Here’s one I’ve been trying to get posted for a week now.
I got a lot of good photos of this bike through a series of connections that started with Bur Zeratsky out of Wisconsin. He took a few nice shots of it on a ride and and sent them to me. After we spoke he contacted the owner and builder of the bike, Mike Clawson who then provided some more shots and some great background info.
So Mike wrote to Bur about the bike after his inquiries who then copied this info on to me. whew… Aaaannnyway…
Thanks for those nice compliments.
The Middle of Nowhere run was its maiden voyage since its restoration; previously it had only been putt-putted around a bit to break it in and get its jetting somewhere in the ballpark. It ran the 60 mile MON run in fine style, with a couple of stops to fiddle with the needle position. I think the main jet can be dropped another size or two but I want to put a couple more tanks of gas through it before I do that.
I bought the bike at the Mid-Ohio Vintage Motorcycle Days swap meet in 2003. It was a lump of rust, and I originally intended to use it for parts.Then I got the idea of re-creating the AJS enduro I had built ‘way back in 1975.
My earlier effort, which I built when I was 20 yrs old, was basically the Stormer MX with a WR transmission and a hand made lighting kit, with a speedo from a Suzuki enduro. Converting MX bikes for enduros was very common back then. I ran a bunch of events with it but it seemed to do its best at hare scrambles and hare& hound. Long travel suspension bikes started hitting the tracks and it was no longer competitive. I thought about forward-mounting the shocks and longer-travel forks but the British motorcycle industry was collapsing and I didn’t want to put big money into something I couldn’t get parts for. So I bought a TT500 Yamaha and modified and raced that.
So this is the bike that I wanted to build in 1975. I didn’t have the time, tools, or patience then. I came across pictures of the later bikes that AJS produced after withdrawing from the US market (they are still in business), and it looked like something I could do.
The shocks are forward mounted with a set of custom-built Falcon shocks. The forks are 35mm Marzocchis, common on KTMs and Can-Ams of the period. Buchanan’s rebuilt the wheels with new Excel rims. Most of the rest is stock AJS, with some hand made bits. I fabricated modern style folding brake and shift levers, a skid plate, and adapted modern style wide footpegs. The AJS people in England helped out with a number of parts, including an ignition stator with a lighting coil. They also fished that expansion chamber out of a storage barn for me, but I had to make all the mountings and a new airbox to accomodate it. I used some out-of-the-catalog parts too, such as fenders, because I intend to ride it and I want as many parts to be commonly available as possible, especially crash items.
This winter I plan to refinish its original gas tank, which is a rare AJS desert tank which holds 3-1/2 gallons, a gallon more than a standard tank. It appears to need it as it doesn’t have much range. Then I want to get a DMV inspection on it and get a title and license plates.
More photos of my English mistresses at
Hope to see you again on the trail.
Thanks gentlemen for the legwork and fantastic pics of this great bike!
Mike wrote on his photo page :“The Fruits of My Labors. In June 2011 I broke the rebuilt engine in carefully, which wasn’t easy because it likes to GO, in spite of the restrictive silencer. August 2011: It ran well for a 60-mile off road event, during which I got the jetting dialed in. Not sure if the initial rich jetting was part of the problem, but it really drinks the fuel, limiting its range. Not uncommon for a big 2-stroke. The 3-1/2 gallon “desert tank” it came with will be a welcome addition, but it is in poor shape and needs to have its interior sealed with epoxy to prevent destruction from our modern gasoline. Then I need to sand and paint its exterior. I can’t decide whether to paint it the correct orange or yellow color, or British Racing Green like my original AJS enduro. There’s a lot of orange and yellow bikes around these days so I am leaning towards green. It will have to wait for winter in any case. There’s riding to be done now.”
Great stuff gents!