It was based on the Scott Flying Squirrel's engine which Barber had on display (of course). Water cooled in the 1920's? There is nothing new under the sun.
One last look at the road going MV four cylinders. I wish they had had my old 350 on display.
A light, fast, good handling street bike with belt drive, excellent gas mileage and large fuel tank to haul a rider, a windshield and dedicated luggage across a continent or to work every day with minimal maintenance (hydraulic tappets are to be included). There's a concept I'd love to see on the road. Perhaps even looking as smooth and classic and slightly odd like this Aprilia! I'm not sure why the ignition key has to be behind the water cooled cyclinder though.What an incredible bunch of bikes.
My visit reaffirmed the power of nostalgia. It's hard to imagine going back to a world where riding a bike was as experimental as it was back then. We were learning to ride long distances, to create luggage suitable for motorcycling, to add windshields that worked and to make clothing that made riding more comfortable. I read about all these modern motorcyclists who are ready to sue at the drop of a hat and who study warranty forms with greater passion than they ever would a shop manual. Back then we rode for fun and we frequently suffered inconveniences when things went wrong and we carried tools because motorcycles could be repaired and jury rigged roadside. A motorcycle stopped by the side of the road was a plea for help and we waved to each other as reassurance that should the need arise we would be there for each other. We didn't wave because we both ride Harleys on the weekend. Clothing was marginal and "safety" was not something fearsome, it was simply the counter balance to risk, and risk yielded joy and that was why motorcycles were good. We were rebels because riding involved getting dirty and wet and tired and we didn't have internet fora to share the pain, each trip was a private accomplishment. While I like my modern Bonneville's reliability (notice I never owned one of the oil leaking, breaking down pieces of shit in the 1970s!) I ride today in the same spirit that I have always ridden, as a way to get away, as a way to arrive without getting bored and frustrated driving a cage. I don't want electrons getting in the way and I am an iconcolast because of that even though I don't feel iconoclastic. I can't recreate the freedom of my own youth but I draw my own lines. For instance I would use electric clothing if I lived Up North, but I don't use Blue Teeth or listen to the radio or make phone calls while I ride. I sing in my helmet, I talk to myself, I compose essays and promptly forget them. I look out at the countryside and remember rides past, I look at the handlebars and think how lucky I am that I am out here riding in the rain while they are in there wishing they had arrived. I always remind my wife that if I die riding it was doing what I wanted to do. The way I want to do it, still, after all these years.
Tomorrow my final essay from the Barber Museum with a look back at my life on two wheels.