Sunday, June 16, 2013

The 1919 Bob Finlay Pace Excelsior Motorcycle.

I'm currently restoring a pre-war motor pace bicycle. These particular bicycles were used to pace behind huge specialist motor bikes at speeds exceeding 60 mph (100 kph) on great big saucer banked tracks.

Somehow out there in cyberspace, my restoration came to the attention of David Kimber who was restoring a pace motorbike that quite possibly (or not) may have paced my bike. My bike is from the pre-war period - the motor bike was in action up until 1955. It is a 1919 Excelsior Big X and has an illustrious history of motor pacing over many decades of Australian cycling between the two world wars and a little after.

The frame is now repainted as it was when it was built. It is of a pre-war  period and most likely raced at the Melbourne Motordrome and later at the North Essendon board track after World War II.
The Bob Finlay 1919 Excelsior Big X pace bike that led great Australian cyclists such as Hubert Opperman, Fatty Lamb and many others to victory at speeds in excess of 60 mpg.
The Excelsior has been meticulously restored for the second time in the hands of the owner David Kimber.
David bought it many years ago from the original owner Bob Finlay who he says was like a Grandfather to him. They were neighbours.
The very long handlebars enabled the rider to sit well back. The rider, wearing overalls would leave them open so that the wind would be caught and balloon out the overalls. This gave the rider behind greater wind protection.
A fully restored motor pace bicycle was on show behind the Excelsior to illustrate how the combination of bike and motorbike interacted on the big saucer tracks. This bike was owned by a friend, Eric Bishop. What is so special about this example is that it belonged to Eric's father.
Pictures from the Past

Oppy - the Prince of motorpace
And this where Bob Finlay paced Hubert Opperman to his many victories and records.
The Melbourne Motordome. 
It was a great afternoon being invited to David Kimber's special moment of the relaunch of the Bob Finlay Excelsior big X motor pace motorcycle. Maybe I can one day ride my pace bicycle behind his motorcycle pace bike.

These 1930's hold a treasure of articles from the era of the Finlay pace motorcycle and the riders that rode the Motordrome - maybe we'll revisit the period in future posts on this blog.


Rhodesia said...

Fantastic pictures from the past. The other half of nidi :-) Take care Diane

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Is it NIDI or maybe DINI?
We do have a rich history of cycling in Australia.
Some of these posts my be personal and even of unknown cyclist's memories. I really don't know what direction the might go - we'll see.

Anniel said...

It was interesting checking out 'Findlay' & motordrome cycling on your Blog.

My father's memoirs mentions much about motordrome racing. Apparently my grandfather was fearless and well known on the circuit. Unfortunately he died (result of a motor car accident) in 1932. His love of motordrome pace cycle well documented in Dad's memoirs.

As is Findlay, Fairfield Motorcycle Club and the motordrome and their 'social' life in the Depression.

Thanks for more background info to verify Dad's stories.

Dave from OZ said...

Dear Ann,

I am David Kimber and own the Finlay Pace Bike. I would very much like to talk to you about your grandfather’s memoirs. I am in Myanmar at the moment but can be contacted via email on I would love to make personal contact as am keen to expand knowledge about the pace racing 1920s-30s era

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