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Are Replicas really Classics?

Discussion in 'General Classic Motorcycle Discussion' started by 72Combat, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. Triton Thrasher

    Triton Thrasher

    Feb 10, 2009
    What's wrong with licenced copies of auto boxes or Amal carbs or Austin Sevens?

    There were Jap copies of Sunbeam twins, BMW twins and goodness knows what else, but as the Japs improved their design and product, the British factories did the opposite.

    By the time of the Honda 750, there was nothing worth copying.
  2. Acebars


    Aug 12, 2013
    Precisely, and the British bike industry largely did itself in with gross complacency. But that does not excuse questionable Japanese business practices and I am not talking about the few instances when they did actually buy a licence.

    The post-war Japanese industrial espionage effort goes beyond motorcycles, it was in fact every sector in industry right up until the 80-90s with the IBM scandal and the rise of Japanese computer tech firms. No other country has been at it like Japan, even todays China pales in comparison to the outrageous extent the Japanese government in coalition with Japanese firms would go to steal industrial knowledge.

    I am told the most comprehensive museum of British motorcycles is in fact in Japan not Britain, these were all bikes imported specifically to be dismantled, studied and then copied.
  3. Dances with Shrapnel

    Dances with Shrapnel VIP MEMBER

    Jul 8, 2011
    Isn't that a form of flattery? :p

    At the risk of side tracking this good thread, reading this aspect of the thread makes me wonder if Japan was alone in their efforts or were there overt or covert (turn a blind eye) endorsements by one or more governments in the post war years. I am thinking along the lines of a Marshall Plan for nation rebuilding.
  4. Rc588


    Jan 11, 2014
    Hi All

    Above are my 2 norton Classic ?? race bikes,

    The air coold chassis is all origonal as it was built the mostof the stuf are the corect race parts but not nessaseraly actualy raced on this bike they could have been of the sister bikes, the engine core will be recriated as the team did modifing origonal road engine parts. the tank was remanufactured by spondon. The rcw uses a 1988 race frame modifide by spondon to take the water cooled engine. the two previous owners never too the bike to spondon so this means it was done by norton. the swinging arm is a 1989 tt swinging arm, the engine is made up of race spares apart from the right hand end plate which is a nos road version modifyed most of the rest of the bikes parts are ex race spairs or origonal left over parts from the race teams oem.

    So what do we call them, it can get heated as to what they are called,

    Ex works ex so and so racer, to me this means the bike should be exactly as it was when they raced it, and unmodifyed since they last raced it.
    Ex works they are not as to me this implys they are exactly as they last raced with no parts changed.
    Works Race bikes, i would never use that discription as it can imply the same as ex works.
    Restored works race bikes using where possiple the corect type of origonal
    Replica may imply all or nearly all parts are remanufactured or oem parts re engineered to resemble the oregonals.

    It can get heated as to what they are called and beope can get upset by sutch things, i simply referto them as
    1988 SPE/NOR/A/387 Norton RC588 race bike restored useing where possible orional parts or remanufactured by the oem
    1988/9 SPE/NOR/A/396 RCW588 (Firts made as a RC588) restored useing where possible orional parts or remanufactured by the oem

    In truth i amonly interested in what i beilve they are i leav it to others to decide them selves, its worth noting my rcw has its earlyer sister 389 and 406 the next one after mine both origonaly 1988 rc588's in the museum in birmingham are 1990 rcws???

    Regards wayne
  5. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    Can we mention here, as a sidetrack, that the french were the innovators in motorcycles at the turn of the preceding century (circa 1900).
    It was the english and americans etc that were doing the design copying back then - sometimes licenced, sometimes not.
    Remember that Nortons had a range of Peugeot v-twins - one won the 1907 twin cylinder class for them in the IoM TT in 1907.
    And Nortons went on to do their own version of it a year or 2 later, before doing a better single cylinder. And the rest is history.
    Indian in the US copied an imported engine, and a decade later were the largest manufacturer of motorcycles world wide.
    Harley copied an amalgam of Indian and Merkel and and and into their engine, and look where they are now...
    Onda did a range of across the frame 4s, and near every other maker copied/produced something similar.
    Nothing new under the sun...
  6. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Jan 15, 2008
    Wayne, I'd call them "replicas" and footnote whatever additional info/details as the situation calls for.

    Very nice stuff, and quite rare.

    You don't indicate where you are located in your signature. If U.K., rare; if U.S., much more so!
  7. acotrel


    Jun 30, 2012
  8. acotrel


    Jun 30, 2012
    I suggest the biggest killers of classic racing are the radical changes in technology - like should be raced against like even if the development path appears to be a dead end. When you race old aircooled two valve singles, twins and triples against four cylinder bikes and two strokes, you have a mix of technologies on the grid. The power differences often dictate different racing lines which is dangerous, and the races don't even sound right. In addition to those of us who know what the bikes are, there is no interest in making comparisons when one beats another - in short the exercise is pointless. That is why I tend to stay away from historic racing these days. During my lifetime I've seen what excellent racing looks like, modern 'historic racing' is certainly not excellent in any way.
    At the 2008 Goodwood revival I watched historic bike races which were gridded according to type. There was only one four cylinder bike there - an MV500 ridden by Phil Read. The rest were old singles and twins and there were no two strokes anywhere. The racing was perfection and Gardner won on Fred Warmsleys 500cc BSA Gold Star. That meeting will stay with me for the rest of my life.

    2010 :

  9. wilkey113


    May 6, 2010
    To answer the question that was originally posted as the subject of this topic, the very simple answer is NO, replicas are not classics.
    And that's not meant to be derogatory in any way. It's just a simple fact. There are the genuine original bikes, and then there are modern made replicas of those. The only things that people tend to replicate are the cool bikes that are rare. The fact is, that not everyone can own a Manx for example. And there are lots of guys that want to have that riding experience, but either can't find a Manx to buy, or don't want to crash an original bike. So the purpose of a replica is created. Pretty straight forward really.

    I don't understand all the fuss over this topic. Seems like people want to defend the replicas in some way. As if it's a personal attack on them or something. If somebody has a replica and enjoys racing it, then that's fine. No harm. But lets' not all pretend that a replica is the same as an original. If I made a full scale replica of the Statue of Liberty, would it be the same thing? Would it have the same value or meaning? I think we all know the answer to that.

    I personally think that the best replicas, are the faithful reproductions of the originals. Once the so called "improvements" go too far, than I lose interest altogether. If just the silhouette is the same, then it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and it certainly wouldn't give the same experience as the original. I think that's where things go wrong. People try to make it into something that it's not, rather than enjoying it for what it is.

    Somewhere along the way, the facts became opinions, and we've lost sight of it all.
  10. 72Combat


    Jan 4, 2011
    The original question was not worded very well.
    We have Classic Race meets here that are pre 1976.
    My view is that using the Manx as an example that you should not be able to race a 'new' Manx in pre 1976.
    I can appreciate that originals are too expensive etc but they are new replicas and do not belong on the same grid as original old bikes.
    The pre 76 excludes Japanese bikes too, so you end up preserving an era that never existed. The Japanese bikes have to race in a separate class.
  11. pommie john

    pommie john

    Nov 18, 2005

    It's a funny old world. I can remember when Manx Nortons were obsolete junk that no one raced. Now we have classic races and no races them because... they're obsolete and outclassed by newer replicas. Who's going to race what is usually an investment fund and risk blowing it up or smashing it up?

    I don't race my Commando any more because it's a genuine period bike and in my mind irreplaceable and I'm not prepared to increase the compression any more, or try to get more power from such a fragile engine. I don't want to destroy my pride and joy so it's going to be my weekend road bike.

    One last thing is something I read on another forum:

    "if you've got a replica Manx Norton for sale, I've got some replica banknotes to pay you with " :D
  12. pommie john

    pommie john

    Nov 18, 2005

    True and in the UK when I left in 1999 classic racing was healthy and competitive. The rules that worked as far as I was concerned were simple. Two strokes had to be several years older than four strokes in the same class ( I think the dates were '72 four strokes and '69 two strokes) and it simply stated that no 4 cylinder bikes were allowed.
    The grid for my race was made up of triumph and BSA triples, Nortons, a couple of BMWs BSA and Triumph twins and some Italian twins. The Rob North Triples had a slight edge but good riders on twins could beat them especially on the short circuits.

    At that time I think they had the mix about right.
  13. acotrel


    Jun 30, 2012
    I don't have any problem with someone racing a replica in classic races, however if that terminology includes historic races I object. It depends on what event organisers are trying to achieve. Even at Goodwood Revival some of the bikes are not genuine. When as a spectator I pay a lot of money to buy a nostalgia trip, I feel cheated if the bikes are not genuine, authentic and original. My feeling is that at least once per year in Australia, preferably at a championship meeting we should do the complete nostalgia trip - fancy dress, bands, aeroplanes, open wheel racing cars, bikes - the lot and all genuine. For every other event the race classes should be based on technology and capacity differences with total disregard for the niceties of authenticity and date of manufacture. At present our historic racing rules apply to all 'historic meetings' - most of the bikes a non-genuine, if not outright cheaters. I love old motorcycles, however really dislike historic racing. There is nothing beautiful about it and you might as well watch the traffic on a freeway - makes as much sense. We even have some races which include post '62 two strokes along with manx Nortons, and the organisers can see nothing wrong with that. In many 'historic' races, after about one lap the leaders have lapped the tail-enders - you cannot sell that.
    In about two weeks the big meeting at Phillip Island will be on. The bikes are great to look at, and some of the racing will be good especially as the Yanks and Poms will probably be there to inspire our good guys. However I won't be there. I've actually seen excellent road racing during my lifetime, it rarely happens in Australia these days. Our mentality is wrong.
  14. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    Good luck with that then - don't think I've ever even seen such a bike. !!
    Let alone a race bike version of that.

    Do you take your micrometer along, and measure the width of the pinstripes.
    And check that the air in the tyres is still correct mix for the period.
  15. wilkey113


    May 6, 2010
    I think it's pretty clear that you could care less about anything authentic. Your sarcasm is terrible. Why do you even get on the forum if you don't care about the originality of any of these bikes? Strangely, you seem to be hot on making it right with your own early Norton Dominator, as I've seen your thread. But if someone else mentions anything about a bike being right, and original, you like to crap on it.
    What's good for the goose isn't good for the gander, apparently.
  16. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    I'll answer that by saying 2 things.

    Who in their right mind would go to a race meet and expect all the bikes present to be "genuine authentic original" ??
    That is just self-righteous twaddle.
    Blowups repairs and modifications are not allowed in racebikes ????
    ANYONE who has anything to do with race bikes would know that anything goes, and they are generally not original the moment they go out the factory door.
    If folks didn't think they couldn't build a better mousetrap, we'd all still be riding penny farthings.

    And Aco, of all people, has a race bike that never even came out of a factory.
    And has said, variously here, that bikes should all be original, and that bikes should all be allowed to be highly modified, and all the variations in between.
    If that isn't confusing, then what is.
    Having a discussion here is like talking to a revolving door - we never know what will come out next.
  17. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    While we are here, why not go for a wander through any bike museum we could care to nominate.
    And judge how many bikes are "genuine authentic original".

    Or even bikes owned by members on this board.
    Many of which have been proudly shown having mods and alterations done to them.
    And rightly so - they are their bikes, to do to as they see fit....
  18. 72Combat


    Jan 4, 2011
    I been talked into putting my BMWs on display at an upcoming Classic Bike show, where am I going to get 1973, 1974 and 1976 German air for the tyres from....? and one has a bright yellow battery.... :oops:
  19. wilkey113


    May 6, 2010
    I feel that the question is really more about if the bike is an original machine, and not about it being exactly as it left the factory. To me, a genuine bike that was built and raced, and modified during it's time, is still a genuine bike. Even if it's not 100% original, it's still genuine. Lots of bikes with actual important race history, had modifications made my tuners etc, over the years. Upgraded brakes, motor rebuilds and replacements, and the list goes on. Those are the bikes that I like to see. In fact, I'd rather see an as raced machine over one that's been restored and had it's history erased.

    I'm not talking about 100 point restoration, built back to exact factory spec. I'm only talking about race bikes as they existed back when they were current. And my same passion applies to production bikes as well.

    I simply don't place the same value onto a replica machine as I do an original. And I don't much like the upgrades that are made to machines beyond their time frame. Pretty simple. I'm not mad at any of these old bikes. I like them all, and their owners can certainly make changes as they desire. But I think it's good that we celebrate genuine machines and preserve them at any chance we have.

    So to me, the details are important.
  20. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    There goes the neighbourhood....

    I'd comment that I still have the original oem battery out of a 73 850.
    It says proudly on the side - NORTON Yuasa Made in Japan.
    Who'd a thunk...

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