2018 Albany Vintage & Classic Motorcycle Weekend : Pebble Beach, eat your heart out

IT’S got to be one of Australia’s best bike shows: hundreds of bikes, ranging from ancient Brits and classic Japanese through to showroom-new Italians, lined up side-by-side along a picturesque terrace overlooking a natural harbour, in one of the nation’s most historic country towns.

Some bikes arrived polished and gleaming on the back of trailers, some cruised into town from nearby properties, and many made the 400km ride south from Perth to Albany, Western Australia’s oldest settlement and home to a startling assortment of classic and vintage motorcycles.

And we don’t use the word ‘assortment’ lightly. The line-up on the street had no fussy order, so we found crusty and well-worn Moto Guzzis and old Harleys rubbing hand grips with lovingly-restored Suzuki Hustlers, apparently unmolested Ariel Square Fours (two of them, if you don’t mind), shiny Z1 Kawasakis and ready-for-action vintage Nortons.

And there was no shortage of exotica either. A green-frame Ducati parked under a tree outside the pub attracted so many photographers it might as well have been the Mona Lisa. An HRD (Vincent) Series B Rapide looked like it might have just come out the factory. There was a stunning 1981 Laverda Jota, born in Italy, aged in Croatia, shipped to Queensland, then snapped up by a collector in Albany.

We made the trip, strolled the strip, and captured these shots with the trusty old Nikon.

CAPTION: When Kevin Badby bought this 1948 Series B HRD (Vincent) Rapide five or six years ago, it was a ‘remnant’. The previous owner had found three Rapides in a shed in South Australia and used them to build one “good one”. Kevin bought one of the remaining bikes, or what was left of it, and put in the hours to find the missing bits and put it all together. And despite the gleam, this is no garage queen. “I did 1200km on it last week here on the south coast,” Kevin told us, “and I did 5,000 miles on it in the United Kingdom a while ago too.”
CAPTION: Perth electrician Alan Stroud was doing some work for a customer a few years ago and spotted this bike in the shed — a Moto Guzzi 850T. It turned out the old Guzzi wasn’t wanted, so a deal was done: $1500 plus two days’ electrical work. “It’s my first venture beyond a single cylinder,” Alan told us. “I have several Yamaha XT500s that I use for almost everything. But I have discovered what the second cylinder is for — it’s for dragging you into a head-wind.”
CAPTION: Paul Armstrong remembers the first time he saw a Laverda Jota. The bike was competing in a round-the-houses road race event in Albany back in the early 1980s, and Paul so wished he could have one. And now he has. “I went searching and found one in Tasmania, but it had a less-than-clear history and the seller found a buyer before we could do a deal,” Paul told us. “Then I found this one in Queensland. It came with about $35,000 worth of receipts and every piece of work documented. It’s running Japanese electrics, Mikuni carbs, ceramic pistons and a bunch of other mods. And it goes wonderfully.”
CAPTION: Green-frame Ducati was a camera magnet. We pondered pretending it was ours and charging $5 per pic, but decided against it and just joined the queue.

CAPTION: This is the actual Norton that Noah used to round up creatures for the ark.

CAPTION: There weren’t many dirt bikes at Albany this year; just this one as far as we could see — but what a beauty. If you’ve been with us awhile you’ll recognise it from 2016 so, rather than repeat ourselves, you can see what we said about the big-bore Norton-built four-stroke Yamaha HL 500 here.
CAPTION: Albany dates back to a time when people were so excited that Western Australia had its very own bank that they called it ‘The Western Australian Bank’. That’s the off-white building in the mid-ground. Rivers signage fits right in. (Not.)
CAPTION: Early Honda Fours aren’t yet attracting the mortgage-sized pricing of green-frame Ducatis, but we reckon their day will come. In the meantime, we should all be snapping them up and salting them away. This K1 750 looked marvellous.

CAPTION: That red Guzzi is a lot more than just a red Guzzi. The stickerage suggests it is a Daytona Racing, which would make it a rare beast indeed with lineage to Guzzi whisperer Dr John Wittner. (If you’re into Guzzis, do read our yarn on Mario Poggioli here and the 16″ wheeled Guzzi LeMans here.
CAPTION: I had a bizarre conversation with an old British chap at a bike meeting once, about how much we liked our Pantahs. I was talking about my 1983 Ducati, and how it was crazy fast and always felt like it was about to explode. He looked at me kinda weird like, and walked off. Of course, his bike was one of these — an utterly British 1951 Panther, most unlikely to ever explode (or go fast) but very likely to look utterly cool.
CAPTION: Gixxer 1100 found shade under a tree. It looked in superb nick. I saw it start and ride away too, and it sounded as sweet as it looked. (I’m pretty sure the guy with the white hair off to the left is Winston Churchill.)
CAPTION: We spotted two Square Four Ariels. We were hoping to see a third so we could make a very funny joke about them being a dime a dozen but we didn’t, so we won’t.
CAPTION: Albany attracted a small but classy tribe of Indians. They reminded us of the vintage Indian restorer and collector whose wife and daughter bought him a 1948 Indian Roadmaster Chief as a surprise for his 50th birthday. We’re still a bit cranky, to be honest. We got socks. Read his story here.
CAPTION: In the interest of disclosure, we drove a car to Albany. We shouldn’t admit it, but you have no idea how much fun it was…

Peter Terlick