If you’re interested in a very long but very detailed how-to video when it comes to motorcycles that existed in the 40s, have we got the video for you. It details motorcycle functionality, from how they work, to how to ride them.
You can imagine the British military sitting all their new recruits down in a room and forcing them through all 90 minutes of this video. I’m not going to suggest you do that.
There are loads of interesting parts, though, so I’ll call some out for you here. First, two minutes of how this particular four-speed drum-brake Norton 16H works. There are cutaway “skeleton” parts and everything. The narrator walks us through basic motorcycle functionality (which still applies!).
Then, five minutes of all the parts of a motorcycle and what they do. At your left hand: ignition control (spark advance), exhaust valve lifter (compression release) and clutch. At your right: “air lever” (choke), front brake, and throttle. Left foot is the gear shift, and right foot is the rear brake. These things were complicated.
“The foundations of learning to ride must be well-laid. A bad habit is very difficult to cure, but a good habit is never lost, and it’s just as easy to learn.” Well said!
What Else Is In There?
Around the twelve minute mark, you’ll see instructions on how to start the bike. I, for one, am very happy to ride modern bikes after watching this. Until 21:30 it’s all function and control.
After those “elementary” how-tos, the starting on a hill tutorial applies to any of today’s machines. The video then even covers apexing a turn, and how not to do it, with adorable animation. “The best way to learn is to follow an experienced rider.”
There is, predictably, quite a lot of emphasis on maintenance. It covers the entire motorcycle, all systems, top to bottom, with symptoms and solutions, starting around the 26-minute mark. The gems: “Dirt, like love, will find a way,” and “keep your motorcycle up to concert pitch.” So British.
Antique ADV Riding Techniques?
If all you’re interested in are ADV (“cross country”) riding techniques, start the vid at the one-hour mark. Stand on the pegs! Let the bike move around under you! Throttle control is the keystone of cross-country riding. Not much has changed, friends.