▲ 2017 Triumph Bobber colours. Left to right: Jet Black; Cranberry Red/Frozen Silver; Competition Green/Aluminium Silver; Ironstone; Morello Red. Nice colours, but where's the cool 60s metalflake?
Is Hinckley being mean with the T100 paint pot?
And why does the Bobber have no pillion provision?
Why can't we have the colours we want on Triumph petrol tanks? That, at least, was a question posed yesterday by a Sumpster who contacted us via email regarding the options available on the 2017 Bonnevilles.
"Apart from my good self," he writes, "am I the only person who considers the colour choice on the new Triumph ... well a bit naff? The only colour on the new "classic" range which I like is that on the Bobber. Though I am not in the market for a Bobber it strikes me as strange or just a bit mean of Triumph to restrict the colours available to a particular bike. Why can I not order a new T100 with the colour of Competition Green/Frozen Silver as it is known and which is available on the Bobber? After all, that colour choice is in their range; just not for that particular model."
▲ Left to right: Fusion White/Aegean Blue; Jet Black; New England White/Intense Orange. The striping, Triumph tells us, is "hand painted." Hand painted? We should bloody-well hope so...
We receive similar emails all the time, occasionally asking us why we don't produce a particular T-shirt design, or why we don't make that design available in this size or that size, or why we don't supply it to this market or that market. One Sumpster asked us why we featured a particular bike on a T-shirt instead of another model broadly in the same range. Another asked why we didn't offer a particular shirt in colour (as opposed to grey tones).
▲ It's said that Henry Ford offered the Model T in "any colour you like as long as it's black" simply because he was cheap. Well cheapness was the name of his game. But it's also said that black was chosen because it dries fastest in the sun. Either way, there's a reason for everything. And Triumph, no doubt, has a reason for its colour options on the T100 (image immediately above). But who are we to question Hinckley's wisdom?
The answer to all these questions is simply that, like Triumph, we do what we do for a reason, and often for numerous complicated and intertwined reasons. A variety of factors influence most decisions in life, and we haven't the faintest idea why Triumph picks the colours it picks, or why it rationalises such colours in any particular way. But there's always a reason somewhere.
And as a footnote to that (and at the risk of being pedantic), Triumph doesn't actually offer Competition Green/Frozen Silver as an option (check the colours at the top of this news item).
▲ The 2017 Triumph Bobber. One seat, five colours and a long queue of customers desperate to get astride one. Hinckley's got a winning formula and the factory is on overtime.
Meanwhile, what we at Sump really want to know is why the new Bobber has no pillion provision. We recently posed that question to a few Triumph dealers and we received all kinds of interesting answers including:
"Why would you want a pillion on a Bobber, mate?"
"These are bikes built for solo riders."
"Another saddle would spoil the lines, wouldn't it?"
—never mind the fact that an optional pillion would broaden the appeal of the bike and probably lead to more sales, which makes us wonder vaguely if the architecture of the bike and/or the rear suspension set-up makes a pillion impractical or even dangerous. We've no specific reason to think this, take note. It's just a passing thought. Or maybe it's actually to do with pillion footrest provision.
But no doubt Triumph has its reasons for the absence of a Bobber pillion and for the limited range of colours on the current T100. And even if we were given a reason, who's to say that that reason is the truth?
The bottom line? Some things are just unknowable. You just have to get over it and move on, dude.
More on the 2017 Triumph Bobber
▲ The police might not be comfortable about using the word POLICE in this way. But the first role of the rozzers is crime prevention, and this bike cover idea just might save a lot of valuable police hours.
New thinking in motorcycle security
Another great idea? Or another dumb concept?
You know how it is when you have a "great" idea for some new product or service or whatever? You kick it around your head for a few months or, as is often with us, years. And you're always planning to do something about it, but secretly you know you never will. There's always another bike that needs cleaning, after all. And there's always another beer that needs drinking. So your great white hope of an idea is held over to a mańana that never comes.
C'est la vie.
Well that's how it is with this Sump bike cover concept that we've been thinking about. It's been bouncing around here for a long time, and we just can't decide if it's worth exploring/investing in, and we can't quite shake it off. So we're throwing it out here in case someone else has the wherewithal to do something about it.
The concept is simple enough. Invisible motorcycles don't get stolen. Ergo, the less visible you make your bike, the safer it is—up to a point, that is.
Yes, you can shield your bike with a cover, and many opportunist thieves will leave it alone simply because they can't immediately tell what's behind the curtain, and they don't want to be seen checking. But professional bike thieves are often a little more savvy and experienced, and plenty of valuable covered bikes are relatively easy to spot simply by looking at the overall profile, the bulges, the wheels, and the name of the dealer printed on the number plate, etc.
More to the point, many bikes are stolen because the thieves watch and wait over weeks or months. They get to know what's being parked where, and when, and by who. So bike covers have limited security benefits (but naturally, you'll perhaps still want to protect your wheels from the weather and pigeons, etc).
But what if bike covers were made more obvious; not by plastering the fabric with the logo of the company who manufactured or sold them, but via a large printed message reading something like: POLICE: WATCH THIS BIKE. You might additionally graft on an image of an ugly copper staring out like big brother.
The rationale here is that thieves will soon notice this cover, but so will everyone else on the street. That will put a lot more eyes on your motorcycle, and maybe even the odd CCTV camera, and that might act as a significant theft deterrent.
▲ If the police image (top of this news item) won't grab sufficient attention, maybe this will be a little more grabbable.
Won't work? Well maybe not. Or maybe it will. Two questions arise here. The first is the measurable benefit of the concept itself, and the second is whether or not bikers will actually buy the covers. We're not convinced of either, so we're kicking the idea around some more between beers and bikes.
Actually, we did more than this. We contacted a few firms that make and/or sell bike covers. Initially, we were thinking of adding motorcycle covers to the few products we retail on Sump with a view to commissioning our own designs. But the firms we spoke to didn't impress us much. And one of them, based in the North East of England, was completely bloody hopeless and, after our first contact, couldn't get it together to answer the phone, make a return call of its own, or respond to emails. You already know how that works these days.
So we're throwing the idea out here. If someone picks it up and runs with it, we might see these on the street. And if no one does, we might yet do it ourselves. Consequently, we'd be interested in hearing some feedback whether good, bad or indifferent. Just a brief email would do it. Note that two questions need answering here: Do you like the idea? And would you buy it?
Meanwhile, if you do see these covers on the street, remember where you heard it first.
[Editor's footnote: Sam's telling bloody lies. In fact, we've got a prototype cover mocked-up that we're currently using around town to gauge reactions. But it's crudely executed and we're embarrassed to show you. We might get around to it sooner or later...]
1939 746cc Nimbus Model C
The venue is Monterey, California, USA
This 1939 Nimbus Type C is being marketed by Mecum Auctions as "the coolest in the world". And one glance at the ghosted image immediately above is probably all you need to figure out why. Hollywood A-list actor Steve McQueen owned this motorcycle which will be put on the block at the firm's Monterey Sale, California, USA on 16th to 19th August 2017.
The Nimbus motorcycle marque hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. The driving (or is that "riding"?) force behind the brand was Peder Andersen Fisker (1875 - 1975), an electro-mechanical engineer who, together with Hans Marius Nielsen (1870 - 1954) founded a company called Fisker & Nielsen. That was in 1906. The firm exists today (as Nilfisk) and employs 5,500 people with an annual turnover of close to a billion euros. But its beginnings were a little more humble.
At the outset of the 20th century as the range of domestic and industrial applications increased, the market for quality electrical motors was huge and growing. The two men worked on motors for drilling machines, kitchen equipment, elevators, pumps and similar.
In 1910, having established Fisker & Nielsen as a quality manufacturer, the partnership was dissolved. Why? Because Fisker wanted to move into the vacuum cleaner market and ... well, clean up. He kept the name however, and that same year he took out a patent on an electrical vacuum cleaner which was hurriedly put into production and was met with some commercial success. But by 1914, with the advent of the WW1, things changed largely due to export problems and electric-supply rationing. As a direct consequence, Fisker now moved into motorcycle production, and by 1918 he had developed an impressive air-cooled inline-four bike ready for the market. The inlet-over-exhaust engine displaced 746cc and was nicknamed "The Stovepipe" (due to its large diameter top tube which doubled as a petrol tank). The bike, however, was branded as The Nimbus meaning "cloud" or "halo".
Features of this sophisticated motorcycle included suspension front and rear (a rarity for the age), shaft drive (also a rarity), a three-speed gearbox and a single-plate clutch. The (approximately) 10hp bike was good for between 50 - 55mph. Handling, performance and reliability were all above average. Maintenance was simple and straightforward. Fisker also campaigned his creations both at race meetings and on the road, and he was soon a popular local figure.
Presently, the bike was superseded by the Model B which was much the same machine albeit with thoughtful upgrades. But by the late 1920s, with around 1,200 motorcycles built, industrial rationalisation in the factory put an end to bike production. More to the point, this high-quality and therefore expensive motorcycle simply wasn't finding sufficient buyers.
Nimbus Type C engine technical details
The story might have ended there. However, in the early thirties Fisker (now supported by his son, Anders) tried again and developed the 746cc Model C or Type C. This OHC-engined bike, thanks to its distinct buzzy exhaust note, became known as the "Bumblebee" ("Humlebi" in Danish).
The bore was 60mm. The stroke was 66mm. The crankcase was an aluminium alloy. The cylinder block was cast iron. The block and crankcase were split horizontally. The overhead camshaft was gear driven. The main bearings were ball. The big ends were Babbitt metal (developed in 1839 by Isaac Babbitt). A single carburettor (which included a cold start accelerator pump) was mounted on the left side and fed all four cylinders. The dynamo was the firm's own design and boasted a high output. Ignition was by coil and distributor. The valves were left exposed, supposedly to improve top-end cooling.
As with its predecessor, it was a well-conceived, well-designed and well manufactured product. The police, military and Danish Post Office bought thousands. Most of the remainder were attached to sidecars and sold to the general public and tradesmen.
The example owned by Steve McQueen (1930 - 1980) was built in 1939. The 746cc engine is said to produce around 22hp and will propel the solo bike to around 75mph. The front suspension is telescopic. The rear end is rigid. Arguably the most distinctive feature is the pressed steel frame. The engine number is 4486.
Four years after McQueen's death, this Nimbus was among his estate items sold at Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. We don't know where the bike has been in the intervening years, but clearly it's now looking for a new home and looks in very good condition. We're advised that only 150 - 200 of these motorcycles are in North America. However, we've seen a few buzzing around in the UK, and on mainland Europe (especially Denmark), there are still thousands of running examples—all served by a pretty good spares back-up with a dedicated Nimbus Club.
Around 12,000 Model C Nimbus motorcycles were built before production ceased in 1960. No reserve or estimate has (yet) been posted with this bike.
So is this motorcycle as cool as Mecum tells us it is?
Well we think so, with or without Steve McQueen.
No more Cheffins auction news on Sump
(... well, until further notice, anyway)
Normally we wouldn't wash our dirty linen in public. But this is different. We're unhappy with Cheffins, and we know that we're not the only ones. More to the point, we want to do something practical about it because it's a fixable problem if this noted "Mid Anglian" auction firm simply gets its act together.
Our fundamental complaint lies with the company website. Put simply, it's total rubbish. It clunks. It's confusing. It dances around the screen. It requires way too much visitor input. And, most of all, it simply doesn't tell us what we want to know, when we need to know it.
The outfit behind this hole-in-the-internet is a firm called Igentics which claims to produce "stunningly beautiful yet engaging and customer focused websites". But we've had nine heart attacks and have died twice trying to manoeuvre around the waste of webspace that represents Cheffins' online window to the world.
We've covered Cheffins auctions dozens of times and have happily written thousands of words about the firm's bike sales, etc. We've got no hidden agenda relating to this business that, apparently, has been in the game since 1825. And for years we've dealt happily with motorcycle specialist Jeremy Curzon who's always been helpful and agreeable.
However, the site (which was rebuilt not so long ago and is now worse than before) is pure digital pain. Mostly, it's a functionality issue, and to that end we fairly recently gave Cheffins a long list of how it might be improved.
But nothing came of it.
▲ We're not anti-Cheffins. We're just anti-lousy websites, especially those belonging to firms we're trying to support. Let's hope that the company's management does something about it (and while we're hoping that, we're also hoping for peace in the Middle East, democracy in North Korea and a profitable exit from the EU). Might happen.
No doubt Cheffins spent a shedload of money on this site and now doesn't want to abandon ship or at least jettison its dodgy cargo. That's how poor management often works; by ignoring the problem until the problem becomes a crisis. But we've got less invested in this particular cruise, and we're ending the voyage as from now (think of it as the rats leaving, if that isn't overstating the issue or exaggerating the importance of the Sump rodents).
Our hope, however, is that the obstinate bosses at Cheffins will finally do something about it. That's the point of this news item. Not an idle complaint, and not a senseless whinge, but (to return to our nautical metaphor) a shot across the bows (albeit from our modest pop gun).
Cheffins needs publicity, and we're happy to give it—but not if we have to struggle with a recalcitrant website that seems to do everything but share essential information. And that site is our key access point to the firm's auction news.
But is the company going to pay any attention to us? Probably not. Sometimes (to press the nautical metaphor further still) businesses prefer to steam onward on inefficient, reluctant, leaky and generally clapped-out vessels rather than face a few technical facts, pull into a port and make the repairs and adjustments needed to keep the boat floating at the level where it ought to be.
We might return to Cheffins if the firm can get the problem sorted. Until then, we've hung the company sign on the wall and are using it for target practice. So if you're looking for new Cheffins motorcycle auction reports on Sump, you're out of luck because we're out of patience.
Pioneer children's TV presenter has died
"Mr Play School" was 83 years old.
He was a long way from the coolest TV personality in the world. And yet, in another way, he was as cool as they come. This is time-served children's TV presenter and entertainer Brian Cant who has died aged 83.
Many of you UK-based Sumpsters will remember this guy as far back as the mid-1960s. He was usually seen dancing around a TV studio wearing childish outfits, singing inane songs, pulling unlikely faces, and generally making a prized prat of himself.
If you were of a certain age, you might have been entranced by him. If you were of another certain age, you probably had very different views. But this man was as much a professional as anyone else on the other side of the TV screen, and he was loved by generations of kids.
For 21 years Brian Cant was the (silly) face of Play School, a TV series which outlasted him by only three years. He was also involved in other popular kiddie programmes from Camberwick Green to Trumpton to Bric-a-Brac. And he did more than merely perform. He helped create the parts he played and in doing so kept the characters vibrant and up to date.
This wasn't idle and aimless TV, note. There was an educational component to the programmes designed to engage the younger audience and pique their curiosity and imagination.
▲ Brian Cant and Chloe Ashcroft on the set of Play Away. If you can hum the theme song to that show, you're a closet Play Awayer and not as old as you think you are. It's no shame, mind. But don't do it in public.
There were some more serious TV acting parts too including Dr Who (1965), Dixon of Dock Green (1969), and Doctors (2011). He appeared in a few movies such as The Pleasure Girls (1965), The Sandwich Man (1966), A Feast at Midnight (1995). He saw some theatre and pantomime too. But Cant always looked a little awkward and wooden in these roles which was in marked contrast to his children's TV work where he habitually struck the right note and gave the cameras exactly what they wanted.
For much of his career he was "between jobs". TV producers were, it seems, never really sure how to handle him, if at all, and the parts that came his way were disparate. And that was a shame because Brian Cant had always wanted to be a serious actor; his children's TV presenter jobs were merely stepping stones to other things. In the event, however, he found his metier at the outset and was pretty much trapped by it.
A polite and modest man, Brian Cant was born and educated in Ipswich, Suffolk. He married twice and, perhaps appropriately enough, fathered five children. He was honoured in the 2010 Children's TV BAFTAs and received a special award.
If the first rule of coolness is not trying to be cool and simply doing your best in whatever field you happen to find yourself, then Brian Cant is head and shoulders above most of the usual cool dude suspects. We take our lids off to him.
How about you?
A few words on the possible future of the UK legal system...
Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn't actually all that new. The concept has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. What's changed in more recent times is simply that the digital age has made it more viable.
Already, AI is part of our lives and it's set to take increasing control of commerce, medicine, politics, science, education¨—and is likely to have an impact in any number of other fundamental ways. Anyone running a motorcycle with the latest ABS, traction control and pre-set riding modes has, to a greater or lesser degree, already partly surrendered to AI—or has at least opened the door.
The legal system is also set to change and embrace AI technology, but the implications have yet to be fully explored.
At present, if you break the law in the UK and get caught, more minor offences will see you hauled up before the beak (magistrate) who will mark your card accordingly, while more serious offences will land you in front of a judge where twelve members of a jury will listen to your tale and determine your guilt, and then decide your fate.
Broadly speaking (and we did say "broadly"), that system works, and it's worked well for hundreds of years. Trouble is, the law simply can't keep up with the demands of the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, access to that system in private/non criminal matters is, for many prohibitively expensive. Hence the International Conference on AI in Law—which was held between 12th - 16th June 2017 at King's College, London. It's the 16th such gathering at which the speakers posed complex questions of morality, ethics, fairness, societal manipulation and regulation in an effort to help introduce the new paradigm and mitigate the worst problems.
Professor Richard Susskind, IT advisor the Lord Chief Justice, summed up the overriding concern by saying; "There are tasks that we never want to entrust to machines, and decisions that we do want machines to take. But would we be comfortable with a life sentence passed by some form of artificial intelligence? It's a huge area that needs addressing urgently."
Of course, some would say that in view of how stupidly the legal profession so often conducts itself, a little intelligence of any kind would be welcome.
▲ Gort the robot dispensed summary justice in the sci-fi classic movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. It's been a long time coming, but the future of the UK justice system could be about to catch up with the fiction...
▲ ...on the other hand, Robby the Robot offers a slightly more benign view of things to come. Either way, when you get to be "of a certain age" the future becomes an increasingly scary place. It's no wonder we're all obsessed with classic motorcycles around these parts and are apt to retreat into our sheds and garages.
Beyond that is the warning (or insight, if you prefer) that there are systems and orthodoxies rapidly coming at us that have not been considered let alone addressed, and AI technology is way ahead of the day to day practical curve leaving a huge and worrying void.
Consequently, it might not be too far into the future when grinning hopefully at the judge and jury, and/or drenching your suit and tie in a Niagara of tears and pleading "a moment of madness" is no longer much of an option. AI, it's suggested, will have moved the game way beyond ordinary deceit and will instead study the stresses in your voice, check your pupils for dilation, get a sample your heartbeat throughout the trial, and compare your excuses with the other 43 billion lies on the legal database.
There's even talk in some circles that many law courts might in the foreseeable future become redundant, possibly being replaced by hand-held machines managed by the police, or even located in supermarkets, or on railway station platforms, or out in the street. If it happens, it will give new meaning to the phrase "Dispensing justice".
Tip: Be as ready as you can be if and when it comes.
British exhaust firm has been bought by the company MD
The purchase includes the associated Venom brand
Motad collapsed in April this year (See Sump Classic Bike News April 2017). But now there's some hope that the brand will not disappear and will instead remain on the marketplace. That, at least, is the hope of Mike Worthington of Direct Distribution Ltd.
For around ten years Motad had been supplying exhausts systems for Triumph Motorcycles, specifically for the Bonneville range. But then Triumph pulled the plug (or plugs) when it shifted production of the Bonnies to Thailand in the Far East. The scuttlebutt—which appears to be reliable—is that Motad had during that decade aligned itself a little too closely with Triumph and hadn't put enough time and energy into developing new products. But, as is usual with these intrigues, there are bound to be other pertinent issues and factors that have impacted upon the company's ability to stay viable.
Motad's MD at the time of the collapse was John Atherton. He's bought the existing Motad stock and will be disposing of it wherever possible under the trading name of Exhausts 2017.
Meanwhile, new owner Mike Worthington is looking to develop a fresh Motad-Venom range and hopes to have those products manufactured right there in the UK. However, given the highly competitive nature of global commerce, it's not clear if that will be feasible, economically speaking. In other words, Triumph went East thereby cutting ties with Motad, and a revived Motad could follow.
▲ Don't put 'em all in one basket, as the saying goes. And that's good advice. But then, being an original equipment manufacturer for Triumph isn't any old egg basket. Pity Motad didn't think to broaden its menu...
Motad began manufacturing in London in 1968. The firm quickly developed much sought after exhaust systems for the Honda 750-4 and 500-4. Over the next four decades the company built a name and reputation for quality and consistency. Later, as business fortunes grew, founder Alan Baker (who died in 2002) decided to relocate to Walsall in the West Midlands' Black Country, once the workshop of the world—and still a pretty compelling workbench and toolbox. It was in 2002 that John Atherton took the helm. Fifteen years later, the collapse happened.
As of today (17th June 2017) Motad's website is still up and running. It lists a large range of products for the Big 4 Japanese manufacturers, plus BMW and Triumph. But a statement on the site reads: "Unfortunately Motad Ltd. has ceased trading."
We wait with interest to see how this story pans out.
Free bike event in London
... plus gear, music & films
We've said it before, and we're saying it again; we gotta get out more. In the real world, that is. That's because we've just got a press release telling us about a free custom bike show soon to be held at House of Vans, London, and we thought, "Huh? Why the hell is anyone staging a bike show at a van showroom?"
Then we remembered vaguely that we'd heard of that place somewhere. House of Vans. So we looked it up on the web, and we discovered that it's some kind of offbeat, off-the-wall, leftfield creative exhibition space in South London (near Waterloo Station) embracing art, music, BMX bikes, skateboards and films and stuff. There's a matching set-up in Brooklyn, New York.
It's the London venue where the Assembly Chopper Show is going to be held between Friday 21st July 2017 and Sunday 23rd July 2017. But Friday is for VIPs only. So if you're not one of the blessed, you'll have to attend on Saturday or Sunday. Alternately, you can get a taste of the show if you turn up on Friday 7th July 2017 for the teaser exhibition (i.e.photos of forthcoming show bikes and a Triumph T100 bobber on display). There's no info on the opening hours.
The impetus for the event, we understand, is the 74th issue of Dice Magazine, and if you attend the July show you can check out that 74th Dice issue along with the other 73 issue covers that will be on display. What's that? Never heard of Dice Magazine? Well you wanna get out more...
All that aside, being a chopper show, you can expect a lot of choppers and chopperesque folk wandering around mixing with the custom bike royalty, whatever that means to you. We're told that "selected retailers" will be there which includes The Great Frog, Bonzorro vintage goods, Burns women’s denim apparel, LeBeef Kustom Metal Works, and Joe King helmets. Also expect live music and prize giveaways and free drinks courtesy of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Sounds good so far.
One more thing, chopperheads; there's a 100-seat cinema at the venue/complex/van showroom where the organisers will be screening all kinds of chopper/hooligans-on-bikes themed movies including Easy Rider, The Wild One and Chopper Town.
The location is: House of Vans, Arch 232, Station Approach Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8SW.
Need more info? Go check the link below. And if you're the energetic type, bring a skateboard or roller skates or something. If it's got wheels, this place looks like it's on a roll, ya know?
What if Panther Motorcycles got its act together again?
One man from Bedfordshire suggests how the new bikes might look
"If Panther Motorcycles were making bikes today, what might they be like?" That was the simple question recently posed by rider Lee Thompson from Bedfordshire. And we've wondered this kinda stuff before—although not specifically about Panther.
But Lee wanted to do more than merely sit and ruminate. Instead, he took a more deliberate flight of fancy and cooked up these images, then sent them to us for a look-see and an opinion.
He calls his concept the S180. It's intended as an update on the M-Series range of bike, the last of which was an M120, but with a modern turn of speed. So okay, 180mph might be a little optimistic. But so was 120mph when Panther's marketing people threw together their sales literature back in the fifties and sixties.
The rest of the design pretty much speaks for itself. Springer forks. A lusty single cylinder engine. A spine frame. And a general poise apposite to a modern Panther.
Maddeningly, there are no images of the primary-drive side of the bike, and there's no more detail other than what we've given you. So maybe Lee will get around to that sometime later.
Meanwhile, we live in hope that someone out there might take on the challenge of a re-launched Panther brand, ideally operating from a factory in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire. But not if all we're going to see from such an enterprise are leather jackets, waxed cotton gear and trendy shirts for the fashionista.
It's gotta be real motorcycles, or nothing. Right? And if such a company needs a stylist with the right sensitivities, Lee Thompson might be a good man to talk to.
Click here for a larger image of the Panther S180 concept.
The classic British motoring firm has ended a shrewd leasing deal
Business is booming
With a name like "Morgan", you'd think that Wales would be the spiritual and industrial home of one of Britain's best-loved motor companies; a firm famed for its classic, hand-built three- and four-wheelers aimed at the discerning gentleman. Or gentlewoman. But no. Morgan hails from Pickersleigh Road, Malvern, Worcestershire which has been its manufacturing home since pretty much forever.
The company was founded in 1910 by Henry "Harry" Frederick Stanley Morgan (1881 - 1959). The big news today is that the company has just re-acquired its home turf which it shrewdly sold off in 2006. That turf includes the Morgan Museum which hosts guided tours.
Why did the company flog it?
Because the firm needed the cash to develop new models. The accountants and management decided that it would be better to sell both the land and the buildings to a company called Stirling Investments, and then lease it all back (no doubt whilst employing all kinds of legal tax rules, regulations and loopholes).
That sharp move (a) released the much needed money which was then used to develop new vehicles, (b) allowed production to continue without a pause, and (c) maintained the firm's all-important commercial morale due to the fact that buying back the land and buildings was from the start an option.
▲ The Morgan Aero 8. One day people will say; "They don't make 'em like that anymore." But right now, they do. Prices for the Aero 8 start at around £92,000. That compares to around £40,000 for the EV3 below.
▲ The Morgan EV3 electric three-wheeler. See Sump Classic Bike News March 2016 for details.
As a result, Morgan has over the past decade developed a number of exciting new cars including the Plus E (an electric roadster), the EVA GT (a 2+2 grand tourer), and the Morgan 3-Wheeler powered by an S&S V-twin engine and driving through a Mazda gearbox (image immediately above).
The company is busy and profitable. It currently employs 177 staff, most of them craftsmen and women. And around 1,300 vehicles are produced each year with an average waiting time of six months. With so many "British" firms now under the total or partial control of Johnny Foreigner, it's nice that we've still got a class act that we can entirely call our own.
TVR, incidentally, is also still British. And mercifully, thanks to John Bloor, Triumph is still "one of ours". Take some comfort from all this, if you can.
Iconic American stunt rider gets centre stage once more
Topeka, Kansas is the location
"Launch" is the appropriate word when it comes to pretty much anything to do with legendary "death defying" stunt rider Evel Knievel, world-famous for throwing himself into unlikely situations that the rest of us wisely try to avoid.
The King of Kalamity will soon officially have a museum dedicated to his aerial antics, and if you're ever in the neighbourhood of 2047 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka, KS 66612, you can pay a visit.
The museum has scheduled a grand opening between 30th June 2017 and 1st July 2017. The guy behind the venture is Lathan McKay, a 39-year old Texan who progressed from extreme skateboards to extreme motorcycles and is currently described as an actor, writer, producer and entrepreneur (images immediately below).
A long time Evel Knievel fan, McKay, in 2012, hit upon the idea of creating a lasting museum dedicated to the memory of one of America's most prominent high-flyers and so began a nationwide search for memorabilia—much of which he quickly discovered was in very poor condition.
What followed were various acquisitions, restorations and funding issues, and then came the matter of finding a suitable location. McKay's leap of faith ended up in Topeka, Kansas which is just 100 - 120 miles or so away from the geographic centre of the contiguous states of the USA (i.e. excluding Alaska and Hawaii).
Attractions at the museum include bikes, clothing, crash helmets, posters, an interactive virtual jump experience, Knievel's "Big Red" Mack truck and trailer, and no doubt plenty of other suitable exhibits. Or facsimiles. Adult tickets are $20. The opening hours are: Tuesday - Friday 10am - 6pm. Saturday 9am - 5pm. Closed Sunday - Monday.
Note too that the museum is attached to Historic Harley-Davidson, the main H-D dealer for Topeka and thereabouts. So that will no doubt add to the vibe.
We can't get too excited about any of this. In fact, we'd rather throw ourselves off a canyon on a motorcycle than wander around this testament to human stupidity and ego mania. But on the other hand, we can see the ghoulish and morbid appeal of this iconic masochist whose entire career was more crash & burn than look & learn. That aside, we hope McKay's latest business venture makes him a few bucks.
Meanwhile, given the fact that this Butte, Montana-born daredevil did absolutely nothing to increase the public perception of motorcycle safety, you might think that Harley-Davidson would want to keep him a little further away than the building next door.
Evel Knievel died in November 2007 aged 69.
A little perspective on the June 2017 General Election
318 to the Tories, and 262 to Labour
It was her own bloody fault, silly cow. She over-reached her grasp and totally miscalculated her political (and personal) appeal to the British electorate—and in doing so grossly underestimated Jeremy Corbyn's ability to climb out of the hole he'd been in since taking command of the Labour Party.
What should have been a landslide victory in the 8th June UK General Elections has turned into a disaster of Titanic (or, if you prefer, Dunkirk) proportions. Instead of dramatically increasing the number of Tory parliamentary seats and winning an all-important overall majority, the Conservative party, under Prime Minister Theresa May, has lost 13 MPs (some of them ministers) and is faced with a hung parliament.
In order to form a government, the Tories now have to climb into bed with the Northern Ireland DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and look for sufficient common ground with which to bring a government together, and then hold the position.
Of course, Labour is refusing to acknowledge that they also lost. The best Corbyn could say in a post-election TV interview is that they [the Labour Party] "didn't win". And in case you've forgotten the result, the Tories took 318 seats (and commanded a larger share of the popular vote), with 262 seats going to the lefties.
What makes the result seem worse than it is for the Tories (as if it could be much worse), is that expectations for Labour were very low, and expectations for the Conservatives were very high.
And then the big switcheroo.
▲ Boris Brutus Johnson and Phillip Pontius Hammond. When you've got the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer behind you, better watch your back. This pair of Judases like their steaks rare...
But without getting heavily into party politics, and without naming the slimy Tory ministers who manifestly failed to rally to May's support at the critical hour when the result was announced, we want to spare a thought for Queen Theresa and offer an ounce of condolence for the pound of flesh she's lost.
We watched a billion hours of TV news coverage both before and after the result, and we can't recall a single word of heartfelt support from the "Tory faithful" (and naturally, we didn't expect any commiserations from Labour). It's not that we're hard line Conservatives here at Sump. We're not even soft line Tories. But watching someone having their ambitions crushed in such a brutal and public way is perhaps worthy of a passing thought for the pain that must have caused.
So okay, Queen Theresa was ultimately the architect of her own misfortune. But that's exactly what makes this a human tragedy.
Meanwhile, just remember that it doesn't matter who you voted for, the bloody government still got in. And unless Queen Theresa can now pull a big, fat Brexit rabbit from the EU hat (and can also address the most pressing issues in Corbyn's unrealistic manifesto), we could be looking at another trip to the voting booth in the foreseeable future.
Gawd 'elp us all.
Star of the sixties Batman TV show has died
He was 88
If ever an actor was typecast, it was William West Anderson—more famously known as Adam West—who has died aged 88. In a career that spanned seven decades, the role for which he'll be forever remembered is that of Batman in the US NBC TV series which aired between 1966 and 1968.
But West's career actually began primarily in TV western series such as Sugarfoot (starring Will Hutchins), Colt .45 (starring Wayde Preston), Lawman (starring John Russell), and the Overland Trail (starring William Bendix and Doug McClure). He also took a role in one episode of Walter Brennan's The Real Mcoys series. Soon after he appeared in an episode of Laramie (originally starring John Smith and Robert Fuller). And he found a suitable spot in The Rifleman starring Chuck Connors.
Adam West also appeared in various crime dramas such as Johnny Midnight (starring Edmond O'Brien) and The Detectives (starring Robert Taylor).
Following that came appearances in Perry Mason and The Outer Limits. But it wasn't all TV work. He took roles in various movies including The Young Philadelphians (1959) starring Paul Newman; Soldier in the Rain (1963) starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen; and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) starring Paul Mantee.
▲ Adam West as Sergeant Steve Nelson in The Detectives (1959).
When the Batman TV series was proposed, the late US producer William Dozier supposedly saw West in a TV commercial and quickly decided that that was the man he needed. So West became both the caped crusader and his stiffly conservative alter-ego, Bruce Wayne. After that, it was all downhill—or uphill depending on your point of view.
Adam West's Batman and Burt Ward's Robin were always intended to be camp and corny. The plots were outrageously improbable. The costumes were always perilously close to indecent (for the age). The direction and production was overblown. And the series was riddled (in some cases literally) with highly repeatable lines.
What made the series particularly eye-catching was the fabled Batmobile that zoomed around like a jet fighter and rocked like a bouncy castle every time it screeched to a halt in front of City Hall.
Supporting actors (in the TV series and films) included Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Cesar Romero as The Joker, and Julie Newmar,
Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether as Catwoman.
But it was Adam West in his grey tights and rippling blue cape who held the action together, such as it was, and lured the kids back to the TV screens week after week—and slowly watched the bat logo on his chest dissolve into an albatross that hovered around him for the rest of his life.
After 120 episodes of Batman, Adam West took roles in numerous films and US TV shows such as Bonanza, Maverick, The Love Boat, Night Gallery, and Hart to Hart. It's also said that Cubby Broccoli offered him the James Bond role in the movie Diamonds are Forever (1971). However, Adam West is reported to have rejected the offer believing that Bond should always be played by a Brit.
Ironically, more than once he subsequently took on the part of a washed up super hero and repeatedly found himself drawn professionally back to the Batman role, not least in the 2003 movie Return to the Batcave, also starring Burt Ward. Beyond that, he made a living via guest appearances on TV shows and on the fanlove circuit. And he co-wrote an autobiography (with Jeff Rovin).
He did much voice-over work, incidentally, and lent his resonant and immediately recognisable tones to dozens of contemporary cartoons and video games, but almost always with the Batman spectre loitering in the background. In 2010 he was granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Adam West, was born in Walla Walla, Washington State, USA. His father was a farmer. His mother was an opera singer and pianist. He married three times and fathered six children.
With equal measure he probably loved and hated the role of Batman, a character who kept him in professional chains, but at least had the decency to ensure he was reasonably well fed, well clothed, well respected and otherwise secure.
As an actor, William West Anderson was merely okay. But as a personality, he was engaging, modest, amusing and clearly didn't take himself too seriously.
In other words, he was exactly our kind of superhero.
Perfect show for the dull and boring at heart
We might attend...
Remember how it used to be? In the seventies? Jumps jets. Tower blocks. The Sweeney on TV. Lot of corrugated tin fencing surrounding derelict land ready for redevelopment. The Meriden sit-in. The Falklands War. The Miners Strike. The three day week. And hundreds of thousand of all-British cars on the move.
We're talking about Morris Marinas. Austin Ambassadors. Hillman Avengers. Austin Allegros. Morris Itals. Vauxhall Chevettes. Hillman Imps. And Ford Cortinas (to name but a few).
All ordinary cars. And in some instances, extra-ordinary. One minute they were rattling around, dripping rust and smoking up the streets. And then suddenly they were all gone and forgotten.
Or very nearly.
Today, many of the surviving models can be counted on your hands and toes. But if you care to visit Stowe House in Buckingham (near Silverstone racing circuit) on Saturday 22nd July 2017, you can reacquaint yourself with some of the survivors and pretend it's the seventies all over again.
▲ Actually, the Austin Maxi was both ordinary and extraordinary. Built between 1969 and 1981, this 1500cc/1750cc 5-door hatchback was the last car designed by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) before the firm became British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). Alec Issigonis created both this and the original Mini. Front wheel drive. Bags of internal space. And "Hydrolastic" suspension. Around 470,000 were built. And sold.
▲ The Morris Ital. Did you buy one? Built between 1980 and 1984 in the UK, and in China (as the Huandu CAC6430) between 1998 and 1999, this car was essentially a revamped Morris Marina. Once voted the second worst car ever produced in Britain, around 174,000 of these 1.3 and 1.7 litre saloons were built of which just a hundred or two survive. Feel those eyeballs getting moist yet?
Hagerty Insurance is behind this event. The inaugural Festival of the Unexceptional was held in 2014. That beeped the right horns, so the event returned for 2015 and 2016. And now it's back yet again promising to be bigger, better and more seventiers than before.
Hagerty calls it the "Concours de l’Ordinįire" which, with its Frenchy pretensions, spoils it a little. We prefer to think of it as an ordinary Motor Meet, or maybe a Car Turnout, or something else suitably downmarket. That aside, it's a free event and features cars and trucks built between 1966 and 1989, which naturally expands the seventies envelope.
And we ought to mention too that it's not all about British vehicles, anyway. Far from it. This is instead a celebration of ordinary motors from around the world; cars such as the humble Skoda Estelle, the modest Renault 4TL, the cheap and cheerful Datsun Sunny, the near anonymous Simca 1100, The quirky DAF 66 and .. .well, you get the idea.
▲ 1970 Hillman Avenger, later to become the Chrysler Avenger, and then the Talbot Avenger (such was the industrial and commercial wranglings of that era). It was also sold as the Plymouth Cricket and Dodge Avenger in North America. Brazil sold 'em as the Dodge Polara. The Argentineans sold 'em as the Volkswagen 1500. Engines ranged from 1,248cc to 1,798. It's said that 638,631 examples of his "unremarkable" car were built.
There will also be a Feast of the Unexceptional, so bring your own Battenberg cake, Curly Wurly bars, cheese and pineapple on sticks and Babycham (or a bottle or two of Newcastle Brown Ale if you prefer). Prizes will be awarded for the best and second best unexceptional car.
Stowe House is the former stately pile belonging to the Duke of Buckingham—and apparently the famous celebrity gardener Capability Brown did the weeding and hedge-trimming. The opening hours are 10am to 3pm. The postcode is MK18 5HZ. So if you've got a totally boring, unremarkable, aesthetically invisible and generally overlooked vehicle built between the mid-sixties to the late-eighties, get out the T-Cut, put some air in the tubes, clip on the jump-leads and bring it along.
And forget kitsch wheels. Kitsch, after all, has a certain inverted "coolness" that would be out of place here. So just keep it dull. But do try and "dress the part"—and when wandering around the grounds and gardens of Stowe House, try and talk the same nonsense that we all talked in the seventies. It all adds to the ambience, and you'll feel better for it.
▲ For us at Sump, the 1970s is where the world began and ended. All the rest is just history. So if you're of a similar bent, head for the Festival of the Unexceptional. It's bound to be wonderfully mundane.
▲ The Rover SD1 (Special Division 1), 1976 - 1986. 303,345 built. The smallest engine was 2,000cc. The largest was 3,500cc (V8). Another great concept from the British motor industry, but build quality plagued these cars. The police loved 'em. The Yanks bought a few. And when the SD1 was running right, it was so right. Survivors number around 300.
This sounds like our kind of show. We love all the ordinary stuff that the world has to offer from MZ ETZ250s to brown betty teapots to sheets of hardboard to sitting on the beach at Skegness with a knotted hankie on our noggins whilst sipping stewed tea from a dirty thermos flask. There are enough exclusive people in the world already.
Are we right?
1950 Vincent Shadow sells for $95,000 (£72,291)
Rare Triumph T140 sells for $25,000 (£19,318)
A 1950 Vincent Black Shadow was the top selling lot (Lot F125) at Mecum's Sale on 1st - 3rd June 2017. The hammer came down at $95,000 (£72,291). The 998cc V-twin has (evidently) been restored, and a time-lapse restoration video is available to the buyer. We're also advised that the bike has been verified by the Vincent Owners Club (VOC). But beyond that, there are few details.
The next highest selling lot (F126) was the immediately above 1951 Vincent Rapide which sold for $85,000 (£65,592). This gaudy "factory red" example has also been verified by the VOC. The bike is listed as "fitted with aftermarket carburettors with the originals included", but has no obviously special points of interest. Nevertheless, it's a very respectable price for a Rapide; a motorcycle that over the past five to ten years has proved to be a pretty sound investment, take note.
Here are the next eight lots—and note that Mecum has a complicated commission structure. Hence the fact that these are all hammer prices minus sales commission:
Lot S139: 1920 Henderson Ace Four, $85,000
Lot F133: 1932 Indian Chief, $77,000
Lot F138: 1914 Indian 8 Valve Racer, $67,500
Lot F158: 1913 Indian 8 Valve Racer, $67,500
Lot F139: 1906 Indian Racer, $62,500
Lot S120: 1931 Indian Four, $61,000
Lot F127: 1929 BMW R62, $60,000
Lot S138: 1913 Pope Single, $51,000
We counted 292 bikes in the sale of which 47 didn't find buyers. By our dodgy mathematics, that represents a conversion rate of approximately 84%. Note that Mecum might publish a different conversion rate, but that will probably include all motorcycle lots (i.e. parts and memorabilia). We've focussed solely on the bikes.
Finally, the immediately above T140V sold for $25,000 (£19,318). This bike was built in 1973, but didn't roll out of Triumph's Meriden factory until 1975. Why? Because of the now infamous blockade/sit-in that led to the creation of the Worker's Cooperative. For 18-months, very few motorcycles made it out alive, hence the rarity, hence the inflated price (and what tales these bikes could tell, etc...)
But would we pay three times the current going rate for this particular Bonnie? Not a chance. History is history, and this bike is a prime example of the species, but we'd rather have a couple of spare Triumphs in the shed.
How about you?
See Sump Classic Bike News May 2017 for more on this Zimmerman Collection Bonneville.
Scooter registrations suffer the biggest hit
All motorcycle categories are taking on water
Down, down, down and down. That's how we recently reported the disappointing news regarding UK motorcycle sales over the first four months of this year (2017) when compared to the first four months of 2016. Put another way, every month in 2017 has seen fewer UK bike sales than the corresponding month last year.
Well now we're adding another "down" because the May figures show a further fall. Specifically, in May 2016 UK bike registrations were 12,134 units. But this May (2017), that's dropped to 10,859. Every category of bike registration was down (adventure sports, supersport, touring, etc), with scooters taking the brunt of the fall (down a whopping 29%). The only growth area was motorcycles with a capacity of 651cc - 1,000cc which grew by 11.6%.
Outside of the bike trade, however, does any of this really matter? Well it might. Fewer dealers probably means reduced parts diversity, higher prices, diminished availability and less fresh blood on the scene to keep the motorcycle culture buoyant.
More to the point, given the reasonably good weather we've had overall this year (for bikers, anyway), the fall in motorcycle sales quite likely reflects the continuing economic mess we're in. We suspect that this isn't a "Brexit thing", and we also doubt that the imminent general election is at the root. This, instead, has been a slow and steady decline over the past ten years, albeit with occasional spasms of improvement in some market sectors.
What can you do about it? Not a lot, probably. With increased globalisation, the inexorable rise of information technology, the pressures of population growth and the various less obvious socio-political revolutions that are underway, the future is beginning to look like a very unwelcome place for many, if not most, of us.
Our advice? Just ride, drink, eat, laugh and fornicate for as long as you can. It could get a lot darker before it gets lighter.
Ryder, North Dakota, gets a visit from Milwaukee
Everyone's getting a bike licence, apparently...
The guy posing in front of the Harley-Davidson sign is Jody Reinisch. He's the Mayor of Ryder, North Dakota, and he's loitering out there on Highway 28 watching the birdie to illustrate the latest smokin' news story from Milwaukee's most famous son.
What's happened is that Harley-Davidson has selected Ryder as a town fit for intensive motorcycle training, and to that end has pretty much moved in and put all the eligible citizens on wheels with the aim of transforming the community into a full-blown, paid-up, soaring eagle, righteous biker town.
Are we sneering? Not at all. We love Harleys and the entire H-D franchise.
Meanwhile, the townsfolk are said to be tickled pink (or at least tickled orange, white and black), and they've temporarily changed the name of Ryder to Rider, and have agreed to have the words "Harley" and "Davidson" plastered on the water tower.
As we understand it, H-D had also been casting an eye over the towns of Independence (Missouri) and Freedom (Wisconsin). But Ryder's water tower was a pretty close facsimile of the aerial water butt adjacent to the company HQ in Milwaukee, and the bait was too tempting to resist.
That said, in light of the news story immediately below this one, Harley-Davidson might have aptly chose the town of Oil City, Louisiana (and you can visit that story in a few seconds).
So does all this sounds like small potatoes? Well maybe it is. But you can't blame a motorcycle firm for promoting its wares, and to that end Harley-Davidson has, in raw marketing terms, eclipsed many other companies—not least our home grown favourite, which is still Triumph.
As far as we know, Bonneville, Oregon has a broadly similar demographic to Ryder. There's another Bonneville in Wyoming, but that's a ghost town. And Idaho boasts a Bonneville County.
Moving up to Canada, there's a Bonnyville in Alberta, and there's a Bonneville Commune in South Eastern France. Closer to home there are any number of villes in Scotland that are very bonny. But we're having trouble locating anything appropriate right here in Shakespeare's country.
However, there's a Midsomer Norton down there in Somerset, and there's Enfield in North London, so maybe we're fixated on the wrong motorcycle firm.
Makes you think.
"Only Milwaukee Eight 107ci models are affected"
Two accidents and one injury have been reported
Talk to UK Harley-Davidson dealers and you'll be hard pushed to get consensus on whether or not there's a new factory recall regarding oil lines at risk of coming adrift. We were notified of this issue by a friendly Sumpster and we promptly made some calls.
Four H-D dealers we spoke to had "no idea", or "no knowledge" of an ongoing recall. Another two said that there wasn't. One other dealer we tried was closed on Monday. And the other one we called said that yes, there is a recall regarding the oil lines on the 107-cubic inch (1,753cc) Milwaukee Eight models, but only the "precision" oil-cooled bikes—as opposed to the Twin Cooled 114-cubic inch (1,870cc) Milwaukee Eight machines with additional liquid cooling.
According to Stateside reports, nine instances have been noted of an oil line clamp breaking free. Two crashes resulted, and there has been at least one injury.
We're not going to report any further on this because there's some conflicting information that will only cause confusion. But if you've got a Milwaukee Eight Hog, call your dealer at the first opportunity and ask to be put through to the service department; apparently, the sales people are not always notified about recalls—which sounds a little odd seeing as these guys and girls sold the relevant bikes and represent the H-D front line. But that's the position.
Meanwhile, make the call. Put your mind at rest.
Leather, CE-approved, waterproof retro footwear
Here at Sump we're not the world's greatest fans of complicated, super-hero style motorcycle apparel. That's because we're traditionalists. We like more everyday clothing; i.e. the kind of stuff you can wear on the bike, but doesn't look overblown in everyday situations. We're talking about Levi jeans, leather bomber jackets, cool t-shirts, and old fashioned footwear such as these new TCX Hero motorcycle boots.
A pair of size nines arrived a few weeks back, and we've checked 'em out as best we can—and we can tell you that we like 'em plenty. They ain't the world's cheapest, but if you want Shoezone, try your local High Street. These Italian-made boots are definitely at the other end of the market, and as ever you get what you pay for.
Check our TCX Hero motorcycle boot review and see if they suit you too.
Liquid Asset Partners are to finally dispose of the entire EBR stock
The sale takes place on 7th June 2017
It's all going under the hammer, and this is one sale that's probably going to make far more people sad than happy. It's the liquidation of the EBR (Erik Buell Racing) stock, and it will happen on 7th June 2017 at East Troy, Wisconsin, USA (site of the Buell Factory).
This is a story of industrial ambition, fading hopes, commercial collapse, a little light at the end of a desperate tunnel, and now what looks like a very bitter end. Ex-Harley-Davidson engineer and motorcycle racer Erik Buell was the man who set this flame alight.
Here's a quick recap of Buell's history:
● 1983 Buell Motorcycle Company launched
● 1993 Harley-Davidson bought 49% of the company
● 2003 Harley-Davidson bought the firm outright
● 2006 Buell announced its 100,000th bike
● 2009 The 136,923rd Buell left the production line
● 2009 Harley-Davidson wound down the Buell Motorcycle Company
● 2009 Erik Buell launched EBR (Erik Buell Racing)
● 2013: Indian firm Hero MotoCorp buys a 49 percent of EBR. The price
paid is $25 million
● April 2015 EBR ceased production
● January 2016 EBR was bought by Liquid Asset Partners (LAP)
● March 2016 EBR production resumed on a small scale
● September 2016 saw a new model range promised
● December 2016 EBR Black Lightning 1190SX announced
● January 2017 LAP wound-up production
When LAP bought EBR for $2 million, it was expected that this Grand Rapids, Michigan-based firm would do what it does best, which is to quickly liquidate the assets. But LAP surprised most people, if not everyone, by announcing that it would try to sell EBR as a going concern. To that end, it kept the production line rolling in anticipation of finding a buyer. It was a brave attempt, but ultimately it came to nothing.
The goods and chattels now up for grabs include bikes, spares, tools, tooling, blueprints, memorabilia, furniture, computers, machinery—and bucketloads of tears. We can also expect a lot of cherry-picking of parts and accessories, perhaps with new Buell spares business taking shape. And no doubt eBay is about to get a windfall of some kind.
Yes, it's also possible that someone will buy the EBR brand and will re-think the business model, such as it is. But a lot of commercial damage has been done, investor and consumer confidence is at rock bottom, and it looks as if this ship is too badly holed to reach another port.
Erik Buell (image immediately above) is now 67. That ain't necessarily too old to push this cart a little further. But it's odds-on that he's pretty demoralised and will want to back off and take a long think.
EBR created a pretty cool lineage and leaves behind a lot of fans and well-wishers. Here at Sump, we've ridden one or two Buells, and we were highly impressed. Not exactly our kind of wheels, mind. But we had one hell of a ride.
Check these links for more on the Buell downfall
Sunday 25th June 2017
Elk Promotions invites you down to the Garden of England
We don't want to upset anyone, but in just four weeks the days will start getting shorter. That means you need to get out there at the earliest opportunity and enjoy whatever the summer has to offer. To that end, you can do a lot worse than visit the Romney Marsh Bike Show & Jumble on Sunday 25th June 2017.
The location is Marsh Road, at Ham Street, Kent. That's about 6-miles south of junction 10 on the M20. Bring your dog if it's well behaved. Ditto for your wife or husband. Just keep 'em both on a lead, please.
As for the attractions, a bike jumble and bike show is obvious. A beer tent (with Real Ale) is obligatory. Food and other liquid refreshments will be available. Motoball will be going on somewhere. A helmet park (courtesy of the Royal British Legion) will be on site. And there will be a free BikeMart display-to-sell area for private vendors. Tim Phillips & 1066 Rockitmen will be setting the air alight with some tight grooves. And naturally, the local bike clubs will be on hand to sign-up new members, re-acquaint themselves with lapsed members, or just chat to anyone about anything (ideally pertaining to motorcycles).
The curtain goes up at 10am. Adults will pay a lowly fiver. Over-65s will hand over just four quid. Kids under 16 will snick under the radar. This is an independent show, by the way. Support it if you will.
Beyond that, Romney Marsh is a fantastic area in its own right to visit. Check it out online. Make a day of it. But start with the bike show and jumble. When summer turns to autumn and winter, you'll be glad that you stocked up your memories with days such as this.
Check here for more on Romney Marsh
Telephone: 01797 344277
Milwaukee says "yes" to building Hogs in Thailand
The Steelworkers Union says "no"
Donald Trump is somewhere in the middle...
This story revolves around Harley-Davidson's latest wheeze which is a plan to manufacture motorcycles in Thailand. Shock, horror. Actually, manufacture might not be the correct word. We might simply be talking about assembling, as in CKD (Complete Knock Down) Kits.
But as far as the American United Steelworkers trade union is concerned, it makes no difference what you call it. Harley-Davidson is a premium brand, and for many Americans the Milwaukee-based firm eclipses even Ford, General Motors, Boeing, Apple, Microsoft, Levis Strauss and pretty much anyone else you care to name. And the union is deeply unhappy about off-shoring work to the Far East. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is also said to be not-very-pleased, largely because it flies in the face of his "America First" mantra.
So what's Harley-Davidson's game? Well, that's pretty simple. The company is following the money, and more and more of that money is at present in China, India, Thailand, and other developing nations in the wider Asia-Pacific area.
The problem lies in import duties. To protect their home industries, Far Eastern countries levy huge taxes on incoming Hogs. India, for instance, is reckoned to foist a 100% hike. Thailand is said to demand around 60%—and we should mention here that we haven't studied these numbers carefully, so treat them with caution. The true picture is often a little more complicated.
▲ What's the difference between the Harley-Davidson Street 500 & Street 750 and all the other Harleys? Ask the US Steelworkers Union. Meanwhile, there's a row going on about Thai-ing the Far Eastern knot a little tighter.
Nevertheless, if Johnny Foreigner builds motorcycles in the Far East, or if he simply assembles them there, the associated duties will fall. So Harley-Davidson wants to establish a plant in Thailand (which is where Triumph is, incidentally), and the US firm has been telling the unions, Donald Trump and the media that the move won't impact on Yankee jobs. In other words, Americans will still buy Harleys made in the USA, and the good folk of Thailand, and thereabouts, will buy locally built (or locally assembled) bikes.
How the situation is likely to be resolved is anyone's guess. But we figure that Harley-Davidson will get together with the unions boys and thrash out some kind of deal, probably with job/wage security promises, etc. Maybe a new coffee machine too. And a new assembly building will presently pop up on an industrial estate somewhere in downtown Thailand.
The bottom line is that in a global world, you can ride, but you can't hide. Companies simply have to follow the markets. That's the long and short of it—and eventually the unions will get the message, as if they don't already know it.
Meanwhile, it's interesting to note that Harley-Davidsons are already built (or, rather, assembled) in the Far East, specifically in India. The company established a CKD plant there in 2014 which handles the Street 500 and 750 models which are sold both domestically and exported. Few union or presidential people seem particularly bothered about that, which perhaps suggests that in spite of the badge on the petrol tanks, these newcomers to the H-D stable are simply not viewed as the real McCoy.
We're staying out of it.
Seven times James Bond actor has died
Erstwhile star of The Saint was 89
He was one of the first to admit his limitations as an actor. But Roger Moore, who has died aged 89, was unquestionably a significant presence on the small and big screens—not merely here in the UK, but all around the world.
Best known for playing the role of James Bond in seven "Bond movies", his first significant appearance on British screens was in the 1958-59 TV series, Ivanhoe based on Walter Scott's fictional medieval knight hero.
Filmed in the UK and the USA, Moore handled many of the swashbuckling action stunts—and occasionally came to grief, once by fracturing his ribs, and once by being knocked unconscious.
Ivanhoe was moderately successful. But it was the British TV series, The Saint (1962 - 1969), which elevated Moore from a rattling, gung-ho knight-in-shining-armour to the suave and sophisticated contemporary playboy adventurer created by Anglo-Chinese author Leslie Charteris.
The studio-bound Saint series did much to help market the stylish Volvo P1800 sports saloon car, but did less to advance mainstream TV crime drama. Nevertheless, in hindsight it seemed only a matter of time before Moore took over the role of James Bond from Scottish actor Sean Connery who, by 1966, was fearful of being typecast and had expressed his disinterest in continuing the franchise.
In the event, George Lazenby took over the Bond role in 1969 with On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Connery returned in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). But after that, it was Roger Moore seven times in succession with:
Live and Let Die (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
A View to a Kill (1985)
Roger Moore, as Bond, was widely derided by the critics for his wooden performances, his corny line delivery and his seeming inability to portray much beyond cardboard eyebrow-raising emotion. But undoubtedly, he was largely playing the role designed for him by the producers and directors, and the fact that he was called upon to reprise the character time and again arguably mitigates the worst of what the critics threw in his direction.
He was by no means the best Bond, but he had his moments and found his way into the hearts of the British public and helped bring millions of pounds into the UK economy—which is more than most of us can claim to have done.
Roger Moore was born in Stockwell, South London. He was an only child; his father a policeman, his mother a mother. He was a grammar school boy who, during WW2, found himself among thousands of others evacuated to Devon.
As a young man he was conscripted into the British Army and served in the Royal Army Service Corps (1946). In the late forties he accepted his first small TV part. By the early fifties he was working frequently as a fashion model.
Lured to America, he worked with MGM and Warner Brothers. But this was something of a professional dead-end, and he soon returned to the UK where Ivanhoe awaited him. But during that period, there was time to appear in numerous episodes of the US TV series The Alaskans (1959 - 1960) and Maverick (1960 - 1961) which starred actor James Garner.
▲ The "Saint" on a BMW? Surely that should have been a Triumph. Roger Moore became co-owner of the series which was shot at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. Actor Ian Ogilvy starred in Return of the Saint which aired on British TV between 1978 and 1979.
After 118 episodes of The Saint, Roger Moore appeared with US actor Tony Curtis in the playboy-adventurer TV series The Persuaders (1971 - 1972). Then came Bond, during which period he made a number of feature films including Shout at the Devil (1976) co-starring Lee Marvin, and The Wild Geese (1978) co-starring Richard Burton and Richard Harris (both made during the Apartheid regime, which earned him few new friends). Nothing from this period excels, but Moore continued in his familiar way, increasing his exposure and doing little to pacify the critics, some of whom were nothing less than cruel.
After Bond, he made a few more unmemorable movies and became a TV celebrity popping up here and there, once on behalf of the Post Office in a TV advert, and many times happy to indulge in a little self-parody on the chat show couch and elsewhere. In 1991 he became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and gave much of his time to charity.
His politics were conservative (small and big "C"). He became a tax exile and lived between Switzerland, France and Monaco. He was plagued by health issues throughout his life and fought hard against them all. And he was awarded a CBE in 1999 followed by a KBE in 2003. Other awards came his way for lifetime achievement, for general acting (albeit minor awards in these instances), and for his humanitarian work. He wrote four books, one of which was an autobiography.
Roger Moore married three times and survived his third wife who died in 2016. He fathered three children.
We remember him with some fondness; by no means the best of his trade, but a reliable presence who gave what he had to give, and then gave a little more for others. The next time we see him on TV, we'll be sure to adjust our perspectives accordingly.
Death has a way of doing that.
Isle of Man police warning
Stay vigilant at the TT
There are four days to go until the 2017 TT kicks off. So if you're headed that way, don't get excited if you see one or two extra rozzers on the prowl on the island. The local constabulary has just issued a statement following in the wake of the recent Manchester bombing advising all and sundry to stay calm, have a good time, ride on the left, and not to worry if the thin blue line looks a little thicker this year (as if the thin blue line could get any thicker).
What it probably means is that all leave has been cancelled and a few extra PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) have been rounded up to swell the numbers. There might even be a few token spot checks (noisy exhausts, overly short front mudguards, bomb in a rucksack, etc).
We might have told the Manx coppers that most bikers ain't exactly the worrying kind, least of all on and around the TT circuit where a little spilled blood is par for the course. But instead, we're inclined to be a more gracious and accept the press release in the spirit with which it was intended.
Meanwhile, we see that every last drop of grief, agony, defiance, boldness, bravado, community spirit and solidarity is being milked from the Manchester misery cow in an effort to maximise the solemnity of the moment.
Don't get us wrong here. We share the collective regret and wish that the murderous "loser" (to aptly quote US president Donald Trump) had thought to test his weapon on a piece of wasteland (in North Korea perchance). But he didn't, and we are where we are, and there comes a point where the wall-to-wall news coverage is simply adding oil to the fire and serves only to encourage the next effing radical quietly preparing another nail bomb in a lock-up garage somewhere to get out there and generate even bigger headlines.
Naturally, we're hoping that nobody gets hurt this year on the Isle of Man. But reality bites. Let's try and get over these things sooner rather than later.
Wallowing in misery ain't healthy.
Commemorative T-shirt available at £19.99
Or pick up a mug for £11.99
We're not really into scooters. You might have noticed. It's not that we've got anything against the small wheelers, you understand. Actually, we quite like "hairdryers" for style, convenience, practicality and features. They're cool and iconic, and we love all forms of mobility. It's just that we've never really had much to do with them.
However, we figure that there are a few scooter fans out there in Sumpland who are a little more passionate about modmobiles. And it happens to be the 70th anniversary of Vespa—which is why a new T-shirt has been commissioned to mark the occasion, and why we're happy to give it a little airplay.
The T-shirt is 95% cotton, with 5% elastane (whatever that is). On the front of the tee is an image of a Vespa GTS Scooter with contrasting blue highlights. On the sleeve there's a two-tone Vespa 70th Anniversary logo. The sizes are small to 3XL. And the price is £19.99.
There's also a ceramic mug on offer at £11.99. Both items are part of the Vespa Young Collection.
If you want to mark the moment or something, talk to your Vespa dealer or check the link below.
Saturday 15th July 2017
Birds Custard Factory, Brum
The headline says it all. Free tickets for everyone. That includes "shed based bike builders, custom engineers and all lovers of café racers, choppers and classic motorcycles."
All you need to do is go onto the Kickback website and register your interest. But if you simply turn up on the day, you'll be asked to pay £5— which is peanuts for a show such as this.
The event, officially called The Kickback Motorbike Show & Workshop Fair, takes place at the site of the old Bird's Custard Factory in Birmingham (look for the Gibb Street Warehouse at Digbeth, B9 4AA)
The date is Saturday 15th July 2017. The time is 10am to 5pm. Expect around 20 - 30 exhibitors promoting products for custom bike builders and engineers. Expect to see around 50 bikes on display, and there will be food, drinks and suchlike at the Factory. Allstyles Motorcycle Insurance is sponsoring the event. We don't fully understand the set-up there, but you'll figure it out on the day.
Got it, everyone?
Dozens of Triumphs, Husqvarnas, Bultacos and Montessas to sell
Mecum Auctions, Las Vegas USA, 1st to 3rd June 2017
See anything unusual about the Triumph T140V immediately above and below? We couldn't, but then we learned that it's a 1975 model. And that's the unusual bit. Essentially, it's a 1973 oil-in-frame Bonnie. But it finally rolled out of the factory in 1975 following an 18-month shutdown of the Meriden plant subsequent to the well-documented and legendary industrial dispute.
Almost no motorcycles were allowed to leave during that momentous period of technical and commercial stagnation. Instead, the bikes were being held hostage by the union kidnappers pending a ransom payment in the shape of a jobs guarantee (if that's the way you prefer to see it). Or, looked at a little differently, the Meriden heroes were simply flying the left wing flag and protecting the collective interests of the common man, etc.
▲ UPDATE: The T140 sold for $25,000 (£19,318)
Either way, this bike is as rare as a bloody steak, and it's part of the 100-strong Zimmerman Collection that will soon be up for grabs.
That would be the Zimmerman Brothers, Mark and Randy, who hail from Simi Valley in California, USA and currently boast around 300 bikes in their collection with particular emphasis on desert racers and "Hollywood Bikes"—i.e motorcycles that were owned by Steve McQueen, Bud Ekins, James Coburn and Lee Marvin.
▲ You get two celebs for the price of one with this 1965 Rickman Metisse 250cc Ducati. It seems that Bud Ekins and Von Dutch both owned it at some point. As raced condition. No estimate or reserve posted. UPDATE: The bike sold for $11,000 (£8,500)
▲ ... meanwhile this 1968 360cc Husky Sportsman was, apparently, owned by Bud Ekins alone. But if you're looking for period patina, forget it. It's showroom condition and antiseptically clean. UPDATE: The bike sold for $4,000 (£3,090)
Well now it seems that the Zimmermen want to reduce their collection and focus on hoarding International Championship race bikes. So Mecum Auctions has been called in to handle the sale which goes down between 1st and 3rd June 2017 at Las Vegas, Nevada.
Other delights include a range of Triumphs built between 1959 and 1982, plus a hoard of Husqvarnas, a brag of Bultacos, a gaggle of Greeves, a miscellany of Montessas, a caboodle of CZs, and numerous KTMs. Most, if not all the bikes, are highly restored.
Clearly, some blokes have way too many motorcycles, so we have to applaud this noble effort intended at disseminating the collection into the wider world. And if the Zimmermen walk away with suitcases full of cash, it's only fair and natural.
US actor and star of the 1980s Marlowe TV series has died
A lot of guys have played Raymond Chandler's much imitated fictional detective, Philip Marlowe. Humphrey Bogart. Dick Powell. Robert Mitchum. Elliott Gould. James Garner. James Caan. Philip Carey. And Robert Montgomery (to name just some of them). But we quite liked the way Powers Boothe, who has died, filled the shoes of the legendary American antidote to Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.
It was 1983 when the Marlowe TV series hit UK screens. Boothe was a new face and presence, on this side of the Atlantic anyway, and for a while there it looked like he might have been headed for major stardom.
The Marlowe TV series had all the classic ingredients including the snappy one-liners, the cynical and grizzled detectives, the sizzling heat of Los Angeles in the 1940s, sexy women in tight skirts, a wailing saxophone, plenty of dead bodies lying around, numerous men in oversized suits brandishing "gats" and, of course, one or two people named Riordan.
And Boothe had the looks, the build, the confidence and the cool to be the lynchpin of the series, never really excelling in performance, but never giving us reason to nod-off or switch channels and look for something ... else.
Powers Boothe was a Texan. As a young man he played football and studied drama and picked up a master's degree along the way. He carried a few Shakespearean roles, spent some notable time on Broadway, and was highly lauded for the way he played cult leader Jim Jones in a 1980 TV movie telling the grim and true story of the Guyana Tragedy in which 918 people died in a mass suicide.
In 1981 Boothe starred in Southern Comfort, a tale about a group of National Guardsmen on exercise in Louisiana who, much to their regret, antagonise the local Cajun people (Keith Carradine and Fred Ward also starred, and Ry Cooder handled the appropriate mood music).
In 1984 he starred in Red Dawn, a dark drama about a Soviet invasion of the USA leading to World War Three (also starring Charlie Sheen and the late Patrick Swayze).
Boothe made 29 movies and took roles in numerous TV series, including more recently Deadwood (2004 - 2006). However, modern audiences will perhaps remember him best as Gideon Malick in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (which we've never seen and probably won't get around to). Meanwhile, videogamers will know Powers Boothe, if only by his voice. But his name will elude most people. For many, he was the guy who was in that other film about ... well, you know the one ... we saw it a couple of weeks back and ...
Beyond that, he was one of those actors that rose quickly to a certain level, then bobbed around for a while (usually playing bad guys) before slowly rising in popularity and exposure and settling at a new level. But we remember him best as Philip Marlowe. That series hasn't aged well. Nevertheless, in its day it was very stylish and created the right ambience and atmosphere for Raymond Chandler's short stories. And Powers Boothe had sufficient screen presence and gravitas to carry it off.
He married his childhood sweetheart in 1969, and she survives him. If you get the chance, look for the Marlowe series. It's never too late to discover an old movie star.
Powers Boothe was 68 years old.
Free accident response course
London Fire Brigade initiative
We reported on this in November 2015. It's called the Biker Down! scheme, the idea being to educate fellow bikers on what to do when they chance upon a motorcycle accident—and bikers are generally thought to be one of the first group of people to pay much attention to another rider lying down on the road with a motorcycle on its side and leaking fluids.
We should explain that the scheme was really aimed at bikers in London. It followed a sudden increase in the number of riders killed and injured in that region, so the London Fire Brigade (LFB) got behind this new training initiative and has no doubt helped in some way to reduce the accident numbers.
The upshot now is that the scheme has come around again, and there are 40 places on offer to anyone who gets their name down first. The venue will be South Norwood Fire Station (SE27 0QA). The dates and times aren't clear, but the "modules" will be spread over various small-group sessions.
If you participate, you'll be given an Immediate Aid Kit to stash on your bike, and you'll get a certificate of attendance. More importantly, you might get to save someone's life.
The scheme, incidentally, is also backed by the London Ambulance Service, The Metropolitan Police, and Transport for London (TfL). The good news is that, a few unwanted spikes notwithstanding, motorcycle casualties are headed the right way. But the numbers can always be better, and the first few minutes after an accident can, of course, be crucial.
See Sump Motorcycle News November 2015.
Biker Down website
Win a custom Hog, and customise it a little more for free
Test ride a bike between 8th May 2017 and 30th June 2017
Harley-Davidson has issued details of another test-ride offer, this time relating to its Dark Custom range of motorcycles. The idea, as ever, is straightforward enough. Check the Dark Custom link further below. Complete the required registration fields. Select the bike of your choice to test ride. Go into a HD dealer. Present your riding licence and other forms of required ID. Skin up. Lid up. Hope aboard the waiting bike. Ride it. Enjoy it. Try not to drop it. Return to the dealer.
Your name and details will automatically go into an electronic hat, or maybe a real hat, or helmet, and someone in the UK will win a Dark Custom motorcycle plus £5,000-worth of custom accessories straight from the Harley bin. The offer started on 8th May 2017, and it finishes on 30th June 2017.
Eight models comprise the Dark Custom bike range. These include the Street 750, the Sportster Iron and the Fat Bob. As ever, the H-D press release is confusing, so we don't know if you get to pick your winning bike model, or whether you simply get what you're given (and to put it bluntly, we've got too much to do around here to waste time trying to get through to HD UK to find out). Our advice is to call your local dealer for the specifics. Either way, if you win, you're quids in.
In February 2017, Harley-Davidson announced its "Discover More" tour offer which rewarded test riders with a Great Lakes Tour (for two) in the USA plus a touring Hog to take home and cherish.
In October 2016 Harley-Davidson was offering test riders a "Follow the Sun" South African trip for two, plus heaps of cash to spend.
In September 2015, Harley-Davidson announced a Dark Custom test ride prize plus a USA trip.
This new offer comes at a time when Harley-Davidson sales are struggling (see here for some insight), and clearly the firm needs to engage more riders. And who knows? You might even get converted to the clan.
Dark Custom test ride link
Peter Henshaw's insight into airhead Beemers
Publisher's price: £12.99
Veloce Publishing has sent us a copy of its latest buyer's guide, this one relating to BMW Boxer twins built between 1969 - 1994 (excluding ST and GS models).
Check the link immediately below and you'll be whisked off to the appropriate page.
BMW Boxer twin buyer's guide
"Hard-hitting" Isle of Man messages on display
Spare a thought for rider Lewis Clark who died in 2015
"DON'TT CROSS THE LINE." That's the message from the Isle of Man Constabulary in the run up to the 2017 TT which takes place between 27th May 2017 and 9th June 2017. "It's a road, not a race track."
This year, you can expect to see these words (with accompanying images) plastered pretty much everywhere around the island, the intent naturally being to reprogram everyone's head and remind us all that even on the Isle of Man there are rules and laws, and if you break them you'll get a ... well, a fine, and maybe a good British telling-off.
▲ Lewis Clark, a British motorcyclist from Yorkshire, was killed in 2015. He was riding a Yamaha and was hit head-on by an overtaking German rider on a Ducati. Both men were killed. We could say something ironic or barbed about that, but this isn't the time or place. Just watch it out there.
While we naturally support adherence to the law (etc), and while we hope that no one does anything unwise or just plain stupid (also etc), it's odds-on that one or two folk are imminently going to come a cropper on the world's most famous race track and die an unforgiving death, probably as a result of a collision with an unforgiving piece of street furniture, a brick wall or another vehicle.
And the equally hard truth is that the road IS a race track, albeit a race track annually supplanted on a public highway, and one that's has been on-going for 97 years since 1907. In turn, that means it's a little unrealistic to expect anyone to see it differently. And if you've ridden X-number of miles and/or have crossed an ocean or two to visit the 221 square miles for the big event, are you really going to pootle around the hallowed tarmac at the posted speed limits?
Probably not. But you can't blame the Isle of Manners for wanting to have their cake and eat it. That's what we all want, after all. So we're obliged to suggest that you don't bite off more than you can chew. On the other hand, you also have to live for the moment—which segues neatly into the news item immediately below...
▲ According to UK motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson, bikers are just "organ donors". If so, these two look like they're maintaining some lovely internal and external bits for whoever's next in line. Vive la France!
Dubious attempt at highlighting the benefits of motorcycling
Live (or die) for the moment, we say
"Better to keep your mouth shut and let the world merely think you're a fool, than open it and remove all doubt." So goes the expression—and broadly speaking, it's something we happen to agree with it (not that we're exactly experts on keeping our traps shut, you understand).
However, we mention this piece of conventional wisdom because someone should perhaps have told the International Chamber of Automobiles and Motorcycles (CSIAM) which represents the manifold interests of manufacturers and importers of bikes, cars and buses in France. This august body has just launched a TV advertising campaign aimed at promoting motorcycling in the Gallic heartland, and that campaign has cited the following reasons for taking to a bike:
2. Ease of use
3. Safety features
Sounds good in principle, except that all this reads more like an advert for buying a car, not riding a bike. Or is that the cunning sub-text here?
Certainly, when we at Sump need to nip down the road for a pint of milk, it's a lot more convenient to grab the cheapo four-wheeled 115,000-mile heap of rust than get clobbered-up with a jacket, lid, gloves, boots and goggles, unlock the garage, unlock the bike, drag it out, then take off in whatever weather conditions greet us, hurtle down our muddy country lanes and risk getting creamed by an oncoming tractor and/or wrecking a £5,000-plus bike.
The frogs might have instead suggested something like:
1. Coolest way to shift your bones around town
2. Congestion busting for the urbanites
3. Lots of sex from impressionable young thangs
1. Pretend you're a 21st century techno-cowboy
2. Run with a pack of motorised hoodlums and ne'er-do-wells
3. Enjoy the aching thrill of early onset arthritis
... the point being that, given the fantastic comparative value of modern cars, the convenience, the on-board features, the safety cage, the handling, the braking, the load carrying advantage, the security, and the spare wheel, it's increasingly difficult to make a practical case for motorcycling. But we ride them anyway simply because, on the right day, on the right bike, on the right road, in the right light, with the right pillion, in the right mood, you get exactly the right buzz which you just can't get anywhere else.
▲ In this age of health & safety hysteria, how wise is it to display a kid on the back of a motorcycle for a bike sales campaign? Unwise? Very unwise? Or just plain stupid? Maybe someone could also stick a Moses basket on the luggage rack and go for the new mother demographic too.
Beyond that, the travelling advantage mostly lies with the bloody car, meaning that the best way to market bikes is probably simply to sell those perfect rare moments rather than the unsupportable promise of everyday convenience. But drawing attention to the inherent weaknesses of motorcycles is highly questionable and probably does more harm than good.
"Deux-roues, un moteur, que du bonheur! " is the French campaign message which, apparently, translates as "Two-wheelers, an engine, nothing but happiness!"
Amen to that, mes amies. Well, sort of...
National Motorcycle Museum Winter 2016 prize draw details
A 500cc DBD34 BSA Gold Star is now up for grabs
Question: Why the hell do we, twice each year, keep publishing details of the National Motorcycle Museum raffles? Answer: Because the NMM keeps offering such bloody great prizes.
For instance, the winner of the Winter 2016 raffle has just been named as Mr Roger Ward from Worksop, Notts. The spoils were a 2017 1200cc Triumph Thruxton R with a Track Racer Kit. His ticket number was 0594300—and we'd consider paying him a midnight visit, 'cept that he's gonna have this prize nailed down tightly somewhere (and in case anyone else has any cute ideas in that direction, we may or may not have lied about Worksop being his home town).
The second prize went to Mr Peter Baldasera (ticket number 0594300) who hails from somewhere else that we're being coy about, and he rode away with a 1954 500cc AJS Model 18.
Third prize went to Mr Paul Wright from Ipswich (ticket number 2154745) who wins a weekend hotel break for two. World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss drew the winning tickets at the Stafford Show on 23rd.
For the Summer 2017 raffle, the National Motorcycle Museum is offering the following:
A 1960 BSA DBD34 Gold Star Clubman 500cc motorcycle
A 1955 BSA C11G 250cc motorcycle
And a luxury "classic" weekend hotel break for two
You can decide for yourself which prize is first, second and third. The tickets cost £2 each, and they'll be distributed starting around May/June. But if you're afraid of missing out, you can contact the museum and make a fuss (01675 444123). And note that the draw will take place at this year's Motorcycle Live event at the NEC (November 2017).
So what are the odds in favour of picking the winning ticket on a two quid raffle stake? We don't know, but we reckon they're probably pretty good. And a tenner's outlay could make all the difference.
Normally, we wouldn't encourage gambling. But offering a sorted Goldie ain't exactly normal, is it?
Catweazel has died
This classic British actor was 93
In the UK, pretty much everyone "of a certain age" knew him best as "Catweazle", the 11th century wizard in the 1970-1971 children's TV series of the same name who falls into a lake somewhere in England and reappears in the year 1969 and befriends a young farm boy known as "Carrot". Cue all kinds of culture shock, techno-trauma, social misunderstandings, confusion, low drama and strange phrases.
This was prolific actor Geoffrey Bayldon who has died aged 93—and we don't mind admitting we're the biggest Catweazle fans in the universe. Sounds childish, we know. But most of us here at Sump are just big kids (that's why we still play with motorcycles), and Catweazle takes us right back to an age of something approaching innocence that we just can't seem to lay our hands on anymore. Beyond that, there's a delightful and terminally endearing pathos both in the Catweazle character and in Geoffrey Bayldon who was one of the great troopers of stage and theatre, and who always—but always—turned in a great, or even stellar, performance.
The Catweazle TV show was aired over two series, each comprising thirteen episodes. Supporting Bayldon was actor Robin Davies (1954 - 2010) as the aforementioned "Carrot", Neil McCarthy (1932 - 1985) as farmhand Sam, and of course Australian actor Charles "Bud" Tingwell (1923 - 2009) perhaps best known in the UK for playing the long-suffering Inspector Craddock in the four Miss Marple movies starring Margaret Rutherford (1892 - 1972).
Bayldon was born in Leeds. His mother was a teacher. His father was a tailor. He studied architecture before, after a wartime stint with the RAF based in Yorkshire, he turned to the theatre. Bayldon attended Laurence Olivier's Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol and throughout the late 1940s took on many minor roles, including various Shakespearean parts, before his first movie happened. That was The Stranger Left No Card, a 1952 murder romp about a man (Alan Badel) who was framed for a murder and eventually takes his revenge.
Geoffrey Bayldon's role was that of a hotel receptionist, a performance that brought him to the attention of film directors and producers, and gave him another 14 movies before the calendar turned the page to 1960.
▲ Geoffrey Bayldon as The Crowman in Worzel Gummidge. Worzel Gummidge (the talking scarecrow with multiple switchable heads who lived on Scatterbrook Farm) was created by Barbara Euphan Todd and was first published as a book in 1936. If you were the right age for Catweazle, you were a little old for this one. Nevertheless, Bayldon (and Jon Pertwee) put this children's TV series on the international map and entertained millions.
He appeared in the movie The Longest Day (1962), 55 Days At Peking (1963), King Rat (1965), To Sir with Love (1967), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1969), Casino Royale (1976), and dozens of other celluloid productions. In fact, we counted at least 175 films and TV dramas that carry Geoffrey Bayldon's name in the credits. We're talking about The Avengers; Rumpole of the Bailey; Play of the Month; Space 1999; Danger Man; The Chronicles of Narnia; Tales of the Unexpected and Last of the Summer Wine.
Horror, fantasy, historical, drama, adventure, crime, war or comedy; you pick the genre, Bayldon—with his trademark highly-strung and even strangulated throaty voice—played a part. He also appeared on the odd TV game show such as Fort Boyard (1998-2001) where he played "The Professor".
Interestingly, he was offered the part of the first Dr Who, but is reported to have rejected the role, largely because the series concept was too "out there", but also because it required him to play a much older man. Paradoxically, at that stage in his career, playing a geriatric was one of his peculiar talents. But it wasn't something he wanted to further cultivate.
However, when the Catweazel role came along, and with Dr Who a huge success, Bayldon realised that he'd missed a great opportunity and seized the chance of becoming a different kind of time lord.
He made Catweazel one of the most enchanting characters on TV, and he reprised elements of that chronologically-misplaced wizard when he played the Crowman in the children's TV series Worzel Gummidge acting alongside Jon Pertwee (who, interestingly, was the third Dr Who after William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton).
Geoffrey Bayldon was never one for sensation in his personal life. His was a world of dressing rooms, "green rooms" and greasepaint; a world in which you learned your lines, played your part, said your piece, and quietly exited the stage, probably headed for the pub with friends and fellow thespians.
Even today, after decades on stage and screen, people find it hard to put a name to the face that helped engrave the image Catweazel on our consciousnesses.
But we remember him by name and nature, and we're betting that thousands of you Sumpsters remember him too—and if you want to count yourself among his fans, the queue starts right behind us.
Geoffrey Bayldon was still acting up until 2010 when a forced retirement beckoned. He is survived by a brother.
Racing Brough-Superior is on the market again
Sotheby's is looking for big money at Italian auction
In October 2011, Bonhams sold "Moby Dick", one of the most famous Brough-Superiors in the world, for £210,500. That happened at the UK annual Stafford Show Sale and was some way short of the estimate which was posted as £240,000 - £280,000.
Well this motorcycle (image immediately above and immediately below) is going under the hammer again on Saturday 27th May 2017 courtesy of Sotheby's, and the estimate has been hiked to €500,000 - €700,000, which at today's exchange rate (11th May 2017), converts to around £421,000 - £589,000, plus change.
Has this bike really doubled its value over the past 6 to 7 years? It's hard to see how. But Sotheby's has put its name and reputation behind that figure, and in a week or so we'll know what we'll know.
We covered news of this bike before (check the links below). And beyond that, there's not much else to tell. Meanwhile, here are some of the other motorcycle lots in the collection:
1936 Brough-Superior SS100 (€180,000 - €250,000)
1933 SS80 De Luxe (€120,000 - €180,000)
1938 SS80 De Luxe (€100,000 - €150,000)
2011 Brough Superior SS100 "Baby Pendine" (€100,000 - €150,000)
1954 MV Agusta 125 Monoalbero Corsa (€40,000 - €70,000)
1974 MV Agusta 750S (€90,000 - €130,000)
1968 MV Agusta 860 Magni (€100,000 - €125,000)
2010 MV Agusta 500 3-Cilindri (€200,000 - €250,000)
1963 Norton Manx 30M (€50,000 - €70,000)
2014 Norton Domiracer (€45,000 - €55,000)
There are 20 motorcycle lots in total. The sale venue is Villa Erba at Lake Como, Italy. And we'll be watching closely to see which way the financial wind is blowing.
As you might expect, there's some other blue chip motorcycle hardware going on the block including a 1957 Gilera 500 4-Cilindri estimated at €380,000 - €450,000 (see image immediately above), and a 1968 Egli-Vincent Café Racer 1330 estimated at €50,000 - €70,000.
Moby Dick September 2011 (Sump Classic Bike News)
Moby Dick October 2011 (Sump Classic Bike News)
April 2017 UK motorcycle sales are the lowest this year
Honda's top of the league, Yamaha's second, Triumph's third
We don't usually pay too much attention to UK new motorcycle registrations. No special reason for it. It's just not a subject that generally lights our fuses, so we tend to focus on other stuff. But every once in a while we like to broaden our perspectives and take a gander at what's happening in the wider bike trade, and if you're a dealer in new motorcycles, the sales numbers aren't good.
In the first three months of this year, motorcycle registrations in the UK were successively down with March 2017 total sales pegged at 14,531 units. That's 2,103 fewer bikes than in March 2016 (16,634 units).
The figures for April 2017 have now come in, and the nosedive is evidently ongoing. Total UK new bike registrations for last month were just 10,365 units. That compares to April 2016's figure of 12,343.
In other words, the first four months of 2017 have seen new bike sales go down, down, down and down again (when compared to the same period last year) which comes as a huge disappointment after the steady growth witnessed over the closing months of 2016.
In more detail: April 2017 new bike sales
Note: the numbers in brackets (immediately below) represent March 2017 sales. Remember too that March invariably has significantly higher numbers than other months because (a) the British "riding season" begins, and (b) the new number plates are released (and released again in September).
Honda was the top-selling brand at 2,335 units (March 2017: 2,904)
Yamaha flogged 1,414 bikes (March 2017: 1,666)
Triumph sold 980 units (March 2017: 1,539)
BMW off-loaded 902 bikes (March 2017: 2,101)
Kawasaki sold 767 bikes (March 2017: 1,156)
Harley-Davidson sold 479 bikes (March 2017: 798)
Moped sales in April 2017 were down to 540 units (597 for March 2017, and 728 for April 2016). All engine capacity bands were, in fact, down in April 2017 (when compared to April 2016) except for 651-1,000cc machines which were up 8.7 percent. All styles of bikes fell (adventure, sports, custom, etc).
It's not possible to draw any firm conclusions from these stats. There are all kinds of subtle, and not so subtle factors at play including the UK exit from the EC, the switch from Euro3 to Euro4 emissions regulations (which has arguably deterred some buyers from making a purchase until the smoke clears—pun intended), and of course there's the general rationalisation of stock, availability of models and so on.
But at a pinch, you could argue that what we're seeing is more evidence of increased wealth polarisation in the UK with the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer, which is the general (and increasingly disturbing) trend these days. Except that by that reckoning, Harley-Davidson should be doing much better. So we're probably talking nonsense.
A small ray of good news for Triumph fans is that Hinckley sales were up 3.7 percent in April 2017 (980 units) when compared to April 2016 (945 units). Here is some more detail on that:
April 2017 - April 2016 market leader comparison
Honda sold 2,335 bikes in April 2017 (2,109 in April 2016)
Yamaha sold 1,414 bikes in April 2017 (1,732 in 2016).
BMW sold 902 bikes in April 2017 (807 in April 2016).
Kawasaki sold 767 bikes in April 2017 (753 in April 2016).
Harley-Davidson sold 479 bikes in April 2017 (753 in April 2016)
Confused by all this? We are. A little. Unless you're used to handling and juggling stats, it just gets blurry after a bit. But Honda, Triumph, BMW and Kawasaki are broadly headed the right way. Yamaha is losing ground. Harley-Davidson is going to be banging some heads. And Piaggio, incidentally, will be lining some people up against the wall.
Another ray of good news for Triumph is that the firm's new Bonneville Bobber is doing well and sold 129 units in March 2017. Might not sound very impressive. But it's still a new bike, and 129 units represents around £1.2 million for Hinckley. And that ain't bad for a pretty divisive single-seater factory custom that's up against some pretty stiff competition in the Triumph stable.
Kinks frontman is to sell his classic upmarket wheels
Chances are he doesn't need the cash
Ray Davies is a minor God. Anyone who disagrees with that statement can go and stand in the corner until further notice. This is the man who wrote Waterloo Sunset (arguably the greatest pop song ever recorded); the man who gave us Sunny Afternoon, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Victoria, Dead End Street, See My Friends, Autumn Almanac, David Watts, You Really Got Me, All Day and All of the Night, A Well Respected Man and so many others.
His was one of the key musical voices of London in the 1960s, a man whose social conscience and rhythmic command has influenced generations of musicians, a man whose songs have been covered thousands of times by professionals and amateurs, a man who's still rarely off the radio—and apparently a man with a pretty good right hook when it came to his regular public fisticuffs with brother Dave.
Well apparently, Davies' 1960 Bentley S2 is up for grabs come 13th May 2017, and Silverstone Auctions is wielding the hammer. Davies bought the car in 1970, and for a while was ferried around in it by his [then] wife before the vehicle went into long term storage. In fact, he never drove it, partly because he didn't pass his driving test until he was in his forties.
What makes this vehicle interesting, aside from the fact that an S2 is a pretty cool set of wheels in its own right (albeit not as cool as the S2 Flying Spur), is the fact that Davies claims to have penned his song Apeman in the back of that Bentley (and possibly one or two other tunes).
Which means that if you're a fan of the Kinks (and is there anyone on the planet who isn't?), and if you've got all the vinyl, the plastic, the posters, the "unauthorised autobiography" and the autographs, you've just got to have this Bentley.
Here's what Davies (actually Sir Ray Davies, pictured above in the trendy gear-fab coat of many colours) has to say about the car:
"After the success of Lola, I was persuaded by my family to invest in a big car, which was unusual for me because I did not drive.
"However, I succumbed to the pressure and purchased a second-hand Bentley from Hadleigh Green Garage in Barnet [North London], I was told that the car had belonged to George Greenfield, Enid Blyton’s agent. My (then) wife drove it on my behalf because as I previously mentioned, I was unable to drive.
"We lived in a little semi in Muswell Hill and the neighbours were in shock and awe when they saw this huge black Bentley drive up along the narrow shingle path to the house. We subsequently went on a family holiday in the Bentley to Cornwall. While on our holiday in Mullion, I sat in the back seat of the Bentley and wrote a follow up to Lola called Apeman on the Spanish guitar which I carried in the back.
"The Kinks used it in a photo shoot for the Preservation album, and it still exists in some old black and white footage of us posing as gangsters outside KONK studios.
"When I moved to Surrey in the 1970s, the car came down with me. I still could not drive, and I was forty-four before I tried for my licence. It was occasionally taken out for special events like weddings and family outings. The Kinks took it on the road in England but the fans started writing on the car with lipstick and our (then) manager Ken Jones promptly retired my car to the garage."
Silverstone Auctions say that the vehicle (registration 578 HYU) will need some restoration work, which we think is a sacrilege on par with, say, re-mastering any of the Kinks' hits for the benefit of 21st century ears. Some things should be left exactly as you found them. Are we right?
That aside, the estimate for this 6.2 litre V8 with "adequate performance" is £25,000 - £30,000, and that's nothing compared to Davies' musicality and poetry which is all but priceless.
Kinks fans arise, etc.
Santa Pod is the venue
Second time out for this racing and show weekend
Mortons Media Group (publishers of Old Bike Mart and The Classic Motorcycle, etc) has sent us details of its Race, Rock'n'Ride event which comes up in a week or so (check the above date).
The venue is Santa Pod Raceway which is located at Podington on the Bedfordshire/Northamptonshire county border, and it's the second time this shindig has been organised (2016 being the first).
The fun and games, such as they are, include the following:
● ACU Drag Bike Championships
● Run What Ya Brung competitions
● A Custom Show (in association with Back Street Heroes magazine)
● Scooters come to Santa Pod (you can figure out that one)
● Eric the Rocket Man (sounds like a recipe for disaster)
● Classic Racer Grand Prix Paddock
● New riders can Get On! (designed to introduce newcomers to biking)
● Stunt shows
● Live music from Limehouse Lizzy (Thin Lizzy tribute band)
Sounds like a pretty fair way to spend a day or two. And naturally, there will be food, drinks, the usual "rest" facilities, plenty of lovely hydrocarbons and one hell of a bloody racket. Tip: consider bringing some ear plugs.
You can buy discounted advance weekend tickets until Friday, May 12 2017. The price is £23 which includes show entry, camping and admission to the live evening entertainment. Thirty quid will get you (upon arrival) a weekend pass. Advance day tickets are available for £13 per person, or £20 on the gate.
Don't say you haven't been told.
H&H is preparing to offload 34 "barn find" bikes
The National Motorcycle Museum is the venue
Thirty-four motorcycles from a single seller are going under the auction hammer on 2nd June 2017 at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull. H&H are the auctioneers (now operating from their new and permanent auction venue). The 34 bikes come courtesy of the Home Farm Collection from Berkshire.
Some of the motorcycles are pushing 100 years old. The ensemble includes the 1934 350cc Humber sidevalve single and the 1928 494cc Triumph Model NP, also a sidevalve single (see images immediately below). We've featured them here for no special reason except to say that they're fairly representative of the collection.
Humber, founded by Thomas Humber in 1887, began as a bicycle manufacturer. The company built its first motorcycle in 1896. Early Humber bikes were produced by Cleckheaton, Yorkshire-based Phelon & Moore (P&M), famous for the legendary Panther big slopers. But commercial disagreements led to the end of any long term manufacturing agreement, and P&M and Humber soon went their separate ways.
Humber also built flat twins, V-twins, three-wheelers and four-wheeled motorcars, but by 1929 the world economy was headed the wrong way and as far as motorcycles were concerned, the firm rationalised its interests and called it a day. The bicycle side of the business, incidentally, was acquired by Raleigh. Humber cars continued until 1976.
The (nominally) 500cc Triumph Model NP (immediately below) was derived from the Model N which in turn, in the Triumph style, followed the Model P; a ruthlessly cost-cutting sidevalve being built, at one point, at a claimed 1,000 units per week. Features of the NP include a semi-automatic oil pump, a Webb girder fork, a three-speed gearbox and, naturally by then, all chain drive. The price was around £43.
We've scoured H&H's wider auction details, and there's really not a lot more to tell here—which is H&H's cue to up its game and supply a little more information for the buying public, especially when the sale is less than four weeks away.
For details of the top lot at this sale (a 1928 Indian 401), check our H&H is now consigning story on the link you've just passed.
Mobile phone signal-screening idea
Prototype device could be fundamentally flawed...
Michael Faraday, one of the "fathers of electricity" invented the Faraday Cage back in 1836. The idea is simple enough. A Faraday Cage is a mesh screen, cage or box designed to block electromagnetic radiation. It can also shield against electrical currents and charges such as lightning strikes—which is why, in a lightning storm, you're best advised to stay inside your Faraday-car (as opposed to climbing out and getting drenched; unless, that is, you're parked under an old tree or something, in which case you might want to relocate poste haste).
What's happened recently is that Japanese car giant Nissan has effectively built a Faraday Cage in the glove compartment of its Juke crossover vehicle, the intention being to block incoming mobile phone signals and thereby prevent the driver from being distracted on the move.
The firm calls this technology (cunningly enough) Signal Shield, but it's not clear when the prototype device or cage or whatever will roll off the production line. However, what's bothering us is (a) why Nissan feels that any mobile phone obsessed driver is going to actually stuff the phone in the idiot box as opposed to keeping it on his/her lap, and (b) why Nissan doesn't simply turn the entire vehicle into a Faraday Cage and have done with it.
▲ The Nissan Juke. The company wants to deter mobile phone use on the move with a glove box Faraday Cage. But until they build cars with a total mobile phone blocker system—except, perhaps, for emergency calls—we'll continue to treat all-comers with suspicion. How about you?
For years, here at Sump we've been fantasising about inventing a long range mobile phone zapper that clamps to a pair of motorcycle handlebars and ... well, pretty much zaps all surrounding signals thereby turning the roads into phone free zones, which was pretty much what they used to be up until the 1990s, or thereabouts.
Trouble is, we haven't got the brains for that kind of sophisticated technology, so we're inviting someone or anyone to set to work on it. Meanwhile, if you spot any such devices on the market, pass the word and we'll spread it further.
The recent UK mobile phone penalty hike on 1st March 2017 (a £200 fine and 6 points on your licence) might well help deter some of the small-time offenders, but the really hardcore drivers simply won't stop doing what they do until something stops 'em.
Cafe Race Collection of leather jackets
Submariner's Merino sweater for rockers
We're shamelessly plugging this site, and we ain't even been paid, cajoled, hypnotised, voodooed, drugged, blackmailed or threatened. But we confess that we know Kasey at Goldtop (a little anyway), and we've got a pair of his fleece lined gauntlets that we reviewed some time ago and wear regularly.
This plug is simply because we haven't checked him out for about six months, and we see that he's got some interesting and desirable stuff on offer that's worth sharing.
The Cafe Race Collection (image immediately above) isn't exactly new. However, plenty of you guys and gals probably haven't seen it, so get those peepers open, please.
The jacket on the left is the "1959". The middle item is the 617 (like the RAF "bouncing bomb" Squadron). The one on the right is the "Easy Rider '72". All retail at £289, which suggests that these are not premium quality garments—but they ain't Primark stuff either, and we trust Kasey to provide a suitable product fit for purpose and ticketed accordingly.
What's also grabbed our attention is the Merino Wool Submariner Sweater that's on offer for £79.99. We haven't seen or handled this item let alone tried one for size. But we're advised that it's made in England from 100% British Merino wool and, as such, isn't itchy like most of the other woollen clobber on the market.
It's fairly common knowledge that WW2 submariners and other navy seamen habitually wore Merino sweaters for warmth, comfort and durability. Post war, surplus items (like a lot of other items of military clothing) were bought by motorcyclists, and these sweaters became part of the rocker uniform, such as it is.
The colour is ecru. A 28-day returns policy is offered. And Goldtop will give you a one year guarantee. Talk to Kasey for more info and check his site.
Indian court orders compensation for RE owner
New adventure bike quality-control under scrutiny
According to Royal Enfield UK, the 411cc SOHC single cylinder Himalayan adventure bike is coming to the UK this year (2017). That's fairly common knowledge, and that's both good and bad for Enfield fans and the company as a whole. It's good because this much hyped motorcycle has already earned a small army of aficionados in other markets (notably the Indian mainland) who love its style, performance and trailblazing pretensions. But it's bad because the firm has just been sued regarding 40 defects that, it was claimed, Royal Enfield had the opportunity to put right, and failed to do so.
RE owner and engineer M Puneeth reckons that pretty much from day one, his bike developed chronic technical problems. We're talking about a leaking carburettor, engine noises, gearbox issues, engine cutting out, muck in the fuel tank, and oil leaks. And there were other niggling faults too, some of which might be expected on a bike fresh from the box, and Puneeth returned to his dealer to have the problems put right under warranty.
Eventually, we understand, the bike was spending more time in the workshop than on the road, and RE was, it's claimed, less than willing to face up to its responsibilities—or, to some extent, even admit them.
The upshot was the Puneeth took the matter to an Indian court which found in his favour, and the 40 identified problems returned to him an unspecified compensation package.
Unwilling as we are to take such issues at face value, we scoped around the internet for a while to see what other riders are saying about the Himalayan, and the consensus appears to be that riders love the bike "in spirit", but are less than impressed with Royal Enfield's quality control and want to see some radical changes.
Note that there were questions over the build quality of the Himalayan from the moment RE released a video which, according to eagle-eyed observers, showed a footrest unexpectedly detaching itself and flying off on an adventure of its own. And now that the initial euphoria has evaporated, the complaints are coming in thick and fast.
But not yet in the UK. The bike was displayed in November 2015 at the NEC, and deliveries in the home market were expected "in the spring of 2017". We've searched Royal Enfield dealer sites in the UK to see exactly what they're promising, and the best we can find is that the new contender will arrive sometime in April or May with prices tentatively ranging between £3,999 and £4,494.
UK motorcycles will be required to meet the EU Euro 4 standard, so carburettors are out, and fuel injection is in. Also expect the bikes to be ABS equipped.
We're loath to write anything that might queer the pitch for British motorcycle dealers looking to turn a penny or two on this new Royal Enfield. Times are hard, and sales are sales. However, the news is also the news, and RE clearly needs to get a grip on the alleged issues before releasing the bikes for British consumption.
“After being tested for six days, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is reviewed to be the adventurer’s favourite for traversing the globes toughest terrains.
"The Royal Enfield Himalayan passes the test of riding through some of the toughest terrains of the world and emerges as something that is affordable and accessible.”
— Siddhartha Lal, Royal Enfield CEO
Our advice? If you like the look (and price) of the Himalayan, visit your RE dealer with an open mind (or as open as you can prise it) and ask a lot of questions about known faults and technical issues. It's worth mentioning that bikes built for the Indian and other overseas markets might well be subject to less scrutiny than those arriving on these shores (which would be a mistake given the nature of the internet). And we should add that so far there's been no official recall.
Meanwhile, Google around a little and see what you can find out. There might be more to this thing than meets the eye...
Sump 11th November 2017—RE Himalayan story
Sump 21st January 2017—RE Himalayan story
Replacement interior leather upholstery in various colours
£41.66 plus VAT
Davida has released details of these stylish helmet liner kits for the firm's Speedster v3 and Ninety 2 lids. The idea is simple enough. When you feel like changing your leather inner, you can upturn, unplug, pull out and replace with one of five colours: black, brown, ZNut brown, ROX blood red and white for the Speedster v3, and black, brown and ZNut brown for the Ninety 2. Those colour options might confuse at first, but you'll figure it out when you have to. It also looks like you can mix and match, so talk to Davida or your dealer for the coloursome details and check.
The v3 Speedster, by the way, is road legal. So if you're worried about the law pulling you up while you're wearing your old public enemy number one Speedster, you can now upgrade to law abiding citizen and get a little more out of your ride.
The Ninety 2 lid, as we understand it, doesn't claim to be road legal, but it does carry the appropriate certification telling us that it's been tested to the highest standards. And note that the "road legal" aspect might be no more than a technicality.
The point is, we trust these Davida lids as much as, or more than any other of their type. We've got one or two, and they ain't road legal, but we wear 'em anyway because life's too short to worry about it—and there ain't a copper in the country who's gonna make a serious issue about the EC or BS mark even if he/she noticed (or maybe you know different). However, we can't encourage you to also break the law because that would be illegal.
The suggested retail price for these lid kits is £41.66 plus VAT, and that's a pretty fair price for giving your crusty old helmet a new lease of life.