The Big Knock


The Big Knock

30/31st May Sussex

The fourth British Diesel Motorcycle Rally

as seen in

and what glorious weather for it also, some of the most interesting engineering I have seen for many a year

and it has to be said some of the nicest people I have ever met on a rally field.

lots of pictures so separated into two galleries

Click on photograph to enter slideshow, click back on browser to exit.


I hear you knocking:

Way back in 1970 when I was a lad, all cute and cuddly and still in shorts (steady on ladies, form an orderly queue) and way before I knew much about such things about motorcycles and music there was a record called “I hear you knocking” by Dave Edmunds and I loved the record, and indeed I still have fond memories of it. It was certainly a lot better than “Knock Three times” a single from the same year by Tony Orlando and Dawn so maybe my tastes were being honed here.

Looking through the blue pages, (BSH Rally guide) and reading of a “big knock” rally down at one of my favorite public houses in Sussex, I thought Opportunity Knocks  and intrigued I went to dust off my shorts, quickly deciding the world is not ready for my knees and so put jeans back on, and headed south.

Now some of you may have already noticed that although I ride a modern motorcycle I love the older and quirkier machines and certainly here I found quirky galore. As the Big Knock is the annual rally for owners of Diesel Motorcycles and indeed this is the 4th held in Britain .

The diesel engine itself was invented around about 1892 and it is debatable who patented it first, but the Patent by Rudolf Diesel in 1893 is the one which we all know now. Usually used in larger vehicles due to the physical size of the engines, but even as early as 1904 folk were squeezing them into motorcycle frames, and today even the American military have been using them..

 There are currently several commercial makers of Diesel bikes, many built around the Royal Enfield Chassis but also into trials style frame, however it is the homebuilt specials having seen a very stylish home built variant called the “Ruggerfield” out and about at many local events my appetite is strangely wetted.

There is a phrase often quoted that England is a nation of eccentrics and certainly owning a Diesel bike must put this elite band into the higher band of eccentricity. (Although there was a high contingent of German riders there also) Although in the world of two wheeled diesel transport we were not the first but in this era of fuel hovering around the £5 a gallon mark and such bikes returning around 170mph a gallon maybe they are not so strange, slow compared to petrol based vehicles, maybe but not strange.

It seemed I was not the only one to be intrigued by the bikes as a steady stream of visitors arrived. Apart from the wonderful variations on the bikes, there were a few of the strangest tents I have ever seen, and a quality German top box made out of a plastic beer keg, to cope with the English weather the owner said.

The engines for these bikes seem to be found in the strangest places, stationary engines seem to be a favorite and seem to be acquired for pence not pounds. And some are done so well you need a double take, for example the Harley Sportster with the Pressure washer engine, or the BMW with a Smart car engine, apparently this is the first modern diesel engine to be in a bike.

The owners are all happy to talk about their machines for hours on end, and are true enthusiasts, but oh how I wish I had learnt German at school rather than French, which I failed miserably at. And are genuinely some of the friendliest folk I have met on a rally field.

As they amassed for their ride outs and potters around the Sussex lanes I bade them farewell and headed home, wondering if the engine from my brothers diesel car would squeeze into an old bike frame sitting behind the garage, I’m sure he would not miss it.

More information on diesel bikes can be found at