These 'boxes, according to Andover Norton, haven't been available as complete units since Commando production ended. But now they're back in stock.
The original drawings, we're told, were used, and these units will suit both 750cc and 850cc bikes. Moreover, the materials have been upgraded to modern specifications, which makes these gearboxes better than original.
Here are some parts numbers:
06-0543, Commando up to serial number 306590 (low 2nd Gear)
06-5103, Commando up to serial number 306591-on (higher 2nd gear)
06-5206, Commando 850 Mk3 gearbox
The price is £1690, plus VAT, and that's a lot of dosh in these troubling economic times. But assemblies such as these have a relatively small market, and they don't grow on trees. We think the price sounds very reasonable.
If you're serious about your Commando and ride it the way it was meant to be ridden, better not cheapskate on the transmission. When they go south at anything above low velocities, the result can really make your eyes water (don't ask us how we know that).
Telephone Andover Norton on: 01488 686816 or visit them at their website.
— The Third Man
It's nice to hear that David Cameron actually has an idea in his head. These days, he seems to spend most of his time bewailing the various troubles that the world is in and saying things like: "Someone needs to sort this out..." and "we need to do something about this..."
And lately, the things he wants someone to do something about are UK driving licences. Specifically, he wants to see the British Union flag, or the Royal Crest, or both, alongside the Euro logo.
British people (whoever the hell they are anymore), are said to be "proud of their national symbols", says Cameron, but he wants to consult us on whether there ought to be an opt-out for the additional Rule Britannia graphics, and whether the Scots and Welsh can have their own flags or symbols pasted on their licences.
No mention, as ever, of Northern Ireland.
In 2015, UK licences are due to be updated with microchips, and that, says Dave, will be the time to muck around with the flags and national symbols. But for our money, we'd be happy to get that Euro thingy completely off the plastic.
Better still (and being classic bikers in the broadest sense) we'd like to roll back the years and reintroduce the old style red British driving licence and pretend we're living back in an age that most of us couldn't wait to get out of.
But no one listens to us, least of all the prime minister who appears to be on a heavy Nationalistic binge at the moment what with the Diamond Jubilee, the imminent Olympic Games, and his recent inflammatory (with a capital Tory) comments to Argentine President, Cristina Kirchner.
Anyway, sooner or later HM Gov will be canvassing your views, and you might take the opportunity to remind them that the Franco-Germanic European experiment of forced integration and dissolution of National sovereignty hasn't turned out to be anything like it was all cracked up to be.
Put simply, tinkering with the licences are the least of our worries. Maybe we should just GET THE HELL OUT of the EC and instead heap some belated coals on the neglected bonfire of the British Commonwealth.
Non-EC Iceland, after all, appears to be doing very well these days with annual growth at around 4.5 percent just four years after their banking system collapsed, whilst here in Blighty we're back in the recession that we never really got out of.
True, Iceland is about as pally-pally with Brussels as it can get, and is also a member of the European Internal Market and is signed up to the Schengen Agreement. But the tiny, rocky, fishy, volcanic country of just 320,000 frozen souls hasn’t (yet) completely sold out and is doing well enough to repay its IMF loans ahead of schedule.
Draw your own conclusions.
That price includes buyers premium. But keep calm out there. This isn't a full-sized 1962 AJS-7R but a beautiful, pint-sized 1:4 scale model sold by Bonhams' at its sale of Collectors' Motorcycles, Motor Cars and Related Memorabilia & Spares at this year's (2012) Banbury Run.
The bike was built by Glen English (2003 FIM World Classic Champion, 2003 350/500 British National Classic Champion, 2000 Senior Classic Manx GP Winner, and Isle of Man TT competitor) and is number 30 of a limited edition run of 50.
It's fabricated from 400 parts and was sold with a perspex display case and a certificate of authenticity.
We still have trouble fixing a puncture, but some guys are not only accomplished racers but ace engineers too.
Classic stuff, huh?
— Sam 7
In case you missed it, from July 1st 2012 motorists, and motorcyclists, travelling in or through France are obliged to carry a breath test kit or face a fine of 11 euros (£9). Moreover, the kit must be approved to French standards, which means it must carry a blue NF logo (equivalent to our British Standards device).
Le Gendarmes have said that there will be a period of "grace" until November this year, but after that you'll be reaching into your wallet.
France has a pretty lousy alcohol related accident rate, and the French government thinks that it can mitigate the worst of the carnage if everyone self-regulates outside their favourite wine bar or restaurant.
Speaking for ourselves, when we've had a skin full, self-regulation is way down the list of priorities (after crawling from the gutter, trying to find the bike keys, and managing to press the carb tickler the requisite number of times).
That aside, the French have a lower legal alcohol limit of 50mg per 100mls of claret (ours is 80mg), and that means that even on the morning after the night before, you can feel as sober as a judge, but be as drunk as a skunk (legally speaking).
What with the new fluorescent bib/armband regulation (plus the requirement to carry a warning triangle, both parts of your driving licence, insurance certificate, and have a GB sticker or euro plate), is it any wonder that France has fallen way down the Sump list of MUST RE-VISIT countries, and is now in 119th place behind Kasakhstan, Uzbekistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo?
To ensure you've always got one handy, you ideally need to carry a couple of these alco-testers (currently priced on eBay at around a fiver a pair). But one is all the law requires. Make sure you also carry a spare set of bike keys in case the urge to ride on regardless is just too great.
If, on the other hand, you do manage to find yourself in France in an alcohol related traffic accident of your own foolish making, contact us immediately for our Do-it-Yourself Self Arrest Kit with Built In Kangaroo Court and Inflatable Prison.
On the other hand, Spain (via Portsmouth or Plymouth) is nice this time of the year.
Viva la Espana, etc.
Mike Penning, UK Road Safety Minister, is planning to hike the price of various fixed penalty notices from £60 to £90.
He's looking at offences including speeding, using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel, and failure to belt up.
Additionally, Mike wants to take the majority of careless driving offences away from the magistrates and apply fixed penalties to them too. Why? Lack of police resources probably, coupled with general cuts in public services (courts, prisons, Crown Prosecution Service, etc).
Therefore, under these new proposals, a minor careless driving offence would lead to a £90 fixed penalty, whereas a more serious offence will be dealt with by the courts in the traditional manner.
Interestingly, it shows that the government feels that failure to wear a seatbelt should carry the same penalty as driving like a twit. We don't agree, but we're not in the driving seat, politically speaking and otherwise.
At the moment, Penning is merely consulting with interested parties, road groups, safety fascists, etc. But that ends on 5th September 2012.
You can pretty much guarantee that the consultation is merely Her Majesty's Government paying lip-service to the hoi polloi and will go ahead with its plans, regardless. So if you generally fall into any of the above categories, put a few extra pennies in the piggy.
It's worth remembering, incidentally, that implicit in any fine is the fact that motoring fines, or any fines, can simply be viewed as charges. Therefore, if you don't mind paying the man, you can break the law as much as you can afford to.
For our money, we'd like to see careless driving offences be treated a little more seriously than a £90 fixed penalty, especially when that careless driving occurs within the vicinity of any of our bikes.
But as there's hardly anyone left to enforce the law one way or the other, it's a moot issue.
Cleveland, Excelsior, Harley-Davidson, Henderson, Indian and Reading. These classic, blue-chip, US motorcycling marques are just some of the machines that Bonhams will be auctioning at its two-day Quail Lodge Sale on August 16th 2012 at Carmel, California.
But if Yankee iron isn't to your taste, the auction also includes bikes from Ariel, Monark, Moto Guzzi, Motosacoche, New Imperial, Nimbus, Peugeot and Triumph.
Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) was a US fighter pilot who received the Congressional Medal of Honour for his exploits during World War One. He flew 300 combat hours and achieved 26 aerial victories. Post war, Fast Eddie, as he was known during his earlier motor racing days, founded the Rickenbacker Motor Company (1921-1928), and later bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He went on to become head honcho at Eastern Air Lines, and died aged 82.
But wait. None of the above mentioned bikes actually has much to do with Eddie Rickenbacker, the man. Not directly, anyway. That's because they form the collection amassed by a certain Norman Hobday—aka Henry Africa—who created the "Fern Bar" concept in 1970 in San Francisco (think fake Tiffany lamps and huge pot plants and yuppies singles).
Norman (who legally changed his name to Henry Africa after the bar he founded) was a great fan of Eddie Rickenbacker and later named a bar and grille after the fighter ace. To decorate this bar, Norman/Henry bought an antique Indian motorcycle, hung it on the wall, and soon realised that he'd caught a wave that drew in a lot of fresh blood. Other bikes followed, and eventually Norman/Henry ended up with 30 machines.
He died earlier this year (25th February 2012), which is where Bonhams stepped in to handle the two wheeled spoils of the estate.
The fate of the erstwhile Rickenbacker bar and grille isn’t known (and we’re too busy to check), but the bike collection is set to be split up and shipped all over the world. So if you want a part of the Norman Hobday/Henry Africa/Eddie Rickenbacker history, talk to Bonhams and register your interest.
— Girl Happy
... for technical excellence, actually. And Norton boss Stuart Garner is said to be chuffed to bits, not least because the firm, unlike in 2009, at least managed to qualify this year.
Runcorn-based Norton rider Ian "Mackers" Mackman was set to ride the SG1 (Stuart Garner 1?) in the 2012 Isle of Man Senior TT, but due to the much-reported adverse weather conditions, the race was cancelled.
Of course, some are saying that this bike wasn't a "real" Norton at all, anyway; that it was simply an RSV-V4 Aprilia lump in a Spondon frame with a Norton badge slapped on the tank (see April 2012 Sump). But we're staying out of it. If Garner says it's a Norton, who are we to argue?
The Motul Team Award, incidentally, was created last year (2011) to give the best TT team (in Motul's opinion) a good slap on the back. However, some might say that Norton really deserved a slap across the chops for not sorting out the engine timing issues before they landed on the island, but we're keeping out of that one too.
Twenty years ago, Steve Hislop piloted a Norton to victor in the Senior. Better luck next year, huh, Stuart?
— Del Monte
It's the 31st state in the US of A to do so, and it can only add fuel to the fire of discontentment still smouldering among many American bikers who demand the right to ride free in the "land of the free".
The repeal of the Michigan helmet law was signed into state statute this April (2012). But there are catches. A rider wishing to forego his or her lid has to be over 21 years of age; has to have passed a motorcycle safety test, or have been on the road for two years or more; and has to have at least $20,000 worth of medical insurance (and what are you really going to buy with that aside from a death certificate?).
Additionally, passengers must also have at least $20,000 of insurance cover.
The US riders rights organization, ABATE, has for decades been campaigning against the mandatory helmet law. Interestingly, it seems that Michigan introduced its helmet bill in 1967 to qualify for federal funding. But times have changed, and that requirement is no longer a prerequisite for a few extra federal sponduliks (read what you like into that).
The bill was sponsored by republican Phil Pavlov (St Clair, Michigan). Instructions have since been issued to the Michigan State Police advising them that they are not empowered to stop a helmetless motorcyclist purely to check compliance under the law. Neither is a rider required to carry proof of his entitlement to "ride free". Riding without a lid, in Michigan, is not a criminal offence but a civil infraction.
Numerous studies have suggested that US states that have repealed the helmet law have seen no rise in fatalities or in insurance costs for motorcyclists. But naturally, this claim has been challenged by the naysayers who feel it's their moral (and, more likely, financial) duty to demand that others adhere to their personal idea of safety on two wheels.
Here at Sump, we think the news is wonderful—not that any of us would care to ride lidless even if we knew how to. But that ain't the point. If you have the right to risk your life drinking, smoking, mountain climbing, surfing, cycling, and going into armed combat in various unsavoury corners of the planet, it seems only reasonable that you should have the right to set your own level of personal security on a motorcycle.
The day they repeal the helmet law here in the UK (and don't hold your breath), you'll know that the right to enjoy the "free and peaceful use of the Kings Highways", as enshrined in Magna Carta, has been restored.
Less than two years after Superbike magazine was acquired by Vitality Publishing, the troubled sportsbike rag is up for sale again.
IPC Media had struggled to make the title profitable, but finally flogged the problem to Vitality—who bought three other titles in the deal. But falling ad revenues and plummeting sales have now forced Vitality to call in the insolvency experts.
The firm's debts are said to be around £1million. Superbike's latest ABC figures are a little over 16,000 copies monthly, down from around the claimed 30,000 monthly sales in late 2010. In a contracting market, it's hard to see who's going to want this one. But as ever, it ain't over till it's over.
— Del Monte
The British government is asking medical and scientific instrument manufacturers to submit designs for the new "drugalysers" which have been earmarked for introduction by the end of this year (2012).
The first devices will be used in police stations where officers will be empowered to take a saliva test and check to see if any of a wide range of drugs has been used recently regardless of whether that usage can be shown to have impaired driving.
"Drug driving" will be a new offence that removes the requirement for police to prove that a driver was both "drugged and incapable" (as is the current legal position). Instead, it will be sufficient to show simply that a vehicle operator had been using drugs beyond a set level.
But what constitutes an illegal level, and exactly which drugs will come under the scope of the law, isn't clear. A panel of experts is going to decide that. But PM David Cameron had been quoted as saying: "We want to do for drug-driving what drink-driving laws have done for driving under the influence of alcohol."
By 2014, handheld devices will be available to the police to enable them to carry out roadside tests.
According to the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL), drugs were a factor in a quarter of motoring fatalities. But that statistic (take note) no doubt includes a large number of drug-fuelled people/revellers/pillheads/hippies who had simply wandered into the path of an oncoming vehicle, which means that TRRL figures are routinely "spun" by the government to bolster whatever propaganda it's currently espousing.
Regardless, Her Majesty's legislators are on the warpath with this particular aspect of the Crime and Courts Bill and has promised maximum sentences of up to six months in clink with a mandatory one year driving ban.
So if you're partial to the odd spliff, snort, toke or whatever, here's another reason to stay away from your wheels until it wears off, huh? Drugs are a victimless crime only until some other innocent so-and-so gets caught up in your nasty little habit.
— The Third man