I wonder how Peter (Palm) and Nicol (Louw) are coping with these temperatures. Wait, Peter’s BMW R 1200 GS has heated grips … I only wonder how Nicol is doing.
I am seated on the MV Agusta F4 RR and even though the outside temperature is just over 5 degrees Celsius, it feels closer to -5 degrees Celsius when riding at an indicated 130 km/h. Nevertheless, we have 350 km to ride today, so we beter get used to having cold fingers and toes.
Little over a year and a half ago I read a story about Thinus Coetzer’s motorcycle collection in this village at the foot of the Northern Cape. I immediately made a decision: I have to visit Nieuwoudtville to see that collection.
Fast-forward to 2012, and after several phone calls, emails, planning and all three test bikes turning up in time (BMW R 1200 GS, MV Agusta F4 RR and the Suzuki GSX-R750L1) we braved the cold and tackled the N7 highway.
Thinus has had an interest in motorcycles all his life. About 16 years ago, he bought the small fuel station in Nieuwoudtville. One of the reasons for the purchase was the fact that a few outbuildings formed part of the garage.
Coetzer is a collector of note. A year ago he had close to 170 motorcycles, help-my-traps and everything in between. Today there are approximately 200 bikes!
The smell around the main storage area is a mixture of oil, dust and the sands of time. Thinus knows the history of every bike in his collection and he is like a walking Wikicyclia. He shared with us his reasonings for why some of the motorcycles are particularly special, how many were produced, why a specific Ducati didn’t sell and why he is travelling to Mosselbay the following day to purchase another three motorcycles.
We can easily do a blog about each of Thinus’s motorcycles each week for the next four years, so we decided to each pick one and report on it below.
Also stroll through the gallery above for pictures and more details on the collection. Feel free to visit Thinus’s collection whenever you are in the area. Just give him a call before you embark. Details at the end of the story.
Nicol’s choice: 1925 AJS 350
AJS Motorcycles were produced between 1909 and 1931 by a family business in Wolverhampton, England under the name A. J. Stevens & Co ltd before the firm was sold. The first motorcycle produced was a 292 cm3 side-valve engine and a two-speed gearbox and entered the 1910 junior Isle of Man TT with where it came 15th. In 1914 the engine capacity grew to 350 cm3 as per the standing Isle of Man TT junior regulations and gained a four-speed gearbox and chain final drive. That year AJS finished in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and sixth places in the TT – a remarkable achievement. The demand for the bikes was high and AJS had to move its factory to larger premises. Between 1916 and 1919 no bikes were produced for the private customer as a military contract had to fulfilled by AJS. In 1922 the famous Big Port OHV engine of 350cc was introduced and formed the basis of their racing efforts until 1927.
This brings me to the 1925 AJS 350 standing at Protea Motors. Hidden under cover and dust you will find an unrestored version of this timeless classic. Apparently riding one of these involves great concentration. Apart from the odd gear shift lever and throttle, the rider also needed to ensure that the engine was lubricated via a hand pump (loss lubrication system) and the timing and air-fuel mixture was at the correct setting! Today one can just get on a bike and go – but that’s a far cry from the olden days!
Peter’s choice: Honda C110
I was particularly interested in this little 50 cc as this was the first motorcycle I ever rode. In the day when the Germans and Italians ruled and Garellis and Kreidlers were the steeds of choice (if your dad had enough money), along came Honda to boost the numbers with affordable alternatives. My brother and I borrowed a pair of these (one red, the other blue) from our neighbours and proceeded to ride around on our home’s front and back lawns, fiddle with the engines and, of course, the silencer baffle plates (simply held in with one screw) . After purchasing one of them, something went wrong with the bike and our dad agreed to trade it in on a brand new SS50V, the C110 successor. The main differences were that the C110 used pushrods and had a four-speed gearbox, while the SS50V had an OHC and five ratios. The upswept exhaust remained a feature. In 1970, it cost about R0,30 to fill the tank. If I remember correctly the new bike cost around R250. It battled (very slightly) to keep up with the Yamaha FS1E which was a two-stroke, but on a trip up a steep gravel road at the coast, the Yamaha had to be pushed to the top, whereas the Honda had the low-down torque to keep on slugging it out.
I still claim that the most fun I have had on two wheels was my 50cc days, as you feel like you are racing all the time, coaxing the maximum from the tiny engine and timing your gearshift to perfection (there were no rev counters on small bikes in those days), yet you can easily stay within speed limits. Fun days!
Since most 50 cc bikes have been thrashed all the way to the scrap heap, very few remain in reasonable nick and are therefore increasingly valuable. If you have one, look after it.
Wilhelm’s choice: Danuvia from Hungary
When Thinus mentioned the word “agent” I took notice. He acquired this Danuvia from an agent that worked under South Africa’s previous government in Hungary. According to Thinus it is only one in South Africa. I do believe him, since this ‘cycle was imported by the agent in a knocked down state from Hungary in the days of the iron curtain. Just imagine the stories this bike can tell.
Although Danuvia was founded in 1924, it seems the company has only recently started to manufacture motorcycles again. Problem is, the company’s website is in Hungarian, and there is no little Union Jack button to click.
Thinus decided to start up this 1958 Norton ES2 for us. He admitted it is one of his favourite bikes. Judge for yourself as he started it, followed but such a slow engine idling speed you can almost count each combustion chamber explosion.
Protea Motors collection
Thinus Coetzer: 027 218 1076
We stayed at Hendrik Van Zyl’s geusthouses for R220 pppn
Contact number: 027 218 1535
**Thanks to Morne Mundey of the Christian Motorcycle Association for help with taking pictures and driving the luggage car.