1951 Vincent Black Lightning. One of just 30 Black Lightnings built by Stevenage, this motorcycle was imported into Australia by Tony McAlpine, but it was Jack Ehret (1923 - 2001) who put this bike on the map when he clocked an average 141.5 mph at Gunnedah, NSW and set a new Australian speed record. According to Vincent folklore, this bike once went toe-to-toe with the famous "Gunga Din" (campaigned by George Brown) and it gave Gunga Din something of a bloody nose. Do we believe it? Who knows? And who cares? To us, it's just a cool Vincent racer that Jack Ehret owned, used and loved for almost half a century, and now it's being moved on to someone else. Re-commissioned by Vincent guru Patrick Godet, Bonhams will be offering the (headline) bike for sale at Las Vegas on 25th January 2018. An estimate hasn't yet been posted, but we expect this 998cc V-twin to shift. Fast. Look for Lot 131. [Update: The Vincent sold for a record $929,000/£652,404]


December 2017  Classic bike news


December 2017 Classic Bike News

Information on this picture wanted

Levis Motorcycles set for comeback?

One Liners

Oops, we screwed up [again - Ed]

H&H December 2017 sale at the NMM

Immortal Austin Seven from Veloce

Triumph T140V for sale: 237km

Irresponsible journalism from MCN?
Hagon Triumph Bobber mono-shock
Bruce Alan Brown: 1937 - 2017

MCN closes its biker forum

Arm rural UK coppers suggestion

Bought a Sump T-shirt? Check your email...

Falling bike sales, 11 straight months

Triumph Birmingham is set to close

New electric black taxi breaks cover

Semi naked girl straddles an Indian!!

November 2017 Classic Bike News

Riding Japan; new touring website

British motor racing anniversary day

Triumph T140 restoration guide

Ratchet handle taps & dies - Chronos

White Helmet Triumphs reach £12K

H&H's first timed automobilia auction

Goldtop £50 off gloves—limited offer

London pillion rider ban idea

Ford Design in the UK - Veloce

Thruxton Track Racer Kit offer

Want to post a comment on Sump?

New Davida "Koura" full face helmet

One liners

NMM BSA Gold Star winner details

Norton 650 twin scrambler planned

RE travel book: Hit the Road, Jac!

Stoneleigh Kickback Show April 2017

Brough Superior Pendine racer

One liners

H-D Battle of the Kings 2017 winner

New Royal Enfield 650 twins launched

NMM's 2018 Speedmaster prize

Meriden Off Road Tiger Cubs

One liners

Andy Tiernan's 2018 calendar

Scrappage scheme classic car poser

Norton launches the California

Scooter gangs face new response

One liners

September 2017 Classic Bike News

Bobby Vee: 1943 - 2016
EX-WD 500cc BSA WM20: £6,325
Essential autojumble sweatshirts
Mahindra has bought the BSA brand
Dave Cash: 1942 - 2016
BSA M20 "Blueprints" back in stock

New BSA M20 "Blueprint" T-shirt

VMCC Pip Squeak Run April 2016
Ed "Stewpot" Stewart: 1941 - 2016
Calling British spares manufacturers
Stupid biker gives away his KTM 690
Festival of Motorcycling autojumble

December 2015 Classic Bike News

Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister: 1945 - 2015

"Motorsport" CBE for John Surtees

Rare Vincent 2-stroke Uniflow Engine

Mick Grant replica 961 Norton racer

Old Biker's Mantra T-shirt from Sump

Evel Knievel's XL1000 movie bike

H&H Chateau Impney Sale results

Broughs of Bodmin Moor to sell

Flying Tiger Moto Man poofy soap

Petrol drops to £1 per litre

Porsche Sunbeam S8 special to sell

Ural gets on the scrambler trail

Anthony Valentine: 1939 - 2015

Huge UK government tax disc loss

Optimate 5 Voltmatic charger on test

Watsonian Squire T100 sidecar

November 2015 Classic Bike News

Redesigned Sump Triumph T-shirt

Great service at Welders Warehouse

Ural's 2016 Dark Force combination

Wheelrider project seeks backers

Andy Tiernan's 2016 calendar is here

A blue plaque for Triumph founder

Victory Ignition Concept custom bike

Matlock Bath Mining Museum appeal

Swedish Italians head for France
Side view assist tech from Bosch

David Beckham's Outlaw movie

New Triumph Speed Triple for 2016

Steve McQueen's Chevy camper van

Kickback Show London Dec 2015

George Barris: 1925 - 2015

NMM to raffle a 1959 T120 Bonnie

Royal Enfield splined clutch drums

"Led Zeppelin" chop sold at auction

Have you seen this Ford Mustang?

Bonhams Hendon Sale Dec 2015

Movies we love: The Family Way

Bonhams 2016 Las Vegas line-up

Triumph's new Bonneville line-up

October 2015 Classic Bike News

Mark Howe Murphy: 1932 - 2015

Comet Classics' Pride at the NEC

Stand up for Owen

Old Empire Motorcycles Gladiator

Record money at Bonhams' Stafford

Richard Davies: 1926 - 2015

Gear Gremlin bandana fleece thingy
Yamaha 125cc Resonator concept
Odd things are happening on Sump...
Weise "affordable" Lima gloves

Triumph's 2016 Bonneville teaser

Another Hayward T140 belt failure

Second generation HUD for bikes

Marzocchi closes. It's official

Gordon Honeycombe: 1936 - 2015

Indian Scout IKON shocks

Harley-Davidson XA to Wheatcroft

The Complete book of BMW Motorcycles

So who's answering the Sump phone?

September 2015 Classic Bike News

Fat bastards. And skinny dudes

Fonzie's Triumph to auction. Again

Urban rider's workshop initiative

The NMM opens its doors for free

Great speedo cable fix from Venhill

BAD-ASS BIKER T-shirts are in stock
Buying a crash helmet; a Sump guide
Romney Marsh Classic Bike Jumble
New Goldtop silk scarf

Worst Netley Marsh autojumble ever?

New Kawasaki W800 buyers guide
Bonhams Beaulieu 2015 results
Lord Edward Montagu: 1926 - 2015
Triumph's $2.9 million US recall fine
New Fab Four coffee table book
Dean Carroll Jones: 1931 - 2015
Harley-Davidson test ride competition
Still awaiting your Skully AR-1 lid?
Two rare Italians headed for Stafford
Sump BAD-ASS T-shirt coming soon
Who the hell can you trust anymore?
Austel Pullman 1300 combo to sell
Oldtimer Motoren Museum
£4m government grant for Norton
BSH sells out to Mortons Media
Sammy Miller Run August 2015

August 2015 Classic Bike News

Jake Robbins Royal Enfield custom

Music we love: Everyday Robots

Ebay: Rare 1956 250cc Indian Brave

For sale: Ex-display team TRW?
91 English & Welsh courts to close?

"Tougher and darker" HDs for 2016

Yvonne "Bat Girl" Craig: 1937 – 2015

Confederate P51 Combat Fighter
Subscribe to Sump - it's free

Cheffins Harrogate Sale August 2015
Lambeth Council bans nitrous oxide
TRF's £10,000 green lane appeal
Harley Street 750 set for Sept launch
Trouble: Triumph bobber on Ebay
Great new T-shirt designs from Sump
George Edward Cole: 1925 - 2015
Sammy Miller at Donington Classic
185,272 Harley Baggers recalled
Fifth Classic Car Boot Sale, London
Mecum Harrisburg results Aug 2015
Mecum Monterey Sale August 2015
Ace Cafe Beijing has opened
Free disc locks courtesy of the Met Police

July 2015 Classic Bike News

Where BSAs Dare

Rare 1912 Pierce at Netley
7 pence per minute to talk Triumph
Cheffins Cambridge Sale: 25th July
Matchless sunglasses: "Only £299"

Cool BSA Bantam diesel special
Brighton Speed Trials 2015 reminder
New Royal Enfield despatch bikes
M.A.D X-ray Art Exhibition Matchless
1964 Speed Twin bobber on eBay
Chris Squire: 1948 - 2015
Movies we love: Smokescreen (1964)
Road race & exhibition for the gents

June 2015 Classic Bike News

Christopher Lee: 1922 - 2015

Triumph Motorcycles: 1937 - Today

News about Roy Bacon

France bans earphones on the road

Road deaths up: first rise for 14 years

Daniel Patrick Macnee: 1922 - 2015

Tri-Cor is now Andy Gregory

Matchless-Vickers to stay in Britain

Samsung truck video safety tech

First middle lane "road hogger" fined

Brando's Electra Glide to auction

Pulford® wax cotton jacket, in "sand"

James "Hansi" Last: 1929 - 2015

Suzuki's UK café culture campaign

Disappointing Historics June Sale

DVLA "paperless counterpart" fiasco

Classic face masks, Boken style

Vibrating steering wheel idea for dozy drivers


May 2015 Classic Bike News

Council streetlight switch-off warning

Twinkle: 1948 - 2015

Historics' Brooklands sale draws near

Classic bikes for sale reminder
Hope Classic Rally: all for charity
Riley "BB" King: 1925 - 2015
Grace Lee Whitney: 1930 - 2015
Stondon Museum April sale results
RE buys Harris Performance Products
Geoff Duke: 1923 - 2015
Classic Motorcycle Restoration and Maintenance
NMM's winter raffle winner details
Stafford Sale: "£2,262,109: 86% sold"

April 2015 Classic Bike News
Norman Hyde polished T100 headers

Cheffins Cambridge Sale results

Harley's "Job of a lifetime" winner details

John Stuart Bloor is now a billionaire

BSMC Show, Tobacco Dock, London

"Rusty Blue" Route 66 motorcycle kit

Erik Buell Racing closes its doors

One of the Love Bugs is up for sale
Ronnie Carroll: 1934 - 2015
Sixty museum bikes to be auctioned
Goldtop classic fleece-lined gauntlets
Harley-Davidson Kansas lay-offs
Mecum's Walker Sign Collection results

March 2015 Classic Bike News

Ted Simon's website is "hacked by Isis"
Frank Perris: 1931 - 2015
ULEZ Zone charges for motorcycles
We're all down with a nasty disease
Eric "Shaw" Taylor: 1924 - 2015
E J Cole Collection at Mecum's

Rare 500cc Linto for Duxford Sale
Classic Car Boot Sale final reminder
DfT road safety website is to be axed
Autocom GPS bike tracker is "coming soon"
Jem Marsh: 1930 - 2015
New Triumph Thruxton book from Panther Publishing

New drug-driving regulations are here

HMS Sump is torpedoed!
New £350,000 Jensen GT for 2016

RE Continental GT, soon in black

February 2015 Classic Bike News

Lincoln bans legal highs in public places

Leonard Simon Nimoy: 1931 - 2015

Cheffins Cambridge Sale: Apr 2015

Race Retro Feb 2015 auction results
£4.7 million grant for Brooklands

Full size "Airfix" motorcycle kits
Two Francis-Barnett bikes "launched"
Gerry Lloyd Wells: 1929 - 2014

Harley-Davidson's "dream job" offer
Road accidents & preventable events
The velocity of money? What's that?
ACA auction Saturday 7th March 2015
Sump's new road safety stickers
Kickback Stoneleigh to be televised



January 2015 Classic Bike News

1948 Land Rover manufacture exhibit
UK Triumph Scrambler sales jump
Mecum Kissimmee Sale results
Ikon Basix shock absorbers
Sump BSA M20 metal sign—£14.99
Another great Marlboro Man has snuffed it

Mixed Bonham results at Las Vegas
Stolen Norton appeal for information
The Reunion by Jack Elgos
VMCC December 2014 raffle winner
Brian Horace Clemens: 1931 - 2015
Metal classic bike signs from Sump
Rod Taylor: 1930 - 2015
Derek Minter: 1932 - 2015
Tiernan's looking for a Flea crate
Jerry Lee Lewis Duo Glide to sell
"Killer drivers" sentencing review
Harley-Davidson recalls 19,000 bikes
Cutaway engine bonanza at Bonhams

Sump news archive



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BSA WM20 production line at Small Heath, Birmingham


Information on this picture wanted


Story snapshot:

Do you have an original copy of this photograph?

Free Sump T-shirt on offer


This is a long shot, but someone out there might be able to help with this enquiry. The above image is taken from a copy of MotorCycling dated 20th December 1945. The picture shows a bunch of guys standing around a BSA WM20. At least one of the guys is wearing an old style shop coat. It's hard to see what the other guys are wearing. It looks like this bike is being removed from a packing case or something (but that could just be our imaginations overworking).


The message on the board reads: TAIL END CHARLIE with the additional legend: WOT! NO MORE ARMY BIKES?—which could be a reference to the last stock of surplus military bikes that were once retailed by outfits such as Pride & Clarke, London.


The picture is one of many collected by Henk Joore from the Netherlands. Henk runs one of the best motorcycle forums in the world, if not the best. If you click on his name, we've got a Henk Joore page on Sump that will tell you a little more about him.


Henk Joore


Henk is interested in anything to do with military motorcycles, particularly BSAs. He's amassed a huge archive of images and sundry information and is always looking for more. In this snapshot, it's the "C number" on the bike's petrol tank that's of special interest.


That number is the identification code given by the British Army. It should be seven digits preceded by the letter "C". We had a long look at a larger copy of this image, and we've enhanced it and generally mucked around with various Photoshop filters. And we've got an idea what the first five digits read. But it's not enough, and it's not reliable.


So if you can help with this, perhaps by having an original copy of the photograph, or by supplying supporting information about the characters or the location, maybe you could let Henk know through the forum address below. Or tell us and we'll pass it on.


And as if anyone out there needs any further incentive beyond ordinary goodwill, the first person to offer a high resolution copy of the photograph detailing that number can treat themselves to one of our cool Sump T-shirts (subject to it being in stock, which most of them are at any given time).


UPDATE: We've since been advised [thanks, Ian—Ed] that the image actually shows the last BSA WM20 rolling off the Small Heath, Birmingham production line. The "packing case" is actually the wooden track upon which the bikes were built.




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Levis Motorcycles set for comeback?


Story snapshot:

Another old motorcycle brand gets dusted down and recycled

A new, £52,000 V6 concept is on the drawing board


So far, all we've seen are concept sketches and a few hopeful mugshots on a new company website. And all we've heard are promises and hype regarding a proposed new motorcycle powered by a modular V6 engine derived from a 300hp 2-litre V10 motor aimed at the Connaught "supercar". Nevertheless, bigger things have grown from less, so we're reserving as much judgement as possible—except to say that we've seen these kinds of schemes come and go (and mostly they keeping going until they're gone from view).


What we have heard is that six bikes bearing the freshly laundered Levis brand will be built sometime in 2018. The capacity of the new 22-degree V6 engine will be 1,200cc. The torque is reckoned to be around 130lb-ft to 140lb-ft (but we've heard no power figures). The front fork is described as Hossack-type, but it looks more like an ordinary girder to us.



Levis then (left) and Levis now (right). It's hardly a household name, neither among the general public nor among motorcyclists (classic or otherwise). But if you've got the money, you can regurgitate pretty much any defunct brand. Pity the new firm didn't start from a clean sheet.



The proposed driveline is shaft. The frame is stainless steel. The swinging-arm is single sided. The motorcycles will be configured in various ways to suit buyer tastes. And the bikes will, apparently, be assembled on the Isle of Man. But note that all this gossip is second hand (and therefore unreliable) information.


The asking price is likely to be around £52,000. Meanwhile, there's yet another story in the Daily Mail about a new cure for Alzheimer's.


That's all we're going to say about this new venture, so check the company website, see how much meat is between the bread, and draw your own conclusions. It would be nice to have another British industrial success on the way. So good luck to 'em if they can pull it off.



As for the Levis name, the first bikes were manufactured in 1911 by Butterfields Ltd of Levis Works, Stechford, Birmingham. Two-stroke engines were the original chosen power source, and through these well-crafted and shrewdly marketed velocipedes, Levis quickly became a household name with a good reputation. The company slogan was "The Master Two Stroke".


In 1920, the firm won the Lightweight 250cc Class at the Isle of Man TT and also took 2nd and 3rd place. In 1921 Levis bikes came 2nd and 4th, respectively. The following year saw a 247cc Levis take first again.


By 1928, the firm's first four-stroke was ready, and OHV, sidevalve and even OHC models were soon developed and marketed. Levis never made it through WW2 and was wound up in 1941.


Early in 2017, UK automotive engineer Phil Bevan bought the Levis name and rights. He's since collected an assortment of designers, engineers, etc, all of whom are no doubt focussed on the project. And that brings us to where we are now.


Before we go, here are a few words from the new "reborn" Levis company:


"The Levis ethos is to be different, to tread a new path, not to follow others! We are not a mass production orientated company but more a bespoke artisan craft based passionate group of individuals, all striving for the highest quality in design, engineering and customer service. Our motorcycles are not just machines, they evoke emotions, they raise the bar and challenge the mainstream. They are ridden for the pleasure of motorcycling in its purest form. We are very proud to carry on the Levis name and are very proud to offer a new British designed and built motorcycle range."


Seems we've heard all that before somewhere...



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Hello Sump People. Great mag. Best of the lot. I totally agree with your viewpoint on this latest wannabe attempt at bringing a dead bike brand back to life (AJS, Ariel, BSA, Francis Barnett, Hesketh, Matchless, etc). Yes it might all come to pass, but no one need hold their breath. What the market really needs isn't more rich toyz for the boyz. What's needed is a great new original lightweight to help get some fresh blood back in the market and help the old duffers downsize in their declining years. Maybe a 125cc single with oodles of tuning potential. I've long been waiting for Triumph to tackle this one, but there's no sign of it happening. Levis started with small two strokes. Wouldn't it be nice is this new firm took a similar route? Then again, it's easier and lazier to go for the big money. —Bibby

Regarding the new "Levis", as usual it's the same old same old. This new firm ought to have at least had something mocked-up on wheels. All I can see here is a few sketches and some marketing blurb.—Steven Hillerman, New Mexico, USA.

Forgive me for being cynical but I’ve seen this type of thing many times in the past and most didn’t come to anything....To anyone under the age of about 80 the Levis name means nothing other than a defunct manufacturer in the reference books...and they don’t associate it with any particular ‘ethic’.... Further, the possible launch of a £52,000 motorcycle at some unspecified future date also means little to the average motorcyclist, the majority of whom don’t have the income to support such a purchase...Why not go for something more achievable and affordable? On a more practical level it is the high costs of the development of an engine and gearbox that prevents most small manufacturers producing their own product....Think of where the engines came from for the Hesketh (both versions), the new Ariel (Honda), CCM (three different suppliers), the ‘modern’ Brough Superior (a bought in French engine), The French Voxan (S&S), The Francis Barnett (A Chinese supplier).....I could go on and the list would include such well known names as Norton...You get the picture... Now think of the most expensive motorcycle engine you could develop....Maybe a water cooled V6....? Unless this outfit have some heavy duty investors or a large pile of Bitcoins history indicates failure on the horizon....Personally I’m not too sure about a V6 with girder forks either, and they do look like girder forks. The fact is ownership of a defunct motorcycle name and a fancy CAD programme doesn’t often result in motorcycles for sale... Check out the history to save me the task of writing another list... On a brighter note best wishes for Christmas and the coming year to all the Sumpsters out there.The Village Squire

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Triumph bike sales up to 63,404. Revenue £498.5m (30/6/16 to 30/6/17)

A1 Motorcycles, Preston, Lancs raided. Nineteen motorcycles stolen

SatNavs "threaten human sense of direction", say scientists. Shock, horror

Wayward drone hits The Flying Scotsman in Yorkshire. Train undamaged

2004 - 2013 UK "traffic offences down over 50%". Traffic cops "down 39%"

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Oops, we screwed up [again - Ed]


Story snapshot:

Broken news links discovered

Normal service has been resumed


Looks like we mucked up some Sump news links. Don't ask us how. It just happens from time to time—and the chances are that we haven't quite fixed 'em all yet. But we're working on it.


The errant links were/are on the left hand column of this page, and on the other news pages going back to September 2017. So if you've been clicking and clicking and getting nowhere quickly, you can take some satisfaction from the knowledge that we're all on our knees grovelling for forgiveness and chastising/blaming each other vociferously, etc.


Meanwhile, the majority of those links should now be reconnected, and all's right with the world once more. Or so we hope.


That's it. Message over. Recommence clicking at your leisure...


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1954 Moto Guzzi Galletto


H&H December 2017 sale at the NMM


Story snapshot:

86% (or maybe 80%) conversion rate

Lack-lustre auction, but respectable enough results


With an 86 percent conversion rate (80 percent by our unreliable maths), and a claimed total of over £450,000, H&H Auctions hasn't got much to complain about. We're referring to the firm's recent sale at the National Motorcycle Museum (NMM) at Solihull, West Midlands (9th December 2017).


There were 114 motorcycle lots on offer, of which (once again according to our maths) 92 found buyers on the day (and it's possible that one or two others were sold post sale, hence the conversion rate discrepancy).


Overall, the bikes were a fairly run-of-the-mill collection with nothing outstanding. We note that many of the estimates (broadly) came in very close to the sale price which makes us wonder if the market is currently unsure of prices and is looking to the auctioneer for guidance. Or perhaps we're reading too much into it. We do that sometimes.


One of the lots that caught out attention was the (immediately) above 1954 Moto Guzzi Galletto which carried an estimate of £2,000 - £3,000, and sold for £2,500. The Galletto appeared first in 1950 as a four-stroke, flat single, air-cooled, 150cc, three-speeder. In 1951 the capacity was increased to 160cc. The following year (1952) the engine size was increased to 175cc with a 4-speed 'box—and enlarged again in 1954 marking its final displacement of 192cc. 


Other features included a tubular frame with pressed steel panels; a leading-link front fork; and, of particular interest, a single-side swinging arm with chain final drive. Wheels are 17-inch front and rear. The fuel tank is 1.5 gallons (7-litres). Top speed is between 50mph and 55mph. Note that this bike requires re-commissioning and was listed as an older restoration.


1954 Moto Guzzi Galletto 192cc


This part-motorcycle/part-scooter hybrid anticipated modern maxi scooters by decades and offered comfortable and reasonably reliable transport in the post WW2 years. Around 75,000 were manufactured. The last bikes were fitted with electric starters and rolled off the production line in 1965. Colours were red, white or ivory.


So was Val Page aware of this machine (and similar machines) when he laid down the blueprint for the 1958 Ariel Leader? Probably, but all design is to a greater or lesser extent based upon existing forms and patterns—and few would argue that Val Page gave the Leader and shape and identity very much its own. And it's worth remembering that the Velocette LE anticipated the Galletto by two years.


If you're interested in motorcycle engineering as well as motorcycle riding, you might want to check the web for more on the Galletto. There are some fascinating and wonderfully quirky design features from the spare wheel mount to the front fork design to the fuel tank/front downtube concept. And there are still a few Gallettos buzzing around at reasonable prices.


Other bikes at the H&H NMM sale include:


2011 Triumph Bonneville America


2011 Triumph Bonneville America. This 865cc cruiser had been recorded as a Category D insurance loss. Stored for two years with an engine that "turns over", this bike was estimated at £2,000 - £3,000. But it sold for just £1,700, and with the original exhausts. It's hard to judge from this distance, but it looks like someone got a nice "bargain".


1957 Ariel Square Four


1957 Ariel Square Four. "Original" bike, running order, buff log book. The estimate was £11,000 - £12,000. It sold for £10,000.


1968 D14/4 BSA Bantam


1968 D14/4 BSA Bantam. These 175cc two-strokes are evidently still popular. Restored and running, with matching numbers, the estimate was £1,000 - £1,500. But its ship came in at £1,950. These Beezas are still viable little classic runabouts. Worth considering as a first bike.


Honda CX500


▲ At just £640, this 1981, water-cooled, shaft-driven Honda CX500 V-twin  should be treated as a charitable donation. Looks all there except for the correct saddle. No estimate was posted. This modern classic is "running" and is listed as unrestored.


1971 Rob North Triumph Trident


▲ 1971 Rob North Trident. Full race engine. Five speed close-ratio 'box. Lockheed brakes. It was estimated at £15,000 - £16,000. But no sale.


Velocette MOV 250 for 1938


▲ It sold for £4,100 from a £4,000 - £5,000 estimate. Looks cheap, but H&H report that many non original parts have been fitted to this 1938 250cc, OHV Velocette MOV. Nevertheless, this is a cool little quarter-litre with class and distinction. Some Velo fellow with the right parts kicking around might bring this up to spec without much trouble.


Finally, H&H is offering on a "second chance" basis the remaining unsold bikes from this sale, and we reckon there will be some seriously good deals afoot if you're persistent. Check the link for details.




UPDATE: Here are a few more results from this sale. We originally posted these lots on a now defunct Sump page, but we wanted to retain the information for reference purposes.


Suzuki T20

Lot number: To be confirmed. 1967. Matching numbers. UK registered. Engine turns over okay. May require some light re-commissioning. Comes with some old photos, old MOT and owner's manual. Estimate: £2,000 - £2,500.

Sold for: £2,756


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Immortal Austin Seven book

Immortal Austin Seven from Veloce


Story snapshot:

David Morgan's insightful account of "the British Model T"

Nice book that throws up lots of interesting facts and fables


Over a 17 year production run between 1922 and 1939, around 290,000 747cc straight-four water-cooled Austin Seven sidevalves were produced at Longbridge, Birmingham. Designed by Stanley Edge and built by industrialist and entrepreneur Herbert Austin, the Sevens were commuted, toured, raced, hill-climbed, commercialised, re-engineered, re-bodied, built under licence (by BMW and Nissan, amongst others), and dealt all kinds of uses and abuses in the hands of millions.


Over 300 variants, we're told, were created which includes one or two prototypes aimed squarely at the military; vehicles that helped blaze a (narrow) trail for the legendary Willys Jeep. When production finally did come to an end, the Austin Seven was seriously dated, but still fit for purpose. Since then, the cars have been one of the mainstays of the British classic motoring scene, always pottering around somewhere, many being passed down the generations, with hundreds—if not thousands—still on active (and even daily) service.


Immortal Austin Seven book from Veloce


The "British Model T"? Some certainly see the cars in that light. A closer comparison, however, might instead be the redoubtable Austin Mini. Regardless, author David Morgan, courtesy of Veloce Books, has bottled the essence of the "Baby Austin" in this new publication entitled Immortal Austin Seven. We recently received a copy which sits well on our bookshelf and has provided a pleasant—and ongoing—diversion.


The material covers a huge scope and treats the subject matter with both affection and honesty and shows us that just about anyone can aspire to ownership of these unlikely little charmers.


The writing is unfussy and to the point. The book design is equally simple. Illustrations abound (both archival and up to the present day), and if you want to get comfortably behind the nuts and bolts and delve into the rudimentary mechanics, you'll be amply rewarded with numerous blueprints, line drawings and cutaway graphics.


Immortal Austin Seven book - David MorganThere are travelling tales too, and anecdotes about family ownership detailing the impact of Austin Sevens in the hands and lives of the converted.


On the downside, some of the images could be a little clearer and crisper. Yet paradoxically, it's their ordinariness that gives them a little extra charm. Many of the photographs, after all, came not from modern digital cameras capable of machine-gunning a scene until the perfect snapshot is finally hit, but by Box Brownies, Rolleicords and similar low-tech equipment in the hands of ordinary people steadfastly recording their four-wheeled passion and seizing the moment on limited film stock.


It's a hardbacked book. There are around 220 pages, 250 pictures, 18 chapters, and a fairly comprehensive index. And before we forget, this book (like most of its type) is also something of a history lesson that reminds us exactly how great this country once was and—well, let's not go there...


The bottom line is that we like this publication and recommend it. Veloce is asking £45 plus P&P (ISBN: 978-1-845849-79-5). But no doubt there are discounted copies loitering around somewhere if you can be bothered to go hunting, or you can talk to Veloce about an eBook instead.


Either way, we suggest you beware; if you buy a copy of the book, and if you're of a certain age, there's a fair chance you'll also end up buying an example of the car—if you haven't already got one.




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1977 Triumph T140V


Triumph T140V for sale: 237km


Story snapshot:

Low mileage Meriden Co-op Bonneville seeks new home

Near original factory condition


Was 1977 a particularly good year for the T140? Not as far as we remember. We've seen and owned both good and not so good examples. In 1977, the Meriden Workers Cooperative was just finding its feet (and probably trying to remember where it left its tools after a long suspension of labour). But certainly this merry and divisive band of reprobates/righteous men was trying hard to get the Triumph roadshow on the move again and produce a credible product—albeit one that even then was looking outdated.


Well, if you're hankering for a rolling, throbbing, vibrating and very cool souvenir from that tumultuous period of British industrial history (and there were plenty of other similar union intrigues going on at the car firms, the coal mines, the gasworks and elsewhere), you might want to consider this 1977 T140V.


1977 Triumph T140V instruments


It's currently being advertised on Sump's Classic Bikes For Sale page, so you can flip over there for a closer look-see. No asking price has been posted, but we can well imagine that the seller is looking for a pretty penny (or in this case a fair Franc).


The bike looks almost 100% "correct". But the side panels are, as far as we're aware, an aftermarket accessory (albeit perfectly acceptable to us), that points cover ought to be pressed steel and chromed, and we're still arguing about the mirrors and the tyres. Does any of it matter? Not around here. The only time we seriously rivet-count is when we're buying 'em down at our local engineering supply store.


1977 Triumph T140V cylinder head and carburettors


Anyway, we're advised that there's still wax on the spokes from when the Bonnie was first delivered, and we note the original tin spark plug suppressor caps.


We've no connection with the seller who, apparently, lives in Switzerland—and as with all such ads, we advise caution and recommend that (a) you see the bike with your own peepers, preferably while your hands are on the grips, and (b) pay cash on the nail.


Andreas Mueller
Telephone: 0041 79 280 71 52
Or email: jordimueller@gmx.ch


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Irresponsible journalism from MCN?


Story snapshot:

Which days are the most dangerous riding days of the year?

Motorcycle News thinks it's got the answer...


We were hesitant in writing this story. That's because this month we've already posted a tongue-in-cheek news item about MCN's forum closure (see further down this page), and we wouldn't want you to think that we were in the habit of picking on publishers who are about 1,000 times bigger than us. However, our nature and habit is to call the news as we see it, which is what we're about to do once again.


It concerns a story that appeared today (13th December 2017) on MCN's website. The story is entitled: Don't go for a ride on Tuesday, January 2nd. Presumably that date refers to January 2018.


The text reads as follows:


"If you go for a ride on Tuesday, January 2 2018, there’s a 5% [5.5% according to the web story standfirst] higher chance that you’ll crash your bike and be killed than if you ride tomorrow [Thursday 14th December 2017]. The same goes for January 31, March 2, March 31, April 30 and every 29.5 days after that. Why? Because research in the British Medical Journal has shown that you have a 5.49% higher chance of a fatal crash on a full moon. It’s even worse on a super moon."


The story goes on to explain that there were 4,494 fatal motorcycle crashes in the US between January 1975 and December 2014, and there were 494 full moons during that period.


That, apparently, equates to 9.1 crashes during the full moons which compares to 8.6 crashes on any other day of the year, and that's a 5.49% increase. Therefore, according to MCN, your chances of being killed on a "full moon day" are 5.49% higher than usual.


And that's plain crap, and dangerous crap.


Firstly, the stats supposedly refer to data gathered in the USA, and there will almost certainly be other local factors to throw into the mix; i.e. riding/driving on the right side of the road (as opposed to the left), the temperament of US riders/drivers, the type of road surfaces, the state speed limits, the positioning of speed traps or cameras, the lack of speed traps or cameras, the general health/weight of riders, whether they're democrats or republicans, whether they carry health insurance or not, and pretty much anything else you care to think of.


Secondly, even if the death rate did increase by 5.49%, that's an average figure for a group as a whole, and that figure might well hide a lot of smaller truths. For instance, some categories of rider (say, scooter riders) might see a far greater increase in casualties during full moon periods, whilst other groups might see a decrease (or it might be the other way around). Or the casualty rate might be higher (or lower) for bikers who wear reflective clothing, or ride without helmets, or ride with helmets, or who wear goggles, or who wear sunglasses, or who have windscreens, or who ride blue bikes, or pink bikes, or whatever. Or the stats might be distorted by riders with a werewolf fantasy or fixation. Or there might be more robberies involving motorcycles that result in police chases with fatal consequences.


Thirdly, bandying around these kind of chewing gum stats might well plug a hole on a web page, but it does absolutely nothing to address any meaningful truths about biking. In much the same way, the average biker might well be 26 times more likely to be killed in a road accident (or 20 times, or 50 times, or whatever number you believe), but that statistic hides the fact that some riders are maybe 500 times more likely to die in a bike smash, whilst others are far safer than even the average car driver (thanks to greater awareness, increased viewpoint, greater manoeuvrability, greater acceleration, etc).


Fourthly, we wonder if this kind of sensational and irresponsible reporting results in nothing but a self-fulfilling prophecy in which some bikers, come January 2018, will find themselves riding along and gazing fixedly at the moon looking for any sign of the grim reaper when—


Well you get the idea.



The notion of werewolves on motorcycles isn't new. And MCN isn't saying that you'll turn into a lycanthrope every 29.5 days, but it has made the dubious connection between lunar activity and bike accidents and reckons that supermoons increase your chances of getting creamed by 22%. Wise reporting? Or just plain lunacy?



Here at Sump, we know very little about statistics. It's a minefield of mathematical orthodoxies and theorems and practices that takes years to fully understand and process, if at all. The mainstream news media is forever quoting stats to drive home some bogus point (usually generated by self-interest groups or the government to "sell" an idea of a concept, or just to keep us all frightened).


We're reminded here of the bloke who drowned in a river with an average depth of 7-inches. And we're also reminded of the story we once read which stated that 47.8% of statistics are wrong.


It's also worth looking at the inverse of this full moon nonsense which claims that you're safer on any other day of the year. Whereas seasoned motorcyclists know, or at least ought to know, that every day on the road needs to be treated as the most dangerous (and where possible) the most pleasurable biking day of your life.


And try this one: If a group of 20 or 30 bikers are all mown down by a drug-crazed truck driver one day after a full moon period, what do you think that will do to the stats? In other words, statistics are useful for seeing where you've been, but are less good at predicting where you're going.


MCN got this spectacularly wrong, and we're watching with interest to see if the publisher quietly retracts this post, or whether he/she stands by it and leaves it on line to do more damage. And yes, you can view the story as harmless fun. But we think it goes deeper than that.


And even if statistically speaking this story is true (whatever true means in this context), we think you should ignore it, straddle your bike as normal, ride as defensively and as courteously as you can, live your life, get on with your stuff, and forget the stupid recycled numbers and bull$#!t percentages.


Meanwhile, MCN ought to grab hold of the twit who wrote and/or posted this piece and give him or her a clout around the head.


Beyond that, we're giving this nonsense the full moon.



MCN Full Moon story


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Hi Sump, I read your "werewolf" story and fully agree. This is reckless journalism from a motorcycle paper that ought to know better. MCN should stick to reporting new bikes and racing results and leave the Chinese cookie predictions to the gypsy fortune tellers. Is it any wonder that the biking press is losing readers hand over fist?—Lars Mogenson

Hello Sump, these crackpot lunar stories appear at least as regularly as a full moon, but to my knowledge (I'm a social studies teacher) there's never been conclusive evidence of the moon significantly affecting human behaviour—except for those people who think it affects their behaviour, and that's usually a short term thing and hasn't been consistently measurable. But every once in a while another silly season story gets printed. I advise my students to listen, laugh and move on.—AKW

Dear Sump, need I remind anyone of the importance of living for the moment? MCN is bang out of order with this crap. I thought the idea was to get people onto motorcycles, not frighten them away.—JohnnyBoy

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Hagon Triumph Bobber mono shock


Hagon Triumph Bobber mono-shock


Story snapshot:

Suspension upgrade for 2016 models onward

£299 with a two year guarantee


Having spent around eleven grand for a new Triumph Bobber, you might think that Hinckley had pretty much got the whole package sorted leaving you to do nothing else but ride and pose, not necessarily in that order.


But as is the way of bikers, there's always something that can be upgraded, or modified, or repainted, or re-chromed or changed just for the sake of it.


To that end, Hagon Products has developed a replacement mono shock unit for the 2016-onward Triumph Bobber featuring adjustable spring preload, adjustment for compression & rebound damping, a stainless steel damper body, a powder-coated spring and a two year guarantee (with unlimited mileage).


The mono shock unit is said to be re-buildable and will set you back around £299. For more details, telephone 0208 502 6222 or check the website.




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On Any Sunday movie poster


Bruce Alan Brown: 1937 - 2017


Story snapshot:

Director of the "greatest" ever motorcycle film has died

Brown was 80 years old


For many motorcyclists, the documentary movie On Any Sunday is the greatest biking picture ever made, and it's odds on that most fans will want to spare at least a passing thought for director Bruce Brown who has died aged 80.


Brown, it's interesting to note, was actually far more closely associated with water than tarmac or dirt. He was in fact a big surf aficionado and caught his first wave aged just eleven. He began his directing career in the late fifties with Slippery When Wet (1958), Surf Crazy (1959), Barefoot Adventure (1960), Surfing Hollow Days (1961), and Waterlogged (1962). But the high point—at least the best known of his surfing documentaries—was The Endless Summer (1966) which possibly inspired the 1974 Beach Boys compilation album Endless Summer featuring songs composed during the early 1960s.



On Any Sunday was filmed in 1971. The production came about largely through Brown's association with Steve McQueen and Bud Ekins. It detailed the world as seen through the eyes of a small army of motorcycle racers taking to the dirt and track in Southern California, Bonneville Salt Flats, Spain, Canada and elsewhere.


This 96 minutes of masterful celluloid was filmed on a budget of roughly $300,000 and was produced by Steve McQueen's film company, Solar Productions which also produced Bullitt in 1968 and Le Mans in 1971. Most would agree that the documentary has stood the test of time as a faithful, if imperfect, representation of motorcycle racing life, its excesses, its failures, its hopes and its wins.



Perhaps more pertinently, the film is credited with helping to exorcise the ghost of the motorcycle hooligan as sensationalised in movies such as The Wild One (1953) starring Marlon Brando, Robert Keith and Lee Marvin; The Wild Angels (1966) starring Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra and Bruce Dern; and Hells Angels on Wheels (1967) starring Adam Roarke and Jack Nicholson.


On Any Sunday II (1981) was directed by Brown's son, Dana. It was a reasonable follow up, but lacked the "moment" of the original. Dana Brown also directed Dust to Glory (2005) which starred Chad McQueen, son of Steve.



Bruce Brown began his riding life astride a rented Honda whilst visiting Japan. Upon his return to the USA, he bought a Triumph Tiger Cub and became interested in the local motorcycle racing scene.


He recounted his first business meeting with McQueen thus:


“I talked to a few folks and knew that Steve McQueen was a rider. Even though I’d never met him, I set up a meeting to talk about doing ‘On Any Sunday.’ We talked about the concept of the film, which he really liked. Then he asked what I wanted him to do in the film. I told him I wanted him to finance it. He laughed and told me he acted in films, he didn’t finance them. I then jokingly told him, ‘Alright, then, you can’t be in the movie.’

“The next day after the meeting, I got a call and it was McQueen. He told me to go ahead and get the ball rolling with the movie — he’d
back it.”

Bruce Brown married Patricia Hunter in 1960. She pre-deceased him in 2006. He is survived by three children.


Bruce Brown on Facebook



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Best biking film ever, and far superior to the follow up which looks like an advert for Red Bull and comes across not as a heartfelt homage but as pastiche of the original. When I watch On Any Sunday (which I admit I haven't done for a while now), I can still taste the dust and rubber and smell the petrol. That's how convincing it is. Highly recommended viewing for anyone who really loves motorcycles and motorcycle sport. Nice obit for Bruce Brown, by the way. Keep it up, guys.—Henry

Hi Sump, Given the technical camera equipment available at the time this documentary was made, Bruce Brown achieved some amazing footage. I think he strapped some cameras on riders' helmets. When I was a kid, I got into BMX-ing because of this film that my dad made me watch. Now I'm a biker and my kids watch it. That's how it ought to work. Bruce Brown was a great film maker. —HarryTheHat

Fab music in this film. Don't forget that. —Jason Wheeler

RIP Bruce Brown. I can watch this film over and over again and never get tired of it. If they showed this flick in schools, or just on TV, motorcycling would get a huge boost. Maybe it's time to start a campaign? —Pudge

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MCN closes its biker forum


Story snapshot:

Newspaper sales have been falling

Website forum members have only been dropping like flies...


It was rumoured to be on the cards, and now it's official. Motorcycle News (MCN) has closed its forum. From now on, if you want to discuss all the things you couldn't be bothered to discuss on the erstwhile MCN platform, you can now discuss them (or not) on Facebook via its #ride5000miles group.


We haven't checked it out, and we probably won't in the foreseeable future. But then, we're not very big on forums, and we're even smaller on Facebook—which we gave up on some time ago. Why? Because Facebook simply steals your audience and leaves you with dying website.


Here's what MCN had to say about the closure. We took this news item direct from its website:


New beginnings after MCN's Forum closes

Published: 08 December 2017

Have you joined #ride5000miles for 2018? Now, although our MCN Forum era has come to an end (boo), all is not lost.

We have our #ride5000miles Facebook group to continue all the wonderful conversations that have been had!

Join MCN's #ride5000miles group today.


So that's three desperate mentions of its #ride5000miles Facebook group, and we've added to it with another couple of namechecks on this page. But it doesn't really sound like a new beginning at all. It sounds more like the first of many last gasps, not least because what's actually happened is that the herd used to be chasing MCN, but now MCN is following the pack. And that doesn't sound good.


We spoke to MCN today (Monday 11th December 2017) and asked what had happened. We were told, "It's just the way things are going now. Everyone's on Facebook and Twitter, so that's where we have to be."


Then we said, "So it's nothing to do with steadily falling numbers and diminished activity on the MCN forum in recent months and even years?" And that drew the response, "Well, yes. There is that too."


The news comes just a couple of months after we learned that MCN has seen an 11.5% drop in newspaper sales since 2016 and currently has an audited circulation of around 64,278 weekly sales. This compares to around 120,000 weekly copies ten years ago, and even higher weekly sales prior to that.


So is the end in sight, either online or in print? Not unless you've got a very powerful pair of binos. But certainly the publication, like all publications, has been forced to adjust to the changing habits and behaviour of its market. Moreover, with newspaper sales falling (so much so that MCN has recently been giving away copies), there probably isn't very much left in the pot to pay for the upkeep of the forum, and apparently not an awful lot left for upkeep of the website, either.


But we like our MCN, in principle if not always in practice. And we suspect there will be a few teary eyes at the news of the forum closure. Just remember that it's not all over. You can visit the #ride5000miles Facebook page [there, you've gone and bloody-well mentioned it again — Ed] and ... well, just do whatever ya gotta do, forumwise. Or otherwise.


See also: Further print mag sales decline



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Hi Sump, I gave up on MCN a long time ago when it was clear that their product reviews, especially tyres) were tied in a little too closely with the advertisers. Plenty of times I made my buying choice partly or largely on the basis of MCN's say-so only to find that the reality was very different. Biker forums are okay up to a point. But too many people maintain their brand loyalty long after the brand deserves it. You have to read carefully between the lines. Consequently I tend to find the right products that suit me and stay with them for as long as they're in production. Chopping and changing gear is just too expensive nowadays. —SKW

Greetings Sump People, it isn't just Motorcycle Snooze that's lost the forum plot. Practically all of them have gone the same way. Once you strip away the novelty value, all you've got left is a lot of badly informed or bigoted opinion with much of it nothing more than recycled garbage. Thirty years back when I started biking, there were still half decent shops that understood their products and parts and could advise you sensibly. Yes, the shops were usually tied up with manufacturers and parts firms, but there still used to be good people on the counters. It's harder to find that now. I won't be following the herd on this one. F***book is just another off-shore forum that's got no more to offer. —Dave Kettle

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Arm rural UK coppers suggestion


Story snapshot:

Proposals to stop terrorism in its tracks

Plus a few words on lawful and unlawful self-defence


First they give 'em helmets. Then they get bicycles. Then they get cars. And now the suggestion is that they ought to get Glocked-up. Rural cops, that is. The idea comes in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in metropolitan London and Manchester; areas that are well-covered by roving armed police squads.


But down in deepest and darkest Devon and Cornwall, and other more remote counties of the realm, response times to pretty much anything can be measured not in seconds and minutes, but in hours and even days. And sometimes never. And that, we're told, gives a bunch of wild-eyed terrorists plenty of opportunity to ... well, shoot up a haystack, gun down a few dozen sheep, steal a tractor and then fall asleep in a barn somewhere until PC Plod finishes his lunchtime cheese and crackers and cider, and cruises down the rutted byways to see what all the bloody racket's about.


Adrian Hanstock, deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police (which, bless 'em, does what it can to protect the railways) has been quoted as saying: "We cherish the model of an unarmed police force, [but] when you consider how the [recent] attack at Westminster was halted by an armed officer who was already there, you can speculate that if there had been armed officers at London Bridge, or other incidents, would the attack have been halted sooner?"


By the same standards, if there had been armed members of the public loitering around the vicinity or queuing at a bus stop, would the attack have started in the first place?


We're making light of a serious incident, of course. But there's an underlying and more fundamental point here which suggests that in the modern world, the police are less and less able to offer protection to Joe Public, whilst at the same time ever more stringent gun control laws have disarmed thousands of perfectly law abiding citizens, many of whom (if not most) would be more than happy to plug a passing terrorist and thereby save the coppers a bob or two.



So now Sump is advocating US style gun ownership laws in the UK, huh? Well to some extent, yes. Not for everyone. Actually, if you believe the tabloid press, half the population of South London, much of Liverpool, most of Manchester and most of everywhere else is already is well-equipped with Glocks, Colts, Brownings, Uzis, Sigs and whatnot, most of it in the control of hardcore gangstas. So a few extra counter weapons in the hands of very selective (and well trained) members of the public does have a certain symmetrical and proportional appeal.


Of course, we can't have Karl the computer programmer and Siobhan the hairdresser wandering upon the land like Dirty Harry, or so goes the orthodoxy. But maybe it is time to look again at the British laws on self defence and rethink the kind of items that are currently outlawed but would give the average terrorist outrage victim some kind of fighting chance. We're thinking of pepper spray. Or collapsible batons. Or (conceivably) tasers. Or something of that ilk that's broadly non-lethal (but when it comes to terrorists, better that it is very lethal).


Except that the British government, like most governments, doesn't want its citizens armed, largely through fear of civil insurrection, etc. So we all have the right to be shot, blown up, and mown down by a religious fruitcake in a stolen 4 x 4, but no right to protect ourselves when attacked (not unless something sharp or heavy falls conveniently to hand when the violence begins).


Meanwhile, there's a plan afoot to arm rural cops so that when they do turn up with all guns blazing two days after an outrage, we can pretend that we've still got a credible police force for the 21st century.

And do we really think that having more armed bobbies in the distant/rural shires is really going to do anything at all to limit or halt the spread of UK terrorism? Or is it simply a creeping statist move towards arming all cops nationwide?


Something to think about, perchance?


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Hi Sump, Interesting piece on arming rural cops. IMHO, I doubt whether any brainwashed religious delusionist with a knife and a bomb is going to be very intimidated by the idea of a country copper with a sidearm. If the government ramps up security here, the problem will simply migrate there. The only real answer is to address the mindset of fanatics, and to do that you need to take on the entire religious community and challenge their core beliefs. If you allow an immature religion into a modern democracy, this is what you get. —Tank

Hi Sump, Down here in sleepy Devon I’d be more worried about armed coppers who were bullied at school wandering about like Dirty Harry and looking to right previous wrongs than any terrorist who might have taken a wrong turn at Exeter and ended up in my vicinity. There at least needs to be a test for psychological suitability and extremely rigorous training before the rozzer's gun box is opened up and they start handing them out. It seems to me (and has been shown from experience) that the more people who are armed, whether they are ‘civvies’ or the appointed ‘upholders of the law’, the more people will end up getting killed or wounded—and unfortunately, the armed police we already have seem to have eliminated innocent people on more than one occasion.—The Devon Dumpling

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Bought a Sump
T-shirt? Check your email...


Story snapshot:

Contact has been lost

Outstanding orders here


We hate spam as much as anyone. But there are times when you simply have to check your junk mail box and wade through the assorted cheap Viagra offers, the tawdry promotional teases, the scam phishing attempts and the sundry nonsense that washes up online.


Why? Because genuine and needed emails are also apt to find their way into your digital dustbin—meaning in this instance that if you've recently bought a T-shirt, a book, a motorcycle lock, a framed print, a tin wall sign or whatever, and if you still haven't received your order, the answer quite possibly lies in your mail box.


Or maybe you simply haven't checked your mail lately. Or maybe you supplied us with an out-of-date email address (that happens all too often).


Classic motorcycle metal signs make great gifts

Either way, we've currently got half a dozen outstanding orders at Sump that we're trying hard to despatch, but can't because (a) the mailing address is incomplete, or (b) no T-shirt size has been listed, or (c) other details are incomplete and subject to query.


Whatever the reason, if we don't get a response after three tries, our practice is to cancel the order and return the payment. But that might mean someone is awaiting a delivery, perhaps as a present, and is going to be disappointed.


So like we said, if your Sump package hasn't arrived, it isn't for want of trying on our part. We're just unable to make contact—so come back to us a soon as you like and we'll sort it out.



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Falling bike sales, 11 straight months


Story snapshot:

Still no sign of "recovery" for the struggling new motorcycle market

But what's the underlying truth?


We could detail all the numbers and statistics, but they sound pretty gruesome—and they probably wouldn't interest you much unless you're in the motorcycles trade (in which case you already know what's going on).


But we bikers are a curious bunch (in various senses of the word), so you've perhaps also got at least a passing interest in the industry's current woes (for want of a better word; see qualification further below). And the simple fact is that 2017 has been for many (but by no means all) a huge sales disappointment—but you won't get the MCIA (Motor Cycle Industry Association) to admit that.


Head honcho Tony Campbell has in recent weeks been bullish about the falling numbers. With some justification, he's blamed much of the lost 2017 sales on the switch from Euro 3 regulations to Euro 4.


What happened is this: in late 2016, UK dealers "pre-registered" a lot of Euro 3 bikes that were kicking around the country's showrooms. These were existing models that had until 1st January 2017 to become Euro 4 compliant (newly developed models, note, were required to be Euro 4 compliant by 1st January 2016).


The idea behind "pre-registration" was to get those 2016 bikes out on the road, or at least get them showroom registered, before the 2017 Euro 4 axe fell and made them unsaleable (but there are exceptions for very limited remaining numbers).


So the boom in pre-registered 2016 bikes (all of which were naturally sold at discount and tempting rates), significantly skewed the 2016 sales figures which ultimately hit 129,000 units. And this sudden expansion was inevitably going to negatively impact on 2017 sales stats. Why? Because if a rider bought a (discounted and "pre-registered") bike in late 2016, that bike would show up as a new bike sale for that year. But if a 2016 "pre-registered" bike is bought in 2017, it will be recorded as a secondhand sale (the dealer, remember, was the first owner in 2016). So new bike sales for 2017 will be "artificially" lower.


Campbell had been predicting end-of-year 2017 sales figures to touch down somewhere between 107,000 and 110,000 units. But the first eleven months of 2017 has achieved only 99,201 new bike sales, meaning that a minimum of 8,000 new machines would need to be sold in the last few weeks of December to hit his lower estimate. And that just ain't likely. A more realistic number of new bike sales for December 2017 is 4,000 - 5,000 units.


Here's are the sales numbers at a glance


2014 new bike sales:  101,000 (approx), MCIA figures

2015 new bike sales:  115,000 (approx), MCIA figures

2016 new bike sales:  129,000 (approx), MCIA figures

2017 new bike sales:  107,000 - 110,000  MCIA final estimate

2017 new bike sales:  104,000 - 105,000  Sump guesstimate


Looked at another way (and not a necessarily reliable way) if you average the 2016 and 2017 figures, you arrive at 116,500 which is about the same as the 2015 sales figures—and that tallies with what many in the bike trade have been telling us; that it's actually been a pretty good year. So who are you gonna believe?


All that aside, does the loss of a few thousand bikes really make a significant difference to the dealer's bottom line? Well yes, it does. UK bike dealers are constantly watching their margins reduce and watching their costs increase, and bike manufacturers are becoming more and more parsimonious with regard to dealer discounts, delivery costs, point-of-sale material, obligatory training costs, etc. And other dealer revenue sources (finance and insurance commission, etc) are also being squeezed.


So if you assume an average price-per-new-bike of £3,000 (that's our ill-informed guess, take note), then 1,000 new bikes are worth about £3million. Therefore, 5,000 new motorcycles is worth maybe £15million (could be higher or lower, remember).


Then you need to factor in the loss of accessory sales, possibly the loss of new clothing sales, possibly reduced servicing revenue, and so on. And even if our average price estimate is wrong, we're still looking at a lot of money for the industry.


Moreover, motorcycle importers (following a real or perceived sales slowdown) are likely to be less inclined to take chances with new models or import numbers, and that could mean fewer bikes in the showroom with correspondingly fewer sales until import confidence returns.


However, it might all just be a bad year and not necessarily an indication that the end of biking, as we know it, is nigh. It's hard to know where the "Euro 4 effect" ends. Still, many in the bike trade have expanded in 2016 to cater for bigger sales numbers in 2017 and now find themselves facing a lot of slack that might be taken up in the next few years, or might equally be further eroded if the market is indeed shrinking.


For November 2017, once again it's only the 651cc - 1,000cc engine size category that's showing any growth. And once again, it's the adventure bike sector that's leading the pack and showing a respectable 6.6% increase. Pretty much everything else is either down, or way down (as qualified by the earlier comments in this news item).


Ultimately, it's all a bit like global warming/global cooling. It largely depends on where you're placing the goalposts and which way you're facing, and the situation won't return an accurate/reliable commentary until sometime after it's all ancient history and a wider perspective has been established.


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Birmingham Triumph


Triumph Birmingham is set to close


Story snapshot:

But did it jump? Or was it pushed?

Anyone smell something burning?


If you're looking for a motorcycle "bargain" (whatever that really means), you might want to check out Triumph Birmingham which is set to close and will be unloading stock at lower-than-usual prices. Run by Managing Director Chris Booth (who also controls Ducati dealerships in Manchester, Preston and Stoke), the Birmingham Triumph franchise opened 10 years ago.


The official closure story is that (a) the lease on the Birmingham premises is due to expire, and (b) the firm has been unable to find a new suitable location. Note the word "suitable".


Whilst all that might well be true, we suspect there's actually more to it—and that was arguably tacitly confirmed, or at least implied when we today (7/12/2017) spoke to Chris Booth (pictured immediately below). After reiterating the official end-of-lease/can't-find-a-premises line, we suggested that there are actually plenty of suitable premises in and around the Birmingham area, he replied; "Not of the warehouse type we want." And when we further suggested that even that sounds unlikely, he said, "Look, it's not something that we're going to be able to discuss".


Are we calling Chris a liar? Well, let's just say that good PR is the better part of valour.


Meanwhile, Triumph's head office at Hinckley, Leicestershire has been quoted as saying, "Going forward, Triumph will seek new premises and partners in the region to maintain customer support. All existing warranties will still be valid across the Triumph dealer network. As Triumph restructures in the area, further announcements will be made with regards to new partners and locations. Triumph UK would like to thank the team at Triumph Birmingham for their support over the previous 10 years and wish them all the best for the future."


We spoke to other staff members in the organisation, all of whom were tight-lipped to the point of sounding gagged.


Now, whilst it might not sound like any of our business why the firm is shutting down in a prime location such as Brum, the fact is that if you smell smoke, you're naturally going to start looking for the fire.


Moreover the entire Triumph marketing model is based upon heritage and fraternity, and given that Hinckley has had its share of critics in the past regarding ruthless corporate practices, the unconvincing reasons for the departure of "one of our own" invites speculation—especially when you factor in the huge loss of goodwill.


We might also mention that with the imminent closure of Birmingham Triumph, there will be two "open points" in the area—meaning holes in the map as far as Triumph showroom coverage is concerned.


When you have two horses telling you the same tale, it's hard not to believe 'em. Nevertheless, there's an alarm bell ringing somewhere. It's faint, but it's audible.


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New electric black taxi breaks cover


Story snapshot:

It's electric, but it needs a petrol boost to extend the range

The price starts at around fifty-five grand, sterling


The world is full of motoring icons of which Britain has more than its fair share. The Austin Mini. The E-Type Jaguar. The Aston Martin DB5 (or DB6). Any classic Land Rover. The Lotus Seven/Caterham Seven. The Triumph Bonneville. The double decker bus. And the London taxi. All instantly recognisable to pretty much anyone in the first world, and probably to most in the second or third—not that the term "second world" means very much since the Cold War ended.


Geopolitics aside, it could be that a new vehicle is about to be added to the British motoring icon list—or, more accurately, a re-take of an existing vehicle, notably the TX4 cab which is descended from the TX3, TX2, TX1, Austin FX4, Austin FX3, and all the other cabs back to the pioneer Mann & Overton vehicles of the early 1900s.



So enter the TX Electric Taxi from manufacturer LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) based in Coventry. Thanks to its "eCity Technology, it's claimed that this vehicle will not only effectively help scrub up the world's diesel fumed city air but will be offered with a 3-year 120k mileage full vehicle warranty, a 5-year unlimited mileage battery warranty, 3-years 100k free servicing (with conditions) and 3 years RAC roadside assistance (also with conditions).


The frame of the vehicle is bonded aluminium and draws heavily from the aviation industry. Exterior body panels are formed from an unspecified composite material.


A range extender petrol engine is optional, and that belies the "electric taxi" claim—which is true enough, but it's not the underlying truth. To clarify this point, the purely electric version has a miserable 80 mile range which might not be too bad for a two ton vehicle (technically speaking), but isn't likely to impress any black cab driver who's faced with a fare that wants to travel any significant out-of-town distance (and we've heard of cabbies carrying fares hundreds if not thousands on miles on a single trip).


Consequently, if you want to extend the range, you'll need the optional 1,477cc, 3-cylinder DOHC petrol powered range extender (which sounds like an onboard generator). That will transport a vehicle (possibly with a full complement of passengers) 377 miles until the fuel and volts run out.


But the big number here is the price which is around £55,000 - £57,000 depending on which on-board packages are chosen, and there are many.


What we're wondering is how many cabbies will be prepared to stump up that amount of dosh when faced with the Uber phenomenon, not to mention the new generation of self-driving cars and E-Cars (etc) that can be hired by the hour.


Of course, there are various rental/leasing deals available for the FX Electric (or is that FX Electric with a Petrol Back Up Motor?). Nevertheless, the traditional cabbie is looking more and more like and endangered species, and if this particular transport mode doesn't entirely disappear, we can well imagine it being radically downsized.


Then again, the manufacturers have presumably costed the new vehicles and figure there's a significant market to be had. Meanwhile, business appears to be booming and their new stock of Euro 6-compliant FX4 petrol cabs have apparently sold out. But note that we don't know anything about the firm's business or business structure (profits, losses, etc), and so (not for the first time) we're fumbling in the darkness of ignorance.


Features include:


25,000 mile service intervals

£300 home charging system

80mph top speed

Regenerative braking

2,305kg all-up weight (5,071lbs, or 2.2 tons)

Self levelling headlights

Panoramic roof (glass)


Secure wheelchair storage


Our experience of London cabbies isn't a good one. We've had them accidentally all but run us off the road, and we've had at least two taxi drivers deliberately take a swipe at us (one of which hit the BMW R65 we were riding, the cylinder head of which bit a nice chunk of steel from the doors and front wing of the FX3, and did almost nothing to our Beemer).


Lastly, we might mention that the London Electric Vehicle Company is currently owned by Chinese car manufacturer, Geely. But an early incarnation of the firm was owned by Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC which, is you know your motorcycling history, once controlled the fortunes of BSA, Norton and Triumph.


How the wheels of industry turn.




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Semi naked girl straddles an Indian!!

Naughty goings-on in Norfolk at "Wheels Next The Sea 2018"

(Careful how you pronounce "Norfolk")


We make no apologies for the headline on this news item. We figured that if people can go around plonking nubile, earnest and low-cut nursey-sailor females on motorcycles [whilst showing plenty of creamy thigh - Ed] simply to promote the Wheels Next The Sea 2018 biker gathering six or seven months hence, we figured that we'd show the world that we can be just as smutty, coarse, racy and salacious as the best of them.


Not that she's exactly straddling this Indian, but who knows what was going on two minutes before the photographer arrived [good point - Ed]


No doubt organiser Steve Finch has some filthy orgy planned and is hoping to entice all you innocent Sumpsters for a day of debauchery and depravity. But we're now cooking his goose [remember to mention the thighs - Ed] by warning everyone to stay well away and do something more wholesome and totally moral come Sunday 10th June 2018.


But if you want to protest, get your placards together and mosey on down to Beach Road Playing Field [and we all know what they mean by "playing" - Ed] at Wells Next the Sea, Norfolk—which, by the following Monday, will probably be renamed Sex on a Stick Next the Sea.


Apparently, this is the tenth time that pervy Steve (or someone just like him) has organised this smutfest, and there's nothing in his email to suggest that he's in any way ashamed of his base behaviour.


Expect trade stands [oh yeah? - Ed], licenced refreshments [gotcha - Ed] and fish & chips nearby [don't know that one - Ed]. And to make it all seem decent and above board, around 500 or so bikes are expected, plus some kind of bike show with owner groups and club stands, etc. The filthy, orgasmic action starts at 10am and will close when everyone's well and truly X-rated.


Finally, the Wheels Next The Sea 2018 admission is £1 per wheel, which means that if you turn up by train, you'd better bring a wheelbarrow full of dosh. And yes, we've ejaculated this story a little prematurely, but June will be coming around soon enough, if you know what we mean.


[... and remind them to bring their own prophylactics - Ed]


Steve Finch on 07470 386565



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