Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mods vs. Rockers ride brings out the fun and frustration of riding vintage bikes

Enfield "row" at the event.

 Royal Enfield motorcycles have a sense of humor. Mine thinks it is very amusing to crack off the plastic stalks that hold the oversize turn signal lamps required by the Department of Transportation. I've written about this before. 

So it was almost no surprise that, as I kicked the Bullet to life Saturday and donned my helmet, the left front signal stalk broke in half, leaving the lamp dangling by its wires. 

We were on our way to join second annual Mods vs. Rockers event in Fort Lauderdale. Hundreds of people would walk past my Enfield there, invariably mistake it for a vintage motorcycle and ask "What year is that?" Their second question would likely be "Why does it have only one front turn signal?" 

I decided to press on, regardless (after removing the dangling signal lamp). 

This rat scooter could fly.

I enjoy the Mods vs. Rockers ride because it proceeds at speeds friendly to clapped out vintage scooters (ridden by the Mods), and thus is no strain for me and my "Rocker" 1999 Bullet. Further, it brings out machines rarely seen at the Harley-intensive bike weeks held in Florida.

Ron Mallet, in yellow, and his bike (below) are center of attention.

This year's event did not disappoint. A crowd gathered around Ron Mallet's very clean Yamaha based cafe racer. He remembers that the frame came from a 1979, but can't date the rest of the machine because it was built "from a pile of parts."

Mallet says he has 13 other motorcycles at home but no sooner does he get one completed than it sells. He already had a "serious offer" for the blue cafe racer, although he doesn't consider it finished yet. The hardest part of building it, he said, was "getting everything hidden under the seat. There isn't much room."

The ride stop at Specialized Motorcycles in Fort Lauderdale was an eye-opening look at the "museum" of this high-end creator of high performance motor vehicles. One bay is devoted entirely to Rickman motorcycles. None, as far as I could tell, was powered by a Royal Enfield Interceptor motor.

At the other end of the scale was a yellow Cushman that wasn't along for the ride, but was on display at our stop at the Scooter Superstore in Hollywood, Florida. The coconut on the handlebars was a cup holder!

Even neater was the kickstand, made more practical by the addition of a white plastic shift knob at the tip!

Along for the ride was a terrific looking Volkswagen-powered BMW, the creation of Bob Lester, of Fort Lauderdale.

It came by its patina honestly: he built it in 1977, mostly by looking at four other VW-BMW conversions in town at the time. His goal was to keep the motorcycle as stock as possible, resulting in a lot of double-takes from viewers. It really did resemble the classic BMW powered BMW on the ride.

It's no problem keeping the VW motor cool, Lester told me, because the motor doesn't build up much heat. It came from a VW bus. It's barely working to move the motorcycle.

My favorite detail: the mighty VW powered motorcycle has a little ding-ding bicycle chime on the handlebars!

All in all, a great day. I even got a T-shirt. Thank you, Louise Dutton, Vintage-Rider and Coattail Productions.

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