Cambridgeshire auction firm has posted "successful" sale results
1938 499cc AJS Model 38/8 De Luxe was the top seller
Auction house Cheffins is reporting a successful day at its Sutton, Cambridgeshire sale held on Saturday 22nd April 2017 with, we hear, 92% of the lots selling above their estimates coupled with a record sale turnover of £2 million thereby making this the "the largest collective vintage sale in Europe".two
But steady on. The lots included tractors, other types of agricultural equipment, plant, machinery and vintage cars. The motorcycle component was relatively small. And many of the lots were motorcycle memorabilia and spare parts as opposed to complete bikes.
Nevertheless, it looks like Cheffins shifted a respectable number of bikes for respectable prices. Of the 66 motorcycles (currently) on the website, all are listed as sold. However, it seems that the non-sellers have simply been removed from the list. We contacted Cheffins which admitted that another seven bikes had been in the sale making a total of 73.
That aside, one or two bikes sold for significantly less than we'd expected. Case in point is the immediately above Lot 1378, a 1959 Triumph T110. The estimate was £6,000 - £7,000, but the hammer came down at five grand. So okay, there's an 8% buyers premium to add which will take the price to £5,400. And okay, the engine/frame numbers are non-matching. Nevertheless, this lot is listed as a rebuilt motorcycle with fresh paint, new stainless steel hoops, new rubber, a new wiring loom, and various other sorted bits and bobs. We would have expected this pre-unit six-fifty to comfortably find a buyer for £6,000, and then find a few more buyers until £7,000 was settled upon. But £5,000 (plus 8%) took it away.
Next, check the 1956 250cc NSU Supermax (image immediately above). In the mid-fifties, if you wanted a quick, stylish, reliable and rapid four-stroke, the 18hp @ 6,750rpm Max was a hard one to beat. Good for almost 80mph, this German commuter cruiser, at around 380lbs, is a little heavier than you might expect. But the solidity and stability (thanks to those leading link forks and sophisticated rear suspension) was exactly what the buying public wanted, and these bikes kept a large part of the German nation on the move in those heady post-war years. Cheffins sold this NSU, Lot 1354, for £3,300 (£3,564) The estimate was £3,900 - £4,900, which we think was pretty fair. Not the world's most outstanding bargain, but we've seen Supermaxs sell for more than this.
The top selling lot was a 1938 499cc AJS Model 38/8 Twin Port De-luxe (image immediately above) which sold for £10,500 on the hammer (£11,340 with 8% premium). Listed as Lot 1419, the estimate was £9,500 - £10,500. The bike, we hear, was restored in 1991 and has since covered only 1,400 miles. It was sold with a large history file and a V5. The price new, incidentally, was around 62 guineas (£62 and 62 shillings which is around £65).
The next highest seller was a 1927 596cc Scott Super Squirrel (Lot 1351, not shown) which sold for £8,700 (£9,396). The reserve was £9,000 - £10,000.
Author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies aged 88
"This book will change the way you think and feel about your life." That was the marketing blurb printed on the early paperback cover of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and for many people, that was exactly what happened. There was thought and feeling before Zen and there was thought and feeling after, and the pivotal, mind-changing point was Robert M Pirsig's philosophical tome on life, logic, scientific methodology, metaphysics and, above all else, quality. And he also had something edifying to say about motorcycling.
Pirsig, who has died aged 88, sprang to fame in the 1970s when "Zen" hit the bookshops. It was quickly seized upon by tens of thousands of people dissatisfied with their lives and looking for someone—anyone—who could provide a meaningful existential narrative and a remedy for humdrum life.
The book is centred around a motorcycle trip across the American heartland from Minneapolis to San Francisco. Pirsig, riding a 1964 305cc CB77 Honda Superhawk, is accompanied by his eleven year old son, Chris. Also present (for part of that ride) are friends John and Sylvia Sutherland piloting their BMW R60 Boxer. As the narrative unfolds, we are slowly introduced to the enigmatic character of Phaedrus, a student of philosophy who, as a result of his search for true quality and spiritual enlightenment, descended into madness.
"The real cycle you're working on is a cycle
- Robert M Pirsig
Subsequently, we discover the Pirsig is the embodiment of Phaedrus, now released from the asylum that had been (electro-shock) treating him for schizophrenia and depression, a man now hoping to reconcile the person he was with the person he is. That schism, we also learn, is the source of the increasing tension between himself and his son who, we understand, is quite possibly showing signs of a mental illness of his own.
It's a complex, confusion, challenging, frustrating and ultimately rewarding book that asks fundamental questions about life and the meaning of meaning, and it seeks to teach us that a quality existence, with a capital "Q" is attainable for anyone at any point in their life.
If you ever manage to read it once, you'll probably have to read it twice. But if you give up halfway through, you'll probably never touch this book again. It's that divisive.
Robert M Pirsig was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He studied biochemistry but, largely as a result of philosophical questions and doubts regarding the nature and value of experimentation, failed his grades and was expelled. He joined the US Army and served in Korea. Later, he returned to university studies, was awarded a degree and taught creative writing at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values was published in 1974 by The Bodley Head. That same year it went into paperback and subsequently sold over five million copies.
In 1991, a follow-up (of sorts) was published. This book entitled Lila: An Inquiry into Morals was another interesting philosophical exploration of life and values as set against the backdrop of Pirsig's boat sailing down the Hudson River. However, it was a small "pop" when compared to the big "bang" that was Zen, and in that regard it was a disappointment.
Pirsig's son, Chris, has a special place in this book (Lila). In 1979, Chris was fatally stabbed outside the Zen Centre in San Francisco, the victim of an ordinary mugging (note the irony of the location). Pirsig later, and puzzlingly, deemed that a daughter, born to himself and his second wife (Wendy Kimball) was effectively the soul of Chris reborn.
Since Zen was published, Pirsig's fame around the world has grown hugely. He's now considered by many to be of a similar stature to any of the great philosophers from Kant to Thoreau to Descartes, and even to Plato and Socrates. More established/mainstream philosophers, however, scoff at that notion and view Pirsig with interest, but more as a writer dabbling at the interface between eastern and western metaphysics.
Either way, his modest book on motorcycle maintenance (and other matters) has certainly changed tens of thousands of lives and has long since become a deserved classic. If you've never been to a cosy dinner party, read this book first or you'll have nothing to talk about. Or just break a leg sometime and take a few weeks off to read his book a few times. It's never too late to change your view of the world, and this publication might encourage you to make a voyage of discovery for yourself.
Robert M Pirsig had for some years been in failing health. He died at his home in South Berwick, Maine on 24th April 2017.
H&H Auctions has published some details of consigned lots
2nd June 2017 is the date to remember
H&H Auctions is now consigning lots for its 2nd June 2017 inaugural sale at the National Motorcycle Museum. The firm is promising at least 100 motorcycles and over 60 cars—which includes an Irish collection of WW2-era vehicles (no details yet).
We've been perusing the catalogue and have picked out a few machines perhaps worthy of mention. First is the (immediately) above 1958 650cc Ariel Huntmaster which carries an estimate of £5,000 - £6,000. Aside from a few joy rides over the years, we've no special experience of these BSA A10-based twins. We just like the cut of its jib. That's all. So we'll be watching to see how well it fares.
It's worth remembering that by and large, these Huntmasters are typically overlooked by most classic bike enthusiasts (including us). As a result, there are often some good value machines to be had—although this is mitigated slightly by the relative rarity when compared to, say, the more common BSA A10.
Like all classics, the Huntmaster has its quirks, but if it catches your eye and you can get it for anywhere near the bottom estimate, you'll probably have a very worthy Ariel taking up space in your garage, with the promise of a penny or two profit further down the road.
The second machine that interests/amuses us is the immediately above (and below) 1913 James Quadricycle fitted with a Wall Autowheel. H&H reckons that £3,500 - £4,500 is a reasonable price to pay for this 118cc four-wheeler—and note that because it's a four-wheeler, it can be legally ridden on UK roads on a car licence. We're not sure if a crash helmet is required, but we figure that a deerstalker, a tweed jacket and a butterfly net are all you need to satisfy everyone's curiosity and interest.
And the deerstalker reference is perfectly appropriate. It's said that Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was a shareholder in the firm that either built, or marketed these engines.
There's no Pioneer certificate. Nevertheless, this outfit should be eligible for the Pioneer Run. A V5 is present, and of course "road tax" and an MOT certificate aren't required. For quirky, period and nostalgic fun, we think this old Edwardian-in-spirit (if not technically an Edwardian) is worth a closer inspection.
Arthur William Wall
Arthur William Wall was the inventor of the Wall Autowheel. In 1903 he founded A W Wall Ltd in Guildford, Surrey. In 1904 A W Wall moved to Birmingham and founded the ROC Gear Company. He was subsequently granted a patent for his autowheel idea. The device was produced by Auto-Wheel Ltd of Kensington, London.
The history of autowheels is patchy and conflicting, and we're by no means knowledgeable on the subject. So the "facts" in this news item should be treated with caution. But it appears that production was handled at various locations; Farnham, Hampshire for the Standard Autowheel, and Birmingham for the De Luxe model which BSA manufactured.
Numerous manufacturers certainly produced or adapted vehicles for the autowheel concept, and it was a popular propulsion unit that travelled widely around the world. In 1914, the A O Smith Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin bought the manufacturing rights to the Wall Autowheel, then developed the idea further and sold tens of thousands of units.
The (approximately, or possibly just notionally) one horsepower engine is said to be capable of propelling this rig along at 16mph. Fuel consumption is around 100 - 120 mpg. Possibly slightly more. A single lever engages or disengages the drive, and the asking price, in 1913, was around £16.
Fast-forward to the modern era of electrically assisted bicycles, and you can see exactly how the wheel has turned and has brought us right back to where it began.
However, we'd choose this combo over an electric bicycle any day. It might not be as practical, but there's more to travelling through life than everyday convenience. Sometimes you have to wing it along on your chosen fantasy or obsession. Are we right?
Finally, we've got our peepers on this matching-numbers, 1,265cc 1928 Indian 401 (image immediately above). This in-line IOE (inlet-over-exhaust) four has mostly been on display duty for the past decade, so it's in need of some re-commissioning. But when sorted, there's 30hp or so inside that crankcase busting to get out, and there's around 80mph on tap.
Fundamentally, the A O Lemon-designed bike is actually an Ace Four re-badged and improved by Indian (notably the leaf-spring front fork and front brake). The weight is around 460lbs. Indian was asking around $445 new. H&H has tagged an estimate of £50,000 - £60,000, and this bike is Banbury Run eligible.
Over the next few weeks we'll be looking closer at the consigned bikes at this National Motorcycle Museum sale, but you can always check 'em out for yourself by following the link below. Meanwhile, if you're trying to shift a classic bike (or a classic car), talk to H&H and get the wheels moving.
Rare Meriden Tiger Trail hits ten grand plus at Stafford
Bike needs re-commissioning
This is an amazing price for a TR7T Triumph Tiger Trail. Earlier this month we carried a brief news story on this bike (see further down this page). Bonhams had posted an estimate of £4,500 - £6,500, and we expected it to sell for somewhere around the top estimate. But on the day, someone put his or her hand in their wallet/purse and produced £10,750.
Naturally, we understand perfectly that things are worth only what folk are prepared to pay, etc. Nevertheless, it's hard to see why an otherwise ordinary Triumph TR7 Tiger with a rear drum brake, a skinny front wheel and a few off-road pretensions should command ten grand plus when a standard T140 fetches around half that price.
But then, like the rest of the world we're always playing catch-up with classic motorcycle prices. And also, T140 asking prices are steadily rising, which is good news because we've got two in the garage and one more in bits; not that we're selling, you understand.
Check Sump's Triumph TR7T Tiger Trail buyers guide
175% of your weekly wage/salary is potentially up for grabs
A maximum of six penalty points will apply
The maximum fine for speeding offences in the UK has risen from today (24th May 2017). Previously, the minimum fine was £100 plus three penalty points on your licence. The maximum was 100 percent of your weekly wage/salary up to a limit of £1,000 (£2,500 for a motorway offence).
However, you can now be fined 175% of your weekly wage/salary, but also up to a maximum of £1,000 (£2,500 for a motorway offence). The minimum three penalty points hasn't changed, but the government is now offering a maximum of six points for anyone who earns it. Also, you can still get banned for up to 56 days.
Here are the details:
There are three bands related to the fine. Band A (1mph - 10mph over the limit) will lead to a 25% - 75% hit on a pay packet. Three penalty points will also be added.
Band B (11mph - 21mph) will see a possible 75% - 125% hit, plus four to six penalty points.
Band C (21mph and over) could hit the 175% jackpot, plus six penalty points.
Naturally, this kind of blunt weapon policing is far from adequate. At Sump, we're not exactly the world's most notorious speedsters. But over the years we committed the usual transgressions, and there's speeding, and then there's speeding—meaning that vehicle condition, weather conditions, traffic conditions, and sundry criteria make a big difference that speed cameras and magistrates (despite guidelines) often fail to take much notice of (and note that magistrates can simply throw the guidelines away if they feel there's a significant public interest in doing so).
As ever, we really need more cops on patrol to distribute intelligent and reasoned policing and get the hardcore offenders off the road entirely. But that isn't coming to a street anywhere near us in the foreseeable future. So it's back to the blunt hammer.
Vincent White Shadow takes the top money
2017 turnover down on last year (but see update below)
£163,900 including premium. That was the selling price of the above 1949 Vincent-HRD White Shadow which went under the hammer today (23rd April 2017) at the Bonhams Spring Sale at Stafford.
This "Series-C project" (Lot 172) was estimated at just £50,000 - £60,000. But that looks like an artificially low estimate intended to draw the punters in. Why do we say that? Well, in 2015 at Las Vegas, USA, Bonhams sold a sorted Vincent White Shadow for £174,870 (see update below). Following on, in January 2016, Bonhams sold a rare "Chinese Red" White Shadow for £339,638 (see update below). Therefore, £163,900 isn't quite as impressive as it first seems. But it ain't pocket fluff, either.
So what is a White Shadow? Well, it's a Black Shadow with polished aluminium alloy engine cases as opposed to a more usual black enamelled finish. And if that's true, why has the White Shadow in the image immediately above got black cases? We have no idea. But we'll be asking Bonhams for clarification (see update below).
Meanwhile, Bonhams has issued a press release claiming a 90-percent sell through rate coupled with an "outstanding [sale] total" of £2,132,257. Certainly, that's another big number. But last spring, Bonhams turned over £3,454,501 at Stafford which was considerably higher. We haven't yet analysed the sale, so there might be more here to take into account.
Beyond that, the next highest selling lot was the ex-Freddie Frith
1948 348cc KTT Velocette (see image immediately above). The estimate for this 1949 World Championship winner, and 1948 and 1949 Junior TT winner was £120,000 - £150,000, and the last buyer with his or her hand in the air paid £135,900.
▲ It's reckoned that only 12 - 15 of these SS80/100 Brough Superiors were built, of which only a few survive. Lot 201 is a 1926 model, distinct in leaving the factory with an SS80 engine in an SS100 rolling chassis, and later fitted with a JAP KTOR OHV engine (85.7mm x 85mm with exposed rockers and pushrods). Bonhams sold it for £126,940.
Overall, Bonhams appears to have been far more cautious with its estimates than it has in recent times, hence the numerous bikes that exceeded their bottom numbers. Someone has evidently pressed the reset button with regard to expectations.
Here are some more results (estimates in brackets):
1926 Brough Superior 981cc SS80/100. £126,940 (£75,000-95,000).
1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine £112,380 (£100,000-140,000).
1929 Brough Superior OHV 680 £68,700 (£45,000-55,000).
1931 Ariel 499cc Model SF31 ‘Sloper’ £24,150 (£8,000-10,000).
1937 Matchless 1,000cc Model X £50,600 (£26,000-33,000).
1951 Vincent-HRD 998cc Rapide Series-C £42,550 (£22,000-28,000).
c.1940 Zündapp KS600 Motorcycle Combination £35,650 (£14,000-18,000).
▲ 1998 750cc MV Agusta F4 'Serie Oro', unused, still in its crate, and almost ready to roll. £28,000 - £36,000 was the expectation. The bike sold for its top estimate.
Meanwhile, Bonhams is looking for consignments for its International Beaulieu Autojumble Sale (2nd September 2017) and its Autumn Stafford Sale on 15th October 2017.
UPDATE: We've been advised by Bonhams that there's some doubt regarding the correct dollar-sterling currency conversion rate for the White Shadows that were sold, respectively, in 2015 and 2016. The 2015 Brough has been recalculated at £148,382 (and not £174,870). The 2016 Brough has been recalculated at £297,729 (and not £339,638). But note that our figures came directly from Bonhams' website. Next, the White Shadow's engine cases were, we're advised, painted black by a previous owner. And finally, Bonhams has pointed out that last year's sales total presented a "spike" due to the "Broughs of Bodmin" collection. And that's true. But to keep it in context, here are the Stafford Sale totals for the past three years:
Once again, we suggest that the Spring 2017 Stafford Sale was not a bad overall result for Bonhams. And although the total sales turnover is down (compared to, say, 2015, unless you conduct a very careful like-for-like analysis (which isn't very practical), you're not going to be able to make any definitive performance claims. Bonhams has done okay.
30-litre and 50-litre waxed-cotton roll bags
40-litre waxed-cotton pannier combo
We've posted details of this new luggage system on our general motorcycle news page, as opposed to here on this classic bike news section. But these waxed cotton panniers and roll bags will appeal as much, or even more, to owners of more traditional/older bikes, so we've plugged them here too.
If you're looking for bike luggage, follow the link below. We haven't yet tested them, but Oxford Products are generally well made and good value. Take a peek...
Oxford Heritage Luggage
Jeff Clew's affectionate and insightful look at the "Golden Era"
£25 to you, squire
It's new, and it's old, and it's currently resting on the Sump coffee table between the sofa and the TV set—and it mostly gets picked up and read while the adverts are on. And yes, we know that part of the supposed compact 'twixt the viewer and the TV stations is that you actually watch the stupid commercials in order to keep the advertisers happy and the revenue flowing. But TV ads ain't what they used to be (are we right?), and Jeff Clew's Motorcycling in the 50s is a whole lot more edifying and entertaining.
The book is part of Veloce Publishing's "Classic Reprint" series, which is akin to serving up yesterday's soup at today's prices. Not that we're complaining. Clew has done a good job and writes well enough for us, and there's a lot of information here that we either didn't know, or had completely forgotten.
The Suez Crisis. The scooter boom. The rise of the two-stroke. Bubble cars. The TT. Sidecars. The rocker era. A sidelong look at motorcycle exotica from the continent. And more.
The book is backed by dozens of period photos, adverts and brochure material. And—oops—that's where it falls down a little. The reproduction isn't great and is even smudgy in places. And disappointingly, many (or most) of the period adverts carry lettering that's too small to read, even with a lens. Not that it's all bad. It's just not what it might have been. And had Veloce handled this aspect a little better (which, naturally, would raise the price of the book), we'd give this one 8 or 9 out of ten. But because of the varying image quality, we're giving it a 7 for delivery, and an A for effort.
Put simply, we think this book is worthy of your coin and is fit for sticking on your own coffee table. It's not a demanding read, so you can easily dip in and out between the TV ads for eye make-up, car insurance and whatnot. And the narrative convincingly takes you back to the fifties (as opposed to having been written by a bluffer born in the 1970s onward).
There's no colour in the book, by the way. It's all black and white between softback colour covers. But that really doesn't matter. Not to us, anyway. The book is best enjoyed for the copy. The images come second.
Jeff Clew probably needs little introduction. But you can't know everything and everyone, so here goes. Clew was a prolific motorcycle writer and author. He began biking in 1946 and quickly developed a passion for Velocettes that remained with him throughout his life. He was an active member of the VMCC, a popular man among his peers, and he rose to become the Editorial Director for the Haynes Publishing Group.
He died in 2009.
Meanwhile, his books are still out there, and Motorcycling in the 50s is, as we've said, enjoyable reading between the TV adverts—and, come to that, enjoyable reading with the TV off, or in the bath, or relaxing in bed. As a gift, it will probably go down well. Or just buy it for yourself. So if you've got an interest in the fifties era, here's when you can get yourself properly Clewed in.
The ISBN is: 978-1-787110-99-1. The dimensions are 250mm X 207mm. The pages number 144. And it's available now.
Veloce is asking £25.
All 50 UK Triumph dealers are laying on a biking party
The new 765 Street Triple demonstrators will be on tap
The date to remember is 22nd - 23rd April 2017. That's a Saturday and Sunday, and if you're a Triumph man or woman you might want to check out TFest. Actually, if you're a fan of any other motorcycle marque you might also want to check it out because Triumph is currently fielding a pretty convincing range of bikes, the firm is on a roll, and you just might find yourself persuaded to switch sides.
TFest, put simply, happens each year when all 50 Triumph motorcycle dealers in the UK open their doors extra wide and invite the buying public to mosey in and examine the hardware and test ride a bike or two and generally socialise and fraternise with likeminded souls, etc.
Expect live music, refreshments, plenty of Triumph products on display, lots of sales talk and tech advice, and a generally convivial atmosphere.
Triumph calls TFest an "annual celebration of our iconic motorcycle range" and have reminded us that the new Street Triple 765 demonstrators will be primed and ready for launch.
We'll be checking out TFest at our local Triumph dealer with a view to maybe cutting a deal of our own if the mood takes us and if the price is right (and Triumph prices are nothing if not competitive).
It's the same week as the big Stafford Show, note. But with a little thought and planning, you can perhaps get both events under your belt.
Don't forget your riding licence and some other form of ID.
The driving test is set become "more relevant"
A "distraction test" idea has been mooted
If you make 16 minor mistakes (count 'em) or one serious/dangerous error, you'll fail your UK driving test. That's the message coming from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) regarding the changes that are coming our way in December 2017.
Additionally, before a fledgling motorist will be allowed to go equipped onto the Queen's Highway, he or she will be expected to show a proficiency for handling satellite navigation devices.
Other changes will include an "independent driving" component (i.e. longer stretches of silent observation by an examiner); a reduced focus on quieter roads; competency checks when driving under more challenging conditions (i.e. dual carriageways and motorways); a test to see whether a candidate can handle manoeuvres such as parking in a confined space; and a "distraction test".
This, apparently, will involve an examiner suddenly springing a question on a candidate while the vehicle is in motion and seeing whether he or she fields it with aplomb, or veers off the road into a hedge or something. But until more details emerge, we can only speculate on what such a question, or questions, might be.
The idea behind these changes is, of course, simply to move with the times and keep the driving test relevant to the needs of modern day motoring, which is reasonable enough. But naturally, a test only ever really evaluates a person's ability to pass a given test at a given moment, and has little to say about real-world knowledge or behaviour—as many other road users, not least bikers, have found to their regret.
That said, most would agree that some kind of driving examination is needed, and a revamp of the methodology is always overdue. So we'll just have to be grateful for what we've got. And no doubt some, or all, of this will filter into a revamped motorcycle test regime, but we've no word yet on that.
Meanwhile, if you're riding around after 2018 and spot an L-plated vehicle on the fast lane of the M1 with the driver looking like a panicking contestant in a high stakes game show, and a po-faced guy in the passenger seat armed with a clipboard, a stop watch and a megaphone, just smile sympathetically and give 'em plenty of tarmac.
The only real test, after all, is a destruction test. And as we all know, when things go wrong on the roads, they tend to go wrong very suddenly.
Insecure chin buckle
Buckle needs padding
A year or so ago we reviewed a Duchinni D606 flip front crash helmet. And broadly speaking, we were reasonably happy with this Chinese-made lid given the price point.
However, we've since developed some concerns that ought to be mentioned and might affect a rider's decision to buy. Specifically, we've had the chin buckle come adrift on the move, not once but three times.
On all three occasions there didn't seems to be any obvious reason for it. In other words, the helmet was apparently securely fastened on the under-chin ratchet. We were riding about 55mph and not doing anything unusual or challenging. We were just looking at the scenery, both hands on the 'bars, mild weather, no earthquakes (but the usual Triumph T140 vibration).
Nevertheless, the fastener just came undone. And it's since done that twice more. We've had a close (albeit inexpert) look at the mechanism which doesn't appear to be broken, and the ratchet isn't worn. But it doesn't look the smartest design since the clothes peg, and we feel it warrants a closer inspection as and when you try one on in the shop. Actually, that advice applies to any lid.
One other point; the buckle is uncomfortable. Didn't bother us at first, but repeated use, and use over greater distances, has highlighted the fact that both sides of the buckle needs some heavyweight padding. As it is, only one side (the side with the red tab) is padded, and not very generously padded.
Ideally, the securing mechanism really needs shifting away from the chin entirely. But it is where it is, and we'll fix up something to make it easier on the jawbone and throat. But if we experience any more de-coupling issues, the lid will go in the bin.
We hate to report negative product news. Dealers have a living to make, the money needs to keep moving, and what might be an isolated case can tarnish the reputation of a product long term. We're very conscious of that.
Nevertheless, what happened happened. So factor it in—and, like we said, if it's secure in the shop and you're happy with it, no problem. But if you can accidentally free that buckle/ratchet while you're strutting around in front of the mirror, you know what to do.
Check our Duchinni D606 review for more on this product.
750cc Tiger Trail is going on the block
Some commentary here on current T140 prices
Bonhams has posted an estimate of £4,500 - £6,500 for this rare 750cc (actually 744cc) Triumph TR7T Tiger Trail. And given the £2,000 range between the high and low estimates, we suspect that Bonhams can't figure out where the hammer's going to fall on this one. Not with any certainty.
And neither can we.
Currently, T140 oil-in-frame Bonnies and their derivatives are asking very strong money. We're seeing prices as high as £12,000 for machines that we'd normally estimate at maybe £5,000 - £6,000. Even ropey old non-original/mucked-around T140s are asking £3,000 - £4,000. And more. But we're not sure that many such examples, if any, are really fetching these kinds of prices.
So we come to the TR7T Tiger Trail. This rare Meriden-built seven-fifty was one of less than maybe 200 examples built by the contentious Worker's Co-operative. The bike was a clever-ish move by Triumph which was desperate to secure any sales at all and was becoming very inventive at serving up the same basic dish with a variety of toppings.
Cue a 21-inch front wheel, a drum rear brake, a "three-quarter" saddle (not fitted to this example), a two-into-one exhaust, plastic 'guards front and rear, and a banana-yellow livery with fairly bold tank graphics.
A 650cc short-stroke example followed which saw even lower production numbers (we don't have precise figures, and we're not sure that anyone does).
The TR7T was available for only a year or two (1981 - 1982). The British biking press mostly liked it (with reservations). But it was the French and the Germans who really picked up the Meriden beat, and that's where most of these Tigers went.
Wilemans Motorcycles of Derby originally sold this bike for £1,849. The late owner, for various reasons, changed a few bits (and some of those parts are included in the sale). The total mileage is thought to be around 11,000 (with just 2,566 showing on a replacement speedometer). Some re-commissioning will be needed. But essentially, most of it appears to be there.
Over the years we've ridden a few of these Tigers, and they ride very nicely with light steering, a surprisingly good rear drum brake, and a little less weight to haul around. They're not much good for any serious/heavy duty off-road work. But for green-lane riding and suchlike, you might be pleasantly surprised by the torque and tractability of the single carb parallel-twin, 4-valve, pushrod engine. However, for faster road work, these are not ideal—so stick with a standard T140 with decent asphalt rubber if you specifically want a 750cc Triumph twin for highway use.
▲ A Triumph of improvisation? Meriden was all but bust when this Tiger hit the dirt. It was a bit of a shock to purists, but time has been a little kinder. The plastic bits are hard/impossible to find. But pretty much everything else is available from classic Triumph dealers.
Our advice? Buy it and tour Spain and North Africa or somewhere similar. Better still, there's a whole planet out there. Cruise at 55 - 70mph. Carry a few essential spares. You'll do okay.
The bike goes on the auction block at this year's Stafford Show where Bonhams, typically, will be pitching its marquee. The date is 23rd April 2017 (see Sump's events listing for more of what's going on).
If you're looking for an investment T140, we think the Tiger Trail is a prime candidate for consideration, especially if you can snap it up for any price near the bottom estimate.
See: Sump's Triumph TR7T Tiger Trail buyers guide
UPDATE: We've just spotted a front mudguard for this Tiger on eBay. The asking price is £325.
UPDATE 2: Bonhams sold this bike for an amazing £10,750
New system aimed at "trusted third parties"
Beta trial in September 2017. Roll-out by March 2018
Come 2018, we could be displaying our driving licences on our smartphones—to trusted retailers, agencies, government departments, and sundry interested third parties. That's the UK government's vision for the very near future, anyway, and Whitehall's plans in that regard are well advanced.
Supposedly, the move is primarily aimed at increasing rider/driver convenience such as when you find yourself in a rush at a car hire desk, or when buying a new number plate, or simply as proof of identity.
But the cynics would say it's almost entirely aimed at removing the cost of producing and maintaining the current plastic licences which began replacing the paper licence in 1998. Meanwhile, the more paranoid among us might suggest that it's really just another government move to keep track on us via our phones and similar high-tech communications hardware.
We figure, however, that the government simply isn't that smart. And the idea, for the time being at least, is to keep the plastic licence as a back-up in case you can't get an internet connection (or if you find yourself being pursued by rogue MI6 agents and need to get right off the grid while you await a face transplant and a new ID portfolio—and brother, we've been there, don't you worry about that).
By September this year (2017) a trial system is expected to be up and running, and by March 2018 the model will be unveiled.
No doubt, what will concern most of us is how well our data will be secured. But the answer to that is pretty obvious. It will be as secure as the next big hacking bonanza. The best any of us can hope for is that in view of how many people there currently are on the planet, we're actually becoming more and more invisible by the second. Take whatever comfort from that you can get, but we think we've already had the last drop.
Watch for more news on this as and when.
Ex-Scootering editor launches new bi-monthly publication
£5 a copy by subscription
It's A4 size, bi-monthly, will focus mainly on Lambrettas and Vespas, and it's just been launched. This new print magazine is the brainchild of ex-Scootering editor Andy Gillard who's been mucking around with "hairdryers" for decades.
The idea is to present a more stylish and quality publication for riders "with a passion for the road". Typical features will include buying, riding, restoration, new parts and accessories, etc.
The magazine will be available by subscription at £5 per issue (including postage and packing), or you can pick up a copy at scooter dealers, scooter shows and gatherings.
It might seem an odd time to be launching a new rag when others on the market are struggling to maintain let alone grow their readership. But Gillard's got plenty of journalistic form, he's well connected, he knows his readership and he's evidently still got energy and ambition. So good luck to him if he can run any distance with this project.
The National Motorcycle Museum is the new auction venue
Donington is out
Auction house H&H is shifting its auction venue from Donington Park, Derbyshire to the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, West Midlands. The inaugural sale will take place on 1st to 2nd June 2017. A total of three sales are planned for this year, with a minimum of three more for 2018. H&H reckons that this will be "a long term partnership".
The happy bunnies in the image above are George Beale and Mark Bryan (both from H&H) and James Hewing (NMM Museum Director) and Liz Webb (NMM conference and events planning manager).
Sounds of the Sixties radio show presenter has died
His broadcasting career spanned six decades
"Your old mate," Brian Matthew has died aged 88. "Your old mate", you might recall, was his catchphrase, and that's how an army of his fans worldwide will perhaps remember him—and we count ourselves among his regular "avids" who tuned into his programme every Saturday morning (and very often again during the week on catch-up internet radio).
Matthew's era was the 1960s. Sounds of the Sixties was the show he presented and made his own. His style and delivery was calm, cool, clear-headed, informative and always respectful. He was nothing if not a gentleman, and was broadcasting almost to the end.
Born in Coventry, Warwickshire, his father was a conductor in a band, his mother was a singer. Matthew's career began in Germany in 1948 where, in a variety of gigs, he developed his early broadcasting skills. In 1954 he took up a post with the BBC and was soon hosting a radio programme called Saturday Skiffle Club which subsequently became, more simply, Saturday Club.
In 1960 he presented and produced Easy Beat, a radio pop show aimed at a new breed of British youth entranced by the exciting rhythm & blues/rock'n'roll sounds coming from the USA. The Beatles (who Matthew interviewed at length) appeared on the show along with the likes of Bert Weedon, Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, The Viscounts, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, Herman's Hermits and The Rolling Stones.
Easy Beat was, however, soon being challenged by the new phenomena of UK pirate radio which was always more edgy and less "square" than anything the Beeb was prepared to countenance. But finally the British Broadcasting Corporation moved with the times and in 1967 launched Radio One which put Easy Beat in the shade, and the show was dropped.
He was a presenter on the TV music show Thank Your Lucky Stars which aired between 1961 and 1966. From 1978 to 1990 he presented Round Midnight, an arts magazine broadcast on Radio Two. And in 1990 he moved to Sounds of the Sixties—which, since 1983, had been presented by the late Keith Fordyce.
Matthew's style and choice of music was much the same as it always was. Time moved around him, and he refused to move with the times. He maintained a wry sense of humour and irony, and he frequently presented rare material from the archives of Sounds of the Sixties producer Phil "The Collector" Swern.
In August 2006, having never missed a show, Matthew took some time off to recuperate from an intractable illness. By February the following year he was back at the mic; same Brian Matthew, same enthusiasm—albeit with a little more gravel in his voice.
In November 2016 he took time off once again following another health problem. Tim Rice (award winning lyricist and author) took over the show for a few months, and Rice handled it sensitively, thoughtfully, modestly and very respectfully.
In January 2017, the BBC issued a statement advising the radio world that Brian Matthew, as a result of his ill health, would not be returning to Sounds of the Sixties. Matthew promptly issued a statement of his own announcing that the BBC's press release was "balderdash". A listener's petition followed, and the Beeb condescended to allow Matthew a final show with a promise of occasional "special broadcasts". DJ Tony Blackburn finally took the reigns in March 2017, and Matthew was put out to graze.
A few days ago (6th April 2017), a statement was issued by the BBC announcing that Matthew had died in hospital. But that wasn't true. However, he was seriously ill, and it appears that a "well-meaning" family member had taken the microphone a little prematurely. A couple of days later (8th April 2017) another statement was released announcing that Matthew was gone, and that's since been confirmed.
The Beeb has a miserable track record when it comes to treating its staff badly (ask Tony Blackburn, Mike Harding or Ed Stewart—actually, the late Ed Stewart). So it perhaps comes as no surprise that the BBC news report announcing Matthew's death gave him just 40 seconds of airtime for over six decades of service.
As much as we like Tony Blackburn and his excruciating jokes, Sounds of the Sixties simply won't be the same. But to borrow another of Matthew's well remembered catchphrases, "That's your lot."
He's survived by his wife and son.
Eric Patterson's 1957 1200cc V-twin for sale
The bike has form at Bonneville
Suffolk-based classic bike dealer, Andy Tiernan, has just posted details of this 1957 Manx Norton JAP 1200cc V-twin aka "Fast Eric's Bonneville Record Breaker".
That would be Eric Patterson, of course, founder of the Kempton Park Autojumble and serial record breaker—a man whose throttle hand is pretty much jammed on full tilt.
The bike, we hear, was first registered in Portsmouth on the 5th July 1957 and listed as a Manx Norton 30M. Sometime later, a JAP Mk2 1200cc V-twin engine from a Cooper racing car was fitted with the intent on smashing a few records at Bonneville.
Dresda did most of the assembly work and fettled the cylinder heads. Mick Cook Racing fitted a Phoenix crankshaft, GS lightened valves, and handled the rest of the motor building. Tony Cooper plugged in a brace of BTN magnetos. Norton built most of the rest. And Eric Patterson thrashed the bike to within an inch of its life.
In 2008, during his first attempt with this motorcycle, he took a 121mph speed record (sorry, we don't know which category—and when we do know, it just confuses us). Following that, Eric used the Norton on the road for a spell. But now these august wheels are looking for a new speed maniac to work it even harder, if that's possible.
The original buff logbook is present. There's also a current V5C, and the bike is road tax and MOT exempt. And while we remember, there's some bumf relating to the fun and games this bike enjoyed on the salt in Utah.
The asking price is £87,500 which is ... well, a heap of dosh, and we wouldn't know if that's cheap, overly expensive, or right on the nose. Except that Andy Tiernan is handling the sale, and he usually pitches it right.
Call, if you're hard enough.
The London ULEZ date has been moved forward to April 2019
New charges will hit thousands of road users, including bikers
It's by no means settled, but there's increasing talk in "Whitehall Circles" (whatever that is) that the UK government is preparing to compensate buyers of diesel cars who, following the purchase of their vehicles over the past 10 years or so, have since fallen foul of changing environmental attitudes and regulations.
A decade or so ago, the (then) Labour government was keen to promote the dubious virtues of diesel oil and frequently touted it as a low carbon-emitting fuel—and therefore a lesser part of the (alleged) global warming problem. As a direct result, thousands of well-intentioned drivers made the switch from petrol to diesel. But come April 2019 they'll find themselves facing a new "Toxin Tax" of £12.50 per day whenever they enter the London ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) unless they can meet the Euro6 compliancy target, which pretty much none of them will. Broadly speaking, we're talking about pre-2006 vehicles.
The original date for the implementation of the ULEZ was supposed to be September 2020, but this has since been moved forward by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.
The ULEZ will cover the same footprint as the current London Congestion Zone which demands a £12.50 per day (business hours) entry tax on just about everyone entering the area (there are congestion charge exemptions which include motorcycles, note).
Here's how it looks:
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£12.50 per day ULEZ "Toxin Tax" for non-Euro4 compliant petrol engines (including motorcycles), or non Euro6 compliant diesels
Complicated? Well it gets much worse. From October 2017, a new and temporary "T-Charge" or "Toxicity Charge" will kick in. The cost of that charge is £10, and it will apply to ALL vehicles entering the London Congestion Zone that fail to reach Euro4/Euro6 emissions standards. That charge will be added to the £12.50 per day congestion charge. And note that the T-Charge will apply only during the working week—whereas the forthcoming ULEZ will apply 365 days per annum, 24 hours a day.
By April 2019, the £10 per day T-Charge will be superseded by the £12.50 per day ULEZ charge. If your petrol car or bike meets Euro4, you're exempt. And if your diesel-engined car meets Euro6, you're also exempt. But if not, you could be facing a £100 per week charge to enter most of Central London during the working week, and facing a £12.50 per day ULEZ charge regardless of what day of the week it happens to be.
Here's the position in more depth:
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£10 per day T-charge to enter the London Congestion Zone (Euro4 compliant cars and motorcycles exempt/Euro6 diesels also exempt)
£12.50 per day to enter the London Congestion Zone (motorcycles exempt)
£12.50 per day tax for non-Euro4 compliant petrol engines (including motorcycles), or non Euro6 compliant diesels
Diesel-engined vehicle owners, however, are possibly poised to get a little extra help from the government. As mentioned, many such owners switched from petrol in an effort to preserve life on Earth as we know it, etc, and are now likely to be hit extra hard in the pocket.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is said to be aware of the (unfair?) issue and is looking to offset some of the costs by means that aren't yet clear. One suggestion is that a new diesel scrappage scheme could be introduced to encourage drivers to trade in older diesel-engined cars (i.e. non-Euro6 compliant). Another (much less likely) suggestion is that the price of diesel could, thanks to a reduced government tax, fall (temporarily or otherwise). Yet another (also unlikely) suggestion is that the government could simply scupper the ULEZ and have done with it.
However, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of Air, is standing firm by his plans and has been quoted as saying: "The air in London is lethal." Which is news to us because we breathed it quite normally when we were in the capital a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, Sad Khan, being a paid up (soft) lefty, a "socially liberal Muslim", a solicitor, a self-declared "proud feminist", an ex-chairman of Liberty, and an ex-stand up comedian will probably get his way and will hammer all the "rich bastards"—which is pretty much anyone who doesn't have to ride a bicycle to work or take the bus/tube. Or walk.
It's also worth noting that The Khan suffers from adult onset asthma.
▲ Check this link for more on London Mayor Sadiq Khan and his various agendas for London
The new plans are a total mess and will cause severe hardship for tens of thousands of people. And it's not going to affect only the Greater Londoners who regularly/daily need to drive into the capital. It will also hit many in the home counties (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Sussex) and those living and working further afield.
Clean air is all well and good. But there's a price to pay for overly rapid progress, and that price is going to disproportionately hurt the little people like us.
Check Sump Classic Bike News March 2015 for more on this issue and read exactly how motorcycles, classic and otherwise, will be affected.
Also, check www.tfl.gov.uk and see if your vehicle is compliant.
1st - 3rd June 2017
South Point Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, USA (NV 89183)
That's a 1941 61-cubic inch EL Knucklehead (image immediately above), and it's one of the star lots at Mecum Auctions' June 2017 sale which begins on 1st June and ends two days later on the 3rd. The venue is Las Vegas, USA.
The Knucklehead was the first Harley-Davidson OHV motorcycle available for public consumption (as opposed to race-oriented), which makes it a significant benchmark in the firm's illustrious history. Until 1936, when the "Knuck" was launched, H-D was happy to build and sell only sidevalves, largely because that was exactly what the domestic market needed; i.e. cheap and reliable technology that was easy to maintain and could take a fair amount of abuse in the hands of the clumsy and careless.
But by the mid-thirties, the world beyond had moved on in numerous ways, and Harley-Davidson needed to move with the times in order to stay competitive. In any case, the US road system was rapidly improving, and people had a little more money to spend now that the echo of the Wall Street Crash was fading.
The EL Knucklehead was exactly the great leap forward needed by the Milwaukee-based firm, not simply because of its overhead valves, but also because the Knucklehead was built with a full recirculation lubrication system and offered much improved cooling to boot. And this depression-era Art Deco muscle bike was fast too. The standard "E" model could hit ninety. The slightly more performance oriented "EL" could crack a ton. The price was around $380 which was pretty aggressive for the day. And the cops loved 'em.
If you're buying or selling a motorcycle and fancy a trip to the USA, check out one of Mecum's auctions. They're fast, noisy, uncompromising, and a lot of fun. And frequently there are some surprising bargains. The company is consigning now, and the firm is hungry for your business.
The Knucklehead above has been restored, as you can plainly see, and it comes from the Ernest "Bud" Cox Collection. There's no reserve, by the way.
We'll be returning to the Las Vegas Sale later this year. And if there's enough money in the piggy bank, we just might make the trip and pay Mecum a personal call. Stay tuned.
Hinckley targets April Fools
All said and done in fun
We were in two minds about posting this story. Evidently the above "HandleWheel" is some kind of spoof, and given that it appeared on April 1st, it needs only a little more explanation.
Triumph Motorcycles is behind it. Ostensibly, the idea is to help ween car drivers onto motorcycles by giving them a familiar steering wheel instead of a pair of handlebars. So far, so good. But underlying that is something a little more sinister that might be worthy of a passing mention, and that's the reminder that April Fools jokes are essentially a mild form of sadism.
And we did say "mild".
Put simply, the subtext is always to make someone else look stupid or otherwise humiliate them, in public or private. But because pranking is now practically an international sport and is hallowed by centuries of tradition, it's generally viewed as harmless—which in most (or at least some) cases it is.
Then again, not everyone enjoys the funny side of having cling film stretched under a toilet seat, or discovering a rubber snake in their bed, or peeling a fake parking ticket from their windscreen, or receiving a phone call from the police to tell them that a family member has just been killed.
Think it doesn't happen? It does, and some folk, ever anxious to outdo their peers (or simply looking for a timely excuse to do something malicious and indulge their deep-rooted sadistic urges) are apt to do just about anything to anyone on the first day of April safely protected by the banner of social convention.
It's the same mentality when a TV game show host keeps the contestants waiting to find out who's actually won the £50,000 prize, or whatever. Eking out the seconds and watching them squirm is simply a slow twist of the knife—all culminating in a big conformist laugh at the end of the mild torture to demonstrate to the world that the everyone is really a good sport (even when the host subsequently announces that there is no £50,000 prize after all because it's APRIL FOOL'S DAY!!)
What a riot, huh?
All this aside, it's just a bloody steering wheel on a motorcycle, isn't it? So what are we getting excited about? Nothing, really. So move along, people. On the Sump scale of importance, Hinckley's little wheeze registers little more than a flicker of the eyebrow.
Nevertheless, we think it's generally worthwhile understanding why people do the things they do. At best, these japes, jokes, escapades, stunts, hoaxes and frolics are tedious, irritating and passé. And at worst, they cause real harm or distress to others.
Triumph probably had ordinary publicity in mind rather than sadism when they foisted this one on the world. But the next person who pranks you, on April 1st or any other date, just might have a very different agenda.
Can't wait to see what Hinckley does next year.
Britain's best loved exhaust manufacturer is in trouble
Withdrawal of a contract to supply Triumph has been blamed
Motad—Britain's best known aftermarket exhaust manufacturer—has gone into administration. The precise reason for the collapse is at this moment unclear, but it appears that Triumph Motorcycles has withdrawn a contract to supply thereby leaving Motad in a precarious financial position.
Alan Baker died in 2002. He founded Motad in 1968 having spotted a growing niche market for Japanese motorcycle replacement exhaust systems. The company prospered and grew and, at the time of Baker's death, boasted around 20 - 22 employees.
John Atherton took over the helm and continued to push the Motad brand which drew much of its income as an original equipment manufacturer for Triumph Motorcycles in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Until the dust settles a little, we won't know exactly what happened. Suffice to say that unless a buyer can be found, the Motad brand is likely to disappear.
The news will come as a disappointment for Motad's army of customers, many of whom have been buying the product for decades.
So far, we've seen no official statement from Triumph.