Check out The Self Centered Man for a little write up I did on one of the coolest blogs on the web and the man behind it all!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
|John Melniczuk in his Cedarville, NJ Showroom.|
|Just one corner of the show room. The bikes in the center are customer machines. The rest are Johns.|
|The original location of Bauer Cycles back in the 50's.|
|The twin motored Parasite getting ready for takeoff.|
|Johns on his T110 Triumph Dragster.|
|John is clearly in his zone - talking about breathing the crankcase properly so it leaks little to no oil.|
|My pile of parts after a cleaning.|
|Frame and tinware. All sandblasted - some came that way in the purchase, others I did.|
|My frame after receiving some repair work and a deep, lustrous black finish.|
|The T110 drag bike sits in front tons of Gary Nixon memorabilia given to John by the man himself.|
Signed flat track tank used by Mr Nixon.
|Johns grandfather in front of his dealership. How cool is that photograph?|
As progress on my 66 Bonnie moved forward, I had to make some decisions on the motor. We had already cleaned the sludge trap and replaced the bearings, but what about primary chain conversions and clutch upgrades? Points ignition or go electronic? How much did I want to keep stock and how much did I plan on riding the bike? Some traditionalists say "if Triumph made it that way, then thats the way it should remain." I see that side of the argument. Sometimes I like a bike to be original, patina and all it's imperfections. This particular bike has to be a strong rider as it's going to be my main vintage-rider. I decided to drop my opposition to technology and go with a stronger, less problematic motor - so belt drive, Norton style clutch and electronic ignition it is!
|John explains the advantage of the newer MAP valve guides. Better alloys allow tighter tolerances.|
|What shop is complete without some old rusty stuff sitting on a shelf?|
"I'm not really sure how it started, but somewhere along the line Tiger Cubs became a real niche for me" mused John after I commented on all the Cub parts and bikes in his shop. "I called one of my dealers to order more con-rods and I was told they were out of stock indefinitely. So I called every other parts supplier and bought whatever stock they had remaining" say John "I'll probably have new ones machined from billet, but for now I am stocked". John has a lot of parts fabricated specially for his shop. From custom alloy pressure plates to sand cast dual carb racing manifolds for the t100r (more on that in a bit). If theres a way to improve upon something, especially if it's a point of contention to begin with, John usually has a solution.
|A Rickman Framed Tiger Cub MX bike. Alloy rims, improved shocks, and a kick-starter that works!|
|Con Rod hoarding!|
|Johns Triumph Speed Twin with his Vincent Rapide in the background.|
|A speed demons daydream or a plumbers worst nightmare?|
One of the bikes John is proudest of is his 1955 T100R factory dirt tracker (only 50 produced and of those 2-3 exist today). It took John years to hunt down all the correct parts. The gas tank he was going to have modified to look like the original was sent off for restoration, but as luck would have it, another guy had the tank John needed and john had the tank the other guy needed. The cosmos aligned and a no brainer swap was made. The carbs, the pipes, the tracker style bars, the rigid tail and the spool front hub all had to be hunted down along with tons of other little pieces to make this period correct. The hardest part, at the time, was the dual carb manifold. Now being re-popped in billet, but unavailable several years ago, not to mention billet being unacceptable for this bike, John finally borrowed one, had a mold made by a professional sand caster, and cast about a dozen (the others being sold to pay for the expense). You literally cannot tell the difference between the original and the re-pops from J and M. After way more time and money than anticipated was put into the bike (isn't that always the case?) John finally completed the T100R and showed it off at a local rally. As luck would have it, a writer from The Classic Motorcycle was there and the bike became the cover story a few months later.
|1955 T100R. Extremely rare!|
|Dual carb racing manifolds - limited stock left!|
|The manifold and racing carbs in place. Check out the remote float!|
|The article has been mounted and framed above the bike in Johns shop.|
|Pre war 350 single with a post war parallel twin behind it.|
My bike is coming together nicely. I've learned so much from my experiences working with John. My last visit was the first time we actually began putting pieces back together. Next visit we should have the rolling chassis done and the engine in a stand, mostly assembled. Theres still the tank situation we are trying to sort out. My bike, being a UK spec Bonneville had a larger capacity tank than the US market version. I have a tank thats the right size, but the badge holes won't line up with anything we've tried. What my tank originally was for remains a mystery, but John has a lead on a UK 66 tank that he thinks we might be able to trade for mine. We still have a little ways to go, but I'll have it up and running by spring rally season. Expect to see it at Oley!
|My frame is together and looking great!|
|John takes a load off. It was 5:30pm and friday. Time to relax.|
After getting the frame sorted John and I hung around his shop for a while, just shooting the breeze. He's as friendly as he is knowledgable. We chatted about family a bit. Johns sons Steven and Michael are very competent riders, they took second and third, respectively, at last years Turkey Pro Slow Race (a trials type of event thats a battle of skill and balance,) and they almost beat 4 time champion Tom Swan by a matter of seconds. Michael Melniczuks son is just a little tyke but is already getting on a mini bike with the help of his father - "Im teaching him to ride fast" Michael boasts. Including Johns grandson there are 5 generations of motorcyclists in the family!
Johns business has been pretty busy as of late. To the point where his own projects are on hold. There are several complete restorations coming in this winter, the constant maintenance on all the Cubs that competitors bring to John before and after races and trials, theres a Triton in the works - two actually, one's a customers and one is his. Eventually my Triton project will come to head and that'll make three! Some serious work is coming out of this shop - my Triumph Bonnevile being one of them. I can't wait to get it on the road but I'm enjoying the learning process as well. You can bet all the parts will be correct and my hardware will be cadmium plated - including that star plate on the steering damper. John would have it no other way.