Matchless is set to bare it all at this year's EICMA show in Milan, Italy on 6th - 9th November 2014 with a walking, talking, chuffing, puffing motorcycle (as opposed to the computer generated images we've been receiving lately).
We're referring, of course, to the much-hyped re-launch of the brand with the Model X Reloaded, a bike that carries the famous British Winged M logo on its flanks, but is owned by the Italian Malenotti family (who revamped the Belstaff brand), and is powered by a 1916cc, 100bhp American S&S V-twin engine.
Some would say it looks like a gaudy lash-up without any of the class and style achieved by its 1930s antecedent. But what the hell do we know?
In a world where little seems to make much sense anymore, this bike is probably not doing much to upset the status quo. And they might even sell shed loads of 'em.
But it still doesn't float our boat (in fact, this one pretty much sinks our submarine), and we're definitely not in the buying queue.
Matchless hasn't sent us any further details, by the way. Just the one snap that we've cunningly used twice to make it look like we've got a little more than we really have, photographically speaking. But maybe it will grow on us (if Matchless pays us enough money).
Check Sump September 2014 for more on the Model X
— The Third Man
It could save London's motorists £40 million over the next few years, could speed journey times, could cut motoring frustration, could make the roads safer, and help reduce what's popularly called "global warming".
All that London Mayor Boris Johnson has to do to produce this minor miracle is switch off 80 percent of London's traffic lights between midnight and 6.00am. Of course, he would first have to switch on a lot of lights in the collective mind of the London Assembly and illuminate a lot of murky darkness, and that might not happen anytime soon. But this issue has been raised once or twice before, and it just won't go away.
Now the matter has been highlighted (or lowlighted, if you prefer) as part of the newly published "Green Light" report (which surely ought to be called the "Lights Out" report). This document, produced by the Tory Group on the London Assembly, suggests that 2,532 junctions in the capital could have their plugs pulled each night saving, once you total all the wasted seconds and minutes, around 2,251 hours per day for London's drivers.
Typically, at least one Labour MP on the London Assembly has instantly criticised the idea and has suggested that it shows wilful disregard for public safety. But then, for Labour, possessed of their habitual centralised and authoritarian mindset, no amount of control is too much control.
But the Tory-led group on the London Assembly, keen to help cut budgetary costs and perhaps curry favour with the electorate at a time when a Conservative victory in the 2015 general election is slipping from their grasp, is behind the proposal.
Certainly, some parts of Europe and some of the USA, we understand, have already doused the midnight lamps. And it seems to work. And anyone who's ever negotiated a set of switched-off traffic lights knows that an unexpectedly neutral intersection forces oncoming drivers and riders to behave very differently, and often with a lot more caution and reserve.
▲ Tower Bridge and London City Hall. New thinking from the Mayor's Tory group wants to douse traffic lights at night. Brilliant? Or just dim?
There's a risk involved, of course. It's probably the same risk that road users face on most roundabouts. And to make this proposed change work, London drivers would have to remember to give way to the right.
But some folk believe that drivers jumping traffic lights and ploughing into the car in front, or into a motorcyclist or pedestrian who's a little quick off the mark, is a far greater risk.
Simon Jenkins, journalist and chairman of the National Trust, has long been an advocate of switching off the lights (see Sump November 2012). In fact, Jenkins has many times come out in favour of a major nationwide cull of traffic lights. And we agree with him. Or, put another way, we've seen the light, and it mostly makes us see red.
If you feel the same, you might want to drop an email in your MP's mailbox and air your views and thereby share the vision of a nocturnal traffic light-free utopia (or would that be simply anarchy after dark?). Or you can contact the Tory members of the London Assembly and say your piece. Contact details are below.
Meanwhile, if ever you stop at a red London traffic light, or a red traffic light anywhere else in the realm, remember to keep one eye on your mirror whilst maintaining an escape route—unless, that is, you want to risk having your own lights turned off.
— Girl Happy
Think of it, if you will, as a kind of mobile Swiss knife. Or a secret agent's multi-function brief case. Or a mobile toy box for the adventurer on the go. Or a back stage pass to whatever wilderness you're planning to explore at ground level.
But Ural, which manufacturers this high-tech/low-tech troika, lists it as a special edition outfit sold as the MIR, named in homage to the famous Russian space station launched in 1986. Only 20 bikes are going to be built for the US market and will retail at $16,999. We're awaiting details of availability and prices for the rest of the world.
Along with the standard, time-served 748cc OHV air-cooled flat-twin engine, these new Urals are supplied with fuel-injection, Brembo disc brakes all round, and a hydraulic steering damper. A 3-year warranty is also on the table.
The combined 78mm x 78mm bore and stroke of the two cylinders is claimed to be good for 41bhp @ 5500rpm, with a promised 42 lbs-ft of torque. Starting is kick and electric. The transmission is a 4-speeder plus one reverse. The final drive is shaft via a single-plate dry clutch. And the 2WD (two wheeled drive) system can be engaged/disengaged as required. The front fork is leading link, which is de rigueur for the serious sidecar hacker.
The colour of this bike, by the way, is "Orbital White" with a blue pearl lacquer said to be reminiscent of the view of Earth as seen from 100-odd miles up.
▲ As with Porsche and Harley-Davidson, if you keep tinkering with the basic formula, the product can only get better and better. Twenty years ago, many of us laughed at Urals. Nowadays, the joke's wearing thin.
▲ For anyone unfamiliar with the Cyrillic alphabet, the letters on the sidecar top read "MIR"—and that's a solar cell above offering a useful charging point on the move. On the right, meanwhile, is one of a pair of high intensity LED lights designed for illuminating the wilderness.
▲ 2WD, a spare wheel, Brembo disc brakes all-round and EFI. The Russians have been into space with less equipment than this.
Other Swiss knife features include a sidecar-mounted solar panel for trickle charging the battery, or for use as a general power source. High intensity LED lights are also fitted to the sidecar, and there's a tonneau cover supplied that doubles as a thermal blanket for camping or roadside emergencies.
The Ural MIR also comes with a 36mm "space wrench" certified as suitable for use above the stratosphere (we did not make that up). So if the wrench is good enough for a cosmonaut, it should be good enough for anyone from Vegas to Vladivostok to Ventnor.
We don't know what size nuts and bolts are used on the MIR, but we're assuming that a 36mm spanner won't serve them all (unless that spanner is the same thing as a Birmingham screwdriver which is all that some guys need).
Aside from being the first into space and building some of the best battle tanks and fighter jets in the world—and creating the AK-47 third-world briefcase (said to be the most widely used assault rifle on the planet) what the hell do the Ruskies know about anything, anyway?
Well, they certainly know how to fabricate pretty heavy-duty walls and generally get the world's attention. However, we'd naturally enough recommend that all you Sumpsters out there spend your hard-earned motorcycle dollars on British Triumphs instead of what some folk view as ex-Soviet Bloc failures. Except that we can easily see why a guy or girl might be seduced by an apparently well-conceived combo such as this.
Different strokes, etc.
Here at Sump, we can't wait for a Ural Vladimir Putin model which is bound to have a feature facilitating the instant invasion of anyone's country, plus a device for murdering your enemies with just a nod of your head.
Gotta be a big demand for that.
▲ Left to right, Ginger Baker, the late Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton pictured on Fresh Cream, the first album by the once cutting edge 1960s electric-blues band, Cream.
Jack Bruce, bass player with arguably the greatest British blues band of the 1960s has died aged 71. But Cream, for all its impact and influence, was a short-lived musical act releasing their first album in 1966 (Fresh Cream), and their last album in 1969 (Goodbyes), a year after the band had officially split. If you'd blinked a little too often in the sixties, or had gotten stoned regularly, you might have missed them completely.
Founded by drummer Ginger Baker (famous for his blisteringly long skin-bashing solos—up to 20 minutes), Jack Bruce was co-opted into the band along with Eric "Slow Hand" Clapton.
▲ Disraeli Gears, the second album by Cream. Nothing to do with British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Apparently, a Cream roadie once announced that he had bought a bicycle with them "disraeli gears", and the band decided that they could use that.
Bruce was born John Symon Asher Bruce near Glasgow, Scotland. From a very early age, he was an accomplished musician, both as a classically trained cello player and as a composer. He also expressed and demonstrated an interest in Scottish folk songs, but he migrated into the blues (and later jazz-blues) finding work with the legendary Alexis Korner and his Blues Incorporated.
Ginger Baker was also in that band, and the two musicians later traded licks and beats and rhythms in another outfit, the Graham Bond Organisation. They didn't, however, get on well, and this personal discord eventually re-manifested itself in Cream.
Jack Bruce had also met Eric Clapton when they both worked in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (another legendary and highly influential band). Thus the die was cast for three musicians (Baker, Clapton, Bruce) who eventually came together to form Cream. What made this band special was their "electric" interpretation of the (previously acoustic) blues genre coupled with "timeless" hits that include White Room, I Feel Free, and Sunshine of Your Love—which Bruce co-wrote.
Eventually, and inevitably, Cream imploded following highly public disputes and fights that saw the band travelling separately and generally avoiding each other except when they really had to come together. But later in Bruce's career, he and Ginger Baker and Clapton reunited and rekindled some of the "old magic".
If ever a British band was a tragedy in the making, it was Cream (with perhaps Fleetwood Mac coming a close second).
Jack Bruce was a long time heroin addict and lived to excess with his famous "champagne lifestyle". Undoubtedly, his habits ultimately killed him. But the same might be said of almost anyone.
He released numerous solo albums including Songs for a Tailor (1969), I've Always Wanted to Do This (1980), A Question of Time (1990), and More Jack Than God (2003),
He was twice married and is credited by many of being the greatest rock and blues bass player ever, which is high praise when guys like Paul McCartney, Sting, John Entwistle, and John Paul Jones are in the running.
▲ 1904/5 Panhard et Levassor Model KB Roadster. This turn of the (20th) century hotrod was bought in Paris by a Spanish nobleman. It was the 18th car registered in Madrid, and is now Netherlands registered. The drive chains are still stamped Panhard et Levassor. Restored in 1975, the engine was overhauled 20 years later. Expect a fight for this one.
If you're in and around London on Friday 31st October 2014 (and more specifically in or around 101 Bond Street, W1, home of Bonhams), you might consider checking out the London to Brighton Run Sale.
The run itself gets rolling two days later on Sunday 2nd November, whilst on the intermediate Saturday (1st November) there's an automobile show in Regent Street (see Sump's news story on this event). It's going to make for an exciting weekend for veteran car fans (in particular), and early November ain't such a bad time to be in Central London (cue moody autumn sunsets, bright city lights, plenty happening as the year prepares to wind down for the Christmas break, crisp air, roast chestnuts even, etc).
Bonhams is fielding 23 veteran cars dating from 1898 to 1904. The highest expectation, financially speaking, is for a 1904/1905 Panhard et Levassor Model KB Roadster (image immediately above) which is carrying an estimate of £500,000 - £700,000.
[more on the Bonhams London to Brighton Run sale]
The government has raised the UK minimum wage this month, which sounds good in principle, but ain't necessarily so good in practice.
As of the 1st October 2014, the minimum wage for a British adult aged 21 or over is a miserable £6.50 per hour, up from an even more miserable £6.31. You might think that anyone in their right mind would favour the minimum wage. But we don't. We're 100 percent against it.
Why? Because what the minimum wage really means is that unless an employer can GUARANTEE to pay someone £6.50 per hour, that person can't work at all. Not for that firm, anyway. That's the law. So if, for instance, you run a motorcycle shop and desperately want to take on an adult and get him or her off the dole queue, you've got to give them £6.50 per hour, or nothing.
[more on the UK adult minimum wage rise]
He was born Bernard William Jewry, assumed the persona of Shane Fenton, was reinvented as Alvin Stardust, and has now died aged 72.
A Londoner by birth, and an only child, Jewry was raised in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. From an early age he developed an interest in music in general, and rock and roll in particular.
He was an avid Buddy Holly fan, and it's said that he once met Holly backstage—and later in his career recorded a single entitled I Feel Like Buddy Holly which in 1984 reached number 7 in the UK charts.
During his teenage years he formed his own group, the Jewry Rhythm Band. It was not a success. He became a roadie for Shane Fenton and the Fentones in which Shane Fenton was a pseudonym of a young man named Johnny Theakston. But soon after, Theakston died following chronic health problems leaving a vacuum in the band.
The BBC, meanwhile, had recently received a demo tape from the stardom-seeking group and was interested. However, following Theakston's death, the band had intended to break up, but were persuaded to stay together with Jewry as the front man (image above).
He accepted the role, together with the Shane Fenton name, and kickstarted his recording career with a string of hits such as I'm A Moody Guy; Walk Away; Cindy's Birthday; and It's All Over Now.
By 1973, with Shane Fenton and the Fentones a spent force, Jewry became Alvin Stardust, once again assuming the professional identity of another performer; this being Peter Shelley, co-founder of Magnet Records.
▲ Jewry as Stardust astride a 1976 Kawasaki Z900. He was often photographed on motorcycles or wearing biker T-shirts. But as far as we know, he wasn't a biker—except in spirit, whatever that means to you. However, he was a down-home rock'n'roller and is certainly an honorary member of the two-wheeled ton-up tribe.
Shelley, it seems, had recently recorded the song, My Coo Ca Choo, and had performed it on one occasion on the Lift Off TV show. Unexpectedly, the record charted, but Shelley had no interest in "fronting" it any further. That was where Jewry's manager stepped in and gave a new face to the Alvin Stardust character. So Jewry, who was Fenton, became Stardust.
Hits include Jealous Mind; You, You, You; Red Dress; and Good Love Can Never Die.
He was an instantly recognised figure clad in black leather and wearing a quiff and huge sideburns.
His trademark performing stance, with his elbow locked at shoulder level and the microphone held in an unlikely, under-slung manner, was frequently imitated and lampooned by any would-be comedian looking for an easy laugh.
But Jewry had something to laugh about too, not least a string of hits, an army of worldwide fans, a career that lasted over five decades—and a good part of it as something of a teenage heart throb.
He migrated from music to acting appearing in numerous theatre productions from Godspell to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He appeared on TV on many programmes, and also had his own TV show for a while. He might have been B-list rather than A-list, but he was out there and entertaining people and getting by.
He was also busy on the nostalgia circuit, and he commanded a lot of respect as a man who didn't take himself too seriously, and always gave as much as he had to give.
He is survived by his third wife, two sons and two daughters.
We're sorry, okay. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
These days, you can get away with bloody murder, rape, and any number of unsavoury crimes if you just make a public apology after the fact. And if you're a politician, you can dismiss it all as a "moment of madness".
But fortunately we didn't murder anyone or do anything else that warrants a spell in the pokey or a psychiatric hospital. However, in our own moment of madness we completely underestimated the demand for our new "The great affair is to move" T-shirt, and we quickly ran out of some sizes.
Clearly, a number of you guys and girls are (to put it bluntly) eating too much because we're now considering ordering not merely 3XL and 4XL, but DIRIGIBLE size.
What the hell happened to SMALL and MEDIUM?
Naturally, we've notified everyone who was affected (or is that disaffected?), and so far nobody's complained. But we've got an urgent second edition on the way, and we expect them any day now and will despatch them faster than you can throw a live hand grenade.
Meanwhile, if you've ordered one or more, and if you want to cancel, just let us know and we'll issue an immediate refund. No arguments. No up-selling. Just your money back.
We take this kind of stuff very seriously and try and offer the kind of service we expect from others. But on this occasion, we got the numbers wrong.
(And we're sorry)
UPDATE: We're now fully restocked, and all outstanding T-shirt orders have been sent (but we're still sorry).
— Big End
Bonhams is (officially) said to be very pleased with the result of its recent Stafford Sale (19th October 2014). The auction topped £1 million, with 83 percent of lots sold. But that £1 million figure is actually down slightly on last year's turnover (£1.3 million, with 80 percent of lots sold, plus a new world record for a Manx Norton at £61,980).
The top-selling lot at this year's Autumn Stafford Sale was the above 1914 Flying Merkel 980cc V-Twin, registration number SV 5376. The frame number is: 11692. The engine number is: FOR 2X 11692.
The auction estimate was £50,000 - 70,000, but it's likely that the estimate was set artificially low to help bring the punters in. And, naturally, it worked. The price reached £104,540 including premium.
The Mole Benn Collection of Italian exotica was another major draw, the top selling lot in this section being the (immediately above) ex-works 1954 125cc Bialbero (twin-cam) racer, Lot 291. It sold for a decent £32,200.
Other Mole Benn machines include a:
1954 MV Agusta 175 Supersport Competizione (Lot 290), £10,350
1952 MV Agusta 125CC TEL, (Lot 298), £2,300
C.1955 MV Agusta 175CC Racing motorcycle (Lot 294), £2,185
Meanwhile a collection of Barry Sheene memorabilia generated a total of £24,774, the top lot being Sheene's Arai helmet (above) which is splashed with his moniker and was campaigned in anger at various race meets. That helmet fetched £2,500 (estimate: £1,500 - £2,000). We had expected a little more from this collection, and we suspect that Bonhams did too. But you can't argue with the market.
Other sale highlights include a 1913 BSA 4¼hp (Lot 277, image immediately above). It reached £20,700 from an estimate of £5,000 - £7,000. We're told that this is a "one family owned machine", as if that makes a difference to the actual number of owners. Three? Five? Ninety-seven?
In 1958, the bike was found "languishing" on a Derbyshire farm, and was bought for £10. The buyer was Walter Green, later to become President of the VMCC. Over the next year, Green restored the bike, and it was restored on two subsequent occasions.
The BSA has seen a fair amount of asphalt having been ridden many times on the Pioneer Run, the Banbury Run and various other classic motorcycle events including a jaunt to Brussels.
There is some confusion over the horsepower, with two log books (buff and V5) showing different numbers; 3-1/2hp and 4-1/2hp. Either way, the £5,000 - £7,000 estimate was surely too low for a "Pioneer bike". Except that marketing is all about tactics, as evidenced by the Flying Merkel sale above. No doubt the new owner will sort it out.
Also sold were the following:
1951 Vincent 998cc Series-C Rapide at £32,200
1951 AJS 350cc 7R at £21,275
1947 Vincent 998cc Rapide Project at £17,825
1994 Seeley G50 500cc Mk3 racing motorcycle, £13,800
1954 125cc Bialbero (twin-cam) racer (Mole Benn Collection), £32,200
Meanwhile, Graham Coxon, guitarist with the band, Blur, put seven bikes from his collection in the sale (See: Sump September 2014). The total raised was a not-very-impressive £24,000. But the money raised went to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. So who's complaining? Not us.
We spoke to James Stensel, Head of Bonhams Motorcycle Department, who said, "Yes, we're very satisfied with the sale." Satisfied, we heard, but not ecstatic.
The problem for this firm is, perhaps, that they've been very successful over the past few years, and there has to come a point where the sales graph stops climbing and starts falling.
If this is indeed what's happening, it's but a small drop. And Bonhams might well see another upward jump at Harrogate on 12th November 2014. With this auction house, there's always another surprise coming soon.
See the Sump September 2014 Mole Benn Collection story for more on the Autumn 2014 sale at Stafford.
— Big End
The top selling motorcycle lot at Cheffins' Cambridge Sale on Saturday 18th October 2014 was the above 1911 500cc Humber (Lot 1360). The bike fetched a respectable enough (but perhaps disappointing) £11,000 thereby missing the auctioneer's £12,000 - £14,000 estimate.
It's a Pioneer Run eligible machine (pre-1915), and has been in the same Goodall family since 1959. But it was last ridden in 1972. Since then, it's been hidden away.
During the 1960s, the bike took part in numerous Pioneer and Banbury runs, and it is recorded on the Pioneer and Humber registers.
The next highest priced machine was the (immediately above) 1963 T100 Slimline Featherbed Triumph (Lot 1361) which sold for £6,200 putting it right in the middle of the £5,500 - £7,000 estimate).
Overall, there were 23 motorcycle lots in the sale. All but three found buyers on the day, which is a good result. Nothing special caught our eye, pricewise, except maybe the 1923 350cc Douglas (immediately below, Lot 1367) which fetched £5,300 (estimate: £5,000 - £6,000).
That's not a bad price for one of these pretty flat tankers built by a class manufacturer with a great racing and military history. The 2-3/4 horsepower fore-and-aft sidevalve twin is definitely more of a plodder than a rodder, but if you're looking for a smooth, entry-level, chic 40-45mph flat tanker, you can do worse than these. Ride this to the trendy Barbour Store on Regent Street, London W1, and they'll think you're a movie star or something (make sure you ask for a style discount).
Except that this Douglas has now gone. Look for a 500cc bike if you want something a little "sporty".
Features include a Douglas carburettor, an EIC magneto, belt final drive (with a brake on the pulley), a stirrup front brake, manual lubrication, a two-speed gearbox with hand-change, footboards, a bacon-slicer external flywheel, and a whole lot of inter-war charm. We like it plenty.
Last, but by no means least, the above 1981 two-stroke RD 250 LC Yamaha (Lot 1370) was perhaps the real bargain of this sale.
In its day, the LC (or "Elsie", if you prefer) was sensational and mobilised a small army of teenagers and young men—and mobilised them at suicidal speeds. We're talking around 105mph in the right conditions (although the bikes often struggled under road test condition to hit those numbers).
Of course, you had to wind up the engines to the kind of explosive revs rarely seen by anything from the British motorcycle industry. And they made a very un-British racket. But these six-speeder Yams could take it. And take it. And take it.
The auction hammer came down on this example at just £1100, which is BSA Bantam money. Correction, it's less than BSA Bantam money. The bike, we're told, has had a full rebuild (engine and gearbox) a repaint, brake refurbishment, and comes with all parts to finish.
Features of the twin-cylinder LC include liquid-cooling, monoshock rear suspension, cast wheels, kick and electric start, speedo and rev counter, disc front brake (drum rear), fuel gauge and around 35bhp. The mpg, however, wasn't so hot at around 40, and the handling was interesting.
One or two of us around here at Sump even passed their motorcycle test/s on an LC, but we ain't saying who because we're all hard-as-nails, macho Triumph, BSA and even Harley riders and we wouldn't be seen dead on Jap crap (not when there's still so much British and American crap to enjoy).
Make no mistake that these Yams are modern classics, hence our clichéd sepia image treatment above. £1100 is peanuts when you consider that the typical price for a sorted Elsie is around £3,000 - £4,000, and much more for a very good, low mileage original.
People often talk about the 1930s and 1960s as being the golden age/s of motorcycling. But we think a lot, or even most, of the really exciting stuff came down the pike in the 1970s and 1980s. And the legendary, do-or-die RD250 LC accounted for an awful lot of it.
Then again, we were all younger.
— The Third Man
That's £840,000 on this side of the pond, and that's an awful lot of money for a motorcycle with questionable provenance.
The auction house Profiles in History sold the world's most famous motorcycle on Saturday 18th October 2014, and despite various authenticating documents, it's been claimed that this Harley-Davidson screen icon is as fake as a nine bob note.
We ain't gonna go any further down that particular road, not that we're vaguely worried about the litigation risks (who'd sue us?), but because it's a boring subject.
If the buyer is happy, then it's game over. If he or she ain't happy, then it just proves that you can't necessarily buy it. Besides, if you can afford to splash over a million bucks on a chopper, you can probably afford to lose it. That's the orthodoxy, anyway.
See: Sump September 2014. Captain America's bike is for sale.
— Girl Happy
For months, there have been rumours that these T-shirts were being designed and produced, but until we managed to actually photograph one being surreptitiously road tested on Peckham High Street, South London, we couldn't confirm it.
But now it's official, and the cat's out of the bag. It's a new T-shirt from Sump that's based around one of our favourite quotes; this one from Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde fame.
"The great affair is to move"
We particularly like this quote because it reminds us of what motorcycling means to us. Not primarily building or customising bikes (fun though that is). Not racing, buying or selling bikes (fun though that is too). And certainly not posing on, or trailering to shows (which is very dubious fun).
No, the real excitement for us lies in moving. Travelling. Getting out into the world and discovering it for ourselves—and we're betting that plenty of you Sumpsters feel exactly the same.
These shirts are screen-printed on quality black pre-shrunk cotton. There are five sizes (S, M, L, XL and XXL). The price is £15.99 plus postage and packing.
And you don't have to be a Triumph man to wear one. The guy on the Thunderbird above is representative of anyone and everyone.
Want to take a closer look? Okay, click on the image above, or go direct to the relevant page: The great affair is to move T-shirt.
And if this shirt doesn't float your boat, you can visit out main Sump T-shirt page and see if there's something else that makes you reach for your wallet or purse.
— Del Monte
On Thursday 8th January 2015, Bonhams will be handling the sale of a large consignment of Herb Harris Vincent exotica, plus a collection of cutaway engines from the same source. The venue is Bally’s Hotel & Casino on The Strip, Las Vegas, USA.
A Texan born and bred, Harris (image right) made his name meticulously restoring Vincent motorcycles and related memorabilia.
But arguably what put him on the motorcycle map was the ex-Rollie Free Vincent Black Lightning—which, in 1948, Free famously rode at 150mph at Bonneville Salt Flats wearing nothing but a grimace and a pair of bathing trunks. In November 2011, that bike was sold privately from the Harris Collection for a reputed $1.1 million.
But there are many other interesting machines in the Harris Collection including a:
1946 Vincent “1X” Rapide B Prototype
1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype
1949 Vincent Rapide C with matching Blacknell Bullet Sidecar
1957 BSA B34 Works Racer
1962 Matchless G50 CSR Silver Eagle
1949 AJS 7R
Harris is also a noted Vincent historian. To that end, various items of his personal Vincent memorabilia will form part of the Las Vegas sale. Additionally, a large collection of precision sectioned motorcycles and cutaway engines will be going under the hammer including items from Ariel, BSA, Matchless, New Imperial, Norton, Sunbeam, Triumph and Vincent.
Of special interest will be the BSA Goldstar Clubman which was created for the Earls Court Motor Show and is rigged to motorise all—or at least most—of the moving parts including the front and rear suspension.
More on this sale closer to the auction.
— Del Monte
Burton Bike Bits has sent us details of a new batch of single-spring clutch chainwheels suitable for BSA M-Series bikes as manufactured between 1937 - 1958.
These cookie-cutters have 42 teeth and are machined from steel (as per the original item) and designed to fit straight onto your old chuffer without fuss or excitement. If for any reason they don't, we're sure that Burton will sort you out. They take customer service seriously.
But take note, these are for SINGLE-SPRING dry clutch set-ups only. Broadly speaking, that refers to wartime bikes (1939 - 1945) and later AA (Automobile Association) M21s. Other M20s/M21s use a 6-spring wet-clutch, and Burton can supply chainwheels for these too (details by email or phone).
The BSA part number for these single-spring items is: 66-3809 (and Burton likes to hear part numbers right off the bat, so be ready).
The EEC price is £118.00. So if you hail from further afield, the VAT (Value Added Tax) won't apply and you'll pay just £99.00 (plus whatever local taxes you have). Both prices are plus postage which you can ask about upon ordering, or will automatically be added when you buy online.
To conclude, these chainwheels will suit single-spring clutches for the BSA M20, M21, M22 and M23. Make sure you know which clutch you have (and more than a handful of M-Series bikes have been retro fitted with Triumph clutches, note). Ask too about clutch plates.
These items, we hear, are in stock now, but they might not be forever. So get one in your clutches while you can.
Tel: +44 (0) 1530 564 362
— Big End
He was a Harley-Davidson rider, a patron of the arts, a philanthropist, a Christian, a Southern Baptist, an American, a foster parent, an anti-gay campaigner, and a fast food pioneer of no mean repute (not necessarily in that order). He was also worth around $4 billion - $6 billion depending on whose numbers you trust. We're referring to Samuel Truett Cathy, better known as S Truett Cathy who has died aged 93.
Cathy built his huge fortune around a humble chicken sandwich known as the Chick-fil-A, a product that's pretty much unknown on this side of the Atlantic, but has tens of millions of customers on the other.
▲ A piece of dead bird in a bun, aka the famous Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich. You'd think that a good Christian man such as S Truett Cathy would have turned to fish to feed the masses. Either way, he did his bit for the sick, the poor and (of course) the hungry.
The Chick-fil-A gave its name to a chain of restaurants around the country that became the largest privately owned American business of its type. It's said that there are currently around 1,800 Chick-fil-A restaurants in operation.
He was born in Georgia, USA during the depression era. One of seven children, at an early age he started selling products door-to-door and became a shrewd observer of his customers, constantly learning new lessons and adding to his commercial repertoire. He opened his first restaurant in Atlanta in 1946 and remained as the company chairman until 2013 when his son took over.
His religious beliefs were always central, and he taught scriptures and made special provision to allow his working staff the opportunity to attend church, even if it cost him money. Which it did.
Cathy rode a Harley-Davidson too and had the gas tank painted in what you might call "cow colours" that also bore the slogan: "EAT MOR CHIKIN".
He is survived by his wife, daughter and two sons—and, of course, by somewhere between $4 billion and $6 billion.
— Girl Happy
It's long overdue, and we'll believe it when we see it, but Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that the government will be seeking to impose strict limits on how long the rozzers can keep you on a bail leash while the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decides whether or not to charge you, or mark your file for No Further Attention..
At present, there is no time limit for how long you can remain on bail. In many cases, British citizens are held for years in this particular form of legal limbo; a limbo in which their normal civil liberties are grossly infringed.
Such as what? Well, if you're on bail, there may be conditions set on where you can live, or who you can associate with, or whether or not you can leave the country for short or extended periods, or on how you conduct your business. There are endless possibilities.
Much of the delay in charging people (or not) is down to limited police resources and police time within which to fully investigate a case before presenting their findings to the CPS.
But some of the problem is down to everyday sloth, apathy and human incompetence, and it's this particular nettle that May is about to grasp.
Civil liberties groups have unsurprisingly welcomed the proposal, and so has the legal profession which, naturally, stands to pick up a little more work.
So exactly what time limits are being mooted?
Well, 28 days has been suggested, after which the police will be required to present their evidence (such as it is) to a magistrate to ask for a continuance of the bail. In theory, that could mean that the status quo effectively remains as it is. But in practice, it's hard to see the police abusing the system and automatically seeking bail extensions for all comers. The British police can be amazingly stupid at times, but they're not idiots.
There's a lot of ground to be thrashed out here. And Teresa May (pictured immediately above), has in the past certainly shown a lot of nerve and stamina. But the police lobby is a powerful one, so it's by no means settled that changes are on the way.
Doesn't affect you? Maybe not at the moment, but it could. More than once, totally innocent bikers have been nicked by the police (for a variety of spurious reasons) and held on bail for unreasonably extended periods while the boys in blue make up their minds about what evidence-gathering resources they're prepared to deploy.
Don't ask us how we know that.
If the proposals come to fruition, it should certainly speed up the judicial process. But if charged, you could all the more quickly be dealing directly with the morons at the CPS.
Never underestimate just how thick and incompetent this government "service" can be.
— Big End
There ain't much that could tempt us away from our classic bikes. Money alone won't buy us off (not unless it's an awful lot of money). Sex won't do it either (not unless it's an awful lot of sex). Threats of public disgrace is a non-starter. Pleading wives, begging girlfriends or entreaties from other significant-others haveno chance. In fact, only the prospect of serious and imminent violence and/or death has much prospect of reprogramming our mulish mindsets and divorcing us from our treasured wheels.
Fact is, we love our oily old heaps as much as ... well, as much as Rolf Harris loves kids. But this here Aeromobil could be the temptation that finally does the trick.
Designed by Stefan Klein and built in the Slovak Republic (his home country), the Aeromobil is constructed (surprisingly) from steel tubing (as opposed to aircraft grade aluminium) and is clad in carbon fibre panels to keep the breeze out. It's claimed that this air car can fly at over 120mph and cover maybe 430 miles on a single tank of fuel (at a lower cruising speed, note).
Moreover, this bird employs a similar swing-wing concept as used by Tornado fighter jets and is designed to take off and land on ordinary everyday motorways and dual carriageways.
▲ It's powered by a 1211cc, 80hp, water-cooled, 4-cylinder (flat-four) Rotax 912 engine featuring two driveshafts; one to the front wheels, and one to the propeller. The dry weight is just 980lbs. There's room for a pilot and passenger, and maybe even a roof rack.
The Aeromobil has recently enjoyed its maiden flight, and it went up as hoped, and apparently came down with equal aplomb. But it's still under development, so pricing is a long way down the road. Or up the air.
But you're right, we've seen flying cars before. Gerry Anderson's old 1960s puppet TV show, Joe 90, had a pretty cool (if highly unlikely) flying creation (image immediately below). And if you squint, you can vaguely see the resemblance.
So maybe Klein and his rival aero-engineers were inspired by the same TV show because at any one time, there are maybe three or four credible challengers under development around the world, more than a couple of which look strangely familiar.
All the same, this Slovak design appears to be a lot more sorted than many, and there has to come a point where technology and design hits all the right buttons and produces a viable, practical, cost-effective airborne, road-going concept. And there has to come a point where urban gridlock prompts the well-heeled and desperate into abandoning their established modes of personal transport in favour of something that ... well, rises above it all.
It's the future, and it's happening. But for now, it looks like our classics are staying in the garage.
— Big End
Thirty-four bike lots were fielded at H&H's Duxford Sale held on 8th October 2014. Eight lots failed to sell. Two were withdrawn. That leaves 24 confirmed kills. Not great, but certainly not disastrous.
Top seller was the above 1933 Excelsior C14 IOM Special (Lot 33) which was exchanged for £21,280. Most eyes, however, were on a 1981 Kreidler GP Works Racer (Lot 30) which carried an estimate of £23,000 - £28,000. See Sump September 2014 for more on the Excelsior and the Kreidler.
The above T140J Silver Jubilee Bonneville (Lot 20) was one of the bikes that failed to cut anyone's mustard. It didn't sell. As we've mentioned before, over the past five years or more Jubilees have fallen from grace.
The problem, perhaps, is that they're simply not that rare. Meriden built 1000 for the Yanks, and 1000 for the Brits and then another 400 for what was left of the empire—or so the story goes.
They're not particularly attractive either (but not bad). They're slightly higher maintenance than standard Bonnies (due to chromed engine cases that have a tendency to peel, and pinstriped wheel rims). No one really cares too much about celebrating the Queen's Silver Jubilee (it's just not part of the national or international consciousness). And in the past the bikes were over-hyped by sellers with really silly money being asked (largely thanks to the official Meriden "Certificate of Authenticity" that tried to force an undeserved cachet on fair but unspectacular machines).
Now prices have cooled a lot, which might actually make them a good buy for anyone looking for a low mileage 750 Triumph. Most T140Js, after all, were squirreled away for investment and therefore never saw much asphalt let alone weather. Keep it in mind, if you will. But if you're holding onto one as part of your pension plan, don't retire anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Lot 20 was a 1972 Norvil Commando which fetched £14,560 (see above). This was the next highest selling lot that eclipsed a 1960 BMW R69 combination which fetched £13,552 (image immediately above).
So overall there were no great surprises; just another reasonable auction put safely away by H&H.
That's an Eurofighter Typhoon (trainer) lurking over the bikes in the image above, by the way. AT £64 million each, we wonder how much longer it will be before the UK government begins auctioning them off too to further humiliate what's left of the RAF. Could be very nice pickings for H&H.
— Big End
That's London to Beijing, leaving the UK on 25th April 2015 and arriving in the Chinese capital 80 days later on 14th July. The 12,000 mile two-wheeled journey is being organised in conjunction with GlobeBuster Motorcycle Expeditions.
The ride, we hear, will pass through Turkey, Iran, and Tibet (and presumably a lot of other places). The arrival will coincide with the launch of the Ace Cafe Beijing (the Ace already has, or is planning, other franchises in North America, Europe and Japan). And there are still "spaces" available if anyone else wants to join the fun, such as it is.
We're trying hard to get excited over this. But we can't. Firstly, the Ace was pretty cool (mostly in retrospect) when it was an ordinary transport cafe in North London back in the 1950s and 1960s. Not that we frequented that particular establishment.
Instead, our personal motorcycling journeys took us through numerous other cafes and tea huts around the country, none of which had franchises elsewhere—and certainly not Beijing (then Peking).
These more humble catering outlets were usually anonymous vinyl and linoleum backstreet or lay-by dives serving stewed tea and dodgy fast food with enough surplus grease to give your drive chain a quick wipe over (although no one actually died as far as any of us here can recall).
▲ Has the Ace Cafe gone too far? It's 12,000 miles from London to Beijing, and even further than that from the heyday of the world's most famous biker cafe. Home delivery could be on the way ...
But some would say that the Ace is soundly killing off its own "mystique" by turning the once left-field and rebellious black leather caff into the international fashionable "petrol head" franchise operation that it's become.
Some would say that that Rubicon was actually crossed long ago. They'd say that the Ace is now seriously, if not terminally, over-exposed and over-hyped. As with everything else in life, after all, there's only so many people who can share the fantasy. Beyond a certain point, you're just another Hard Rock Cafe (at best), or another McDonalds (at worst).
And there's a second point about this tour to consider. What kind of epic international ride is it in which can you leave London on a motorcycle and plot your arrival time on the far side of the world with any accuracy?
80 days? Say, three o'clock by the fountain?
Don't get us wrong. 12,000 miles is a fearsome jaunt (albeit much of it along well-paved and well-travelled highway served by convenient fuel stops and eateries, with the emergency services little more than a mobile phone call away).
But if the organisers had said something like: "Those still alive at the end of this trek will limp into Beijing with most limbs still attached possibly sometime next Summer or Autumn", we'd be more impressed. That sounds like a ride worth undertaking.
Good luck to all, etc. But the spirit of the Ace, certainly as most old rockers remember it, is dead—and as with any spirit, you can dilute it only so much. What we have now sounds suspiciously like mere commercial opportunism that bears little relationship to that gritty, dingy, live-for-the-moment oily truck stop on the North Circular Road five decades past.
Long live the New Ace, huh?
Not the world's most exciting story, but when you need switchgear for your custom/special/project, you need switchgear. Right?
Well, control cable specialist Venhill has added some necessary switches to their growing portfolio.
The doo-dahs are designed for standard 7/8th-inch (22mm) handlebars. Left and right side is available. Each switch block is 30mm wide. They're rubber mounted. And they cost £25.20 per side, including VAT. Here's the switching arrangement:
Main beam switch toggle
Indicator switch left/right (centre position switches off)
Horn switch, spring type
Kill toggle switch
On/off toggle switch
Electronic start spring button
Naturally, you can fit 'em to your stock T140 or Commando or A65 or whatever. They won't look right (but will probably work better). Meanwhile, custom bikes and suchlike can often wear this stuff more successfully. They're designed to plug straight into your wiring loom/harness, but it's not always that easy, is it?
Anyway, we haven't seen these up close, so you'll have to decide for yourself if they fit your brief and are the required quality.
Telephone Venhill on 01306 885111
— Big End
According to the UK government, they've been getting away with it for years; not paying speeding fines, not paying the London congestion charge, not paying parking fines, not registering their vehicles for use on British roads, and not having an MOT.
But the honeymoon is over.
That's because the DVLA and the British border guards (hah) and HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) and the police have finally figured out that they can share information about which vehicles are abroad in the UK, and which vehicles have ... well, gone back abroad. You'd think that some jobsworth official somewhere in the realm would have worked that out ages ago. But no. It's long been open season on British roads for anyone with foreign number plates. Until now.
Under a new pilot scheme, the claimed 100,000 strong annual army of foreign drivers (and presumably riders) will be on the British radar as from November 2014 until February 2015 when the pilot ends. If it's successful, the plan will be rolled out nationwide.
The police in Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Thames Valley, West Mercia and the West Midlands will gain access to the HMRC database and will start impounding vehicles on pain of a £200 release fee.
So if your name's Johnny, and if you're a foreigner, current UK law requires that you register your vehicle within 6 months of entry into this "other Eden". You're also expected to pay your fair share of your fines and taxes, etc, and keep your vehicle in roadworthy condition.
We've no special axe to grind, you understand, but the British economy is still going down the same hole that the empire vanished into, and we need every penny we can scrounge. Give generously.
— Girl Happy
It was bought by a Texan who plans to ride it just the once, and then loan it long-term to the Buddy Holly Museum in Holly's old home town of Lubbock, Texas.
As part of the late Waylon Jennings estate auction, the Ariel Cyclone went under the hammer on 5th October 2014 at Guernsey's Auctioneers located on East 93rd Street, New York.
MORE ON THE BUDDY HOLLY ARIEL
— Del Monte
No, we ain't arranged a dedicated Sump insurance scheme with Bikesure (although we're rumoured to be considering it). And we're not specifically recommending Bikesure above other insurance companies. But we have sorted out a more informal link with this firm.
So how's it work? Okay, you need insurance. Bikesure wants the business. We want the referral commission. Sounds crude and mercenary when put that way, but that's how it works. We're all adults here.
The referral commission goes into Sump's coffers, and we use the dosh to further develop the magazine which is free-to view (and will be staying so), and it puts an extra bottle of beer in the Sump fridge.
If you telephone Bikesure for an insurance quote, they'll ask you for a reference. You quote:
... and tell 'em Sump Magazine sent ya. Then you answer a zillion questions and take out an insurance policy. Or not. We get the beer only when you and Bikesure do business. Here's the phone number:
Bikesure: See update below.
They don't handle only classic bikes, by the way. Instead, they have dozens of schemes for old heaps, new machines, customs and specials. Maybe some other stuff too.
The firm is underpinned by Adrian Flux Insurance, and we've personally got 5 bikes, a car and a house insured with them. So squeeze whatever juice you can get out of that.
Just remember that your insurance arrangements are strictly between you and Bikesure. We're simply tipping you the wink.
As with all insurance firms, haggle hard. There are some very good deals out there. And note that Bikesure can offer insurance only to permanent UK residents.
UPDATE: We've since discontinued support for Bikesure.
Most of you Sumpsters (we dare to venture) have probably never heard of Atalanta Motors Ltd. And the truth is, aside from a few half-remembered facts (and one or two fictions), we knew of the company only vaguely as another long defunct British motoring marque similar to Morgan.
The firm was created in 1937, about the time that Edward Turner was marketing the seminal 500cc Triumph Speed Twin, and met its demise in 1939, just in time for World War Two.
Twenty-one cars were said to have been built, all very expensive, bespoke, and formed around an up-to-the-minute steel chassis design featuring independent coil suspension.
The cars were fitted with a variety of engines ranging from a 1496cc
4-cylinder OHC unit of around 78bhp, to a 1996cc 4-cylinder OHC unit claimed to be capable of 98 bhp (both bhp figures sound unrealistic). Gearboxes were either 3- or 4-speed. Other engines and transmissions were used or flirted with. But the basic Atalanta platform was as described.
There have been other firms trading (both pre-war and post-war) under the Atalanta banner. But this particular 1930s Atalanta, trading from Staines in Middlesex, just a short hop from where Heathrow Airport now stands, is arguably the predominant. The name, incidentally, recalls an "unswaying" female Greek athlete famed for her beauty, bravery, speed and strength.
Well, the marque is back (or almost back) thanks to the ambitions of Martyn Corfield who "relaunched" the name in 2012 and recently unveiled his first vehicle at the International Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace on 5th - 7th September 2014.
▲ The Atalanta's steel chassis; note the rear combined shock absorbers/dampers fitted neatly into the side rails. Independent suspension was by no means unknown in the 1930s, but it was rare.
Corfield refuses to give too much away regarding the production models, but he has admitted that aluminium body panels coupled to an ash framework will be used, together with a choice of modern power trains. Naturally, the cars will be "brought up to date" in other crucial areas (steering, braking and suspension), and appropriate attention will be given to the detailing necessary to make this into an honest classic revival rather than another pretentious phoney.
▲ Atalanta Sports Tourer. Should Morgan be worried? We think not. No prices are available on the new model (image at the top of this feature), but whatever is announced, you can expect it to rise and rise.
It's hard to see how Corfield can actually make a success of this. It's a very competitive marketplace out there with various historic marques being relaunched. Moreover, much of the really big money is being spent on original period cars that make for sound investments and carry the historical kudos.
Then again, people are full of surprises and stamina, so good luck to Corfield. But whatever happens in the future of motoring and motorcycling, it looks as if the past is simply not going to stay where a lot of people feel it belongs.
— Big End
We'll believe it if you will, but this one is just dumb enough to be true. It seems that certain models of the Ferrari 458 are being recalled over safety fears highlighted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
It's not the brakes, or the steering, or the engine, or the traction control, or any of the more fundamental components of these £150,000 Italian "supercars". Instead, some bright spark has figured out that if someone were to get stuck in the boot/trunk, the catch on the inside would not (easily) permit them to escape.
Here at Sump, it sounds like ordinary natural selection at work. After all, if you're stupid enough to get yourself stuck in the boot/trunk of a Ferrari (which is at the front, by the way, not the rear) should you really be passing down your genes to the next generation? Or should you just stay there and spare the world any more of your doziness?
While you're pondering that one, you might be interested to know that the US NHTSA issued 586 recall notices in 2012 that resulted in millions of vehicles being returned to dealers for remedial work.
Much of those remedial problems presented no immediate (or is that "Clear and Present"?) danger to drivers, passengers or other road users, and all of that remedial work provided plenty of up-selling and general servicing opportunities for motor trade dealers. Certainly, Toyota (in particular) has made a virtue of issuing recall notices and prides itself on being one of the fastest rectifiers of real, imagined or highly unlikely automotive faults.
In fairness, what changed things significantly in the USA was the introduction of the federal TREAD Act in 2000. Prior to this piece of legislation, car manufacturers were not required to report potential defects until a consumer/or consumers had reported it to them. In other words, the manufacturer's approach was passive.
But since TREAD, manufacturers are legally obliged to be active. That's resulted in dozens or even hundreds of possibly premature recall notices that, according to general industry "experts", has wasted millions of work hours for the average US consumer, thereby costing billions of dollars for the wider economy.
▲ Both Charles Darwin (left) and Enzo Ferrari (right) warned of the dangers on getting stuck in the boot/trunk of a 458. But did anyone listen?
Here in the UK, it's VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Service Agency) that issues recall notices. VOSA is contacted by the relevant manufacturer, be it Triumph or Harley-Davidson or BMW, and a recall number is issued. Next, VOSA contacts the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) which supplies vehicle ownership data. And you can figure out the rest.
Overall, reliable figures for UK recall numbers aren't clear. But for 2013, it's claimed that 868,605 vehicles had their leads jerked by pretty much every manufacturer on the block.
On the VOSA website, Triumph Motorcycles has posted recalls that include:
Bonneville "luggage rack may become insecure"
Speed Triple "possible oil contamination of the rear tyre"
Rocket Three "engine may stall"
So far, there's nothing listed for "possibility of getting trapped in pannier or top box", but we know that the average motorcyclist is a lot more savvy than the average Ferrari owner. Or is he? Or she?
And not that we're picking on Triumph, incidentally. The firm actually scores very well for customer service, and there's no reason whatsoever to believe that Hinckley has a poorer track record than anyone else in the bike industry.
Meanwhile, the next time you pull up at the lights beside a Ferrari 458, or any Ferrari come to that, listen out for any suspicious knocking sounds at the front. It could simply be that the suspension is about to detach. But it might be more serious, such as another idiot awaiting salvation. And these days, there's no shortage of those.
CHECK HERE FOR VOSA RECALL NOTICES
— Sam 7
The UK's leading fuel supply companies have recently pledged that there will be no significant increase in the amount of ethanol in British petrol until at least 2017.
Currently, most UK fuel adulterated with ethanol (which is deathanol to many classic engines) is limited to around 5 percent. Under EU law, there is an option for the firms to raise that level to 10 percent. But the fuel companies are well aware that as a direct result of ethanol in fuel, thousands of classic vehicles have suffered damage to fuel systems, cylinder bores, cylinder heads and exhausts (or, at least, the owners claim to have suffered damage)
BP, Exxon (Esso) and Shell, amongst others, have recently clarified their positions on this threat and have advised that the classic "movement" will be given plenty of notice if and when any changes are afoot. But certainly before 1st January 2017, there will be "little or no chance of any ethanol increase".
That's a small crumb of comfort for anyone running classic machinery, especially if they've already suffered such damage and had large repair bills. And it would be nice to believe that this promise is nothing other than goodwill from the petrol industry. But underlying it is no doubt the simple threat of litigation and damaging PR. Ultimately, however, it looks as if a rise in ethanol-in-fuel is on the way. It's just a question of picking the right moment.
If you haven't yet run an "ethanol audit" on your classic bike or other classic vehicles, better do so asap. In spite of what the fuel firms are saying, we've more than once in recent times sniffed a suspiciously stronger than usual odour of CH3 CH2 OH1 around our local petrol pumps.
Ethanol is a natural by-product of yeast and rotten fruit. But we think there could be another kind of rot here that needs further investigation.
— Big End
They said the image was racist, so they took a giant eraser to it and removed it from public display. We're talking about Tendring District Council which controls the area around the east coast seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
Controversial artist Banksy, whose street art often changes hands for hundreds of thousands of pounds, was obviously making an anti-racist statement. Except that it wasn't obvious to the morons who (not untypically for the age we live in) over-reacted and misinterpreted the message.
The offending image showed a group of Essex pigeons carrying placards and facing down an exotic migrant bird. The placards read:
MIGRANTS NOT WELCOME
GO BACK TO AFRICA
KEEP OFF OUR WORMS
The incident has happened just a few days before Clacton-on-Sea goes to the polls in a by-election triggered by incumbent Tory MP Douglas Carswell who has defected to UKIP (UK Independence Party).
UKIP is said (by some, but by no means all) to be fostering a hidden anti-immigrant agenda, and certainly the area represents something of an Anglo-Saxon (read; redneck) frontline.
▲ Now you see it...
▲ ... and now the birdbrains at Tendring have saved the universe
Head council morons have since realised their error (after it was pointed out to them) and have invited Banksy to return to the area and "donate" another work to the local community thereby boosting tourism, and maybe stuffing a few much-needed quid in the municipal coffers. But Banksy, who is famously anonymous, is said to be unmoved and unimpressed.
If he does return, we'd suggest a totally different message for Clacton, perhaps one that reads:
IN CLACTON, WE LIKE TO KEEP OUR WALLS WHITE
That should please everyone, including the pigeons
Most of us here at Sump were in flared trousers, hobbling about in platform shoes and mucking around with our first choppers when Lynsey de Paul appeared on the seventies scene.
She was cool, independent, and slightly aloof. A kind of clean hippy in a floppy hat. And she was one of the most attractive things that ever sat on the ivory side of a piano. She enjoyed a string of hits in the 1970s including Sugar Me; Won't Somebody Dance With Me; Ooh I Do; and No Honestly. She also co-wrote Storm in a Teacup which scored a hit for The Fortunes.
But it was perhaps her Eurovision song, Rock Bottom, that in 1977 made her a household name. She didn't win. But at number two, she came perilously close.
Famously, she fell out with manager Don Arden (father of Sharon Osbourne, wife of Ozzy), and she infamously fell out with Sharon Osbourne who allegedly responded to a criticism by answering a simple call of nature in de Paul's suitcase.
The fallout from the Don Arden litigation, it's said, helped wreck de Paul's music performing career, but she moved into acting and film production, including a self defence video for women.
Despite effectively being unable to perform or re-sign with another record label, she continued to write for TV and radio, and later penned a highly forgettable electioneering ditty for the Conservative Party.
She was born Lynsey Monckton Rubin in Southwark, London. At the height of her career, she was personally associated with numerous celebrities including James Coburn, Sean Connery, Ringo Starr, Roy Wood, Bill Kenwright, Bernie Taupin and Chas Chandler, but she never married and never had children.
During her career, she picked up numerous awards, and she was the first women to collect an Ivor Novello "Ivor" for songwriting and composing.
At just 4-feet 11-inches tall, she was a small figure, but she always had presence, class and style and a lot of musical talent to boot. But she never really gained the general recognition she perhaps deserved and was a difficult character to "pigeon hole" thereby adding to her professional problems. Amongst her peers, however, she was well respected and admired.
Lynsey de Paul was a non-smoker, a teetotaller and a vegetarian, and died suddenly on 1st October 2014. Maybe there's a message in there for the rest of us. But sometimes people just die.
According to Metzeler, these tyres are more than merely the last and most crucial bit between your good self and the road. These tyres are actually a "revival"; a return to the glory days of the 1980s when Metzeler gave the world the ME1 CompK, "the first tire (tyre) with “bias belted” (MBS) technology". So enter the Sportec Klassics which are supposed to be the next move up.
We ain't arguing with that because, being Dunlop and Avon men (and women), we barely remember the ME1 CompK (and we barely remember the 1980s having been soundly drunk for most of it).
But we're taking Metzeler at its word because, like all good Germans, they don't really know how to lie (not seeing the point in it).
All the same, the Krauts know how to lay it on thick. Check this from the press release (to be read in a German accent):
"The same developments put in place for the new supersport product have enabled us to design the compound that allows the Sportec Klassik to achieve excellent results in the wet, without exceeding the use of grooves and maintaining a design with a very high land-sea ratio.
"The tread pattern of Sportec is very robust because its footprint provides a high amount of rubber in contact with the road; both on the straight as well as when leant over. This not only offers advantages in terms of mileage, stability and road holding, but it means that all of these qualities remain after many kilometers and with the progressive wear of the tire."
We're not sure what "kilometers" are, or even "kilometres". But we think they're like miles, only shorter. However, it's gonna take more than these rubbers to make us shift brands. But many of you Sumpsters will see it differently, so here are the sizes:
110/70 - 17 M/C 54H TL
110/80 V - 17 M/C (57V) TL
100/90 V - 18 M/C (56V) TL
110/90 V - 18 M/C (61V) TL
100/90 - 19 M/C 57V TL
3.25 - 19 M/C 54V TL
130/70 - 17 M/C 62H TL
130/80 - 17 M/C 65H TL
130/90 - 17 M/C 68V TL
140/80 - VB 17 M/C (69V) TL
120/90 - 18 M/C 65V TL
4.00 - 18 M/C 64V TL
Meanwhile, if you're an off-road man or woman, the Mitas tyres below might fit your requirements a little better...
— Del Monte
These Czech-made rubber donuts are, apparently, the highlight of Mitas Tyres' presence at this year's (50th International) Intermot Show in Cologne, Germany.
And that might not sound too exciting until you remind yourself that tyre technology is a wonderful and underrated thing and keeps us all blithely rolling along on our chosen highways, which is the ultimate goal of biking, classic or otherwise.
For some of us, anyway.
These new rubbers are the C-24 (rear) and C-25 (front) designed for use in extra soft muddy conditions. And we hear that there is also a C-26 and C-27 for use on extra hard and rocky terrains. The Mitas press release doesn't make it clear if the tread patterns on the latter two tyres are the same as those on the first two. So your guess is as good as ours. No prices have been listed, but your dealer will sort it out.
For what it's worth, we're running a few Mitas tyres on our own bikes here at Sump. And the general consensus is that they're okay—for the money. But it's interesting and amusing to note that the firm's own website describes its products as "agricultural, industrial and motorcycle tyres." Which just about sums them up. Czech 'em out sometime.
— Big End
We ought not to be broadcasting the incompetence of our government departments. Johnny Foreigner might get the idea that we're stupid over here in the UK.
Except that stupidity is a global disease, and we've probably got no more than our fair share of it.
Nevertheless, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is said to be a little red faced this morning (1st October 2014); the first day of the "tax disc" changes in which the system goes entirely electronic, and the paper disc is consigned to history.
The good news, however, is that 270,000 road users yesterday managed to negotiate the new online system and had their (sometimes 6 hour) wait rewarded with a digital disc to affix to their digital windscreen or display in their digital tax disc holder. However, thousands of others faced repeated screen messages advising them that the system had crashed and that they needed to try again later.
Driving or riding in the UK without a valid tax disc is punishable by up to a £1,000 fine and a stiff, patronising nagging at the roadside. But if you're one of the unhappy few, we figure that the rozzers, if they stop you, will show a little mercy. But don't count on it. Electronic systems tend to send out automatic fines. You might want to wait this one out for a few days with a few beers and dirty movie or two.
It seems that the 93-year old pay-and-display tradition is gone, but it hasn't gone without a struggle. How's that for a little Dunkirk spirit?
— Del Monte
As ever, official entries are restricted to pre-1905 vehicles. And as ever, the 2014 (Bonhams) Veteran Car Run leaves Hyde Park, London for Madeira Drive, Brighton. And also as ever, it happens on the first Sunday in the month, which this year happens to be 2nd November 2014.
But there's a difference this season. The 433 entrants will be using The Mall in Central London as part of the 60-mile route south. And it's only the second time in over 50 years since "the Queen's road" has been used in this way. The last occasion was in 1962.
The first vehicles will depart at 06.56, which is sunrise. That's part of the tradition too. The cars leave Hyde Park, drive around Wellington Arch, chug down Constitution Hill and plink-plink-plink past Buckingham Palace.
Then it's up The Mall towards Admiralty Arch, right onto Horse Guards Road, left towards Parliament Square followed by a slow trundle over Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament and onward to Brighton.
▲ The Mall looking towards The Palace. Pall Mall was a 17th century game similar to croquet. It was played in the fields beside The Mall. The flags, note, come out only for special occasions. But maybe Her Majesty will raise the colours for the London - Brighton Run. Rule Britannia, etc.
If you want to get a piece of the fun, such as it is, and if you've got a suitable long-past-its-sell-by classic bike, you might want to find yourself cruising that route or anywhere down the A23 London to Brighton Road on that particular day. Just casually, you understand, and maybe dressed in something appropriate.
That same weekend, there's the free-to-view Regent Street Motor Show (Saturday 1st November 2014), and Bonhams has organised its Veteran Car Auction for Friday 1st October 2014.
Naturally, there's the rest of Central London to enjoy. So if ever you needed an excuse to get your oily old heap out of the shed and show it off, here it is.
— Girl Happy
▲ Bonneville Salt Flats? Spain? A landfill site in Cumbria? A little imagination goes a long, long way...
T214 sounds like a pretty odd name for a Bonneville, until you remember that Johnny Allen, back in 1956, set a world speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah and hit 214mph. Then it sounds ... well, still a little odd.
Allen wasn't riding a Bonneville, note. He was piloting a 650cc Thunderbird streamliner dubbed the Texas Cee-Gar.
Triumph refused to back Allen's attempt, but in 1959 Meriden nevertheless cashed-in and launched the T120 Bonneville. Cheeky sods. Now Hinckley Triumph is looking to do a little cashing-in of its own with the T214.
At the very least, you'd think that this bike would have been offered with a lot more grunt. But aside from a shrunken headlight and a hand-applied paint job designed to emulate Johnny Allen's colours, it's a run-of-the-mill (albeit very worthy) T100 Bonnie. 1000 will be manufactured for worldwide distribution.
Meanwhile, we're still arguing about how to pronounce it. Two-one-four? Two-fourteen? Two-hundred-and-fourteen? Along with the "Newchurch" (see main picture caption, top of the page), this has to be one of the dumbest motorcycle names since the Francis Barnett Plover.
Overall, therefore, we're totally unimpressed by this bike. Granted, Triumph wants to sell as many motorcycles as possible. And granted, times are still tough. And granted, it looks a perfectly nice machine. But this particular sales attempt looks more like commercial desperation bordering on outright cynicism.
So wakey-bloody-wakey, Hinckley. We're starting to nod off down here in Sumpland.
Prices are to be announced. And delivery will be early next year, which means that these bike will be a lot slower on arrival than Johnny Allen's Cee-Gar.
— Sam 7
"Nurbs" is the name of the bike. Fred Bertrand is the builder. "Krugger" is the name of the business, as in Krugger Motorcycles. And this is the machine that took first prize in the Freestyle Class at the 2014 AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building at Cologne, Germany (2nd - 5th October).
So who is Fred Bertrand?
Well, he's a Belgian custom bike builder. He worked for a while in the auto industry (Renault), enjoyed some success in Enduro racing, served a tin bashing apprenticeship, restored race cars, and repaired a lot of motorcycles.
He's also fabricated dozens of pretty cool customs and, in doing so, caught the eye of BMW Motorrad. That led directly to a commission, and soon after came another customer-based build. That was the origin of Nurb's; a joint BMW/customer project.
The bike is based on the 161bhp K1600 racer; a six-cylinder behemoth featuring BMW's established traction-control and electronically adjustable suspension. We hear that Bertrand put around 3,000 man hours into this project, which equate to 125 complete days.
What's interesting about Bertrand is the breadth of his vision. You can't predict where he's next coming from, the inverse off that being that you can't anticipate where he's going. Check out the four bikes below. They're named, respectively, Speedbowl, Ferdinand, Link and Harper. And they're all the handwork of the man in the image above right, Fred Bertrand.
The golden age of custom motorcycles (1960s through the 1970s) might well be long over. But in terms of technical refinement, quality of work, innovation, daring, and sheer pizzazz, the scene is still dramatically evolving.
▲ Speedbowl. If we have to explain the beauty of this Panhead board track style racer, you probably wouldn't be interested. For us, it's that caramel colour that makes it gel (well, that and the frame, forks, wheels, seat, bars and engine).
▲ A bike named Ferdinand. Harley-Davidson baggers ain't exactly our bag, neither with or without a turbocharger. But the world is full of guys and gals who see it very differently. That colour is growing on us, mind.
▲ So okay, the carburettors are at the front and the exhausts are at the rear, and technically that ain't too smart. Or original. But the bike, named Link, has the poise of a prima Donna and perfectly sums up the confidence of the Japanese motorcycle invasion. Check the silencers exiting the tailpiece.
▲ Harper by Krugger Motorcycles. Your basic Shovelhead bobber. There's no new style ground being broken here either. But this clean and timeless look will still be in fashion when Jesus returns to shut up shop. Hallelujah brother, we say.
The AMD Custom Bike Show
The AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building came to Europe for the first time in 2013, and was reprised in 2014. The event began in 2004 at the Californian headquarters of Custom Chrome (one of the huge parts supply pillars propping up the custom bike world). Originally, only professional builders gained entry.
In 2005, the venue for the event switched to Las Vegas, and this time private entries were admitted.
In 2006, the show relocated to Sturgis, South Dakota where it stayed for seven years.
Then (2013) it was relocated to Essen, Germany where it was attached to the Big Bike Europe exposition. The following year (2014) it moved to Intermot in Cologne.
So what's with the "AMD"? That's American Motorcycle Dealer magazine which sponsored the event.
— Girl Happy