Back in the 60’s and 70’s, the Ace Cafe in London was THE place for motorcycling enthusiasts to hang out. In fact, legend has it that the Ace constituted the origin of the term “cafe racer” (not necessarily racers at all, but stripped down bikes to “race” from cafe to cafe). This was the heyday of the great British bikes.. Triumph, Norton, BSA, etc. Of course, the big goal of period riders was to “do the ton” (100 mph), and manufacturers were competing to produce bikes that could do just that.
Fast forward 50 years to the home of Lago Vista resident and motorcycle enthusiast/collector Mark Scott. Among other beauties, Mark owns a 1927 Scott Flying Squirrel motorcycle, a rare and exceptional British bike. Mark describes below his recent attempt to do the ton on his Flying Squirrel.
Going for the Ton in Texas
Disclaimer (verbatim from my wife): That’s foolish! You are going to kill yourself! You are behaving like a little boy!
Back in the summer of 2010, I decided to see if I could make my ’27 Scott Flying Squirrel more of a regular rider instead of just a special occasion bike. These 500cc two stroke water cooled motors run smoothly and make wonderful noises, but made less than 20hp in original condition. Getting additional power requires the use of very high quality internal engine components built to exacting tolerances.
Enter Scott engine guru Roger Moss of Moss Engineering in the UK. After much detailed discussion with Roger, he agreed to build me a strong, high performance motor that would be capable of cruising at the highway speeds here in Texas.
Roger is a perfectionist, and builds some of the fastest and most reliable Scott motors. He is confident enough to provide a 12 month warrantee, which is certainly longer than the original manufacturer in 1927.
Per the detailed documentation that came with the motor:
Reliability. With Moss cranks, caged big end bearings, lightweight pistons, and rod little ends controlled in the pistons, this engine is a vast improvement on any engine ever produced by the original Scott factory.
Running in at about 75% throttle for 100 miles should be enough and after that you may use whatever the engine can deliver
How about that for confidence!
Since the bike was back in action in 2011, it has been to all the local shows and many rides, including the Antique Motorcycle Club of America national meet in Kerrville TX last year. It has always been a big hit wherever it goes.
Which brings me to my speed attempt. The motor has always been strong, so, like all good boys, I wondered: ‘Hmm… How fast will it really go with my 6’4”, 15 stone body?’
The toll roads around Central Texas where I live, have some of the highest speed limits in the US. I figured I would take it out and run a few exits and open it up a bit. To get a proper speed reading, I mounted a GPS, as well as a small tachometer to get an idea on the gearing. I only managed to get in one clean run (excuse #1), with a peak speed of 87.8mph, at just under 4,500 rpm. So, I didn’t make the ton, yet. It was a good shakedown, and post inspection showed everything to be in fine order. The motor has some more, so next time, with better preparation, I think I can get it at least well up into the 90’s.
Like all good fish stories, you have to have the excuses for the one that got away. So here is what I’ll improve for the next run:
Firstly, in my fear of overworking the motor, I had the oil drippers turned too high.
Secondly, the clutch was having an issue holding solidly at that speed. Working on that.
Thirdly, this is still summer in Texas, so even though it was before noon, temperatures were up into the mid 90’s
Also, It was a 10+ mile ride to get to the toll road, with 7 traffic lights and mid-morning traffic, in the aforementioned heat. Next time I’ll go very early on a cool Sunday morning.
Heavy truck traffic thwarted a second attempt, and by then, I thought that discretion was the better part of valor in the heat.
My wife asked; “What if you had gotten a speeding ticket at over 90mph?”
I said; “My love, I would have FRAMED it!”
View Mark’s video of his speed attempt here: