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.
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.
▲ ... 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.
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 April 2017.
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 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.