Monday, August 14, 2017

Royal Enfield Continental GT Gander and Gray Gannet Special

1965 Royal Enfield Gannet Special. A stunning looking bike.

Back in the mid sixties the Royal Enfield Continental GT was the weapon of choice for the learner rider with ample readies in their wallet. The Continental GT was the fastest bike in its class and achieved some success in production racing. If you wanted to individualise your ride there were catalogues of goodies available from two London dealers - Deeprose Brothers and Gander and Gray. For the enthusiast with deeper pockets Gander and Gray offered a full machine, all singing, all dancing and fitted with every one of their special options straight from the showroom floor. This machine was offered as the 'Gannet Special' and it is one of these that Peter Collier has been lucky enough to come across.

Peter mailed with a few pictures of his Gannet Special in the hope that someone out there might have some further info on either the model in general or perhaps even his machine in particular (it was originally registered GLW 63C). If you do know more please contact via the blog - or make a comment at the bottom of the page.

Learner rider fantasy material back in the sixties!

Peter has penned a few words about his bike:

"During the 1960s two London dealers were heavily involved in the 250cc Royal Enfield. Deeprose Brothers had produced goodies for the Crusader but it was Gander and Gray from Manor Park who produced a special version of the Continental GT christened the Gannet. Engine modifications included a ported cylinder head with large inlet port, larger carburettor, a 10:1 piston and lead bronze big – end shells. On the outside there was a racing type single seat saddle, fibre glass tank, swept back Goldie style exhaust and silencer. To finish it off the bikes were fitted with alloy wheels and a full race fairing and matching fibre glass battery cover.

This one had remained in a private collection for over twenty years until Peter Collier purchased it in 2016. Last licensed for the road in 1990, it was rolled out this summer. It certainly goes! It’s first major outing with be at the Kop Hill Climb in Buckinghamshire over the weekend of 16th & 17th September. There is more information on

The owner is anxious to obtain any information on these bikes and in particular, this one."

Related literature:

At an event in France, where the Gannet Special now resides. The
bike found a new fan!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

BSA family snaps

A series of snaps from another forgotten family album. The bikes featured are BSAs - a brace of C11 and a B31. I like how you can see the enthusiasm develop, the C11s start off with learner plates which they lose and then, obviously happy with the C11, brand loyalty develops and we move on to the B31 which gets loaded up for touring. 

BSA C11 with L plates to the fore. Not sure of the machine
in the background, it looks pre-war, perhaps a Royal Enfield
lightweight. Seems like the bike is newly bought here.

Dad testing out the C11.

More posing with the C11.

The C11 again. A pillion has been picked up along the way!

And a B31 now,  Same place, same pillion.

The B31's screen has gone but a crash bar and natty spot
light have appeared.

On tour. AA box in the background.

A slice of old England when country roads were quiet and
free from SUV driving maniacs.

Another tour, this time using the screen.

Looks like a F-Type Morgan three wheeler in the background.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Matchless G3 on tour

Yep, not the finest quality snap but it's always good to see old pics of bikes on tour. It is obviously a rigid-framed Matchless in the foreground, the aft bike it is hard to tell but could well be the same. As for location I immediately thought Lake District or Scotland but look closely and the bike has an improvised number plate, probably one issued at a border so it could well be that they are somewhere significantly more exotic, plus the sun is shining - another hint that it is not the UK!

Rigid-framed Matchless on tour, destination

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Raleigh saleman's sample

I picked this diminutive little Raleigh frame up recently. It's a 23.5cm frame and is built with all the features of an adult road bike and as such is not possible to build up in to a complete cycle - ie it has braze-ons for the gear levers but there is no way that a lever would fit, it would foul with the steerer tube.

At a guess the frame dates from the eighties, it has a Cinelli bottom bracket shell, a Zeus fork crown and Raleigh drop outs. Overall it is surprisingly heavy but then again the only difference between this and a large frame is about four feet of thin wall lightweight tubing...

I'm told that Raleigh produced frames like this as samples for their sales guys to take around to distributors as they are a lot more portable than a full sized job. I've also seen mention that they were made as retirement presents. Perhaps they were both? If anyone out there can enlighten further, please do.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mid twenties AJS combo

Several snaps from a long forgotten family album of a mid twenties combo. As far as I can work out it is an AJS from round about 1925 - the shape of the tank with an oiler on the left side, footrests and druid style forks are all fairly good hints as to the marque. As always though I'm happy to be corrected by the more knowledgable. The KA prefix on the numberplate means the bike was first registered in Liverpool between 1925 and 1927 - thanks to Ken Bryant for pointing this out..

Flat tank AJS with sidecar

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Santander here we come

1927 Triumph Model N.
I've just had my entry confirmed for the Piston Rally in Santander end September. Planning to take over the 1927 Triumph Model N along with something else a bit more recent and speedy. I've fallen in to the trap of last minute preparation many times before and will no doubt do so again but this time I'm trying to get ready in advance so fettling on the Triumph has begun.

There's nothing like a few good mountain roads to expose weaknesses in a bike so hopefully I can get the old girl fully up to scratch before heading off to Spain. I started off on the cosmetic issues - a coat of blacking on the exhaust and silencer plus adjusting the oddly angled saddle that had been welded in place. It's tack welded again to stop it moving but this time at a sensible angle. Mechanically the advance and retard mechanism was a bit sticky so that's been lubricated and the spark was very weak despite a recently re-wound mag. The mag problem was traced back to a dodgy HT lead, not often those fail... In addition the carb lacked a gauze on the bell mouth so a new one has been soldered in, doesn't sound like it was a big issue but the extra air flow without a gauze was making the bike run a bit lean and made it prone to overheating.

I've still got concerns about the brakes so might take them apart for checking - the rear is quite a big brake and just doesn't seem to offer the performance its size suggests. The front is an expanding band and is never going to be more than average but probably needs checking too. Nothing worse than no brakes on mountain passes...

Spain here we come. Ideal bike for pass storming in the Picos
Mountains, or maybe not.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Honda SS50 1975

Just so much 70s awesome-ness going on with this Honda brochure. Obviously aiming for coolness by association by placing the bike in front of a load of gig posters but the housewife and child between bike and posters can't have been a big pull to the sixteener market that the SS50 was aimed squarely at. A strange year for music too, lots of old names from old bands, prog rock and folk revival, just a short time before punk came on to the scene and cut through the dross....

Honda SS50 brochure front side.

Honda SS50 brochure rear side.