Story by Jim Witters
The club corral–a collection of associations dedicated to vintage bikes–is always a popular feature of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, and the club members are usually around to talk about their bikes and share stories.
This year’s participating clubs include the Classic British Motorcycle Club of Cincinnati, Central Ohio Norton Owners Club, Classic Wing Club, Kawasaki ZL Owners Association and Warrior Souls Military Motorcycle Club.
Steve Morris, president of the Classic British Motorcycle Club of Cincinnati, brought a relatively rare D-Day bike to this year’s event, July 8-10, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Steve Morris with his 1944 James ML 125. Photo by Halley Immelt
“It’s a 1944 James ML (for military lightweight) 125,” Morris said. “These bikes were built for the British and Canadian military for the D-Day invasion (in World War II).”
Morris said about 300 of the bikes were actually used in the invasion, primarily as messenger vehicles.
The remainder of the 6,000 or so manufactured were repainted “in bright colors” and sold to the general public.
“I found this one hanging on a wall in bits and pieces,” Morris said. “I got it about a year ago and turned into what you see here.”
Morris’ fellow club member, Steve Bilbrey, is showing his 1957 BSA Alloy Clipper during the weekend event
Steve Bilbrey shows his 1957 BSA Alloy Clipper. Photo by Halley Immelt
“This model is often confused with the BSA Gold Star,” Bilbrey explains. “But this, at that time, was the entry-level racer.”
Bilbrey bought the BSA three years ago from a vendor at the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days swap meet.
“I added a few parts and cleaned it up,” he said. “It’s typical of those old English singles. It’s cantankerous and hard to start. But it’s a nice bike.”
Bilbrey said the BSA is “too valuable to race, because it’s hard to find parts for.” But he rides it a couple times a year “just to make sure everything still works.”