Tagged: 1939

Sophisticated Simplicity: 1939 Velocette KSS / MAC Special

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Front

For many riders, motorcycles are all about simplicity: throwing off the shackles of a roof and four doors, sound-deadening, automatic climate control, lane-change warning systems, info-tainment systems. And the real purists, be they lovers of modern or vintage machines, often gravitate towards single-cylinder machines like the Velocette KSS.

1939 Velocette KSS Special L Rear

Single cylinder bikes represent motorcycling at its most elemental: fewer parts to break and fewer parts to maintain, along with plenty of torque and charisma. Who needs a tachometer with that spread of power? Just shift it by feel. And while that simplicity and economy means that modern single-cylinder motorcycles are typically of the cheap and durable variety, that hasn’t always been the case.

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Engine

Based in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, Velocette built their enviable reputation for durability with machines like the KSS 350cc. The “K” series bikes were very innovative, with a bevel-drive and tower shaft-driven overhead cam engine and a foot-operated gearshift with the very first positive-stop, something found on basically every modern motorcycle.

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Tank

Later “M” series machines switched to a much cheaper-to-produce engine with pushrod-operated valves, but used an improved frame and suspension based on the racing “K” bikes.

This particular example features the best of both worlds: a refined and sophisticated bevel-drive engine with the improved handling of the later frame and suspension, making it a period-correct hotrod. Perhaps an all-original KSS would be worth more money, but this hybrid should make a better overall motorcycle…

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Rear Suspension

From the original eBay listing: 1939 Velocette KSS/MAC Special for sale

The marriage of a KSS motor with the more current MAC rolling chassis was a fairly common practice that resulted in a far better platform for the OHC KSS motor.  Classic Motorcycle & Mechanics tested one in July ’92 and came away impressed with the combo.  This example (’39 KSS motor # KSS9121 and ’54 MAC chassis # RS7479) was built by a Velo expert in the Florida area during ’91 and ’92 and acquired by the current owner in 2004.  He rode it occasionally over the next few years and decomissioned it for display in his climate controlled collection in 2008.  He considered the machine to be a fine example with no mechanical issues.

1939 Velocette KSS Special Dash

I love how the seller refers to the 1954 MAC chassis not as “later” but as “more current”. Ha! It’s all relative, I guess… In any event, this bike is in beautiful, but not over-restored condition, although I’m not sure just what it would take to “recommission” it for road use. It’s only been off the road for a few years, so hopefully it won’t take too much effort: this bike deserves to be ridden.

-tad

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Rear

1939 Moto Guzzi Egretta for Sale

1939 Moto Guzzi Egretta L Front

Moto Guzzi is known today for its long-legged and long-lived line of v-twin, shaft-drive machines. But before the introduction of their twin in the v700, Guzzi was famous for its successful line of horizontal singles. The Egretta [“Egret”] was a prewar model only made for two short years, and less than 800 were built before the improved Airone [“Heron”] superseded it. It lacked rear suspension and featured the 247cc single that would power the later Airone in various iterations until 1957!

1939 Moto Guzzi Egretta R Rear

Although later models with this engine did have more modern, enclosed valvetrain, this early version features an exposed rockers and hairpin springs that are clearly visible in a number of the photographs, as well as Guzzi’s signature “salami-slicer” external flywheel. The “horizontal” single allowed for a very low center of gravity and excellent airflow to cool the engine. The exposed flywheel allowed the correct mass for rideability and performance, while keeping weight of the engine case castings low.

1939 Moto Guzzi Egretta L Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1939 Moto Guzzi Egretta for Sale

This is a very special & very unique opportunity to own one of the rarest of the rare Moto Guzzi Vintage Classic Originals. Only made for TWO YEARS and only 784 EVER MADE, the pre-war 1939-1940 Egretta is the pièce de résistance  for any Guzzi aficionado. It even has the original license plate!

This gem is about as original as I can describe…and as you know, a bike is ONLY ORIGINAL ONCE. There are some paint nicks all over and some very minor dings on the mudguards, but the tank is straight. The chrome and paint are obviously 85 years old but remarkably intact for being that old. Previous owners have tried to cover up some nicks with paint here and there.

There is nothing like riding a motorbike this old and this Egretta runs well. However, don’t plan on breaking any speed records.

1939 Moto Guzzi L Tank

As the listing mentions, you may not be winning any top-speed contests on this, but the Guzzi’s famous flexibility should make it fun to ride within its modest limits: the singles were famous for their roadholding and locomotive torque, which made them competitive on both road and track. They can chug happily along in top gear at nearly any speed, making gear selection virtually superfluous.

1939 Moto Guzzi Egretta R Engine

If you’re looking for something very rare for your collection in original condition, this might be your ride.

-tad

1939 Moto Guzzi Egretta R Side

1939 Triumph Speed Twin

Edward Turner, who had just joined Triumph from Ariel, may not have been the first person to put two cylinders next to each other, but his design changed the British Motorcycle Industry and set the companies course for the next 40 years. First offered to the public in 1938 the 500cc 5T Speed Twin was a light and powerful motorcycle, and this 1939 offered on eBay  is a nice example of the game changer.

With 27hp at 6300rpm the Triumph Speed Twin lived up to its name, accelerating the rider to 3 times the national speed limit of 30mph. (ever wonder why all early British speedometers have a line marked out to 30mph?) This new engine design, combined with a light for its time frame, gave Triumph the new alternative to the old single cylinder bikes, and the odd v-twin big bore touring bikes.

 

From the seller

1939 Triumph Speedtwin: Excellent condition has been stored 20 years indoors. This is not an over-restored bike, but a very correct restoration, which looks factory orginal-none better. The magneto was completely rebuilt which cost $500.00 I have receipts. I also have replacement parts catologs.

You will not be disappointed with this bike.

 

 

The Speed Twin was first offered in 1938 and continued production (with some destined for military use) until the factory was bombed in 1940. Returning in 1947 and continuing in one form or another until 1959 the 5T set the standard and was what other manufactures looked too when they developed their own parallel twin. The Triumph received telescopic forks when production started again after the war. Rear suspension first came in the form of a sprung hub, not the best solution, but the first step towards rear shocks for a swing arm. This 1939 model has neither of these and the only springs to soften the road were those under your seat.

Triumph took the design first offered in the Speed Twin and created the sport T100 Tiger a year later. The parrelle twin design grew to 650cc and later in life the transmission was united with the engine, but the basics went unchanged for close to 40 years of motorcycle sales. But like the singles cylinders that they replaced, the twin became obsolete as the Japanese fours dominated the new bike markets. But with such and impact on the whole of the motorcycle industry, this Speed Twin will give the new owner the opportunity to own a game changer. BB