Weekend at Beaulieu:- The Museum. Pt 2:- Bikes

DSC_6914 A visit to England’s National Motoring Museum is something that, until last weekend, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never got around to doing. So when I visited the annual International Autojumble hosted there, I made sure I devoted the entire weekend to taking the place in properly. On Thursday you joined me for a whistle-stop photo-tour of some of the more comment-worthy cars to be found among this immense collection. Today we bring the wheel-count down a notch or two and explore some of Beaulieu’s beautiful bikes. As before; a picture paints a thousand words (even an ill-composed, badly exposed one) so let’s just go with a photographic outpouring. DSC_6913 Honda CBX. We’ll start with this because a) this was the bike that my lens was drawn to by six-cylinder’s worth of specific gravity, and b) because our resident Bultaco-Botherer Tanshanomi wrote such a great piece on these last week. Read it here if you missed it, read it again if you didn’t. What an amazing piece of kit. Yes, the styling isn’t radically different from those many CBs before it, but the way it serves up that big, wide in-line engine right in your face makes for a rear-view mirror experience you won’t forget. Ask me how I know. DSC_6915b Moto Guzzi LeMans III was posed right next to it, and makes for an interesting visual contrast, with its two pistons punching at 45 degrees to the horizon. It was 200cc and about 20bhp down on the Honda, but also had over 100lbs less bulk to motivate. DSC_6912 Honda CB750. Genesis was the name of a Yamaha from much later on, but it would have been rather more apt here than “Dream”, the 750’s actual moniker. This was, of course, the progenitor of the CBX and saw the world even more dumbfounded on its introduction in 1969. It was both foe and friend to the rest of the motorcycle industry; at once scaring the bejeezus out of established UK manufacturers who had been ploughing their single-cylinder, parallel-twin or triple furrows for years, but in doing so also showing everybody the way ahead. Sometimes in rather too much detail, as we see next. DSC_6910 Benelli 750Sei. AKA The Honda Six that Soichiro never knew anything about. That jewel-like inline-six was, er, “inspired” by the Honda CB500 Four, which was in turn a slightly simplified development of the CB750 mill. Doesn’t make it any less spectacular, though. It’s probably also fair to say that it’s the model that put Benelli’s name on the map. OK, the earlier Tornado had earned quite a following, but the Sei seemed way more glamorous than, well, pretty well anything else out there. DSC_6896 Meccano Bike and Sidecar. You’ll probably remember this from James May’s escapades beyond the fringes of Top Gear. Briefly; he lead a team of very determined, very clever folk to put together a motorcycle and sidecar outfit which was made entirely out of Meccano, the construction toy for kids (and right-minded adults). And as a measure of their determination, he then took it for a lap of the Isle Of Mann TT race route, a distance of 37.7 miles. And succeeded. More or less. In the flesh it’s a marvel of attention-to-detail, but it looks like it would buckle immediately under my bulk. DSC_6901 Yamaha RD200. Nice as they are, I can’t really relate to any of the bikes above. This one, though, I can. Until I was nine or so years old my Dad owned a DS7, basically the 250cc version of this and the bike that directly led to the legendary RD250 and 350. Dad never really used his, it sat in the middle of the garage, crammed in next to his Mirror sailing dinghy and hadn’t been officially insured or registered for road use since 1981. Every now and again, though, he’d turn the key and kick it into life, and that noise, fire and brimstone still sticks in my mind. My sinuses are permanently tainted by the scent of two-stroke mixture. I can still do a passable impression, and I’m sure you can, too. NYANG-NN-NN…NYANG N NNN NN N NYANG NYANG…NYAAAAANG NYAAAANG. DSC_6916 Vincent, Triumph, AJS, Norton, these are all gorgeous and I’ll specifically avoid any mention of a rich British motorcycle heritage. DSC_6906 Honda RC162. Honda multi-cylinder racebikes are all the rage here at Hooniverse, and this 250cc competitor is no exception. This very bike was ridden to Manx TT victory by Mike Hailwood in 1961. Kawasaki 498cc Triple. This factory racer is some fifteen years more recent than the RC162, and is also a TT class winner. The three-cylinder two-stroke must have guaranteed any rider tinnitus after their first lap. DSC_6908 Norton Manx 30M. A 500cc single cylinder ultra-thumper, these turn-key racers were popular among privateer entrants in high-level racing events. This one is from 1960. And to finish: DSC_6903 Ducati 899 Panigale. Just a small bit of it, any bit will do. Because damn. (All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2014)

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