So, you’ve bought yourself a new (old) bike. Congratulations! Welcome to the world of vintage British motorbikes. Here are some tips on how to get the best from your classic bike, whether it’s just a restoration project for fun or your daily ride.
- Identify your bike! Your new purchase may have been advertised as an unmolested, factory perfect concourse specimen, but chances are there have been modifications over the years the previous owner may not have been aware of. Or perhaps they were sold a 1950 model when in fact it was 1949. It may seem minor but details like this can make all the difference when buying replacement parts. The very first thing to do when you’ve bought an old bike is check the engine and frame number – Ariel here and BSA here. If it’s an Ariel we can make a dating certificate for you, if it’s a BSA or Triumph then the respective owners clubs offer this service.
- Get more information! Once you know exactly what year and model your bike is, get your hands on as much info as possible. Our website is packed with tips and advice (check specific sections) but a parts book and workshop manual are vital. Ask us or pick yours up here. Parts books will give you part numbers for ordering spares, and often very helpful exploded diagrams. A workshop manual is similar to a Haynes manual, and something no good restorer should be without. Very early models don’t have manuals but the Owners Guides are very helpful.
- Join the Club! While we consider ourselves learned ladies and gents in all-things classic bike, there are rare times where we won’t know the answer (or can’t come round to your shed to lend a helping hand). That’s where your owners club comes in. Join the owners club (Ariel, BSA or Triumph) and find your local group for meetings. The clubs we know of are generally helpful, non-judgmental, and just want to keep their bikes on the road. They can help you do the same!
4. Use common sense Before getting in touch to ask for help, have you considered all the options? Have you given it a go or just given up? A chap once came into the shop with a ‘wrong’ gasket, turns out he was trying to fit it back to front and didn’t think to turn it over! When contacting us your make, model and year of bike is imperative, as are part numbers where you can. If sending photos, please shrink them before emailing so our inbox does not get clogged!