H&H Auctions has published some details of consigned lots
2nd June 2017 is the date to remember
H&H Auctions is now consigning lots for its 2nd June 2017 inaugural sale at the National Motorcycle Museum. The firm is promising at least 100 motorcycles and over 60 cars—which includes an Irish collection of WW2-era vehicles (no details yet).
We've been perusing the catalogue and have picked out a few machines perhaps worthy of mention. First is the (immediately) above 1958 650cc Ariel Huntmaster which carries an estimate of £5,000 - £6,000. Aside from a few joy rides over the years, we've no special experience of these BSA A10-based twins. We just like the cut of its jib. That's all. So we'll be watching to see how well it fares.
It's worth remembering that by and large, these Huntmasters are typically overlooked by most classic bike enthusiasts (including us). As a result, there are often some good value machines to be had—although this is mitigated slightly by the relative rarity when compared to, say, the more common BSA A10.
Like all classics, the Huntmaster has its quirks, but if it catches your eye and you can get it for anywhere near the bottom estimate, you'll probably have a very worthy Ariel taking up space in your garage, with the promise of a penny or two profit further down the road.
The second machine that interests/amuses us is the immediately above (and below) 1913 James Quadricycle fitted with a Wall Autowheel. H&H reckons that £3,500 - £4,500 is a reasonable price to pay for this 118cc four-wheeler—and note that because it's a four-wheeler, it can be legally ridden on UK roads on a car licence. We're not sure if a crash helmet is required, but we figure that a deerstalker, a tweed jacket and a butterfly net are all you need to satisfy everyone's curiosity and interest.
And the deerstalker reference is perfectly appropriate. It's said that Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was a shareholder in the firm that either built, or marketed these engines.
There's no Pioneer certificate. Nevertheless, this outfit should be eligible for the Pioneer Run. A V5 is present, and of course "road tax" and an MOT certificate aren't required. For quirky, period and nostalgic fun, we think this old Edwardian-in-spirit (if not technically an Edwardian) is worth a closer inspection.
Arthur William Wall
Arthur William Wall was the inventor of the Wall Autowheel. In 1903 he founded A W Wall Ltd in Guildford, Surrey. In 1904 A W Wall moved to Birmingham and founded the ROC Gear Company. He was subsequently granted a patent for his autowheel idea. The device was produced by Auto-Wheel Ltd of Kensington, London.
The history of autowheels is patchy and conflicting, and we're by no means knowledgeable on the subject. So the "facts" in this news item should be treated with caution. But it appears that production was handled at various locations; Farnham, Hampshire for the Standard Autowheel, and Birmingham for the De Luxe model which BSA manufactured.
Numerous manufacturers certainly produced or adapted vehicles for the autowheel concept, and it was a popular propulsion unit that travelled widely around the world. In 1914, the A O Smith Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin bought the manufacturing rights to the Wall Autowheel, then developed the idea further and sold tens of thousands of units.
The (approximately, or possibly just notionally) one horsepower engine is said to be capable of propelling this rig along at 16mph. Fuel consumption is around 100 - 120 mpg. Possibly slightly more. A single lever engages or disengages the drive, and the asking price, in 1913, was around £16.
Fast-forward to the modern era of electrically assisted bicycles, and you can see exactly how the wheel has turned and has brought us right back to where it began.
However, we'd choose this combo over an electric bicycle any day. It might not be as practical, but there's more to travelling through life than everyday convenience. Sometimes you have to wing it along on your chosen fantasy or obsession. Are we right?
Finally, we've got our peepers on this matching-numbers, 1,265cc 1928 Indian 401 (image immediately above). This in-line IOE (inlet-over-exhaust) four has mostly been on display duty for the past decade, so it's in need of some re-commissioning. But when sorted, there's 30hp or so inside that crankcase busting to get out, and there's around 80mph on tap.
Fundamentally, the A O Lemon-designed bike is actually an Ace Four re-badged and improved by Indian (notably the leaf-spring front fork and front brake). The weight is around 460lbs. Indian was asking around $445 new. H&H has tagged an estimate of £50,000 - £60,000, and this bike is Banbury Run eligible.
Over the next few weeks we'll be looking closer at the consigned bikes at this National Motorcycle Museum sale, but you can always check 'em out for yourself by following the link below. Meanwhile, if you're trying to shift a classic bike (or a classic car), talk to H&H and get the wheels moving.
Rare Meriden Tiger Trail hits ten grand plus at Stafford
Bike needs re-commissioning
This is an amazing price for a TR7T Triumph Tiger Trail. Earlier this month we carried a brief news story on this bike (see further down this page). Bonhams had posted an estimate of £4,500 - £6,500, and we expected it to sell for somewhere around the top estimate. But on the day, someone put his or her hand in their wallet/purse and produced £10,750.
Naturally, we understand perfectly that things are worth only what folk are prepared to pay, etc. Nevertheless, it's hard to see why an otherwise ordinary Triumph TR7 Tiger with a rear drum brake, a skinny front wheel and a few off-road pretensions should command ten grand plus when a standard T140 fetches around half that price.
But then, like the rest of the world we're always playing catch-up with classic motorcycle prices. And also, T140 asking prices are steadily rising, which is good news because we've got two in the garage and one more in bits; not that we're selling, you understand.
Check Sump's Triumph TR7T Tiger Trail buyers guide
175% of your weekly wage/salary is potentially up for grabs
A maximum of six penalty points will apply
The maximum fine for speeding offences in the UK has risen from today (24th May 2017). Previously, the minimum fine was £100 plus three penalty points on your licence. The maximum was 100 percent of your weekly wage/salary up to a limit of £1,000 (£2,500 for a motorway offence).
However, you can now be fined 175% of your weekly wage/salary, but also up to a maximum of £1,000 (£2,500 for a motorway offence). The minimum three penalty points hasn't changed, but the government is now offering a maximum of six points for anyone who earns it. Also, you can still get banned for up to 56 days.
Here are the details:
There are three bands related to the fine. Band A (1mph - 10mph over the limit) will lead to a 25% - 75% hit on a pay packet. Three penalty points will also be added.
Band B (11mph - 21mph) will see a possible 75% - 125% hit, plus four to six penalty points.
Band C (21mph and over) could hit the 175% jackpot, plus six penalty points.
Naturally, this kind of blunt weapon policing is far from adequate. At Sump, we're not exactly the world's most notorious speedsters. But over the years we committed the usual transgressions, and there's speeding, and then there's speeding—meaning that vehicle condition, weather conditions, traffic conditions, and sundry criteria make a big difference that speed cameras and magistrates (despite guidelines) often fail to take much notice of (and note that magistrates can simply throw the guidelines away if they feel there's a significant public interest in doing so).
As ever, we really need more cops on patrol to distribute intelligent and reasoned policing and get the hardcore offenders off the road entirely. But that isn't coming to a street anywhere near us in the foreseeable future. So it's back to the blunt hammer.
Vincent White Shadow takes the top money
2017 turnover down on last year (but see update below)
£163,900 including premium. That was the selling price of the above 1949 Vincent-HRD White Shadow which went under the hammer today (23rd April 2017) at the Bonhams Spring Sale at Stafford.
This "Series-C project" (Lot 172) was estimated at just £50,000 - £60,000. But that looks like an artificially low estimate intended to draw the punters in. Why do we say that? Well, in 2015 at Las Vegas, USA, Bonhams sold a sorted Vincent White Shadow for £174,870 (see update below). Following on, in January 2016, Bonhams sold a rare "Chinese Red" White Shadow for £339,638 (see update below). Therefore, £163,900 isn't quite as impressive as it first seems. But it ain't pocket fluff, either.
So what is a White Shadow? Well, it's a Black Shadow with polished aluminium alloy engine cases as opposed to a more usual black enamelled finish. And if that's true, why has the White Shadow in the image immediately above got black cases? We have no idea. But we'll be asking Bonhams for clarification (see update below).
Meanwhile, Bonhams has issued a press release claiming a 90-percent sell through rate coupled with an "outstanding [sale] total" of £2,132,257.
Meanwhile, the total amount of money raised by this sale was £3,454,501. Certainly, that's another big number. But last spring, Bonhams turned over £3,454,501 at Stafford which was considerably higher. We haven't yet analysed the sale, so there might be more here to take into account.
Beyond that, the next highest selling lot was the ex-Freddie Frith
1948 348cc KTT Velocette (see image immediately above). The estimate for this 1949 World Championship winner, and 1948 and 1949 Junior TT winner was £120,000 - £150,000, and the last buyer with his or her hand in the air paid £135,900.
▲ It's reckoned that only 12 - 15 of these SS80/100 Brough Superiors were built, of which only a few survive. Lot 201 is a 1926 model, distinct in leaving the factory with an SS80 engine in an SS100 rolling chassis, and later fitted with a JAP KTOR OHV engine (85.7mm x 85mm with exposed rockers and pushrods). Bonhams sold it for £126,940.
Overall, Bonhams appears to have been far more cautious with its estimates than it has in recent times, hence the numerous bikes that exceeded their bottom numbers. Someone has evidently pressed the reset button with regard to expectations.
Here are some more results (estimates in brackets):
1926 Brough Superior 981cc SS80/100. £126,940 (£75,000-95,000).
1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine £112,380 (£100,000-140,000).
1929 Brough Superior OHV 680 £68,700 (£45,000-55,000).
1931 Ariel 499cc Model SF31 ‘Sloper’ £24,150 (£8,000-10,000).
1937 Matchless 1,000cc Model X £50,600 (£26,000-33,000).
1951 Vincent-HRD 998cc Rapide Series-C £42,550 (£22,000-28,000).
c.1940 Zündapp KS600 Motorcycle Combination £35,650 (£14,000-18,000).
▲ 1998 750cc MV Agusta F4 'Serie Oro', unused, still in its crate, and almost ready to roll. £28,000 - £36,000 was the expectation. The bike sold for its top estimate.
Meanwhile, Bonhams is looking for consignments for its International Beaulieu Autojumble Sale (2nd September 2017) and its Autumn Stafford Sale on 15th October 2017.
UPDATE: We've been advised by Bonhams that there's some doubt regarding the correct dollar-sterling currency conversion rate for the White Shadows that were sold, respectively, in 2015 and 2016. The 2015 Brough has been recalculated at £148,382 (and not £174,870). The 2016 Brough has been recalculated at £297,729 (and not £339,638). But note that our figures came directly from Bonhams' website. Next, the White Shadow's engine cases were, we're advised, painted black by a previous owner. And finally, Bonhams has pointed out that last year's sales total presented a "spike" due to the "Broughs of Bodmin" collection. And that's true. But to keep it in context, here are the Stafford Sale totals for the past three years:
Once again, we suggest that the Spring 2017 Stafford Sale was not a bad overall result for Bonhams. And although the total sales turnover is down (compared to, say, 2015, unless you conduct a very careful like-for-like analysis (which isn't very practical), you're not going to be able to make any definitive performance claims. Bonhams has done okay.
30-litre and 50-litre waxed-cotton roll bags
40-litre waxed-cotton pannier combo
We've posted details of this new luggage system on our general motorcycle news page, as opposed to here on this classic bike news section. But these waxed cotton panniers and roll bags will appeal as much, or even more, to owners of more traditional/older bikes, so we've plugged them here too.
If you're looking for bike luggage, follow the link below. We haven't yet tested them, but Oxford Products are generally well made and good value. Take a peek...
Oxford Heritage Luggage
Jeff Clew's affectionate and insightful look at the "Golden Era"
£25 to you, squire
It's new, and it's old, and it's currently resting on the Sump coffee table between the sofa and the TV set—and it mostly gets picked up and read while the adverts are on. And yes, we know that part of the supposed compact 'twixt the viewer and the TV stations is that you actually watch the stupid commercials in order to keep the advertisers happy and the revenue flowing. But TV ads ain't what they used to be (are we right?), and Jeff Clew's Motorcycling in the 50s is a whole lot more edifying and entertaining.
The book is part of Veloce Publishing's "Classic Reprint" series, which is akin to serving up yesterday's soup at today's prices. Not that we're complaining. Clew has done a good job and writes well enough for us, and there's a lot of information here that we either didn't know, or had completely forgotten.
The Suez Crisis. The scooter boom. The rise of the two-stroke. Bubble cars. The TT. Sidecars. The rocker era. A sidelong look at motorcycle exotica from the continent. And more.
The book is backed by dozens of period photos, adverts and brochure material. And—oops—that's where it falls down a little. The reproduction isn't great and is even smudgy in places. And disappointingly, many (or most) of the period adverts carry lettering that's too small to read, even with a lens. Not that it's all bad. It's just not what it might have been. And had Veloce handled this aspect a little better (which, naturally, would raise the price of the book), we'd give this one 8 or 9 out of ten. But because of the varying image quality, we're giving it a 7 for delivery, and an A for effort.
Put simply, we think this book is worthy of your coin and is fit for sticking on your own coffee table. It's not a demanding read, so you can easily dip in and out between the TV ads for eye make-up, car insurance and whatnot. And the narrative convincingly takes you back to the fifties (as opposed to having been written by a bluffer born in the 1970s onward).
There's no colour in the book, by the way. It's all black and white between softback colour covers. But that really doesn't matter. Not to us, anyway. The book is best enjoyed for the copy. The images come second.
Jeff Clew probably needs little introduction. But you can't know everything and everyone, so here goes. Clew was a prolific motorcycle writer and author. He began biking in 1946 and quickly developed a passion for Velocettes that remained with him throughout his life. He was an active member of the VMCC, a popular man among his peers, and he rose to become the Editorial Director for the Haynes Publishing Group.
He died in 2009.
Meanwhile, his books are still out there, and Motorcycling in the 50s is, as we've said, enjoyable reading between the TV adverts—and, come to that, enjoyable reading with the TV off, or in the bath, or relaxing in bed. As a gift, it will probably go down well. Or just buy it for yourself. So if you've got an interest in the fifties era, here's when you can get yourself properly Clewed in.
The ISBN is: 978-1-787110-99-1. The dimensions are 250mm X 207mm. The pages number 144. And it's available now.
Veloce is asking £25.
All 50 UK Triumph dealers are laying on a biking party
The new 765 Street Triple demonstrators will be on tap
The date to remember is 22nd - 23rd April 2017. That's a Saturday and Sunday, and if you're a Triumph man or woman you might want to check out TFest. Actually, if you're a fan of any other motorcycle marque you might also want to check it out because Triumph is currently fielding a pretty convincing range of bikes, the firm is on a roll, and you just might find yourself persuaded to switch sides.
TFest, put simply, happens each year when all 50 Triumph motorcycle dealers in the UK open their doors extra wide and invite the buying public to mosey in and examine the hardware and test ride a bike or two and generally socialise and fraternise with likeminded souls, etc.
Expect live music, refreshments, plenty of Triumph products on display, lots of sales talk and tech advice, and a generally convivial atmosphere.
Triumph calls TFest an "annual celebration of our iconic motorcycle range" and have reminded us that the new Street Triple 765 demonstrators will be primed and ready for launch.
We'll be checking out TFest at our local Triumph dealer with a view to maybe cutting a deal of our own if the mood takes us and if the price is right (and Triumph prices are nothing if not competitive).
It's the same week as the big Stafford Show, note. But with a little thought and planning, you can perhaps get both events under your belt.
Don't forget your riding licence and some other form of ID.
The driving test is set become "more relevant"
A "distraction test" idea has been mooted
If you make 16 minor mistakes (count 'em) or one serious/dangerous error, you'll fail your UK driving test. That's the message coming from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) regarding the changes that are coming our way in December 2017.
Additionally, before a fledgling motorist will be allowed to go equipped onto the Queen's Highway, he or she will be expected to show a proficiency for handling satellite navigation devices.
Other changes will include an "independent driving" component (i.e. longer stretches of silent observation by an examiner); a reduced focus on quieter roads; competency checks when driving under more challenging conditions (i.e. dual carriageways and motorways); a test to see whether a candidate can handle manoeuvres such as parking in a confined space; and a "distraction test".
This, apparently, will involve an examiner suddenly springing a question on a candidate while the vehicle is in motion and seeing whether he or she fields it with aplomb, or veers off the road into a hedge or something. But until more details emerge, we can only speculate on what such a question, or questions, might be.
The idea behind these changes is, of course, simply to move with the times and keep the driving test relevant to the needs of modern day motoring, which is reasonable enough. But naturally, a test only ever really evaluates a person's ability to pass a given test at a given moment, and has little to say about real-world knowledge or behaviour—as many other road users, not least bikers, have found to their regret.
That said, most would agree that some kind of driving examination is needed, and a revamp of the methodology is always overdue. So we'll just have to be grateful for what we've got. And no doubt some, or all, of this will filter into a revamped motorcycle test regime, but we've no word yet on that.
Meanwhile, if you're riding around after 2018 and spot an L-plated vehicle on the fast lane of the M1 with the driver looking like a panicking contestant in a high stakes game show, and a po-faced guy in the passenger seat armed with a clipboard, a stop watch and a megaphone, just smile sympathetically and give 'em plenty of tarmac.
The only real test, after all, is a destruction test. And as we all know, when things go wrong on the roads, they tend to go wrong very suddenly.
Insecure chin buckle
Buckle needs padding
A year or so ago we reviewed a Duchinni D606 flip front crash helmet. And broadly speaking, we were reasonably happy with this Chinese-made lid given the price point.
However, we've since developed some concerns that ought to be mentioned and might affect a rider's decision to buy. Specifically, we've had the chin buckle come adrift on the move, not once but three times.
On all three occasions there didn't seems to be any obvious reason for it. In other words, the helmet was apparently securely fastened on the under-chin ratchet. We were riding about 55mph and not doing anything unusual or challenging. We were just looking at the scenery, both hands on the 'bars, mild weather, no earthquakes (but the usual Triumph T140 vibration).
Nevertheless, the fastener just came undone. And it's since done that twice more. We've had a close (albeit inexpert) look at the mechanism which doesn't appear to be broken, and the ratchet isn't worn. But it doesn't look the smartest design since the clothes peg, and we feel it warrants a closer inspection as and when you try one on in the shop. Actually, that advice applies to any lid.
One other point; the buckle is uncomfortable. Didn't bother us at first, but repeated use, and use over greater distances, has highlighted the fact that both sides of the buckle needs some heavyweight padding. As it is, only one side (the side with the red tab) is padded, and not very generously padded.
Ideally, the securing mechanism really needs shifting away from the chin entirely. But it is where it is, and we'll fix up something to make it easier on the jawbone and throat. But if we experience any more de-coupling issues, the lid will go in the bin.
We hate to report negative product news. Dealers have a living to make, the money needs to keep moving, and what might be an isolated case can tarnish the reputation of a product long term. We're very conscious of that.
Nevertheless, what happened happened. So factor it in—and, like we said, if it's secure in the shop and you're happy with it, no problem. But if you can accidentally free that buckle/ratchet while you're strutting around in front of the mirror, you know what to do.
Check our Duchinni D606 review for more on this product.
750cc Tiger Trail is going on the block
Some commentary here on current T140 prices
Bonhams has posted an estimate of £4,500 - £6,500 for this rare 750cc (actually 744cc) Triumph TR7T Tiger Trail (Lot 178). And given the £2,000 range between the high and low estimates, we suspect that Bonhams can't figure out where the hammer's going to fall on this one. Not with any certainty.
And neither can we.
Currently, T140 oil-in-frame Bonnies and their derivatives are asking very strong money. We're seeing prices as high as £12,000 for machines that we'd normally estimate at maybe £5,000 - £6,000. Even ropey old non-original/mucked-around T140s are asking £3,000 - £4,000. And more. But we're not sure that many such examples, if any, are really fetching these kinds of prices.
So we come to the TR7T Tiger Trail. This rare Meriden-built seven-fifty was one of less than maybe 200 examples built by the contentious Worker's Co-operative. The bike was a clever-ish move by Triumph which was desperate to secure any sales at all and was becoming very inventive at serving up the same basic dish with a variety of toppings.
Cue a 21-inch front wheel, a drum rear brake, a "three-quarter" saddle (not fitted to this example), a two-into-one exhaust, plastic 'guards front and rear, and a banana-yellow livery with fairly bold tank graphics.
A 650cc short-stroke example followed which saw even lower production numbers (we don't have precise figures, and we're not sure that anyone does).
The TR7T was available for only a year or two (1981 - 1982). The British biking press mostly liked it (with reservations). But it was the French and the Germans who really picked up the Meriden beat, and that's where most of these Tigers went.
Wilemans Motorcycles of Derby originally sold this bike for £1,849. The late owner, for various reasons, changed a few bits (and some of those parts are included in the sale). The total mileage is thought to be around 11,000 (with just 2,566 showing on a replacement speedometer). Some re-commissioning will be needed. But essentially, most of it appears to be there.
Over the years we've ridden a few of these Tigers, and they ride very nicely with light steering, a surprisingly good rear drum brake, and a little less weight to haul around. They're not much good for any serious/heavy duty off-road work. But for green-lane riding and suchlike, you might be pleasantly surprised by the torque and tractability of the single carb parallel-twin, 4-valve, pushrod engine. However, for faster road work, these are not ideal—so stick with a standard T140 with decent asphalt rubber if you specifically want a 750cc Triumph twin for highway use.
▲ A Triumph of improvisation? Meriden was all but bust when this Tiger hit the dirt. It was a bit of a shock to purists, but time has been a little kinder. The plastic bits are hard/impossible to find. But pretty much everything else is available from classic Triumph dealers.
Our advice? Buy it and tour Spain and North Africa or somewhere similar. Better still, there's a whole planet out there. Cruise at 55 - 70mph. Carry a few essential spares. You'll do okay.
The bike goes on the auction block at this year's Stafford Show where Bonhams, typically, will be pitching its marquee. The date is 23rd April 2017 (see Sump's events listing for more of what's going on).
If you're looking for an investment T140, we think the Tiger Trail is a prime candidate for consideration, especially if you can snap it up for any price near the bottom estimate.
See: Sump's Triumph TR7T Tiger Trail buyers guide
UPDATE: We've just spotted a front mudguard for this Tiger on eBay. The asking price is £325.
UPDATE 2: Bonhams sold this bike for an amazing £10,750
New system aimed at "trusted third parties"
Beta trial in September 2017. Roll-out by March 2018
Come 2018, we could be displaying our driving licences on our smartphones—to trusted retailers, agencies, government departments, and sundry interested third parties. That's the UK government's vision for the very near future, anyway, and Whitehall's plans in that regard are well advanced.
Supposedly, the move is primarily aimed at increasing rider/driver convenience such as when you find yourself in a rush at a car hire desk, or when buying a new number plate, or simply as proof of identity.
But the cynics would say it's almost entirely aimed at removing the cost of producing and maintaining the current plastic licences which began replacing the paper licence in 1998. Meanwhile, the more paranoid among us might suggest that it's really just another government move to keep track on us via our phones and similar high-tech communications hardware.
We figure, however, that the government simply isn't that smart. And the idea, for the time being at least, is to keep the plastic licence as a back-up in case you can't get an internet connection (or if you find yourself being pursued by rogue MI6 agents and need to get right off the grid while you await a face transplant and a new ID portfolio—and brother, we've been there, don't you worry about that).
By September this year (2017) a trial system is expected to be up and running, and by March 2018 the model will be unveiled.
No doubt, what will concern most of us is how well our data will be secured. But the answer to that is pretty obvious. It will be as secure as the next big hacking bonanza. The best any of us can hope for is that in view of how many people there currently are on the planet, we're actually becoming more and more invisible by the second. Take whatever comfort from that you can get, but we think we've already had the last drop.
Watch for more news on this as and when.
Ex-Scootering editor launches new bi-monthly publication
£5 a copy by subscription
It's A4 size, bi-monthly, will focus mainly on Lambrettas and Vespas, and it's just been launched. This new print magazine is the brainchild of ex-Scootering editor Andy Gillard who's been mucking around with "hairdryers" for decades.
The idea is to present a more stylish and quality publication for riders "with a passion for the road". Typical features will include buying, riding, restoration, new parts and accessories, etc.
The magazine will be available by subscription at £5 per issue (including postage and packing), or you can pick up a copy at scooter dealers, scooter shows and gatherings.
It might seem an odd time to be launching a new rag when others on the market are struggling to maintain let alone grow their readership. But Gillard's got plenty of journalistic form, he's well connected, he knows his readership and he's evidently still got energy and ambition. So good luck to him if he can run any distance with this project.
The National Motorcycle Museum is the new auction venue
Donington is out
Auction house H&H is shifting its auction venue from Donington Park, Derbyshire to the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, West Midlands. The inaugural sale will take place on 1st to 2nd June 2017. A total of three sales are planned for this year, with a minimum of three more for 2018. H&H reckons that this will be "a long term partnership".
The happy bunnies in the image above are George Beale and Mark Bryan (both from H&H) and James Hewing (NMM Museum Director) and Liz Webb (NMM conference and events planning manager).
Sounds of the Sixties radio show presenter has died
His broadcasting career spanned six decades
"Your old mate," Brian Matthew has died aged 88. "Your old mate", you might recall, was his catchphrase, and that's how an army of his fans worldwide will perhaps remember him—and we count ourselves among his regular "avids" who tuned into his programme every Saturday morning (and very often again during the week on catch-up internet radio).
Matthew's era was the 1960s. Sounds of the Sixties was the show he presented and made his own. His style and delivery was calm, cool, clear-headed, informative and always respectful. He was nothing if not a gentleman, and was broadcasting almost to the end.
Born in Coventry, Warwickshire, his father was a conductor in a band, his mother was a singer. Matthew's career began in Germany in 1948 where, in a variety of gigs, he developed his early broadcasting skills. In 1954 he took up a post with the BBC and was soon hosting a radio programme called Saturday Skiffle Club which subsequently became, more simply, Saturday Club.
In 1960 he presented and produced Easy Beat, a radio pop show aimed at a new breed of British youth entranced by the exciting rhythm & blues/rock'n'roll sounds coming from the USA. The Beatles (who Matthew interviewed at length) appeared on the show along with the likes of Bert Weedon, Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, The Viscounts, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, Herman's Hermits and The Rolling Stones.
Easy Beat was, however, soon being challenged by the new phenomena of UK pirate radio which was always more edgy and less "square" than anything the Beeb was prepared to countenance. But finally the British Broadcasting Corporation moved with the times and in 1967 launched Radio One which put Easy Beat in the shade, and the show was dropped.
He was a presenter on the TV music show Thank Your Lucky Stars which aired between 1961 and 1966. From 1978 to 1990 he presented Round Midnight, an arts magazine broadcast on Radio Two. And in 1990 he moved to Sounds of the Sixties—which, since 1983, had been presented by the late Keith Fordyce.
Matthew's style and choice of music was much the same as it always was. Time moved around him, and he refused to move with the times. He maintained a wry sense of humour and irony, and he frequently presented rare material from the archives of Sounds of the Sixties producer Phil "The Collector" Swern.
In August 2006, having never missed a show, Matthew took some time off to recuperate from an intractable illness. By February the following year he was back at the mic; same Brian Matthew, same enthusiasm—albeit with a little more gravel in his voice.
In November 2016 he took time off once again following another health problem. Tim Rice (award winning lyricist and author) took over the show for a few months, and Rice handled it sensitively, thoughtfully, modestly and very respectfully.
In January 2017, the BBC issued a statement advising the radio world that Brian Matthew, as a result of his ill health, would not be returning to Sounds of the Sixties. Matthew promptly issued a statement of his own announcing that the BBC's press release was "balderdash". A listener's petition followed, and the Beeb condescended to allow Matthew a final show with a promise of occasional "special broadcasts". DJ Tony Blackburn finally took the reigns in March 2017, and Matthew was put out to graze.
A few days ago (6th April 2017), a statement was issued by the BBC announcing that Matthew had died in hospital. But that wasn't true. However, he was seriously ill, and it appears that a "well-meaning" family member had taken the microphone a little prematurely. A couple of days later (8th April 2017) another statement was released announcing that Matthew was gone, and that's since been confirmed.
The Beeb has a miserable track record when it comes to treating its staff badly (ask Tony Blackburn, Mike Harding or Ed Stewart—actually, the late Ed Stewart). So it perhaps comes as no surprise that the BBC news report announcing Matthew's death gave him just 40 seconds of airtime for over six decades of service.
As much as we like Tony Blackburn and his excruciating jokes, Sounds of the Sixties simply won't be the same. But to borrow another of Matthew's well remembered catchphrases, "That's your lot."
He's survived by his wife and son.
Eric Patterson's 1957 1200cc V-twin for sale
The bike has form at Bonneville
Suffolk-based classic bike dealer, Andy Tiernan, has just posted details of this 1957 Manx Norton JAP 1200cc V-twin aka "Fast Eric's Bonneville Record Breaker".
That would be Eric Patterson, of course, founder of the Kempton Park Autojumble and serial record breaker—a man whose throttle hand is pretty much jammed on full tilt.
The bike, we hear, was first registered in Portsmouth on the 5th July 1957 and listed as a Manx Norton 30M. Sometime later, a JAP Mk2 1200cc V-twin engine from a Cooper racing car was fitted with the intent on smashing a few records at Bonneville.
Dresda did most of the assembly work and fettled the cylinder heads. Mick Cook Racing fitted a Phoenix crankshaft, GS lightened valves, and handled the rest of the motor building. Tony Cooper plugged in a brace of BTN magnetos. Norton built most of the rest. And Eric Patterson thrashed the bike to within an inch of its life.
In 2008, during his first attempt with this motorcycle, he took a 121mph speed record (sorry, we don't know which category—and when we do know, it just confuses us). Following that, Eric used the Norton on the road for a spell. But now these august wheels are looking for a new speed maniac to work it even harder, if that's possible.
The original buff logbook is present. There's also a current V5C, and the bike is road tax and MOT exempt. And while we remember, there's some bumf relating to the fun and games this bike enjoyed on the salt in Utah.
The asking price is £87,500 which is ... well, a heap of dosh, and we wouldn't know if that's cheap, overly expensive, or right on the nose. Except that Andy Tiernan is handling the sale, and he usually pitches it right.
Call, if you're hard enough.
The London ULEZ date has been moved forward to April 2019
New charges will hit thousands of road users, including bikers
It's by no means settled, but there's increasing talk in "Whitehall Circles" (whatever that is) that the UK government is preparing to compensate buyers of diesel cars who, following the purchase of their vehicles over the past 10 years or so, have since fallen foul of changing environmental attitudes and regulations.
A decade or so ago, the (then) Labour government was keen to promote the dubious virtues of diesel oil and frequently touted it as a low carbon-emitting fuel—and therefore a lesser part of the (alleged) global warming problem. As a direct result, thousands of well-intentioned drivers made the switch from petrol to diesel. But come April 2019 they'll find themselves facing a new "Toxin Tax" of £12.50 per day whenever they enter the London ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) unless they can meet the Euro6 compliancy target, which pretty much none of them will. Broadly speaking, we're talking about pre-2006 vehicles.
The original date for the implementation of the ULEZ was supposed to be September 2020, but this has since been moved forward by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.
The ULEZ will cover the same footprint as the current London Congestion Zone which demands a £12.50 per day (business hours) entry tax on just about everyone entering the area (there are congestion charge exemptions which include motorcycles, note).
Here's how it looks:
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£12.50 per day ULEZ "Toxin Tax" for non-Euro4 compliant petrol engines (including motorcycles), or non Euro6 compliant diesels
Complicated? Well it gets much worse. From October 2017, a new and temporary "T-Charge" or "Toxicity Charge" will kick in. The cost of that charge is £10, and it will apply to ALL vehicles entering the London Congestion Zone that fail to reach Euro4/Euro6 emissions standards. That charge will be added to the £12.50 per day congestion charge. And note that the T-Charge will apply only during the working week—whereas the forthcoming ULEZ will apply 365 days per annum, 24 hours a day.
By April 2019, the £10 per day T-Charge will be superseded by the £12.50 per day ULEZ charge. If your petrol car or bike meets Euro4, you're exempt. And if your diesel-engined car meets Euro6, you're also exempt. But if not, you could be facing a £100 per week charge to enter most of Central London during the working week, and facing a £12.50 per day ULEZ charge regardless of what day of the week it happens to be.
Here's the position in more depth:
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£10 per day T-charge to enter the London Congestion Zone (Euro4 compliant cars and motorcycles exempt/Euro6 diesels also exempt)
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£12.50 per day tax for non-Euro4 compliant petrol engines (including motorcycles), or non Euro6 compliant diesels
Diesel-engined vehicle owners, however, are possibly poised to get a little extra help from the government. As mentioned, many such owners switched from petrol in an effort to preserve life on Earth as we know it, etc, and are now likely to be hit extra hard in the pocket.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is said to be aware of the (unfair?) issue and is looking to offset some of the costs by means that aren't yet clear. One suggestion is that a new diesel scrappage scheme could be introduced to encourage drivers to trade in older diesel-engined cars (i.e. non-Euro6 compliant). Another (much less likely) suggestion is that the price of diesel could, thanks to a reduced government tax, fall (temporarily or otherwise). Yet another (also unlikely) suggestion is that the government could simply scupper the ULEZ and have done with it.
However, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of Air, is standing firm by his plans and has been quoted as saying: "The air in London is lethal." Which is news to us because we breathed it quite normally when we were in the capital a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, Sad Khan, being a paid up (soft) lefty, a "socially liberal Muslim", a solicitor, a self-declared "proud feminist", an ex-chairman of Liberty, and an ex-stand up comedian will probably get his way and will hammer all the "rich bastards"—which is pretty much anyone who doesn't have to ride a bicycle to work or take the bus/tube. Or walk.
It's also worth noting that The Khan suffers from adult onset asthma.
▲ Check this link for more on London Mayor Sadiq Khan and his various agendas for London
The new plans are a total mess and will cause severe hardship for tens of thousands of people. And it's not going to affect only the Greater Londoners who regularly/daily need to drive into the capital. It will also hit many in the home counties (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Sussex) and those living and working further afield.
Clean air is all well and good. But there's a price to pay for overly rapid progress, and that price is going to disproportionately hurt the little people like us.
Check Sump Classic Bike News March 2015 for more on this issue and read exactly how motorcycles, classic and otherwise, will be affected.
Also, check www.tfl.gov.uk and see if your vehicle is compliant.
1st - 3rd June 2017
South Point Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, USA (NV 89183)
That's a 1941 61-cubic inch EL Knucklehead (image immediately above), and it's one of the star lots at Mecum Auctions' June 2017 sale which begins on 1st June and ends two days later on the 3rd. The venue is Las Vegas, USA.
The Knucklehead was the first Harley-Davidson OHV motorcycle available for public consumption (as opposed to race-oriented), which makes it a significant benchmark in the firm's illustrious history. Until 1936, when the "Knuck" was launched, H-D was happy to build and sell only sidevalves, largely because that was exactly what the domestic market needed; i.e. cheap and reliable technology that was easy to maintain and could take a fair amount of abuse in the hands of the clumsy and careless.
But by the mid-thirties, the world beyond had moved on in numerous ways, and Harley-Davidson needed to move with the times in order to stay competitive. In any case, the US road system was rapidly improving, and people had a little more money to spend now that the echo of the Wall Street Crash was fading.
The EL Knucklehead was exactly the great leap forward needed by the Milwaukee-based firm, not simply because of its overhead valves, but also because the Knucklehead was built with a full recirculation lubrication system and offered much improved cooling to boot. And this depression-era Art Deco muscle bike was fast too. The standard "E" model could hit ninety. The slightly more performance oriented "EL" could crack a ton. The price was around $380 which was pretty aggressive for the day. And the cops loved 'em.
If you're buying or selling a motorcycle and fancy a trip to the USA, check out one of Mecum's auctions. They're fast, noisy, uncompromising, and a lot of fun. And frequently there are some surprising bargains. The company is consigning now, and the firm is hungry for your business.
The Knucklehead above has been restored, as you can plainly see, and it comes from the Ernest "Bud" Cox Collection. There's no reserve, by the way.
We'll be returning to the Las Vegas Sale later this year. And if there's enough money in the piggy bank, we just might make the trip and pay Mecum a personal call. Stay tuned.
Hinckley targets April Fools
All said and done in fun
We were in two minds about posting this story. Evidently the above "HandleWheel" is some kind of spoof, and given that it appeared on April 1st, it needs only a little more explanation.
Triumph Motorcycles is behind it. Ostensibly, the idea is to help ween car drivers onto motorcycles by giving them a familiar steering wheel instead of a pair of handlebars. So far, so good. But underlying that is something a little more sinister that might be worthy of a passing mention, and that's the reminder that April Fools jokes are essentially a mild form of sadism.
And we did say "mild".
Put simply, the subtext is always to make someone else look stupid or otherwise humiliate them, in public or private. But because pranking is now practically an international sport and is hallowed by centuries of tradition, it's generally viewed as harmless—which in most (or at least some) cases it is.
Then again, not everyone enjoys the funny side of having cling film stretched under a toilet seat, or discovering a rubber snake in their bed, or peeling a fake parking ticket from their windscreen, or receiving a phone call from the police to tell them that a family member has just been killed.
Think it doesn't happen? It does, and some folk, ever anxious to outdo their peers (or simply looking for a timely excuse to do something malicious and indulge their deep-rooted sadistic urges) are apt to do just about anything to anyone on the first day of April safely protected by the banner of social convention.
It's the same mentality when a TV game show host keeps the contestants waiting to find out who's actually won the £50,000 prize, or whatever. Eking out the seconds and watching them squirm is simply a slow twist of the knife—all culminating in a big conformist laugh at the end of the mild torture to demonstrate to the world that the everyone is really a good sport (even when the host subsequently announces that there is no £50,000 prize after all because it's APRIL FOOL'S DAY!!)
What a riot, huh?
All this aside, it's just a bloody steering wheel on a motorcycle, isn't it? So what are we getting excited about? Nothing, really. So move along, people. On the Sump scale of importance, Hinckley's little wheeze registers little more than a flicker of the eyebrow.
Nevertheless, we think it's generally worthwhile understanding why people do the things they do. At best, these japes, jokes, escapades, stunts, hoaxes and frolics are tedious, irritating and passé. And at worst, they cause real harm or distress to others.
Triumph probably had ordinary publicity in mind rather than sadism when they foisted this one on the world. But the next person who pranks you, on April 1st or any other date, just might have a very different agenda.
Can't wait to see what Hinckley does next year.
Yamaha based cafe racer from Switzerland
It ain't every day that a new Egli motorcycle comes hurtling around the bend. In fact, it's 25 years since the last variation on the Egli theme took shape. But then, you could also say that this particular Swiss roller has actually taken 51-years to arrive, because that's how long it is since the company was founded by Fritz Walter Egli.
Developed at the Egli Motorradtechnik AG workshop in Bettwil, Switzerland, this new cafe racer is based upon the Yamaha XJR1300 platform. Details are scarce, but we can tell you that (a) the chassis is structured around the now classic Egli central tube concept; (b) the rake angle is 24.5-degrees; (c) the wheelbase is 1,470mm (57.8-inches); and (d) the swinging arm length is 21.6-inches (but in the real world, how many riding folk really need to know any or all of that?).
Actually, there's a little more info. The front fork is a 43mm Öhlins RSU. Rear suspension is via a pair of Öhlins shocks. The front brakes are twin 297mm cast iron Beringer Aeronal discs gripped by twin Beringer 6-piston fixed calipers. And the rear brake is a 267mm steel disc with a Beringer fixed twin-pot caliper.
The engine is, apparently, a stock XJR1300 four-cylinder air-cooled lump. The bore and stroke is, respectively, 79mm x 63.8mm. The capacity is 1,251cc. Maximum power is 97.8PS (96.4bhp) @ 8,000rpm. Maximum torque is 108.4Nm (79.9lbs-ft) @ 6,000rpm. The gears number five. And the all-up weight is a hefty (208kgs) 458lbs, wet. That, we hear, is around 36kg (79lbs) less than a stock XJR1300 (which doesn't really sound all that impressive).
The price is 51,000 Swiss francs. At today's exchange rate (31st March 2017) that converts to £40,590.
Here at Sump we've been discussing this bike, and we've got mixed feelings. The Egli name obviously has a lot of gravitas, but the consensus is that, as much as we like the Yamaha XJR1300, we reckon that the Egli monicker ought to have been affixed to something inherently more sporty rather than the big, blustering muscle bike that's made the big Yam so popular.
Amusingly, Egli's PR people tell us that this bike is "true to the Egli slogan" which is; "Rides as if on rails". We know what they mean, of course, but riding on rails also means that you can't turn any way you want to just because you feel like it. Not a great marketing line for a cafe racer.
Maybe a new slogan is overdue.
"Garage" themed retro lid
£59.99 - £69.99
So okay, we've already got a cupboard full of crash helmets. But we're curious bunnies and like to try on pretty much everything for size (if you know what we mean, sailor). If you're looking for a new lid at the more cost-conscious end of the market, follow the link below and try this one on, virtually-speaking...
Duchinni D501 crash helmet
Murder conviction quashed. Manslaughter verdict handed down
But there's an unspoken angle here...
Back in December 2013 we carried a news story about Royal Marine Alexander Blackman who had just been handed down a minimum 10 year prison sentence for shooting dead a wounded Taliban fighter in September 2011 in Helmland Province.
Then, as now, it seemed unfair that given the conditions he'd been operating under (i.e. the heat of battle coupled with the recent deaths and injuries to comrades), Blackman should have been dealt with so harshly.
Well now Blackman has had his murder conviction quashed and has instead been found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The new prison sentence is seven years, but because of time spent in jail, he's likely to be released within a week or two.
We weren't there at the trial, so we're not arguing with the sentence or the legal process. However, as much as we broadly support Blackman (with reservations), it's worth remembering that a wounded fighter, contrary to the relevant Geneva Convention, contrary to the rules of "British cricket", and contrary to the ordinary consensus on human morality, was blatantly murdered. But in the glare of triumphalism following the court ruling, you'd hardly know that.
"There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***."
— Alexander Blackman speaking after shooting dead an injured
"... obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention."
— Alexander Blackman, thirty seconds later
We've watched dozens of news reports and couldn't find a single compassionate or regretful mention of the dead Afghan. Instead, the media has been awash with commentary on Blackman's "heroic service" and Blackman's "lioness" wife who has shown "courage and dignity" and who has "kept the flame alive".
Well good for her. And yes, Blackman has paid what feels like a more appropriate price for his actions in Helmland Province. Nevertheless, we wouldn't be writing this news story if the Blackmans and associates had quietly accepted the quashing of his conviction and discreetly faded from view without turning a miserable and shameful incident into a flag-waving, air-punching, jingoistic victory parade.
Personally, we don't much care for the Taliban. If they all die in battle, then so be it. That's their choice. And yes, the dead Taliban fighter probably wouldn't have shown Blackman much mercy had the circumstances been reversed. But that ain't the point.
The point is that British soldiers still need to behave like professionals rather than self-appointed executioners, albeit with some considerable mitigation. And if they don't, there has to be a price to pay. However, it's hard to see why the champagne corks ought to be popping when the guilty man walks free.
Sump Alexander Blackman story, December 2013
Leaner riders and returning riders get a dedicated newspaper
The Empire colonises another piece of the galaxy
It's aimed exclusively at learner riders or those thinking about taking up motorcycling, and it's available right now from various motorcycle dealerships and sundry organisations and outfits with an interest in biking (museums, cafes, etc).
This is Morton Media Group's latest contribution to the world of journalism (stop sniggering), and initially it's a bi-monthly publication with a view to becoming a monthly later in the year.
Formatted in the style of Mortons' other motorcycling freebee paper, Motor Cycle Monthly, the new rag will cover all the usual stuff that might interest newcomers, or even oldcomers returning to the fold after an absence.
So what does Mortons get out of it? Well, it helps The Empire consolidate its grip on the motorcycle world by providing a new platform for marketing its magazines, shows and products, and the cunning freebee aspect allows the firm to maintain or even increase advertising exposure at a time when magazine sales are, to put it mildly, struggling.
Most of Mortons' output is hardly high-quality prose, stimulating rhetoric and evocative photography. But good, bad, or merely average, the Horncastle Yellowbellys keep it all coming regardless, and it would be churlish of us here at Sump to deny this huge Lincolnshire-based publisher a few miserable lines on our own modest media organ.
The editor is a guy named Mau Spencer who's been quoted as saying, "Wherever you are on the journey, O2W is the inspiration you’ve been waiting for."
Put like that, this new paper is practically a religious pilgrimage. We'll be grabbing a copy on our next trip to Lourdes or Jerusalem. Meanwhile, you guys and gals can pick up your own copies and make up your own minds.
It's never too late to get a little religion, huh?
The noted cafe racer parts creator and Senior TT winner has died
Eddie Dow, master of the BSA Gold Star, was 92
Senior TT winner, cafe racer parts maestro, race commentator, motorcycle dealer, car dealer and Oxfordshire businessman William Edward "Eddie" Dow has died aged 92.
He was born in Sunderland (also quoted as born in Derbyshire) and worked as a Rolls Royce (RR) apprentice at Derby before being called up for WW2 army service. It's said that at RR he helped develop the first jet engines. After the war, he stayed on in the army attaining the rank of captain. It was during this period of his life that he became involved in training newcomers for motorcycle duties in the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps).
In 1955 Eddie Dow won the Isle of Man Clubmans Senior TT. That same year, sharing the honours with Eddie Crooks, he won the first Thruxton 9-hour race. He was also a familiar face at ISDT, Clubman, and Thruxton long distance events. And if there wasn't a Gold Star beneath him, it probably wasn't Eddie.
In 1956 he left the army with a £1,000 gratuity and became a business partner with a certain Arthur Taylor of Shipston-on-Stour. Trading as Taylor-Dow, he sold and repaired pretty much whatever motorcycles came his way. Within a few years Eddie Dow founded Britain's Gold Star Service (BGSS) in Banbury, Oxfordshire and specialised in BSAs.
Mostly "Ed", or "E.D" sold BSAs, but various other marques passed through his hands giving him an intimate knowledge of all the popular and (particularly) fast machines.
Working closely with the BSA factory, Eddie Dow helped develop the Gold Star and Rocket Gold Star range and soon manufactured numerous bolt-on goodies that helped transform the average garage bitsa into a primo cafe racer as worshipped by hundreds, if not thousands, of sixties rockers. At one point, his firm was able to boast the largest stock of BSA parts in the world.
He exported to all corners of the planet including Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the USA. The components he sold included silencers, clip-ons, rear-seats, Superleggera fork conversions, Duetto hopped-up braking systems, Brealey-Smith GRP components, Dolphin fairings, and competition magnetos.
In the late 1960s, with the British motorcycle industry in sharp decline, he switched to selling cars and traded in MG, Renault and Volkswagen. In 1991 he sold the business and retired aged 67, but he kept himself busy with his various motorsports involvements. He spent the last years of his life in Sulgrave, Northamptonshire.
Among his personal interests (aside from racing) was an interest in skiing and a passion for fine wines. And for many years he was the vice president of the BSA Owners Club.
Eddie Dow is survived by his wife, daughter, and three grandchildren.
Sump Magazine August 2010: Eddie Crooks has died
Sump's "Political Graffiti" draws an interesting postbag
Some clarification is needed...
We thought we'd get some reaction from our recent "Political Graffiti" item (see further down this page) commenting on the attack on Westminster Bridge and at Parliament on 22nd March 2017. And the reaction we received was entirely predictable.
Some correspondents wondered if we were defending Islam. Some wondered if we were confusing Islam with a mental illness. Some felt that we were inadvertently "tainting" people who suffer from such a mental condition. And some were simply puzzled. A little clarification has been asked for, and here it is.
The point we were making was simply that we shouldn't be giving these murderous bastards the oxygen of publicity. Clearly, what they want is press coverage, and the world's news networks have duly obliged—which is probably exactly what prompted, just one day after the Westminster incident, an attempted copycat attack in Belgium.
In a society with a free and open press, it's a tricky balance between reporting the news that needs to be reported, and suppressing information that could be damaging to the "common good" (whatever that is at any particular moment). But such suppression, by necessity, happens all the time. That's what government "D-Notices" are for; to shut down dangerous intelligence. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, "Some things are too hot to touch..."
And already it seems that the UK government is edging towards a new (and overdue) posture of depriving "Islamists" of the satisfaction of enjoying the disruption caused by these attacks. Hence Theresa May's latest "business as usual" mantra. It's the right message. Maybe it's the only message.
▲ The late (but not late enough) Osama Bin Laden and a piece of fruitcake. But can you tell which is which? We couldn't.
What we really need now is a prime minister who makes it clear to all-comers that okay, they'll kill some of us. Maybe even a lot of us. But we'll kill some or all of them. But whatever else happens, UK and world business will continue. Life will continue. Death will continue. Nothing they do will achieve anything except put some blood on the streets, and we'll mop that up poste haste and will move on.
Meanwhile, the oxygen of publicity is now being turned off. That will mean changing the language of the press, reducing the column inches, curtailing the agony, minimising the gossip, looking the other way as far as reasonably possible, moving on to the football results, and getting back to normal in the shortest possible time.
In the aftermath of the US Twin Towers atrocity, we were hoping that the US government would commission an exact duplicate of the towers and put them back on the New York skyline in the shortest possible time. That would have been a wonderful example of national resilience. You kill us, and we're still here.
Put another way, the attack at Westminster on 22nd March 2017 should not be dignified by referring to it as a political act. We think the "politics" is, as ever, an excuse for those who simply want to kill and maim. Therefore, these attacks should be referred to as murders, either criminal or prompted by a mental health issue (and we figure that you have to be a little doo-lally to mow down a few dozen pedestrians, then attack someone with a knife in the sure and certain knowledge that someone else is going to pump a few bullets into you and put your lights out forever).
And for the record, we're not confusing Islam with mental health issues. But we do believe that kowtowing to a deity and structuring your entire life around a self-inflicted conviction (be it Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Islamic or whatever) isn't exactly rational behaviour. We loathe and despise all forms of mental imprisonment, and the most prominent danger in the UK at the moment hails from religious fundamentalists, and the long grass they hide in. And to press the question a little further, we certainly don't believe that Islam is compatible with western democracy.
Lastly, our "Political Graffiti" item doesn't at all imply that sufferers of a mental illness are "mass murderers in waiting" (as one correspondent suggested). We don't have any statistics to prove what we're about to say, but we strongly suspect that people suffering from mental illnesses are actually hugely under-represented when it comes to "mindless acts of violence". Mostly, folks with psychiatric problems are only a danger to themselves and should be given maximum support and treated sympathetically.
What happened at Westminster was M.U.R.D.E.R. And whatever excuses the perpetrator might have had in his disturbed mind, Islam, general politics, the state of the weather or the price of fish almost certainly had nothing to do with it.
He might not have been mad in the technical sense. But he had to be a bloody fruitcake. And either way, the oxygen of publicity needs to be heavily restricted if not switched off.
New air-cooled Duke aims to rekindle the old flame
£8,200 plus change
They all go back to basics sooner or later. Musicians. Sculptors. Politicians. Preachers. Motorcycle factories. You could argue that they do this because they've lost forward momentum or something. Or maybe they're afraid to stray too far from the watering hole. Either way, Ducati is about to officially launch a new Ducati Monster. More specifically, an air-cooled Ducati Monster based upon the successful Scrambler L-twin engine and offering an entry level riding experience for those who like their steak served bloody.
So why is this motorcycle called a 797 when it's running an 803cc engine? Best we can figure is that it's simply intended to fill the gap between the now discontinued 796 and the Monster 1100. Or maybe we're more stupid than we think.
The most obvious feature of this new baby-bouncer is the stock-in-trade trellis frame which is naturally painted red. The output is reckoned (by Ducati) to be 75hp (55kW) @ 8,250rpm. The torque is reckoned to be 50.89lb-ft (68.9Nm) @ 5,750rpm.
The engine bore & stroke is 88mm x 66mm, respectively. Valves are Desmodromic. The gears number six. The wheels/tyres are a 3.50 x 17-inch front, and a 5.50 x 17-inch rear.
Other treats include a 43mm Kayaba front fork, a Sachs rear shock, a twin-side swinging arm, and a pair of Brembo M4.32 monobloc radial calipers operating on 320mm front discs. The rear brake, incidentally, is a far more modest single-piston caliper (that Ducati hasn't dignified with a name) acting on a 245mm rotor.
To keep the price down, there's no traction control, and therefore no rider modes. But ABS is mandatory on all bikes of any size in the UK or EU markets. However, to add a little modern sparkle, the factory has included LED indicators and a USB port under the seat (and when you get back to basics, how the hell can you manage without a USB port?).
Overall, it's a nice looking bike and is likely to play all the right notes for the initiati. But why wouldn't it be nice when it's pretty much the old (and highly successful) blueprint dusted off and run through the mill?
The price is likely to be a little over £8,200.
The grandfather of rock and roll is dead
In private, you won't hear many celebrity musos speaking well of Chuck Berry. At least, not as a personality. Yes, most agree that he was one of the greatest rock'n'rollers of 'em all, if not the greatest. A brilliant showman. A rhythm player par excellence. A gifted songwriter. A sharp lyricist. And a huge presence on stage. But beyond that, the criticisms often outweigh the tributes. But here at Sump we're not hearing any of it because Chuck Berry had died aged 90, and death puts a new perspective on just about everything. And everyone.
A pioneer of the classic guitar-driven 1950s rock'n'roll sound, Chuck Berry gave the world hits such as Johnny B Goode; Roll Over Beethoven; Maybellene; No Particular Place to Go; You Never Can Tell: Nadine; Sweet Little Sixteen; Rock and Roll Music; School Days; Too Much Monkey Business; and Promised Land (this last ditty largely based upon the folk song Wabash Cannonball).
His hits have been played straight by just about everyone from the Beatles to Elvis Presley to Jerry Lee Lewis to Johnny Winter to Tom Jones to Elton John to the Rolling Stones to the Electric Light Orchestra to The Animals to David Bowie to Eric Clapton to Rod Stewart to Gene Simmons to Rory Gallagher to Roy Orbison to just about anyone else you can think of.
And then there are the hundreds, if not thousands, of Chuck Berry homages/rips-offs such as Surfin' USA by The Beach Boys; Fun, Fun, Fun also by The Beach Boys; Down on the Bay by Jeff Lynne; and Come Together by The Beatles which saw John Lennon get his knuckles (and wallet) rapped for blatantly borrowing the rhythm and even some of the lyrics from Berry's You Can't Catch Me.
Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St Louis, Missouri, Chuck Berry was the fourth of six children. His parents were respectable folk living in a working-class/middle class neighbourhood known as The Ville. But Chuck Berry, aged 18, didn't let that stop him robbing three local stores and carjacking a replacement vehicle after his own "broke down".
He was sent to a reformatory (approved school) where he learned to box a little and where he formed a singing combo. At age 22, he married and fathered a daughter. Soon enough he was an average father and husband working on automobile assembly lines or scrubbing floors as a janitor.
By the early 1950s, Berry, heavily influenced by the likes of T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole and a long line of bluesmen, was honing his guitar skills playing R&B in clubs and bars, and steadily he developed his ideas about what the white folk might like.
In 1955 he moved to Chicago and met Muddy Waters, and that was his break. Waters introduced Berry to Leonard Chess, founder of Chess records and noted champion of R&B. However, Leonard Chess was trying to move away from the more traditional blues sound and was looking for a new contender. Chuck Berry fitted the brief, and Maybellene (an adaptation of a traditional American song called Ira Red) was recorded and hit the airwaves.
Soon after, Roll Over Beethoven followed, and then came a string of hits, each one helping consolidate his position as a rock'n'roller at the top of his game. He became friends with Carl Perkins, and he toured with The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly.
Then, in 1960, he was convicted of having unlawful sex with a 14-year old Apache girl who he'd transported across state lines to work in his club. For his sins, he was fined $5,000 and was handed a five year prison sentence. On appeal, that was reduced to three years, and a second appeal knocked that down to 18-months.
By now, his public was beginning to desert him, but he twanged on in his inimitable style (which was largely borrowed from earlier blues performers), and continued to record and tour. However, he was also developing a reputation as an irascible artiste who was difficult to please and hard to work with. But he was still a big name, and the "British invasion" bands which had newly discovered Berry's material quickly recorded and performed his songs, and that helped keep his satellite in a high orbit, and slowly the tales of his human weaknesses began to fade from memory.
In 1972, his novelty song My Ding-a-Ling hit number one in the UK and US pop charts. It was his only number one single, and it was not written by Berry. Rather, it was a song penned by US composer, musician, producer and band leader Dave Bartholomew and first recorded in 1952. Nevertheless, it re-lit Chuck Berry's fading torch, and he quickly followed up its success with a new/live recording of Reeling and Rockin' which was the last time he reached the top 40 on either side of the Atlantic.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Chuck Berry continued being ... well, Chuck Berry. He was famous for travelling alone with his Gibson ES-335 or Gibson ES-355 semi-acoustics and leaving his producer or record company to have a band ready and willing play on demand upon his arrival. The word is that Berry wouldn't even hand out a set list for a given performance. Expecting everyone to simply know his repertoire, he would just start playing and leave the musicians to pick up the beat. And for the next 60 or 90 minutes he would rattle of the songs, and would then abruptly unplug, take his leave, and catch a plane or train to wherever he next needed to be.
There were clashes and flashpoints, but he was, for all his faults, becoming something of a national treasure; the kind of performer who did what he did without fear or apology, and often not expecting much praise.
He collected Cadillacs. He was arrested for lewd behaviour involving a hidden video camera (it was never proved in court, but 59 women received a pay-off). He was sued for failing to acknowledge another musician's contribution to his songs (Johnnie Johnson - not to be confused with Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon). The case was dismissed. He received another (suspended) prison sentence; misdemeanor possession of marijuana. And he was frequently in the news over one minor drama or another.
Chuck Berry was still playing into his 90s and had recently been working on a new album (Chuck) which is due to be released this year. He'll be remembered as a brilliant songwriter and musician, a world class performer, and a flawed and complicated man who travelled alone and inspired millions of fans to pick up their guitars and play, or turn up the music and dance. The music, of course, doesn't expiate all his sins, but for many it certainly goes a long way in mitigation.
He is survived by a son and a daughter, and by his wife (Themetta Berry) of 68 years.
It's said that rock and roll will never die. But a little of it did just that when Chuck Berry made his exit from this world.
The Cafe Racer Kits man adds another string to his bow
Check him out at Stafford in April
CRK, the Cafe Racer Kits people, has sent us a few snapshots of the firm's new Triumph Roadster package which the firm first showcased earlier this year at the February Bath & West Show, and will be displaying at the Stafford Show on 22nd - 23rd April 2017.
Based upon the very worthy and "affordable" 1991 - 1996 750cc/900cc triples and 1000cc/1200cc Hinckley fours, creator Ian Saxcoburg has drawn upon his wide and varied engineering background and has developed a range of impressive kits capable of transforming these platforms from competent and durable off-the-peg Triumphs into handsome and individual customs ready for the show or street, or both.
That said, we don't have much specific details on the new Roadster kit (main image this feature). But we can talk you through the current cafe racer package (image immediately above) which variously includes a new (and far more attractive) subframe, an aluminium fuel tank (with a GRP cover), a seat base (c/w upholstery) new side panels, an instrument module, a mudguard module, a chainguard, a hugger, and various brackets. The price is a creditable £1,995.
We imagine that the new Roadster kit is an extension of his general outlook and capabilities, and from what we can see from our desk, this is a man who knows what he's doing and will go far.
Ian, who's based on the Isle of Wight and runs the business with wife Tracey, also has mucho experience writing technical manuals, and we're persuaded that these kits will provide all the instructions needed by the home (or professional) bike builder. Additionally, he's created numerous videos supporting his designs and manufacturing ethos, and we encourage you to take a look for yourself. He's a modest, competent, clear speaking guy, and you're going to like him.
Check Cafe Racer Kits Hondas for more on this firm.
New "tradesman's" sidecar unveiled
£2,995 and built to order
Here at Sump, this is our kind of sidecar—not that we're sidecar people at all. But if we did decide to hitch a wagon to one of our horses, it would probably be the new Mule from Watsonian.
Essentially, this is a British designed and manufactured tradesman's sidecar in the old tradition. Watsonian tells us that the box has a massive 300 litres capacity, which will haul an awful lot of beer (albeit never enough). But the firm is keeping in mind motorcyclists who like to fish and/or camp it up (and don't we all, ducky?). And at your leisure you can figure out all the other possibilities.
The body is galvanised steel, and for good measure it's powder-coated. The chassis is box section steel and has been specially developed for this rig. The suspension is Flexor. The sidecar wheel is a 10-incher. The mudguard is GRP. And lights and indicators are fitted with sufficient cable to hook up to your 12-volt motorcycle wiring loom.
You'll want the dimensions too which are 1,370 mm x 480 mm x 480 mm. To keep your stuff secure, there's a dual locking mechanism. And if you need a spare wheel, which you do, there's one hooked on the back.
Watsonian build these to order, so you can opt for a luggage rack, spotlights, jerry cans or whatever. The price, including VAT, is £2,995, and the factory will fit it to your bike if required.
Finally, we think Watsonian is missing a trick by not giving this sidecar some more personality and character. So we took a shot at it and first tried to work out a backronym for MULE, and we got as far as Multipurpose Utilitarian Load ... but couldn't figure out what to do with the letter "E". Envoy? Express? Expediter? So we gave up on that and simply stuck an image of a kicking mule beneath some stencilled lettering. Makes it more memorable, dontcha fink?
Either way, if Watsonian takes up our suggestion, you'll know where ya heard it first.
Might happen. Cash will do.
Telephone: 01386 700907
Barristers are being less than honest
Shock horror warning from the Bar Council
The Bar Council has issued a warning to barristers to keep their online boasts on a very short lead, or else. The statement comes after Michael Wolkind QC was fined £1,000 by the Bar Standards Board for making claims "likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public placed in him or the profession".
Apparently, Wolkind had claimed on his website that he was:
widely recognised as the UK’s top murder barrister and QC
the UK's top protest case barrister and QC
the UK's top terrorism barrister and QC
the UK's top property householder self-defence rights barrister and QC
the UK's top regulatory, inquest, health and safety and tribunal barrister
Wolkind also bragged he was so good that his professional machinations could get even Stevie Wonder a driving licence.
Consequently, the Bar Council has taken umbrage and has issued revised guidelines instructing its members that professional claims of experience and skills should be backed up by peer-approved fact rather than wishful thinking and self-satisfied braggadocio (our words, not theirs). Furthermore, the council takes a dim view of barristers who (like Wolkind) are happy to boast that they managed to get Gangster X or Vicious Vic acquitted of whatever high crime or misdemeanour for which they'd been accused.
Given that the internet has been operational in some form for around three decades and has been a household facility since the turn of this century, it's taken a long time for the Bar Council to get around to slapping anyone's wrist over this issue. Furthermore, at the time of writing, we can't actually see what clear sanction is being wielded to punish errant barristers who put their best foot a little too far forward.
That aside, what's really worrying us is simply that there's a lot of vicarious pleasure to be derived from sitting back with a beer and reading or listening to the outrageous and overblown claims of the nation's professionals, be those professionals legal eagles, quacks, tax advisers, politicos, or otherwise. Our general experience is that most such non-manual salaried operators are (at best) little more than money-grabbing nitwits usually spinning way out of their competency orbits and (at worst) complete rogues and shameless reprobates.
But perhaps you've got completely different experiences. Either way, it'll be a much sadder world if we let a little truth, such as it is, get in the way of a cartload of enjoyable professional bu!!$#!t.
Check Wolkind's website while you can. It's amusing reading, and it can only be a matter of ten or twenty years before the Bar Council actually does something about it and takes it down.
Limited edition Jack Daniel's themed cruiser unveiled
Only 100 to be built
Sump Classic Bike News January 2016 carried a story about a special edition Indian Chief Vintage commissioned to support the Operation Ride Home charity aimed at US servicemen and women. The bike also celebrated 150 years of Jack Daniel's Whiskey, hence the bespoke livery designed to evoke the ethos and coolness, etc, of the world famous Tennessee distillery. Other touches on that bike included the scripted names of the firm's seven master distillers, and note that Indian was at pains to point out that "Bottle and Throttles don't mix".
Well, Indian had at the time mooted the idea of a limited edition run based on that bike, and here it is. Brian Klock at Klock Werk Custom Cycles is once again heavily involved in the project which will see 100 examples of this fine looking Yankee mo'sickle hitting the bricks.
Additionally, every bike will be offered with wooden facsimile of Old Glory, more common known on the British side of the pond as the Stars and Stripes flag or the Star Spangled Banner. The flags, we understand, are made from strips of Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels which probably gives the banners a fairly heady fragrance.
Features of this limited edition Jack Daniel's themed Indian include:
A 19-inch, 10-spoke front wheel.
A pure silver and hand-crafted Jack Daniel’s horn cover badge.
A one-of-a-kind white and black crystal paint job with Jack Daniel's-inspired charcoal-coloured accents.
Jack Daniel’s “Old No. 7” billet driver and passenger floor-boards.
Debossed leather tank pouch with Jack Daniel’s "Old No. 7" logo.
Custom embossed tank console with unique build number.
Unique cam, primary and air intake covers.
Inscription of Jack Daniel’s "Bottles and Throttles Don’t Mix" mantra.
200 watt audio system.
Electronically adjustable screen.
Underpinning all this is the already classic Thunderstroke 111-cubic inch (1,811cc) 49-degree V-twin engine featuring a 101mm bore, a 113mm stroke. And keyless ignition, ABS, cruise control, and all the other upmarket features you'd expect on a bike such as this are present and correct.
We're told that just 10 bikes are coming to Europe, and only one is aimed at the UK. And the price? That will be $34,999, which currently converts to £28,789.
Legendary motorsport racer has died aged 83
World champion on both two and four wheels
In December 2015 we carried a news item about John Surtees who had just been made CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's 2016 New Years Honours list. Well he's now the subject of another Sump story, and for a regrettable reason. John Surtees has died aged 83 thereby bringing to a close one of the most exciting and most evocative eras in British, or indeed world, motor racing history.
The stories of Surtees' racing integrity, prowess and dedication to both motor and motorcycle sport are legendary. And there's not much we can add to our original story except to say that tens of thousands of his fans will be greatly saddened at the news of his demise. John Surtees is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Follow this link to read more of John Surtees' life and racing career.
Uprated Street 750 hotrod is on the way
No delivery information yet
£6,745. That's the asking price for the newly unveiled 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod™. Based upon the firm's current "High Output Revolution X™ 750cc V-twin" platform, this competitively priced mid-range fuel-injected street cruiser features a liquid-cooled, SOHC 8-valve 60-degree V-twin engine, a 43mm USD front fork, dual 300mm front discs, and 17-inch cast wheels front and rear (120/70 R17V & 160/60 R17V). And ABS, for the UK and European market at least, is mandatory. [More...]
Very useful cleaning device for clean-living bikers
£49 for the complete kit
Back in Sump, December 2016 we ran a small news item on the SonicScrubbers Professional cleaning kit. Nippy Normans, the BMW specialist, has since sent us a box of appropriate bits for direct testing. Check our SonicScrubbers Professional review and see if this suits your bike cleaning needs.
Toulouse is now on the map
£595 return. £400 one way.
Last month we reported on group discount rates with Bikeshuttle, the weekly scheduled Geneva bound motorcycle transportation service. Well now the firm has added Toulouse to its network. What it means is that for UK riders planning to tour southern France, Spain or Portugal, they can now fly into Toulouse Airport courtesy of easyJet and have their motorcycle and riding gear awaiting their arrival.
If you're a travelling hardcase and want to ride all the way from your front door to Madrid or Nice or Lisbon, Bikeshuttle isn't much use to you. However, there are times when you just don't have the time to muck around with cross channel ferries, or the channel tunnel, or spend half a day of your life motoring down the M6, M4 or M1, and then spend another half a day or more on the return leg. And you certainly don't always have the time to sit on a 24-hour Portsmouth-Bilbao Ferry.
Bikeshuttle will charge you a very reasonable £595 for a return trip, or £400 one-way. And remember that that includes your riding gear. The offer assumes you can get to Luton Airport (or make other flight arrangements). And it also expects you to arrange your own airline tickets. The bikes, meanwhile, will be delivered to the hotel Inter in Toulouse. Note that there will be just five runs this year, but we don't know how they're spaced.
We haven't tried this service, but we're fairly confident that these guys have got it worked out properly. Any feedback you care to give us, however, will be welcomed.
Persuaded? Or merely curious?