Tag Archives: Ulysses Club

Billy ‘The Mayor’ still riding hard at 93

Billy “The Mayor” Vickery of Regents Park, Logan City, turned 93 last November and is still riding hard, admitting he doesn’t always stick to the speed limit.

He could be the oldest rider in Australia, but you wouldn’t know it when Billy whips by, throttle pinned on his Honda CB400 Super Four.

“I love it. I would ride every day if I could afford it,” he says.

“It’s the feeling of being able to do whatever you want to do. I don’t always stick to the speed limit.

“It’s now slower than when I was riding bikes with poor brakes and cross-ply tyres.

“Speed limits are for trucks and buses.”

Billy timeline

Billy was born in Sydney on 14 November 1926 and moved to Queensland a couple of decades ago to be closer to his grandchildren.

Sadly, in 2002 he lost his wife, Frances, but she still rides with him every day on his keyring.

Billy started riding an Acme two-stroke at 14 but didn’t get his licence until he was 17.

“I rocked up on my Honda CB500 and the copper said, ‘Well you got here, didn’t you?’ and gave me the licence,” he says.

“That was how coppers were back then.”

Some time later Billy met his wife-to-be at a midget car race meeting.

“I was learning the piano accordion at the time and racing midget sprint cars when I met Frances,” he says.

“I quickly sold the piano accordion for a BSA 500 to take her for rides.”

Unfortunately on one of those romantic rides, the BSA’s immovable pillion peg dug in on a corner and they all ended up in the bushes.

“Frances lost the lower part of her leg,” he says.

Tragically gangrene worked its way up her leg over the years, ultimately claiming her life.

They had been married 53 years.

“I had a Harley outfit at one stage and we would go everywhere,” he says.

Billy’s bikesBilly The Mayor Vickery

Billy brings out his photo albums and it’s filled with a wide variety of bikes he’s owned.

“You name it, I’ve had it,” he says.

Billy’s favourite was a Yamaha XJR1300.

However, he says in recent years he’s sensibly downsized to the CB400.

“I started out on a Honda and I want to finish on a Honda,” he says.

Billy has also raced a plethora of brands at Bathurst, Amaroo Park and Eastern Creek, including a track-ready 1976 GoldWing!

Billy The Mayor VickeryRacing a GoldWing with panniers!

“I don’t remember what championships I won, but I did all right,” says the former Gladesville Motorcycle Club racer.

“Rossi Valentino is my hero. I don’t know why they don’t give him a proper bike.”

Billy’s licencesBilly The Mayor Vickery

Billy has also had a truck licence and has driven semis over the years.

“My doctor took the truck licence off me, but I still have a car and bike licence for three years. I could have had them for five years, but I decided to take three and carry a medical certificate with me.

“I’m taking things one day at a time.”

He’s also had a few run-ins with the law.

On one occasion he was pulled over by the police while riding his Suzuki 1200 Bandit which he had fitted out with blue LED “safety” lights.

“The copper let me off with a warning to take them off,” he says.

“I wasn’t going to, but I did and a few days later I saw him again, so just as well.”

On another occasion he was riding with a group who were pulled over for a breathalyser, except for him.

When he asked why, the cop said he would “laugh like buggery” if Billy was over the limit.

Billy’s rides

Billy mostly rides with the Gold Coast Ulysses Club who gave him the moniker of “The Mayor” out of respect for his age.

The Burringbar Range on the Tweed Coast seems to be Billy’s favourite stretchy of smooth, twisting tarmac.

“I always pass the ride captain there,” he says.

“The little girl (CB400) lifts her skirts up and really goes.

“I suspect a couple of speeding tickets will be coming in the post soon, but I’ve been lucky over the years.”Billy The Mayor Vickery

Billy admits to a few crashes in his time, usually when riding too fast for his own skills.

On one occasion he laid down his GoldWing when he knew he wouldn’t make a corner and in another he ended up with a stick going through the leg of his decades-old leathers which he says are “getting a bit thin in the arsehole from crashes”.

“I always wear leathers, a yellow jacket and Rossi boots and gloves. Won’t ride without them.”

The yellow jacket isn’t necessarily so he can be seen by other traffic, but by the other riders in his group as he is usually so fast, he frequently ends up as corner marker.

Billy’s tipsBilly The Mayor Vickery

You don’t get to 93 and keep riding without being able to pass on some riding tips.

My tip is to stay out wide so you can see around the corner; don’t cut in too early,” Billy says.

“I also have a little voice up here,” he says, tapping his temple.

“I think it’s Frances telling me to behave. I think that’s saved me a few times.”

We wish Billy many more safe years in the saddle. What an inspiration he is to us all!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Velocette: A short history and test ride

Former Ulysses Club magazine editor and long-time bike tester Ian Parks (above) takes a 1965 Velocette Venom for a spin.

Velocette hit the streets of Australia in 1965 when Robert Menzies was Prime Minister, James Bond’s Thunderball was at the “flicks”, The Rolling Stones Can’t Get No Satisfaction and the average wage was £15, 8 shillings.

Velocette was a line of motorcycles made by Veloce Ltd, Hall green, Birmingham, England.

The brand acquitted itself well in racing from the 1920s through until its demise in 1971. In 1933, the single-cylinder 250ccMOV was created using overhead-valve operation. It was capable of 60mph (96km/h).

Probably the most recognisable Velocettes to many of us are the Venom and Thruxton models (1955 to 1970). These 500cc singles were capable of about 100mph (160km/h) producing up to 44bhp (32kW). The pinnacle of the Thruxton’s racing success is the win at the 1967 Isle of Mann Production TT.

This test bike is a 1965 499cc Venom which would have cost £500 ($1000) when new. It started life as a solo and was married to its sidecar some 18 months after purchase. The owner of this British thoroughbred is Gloucester Branch Ulysses member Neil McMeekin #64828. He has been custodian of his ‘Velo’ for about nine years.

1935 Velocette Venom outfit
Ian on the Venom

Meeting the Velocette Venom

I’m approaching this test ride as I if it was 1965 when Neil bought the bike.

When I meet him, Neil is casually dressed wearing a t-shirt with the words, “With British Bikes, you’ll never walk alone!”

Why a Velocette? I asked. “My very colourful Uncle Jack owns and races one. He’s the type of Uncle you fear allowing your children being influenced by. I love him, he’s great.”

1935 Velocette Venom outfit
Uncle Jack

We step forward to take in the view of the drop dead gorgeous motorcycle, a pinnacle of British engineering.

The ironing board seat has a height from ground of 31 inches (780mm) and will suit riders of slight build. The standard handlebars cause the rider to be bent forward, so, this requires the head to be tilted up. I suggest that riders of taller than average stature, may find this somewhat uncomfortable.

Time to ride1935 Velocette Venom outfit

We proceed to the Velo and I receive the relevant instruction for starting the massive 500cc beast. Turn on the fuel, ‘tickle’ the Amal carburettor, adjust the advance/retard, choke, decompression valve, switch on the ignition and then operate the kick starter. The beast fires, twist the throttle and allow it to warm up.

Pull in the light clutch, lift the right hand gear shift to first and away we go. Kick down the shifter and we’re into second, down again, all the way to fourth, the sweet spot of about 45mph (70km/h) being reached, I settle into the experience of this modern ‘dream machine’. Top speed for a solo Venom is up to 100mph (160km/h).1935 Velocette Venom outfit

I do a few circuits of town and get the feel of the machine. The handling is superb for an outfit, the adjustable steering damper control works a treat and the brakes are excellent.

I return the Velocette to the overly anxious owner and thank him for the experience.

It is difficult to imagine any future motorcycle being able to surpass this masterpiece of mechanical excellence.1935 Velocette Venom outfit

Vintage Velocette

Back to 2019. In this era, the Velocette is a classic Vintage motorbike. It’s a 54-year-old unrestored superbly maintained machine that Neil uses on a regular basis. Owning one is fraught with all sorts of dramas and should be very carefully considered before embarking on any proposed purchase.

He has ‘customised’ it with a few things to ensure his ageing frame can keep enjoying it for many years to come.

Engine starting is not user friendly as the kickstart throw is shorter than on a similar aged Triumph or BSA. About five years ago an after market electric starter was installed. The electric start also required the original 6V system to be converted to 12V. The engine management controls aren’t simple and virtually require a TAFE course.1935 Velocette Venom outfit

Spark is generated via magneto (yep, magnets). No batteries required! Just like the old Victa mowers we used back last century. Simple technology that’s still used today e.g. mowers, chainsaws etc.

The rear brake is a mechanical standard drum, which works acceptably. Neil paid for a twin leading shoe front which makes it more adequate. There is no sidecar brake. This all said, braking operation in all conditions requires planning. It’s a 1965 bike with brakes designed in 1935.1935 Velocette Venom outfit

Riding an outfit

If you’ve never ridden an outfit you’d be mad to buy one without having an experienced person teach you. It’s a completely different riding skill. Just negotiating a carpark is an experience, you have to be constantly aware of your extremities, and there is no reverse gear so choose where to park carefully.

Engine maintenance is pretty good, especially on a solo ‘Velo’, but remember, if the left side of the bike has a sidecar, it may require removal in some cases.1935 Velocette Venom outfit

Parts of the rear frame look pretty spindly. However, all the front-end and geometry must be pretty well matched as there is no need for leading links etc.

The gear ratios are a good match for the engine. Neil states, “Warming up the bike is essential as gear shifts are a ‘cow’ when cold; lots of false neutrals too”.

Touring? You can take the kitchen sink! The sidecar storage can swallow a passenger plus a big esky. Neil advises that the trick is to place the heavier mass at the back rather than the front.

The original tool kit has an array of Imperial British Standard spanners. It included a tyre pump not unlike the old push bike ones, just a bit larger in capacity. I asked Neil what he considered was an essential part of the ‘Velos’ toolkit for breakdowns? “A trailer”! was his answer.

Fuel tank capacity is 4 gallons (18 litres) which gives a range of about 160 miles (250km). Neil estimates the fun factor at 110%.

Resale value1935 Velocette Venom outfit

Resale value today? Well, depending on what you’re after, you could be looking at around the $35,000 to $40,000 mark.

Neil is unassuming, knowledgeable and has a wry sense of humour. The bike is no shortage of challenges either, many is the time Neil has had to scour the various clubs or the internet for information on what appears to be a perplexing halt to forward motion. During these times Neil will tell us to “ask me about the ‘Velo’”. Dutifully we ask and then receive the hand on forehead reply “I don’t want to talk about it!”

So what happened to the Velocette? The same thing that killed off much of England’s motorcycling industry … the emerging dominance of Japanese motorcycle manufacture.

The 1968 Honda CB750 was innovative, cheap, reliable, fast and had electric start. Add a dash of English complacency, and it was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for all those great British Bike legends.

May Your Lid Never Skid, Ian Parks #11735

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Riders invited to Ulysses Road Safety Forum

Riders will be able to get expert safe-riding tips, legal advice and guidance on safety gear from three of the top experts in these fields at the Ulysses Club The Road Safety Forum.

Ulysses road safety chairman Dave Wright says the expert presenters are Tim Conboy of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Kenn Beer of Safe System Solutions and Dr Liz De Rome of Deakin University and Motocap, the world’s first rating system for motorcycle clothing protection.

Testing motorcycle in the thermal chamber (from left) research assistant Liz Taylor, volunteer rider Dr Greg Peoples, Liz de Rome and Nigel Taylor. rating forum
Liz de Rome (second right) monitors motorcycle gear testing

“This will be an informative forum and, as I know these presenters personally, also a very entertaining couple of hours, “ Dave says.

The forum is open to Ulysses Club members and the general public who attend the Annual Rally Open Day on Thursday February 28, 2019, at the Mornington Racecourse, Victoria.

Forum cost is $15 for adults, children 5-16 years $5, under five years free. 

Road Safety Forum experts

“Tim will be giving us all the latest of our legal rights as motorcycle riders and what they have been fighting for on our behalf,” Dave says. 

He provided the following details on Kenn and Liz. 

Kenn is a specialist road safety engineer and accredited trainer with 18 years of experience in road safety in Australia, the USA, Asia and New Zealand.

During his time at VicRoads, Kenn held a variety of positions including Senior Road Safety Engineer, Motorcycle Safety Coordinator, Team Leader Road Safety Projects and Manager Program Development.

Kenn is recognised as a world leader in motorcycle safety infrastructure and has had roles advising the Australian, New Zealand, Philippines and Colorado Governments on the subject.

While at VicRoads Kenn spent years managing the Motorcycle Safety Infrastructure Program. In this time, over $25 million were invested in Victoria on infrastructure improvements to specifically reduce road trauma for motorcycle riders. 

Kenn is a licensed rider, accredited trainer, assessor and Senior Road Safety Auditor. In 2017, Kenn led a team that won a Prince Michael International Road Safety Award for the Making Roads Motorcycle Friendly training package.

Dr Liz de Rome has worked in motorcycle safety research and strategic planning for almost 20 years. Liz developed the first Australian motorcycle safety strategic plan for the Motorcycle Council of NSW including their unique website to provide riders with evidence-based information about motorcycle safety.

Her Gear Study was a world-first cohort study of motorcycle crashes to investigate the effectiveness of motorcycle protective clothing. Her results established strong benefits in injury protection but also exposed high levels of failure with many garments found to be not fit for purpose.

Liz has been a long-time advocate for a star rating scheme for motorcycle protective clothing and has led and now manages the Australian and New Zealand Motorcycle Clothing Assessment Program – MotoCAP. Her other work includes the Good Gear Guide and the development of Victoria’s new motorcyclists’ graduated education and licensing scheme (M-GLS).

Liz is Senior Research Fellow, Motorcycle Safety at Deakin University in the Institute for Frontier Materials. She is a member of the National and State Executives of the Australasian College of Road Safety and the US Transportation Research Board sub-committee on Motorcycles and Mopeds.


Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Motorists rewarded for seeing Joe Rider

Motorists will be rewarded with cash gift vouchers for seeing motorcyclists in a novel twist to the Joe Rider road safety campaign.

Orange Ulysses Branch has won a $4100 Community Road Safety Grant from the NSW Government to run the campaign throughout February.

Branch president Lester Davis says he hopes the safety campaign will prevent SMIDSY (sorry mate, I didn’t see you) accidents in the region and make drivers more aware of riders.

A US study has found SMIDSY is the biggest case of crashes.

Click here for scientific reasons for SMIDSY crashes. They include “saccadic masking”, the low threat to drivers and difficulty in gauging the approaching speed of a small vehicle.

Joe Rider vests

Motorists rewarded for seeing Joe Rider Ulysses Orange Branch
Orange Ulysses riders wth joe Rider vests

The campaign features riders wearing fluorescent vests with the words “Joe Rider” on them. The campaign has previously been run in the ACT, Goulburn and Shoalhaven regions.

Joe Rider Motorcycle Awareness Month
ACT rider with a Joe Rider vest

However, the Orange district in central NSW has a slight twist on the theme.

Drivers who see a Joe Rider vest can fill out a coupon in from the Friday and Saturday editions of the Central Western Daily newspaper to win cash prizes. 

“There will be four riders from our branch at any time riding the roads in shifts,” Lester says.

“Drivers have to cut out the coupon, fill in the date, time and where they saw Joe and we compare that with a log book we will keep.”Motorists rewarded for seeing Joe Rider Ulysses Orange Branch

Each Monday (February 11, 18, 25 and March 4) three correctly completed coupons will be drawn and the winners will receive a $50 gift card. 

On the last day, three $500 gift cards will be drawn.

“We hope to do it annually, depending on how well it goes,” Lester says.

“If we get a good response and if we think we are doing some good, we will apply for the grant again.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com