It was due to take place on Sunday 24th March 2013, but at the eleventh hour, the 75th annual Pioneer Run from Epsom Down to Brighton, West Sussex was cancelled. Why? The great British weather.
Snow and ice on the route was considered to be simply too risky to the riders and spectators (and, no doubt, the bikes), and so the plug was pulled.
The Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club (SMCC), being the organisers, did try to contact the participants. But not everyone was notified in time which inevitably led to disappointment and frustration.
There has been a call to reschedule this pre-1915 veteran motorcycle event for later in the year, which we'd support, but this idea (for reasons that aren't clear) has been discounted.
Pioneer entrants for 2013 will, however, be eligible for re-entry next year at no cost (if they're still alive; and many are in failing health, take note), or they can donate their entry fee to the SMCC.
There's an irony here, of course, that a little snow and ice on the road has brought to a halt an event intended to celebrate the great pioneering spirit of yesteryear where motorcycling was seriously perilous, and where, it's said, the hardiness, stamina and resourcefulness of the rider was something to be marvelled at.
We're tempted to say, therefore, that the event should have gone ahead regardless leaving the riders to decide for themselves if they wanted to tackle the run (and we suspect that there were one of two who would have
happily accepted the risks—and maybe wouldn't have minded too much even if it had been the last thing they ever did).
But in an age of rampant litigation and personal liability politics where few can accept responsibility for their actions, maybe that's a little too simplistic. Of course, there was nothing to stop the riders simply taking off "unofficially" and completing the route regardless, but it wouldn't be the same. Or would it actually be more appropriate and in keeping with the spirit?
Either way, if you want to find out a little more about the run, you can download our Free Pioneer Run eBook which is available from the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club website. We published this a few years ago, but as you'll see, much (if not all) of the content is timeless.
Update: Ian McGill of the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club has been reported as saying that 34 riders did chance their arm on the ride, but it's unknown how many, if any, made it down to Madeira Drive in Brighton. Apparently, it's the first time the event has been stopped due to weather conditions.
— Sam 7
"After me, the flood". That's the English translation of the latin motto of 617 Squadron, the most famous bunch of flyers in the history of the RAF—and possibly the world.
On 16th-17th May 1943, this bunch of elite airmen undertook one of the most daring raids of the Second World War, codenamed Operation Chastise. The aim was to knock out the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams that were providing hydro-electric power for German factories in the Ruhr Valley. The weapon was the bouncing bomb, one of the most unlikely pieces of ordnance the world has ever seen.
Historians are still arguing about the merits of that raid, some claiming that in military terms, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be (pun intended).
But the fact is, the Dambusters pretty much did what they set out to do (albeit with the Germans fairly quickly restoring hydro-electric power and recommencing industrial production, and all of this at the expense of a huge loss of life—much of it allied POWS).
But the bouncing bomb also gave increased credibility to Barnes Wallis (designer of the Wellington bomber) and paved the way for his Tall Boy and Grand Slam earthquake bombs that sent huge shock waves from the Tirpitz, the U-boat pens at Brest and numerous other big ticket targets all the way to Berlin. Unquestionably, 617 and Barnes Wallis had an enormous impact (pun also intended) on the duration of the war.
Well this year, the 70th anniversary of that raid, will see a motorcycle ride take place from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire (where 617 was founded) to the Mohne Dam in Germany where participants will commemorate that audacious assault on the Nazi war machine.
It starts on "the morning" of 14th May (at Scampton) and culminates, appropriately enough, on 16th-17th May in Germany at the dams.
This is a charity ride, with the proceeds being split 80/20 between Help For Heroes (offering support for UK military personnel) and Motorcycle Outreach (which provides motorcycle transport for healthcare workers in third world countries).
Simon Dufton is the guy organising this event and recommends that interested riders need to get on board asap. We're also advised that entrants are expected to raise £250 and donate it via a dedicated online site (Virgin Money Giving).
Wreaths will be laid, and German bikers are invited to join in remembrance of the loss of life on both sides. The RAF, incidentally, are said to be supporting this event. But will there be an Avro Lancaster in the air on the day? We'll just have to wait and see.
No doubt many Sump visitors will consider this event tasteless and mawkish. We're not getting into that one, except to say that it is a charity ride, and British military personnel (whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of our current overseas military engagements) get precious little support as it is.
Len Paterson of the world famous Cylinder Head Shop in Hastings, East Sussex, is organising a memorial run for the late Father (Frederick) Graham Hullett.
Father Hullett, as many of you will be well aware, was the last of the vicars to run the 59 Club during the 1960s. He died on 5th December 2012 aged eighty.
In his National Service days, Hullett rode a G4 Matchless with the British Army in Germany. He was later also a regular participant in the legendary Dragon Rally and Elephant Rally; very much a "hands on" clergyman dedicated to both his spiritual and secular roles.
Len's hoping to see at least 100 cafe racers turn out on Saturday 4th May 2013 to lead the run—so you're invited whatever you ride.
The bikes will gather at 11.30am at the old 59 Club site in Paddington, West London. That's on the A404 under the A40 Westway Flyover.
The Dudley Arms pub is nearby, but there's also a very convenient cafe if you prefer to stay off the hard stuff (and we recommend you do if you're riding).
At 2.30am, the bikes will take off and head for Chelsea Bridge. A 1960s Routemaster bus will trundle along behind for anyone who'd like to attend but has mobility problems (charges/fares will apply). The organisers are also asking for anyone who can provide a pillion ride to make themselves known. If you can bring a spare lid, then please do so.
For more details of the run, talk to Len at firstname.lastname@example.org. But if you're looking for cylinder head work, for any machine, Len is also the guy to talk to. He's been at it for donkey's years and has some of the best equipment in the world (cheeky boy).
— Del Monte
Here's a cautionary tale for all of us in these cash-strapped times.
Businessman Alan Dykes, a convicted fraudster, has just received a
12-month prison sentence for hiding his vintage 1952 Jaguar XK120 behind a wall.
Dykes, 55, was convicted in 2011 of obtaining a money-transfer by deception. Investigators, trying to recoup the dosh, began the hunt for Dykes' assets and traced the Jag to a storage facility near Wimborne, Dorset.
Under oath, Dykes had pleaded poverty, and he subsequently incurred the wrath of the beak who handed down a year of porridge for telling porkies.
Whilst we can't condone any of the above offences, you gotta have a little sympathy for Dykes. The Jag was, after all, valued at around £90,000, and an XK120 is a prime slice of classic British beef served rare.
And he isn't the first person to go to such extremes in order to protect his toys and wealth. There are guys out there who'd kill you for simply touching their BSA C11 never mind confiscating their Brough.
The silly sod should have at least bricked up his assets off-shore where nobody can get at them—such as one of the banks in Cyprus which, in the current Euro crisis, can be opened only by safecrackers, Russian oligarchs and atom bombs.
Still, he'll be in good company and might even end up sharing a cell with disgraced 58-year old Tory-LibDem Cabinet minister Chris Huhne (ex LibDem MP for Eastleigh, Hants) who's just got eight months for getting his wife to take a speeding ticket for him.
She (Vicky Pryce) stitched him up a treat in revenge for Huhne's extra marital infidelity (tut-tut), and got the same sentence.
It took British justice ten years to catch up with Huhne, which is by no means a record for Her Majesty's judiciary.
See the "British justice for sale" story below.
— Sam 7
Here's a simple one. Eddie Presbury paints watercolours of classic bikes. Your bikes. He charges £40-£60, and he says that's as "cheap as chips". The last bag of chips we bought (on Thursday) cost around £1.50, which is a lot less than what Eddie charges for a painting. But that's okay. His prices sound reasonable to us (not that we can tell a Van Gogh from a Van Morrison, you understand).
His watercolours are around A4 size. Prints cost £20. Postage and packing is £2.50. And you can find more of his stuff on Google images and decide for yourself if he's any good. Type in Eddie Presbury.
He didn't tell us where in the world he was, but you can ask him yourself at: Presbury@aol.com
— Girl Happy
British Airways acquired Donington Hall when it subsumed British Midlands International (British Midlands Airways, or BMI) in October 2012, and Norton Motorcycles has just acquired it from British Airways.
The high-flying deal include around 25 acres of prime North West Leicestershire land, and, more significantly, Hastings House; a 45,000 square foot manufacturing facility.
Norton's CEO Stuart Garner said that the firm had outgrown its existing manufacturing base and were lucky to find a suitable property "less than a mile down the road".
Donington Hall was built in or around the year 1790. During World War Two it served as a prisoner of war camp from which Gunther Plüschow made the only successful escape (in either world war) from Britain to Germany.
Garner's Norton has in recent months received a lot of criticism for failed delivery of bikes and the slow return of deposits, and clearly there's been a lot of PR damage. But Garner is bullish about his plans for Norton, and the acquisition of Donington Hall, with all the cachet that accompanies it, can only be an asset when it comes to marketing one of the greatest brands in motorcycle history.
As for the name "Hastings House", hasn't it already acquired something of the mystique of "Meriden" or "Small Heath" or "Bracebridge Street"?
Or are we being a bit previous?
— Big End
The English Stephen King? People used to talk like that about English author James Herbert who died on 20th March 2013. And up to a point it's true. He wrote horror books and mystery tales and probed the supernatural. But his style was very different from King's.
At one point, way back in the seventies and eighties, you couldn't get on a London underground train without at least three people in each carriage sitting there with their nose buried in a copy of The Fog, The Rats, The Dark, The Survivor or Fluke.
Later, he penned Moon, Sepulchre and Portent, and showed a slightly different approach with works such as The Spear and The Secret of Crickley Hall. In total, he sold over 50 million books spread over 34 languages.
Herbert came from East London, attended a local Catholic Grammar School and later Hornsey College of Art. He spent some time working in advertising, then wrote his first novel in longhand which he quickly sold to a publisher.
After that, he wrote roughly one book each year, a few of which were made into movies or TV series.
Herbert often lamented the fact that he was labelled simply as a low-brow horror writer and not taken more seriously. Certainly, he was a moral writer and tackled human issues and fears that went beyond mere gratuitous blood and gore.
So why is he here on Sump's hallowed pages? That's simple. He's every bit a part of the English social landscape as the Norton Commando, the Ariel Square Four, the Beatles and the Jump Jet. And biking without a rich context is no kind of way to travel through life.
Moreover, plenty of you guys (and girls) grew up with this guy and probably still have a few copies of his books in your living room or in the loft. So okay, his output wasn't always to our taste, but he gave us the chills more than once and was worthy of the OBE he was awarded in 2010.
James Herbert wasn't simply a world class horror writer. He was a world class writer, full stop.
It was a pretty luck-lustre and flaccid March 2013 budget that's not going to do much to stimulate the UK economy. But a small treat for the classic vehicle community is the fact that the " road tax exempt date" is being shifted from 1972 to 1973.
That means that any vehicle manufactured (see footnote) before 1st January 1974 won't have to pay the government a penny in road tax (but will still be paying through the nose for all the stealth taxes).
The "1972" exemption was introduced in the 1990s. At the time, the "rolling" rule was that any vehicle over 25 years old will be road tax exempt. But the Labour Party changed that and made it a fixed cut-off date.
Now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has nudged the date forward another year, but there's no word yet on whether this will be a "rolling cut-off". Our guess is that it will roll. The Tories, after all, still haven't got a clue what to do with country. It looks clear that they're simply waiting for a golden asteroid to slam into the earth in some distant region that's still British territory (the Falkland Islands would probably suit them well). But until that happens, or until the next election, we can expect a slow trickle of treats such as the newly announced 1p cut in the price of pint of beer, the postponement of the 3p per litre fuel duty hike, and the personal tax allowance rise from £9,440 to £10,000 per annum for 2014 (for people born after 1948).
The change to the 1973 road tax cut-off date will start in April 2014. You can expect a small rise in the price of 1973 classic bikes.
Footnote: We've got various sources stating that the cut-off will actually apply to vehicles registered before 1st January 1974, as opposed to manufactured. But the convention with "historic" vehicles is to accept the manufactured date.
However, when it comes to vehicle taxation, the government has said:
To check your vehicle tax rate online you’ll need your vehicle details, including make, model and when it was registered:
- for cars registered before 1 March 2001 the rate of vehicle tax depends on its engine size
- the rate for cars registered on or after 1 March 2001 depends on CO2 emissions and fuel type (if this information isn’t available they’ll be taxed using the old system)
Vehicle tax rates for cars, motorcycles, light goods vehicles and trades licences are also shown in the vehicle tax rate tables.
Note: At the time of writing (23rd March 2013), the government's vehicle tax table shows the pre-2013 budget cut-off date for motorcycles, which refers to historic vehicles manufactured before 1st January 1973. This will no doubt change when the new rules kick in. But clearly, the government does switch between the date of registration, and the date of manufacture.
We'll update as and when necessary.
— Del Monte
As far as we know, these are a first for the T140D Bonnie Special.
The standard diameter for T140 cast iron discs is ten inches. Norman Hyde's design has the same diameter, so will suit your Lockheed 2-piston calipers, but feature stainless steel rotors floating on aluminium alloy centres.
The idea, naturally, is to improve both the feel and stopping power of your T140. Except that we always thought that plain cast iron was a better braking material, which (to us) means that the "floating" aspect might well be negated by using stainless steel to handle the required friction.
But what do we know? Norman Hyde was a development engineer for Meriden Triumph, and we're just a bunch of drunks and hooligans. So talk to him for the techy low down. At the very least, with this disc, you won't see any more rust on your rotors when you park your bike under a dripping tree.
Note that these discs (made here in the UK) won't fit all T140 Bonnevilles. They'll fit only the T140D Bonnie Specials with the cast alloy Lester wheels that were introduced in 1979.
Lester cast wheels have six-bolt hubs instead of the standard four-bolt/wire wheel configuration. And if you're rolling on the later Morris cast wheels, you've probably got a five-bolt pattern.
The price, you'll be interested to know, is £186, including VAT.
Meanwhile, if you're looking for a little more stopping power, Norman Hyde can supply a 12-inch T140D rotor with a spacer kit that will move your stock Lockheed caliper into the appropriate orbit. The price for that option is £238.90 including VAT.
And if you just want to improve the braking on your standard T140, Norman's got solutions for that too.
We're bound to say, incidentally, that if you're upgrading your braking, make sure you know exactly what you're doing and triple check everything for tightness, clearance and hydraulic integrity.
Stopping your Bonnie is a whole lot more important than starting it.
Call 01926 832345
Update: Sump visitor David Coveney reports owning a T140 with Lester wheels a few years ago with specially made floating discs. We were actually thinking that Norman Hyde's discs were perhaps the first time they had been made in "production" numbers for the T140D as opposed to custom built. But any more info on this is welcome.
— Big End
George Brough manufactured only ten of these bikes at his Hadyn Road, Nottingham factory, of which seven survive. Powered by a four-cylinder Austin Seven engine, this twin rear-wheeled, shaft-driven, water-cooled "tricycle" was built in 1932 and will be auctioned by H&H at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire on 17th April 2013.
Herbert Austin supplied the engines which were bored out from the standard 750cc to 800cc. All were fitted with aluminium alloy heads and aluminium alloy water pumps (as opposed to cast iron), and water cooling was retained. The standard Austin Seven gearbox (three forward, and one reverse) and driveline was also retained, hence the need for twin rear wheels. But there's no differential; just a straightforward bevel box. The proximity of the rear wheels to each other probably makes a differential redundant.
Starting is by push-button. Cruising speed is around 50-55mph, with not much headroom beyond that.
The BS4 was intended as a sidecar mount, but they were used in solo form—and, predictably, display some interesting handling characteristics. This example (Lot 36), as we understand it, has been retro-fitted with a 750cc Austin Seven engine or block.
The BS4 was built for a single season, and it wasn't a great seller. The last model found a buyer in 1934. The price in 1932 was around £188.
The registration number is: GW 7791. The frame number is: 4003. Significant documents are included.
The estimate is £220,000-£240,000, and this machine is currently headlining the sale. As such, a lot of international interest is expected.
Meanwhile, also up for grabs in the same Duxford auction is Lot 18, the 998cc 1949 Vincent Black Lightning pictured immediately above.
Despatched from Vincent's Stevenage, Hertfordshire factory on the 17th January of that year, this is the first Lightning ever built—and was built to go as far as possible in the shortest possible time.
Amal TT carburettors were fitted as standard, and the exhaust pipes were "straight through". To help keep the weight down, aluminium wheel rims were fitted (as opposed to the standard steel rims), plus alloy brake plates, dural footrest supports, and aluminium alloy mudguards.
The bike was sent to Buenos Aires, Argentina (a good market for Vincents) where it stayed until it was repatriated in the early 1990s. The vendor of this machine spent seven years restoring it.
The registration number is: DSJ 932. The frame number is: R2669. The engine number is: F10AB/1C/1320. The Vincent owners Club recognise this bike, and documents relating to its provenance are available. The estimate for this Lightning is £200,000-£220,000.
Pictures courtesy of H&H.
— The Third Man
Chris Grayling, Tory MP for Epsom & Ewell, wants to see British courts play a greater role in bringing the financial bacon back to Blighty.
Currently, the legal industry in the UK is worth around £20 billion, of which around £3.5 billion comes from exports—such as Russian oligarchs bringing their sordid, messy and sometimes murderous disputes into Her Majesty's High Courts. The Saudis, apparently, also rank British justice as the best in the world, and the Hondurans, the Africans, the Indians, and various other Far Eastern states agree.
Moreover, jobs in the UK legal profession help keep around 340,000 people in freshly powdered wigs, many of them Grayling's friends and fellow Tories.
Said 50-year old Grayling, "People all over the world know that for dispute resolution, you come to Britain [where] it's cheaper. It costs 15% less here than in the rest of Europe."
Ultimately, of course, everything is a commodity. But it rankles a little that the state of the UK economy is such that we now need to tout for business by prostituting the scales of justice and chasing ambulances around the world.
Additionally, in the wake of numerous high profile British judicial miscarriages over the past twenty or thirty years, maybe we'd be better employed sacking the morons at the Crown Prosecution Service, clawing back some judicial powers from the EC, and re-educating some of the more wayward elements of the British police.
It's worth noting too that Grayling, said to be the "attack dog" of the Conservative Party, was not so long ago involved in a Parliamentary expenses claim controversy that, fortunately for him, didn't get as far as the courts.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Grayling owns a home in Ashtead, Surrey which he bought for £680,000 in the year 2000. He also owns "other" buy-to-let flats within the London M25 orbital road area (Wimbledon, actually).
Nevertheless, he evidently still felt the need to claim more than £10,000 of taxpayer money to renovate a second home in Pimlico, London—a property situated a stone's throw from the House of Commons, and less than 17 miles from his main domicile. The mortgage interest payments on this property, incidentally, were also being drawn from the public purse.
We know that British MPs often work long and unsocial hours, and we recognise that they're not exactly overpaid at £65,000 per annum. But you'd think that Grayling, if nothing else, would have had more sense than to leave himself open to charges of fiddling the system and might have had enough dosh left in his landlord pockets at the end of a busy Commons session to take a cab home like everyone else.
He's since stopped claiming for the Pimlico bolt hole.
Meanwhile, if you're from overseas and need a time-served barrister to sort out your divorce, or illegal corporate takeover, or even a landlord dispute, come to London. When it comes to dodgy dealings and putting a fresh spin on the facts, we've got one or two characters around here who know a trick or two.
It can only be a matter of time before you'll get a High Court cashback deal and can claim loyalty card points.
Rule Britannia, huh?
According to Polaris Industries, which currently owns the Indian Motorcycle brand, this totally new engine—dubbed the Thunder Stroke 111—has been bench-tested for over one million miles and will be up and running in a brand new bike in 2014.
With 1819cc on tap, this two-valves per cylinder, triple-camshaft, air- and oil-cooled, 49-degree, pushrod V-twin was unveiled at Florida's Daytona Bike Week (which also saw the unveiling of a new Yamaha V-twin; see further below).
The new six-speed bike, when it appears, will unsurprisingly be trading heavily on Indian Motorcycle tradition and will arrive loaded (or even overloaded) with all the familiar classic design cues.
Snow mobile manufacturer Polaris, which owns Victory Motorcycles, bought the Indian name and rights in April 2011—except that various parties are still also claiming part ownership of the brand, which means that there might yet be legal challenges.
Regardless, Polaris is bullish about its ownership rights and appears to be pressing ahead with the Indian brand and is pouring millions into the project.
But is there room in the market for volume production of a new Indian? Current players include Harley-Davidson which has a huge and well-established dealer network around the world, not to mention well-developed models right down to the all-important "entry level" Sportsters.
Meanwhile, Polaris's own Victory brand has gained a solid toehold in the market, but doesn't carry the cachet of Harley-Davidson or Indian. Certainly, Polaris will be working hard to preserve and separate the identities of its two marques, which will be tricky. And expensive.
And Triumph is also fielding a range of bikes in the cruiser sector, not to mention the various offerings from Japan. It's a particularly tough market, and Indian will be aiming its new engine and bike at the blue chip end.
Given the brand's track record in recent years, it's hard to see how this project is going to go more than a few rounds of limited production machines. But then again, Polaris is a huge firm with long experience marketing its products around the world. It's certainly got the muscle to take on Harley-Davidson. But has it got the stamina?
Indian's rocky commercial timeline
1901: Indian Motocycle Company founded in 1901 in Springfield, Mass, USA by George M. Hendee and Carl Oscar Hedstrom (note correct company spelling of "Motocycle")
1953: Indian files for bankruptcy
1963: Floyd Clymer adopts the Indian name and re-brands various imports
1970: Floyd Clymer dies. Widow sells trademark to Alan Newman, a Los Angeles attorney
1977: Newman's company folds. Indian trademark passes through various interested parties including Wayne Baughman (Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing, New Mexico)
1991: Stellican Limited founded (private equity firm) founded by Stephen M Julius (who resurrected the legendary Chris Craft speedboat name)
1994: Wayne Baughman builds a prototype Indian (never saw production)
1998: Eller Industries acquires rights to the Indian name (January)
1998: Eller Industries loses Indian rights (December)
1998: Indian trademark acquired by a private investment group of nine firms (Indian Motorcycle Company of America)
1998: Victory Motorcycles launched by Polaris Industries
1999: New Indian Motorcycles developed by Indian Motorcycle Company of America
2003: Indian undergoes voluntary liquidation (September)
2004: Indian acquired by London-based Stellican Limited (July). Indian Motorcycle Company
2006: Indian motorcycle production restarted in Kings Mountain North Carolina
2011: Indian acquired by Polaris Industries (April)
2011: Indian production moved to Spirit Lake, Iowa
2013: Indian Thunder Stroke 111 displayed at Daytona Bike Week
— Del Monte
Actually, it looks more like Yamaha is gunning for Harley-Davidson with this Sportster clone. But Triumph, with its various Bonneville-based bikes and its current Thunderbird and Thunderbird Storm has made camp on much the same territory, and there's no doubt that one eye was kept on Hinckley when this bike was on the drawing board.
So what's the deal? Well, it's a 942cc (58 cubic inch), 60-degree, air-cooled, fuel-injected V-twin tipping the scales at 540lbs. It's got four valves per cylinder, pent roof combustion chambers, SOHCs, and cylinders with 9:1 compression ratios.
Yamaha launched this mean and moody mutha at Daytona Bike Week which kicked off last Friday 8th March 2013 and finishes on the 17th. But it's not available in Europe. Not yet, anyway. In the USA, however, the bike is actually branded not as a Yamaha but as a Star, and the firm has clearly put a lot of design effort into building this marque.
Features also include digital instrumentation, an LED tailight, belt final drive, and a 27-inch seat height (the Holy Grail of saddle altitudes). The low-key finish is intended to reflect the bad-ass design ethos which is easy to aspire to, but a lot harder to convert into real or contrived pseudo-antisocial currency.
It retails for around $8500 in the USA, which is about what you'd pay for a basic Triumph Bonneville or a basic Harley-Davidson Sportster, so pricing isn't likely to be an issue. Ultimately, it will come down to eye-appeal and branding, and certainly this bike has plenty of the former, if slightly less of the latter.
If Triumph produced this, we'd be foaming at the mouth. But alas, it's "just" a Yamaha, so objectivity is consigned to the pillion.
Should Harley-Davidson, then, be concerned? When you look at the Bolt on paper, you might be forgiven for thinking that yes, it's got all the right ingredients to kick a little Sportster ass. But Harley-Davidson has unmatched cruiser heritage, and nothing that Yamaha (or even Triumph) can do is likely to seriously impact on that street cred, not in this corner of the motorcycle market, anyway.
Yamaha will no doubt sell quite a few of these machines, and Triumph will no doubt sell a lot more of its own offerings. But Harley-Davidson, which in recent months has been clawing back sales, isn't likely to be quaking at the knees.
Still, this Yam looks like a pretty cool machine if you're into that kind of slightly laid-back, street-cruiser style, which we are. It ain't British, and it ain't classic (yet), but credit where credit is due, and all that. We wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen straddling one of these (tank needs a little work, though).
— Girl Happy
Take a look at the 2013 Bonneville SE (above) and it's easy to see why Triumph Motorcycles is still the best selling marque in the UK in the over-500cc class. Figures just released show that Triumph sold 7488 bikes in the home market in 2012 taking an impressive 19.4% share.
So okay, that's actually down slightly from the 2011 figures where Triumph sold 7841 units. But it's still a very credit-worthy performance in
a struggling economic climate where one or two of the other players appear to have all but given up. Triumph's development spending rose in the 2011/2012 period to £24million.
Overall, Triumph Motorcycles builds just shy of 50,000 bikes annually,
but this figure is set to rise considerably in the wake of the firm's recent
in-roads into various overseas territories including Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Russia.
Moreover Triumph's new Indian plant currently being built to produce the firm's new baby aimed at the sub-500cc market (a bike that's generally viewed as the new "Tiger Cub" or "Baby Bonnie") will see the firm go head to head with rival manufacturers in a market that it's so far avoided. Whatever the bike looks like, we've got little doubt that it will be a cracker and will find much favour right here in Blighty, if it ever comes into British dealerships.
Currently, worldwide big bike sales (over 500cc) has slipped to 690,000 units in 2012, down from 1,250,000 in 2008. But Triumph, underpinned by a fantastic range of bikes in all categories, plus world-class branding, plus world-class support, looks set to further increase its market share over the next few years.
But the big new cash cow, and perhaps the one to watch, is Brazil where Triumph is already established and busy selling CKD (Complete Knock Down) kits for local assembly and consumption. Brazil is rising rapidly, and with it so will Triumph's fortunes.
Buy British. Buy Triumph.
— The Third man