MOT reminders by phone
Tip: a mobile phone is required
The UK government has launched a new service aimed at ensuring all vehicles on British roads have a valid MOT (notwithstanding those vehicles that are exempt). It's a simple enough scheme. You visit the .gov website. You sign up for reminders. You get the first one a month before the MOT due date, and you get a follow-up reminder two weeks before your certificate expires. After that, you're on your own.
The software is in the beta stage at present, which means that it's still being debugged. Nevertheless, we're all invited to register as soon as we like to help the techy people deal with problems and issues, etc.
However, if you're running a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) or if your vehicle needs more than one MOT per annum (taxis), you'll have to tie a couple of knots in your handkerchief or something.
And naturally, the government wants to remind you that if you haven't got an MOT, you can't get a tax disc (also quaintly and officially referred to as a road fund licence). And if you haven't got one of those, you could find your vehicle seized if ever you chance upon a copper on the road.
We haven't yet tested this reminder system. Or should that be "MOT'ed it"? But we'll probably have a go sooner or later and will report if we find anything interesting going on. Meanwhile, you might want to try it for yourself.
Four Welsh police forces have ... well, joined forces
New streamlined portal for uploading helmet cam footage
If you're motoring around Wales—and (despite the frequent rain) it's a very popular riding haunt for UK riders, particularly North Wales—you've now got a more potent weapon in your arsenal to wield against dangerous drivers or, for that matter, dangerous riders.
What's happened is that Operation Snap, which was launched in late 2016, is being rolled out through Wales courtesy of the Go Safe Camera Partnership.
Operation Snap is an initiative of the North Wales Police. Prior to its introduction, dash cam or helmet cam footage and info submitted by aggrieved/injured motorists generally needed comprehensive/lengthy processing time before an offender could be pursued and, if necessary, prosecuted. So the North Wales coppers created Operation Snap to streamline the submissions process.
The idea with "Snap" is that drivers/riders are invited to supply more comprehensive information such as the date of incident, the time of the incident, the nature of the incident, vehicle registration number/s, extraneous circumstances, etc. The police then decide who's worth investigating, and in doing so save a lot of police man/woman hours.
What's happened now is that all four Welsh police forces have united to present a common front by encouraging drivers/riders to upload their camera footage via the Go Safe Partnership which deploys dozens of speed cameras (aka "safety cameras") throughout Wales.
Therefore, if you've got some incriminating footage on your helmet cam or dash cam, and if you want to jerk someone's lead on the road, you no longer need to contact the police directly (although that's still an option). Instead, you can "simply" visit the Go Safe website and follow the breadcrumbs.
But a word of warning...
The police will entertain only unedited footage. That means they want to see everything you've got on digital film relating to a given journey. So if you've been misbehaving on the road and then snap someone else also creating a nuisance or otherwise posing an unacceptable risk, you might find yourself having to make a difficult choice.
And if you've already uploaded the incriminating video to YouTube or elsewhere, the police will want you to remove it forthwith before they take the matter much further. Why? Because the presence of the (possibly edited and slanted) video might queer the pitch for a subsequent court prosecution.
You'll also be expected to make a brief statement online, and you might have to back that up with a more comprehensive statement and even a court appearance. But apparently, finding yourself directly giving evidence to the beak is very rare and accounts for only 1% - 2% of prosecutions.
The police are keen to hear about any and all motoring offences from mobile phone use to close passes to jumping traffic lights to tailgating to other forms of dangerous manoeuvres on the highway. Meanwhile, other forces around the country are sooner or later expected to follow suit.
▲ It isn't just Big Brother we need to watch out for. It's also Big Driver, Big Biker, Big Neighbour, Big Citizen, Big Wife, Big Husband, et al. And like it or not, it appears to be the future. Privacy is dead. Get over it.
There's already much debate on whether Joe (or Josephine) Public ought to be handling his/her own policing via Go Safe, Operation Snap or other schemes around the UK. But you have to be realistic. The police are heavily under-resourced and have no chance of providing a truly effective traffic presence unless and until we collectively agree to pay more taxes (and most of that would in any case probably be wasted in other areas of government interest).
Naturally, there are all kinds of human rights/personal freedom issues that still need to be addressed. And it could be that we're sleep-walking into a new world motoring order in which all journeys are required to be recorded and made available for scrutiny.
What's that? Not gonna happen? Well maybe not. But life has shown us over and over again that where there is the means, the method often follows.
That aside, something needs to be done to cut road injuries and fatalities which are still way higher than they "need" to be.
So check the site. Check your attitude. And, if you're happy with what you read, lock'n'load those cameras. Just keep in mind that most of the roads in the UK are two-way streets.
C.1930 Irish oily rag is looking for £26,000 - £32,000
SS80 JAP engine with a Triumph CTT frame
We've seen some unlikely motorcycles in our time. And we've also owned one or two oddballs. But this Triumph-Brough Superior special is for us a first.
The bike began as a 981cc Brough Superior SS80. According to the Works Record Card (WRC), this V-twin sidevalve was despatch from the Haydn Road, Nottingham factory on 10th March 1924 and supplied to S Wallace of Belfast who was the Brough Superior agent in Ireland.
The first owner was Dell McRae. He took charge on 9th October 1924. The registration was IK 7127.
Sometime after, the frame broke. There are no details of how or where or specifically when. But it is known that a rare Triumph CTT frame became available as a donor. The CTT was a top-flight 500cc twin-port sports model manufactured at Triumph's Priory Road factory, Coventry between 1929 and 1931.
The chassis switchover happened in Ireland, and the appropriate licensing authorities duly noted the change. It's believed that the Webb forks were fitted at the same time.
At some point in the intervening years, Felix Burke of Cheltenham, England "a prominent VMCC and BSC member" became the owner, and in 1979 he sold the bike to the present vendor.
Said to be in oily-rag running condition, the engine and transmission have been renovated—but the Sturmey-Archer gearbox isn't from a Brough of any vintage. Also, we note that the engine number has been incorrectly listed as "13842" instead of "13642". A copy of the WRC will be included in the sale along with an old Irish logbook and purchase receipts.
The motorcycle goes under the hammer at the Bonhams Sale at the Beaulieu International Autojumble, Hampshire on 2nd September 2017. A sale price of £26,000 - £32,000 is expected. We've got no idea if that's realistic. Look for Lot 407N.
For more details of the Beaulieu jumble, check Sump's events page.
UPDATE: Bonhams tried to sell this bike at its Spring Sale at Stafford, 2017. The estimate was then £40,000 - £50,000. The current estimate looks a lot more realistic.
Warning from one of our Sumpsters
We received an email today from one of our Sumpsters who had posted an advert on our CLASSIC BIKES FOR SALE page. We don't work this section very hard; certainly not as hard as we ought to (but life's too short, etc, and we've got a lot to do around here already).
So we were surprised to hear that what appears to be a scammer has come a-knocking on our door. Usually, the online crooks populate much bigger sites such as eBay, Gumtree, Viva Street and Craigslist. But it probably makes some kind of sense to quit the faster highways, as it were, and take to the back roads.
The upshot is that we're very suspicious of one particular guy who purports to be an American citizen, but sounds very much like, say, yer average Nigerian scamster.
To bolster his credentials, this character has even forwarded an image of what is supposedly the main page of his passport. We've blurred and redacted the details to protect the rightful owner of this document (see immediately above). And we don't want to reveal anything about where this guy claims to be currently living. But it ain't the USA.
Exactly how he is/was planning to work this confidence trick isn't clear. But he's evidently put his foot in the door and has some idea of what he wants—unless, of course, this is a genuine enquiry, which sounds unlikely.
Meanwhile, if you've received anything like this recently, maybe you'd let us know. And need we advise you to have nothing to do with suspicious activity such as this?
High-tech drinker's buddy
Bike shops sell 'em too
In case you're not familiar with it, the device on the right is called the AlcoSense Pro. It's the latest version of the consumer-focused technology gizmo which tells a road user exactly when he or she is over, under, or right on the drink-drive limit.
Looked at from a slightly different angle, with this high-tech box of tricks in your pocket, glove compartment or top box, you can work out when you're half-cut, or at least below par, safe in the knowledge that if plod jerks your lead, you're in a safe harbour.
The manufacturer evidently feels like it's providing a useful public service and focuses on the obvious upside—which is having an objective test that will warn you that you'd better sleep it off and/or avoid getting behind the wheel or handlebars for X-number of hours. That's part of its function, you understand; the ability to work out how long until you've crossed back from inebriation to full-blown sobriety.
But human nature being what it is, people will always drink right up to the limit—which is why, long after last-orders has been called, pub landlords habitually have to chase out drinkers, slam the door and bolt it.
However, AlcoSense is pushing these devices for all they're worth, and motorcycle shops are flogging 'em too—and if anyone ought to know better, it's the bike dealers.
Infinity Motorcycles, which boasts 14 stores in the UK, will sell you the AlcoSense Elite for £59.99 (which tells you when you're on the limit or very close to it). Oxford Products, meanwhile, will at the same price flog you the Elite, or you can opt for the AlcoSense Lite at £39.99. And naturally, you can buy the devices from Halfords, Amazon and eBay.
And don't confuse this thingy with the single-use self-breathalysers as mandated by Gallic law when driving or riding in France (currently un-enforced, note). These "Pro" devices are far more slick and insidious inasmuch as they give licence (literally) to those motorists who ought not to be drinking at all when out on the road.
The AlcoSense Pro features much the same tech as deployed by the coppers. The device measures pressure and flow rate, and it demands one litre of air before it gives a readout. Reassuringly, it's designed to indicate slightly higher than the true figure in order to provide a margin of error to keep you out of jail. As for accuracy, the Pro is reckoned to be within +.10% - 0%. That apparently matches the copper's kit, breath for breath. And if you buy one, you can later have it recalibrated to keep it nice and sharp.
Want more? Okay. The gadget has a built-in database of drink-drive legal limits in 40 countries, so you can motor across Europe possibly drunk as a skunk (if your constitution is particularly sensitive to a drop or two), but with exactly the right amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.
The recommended price, incidentally, is around £150. So if you're a hardcore drink-driver, ya just gotta have this thing in your hand whenever you stagger out of the pub headed for the car or bike.
Meanwhile, we're looking forward to the RapeSense, MurderSense and TerrorSense, all of which are bound to be in the pipeline somewhere shrewdly designed and manufactured to ensure that your more nefarious activities are kept just on the right side of the law. Gotta be a big demand for these too.
Finally, see Sump Classic Bike News June 2012 for more on the French self-breathalyser law.
New legal action filed in Illinois, USA
Harley-Davidson seeking big damages
It sounds like a hiding-to-nothing. But Harley-Davidson, one of the most recognised and respected brands on the planet, didn't get where it is today by backing away from a necessary fight. For decades the firm has been fighting a rear-guard action against the relentless army of counterfeiters methodically ripping off the company's intellectual property. This includes everything from its famous bar-and-shield logo device, to motorcycle design, to motorcycle components, sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats, key fobs, piggy banks and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Milwaukee currently employs a team of very much pro-active lawyers whose job it is to scout around the ether, the magazines and the bike shows and launch legal actions against whoever's said to be infringing its rights and commercial territories.
Well now the company has launched a fresh action against a group of online Chinese counterfeiters by filing papers in an Illinois District Court. Specifically, Harley-Davidson is claiming that unauthorised use of its logo has caused "confusion" and "deception" among consumers and is thereby seeking millions of dollars in injunctive damages for loss of earnings, loss of goodwill and loss of anything else it can think of.
We don't know the details of the offending products. It might well be that the Chinese company in question has been deliberately "passing-off" its product as genuine H-D merchandise (which is likely). In which case, Harley-Davidson is (arguably) perfectly justified in taking legal action.
It's worth mentioning, however, that occasionally the David-v-Goliath (or, rather, Goliath-v-David) approach backfires spectacularly leading to embarrassment, ridicule or even long term damage for the litigating firm. This has happened many times with breweries, sportswear manufacturers, drugs company, auto firms and suchlike.
And over the years, we've heard numerous tales in the motorcycle world of over-zealous brand protection threats by hired legal guns, and have ourselves fended off one or two such attempts.
The bottom line is that if you're in the bike business and blatantly ripping off intellectual property, you need to have your brakes checked. But homages to products, services and even company logos may be perfectly legitimate and even highly beneficial for established companies depending on the usage, the explicit and implicit claims, and the sundry detail.
We had one firm contact us recently after we'd put a BMW roundel on a free company listing when the firm in question wasn't in fact an official BMW dealer. As a matter of goodwill, we did immediately remove the logo. But it's an arguable legal point whether or not the use of the BMW roundel infringed any intellectual property claim. The firm, after all, did sell genuine BMW parts—albeit along with a lot of non-original equipment components. And the roundel was arguably fair use—in much the same way as it would be fair use when using the logo in a news story or magazine article.
More recently, Harley-Davidson sued Urban Outfitters for adulterating and reworking its T-shirts as bodysuits (see Sump Classic Bike News January 2017). And that, to many, will sound like a questionable legal action inasmuch as it's similar to, say, customising a standard Harley-Davidson and having H-D bitch about it. However, it largely comes down to which side's lawyers boxes cleverest on the day and throw the heavier financial punches.
Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson is taking the logo fight to the latest group of Chinese counterfeiters and in doing so is sending a warning signal to anyone more accessible who's carving an unauthorised slice of its bacon.
In the Pandora's Box of the internet, it's sometimes very hard to see how, on balance, there's more good coming out of it than evil. And in case you're wondering, the H-D logo at the top of this story isn't what's being presented to the Illinois Court. That's just us having some more fun with Photoshop. But it does read Harley-Davidson in Chinese.
Well, phonetically speaking.
Matt Chambers is looking to re-brand and detoxify
Company also plans to go all-electric
As we've mentioned before, we don't do too much news speculating at Sump. None, in fact. And the story we're about to tell you has been "validated" by various sources. But we haven't yet heard it direct from the horse's mouth, and there's no mention of this news on the firm's website. So we're treating this information with appropriate caution.
However, it seems that Confederate Motorcycles of Birmingham, Alabama, USA is about to change its name to Curtiss Motorcycles, or possibly The Curtiss Motorcycle Company. Why? Because the "Confederate" word is currently up there with the "nigger" word and is considered too toxic.
Confederate head honcho and ex-lawyer Matt Chambers has been quoted as saying recently: "I think we lost a lot a business with that name [Confederate]. We’ve missed out on branding opportunities. So it’s time to retire it."
Now, some might say that part of the reason why Confederate has been struggling to flog more than 1,300 bikes since the company was formed in 1991 could be due to (a) the price at around $150,000 each, and (b) the whacky OTT divisive styling. That said, 1,300 motorcycles sounds to us like a pretty respectable number for this kind of blue-chip biking product. But evidently Matt Chambers is dissatisfied (and unless you examine the books, there's no way of knowing what kind of long term balance sheet underpins the project).
▲ Got a statue of Stonewall Jackson in your neighbourhood? Well if so, you're on the wrong side of history. Better make sure you burn all those pictures and postcards too. And if many years ago your folks adopted the "Jackson" name, try something safer. "Martin" will do for now. Or "Luther". Or "King".
The change of name, in itself, is neither here nor there. Branding experts would naturally advocate extreme caution. But plenty of firms, both large and small, have transitioned successfully from one identity to another (Norwich Union to Aviva; Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC; Datsun to Nissan; Brad's Drink to Pepsi-Cola; and Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike).
What's much more worrying here is the rush to political correctness in the wake of the near hysteria from some quarters desperate to destroy all traces of the American Confederacy, notably with the knee-jerk removal and destruction of statues of Confederate generals and leaders such as Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davies—in many cases, the statues are (tellingly) being removed under cover of nightfall.
"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history that we make today."
— Henry Ford
What sparked the rush to erase these controversial monuments was the Charleston Church Shooting in June 2015 in which "white supremacist" Dylann Roof shot dead nine (black) people and injured three others (also black). The aim of the shooting (no pun intended) was to initiate a race war and reclaim the Southern American states for the whites who for generations maintained the institution of black slavery.
As a result, anything connected with (or at least seen or suspected to be honouring) the Southern Confederacy is now tainted and set to be expelled from history. Currently, it's mostly the statues and highway names under threat. But it's easy to imagine how the scalpel of misplaced liberal outrage will slowly excise more and more material from antiquity thereby re-presenting the past in a manner acceptable to the current status quo.
But isn't that how it's always been? We don't know. We ain't historians. But it's disturbing nonetheless to see this Orwellian phenomenon unfolding before us. Slavery was wrong. Most people north and south of the Mason-Dixie Line would agree. But so is editing the past to suit the mindset of the present. And if the statues of Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davies ought to be removed, you can argue that (logically speaking) the statues of all the US presidents who presided over American racial segregation should also be knocked off their pedestals and trashed for their complicity in racial bondage.
▲ "C" for "Confederate". "C" for "Curtiss". And "C" for "convenient." If Matt Chambers has calculated accurately, it could also be "C" for "cash."
And now Confederate Motorcycles has chosen to jump before it's pushed—or, at least, has decided to get on message with a new name and a new ID (and as an adjunct, the firm will be taking the opportunity to go all-electric and dump the internal combustion engine, possibly before that also gets too toxic). Well money is money, and God forbid that we should let our private morals queer the pitch for a few corporate bucks (or even a lot of bucks).
Still, when that's settled, we can sort out the monuments to Oliver Cromwell, Winston Churchill, Bomber Harris, General Kitchener, Cecil Rhodes, Clive of India—and you can write your own list to suit your predispositions and socio-political point of view.
Alternately, we can simply accept that the past is the past and acknowledge that we can learn from it without destroying the "truths" that once existed and contributed to our collective present and understanding of human nature.
"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."
— George Orwell, 1984
Meanwhile, if Confederate Motorcycles later finds that changing its name hasn't improved the balance sheet, it will have to look more closely at its product to find the N-person in the woodpile.
Footnote: The original Curtiss Motorcycle Company was founded in 1901 by legendary aviation pioneer Glen Curtiss. The company produced 500cc singles, 1,000cc V-twins and even a 4,000cc V8. It closed its doors in 1913.
See: Sump May 2013: Indian's sneak peek at the Chief
Lighter frames, new forks, improved charging, and new lighting
Prices start at £12,995
Harley-Davidson has "unleashed" 8 new Softails that are talking big and claiming significant new upgrades for 2018. Eight bikes are in the range. Check our news story: 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Revolution.
Create your own hydraulic lines online
We've got reservations about this kind of DIY tech
We'll tell you from the start that we absolutely trust Venhill as a supplier of quality hydraulic hoses and components. No ifs. No buts. We've used their products for years, and we're satisfied. Okay? But we're a little cool about the firm's latest wheeze.
We're talking about the company's "Line Builder" service that allows customers to order their hydraulic lines online and handle the minutiae (end-fittings, length, finish, colour, etc) for themselves.
No doubt we'd get used to it, but it takes us a long time to come around to modern do-it-all-yourself technology—although we generally get there sooner or later.
The problem is, when we order parts from a specialist, we want to talk to a specialist. We've always got questions, doubts and misgivings and we want to be reassured that we're making the right decisions, buying the correct part and generally looking at the problem in the right way.
But once you're faced with a multiple-choice online drop-down window menus asking you to tick this and press that, you're pretty much on your own—and when it comes to brake/clutch components (in particular) we want to be ahead of the curve rather than lumbering along behind. Moreover, we're generally pretty jaded when it comes to learning new systems, decoding log-in fields, figuring out new TV remote control devices and suchlike. And we prefer live-answering to call-steering and/or interrogation by electronic voices.
From Venhill's point of view, the "Line Builder" online module saves the firm time and maximises profits. Customers, after all, can order components and pay for them night and day. And we've got no problem with firms looking to rationalise their services. But as we said, we want an expert on the end of our phone, especially as there's usually a confused and doubtful customer/bike builder at this end.
And one more thing. Our experience is that automation is usually an amusing/interesting optional novelty when it's rolled-out, but soon becomes the only option. Consequently, we're resisting all forms of trained-dog paradigms.
If you feel different, go to Venhill's site and check it out for yourself. The Line Builder thingy isn't actually that hard. But it ain't our kind of easy either.
UPDATE: We should point out that you can still talk directly to Venhill by calling: 01306 885111
Sump's latest idea to foil the bike crooks
Offers over £1,000,000 are invited
We have these notions from time to time. And occasionally we take it a little further than the idea stage. The big question is whether or not the concept works, and we think this one stands a good chance.
We're tentatively calling this thingy a BikeStop®. Or maybe a StopLine® (like the stop lines created during WW2 to halt the expected Nazi invasion). Or maybe BrakeLock®. Or a ThiefBlock®. Or a HydrauLock®. Or ToeRagStop®. But the truth is, we ain't decided.
In any case, the idea was prompted by the recent spate of scooter/motorcycle thefts in London. The "We Ride London" campaign has got its leathers in a twist demanding that the coppers should be allowed to pull out all the stops and chase whoever, whenever and however they feel like doing it regardless of who's being put at risk.
But we figure that the answer is to simply stop the bikes being nicked/attacked in the first place, hence our concept gadget above. It's a simple thing that can, in theory, be retrofitted to just about any scooter or motorcycle, and you could engineer a similar device for cars.
It works like this. You see that a bikejacking is coming atcha, so you hit the panic button and get as far away from the motorcycle as possible in case a faceful of acid is about to be delivered by whatever scumbag is in the frame.
The thieves grab the bike, but (whoah!) the BikeStop®/StopLine® has locked the front brake solid. The bike can't be ridden, and if the brake line is cut, the bike can't stop—at least not easily, and that makes it very hard to tow away (especially if you've also got a rear BikeStop®/StopLine® fitted).
If you've got a bright red BikeStop®/StopLine® button plugged in the end of your handlebars (or similar), it will alert the thieves that you're prepared for trouble, and they just might look for a softer target.
And incidentally, some kind of unlocking switch needs to be included in the design—ideally with, say, a three minute delay or something to preclude instant unlocking should the thieves grab the keys during a jacking attempt. But that might be hard to engineer.
▲ The "We Ride London" campaign co-led by Anthony "Dutch" Van Sorensen believes that chasing the thieves is the answer to bike jacking. We think it's better to make the bikes difficult if not impossible to steal. Meanwhile, bikers need to take full responsibility for their machines and sort out their primary security (trackers, SmartWater, locks, alarms) before running to the police. Few, however, actually do.
The BikeStop®/StopLine® can also be used as a simple security device when you're parked. We've been kicking this idea around the office, and we think it could be very cheap, very effective, and very hard to beat. But maybe you know better. In which case, fire-off an email headed: HEY, SUMP! YOU'RE TALKING RUBBISH! And you can show us where our thinking has gone wrong. We'd love to know.
We were originally thinking that the system might work by first squeezing the front brake and then hitting the STOP button (to keep the hydraulic pressure on). But we now think it should all operate in one smooth action, perhaps via a lever instead of a button.
Either way, we're prepared to sell our BikeStop®/StopLine® if anyone wants to develop it and make some money. And we're asking only £1,000,000 for the rights (but we're reasonable people and we're prepared to haggle).
P.S. Look out for us sometime soon on Dragons' Den.
UPDATE: Also see Sump London Scooter Acid Attack Solution and
Sump POLICE WATCH bike cover
Veloce Publishing's book of the film, the car and the stars
Enjoyable insight into the Genevieve legend
Veteran motoring's most famous car? That's the subheading on this book. But it seems to us that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang easily takes that biscuit. That said, Genevieve, as revealed in the 1953 classic British comedy movie was, and is, a far more credible tale of veteran motoring mayhem—and the vehicle used in the Chitty film was in any case an unconvincing, albeit amusing, contemporary lash-up running a Ford V6 engine/auto gearbox combo rather than a genuine pioneer motor vehicle.
Regardless, Veloce has recently published A Darracq Called Genevieve. It's a 154 page hardback detailing the story of the car, the film, and the multifarious and multi-talented characters involved. And if this primitive four-wheeler isn't quite the most famous veteran vehicle ever built, its running a pretty close second. And as a car for purists, it's way ahead of Chitty.
We've got a copy of that book right here in the office and we've been enjoying reading it. New Zealand author (and photographer and guest speaker) Rodney Laredo writes from the heart, hence this tale reading like a very personal account of his lifelong involvement in the Genevieve story.
Laredo, we learn at the outset, was just a boy when he became entranced with the film and the 1904 Darracq at the centre. His developing interest led to numerous letters, articles, conversations and finally a meeting the late actress Dinah Sheridan who starred in the movie as Wendy McKim (unfortunately for our Kiwi scribe, he never got to meet the other starring members, notably John Gregson, Kay Kendall and Kenneth More).
Laredo and family eventually became good friends not only with Sheridan, but with other personalities involved in the wider story. And therefore it was natural enough for the author to also explore the very interesting history of Darracq cars which is still a largely overlooked, or even unknown chapter in the annals of motoring history.
Packed with images, including stills from the movie, letters of correspondence, news clippings, script extracts, old adverts, movie documents and much more, it's hard to see why any hardcore Genevieve fan would not want a copy of this book. But even those possessed of a more casual interest will find this an enjoyable romp through the movie including the later journeys (on both sides of the globe) made by this particular Darracq (we're talking here about the numerous anniversary runs and publicity drives that have for decades kept the Genevieve story newsworthy).
The images are both colour and black & white, and although one or two shots are of relatively poor quality, they are nevertheless all very much authentic and worthy of inclusion. A great and worthy image isn't always about clarity, tone and focus.
The book dimensions are 250mm x 207mm. There are 160 pages and 112 pictures. The design is workaday rather than exciting or arty. The ISBN is: 978-1-78711-007-6.
Veloce is asking £30 for this book, and we think that represents pretty good value. If you haven't seen the movie for a while and want to review it, you'll be sure to watch it in a much wider light and context after you leaf through this publication. And if you simply want to know something about Darracq cars, here's a pretty good place top start.
First HUD system designed specifically for riders, claim
In yer face information overload on offer
This isn't exactly the kind of device that we'd expect to impress many—if any—classic bikers. We're certainly unconvinced. Regardless, it's claimed to be the world's first Heads-Up-Display that's been conceived and manufactured specifically for bikers.
Seems we've heard that before somewhere.
Regardless, it's on the market now at £615. Switch over to Sump's General Motorcycle News (August) page and see if it fires your plugs.
▲ That's the Razor Lite left, and the Razor on the right. These units fit various models in the Hinckley Bonneville range and they might make your wallet or purse squeal in pain. But are they any good? They'd better be...
K-Tech puts some new bounce in the Bonnies
If you gasp at the price tag, you can't afford 'em
The first big shock here are the numbers that follow the £ sign on the sales ticket. K-Tech's "latest" (actually 2 year old) rear suspension upgrades for Hinckley Triumph T120s, Street Twins, Thruxtons and the Scramblers (up to 2015), are these gas-filled Razor and Razor Lite units asking £594 and £954, respectively.
Mercifully, that price includes VAT at 20%.
What you get for your money are "designed in the UK" nitrogen gas charges (for "more consistent internal pressure leading to a smoother ride"), hand-adjustable rebound damping (using dials at the base of the shocks), adjusters to increase/reduce the length of the units by 10mm (in 1mm increments), and piggy-back reservoirs with dials at the top for "quick and easy compression damping adjustment" (not for the Razor Lites).
We're racking our brains here trying to understand why anyone would want to pay that much for a pair of shocks/dampers outside of track use. But to keep things in perspective, we still figure spark plugs ought to cost a quid each, and a bag of chips is fifty pence, ennit? So maybe it's time to reacquaint ourselves with 21st century real-world pricing.
As for K-Tech, we have to confess a certain ignorance with regard to this 20 year old firm. Yes, they've got a lot of competition experience, and yes, they appear to build very high quality products. But we've never bought their merchandise, so we've no direct knowledge.
Our advice is to check 'em out in the usual way and see what's in store for you. And hey, be nice to your money while it lasts. Some products have a curiously powerful way of getting between us and the Queen. Are we right?
Update: We've just checked the prices of other Triumph Twin shocks on the market. Triumph dealer Lings will flog you a standard pair for the Street Twin for £740. Or you can get an "upgraded" pair (also from Lings) for £665 (go figure). Or you can talk to Norman Hyde who'll sell you a pair of Ikons for around £290 - £340 depending on the specification. Or Hagon will sort you out for roughly two hundred quid. In this world you get what you pay for. But keep in mind that you also get what you overpay for.
100% silk, double-tubed, heavyweight weave
£34.99 plus P&P
We first mentioned this scarf back in Sump Classic Bike News September 2015. Well now we've got one of our own for a close-up look, and we like it a lot. Made from 100% silk, these double-tubed chequered scarves are extremely comfortable and, better still, will get you noticed out on the street—and if we have to explain why being noticed is so important, you shouldn't be on a motorcycle.
World War One pilots gave us the romantic and stereotype image of a dashing hero with a silk scarf streaming in the wind. But that was no idle fashion statement. When you're a few thousand feet up in the clouds looking constantly left and right and up and down for enemy aircraft, you're quickly going to wear a groove in your neck from your leather jacket.
Silk scarves were the answers, and they also helped mop up the castor oil leaking out of the engine cylinders and spattering the goggles, etc. Plenty of pilots were also motorcycle riders, hence the now iconic classic bike/military surplus gear imagery.
Goldtop, based in East London, is asking £34.99 for these high-quality neck bearings, and that's a very good price for real silk. Another £2.49 will get you a presentation box. The dimensions are 158cm x 28cm with 11cm-long tassels. UK postage and packing is around £3.50.
Would we buy another? Absolutely. And naturally, we're going to tell you that they look even better with a Sump T-shirt.
Four days left before the Monterey, California Sale
This Black Shadow is one of the top motorcycle lots
Mecum Auctions is estimating a sale price of between $110,000 and $135,000 for this fully restored Vincent Black Shadow Series C. The 998cc bike, Lot F8, was delivered to Vincent dealer Maiiers of Mitchum, South London in May 1951. All the numbers are correct, including the original factory-numbered swinging arm. The bike is known to the Vincent Owners Club (VOC).
The Monterey Sale takes place between the 16th and 19th August, 2017 (Wednesday to Saturday). There will, we understand, be bike sales on each day. However, it doesn't look like the most exciting auction this season. We counted 60 motorcycles including these bikes previously featured on Sump:
1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead outfit
Ex-Steve McQueen Nimbus
1977 MV Agusta
The address for the sale is: Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, Del Monte Golf Course, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, CA 93940.
As a footnote on that Black Shadow, it's worth mentioning that Mecum is describing the bike as "a matching number machine with all correct specification", which doesn't explain why it's running a pair of Amal Concentric carburettors (see image immediately above). The correct Vincent Black Shadow carburettors are Amal 229E/1DV and 289N/2DS, both with 1⅛ inch bores.
And wait a minute; is that an NGK spark plug we see lurking in the cylinder head fins? Shame, shame.
The moral? Listen to what the auction house has to say, then check everything and make your own enquiries. For $110,000 to $130,000, you'd want it really right rather than nearly right, wouldn't you?
The Rhinestone Cowboy has died aged 81
50 million records sold, and counting
His was one of the greatest country pop voices ever. A session musician, guitarist, songwriter, TV host, actor and one-time touring Beach Boy, Glen Campbell has died aged 81.
Born and raised on a sharecropper farm in Arkansas, USA, Glen Campbell came into the world picking cotton, water melons, corn and potatoes and progressed from small time local bands to become one of the greatest and most prolific recording artists of his genre.
His family were of Scottish descent. He picked up the guitar at a very early age citing Django Reinhardt as one of his prime influences. He learned to play in the traditional way, which was listening to the radio and harvesting chords, strokes, licks and picking patterns from whoever was around and wanted to trade.
His schooling, such as it was, ended at the age of 14. After a succession of dull and dispiriting jobs, he tried his hand at country fairs and gospel meetings before moving west to Albuquerque, New Mexico to perform with his uncle's band, Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. That same year he met and married his first wife. The following year he created his own combo, The Western Wranglers.
In 1960 he moved even further west and arrived in Los Angeles. Soon he found all the work he could handle as a session musician underpinning artistes such as Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Merle Haggard and (later) The Monkees.
In 1962 he signed a deal with Capitol Records and began to pop up on TV shows. He'd already had some experience on radio, and he quickly adapted to what was still a fairly new medium. Minor hits followed, and soon he was hired to replace the increasingly reclusive Brian Wilson on Beach Boys gigs. And when Wilsons' Pet Sounds (1964) was released, it was Glen Campbell the band turned to for support.
In 1967, Gentle on my Mind, a country ballad written by the late John Hartford, gave Campbell an instant hit. That song won four Grammy Awards and was subsequently recorded by dozens of artists including Dean Martin, Aretha Franklin, Roger Miller, Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash and Frankie Laine.
Glen Campbell's cover of By the Time I Get To Phoenix followed in 1967. This Jimmy Webb song soon became one of Campbell's signature tunes and was followed in 1968 by Wichita Lineman, also written by Jimmy Webb.
Now on a roll, Campbell recorded Jimmy Webb's Galveston in 1969 and scored yet another major hit. Then the movie True Grit came along. Starring John Wayne and Kim Darby, Campbell took a supporting role as LaBoeuf, a Texas Ranger out to get the same man that Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) and Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) had been hunting.
With Strother Martin, Jeff Corey, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper strutting their inimitable stuff across the screen, the hugely entertaining and finely scripted film gave John Wayne both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, and saw Campbell pick up a gong for Best Newcomer. He was also Oscar nominated for the song, True Grit, written by Elmer Bernstein with lyrics by Don Black.
In 1975 Glen Campbell enjoyed his biggest selling song, Rhinestone Cowboy which notched up over two million sales. The song hit number one. Two years later he scored another number one with Southern Nights.
Over the next three decades, Glen Campbell continued to perform and make guest appearances, but although his celebrity status was assured, he never hit the heights that he'd conquered in the seventies. His occasional movie and TV appearances continued much as they had through the sixties and seventies. But True Grit (1969) remained the high spot.
During the 1980s he became addicted to God, cocaine and alcohol, but he (apparently) managed to break free of hard drugs and booze until in 2003 when he was arrested for drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He spent 10 days in jail.
In 2005 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; an overdue honour if ever there was one. And by 2010, it was clear that his health was deteriorating. On 8th August 2017 he died peacefully.
Glen Campbell married twice, fathered a small tribe of children, and has been cited by numerous musicians and performers as a major influence. His politics switched between Democrat and Republican. He had a habit of speaking his mind, and not always saying the "right" thing, whatever that is. He's credited with selling over 50 million records, and will be remembered for one of the most distinct and rich country music voices ever.
We don't play him all the time around Sump. But every once in a while we spin a platter on YouTube, or dig into our CD collection, and remind ourselves just how good Glen Campbell is. Or was.
Remind yourself too sometime, why don't you? He didn't get to be a musical legend for nothing.
Hinckley starts spinning the platters
Promoting Triumph's Speed Cup is the motivation
Triumph Motorcycles has teamed up with noted British audio equipment firm Rega Research to create two Rega turntables inspired by the Triumph Street Cup model. The move coincides with the creation of a limited edition run of 500 vinyl platters entitled Racing the Record; a compilation of 10 rock'n'roll tracks featuring "up-and-coming" bands in which each group has contributed two songs.
The concept is intended as a nod towards the fabled rocker cafe culture of the 1960s in which a given race was timed according to a chosen two- or three-minute jukebox hit record. How often these races actually happened in reality is a matter of debate. Regardless, Triumph is buying into the cafe racing fantasy, folklore or reality, and if you attend the Bike Shed event on Tuesday 29th August 2017 at 384 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT, you can witness the launch of these turntables, see some of the bands, and maybe buy a record or two.
The event runs between 6.30pm and 11pm. Tickets will be limited. And, as we understand it, only a select few will get to party afterwards. For more details about the competition, visit Triumph's Facebook or Twitter page, or look at what The Bike Shed has to say about it.
Triumph's Facebook page
Triumph's Twitter page
Eleven new designs from Sump
£9.99 each, or £31.96 for four—saving £8
After creating our range of metal motorcycle signs, it was perhaps just a matter of time before we developed a range of framed motorcycle prints to decorate the disgustingly naked walls of your des-res, chateau, cave, trailer, caravan, houseboat or tent.
And if you've already dressed your walls, they're still not properly attired until you've hung a few of these Sump prints in the most likely places (either side of the TV or fridge will do fine).
Unlike our metal signs, these prints are not really suited to the shed or garage. That said, if you've got suitably dry workspace/bikespace, there's no reason why you can't accommodate these minor masterpieces.
So far we've produced eleven, and we'll be adding to that as and when we can. We opted for good quality oak frames rather than anything from the budget bin. And we worked hard getting the designs just right (but yeah, like a lot of things in life, it all looks pretty easy-peasy when the job's done).
The frame dimensions are 225mm x 175mm (8.8-inches x 6.8 inches). The images are 203mm x 152mm (8-inches x 6-inches). The frames have reinforced corners for durability. The high-resolution images are protected by 2mm glass. They're in stock right now ready to roll.
The price for a single framed print is £9.99. But you can save a lot of money by buying a set of four at £31.96 (that's 8 quid cheaper—and you can trust us when we say they look a whole lot better as part of a set of four or six). And one more thing; we're planning on keeping the frame design for a long time to come. So you can build up a collection if that suits you and feel assured that they'll all match, etc.
Check our range and see if there's anything that takes your fancy. We've got the entire collection display here at Sump, and we like 'em just fine. You will too, we reckon.
Sump framed motorcycle prints
The Crown Prosecution Service seeks to toughen sentencing
Carrying acid in the UK could lead to a spell in clink
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published interim court sentencing guidelines relating to acid attack offences which are on the rise in the UK. The move follows a number of recent highly reported bike-jacking assaults on scooter and moped riders in London—as reported on Sump Classic Bike News, July 2017.
What the guidelines recommend is that using or carrying acid during a robbery or personal assault—regardless of whether or not the attack is "successful"—should now return the same sentence as carrying a knife.
And what sentence is that exactly? Well, the majority of knife-carrying offenders currently face around six months in jail leading to a release in two to three months. Or less.
However, the new thinking is that a life-sentence is appropriate in the more extreme acid-attack cases which includes those showing wilful intent to maim—as opposed to "merely" deploying the acid as a threat.
What's driving this knee-jerk response from the government is the more horrific nature of acid attacks that frequently lead to lifelong disfigurement. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has promised to take another look at the Poisons Act 1972 to see how that piece of legislation might be bolstered to include other noxious and corrosive chemicals.
It's hard to see how any of this is actually likely to deter potential offenders, but the CPS needs to be seen to be doing something even if that something is ultimately ... well, nothing.
It's worth noting that acid attacks are most common in South East Asia, notably Bangladesh and India, typically as a reprisal/revenge against wives or girlfriends for real or imagined insults, slights or humiliations (such as marriage rejection, adultery or ordinary domestic disputes). The emergence of this type of attack is still relatively rare in the UK, but it's increasing. And it has to be said that it's within the country's Asian community that most assaults take place.
Using acid as a weapon during the execution of a crime is a new(ish) phenomenon in Britain, and it's seen a huge rise in London. In 2016, the Metropolitan Police recorded 454 acid attack offences. That figure is up from 261 the previous year marking a 74 percent increase.
Meanwhile, if you've got a legitimate reason for carrying acid, that isn't likely to lead to an arrest let alone a conviction—and of course there are plenty of lawful/legitimate uses for acids.
Once again, our (bitter) advice is that if you sense that a bike-jacking is about to happen, step away from the bike as quickly as possible and keep walking. The attackers, after all, are likely to be prepared for the assault. You won't be.
And if you manage to track down the bastards and kill them slowly and painfully, we won't say a word against you.
That's a promise
British and Indian motorcycle firms forge a new alliance
Hinckley looking to break into emerging Far Eastern markets
Hot on the news of Norton Motorcycles announcing an engine development deal with Chinese firm Zongshen (see further down this page), we learn that Triumph Motorcycles has forged a new partnership with Indian firm Bajaj Motorcycles aiming to design, develop and distribute mid-capacity motorcycles throughout the world.
It's a non-equity partnership, so the two firms will remain totally separate, financially speaking: Triumph Motorcycles being a private company headquartered at Hinckley, UK, and Bajaj Motorcycles being a division of Bajaj Auto, a public company headquartered in Pune, India.
So what's in it for Triumph? Well, Bajaj is the world's third largest motorcycle manufacturer producing last year around 3.5 million motorcycles and three-wheelers, collectively. Roughly 1.5 million of those vehicles went abroad. Triumph would very much like a piece of the Indian and emerging Far Eastern mid-capacity market and could simply try to muscle its way into the showrooms. But it would be a long fight with little guarantee of success.
However, with Bajaj's clout and local knowledge/market penetration, Triumph will quickly move up a league (or down, depending on your point of view) and break into the mid-capacity sector (125cc - 500cc)—and no doubt that will give the firm the leverage it needs to produce smaller and cost-effective bikes for the UK and other Western markets should it so choose.
▲ Bajaj Avenger Desert Gold for 2017. With just 220cc on tap, you won't get a nose bleed riding this. But the Indian manufacturer is capable of production zillions of them for emerging markets with a weather eye on the West. Triumph wants a piece of this action. The new deal will help get that.
As for Bajaj, the Indian firm gets the prestige of working with a high quality firm such as Triumph and will no doubt benefit from Triumph's R&D expertise and branding savvy—not that Bajaj doesn't have its own R&D people who are producing increasingly convincing motorcycles. Additionally, Bajaj will help facilitate Triumph's presence in local showrooms and plug a gap in Bajaj's portfolio.
Once again we see how rapidly and dramatically the world is changing. When we were kids, the centre of the capitalist world was somewhere between the Greenwich and New York. But that centre is daily shifting further and further east leaving many of us with a lot more personal, social and economic adjustments to make, what do you say?
Motorcycle attackers cast their vote with a brick in the face
61-year old Labour man is out to get 'em
Labour MPs, as with MPs from other political parties, are used to hurling insults and having them hurled right back. But Steve McCabe, the 61-year old MP for Birmingham Selly Oak (former home of Ariel Motorcycles) has recently received a more direct and painful insult in the shape of a house brick in the face.
Apparently, the incident happened on 31st July 2017 as McCabe was working doors with Labour volunteers in the Yardley Wood district of Brum. Two guys on trail bikes appeared, one armed with a brick, and you can figure out the rest. It appears that McCabe had earlier asked the riders to stop behaving in a noisy and anti-social manner.
The MP went straight to Twitter in an attempt to nail these turkeys, and fortunately there are half-decent pictures of the attackers. So if you know 'em, you'll know 'em easily enough right here—in which case you can tip off the rozzers or fire off an email to McCabe.
Mercifully, he wasn't seriously injured, but he might have been. And if it means anything to you, the attackers help give biking a bad rap, etc. You might not be a Labour man or woman, but this is no time for party politics.
Let's have a couple of names if you can, and ideally the
New 650cc Euro4-ready engine to be produced in China
Ricardo is backing the project
Norton Motorcycles has signed a very lucrative, but cash-unspecified, deal with Chinese motorcycle, quad bike and engine manufacturer, Zongshen. The agreement pertains to a new 650cc, liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder engine developed jointly by Norton and Ricardo.
Norton, based in Castle Donington, Derbyshire, needs no introduction. But Ricardo, based in Shoreham-on-Sea, West Sussex is lesser known and deserves a few words. The company was founded by (Sir) Harry Ricardo in 1915. The firm, which began by designing a high-quality engine for the British WW1 Mark V tank is perhaps best known to motorcyclists as the creator of the Ricardo 4-valve head used on the high-performance Ricardo Triumphs built between 1921 and 1928 (see image immediately above).
Since then, Ricardo's innovation has been employed by British bus company AEC, by Bugatti (in its current Veyron), by McClaren (in its M838T 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine) and by the UK MOD in its Ocelot/Foxhound armoured vehicles. In fact, it's difficult to think of a single vehicle manufacturer worldwide that hasn't benefited from Ricardo's knowledge and development in cylinder head technology, piston design, diesel engine modification and sundry industrial know-how.
Zongshen is based in Chongqing (formerly Chungking) in South West China. The firm was founded in 1992, employs around 18,000 people, and has an output of (a claimed) one million vehicles per annum.
▲ The world is changing a lot faster than we often realise. This is the Zongshen ZX3 badged as a M1nsk in Belarus (and we'd did spell M1nsk correctly), and a CSC Cyclone in the USA. Chinese build quality still isn't top-notch. But it's on the way up. Now, does the future scare you a little, or excite you? Or maybe a little of both?
Harley-Davidson and Piaggio are both currently enjoying trade partnerships with Zongshen. The deal with Norton will see the Chinese firm produce the new 650cc engine for anything up to the next 20 years with Norton collecting a "down payment", plus royalties to follow. We don't know exactly how much Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton, is likely to trouser. He's staying tight lipped, but it's odds-on that he's going to need much bigger pockets and will be ploughing much of the dosh into Norton Motorcycles which has long been underfinanced.
▲ It ain't much of a photograph, but it's a very significant deal. CEO Stuart Garner (left) must be signing that piece of paper as fast as he can shift that pen. And we reckon the Chinese are pretty keen too.
The engine, we understand, is likely to be produced under the Cyclone or established Zongshen brands. And with Norton and Ricardo backstopping this project, the new engine will be Euro4 ready thereby enabling Zongshen to take the next great leap forward.
▲ Hayley Mills and Hywel Bennett. They looked good on screen, but their relationship was professional not personal. They appeared together in The Family Way (1966) and Twisted Nerve (1968).
Star of The Family Way and Twisted Nerve has died
He was 73
He was one of the most versatile actors of his generation, a man who could be soulful, innocent, comedic, naive, scary and violent as befitting the role he was playing. This is Welsh actor Hywel Bennett who has died aged 73.
His first movie role was as a beatnik named Leonardo in the low-budget 1966 Italian film Il marito è mio e l'ammazzo quando mi pare (It's my husband, and I'll decide when to kill him). It wasn't the world's greatest part, but it was the springboard for the Boultings Brothers' production of The Family Way (1966), arguably Bennett's greatest movie that also starred John Mills, Hayley Mills and Marjorie Rhodes.
Bennett played Arthur Fitton, newlywed to Hayley Mills and unable to consummate their marriage. Sensitive and bookish, Fitton quickly needs to negotiate many of the pitfalls of life, love and family, and in doing so we're treated to a painful revelation. John Mills and Marjorie Rhodes are, as ever, excellent in their respective roles. But actors Murray Head, Barry Foster and Avril Angers add quality support to what began as a play by Bill Naughton. Unmissable stuff.
Within two years Bennett starred in Twisted Nerve (1968) as Martin Durnley/Georgie, a sociopath who pretends to be intellectually impaired in order to get up close and very personal with Susan Harper (played by Hayley Mills). This psychological thriller chilled audiences of the day, and is still capable of giving the modern viewer more than the odd shiver. Frank Finlay and Billie Whitelaw co-starred. Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, North by Northwest, Taxi Driver and Cape Fear) wrote the music.
The Virgin Soldiers (1969) and Loot (1970) dramatically (pun intended) increased Bennett's presence both on-screen and off-screen. Audiences loved his boyish charm, and directors recognised that, given the right script, this actor was money in the bank.
Percy (1973) was however for many a particularly low spot in Bennett's career in which he plays Edwin who receives a penis transplant, kindly donated by a nude man who falls to his death from a high rise building. What follows in this British sex comedy (we used the word "comedy" advisedly) are numerous romps, near misses and a few hits with the likes of Elke Sommer, Britt Ekland and Cyd Hayman. As an indictment of British sexual insecurities of the 1970s, this movie scores top marks. As a suitable vehicle for a talent such as Hywel Bennett's, this one's running on empty.
Another twelve movies followed, none of which hit the earlier heights that put Hywel Bennett on the cinema map. But he also took numerous TV roles from Dr Who (1965) to The Sweeney (1976) to Pennies from Heaven (1978) to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979).
Between 1979 and 1992 he became Shelley, star of the hit sitcom about an intellectually jaded, anti-establishment loafer happily dispensing opinions and advice to whoever could tolerate his cynical charm. Seventy-one episodes were made, and although slightly dated now, there's still plenty of amusement to be squeezed from the show. However, Bennett's erstwhile boyish charm had faded, and TV had other more malevolent characters awaiting him, such as Mr Croup in Neverwhere (1996), Deep Throat in Lock, Stock ... (2000), and Jack Dalton in EastEnders (2003). See image immediately below.
Hywel Bennett was a heavy drinker which did nothing to improve either his personal outlook, health or movie career. Nevertheless, he stood his roles well and gave us characters we'll collectively remember for a long time to come. In 2007 he moved to Deal in Kent and was regularly persecuted by the British press happy to regale us with tales of Bennett's fall from grace.
He was the brother of actor Alun Lewis, and was married twice (once to Cathy McGowan of Ready Steady Go!, the 1960s UK pop music show). We rate him as one of the great actors of British cinemas, a character we frequently loathe to love and love to loathe, but pretty much always capable of keeping our attention fixed on the screen, both in the cinema and at home.
He was unquestionably a star, but one who shined early in his career and was never quite able to recapture the magic that made him so interesting in the sixties and seventies.
Goldtop's new addition to the range
Prices from £44.99 to £59.99
Look carefully if you will, ladies and gentlemen. There are two basic designs of leather gloves in the image immediately above.
The top two pairs are the "Short Bobbers". As far as we can tell, they're the same cut and are available in either black at £44.99 or waxed tan at £49.99.
The two pairs below are, left to right, the Quilted Classic Racers at £59.99 and the Short Cafe Racers at £44.99. The Quilted Cafe Racer gloves have been around for a while, but only in black leather and priced at £54.99. They're still available, but you've now got the waxed tan option.
▲ Feature of these Short Bobber gloves include reinforcement at the palms and fingers, quilted leather wrist fastening (with Velcro), and red fleece lining. Goldtop recommend them for spring through to autumn riding.
The cut of the Short Cafe Racer gloves looks pretty much the same as the Short Bobbers, but the striping helps target a slightly different market.
Goldtop is the firm behind these creations. The company is going from strength to strength by steadily increasing its range and steadfastly consolidating its position in the market. We've got a pair of Goldtop gauntlets, and we like them just fine. The leather's supple, the fit is good, the production is faultless—and we'd expect the same from these new releases.
But don't take our word for it. Check Goldtop's website, ask the firm some intelligent questions, and make your play.
One final thing worth mentioning. When you order, use the coupon code SHIP4FREE. It's valid for all of August 2017,
and it'll save you a bob or two.
Mecum's Monterey Sale 16th - 19th August 2017
The estimate is $16,000 - $19,000
Harley-Davidson never launched this model as the "Knucklehead". Following five years in development, the "Knuck" appeared in 1936 simply as the Model E; a 1,000cc (61-cubic inch) 45-degree V-twin which successfully made the all-important jump from established H-D flatheads to up-to-the-minute OHV technology.
During this between-the-wars period, aviation engineering was making huge technical advances. Meanwhile, the Art Deco era, although headed for a hard exit in 1939, was still a significant force in contemporary design, be it architectural, automotive, fashion or whatever. Put these two potent factors together, throw in Harley-Davidson's three-decades of pragmatic motorcycle engineering experience, and you have the underpinnings of the Knucklehead; arguably one of the greatest bikes to motor down the Milwaukee turnpike.
Almost as soon as the $380, 61-inch, 80-90mph "Knuck" hit the streets, a larger 74-inch 80-100mph EL version muscled itself off the production line, and with it Harley-Davidson breathed a sigh of relief knowing that it had consolidated a major hit—albeit not without some heavy duty revisions and fixes, notably with the top end.
▲ It's a pity that the handsome Knucklehead engine is lost behind that chair. It would look a whole lot better on the British side where our sidecars are usually mounted on the left.
The Knucklehead—so named after its distinct and almost brutal rocker boxes—has since become a full-blown motorcycling icon not least thanks to the record breaking March 1937 speed run by Joe Petrali (1904 - 1974) at Daytona Beach which saw him hit 136.18mph. That was a genuinely awesome achievement for the age, and "awesome" isn't a word that we bandy around here at Sump.
The US entry into the Second World War in 1941 impacted heavily on civilian motorcycle production, both at Harley-Davidson and elsewhere. Nevertheless, that was the year that the Model F and Model FL Knuckleheads appeared. The price was around $465.
Soon enough, following the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December of that year, practically all H-D production shifted to war bikes and other forms of military equipment. But in 1944, with victory in Europe first taken for granted, and then roundly achieved, the Milwaukee factory gradually switched from WD hardware and ramped-up two-wheeled transportation for the common man.
Steel, nickel, chromium and rubber were, however, in short supply. Consequently, new bikes were hard to come by, even if you had cash in hand. But "professional" purchasers (doctors, lawyers, etc) could quickly find themselves at the front of a lengthening queue. However, the mood was upbeat, and normality was rapidly replacing the tensions of war. Good times were ahead.
▲ Want to read more on the history of the Knucklehead? Try Greg Field's book published by Quarto which you can pick up online without much trouble. It's not the last word. But it's got plenty of interesting ones.
This Knucklehead example (see images immediately above) was built in 1947. The bike has been thoroughly rebuilt and enjoys an upgrade to a modern 12-volt generator coupled with improved lighting, a removable windshield, and a total of 5-gallons in the "road trip" tanks.
Knucks are ... well ... interesting to ride. They're smaller than most people realise, and the agricultural engineering—which is well suited to the target market that included many rural customers better acquainted with a hammer than micrometer—encourages the uninitiated to use a lot more force than you might level at an European bike of the era. But as with most things in life, there are subtleties involved that reward the persistent and the patient. In short, these bikes are great to ride when you learn to ride them on their terms rather than your own (and how many times have you heard that piece of advice?).
Mecum Auctions will be auctioning this beautiful outfit at its Monterey Sale which is scheduled for 16th - 18th August 2017. Look for Lot F85. The matching sidecar, incidentally, is a 1946 design also manufactured by Harley-Davidson.
The estimate is: $50,000 - $60,000.
Counting Crows Somewhere Under Wonderland hits the spot
Try not to be too happy when you listen to this...
Counting Crows ain't to everyone's taste. We know that. For some guys and girls, lead singer Adam Duritz is nothing but an angst-ridden, emotionally tortured, psychologically-challenged, terminally introspective 52-year old teenager. But for others, he's one of the greatest songwriters of our age (not to mention an inspired record producer and interesting film maker) and he serves as another reminder that not all the great music in the universe was laid down in the 1970s.
▲ Don't let the look of these ugly bastards put you off. This is a great band fronted by misery meister and chronicler of confusion, Adam Duritz. But can you guess which one is him?
The Crows have recorded six studio albums but are probably best known in the UK for their hit singles American Girls and their cover of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi.
For a decade or more, here at Sump we've listened and enjoyed pretty much everything from Duritz & Co (notably the albums Recovering the Satellites and Hard Candy). But for today, and probably the rest of the week, we're plugged in to Somewhere Under Wonderland released in 2014, and we're inviting you to join us at the speakers or earphones.
Me, Clifton and the king of cats
We sat down in the road
Pedro said, boys, we're three of kind
He said I sat with river rats
and I hung my hat with diplomats
Had four brothers once upon a time
He said they tore the country far away from the Rio Grande
And the road just wore them down
So they bought a house beside a lake
outside of New Orleans
And they stared in the direction of the escalating sound
—Cover up the Sun lyrics
The album produced (no pun intended) two singles: Palisades Park and Scarecrow. But to our tastes, the top track is Cover up the Sun, not least due to its rollin' road-trip rhythm and ultra sharp lyrics. Duritz once again delivers his musical message with the exquisite phrasing of artistes such as Frank Sinatra or, and we hate to say it, Robbie Williams. And if you really can't dredge any pleasure at all from the dark chasm of Duritz's pathologically pain-drenched and fragmentary warblings, you'll just have to go back to your ABBA albums.
Adam Frederic Duritz has definitely got a loose tappet in the rocker box, and we're bloody-well glad of it. Where the hell would the planet be without tortured artists and dysfunctional performers?
Check the album on YouTube, but don't forget to buy the material and pay da men their musical dues.
Lousy cover, great book
Essential reading for Triumph Tiger Cub & Terrier fans
The worst thing about this book is the cover. We tried photographing it from a variety of angles and under differing lighting conditions (and under the dubious influence of a variety of beers too). But nothing we did made much difference (not that we're the world's best photographers, you understand—or best drinkers come to that). It's just a lousy cover inasmuch as it's soft, dark, confused, "amateur", and just ... well, uninspiring. But then, Veloce has long been hit and miss with its covers.
However, it's all upward from here on because this is a GREAT book packed with facts, figures, images and opinion. The author is Mike Estall. He wrote the original draft in the mid to late 1990s, and Veloce published it in 1999. But we're now on the 3rd edition which, appropriately, includes updates—which probably means a few corrections too. We've seen the title before. But we've never really studied it, and so we haven't reviewed it. Veloce, however, put that right when a copy arrived in the post last week.
The writing is simple, economical and unflashy. And it's very digestible prose. Why? Because Estall has thoughtfully served up the material in small portions headed 1.1, 1.2. 1.3 and so on upward. Consequently, it's both easy and natural to read a small section, look away, have a think, make a cup of coffee, go mow the lawn and come back for the next mouthful.
And this is going to be a long meal for most readers because the typeface is fairly small, and the words are plenty, meaning that there's no padding. So forget reading it in a day or so. Instead, you'll be plodding away through this tome over a period of weeks or even months. And that's something of a frustration for us here at Sump because we simply don't have the time to really enjoy this banquet. Instead, we're sampling sections and chapters and doing what we can to get a realistic overview on the fly. However, if you're a Tiger Cub owner (or prospective owner), you'll no doubt put some serious time aside for this, and in doing so will be very satisfied with Estall's labour of love.
The pictures are mostly pretty good, if not excellent. Many have been taken from Estall's personal collection, but others are factory shots, racing images, period technical diagrams, factory marketing literature and similar. But none are colour. That will disappoint some readers, but it feels okay to us. And had Veloce splashed out a little on a four-colour press, that would be reflected in the price—which is already posted at £50 if you buy direct from Veloce, but is possibly discounted elsewhere.
It's not a manual, take note. Instead, it's a reference book charting the history, development, production, racing history and domestic usage of the Tiger Cub, and its forefather, the Terrier.
If we were nitpicking, we'd say that some of the brochure images feel a little mean. We'd prefer to see some of them full size, but it might be that the necessary high quality images simply aren't available (which might help explain the cover). Or maybe it's a space issue. Or perhaps we're on the wrong track completely. Either way, it's a little frustrating that we can't enjoy the old adverts at the size they would have appeared back in the 1950s and 1960s.
But don't let any of this put you off. After your manual and handbook, this is essential reading for Tiger Cub riders/enthusiasts. It will greatly improve your perspective and make you appreciate these machines all the more. In fact, for a while we've been looking for the right Cub in the right condition at the right price, and Estall's Bible has fanned the flames of another sickly-sweet motorcycle acquisition desire.
It might happen.
There are over 200 pages in this hardback book. The number of images isn't mentioned on the press release, but it's plenty. The book dimensions are 250mm x 207mm. The ISBN is 978-1-787111-27-1. And note that Veloce is, on its website, currently listing this book as "NEW". But that's not true. It's a new edition of an older book.
As for Estall, he's been around a while and saw service with the RAF back around the time the Tiger Cub was rolling off the production line at Meriden. He's been riding since 1956 and was bitten by the Tiger Cub bug back in the early 1980s. Now, over a quarter of a century later, he's still a Cub man, and his book is likely to be a benchmark for a long time to come.
The bottom line? Buy the Tiger Cub Bible. You'll have little option but enjoy it. And if you don't actually own a Cub, this might just be the catalyst you need to go and get one.