"BRIT IRON" takes you behind the scenes at

April 2012 - Issue #25

ONE HECKUVA WEEK! - Too much good stuff to do.
CLUBMAN'S SHOW A BLAST! - Bigger & better than ever.
WE TAKE TONS OF PIX - 26 bikes in all, eye-popping of course.
MORNING AFTER RIDE - Vintage bikes ride through the mountains.
THE THRUXTON - I borrow a 2009 Bonneville Thruxton for the Ride!

I've been building up for the Clubman's Show for months. Like last year, I was going to have a booth at the show taking pictures of the bikes & there is an enormous amount of preparation and organization that goes into even the smallest endeavor. But, in addition to that, I had another major commitment with my other business just 3 days before that also took a great deal of preparation & commitment. Now add to that my plan (which you will read about in detail below) to rent a U-Haul pickup to, er…pick up the 2009 Triumph Bonneville Thruxton I had arranged to borrow for the Morning After Ride.

So here's my week, last week: Wednesday evening, I had my other commitment, in Sacramento, no less. Friday I had to rent a U-Haul truck & drive to Mountain View (about 40 miles each way) to pick up the bike. Saturday, we were up at 4:00 am, driving to San Jose at 5:00 and arriving at the show to set up at 6:00. We worked all day, broke down & took it all home. Sunday morning, I rode my loaner bike from Pleasanton to Los Gatos, took the 90-mile Morning After Ride on it, then rode the 45 miles home. Monday I set up my entire photo backdrop and lighting package in my garage & took a complete set of studio photos of the Thruxton. Tuesday, I rented the U-Haul again and, er…hauled the bike back to Mountain View. Then Wednesday, like almost every Wednesday, I drove to my office in Oakdale (60 miles each way) for my weekly meeting. I didn't get a chance to catch my breath until Thursday, and that's why you haven't gotten a Brit Iron in awhile. Hope you understand…


The Clubman's Show saw record attendance this year, it's 25th Anniversary. Congrats to the BSAOCNC.

After all the build-up, the 25th Annual Clubman's All-British Weekend was last Saturday, March 31. Or at least the classic motorcycle show part of it was. And what a show. Over 150 gorgeous classic Brit bikes were on display competing for awards. In fact, I was asked to be a judge, and I helped judge 6 or 7 bikes. Very cool. I learned a lot. Racing legend, Eddie Mulder was there to present the award plaques, and even bigger racing legend, Dick Mann was rumored to be rummaging through parts at the swap meet. Wow!

This year's raffle bike, this restored 1957 BSA Gold Star, is on it's way to IOM.

As is done every year at the show, the raffle bike was given away to some lucky winner. Tickets are sold all year long by the BSAOCNC for just $1.00 apiece, that's right, one buck. And someone literally won last year (2011 Clubmans Show) having only bought one ticket, just moments before the drawing, in fact. Crazy luck. This year, the winner bought 100 tickets in advance & plans to ship the restored 1957 BSA Gold Star back to England, where he's from, and possibly ride it to the Isle of Man this year, for which he has already purchased tickets. This is my kinda' guy!

All in all, it was a great show, and a huge success for the club's sponsors, the BSA Owner's Club of Northern California. Good for them. They deserve it for all their hard work and organization. Don't miss this show next year. It's always on the last Saturday in March. For more info on the show, the club, or all their other rides and events, go to their official website, BSAOCNC.org.

Our booth at the show drew bikes & onlookers alike. Sky shooting a Triumph Bobber up close.

We once again set our booth up at the Clubman's Show and offered to take free studio-quality photos of any bike at the show. What? How does that work? Here's the deal: We set up our backdrop, lights, cameras, printers & crew, we take professional studio photos of your bike, then we send you 6 nice images via email for free. That's the free part. We also offer 8X10 and 13X19 color prints of your bike while you wait. We were charging $10 for the smaller prints & $20 for the poster-sized, with a special "Clubmans Package" of $60 worth of prints, any size-any combination for $50. But part of the deal is that I own these incredible photos, for further use on my site, posters, T-shirts, calendars, whatever.

If you'd like to see all the bikes we photographed (eye-popping, of course), please go to www.Classic-British-Motorcycles.com/clubmans-show-2012-pictures.html.

Just as last year, people were slow to respond at first. Early in the show, the bikes are being judged so many an owner didn't want to pull them out of the lineup until the judges had passed. Still others were skeptical at first, wondering what the catch was. No catch. And before long, everyone knew it and we were mobbed with people and bikes. We ended up taking pix of 26 bikes, exactly the same number as last year at the 2011 Clubmans. We sold $800 worth of prints on Saturday, and most of all, and most important to me, we promoted CBM, and introduced a whole bunch of new folks to what we are doing. It was a great day, very productive and a lot of fun.

Team CBM: (L-R) Sierra, Ruben, A.C., Pam, Colt & Sky. What a team!

Last year, I was understaffed and couldn't get it together enough to sell very many prints. This year, I hired my whole family. My oldest daughter Sky, a film student at the Academy of Arts in San Francisco, did all the camera work. Her friend Ruben, visual graphics prodigy & former AAU student himself did the PhotoShopping of the images. My younger daughter Sierra, ran the printer to produce those stunning images. And my nephew Colt, did all the paperwork, sales & collected the money. Then my wife Pam filmed the show and the day, and generally filled in wherever needed. I'd like to say we moved like a well-oiled machine, it wasn't quite that smooth, but we did great, and I'm very proud of the whole bunch. And everyone at the show seemed to be duly impressed also. By the way, I purchased a wide-format color printer that allowed us to make the big 13" X 19" color prints almost instantly (although a little slow). They were literally eye-popping, and many a proud owner would stare with baded breath as his print slowly worked its way out of the printer.

The two biggest events in my motorcycle year are Vegas Auction Week, which just happened in January, and the Clubman's All-British Weekend in late March. Both are behind me now & I can relax a little. The weather is getting good and it's time to concentrate on getting my T140D Bonneville project bike running, and start riding.

This 1960 Royal Enfield 500 Fury is just one of the 26 bikes we shot in eye-popping color.

If you'd like to see some of the kinds of pictures we were taking at the show, please go to the Clubmans Show 2012 Pictures page. And don't forget, next year, you MUST go to this show. And I will see you there.

The Morning After Ride is an integral part of the BSAOCNC's Clubman's All-British Weekend, following Saturday's show with a Sunday morning ride for all the owners who want to get their vintage machines out for a little workout. After all, they're more than just showpieces, these were once mainstream transportation used for daily commuting, travel & sport. It's part of BSAOCNC's mission to encourage owners to get their bikes in shape & ride them.

I think I know why they call it "the Morning After Ride"…it's almost like a hangover. After the big show the day before, it's a combination of relief and exhaustion, and honestly, I was very tempted to stay in bed that next morning, instead of going riding. But, that feeling soon passed, especially when I saw the blue morning skies above. Besides, I had borrowed a bike for the day (story below), and felt obligated to make use of it. So, off I went on my gorgeous 2009 Triumph Bonneville Thruxton to meet the large group of vintage bikers behind Hobee's Restaurant in downtown Los Gatos CA for a 10:00 am departure. It was quite an eclectic collection of bikes, not all classic and/or vintage either. I would estimate there were at least 60 bikes on this ride. I videotaped the whole thing with my helmet cam, and will produce a YouTube video very soon, which I will inform you of, when done.

While a little cool, the weather was clear & perfect as we wound our way through a 90-mile loop of the Santa Cruz Mountains. I do a lot of riding in this area anyway, so I'm very familiar with it, but it never fails to awe me with the spectacle of the changing scenery and total environments. You go from town to hills, to tall pine forests, to raging creeks, past quaint little apple orchards and farms, then you plunge back into a grove of towering redwoods. Sometimes only thin slivers of sunlight hit the road for several miles at a time, then you'd emerge out onto a meadow, or rolling hills with waving grass. Even the smells, as you go from one world to another, are a real treat. It makes you much more sensitive to the beauties of this world when you can not only see them, but smell them and feel their relative temperature and humidity. It's subtle, yet overpowering. At one point along Skyline Road, we were running along the crestline and to my left I could see the Pacific Ocean, and to my right I could see the San Francisco Bay.

The Thruxton parked at Alice's. You can see Alice's sign in the background.

When you ride through these mountains, you always seem to stop at Alice's. This is the little burger joint in the woods made famous by 60's hippie-composer-singer Arlo Guthrie with his song, "Alice's Restaurant". (You know: "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant"). As it turns out, that's not exactly true, as it is a burger joint, a very nice burger joint, mind you. But you're not going to get any Trout Almondine here…I digress. So, about midway through our ride, we stopped in at Alice's to take a break. On a typical weekend day with decent weather, there can be 100 bikes parked there, just hanging out. (Technically, Alice's is across the street, they're actually parking in a strip center with a gas station & store.) We added greatly to the clamor with our 60-or-so classic bikes (in my case, not so classic) and we hung out for almost an hour before resuming our ride.

If the first half was great, the second have was even greater. From Alice's we headed west toward the Coast, through more Redwoods and tumbling creeks, with some of the nicest "twisties" on the planet. We rolled through the quaint little town of San Gregorio, then headed south back into the forest for more glorious curves. I'm not the boy-racer I once was, and I don't like riding real fast, especially on a borrowed bike that I am unfamiliar with, and especially in the company of others who might be endangered, or at the very least inconvenienced if my idiocy led to catastrophe. And it happens, believe me. One guy was tearing past everyone else on the road, in a hurry to get to that one curve he took too fast, and we went off the road. He's OK though, although his bike took a beating. Riding with folks on classic bikes is more laid-back, no one is in a hurry to prove anything. That's what I'm all about, at this point. That's not to say we're a bunch of old fuddy-duddies, either. Sometimes we haul ass, we just don't hang it out there too far. The rest of the ride was fantastic, riding in good company, with perfect weather, along incredible roads. What could be better? Lunch. At the end of our ride, we met up at Hobee's again and had lunch, then I mounted the Thruxton and rode the 45 miles back to Pleasanton where I collapsed with exhaustion.


Look at this thing. It's...gorgeous! '09 Thruxton photo shoot in my garage.

It was my plan to have my T140D Bonneville project bike done in time for the Morning After Ride, but alas it's still in pieces, about half in my garage & the other half at Rabers. So, that was out. I considered riding my '08 Harley Dyna, but felt it would be inappropriate on a ride like this (especially since I've got a website about classic Brit bikes). So, I went down to my local new Triumph dealership, TriValley Moto in Livermore CA, and spoke with the owner, Mike Meissner, whom I'd met before when promoting the then-upcoming Clubmans Show. I asked if he would consider loaning me a new Triumph Bonneville that I could take on the Morning After Ride, then do a story and YouTube video about it, giving him some promotional value. He generously offered me the use of his own personal bike, a drop-dead gorgeous 2009 Triumph Bonneville Thruxton.

Mike has added several performance-enhancing modifications to the bike. These included a titanium Arrow exhaust system (lighter than stock & adds about 5hp), upgraded rear suspension units, front forks & Brembo front brake. He also added a cool set of adjustable hand controls that were just a pleasure to use. And there were custom rearset pegs & controls. The bike was set up nicely. I'm getting a little old for the lay-down position, with low bars & rearset pegs. It's hard on my wrists, and I have to crane my neck all the time. I'm getting too old for this crap. But, I can see how a younger guy could really dig this.

Guess who? I pose with the Thruxton in my garage-photo shoot.

I was very impressed with this new Triumph Bonneville Thruxton. Sure the seating position was made for some other guy. But getting past that, I marveled at the smoothness, not a hint of engine vibration anywhere, and that's a biggie for a classic Brit guy. And there was torquey power everywhere in the rev band, even if you came out of a corner in the wrong gear, it always pulled strong. The handling was sure and confidence-inspiring, the braking was almost too good (that big front Brembo), and the ride very comfortable. All the hand & finger controls are in the right place & make good sense, they're intuitive. The gear ratios were about ideal, even on the freeway, where 70mhp was 4,000rpm in 5th gear. It averaged around 40 mpg.

I've been toying with the idea of buying a modern Triumph Bonneville for awhile now, and this ride just confirmed it for me. While the Thruxton was more aggressive than I would prefer (mostly in riding position), I think a more traditional-looking Bonneville would be right up my alley. They have a retro-styled version that apes the look of the 1960s Bonnevilles that we all love. And they have a more conventional, sit-up-and-beg seating position, perfect for old farts like me. It's fast enough (but not crazy-fast), smooth, totally reliable, and has some heritage. And I was absolutely blown away by the value. Did you know that a brand new Triumph Bonneville is less than $8,000? I couldn't believe it! So Mike, you may have another sale here before long. If you're interested in getting more info about any of the new Triumph Motorcycles (or BMWs and KTMs which they also sell), please contact TriValley Moto at (925) 583-3300. Ask for Mike, and please remember to mention that you heard about it at Classic-British-Motorcycles.com.

I really do appreciate the generousity & trust that Mike Meissner, owner of TriValley Moto, showed me in loaning me this wonderful machine. He's a nice guy, a good businessman, and an avid rider himself. I was set to return the bike on Tuesday (they're closed on Mondays), so Monday I set up my equipment in my garage & did a full studio photo shoot of the bike. It had to be washed & detailed first, as it had gotten pretty dirty on the Ride. You can see a couple of examples above. When finished, I 'shopped out the backgrounds & printed two 13" X 19" posters of the bike, one of each side, & they were eye-popping! After I returned the bike to Mike's Mountain View dealership, California Triumph-BMW-KTM, I drove to his Livermore store, and delivered the posters to him. He was taken aback, as everyone is the first time they see these huge prints of their beloved bikes. He said he was going to frame them. I hope he enjoys them, I certainly enjoyed the bike. Thank you again, Mike, you're the greatest. For more info on a new Triumph, contact Mike at TriValleyMoto.com or call him at (925) 583-3300. And please tell him you heard about him at Classic-British-Motorcycles.com.

As you may know, I'm now a Motorcycle Correspondent for the Bay Area for Examiner.com. I just 2 new articles for them, one on the Clubmans Show, and one on the Morning After Ride. I get rated by the number of people who read my articles and give back good feedback. Please, if you get the chance, please visit my page on Examiner.com, and tell your friends about it. Here's the link:

And please pass it along to your friends...


I was providing craft services (food) for one of my daughter, Sky's movie shoots in a grimy old warehouse in Oakland, back in 2008. There was a lot of cool stuff being stored there. Included in this were enormous statues of people in various positions, built out of rebar, some over 30 feet tall, and laying on their sides. They were on their way to the Burning Man Festival. I am told that today they are adorning various city parks around Oakland. But, that's another story.

There was also a guy loading up this cool-looking robot into a truck. Of course, me being me, I couldn't resist. I began asking questions & taking pictures. As it turns out, this fellow built this robot to perform on stage with rock bands. It can be programmed to play guitar, drums or some other instruments. Honestly, I'm not sure if it can actually play the guitar, or just move like it can. Either way, it's supposed to put on quite a show, as you can well imagine. Especially if you're right up front, like in the old days.

Hope you enjoyed this issue of "BRIT IRON" as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please tell your friends about it, and my website, Classic-British-Motorcycles.com. And please urge them to subscribe to this e-zine. It is my hope that the right people will discover this website & tell the right people, who will then pass it along to more of the right people, and...well, you get the idea.

Thanks for all your interest & support,
A.C. Tallone,

PS: I'd love to hear from you, get your comments, ideas, suggestions, criticisms, whatever. Please contact me. And above all, enjoy the ride...