British Diesel Motorcycle Rally 2012

Bat and Ball

We had a total of four Track T800CDi motorcycles attend the 2012 Dieselbike event.

My brother and I arrived at the Bat and Ball on Wednesday the 30th to be greeted by our German friends Matt and Hans. They told us that someone else had already turned up even earlier than them and then had gone already! From the description given by the landlord we figured it was probably Sönke and sure enough, who should roll in the following day sporting his trademark Viking beard but the man himself. He quickly explained that he had a flywheel problem in the Gloucester area whilst touring about the country and a local plant hire guy had helped him fix it for free. Well done that man who ever you are!

Sönke and his 'Mule'.

Next to arrive were Sean over from Norfolk and Teun in his Zeus Sidecar outfit from the Netherlands. Also around this Jeff had taken the van to Gatwick to collect Ola the Viking who hasn’t finished building his new motorcycle just yet. Collection proved troublesome as the phones wouldn’t connect and so I ended up bringing these two together with the aid of Facebook and a Gatwick Traffic Warden!

You'd never guess it was our Jubilee holiday would you? Great show from Sean.

Come the Thursday and Friday mornings we all rode out for pre-rally breakfasts at the nearby Chalet Café and personally I found this to be a great way to get into the swing of things. Nothing like a big breakfast at a transport café even if the weather was a little changeable.
Those who arrived early were given a tour to the local cafe and then to Devils Dyke, a local scenic viewpoint.

Friday saw Sean dismantling his Enfield to tackle a clutch problem. The pushrod appeared to not be hardened properly and he’d lost the crucial ball bearing somewhere on the M25 causing the end to flare out and restrict movement. Luckily the garage situated across the road from the Bat & Ball are always willing to help guys out and sure enough they didn’t disappoint.
Sean gets stuck into sorting his Clutch problem.
I also placed a call to Diesel Dave who was heading down soon on his trusty Enfield Sluggy and he very kindly brought along spare bearings. For future reference he also pointed out that if one was truly in the brown stuff as regards a shortage of pushrod bearings, the one situated in the kick start pedal could suffice!
Guzzi Ray rides in on his 'Snot Pump' Diesel Chopper.

As mentioned on some of the promotional rally page’s (i.e. Facebook, Twitter etc.) it was great to see four Track T800CDi motorcycles arrive over the course of the weekend. First to arrive was Bert from the Netherlands who, after parking up outside the Bat & Ball, was immediately surrounded by interested rally goers.
At noon on Saturday the owner of the Track company itself, Erik, rode in with two friends on a further three T800 bikes. No sooner was their camping gear unloaded than they readied themselves to join the run out. While chatting later that evening Erik informed me that he was very pleased to have had four people express a serious interest in buying his motorcycle. On the strength of this interest alone he informs me that they will most likely be attending the Hamm rally in September for the first time.
Bert's T800 parked up outside the pub.

Even though Mr Jochen Sommer couldn’t make it this year he was represented by Ian who brought along one of his new motorcycles. As I’ve mentioned in previous reports, this bike may resemble an Enfield at first glance but it most certainly isn’t. The frame is completely new and was inspired by Triumph designs from the late 70’s.

A Sommer Hatz diesel motorcycle by Jochen Sommer.

I’m glad Mouse attended this year as he had his new ‘built in a week’ dieselbike to display. After the sad demise of the 1.9Litre VW based monster he rode to Hamm last year he was forced through necessity to build his latest creation in seven days flat, fuel costs being very much on his mind. It features a Kubota 482cc twin engine from a refrigeration truck mated to a haft-drive and fitted into an older BMW R65 frame. No cutting of frame was necessary either! As always, Molly the dog was in the trailer behind!

Built in a week - but you'd never know it would you?

We are normally blessed with good weather but this year the forecast looked a lot less uncertain. Luckily it was warm and what rain did fall came during the hours of darkness. I’m not sure about others but my brothers tent suffered a groundsheet failure of sorts which saw us driving sharp pointy things through it in the dead of night in an effort to drain away the water.
We had a guy actively selling some surplus and biking gear this year and I was most relieved when he was able to supply me with a cover for the bike just prior to the downpour. Price? Just £1 Cheers mate!

I’m pleased to say T-shirt sales were more brisk this year after we commissioned artist Owain Bulger to come up with an appropriate image to represent what we do. I’d had a few requests to have a black shirt this year and so we started out knowing the image would be in white. Unfortunately costs prevented a rear print this year but we included a QR scanner code on the front to direct smart phones to our website. I also sold off some shirts remaining from last year at a knock down price.
It was also good to get some feedback from rally regulars who tell me they wear their T shirts around the world and get noticed doing so. Thanks for spreading the word guys!

The same image was used within our Long Distance Award inspired by the early travels of Ernie Dorsett by Diesel motorcycle. It was a close run thing this year with three riders from Germany in the running. After much asking of home postcodes and consulting of computers it was clear that the distance to Sönkes home (as the crow flies) was the furthest and so he collected the award. If anyone would like Owain’s contact details just drop me a line via the contact page. He’s very reasonable and can supply the artwork in a variety of formats needed by T shirt printers. Our T shirts were supplied by Asylum from Piltdown, East Sussex.

The Harley Dieselson has been a firm favourite at the Big Knock for a few years now.

Great to see the Harley Dieselson made it again and many thanks to Whisker’s and his lady who brought along a photo board with some intriguing pictures of his new build, the monster bike built around a 2.3 Litre Mercedes engine. He informs me that this bike, cosmetically finished or not, WILL go up the drag strip at the Bulldog bash come August. Whisker’s is certainly not the only one who wants to see a 100mph certificate handed out to a diesel powered motorcycle!
Incidentally, if anyone has noticed a slight resemblance between the aforementioned Whisker’s and the character on the front of this years T shirt I can assure you that this purely coincidental.

Early shots of Whisker's monster diesel bike build - minus the secret parts you understand.

In-between all the bike action Ola the Viking was downing bottle after bottle of Baileys and sleeping outside rain or no rain and only God knows how he didn’t get pneumonia. And I guess he was making good use of the new toilet facilities after drinking all that booze. I must say that after years of suffering with poor toilets and showers it was a joy to see some new porta-cabins had been installed. The fuse or trip blew out on Friday plunging the shower into darkness but someone soon fixed that and thankfully it lasted the weekend. I did fix a busted toilet seat later though – leave as you find and all that.

Helmets go up in unison - it must be time for the rideout. The field was thundering soon after!

The Saturday Run out was to Motori Di Marino, a local motorcycle shop specialising in all things Italian. Just about every bike that attended the rally made it there and it wasn’t long before the entire front of the shop was full of diesel powered machines. Some even took the opportunity to fill up at the pumps! Our photographer Chris road over in Teun’s Zeus Sidecar along with Ola.
Many thanks to the guys there for hosting us and supplying the coffee and sausage rolls. All donations will go to the supported CT Scanner Appeal.
The builder of the Smart Tiger, Neil Laughlin, had arrived late Friday night after a gruelling journey over from Northern Ireland but with such a heavily loaded up bike strapped down on the ferry he had kinked his side stand somewhat. The guys at Motori Di Marino wasted no time in pressing this straight for him and I thank them for helping out here.
Back in the field Neil took a look over the second Tiger he’s recently built (mine actually) and offered a few specific pointers on diesel bikes maintenance. After a few adjustments he took the bike out for a spin and on returning declared that it felt totally different from his ride. I too then pointed out a few things I had modified finishing up with a quick demonstration of how to access my toolbox which is cunningly hidden within my now unused left hand side silencer.
German Daihatsu alongside my British built Tiger outside Motori Di Marino.
It was great to see bikers such as Paul, Mike, Alex and others inspired to build their own machines and ride them over to the Big Knock. I only wish I had more time to look over individual motorcycles! I did though listen with all ears as Mike talked several of us through his used of LED’s for the main beam on his Enfield as it’s a route I think many of us would like to go down in the future.
LED Headlight on Mikes bike. Sönke looks over Kevin and Pauls bikes just after they arrive on site.

The best thing about this event is how it brings like minded bikers together to talk about their machines and gives everyone else plenty to marvel at. The inventiveness and ingenuity on show in this little corner of Sussex is something to behold.

Erik, owner and builder of theTrack T800CD, had much interest in his motorcycles on Saturday.

Two shot's of Tom's Heiko build bike complete with Turbo. Tom rode over from Frankfurt with his wife.

Save the engine shot on the left for a better view of the Kipor V twin.

We'd not seen this before - A Honda conversion up from the West country.

I’d like to thank Wolf for his gift of wine and I must also thank Dave who came two days running on his original Tiger and gave me a spare seat. I am using it now but let me know (via a text) what you want for it as with so much going on I missed reimbursing you for it!
It was great also to see Chris and Neil over from Box Hill. I hope you got some inspiration for a veggie fuelled bike Chris and plenty of bikes with character here eh Neil?
It was good to meet William from the USA and I will be eternally grateful to friend Gordon who gave up the last XXXL T shirt for our transatlantic visitor. And it was
a total surprise to meet Pete and his missus, a guy I’d worked with many years ago and someone who was one of the first people to see my original Hatz diesel Enfield purchased from Charnwood back in the day. Good to see you Pete and I just know you’re going to be looking at those caterpillar engines in a different light now!

We had a pretty good turnout Saturday afternoon with plenty of people stopping by to view the bikes.

More than one person remarked to me that there seemed to be a wider selection of diesel bikes this year and I guess they were probably right. Of course, there were a good many Enfield based conversions, the separate gearbox always proving popular, but we also had several homebrew Honda conversions built by Alex and Dave as well as six bikes sporting the fully electronic 800cc Smart car engines. Mouse was there with his totally unique Kubota build as was the multi-coloured outfit from Germany which was using one of the better clones, a Kipor V twin engine. We had Tom and his wife along with one of Heiko’s Triumph Speed Triples and Mr Panzer over with his BMW Daihatsu bike, one of the quietest diesel machines I think I have ever heard. And then there was Ian on his Ruggerini Chopper, Ray on the ‘Snot pump’, Whisker’s, Kevin, visiting journalist Peter Henshaw on his Fuji Robin, Nick over for Kent on his Hatz 350 Enfield, not to mention the other Enfield’s newly converted and not forgetting the Zeus and Corda sidecar outfits.

In total I counted 30 Diesel powered motorcycles this year and that includes the three with sidecars and the sidewinder of course. I’d like to thank all the riders who made the effort to attend as well as the many sightseers who came by on the Saturday. I’d also like to thank all the friends who responded to my emails and texts – I hope you found it as interesting and varied as I did. We’ll be doing it all again next year.
And, of course, we all know that what happens on The Big Knock, stays on The Big Knock ;-)

General Rally shots:

Mike's Enfield conversion.

Diesel bikers, the pair of them - Sönke and Jeff lark about at the Chalet Cafe.

I shot of the dash on Alex's bike.

Diesel Dave's Sluggy!

Sönke gets the award for the longest distance to home - but it was a close run thing.

Steve's Enfield Kubota conversion.

Would you believe Ola had earlier stated, "why cultivate hair on your face when it grows free from your arse?"

Here we can see that hot air is being routed up from the engine and through the tank bag. Hmmm....

Ola mixing his drinks...

Molly gets some attention after her trip down from Wales.

Teun's Zeus in which he treated everyone to a rideout.

Diesel powered Corda - a very rare beast indeed!

You look how I feel - Put the kettle on pronto. Too much Baileys I think.

Another one of the new Enfield conversions! Sorry you guys caught the traffic on the runout :-(

Ian's mighty diesel powered chopper!!

All the wood I carefully collected to support bike side-stands strangely disappeared. More hmmm...

If you want to stage an event why not book it in at the Bat and Ball? Check out their website or call Mark on 01403 700313. It is an excellent venue set in the beautiful West Sussex Countryside with three fields for camping and caravans.

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