Indian Motorcycles

The first Indian motorcycles were produced in 1901 in Springfield in Massachusetts by Hendee Manufacturing Company. In 1923 the name was changed to Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company. The Indian motorbikes were impressive from the start, but, by taking the first three places in the 1911 Isle of Man TT, popularity soared, and Indian became the most popular motorcycle brand in the world. The most desirable models were the Scout, made from ’22 to ’53. After that, the Indian Company closed its doors and a few attempts to revive it failed until Polaris Industries took over and have successfully launched new models without compromising the iconic style everyone had come to love.

Initially, the prototypes were produced with a 1.75 bhp single-cylinder motor which proved successful, and the bikes became many sorts after. With Oscar Hedstrom in the saddle, the world speed record of 56mph was achieved and production in the first decade of the 1900s, 500 units per year, and, with the excellent reputation they had earned, the production had risen to over 32 000 per year by 1913!

In 1905 the V-twin was produced and with this motor Indian made inroads into racing, and many records were broken. In 1907, the designs made for the racer and the V-Twin were passed onto the road bikes, which also had twist-grip controls. Erwin Baker rode an Indian across America in 1914, in just over eleven and a half days. He also toured the Powerplus which hit the road in 1916. The Powerplus was side-valve twin with a 1000cc capable of nearly 100kph. Jake DeRosier won over 900 races in the USA and Great Britain.

In 1916 Indian brought out a 221cc single-cylinder, two-stroke which was called the Model K Featherweight, but this was superseded in 1917 by their Model O which was a four-stroke flat twin with a newly designed frame, and this was produced until 1919. When the US Army bought nearly all of Indian’s production, there were not enough bikes to supply the public, and many Indian supporters changed to other bikes, mainly Harley-Davidson. Due to the Indian never fully recovered its market share.

Popular Models

In early 1920 to 1949, the new Scout and the Chief became the most famous Indians. In 1930 Indian combined with DuPont Motors – car manufacturers who discontinued cars and concentrated on the bikes. These models had the iconic Indian war bonnet on the fuel tanks. Sales increased until 1940 when Indian production nearly equalled the opposition, Harley-Davidson. The Scout reached its 100th anniversary and is still a winner. The Chief, the Scouts big brother, was built until Indian closed down in 1953. It was the basis of the 340-B, a machine with a sidecar, which was designed for the army who ordered 3000 and the French Army received 5000 before being overrun by the Germans. After the Second World War, the only model being produced was the Chief. At this stage, before closing down, Indian also went into other products such as aircraft engines, bicycles and air conditioners.

Touring Canada by Bike

For those who are going to cross the border into Canada, going through customs can be easy. These days using a car licence to get through is not enough, but your passport will suffice. Be careful of what you take with you; firearms are out. You will be asked the standard questions, such as where are you going or where have you travelled. Also, no jokes about bombs or drugs. You will be arrested without hesitation. Canadians will check your criminal record; they don’t like criminals or anyone with a DUI on their careers. They can turn you back, so get matters cleared up before you leave.

Required

  • Insurance – Not all insurance is acceptable to the Canadians. Make sure your policy is acceptable or buy some that do. It may not be a problem, but then if you are involved in an accident, who knows?
  • Road Laws – Canadian towns have speed limits of 50kph (30mph), but around schools and parks, the limit drops to 30kph.

Your Trip

Plan your trip between April and October for the best riding conditions, but these months don’t guarantee dry riding. There is rain, so keep your wet weather clothes handy. There’s nothing worse than emptying your luggage onto the street in the middle of a downpour.

Roads are, in general, excellent including the bye-ways and secondary roads, but beware of road repairs. Passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, slow down to 60kph – it’s the law! And please don’t forget that the Canadians drive on the right side of the way, the same as the USA, but opposite to most English colony countries. Keep your eyes open for wild animals on the roadside, as they have the tendency to dash across the road in front of you and hitting something like a bison or a bear can put you in hospital and right off your bike. Don’t stop near these animals; they are quick off the mark and can take you by surprise.

Ice Field Parkway

Departing from Calgary on 1A Highway, the ride through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta is possibly one of the most scenic in the world. This 400km ride with its mountains, rivers, wildlife and glacial lakes changes with every bend in the road. Enjoy the towns like Banff and Jasper en route. This famous road has lots of traffic, so beware of rubberneckers and sightseers.

Riding Vietnam

Before setting off for Vietnam, make sure you are aware of the licence requirements and the laws of the road. For any bike over 50cc, a driver’s licence is required. Ensure your country is a party to the 1968 convention for International Drivers Licence and register your consent with them. You may get away without a valid licence but get into trouble, and you will have to face the Vietnamese courts. Also, without a permit, your travel insurance will be null and void. On a bike, you will not be able to ride the good highways, and the other roads leave a lot to be desired. As the roads are toll controlled, most drivers use the lesser ways, causing congestion and severe damage to the road surfaces.

Be Aware

The roads are filled with cars, trucks and bikes, millions of bicycles. All road users use their hooters to warn each other, especially on the twists and turns in the mountainous regions. Keep your wet weather clothing handy. Vietnam is a damp country and roads become slippery, so consider this before braving the wet roads.

If you dress like a foreigner, you will be stopped by the police. Sometimes they will issue a fine or expect a bribe, so instead stay away from them. Avoid roadside mechanics and use reputable workshops if repairs are necessary. Don’t leave your bike unlocked – it will be stolen. Don’t leave your equipment unattended – it will be impressed.

Routes to ride

The main arterial road is between Ho Chi Min and Hanoi and this road also gives access to other cities. This road will take at least a week to traverse, especially if you are sightseeing. The alternative route between Ho Chi Min and Hanoi is less travelled, and the better course for tourists to use as the scenery is fantastic and gives a better picture of Vietnam. Leaving from Ha Giang and taking the loop road to the Northern boundaries of Vietnam will showcase Vietnam beauty and nature. It is a well worth round trip, but with bad stretches of road.

Hoi Au is in central Vietnam and worth spending some time. Seek out the diverse architecture from French Colonial buildings, the Japanese bridge and Chinese influence. If you are looking for new clothes, this is the place to be. Tailors abound and can sew up items overnight. Visit My Son Ruins, passing through traditional villages on route. There are ruins to be seen – from the war destroyed Hindu shrines and monuments and the crumbling Champer temples.

Da Nang

If you are near the Dragm Bridge at 9 pm, you can witness its fiery breath. At the Son Tin Peninsula, there is a Lady Buddha which protects the bay from typhoons. From the top of the Marble Mountains, you can see Da Nang from above and explore pagodas and shrines and visit the levels of Hell Cave.

Motorbikes from Russia and Europe

The motorcycle brand most famous across the European continent is the Ural, which was made in Russia in the latter half of the 1920s. Nearly 11 million have been manufactured. The first Soviet bike to be exported to the Netherlands and the British Isles was the Planeta Sport, which has proved to be a winner. Unfortunately, the factory closed its doors in 2008. Production was taken over by the Kalashnikov concern which has released an escort motorbike which, perhaps, designed to escort presidential cavalcades. It will have a surprising top speed of 250km per hour and will reach 100km per hour in 3.5 seconds.

The Ural is one of the few motorcycles to become popular in the Western World. The actor, Brad Pitt, has helped to put this bike on the “wanted” list, by riding one himself. The Ural is a heavy bike which is more comfortable to ride with a sidecar. The next is the Triumph Bonnevilles, which hit the road in 1959, from a beginning in 1902. The Bonneville, one of Britain’s most iconic bikes, got its name from the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA.

When a Ducati won the Isle of Man F1TT in 1978 it was not a popular bike, and the company was struggling to keep afloat, and this win certainly put them back on the road to be a winner. The 851 also came to the rescue with its desmodromic valve actuation combined with its water cooling and its fuel injection system. Later the 888 put Ducati at the top of the superbikes. Doug Polen won two superbike championships in ’91 and ’92. The 888’s tubular frame made from SAE 4130 and its combination of Ohlins rear suspension and Shonx front forks gave Ducati the edge over all the other bikes.

Less Popular Brand

  • The Bantam, of which 50 000 were produced until 1951 was arguably one of the most famous European bikes ever delivered. Launched in 1948, the two-stroke was designed from the DKW 125 two-stroke (German), the blueprints of which had been acquired after the Second World War.
  • In 2011 Moto Guzzi had been in production for 90 years. The Model 850cc Le Mans, 1975, was as up to date as the Japanese bikes of the times. The Le Mans had a few problems such as a fast clutch, torque reaction, and the changing down of gears had to be timed with the engine revs, but even with these shortcomings, the bike became popular.
  • This 745cc made its debut at the 1967 Earls Court Motorcycle Show sporting an inclined parallel-twin engine. This engine, developed for the Atlas, was produced with a larger engine, which established a vibration. After the engine was mounted on rubber mountings on a redesigned frame, the problem was solved. This new frame was a winner with its improved handling.

Riding Australia

Australia is, geographically, one of the biggest countries in the world, just behind the USA and Canada, but with a tiny population of twenty-five million. Anyone wishing to ride Australia must be aware of the cast distances between towns. Closer to the coast, where most people live, the lengths are not as high. A traveller can ride for thousands of kilometres in the centre of Oz without seeing another human. In this vast land scenery varies from area to area, sometimes monotonously dull.

Victoria’s Great Ocean Road

This is probably one of the most famous roads in Australia. Bikers beware in busy times other tourists are doing their own thing, and stop at viewpoints to enjoy the scenery, and some are rubbernecking with the resultant confusion. On the road between Torquay and Allan’s Ford are the Twelve Apostles which have been named as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world – worth a stop! Other natural attractions include the famous waves at Bell’s Beach and the fishing village of Port Fairy. Charter a helicopter and see the Apostles from the air plus other magnificent scenes such as the Shipwreck Coast.

In the Great Otway National Park north of Melbourne, you will pass over and through the numerous waterfalls and gorges. Enjoy treetop walks or try the zipline, thirty meters above the forests. Stop and taste the best of Australia’s wines and platters of cheese at the many vineyards and restaurants. You will pass many vineyards, but remember you’re on two wheels. Visit Warrnambool to view Australia’s wildlife with koalas, roos and emus, and if you’re fortunate, the strange duck-billed platypus with a bush wise Aboriginal guide. When getting near to Logan’s beach, keep an eye out for the whales which come to the warm waters to give birth and also view the seals at Cape Bridgewater. At the famous beach at Queenscliff, you may be lucky enough to swim with the dolphins, so take your trunks!

When in the Melbourne make sure to stop at William Ricketts Sanctuary and wonder the forests to see his sculptures of Aboriginals hidden in the fern beds and behind the creepers and trees, mainly of children, shaped and baked in his kiln which is still there and is part of the museum. In South Australia visit Adelaide Hills, starting in the Golden Grove and ending at Tea Tree Gully, a trip of 159 Km. The road takes you along long stretches, with many exciting twists and turns past beautiful vineyards worth a stop off to enjoy the local wines.

Oxley Highway is one of Australia’s better, well-known rides and stretches for 165 km from Wauchope to Walcha is the most popular. The 300 twists and turns make for an epic ride and will probably be one of the most memorable rides you will ever experience.

The World’s Best Motorbike Riders

No. 1 Giacomo Agostini

Giacomo Agostini was born in Italy in 1942 and is one of the greatest motorcycle riders ever to hit the track. His records include eight wins at the 500cc world Championships and sixty-eight other Grand Prix races.

His first claim to fame was when he won the National Motorcycle championships in 1963 at the age of twenty-one and entered the 175cc class circuit in 1964, and 1966 moved to MV Augusta, and he was soon making waves. He won the World Championships seven times from 1966 to 1974 in the 500cc class and seven times in the 350cc class in 1966 to 1974. In 1974 Agostini joined the Yamaha Team but broke his shoulder in a crash and went on the next year won the World Championship in 1975 which was his eighth and last world title. After this is winning streak all but disappeared, and he retired in 1977.

He then entered the British Formula 1 series and came in second at Snetterton and third twice which put him at eighth, overall. In 1980 he finished fifth in the standing, but both he and the FW 06 chassis had seen their better days.

No. 2 Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi was born in 1979 in Italy; he is one of the top Moto GP riders. Rossi has nine Grand Prix World Championships under his belt as well as seven in the Premier Class. He is in the second position in the Best Rider Category with 112 wins. In the 500cc class, he is the best with an almighty eighty-six wins. In 2018 he needed a mere ten wins to beat Agostini. He won the 500cc World Championship in 2001 riding a Honda and went on to win in 2004 and 2005 with Yamaha. He crashed in 2006 in the final round and lost to Nicky Hayden, and in 2007 Casey Stoner beat him, without effort, on his Ducati, and he was pushed down to 3rd overall.

He then beat Stoner in 2008 and 2009 but dropped out in 2010 with a broken leg, and no wins for the year. In 2011 he joined Ducati, replacing Stoner, who beat him anyway on a Honda. He then re-joined Yamaha in 2013 and 2014 after no wins for Ducati. He then finished second overall in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but was beaten by teammate Jorge Lorenza as Rossi had incurred a penalty due to a clash with a Honda rider. Honda, with Marc Marquez, continued to dominate and Rossi lost out for the first place and only achieved a few wins and some locations. Rossi is contracted until 2020 when he will be 40 years old. Rossi is also a team owner in the junior class Sky Racing Team by VR46 which competes in Moto2 and Moto3.

Bike Rides in South Africa Part 2

Beware of dirt roads when on a motorbike. It’s almost the same as riding on ice! Be sure that your bike is suitable for riding South African gravel road conditions. If setting off from Cape Town it will be plain sailing along the tarred N2, up Sir Lowry’s Pass (enjoy the twists), and up to the Peregrine Farm Stall, and turn right onto the R43 and on towards Caledon. About halfway there, at Bot Rivier, you will leave the tar and go onto the gravel. If you are lucky, it will have been graded, and if not, you will have your teeth loosened on the grooves. Be aware of farm gates – if you encounter one, make sure you close it behind you – or have the farm animals following you with the shotgun-wielding farmer not far behind.

Join the N2 at Caledon and enjoy the tar few a few kilometres, and take the turnoff to Greyton – back to dirt riding – and then heading south enjoy the vineyards and orchards. Accommodation can be found at quaint B and B’s, so, if you’ve had enough for the day, stop and experience the friendliness and generosity of the locals (most of them speak English).

Then over the N2 again towards Napier and pass through the farms of sheep and more sheep. If you are at the correct time of the year, you will ride through fields of yellow canola fields as far as the eye can see and witness the Blue Cranes – the National Bird of South Africa – feeding on the sheep feed. Also, see many Egyptian Geese and Sacred Ibis searching for a tiny morsel. You will pass roadside farm stalls selling anything from bottled water to honey and fruit and vegetables. Take a break and cool down a while.

The R319

Cross over the R317 and onto the R319 and onwards to the east. If and when you pass petrol stations, stop and fill up if you need to – it may be a long time before you see another petrol pump. You will give just to the north of the De Hoop Nature Reserve and if you have the time. The road then follows the course of the Breede River, known for its annual canoe race from much further inland, and cross the water by hand-drawn ferry, one of the last in South Africa. If you’re lucky, you will catch a glimpse of the Breede River Zambezi (Bull) shark, the biggest ever found in the world. The Zambezi is all along the coast, but no further south than Port Elizabeth about 500 kilometres to the east, so these guys have been on their own forever.

The last leg

On then to Witsand on the W324, home to one of the biggest gatherings of whales in the world, coming to calve in the warm Indian Ocean. And on to Stillbaai, a lovely retirement and fishing village, on past Stillbaai, Gouritzmond and Pinnacle Point, the caves believed to be the first civilized settlement in the world (where your ancestors came from), and on to your destination, Mossel Bay.

Scenic Motorbike Rides of Europe

Wild Atlantic Ways, Northern Ireland

Start your journey at the Inishowen Peninsular in the northernmost part of Ireland and ride down the Celtic Coast, past the Donegal Coast and on to view the limestone wonders near to Burren. This trip showcases some of the best scenery on the Irish Atlantic coast, with many historical places of interest, albeit with some small detours! The length of this trip depends on how far you which to ride. The coast has been shaped over millions of years by the Atlantic which pounds the coastline relentlessly. Many quaint (and sometimes unknown!) villages provide a great selection of Bed and Breakfast establishments and pubs to have a meal on the go.

The Amalfi Coast Road, Italy

Wherever you choose to start on this road, the SS 163, will be the right place! The winding road, often on cliff edges, sometimes along beaches or through villages, will leave you gasping at the sheer beauty of this area. If you start at the beautiful, ancient port of Salerno and ride to Sorrento, a distance of 50 miles, you will pass many magnificent villas and breathtaking cliffs and beaches. Picturesque villages line the road, some having been owned and occupied for centuries, with plenty of establishments to choose from to rest your weary body.

From some vantage points, Mount Vesuvius can be seen not far to the north. Ancient vineyards line the slopes alongside lemon orchards on the side of the road, but Bikers beware! This is a dangerous road, and special care is needed!

Senj to Prizna, Croatia

This 30-mile trip takes you along the Adriatic Coast and starts in Senj and ends in Prizna. Croatia is a relatively new destination for tourists having only recently emerged from behind the Iron Curtain and still has many sites unspoiled by developers. The ride is relatively level compared to other European trips, but care is still needed, especially during the holiday seasons. Before reaching Senj, the Lucovo Beach is well worth visiting and perhaps for travellers to cool down and to be able to say that they have swum there and have the T-shirt! There are numerous museums and castles to visit.

The Transfagarasan Highway, Romania.

The DN7C is an engineering feat – miles and miles of paved road, starting in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, with 56 miles of winding, twisting switchbacks. This road is equal to anyway in the world as an experience for any Biker. Passing through the highest mountains in Romania, the Moldoveanu and the Negoiu, be dressed for the cold mountain air!

The Furka Pass, Switzerland

The Furka Pass is found between Valais and Uri in the south to central Switzerland and, at 2431 meters above sea level, it connects Glitch with Andermatt. Built-in 1864 for the armies’ strategic use, it now serves as a tourist attraction and has magnificent views of the Alps and the Rhone Glacier. A must-see for any intrepid rider who is not afraid of the cold.

Motorbike Rides Africa

There are many places to explore in Africa, but don’t expect the roads to be anything like the roads you will find in 1st world countries. Be very careful and research what bikes are needed for the area you intend to explore. Also, make sure that the bike you choose is reliable and spares are available. Also necessary is to ensure that you have the required vaccinations for the countries that you traverse. These requirements differ from country to state, and the doctor you consult must be well versed in tropical deceases, including malaria.

Local foods can be unusual, but they certainly don’t warrant a Michelin Star! Meal comes in a wide variety as in all Western Countries in the cities, but some local delicacies such as Mopani worms, cooked or raw, red bait off the rocks, curried offal, chicken feet or sheep’s head served whole on a platter might not be for the delicate pallet. Casual accommodation can also be attractive. Good hotels are available in the bigger towns and cities but while on the road expect to find “things” in your beds and very little to no toilet facilities. Research the weather conditions as the rain in rainy seasons makes the gravel roads impassable.

Some countries may not allow motorbikes to use their roads, and some will have cc limits. Riding in countries that are between 1st and 3rd world countries should not be troublesome, but do not stop to someone who tries to flag you down and don’t pick up hitchhikers!

Interesting rides in South Africa

Sewerweekspoort Pass, which is found in the Swartberg Cape Fold mountains, is 240 km long, and mostly on gravel roads. Leaving the N1 highway at Laingsburg and onto the R323 you will traverse stunning the Sewerweekspoort passes of the Towerkop Nature Reserve and through the semi-desert of the Klein Karoo (Little Karoo) and ride on to Calitzdorp. Stop here to do some wine tasting at the three vineyards (but not if you want to continue cycling!) to enjoy the port produced in the most beautiful port growing region of the world.

From Calitzdorp take the gravel road that meanders through a beautiful valley to join the R328 and turn north to pass over the Swartberg towards Prince Albert. As you descend the Swartberg, about halfway down, you will see a non-descript sign indicating “Die Hell” a valley with a legend! It is said that when the Dutch Voortrekkers left the Cape for inland to escape the rule of the British, a wagon train detoured down into the Gamkaskloof and disappeared for over a hundred years.

In the mid-1900s, a man arrived at Prince Albert seeking a doctor, and the doctor found a settlement of people still living in the 1800s, as in a time capsule, without any modern luxuries! Fable or truth? You can go there and find out for yourselves! These settlers have joined mainstream society now and few, if any, of the original families still reside there.

Iconic North American Rides

Blue Ridge Parkway- North Carolina and Virginia

This mountain route must be on every biker’s to-do list. Starting in Virginia in the north and passing by battlefields of the Civil War, it winds its way through picturesque farmlands and forests. On the way south and to higher ground, and into the Great Smoky Mountains, The Blue Ridge Parkway is a wondrous winding road with plenty of bike-loving curves and twists. With the low-speed limit, the ride allows bikers to enjoy the passing scenery to Asheville in North Carolina. For those with more time on their hands, an extension to the trip is the detour of 105 miles Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park.

Natchez Trace Parkway – Alabama and Mississippi

This route takes riders from Natchez to Nashville, from Mississippi to Tennessee. This road is safer for bikers as no commercial vehicles are permitted and traffic is light, and the lack of stoplights and signs make for smooth, comfortable rides. The surface of the road is well maintained with few “surprises” allowing for a smooth, kidney saving ride! This 444-mile trip passes by magnificent scenery, farmlands and forests.

At places of interest, there are view sites and rest spots and toilet facilities at convenient intervals. There is no shortage of filling stations, shops and eating places. Off-shoot by roads can take the interested history biker past Victorian and pre-war homes, and Civil War battle sites and for those who are seeking a leisurely ride there are many places to spend the night in comfort.

Pacific Coast Highway

This ride skirts the Pacific Coast, often along the cliff edges and fascinating scenery with magnificent beaches with basking marine mammals and forests of ancient redwood trees, with beautifully winding roads with enough s-bends and twists to please the free-spirited rider! This section of the route covers 120 miles of the Highway.

As this road is busy over weekends and holidays, riders must choose their dates wisely for the safest days. For riders wanting a longer ride, The Pacific Highway 1 is 655 miles of scenic wonders. Starting at the Golden Gate Bridge, this is also as wonderful as the shorter ride, with scenery that is out of this world! For those taking a slow trip, there are many facilities to suit everyone looking for a place to a sleepover.

The Grand Staircase

Starting in Panguitch in Utah and riding US Route 89 South, and on to Route 12, this 125-mile ride should be taken slowly and restfully. There are awe-inspiring scenes to please the discerning tourist past Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National park where one will find the fantastic Petrified Forest State Park to please those in the ancient past of North America. The arid landscape is beautiful in itself with buttes, cliffs and canyons there for the viewing.

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