Monthly Archives: November 2018

Two Thirds, Two Years, Part Three…

… already.

So this month it´s all about how I got by my bike. Starting at when I first tentatively looked at ads on the net, and being shocked by prices just in the five figures for a simple 350 Konsul I even sometimes. Ugh. So my visits to mobile dot de became less frequent, until one evening in June I spied an unrestored specimen, despite the fact that I had been told that they didn´t probably exist anymore, all Konsuls having been pimped up beyond recognition apparently. I don´t want a museum piece, garage queen or whatever you want to call those poor animals, I want to enjoy a machine on the road which will not lose thousands in value with every scratch it receives. I want that Konsul that looks worked, but with sound mechanicals, which could only be achieved by me myself or people I trust looking at all the important bits. So an unrestored one it had to be. And there it was.

I had had the idea to go and visit some sellers to see what could be done price wise, but no such luck. One seller refused to budge an inch even though he did not allow me to start the engine. Not allow me, you are reading it correctly. So what with bikes costing 8 or 10 grand that had been lavished chrome on, yet the engine probably still sounded like the caretaker was moving coal into the basement, and unrestored specimens unavailable, I basically gave the idea up.

Until that fateful evening in June, as I just said. There it was, a Swedish assembled 500cc Konsul, called  Svalan in those northerly realms, and even judging from the pics on the net in dire need of TLC. But the price, nope, sorry, no way.

Holidays in France, watching bikers on all sorts of machines zooming past. So after the hols another look at the net, and lo and behold the unrestored Svalan was still there. Price dropped even, so my hunter´s instinct was awakened, and a phone call was made. On the following Friday a visit was also made to the seller who liberally applied ether from a spraycan to get the engine running, offering me a test ride.

I get on the bike, engine throbbing, strange noises everywhere, I pull the clutch and lift the gear lever. (Konsuls have British ways, with the gears shifted like British bikes and the kickstarter on the right side of the bike.) There is a clunking noise, the bike lurches forward, the clutch apparently has no function, but the tractor the 500cc engine is, it doesn´t stall but plods on in tickover along the grassy way I have been pointed out to use. More hectic clutch pulling is followed by the idea to brake the bike to a standstill, thereby stalling the engine, but you will have guessed it, the brakes don´t work either. The ignition key does. The seller has of course never heard of the clutch not working, and serious bartering begins because I have fallen in love with that wreck.

In the seller´s garage another close look at the bike, and another trial run of the engine. My son who is standing on the other side of the bike from me suddenly looks a bit amazed and points to the cylinder. There are exhaust gases emanating from between the cylinder head and the cylinder in visible quantities.

Plus the exhaust is completely gone, it is a homemade one complete with pop rivets to hold bits together.

Empty, rusted out silencers, no way this is ever going on the road. Then the clutch, the brakes, a homemade unoriginal seat, only looking like the English seat Svalans would have had, and with the ignition coil in a completely wrong place,

a shot rear mudguard, and other bits and pieces too numerous to mention. Oh the electrics are horrid too. Good heavens.

So we take a break of a few minutes, have a drink in the seller´s living room, a chinwag with him and his wife, and then sense wins over love: This project is several sizes too large for me. I decline, despite what is the lowest price I have yet seen for a recognizable Konsul, and we drive home. End of story.

One might think. Next weekend, brilliant weather, on a cycleride I pass by a friend´s house, and tell him in passing of the declined NSU. He nearly flips, how can I decline a project like that, hen´s teeth they are, and the long standing and experienced bike mechanic he is, he offers me help, saying he enjoys the idea of getting a 500cc NSU under his paws, not restoring it to museum standard or whatever people think that means, but making a good reliable used bike of one, which is perfectly my idea too. Wow. This is just what I need, suddenly the project is within my reach.

Too late? Phone call to the seller, no, it´s not, bike still unsold, so an appointment is made, a van is hired with some motorbike transporting gear in it, and a week after our first visit we are back, this time with an envelope full of Euro bills, and after the envelope has been handed over and a decent contract has been filled in and signed for, we are off. Hey! It feels so good having that big old NSU behind us in the van.

Taking a break at a motorway service area, we shoot a photo, and then suddenly we see a problem: Getting the bike into the van was easy with three people, but how to get it out at home? Once arrived, we roll it on the ramp, that came with the van, with trepidation, but then we realize that the brakes do work when you apply them with the bike rolling backwards, only the forward direction is not functional. Yey.

Then we park he bike in the garage, and I´m thinking that this is it, an adventure in more than one dimension has started, and I´m feeling great.