Host: Wes White (Four Aces Cycle)
DVD (HD, NTSC Format, Region 0) Release Date: 2009 Run Time: Approx. 4 hours List Price: $39.95
I don’t currently own a Triumph or BSA but I’ve turned a wrench or two on them over the years (Whitworth included!).
The elegant simplicity of the vintage Triumph motor has always fascinated me and I consider it to be the iconic motorcycle engine format.
I bought the “English 101 Triumph Tune & Service Video Manual” only because of my love of old Triumph motorcycles and I also figured I might learn a trick or two that could be carried over to other makes and models, no matter the vintage.
And I have learned a lot, no doubt about it. After a slightly uneven start (more on that in a minute), this is one of the richest motorcycle DVDs in terms of real, usable content that I’ve ever rolled my eyeballs across.
I didn’t know much about Four Aces Cycle Supply either, but they specialize in custom Triumphs and other vintage British bikes and they sure have some cool rides. Wes White, the host of the English 101 video, really knows his stuff and he has a pretty good knack for communicating it to the audience.
I didn’t time it all but there are nearly 4 hours of concentrated workshop time on this DVD. The garage “studio” used in the video is very nicely lighted and the end result is a full crisp and sharp HD format. Wes takes his time to step you through pretty much everything you need to know to keep your Triumph or BSA running great.
Don’t let the “101” part fool you; although grizzled Triumph owners probably know most of the tips explained in the video, there’s a lot to glean from the content. I especially like the sections on timing a Triumph using a timing wheel — a task that is both mysterious and challenging for many home mechanics — but Wes explains it in great detail.
That it’s done on a Triumph engine is almost irrelevant, because the knowledge is transferable to many other types of motorcycles. In fact, I could make the argument that the timing section alone is worth the price of admission, whether you’re a Triumph owner or not.
There are 10 sections on the DVD, including:
1. How to do a valve adjustment.
2. Finding top dead center.
3. Ignition systems and installing a Boyer ignition.
4. Oiling systems and changing the oil.
5. Adjusting the primary and secondary chains.
6. Adjusting the clutch.
7. Carburetor tips.
8. Electrical systems.
9. “Handy Dandy” tips.
10. Chassis and wheels.
I’ll take a guess that the first section on valve adjustments was also the first to be filmed, because it’s not quite the same quality as the remaining sections in terms of the detail for the explanations provided and also the pace.
It would have been enhanced, I think, by some close-ups of the valve adjustment procedures and a peek or two at what’s inside the rocker arm covers on the Triumph engine, but instead the camera is nearly unmoved throughout the entire section, placed several feet away from Wes as he demonstrates the process (and sometimes gets his hands in the way of the action).
I think the valve adjustment on the intake side of the engines should have been filmed first, because that would also show how to turn the crank on the engine (which was off the frame and on a bench). Instead, Wes starts with the exhaust valves, which means we don’t see how or where to turn the crank until the second half of the procedure.
Also, it would have been nice to start out with a quick 5-minute run-through of the Triumph and BSA engines, showing the different parts; i.e., rocker covers, valves, cylinder, lower unit, etc. One thing that isn’t explained (or I didn’t catch it) is the difference between “unit” and “pre-unit” Triumphs; an important distinction (here’s the explanation on Wikipedia).
And I’m not sure why they began with a valve adjustment actually; I’d think some basic maintenance, like the oil change section, should have come first. The uneven start to the first section on adjusting the valves started me off on the wrong foot because I was disappointed, thinking that a novice would have a difficult time fully understanding the process.
But the other 9 sections are excellent; it appears that Wes and the video crew quickly got the hang of it, and the information that is conveyed is excellent and comprehensive, yet easy to understand. I learned a lot about Triumphs but as I mentioned, I can use many of the tips and a lot of this knowledge for working on other motorcycles too, both vintage and modern.
English 101 Triumph Tune and Service Video Manual is an outstanding effort that should be part of any Triumph or vintage British motorcycle owner’s toolbox. It has a huge amount of information that is clearly and pleasantly conveyed, with excellent quality HD video and superb lighting in the garage studio (not an easy thing to do).
It is also very useful for anyone who would like to learn more about motorcycle maintenance “the old way”; that is, before fly-by-wire throttles, fuel injection, water cooling, ABS brakes and CAN-BUS electrics. I can highly recommend this video to one and all.
In a classic ironic twist, the DVD is apparently available in the U.S.A. only, so we couldn’t list it in the Amazon.co.uk store for our UK visitors. However, the DVD is said to be a “Region 0” format so I’m not sure if that means it can be played on PAL television sets in Europe? But no worries, because it should work with no problems on a computer with a DVD player installed.