If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 23 April 2010

Back to the 60s

I came across this Public Information Film on a forum. If you remember the 1960s, you'll love it. Plenty of nice vehicles from the period, and some excellent vintage riding gear. It is interesting to note how quiet the roads were in those days - and also reflect how impossible it would be today to reach 'the kids' with that announcer's cut-glass RP accent. Today, it would have to be a trendy Mockney or an Andy Kershaw-style Northern burr to have any credibility. It's a pity that Matchless didn't continue with the development of the 'mind control' throttle, however. A bike that can accelerate without the use of the rider's right hand would revolutionise modern racing.

So ... are you 'Tom', or 'Tom's Friend'? Me, I'm a bit of both. I am glad to say that rider training has come on a bit in the last 50 years, though.

Note: Tom's friend's bike is from 1963; Tom's is slightly older. Both are London registrations. I think that Tom's is a Matchless G2 and his friend's is a Triumph Tiger Cub, but I stand to be corrected on that.


  1. A fun film for spotting bikes and cars. A tiny, Bond three wheeler, I think, at the roundabout, and my guess on the scooter is a Fuji Rabbit Superflow. Well, it does not look like a Vespa or a Lambretta, anyway.

    The riders were very well dressed for the era. All my family wore ex army stuff or Belstaff Trialsmasters (long before actors heard about them)

  2. It's good to see Life savers again, it's been several months since I passed my IAM test!

    I worry about the hand signals using the the right arm - were the throttles so stiff then that one could with gay (1960's context) abandon engage in slowing down arm waving without being catapulted over the handlebars as happens with my BMW??

    Oh what a carry on....

  3. @WW: Not sure about the scooter - possibly a Heinkel, but my knowledge of scooters is minimal. As you say, not a Vespretta, so irrelevant. Those Trailmasters were brilliant, or at least they looked brilliant. They were sold as thornproof (how much of a hazard are thorns on a bike?) and waterproof, but in my experience they were as waterproof as an old newspaper. They made bikers tougher in them days - waterproof gear now really is waterproof.

    @Nikos: There's a debate about lifesavers in this month's RiDE magazine. I still use them most of the time, but it looks as if they are going out of fashion. No matter how good the mirrors, I can't resist a quick shoulder-check before moving left or right, and that includes in the car as well. Wife thinks I am mad, but it's saved my bacon more than once. The hand signals thing puzzles me too - especially when he sets off up the road with his right arm out. How do they do that?

  4. I found my sweaty old Belstaf good for gardening as it was, as you said, thorn proof.

    Lifesavers (or are they sometimes really "shoulder checks"?) useful at roundabouts and when moving off but at high speed where 1/2 second represents 20 m travelled not so good.... I am in the process of ordering a new set of aspheric mirrors for my bike to try and eliminate more of the blind spot.

    I saw the Ride magazine debate. That magazine makes me laugh...last month they published 2 completely wrong and mis informed letters about counter steering and the "how to go around corners section" always features the rider taking the racing line in a dangerous position for oad riding IMHO. I could go on. But I won't now.

  5. PS

    I covered Heinkel Scooters in 2007! Hard to tell whether Tom's lady scooterist is a Tourist rider or not!


  6. I tend to use the shoulder check less religiously than I used to. It's essential to satisfy the IAM, but in the real world you have to be pragmatic. I use them often, but these days it's often well before the manoeuvre, to confirm what I see in the mirrors, rather than a last-minute check, when you have a lot of other things to think about. I still use them going into and out of roundabouts, though. That's the place where the twits on scooters will try to pull a fast one.

    The RiDE magazine 'safe riding' articles often make me laugh. They seem to have the same article with different photos every time, and it's getting a bit repetitive, like the pages of Rider Power product evaluations - great the first time, but yawnworthy after 12 issues. And yes, I spotted those errors about counter-steering too.

    I thought the scoot was a Heinkel of some kind (it's ugly enough (sorry)), but it's not a Tourist. The front is too light and the back end tapers up away from the road. Did they do a model called the 'Super Tourist'? Only guessing. I like the project bike :) Did you get anywhere with it?

  7. The Heinkel belongs to a friend of my wife...this is truly my project:


    My brother in law's old BMW puchased for €500 and now parked in Wiesbaden with oil coming out of the rear transmission...

    I'm looking for an XT now!

  8. Now that is a nice Beemer. Every time I get 'Classic Bike' I scan the ads in the back (just for research purposes, of course) and I always get drawn to the /6 and /7 BMWs. I think there will be one of those in my future, somewhere.

    Looking for an XT! Now that is a good idea. I'm on my fourth (2 x 350, 1 x 660R, 1 x 600E). Solid, simple, reliable - great hack bikes.

  9. Ah yes, the headlight; an excellent place for the L-plate, especially at night I'm thinking.

  10. Possibly, being a public information film, they decided to make the L-plate more prominent than usual as an 'educational' thing for the punters. I seem to remember the usual thing to do was to wrap it as inconspicuously as possible round the fork leg. This was before the fetish for conspicuity, as well, and no-one would have considered riding in daylight with the headlight on.

  11. Update: the scooter is a BSA Sunbeam (or a Triumph Tigress, the same thing re-badged). Amazing what you can get from an American forum!

    And the 3-wheeler is an Isetta.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...