Our spies at this year's Carole Nash Motorcycle Show at the NEC have reported that Transport Minister Mike Penning spent an hour and a half at the event and culminated his visit by ordering a new Triumph.
No details yet on which model tickled his fancy, but back in June this year he was spotted riding a Triumph Bonneville in the company of a bunch of Suzukis.
Penning, 53, Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead and an ex-Grenadier Guardsman, saw active service in Northern Ireland and also worked for a while as a firefighter in Essex. He includes rugby and motorcycling among his interests. Sounds like a bit of a Wild One to us, but the tale of Mike buying that Hinckley Triumph is yet to be confirmed. No doubt John Bloor's PR machine will circulate the word soon enough if it's true.
— Del Monte
The original Royal Enfield Fury was launched way back in 1959, of which just 200 were built—all of them destined for the USA. Being the smart, go-ahead firm that they are, Royal Enfield is about to reprise the model (or, at least, pay homage to it) with the new 2011 Fury to be unveiled at this year's Carole Nash Motorcycle Live Show at the NEC (November 27th 2010 - 5th December 2010).
Based on the fuel-injected single-cylinder 499cc Electra, and styled by Royal Enfield importer Watsonian Squire, the first bikes should appear in showrooms early in 2011. Two colours are on offer; black at £5500, and blue & white at £5895.
Details include, wider bars, a new aluminium top yoke, a chromed headlight, digital instruments, a glass fibre seat unit, chrome mini-indicators, a "discrete" tail light and—most notably—twin silencers.
We haven't seen the Fury up close, but from this distance it looks pretty good, and we can see it being a hit. You're also looking at 70mpg-plus with this bike, which is a significant selling point in this age of austerity.
We like it.
— Girl Happy
We'd always felt that Hinckley Triumph hadn't quite got the T100 Bonnie quite right, and now we're sure.
This creation (above and top) by Italian motorcycle designer Roberto Rossi is based around a 2003 Bonneville with a few dashes of Meriden mixed in along with a whole lotta urban attitood.
Called the Rivale (Italian for Rival), it's unlikely that Rossi plans to market these as kits. That doesn't appear to be his style, preferring instead to make bespoke motorcycles for the discerning cognoscenti. But we can already hear the imitators thundering down the street—and maybe even Hinckley will start to realise where they've gone wrong. It might happen.
— Del Monte
No, they're not exactly new, but they are amazingly cheap these days. A few months ago you might have paid fifty quid for one. Now they're on offer from as little as £5.99 (plus postage). But typical prices are currently around £10-£15.
Capable of both video images (1280 x 1024 AVI) and still images (720 x 480 jpeg), this thing recharges from the USB port of your computer and has impressive picture quality (in half decent light) with childishly simple operation (the two front buttons adjacent to the pinhole camera lens are all you need—the other buttons seem to serve no function).
We were recently given one to muck about with and have found a dozen uses such as recording mechanical problems on our classic bikes (for further analysis/puzzlement/emailing, etc); making stupid videos (on or off the bike); dictaphone (great sound reproduction); bit of amateur photography; bit of amateur pornography; recording suspicious characters in the street; stealing beauty; and generally being inventive and creative and nosy.
Aiming it take a little practice (half an hour or so). But it has a reasonably wide lens and gets the job done. You need to buy a micro SD card, and—take note—the instructions are often printed in Chinese. Should operate for around 1.5 hours or so depending on which SD card you fit.
As much as it pains us to recommend anything made in the Far Fast, or flogged on eBay, or high tech, these things work. So far. Handy and discreet, they're ideal when you know you're about to cross swords with officialdom and want to discreetly record who said what to who, etc.
— The Third Man
Up to 125 deaths and serious injuries each year could be cut if the white marking lines on Britain's highways and byways were better maintained—or so claims the Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) in their latest report on the state of UK roads.
The rectification cost-per-metre, they say, could be as little as £2.25, and the association draw attention the fact that 8 out of 10 of the "most deadly roads in the country" have "the worst markings" and in some cases "no markings at all".
Not having studied the minutiae of the report, we'll take them at their word. But it's worth keeping in mind that road accidents usually occur as a result of a multiplicity of problems, most of them coming down to driver/rider/pedestrian stupidity, carelessness. bloody-mindedness, cellphone usage, drink, drugs—and any number of other issues.
Moreover, "125 deaths and serious injuries" looks pretty damning on paper, but before you rush to judgement you have to (a) question deaths and injury statistics that are lumped together, and (b) ask what, for the purposes of this report, actually constitutes a serious injury, because the scope is often a lot wider and more colourful than you might think.
There's no question that UK roads are in a mess, which is why the underlying story here might be much more interesting; are we looking at significant and impending cuts to the road budget as part of the government's death-before-dishonour slash-and-burn economy drive?
Just in case we're right, better keep those brakes, lights and horns in tip-top condition. Road casualties are, in general, falling. But that doesn't mean there isn't a car, van, truck, bus, bike or even motorcycle out there with your name on it.
A (circa) 1926 600cc Indian Scout was the top lot at Bonhams' Cars, Bikes and Automobilia Harrogate sale yesterday (17th November 2010) selling for £16,560. Its estimate was £9000-£12,000.
Other sales include:
1936 BMW 500cc R5 at £10,925
1958 BSA 500cc Gold Star at £13,225
1919 Harley-Davidson 998cc Model F at £14,375
1964 DMW 249cc Deemster Police Motorcycle at 4,370.
Bonhams turned over £809,404 (overall) at the auction. The motorcycle section sold 79% by lot, and 86% by value to make £132,000.
— Girl Happy
They're too quiet. Zero emissions vehicles, that is. This fact was made abundantly clear last weekend (November 12th 2010) in Vancouver, British Columbia when the above 750kg battery powered two-man Zerotracer walloped a 50-year old Canadian cyclist fracturing two or more of his ribs.
The 'Tracer was taking part in an international race intended to promote so-called zero emissions vehicles (most of which simply dirty up the atmosphere somewhere other than wherever they happen to be).
But these vehicles, apparently, are different. The competing teams are first required to produce (by wind, solar or wave power) enough volts to theoretically circumnavigate the world in their creations. Next, they feed said volts into the national grids of their home countries thereby opening up an "account". That, they say, cancels out any electricity used when plugging in to the global mains on the various legs of the marathon.
Be that as it may, the race started in Geneva, Switzerland on August 16th 2010, and will probably finish when they run out of cyclists, or in January 2011 (whichever comes first).
"They were going too fast," said an eye/ear witness to the accident. "You couldn't hear them coming." Well we did. Years ago. Any motorcyclist, classic or otherwise, knows that silent vehicles (including pushbikes) are a special danger to the slow, the dull-witted, the old, the infirm, the hard-of-hearing, and anyone stupid enough to walk down the street wearing headphones or yabbering into a mobile phone without scoping for the next potential vehicular assault. Not for nothing is there the slogan: Noisy pipes save lives.
There will come the day when electric vehicles are required by law to herald their approach by broadcasting engine noise. Think of it as a kind of aural Red Flag Act.
— Sam 7
Latest figures show that London bus drivers aren't getting clobbered as much as they used to. Whilst we wouldn't want to condone or encourage violence against anyone, we're a little unimpressed by newly released statistics that show between 2009-2010 only 1160 busmen were punched, kicked, headbutted, stabbed or otherwise attacked. This is down from 1462 the previous year.
The fall has been attributed to better policing, more CCTV, a new Workplace Violence Unit—plus the fact that all new drivers must take a BTEC (Business Technology and Education Council) training course which includes a module on conflict resolution.
Which sounds long overdue to us. In recent years, we've had two run-ins with Transport for London's Red Menace, and you can believe us when we tell you that in both instances, it wasn't us who got physical.
Fact is, bus drivers are hard to get these days, which inevitably means that a little scraping of the barrel is necessary to keep the wheels rolling. To get a job carting Joe Public around at breakneck speed whilst generally terrorising other road users and pedestrians, it seems that all you need is the ability to say "yes" and (possibly) "no" in the Queen's English, a driving licence (bogus or otherwise), a work permit (bogus or otherwise), and a decent right hook.
You might want to keep this in mind the next time you bring your classic bike to the capital for a scenic pootle around our moonscaped thoroughfares. What with black cabs, pizza delivery bikes, couriers and white van man, there are days when it feels as if our only friends out their are ordinary motorists and plod.
Okay, forget plod.
They're shipping it in by the boatload this winter; 120,000 tons of it 12,000 miles from down under. We've got salt mines right here in Blighty, but apparently we can't scoop up enough of it to keep the highways and byways de-iced, so we've turned to our antipodean friends who are more than happy to dig it out of their own dirt.
Except that that's not how they manufacturer it. Instead, they pump millions of gallons of seawater into desalination plants. The result being that they get the fresh water they desperately need, and we get the salt we feel we can't live without. And when the NaCl washes off of British streets, it flows back into the sea and probably ends up way down under again. What a racket.
Not that we mind a fella making a dollar, Australian or otherwise. Except that the next time you read that the EC is cutting motorcycle engine emissions in an attempt to save a supposedly beleaguered planet, or fail an MOT due to a little extra Co2 up the tailpipe, you can remind all concerned of the environmental cost of extracting salt from seawater and shipping it halfway round the planet when we're kind of surrounded by seas and oceans on these sceptered isles.
But it seems appropriate that the Aussies would develop a boomerang business. What goes around comes around, etc. Good on yer, mate.
Luscious Welcome should have thought twice when he (allegedly) tried to nick a motorcycle belonging to one of the NYPD's finest. The cop, it seems, heard a noise outside his Brooklyn home at around 2.30am on Monday November 15th 2010, told his wife to dial 911, and rushed outside armed with nothing but a 9mm Glock (with fifteen rounds in the magazine) and a lot of combat experience in Iraq.
Two guys were trying to roll away the unnamed officer's bike, and he yelled a warning. One of the miscreants promptly legged it over a wall. The other "made a move", whatever that means, and the cop unloaded four rounds.
Luscious caught one in the neck but scrambled over a fence and was soon apprehended—minus a fair amount of claret. The consequence of all this is that the incident is being investigated by whoever's job it is investigate such things.
However, you have to wonder exactly what gives a guy the right to start banging away with a pistol just because his bike is being nicked—aside from the right-of-Glock-powered-might, that is.
The cop was, after all, off duty and didn't appear to be in any particular fear for his life. You also have to wonder where the other three slugs went (and might have went). But then, we weren't there, so it's best to stay well out of it.
But what's more worrying (if not surprising) is the amount of support this officer has got from biking forums around the world where most of the visitors feel that summary execution wouldn't have been too extreme for a bike thief. Which just goes to show that here in the 21st century, with 24-hour electricity on tap and satellites shrinking the planet more and more each day, we're all just a few steps (or shots) removed from Stone Age anarchy.
And what exactly was the bike that had got the cop's trigger finger so wound up? A red 2008 Suzuki GSX. God only knows what he would have done had Luscious been walking away with a Vincent or a Brough.
— Sam 7
On December 4th 2010, Historics at Brooklands will be auctioning a very special AMC Rickman Métisse.
The 1964-built bike, once campaigned by scrambles legend Adrian Moss (and organiser of the British Bike Bonanza), features a rare combination of a 500cc Matchless engine fitted to a Rickman Métisse chassis. It's estimated to fetch between £10,000 and £15,000.
Notable features of this classic scrambles machine include a 1½" Amal GP carburettor, an AMC gearbox, an AMC front wheel and a Rickman rear wheel.
Chassis Number: n/a
Engine Number: G85CS/190
Odometer reading: n/a
Don and Derek Rickman started their firm in 1957 and formally began Rickman Bros Ltd in 1962.
Their earliest motorcycling creations were Tribsa specials featuring Triumph engines in BSA frames and fitted with Norton forks.
Rickman brothers stopped trading in 1976 leaving a much admired legacy along with a dedicated core of fans with money to spend on prime scrambles bikes from the British golden age. However, we haven't an opinion on whether this bike will reach its estimate or sell beyond it. The race bike market is fickle, but we'll be watching to see what happens.
At the same December 4th auction, this 1929 596cc two-stroke Scott Flyer TT Replica will be going under the hammer and looking for £7000-£10,000. However, almost nothing is known about the bike, except that it was built in 1929, registered in 1938, restored in 2002, and has 3870 miles on the clock.
Based upon the Scott Flying Squirrel of 1926, the Flyer models were offered as the Tourer, the De Luxe and the TT Replica.
— The Third Man
French tyre manufacturer, Michelin, will next year be celebrating the centenary of Michelin House in Fulham, London and is hoping to cap the event with the recovery of three stained glass windows that went AWOL sometime during World War Two. The windows had been removed for safe keeping in 1939 and sent to Stoke on Trent. In 1948, however, it was discovered that the panels were gone, and the hunt for them has been on ever since.
The company believes that the windows were not broken up for individual panes. To do that, they argue, would make the component parts worthless; the value being in the complete images of Bibendum, better known as the Michelin Man. Instead, the firm suspects that some wealthy collector has them in storage or even on private display.
Either way, the company wants to replace the reproduction windows (that are currently fitted to the building) with the genuine items. A full amnesty is offered for their return, and Michelin has opened up an information hotline: 01782 402118.
So if you've got a stack of odd looking blue and white glass panes in the shed left by some deceased relative, or have other information regarding their whereabouts, you could earn yourself a nice little Christmas bonus by tipping Michelin the wink. Bibendum ephemera and memorabilia is highly prized.
It's hard to believe that these panels are still around after more than half a century off the radar. But stranger things have happened...
— Del Monte
Shell is cutting 5p from a litre of its V-Power unleaded or V-Power diesel fuel. But it's a one-day only offer—and that day is Friday 12 November 2010, which from our point of view is tomorrow.
Sounds like a deal? Well get it while it's going, because fuel costs are going to be rising sharply as inflation bites. In 2011, oil is expected to hit $100 a barrel; that's up around $15-$20 a barrel depending on whether it's Brent Crude, oil from the Gulf of Mexico, the Middle East, or elsewhere.
Royal Dutch Shell are currently buying, selling and generally rationalising its market position hoping to divest itself of £8 billion of oily assets, which might account for this small act of munificence. On the other hand, it could also be just a transparent and cost-effective news gimmick to boost brand awareness and stimulate customer loyalty.
Either way, the current world demand for oil is around one million barrels a day. Rising demand from the Far East will ultimately put paid to, or drastically limit, that great classic biking experience, which means that the day of the electric car can't come soon enough. But don't hold your breath. Even if the battery technology was sorted, the national grid infrastructure is a long way from ready.
— Girl Happy
Express Insurance has issued a statement warning that the recovery rate for stolen motorcycles in the UK is falling. Last year, almost 26,000 bikes were nicked, of which just 10,939 were recovered.
That's down 4%, they tell us—which means that either the thieves are getting slicker/more desperate, or we're getting sloppier. Or maybe it's a combination of factors.
Either way, we're still in the worst financial hole for generations, and bikes are easy targets—not least classic bikes which are (broadly speaking) rising in value with a hungry parts market, much of which doesn't give a hoot if spares are knocked off. So do what you have to do to keep your hands on your best bits.
Express Insurance also want us to tell you that if, between now and 31st December 2010, you take out a policy with them through the
Go Compare website, they'll chuck in a twenty quid Retaina Security pack (whatever that is). Meanwhile, see the bike theft risk item below.
— Big End
So what's the most dangerous time, day and date to be on the roads? According to Accident Exchange, a "leading accident management company", the high water mark is between 5.00pm and 6.00pm on pretty much any Friday evening in November.
Unsurprisingly, it's the combination of low light, wet and slippery roads coupled with the usual weekend desperation to get home—regardless of who or what's in your path.
After November, December is (also unsurprisingly) the next most likely month to cross swords with the grim reaper. August, on the other hand, is supposedly the safest time to be out on the roads.
That said, we're reluctant to even give you these statistics. Only, they're likely to be doing the rounds and there's a fair chance you'll stumble across them elsewhere. But if you do, you might want to keep in mind that every minute of every day of every month is the most dangerous time. To think about it any other way is to let your guard down just because it's a sunny Tuesday or a perfect morning in May. We thought that was worth mentioning.
— Del Monte
When it comes to "product placement" in the movies, Royal Enfield is up there with Apple computers, BMW and Absolut Vodka.
The company's latest appearance on the big screen will be in the movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is due for release on November 19th 2010.
Using sequences filmed in and around Blackwall Tunnel in East London, expect to see the "flying Enfield" climbing the walls in a death defying chase sequence that would make even Steve McQueen sit up and pay attention.
But the big question is this; how much in terms of hard cash will Royal Enfield and sidecar manufacturer Watsonian Squire actually make out of this deal? Knowing something about the way the movie industry takes the you-know-what, our guess is that there's not an awful lot in it.
Still, it arguably makes this classic biking duo the most famous motorcycle outfit in the world (comfortably eclipsing Wallace and Gromit), which ultimately might or might not be something you can take to the bank.
— Girl Happy
Apparently it's a myth that more crimes (including murder, rape, burglary and vehicle theft) occur when the moon is full.
New figures suggest that the risks are no different at any particular time of the month.
However, it seems that victims of crime are more likely to remember an incident during a full moon, thereby giving rise to a popular and enduring myth.
That said, we're a little suspicious of the inverse implication of these figures that professional burglars, rapists, muggers, bike thieves, etc don't bother to take advantage of those nights when there is no moon. But what do we know? We're a peaceful and mostly honest lot here at Sump. When the moon's out, it's time for us to take out the banjo, get as drunk as possible, and watch Lon Chaney movies.
However, with the economy on its knees and unemployment on the march, others might have different ways of enjoying a night out—which includes paying an uninvited visit to your shed or garage which is where, it's said, 80% of motorcycle thefts occur.
So perhaps you'd better nip out sharpish and invest in that garage alarm, heavy-duty chain, CCTV system, tracker system or ground anchor that you've always promised yourself.
Bike theft will undoubtedly be on the increase. Make sure it isn't yours.
— Big End
If you're a Douglas motorcycle fan
and have a penchant for collecting autographs, you can indulge both of your passions with the book on the right. The dimensions are 189mm x 246mm x 19mm, but no other details have been forthcoming, so you'll need to do your own legwork.
It's another signed tome by serial author Mick Walker and details the history, design, development, and specifications of one of Britain's quirkiest motorcycle marques.
The book was published in August 2010 by The Crowood Press Limited, but the autographs (by Mick) will be wet on the page. The price is 5p shy of twenty quid. You can order direct from Mick Walker at 10 Barton Road, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire PE13 1LB. Telephone: 01945 461914.
— Del Monte
British Customs in Gardena, California has developed a new set of high-level wrap-around stainless steel pipes and silencers for Hinckley Bonnevilles. They fit Bonnies from 2001-present; Thruxtons 2004-present; and Scramblers 2006-present.
The 2-inch diameter reverse cone silencers are taken from their Builder series and can be bought separately. We're advised that these pipes will "blue nicely" at the headers for that old school look. But if you prefer a black ceramic-coated set, you can have that instead.
The price for the complete set up, including heat shields and mounting brackets, is $599—but for a limited time (and yes, we do mean dollars, not pounds; you'll have to handle your own currency conversion). No details on postage to the UK.
— Del Monte
Yes, we know it's not a motorcycle marque, but it is a classic brand of the "classic" age of motoring—at least it was until General Motors (GM) turned off the life support on October 31st 2010 and consigned it to the dustbin of history.
After 84 years, it's all over bar the warranty work that GM says it will honour. Beyond that, the brand that gave us the car Jim Rockford drove in the Rockford Files TV series, the car that Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit, and the car that David Hasselhoff piloted in the Knight Rider TV show is no more.
Its most famous models? That would be the near legendary 389 cubic inch GTO muscle car first produced in 1964, and the equally brawny 1967 Firebird that mutated into the Transam.
Other great names from the Pontiac catalogue included the Torpedo, Chieftain, Streamliner, Star Chief and Bonneville.
General Motors' Pontiac division had been in trouble for years having lost all sense of direction with highly questionable design, marketing and leadership. At the end, sales of Pontiacs were said to represent about 1% of GM's output.
Plymouth (DaimlerChrysler Corporation) was wound up in 2001. Oldsmobile (GM) went to the wall in 2004.
Sounds like the demise of the British motorcycle industry? They rise, they fall. Enjoy them while you can.
— The Third Man
Three months after they were switched off there's already talk of turning then on again. Why? Because, according to Thames Valley's Safer Road Partnership there's been an 88% increase in speed offences since the plugs were pulled on July 31st 2010.
Persuasive statistics? Not really. When you examine the detail, it seems that that data was collected from just one camera (out of 72) over a five day period. At another site, the measured speeding increase was just 18%. In both instances, drivers were simply said to have "exceeded the 30mph limit".
Compelling stuff, huh?
— Sam 7
It's 115 years old, and it goes under the hammer at The Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino on 6th January 2011. The event, hosted by the Auto Collection, is Bonhams' first auction in Nevada's Sin City—and they're looking to make a big splash.
In April this year at Stafford, Bonhams sold a 1488cc, water-cooled, parallel twin, four-stroke Hildebrand & Wolfmuller for £86,200. The Las Vegas bike (pictured above) was built in 1894/95 and is said to be in better condition and has been "lightly and sympathetically restored some decades ago with a wonderful patina". The estimate is $130,000-$150,000—which we think is way too low. Certainly, this very significant German motorcycle is likely to attract a lot of attention from both collectors and investors worldwide.
The Hildebrand & Wolfmuller was the first bike to enter series production, and was the first machine to carry the term "motorrad"—or "motorcycle".
Top speed is 30mph, with a 0-20mph time of 30 seconds. Slow and stately by modern standards, but a flyer in its day. Production figures vary between 800 and 2000 units, with no more than ten or twelve bikes surviving.
The Hildebrand brothers were Heinrich and Wilhelm. Alois Wolfmuller and mechanic, Hans Geisenhof, were the other partners in the venture. The bikes were built in Germany and France. The business ceased trading in 1967.
When it comes to motorcycle history, it's hard to look much further back than this.
— Del Monte