What no brake?

I really enjoyed the feature on Honda’s assault on the Isle of Man TT back in the ’60s. However, something is puzzling me. The picture at the foot of page 26 of the October edition shows the start of the 50cc race in 1966. The two Hondas, numbers 1 and 2 ridden by Ralph Bryans and Luigi Taveri don’t appear to have front brakes, but have large rear drums? That must have been an interesting challenge on two fronts; getting it past the scrutineer, but more importantly stopping it!
Can anybody explain please?
Jim Gould

NNC RR B0166 – 1966 Isle of Man TT 50cc race start – 1 Ralph Bryans Honda, 2 Luigi Taveri Honda, 3 Hugh Anderson Suzuki, 7 Hans Georg Anscheidt Suzuki, 15 Barry Smith Suzuki

An interesting point Jim, although if you look at the rim of the front wheels on both bikes, just behind the fork legs, you can see that the RC115 was running a rim brake, as was spec’d on the previous year’s bike. Even so, I’m sure it was something of a challenge to scrub some speed off on some of the tighter sections of the Clypse Course! And then we got a further email from Jim:-

Having written to OBM a friend also gave me the same information about the rim brake!  He also told me that the large rear drum housed a two-speed gear box, a sort of overdrive, which when combined with the conventional nine-speed gearbox gave 18 ratios! Apparently this was necessary to use the 750rpm power band to its best effect.
Must have been a real challenge to get the best out of it…

Article continues below...

Enjoy more Old Bike Mart reading in the monthly newspaper.
Click here to subscribe & save.

Read more Letters, Opinion, News and Features in the January 2020 issue of Old Bike Mart – on sale now!

Subscribe to Old Bike Mart Enjoy more Old Bike Mart reading in the monthly paper. Click here to subscribe.