Originally Posted by ObiJohn
What a great story with a great ending / beginning of the second part!
I wonder if the mechanical problems encountered by all of the riders was typical of the first few generations of motorcycles, instead of being an artifact of these bike's age. How reliable were those old bikes? I can't imagine what it must have been like for those riders a half-century ago. Makes me appreciate my brand-new FJR... but a retro repro with modern mechanicals would be pretty neat. Could that have been what the OCC guys were thinking as they watched at the start?
In 2010 I asked a similar question to some riders at the stop at Wheels through Time in Magee Valley. As they pulled apart top ends, carbs, welded together two pcs of intake to make one good one, put new bearings in wheels, etc, they explained it this way;
The fact that so few bikes from this era remain suggests that by WW II, most were ready for the the scrap heap and were gathered up to support the war effort. In general they didn't last very long. When they were new, they required maintenence on a regular basis, but very few, if any, were making 250 or 300 miles a day running full bore. The roads were much less improved in the teen's, and twenty's, everything moved at a slower pace and the bikes vibrated apart from the road wear not the engine wear.
A bike like RTW Doug's served time as a police bike, probably stayed near town on better roads, and might have spent more than a few years in municiple storage at some point, thus it's survival.
I'm amazed when I see those "pickers" on TV pulling out rusted scrap and paying big prices for cycles made in the teen's, but I guess if you really want one from that period that is what you start with.