WHILE WE were watching Ron Lyon bent down and pressed a tiny sticker to the tank of the glistening blue motorcycle - just in front of the name.
"Made in Australia" was the message on the sticker. And "Alron 250" was the name on the tank.
For the first time in nearly 20 years Australia had a motorcycle to call her own ... quite distinct from the English Sprites sold under the Alron badge; quite distinct from the few competition machines which have occasionally appeared from Australian workshops.
For the Alron 250 is designed to be sold off showroom floors across the country - a road-and-enduro motorcycle to tackle the Spanish, European and English makers at their own game in the cut-throat race for sales.
Ron stepped back: "There it is. What do you think of it?" There could be only one answer. It looked as professionally turned out a machine as a trail rider could wish to see. For a first effort it was magnificent.
"It's been a long time getting here," said Ron's father, Mr Syd Lyon, who has backed the Alron project. "But I think old Ron's done a good job." And old Ron - actually he's only 32 - had done a good job. The finish was first rate, there was a feeling of "rightness" when astride the machine, and the basic design was obviously sound.
This first Alron 250 was rushed to the Perth International Motor Show only a few hours after it was finished, and there Ron Lyon began the second part of his battle to build an Australian motorcycle - selling it.
But taking the machine to the show was immensely satisfying in itself to the quiet Englishman who decided 18 months ago that he wanted to go into the motorcycle game - and the motorcycle manufacturing war.
Some people told him openly he could not do it. Many others thought the same, but kept it to themselves. Ron himself knew he faced no easy task.
"I certainly have never thought of giving it up," he said. "But at the same time it has taken me a lot longer than I first thought it would.
"We reckoned in the first place to have the Sprite-made machines on sale in the middle of last year, and our own Ossa-engined Alrons a few months later. "But there were delays - some of which I had absolutely no control over, some others where I just thought we could make progress quicker than we did.
"There were problems with materials - even this prototype will be a bit heavier than production versions because we couldn't get the right tubing in time. "And testing took a long time too. We started out with a frame much like that of the Sprites because we knew that handled well. "But we have gone on from there, testing, modifying," testing and modifying yet again. "All told it's been quite a job."
Builder Ron Lyon with the completed road bike ... "there were delays".
An early shot of the prototype on the Jandakot production line. The plans are to build 40 a month for three months to test demand.
TWO WHEELS was the first publication in Australia to reveal details of the Alron plans. That was in June 1973.
Ron Lyon said then that he wanted to build a 250 cm3 enduro machine as good as any in the world.
Only riding it can demonstrate whether he has succeeded, but he has deviated remarkably little from the specifications he spelled out in wary fashion when first interviewed last year.
The engine of the Alron 250 is the Spanish Ossa, the same unit as that factory uses in its latest six-day replicas. Ron Lyon chose it for its excellent torque characteristics and reliability.
The frame is the double-tube cradle type, but differs from most in that it has a deep kink in the right-hand side tube where it sweeps up from the swinging arm pivot.
One might expect this to rob the frame of strength, but Ron Lyon says rider testing has shown this not to be so.
Apart from that the frame is quite conventional - lightweight and strongly braced at the critical points of' head-stem and swinging-arm pivot. Some designers prefer tube bracing round the steering 'head, but Ron Lyon has built his frame with gussets made of sheet steel. But what does set the frame apart from most is the finish - it is nickel-plated.
Production frames will be readied in a jig at Alron's factory in the outer Perth suburb of Jandakot and then welded by an aircraft tradesman. There should be no doubts about the quality of the job. Aircraft tradesmen play a big part in the rest of the Alron too.
Mudguards and seat will be made by the only fibreglass worker In WA licensed to work on aircraft. And the blue paint used on the Alrons is' the same as that used on aircraft. Ron Lyon wanted to have the colour impregnated in the fibreglass but was advised against it. Infrared light conditions in Perth would make it alter colour inside a year he was told.
When he was told he could have the parts finished in the same paint that resists fierce sunlight in high-flying aircraft he decided that was the thing for his machines too. It was a good choice. The blue paint is deep and lustrous and if it wears as well as its reputation says it should, it will keep the Alron looking good long after other machines begin to show the wear of continuous bush use.
The front mudguard of the show Alron was metal because one to the proper specification could not be finished in time. But the back guard was the same as the production machines will, use and is of most interesting construction. It is not, in fact, fibreglass - or fibreglass reinforced plastic, the correct description of most "unbreakables". Instead of being built up with resins worked into fibreglass sheet or mat, the guard is built up on a type of linen with the result that it is more flexible again.
But the Alron that went to the show did have some incomplete details. The most glaring was the backlight. The mounting was borrowed from a Yamaha to finish the machine for the show. It made the Lucas light high and vulnerable on the back guard and it will be changed on production models.
Ron wants buyers to have as little trouble as possible stripping off road gear for serious enduro events. This means he will probably shy away from the type of flush fitting light used on the Rickman machines he sells and which use the same basic Lucas fitting.
The other problem was that there was no tool kit - nor allowance to fit one. So what Ron Lyon plans to do is raise the battery - there is already some waste space underneath it - so that a toolbox can be fitted.
Only more testing in wet going will show whether the air-filtering system is good enough. On the show machine the filter was the same as fitted to Ossa engines as standard but it had no shielding other than that offered by the plastic casing round the element.
Ron Lyon is a firm believer in competition success selling machines - and showing up any faults in them at the same time. So Graham Sully - the former WA enduro champion who has done most of the development riding on the 250 - will ride one in competition this year. "If we find anything wrong then we will remedy it in production models," says Ron Lyon.
Ron Lyon announced he would take orders for the Alron 250 immediately he set up his stand at the Perth motor show. He planned an initial run of 10 machines and then 40 a month for three months to test demand. The machine is as handsome as any on the market. It has a well-proven engine. Sully is an experienced rider and the Alron has been modified to meet his ideas of how an enduro machine should handle.
Now only time - and the Australian public - will tell.
(Printed in 1974)