m-gineering 650b road bike

There´s not much to say about this one, except that I´m hugely looking forward to riding it as it is something of a dream bike and that circumstances beyond my influence kept me from finishing it for some time. Now there are only the provisional brake cables to be put right and some fine tuning to be done. Also I have a wonderful set of Paul canti brakes I got at a Tubes and Coffee meet, only they are gold anodized, I just can´t decide if to fit those instead of the Mafacs I still had in my box.

The hubs were sourced off the Classic Rendezvous mailing list, a prime place to go for all sorts of bits and info on classic bikes. The rear derailleur came from there too, and it actually was a gift. The owner of the list, a bike shop owner, went to enormous lengths to sell me the Phil b/b bearing. The stronglight cranks were sent to me by a friend in Holland. I can´t thank enough the persons who sent the parts. The SunTour bar ends as well as the Hetres I bought in Neerkant at the Stalen Ros meet, now sadly discontinued, and the saddle, (I know it´s a ladies, I´m not getting any younger) came off a bike I got at a house clearance. The Campag seat pin also was still in my box.

Most of all I have to thank Marten Gerritsen who made the frame, furnished parts and who gave a lot of invaluable advice. Building up the bike there was nothing at all that had to be reworked or filed or twisted as it does happen with lesser frames, so that was great. I hope to take the bike to Tube and Coffee this year and to have a ride or two on it with Marten in summer.

In general I hope that be bike will help to pull me back onto the road of fitness and self care which I had to neglected for some time now.

Now for some pix.

Not the scheduled programme, again

After some time here is another tidbit about my motorcycle. Found a really interesting sales leaflet the other day on the net.

The funny thing about this is that the name “Consul” is spelled with a C here, whereas in all later publications it´s a K, Konsul. the reason for this remains an object of speculation; the C in German in this position sounds elegant to some, foreign, brings up a connotation of luxury. Maybe that was it?

Maybe the fact that the original Consul should have had a longitudinal twin like a Sunbeam? It was to have been a very ambitious project, it was to have a shaft drive too. The project proved to be too complicated though, so the good old 350 and 500cc OSL engine/gearbox combos were dug up again, as they had been used in the late 30s, and replaced the ambitious twin. This was facilitated by the fact that the old 250 OSL was still on the NSU range, nearly unchanged from when production was halted due to the war, as was the 350 for a few months, couple of hundred bikes.

So here NSU had a relatively modern frame/suspension (rear plunger see pic below, both front and rear were bought in) and a definitely outmoded, yet rugged engine. I personally must say this odd combination is just what attracts me to the Konsul, and, looking at the prices it´s being sold for, it seems more people share my feelings.

Even at the time a 500cc bike was considered to be unnecessarily flashy and powerful by some; there were prominent motorcycle journalists in the early fifties, like Carl Hertweck in the August 1953 issue of “Das Motorrad”, who actually said that they could not use more than 15 bhp on the road, and that this was a natural limitation for bikes. 15 years earlier the 250 OSL at ten bhp had been considered sporty. 98 bhp were enough to establish land speed world records. In the leaflet the Konsul was described as having ample power for fast riders at its 22 bhp rating, so of course this nostalgic roguish feeling also enters into the equation of me liking the bike. James, would you increase speed to 40, I want to see eye to eye with death.

The 500cc version (Konsul II) was to stay on the range from 1951 (when the leaflet was printed) until 1954. By then it had become clear that the single cylinder 500cc Konsul could not compete against the same cubic capacity twin cylinder BMWs, although the NSU cost considerably less money. This was an experience Zündapp were making with their KS 601 at the same time although the KS was of the same outlay as the big BMWs, and when prices for small cars decreased, a 500cc sidecar rig of any brand was the same price as a four wheeler with a roof over your head.

Here´s a couple more snaps of the leaflet:

Lars Amenda, Strich durch die Rechnung (Thwarting the Bill)

Hamburg, network bike / history, 2020

Hardcover, 110 pages, four-color printing, thread stitching, ribbon bookmark, high quality paper, 9 978 3949 139000, no price yet, German language

Occasionally you discover books that you think would be included in the selection if you had to pick one that you would take with you to a desert island. Every few years you find one about which you think why you know so little of the riveting topic and that you would have liked to have written it yourself. Amenda’s monograph on the feature film “Strich durch die Rechnung” with Heinz Rühmann, which was set in the racing cyclist milieu of the early thirties, definitely falls into both categories.

Rühmann? To the lonely island? This time, yes. It seems that in almost 90 years more will be forgotten than is commonly assumed. It is thanks to Amenda that part of this loss, which was promoted by a de facto ban on the film after 1933, has been reversed. You can see that Heinz Rühmann played in a film in his early work that did not serve to give those people who were suffering from the horrors of the Second World War more stamina (Feuerzangenbowle!) so that a criminal government could continue its war. On the contrary, Amenda states that the film dating from 1932 which he researched in his book shows internationalist tendencies, and that Jewish participation at all levels of the film’s making process was decisive.

So what happens in the plot that is roughly based on Fred Angermeier’s play of the same name? Rühmann embodies the stayer Willi Streblow, who at the beginning of his professional career has to make his way between the poles represented by Hanni Spengler (honest, serious friend), Gina Stern (fashionable lady and bike manufacturer’s daughter) and Gottfried Paradies (fraudulent manager of the aging cycling champion Banz). Paradise offers Streblow money to secure Banz´ victory in a race. The course of the race and other coincidences let Streblow win the well-paid event as well as the heart of his honest friend.

It goes without saying that here one should mainly look at the cycling side of the book, and this is where Amenda proves to be just as much a master of his craft as he is on the film-historical side. I don’t presume to discuss his portrayal of film history, but the chapters on it are definitely exciting and offer a lot of information and insider knowledge. The creation of a feature film 90 years ago is presented very readably in all its tension between the technical, financial, human and political dimensions.

The cycling part of the book is almost perfect. An introductory chapter on the part of cycling history leading to the popularity of the stayer sport in Germany can only be recommended as a basic, concise and well-illustrated presentation. The numerous illustrations, all contemporary and from rare sources, have been selected in an exemplary fashion and made me look several times to appreciate their wealth of detail. On the subject of rare sources: The film cannot be bought over the counter, there is only one, incomplete positive copy and, despite considerable success at the time it was made, this was later shown only very occasionally semi-privately or on television on a few dates around the turn of the millennium.

Amenda knows how to work out the mutual influence between stayer sport and the film industry in an understandable and entertaining way; His text is consistently accompanied by references to endnotes and thus shows the necessary scientific nature without the reader needing to have any fears of illegitimate copying. The bibliography is impressive and invites you to deal with individual aspects of the topic independently.

Another mainstay of the presentation is a spotlight on a short section of the local history of Forst / Lausitz, which was given a glitz of glamor while the film was being made, as the racing scenes were filmed on the Forst track. Amenda knows how to write local history in a relievingly sober, yet friendly way.

Is there anything that thwarts my bill? Actually almost nothing, but I find the strong sepia tint of the pictures disturbing. A homely shade of brown in the illustrations, which does not match the otherwise clear atmosphere of the book, overlays most of the pages. The serif font, which is actually easy to read, should also have been chosen a dot larger. The book is very well produced however; the quality of the print and binding is impeccable, the design is clear and the images are relatively large and make the book worth it even for those not able to read German.

All in all, Amenda’s book is a small gem that is quite suitable for desert islands.

Villa Road Bike with Cambio Corsa

So last week a friend of mine bought this beauty. Any idea if this is the original paintwork? Decals certainly are seventies or later. This bike is actually going to be ridden.

Fed Up

Can you see why I am?

It´s been going on for decades, cities praising themselves in the press for building short stretches of cyclepath in the centres, or for erecting signposts, but if you look at the outskirts, where much of the cycling over longer distances happens, you still see lots of impossible things like this, that only serve to make life easier for drivers.

Actually while I´m neither an engineer nor a lawyer, I´d not be surprised one bit if this sort of cyclepath were even illegal. But who cares…

Wanderer Telex

Because of an acute shortage of time, here are just a few snaps of a very interesting moped. It´s the last product of the famous Wanderer brand, already built in München, not in Chemnitz, and if the Wanderer people of yore had seen that a twowheeler of theirs would use a proprietary engine instead of an in-house development, they would have cried bitter tears. Anyway, still a number of interesting features on this weird little thing, especially in the suspension.

And yes, I think it qualifies for this blog – it has pedals.

Join!

If you haven´t already. The Veteran-Cycle Club is a great club even if you are an overseas member and can only join runs every few years. The magazines alone are well worth the membership, they make for riveting reading in their mixture of info, small ads (yes, even in this day and age of Ebay…) and well researched articles. The network of marque enthusiasts is able to answer nearly any question. Find the website on the net.

Another Ghostbike…

We had yet another ceremony to dedicate a ghostbike in our neighbouring city yesterday. No need to go through all the arguments for a more humane city traffic again, firstly because we all know them, and secondly because nothing is changing anyway. Still, relatively minor mistakes cyclists commit are often punishable by death under our system.

   

A Few German Bits

So here are three NOS items that are of German origin although one might not think so when having a fleeting look.

 

Let´s start with the Bielefeld made PWB Simplex three speed derailleur. Präzision Werke Bielefeld made it under licence, and not few either. It´s hard to impossible to snap, but it actually says three speed in German on the cage.

Next, a real beauty one might perhaps place in France. It´s an Altenburger rear hub, and the bright silver surface finish untarnished after all these decades speaks for itself. I´d put it in the late fifties. Also beautiful: In the high flanges there´s not just a circular or oval cutout, but the lying 8 of Altenburger fame. The waterslide transfer on the barrel reminds me of MaxiCar.

Lastly, a chain, not very spectacular, but the colour of the box somehow fits in with the hub and the derailleur.

All three items were purchased in a sale of a wholesaler´s giving up about 25 years ago. Purchased, big word for the few Marks I paid. That´s another story.

Ancient History

What´s this? Easy: It´s a torque arm off a 1950s NSU Superlux or Supermax front wheel brake. NOS, perfect chrome.

What is the connection to either bicycles or my Konsul restauration? There is none. I´m in the mood to write down an old story, that´s all.

In 1981, when I was in the Army, a friend got wind of a former NSU motorbike dealership being shut down, which was about time as there had been no NSU motorbikes for nearly 20 years. He only knew that it was in Liège, Belgium, and that was it. So the following weekend, a third friend who had access to an Opel Kadett C sat behind the wheel, I sat behind the second wheel so to speak (it was a car used in a driving school), friend #3 squeezed himself on the rear seat, and off we went to Belgium. Liège is a big place, but we were unbelievably lucky, the sparse directions we had were sufficient, and soon we found ourselves in NSU heaven.

We had not thought that the building was still full of spares, brochures, and other items, and everything went for next to nothing, with all paperwork being free as a matter of course. I had a 98cc Fox and a Superlux at the time and scavenged all the bits I could find, all NOS, like a Fox petrol tank in red, very rare indeed. The driver friend ran a 125 ZDB and found stuff or it, and the friend who had heard about the whole thing was the local NSU doyen anyway and filled the poor old Kadett (not an estate!) to the roof. I rode back with a pre-WWII OSL petrol tank on my lap and bags of stuff between my feet, carb parts if I remember correctly, and the driver had a Konsul frame wrapped round him like a safety belt. The whole thing was absolutely amazing, and the pictures have stayed in my head to this day. Also I still remember the smell of the place in Belgium. At the time there were still border controls, and border police officers just looked at each other and let us pass as quickly as possible. To the uninitiated, our car must have looked like a mixture of a rolling scrap yard and a Mad Max vehicle.

What followed was a large sale of those parts that didn´t go with my bikes, even then rarities all of them, and I remember being quite ok with money for nearly the rest of my stint in the Army. The NOS red Fox tank went to a man who was restoring his bike in red and wanted an exact specimen of the colour. He was very grateful to get it and paid me royally. He was also blind.

See about the torque arm now? It´s the only spare I have left of the haul.

These (motorcycle mudguard emblem, Konsul tank emblem and thirties bicycle mudguard emblem) look nice anyway, so here we go: