I went to a speedway show yesterday. It was held at the Liverpool District Museum and was held to celebrate the great days of Liverpool Speedway. There was some vintage speedway machinery on display in the car park and some formalities indoors. Understandably, I spent much of my time outdoors, browsing the cars and chatting with lots of speedway identities from the past whose exploits I used to enjoy on the track back in the day. Luminaries like 5 times Australian Sprintcar Champion, Dick Briton, for example, who was as lucid and entertaining as he had been back in the day.
Pat Heaton was there with his lovely old Super Modified; Holden engine and patina from the day. Pat is the dad of two times Australian Compact Speedcar champion and is always ready for a chat about the old days.
But the undoubted highlight of the day was when a noted ex-speedcar driver turned up on the replica flat track machine (see above). Worth much more than just a look, it is a little gem as the photos below will show.
Now, given my well-known antipathy towards “cafe racers”, “bobbers” and all the other manifestations of hipster activity, you would think that I would have hated this little thing, but such is not the case. I absolutely love it and it didn’t take me long to find the owner and pick his brains about his creation.
As you’ve probably guessed, the bike started life as a W800 Kawasaki.
But Glenn has taken a boring and utilitarian motorcycle and turned it into something that is not only attractive but also functional. It abounds with custom-made parts like the front fork brace, the alloy covers over the injection inlets to make it look more like an old-skool carbyed motor. He has retained the front disk brake, very sensible, but, because the bike is based on an early model “W” it retains the much more “period” drum brake at the rear.
The seat and tailpiece are custom, the seat is NOT suitable for touring, according to Glenn. There are numerous features, not the least being the racing numbers, that make you wonder how the bike is eligible for registration. The front “headlight” is a narrow LED unit and the mirrors would give you a great view of your elbows and little else. There are tiny indicators at the rear but no sign of them at the front which led me to suspect that they are integrated into the “headlight” and only illuminate when the indicator switch is activated (I have seen rear lights on cruiser bikes that use the same principle.) The lack of a front mudguard is also interesting and was certainly a topic of conversation.
I was delighted to see that the standard mufflers have been replaced by two period pieces that I haven’t seen for donkey’s years, SuperTrapp mufflers, hell, yeah.
Obviously the above “shortcomings” led inevitably to the question of how Glenn gets the thing registered. The answer was stunningly simple. He has retained the registration from when the bike was standard and, so far, he has been able to renew it without any issues at all. He did admit that many of the features are “borderline” and that, should a snarky policeman pull him over, he’d have trouble convincing him that the thing is street legal. But, as he said, “I ride carefully, I don’t do stupid stuff and, so far, I’ve been able to fly beneath the radar.”
As someone whose early days of motorcycling was heavily influenced by the myriad of American motorcycle magazines that I read, this bike conjures up indelible memories of Jay Springsteen, Korky Keener and a host of American flat track stars of the day. Does it “do it” for me? Heck, yes.