As is sometimes wont to happen with old machines, the Rudge was feeling a little cranky and wouldn’t start until Rahul showered a little attention on it. Various nuts were unscrewed, oil drained into a hub-cap (from a Mercedes, no less), plugs cleaned and carburettors drained until, with a fairly flatulent ‘whap’ and much spewing of black smoke, the 500cc single gave voice and settled into a steady chug-chug. The bike really was quite an eyeful, glinting in the morning sun. The external pushrods and rockers clanged away in an impromptu exhibition of how an IC engine works, while the carburettor cheerfully dripped petrol onto the ground (‘Don’t worry, that’s normal’, said Rahul). Immaculately restored, it looked like a fun ride before I had even swung a leg over the seat (which, by the way, is very comfortable).
Motorcycle riders in the 1920’s must have been incredible multi–taskers, because bikes like the Rudge feel like they were built for an octopus. I sat there and stared a little blankly at the endless number of levers on the extra-wide handlebar, while Rahul patiently explained which one did what. There were the usual clutch and front–brake levers, plus one lever each for adjusting the ignition timing and the fuel–air mixture. The accelerator was also a lever, which had to be operated with one’s right thumb. Thankfully, the Rudge had a mechanical oil–pump and a spring–loaded accelerator (unlike, say, the Triumph SD on which Sac scared himself silly a while ago), so I wouldn’t have to whirl about like a windmill trying to push or pull a hundred things at once.