The firm has been suffering for a while, gritting its teeth and struggling to balance the books (no pun intended) in a falling market. But now Haynes Publishing, world famous for its multi-lingual, grassroots technical manuals, is desperately restructuring itself in an effort to halt the financial slide.
To that end, the company last week announced that it was to close its head office, sack some staff, cancel the milk and papers and merge its general publishing arm with its technical manual division.
Yes, most of us are at times frustrated by the things that our Haynes manuals fail to tell us or warn us about. But all in all, the fabled tomes are a Godsend for anyone hoping to get better acquainted with the internal machinations of his or her preferred form of transport.
But with its general book sales falling 18% over the past year, and with manual sales dropping by around 7%, Haynes feels it's been forced to rethink its business model.
▲ Above: John Haynes published his first manual in 1965 intent on addressing the spanner-wielding needs of the Austin Healey Sprite owner. Almost half a century later, the man is still at the wheel, if driving into an uncertain future.
The company, founded in 1960 by John Haynes and based in Sparkford, Somerset, is also shutting its distribution arm and will outsource to a "third party logistics" firm.
It's not clear how much of Haynes's problems have been mitigated by its recent purchase (earlier this month) of Clymer Manuals and Intertec Manuals, both previously owned by US-based Penton Business Media (founded in 1892 by John Penton and currently a huge trade magazine publisher with long fingers and deep pockets). Haynes, we hear, paid £5.85 million in the deal; almost 60% of it in cash, and the rest in the form of debt.
Either way, the move now makes Haynes the world's premier publisher of automotive manuals (having effectively usurped Clymer) and will give the firm access to new markets from snowmobiles to chainsaws to water recreation craft to tractors. But it's a pyrrhic victory that has seen Haynes both enlarge and downsize, and one that will probably come at a significant cost in terms or personnel and prestige (Haynes employs 280 people worldwide, around 70 at Sparkford).
World book publishing has been badly hit by the recession-that-dare-not-speak-its-name, and Haynes has, in recent years, taken a serious corporate hit. We're certainly not looking at the imminent departure of this august firm. But over the next few months and years, the company is no doubt going to be picking a lot of fluff from its wallet.
If anyone out there has written a manual on how to restore the fortunes of a struggling love-to-hate publishing firm, Haynes will no doubt be pleased to put it on the presses.
To his mum, he was always Ronald Wycherley. To the news and TV media of the day he was the English Elvis Presley. To pretty much everyone he was Billy Fury.
Born on 17th April 1940, he died on 28th January 1983 from heart problems caused by rheumatic fever that he contracted as a child. Fury, with his soulful looks, mellow voice and vulnerable demeanour, was a tremendously bright but brief flame who scored 24 hits during the 1960s with songs including Halfway to Paradise; Jealousy; In Summer; When Will You Say I Love you?; It's only Make Believe and One Upon a Dream. But unfortunately, he never quite hit the number one spot, coming dangerously close with various number 3s, 4s and 5s plus a 6 and a 7.
He was an actor too, perhaps best remembered as Stormy Tempest in the film That'll Be The Day featuring David Essex and Ringo Starr.
Born in Liverpool, ex-docker Fury led a troubled life plagued with health, financial and career problems. He was a birdwatcher too, owned a farm, and was interested in wildlife preservation. By the 1970s he was declared bankrupt.
Today, he's almost forgotten by the masses, but he's remembered by the Ace Cafe on Saturday 12th October 2013 which is marking the 30th anniversary of Fury's death at the age of just 42.
Expect an evening of Billy Fury songs with music by Porky's Hot Rockin', with DJ Flat Top Dave spinning the platters. There's a prize draw too which is raffling copies of Vintage Rock Magazine and Billy Fury "The Rocker" CDs brought to you by Delta Music.
The event runs between 9.00pm and 2.00am. Entry is £10. And if you're under 18, you'll have to do some rapid growing up.
— Del Monte
We're told that this first aid kit was created specifically for motorcyclists, and we're not arguing about it because frankly, we don't care who it was created for or when. It's an emergency medical bag, and everyone on the road ought to have one. Including us.
But you know how it is. It's one of those things that we keep putting off and putting off. And so do you probably.
Well, here's your chance to finally do something about it. We hear that it's got the usual straightforward over-the-counter stuff you'd expect to find in a kit like this. Adhesive bandage. Plaster. Disposable gloves. Sterile burn compression bandage. It's even got a foil blanket for hypothermia victims (which is pretty much all of us at some time or another on both sides of the pond).
The kit's even got a pair of scissors and an instruction booklet (but try and read it before you're actually looking at some poor sod who's face down in a roadside bush with his bike wrapped around his ears).
If we had to whinge about it, we'd say that this kit doesn't go far enough. They might have chucked in a couple of painkillers (or are there rules stopping 'em doing that?) They might have chucked in a needle and thread (you never know when one of the patches on your jacket is likely to come loose). And they might have chucked in ... hell, how do we know? We'd just like to see something more comprehensive.
Anyway, the Gear Gremlin First Aid Kit measures 15cm x 10cms x 5cm and weighs less than 250 grams. The price is £8.99 including VAT.
Sounds like the kind of thing you might want to buy your loved one as a present. We hope that he or she will never need it. But if and when they do, you can be sure they'll admire your foresight, and will love you back for it.
Telephone: 0117 971 9200
— Sam 7
In April 2012, Mike Ellis, workshop manager for Watsonian Sidecars, was killed on his motorcycle in an horrific accident involving a reversing truck driver who failed to spot him behind the vehicle. In honour of Ellis, a memorial run was organised. The first event happened last September.
This year, the run was held on Sunday 22nd September and, we hear, saw dozens of riders covering a ninety mile route from the Cotsworld Watsonian factory to the Malvern Hills and back in what was "unseasonally good weather".
The run also raised £500 for charity and, equally importantly, served to raise awareness for a new campaign called RearView which aims to force a change in the law by compelling commercial vehicle operators to fit rear warning cameras or other reverse warning devices.
Ellis, 41, was road testing a customer's motorcycle and riding downhill through a one-way system on Northwich Business Park near Blockley, Gloucestershire when he happened upon the truck.
The vehicle immediately began to reverse, and we hear that Ellis did call out an alarm, but the truck's windows were closed, and the driver had the radio on.
Nevertheless, the Crown Prosecution Service was of the view that the driver had otherwise behaved reasonably and had checked his mirrors, but Ellis was all but invisible behind. Moreover, the one-way system was on private land (as opposed to a public road) and was therefore unenforceable.
No charges have been brought against the driver.
The need for mandatory cameras or other warning devices is long overdue, and the technology is mature enough to see suitable equipment installed at a very small cost (less than £100 per vehicle). Sump supports this 100% and invites all visitors to this site to go straight to the petition and sign it.
There's no longer any justification for blind spots behind any motor vehicle. If enough motorcyclists get together, the chances of forcing a change in the law are considerably higher.
Please make your mark on that petition, and pass the word.
— The Third Man
If you think car boot sales are a little too downmarket and common, then think again, because this one is far from common. It's going to happen on Saturday 12th October 2013, and the location will be London's Southbank Centre which is right on the river Thames and diagonally opposite the Houses of Parliament. More specifically, it's between Queen's Walk, Hungerford Bridge and Jubilee Gardens.
We're advised that this is the first time a classic car boot sale has happened (at this venue, at least), but that spot is a regular haunt for book fairs, jazz events, and various other slightly highbrow cultural interests.
However, this time it's classic cars, classic vans, classic bikes, classic caravans, classic bicycles and pretty much classic anything else on wheels. But also on the agenda is anything to do with pop culture, fab fashion and furniture, and vintage home ware (lamps, prints, carpets, desks, gramophones).
You can book a spot to flog your wares from your car boot (trunk, in US-speak), or sidecar, or even bicycle basket. But if it isn't pre-1989, you need not apply.
The emphasis is on style, fun, and originality. So '57 Chevy Bel Airs, Citroën Type H Vans and BSA M21 AA sidecar combos are cool, but leave the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Zafira at home, please.
You can rent a pitch starting from £25 (motorcycle), £35 (car) or £45 (van). Food pitches are from £150 upward. But if you just want to show off your pride and joy and not trade, there are limited spaces (presumably at no charge).
The event runs between 10.00am and 6.00pm. Public entry is £3. And take note that there is plenty of parking around the Southbank, but they ain't giving it away.
This is a pretty cool place for a car boot sale; certainly a lot cooler than your average field in Essex. So try and get in the spirit of the event (bobby socks, fifties buzz cuts, quiffs, beehives, plus fours, French beret and striped jumper, or whatever). So live it up a little. Die another day.
— Del Monte
If you've never heard of this event, it could be because this is the first of what might well be many. We're advised that this is "a celebration of classic vehicles, both on the ground and in the air!"
Expect a fly-in of visiting aircraft (including Spitfires), wing-walking, dragsters, motorsport racing, aerial aerobatics, vintage and classic traders, food, drink, music, etc, and there might even be a few classic bikes too. But we've checked the itinerary, and aside from a Wall of Death display, there's no specific mention of motorcycles (but there is a token bike graphic on their masthead—see image above).
Then again, life isn't all about action on two motorised wheels, so you'll probably have a pretty good day out anyway.
It takes place at Sywell Aerodrome, Hall Farm, Sywell,
Northamptonshire NN6 0BN.
Saturday 28th Sept: 10am - 6.30pm
Sunday 29th Sept: 10am - 5pm
Big people: £14 in advance or £17 on the gate.
Little people: (aged 5 to 15): £5 in advance or £7 on the gate.
Very little people go free.
Whatever you do, DON'T bring the dog. Sywell is a working airfield, and mutts are definitely canes non gratae.
— Girl Happy
Two men were recently robbed at gunpoint when they attempted to buy a second-hand motorcycle advertised on Gumtree, the free ads community website currently owned by eBay.
It happened on Wednesday 11th September 2013 when the two victims were lured to an address in Stockbridge Village, Merseyside. They had travelled from the Wirral in response to an advert for a "cheap motorcycle".
On arrival, the victims came face to face with two balaclava-wearing robbers who, armed with a gun and a knife, relieved the pair of £1800, their wallets and their mobile phones. A white LDV panel van belonging to one of the victims was also taken and later found abandoned.
It's by no means the first time that Gumtree has been used in this way. In June 2013, a BMW car buyer was robbed in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Before that, there were a number of similar robberies in South London. And it's believed that there have been many other instances in which the victims were either two embarrassed or intimidated to come forward.
In fact, this kind of robbery has been going on for decades, but the prevalence of free ad portals and mobile phones has made it more common.
It's a worldwide problem and one that, without stringent and complicated buyer/seller mechanisms, is difficult to control.
Ultimately, the strength of this type of crime is underpinned by the ordinary need to bag a bargain before the next guy gets it. To that end, the goods that are offered are invariably at a knock-down price—or, least, significantly beneath the market average.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Try and arrive at the agreed location/address at least one hour earlier and check it out. Lurking robbers are unlikely to want to hang around for very long.
NEVER meet anyone in car parks, lay-bys, roundabouts or remote locations.
Always take a friend, and if possible bring two vehicles—and keep your friend well back so that he can observe without immediate threat.
Try to deal with sellers through a landline, not a mobile phone.
Ask very searching and trick questions about the bike. Thieves often have only a very limited knowledge and are easily fooled.
Consider arriving on foot ahead of the money and checking out the bike and the seller. If it looks kosher, call in your friend to bring the money. Use a code word if there's trouble so that he can alert the police.
If you get robbed, DON'T bother getting general descriptions. Just look for something SPECIFIC (a tattoo, a distinct ring, an unusual item of clothing). That just might help identify the bastards and bring them to book.
Try and take brand new notes, and jot down a few serials numbers here and there. It might help if anyone is arrested.
You could always arrange for a mini-cab to meet you at the scene. Robbers, by nature, are often nervous and might think twice if there are two many people around. Another tenner for a cab fare won't hurt your budget much.
If it all goes pear-shaped, don't be a hero. Just hand over the money and whatever else is demanded.
All this isn't going to help you get those serious bargains, and it may make one or two honest sellers wonder if they're being scammed in some way. But it will reduce the risk of being robbed.
Puts a whole new spin on the idea of buying an Enfield Bullet, huh?
— Del Monte
It was first sold 112 years ago when an Ariel motorcycle showroom occupied the ground at 101 New Bond Street, London W1. A century or so later, the world renowned auction house, Bonhams, selected that location as its new HQ and they'll be selling the Ariel once again.
It's a 1901 345cc Quadricycle, and it goes under the hammer on Friday 1st November 2013 at Bonhams' London to Brighton Sale—which coincides with the 2013 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
The Ariel (image courtesy of Bonhams) has had only three owners from new. The frame number is 85. The engine number is 607. The estimate is £25,000 - £35,000. And Bonhams is chuffed as nuts (whatever the hell that quaint old Anglo Saxon phrase means) to be handling the sale.
So okay, on the one hand it's no big deal. Bonhams, after all, flogs a lot of stuff. But at the same time, there's a nice "symmetry" to the sale. It's like thumbing your nose at the passing of time and holding back a few years.
Well, 112 of them actually. And either you get it or you don't (and we suspect that most of you reading this definitely do). If not, move along their fella. You're on the wrong web site and blocking the view.
Meanwhile, if you're not going to the Bonhams sale, you might want to at least check out the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. There are three days of related events going on during that particular weekend. And after that, there's not an awful lot of really interesting oil and petrol stuff on the calendar for the remainder of the year. Not that we can see, anyway.
So make the most of it.
— Big End
It's hardly worth putting this story up, but we haven't had a press release for the past half an hour, and there is an underlying point to be made here.
The upshot is that tensions in Syria have supposedly subsided, and that means that the wholesale cost of petrol has fallen. To that end, the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) feels that British supermarkets and oil firms have an obligation to follow suit and cut the price at the pump.
And we wouldn't complain if they did. In fact, they can start giving the stuff away if they want.
But Pete Williams, an RAC spokesman, believes: "If fuel retailers want the public to fully trust [that] they are operating fairly and transparently, they should reflect the drop in wholesale prices immediately by cutting prices by up to 5p a litre for unleaded and 2p a litre for diesel."
Well it's not about trust. It's not about transparency. The oil production firms and fuel retailers aren't in the business of playing fair or handing out charity. They're in the business of maximising profits for their shareholders, and there's no automatic social imperative to do anything but serve their own ends.
That's still a hard and bitter pill for many folk to swallow, especially in these economically trying times. But ultimately, it all comes down to market forces.
If the RAC wants socialism, they can go East. But here in the West, capitalism is still the operating system, and for all its manifold faults, no one seems to have improved upon it.
— Big End
Yeah, we know that New York is a helluva long way to go to watch a movie (unless you live in or around New York City), but these ain't any old movies that we're talking about.
Instead, this cinematic event is aimed at drawing together all those modern independent film makers from around the world who specialise in biking flicks.
And that includes everyone from 8mm and 16mm maestros, to video virtuosos, to the old pros of YouTube, to the professionals and semi-professionals.
Additionally, it's a chance for artistes and aficionados of the genre to chinwag about all the other great, and not so great, biking movies that inspired a generation to take to two wheels, throw caution to the wind, and live a little on the edge. We're talking about The Wild One, Easy Rider, The Leather Boys, The Wild Angels, The Girl on a Motorcycle, On Any Sunday, Quadrophenia and all the other more obvious stuff.
But there are a lot of slightly lesser know gems including She Devils on Wheels, Eat the Peach, Electra Glide in Blue, Psychomania and The Born Losers. And all these will no doubt be coming under the verbal scrutiny of the vintage voyeurs happy to relive or revile some moments that ought to be on the national schools curriculum.
Anyone who's anyone Stateside is going to be there, and currently the USA is buzzing with vintage, alternative and indie motorcycle customisers still coming up with new and interesting ways to look at greasy old iron, and keen to fire their plugs on celluloid.
We'd go ourselves, but the City That Never Sleeps is a long haul from Blighty, and we've got a year's supply of old socks around here that have been kinda piling up in the corner and desperately need to see some soap suds.
Also, we've already made other plans.
But if there's nothing to stop you from letting loose for a couple of days (and you're a long time dead, remember), we advise you to draw some cash, lock the garage, put the kids into care, hop on a Jumbo, and join the party.
The organisers, Jack Drury and Corinna Mantlo, have worked hard on this event. It's their first time around the block with this one, and they'd like to see it run as an annual fix.
The festival starts on Thursday 26th September 2013, and ends on Saturday 28th. A weekend pass will cost $65. Or you can buy individual screening tickets for just $8. Just keep in mind that the emphasis is on independent modern film makers, many of whom will no doubt be showing some pretty compelling footage.
Interested? Good. Check out the link below, get yourself to Heathrow or Gatwick and then fly south west until you run out of water.
Can't miss Brooklyn.
You might wonder what the hell this has to do with classic motorcycles, but stick around a spell. We'll explain that in a moment.
But first, you might want to consider the political and social implications of ordinary folk like us printing their own firearms in the comfort of their living rooms.
Did we say printing?
Yes, we did, because in case you've been living in a cave or touring Africa on a BSA Bantam for the last few years, the 3D printing revolution is happening. And the world's first 3D printers have been on sale for a while, and currently for less than £700.
The technology employs CAD design software that prints layer upon layer of plastic filaments until a three dimensional object is created.
▲ Above: When we were kids, we used to draw with Spirographs and coloured chalks. Now you can CAD a real gun and hit the print button. Could make those cowboy and Indian games a lot more interesting, huh?
In this instance, that object is a gun conceived and designed by Cody Wilson, a Texan law student and self-styled "anarchist". The pistol is called a Liberator and fires real .380 ammo, and it can probably be smuggled onto a plane without too much trouble were you so minded. Except that the design also features a cube of steel intended to trigger airport metal detectors. But hey, you can simply take that out and throw it away if you've got no use for it.
And keep in mind that if you do harbour fantasies about murdering airline passengers and suchlike, this is a single shot weapon. Moreover, contrary to what the movies tell you, a gun fired inside the cabin of a jet liner doesn't actually blow holes big enough to do much except cause a lot of high pressure hissing.
That aside, there are 15 plastic components in the gun (some assembly is required), and the only other piece of steel in the mechanism is a nail that acts as a firing pin. The weapon was first shown earlier this year.
The plans went out over the internet via Cody's company, Defense Distributed, and we hear that 100,000 downloads were made before the Yank authorities pulled the plug on that particular design.
▲ Above: A plastic pistol? It might not look like the real thing, but this is the new real thing. Three-dimensional printing at "affordable" prices.
Regardless, Cody's pistol is now on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in a new exhibition at the London Design Festival, which runs from 14th September until the 22nd (unless the Yanks decide to close that too).
This is another technological genie that's well out of the bottle now, and it will soon rank alongside things like roadside bombs triggered by remote control and various other items of weaponry that can now be built in a shed from equipment that. just a few years ago, was considered ultra high tech and therefore beyond reach.
Ultimately, all machinery and equipment is neither intrinsically good nor bad. It's only its application and the end-user that warrants a moral check up. And 3D printers are no more an automatic evil than a copying lathe, a CAD design program, a mobile phone or a spanner.
▲ Above: We're sure the US National Rifle Association will have a viewpoint on the Liberator, so we modified an old NRA bumper sticker.
But this technology is bound to find itself a comfortable niche somewhere in the motorcycle world crafting parts for switchgear, side panels, lenses, air boxes, goggles, crash helmet shells, tank badges and anything else you can think of. And as the technology further develops, the printing materials will undoubtedly change from plastics to, perhaps, metal alloys, rubber, carbon fibre and new types of high density resins.
How all this impacts the motorcycle parts supply chain is anyone's guess (we can't look much further than the next beer, you understand). But we can vaguely see in the distance a time when you go down to Kempton Park (which is on again this Saturday 21st September) and, having been unable to locate that genuine NOS Bakelite tank panel for your 1938 Speed Twin, you'll be able to find someone to print you one while you're scoffing your chips and talking the usual happy nonsense with your bargain hungry mates.
There's already been a lot of controversy over this technology with numerous US senators and British politicians wondering what the hell they can do about it, which is probably very little. But the fact is, it's here and it's rapidly becoming as mainstream as microwave ovens and desktop scanners.
Welcome to the future.
▲ Above: Chris Grayling MP wants to further shake up the already beleaguered British judicial system. But in view of his recent dodgy parliamentary expense scandal woes, we're still not sure on which side of those bars he ought to be standing. See the following news item, and check out the link within the story.
Chris Grayling is no stranger to Sump. We reported back in March 2013 a story on British Justice for Sale in which Grayling, Tory MP for Epsom & Ewell, was inviting Johnny Foreigner to come to Britain and kneel before the altars of our world famous judicial temples and have the UK resolve his disputes (all major credit cards accepted).
Well now, the Right Honourable so-and-so—who also happens to be Lord Chancellor & Secretary of State for Justice—has raised his noggin far enough above the parapet for us to take notice once again of what he's saying.
The upshot is that 51-year old Grayling wants to reform the British magistracy service, which is probably not a bad idea (in principle). But it could seriously impact upon you as a classic biker or motorist the next time you come up before the beak.
Specifically, if you plead guilty to an offence (motoring or otherwise), Grayling wants to have your plea dealt with by a single office-bound magistrate rather than the usual trio sitting on the bench.
"It saves time" says Grayling, who, take note, is also charged by David Cameron with the onerous responsibility of saving as much dosh as possible to keep Battleship Britain afloat.
And it's true that a single rubber-stamping magistrate would save time (and money). Only, a guilty plea is usually closely followed by a statement of mitigation which, say many lawyers, is a fundamental part of the British legal process.
In other words, admitting you committed the crime or offence is one thing, but explaining why you did it is something else. And if Grayling's proposals go ahead, office bound magistrates will, it's feared by detractors, likely simply mark your card and hand down a sentence with nothing but a deaf ear to your excuses.
That could mean that motoring offences, which might draw a little leniency from an understanding courtroom beak, could simply result in much heavier penalties, thereby possibly forcing you off the road, if not into jail.
It could therefore encourage defendants to plead not guilty to any and all offences, in which case they are guaranteed their day in court where, if necessary, they can then change their plea and throw in whatever mitigation they feel is appropriate.
Under Grayling's plans, there are other changes afoot—not least the proposal for (unpaid) magistrates (who generally have no legal training and are merely drawn from prominent members of the community) to oversee matters across a wider geographical area. That, we understand, goes against the notion that magistrates have local knowledge and can therefore deal with matters in a local way.
And Con-man Grayling has numerous other legal reforms in mind that are causing much controversy among Britain's 23,500 magistrates, 118,000 (practicing) solicitors, and 15,000 barristers (the latter two figures up from 32,000 and 2500, respectively, since the 1970s). So who says crime doesn't pay?
It's certainly paying someone.
In simple terms, for you as a biker (classic or otherwise), Chris Grayling is heavily shaking the justice tree and a lot of time honoured principles and practices are about to fall out. So better keep an eye on him.
Everything has a price, not least the British legal system. And in the current climate, the government simply can't afford to underwrite the rising bills.
— Big End
Better not get rid of that lowly little sidevalve or humble two-stroke just yet; not if you live in or around the City of London's famous Square Mile, because it looks like your forward locomotion is about to get a boost, relatively speaking.
The Court of Common Council (the City's head honchos) has recently proposed to cut the current nosebleed-inducing 30mph limit to a soporific 20mph. Might not sound like anything worth getting your leathers in a twist for. The City of London (not to be confused with London as a city) just isn't that big, so if you have to slow down for a mile, those 1760 yards ain't gonna kill ya.
Except that the neighbouring boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark, and Islington also have 20mph limits in force, and the "Twenty's Plenty" lobby is on the warpath and gaining territory.
Portsmouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Bristol and York are among dozens of UK cities that either have, or are about to implement, 20mph strangleholds. Campaigners for the cuts cite improved air quality, fewer fatalities, more pedestrian friendly streets, and even faster journey times due to smoother traffic flow.
▲ Above: London's famous Square Mile business sector could soon feel a little bigger if and when new speed cuts come into force.
Sounds good in principle. In fact, it's hard to throw up a logical argument against putting on the brakes. Except that the Department for Transport has published figures showing that casualties have actually increased in 20mph zones (see this story on Sump July 2013).
We haven't looked closely or even directly at the figures, so it might be that although casualties are up, fatalities are down. Or it might be that injuries and fatalities are both up. But the point is, the absolute benefits of slowing traffic beyond 30mph aren't clear. And there is a point when it just ain't worth getting up in the morning anymore, know what we mean?
Regardless, we could be looking at the end of high speed motoring, at least in our cities. And that might even bring a fresh lease of life to all those lackadaisical, dilatory and generally sluggish classics cluttering up the sheds and garages of the realm.
The last time we took our old BSA WM20 through the City, we were at the mercy of just about everything on wheels, and quite a few pooping police horses on hooves. But if the council's proposals come to fruition, we're going back to make a nuisance of ourselves on equal terms (more or less).
What's that old saying about clouds and silver linings?
Lastly, the City of London's motto (as seen on their slightly modified coat of arms at the top of this news item) is Domine dirige nos, which translates as "Lord, guide us."
And maybe he will, but he'd better do it at less than 20mph because this particular part of that other Eden (to quote Shakespeare) has more surveillance cameras per mile (or per square mile, if you prefer) than just about anywhere else on Earth.
Perhaps "Lord watch over us," would be a more appropriate motto for the modern world in which we mere mortals dwell.
— Sam 7
The current bid, as of Friday 13th September 2013, 8.30pm, is £5500 with seven days to go. There's just the one bid, by the way, but we suspect there will be a few more of those before the auction ends.
It's a 1951 model that hasn't spun a wheel in fifteen years and has, we hear, been in the same family for forty. The patina on this Edward Turner-designed 1000cc behemoth is just about perfect, and God forbid that someone should restore it.
Yes, we know the engineer argument about not letting good machinery decay any more than it absolutely has to. But like many bikers, we're romantics at heart and we'd be inclined to let that particular body organ rule the one the engineers are advocating.
The seller has a 100% feedback rating with 32 satisfied deals over the past twelve months, and at first glance the offer looks as kosher as a Jewish wedding. But as ever, check it out carefully. There are plenty of cons on eBay, one of which you can read about further down this page, and the other you can find on August 2013 Sump.
But whatever you do with the bike if you happen to buy it, at least try and put a few miles on a clock. There doesn't seem to be too much of that happening any more in the classic bike world, and you start getting old the moment you forget to stay young. Think about it.
UPDATE: We note that the bid that was on this bike has since been removed (15th September 2013)
— Girl Happy
From all the fanfare and hype, you'd think that the new Royal Enfield Continental GT "cafe racer"—which was unveiled en masse this week at the Ace Cafe and launched at the Brooklands Museum—was the greatest thing since WD-40, impact drivers and sexual intercourse (not necessarily in that order). And we have to confess that we really loved the idea of the bike when it was announced last year and we reported it on Sump.
But this particular Indian takeaway has cooled a little for us since it was delivered, and we're not so hungry anymore. Yes, all credit to RE for pushing its boundaries (a little) and creating a very pretty little bike. But we're not exactly convinced by its supposed cafe racer credentials and we think Enfield missed a trick by not serving it up a little more raw and hot.
Electric and kickstarter? Half-hearted clip-ons? And rear sets that are clearly a little forward about going backward? And pillion pegs?
A cockpit fairing might have helped too. And those Paioli shocks look a little too "obvious" for our taste. Overall, we would also have wanted to see something a lot more raunchy, and a lot more edgy, and we're wondering if the Harris Brothers, who designed the chassis, couldn't have knocked up something more ... well, abbreviated.
That aside, the 29bhp, 535cc, fuel-injected engine is the biggest that RE (India) has built, and a very good looking unit it is. But early reports suggest that the vibes kick in at around 60mph which limits long-distance jaunts to sub-70mph speeds. Still not bad for a two-valve pushrod single. But it's a long way from cutting edge. Actually, some would call it tame—and no self respecting rocker from four decades ago would want to brag about the 85-90mph top speed of this one (and probably even less in real world riding conditions).
Of course, it's easy to whinge on the sidelines about how the game might have gone, and it's a lot different when you're actually in the scrum. Nevertheless, as pretty as this bike is, it just doesn't quite cut the mustard as a cafe racer. Then again, from all the hype that preceded its arrival, maybe we were just expecting too much.
We see this motorcycle more as a nice little Roadster, and we certainly wouldn't boot one out of the Sump garage. But the Ace Cafe unveiling by Royal Enfield was maybe laying it on just a little too thick.
Regardless, the price in the UK is £5200, which isn't bad. And Royal Enfield is probably going to sell a fair number of them—and with any luck we'll soon be seeing a lot of accessories and some performance options.
Enfield singles can crack a ton without too much mechanical surgery, and this bike could well be a suitable base to craft the machine we would have liked to have seen fresh from the box.
We hate these bloody things. They're about as uncool as an anorak and will do nothing for your sex life out on the open road unless you happen to stumble across someone very adventurous. Or desperate. Or blind.
But even we supercool dudes and dudesses we have to reluctantly admit that there are times in your life when you simply have to dress up like a lemon and glow like a nuclear reactor in the legendary British gloom and drizzle.
Weise obviously had much the same sentiments in mind when they manufactured the above anything-but-glorious technicolour jacket. But wearing such an unlikely item of apparel could (we grudgingly suppose) save your hide, so you might want to consider purchasing one.
The price is around £45. Sizes are S – 3XL (whatever 3XL means). And they've got taped-and-welded seams, a waist belt, a pull cord, and Velcro pockets flaps (hey, is that nasty NASA Velcro stuff supposed to be a selling point, or what?).
Anyway, it's your call. Visit www.thekeycollection.co.uk or call 0117 971 9200. And no, they ain't available in black. Think we didn't ask?
Shine on, brother.
— The Third Man
It was on offer for just £3600, but as of around 4.00pm this afternoon (10th September 2013), it's offline—at least, the link doesn't appear to be connected to anything except another page detailing similar (and hopefully honest) offers.
But this 650cc motorcycle appeared yesterday on eBay UK and invited eBayers to contact the seller (listed as m.a.tms0821). The seller's feedback rating was zero. The account was opened on 2nd September 2013. The location was advertised simply as UK.
It's a 1968 bike, incidentally. It was legitimately sold by Venture Classics in 2009 for a sum of money considerably higher than £3600. The registration number is: ABW 205F.
We spoke to Chris at Venture Classics who remembers the bike and is familiar with cons on eBay—and has one or two strategies of his own to combat them, not least by bidding the obvious scammers up to £1 million to prevent others from being sucked into the confidence trick.
Only, the scammers are now generally avoiding bidding offers. Instead, they're listing items as buy-it-now or classified. But £3600 for a good looking, sorted, "350 miles only since restoration" 1968 Bonnie is simply unrealistic, and after making various enquiries with the DVLA, the police and Venture Classics, we advised eBay of the same and asked them to pull the plug.
Clearly, the bike has been on offer in recent times (probably also on eBay), so the current owner might legitimately be trying to sell it. We know who he is, by the way, and have invited him to get in touch. Meanwhile, watch out for this one—and for others.
▲ Above: You never know where the next conman will pop up. Best keep a camera handy.
Our advice? Never send cash, cheques, or financial details to anyone on eBay or elsewhere unless you are certain of their identity and credentials.
Better still if you can do business face-to-face, cash-on-the-nail. And take a snapshot if you can. And a friend. As we've said before, most genuine sellers won't mind having their likeness digitised. But the scammers, naturally enough, prefer to remain anonymous. Meanwhile, see the eBay Harley Davidson FatBoy con further down this page. Be warned.
— Del Monte
We've been watching the fortunes of the mighty Norton Commando over the past few months and trying to work out the top prices, the bottom prices and the realistic, everyday prices (i.e. bikes that will sell comfortably within, say, a few weeks).
And those prices, perhaps not unexpectedly in this topsy-turvy economy, are all over the place. But certainly Bonhams has given us food for thought with the above Norton Commando which, on Saturday 7th September 2013, made just £4715 including buyer's premium.
That's a 1975 750cc Commando "Fastback" (bored to 829cc) and fitted with a Long Range (LR) fuel tank. It was described by Bonhams as "generally excellent condition" and was offered with a range of modifications and upgrades—and, by almost any standard, that's a pretty good price for Norton Commando.
So is that the current benchmark?
Hardly. Someone simply got a bargain. We would have valued this one at somewhere around £6000, and that's without close inspection. We could see even £7000, or more if it catches the right eye at the right moment.
It looks to us that the market is cooling, and cooling rapidly in some quarters. Classic bikes in the UK are generally changing hands very slowly, and we're seeing a lot of stuff serially re-listed on eBay and elsewhere. But some classic bike dealers are still talking it up, and a smaller number are probably telling the truth
Overall, Bonhams fielded twenty bikes at Beaulieu (which is mostly a car auction) and sold nineteen (a Kawasaki GPZ900 didn't sell).
We quite liked the look of the 1957 Ariel Huntmaster (pictured immediately above, courtesy of Bonhams) that fetched £7,015. But, take note, the estimate was the highly unlikely range of just £2200 - £2800). Read what you will into that. And read what you will into the fact that many of these bikes were sold at over the top reserve.
Meanwhile, a Triumph Speed Twin (featured in July Sump) carried a reserve of £1800 - £2500 and sold for £4,370. But then, this bike was an unrestored wreck with lots of "potential" whereas the Commando was probably only perfectly sorted and capable of carrying you effortlessly around the country, or elsewhere, for tens of thousands of miles (such is the perversity of man).
Anyway, here's the list of the British stuff that found new buyers. Note: we've included the BSA Regal Gold Star (powered by a Yamaha engine) out of charity.
259 1968 Cotton 250cc Cougar Special £402
252 1948 Brockhouse 98cc Corgi MkI £747
251 1953 Brockhouse 98cc Corgi MkII £1150
270 c.1954 Ariel 350cc Red Hunter £1380
269 c.1949 Ariel 350cc Red Hunter £2645
263 1959 Norton 497cc Dominator 88 £3335
261 c.1928 BSA 557cc 'Sloper' £4140
260 1952 Triumph 498cc Speed Twin £4370
268 1957 Norton 596cc Dominator 99 £4485
264 1975 Norton 829cc Commando 'Fastback' £4715
266 1999 BSA Regal SR500 Gold Star £5290
262 c.1927 Raleigh 498cc Model 22 £5750
267 1957 Ariel 650cc FH Huntmaster Combo £7015
265 1963 BSA 646cc Rocket Gold Star £18,975
— Big End
Call us a bunch of old cynics, but we're not sure that we believe this one. The word is, however, that British drivers, fed up with being led up the garden path (sometimes literally) by problematic satellite navigation systems, are suddenly returning to good old fashion classic maps.
Publisher Nicolson, founded in 1979 by Malcolm Nicolson and perhaps most famous for its A to Z range of (paper) maps, reckon that in recent months sales have "soared" by ten percent. Now the AA has chipped in claiming that they too have seen a rise in (paper) map sales.
Meanwhile, we hear that Dutch satnav manufacturer, TomTom, is riding a jagged sales graphs amid falling demand for its product, largely because many smartphones are capable of doing everything that a TomTom can do (which makes the device, which is less than a decade old, sound dangerously redundant).
Satnavs have had a lot of negative press in recent years, and they've been at least partly responsible for any number of motoring deaths due to drivers slavishly following instructions to turn right, or turn left, or turnaround even when local through-the-windscreen or peripheral evidence suggested that such a manoeuvre might not be such a smart move at the present moment.
But it begs the question of how many deaths have, over the years, been caused by drivers unfolding paper maps across the steering whilst negotiating a motorway slip road, or whilst slavishly following the instructions of their "significant other" whose map reading skills ranged between non-existent and highly dangerous.
And it's worth remembering that Nicolson and the AA are both in the (paper) publishing business, and there's nothing more likely to start a sugar panic in a crowded supermarket than by yelling "sugar panic!"
Here at Sump, we love maps and the old-world-order, and don't own a satellite navigation system (except for the old brass sextant attached to the handlebars of the BSA WM20), but whenever we have used such devices, we think they're wonderful. And anything that helps keep a driver's hands on the wheel and eyes on the road is probably, on balance, not such a terrible thing.
There's a time to live in the past, and a time to live in the present, and if you can have the best of both worlds, you've got little to complain about.
— The Third Man
He was a motorcyclist, an inventor, a WW2 bomber pilot, a Loch Ness monster hunter, a pioneer of autogyro technology, and from all accounts a fearsome personality to antagonise.
Ken Wallis, perhaps most famous for serving as Sean Connery's stunt double in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, has died at the grand old age of 97.
He was born in Ely, Cambridgeshire on April 26th 1916. His father ran a bicycle and motorcycle shop, and Wallis junior is said to have built his first motorcycle at age eleven.
Later he would build cars and boats, each bearing his unique design stamp, and each a stepping stone to what was to become his real passion, and that was the control of the air.
In 1936, Wallis was rejected by the RAF due to defective vision in one eye. Later he was to "cheat" his way into the service by sneaking a look at the eye chart while the examining doctor's attention was elsewhere. But Wallis had already obtained a private pilots licence and needed little extra training for his role as a Wellington bomber pilot.
He flew 28 missions over Germany and, for fairly obvious reasons, earned the nickname of "Crasher".
After the war, he flew English Electric Canberra aircraft and spent some time with the US Strategic Air Command flying nuclear armed Convair B38 "Peacemaker" bombers. He left the RAF in 1964 with the rank of Wing Commander.
By then, his interest in autogyros (never to be confused with helicopters) was well developed. He'd built his first such aircraft in the 1950s and soon tried to interest the RAF with his designs.
The RAF looked and listened. Autogyros, said Wallis, were ideal for aerial surveillance and other military roles. Indeed, the Germans had towed them above U-Boats during WW2 to act as spotter craft. But the Royal Air Force was unimpressed.
US film producer "Cubby" Broccoli, however, was interested. Wallis's autogyro—named Little Nellie—would be perfect for James Bond, and it was naturally enough Wallis himself at the helm.
Later Wallis set numerous autogyro records, but he never saw his creations, and there were many, hit production numbers.
Throughout his life, he was a familiar character on the Norfolk roads and was still flying into his nineties. He'd spent some time trawling Loch Ness searching for the fabled monster. He also hunted British peer and suspected murderer Lord Lucan across the Sussex Downs. And he never found either.
Regardless, Ken Wallis was a great British character whose absence will make the country just that little bit duller than it might otherwise be.
In more ways than one, the man hit some very interesting highs and lows.
— Big End
Look, don't tell us that that ain't a classic motorcycle (above), because we know. Even when we're drunk we can count wheels. Instead, what you're looking at is a beautiful Lagonda Rapier Special from the golden age of British motoring. So okay, it was rebuilt/modified in 1990 but is based upon a 1935 model. The car was raced for a few seasons and then put into storage. It's now seeing the light of day and carries an estimate of £25,000 - £30,000.
But don't be fooled. It looks big, but it's about the size of a small family saloon. The engine size is 1104cc and drives through a pre-selector gearbox. Lagonda built the (original) model for a year or so.
We had to feature it here on Sump because the world ain't only about bikes. And if they drop a hundred H-bombs tomorrow and the only thing that survives is us, the above Lagonda, and a few cans of beer, we'll scrape by somehow.
Anyway, auction house H&H will be looking to flog this ultra fine set of wheels at their Duxford Sale on 16th October 2013 along with a heap of other essential automobilia.
A 1947 Norton Manx 40M (Est: £20,000 - £24,000) is also in the sale, plus a 1946 Velocette MSS (Est: £8,000 - £9,000). And H&H would like to see more entries, if you would be so very kind.
For those not in the know, Duxford is an airfield and ex-WW2 fighter station on the Cambridgeshire borders adjacent to the M11 motorway. There's some amazing stuff on show, and you sometimes get to watch the engineers and airframe fitters restoring anything from a B52 bomber to a Tiger Moth and even a Motor Torpedo Boat.
We've mentioned this before somewhere on Sump, but no one ever listens to us. So we're saying it again. Anyway, Duxford is about as cool a riding destination as you can get on these shores, and the auction is the cherry on the cake.
Make a date and bring some cash, especially you colonials.
The 16th October is a Wednesday. And whilst we wouldn't want to encourage anyone to slide off work on some bogus pretext, we would like to mention that if you have to catch a sudden stomach bug and/or develop a migraine, some days of the week are better than others to get these minor health issues safely out of the way. It's a well known fact.
— Girl Happy
No, that ain't the bike below. That's just us doctoring a Harley-Davidson Sportster because we haven't yet got an image of the new bike. But then, no one has one because the half-Harley is still being tested and tweaked, and the final specification hasn't been settled.
At least, that's the word on the (mean) streets of Milwaukee and pretty much everywhere else now. Harley-Davidson President and Chief Operating Officer, Matt Levatich, has, we hear, confirmed that a new 500cc bike is on the way and might (oh-oh) even be built in India. But we don't know if the bike will be a twin or a single.
Harley already has factories in the Far East, and the emerging Indian and Chinese bourgeoisie and white collar wallahs are rapidly becoming a very lucrative market. That's why Triumph is busy tapping into it, and that's why Royal Enfield has for years been consolidating its grip.
But a 500cc Harley? Does anyone really want one? Well we figure that yes, the market for a half pint Sportster could be huge, and the Harley-Davidson brand is strong enough to withstand a few cultural shocks while the world adapts to a new product line. We saw that with the V-Rod which doesn't appear to have done the firm any harm at all.
Let's just hope that at least some of the new jobs (if and when they happen) stay in America for American workers. Things are still pretty tough for many people in the Far East, but it ain't looking all that rosy at the moment in the Far West. You might want to mention that the next time you're in a Harley dealership and ask him to pass the word.
Mark Upham, Brough Superior CEO, promised that they'd be back at Bonneville for 2013, and he was as good as his word.
Upham fielded three riders; biking journalist Alan Cathcart; TV presenter and host of The Motorbike Show, Henry Cole; and Eric Patterson, organiser and owner of the Kempton Park Autojumble.
Six new records, we hear, were set on the salt at this year's BUB Speed Trials held between 24th August 2013 and 29th August 2013. But the final day was rained off bigtime leaving the ground awash with not less than an inch of water, and much more in various places.
Frankly, we don't understand all the classes and division, but Bonneville Salt Flats has a special mystique that makes us want to go and have a picnic there someday.
The image immediately above, incidentally, shows Eric Patterson piloting Brough Superior's 1150cc "RoadRunner" contender.
And if you want to know more about Brough's adventures on the salt, check out the link below.
— The Third Man
It's 22.5 feet long, 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall, and this is the bike that will restore Triumph's claim to the title of the "World Fastest Motorcycle". At least, that's the plan as devised by Matt Markstaller, Bob Carpenter, and Jason DiSalvo.
400mph is the initial goal, but beyond that they'll grab all the speed they can and, if their God is on their side, they'll propel themselves straight into the history books. Between 1955 and 1970, Triumph-powered streamliners were the bikes to beat. Machines such as Devil's Arrow, Texas Cee-gar and Gyronaut X1 pushed the speed numbers up to 245.60 mph. The current record is 376.363 mph.
Two turbocharged (Hinckley) Triumph Rocket 3 engines, prepared by Carpenter Racing, produce over 1000hp (combined) and will be fuelled by methanol and oiled by Castrol 4T 10W40 full synthetic oil.
The chassis is a carbon kevlar monocoque. The tyres are by Goodyear. The suspension is by Ohlins (courtesy of Hot Rod Conspiracy). And high and low speed parachutes are fitted to haul this things back down to Earth.
All this thing needs is a nuclear warhead and they can take care of the Syria problem too.
We'll be watching this one closely, and we'll keep Sump visitors updated on progress.
If and when this American-campaigned bike hits the international headlines, we can see Hinckley Triumph cashing in on the success. And it wouldn't be the first time that that's happened. Pity we can't also see John Bloor's crew right there on the starting line.