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Legendary Bikes

Noteworthy Historic Motorcycles

Legendary Bikes: Motus MST

At the recent MotoAmerica season finale at Barber Motorsports Park, I was invited by Neale Bayly to attend a gathering in the museum’s Advanced Design Center. In the course of the evening, after chatting with various moto-dignitaries, I took notice of the Motus MST-R on display. Instantly I was transported back to the day I spent riding one of those amazing motorcycles and touring the Motus plant in Birmingham, Alabama with founders Brian Case and Lee Conn. Brian is now with the Advanced Design Center, and we talked for a few minutes about my experiences that unforgettable day back in 2017, how enthralled I had been with the first American-designed and built four cylinder street motorcycle since World War II.

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Through The Lens- David “Bones” Aldana

For those who followed American motorcycle racing in the 1970s-80s, David “Bones” Aldana will be a familiar name and rider of the time. Born November 26, 1949 in Santa Ana, California, Aldana raced both flat track and road racing in the AMA Grand National Championship and Superbike Championship respectively. A fierce and colorful competitor on both the track and dirt, Aldana even raced in the 1970 Trans-AMA Motocross series and did some speedway racing as well. Aldana gained notoriety for a set of racing leathers he designed and raced in that were solid black with a white human skeleton on the front. He earned the nickname “Bones” with the one-of-kind suit, and fans loved it. The AMA, however did not, and threatened to ban the man if persisted in wearing them in sanctioned races.

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Legendary Bikes: The Flying Merkel

The first time I ever beheld a Flying Merkel up close was at the Barber Museum in Birmingham, Alabama during the annual Vintage Festival they host every October. In a large side room where a Bonham’s auction would soon be staged, the bright orange machine arrested my attention, and I stood transfixed by this beautiful 100+ year old motorcycle. I’ve no idea what the bike later fetched on the auction block, but I’ve read they can go for well over $100K in good or restored condition. It’s easy to understand why, when the history of the brand is explored.

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Through The Lens- Rob North’s Brit Triples

Camaraderie is contagious, so we stopped for a chat and to ask some questions about their entries. Geoff had noticed the “letterbox” style fairing on the nose of one of the bikes and upon further inspection he noticed that the 750cc four-stroke road racing bike had three cylinders. He complimented the group on what he assumed were beautiful replicas of a Rob North BSA Rocket 3 and a Triumph Trident. We knew that Rob North had motorcycles in the Barber Museum. That was when he was corrected by Chantelle who replied, “Those are the real thing and my dad, Rob North, is right there!”

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Wayne Rainey Rides Again

Our respect and admiration for Wayne Rainey went through the roof over this past weekend when we learned of his amazing feat at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed, held yearly in Sussex, England. The three time 500cc Grand Prix world champion (1990-92) was reunited with his 1992 championship-winning YZR500, and in fact rode the historic machine multiple times around the famed Goodwood course over the festival weekend.

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Legendary Bikes: Vincent Black Shadow Series C

When the topic of the world’s most historic motorcycles is discussed, often among the first to come up in conversation is the iconic Vincent H•R•D Black Shadow. Jet black throughout save chrome pipes and various polished bits, the Black Shadow of the late 40s-mid 50s is still a stunner to behold, whether in photos, video or in person. There is something alluring yet menacing about the motorbike, with those sexy curved chrome pipes, that distinctive 50 degree OHV 998cc v-twin and those blacked out engine casings decades before it was modern-hip. These where the original “Black Edition” motorcycles.

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The Curious Tale of a Lost Indian

This is a story of questionable family heritage, grime and time and grit-encrusted motorcycle bits from the Big Band era, and one Renaissance man of sorts, a modern mix of urban adventurer and enlightened rogue. At one time or another he ran a machine shop, had a new convertible in the street, a Harley chained to his Queens, NY porch and a cigarette boat in Flushing Bay, or more accurately, under it. He skied, scuba dived, wrenched, built a wooden boat from the mud up, owned a ramshackle boarding house and later small apartment houses. He was the direct descendant of New York City bootleggers and other characters colorful and strange. But mainly, at least to me, he was the cool guy who rode motorcycles; big, bad, chuffing, puffing, skirt turning, bad-to-the-bone post-war Harleys. He was Uncle Johnnie, my own personal action hero in leather and rolled up Levis, and right out of a graphic novel.

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A Triumph T120 and a Gibson Les Paul

Music and motorcycles. They just fit together, like crimson and clover. Like Jack and Diane. Bikers love great music, and many musicians love the freedom of riding motorcycles. Think Elvis to Keith Urban. From the Mods and Rockers of London, to the “Easy Riders” and biker clubs across the States, music and motorcycling are inseparable.

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The Daytona 200- America’s Festival of Speed

With the 80th running of the acclaimed Daytona 200 this year (weather permitting), we thought a dive into the archives to view the long and storied history of this legendary motorcycle race was in order. From it’s actual origins in Savannah, Georgia in 1932, to the sands of Daytona Beach, ultimately riding the high banks of the Daytona International Speedway, the Daytona 200 has attracted many of the top motorcycle racers in the world to come make their mark on the “World Center of Speed”.

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