British Diesel Motorcycle Rally 2016

Great to see Gaby and partner over for the first time!

Well, what can I say about the 2016 UK rally? I was receiving constant warnings as to the approaching bad weather but thankfully, it only arrived after the event had officially ended. Sönke was the first to arrive on site, turning up late Tuesday evening. I was busy performing a last minute oil top up on the diesel Tiger when I got wind of this and so quickly set off over to The Wisborough Pub (as its now called) on my Grom.
After some banter with other campers, Sönke & I retired to the bar until late and reminisced about past rallies. Eventually I left for home & returned the following day in my brothers van which, as always, acts as our support vehicle. Inside were chairs, tables, food & the all-important rally T Shirts & pre ordered hoodies.
My brother was away on important business and so, having only one pair of hands, I had had to leave the Tiger for collecting the day after. It didn't feel right starting a motorcycle rally without a bike to hand but I just had to curb the edginess I was feeling & get on with setting up. Sönke steamed in & helped put up the tents and soon after regular Matt rolled onto the site along with Edwin, his son Dennis & Steven, all on 462cc Sommer Enfields.

The first rideout to the cafe gets underway.

About this time friends Chris, John & Alan arrived along with Alex over from the Netherlands on his Honda Shadow and before long bikes were rolling in thick & fast. Good to see Arno and Yvonne over on their diesel Ruggerinni outfit too along with Mike who we last saw a few rallies ago. Then Whiskers and Sally rolled in with the Harley Dieselson closely follwed by Teun and Amie. Before long we were filling the field again!

Lucky again with the weather!

Unlike previous years, T shirt design and production had gone very well. We liked the first motif drawn up by David Leek and after he'd changed to text about to suit we hit the go button and had them run off.
Like the International Diesel Rally does occasionally, we ran with three different colour T shirts this year, grey, green and blue as a welcome departure from the often used black. This didn't stop the odd person saying that they could no longer wipe their sooty stained hands down the shirts in safety but we thought that a small price to pay.

We'd also had a request to print the logo on hoodies this year but they priced up as being quite expensive so we had to ask anyone interested to pre-order. I had numerous rally goers ask me for these but, of course, we'd only done a limited amount and had no spares. Maybe next time we will try and got the word out better on this front instead of just using social media. Our T shirts were supplied by Asylum from Piltdown, East Sussex.

There's always a number of incidents and the first one came on an early breakfast run to the chalet cafe. I still didn't have a bike so had jumped in the car with John and Alan and hightailed it off site to catch up with the recently departed Enfields. Minutes later we were stuck in traffic approaching Billingshurst and there before us were our bikers, running all over the road to collect an exhaust tail pipe and its associated parts! I at first thought it had fallen from the only petrol bike present as Alex was juggling with the hot pipe. Turns out it had indeed fallen from a diesel Enfield and so we grabbed the offending item and lobbed it into the boot of John’s motor.

We then drove off sharpish as to not add to the traffic chaos not realising that those few riders left did not know the way to the cafe! Fortunately, communications being what they are these days the boys hooked up with the others & eventually found the place.

We all tried to help out when Pascal suffered engine problems on his Hatz machine but despite getting it running, after a fashion, we later found out he didn't quite make it home. He took part in the rideouts though, getting a lift and riding pillion with my brother Jeff on the Gram. The ruggerfield was present for the first half of the rally but retired early due to a dragging clutch which we decided to fix later, after the rally.

All the tools came out to mend Pascals bike.

Must thank Alfred for his efforts in making and then transporting over the rather surreal, pink 'diesel_bike' logo which I presume were laser cut? Almost every bike present had one attached to it at one stage or another over the rally weekend. I even think I sold one to a visitor who was desperate for the logo!

Alfreds #Dieselbike logos were populare with everyone this year.

Strangest request of the rally was for a paint brush hair or bristle to clean out the jet on a blocked carb. A carb at a diesel bike meeting you may ask?! The kids were using it to hack about the field! Anyway, Sönke had a hand in fixing the offending item and the bike was up and running again in no time.

We were blessed with new bikes this year, 3 to be precise and all different in their own ways.

Mike trailered down his almost finished diesel chopper and it was a bike that certainly got some attention. Nestled into the frame was a large Ruggerini engine complete (but not for long?) with cooling fan. The seat was made from an old shovel, various German Crosses adorned the bike and the transmission was not as you might expect through a gearbox, but instead via a beefy looking CVT. The bike joined us on all our runouts and was something to behold!

Left side view of Mikes diesel Chop. Note the CVT drive.

These Ruggerini engines have the air going in and out at the front of the head.

The second bike was very like my own machine, a Smart Tiger; only this time it had come not from Ireland as mine had but from the Netherlands.
It the weeks leading up to the rally I had been chatting with the bikes builder, Kees and had furnished him with various bits of travel information. But, after spending five years or more building this most technical of bikes, he had suffered a puncture just before catching his boat over & only narrowly managed to board the ferry.
Thankfully he suffered no other interruptions and made the Big Knock where we all marvelled at his creation. Always interesting when two bikes are created separately using essentially the same parts. The electronically controlled diesel motorcycles are advanced machines and I take my hat off to those that build them. They still rank as the best 'Motorway Maulers' out there in my view. Turbo charged and capable of over 100mph, these bikes can still turn in MPG figures to die for.

Kees Tiger in the foreground. He almost never made it because of a puncture.

Closeup of Kees Tiger.

The third new bike was created by Bob from Birmingham, a guy I last saw in Hamm. Again, hats off the Bob who put in some extra effort to finish his bike in time for our event. Straight after the diesel 'do' as some are calling it, he headed off to the continent as a continuation of his first major outing on his machine. One hell of a shake down, but there again, Dieselbike builders tend to do these kind of things. Is it the nature of the men or the machines I wonder? A little of both I suspect.

Bob's ZL1000 conversion.

The Rideouts

The early runouts are always to the Chalet cafe for a full Englist breakfast.

As mentioned, this year’s event included many ride outs, something that other motorcycle events sometimes never have due to hangovers etc. Right from the start, the boys rode out for breakfast and later that day attended the Bury biker night high up on the South Downs.
Friday morning saw us all heading North to eat at the famous Rykas before riding up the Zig Zag road to the summit and taking in the view.

The view from the top of Box Hill.

The carpark at Rykas.

About to leave the carpark at the top of Box Hill.

The ride back took us directly across country and up to the village of Coldharbour before we turned South and back to the campsite.
Saturday's outing took us West on the A272 towards out destination of Goodwood Race Circuit but the pack got split up at Petworth and we arrived at the site in two different groups. Despite that staggered entrance the cafe staff were still overwhelmed by our arrival. On the day the Ferrari owners club were using the track and the guys were treated to seeing some fast cars streak past at breakneck speeds.
Good to see that a small pack of the Kubota based bikes broke away from the main group on the return run, gauging acceleration and speed between their various setups, some having CVT and others traditional gearboxes.

Some of the guys can be seen to the right of the tower watching the Ferraris fly by.

Sunday's runout again took us West on the A272 but we soon dropped off the main route, taking a smaller road into a tree tunnelled maze of small lanes which eventually brought us out at Bignor Roman Palace. The site offers tea, coffee and cake along with a great view of the South Downs but the tranquillity of the scene was ruined somewhat by the guy cutting the grass on a tractor!
After a quick cuppa we mounted up and headed for Eartham and Slindon, taking a shortcut across the hills to the Duncton road and riding back to Bury hill for another short break.
This was the last runout for 2016 and we split up with some heading straight back whilst some took a slightly more scenic route.

The bikes parked up at Bignor Roman Palace.

Tim has been using CVT on many of his builds but has gone over to a Honda gearbox with his latest creation. I'm told that the gearbox now runs with sealed bearings throughout and a dry clutch! Personally, many of us love the use of wood on the bike.

Tim isn't afraid to use a bit of wood on his bikes.


We were treated again too this year when Reinhard rode over with the newly modified Flitzbitz, a motorcycle which ranks highly on everybodies list of favourites. Minimalist in nature, it is designed specifically to achieve ultra high MPG figures and has covered many a mile at a very low fuel cost.

The Flitzbitz at the 2016 Big Knock Rally.

Fuel stop at Cranleigh.

Additional pictures from the rally.


#Sommer #Hatz #diesel motorcycle by Jochen Sommer.

Arno had his diesel outfit on the road this year. It has an MD191 engine.

Milke came over from Ireland with his Kubota again this year.

A shot of Mike riding out on his diesel bike.

Diesel outfit.

Tony and family during the runout in Cranleigh.

Edwins bike with Alfreds in the background.

Eating and drinking too much is quite common at the rally. Alex was hit by a tree on the return journey but survived.

BBQ Swiss sausage curtesy of Rudy.

Bikes lined up at the #chaletcafe.

More bikes at the Chalet Cafe.

Andreas smart BMW.

Steve, Tim, Diesel Dave, Bernt,Yvonne, Arno and Elki.

A big thank you to everybody who journied to this years Big Knock and made it happen!






SJS © Copyright All Rights Reserved