1969 Honda CB750 Prototype. It's one of four motorcycles built by Honda to evaluate the
concept of this seminal multi-cylinder design. Two such bikes are known to exist. Honda used this machine as a Dealer Roadshow rolling exhibit for the CB750 launch—and you can imagine the excitement it caused in some quarters. Motorcycle Mechanics put it on the cover in May '69. A green example vanished in France. A red one was crushed in the USA. Every part, we hear, is different from the production version. In 1982 the Earl of Denbigh bought the bike from Honda, and it's been in the family ever since. But it's time to move it on. H&H Auctions is estimating £35,000 - £40,000, with bids starting at £17,500. There's a history file with the bike, and it will need re-commissioning. A must-have for any serious collector of Japanese motorcycles? The auction will take place at 1pm at The National Motorcycle Museum on Sunday 4th March 2018 (viewing in the morning).

UPDATE: The Honda sold for £161,000, a world record for a CB750.


February 2018  Classic bike news


February 2018 Classic Bike News

Foscam Wireless Camera system

Pioneer Run eBook: now £2.99

Oxford Clamp On brake lever clip

One liners

2018 Curtiss Warhawk unveiled

Here's the latest bike scam attempt

George Beale appointed H&H director

Next Kickback Show 7-8th April 2018

"Alley Rat" - 2018 UK BOTK winner

One liners

Defeat the online scammers with Skype

Triumph Hurricane scammer alert

CCM Spitfire-based Bobber for 2018

Cafe Racer Dreams: 8 bikes stolen

Coys' Feb 2018 London Excel Auction

Thieves ransom Triumph Thunderbird

Harley-Davidson recalls 251,000 bikes

"Police biker" banker convicted

Bringsty Grand Prix Revival 2018

Two new Weise wax cotton jackets

Murderous solicitor is still on the books

£7k - £10k Triumph 'X-75 Hurricane'

Retro wireless GPS speedometer

"Anvil Motociclette...

2018 Triumph Speed Triples launched

Royal Enfield Flying Flea stolen

Brühl Twin Turbine Motorcycle Dryer

January 2018 Classic Bike News

Laser Power Bar Extension Wrench

One liners

Harley-Davidson quits Kansas City

Online traffic accident reporting plan

Silverstone Auctions February 2018

12th Annual Dania Beach Show

Black Lightning sells for $929,000

Online motorcycle scammer alert

One liners

AJS Tempest Scrambler for 2018

Charterhouse's February 2018 sale

Can anyone add info on this rider?

HJC FG-70s Aries Yellow helmet

One liners

Peter Wyngarde: 1927 (ish) - 2018

Death Machines of London - Airforce

Lancaster Insurance; reality check

One liners

"Fast" Eddie Clarke: 1950 - 2018

Bonhams' Las Vegas Sale reminder

Ban on credit/bank card charges

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



We've got plenty more classic bike news for you to enjoy. Check out the links below.




December 2014

November 2014

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December 2013

November 2013

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September 2013

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March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

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December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

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December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010





Foscam Wireless Camera system


Foscam Wireless Camera system


Story snapshot:

"Plug and play" CCTV system tested

Smartphone access 24/7/365


You might well have trip wires everywhere, bear traps, security lights, alarm bells and a couple of hungry Dobermanns on the prowl. But if you're away from home and can't actually watch your dogs eat the bike thieves, where's the fun in that?


Consequently, you might want to take a peek at this Foscam Wireless Camera system for smartphones. For the past couple of months we've been testing a pair of these electronic eyeballs, and we're very happy with the set-up, the price, the imagery and the support.


But how difficult is it for the average bloke or blokess to get the kit up and running? Follow the link below, or click on the image immediately above, to find out.


Sump Foscam Wireless Camera review



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Pioneer Run
eBook: now £2.99


Story snapshot:

It was a freebee

Now you gotta pay


We first published this eBook over 10 years ago. 2007 to be precise. Since then, it's been downloaded thousands of times, and all for free.


But those days are over because we now need to apply a charge to cover the bandwidth and admin costs. In other words, the eBook has become a victim of its own success.


The book is a series of images of the 2007 Pioneer Run, but it could be the Pioneer Run from almost any year. The faces and names changes, but the bikes mostly don't—and the spirit of the run is always the same.


When we first looked at the pictures, we wanted to couple them with some meaningful words about the event. But suitable/worthy prose failed us. So we rounded up a collection of poetry from Shakespeare to Wordsworth to Masefield, and we compiled the whole thing into an eBook.


Our intention was to keep it free. But as we've explained, we'd like to recover the associated bandwidth and administrative costs. And of course PayPal wants its cut—and we want to add to Sump's coffers to help keep this online magazine viable. So we figured £2.99 was reasonable, and that's where we've pegged the price.


Check it out sometime. It might not be for you. But if it is, pay da man and give us a little time to despatch and we'll send you a link to download the eBook. It won't work on Macs or mobile phones, take note. And we need to repeat that. It WON'T work on Macs or mobile phones, and we're not offering hardcopy either. It's just a slice of old Windows page-flippin' tech that will work on appropriate desktop computers.


Maybe we'll update this eBook sometime. But for now, what you see is what you get. And naturally, it is what it is.


Pioneer Run eBook


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Oxford Clamp On brake lever clip


Story snapshot:

Need an ashtray on your motorcycle?

No? Well how about a handbrake?


Does this thing actually work? We've really got no idea. But we assume Oxford Products has tried it on a range of motorcycles before giving it the thumbs-up.


According to the email, this Clamp-On is "a handbrake for bikes!" The idea, of course, is that you affix this plastic/nylon doo-dah when you've parked your wheels on a hill, or when you're transporting them in the back of a van, or when you're travelling on a ferry or something.


Sounds okay in principle, but we've always slipped our motorcycles in gear on hills (and tucked the steering into the kerb). And in the back of a van or on a ferry we prefer to strap the bike to something solid. Which makes us wonder if this is simply a solution looking for a problem. It also makes us wonder how many bikes can actually deploy this one-size-fits-all gizmo and maintain a grip on reality.


But Oxford Products evidently feels that (a) there is a need for this, and (b) that there's a market for it. The recommended retail price is £6.99, and it looks small enough to fit comfortably inside your pocket (or inside someone else's pocket while your bike goes rolling down the hill).


However, let's not write it off until we've tried it, huh? Sometimes these little inventions really do solve a problem.


But wait! Haven't we seen this before somewhere? Or are we just thinking about bungee straps, cable ties, and bits of old rope?


Meanwhile, check with Oxford or talk to your local dealer. It's gotta work for someone.




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Since the 60s I have always used an old inner tube, cut a strip (large rubber band style) about 25mm wide then stretch over the lever, twice if it’s a 400 section tube. That Oxford gadget is a fixed distance, brake might not be on fully if at a fixed distance. Great Magazine.—Regards Rob

Another bit of tat for gadget collectors. There's probably a museum for them somewhere. Perhaps useful for helping harden up your brake feel if left on overnight but as you say, there are some less scrupulous collectors. A releasable cable tie does the same job and isn't so likely to disappear. —Niall Sommerville

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H-D Forty Eight Special (L) and Iron 1200 (R) announced (£9.3k & £9.9k)

Bauer's MCN audited print sales fall a further 8.9% to 60,719 copies

We Ride London ULEZ protest ride. 4.30pm. Wed 28th Feb 2018

Steve McCabe MP seeks to scrap stolen car/bike police recovery fees

Huge British Leyland vehicle collection to auction. Brightwells. 21/3/2018

Suzuki USA hit for $12.5m brake failure damages. "Rider 49% to blame"

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2018 Curtiss Warhawk unveiled


Story snapshot:

A "new" bike for a "new" company

George Orwell warned us about this


Whatever you do, don't mention C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E Motorcycles. Don't whisper it. Don't write it. Don't even think it. That's because for many people, the name C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E is now simply too toxic. That's why C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E Motorcycles changed its name to Curtiss (see Sump August 2017)


Curtiss, after all, is a good, solid, wholesome name. The kind of moniker that dad and grandpa would approve of. It refers to Glenn Hammond Curtiss (1878 - 1930), a pioneer motorcyclist credited by some for the introduction of the V-twin engine. He also designed and built bicycles and airship engines, and he was a pioneer aviator who fought numerous battles (on terra firma) with the Wright Brothers over patent disputes.


During WW1 Glenn Curtiss built fighters for the US military. During WW2 the company he founded also built military aircraft, notably the Curtiss P40 Warhawk, namesake of the bike immediately above. But by then, Glenn Curtiss had cashed in his chips and retired, except for an advisory interest.



Well Matt Chambers, the lawyer who founded C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E Motorcycles (based in Birmingham, Alabama), has finally made the long anticipated transition from C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E to Curtiss, and he's released some details of the aforementioned Warhawk.


Clearly based on the C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E P51 Fighter, the new Warhawk is billed as the first Curtiss motorcycle in 100 years. The 132-cubic inch (2,163cc) 56.25º, pushrod, air-cooled V-twin features triple camshafts, a one-piece forged crankshaft, two-valves-per-cylinders, and aluminium billet crankcases.


The engine dimensions are 4.4-inches x 4.4-inches (111.76mm x 111.76mm).  Maximum output is rated at 150bhp @ 5,100rpm (at the rear wheel, we're told), with a whopping 160lb-ft (217Nm) of torque at 2,000rpm. The compression ratio is 10.3:1. Production numbers will be limited to just 35 examples. And the price is likely to be upward of £75,000 (which at today's exchange rate converts to around $105,000).


Curtiss has also released this (tedious?) "teaser" image heralding the advent of its new electric motorcycle architecture that's in development. Pity that the Tesla and Edison names are already taken. But as far as we know, Faraday is still up for grabs.



But don't get too used to this motorcycle (as if you could...) because Curtisfederate reckon that the Warhawk will be the last internal combustion engine they'll make. That's because the firm is planning to switch over entirely to electric, thereby getting on the right side of environmental history as well as socio-political morality.




We understand exactly why C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E has reacted (or even overreacted) to the toxic C-word. The famous Southern Cross flag (aka the rebel flag, the battle flag, and the Dixie flag) is now more than ever potently associated with racism (and murder); so much so that only the brave, the foolhardy, the Ku Klux Klan and the most stubbornly patriotic denizens of the once confederate states are likely to be seen waving it in public, or even standing beneath it.


...which is worrying because editing the past is as dangerous as clinging mulishly to it or ignoring it completely. What happened in the run up to the American Civil War is a matter of fact. It happened. And it's over. The trick is to move on and recognise the symbols and convention for what they are, and what they were, without necessarily trashing them entirely.


Dylann Roof shooting dead 9 black people in Charleston in 2015 is, relatively speaking (and we did say "relatively"), just a small aftershock in the wider tragedy of the American civil war. The blood will still be spilling for generations. Meanwhile, new targets for public vilification will no doubt be shot down in a misguided attempt to right all the wrongs since big bang.



Glenn Curtiss. If that doesn't look like a decent, wholesome, upstanding American pioneer, we'll eat his hat. Note that Curtiss was happy to back his product with his own name. Take a tip, Matt Chambers.



But wait. We're backing off a little here because this is American stuff, and sensitivities, fears and insights on the other side of the pond run much deeper than they do over here in Blighty.


All the same, the C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E to Curtiss switcheroo might well be the right thing to do, but not necessarily for the right reasons.


George Orwell warned us about this kind of dystopian social erasure. It's happened before, of course, and it will happen again. And bad luck for whoever suddenly finds themselves on the wrong side of contemporary public moral outrage.


Let's hope that Glenn Curtiss hasn't got any nasty skeletons in the closet waiting to rattle out further down the road, or Curtiss will be once again trawling the catalogue of history looking for yet another identity.


Footnote: If Curtiss really wants to project a clean, upstanding, morally acceptable and conscientious image, it might be better advised to ditch all the references to "war" and "combat" and "fighter". Murdering people with napalm, mustard gas, TNT and atomic weapons is as nasty as anything that happened during the slavery era—not to mention the more modern slavery of military conscription. Check WW1, WW2, The Korean War and the Vietnam War for details.




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Hi Sump, Your Glenn Curtiss commentary is interesting as always. Curtiss died in 1930 before WW2 from what was probably a botched appendectomy. There is a wonderful museum dedicated to him in the middle of nowhere outside of the town of Hammondsport, New York where he was born. —Marc Reibman

Hello from this side of the "pond". Must say, your take on the overwhelming political correctness that has taken hold in this country is spot on. "Those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it". Thank you.

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Here's the latest bike scam attempt...


Story snapshot:

1916 Harley-Davidson Model J for sale

... except that it's another scam


This arrived in the Sump mailbox late last night (image immediately above). It was intended for our Classic Bikes for Sale page. But one sniff suggested that this was all wrong, so we held it back and checked. The bike is a 1916 Harley-Davidson Model J. Here's the advert text that we received:


This project is virtually complete with the non present parts either on order or easily available. Most parts are original, some are repop, some could be either. There are new repop gas tanks AND the original tanks as well, one with original paint and fittings. The full electrics package is included with Remy Mag-dyno (worth $3k alone, headlight, rear light, horn, and Weston ammeter.

Work done. The wheels have been built up (loosely), the hubs and bearings sorted, and NOS tyres fitted. The rear brake drum skimmed and new brake shoes fitted. All the hardware for the rolling chassis is in place. Seat bar and post fitted. Forks assembled, handlebars complete with new spirals, internals, cables. Correct footboards, mounts, etc fitted.

Parts needed. Battery box (on order) electric switch cover, rear stand catch, a brake linkage, drive chains, some fasteners.

Asking for $11200




We've reproduced the ad copy here purely for your interest and perhaps edification. But it should be mentioned that the text doesn't actually belong to the scammer. It was lifted along with the image from an advert that appeared online in 2015. The bike, we've subsequently learned, was sold right here in the UK, and it was restored by the new owner and carries a high value which we're told is around £60k. It's still in the UK, incidentally.


There's no other message here from us, aside from the reminder to be ever on your guard. We do what we can to check adverts that come this way. But like everyone else, we can't catch 'em all.


Once again, don't buy online, or elsewhere, unless you're certain about the identity and/or integrity of the seller—unless, perhaps, the amount you're paying is low enough for you to shrug it off as inconsequential.


Meanwhile, if you know who this guy is, tell the cops and drop us a line too, if you will. We'd like to put a face to this weasel. We're pretty sure he's Stateside, and we've followed the email trail. It's time that someone knocked on his door, wouldn't you agree?


See further down this page for more on the bike scamming problem. And please note the link immediately below which will take you to the legitimate website from where the scammed image and text was taken.




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George Beale H&H auctions


George Beale appointed H&H director


Story snapshot:

... and that's a full board directorship

Matchless G50 and Honda 6 man gets what he deserves


H&H are calling him "Mr Motorcycle" which, to us, sounds cringingly overblown and grandiose. But there's no arguing with the fact that George Beale is one of the current stalwarts of the British classic bike scene and is one of the world's most respected personalities on two wheels (and naturally, modesty precludes any mention of ourselves in the pantheon of significant motorcyclistas).


Here's what H&H Auctions has to say about George:


George’s career spans over 50 years in the motorcycle industry. He is a world-renowned specialist in classic bikes who now puts his skills towards providing buying, selling and valuation services to the public along with his activities directing Motorcycle Sales at H&H Classic Auctions Ltd.

His career touches on almost every aspect of motorcycle culture. He has been a competitor in trials and scrambles in the 1960s, a Yamaha dealer, a bike restorer, owner of the biggest private European Grand Prix racing team, and British team manager for the AGV Nations cup series in 1979-80.


Beyond that you might know George's name with reference to his famed race-winning G50 Matchless replicas, and/or with regard to his £400,000-a-pop Honda RC174 "Six" reps.


More recently, George was heavily involved in the sale of "Old Bill", the near legendary 1922 Brough Superior SS80 sidevalve as once owned by George Brough (1890 - 1970). Later, that SS80 became the property of VMCC founder Titch Allen (1915 - 2010). And more recently still, it was sold by H&H Auctions for £291,000.


But now it's George Beale's turn to straddle that machine (image immediately above), albeit only for the purposes of this photoshoot. So it's congrats to George for becoming a full board director of H&H. The only wonder is why the firm took so bleedin' long to get around to it.




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Next Kickback Show 7-8th April 2018


Story snapshot:

Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire is the venue

Hosting the 2018 National Championships for Customs


Street customs, modified classics, The 2 Bros Professional Stunt Show, bike parades, burn-outs, biking gear, a stunt show, an autojumble, trade stalls, vintage biker movies, food, beer, coffee and camping.


That's what's being promised at Lorne Cheetham's next Kickback Show which will happen on Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th April 2018. As ever, the venue is Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG.


Tickets are £12 on the gate, and there are the usual concessions plus discount for online bookings. Show hours are noon to 5pm on the 7th April, and 10am to 4.30pm on the 8th April.

Telephone: 07758 368 072
Email: lorne@rwrw.co.uk



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2018 BOTK Alley Rat


"Alley Rat" - 2018 UK BOTK winner


Story snapshot:

"Urban brawler style" Sportster Forty Eight takes the cheese

Sycamore Harley-Davidson is the builder


Actually, we ought to name the guy who threw this bike together—as opposed to merely mention the Harley-Davidson dealership that will hang the trophy on its wall. So here's a spotlight for Todd Meynell of Sycamore Harley-Davidson in Leicestershire whose handiwork won the 2018 Battle of the Kings (BOTK) prize.


The idea behind this workshop joust is simple enough. Harley-Davidson dealerships around the UK select a base model hog from an approved list, and then they throw £5,500 at it. The finished bike must be road legal, and the judging is handled in stages with the general public getting a preliminary share of the vote. But the final decision is made by a small coterie of judges. And here they are:


MCN’s deputy editor, Richard Newland
Built Magazine editor, Gary Pinchin
Bike Social’s publishing editor, Steve Rose
American V Magazine editor, Andy Hornsby
Motorcycle racer & Harley-Davidson enthusiast, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne


Now, you have to be careful about criticising motorcycle customs that you've seen only from a distance, or only through the camera lens. Nevertheless, we've seen a fair number of such examples over the years, so we like to think that we've developed something of a connoisseur's nose and a fairly astute critical eye. But we really can't see what the big deal is here.


2018 Battle of the Kings Alley Rat Sportster


Seems to us that this winner isn't so much a statement as a confession. And we've got no doubt that Todd the builder will have plenty to say in mitigation (must be road legal, "only" £5.5k in the kitty, usual design and commercial compromises etc). All the same, we're totally underwhelmed.


So okay, the HD rules also stipulate that entrants must use a certain percentage of parts straight from the factory catalogue. That's bound to cramp a little style. But beyond that, the competing dealerships are free to outsource and add their own flourishes and whatnot, perhaps by engineering complete exhaust systems or reshaping tanks and fenders and/or laying on whatever paint and/or stripes take their fancy.


But as much as we'd love to put our hands together and shut up, we have to tell it as we see it—and this bike, with its subtle and not-so-subtle patina and restrained modifications simply punches well below its weight, visually speaking, and it's a long way from delivering a competition knockout blow. Except that it did exactly that. So who are ya gonna believe?


Other 2018 BOTK finalists include:



Maidstone Harley-Davidson fielded "Ottaway" named after Bill Ottaway, a H-D engineer from the golden age. H-D P&A: Bars, Grips, Breakout Risers, Patent Badge, Gas Cap, Footpegs, 19-inch Rim. Other Parts: S&S Filters, Rizoma indicators, Maxxis Tyres. Racefit Titanium Silencer, T&S Downpipes and Intake.




Guildford Harley-Davidson's Petrali Racer, named after the legendary "Smokin' Joe" Petrali. H-D P&A: 1925 Solo Sprung Saddle, White Nostalgic grips, Hollywood bars. Brass Collection consisting of Gas Cap, footpegs, shifter, Derby and timing covers. Screamin’ Eagle air filter, Sportster air cleaner cover, Black Hand control levers. Other components: Custom Chrome square headlight and "Drilled" Retro LED rear light, Thunder Bike Customs front indicators, Drag Specialities rear LED strip indicators, Heidenau K60 Scout 110/80B19 Enduro front tyre, Duro Median off-road 130/90–16 rear tyre, Lowbrow Customs Manta Ray rear fender. Fabrication: 2-1 stainless race exhaust, seat spring mounts, battery tray/shock cover, swinging-arm fender mounts and struts, number-boards and tail light mount. Custom Paint by Image Design Custom.



Shaw Harley-Davidson presented The Edge. H-D P&A: Gloss Black cam cover, transmission cover and rocker covers. Brass Collection fuel caps, Derby cover and footpegs all refinished. Stage 1 air filter modified by Shaw Speed & Custom. Rear wheel rim size changed to 18-inch, front changed to 21in. Other components: SS&C parts are seat support with RSD vintage seat pan, front fork guards, SS&C fender fitted to swinging arm, front number board, and brass inserts. RSD brake discs and bar grips. Stainless engine bolts. Modified stainless V&H exhaust, XLR style handlebar.



Anyway, the judges opted for "Alley Rat", and that's the end of that until next year. So either you agree or don't agree with the crowning of the new king, or maybe you just don't care. Either way, the die is cast.


However, before you go, here's a thought: If Harley-Davidson wanted to make the competition seriously interesting and had a little more pluck, they'd open the BOTK to anyone, and not only Harley-Davidson dealers. But as it stands, it looks more like a couple of dozen dogs—or hogs, if you prefer—forming a cozy, nepotistic, self-interested circle and sniffing each other's nether ends. And we're not convinced that's really good for business, not if you believe that open competition is, in the longer term, the better way to improve the breed.




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Prince William will officially open Triumph's Visitor Centre (20/2/2018)

2017 Euro bike sales (inc UK) down 9.5% over 2016. 913,723 units sold.

Classic US Brooklyn-born crooner Vic Damone has died, aged 89

Some arrests and charges made in Bristol re: torched Triumph Thunderbird

Elspeth Beard, first Brit woman to tour the world. Lone Rider book out now.

"Ghost broker" warning from City of London Police. Check your vehicle here

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Defeat the online scammers with a Skype account


Story snapshot:

Buying online advice

Try Skype, FaceTime or Hangouts


This is a follow-up item referencing the bike scammer story immediately below. Here at Sump it's been troubling us because (a) there's a lot of it going on, (b) it undermines confidence in the motorcycle community, and (c) we just don't like rip-offs of any kind.


So okay, too much confidence isn't a good thing either. When you're buying bikes and motorcycle gear/parts, you need to be cautious and doubtful, etc. But internet and mobile phone technology has made it easier for the scammers to operate, largely with impunity. Anyone can screen-grab a motorcycle image and fire it off to a website advertising page together with some artfully contrived copy, a bogus email address and/or the telephone number of a pay-as-you-go mobile phone.


However, the internet also provides a possible solution through platforms such as Skype. Skype to Skype calls are free, and it's simple to set up an account. If you make a Skype call to a landline or a mobile phone, you will be charged. And if you send text messages via Skype that will also cost you. But two (or more) people can chat on Skype all day long without paying a penny or a cent. And more importantly, you can make video calls, and you can grab screen images from those calls and store them until they're no longer needed.


Most genuine sellers won't mind showing their ugly mugs on a Skype call. But okay, some will understandably refuse for perfectly innocent reasons—in which case you should ignore their advert and move on, or make sure you visit them personally and make the deal.


But we would NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES buy a motorcycle or motorcycle spares without knowing what the other guy or girl looks like; at least, not if any significant sum of money was involved, or if there's no business track record. And if you're travelling with a lot of cash to meet a stranger, you're best advised to Skype 'em beforehand and keep their image secure until you return home safely.



If they don't have Skype, you can chat over an Apple phone via FaceTime (see the graphic immediately above left), while Android users can opt for the Hangouts app (see the graphic on the right). And there are other video platforms out there if you search for them (Viber, JusTalk, Tango, etc). It's just a question of being as smart as your smartphone, and as canny as the crooks. At the very least, record any phone calls you have. Most people aren't able to disguise their voices for any length of time, and conversations are usually riddled with clues as to age, location, background, etc.


Eventually, technology will perhaps allow the scammers to defeat facial identification on Skype and other platforms, possibly via highly convincing avatars or whatever. But at present, if you can chat to a guy (or girl) "face to face", that will stop most, if not all, the scammers in their tracks.


However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be vigilant throughout. We can think of numerous ways to separate the unwary, the foolish, the naive, the trusting or the desperate from their money. And we ain't even trying.


Lastly, need we remind you that you might want to (discreetly) photograph visitors to your house who've come to buy or sell? Might sound extreme, but at times it's an extreme world.






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Triumph Hurricane scammer alert


Story snapshot:

Online rip off weasel is back

Check the details below and pass the word, please


This time, this guy is calling himself "Steve." Last time it was "Ian." And next time it will be a different name. Either way, we think this character is a phoney, and you're advised to stay well away from him and not take his bait.


A month or so ago he ripped off one of our Sumpsters, and that leaves us with a bitter taste in our mouth. It wasn't our fault. But it happened on our platform. The simple truth is that the guy who was ripped off was careless and a little too trusting.


Anyway, a couple of hours ago we received this email. We've reproduced it here exactly as we found it:


Rare chance to own a Triumph X75 Hurricane. Unrestored and original bike. It has always been a part of my family bike and was originally my Dads [Oh, nice touch - Ed], only became mine on my 18th birthday, even though I never put her to great use until my thirties. I rode her a couple times then put into my collection afterwards. Great history you'd agree!!! Sadly she has to go now. Bike is located in the US.

Price: I'm asking $10,500.
Email Steve: steveautocycles@yahoo.com and ask intelligent questions if any.



There are a few fairly obvious things wrong with this pitch. But we ain't gonna mention them because this guy is probably also in the audience, and we're not going to tell him exactly why we were alerted. But if he's half-smart, and he appears to be that, he'll probably figure it out for himself.


The point is, the pitch is all wrong and we're not running the advert. Meanwhile, perhaps you could spread this message around your bike clubs or forums. And if you've got a brother in the FBI or something, perhaps you could have a word in his ear. We've been able to trace this guy only so far, and we're making other enquiries that might come to something. But it's up to the US law enforcement agencies to address this problem.


Meanwhile, we reported on this guy just last month. So check the link below for details.


Online motorcycle rip-off artist


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Hi Sump, this has probably been said before, but buyers should always reverse check a bike image with Google picture search. Most scamsters won't go out and take their own photos. Usually you can find the bike for sale elsewhere. My friend was almost caught out for almost £5,000 until we checked the picture. Worked for us.—Mark Naylor, West Sussex

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CCM Spitfire Bobber for 2018


CCM Spitfire-based Bobber for 2018


Story snapshot:

600cc factory custom adds to the limited edition range

Clews Competition Motorcycles follows Triumph and RE


Bolton, Lancashire firm CCM has just launched a 600cc single cylinder bobber based upon its Spitfire platform. These hand-built bikes (like all CCM machines) will be built in limited numbers—possibly around 100 - 150 or so (or whatever the market will stand).


We haven't seen the motorcycle up close, but we've got a few details from the factory posted on another Sump page. So click the link below and see if CCM is going in the same direction that you want to go, or if you feel the firm has wandered off the track somewhere.


CCM Bobber on Sump Motorcycle News


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Hi to all at Magnificent Sump. 100% agreement here. This bike is [edited word - Ed] hideous. I understand that CCM needs to make money, but this creation is like watching gramps trying to be hip with the kids. It's so corny I nearly choked on my gnashers. Come on CCM. Throttle this one before anyone notices. —Terry the Terryible

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Cafe Racer Dreams BMWs stolen


Cafe Racer Dreams: 8 bikes stolen


Story snapshot:

Spanish custom bike builder takes a huge hit

But what's the wider security angle here?


Spanish custom bike builder Cafe Racer Dreams reports that on 8th February 2018, thieves broke into the firm's premises and lifted eight motorcycles, and then had it away with a Porsche 356.


The firm is based just outside of Madrid (Av. General 7, 28860 Paracuellos del Jarama, España). The largest group of stolen bikes includes the above BMWs, but also among the haul was a custom Hinckley Bonneville, a Honda racer, and a Bimota racer.


We don't have details of exactly how the raid went down. But you have to wonder what the hell the company was doing in allowing so much stock to be lifted. So okay, we've got a modicum of sympathy. The theft must be a major blow. All the same, there are numerous reliable security systems and devices on the market, and a good set-up can be had for just a few hundred quid. Or less. But evidently, whatever security the company had in place (if any), it was inadequate.


Here at Sump, we've organised a pretty sophisticated security set-up, and it hasn't cost us very much at all. We can monitor our property from anywhere in the world, night or day—and we haven't got anywhere near as much to lose as Cafe Racer Dreams.


And there's another angle here worth considering. Beyond the immediate loss to the firm, you can factor in the wider loss to the motorcycle community. After all, anything that makes bikes look like easy targets encourages even more theft, both in the street, in the domestic environment, and in the trade. In the very broadest sense, a loss to any one of us is a loss to all of us.


But Cafe Racer Dreams is taking the blow well, we hear. The firm is reported to have said, "You can take away our bikes, but you’ll never take our talent. We are back and stronger." And with inspiring rhetoric like that, not only does it make our eyes well-up with tears, it makes us wonder why we don't all arrange to have our bikes nicked.


If you have any information, contact the firm, etc. The bikes might be tricky to shift on in one piece. But the parts might turn up somewhere (not that such parts would be easy to recognise—except perhaps to the builders). Beyond that, there's a lot of scrap metal there that's worth a bob or two.


Meanwhile, better take this opportunity to re-consider your own security arrangements. Lately, it appears to be open season on motorcycles.



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Coys' Feb 2018 London Excel Auction


Story snapshot:

The top lot is a '49 Rapide

Overall, a decent enough selection of bikes is listed


Auction house Coys will be fielding not less than 74 bikes at its next auction outing on Saturday 17th February 2018. The venue is London Excel. The viewing will take place on the day before (Friday 16th February 2018). And the top lot (Lot 373) is the immediately above 1949 998cc Vincent Rapide which is carrying an estimate of £54,000 - £59,000.


This bike first took to the highway on 12th July 1949. Coys advise us that in 1949, the engine numbers on Vincents ranged between 1401 to 4980. This Rapide has an engine number of 2080, which is considered (by Coys, at least) to be very low and therefore makes this bike a shrewd investment. We're having trouble seeing why that's really such a big deal, but the market will no doubt sort it out soon enough and price it accordingly. The registration number, incidentally, is FPY 327. But we don't know if that's original.


We were planning to give you all the details of what's been done to this motorcycle, restoration-wise. However, the information on the Coys website (at the time of writing this story) is so badly structured and riddled with errors and literals that we gave up. Suffice to say that the bike— which Coys reckons is the most original Vincent Rapide currently for sale on the planet—has apparently been fully rebuilt and upgraded, and it's ready to rock'n'roll.



Also on offer is the immediately above 1955 499cc Vincent Grey Flash Replica. It's Lot 372 and is expected to sell for somewhere between £22,000 and £28,000. Production numbers for the Grey Flash are hotly (and okay, occasionally coolly) disputed. Some Vincent authorities are claiming 31 genuine examples, and other claiming 37 (and we've heard a few similar numbers). What's not in dispute, however, is that very few were made.


Essentially a Vincent Series C Comet single, the Grey Flash was produced between 1949 and 1952 and was aimed at the racing  fraternity. The power is generally rated as 35bhp at 6,200rpm. The top speed is around 115mph.


Factory upgrades included an Amal TT carburettor and Elektron (magnesium alloy) brake plates. Vincent entered the Grey Flash in the 1950 and 1951 TT, but none of the bikes made it to the winners podium. However, the Grey Flash did fairly well in privateer hands on short circuit tracks and elsewhere.


According to Coys, the Grey Flash is "the holy grail of the Vincent marque." We're not sure about that, but we can tell you that these bikes will fetch huge sums of money if they ever come onto the market. We searched for any that had been sold in recent history, and we couldn't find a genuine example—but if you know better, pass the word. Various guesses from the aforementioned Vincent experts suggest that an original sorted Grey Flash, however rough it might be, would hit a minimum of £80,000 to maybe £150,000 and beyond (and we've heard some other numbers that we ain't even going to dignify with digital print).


Meanwhile, in 2008, Bonhams sold a Grey Flash Replica for £21,091. In 2012, the firm sold another replica for £13,570 inc premium. In 2014, yet another rep sold for £18,400. And although it's sacrilege to suggest it, here at Sump a faithful replica would serve us every bit as well as an original. But then, we're in it for the ride, not the money.


Other lots include...



▲ Lot 307. 1930 498cc Rudge Ulster to Grand Prix Specification built to replicate the 1930 TT winning bike. The estimate for this perky twin-port single is £12,000 - £16,000, and it's "ready for its new custodian". Coys words, not ours (also see image immediately below).




▲ Lot 308. Triumph Bonneville Bud Ekins Desert Scrambler Special
Formerly the property of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The estimate is £20,000 - £30,000. Cool? Uncool? Nice? Or naff? Let's hear it...



▲ Lot 313. 1980 Yamaha XS850. The estimate is £4,000 to £8,000, which, like many of Coys estimates, suggests that the firm hasn't really got much idea about where this one will end up. The XS850 was a very worthy bike in its day. But the sex appeal just wasn't there. Not for us, anyway. Then again, a lack of sex appeal didn't hurt BMW airheads, did it?



▲ 2017 Indian Scout Sixty, built as a homage or tribute to WW2 military Indians. The estimate is £10,000 - £15,000. We don't just hate this bike (Lot 329). We want to execute the bloke who dreamed it up. Don't get us wrong. We like Indians, new and old. We love WW2 iron. And we don't mind the odd fake/homage. But this one just hits all the wrong nerves.



Overall, we can see a few bikes in this sale that would fit very comfortably into the Sump garage, but there's not much on offer that's really interesting or exciting—unless the Brad Pitt Bonnie does it for you.


There's also a 1938 Ariel Square Four (Lot 336) estimated at £12,000 - £17,000, but no images have yet been posted. And we ought to mention the 250cc Sparta JLO twin (see image immediately above) which will no doubt interest fans of this obscure marque from the Netherlands. The estimate is just £1,000 - £1,500, but there are no other details aside from the fact that the speedo is showing just under 20,000 kilometres.




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1951 Triumph Thunderbird ransomed in Bristol


Thieves ransom Triumph Thunderbird


Story snapshot:

This 1951 motorcycle is being threatened with a match

£1,000 will get it back. In theory...


Sometime between Wednesday 7th February 2018 and Thursday 9th February 2018. That's when this 1951 Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle was stolen in the Clifton area of Bristol. The thieves—a self-styled mob of yobs which uses the Instagram handle of biketakerrr—is threatening to torch the bike unless its owner agrees to pay a ransom.


Currently, that ransom is quoted as £1,000.


The Avon & Somerset Police are on the case, whatever that means—and this thin blue line has a special interest in these hooligans. That's because the mob has for months been taunting the rozzers, largely through online media. Meanwhile, whoever owns the stolen bike (registration PFO 766) has to work out exactly how he or she wants to deal with this phenomenon—which is a new one on us.


The options are simple; pay up or shut up. And we'd certainly choose the latter option every time. If you pay a ransom, the problem will continue. If you refuse, the problem will fizzle out. After all, who the hell wants to be saddled with some stupid old Triumph? Well, apart from guys and gals like us, that is...



Last year the Avon & Somerset police launched Operation Buell which aimed to catch these thieves, and to an extent it was successful and resulted in arrests and convictions. But police now believe that either some members escaped the net, or that new members have entered the fray.


We haven't checked out the Instagram page. Apparently, it's a private portal, and you have to be invited. But there's perhaps little point in going there. Others a lot smarter than us will be checking that out and following whatever clues are available. In the meantime, if you live in the Bristol area, keep a watch out for yobs with matches sitting on old motorcycles, etc.


The Bristol Post newspaper, we should mention, has been instrumental in publicising this issue. That's where these images were obtained. So you might want to reward its efforts by picking up a copy of its rag and supporting the publication. What goes around comes around, and all that.


People who play with fire, it's said, are likely to get burned. In this instance, we certainly hope so, and we wouldn't be rushing for the extinguisher.


How about you?




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Sad to read this...but according to the Bristol Post, the T-Bird was torched early on Thursday evening: so R.I.P. PFO 766. I feel gutted for the owner. This is serious stuff, the actions of the gang are way beyond vandalism or anti-social behaviour, and should have been challenged sooner with severe penalties. Instead it seems to be thriving and escalating. What if it starts to affect Joe Public? Frustratingly, the police and judiciary have limited powers when it comes to sentencing offenders: they can only use the laws that are laid down but clearly, if the punishment does not serve as a deterrent to perpetrators, it is of no use and could even serve as an encouragement. Perhaps a review is needed-or maybe a bigger stick.—Roj, Sheffield

Note from Sump: We had mixed feelings about posting the image immediately above (oxygen of publicity, etc). But we decided that Sump visitors would want to see this, and the picture might stimulate other owners into action by (a) increasing bike security, and (b) helping track and/or expose the thieves. We have to keep some sense of proportion here. On the one hand, it's just a motorcycle. And destroying it, note, isn't exactly mindless. The arson act was no doubt at least partly intended to show other owners that the gang was ready to make good its threat. There's no obvious solution to this problem except perhaps via a return to quality community policing, increased police resources, and through greater owner vigilance. It's hard to see how greater penalties will make much difference, but a good kicking in quiet corner of Bristol would no doubt make thousands of bikers feel a whole lot better. So who's first in the queue?

Hi Sump, great magazine as usual. Keep it coming. Like any other right-thinking person, I'm sickened by the news of what's happened to this Triumph and I think these hooligans are mindless. I doubt they really expected to receive any money from this act of vandalism. It's pure malice in my book. Punishments are way too lenient in this country, and social media has a lot to answer for. If we seriously tackled both issues, life in the UK and elsewhere would be much more enjoyable. Just my two pence worth. Rant now over. —Adam Dalrymple, Around

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Harley-Davidson recalls 251,000 bikes


Story snapshot:

Firstly, do we believe this news story?

Secondly, not necessarily


Apparently, if you own or ride or have stolen a CVO or VSRC Harley-Davidson equipped with ABS and built between 2008 and 2011, and if you haven't had the Dot 4 brake fluid changed in a couple of years or so, there's an outside chance that crystals could develop in the plumbing leading to




That's the latest global recall warning from Milwaukee, which is interesting because we ran pretty much the same story in July 2016. Back then the numbers were different, but the problem was much the same; crystals developing in the system partly due to the ingress of water leading to corrosion and failure leading to the possibility of (cue scary music...):




All braking systems eventually collect water molecules (or even droplets), hence the need to replenish the juice every year or two depending on your mileage, where you live and no doubt other more esoteric factors.


The recall is expected to cost the world class firm around $29 million dollars. But that might well be largely a notional cost rather than an actual cost, and once you've got your customers back in the dealerships, there's a fair chance you can flog 'em something else to offset your (notional) losses.


So why are we suspicious about this story? Well, one reason is that this tale appears to circulate over and over again like a nasty local rumour, and we're not persuaded by the repeated claims of possible and sudden:




You might as well run a story telling riders that if they don't keep their tyres inflated, they could face a sudden (scary music please...):




Which is true, but it's not necessarily grounds for a global recall.


Secondly, Harley-Davidson is having a pretty tough time at the moment and has been more or less compelled to close its manufacturing plant in Kansas City, plus another smaller plant near Adelaide, Australia. Sales are down. Company stock is embattled. The firm needs to regenerate interest—and it's well understood in marketing circles that it's a lot easier to sell to existing customers than find some fresh blood. So a wafer thin story about the outside chance of a sudden (staccato chords this time...):




would (a) show your customers that you're on the ball, (b) show your customers that you care, and (c) get them sufficiently motivated (but not overly concerned) and return them to the fold.


There have, take note, been some injuries associated with the earlier recall. But we don't know that it's actually the same problem. And for any given number of manufactured motorcycles, there are always a certain number of random flaws and issues.


Therefore, on this occasion we're happy to give H-D the benefit of the doubt if you are. But on the other hand, if we owned one of these bikes, and if we hadn't changed the brake fluid for a few seasons, we wouldn't have the slightest worry about touring a very large continent before we moseyed on down to the dealers for a peek at the new Screamin' Eagle parts or whatever (subject to a general daily check of the bike before riding away).


That said, if you're a Harley-Davidson diehard, or possessed of a more nervous disposition, you might want to get the brakes checked in more detail and/or give the old factory a chance to get another hold on your wallet. After all, it's just possible that the problem is very real, and Milwaukee is currently short of a bob or two.


As ever, it's your call. Or recall.


Harley-Davidson brake recall threat

Harley-Davidson quits Kansas City



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Hi. Surely if crystals are forming in the brake fluid on Harleys why isn’t every car manufacturer calling in their cars every couple of years?  These crystal wouldn’t just form in the Harley brakes, unless the crystals just don’t like Harleys of course. All the best.—Ian

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"Police biker" guilty/not guilty


Story snapshot:

He rode around "looking like a copper"

He was given a conditional discharge with £670 costs

... then the conviction was overturned on appeal


His name is Darren Emanuel, he's aged 46, he's a city worker, and he was nabbed in June 2017 for riding around London town on what looked suspiciously like a police motorcycle.




We use that term with reservations because Emanuel was simply riding to work on his machine, albeit arguably doled up like traffic cop. We're talking about a high-viz police-style jacket bearing the legend POLITE. THINK BIKE. Meanwhile, the BMW motorcycle he was piloting was, we understand, splashed with reflective stickers—and at the rear of the bike was an aluminium mast that originally carried a blue police light. And one more thing: the bike carried a Royal Corps of Transport crest sticker on the windscreen, and an ER (Elizabeth Regina) sticker at the rear.


Convincing? Maybe. At a glance. It certainly was an ex-police bike that had been decommissioned.


Anyway, a copper spotted Emanuel riding down Park Lane, Mayfair, W1 and stopped him. Emanuel explained that when he'd bought the bike, the high-viz jacket was simply part of the deal, so he wore it.  He said that two friends had been killed in accidents and he was concerned about safety, as per the Highway Code. He said that he hadn't intended to deceive anyone and look like a rozzer. And yes, that sounds like nonsense to many ears. Some would say that you don't dress up like the fuzz unless you want people to assume you really are the fuzz—albeit briefly as you buzz past.


In court, Emanuel—who lives in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire—further explained that he "enjoyed" a daily commute of 60 miles and had covered 1,000 miles whilst wearing his ... well, let's call it a private uniform. Or, if you prefer, simply his everyday riding gear. Regardless, he was found guilty of impersonating a police officer. For his pains, he was given a conditional discharge and ordered to fork out £670 in costs. Presumably, he was also told to quit the masquerade.


Now, notwithstanding the fact that Emanuel was probably looking about as uncool as it's possible to look on a motorcycle, we have to wonder exactly what this guy did wrong. It's easy, and a little facile, to simply say that he was "impersonating a police officer". The real question is still "what was he doing wrong?" And the answer to that is "nothing really". He was simply riding to work (lawfully), and weaving through traffic (lawfully), and making himself as visible as possible (lawfully)—albeit allowing other road users to temporarily mistake him for a police officer. That, at least, was what the original magistrates felt.




If you really must ride around in hi-viz gear with chevrons, chequers and aerials on your bike, consider something like this. And hey! Leave the water pistol at home, huh? The Metropolitan Police loves guns, but only when they're holding 'em.



But you might equally arrest a bunch of actors dressed like coppers on a movie location for impersonation, or some guy at a hen night wearing nothing but a police helmet on his truncheon; the point being that merely looking suspiciously (and we use the word "suspiciously" advisedly) like a police officer isn't in itself a crime. At least, it shouldn't be. In our view, you have to be getting up to some other mischief whilst in the uniform.


Ironically, we live in an age where police presence on the street has never been lower, an age where motorcycle rider security is an open wound, an age where health and safety is where it's at. And here's a bloke riding along harmlessly in traffic and making a few motorists sit up and pay a little more attention than they otherwise would—and maybe give him a few extra inches as he passes.


Had he been pulling-over drivers and fleecing them for a little cash, or had he been conducting intimate body searches on whoever took his fancy, we'd understand why the law got a little uppity. But Emanuel was trying to stay safe at no cost to anyone else, and a large amount of legal machinery was deployed at significant public cost to bring him to book (and his £670 fine*, take note, does not reflect the true cost of court and police time).


Cynically, we might add that if you really want to look like a copper, you need to ride a police horse and bash the heads of lawful protesters,  or persecute people on the street for a few grams of cannabis, or shoot Brazilian tourists on a subway train, or generally overreact to just about every social or confrontational situation you happen to find yourself in. If you really want to look and sound like a copper you can forget that your first job is to prevent crime rather than help create crimes where they don't already exist (and we can name the ways that the police regularly do exactly that).


But nabbing blokes for being a little cheeky with their choice of riding apparel doesn't inspire confidence in the rozzers (which was one of the court's prime concerns). Instead, it undermines our confidence in what has increasingly become an over-reactionary, gun-toting, right wing, militaristic squad of bully boys, not only in the metropolitan area, but especially there.


The suspicion here isn't that the coppers honestly thought Emanuel was actually doing anything reprehensible in the wider/biblical/moral/Disneyland sense of right and wrong. But he was clearly encroaching on their officious territory. He was clearly gate-crashing their cosy gang with all its trappings and rituals. He was clearly doing what they ought to be doing, but couldn't because they were too busy doing something else, and possibly something less worthy of their time and trouble. And for that reason he was a justifiable target and arrested.


Once again, we ought to point out that we're not anti-police, per se. But we're definitely anti-lousy policing, and we're far from convinced that this was an example of metropolitan policing at its best.


Meanwhile, if you're a paramedic, or a blood runner, or a despatch rider, or for that matter anyone wearing high-viz clothing on a motorcycle emblazoned with chevrons or similar, remember that plod can and will enforce whatever laws suit his or her personal mental and emotional disposition at any give moment.


In the UK we (thankfully) still have the rule of law. But we also have a police force and a legal system that will bend or adjust those laws in highly questionable ways, not least with regard to a bloke trying to get to work alive and in one piece.


*UPDATE: In an earlier version of this article we had suggested that Emanuel had been "convicted". It's since been pointed out that that's not technically true. He will only be considered convicted if he breaches his conditional discharge (which was 12 months). In either case, he was originally found "guilty". We've amended the story, and we've also clarified the point that he was ordered to pay £670 costs and not fined that amount. And note that on appeal Emanuel was subsequently found not guilty.



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350cc Panther


That's a 1930-ish 350cc Panther looking for some air. The shot was taken at a 2017 pilot event intended to test both mud and mettle. If you fancy trying your luck, talk to the organisers. Soon.


Bringsty Grand Prix Revival 2018


Story snapshot:

Saturday 7th April 2018

If you can still get it up, get it rolling and dirty


Where were you in 1946 and 1947 (if you were anywhere at all)? Think hard now, especially if you were in the Bromyard area of the West Midlands, specifically within sight of Bringsty Common.


You'll remember that era perhaps for the series of scrambles-cum-enduros run on that particular piece of British turf. The events were staged partly as an antidote to the social, industrial and commercial privation of WW2 which had just come to an end, and probably also just for the hell of it.


As we understand it, a 1½-mile course was marked out on 220 acre Bringsty Common; a course that included "bogs, water-splashes and the steepest of hills". Competitors were invited to run-whatever-they'd-brung, and in practice that meant any old pre-war heap rolling on any old tyres and fuelled by whatever pool petrol they could scrounge or buy from the local spivs. A special "Best Performance on Road Tyres!" prize was offered for the 15-lap final.

What's happening now is that the event is bring recreated as the Bringsty Grand Prix. It takes place on 7th April 2018 at the same/original location. The landowner and Clerk of the Course is Julian Garness. Here's what he's got to say about this gathering:


"We are extremely lucky to have several local residents that attended the original meeting as children and can remember where it went. It will be run on practically the same course as the 1947 event. A full entry is expected of machines from the golden era of British motorcycling and, hopefully, some bikes as old as the original Bringsty GP. We are hoping for local riders to come along and ride in the special exhibition class to showcase their classic bikes without competing, and it will be a great day out for all the family. The sights, sounds and smells of the bikes will evoke happy memories of a bygone era."

The Bringsty Grand Prix, which is allied to the bi-annual Bromyard Festival of Speed, takes place just off the A44 near Brockhampton, Worcestershire. It will start at 10am. There is off-road parking with great views of the event. Tickets are £10 for adults which can be booked via the above link.


Holden Vintage & Classic Ltd (purveyors of classic automotive parts, accessories and clothing) are the main sponsor. The firm is based in nearby Bromyard. Its managing director is Jeremy Holden. He'll be officiating, and is expected to compete on his Triumph TR25W Special.

Entries are still being accepted and welcomed for the Pre-1960, Pre-74 and Twinshock classes. Details are available at:




Bringsty Grand Prix


Sounds like a pretty decent way to start the 2018 riding season (assuming you're not one of those tough-as-wheel-nuts-all-year-round-pilots). And if you've got any other information or photographs or suchlike relating to the original event, the organisers would no doubt like to hear from you.


Here's mud in yer eye.


Contact Mark Williams on: 01544 260889



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Weise Glenmore wax cotton jacket

No it ain't Steve McQueen. But you can see who the ad agency had in mind when the smudger got busy with this guy. And yes, that's a cool Triumph he's loitering beside. What else could it be?


Two new Weise wax cotton jackets


Story snapshot:

A shorty and a longy

£169.99 and £189.99


It's gotta be tricky getting suitable models for motorcycle gear. After all, everyone knows that the average age of a biker (in the UK, anyway) is around 60, if we're honest, and maybe around 50, if we're not. And when you've passed the six decade mark, you're not exactly looking your pristine, chubby-cheeked, coochy-coo best. Moreover, if you're a clothing firm flogging your rags to a particular social demographic, you need to reflect that demographic as closely as possible.


Hence these two guys. Neither looks to be in his honest sixties. And neither appears to have developed the almost obligatory beer belly required of men-of-a-certain-old-age. All the same, they both seem suitably grungy (but not too grungy) with their faded jeans and salt & pepper beards and/or slightly unkempt-just-got-off-the-bike weatherbeaten looks. And they've both got hair too. So if we squint a little and turn the lights down low, we can compare our own ugly mugs with these dudes and think; Yeah, that could be me. On a good day. Sort of.


Weise Ashland wax cotton jacket


▲ Looks to us like an everyday kind of guy. Not too old. Not too scruffy. Not too anything. And in case you're wondering what these models are looking at when the shutter clicks, it's their pay cheques. Works every time.



So when it comes to the choice of models, Weise gets eight or nine out of ten with these characters (ten, natch, being reserved for Tom Ego Cruise and David Narcissus Beckham).


As for those jackets, the one at the top of this news story is the Weise Glenmore (cunningly named no doubt to imprint on your mind the notion of a rugged Scottish glen complete with misty mornings and the sweet smell of heather, etc); and the one immediately above is the Ashland (which puts us in mind of absolutely nothing, but then we don't get out as much as we used to).


Both jackets, as you can no doubt tell, are waxed cotton. The Glenmore has a traditional three-quarter length cut. The Ashland is a shorty. So much for the bleedin' obvious (but we have to mention these things for the Google search spiders). They're both manufactured in the Far East, incidentally.


Here are the main features at a glance:



600 Denier waxed cotton (300gsm) construction
Fixed waterproof lining
Removable thermal liner
Main central zip with press stud and Velcro weather proof storm flap
Vintage style press studs throughout
Zip side gussets with press stud retainers for comfort and fit
4 external and two internal pockets with two external hand warmer pockets
Removable shoulder, elbow and back armour included
Adjustable waist, collar and cuffs

2 year warranty



Outer made from 600 Denier Waxed Cotton

Removable thermal liner
Adjustable & removable CE approved level 1 armour (shoulders & elbows)
Removable CE approved level 1 back protector
Traditionally styled popper fitted throughout
Popper and stud closures fitted to the cuffs
Adjustable neck collar using hoop and loop closure
YKK front central zip with popper retained storm flap
Two external chest pockets and 2 internal pockets
2 external hand warmer pockets
2 year warranty


The Glenmore is asking £189.99. The Ashland is looking for £169.99. Prices include VAT, and you can opt for black or brown. Sizes are SM - 3XL. We haven't seen either jacket up close, so we're not endorsing them—not that we've got anything against them, either. But it's worth mentioning that the prices, for wax cotton jackets, is very competitive.


So check 'em out down at your dealer. And if your profile and looks don't do justice to the cool'n'sexy fashion models above, take heart, suck in your belly, fluff up what's left of your hair and brass it out, man.


Nobody's perfect, huh?

The Key Collection: 0117 971 9200



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Hi Sump, You're too kind. That's the best pep talk I've heard in a while. With belly fluffed up, brass out and hair sucked in. I can do it - be cool and loiter. I have a purpose. You've also saved me upwards of 170 notes. Ta.—Roj, Sheffield.

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Murderous solicitor is still on the books


Story snapshot:

Convicted, but still able to practice

In theory...


The next time you're talking to your solicitor about your latest motoring transgression, or when discussing a new mortgage, or when planning to get shot of your other half, remember to be ultra polite. You never know what might happen in the dusty confines of a private office.


UK solicitor Iain Farrimond (pictured immediately above in this police custody suite polaroid) was certainly looking to get shot of his wife, and his daughter, and then himself. To that end, he took a kitchen knife, stabbed the missus in the head and face a few times, then battered her with a "blunt object", just to be sure (there's nothing like a thorough solicitor, huh?)


Mercifully, his significant other survived the frenzied attack. And mercifully, no harm came to the daughter. Farrimond was nabbed, charged, convicted and in 2016 was sentenced to six years in the pokey. And then, because he was a solicitor, he was all set to be struck off the law register.


But that didn't happen. Why not? Because the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decided that although he'd brought the profession into disrepute and had seriously damaged public confidence, he'd been "suffering from a mental illness at the time"; therefore, it was considered appropriate to show him due leniency.


However, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has taken a dimmer view and has appealed to the High Court to reject the tribunal's decision and keep Farrimond well off the legal grid.



So should Farrimond get booted out of the club? How the hell should we know? These things are invariably a lot more complicated than that, and we don't like to kick a man when he's down—and if you get a very slick lawyer, you can mitigate pretty much everything right down to the Holocaust and the execution of Jesus Christ. But it makes you wonder exactly what a bloke, not least a solicitor, has to do to get his professional lead jerked, permanently.


Had he simply been caught pilfering trolleys from a supermarket, or been spotted in the park flashing girls on horseback, you might put it all down to a relatively minor psychological aberration that's easily fixed with a few pills and a couple of weeks on the beach in Majorca. But perforating someone's noggin with a bread knife takes things to a new level of highly questionable behaviour that, rightly or wrongly, isn't likely to inspire anyone looking for a little high street legal advice.


And what did Farrimond have to say for himself? Well perhaps unsurprisingly, he attended court via a prison video link and sided with the benevolent tribunal arguing that the circumstances of the offence were "wholly exceptional". And for our money, that suggests that whatever had worked loose in his head when he attempted a double murder and a suicide doesn't appear to be all that loose at the moment.


A judgement will be made later this month. Maybe.


Also see: Solicitors from Hell, Sump Classic Bike News August 2011


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£7k - £10k Triumph 'X-75 Hurricane'


Story snapshot:

Is it 'real' or is it 'fake'?

Either way, it's up from grabs at 'Stafford' in April 2018


The above Triumph/BSA is going under the hammer at the Bonhams Spring Stafford Sale on 22nd April 2018, which is about eight weeks away. At present, it's a preview listing, and there are no further details. All we know is that it's a 1972 model and is listed in quotation marks as an 'X-75 Hurricane'—the quotes usually being auctioneer code for "we're-not-certain-about-the-provenance-of-this-one", meaning that it could be a fake.


Or, if you prefer, a homage. Or a replica.


But if so, it's a pretty convincing one and to us looks just about spot-on. Naturally, it risks upsetting one or two of the purists merely by daring to exist. However, at Sump we buy with our eyes and loins and not simply with our wallets, meaning that we prefer bikes as riding machines rather than investment toys. Consequently, if we were in the market for a Hurricane, or a Hurricane lookalike, we wouldn't automatically reject this machine.






We've tried enhancing this image in Photoshop, but we can't get a clear look at the engine number on this bike. If you're interested, just give Bonhams a call and put your mind at rest. Can't see any reason why the firm wouldn't tell you. Then again, why haven't they already revealed the number on the preview listing? See image immediately below...





Of course, it could yet be a genuine example, and we might see a huge jump from the estimate to the hammer price. But until Bonhams climbs off the fence and posts more details, we'll have to speculate and wait. And in case you're not up to date with Trident/Rocket Three prices, £7k-£10k is the kind of money you might expect to pay for a fairly standard "breadbin" T150. Even a very rough original Hurricane would start at maybe £15k.


Or is Bonhams being a little more canny than that?


Meanwhile, if X-75s are your thing, and if the current price of an original machine (£20k to £25k—and even higher) is too rich for you, this motorcycle will give you exactly the same riding thrill as the real McCoy, and just might be had for a very compelling price. Certainly, it's got to sell for significantly above that top estimate. Hasn't it?


Lastly, on a slightly different note, shouldn't Bonhams (even at this early stage) make it a little clearer about its doubts and suspicions regarding this machine? We can see this question from various angles, not least the legal one. Nevertheless, when your greedy little motorcycle-grabbing eyes have lit upon a new target, common sense (whatever that is) and reason are all too quickly sidelined in favour of buyer recklessness.


Therefore a line from Bonhams reading something like "We haven't confirmed the provenance of this bike" wouldn't do any harm to anyone, except perhaps the auction house itself and its commission.


Makes you think.




UPDATE: The Triumph Hurricane sold for £12,420


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Retro wireless GPS speedometer


Story snapshot:

New GPS speedo for classic lightweights

Available soon, £275-ish


It's not available yet, but it should be ready within the next eight weeks. So expect it sometime around March or April 2018. The company behind this device is www.digital-speedos.co.uk based in Lapworth, near Solihull, West Midlands. It was being shown at the recent 2018 Motorcycle Trade Expo, and it's aimed at the classic and custom market.


Specifically, it's a modern take on old style speedometers as fitted to BSA, Francis Barnett or James lightweights of the 1950s and 1960s. Only, this device works by GPS navigation as opposed to being spun-up by a cable.


The housing is billet aluminium. It has a built-in 10Hz GPS unit (claimed to be faster than the more common 1Hz units). It's powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery via a USB lead. The display face can be ordered at 0 - 55mph, 0 - 70mph, and 0 - 110mph. And the unit can be switched simply between machines. So okay, the (immediately above) image doesn't look over-impressive. But this is a prototype unit now being readied for production, and it's possibly currently housed in an original speedo case (or maybe it's just a lousy picture). Either way, the price is likely to be around £275.




If you check the firm's website, you'll discover more classic Smiths-type speedometers, all backlit, all 12-volt, and all offered with adapters to replace your existing cable. In other words, plug the adapter into your Smiths, Veglia or whatever drive box, route the electrical hook-up lead neatly along the frame, position your new speedo, then ride. And if you're still on 6-volt electrics, the company will sell you an adapter module.


Beyond that, there are some other interesting goodies on the website that are likely to come between you and your money, so watch out.


So go take a look. But remember to come back soon.




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"Anvil Motociclette...


... is not just a brand, it is not just a garage, but it is first of all a strong and determined idea, or even better a real life-style. Anvil is the direct successor of past times, precisely of the 70s, the period that changed the story of motorcycling, creating the motors we drive today. Motors, music, travels, fashion… Anvil is a wide universe, simple and genuine as the Emilia, our homeland, that has always taught us the value of spontaneity, while at the same time it represents a complex and varied world, that perfectly reflects us.

Everything starts from a symbol, an image that represents better than anything else, our essence. An anvil is a very simple item, but it is strong and indestructible, the perfect image of handcraft jobs. The arrow instead, is the symbol of that passion that joins us and that drew the picture of our lives. Our philosophy was born from the image we tattooed on our chest near the heart, to celebrate every day our deep love for motorbikes."




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I guess they take themselves seriously, but that kind of talk could lead to an extended period of compulsory counselling....MY time was the 70s and I can confirm that type of bull didn’t exist then, thank God... What happened to home built choppers, chasing girls and getting drunk as often as possible?...Analyse that...—The Village Squire

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2018 Triumph Speed Triples launched


Story snapshot:

Two "new" models from Triumph

See if you can spot the differences


We know exactly why motorcycle firms release teaser videos of their new creations. Such footage is intended to stimulate interest and get our lust organs (whatever they are) drooling and throbbing long before the bike or bikes break cover. Everyone knows that.



But perversely, it generally works the other way for us. A 30 second video of some ghostly/blurry motorcycle flashing across the screen, or a selection of obscure motorcycle components coupled with the roar of an engine and a few shrapnel bars of heavy metal music (or similar) invariably sends us straight to slumberland.

So it was with the 2018 Speed Triple videos which were let loose over the past few weeks or so. We YouTubed. We looked. We yawned. And we were happy to wait for the first factory shots. And here they are.




More switches than Clapham Junction, and a new TFT screen to play with while you ought to be looking at the road. Modern bikers hardly know what a passing tree looks like anymore. True or false?



He ain't really leaning it over as far as it looks. Triumph cunningly tilted the photo, and we didn't want to ... well, extinguish the Hinckley bonfire. But we don't need convincing; the Speed Triple handling far exceeds the riding skill of most us, and we take it for granted that it's as good as it ever was.



As ever, it's the same bike but different, and at first glance we like it as much as we've liked all the Speed Triples. Triumph hit the ground running with this model/concept and the factory has been running as fast as it can ever since. But naturally, Hinckley doesn't want to stray too far from the tried and tested formula. So the tweaks are incremental. The nerve is taut. And the market hasn't yet cried "old hat!" But eventually it will.


There are two models on the stump. The RS (black bike above) and the S (silver bike above). Check this 2018 Speed Triple link. That will take you to our mainstream Motorcycle News page where there's a little more information on the newcomers to the Triumph stable.


Bottom line? We like what we can see of the new Triumph Speed Triples. But we ain't reaching for the oxygen.


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Hi Sump. Same here. Oxygen not needed. As much I love the Triples, and I've owned two, I'm not rushing out to buy this beastie. I can understand why Triumph is being ultra cautious, but in the poker game of life, you sometimes have to risk your shirt. Hope it sells well, but I doubt I'll be in the queue. —AngusTheYounger

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All over for the
fat Little Chef


Story snapshot:

Classic A-road eatery is defunct

But who's gonna miss it?


It's interesting how many things in life seem permanent in their time, and then slowly—or not so slowly—disappear. Trolleybuses. Austin cars. Police and AA Boxes. Thames Television. Wimpy Bars. The 6pm Concorde. Woolworths. British Home Stores. Etc. The list goes on and on, and now we've got to add the Little Chef chain of roadside eateries to the list, because as of 31st January 2018, the business is defunct.




Much derided in their time, the restaurants actually provided reasonable fare at a reasonable price, not to mention frequently offering some much-needed respite from the elements when touring the country on a motorcycle. We used Little Chefs hundreds of times. We pretty much had to. Following the rapid decline of the classic British transport cafe—with its manifold delights of stewed tea, greasy bacon sarnies, crispy fried eggs and jam roly-poly pudding & custard—the Chefs helped fill a vacuum in the market and helped make travelling the nation's A-road network (as opposed M-way network) a little more viable.



The chain was founded in 1958 by British entrepreneur Sam Alper (1924 - 2002), the same ex-Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm guy who designed the Sprite caravan. Little Chef was modelled largely on the classic American diner, and anyone's who's ever eaten at a Denny's would notice the parallel. Cue plastic table tops, fake brickwork on the walls, uniformed waiters and waitresses, elevator music, and an impulse stand beside the cash till stocked by sweets, roadmaps, special offers and suchlike.


At its peak (1999 - 2000), the firm boasted 439 restaurants. Usually, the diners were in sight of a petrol station or a Travelodge Motel, or both. And you could pretty much travel the entire country by Chef-hopping the network—and no doubt a few people set themselves exactly that challenge.



The worst that could be said about Little Chef (aside from the occasional racket from an adjacent party of rambunctious kids) was that the food was fairly predictable. And the best that could be said was that the food was ... well, fairly predictable. As with the Wimpy Bar chain or McDonalds, you always knew what to expect, and it was pretty much de rigueur to complain about the bill before using the facilities, helping yourself to a free lollipop and stomping off out into the cold car park, only to return another day in a better/hungrier frame of mind.



Customers frequently criticised Little Chef food for being synthetic, tasteless, unhealthy and artificial. But it never killed us, and we think we got what we paid for. It wasn't all that bad. Meanwhile, take the Sump Little Chef test. Gaze at this picture for 30 seconds, then see if you need to take a trip to the kitchen (we'll be watching to see if you cheat).


So what happened to the brand? You can point a finger at increased motorway traffic which helped sideline the restaurants. You could point a finger at the half dozen or so owners of the brand, some or all of which didn't have a clue how to revitalise the business and make it more relevant to the needs of the modern traveller. You could blame the lack of investment. You could blame the increased competition from other food chains. Or you could simply say that Sam Alper had the right idea at the right time, but time simply moved on, and so did Sam.


We can't say that we're exactly going to miss the fat Chef (which in 1986 consumed the rival Happy Eater chain). In fact, we've barely noticed the steady restaurant closures over the past decade. But it's a landmark in the lives of many of us, and whether it's wise or healthy to note their passing (as opposed to simply keep moving on), we notice these things anyway.


That's how it works.


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Ah Little Chef. First job 1967 12 pence an hour washing up by hand!
Earned enough to buy knackered BSA C11g, and learnt enough to keep me fettling old bikes since then. The food didn't kill me either. We are a tough old lot, I think!
—Andrew Wilson

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Royal Enfield Flying Flea stolen


Story snapshot:

Nicked from Solihull, West Midlands

Poor Bloody Infantry would like your help to spread the word


We don't have a lot of detail on this, but we'll give you what little we've got. Last night (Thursday 25th January 2018) a Mercedes Sprinter van was stolen from outside a Solihull Travelodge. Inside the vehicle was the above Royal Enfield WD/RE 126cc Flying Flea designed for use by British airborne troops during WW2. Apparently, it's part of Royal Enfield's own collection of motorcycles—and we think there were some other bikes in the van including possibly another Flea with less distinct provenance (we did say we didn't have much detail on this).


The Flea was in the parachute cradle (as shown), and it was all on loan for a photoshoot. Or so we hear. We don't know in whose charge it was when it was purloined. But Poor Bloody Infantry, a military re-enactment group, has it posted on their Facebook site and is hoping to spread the word as far as possible.


It's easy to be wise and smug after the fact, but on the face of it, it looks like the security arrangements were less than ideal. Mild recriminations aside, please spread this message on your club site or Facebook page.


Poor Bloody Infantry

Royal Enfield UK


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Brühl Twin Turbine Motorcycle Dryer


Story snapshot:

The FMD2800 Pro; "ideal for the small or large workshop"

£184.99 including VAT


No, it's not a vacuum cleaner. It's a motorcycle dryer. That's right, a dryer for motorcycles. Or scooters. You get your wheels wet, and then you squirt the dryer at 'em and it's all suddenly dry again. The concept is to use the FMD2800 Pro when you've just washed the bike. Or bikes. But if you want to use it after you've been out in the rain, that's your choice.


Here at Sump, we've always let the atmosphere do our motorcycle drying for us. It cheap. And it's convenient. And it never really occurred to us to do it any other way. But clearly there are times, particularly if you're a professional in the bike trade, when the atmosphere simply isn't sufficient.


That's Brühl's thinking, anyway. And the thinking sounds right.


The dryer blows warm air at "up to" 80 metres-per-second. Where this device scores over, say, a chamois leather or a tea towel is that it can get access all areas. So corrosion gets less opportunity to get a grip, and you're less likely to have drying streaks all over the tank and side panels and sundry brightwork (if that matters to you).



It's a twin turbine design, and you can switch one turbine in and out as desired. Three nozzles are in the box, and the flexible hose extends from 1.5 metres to 3 metres.


The dryer is not really aimed (no pun intended) at owners of a single bike, but there ain't a law against such ownership either. It's really directed (that pun was intended) at the small or large workshop. And here's a thought; it could be an opportunity to start your own motorcycle bike wash centre. Never seen that before (but as usual, we're guessing someone beat us to the punch).


And here's another thought: it sounds like a very useful device for drying your riding gear following a deluge. Just use it wisely, whatever that means in your personal circumstances.


The price is £184.99 (Including VAT). The dryer plugs into a standard domestic three-pin AC 220-240V outlet. And we're told that until you get one and use one, you can't imagine how you managed without it.


That's how we feel about our Henry Micro vacuum cleaner. Know what we mean?


Motohaus Powersports: 01256 704909



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Or you could buy a fifty quid leaf blower.—Steve Taylor

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