We haven't made any videos for a while, partly because of the weather, partly because we've been busy, and partly because we were drunk (busy being drunk and under the weather, that is). But it's okay now because we sobered up last week and dusted off the camera and went in search of something suitable to get a leg over.
Long-time Classic Bike dealer Phil Clarke had a couple of likely mounts in the shape of the 1915 Triumph Model H "Trusty" (above) and the 1966 BSA D7 Bantam (right). We couldn't decide which one to have our wicked way with, so we had a threesome (so to speak).
Anyway, both were great bikes, albeit for different reasons, and the videos are up on YouTube right now. So if you'd care to take a look, you might find a few minutes of relaxing diversion. Click the bike images, or hit the links below. YouTube will do the rest. Hope you like 'em. Meanwhile, we're heading back to the bottle ...
Triumph Model H
BSA Bantam D7
— Big End
Here's a sad tale, so get a hankie ready. The above bikes used to belong to Captain Maurice Seddon who, in his mid-eighties, is currently living in a nursing home in the Slough/Windsor area.
Many of you will either know, or know of, "The Captain". We briefly met him a few times way back in the 1980s when he was despatching around Central London on one (or both) of these much-modified 500cc BSA B33s.
Ex-army Maurice also eked out a living making and selling heated gloves and other electrically enhanced garments, and was always affable (if a bit left field) and ready to share a few words at the side of the road. He came from what used to be called "good blood", and from an early age was inventive, resourceful and energetic, and was always pushing boundaries.
For years, he ran a gas powered VW Beetle. He invented various electrical gizmos (that he neglected to patent). He had his house wired for 12-volts and ran his own wind powered generators with huge batteries in the cellar. And he gave talks on any number of subjects, most of which revolved around his special world view.
Words like eccentric are easy to bandy around, but we prefer to think of The Captain as a unique person living his life according to his own rules rather than toeing the party line.
Yes, this sounds like an obituary, and in a way we wish it was. We wish we could report that Captain Maurice Seddon came to grief in some kind of romanticised traffic accident and careered across Charing Cross Road, London to avoid being mashed by a juggernaut and died a sudden (and painless) death crashing through the window of one of those quaint antiquarian bookshops, ideally landing on the shelf dedicated to great British inventors.
But the truth is a little harder, not least the fact that Maurice's biking days are clearly done, and his bikes, which he loved, are up from grabs.
The BSAs were recently bought at a local auction. They're now up in Suffolk, and the asking price is £3000 each.
Andy Tiernan in Framlingham is the man to talk to. But he's thinking of hanging on to one of the machines, depending on which sells first.
Of course, the real value of these motorcycles, naturally, goes way beyond that. And it's silly getting sentimental about old machinery. But we ain't gonna let that stop us. If you buy one, be nice to it. Please.
Whatever else people might say about The Captain, he gave the world a lot of warmth and comfort.
— The Third Man
The bully-boy wasn't fit to be a copper, and there's little doubt in anyone's mind that he helped expedite an innocent man into his grave. But now he's been cleared of the manslaughter of London newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, 47, and has walked free.
Which was exactly what we figured would happen when the morons at the UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) brought the manslaughter charge. Even a casual study of the legal requirement for a successful conviction suggests that there wasn't much chance of success.
Yes, Harwood, backed by his armoured friends, pushed Tomlinson to the ground (after throwing his weight around at various people during the April 2009 London G20 protests). But it's hard to see that Harwood actually meant to kill anyone, or could reasonably have foreseen that his action would lead to death. And then there was no clear medical evidence that one thing directly led to another.
But there was more than enough evidence for a simple assault charge, which, okay, would probably have led to a slap on the wrist and very possibly even a short prison sentence (albeit suspended). However, manslaughter was an obvious non-starter, so bully boy Harwood now has nothing criminal set against his name. He's innocent, but we all know what he did.
And now we learn that he had a string of "unproven" complaints against him. We also learn that to avoid a disciplinary hearing, he resigned from the Metropolitan Police and subsequently joined the Sussex Boys. Later, he was re-recruited into the Met. Then, after the Tomlinson assault, he resigned again to avoid being disciplined. Like most bullies, he's also a coward.
But the manslaughter charge is the no-brainer.
A fix by the CPS? You can decide that for yourself. The incident, if nothing else, draws yet another red line under the fact that we need to keep a very close eye on the people charged with protecting us. We don't for a second support or condone the G20 rioters, but they weren't the only mob on the streets that day.
The Metropolitan Police have murdered enough innocent people as it is, and other British police forces haven't a significantly better record.
The next time you're looking for a new accessory for your classic heap, you might consider getting a helmet camera and using it every way you can, not least when you're pulled over at the side of the road for some minor traffic infringement, or when you see someone else in the Met's gunsights.
Who guards the guards? We do. If we're smart.
Founded by TF Watson in 1912, the same year the Titanic went down, the company is now 100 years old. But unlike the legendary-and-can't-stay-out-of-the-news "ill-fated luxury liner", Watsonian has navigated countless commercial icebergs, the Great Depression, a huge factory fire, and two world wars to be where it is today, which is the premier British sidecar manufacturer, and probably one of the best (or, at least, the most enduring) in the world.
Watsonian have celebratory plans afoot and will be laying it on thick by displaying historic sidecars including Eric Oliver's world championship winning Norton; the Brough outfit that starred in the hit 1970s sitcoms George and Mildred and Dad's Army; and a prototype Watsonian 1000cc V-twin motorcycle combination from 1950.
Isle of Man TT racers Dave Molyneux and Tim Reeves will bring their racing outfits, and Mick Boddice and sidecar speed record holder Norman Hyde will be there too.
Expect prizes and test rides and all the usual event attractions (camping, live band, bar). If you've got three wheels on your wagon, or just like to have a good time, get along to Stoneleigh Park on 18th-19th August 2012. If you don't know where that is, aim for Coventry and ask a policeman. If you can find one.
A weekend ticket is £10 in advance. It will cost £5 on the gate for a day ticket. Under 16s get in free.
Watsonian is a good, hardworking company that takes both business and pleasure very seriously. And this is, remember, 100 years of British manufacturing that's worth celebrating. Make a date if you can.
— Del Monte
We've been hearing a few grumbles this year about the VMCC's Banbury Run, not least the fact that many autojumblers had travelled hundreds of miles and were unceremoniously turned away on the day. Which, apparently, is true.
We don't usually repeat press releases verbatim. But on this occasion, we thought we'd let the VMCC tell it their way. This is what they said:
"Because of space restrictions in the hastily created hard standing areas the famous 'Banbury autojumble' was roughly half its normal size at 70 pitches. However the huge 130+ pitch jumble will be restored to its full size for 2013.
"The VMCC’s hard-working events team had to make some last minute re-organisation of the autojumble, the camping and the spectator car parking because of the weather, but on the big day, there was a ‘weather window’ for the 64th Banbury Run.
"Nearly 600 riders coaxed their pre-1931 machines out of the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon on to the byways of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire in groups of five starting at 10.00 am.
"It was a cold but dry morning, ideal weather conditions for elderly motor cycles, if not for the riders who undertook one of three different routes either timed or untimed.
"The ‘Banbury’ is the high-point of the year for many enthusiasts, the opportunity to ride a true ‘Vintage’ machine in the largest gathering of Veteran and Vintage machines in the world.
"After a day whiffling around quiet country lanes, tackling the famous ‘Sunrising’ Hill and paying their respects to the cross in the centre of Banbury, competitors were able to ravage the autojumble, admire the assembled machines – exchanging experiences and often picking up useful ideas for their own steeds. The site at Gaydon also offers the excellent facilities and attractions of the Heritage Motor Museum as a relaxing conclusion to a grand day out.
"Prior to the “big day” on Sunday during Sat 16th June the annual Bonhams Auction held in conjunction with the VMCC Banbury Run was another huge success with an un-restored Vincent Rapide heading up the prices at £31,050.
"Riding entry to the VMCC Banbury Run is available to VMCC Members only with entry forms for next year’s event will be available to download from the dedicated website www.banbury-run.co.uk or direct from VMCC HQ in early January 2013.
"Even with 600 entries competition for a place is fierce and it is essential to submit entries in good time to avoid disappointment.
"The VMCC Banbury Run is supported by Club partners Footman James Insurance Brokers Ltd & Bonhams Auctioneers."
— Sam 7
Fancy a T140J Silver Jubilee Triumph Bonneville? Well you're too late. Graeme Clark from Angus, Scotland. Graeme also had his eye on this and bought ticket no 498712 in the VMCC Jan-Jun 2012 raffle.
On 29th June his number came up and ... well, you can finish this sentence for yourself. Cool, huh?
The July-December 2012 raffle is now open. The first prize is a Laverda SF1 750cc. Tickets are £1 each. Talk to the VMCC if you want to order, but keep in mind that by law, they can't sell tickets to anyone outside of the UK.
— Girl Happy
We've been asked by Sump visitor Dr Ken German to remind motorcyclists that there are still hundreds of thousands of bogus V5Cs unaccounted for and expected to come into the market at an increased rate over the next few months.
Ken's a retired policeman, by the way, with long experience in tracking stolen vehicles. More recently, he's been lecturing to the police and insurance firms on motorcycling crime, and is also a Home Office consultant.
Here's the story: back in 2006, 2.2 million "blue" UK V5C vehicle registration documents, or "log books", were stolen. The documents carried a minor printing error and were due to be shredded. But—oh,oh—instead they went AWOL and have been coming into the market attached to cloned vehicles.
Since then, the UK government, via the DVLA, has been busy issuing replacement "red" V5Cs to 34 million British vehicle owners, and that programme should be completed around the end of this year, 2012.
What it means is that beyond that point, the old style "blue" log books will be past their "sell-by" date. Still usable, perhaps, but less credible. Therefore, the thieves might now try pushing those log books onto the market (attached to stolen vehicles, including bikes) before the game's up.
Sounds plausible to us. Therefore, if you're buying a vehicle over the next few months (in particular), you're advised to be extra vigilant.
Here are some V5C serial numbers to check:
BG9167501 to BG9190500 (22,999 serial numbers)
BG9190501 to BG9214000 (23,499 serial numbers)
BG8407501 to BG8431000 (23,499 serial numbers)
BG9282001 to BG9305000 (22,999 serial numbers)
BG8229501 to BG9999030 (1,769,529 serial numbers)
BI2305501 to BI2800000 (494,499 serial numbers)
Ken's advice is to take a genuine "red" V5C as a basis for comparison and/or check with these sites:
But you might also consider using your mobile phone to take a snapshot of the seller (with his permission) before you hand over thousands of pounds for whatever he's selling. Sounds extreme, we know. But these are hard times, and if we make it hard for the thieves to sell, it makes them a lot less keen to steal and cloned our bikes.
Of course, there are always plenty of straightforward forged V5Cs floating around. So stay as sharp as you can, and keep that phone handy.
Thanks for the reminder, Ken.
— Del Monte
The doors are closed, but the business is still open. The world famous custom bike firm trading from Bournemouth, Dorset, will now be trading exclusively online and focussing on its own products, plus one or two premium brands including accessories from US custom bike supremo, Arlen Ness.
Why? Various reasons. High overheads. Increased competition in the custom bike parts sector driving down prices, and profits. Fewer hours in the day. Fewer customers walking in the door. And all the other usual reasons why an established business contracts—or, at least, rationalises.
Said Mark Battistini: "Mostly, we want to spend more time promoting our own products rather than continue trying to compete on prices in a saturated marketplace. We're planning to develop our distribution network and grow into other markets."
Rikki and Dean Battastini started the world famous custom bike chop shop back in 1990. Dean, however, was killed in a bike accident five years ago. Battistinis will now be run by brothers Rikki and Mark, and Anthony Foy.
But what about the famous Battistini barbecues and open days?
"We won't be running those anymore," said Mark. "They were great fun in their time, but we'll be concentrating on developing other areas."
— Girl Happy
There was a time when John Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice and Roger Glover were fêted as musical Gods.
Founded in 1967, Hertfordshire-based Deep Purple was way up there with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and ELP and created some of the greatest rock albums on the planet including In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, Made in Japan, and Who Do We Think We Are (all of which we went out and bought and played to death).
If you were frequenting biker/greaser cafes or biker/greaser pubs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, or just twanging your first electric guitar in your poster-laden bedroom, Smoke on the Water (co-written by Lord) was loaded with one of those simple, but driving, riffs that would become forever etched into the sub-conscious (and banned in guitar shops). And there can't be many bikers of that era who haven't hummed along to songs such as Black Knight, Highway Star, Strange Kind of Woman and Demon's Eye.
The most influential rock band ever? Some guys think so. Certainly Deep Purple—with Lord's heavily distorted keyboard arpeggios fusing with Ritchie Blackmore's finger-blistering guitar leads—helped consolidate a semi-orchestral direction that saw rock and classical music collide and merge, and find approval in both camps.
Ian Gillan, who replaced the original lead singer Rod Evans, gave the world a vocal wail as distinctive as that of Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Rogers, and Lemmy. As a band, Deep Purple went through various line-ups, and split and reformed and "enjoyed" a succession of comeback tours. But the golden years are certainly 1970 to 1976 with Lord, Blackmore, Paice, Gillan and Glover at the helm.
As for Jon Lord personally, he was a studio musician on the Kink's You Really Got Me and The Flowerpot Men's Let's Go To San Francisco. He made a number of solo albums, spent a handful of years as a member of Whitesnake, and experimented with music the way the Rolling Stones and Beatles experimented with recreational drugs.
In more recent years, Deep Purple have become better associated with their 1968 hit, Hush (which was actually written by Joe South). But if you're looking for a prime example of Jon Lord's keyboard charisma coupled with Deep Purple's driving beat, go to YouTube and listen to the track Fireball from the 1971 album Fireball. If nothing else, it might help roll back a few years for a few precious minutes.
Jon Lord was 71.
It's a washout. Flooded. Sunk without trace. So don't go. Not until 2nd September 2012, anyway. That's the new date for Founders Day, as organised by the Taverners Section of the VMCC.
The shifted jet stream is the problem. It's already washed out a lot of British classic bike events, and will probably wash out a few more before the summer's over. In fact, we can't keep track of the cancellations, so if you're following our events page, we suggest you treat everything with caution.
However, this record-breaking wet weather spell is a real headache for event organisers because it takes a lot of time and effort to organise even the simplest bike show or autojumble, and plenty of events are going ahead regardless of the soggy elements. So don't automatically assume events will be cancelled.
But in the case of Founders Day, you can take it as gospel. It was scheduled for July 22nd 2012. But it's been moved to September 2nd.
— The Third Man
So okay, modern Royal Enfields aren't British bikes, and Sump is a British bike online magazine. But these machines get special dispensation because we think of them as honorary Brits. And so do the Americans quite possibly who have taken to the bikes like Texans to handguns (and with all those firearms out there, it's only natural that they'd want a few Bullets to go with 'em).
In fact, Royal Enfield sold 700 machines to the Yanks last year, and is expecting to ratchet that up to 800 bikes for 2012. That might not sound like huge numbers. But just hold onto your damn hat, cowboy, because at a time when other marques are reporting sharp falls in the showroom, and when the US economy is as shaky as Dean Martin's drinking hand, that growth is actually very significant.
Certainly Royal Enfield USA, which imports the bikes, is very happy with the trend and is ramping up its dealer network in anticipation of another gold rush. By the end of this year (2012), they expect to have dealers in all 50 states and are forecasting anything from 25-50 sales per dealer per annum.
Royal Enfield has, since 1995, been trying to consolidate its toehold on North America. But the California market, with its stricter emissions regulations (and filthy Los Angeles skies) has kept them out. That's changed however with the arrival of their 2009 fuel-injected models which have now broken into the promised land. And California is the richest (and most populous) state in the union, which means good pickings for Enfield.
The importers are seeing rising sales in numerous demographics and think they're onto a winner, hence all the big talk about these (relatively) little bikes. But we think that that's where the real mainstream bike growth is on both sides of the Atlantic. Never mind plastic scooters; real men want a proper hunk of medium-weight, simple, no-frills, four-stroke biking beef, and these slabs of rare Indian-built Enfields are sating a lot of appetites.
Take note Triumph.
Did Triumph miss an opportunity when it named this bike?
"Street Triple", after all, sounds (and looks) a little too much like a pint-sized "Speed Triple", which can only lead to model/sales confusion.
You'd think, therefore, that Hinckley would have worked harder to distinguish the two machines by giving the more diminutive offering a trenchant moniker.
Or maybe the firm got exactly what it wanted. Either way, on Saturday 14th July 2012 Triumph dealers across Britain are holding an open day and offering a 675 Street Triple as a competition prize.
To be in with a shot, you need to register your interest with your local Triumph dealer. There will also be a low-key celebration marking Triumph's 110th year in the bike building business. So bring a funny hat and a bottle of bubbly—and bring your driving licence if you plan on test-riding anything.
Meanwhile, Triumph Motorcycles Ltd might want a little nudge in the direction of its internet home page (eyes right).
Seems like they're still using an old bug-eyed Speed Triple as their header image, which might imply a lack of faith in the current product
As much as we prefer the looks of this bike over the 2012 model, you'd think that a progressive firm such as Triumph would want to stay up to the minute, wouldn't you?
Still, we're a classic website, and the bug-eyed Speed Triple is already a modern classic and the one that most people are going to remember.
— Girl Happy
Start talking about hub-centre steering bikes and sooner or later the name Difazio pops up. And that would be Jack Difazio who died in May 2012 aged 97.
He was born in 1914 in Catherine Street, Frome, Somerset and spent his life in or around the motorcycle trade—notwithstanding a WW2 stint with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) based in Dulwich, South London.
Jack Difazio grew up in his father's cycle and motorcycle shop, a business visited by none other than George Brough and T E Lawrence (of Arabia). In the South West of England, Difazio Motorcycles and BMW Boxers became almost synonymous. The business was inherited by Jack's son, Richard, who is now retired.
Jack Difazio was also a successful grasstrack racer and became a pioneer of the aforementioned hub-centre steered motorcycles, many of which are still giving sterling service around the world.
His funeral was attended by 80 friends and mourners.
— Del Monte
"Art is a lie that makes us realise truth." Pablo Picasso is credited with that one, and we don't know what the hell it means either. But if you say it fairly loudly to your wife/girlfriend/whoever as you stroll around the Tate or the Louvre, some eavesdroppers will think you're intellectual and cultured. No, seriously. We tried it. Works every time.
Anyway, we ain't about to call artist Martin Squires a liar, but he's told a few arty truths of his own in his time, and you can buy an assortment of them for just a fiver (and that's pounds sterling, not dollars, euros, shekels, groats or whatever).
Martin's marketing his porkies in the form of a sketchbook, and if you carry one of these around the Tate or the Louvre and pretend to draw in it (or just colour it in) who knows where it could lead?
The theme of the sketchbook is, unsurprisingly, motorcycles; 24 of them as captured by Martin's thoroughly dishonest pen at classic biking events around the UK over the past year or so. Printed on matt paper, 21cm wide by 15cm high, this is a limited edition run of 100.
The bikes are mostly pre-war iron including Indian, Velo, Humber and Wooler, but there's some later stuff in there too from Triumph, Norton and Rudge. Want to see more?
Okay. Check out Martin Squires' website and see for yourself how he can't half tell 'em. And that's the arty truth.
— Del Monte
Okay, let's cut to the chase. New pannier frames for the SE model Bonneville. Made in the UK. Welded steel. Easy fit. Relocating points for the rear indicators. Designed with Givi's input. Accepts Monokey hard luggage (21 or 36 litres). A Hyde rear carrier can be added. £148.80 per pair (including fittings and VAT). 01926 832345. Nuff said.
— Girl Happy
Hey, you with the A65. Yes, you. Lose some weight, will ya? That bike is really hurting what with all those extra pounds you've been piling on since Christmas. But it doesn't have to hurt quite so much; not if you talk to Burton Bike Bits and ask about their aluminium alloy complete clutch kit.
The stock BSA clutch set-up weighs oodles, but this one weighs nothing. In fact, it's so light that it would float away if it didn't have all those clutch plates and springs and whatnots inside.
It's a bolt-on hard anodised upgrade and will help tip the performance balance a little more in the right direction.
It's suitable for BSA A50/A65/A70 from 1966-72, and it can also be used as an upgrade for the 4 spring clutch on 1962-65 models (Replacing 68-3205 + 68-3206).
Best of all, it's made right here in God's own country (as opposed to Allah's own country, or Vahiguru's own country, or Chairman Mao's own bloody country).
The price is £357.60, a fifth of which goes straight to the exchequer in VAT. If you like what you see, and ain't too tight-fisted to look at a few pictures of the Queen, talk to Burton for more details on how to shed those pounds, fatty.
— The Third Man
It's been a while since Triumph has offered a bike in this class. The last Trophy was discontinued in 2004, and that left a large full fairing-shaped gap in the range—a gap that BMW, et al, was happy to plug.
But if Triumph has done its sums right, BMW (notably) are going to lose a lot of sales to this new Hinckley holiday hauler. It's bristling with high-tech stuff including fly-by-wire technology, traction control, Bluetooth functionality, electric suspension, ABS, tyre pressure monitoring, etc, etc (basically, all the stuff you don't really need to enjoy motorcycling). It's also got an adjustable screen and enough luggage to fill the Orient Express.
Gadgets aside, it weighs about the same as an aircraft carrier and looks tall enough to BASE jump from (maybe Triumph is just trying to send the world a message that tall guys go touring and short guys stay at home). But BMW has done okay flogging its Bavarian Blimps, so maybe these Titanic Triumphs are equally on the mark. Or is that "marque"?
The price is likely to be around £14,000 (which, coincidentally, is about the same as the equivalent German fare (RT1200 at around £13,700 without traction control or tyre pressure gizmos, or the even more gargantuan GT1600 at around £15,000).
But as much as we desperately want to see British manufacturing thrive, you couldn't give us one of these Trophys at gunpoint—although there's plenty of other stuff in the Triumph range that would find a happy home in the Sump stable.
The Trophy, however, is simply too big for our boots and would need a whole garage to itself. But Triumph has done okay up to now without our help, so who are you gonna believe?
Here are some numbers and facts to wrestle with:
• 1215cc triple
• 89lb.ft of torque at 6,450rpm
• Shaft drive
• 10,000 miles extended service interval
• 2 year unlimited mileage warranty
• Available from October 2012
We canvassed a few Triumph dealers who, it seems, know even less than we do about these bikes (and certainly have no info about the price). But they all (naturally) felt that BMW is going to feel a lot of pain with this one. And we certainly hope so.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in the Trophy, better spend a little time in the gym throwing some weights around before you take that test ride. It's a beast.
— Sam 7