Author Topic: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters  (Read 1587 times)

Offline stratcat

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Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« on: 15.01. 2009 22:15 »
When I first got into classic bikes in the mid eighties, it was all about originality. Keep it original, or make it original. Sure there were loads of bikes out there that were just old bikes being used, but they seemed to be in the minority.

I dropped out of the classic scene during the nineties (got into fast Japanese sports bikes *eek*)

A few years ago I saw the light and returned to the fold, however, I have noticed that originality seems to be much less important and it's more a case of get out and useing it.

Was it that I was just mixing with the wrong types in the 80's or has there been a move away from originality as parts become scarcer?
Or am I just mixing with a better class of british biker now? (like all on this forum of course *smile*)

For the record my B31 is (or seems to be) very original and is being rebuilt to catalogue spec(ish). I am not being obsesive about it and am making some upgrades as I go. My A10 has had a different engine at some time and the front end is off an earlier (or later) A series, not to mention the external oil filter 12v electrics and siamese pipes with goldie silencer. I am not bothered about originality, although I am often tempted to look for the late style front guards and wheel. Even though I know the Triumph type full width hub is much worse than the 8 in single sider that's on it.

So what do you reckon? Have the rivet counters had their day?

Online Brian

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #1 on: 16.01. 2009 00:11 »
I think you are right Stratcat.

I have noticed the same thing and I think its fantastic.

A lot more owners seem to be getting out and enjoying their bikes now rather than turning up at shows with over polished things that dont go.

I guess everybody has their own idea of what they think is correct and what they want to do with their bike. Personally I like unrestored original bikes but there are not a lot of them around and to back up what you say when they do come up for sale they seem to sell immediately.

I try to have what I consider to be a balance between originality and useability. The most important thing to me is how my bikes go and ride, originality and looks come second but having said that I try to have my bikes tidy and as original as they can be within reason. If I have the correct parts I use them but if not I will use something else until the right bit comes along. I try to keep modifications invisible.

A lot of it boils down to what you have and what resources you have available to you, especially financially. If you have, say a 1956 frame and it has a 1959 engine in it so what. You still have a bike that is repesentative of the era and perfectly good to own and ride.

My summary of all this is, get out and ride them, worry about the rest later.


Offline RichardL

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #2 on: 16.01. 2009 04:27 »

So glad you mentioned engine-frame mismatches, since mine is a '55 engine (crankcases, at least) in a '60 frame. A tad dicier, considering I had to convert the frame to work with with my half-width, left-side rod-pull rear brake.

Richard L.
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020. This year it's a solo or pillion ride in dapper attire. Watch website at for details.

Offline tombeau

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #3 on: 16.01. 2009 08:12 »
I like original patinad machinery, period modifications and accessories, and stuff with history that has evolved. Over-restored stuff leaves me cold.

You're right Stratcat. In the '80's there was a lot of obsessive rivet counting restorations. My A10 used to cause some offence to those types. Something I was guilty of playing up to.

I think to some extent the classic movement is now being led by a different generation. A generation who are a bit less precious about the stuff.

Possibly the availability of good repro stuff like tanks and mudguards reduces the need for obsessive questing behaviour in certain individuals. If you want a totally original looking bike you can have one relatively easily. Its no longer such a big deal.

Offline LJ.

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #4 on: 16.01. 2009 09:24 »
Brian says it all really... Can't add much more to that! My two A10s have both been restored at sometime and a very good job done with them too, but my Star Twin with its rough and original paintwork seems much more correct. I was humming and harring whether to strip and powdercoat and bring it up to perfection but I guess now thinking about it, something would be 'Lost'
Ride Safely Lads! LJ.
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1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Blue
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Red

Offline stratcat

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #5 on: 16.01. 2009 19:57 »
I think it's great. It is a shame that you don't see more old bikes out and about.
I know of one guy who bought a 50's thunderbird and just to put it in his living room?! *eek*

I wish I was in a job where I could ride to work, but with the mileage I do it just isn't practical to use the bike for what it was made for, good, honest transport.

I'm thinking of building a chopper, *work* anyone got an old A7 they don't need ;) ;)

(only kidding)

Offline A10Boy

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #6 on: 22.01. 2009 13:19 »
I'm not a rivet counter by any means, but I like bikes as they were generally intended to be by the factory. I mean my A10 is now 50 years old and it has that certain "patina" of its age, that's what makes it special to me - and that would be lost if it were to be restored.

I'm not against modifications if they are in keeping with the general appearance of the bike, such as 12 volt conversions, hidden oil filters etc, but I wouldn't consider fitting a front end from a Hyabusa just to make it handle better - to me that would be sacrilegious.

I think part of the magic of riding around on an old Beesa more or less as god intended, is that you are recreating and keeping alive the traditions of motorcycling of that era, just like the old boys did at the time, and I think to go too far away from that would loose a lot of fun.

I also have an original 1974 Kawasaki Z1 in the garage, which I rarely use because I would rather ride my old BSA any day.


1958 Super Rocket
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Offline snowbeard

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #7 on: 26.01. 2009 05:39 »
I missed the strictest of rivet counting days, but as I suppose I am one of the newer generation to all this, there's also that we've never seen the originals as they once were!  one can find the pics and specs, but things don't necessarily stand out as "wrong" to me yet when I look that them.

that said i find more and more of mine is quite original, and definitely patina'd.  I fix what needs it with what I can get for the now, and learn what it really needs so I'll know it when i see it someday for the right price.  maybe by the time I have time to restore it right, I'll have saved up all the right parts to do it all up!

reminds me of a funny story with the wife.  she buys a new "vintage" dress and is telling me about all the perks, how it's not ripped or stained anywhere, how it still looks new even at forty years old, and how the yarn lacing up the front looked odd, like an old shoelace, but that the lady in the store said that was often what they originally came with, even tho it seemed plain with the dress.

the she says that she could always replace it with whatever she prefers, and I found myself saying "but it it came with the dress originally shouldn't you keep them together for the resale value?!"

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Offline coater87

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #8 on: 13.05. 2009 14:29 »
 Kind of hitting on an old topic here, but here is my take.

 Back in about 86 or so, the American muscle car craze hit some foriegn countries (Japan especially).  Word got out about the outragious prices these guys were willing to pay for an original, or highly restored example of an American car. Though I dont believe all that many were actually sold, like any culture (our BSA 10 and 7s included) speculation soon took hold.
 I used to subscribe to a magazine called Hemmings Motor News, and in a matter of just a few months it seamed, you could watch the price of a nice '69 Mach 1 (mustang) go from $13,000 to mid fiftys for the exact same car. This lead to even more speculation, and more buyers willing to pay that in hopes of re-selling the vehicle for even more in a matter of a few months (or weeks). The prices just kept going up and up and up.

 The more "original" a car was, the more its presumed value. Lordy, if you had a tank sticker, and found a build sheet under the rear seat and everything matched up, the sky was the limit!

 Now enter Mr. Shifty. He was a willy one, and not only had the ability to forge tank stickers, build sheets, and complete history of the vehicle- but also the ability to research and re-stamp parts numbers. This brought about the need to have a check done on all stampings. Now we are not talking back yard restamp here, but work of professionals. The only way to tell if a block or tranny was restamped was to look at the grain of the metal under the new stamp- there would be a shadow of the old "bruise" from the original stamp- and this took very special equipment and cost a lot of money- but people who could afford it paid for it. Many who couldnt, got burned badly.

 Trying to buy or sell a car became a matter for the bean counters, crawling all over looking at everything from the ash tray to the gears for the window winders to the brackets for the front bumber. If there were a lot of correct numbers, you paid or recieved a lot of "beans".

 It seams everything in the late 80s followed this theme, it had to be spot on correct or just wasnt worth paying for.

 Then, in about 89 0r maybe 90, reality hit. The muscle car culture is large in comparison to ours, but the same rules apply. We enjoy the bikes, enjoy working on them, collecting bits and pieces- its a useful hobby. But how many of us would pay $80,000 dollars for a restored a10 flash? And even still, how many of us would ever ride that bike? Not many I would think.

 The prices crashed as fast as they went up, people came to their senses and were no longer willing to pay three times more for one collector car then they did for their home.

 The only ones left crying were the guys who paid $90,000 for that "everyday" '69 Mach 1 hoping to make a killing, and in a few months time couldnt get $20,000 for it. I think that was the death ring for the bean counter era, and hopefully besides a few VERY special cars and bikes, we never see anything like it again.

Central Wisconsin in the U.S.

Offline rocket man

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Re: Originality obsessive a.k.a rivet counters
« Reply #9 on: 13.05. 2009 19:02 »
hi all i got my bike the way i like it spent a tidy sum ove money doing it
because im keeping her for myself always wanted an a10 super rocket
love the sound they make takes me back to the sixteys rockers with
brill cream hear the smell ove the oil when its hot the purr ove the engine
makes me think ove boon on his bsa   mmmmmmmmmmmmmm