Sunday, June 16, 2013

Motorbikes and Bicycles

On Friday I promised something about motor bikes. Its connected with cycling "naturally". I'm currently restoring a pre-war motor pace bicycle. These particular bicycles were used to pace behind huge specialist motor bikes at speeds exceeding 60 mph (100 kph) on great big saucer banked tracks.

Somehow out there in cyberspace, my restoration came to the attention of a person who was restoring a pace motorbike that quite possibly (or not) may have paced my bike. My bike is from the pre-war period - the motor bike was in action up until 1955. It is a 1919 Excelsior Big X and has an illustrious history of motor pacing over many decades of Australian cycling between the two world wars and a little after.

The frame is now repainted as it was when it was built. It is of a per-war  period and most likely raced at the Melbourne Motordrome and later at the North Essendon board track after World War II.

The Bob Findlay 1919 Excelsior Big X pace bike that led great Australian cyclists such as Hubert Opperman, Fatty Lamb and many others to victory at speeds in excess of 60 mpg.
The Excelsior has been meticulously restored for the second time in the hands of the owner David Kimber.
David bought it many years ago from the original owner Bob Findlay who he says was like a Grandfather to him. They were neighbours.
The very long handlebars enabled the rider to sit well back. The rider, wearing overalls would leave them open so that the wind would be caught and balloon out the overalls. This gave the rider behind greater wind protection.
A fully restored motor pace bicycle was on show behind the Excelsior to illustrate how the combination of bike and motorbike interacted on the big saucer tracks. This bike was owned by a friend, Eric Bishop. What is so special about this example is that it belonged to Eric's father.
Pictures from the Past

The Melbourne Motordrome where Bob Findlay excited capacity crowds with dare devil cyclists  at speeds exceeding 60 mph.

It was a great afternoon being invited to David Kimber's special moment of the relaunch of the Bob Findlay Excelsior big X motor pace motorcycle. Maybe I can one day ride my pace bicycle behind his motorcycle pace bike.


  1. Fascinating stuff Leon.
    That Finlay pace bike is a beauty. Is your similar?

  2. Mine is actually the white bike frame designed specifically designed to follow the big motor bike roller at the back.
    It was a really nice, relaxed day meeting some very interesting people.


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