The 2014 International Diesel Motorcycle Rally, Hamm, Deutschland.
My brother and I arrived at Brauhof Wilshaus just after 5pm Thursday for the 2014 International Diesel Motorrad Treffen. The weather was good for the ride over from England and it stayed that way for the remainder of the rally with the exception of Sunday morning which saw some heavy mist.
On the way over we'd talked about where to set up our tents and this year chose to be away from the pigs and put up our gear on the far side. The ground was bumpy and I feared for my safety when riding over but gunned the Tiger over the uneven ground and positioned it facing towards the centre of the field. Jeff did likewise and we left some space between us because of the snoring issue!
The view from the British camp! The Hamm rally in full swing. Smart Tiger Left - Ruggerfield right.
A few of the regulars were there such as Matt, Sönke, Mr Wooli and wife plus the 'Professor' and others. Thursdays are always a good time to get to chat with the Landlord Willy as things are a good deal less hectic then and just sitting in that old and atmospheric farm courtyard outside the bar brought memories of previous gatherings flooding back. The buildings and farm have been in the same family since the 1300's I was told with the now bar area previously being a pigsty. Come Saturday it may well revert to something akin to that status I remember thinking! The conversation ranged from the forthcoming independence vote for Scotland to tanks and machinery.
A Hatz 1B40 diesel engine Royal Enfield.
Seconds later I'm jolted from my thoughts by a distinctive 'donk, donk, donk...' And another diesel motorcycle arrives on site. As always, the big Hatz single cylinder motorcycles, produced mostly by Jochen Sommer, are perhaps the most popular machines at these German gatherings.
Given that the rally has not officially started we are turfed out from the bar early by the younger members for staff who want to get home. Some amongst us grumble that this is the new Germany and I smile at that one.
A great venue for our Rally and the weather is always fantastic.
Friday sees the arrival of a Smart Motorcycle ridden by Andreas and he decides to pitch up next to Jeff and myself over on the far side of the green. We stride across the event field to shake hands and after the introductions to himself and his partner we are told a story to send chills up the spine of any motorcycle tourer.
These guys had set out on a long tour east taking in Romania along the way and three weeks into the ride had been attacked by Gypsies. They had thrown a large rock at our friend and knocked many teeth out and broken his jaw! But shit happens he says, being very stoical about the whole thing.
You'd never guess that the owner of this Sommer Hatz motorcycle was a fan of said TV series would you?
With that he whips out a decidedly cheap looking bottle of clear coloured liquid along with a felt tip marker and proceeds to scrawl a skull & crossbones across it. "Try this!" he says, his now somewhat crooked jaw contorting into an evil grin. My brother and I are somewhat hesitant but in keeping with the spirit of things decide to have a taste. Jeff takes a small gulp and his piston is immediately primed, his face screwed up as if it is controlled by a puppeteers hand and his Adam's apple working overtime. I am even less enthusiastic about the imminent tasting but carry on regardless. I must confess it is an acquired taste, the flavour being akin to some kind of watered down drain cleaner.
The Diesel Wiesel crew never miss a Hamm motorcycle rally.
Andreas proudly declares this 'brew' to be the result of his gatherings from the Fusion festival. It slowly dawns on us that we have drunk a concoction of hundreds of leftovers and that our friend has been engaged in doing something that we, in our youth, called 'minesweeping'. Urgh! See a picture of this down the page.
Later at the rally he tells us of his latest project, one more in line with ours (and your) interests I suspect. He has been on a website called How to make diesel cheaply from waste plastic and tells us there is much reading there on the subject. Get the right catalyst and you can do it we are told but finding exactly the right one can be tricky as nobody wants to talk about this part.
Chatting with Matt he tells me Jochen has given his Royal Enfield a good service and replaced all the wheel and gearbox bearings. It should last another hundred thousand he says.
As always, the runout happened on Saturday but it was a little late this year and a few riders missed out on it. Willy lead the group of about twenty riders out and along many (what I would call 'C') roads, criss crossing the fields thereabouts until we reached a large concern which turned out to have a restaurant attached to it. Willy shelled out for coffee and Coca Cola for everyone and we all stood about chatting in the garden overlooked by some nearby giant wind turbines. On the other side of the garden three chickens went about their business as the more detached members of the group gazed on quizzically.
A quick stop midway through the rideout with my brother Jeff looking back.
We parked up during the rideout and went for coffee at this local diner somewhat tucked away on a farm.
Standing about, I began talking with Jochen Sommer about the UK rally, The Big Knock and he told me that Ian from Brighton had forwarded a copy of Bike magazine over with a write up of said event which featured one of his new build motorcycles. These are often mistaken for the Royal Enfield but are subtly different and much improved.
Get in there! Its the best part of the rally for me, documenting the motorcycles and looking over the engines. This is Mikes bike.
As the main day of the Treffen (rally) rolled on, it became clear that the likelihood that we would see something new this year was diminishing. I spotted one slightly unfamiliar bike in the dark and snapped a few shots before it vanished but I think we have seen it before?
This came and went in one evening. I was lucky to get a few shots of it.
DSD KOJOWSKA M72 Diesel motorcycle.
Saturday morning saw Matt saying he thought Ola had arrived from Sweden as a Honda V town 650 had appeared over night with Swedish plates. Sure enough, I found the loveable Viking sleeping in the grass besides the pigpen and got his attention by throwing fallen chestnuts at him. It wasn't long before we were joined by the rest of the gang and Ola, still sleepy from his long, overnight ride, produced a bottle of Amaule.
A little something for your consideration, Sir? Ola produces some booze!
Ola tells us that he wasn't sure whether he could make the rally up until the last minute but managed to sell a product he manufactures at the last minute and so could along. He was exchanging currency with Truck drivers that were heading back to Sweden along the way, as he didn't have time to get Euros before his trip.
Early on, Jeff, Ola and myself went out on a shopping expedition to a nearby shopping complex. Food and wine was the order of the day as it's not always possible to get served at Willys place come the evening, such is the rush.
Always a pleasure to see such a well turned out motorcycle as the Hatz Bulldog.
Saturday night saw me talking with Abel, a French biker who has attended several diesel meetings both in the UK and in Germany. After telling me he intends to go to the Welsh Dragon rally later in the year he complains about French law and how it is hard to build and register custom made machines there. He may end up bringing it to the UK to get it on the road.
This conversation took place in a darkened field next to Sönke's bike as everyone around us was downing beer and and taking turns to start the bike with the rip cord. Shouts of "Come on, man, what are you made of?" and "He's lost his cherry now!" filled the air as biker after biker attempted to start the machine and sometimes even managed it. All this while a fire raged on the BBQ bolted to the rear of the bike. Hours earlier Rudi had been cooking sausages Swiss style on the small rectangular grill and dishing them out to whoever was passing. I'm sure these kind of things don't happen at normal biker events! Crash! A bottle goes over and Sönke protests loudly!
With a wedding reception disco pounding out the music, many off us retreated to the rally field on Saturday night.
Jeff tells me that Alfred had mentioned an Austrian diesel motorcycle rally and produces a couple of stickers printed for the event. It's a bit far into Europe for us to attend I think but I wish them well with their efforts. 2015 may well see an event in Scandinavia somewhere and I also wish those guys the very best of luck in organising such a gathering.
A Track T800 arrives from the Netherlands.
The Hamm 2014 thread on the dieselbike.net forum had come alive in the week leading up to the event and several guys on there including Diesel Dave and newby Alex came along on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately regular member Dan couldn't make it and neither could Ian, he of the Ruggerini 950 chopper. See you guys next year!
This bike needs no introduction!
T shirts were available in black & grey this year at €10 each with Rafael's diesel motorcycle book retailing at €19.95. It is presently only in the German language though and unlikely to make it into English unless a specialist publisher picks it up. It was good to see Neil Laughlin's Tiger in there but our Ruggerfield never managed to get between the covers. Thumbing through the tome I was pleased to see Whisker's machine, the Sprocket, hand made it into print. 100 T shirts were on offer and all sold before the end of the rally. The shirts were sorted and laid out ship shape and Bristol fashion in the back of Rafael's car for all to see.
All this years T shirts sold out I'm told.
Landlord Willy was accompanied some of the time by his tiny dog which had, on previous years, had a bark louder than its bite. Yap might be more accurate but I'm pleased to say the animal had quieted down somewhat this year and the only reaction I and other diesel bikers got from crossing its path was a rather muted, sullen look. But the farm seems to have acquired another terror in the shape of a cat that while friendly, wasn't averse to screaming off into the night across the courtyard at the slightest provocation. And there were plenty of those!
Telling it like it is. This guy knows a thing or two about riding long distances on a diesel motorcycle!
We noticed that the old shipping container that housed extra showers and toilets had gone and so we were forced back into using the in house facilities and the newer set up in the stables. This includes the infamous men's toilet cubicle that has a door that does not close once you are in position!
Early on at the rally Jeff and I were greeted by Reinhard, inspiration behind the German movement, and given a laser cut multitool. The beer bottle opener on it caught my eye straight away and that function wasn't lost on my brother either! Thank you Reinhard!
At one stage Saturday I just happened to be at my tent grabbing a bite to eat when I see a regular rally goer, complete with cardboard box, approach my neighbour with his Smart bike. Before my eyes the box was opened and an ECU withdrawn and plugged into the motorcycle in place of its own control unit. The bikes key is turned and the starter hit and brmmm! - the motorcycle starts up! I ask about the ECU and it seems the original supplier has been persuaded to put some old software onto a chip to create another Smart bike. And more importantly, circuit diagrams to help with such projects are now readily available. It's a shame we dont have the software readily available and open source. This kind of thing is needed if ever the movement is to move on from diesel generator and pump based motorcycles. The modern automotive engines rev higher thanks in part to the electronic technology. The Smart injects three times per cycle, once to aid pre-ignition, twice around TDC and thirdly to help with turbo boost. Older mechanical injected engines can only manage two actions at most.
Perhaps the last ECU of it's type we'll see? This was the final one from the programmer we are told.
The Hatz 1B40 Diesel engine is used in a lot of motorcycles on the scene and while it has proven itself down the years it is not without fault. Rudi rode into the rally from Switzerland telling us that his engine had blown up near to Frankfurt airport leaving him covered in oil. It seems there is a weak point adjacent to an oil way about three fins up the barrel and when this goes there is no fixing it. Luckily Rudi was within distance of Jocken Sommer and the engine was replaced overnight. Presumably it will be returned under guarantee to Hatz.
Speculation is that the thin walled oil way perhaps gives way when water splashes on the air cooled engine but the bike would have to have had a right soaking for this to occur methinks. But Rudi tells me he did hit bad weather in Barden Barden. Other news is that Jochen is moving his place of business so expect changes etc.
Alway plenty of Enfield based machines on the scene because of the seperate gearboxes.
Walking about the rally I didn't see too many repairs being carried out. Some guys travel long distances to the Hamm Treffen that it's inevitable that some bits fall off. I saw one rear puncture being fixed on an Enfield rear tyre and a wheel bearing being sorted on one of the bigger outfits, a Dnepr/Hatz bike. Apparently it easy to do as they just switch wheels with the spare.
A flat tyre and a wheel bearing swap on another bike were the only two bikes I saw being worked on this year.
Us internet types love Wi-Fi because it aids us in posting rally pictures there and then. But the is no connection like this at Brauhof Wilshaus because the farm is some distance from a decent telephone exchange. Willy tells me they are on their way to sorting out this problem and that there should be a decent connection next year. Visiting business men need it he tells me and so do the family. The place is now on Facebook and it is an invaluable tool for promotion. And next year I look forward to getting bike pictures up onto the net in double quick time.
We saw many bikers visiting the site over the weekend and what a great bunch they all were!
As I wandered about the rally looking at all the motorcycles I couldn't help but reflect on the owners too. Guys from every walk of life united by their passion for the machines they ride. Some ride out of necessity, fuel costs being what they are and others ride for the sheer hell of it and just want to be different from the rest of the crowd. Some have been speed freaks in their youth and use the older style Royal Enfield to slow them down while others are breaking themselves into biking and choose this more sedate form of transport possibly before moving on?
And then there are the inventors, the guys who don't buy but build. Their machines are the one off's, the prototypes and the crazy bikes that have everyone else agog!
Good to see Vim drive over from the Netherlands with his motorcycles.
It was good to see the crazy diesel scooter again this year. And it appeared to be fully up and running too as I saw the owner hurtling about the site on it on more than one occasion. The workings of this beast are so intricate you can't help but take your hat off the it's creator. It's not something I would ride in a month of Sundays but it has two wheels and a Diesel engine so where else should it be seen?
We've seen the Diesel Vespa before. Never a crazier machine than this!
Yamaha XT based with a Honda GD410 engine and Hurth gearbox.
At one stage of the rally I bump into one of the Honda Innova guys on the access road and we talk about how the German guys came over for the UK diesel bike gathering. This chap (who's name escapes me) told me what a laugh it was and I get the sound impression they will come again. It's true that these mopeds are very good on MPG but I've always leaned towards the motorcycle aspect, it being harder to achieve high figures with bigger machines.
Many petrol powered machines visited the rally but I was gratified to see that a couple of Honda NC's showed up - an older 700 & newer 750 model. With their long stroke and low revving engines, they are perhaps the closet some will ever get to riding a diesel motorcycle.
The hyper mileage dieselbike movement attracts other like minded riders.
A rare sight indeed, not one but two Zeus machines!
This was a good find by Rafael - Diesel beer!
A cook up on the back of Sönke's motorcycle! Rudi does sausages, Swiss style!
Ford based diesel machines.
A evil concoction!
Diesel Dave's Sluggy made it over to Hamm but Dave says she needs a major overhaul after the run back to Blighty!
The Diesel Wiesel crew having some fun.
The rally is always a popular destination runout for bikers who ride in from far and wide to see what's on offer.
It was hot again this year.
A Sommer Hatz rolling into the rally.
A diesel Tiger with a mechanically injected Lombardini engine.
How do they do that?
Indian influence is strong with the Enfield Brand.
So there you have it. Another great rally at Hamm full of colourful men and their even more colourful machines. Nothing really new this year but somethings came along that will perhaps encourage the bike builders of the future to produce new machines for the coming years.
Many thanks to the organisers for putting on the event again and we hope to see you all again next year! And if you missed it yourself, well, there's always next year. See you there!
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