Oldest Ironbutt bike in the world: A new reign...?


Not Right Rider
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These are the Spotwalla links:


Not sure which is the better one, but the device will be started this evening already, and should begin to move at 08:00 CEST Saturday morning.

The oldest bike that has completed an Ironbutt ride is not a Harley-Davidson - to some people's surprise.

It's a 1931 Royal Enfield 976cc and...

...it's Finnish!

No, not "finished", even though beaten and battered. Finnish!
Really not the same thing. Quite the opposite, actually!
SISU! A good read for the ones not yet aware of what pushes Finland to make waay more Ironbutt rides per capita than any other country in the world.

The pictures don't really make the bike justice.
Matchbox camera, crowded motorcycle fair at Lahti, Finland back in 2010 - all just snapshots taken at the spur of the moment. Not coffee table book-material, okay?

Nor is the bike it self:

But still: a beautiful machine! ...of its sort.
Well maintained, and used, over the years. Probably forgotten in a shed for decades. As so many other old bikes.
...and gently brought back to life again. Not dismantled into molecules, stripped of all paint - along with both personality and history at the same time.

The normal death of a bike found in a shed is either being sent off to scrap, or being renovated way beyond first delivery condition - and then locked up in a museum. Public or private. Never gets to eat asphalt again.
Never never never ever gets to kick up dust again, along the dirt roads of the countryside.
What kind of a life is that for a bike?

This bike just kept on rolling. ...and was put on display just the way it looks after completing an Ironbutt ride.

It has got three different sets of open chain transmissions that has to be kept lubricated. During a 1000-mile ride under the clock this is best done on the fly.

The mustard flask conveniently located in the tank comes in handy here.
So, the apparent state of the bike is no joke. It has not been dressed up to look a certain way. It has been used. It works. It will keep on working, as long as someone keeps pouring oil over it.

Everything works on the bike. For safety reasons the taillight has had an upgrade, just to catch the eye of caged drivers who these days are more busy on the internet than behind the wheel.

The headlight is okay though. We are speaking short, bittersweet white nights here in our part of the world...

It even sports some farkles we can relate to!

So, this is what I know about the bike.
Or, this is the impression that I have. Sweden and Finland suffer a bad and sad language barrier. I may quite possibly have had some parts of it wrong, but Hey! I'm only Swedish - we get most things wrong, most of the time.
...according to Finnish sources. ;)

There is a ride report posted on the net http://gw2.kareltek.fi/~tippanokat/tarinat.htm

Photo credit: One of Jaris friends. Pic lifted out from the ride report

In Finnish, of course.
Run it though the babel fish of your preference and see if you get something out of it. I think I understood it as the rider set out to complete the ride in historic clothing, but temperatures at or below the freezing points called for more modern stuff half way through the ride.

To the right in this picture you will see Jari Vuorela, the rider/owner. He is no dummy.
The worlds fastest Royal Enfield happens to come out of his hands as well.

Photo credit: "Dave_s" Picture found at Flickr
1930, brought up to 1140cc, converted to twin cam - a true monster!

Just look at the alterations in the tank profile to fit the timing chain, and listen to the Guzzi engineers going all "Ragazzi! I thinka I know now how we can fit the 1400cc engine into the new machines"! Mamma Mia!! when they first saw it.

Please feel free to correct me on just about anything here, people.
The bike and Jari made a great impression on me, but it was seven years ago we met, and nothing was written down at the time.
...and it was also conveyed in a language I don't master anyway, sooo...

Isn't it sad? The first thing that tends to stick when you are faced with a new language is the foul words and how to curse at people. Not that usable when one wants to exchange motorcycle experiences.

Now to the sad part.
This long standing Ironbutt record of Finnish rider Jari Vuorela and his 1931 Royal Enfield will be challenged this upcoming weekend, and by an all-Swedish bike/rider-combo too.

No! Wrong picture. Sorry.
This is the one:

7 years later we will be going back 5 years in time - and end up at 1926 instead.
Well, time trips are known to mess with your mind. Everyone that has done one keeps telling us...

The bike is an 1926 750cc DS.

"DS"? Just that?

Yes, well - DS is short for David Senning, a veterinarian that used motorcycles in his work, covering the wast areas of his district at inland Sweden, with roads that were hard to travel by car many months of the year.

A motorcycle is just so much better to use under such conditions, right?

So, the ambitious veterinarian was indeed in love with the concept, but not impressed with what he could buy off the shelf. Remember, this is professional use, and his income was depending on a reliable bike. After wearing too many bikes out, he stood up and exclaimed:

"Hey, I can do that. I can build a better bike myself"

Yeah, we have all heard it before. Nowadays, I mean.
Back then it must have been kind of a first off.

Anyway, he did build a better bike. Even some 500 or 600 hundred actually.
Here he is!

Still working as a veterinarian, still using motorcycles to carry out his duties, but now also using his district as his very own proving ground and self preforming as constructor, engineer, test rider and evaluation manager. What a man!

Our specific bike has an interesting story. Magnus Fransson first saw the bike some 40 years ago, and it has kept reappearing over the decades, with different owners, caretakers and... ...well, not too many riders, though.
It has been renovated, and it has been standing buried at a museum for a while.

This is where the story could have ended. A dead piece of machinery on display, with a sign at the front telling everyone what a great bike... ...it once was.

These are the guys that formed the intrepid rescue patrol. They managed to hack the bike free of the cobweb and get it out into the daylight again.

This was in May last year, and preparations has been running since.

The bike was a true museum artifact in terms of rideability.
The bike started fine, made a lot of noice and can be said to be in a better shape than most other bikes yanked out of the jaws of a museum. But, enough to be labeled "good running order"?

Well, there are different levels of ambition, right? 1000 miles within our time frame calls for reliability along with steady pace and leaves no room for road side repairs. Has to be as reliable as any modern bike. Even more reliable, actually - since the bike maxes out on or about 55mph, and runs much more relaxed under 50mph.
Riding a SaddleSore 1000 at such a slow pace is a true riding experience, a total challenge to both mind and body.

The engine is a gem. A Swiss Motosacoche engine was used for the DS;s.
These MAG-engines can be found in the frames of several different producers of the time.
This is a 750cc, producing some 15 hp.

Magnus have had great problems getting the engine to run as smooth as needed. Different carburetors has been tried out: Linkert

and SU

However, not until the engine was opened up and thoroughly balanced any major improvement could be noted. No wonder!
1.1 kilo(!) had to be shaved off in order to balance out the crankshaft.
No! I will not convert it into pounds for you. You will simply not believe that I got the figures right.
1,1 metric kilograms is correct. Go figure...

Now it runs much better:

and has kept on improving through the test runs:

The main worry however is the lubrication system of the engine.
There is no modern recirculating high pressurized oil system to keep the engine running here.
This is an engine based on a total-loss oiling system.
The engine is fed with fresh oil from an oil tank, and what not will be consumed and combusted will simply find its way out of the engine "the natural way". There is no conventional oil sump involved.

This, and thousand other things are the concerns of someone trying to push back the limits of what most people would not consider doing at all, and others even say is impossible. And stupid. ...and probably dangerous, unlawfull and - well, you have all already heard the arguments of narrowminded people outside our community.

And, if the bike itself is not challenge enough, then Magnus has decided on an really awkward route for his record attempt:

The text "Spirit of Hultsfred" is a wonderful nod to Charles Lindberghs first solo flight over the Atlantic.

Lindbergh's sponsor resided in St. Louis - hence the lettering on the plane.
The owner of this bike lives in the small village of Hultsfred, but - wait for it - there is more to the story here:

Check the dates in the illustration! It just so happens that this upcoming weekend is the 90 year anniversary of Lindbergh's brave flight, and Magnus has decided to link his ride with this first solo flight, and he hopes to arrive at the Le Bourget-airport in time for the jubilee.

...yes, in France.
To Magnus, setting out to ride a 90 year old bike 1000-miles in one direction is perfectly sane. No safe, eight shaped loop around your hometown/workshop, no - just head out, aiming for the horizon. What could possibly go wrong?

A flurry of things, we all know that. Magnus Fransson too.
He expects kind of a 40/40 risk to either blow the engine up, or simply being stopped by the authorities in either of the 5 countries he will pass during the ride. Stopped, stalled and at least questioned and being checked up.

"a 40/40 risk"...? Well, that leaves a 20% chance for success, right?
More than enough to start an adventure like this.

He and the crew have already test loaded the bike on the pick-up to make sure it will fit.

But please note: there will be no service truck hovering over the bike here, and no team in white robes ready to solve any problem that might occur.
Magnus will ride solo, with just another bike or two waving him off and following him the first couple of hours out of Sweden.

He will, hopefully, cross 5 different borders on his way down to Le Bourget, so apart from riding a 90-year old veteran he will most surely face tons of other problems.

Bags are packed:

pre flight-check is carried out:

Bon voyage, Magnus!

He will be setting out Saturday morning May 20th , and you can all follow his attempt here via Spotwalla.
Links to follow!

Give him a hand!

He will be needing it...

These are the Spotwalla links:


Not sure which is the better one, but the device will be started this evening already, and should begin to move at 08:00 CEST Saturday morning.
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Just Another Rider
Premier Member
IBR Finisher
All the best on your challenge ... WOW ...
Fantastic report & Photo's ...
Looking forward to the spotwalla link .. :)


Premier Member
Nice looking bike !

I wonder what the London Odds Makers have to say about this ride ?

I thought I had it tough on my 1976 Moto Guzzi Convert.

Good Luck & Godspeed !!


Premier Member
IBA Member
Good to see a little bit of crazy going on in Sweden:cool:, go hard Magnus I will be watching your spot.


Premier Member
A "total loss" oil system!? That will go down well in super-eco-conscious Europe!
Great to see the Spirit of Adventure alive and well. Interesting, though, that it's the Old Guys who are manifesting the Spirit.


Not Right Rider
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A "total loss" oil system!? That will go down well in super-eco-conscious Europe!
Yes, that is indeed one of the major concerns for the ride. The German Police is rather an.... ....attentive to vehicles leaking oil on their precious Autobahn, and there is not much time left on this ride to start an argument over how and why. ...so Magnus believes that his non-understanding of the German language will get him off the hook.
He has at least decided upon not trying to outrun the police if they try to stop him...

Biggles mentions "old guys". Let's have a look at the owner of the bike; Bygg-Kjell, who graceiously is letting Magnus have his way with this old treasure. An elderly gentleman, rocking on the porch?

Well - yes, and no. "Rocking" is right!

Bygg-Kjell is simply busy elsewhere. He is deeply involved in historic rallies - the ones that runs on time and where you have a co-driver who reads the notes.

Just cruising for show...?
Nope. These guys...

..are drivning faster now than 30 or even 40 years ago. With the same material.
No, not true. Today they can afford the parts they just could only dream about as youngsters.
Same cars, though, and NO prisoners taken.

Sorry for the intermission.

Magnus, and the bike he rides - that's the topic here.
More photos and a write-up on the preparations can be found in this tread...


...for the ones interested in these old machines.

Magnus already has a SS 1000 on a 1942 WLC 750 Harley, along with another SS 1000 on this wonderful 1936 Knucklehead.

Yes, full distance within the timeframe, sidecar attached.

These are the Spotwalla links:


Not sure which is the better one, but the device will be started this evening already, and should begin to move at 08:00 CEST Saturay morning.

Updates will follow.

Non of the above is "the better one".

The spot has been active since yesterday evening, 8 hours and counting - but still no transition into Spotwalla.

So, here is the direct link for "FindMeSpot":

Things are moving!
Magnus is at the start now.
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Well-Known Member
Thank you all for your suport!

I hope you all understand how small the chances are to succeed with this challenge...
I might end up struggling in the North west of Germany, and the whole World knows where I am, exept ME.

Less than 13h to lift off! :) Keep your fingers crossed.



Not Right Rider
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Ready to go!

...and while we await Spotwalla to come around, please find the direct link to FindMeSpot here:



The fanclub at the start:

Setting out:

...and broken down.

Oh snap!
Two hours in to the ride, the transmission chain, well - snapped.

Sad, but no real disaster.
If it can be repaired on site, then it's easy to just get at new starting receipt and get going again.
If not, well, then it is close to home. Better here than in Belgium. Who wants to be stuck in Belgium, really...?

The city of "Jämjö" was the first corner point and up to the first receipt he made good speed an kept him and the bike over the neccessary average speed for the whole trip.
Okay - just over, but still; over.

We will have to wait and see how this unfolds; restart later on today or a new try some other day.

Photo credit for the pics out on the road: Jörgen Lyrbo
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Not Right Rider
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Just got news: new transmission chain for a 90 year old bike stomped out of the ground, installed and ready to ride again in just 90 minutes.

New start at 11:30 CEST from Jämjö this time - the DS is back on track again!


Not Right Rider
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Premier Member
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Spotwalla up and running!

The bike not so much:

The "Charles Lindbergh Memorial Ride" is off.
Camshaft/lifter problems makes it impossible - not to keep riding, but to complete the ride as planned.
Todays distance was 250 km. Magnus is the type of rider would gladly taken the consequences of finishing a ride with a bike limping on just one cylinder for the last 250 km just to finish off what he set out to do.
...but there has to be a shread of sanity left. Even though the whole project stands just shy of "impossible", continuing now - with a crippled bike would be stupid.

So, hats off to you Magnus. Nice try!
We all know you will tear the engine down, again - and keep looking for and eliminating those weak spots that stands between you and a completed SS 1000.

Anyone else that has followed Magnus this far, who have got sudden ideas on getting Granddads old bike back in the game?
They were once all made to rock, roll and roar. Let them!
It's not "mistreating the history" and what not - it's a hommage to the ones that has constructed, built, owned and ever been riding the bike before us.

We have not seen the last of Magnus and the DS .