original than this Norton restoration. Maybe “restoration” isn’t the proper term. This is more like a Norton custom because nothing the British company sold ever looked like this.
Flat-Out Cool: Although they couldn’t join in on the afternoon canyon session, there were plenty of British flat track bikes at the dam. British motorcycles (especially BSA and Triumph) were the top choice of professional flat-track racers in the early 70’s. And then they were gone. Replaced by the mighty Harley-Davidson XRs.
Old Buddies: Jeff Koskie and I worked at Suzuki together a long, long time ago. Jeff has an impressive motorcycle collection and brought his beautiful Velocette down from Morro Bay to ride the event. Riders came from all over California for the annual party.
This Company Sucked: You thought that Husqvarna was the only motorcycle company to also make vacuum cleaners? Not so. The Nimbus was a motorcycle produced by Fisker and Nielsen of Copenhagen, Denmark. They also made Nilfisk vacuum cleaners. Not a Brit bike, but too cool to leave out.
Quick Trip: I’ve never been a big fan of Vincents. I think of them as the Kawasaki Mach III of their time: Not great brakes and mediocre handling paired with an engine that produced scary amounts of power and speed. This one was set up for touring or commuting. That would be a fast trip.
Clean Machine: This Norton gets my best-Of-Show award. It looks fast just sitting there. The owner did an outstanding job making sure everything fit perfectly. Nice build.
Tribute To A Great: Roy Coe, owner of Roy’s Cycle Service in Newhall, California, was wearing a Sammy Tanner Tribute shirt to honor the memory of a guy we lost this year. I’ll have to post a story about the 45 record that Sammy released titled “The Flyin’ Flea.” Sammy was missed at the event.
Wild Guess: I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and say that Jay Leno drove this to the event. It just looks like something Jay would pilot.
The Dan And Jay Show: Daniel Schoenewald (of the Schoenewald Motorcycle Collection) explains to Jay Leno the finer points of starting 65-year-old motorcycles with a single kick. Jay and Daniel have impressive motorcycle collections and both are avid riders and enthusiasts. They both ride what they collect.
Battle Axe: This old racer had plates (license, not race plates) and was ready to rage. The stories this bike could tell about racing in the California desert and trail riding years before anybody in So Cal knew what motocross or a DT1 was.
Rare Sighting: Ariel started out as a bicycle company and became a motorcycle company only to disappear by 1967 (after 16 years of ownership by BSA). They were a rarity at the Hansen Dam event as were women riders. Talk about a sausage fest! The event attracts mostly old bikes and old dudes.
True To Form: Another Norton that stayed true to the production version during its restoration. It looks better than any Norton looked on the showroom floor, but it still looks like a Norton from the showroom floor. Does that make sense to you? Does to me.
A Real Scrambler: This was an interesting built. The owner had taken a current model Triumph and stripped it down to the basics of a 1960’s Triumph scrambler. No turn signals, aluminum fenders (there was a time before plastic was used everywhere in vehicles) and a hidden headlight. Very cool.
American Invasion: It may not be British but how could I leave out this epic Harley-Davidson street tracker? I’ve never owned a Harley-Davidson but I’d be a proud H-D owner if this bike ever comes up for sale.
SPECIAL NOTE: No AI was used in the writing or editing of this story.
The One-Kick Man! Moto