Classic British Motorcycle Restoration

Just a quick post – as some of you may know, I recently acquired a 1959 AJS Model 16. AJS was made by the Wolverhampton, England, company A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd, from 1909 to 1931, by then holding 117 motorcycle world records (in 1914 AJS won first, second, third, fourth and sixth place in the Junior 1914 Isle of Man TT race, and AJS took the first four places in the 1921 Isle of Man TT, and Howard R Davies bettered his second place in the Jr by winning the Senior on the same 350 cc AJS – this was the first time a 350 had won the 500 cc Senior TT race). AJS was sold and the name continued to be used by Matchless, Associated Motorcycles and Norton-Villiers on four-stroke motorcycles till 1969.

I’m beginning to restore my AJS, and I’ve found an excellent Ontario shop for ALL your classic British Motorcycle needs – Walridge Motors. The store is run by Mike Partridge, and he is as knowledgeable as he is helpful (extremely). You can find all kinds of original and reproduction parts for AJS, Matchless, Norton, BSA, Triumphs, and more! Mike also happens to be president of the Canadian section of the North American AJS and Matchless Owners Club!

I’ll certainly be documenting the restoration of my AJS, so stay tuned for those posts! Also, I’m moving in to a new house this weekend and finally get use of a full garage! I’m very excited for that – will post pics to the facebook page as that develops!

Safe riding everyone…

Video of the Motorcycle Trip in Chinese Countryside

The final edit of my trip across Beijing on “Mafan,” my Jincheng 250. The song is “Girl is on my Mind” by the Black Keys. Also be sure to check out our Youtube page, RubberOnRoad08,  for some of our other videos, and future Rubber on Road video updates! Hope you like it!

A New Site for Planning Scenic Drives

Here’s a great site, called MyScenicDrives.com, that’s started up on the West Coast, that identifies scenic drives all over the region. The site provides a Google Map with highlighted overlays of the drives, which you can click on for very detailed descriptions. You can also see nearby hikes, vistas, food stops, and hotels. They are in the process of expanding east and to Canada, so keep an eye on it to see if your region gets included in future updates. And this site isn’t just for motorcycles, but useful for any road travelers looking for a good place to travel over the weekend.

If you’re interested in a useful iPhone app that can give you route suggestions, check out our review of the Greatest Road app, along with other Smart Phone apps that come in handy when driving by motorcycle, here.

Update April 13th: Greatest Road App now free for a limited time! So make sure you check it out while you can.

Some Rubber on the Road Scenic Drive Suggestions:

User Submitted Sportster Pictures

These are some pictures submitted by a reader of ours, Gerald from South Africa, of his Sportster. A great looking bike! Looks like it’s been very well cared for. Wouldn’t expect anything less from a Sportster owner. If anyone else would like to submit pictures of their bike, follow us on facebook where you can share some pictures of your own. We’d love to see them!

A Chinese Road Trip: Cuandixia Village and Back

Hiking up the Mountain Near CuandixiaI guess this could be considered my first official ride of the season. With the weather warming up into the high-teens, low-twenties (Celsius) and a national holiday in China, Qingming Jie, giving me three days off, it seemed like the perfect time to really test out my new motorcycle for the first time, going 100km out of Beijing to Cuandixia Village, a Ming Dynasty era village tucked in a valley among the surrounding mountains of the city center.

The roads were perfect for motorcycle riding. Only 100km made it just long enough to enjoy the good weather, but not too long that your butt goes completely numb. There was some good open highway at the beginning driving out of the city with my girlfriend as passenger. Soon, after only about 50km, we joined up with highway G109 at the entrance to the mountains surrounding Beijing, when I pulled right up to another motorcycle which turned out to be an earlier model of my first bike, a Harley-Davidson Sportster, not something you frequently come across in China. We ended up stopping for a break at the same place not too much farther ahead, next to a brook, so I took the opportunity to jealously admire his bike, enjoying the sound of the pipes as he drove off ahead.

The rest of the ride was both very pleasant and also extremely stressful. We started to climb up into the mountains along some really fun, windy turns that reminded me of the cliff hugging Pacific Coast Highway in California, but unfortunately we were caught behind a truck for a lot of this, resulting in face-fuls of unpleasant smells, a mixture of burning brake and tire rubber as well as some black, smokey exhaust. The trip also gave me an opportunity to think about the quality of drivers in China. My overall impression is that many Chinese are not quite ready to be driving, particularly on precarious mountain highways, as I was continuously in awe of some very nice cars passing on a two-lane highway around blind turns. There is also a general lack of awareness of motorcycles on the road, as I was often treated as an annoying nuisance simply to be pushed aside as the other drivers saw fit. Several times, people would try to pass us on the motorcycle by coming up on the side and then moving over into my lane, facing me with the decision to either move back or be pushed off the road entirely. I ended up flipping off more than a couple cars, and even threw my leg out trying to kick one or two. This blatant lack of road manners can be best displayed through the massive traffic jam we encountered on our journey back. About half-way back to Beijing, there was a major stoppage of traffic, so much so that people had turned their cars off and were getting out to walk around. Soon, cars began to take advantage of the fact that there was no oncoming traffic and used the opposite lane to get ahead of the jam, only to find that that lane had stopped as well not too far ahead. I started to have visions of a multi-day long traffic jam as I recalled the 60-mile, 10 day traffic jam that Beijing experienced the previous summer, praying that that wasn’t what we were about to experience. Luckily, being on the motorcycle we were able to wind our way through, only to find absolutely no cause for the trouble other than drivers stubbornly not letting on-coming traffic through, probably the result of more cars passing on a blind turn.

I have to say though, I was very impressed with how my little Jincheng 250 handled the trip. I was able to cruise at 70km/hour no problem, even fully packed for two days and with a passenger, even at times being able to maintain 90km/h. We were also able to maneuver the very sharp turns without much problem, though I have to admit that I was craving a more powerful engine for the ascents not to mention as a way to help me avoid the obnoxious drivers. I did have some problems with my engine popping out of gear momentarily and losing some thrust at random intervals, but overall we made the trip without incident. I also found that “Mafan” has quite a respectable gas mileage at about 29 km/liter highway, with about a 15 liter gas tank (my own estimation), meaning the trip would have been doable on a single tank of gas.

The area we visited was really nice, even if crowded, with the ancient village a great visit and the surrounding scenery making for some nice weekend hiking. We met up with some friends from Beijing that took the bus up. When we couldn’t find an open inn (客栈, Kezhan), we moved on to another nearby village, where we found most of the lodging was actually closed until we came upon a couple that happened to have two free beds. As it turned out, this was their personal home and the rooms that we stayed in had formerly belonged to their children who had moved to the city for work and school. The couple was extremely friendly, cooking us up some food in their personal kitchen, giving us heating blankets, and a coal heating stove for our room. Best of all, they had a western-style toilet and hot water!

Below you can see some of our pictures from the trip, and, even though I wasn’t able to attach my camera mount to the bike, my girlfriend Amy was able to film bits of the drive there and back. I’ll be editing this footage and posting it here soon! If any of our readers have questions about road tripping in China or if you have some experiences of your own you’d like to share, please share in the comments. We’d love to hear it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.