Welcome to Vintage to Voltage!

An attempt to ride ancient and modern bikes from London to Paris, using lots of green lanes and byways!

Sometimes the best ideas come to mind when relaxing over a few glasses of wine with friends. Last May Julie Diplock and I were dining with our partners and discussing the evolution of the motorcycle. Julie has a collection of veteran, vintage and classic machines which hark back to an era when British bikes ranked amongst the most famous names in the world: BSA, Sunbeam, and Triumph to name just three. I, on the other hand, have just purchased the latest in electric motorcycles from California – a Zero DSR. Julie and I have both been riding most of our adult lives and we also share a passion for trail riding… As our chaps looked on in slight amusement, we hatched our plan!

What if we were to take a veteran bike, with all its pioneering pre-WW1 technology, and a cutting-edge all-electric motorcycle, on an iconic route, from London to Paris… and just to add to the challenging mix, ride the journey avoiding tarmac as much as possible, on green lanes? That was the initial idea, but after a short period of reflection, Julie decided that the veteran bike, with no gears, nor even a clutch, was probably not a suitable tool for the job, so opted instead for a beautiful vintage 1926 Triumph Q, with a three speed hand-change gearbox! It is still a tall order for both bikes and riders.

The first filling station in Britain did not open until November 1919 and for most of the 1920s motorists and motorcyclists had to buy their fuel from hotels, ironmongers, chemists, repair garages, blacksmiths and general stores. I anticipate that managing the charging for the Zero might meet with similar challenges. We have begun training in earnest.

We are using the trip to highlight the evolution of the motorcycle but also to raise funds for three charities close to us. The first is the Dougie Dalzell Memorial Trust (DDMT), a small military charity which will help fund life-changing motorcycle holidays for wounded, injured and sick service personnel with Bike Tours For The Wounded (BTFTW). The second is the Kent, Sussex, and Surrey (KSS) air ambulance service and the third is The Joan Seeley Memorial Trust, based in Kent, which provides pain relief and medical equipment for hospitals and hospices throughout the UK. These services are funded by charitable donations and we both know of motorcyclists and friends who have benefited from them. All funds raised will go directly to these charities https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CarlaMcKenzie1

Joining us on the journey will be four other riders, two of them on electric machines and two on modern petrol-powered trailbikes. Paul Blezard, motorcycle journalist, and Steve Neville TRF heritage director, will both be on Zeroes while John Vannuffel TRF technical Director, and our designated navigator, will ride his KTM 690 while Bill Smith, farmer and friend, will be on his Yamaha WR 450. Ironically, like the earliest pioneer machines, the Zeroes have neither clutch nor gears, but they’re a lot easier to ride, since, in addition to being near-silent, their electric motors cannot stall.

The journey will begin from the Palace of Westminster on the 18th of September 2018 and arrive in Paris on the 20th September. We are delighted to have already secured one sponsor and are looking for others. If any friends would like to support this project please get in touch and if you can sponsor our three very worthy charities it would be greatly appreciated and make a real difference. The trip is self-funded, and you can rest assured all donations will go to charity. Cx

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Julie (left) tries Carla’s 2017 Zero while Carla rides Julie’s 1926 Triumph


Carla and her electric ZERO DSR


Julie riding her 1926 Triumph



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