First Big Ride on the 1960 Parilla 250

It was touch and go for more than a week. Mitch had organized a small-displacement  bike rally with the Chicago Vintage Motorcyclists (better known as ChiVinMoto, or just ChiVin), and I really didn’t know if I was going to have my Parilla 250 ready.  The charging system had taken a complete dump the week before on the way to the Ace Motorcycle & Scooter Works.  Chad had graciously offered to fix it, because that’s what he does for a living, and I brought him the new-in-the box commutator, brushes, brush springs and voltage regulator that I had received when I got the bike.  Now I know why they came with it.

I was in Detroit from Monday night until Friday at midnight.  I had tried a couple of times to get ahold of Chad, but I really don’t like to bother a mechanic when he/she is working on anything, especially when that anything is mine.  Good mechanics are like good software engineers – they get into a “zone” where nothing else seems to exist around them, and their entire being seems to be focused on the job at hand.  I’ve been there thousands of times when I’ve been coding, and probably more with a wrench in my hand simply because I’ve been doing that at some level of effectiveness since I was twelve or thirteen.

Two Two-Fifties. Brit and Italian....

Rick had agreed to pick me up in his van and take me to Oswego. The Parilla was to be perched next to a rare Royal Enfield 250 that was his mount for the event.  I cagily put him off for an answer until I finally reached Chad.  The bike was done.  The only fly in the ointment was getting to Rick’s house, then getting Rick to go to Ace and then heading to Oswego.  I hate having people do me favors and then I might do something to make it even more complicated.  I really don’t like putting people out.  Yet, there’s Rick, just taking it in stride, saying, “Sure.  Just ride over in the morning on the Guzzi and then we’ll go pick up the 250.  We’ll drop the Parilla at your house, then you can ride your V7 back home.”

All set.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Mitch had given a stern warning to the group that “kickstands up” was to be at noon.  We arrived at 11:44.  Everyone milled around and looked at bikes and talked.  We finally left at 12:40.

It was a great route.  Mitch’s house is in Oswego, and we travelled some lovely back roads to Sheridan, and Ottawa.  One of the ChiVin guys brought his truck and trailer to follow just in case of a breakdown.  Being the second-oldest bike there, with little test miles, I felt like I had about a 60% chance of landing in the passenger seat of the pickup before the day was out.  Visions of large checks dancing in my head, I pressed on and treated the old girl like she had been part of my stable for years.  She didn’t disappoint except for one moment outside of Sheridan where a stuck float bowl was pouring gas out of the weep hole of the SS1 and other parts.  Of course Rick comes to my rescue with a pocket knife.  He whacks the remote float a few times, and then I shut it off.  I decide to run it up and down the block a couple of times and it’s as good as new.

Remote float bowl. Whack it lightly if it sticks...

In a way the gas leak was a boon.  I had left the oil cap loose before and there was oil all over the crankcase.  The gas washed everything off and made if shiny again.  After that somewhat hazardous stop, we proceeded on, where a nice long straight found me jumping out in front of everyone and investigating how fast the Parilla was.  I’m figuring 75ish.  Speedo’s broken.  Really don’t care “too” much.  I was having so much fun it’s all relative.

Arriving at Starved Rock State Park, we rode all over looking for a place to park.  The waning days of summer brought everyone out and filled up the spaces.  There were quite a few Harleys and Victories and other metric cruisers, but very little of anything else.  We drew a crowd.  The Yamaha YZ50 in our midst was dwarfed by a couple of Irish Wolfhounds.  Realizing that we got a late start and we had doddled a bit on the way out we decided to pretty much flip back around and head home.  We had two hours to cover 59 miles of back roads, and time and sunlight were in short supply.

The ride back was much faster save for a 25 minute stop in Sheridan to fix a loose exhaust pipe on a MadAss scooter that was part of our group.  Other than that, the long rays of evening settled nicely, allowing our shadows to grow and cast wonderful silhouettes against the tarmac.  Arriving back at Mitch’s we all loaded our bikes up and had a quick beer.  Time to go.

The day confirmed everything I had hoped to discover about the Parilla.  It was a capable machine that rode much “better” than its 250cc engine advertised.  Plenty of low-end grunt, which was wholly unexpected.  I was able to kick start it only once, pushing it most of the time.  I’ll need to give the bike more attention in this area or I’m going to end up with 5% body fat.

Parilla 250 at rest. Before restoration.

It gets looks, It goes faster than most small bikes, it handles and brakes well, and it’s comfortable enough to spend 5 hours on.  Later that evening at Rick’s house, I got back on the V7 Classic for the ride home.  I felt like I was riding an Elephant!

One thought on “First Big Ride on the 1960 Parilla 250

  1. It looks great. I’m glad you had a pleasant ride.
    But I’m surprised you were surprised at the low-end grunt. I’ve been doin’ a little research on the “why’s” of engine configurations, and thumpers always have more torque than multis of the same displacement. If you have any interest I posted about it and also asked a question for which I still don’t have a good answer here-

    Why are torque and horsepower equal at 5250 rpm?

    There is something very endearing about smaller bikes. If I see another V50 Monza for sale at a reasonable price and within 500 miles, I may snatch it up.

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