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Best in show

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Had a lot of fun investigating the motorcycle show this weekend, and in the process turned up still more (entirely superfluous) evidence that I’m a little bit on the odd side. I went because I always have a great time exploring things with my friend Nada, and my curiosity about almost everything is approximately infinite.

Also came equipped with several mental filters that I thought might be useful. I’m a lifetime non-vehicularist, but I’m also a technician (lapsed) with a great interest in applied cleverness and it’s dividends, expected and otherwise. Psychology and history and their interaction with evolving technology is another major obsession. Even marketing holds odd clues.

But when it came right down to it, in a whole show full of shiny mechanical objects designed to appeal greatly to men in my general demographic, nothing in the whole grand hall was anywhere near as interesting to me as this very modest exhibit in the quietest corner of the show.

As an object, it is a Czechoslovakian bike (CZ Jawa) from the late thirties, and was billed not as a rider but as a rare and wonderful restoration opportunity. We showed up at the end of the last day of the show, and the enthusiasts who manned this booth were delighted tell us about the surprising number of people who approached them with huge excitement about their vintage contribution to the show, and then immediately started into sweet little stories of their childhood memories in eastern Europe – of this, or very similar bikes (My dad, my uncle, my grandfather.. had one)

They tried to list all the countries of their misty-eyed visitors, and lost count!


This was really not at all like the general tone of conversation over at the Suzuki booth (no aspersions whatsoever meant by that specificity). ;o)

The second thing that was lovely here, was that the key parts of the motor for this bike were actually sand-cast, which means they came out really crude every time, and had to be hand-worked by skilled craftspeople to arrive at their final finish and tolerances – which makes it very much sculpture, albeit with function and thermodynamic efficiencies foremost in mind.

(A heat-sink never really looks like exquisite and powerful design genius, until you’ve watched a bunch of really great things melt, snap or combust, for wont of one which is adequate to task). Lovely styling a definite plus.

Beyond that, the designers came up with their own clever way to make the starter also work double duty as a clutch, to save the need for constant hand-pressure when idling at a light. Trying harder than they had-to.

Hand-crafted cleverness that wants patient careful loving work and evokes a million fond stories of the long lost grandpa, back in the day.

Best in show – hands-down.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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