about-us-sump-magazine

 

1,646cc (100-inch) Century V-Twin Chief. The above bike is one of two (crude) prototypes summoned up in 1994, the brainchild of a certain Wayne Baughman; a car parts salesman from Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. Baughman, we're told, had the idea of re-launching the Indian brand, and he wasn't the only player on the board. But while the others were slugging out the ownership rights in the US courts, Baughman founded Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Inc. He rustled up some financial backers and around $5 million, produced two hand-built machines, organised a dealer network—and then the courts came down in favour of another interested party. Baughman's backers promptly retreated, Baughman dropped out of sight, and the brand eventually came into the hands of Polaris Industries. Baughman, we understand, had dubiously claimed the Indian name was in public ownership. There's much more to this story, take note. But we're all out of lawyers this month, so we ain't going there. As for the bike, it's a 60-degree V-twin. The motor, we hear, was machined from aluminium billets. The bore and stroke is 100mm x 100mm. There are two intake valves and one exhaust valve per cylinder. Dry sump. Oil cooled. Fuel injection. 98bhp at 5,600rpm. 90lb-ft @ 4,300rpm. One prototype is in an Iowa museum. Bonhams will be flogging this example on 23rd January 2020 at Las Vegas. The estimate is $12,000 - $15,000 (£9,200 - £11,000). But does it run? And was it ever meant to? Shut up. Move on. UPDATE: The bike sold for just $6,900 £5,255) including premium.
 

January 2020  Classic bike news


Motorcycle news | Biking headlines | Latest motor bike stories | Press


 

Motorcycle news



How to write a great motorcycle for sale advert

100 years of Alvis exhibition

Allan Jefferies BMW prize draw offer

Kickback Show: entries sought

Calling all coffin dodgers...

One liners - Vic Eastwood

Coventry-Eagle Flying-8 "tin" sign

Catalytic converter thefts on the rise









Poet's Corner: 1959

One liners

Incoming: nuclear hype from BMW!!

Harrison OK-Supreme to auction

2019 Brighton Speed Trials date




February 2019 Classic Bike News

H&H upcoming auctions reminder

One liners

Peter Halsten Thorkelson: 1942 - 2019

Charterhouse February 2019 results

59 Club May ride-outs to St Paul's

Nippy Normans "handy" airline tool

One liners

New classic car metal garage signs

2019 Kickback Show seeks sponsors

Bauer print sales take another dive

Australian cops speed camera poser

One liners

Henry Cole wants your shed

London Classic Car Show 2019

Christopher Chope's FGM backlash

Albert Finney: 1936 - 2019

International Motobécane gathering

One liners

Charterhouse Auctions reminder

Bud Ekins' Husqvarna MX360 Viking

2019 Bristol Classic Show postponed



 


Henry Cole's Motorbike Show returns

Oxford Bradwell wax cotton jacket

Norton Commando Winter Raffle


2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 details

80 years of AMC with Colin Seeley

One liners

A blue plaque for Rex McCandless

"Barn find" RE Constellation to sell

Kawasaki Zed series restoration manual

Bonhams Stafford Sale hits £3 million

Weise®  Boston Jeans tried & tested

One liners

Star attractions at Barber Sale

Andy Tiernan 2019 charity calendar

Zhongneng buys Moto Morini

Bonhams Autumn Stafford preview

Charles Geoffrey Hayes: 1942 - 2018

Mark Wilsmore's bikes to auction

2019 Street Twin & Scrambler boost


Two Wheeled Tuesdays invitation

Bonhams Alexandra Palace Sept Sale

NextBase 312GW dashcam tested

Charles Nicholas Hodges

Suzuki Motorcycles from Veloce

2019 BMW R1250GS & R1250RT
Dudley Sutton: 1933 - 2018 

Oxford Products Kickback Shirt

One liners

Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber Sport unveiled

Burton Leon Reynolds: 1936 - 2018

Comet Classics Open Day

H&H Auctions seeking consignments

One liners

Motus Motorcycles is bust




 

June 2018 Classic Bike News

One liners

Trump & Harley-Davidson toe to toe

"Governator's" Harley-Davidson sold

Car Builder Solutions recommended

Dirtquake VII 2018 at Arena Essex
One liners
Mecum Auctions at Monterey 2018
H&H NMM auction shapes up further
Chris Chope gets 'em in a twist
Daniel David Kirwan: 1950 - 2018
Reg Allen Motorcycles is closing
One liners
World Motorcycle Rally 2018
Glynn Edwards: 1931 - 2018
Den Hartogh Museum Sale
Grip-Tite Sockets, tried & tested
Donald Trump's US trade war starts


 

May 2018 Classic Bike News

The Daily Not News

IOM jaywalker in the hoosegow

Rare Norton Hi-Rider to auction

Clint Walker: 1927 - 2018

Ducati Museum Hailwood exhibition

Tougher protection for cops mooted

One liners

New London-Brighton Run route


April 2018 Classic Bike News

Bonhams Spring Stafford results

Royal Enfield Interceptor NMM raffle

60th International Motor Scooter Rally

New Honda "Monkey Bike" for 2018

Carole Nash's dangerous roads

An Austin Anthology from Veloce

Bonhams Stafford Sale reminder

One Liners

Bradford Dillman: 1930 - 2018

Stolen Vincent Comet & BSA Bantam
Spirit of '59 Triumph Bonnevilles
We've been adrift, but we're back in port

Autonomous Tesla claims a cyclist

Motor insurance premiums fall


March 2018 Classic Bike News

Watsonian's GP700 & Indian Chief

Bonhams Stafford Sale April 2018

One liners

We Ride London new demo date

Dee Atkinson & Harrison March Sale

Bull-it Men's SR6 Cargo trousers

Franklin's Indians: Veloce Reprint

One Liners

Kenneth Arthur Dodd: 1927 - 2018

Carole Nash Google Petition

New Musical Express is out of print

1954 500cc Triumph-Matchless chop

1,800 bike collection to be auctioned

Art Exhibition at Sammy Miller's

2018 Cardiff Classic Motorcycle Show

John Lennon's monkey bike: £57,500

One liners

This day in history


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


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Norton goes into administration

 

Story snapshot:

Accountancy firm BDO called in by the bank

Owner Stuart Garner has yet to issue a statement

 

Well it finally happened; the news that thousands of Norton fans were dreading—and perhaps one or two were looking forward to. As from 29th January 2020, Norton Motorcycles is in administration. The Donington Hall, Derbyshire-based firm has amassed huge debts (including monies allegedly owed to the government), has a raft of disgruntled and anxious creditors and customers forming a queue, has been embroiled in a long running pension fund debacle (for want of a better word), has negligible or zero cash flow, and apparently has no obvious way forward.

 

Not as a going concern, anyway.

 

We've been reporting on Norton's problems for some time, and whilst nobody wanted to suggest that the game was up, in recent months it looked increasingly like that was exactly the position; a slow motion motorcycle crash with a rising number of victims.

 

 

Norton Commando 961 Mk2. It's a little overblown for our tastes, aesthetically speaking. But it's nevertheless a very impressive piece of riding kit and a prime slice of British beef. As a future classic, we think the status of this one—along with many other stablemates—is pretty much guaranteed. Meanwhile, we're hoping that Norton Motorcycles will be saved.

 

 

So what exactly is administration? Well, it means that a company is no longer trusted or able to conduct its own business. Another party—in this case accountancy firm BDO—has been called in to oversee the management of the firm. And that might mean restructuring with a view to continue trading. It might mean finding an outright buyer. It might mean disposing of assets. It might mean the total break up and liquidation of everything with a price tag. Or it might mean some other more novel solution. Strictly speaking, there's no time limit on how long a firm can stay in administration. But there is an imperative to get the business sorted out one way or the other at the earliest opportunity.

 

It's a huge blow for owner Stuart Garner who's been desperately fighting a rear-guard action ever since he took over the firm from Kenny Dreer 12 years ago. Essentially, Norton has been gambling everything in a poker game in which it simply didn't have sufficient chips.

 

Norton California

 

Norton Commando California. It's a sidelong nod to the seventies, but probably hasn't found much favour with die-hard Norton men and women who prefer a more streamlined low-down blast to a lazier sit-up-and-beg highway cruise. Air/oil-cooled. 961cc. 88mm x 79mm. Pushrods. 5-speed. Around 80hp. And maybe 130mph (if you get your head right down).

 

 

The company hit the ground not so much running as stumbling. It decided to compete at the premium end of the market and produced a very creditable range of high end machines. Then it moved fairly heavily into racing. And millions of pounds have been spent on product development, notably with the Atlas and Nomad projects. To that end, a new manufacturing facility is part way through construction. Various deals with Chinese firms have been agreed. And there's still the shadow of an unidentified foreign investor lurking around.

 

We're not going to delve further into the financials or speculate. We'd be way out of our depth and unable to add anything meaningful. Suffice to say that the next few weeks will either finally make or break the company. But the brand still has value, take note, and there are probably still a few people out there ready and willing to engage in a fire-sale and get the wheels turning again.

 

Norton dealers around the world (in 21 countries) will naturally be very concerned. Some have invested a lot of money in the same poker game, and it's not at all clear what protections or support will be afforded to owners of Norton motorcycles. If any. Also, around 100 jobs at the Donington base are in the firing line.

 

 

Therefore it's best to leave it right there until the administrators have looked deeper into the matter and have published a statement of intent.

 

It's a sad day for a brand that many of us had high hopes for.

 

See also: Are the wheels finally falling off Norton

 

See also: Norton scandal: Taken for a ride

 


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H-D bike sales continue to slide

 

Story snapshot:

2019 sales figures are down again just about everywhere

Only the South-East Asia region shows real growth

 

It's not all bad news, but it certainly ain't good news for the struggling Milwaukee based firm that's currently midway through a program to restore its market position and move away from its dependence on more traditional big cruisers.

 

Worldwide sales were down 6.4% to 213,939 units. To explore that a little, the numbers show that US sales fell 6.1% to 124,326 bikes, while overseas distribution was down 6.9% to 89,613 machines.

 

Look closer still and you'll see that in the total (note the word "total") Asia-Pacific region, sales climbed by 2.7% to 29,513 bikes. However, the real growth here was in South-East Asia where sales rose by 14.2% to 11,760 machines.

 

But ... and here it comes ... other neighbourhoods in that region saw sales fall. Specifically, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea saw a collective 3.7% decline which was reflected in sales of 17,753 units.

 

To clarify all that, bike sales are down pretty much everywhere except the rapidly developing South East Asian market (China, Vietnam, India and Thailand (where, take note, Harley-Davidson has a strategically important manufacturing plant).

 

We should also specifically mention Canada where H-D bike sales were down 7.7% to 8,946 units; Europe where sales were down 6.6% to 38,441 units; and Latin America where sales fell 3.9% to 9,768 units.

 

Pity Harley-Davidson couldn't manage to flog a single bike to someone in Antarctica, because that would represent a 100% growth market which might flutter a faint flag of optimism in the boardroom. And as for Russia, we have no idea what's going on there, if anything.

 

 

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 V-twin

 

But down isn't the same as out, and Harley-Davidson didn't get to be where it is in the world by refusing to deal head on with its challenges, hence the huge design and production diversity in recent years with models such as the Street 500 and Street 750, the Pan America ADV (image immediately above), the Bronx "streetfighter", and the LiveWire electric motorcycle project. And of course, the now defunct V-Rod was developed in recognition of the long-term need to move beyond the company's more established air-cooled V-twin platforms.

 

Annual turnover for 2019, incidentally, fell by 6.2% to £4.126 billion. But within that figure, MoCo has improved performance in various non-manufacturing areas (finance, loans, currency conversions, etc).

 

Harley-Davidson Bronx 975cc riding

 

Tellingly, and even a little tragically, Harley-Davidson's chief executive Matt Levatich, has been quoted as saying: "Our [2019] performance was in line with our expectations and indicative of increased business stability driven by the tremendous efforts of our employees and dealers," which translates roughly as; "Yup, it's every bit as bad as we thought it would be, but we've got a good team out there waiting patiently for the numbers to rise."

 

The bottom line is that Harley-Davidson still sees some light at the end of the tunnel. But it's a very long tunnel that might yet present some new and intractable problems. Meanwhile, let's not forget that H-D is still flogging over 200,000 motorcycles every year. That compares to, say, Triumph which is currently hovering around the 60,000 mark.

 

Hail Harley-Davidson, and all that...

 


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Beamish Trials

 

2020 Beamish Trials Entry Requests

 

Story snapshot:

Book by 18th March 2020 or risk disappointment

The 48th event will be held this September

 

The 48th Beamish Trophy Trials is scheduled to happen on Sunday 20th September 2020. But if you want to participate in this long established and (for many) essential gathering of the clan, you need to book a place by 18th March 2020.

 

Every year there are disappointed riders who simply didn't get their card marked early enough, so the organisers have been doing all they reasonably can to ensure that a workable system is in place, and that the notification of the event is timely.

 

So, after you send in your request, you'll receive confirmation of acceptance. Payment will then have to be made by 24th April 2020. Final instructions will be posted by 11th September 2020.

 

The route cards and rider numbers will be handed over at the start of the event (20th September). And by the 9th October 2020 results and badges will be sent by mail.

 

 

The start and finish of the trial will be at The New Board Inn, Hill Top, Esh, County Durham, DH7 9RL. But not all machines are eligible for the event, take note. Qualifying motorcycles (including tricycles) must be manufactured before 1st January 1980.

 

The Beamish Trials are based on the Travers Trophy Trial of the 1920s and a South Shields MC Trial of circa 1925. The 100-plus mile route is a mix of tarred roads, green lanes, testing hills, and we're advised by various people that this gathering is a hoot.

 

The organiser is the South Durham section of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club (VMCC). Originally the ride was run for 27 years by The Friends of Beamish (Museum) which handed over to Durham Classic Motorcycle Club in 1998. South Durham VMCC took over in 2008.

 

But how many riders participate? Around 120, we're advised, plus up to 50 marshals (spare a thought for them, if you will).

 

Need more info? Okay, check the links below. Just remember to book your place sooner rather than later.


Beamishtt@live.co.uk

https://beamishtrophytrial.webs.com

 


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1958 Royal Enfield Constellation

 

H&H Auctions consigning for April

 

Story snapshot:

Tuesday 7th April 2020 is the date to watch

15 motorcycle lots are seeking company

 

To first get the details out of the way, the next H&H Auction will be on 7th April 2020 and will be held at the NMM (National Motorcycle Museum) in Solihull, West Midlands, B92 0EJ. Viewing is available on the same day from 9am. The sale will kick off at 1pm. Entry to the event is free of charge. A pocket guide is available for a tenner, plus postage. And the buyer's premium is 15%—which includes VAT at 20%.

 

At the time of writing, there are 15 lots in the auction. The highest expectations are for a 1930 Norton CS1 (see further down this page for details) which carries an estimate of £25,000 - £27,000.

 

A very clean looking 1965 Velocette Thruxton is muscling in with a £16k to £18k estimate and narrowly pips a handsome 1958 BSA DBD34 Gold Star that's anticipating £15k to £17k.

 

But we've focussed our sights on the immediately above 1958 700cc Royal Enfield Constellation, largely because it looks like a bike that's ready to lay down some fairly serious miles (which we like the thought of), and we don't feature enough of these on Sump (where have they all gone?).

 

1958 Royal Enfield Constellation timing side

 

These 693cc, 70mm x 90mm, air-cooled OHV parallel twins are claimed to churn out 50hp and can hit around 115mph. However, the last one we rode pretty much ran out of puff just shy of the ton. But that example had other issues that we offer in mitigation. Certainly 105 - 110mph should be achievable when properly tuned. Solid and attractive engines with 4-speed 'boxes, these bikes were once a favourite mount of cafe racing rockers. They're rarely seen these days, and they're worth considering as a regular classic. Go check.

 

1958 Royal Enfield Constellation - primary side

 

The engines of these Connies are dry sump with the oil carried in a forward compartment. The cylinder barrels are separate. Features include Siamese headers, chrome mudguards, a chromed petrol tank, a Burman gearbox and an Amal TT carburettor.

 

 

Restored in 2018 by the current owner, the quality of work is reputed to be high. The engine was overhauled in 2018 by Speed Tune in Stoke on Trent; an outfit that we know nothing about and couldn't find on the web. Features of the Connie include a high output alternator, 12 volt electrics, an overhauled magneto, clutch and gearbox, and stainless nuts and bolts (which always give us some cause for concern, but might be fine in this instance).

 

The bike is said to be in very good running order (and we should hope so with all that work). A V5C is present. And the frame and engine numbers are "correct" (frame: 5509 and engine: QC20082). But we should point out that we know nothing about the numbering system on these bikes. So the aforementioned "correctness" might mean that the numbers never matched from the factory, or simply that the numbers are accurately recorded on the log book. Our advice is to ask some pointed questions.

 

H&H have listed the Connie as a "Great touring machine", and these bikes certainly can be. The estimate is £6,000 - £7,000, and that seems reasonable to us.

 

April is still a few months away, of course. But once again, time flies. So contact H&H, etc, if you're looking to unload whatever you've got in the garage that's surplus to requirements.

 

www.handh.co.uk

 


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Triump - Bajaj motorcycles

 

 

Triumph-Bajaj tie-up re-announced

 

Story snapshot:

Is it old news, or new news, or new old news, or fake news, or what?

We can't quite figure it out

 

If you're confused by the headline of this story, you're not alone. The usual online bike websites, webazines, fanzines and magazines are busy with the news that Triumph Motorcycles has forged a commercial alliance with Indian firm Bajaj.

 

However, Sump announced that little journalistic nugget back in Classic Bike News August 2017. So what's changed?

 

Well we don't know. But apparently on Friday last (24th January 2020) the two firms signed a non-equity partnership to build and distribute a new range of mid-capacity bikes (200cc - 750cc). And that's pretty much what we reported—except that we were looking at 125cc - 500cc machines. Check the link above.

 

Hands have since been shaking. Ink has been drying. Champagne corks have been popping. Etc.

 

The best we can figure it (given the obscure press releases we've seen) is that back in August 2017, Triumph and Bajaj were definitely going to be in commercial cahoots. And now, in January 2020, the two companies are absolutely certainly definitely going to be in cahoots. So presumably, some kind of formal ratification of the plans has taken place since the story first broke. But the details of that ratification haven't been made clear. Not to us, anyway.

 

But then, we ain't half as smart as we sometimes think we are. Who the hell is? So we look forward to another press release despatched to clarify the first. Or is that the second?

 

Meanwhile, watch this space in case Triumph and Bajaj decide all over again to tie the knot and build and distribute mid-capacity bikes. This story could run and run.

 


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Harley-Davidson 131 inch crate motor

 

Story snapshot:

The biggest MoCo engine yet, straight from the box

2,147cc asking $6k plus change

 

The 114-cubic inch Milwaukee Eight V-twin motor is currently the biggest engine available on a stock, factory-built Harley-Davidson. But for some guys and girls, that ain't enough. It's been the same story since the beginning, and H-D has always been happy to oblige wherever possible.

 

Well now the Milwaukee based firm is offering a whopping 131-inch (2,137cc) Stage IV V-twin motor straight from the crate; an engine that you can bolt straight into the space left by that 2017-onward 114-incher.

 

Harley-Davidson tells us that the standard 4.5-inch crank stroke has been retained, but is now complemented by a 4.31-inch bore (up slightly from the standard 4-inches). To feed the air, a 64mm throttle body has been deployed (up from 55mm). The cams have a higher lift (unspecified). The compression ratio is up slightly from 10:1 to 10.7:1. And a pair of Screamin’ Eagle Street Cannon mufflers are recommended for gunning down whoever's on your tail.

 

All that macho stuff will give you braggin' rights of around 121 horses harnessed to 131lb-ft of torque. And if that ain't enough to launch you into a new orbit, try Boeing or NASA.

 

It's not clear when or if the engines will be officially available in the UK, hence no confirmed local prices. But they're on the way complete with warranty, and they'll be offered in oil-cooled or air-cooled forms. Note that other modifications might be required, such as changes to the ignition modules. We've no clear information on that.

 

So why aren't the motors available in brand new bikes, ready to roll? Well you secretly know the answer to that, and it's simply down to emissions. Harley-Davidson has to play by the rules (notably California rules). But if you as a buyer/rider choose to break 'em, or just bend 'em a little, that's your business.

 

Meanwhile, if you're feeling hogtied, talk to your Harley-Davidson for more on these engines. But $6k plus change for another 17-cubic inches wouldn't open our wallets.

 

There's a limit to how much power we need in our lives.

 


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1930 Norton CS1

 

1930 Norton CS1 bid to save church

 

Story snapshot:

H&H Auctions to offer this 1930s racer in its April sale

£25,000 to £27,000 is the estimate

 

Sticking a few bob in the church collection tin is one thing, but handing over the entire proceeds of a 1930 Norton CS1 sale is something very different. We're talking specifically about the above motorcycle that's currently the property of a certain Bill Southcombe who feels that his local church is a community asset worth saving—and he's putting his bike where his mouth is. Actually, we're told that he's also already donated the value of two other bikes.

 

Southcombe hails from Stoke-sub-Hamdon, Somerset. His local church is due to be flogged off by the relevant church authorities, probably to property developers to be converted into residential homes, or knocked down and rebuilt as something else. Alternately, the church could end up being left to decay if action isn't taken quickly. That's the official spiel, anyway.

 

But that can't be allowed to happen, not as far as the local community is concerned. It's a Grade 2 listed building which is already being used as a community centre, and it's home to:

 

a charity shop

a local band

and a pipe organ said to be in perfect condition

 

Consequently, a charity has been formed to move the project on to the next stage, and somewhere at the back of this is perhaps the ghost of Southcombe's ancestor, Richard Southcombe who built the church in 1866.

 

1930 Norton CS1 racer

 

1930 490cc Norton CS1. These bevel-driven OHC racers acquitted themselves very well on British race tracks, notably in the hands (and between the knees) of Alec Bennett who won the Senior TT in 1927 astride one of these all-conquering projectiles. That's the church in the background that will directly benefit from the sale of this motorcycle.

 

 

There's some other stuff going on here regarding the legal/ownership structure of the imminent acquisition. But it's all too much for our tiny minds. Suffice to say that the Parish Council appears to be keen to get this project advanced, and Southcombe's Norton will either help secure the £100,000 needed to buy the church (half the street value, apparently), or will help bolster the funding needed to convert it from religious activities to secular needs.

 

As for the bike, designed (or re-designed) by Arthur Carrol, the CS1 left the Norton works on 20th December 1930. The first owner was a certain Mr H G Turner who, it's been suggested, had racing in mind as opposed to street use. The bike, after all, wasn't road registered until 1934. So he must have been doing something with it for the first four years of its life. Or so it seems likely.

 

The frame, we're advised, is a three-brace affair offered only for 1930 - 1931. The overhead cam is high lift and bevel-driven. The exhaust port is typically on the left hand side. The gearbox is from Sturmey Archer (with Daytona ratios). All the rest—or at least most of it—is apparently original.

 

 

That's Bill Southcombe on the right. An ex-RAF navigator, Southcombe spent much of his flying time aboard Phantom jets and Vulcan bombers operating out of Scampton and Coningsby in Lincolnshire, and Akrotiri in Cyprus.

 

 

The motorcycle was purchased by Southcombe in 1969. It was for many years stored in boxes, but underwent a full rebuild in 2003. That was handled by Keith Manning, Francis Beart's "Brooklands tuner", and "Norton George" aka George Cohen.

 

The Norton CS1 will be offered for sale on 7th April 2020 at the H&H Sale at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, West Midlands. The estimate is for £25,000 to £27,000.

 


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Sign the Big Brother Watch petition?

 

Story snapshot:

Controversial Facial Recognition software is rolled out across the capital

(Dame) Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, says "go"

 

You have to be very careful about the political causes you support and the drums you bang. Living in fear, after all, is no way to exist. But neither is living in ignorance. And it's not always easy to tell which groups and individuals are the guardians of the truth, whatever that is at any given moment, and which groups or individuals are simply fearmongering.

 

With that in mind, and in this context, we've mentioned Big Brother Watch many times on Sump. And we continue to have mixed feeling about these guys and girls. Nevertheless, we're continuing to give 'em a little airspace just in case their warnings are valid.

 

Specifically, the Met Police has finally announced that it will now routinely use facial recognition technology as part of its day-to-day law enforcement arsenal. In other words, the trials are over (but the tribulations could be just starting).

 

You've probably been listening to the issues surrounding the associated controversy, so we'll keep it brief. But basically, the growing fears are that the application of this kind of indiscriminate digital snooping tech is (a) another invasion of personal privacy, (b) likely to lead to the harassment, persecution and possible conviction of innocent parties (particularly those belonging to minority groups), (c) is unregulated by Parliament, and (d) is a trapdoor into a surveillance state.

 

After China, we're hearing that the Met Police is the world's largest user of facial recognition software—which, okay, doesn't necessarily make it bad simply because the Chinese state endorses the tech. But it does ring an alarm bell with many, if not most, of us.

 

Anyway, a petition (or is that another petition?) has been launched by UK pressure group Big Brother Watch challenging the unregulated use of facial recognition technology. So sign the paper or don't sign it, etc. And if anyone is naive enough to believe that if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to worry about with regard to the new Met weapon, we could rattle off a long list of people who've have suffered decades of penal servitude at Her Majesty's pleasure, plus a few more who were summarily executed by the British cops who quite simply, but injuriously, got their ID wrong. And so far, it seems that the recognition software is a long way from being reliable and accurate (albeit is improving all the time).

 

Do what you feel you have to do,

 

Sign the Facial Recognition Petition

 

Facial recognition warnings return, Sump December 2018

 


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Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert Edition

 

2 new Special Edition Triumph Tigers

 

Story snapshot:

The 1200cc big cats get a mild warm-over

£14,700 & £15,500

 

We won't labour what we generally feel about special edition motorcycles. Most are barely worthy of the designation. So we'll simply redirect you to our Motorcycle News page which will tell you most, if not all, of what you need to know about the latest Triumph Tiger 1200 offerings from Hinckley.

 

Regardless, we're still going to suggest that you buy British whenever you can, especially when even the run-of-the-mill bikes are so sorted.

 

Triumph Tiger 1200 Special Editions: Alpine and Desert

 

www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk

 


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BMW's 9th year of record growth 

 

Story snapshot:

Stats reveal most buoyant EU motorcycle markets

The UK clearly needs traction control

 

While many of the other major international motorcycle manufacturers are struggling to hold their sales figures, if not ruefully watch them slide, BMW is claiming another year of record growth—which make it the ninth consecutive season of increasingly buoyant sales.

 

For 2019, the company built and sold 175,162 motorcycles; a rise of 5.8%. The best selling models, we hear, were the ShiftCam boxer-powered R1250GS which accounted for 59,000 units. It's a great result for a great product and once again shows how Germans think German, and are apt to ride German.

 

Here are a few at-a-glance stats that will show you exactly how well the firm is doing on more local turf.


European sales: Up 7%

German sales: Up 10.4% (26,292 bikes)

French sales: Up 4.1% (17,300 bikes)

Italian sales; Up 10.4% (15,580 bikes)

Spanish sales: Up 13.3% (12,607 bikes)

UK sales: Up 3.3% (9,311 bikes)

 

To put these numbers in context, you need to take a long, cold look at population charts and sundry economic figures, which for us is beyond the scope of this news item. So you'll have to draw your own conclusions (if you have any) from whatever further investigations you make. But it would be nice to know that here in the UK, Triumph is giving BMW a very serious challenge in the adventure market; a market that Hinckley has spent a lot of time and development money breaking into.

 

Meanwhile in the rest of the world...

 

Brazilian sales: Up 36.7% (10,064 bikes)

China sales: Up 16.6% (8,818 bikes)

US sales: Up 2.2% (13,842 bikes)

 

So what are the largest EU motorcycle markets? Well we've got figures for the first nine months of 2019 which show that Italy is top with 198,119 bikes sold. That's up 8.5%.

 

France comes second with (first 9 months of 2019, remember) 161,822 bikes sold. That's up 11.6%.

 

Germany is next at 151, 241. That's up 7.3%.

 

Spain comes third at 136,543 bikes sold. That's up 10.2%.

 

And the UK? Well we're almost at the bottom of the growth table at just 84,591. That's up a miserable 1.7%, which is pretty much negligible.

 

And remember that the figures don't reveal all the intricacies and subtleties of EU sales such as this sector up, and that sector down, and pre-registered bikes, and local legislation issues, and suchlike. And we're talking only about new bikes. Second-hand markets are impossible to analyse.

 

Certainly, if you want a more buoyant motorcycle market in the European area (as far as new bikes are concerned), the UK isn't where it's at.

 

Not at the moment, anyway.

 


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Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale

 

Story snapshot:

The date is 23rd January 2020

1940 Big Tank Crocker tops the bill

 

Off the 100 top selling motorcycle lots sold at auction in recent years, there are 15 Crockers on that auspicious list. Who says so? Bonhams, the world famous auction house. And what that means, as Bonhams rightfully points out, is that Albert Crocker's (1886 - 1961) Harley-Davidson and Indian bashing OHV V-twins are over represented.

 

Well, there is another example of his handiwork going under the hammer on 23rd January 2020 at the Bonhams sale in Las Vegas, USA—and yes, we've seen this machine before. Specifically, we featured it on Sump Classic Bike News September 2019.

 

The occasion was the sale at the Barber Motorsports Museum where the Crock was estimated to sell at $495,000 - $595,000 (£380,000 - £460,000). In the event, no buyer was found. Not at that price. So the bike is going back under the hammer for another try. This time, the estimate has been revised downward to $450,000 - $550,000 (£340,000 - £420,000). We'll be watching closely to see if it sells.

 

1949 Vincent Black Shadow Series C

 

Meanwhile, a 1949 998cc Vincent Black Shadow also failed to sell at the Barber Motorsports auction. The estimate was $110,000 - $130,000 (£89,000 - £100,000). That's since been dropped to $90,000 - $110,000
(£69,000 - £84,000).

 

Overall we count 211 lots in the sale. As usual, it's a mix of bikes, bike parts and memorabilia. As an aside, we think the market is cooling further, and we expect to see more evidence of this. But things haven't collapsed, note. There's still big money floating around. However, buyers are being far more selective and cautious. There's no cause for panic.

 

 

One of the other bikes that caught our attention was the immediately above 1980 1,015cc Kawasaki "Mystery Ship". This rare machine was designed by the illustrious US visionary Craig Vetter famous for creating the legendary 750cc X-75 Triumph Hurricane, and the man behind the almost as legendary Windjammer motorcycle fairings.

 

Based on the Kawasaki KZ1000, Vetter had planned only a limited production run of 200 Mystery Ships featuring his near-trademark all-in-one fairing/body unit. In the event, just 10 examples were built, and this one is claimed to be the most collectible.

 

Why?

 

Because four stages of Yoshimura R&D tuning were offered to buyers. Or they could also opt for an RC Engineering turbo charger. The base price for the Mystery Ship was around $10k. The turbo added another $1.7k. In the event, only two bikes were so equipped, and this is one of them; the sixth off the production line and claiming a 40% boost in horsepower.

 

The colour is "Dino Red" (presumably as in "Ferrari Dino"). There are only 2 miles on the odometer, and the bike looks in fine fettle. Except that it's been standing for many years, so some re-commissioning will be required.


The estimate is $25,000 - $35,000 (£19,000 - £27,000) which, given the prices commanded by many other bikes on the market, seems a bit low. But the buying pool for this is likely to be very small, so we'll see what we will see.

 

 

So why did production stop at just 10 units? That, unfortunately, was due to a hang gliding accident at Victorville, California that left Vetter with two broken legs. That put him out of action for a few seasons, by which time much of the momentum of the Mystery Ship had been lost. And, of course, being a designer, he spent much of that period of his life redesigning his (hated) wheel chair. Then he launched a range of them.

 

In 2015, Craig Vetter (image immediately above showing him in 1976) was piloting another of his creations when he collided with a deer near his home at Carmel Valley, California. That event all but left him for dead, and he underwent three rounds of corrective surgery. As we understand it, he's still recuperating well, but he won't be quite the man he was.

 

But who is?

 

Now 77 years old, Vetter has also well known for his motorcycle luggage. He was a reasonably good motorcycle racer, designed hot tubs and spas, and has always been an energetic and original forward thinker. Consequently, we might yet see one or two shrewd fans or collectors step forward and make a serious pitch for Mystery Ship number six. Vetter has certainly earned a few plaudits.

 

 

Moving on, we suspect that a few eyes will be fixed on the immediately above 1973 T140 Trackmaster framed Triumph 750. Aside from the obvious goodies (such as the chromoly frame and aluminium alloy rims), there's apparently a lot of trick stuff going on here including a blueprinted 5-speed engine, a dry clutch, Dell'Orto carburettors, a belt primary drive, bespoke carbon-fibre tyre-hugging mudguards, carbon fibre side panels, Barnes dirt track brake discs, and an ARD magneto.

 

The bike has been featured in many magazines and is a multiple concours show winner. But for all this, an estimate of just $20,000 - $25,000 (£15,000 - £19,000) has been posted. But then, that's often the way with custom built bikes—or is Bonhams just being shrewd?

 

The Las Vegas auction starts at 12.30pm (local time).

 

UPDATE: The Crocker didn't sell. The Vincent sold for $97,750 (£74,449). The Mystery Ship sold for $55,200 (£42,041). The Trackmaster framed Triumph also didn't sell.

 


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The Bike Shed, London offers customers free "bike only" 7kW fast charging


Induction (wireless) electric car charging to be UK trialled in Spring 2020


Chinese firm NIU launches RQi-GT 100mph/80-mile/30kW electric roadster


Mortons Media shuts O2W and MCN monthlies. Launches MoreBikes


US AWD specialist Christini offers bolt-on KTM 2WD kit. 14lbs. £3,500


Colin Seeley's funeral. 10/2/20. Eltham Crematorium, London SE9 2AZ


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2020 Cardiff Classic & Contemporary Show

 

Cardiff Classic & Contemporary Show

 

Story snapshot:

Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th April 2020 is the date

CF14 5YL will pinpoint the event on your digital maps

 

There's little point repeating what's printed on the above show poster. It's all clear enough. But we're happy to tell you that this event appears to be shaping up nicely year after year. It's a little off our usual beat, mind. But we might get around there as and when the opportunity arises.

 

As ever, we're announcing the date early, and for the usual reasons (tempus fugit, and all that). So make a note on your calendars and stick a large red circle around it.

 

The Sunbeam Club, meanwhile, is always active and reliable, so if you're in the neighbourhood come early April 2020, try and keep this gathering in mind. Club activities are the glue that holds the classic scene together.

 

Okay?

 

Finally, if the organisers are reading this, we might politely suggest a better name than "Cardiff Classic & Contemporary Motorcycle Show". It's evidently still rideable, but it klunks a bit.

 

N'est-ce pa?

 

www.southwalessunbeammcc.co.uk

 


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Don't say Triton, say Icon

 

Story snapshot:

Dutch firm is offering ... well, the same old same old

Triumph Thruxton engines in replica featherbed frames

 

We don't want to be mean spirited. But as ever, we have to call it as we see it. And from where we're sitting, this is nothing but yet another spin on the old Triton cafe racer theme and barely worth a mention, let alone a picture. Or two.

 

The above bike is the creation (for want of a better word) of Dutch firm Icon which is building these motorcycles to order. We think. The frames are replica featherbeds. We think. The engines are early "hand assembled" 900cc Triumph Thruxton units. We think. And there's absolutely no details on anything else. Just acres of cringe-worthy hype about the history of "pub racers" and cafe racer culture.

 

No doubt something got lost in the translation. Like the facts. Regardless, that's all we can tell you—and even the price is a mystery.

 

 

So why mention this firm at all? Well, they seem to have something on the go, and it would be churlish to avoid mentioning them just because they don't suit our journalistic preconceptions, etc. And besides, others might see things very differently and will benefit from the introduction.

 

But here at Sump, as much as we can recognise what looks like a decent enough motorcycle, 21st century builders are going to have to come up with some genuinely new ideas and twists if they want us to say something nice about their product.

 

The world has moved on.

 

Anyway, check the website and see for yourself. But you'll have to copy and paste the disabled web address into your browser. Icon might not stick around too long, and dead links we don't want.

 

www.icon-motorcycles.com

 


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I think custom bike builders are going to have to come up with something new instead of 'featherbed' based cafe racers, faux flat trackers and endless bobber variants all built to the same basic formula...Motorcycling (sadly IMO) has morphed into a fashion statement over the last decade or so and many of the people involved don't follow the traditional template of a motorcyclist who just liked to ride as much as anything...The days of motorcycles as a preferred form of primary transport appear to be dead. The problem is motorcyclists tended to have a lifetime passion and didn't always look for endless change...Among my bikes I have two bikes I've owned for 40 years and don't feel I need to update to maintain my enjoyment. On the other hand fashion is a fickle master....Boredom sets in and the next bright and shiny craze is needed to keep it going....There's got to be a new fashion (style) to hold the audience...As with most 'pop' cultures, once they become mainstream they're no longer 'edgy' and they fade away....Think punk rock here for example.—The Village Squire.


It is a great example of bike building artisan skills. As a Triumph fan of a certain age there are parts of me that want this desperately. I really like the idea that a replica of the Roadholder frame is still the go to place for special builders, but I do sympathise with the Village Squire in as much as this has been done before. If John Bloor's team thought they could sell these in numbers maybe they would have built their own version and called it, oh I don't know, Thruxton perhaps. Is it better than a stock Thruxton? Maybe. Is it cheaper than a stock Thruxton? Unlikely. In the cold light of day, it could be another for the money-is-no-object Belstaff jacket posers in Kensington. So is it better than the new Brough? I think so. Interestingly this at least has some Brit parts.—Phil Cowley, Hants


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New guidelines for UK parking Nazis

 

Story snapshot:

New Code of Conduct announced

Minor ticket errors to be overlooked

 

Yes, we know that we shouldn't call them Nazis. It's not nice, and we should all aspire to be tolerant and well-adjusted citizens of the realm, etc. Neither should we spit at 'em or hope they get cancer. But people who enforce—or, rather, over-enforce—parking controls in this "other Eden" (and probably elsewhere) have to a large degree earned their dubious goose-stepping reputation. Meaning that for too long they've been taking the P.

 

Are we right?

 

But at least some of that is about to change. That's because a new Code of Conduct is being issued by the British Parking Association (BPA). And part of that code involves how minor ticket transgressions are dealt with.

 

For instance, you roll up in a car park and find a spot. You lope over to the parking ticket machine. You inadvertently wrongly enter your registration number. The device coughs out a ticket. You stick the ticket on your car windscreen—or, in rarer instances, affix it to your headlight or petrol tank (note that some authorities print dual tickets in case the one you stick on your bike gets stolen or blows away). Then you saunter off to do whatever it is that you've got to do.

 

Ten minutes later Heinrich Himmler finishes his lunch and appears. He spots your car/bike, then checks the ticket and sees that the details don't match your number plate. Not to the letter. Or number. He doesn't much care if you keyed in an o for a 0, or an 1 for an i. And he doesn't care if you've left your glasses at home or are dyslexics. You've simply crossed a line, buddy. So he promptly issues you with a £100 fine. It's petty. It ain't fair. But it's the way the parking authorities often handle it.

 

Well that will soon come to an end. Or so we're told. Except that there will still be rules, and rules are always open to interpretation, and when you feel you simply have to challenge a ticket you can end up losing an entire day's work and a lot of blood. Moreover, not all car park operators are signed up to the BPA.

 

What we'd really like to see are penalties issued against the parking authorities when they issue fines that even an amoeba could see are inappropriate. But that ain't likely to happen. So we'll all have to stay alert and hope that in the light of the new guidelines, a little common sense prevails.

 

Meanwhile we'd suggest that if you've got the time and presence of mind, whenever you plant a parking ticket on your vehicle, take a snapshot with your mobile phone.

 

Might help save a trip to the parking ombudsman. Or woman.

 


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Are the wheels falling off Norton?

 

Story snapshot:

The company has been back in court fighting a winding-up petition

Stuart Garner promises quick remedial action

 

Stuart Garner, head honcho at Norton Motorcycles, clearly feels that the wheels of the company are indeed still fit for purpose, so to speak. But company representatives have yet to convince the Insolvency and Companies Court in London EC4 of the same.

 

So what's happened?

 

Well, the matter revolves around a £600,000 HM Revenue & Customs bill for unpaid taxes. £300,000 has since been paid. But the rest of the money is not yet forthcoming. Stuart Garner claims that the problem centres on monies owed to the company regarding research and development tax relief.

 

In other words, the company says that it's spent £13 million on R&D work and is awaiting government credits for overdue tax relief, and that's scuppered cash flow. Because of that, the firm has so far been unable to fulfil its fiscal obligations; hence the winding up order.

 

Of course, HM R&C doesn't want the firm to go belly up. It simply wants the money, so it's waving a big stick.

 

Meanwhile, it's not clear if Garner was actually in court. But his legal people were, and although they haven't yet convinced the judge to set aside the petition and allow the firm more time, they have at least delayed things until 12th February 2020 when Judge Prentis will attempt to draw a line under (or even over) the matter.

 

So for now it's business as usual. But over the last few years, business at Norton has been slightly more unusual than usual with numerous financial issues damaging confidence and therefore, no doubt, impacting sales.

 

In short, it doesn't look good.

 

 

But whatever other fair criticisms you might level at Norton, a lack of tenacity can't be among them. Some view the situation as a rolling bike crash that refuses to slide to a total halt. Other's take a far more generous line and accept that Garner is doing a pretty amazing job at staying shiny side up.

 

We're too ignorant of these financial matters to come down on either side of the arguments. But we hope he finally manages to get some control back and stay viable. Times are tricky, jobs are on the line, and the firm brings money back to Blighty. Besides, the bloke has worked hard.

 

Buy British, we say again. And if not Norton, then Triumph.

 

See: Norton dissolution notice March 2019

 


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Due South Motorcycle Tours

 

Due South Motorcycle Tours

 

Story snapshot:

Two Royal Enfield based tours for 2020

South Africa is the venue

 

We recently received an email from Joe Visser of Due South Motorcycle Tours announcing that Royal Enfield motorcycles have now been added to the firm's stable of mounts which, we understand, has so far been dominated by BMW GS singles and twins. And to that end, bookings are now being taken for the company's 2020 Royal Enfield South African Tours.

 

Specifically:

#1 – Cape Conquest (10 Nights) – 9th to 19th May 2020

#2 – Cape Conquest (10 Nights) – 19th to 29th Sept 2020

 

Most of the riding will be on tarmac via Route 44 and Route 62, neither of which means anything to us. But the implication is that there will be some mild off road sections.

 

The scenery in South Africa is fantastic, or so we've been told by numerous people who've been there and done it, or who live there. And if you need something more adventurous, part of the tours involves sticking guests in a shark cage and dropping 'em in the drink, and/or riding along one or more mountain passes, and/or spending the night in a game lodge.

 

Cool? Not cool? Delete as appropriate.

 

If you like the sound of this, the cost will be $3,490 for the 2020 adventure, and $3,690 for 2021. And there will be discounts or additional charges as appropriate (see the web site for details).

 

As for the firm itself, we know nothing about Due South except that the business was founded in 2007, and that Joe (& Diana) live in S.A. So, as ever, do your own research.

 

www.due-south.co.za

 


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2020 Triumph Street Triple S

Triumph launches A2 friendly Street Triple S. 660cc. 35kW/70kw. £7,900


2019: new UK car sales 3rd year down. 2.31 million units. 2.4% fall on 2018


2019: 107,408 new bikes UK (2018: 105,816). Small bikes up, big down


The Speedshop. New BBC 2 bike building prog. Sunday 12th Jan 2020. 8pm


Ewan & Charley finish Harley LiveWire tour. Argentina to LA (yawn)


Cleveland CycleWerks

 

USA Cleveland CycleWerks first electric. #FalconRising. March 2020 launch


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Colin Seeley and AJS Porcupine

 

Colin Jordan Seeley: 1936 - 2020

 

Story snapshot:

He was hugely involved in all sectors of British motorcycling

The Seeley name was practically synonymous with Renold 531 tubing

 

Colin Seeley, we regret to say, has died aged 84. There aren't too many legendary figures left in the world of British classic biking, but until his death on 7th January 2020 Colin Seeley was most definitely one of them.

 

We knew him a little and interviewed him twice, the last time back in 2007 at the unveiling of the AJS & Matchless commemorative plaque in Plumstead, South London. Always dapper, polite, informative and modest, Seeley commanded respect from everyone in the classic bike community; certainly from everyone we spoke to.

 

He hailed from Crayford in Kent and began his career in motorcycle repairs, servicing and (later) retail before trying his hand at sidecar racing. Always ambitious, adaptable and energetic, his first foray into the world of commerce was in 1954 when together with his father (Percy) he opened a motorcycle garage/workshop at the Old Forge in Belvedere, Kent. Within two years he had launched a retail premises in (nearby) Nuxley Road where he traded in Zundapp, NSU and Moto Rumi motorcycles. Presently, as he established himself as a competent and reliable trader, he sold AJS, Ariel, BMW, Francis-Barnett, Greeves and Matchless bikes (not necessarily in that order).

 

At that time, sidecars were very much in vogue. Seeley and dad charted the future progression of their business and branched out to a neighbouring premises where they sold, fitted and serviced outfits.

 

His racing career began in 1954 at Brands Hatch, the circuit most local to him. After a spell astride a borrowed BSA, he briefly retired from serious sport until 1957 when he returned on a Triumph twin. Soon he was racing on grass, hills and dirt. And in 1961, he entered his first Grand Prix racing an AJS outfit at the Isle of Man TT where he finished sixth.

 

Between 1961 and 1967 he campaigned many bikes, notably powered by Matchless, Norton and BMW engines. He was always a very serious competition threat, not least at the 1964 Dutch TT—where he took first place—and at the 1964 IOM TT (where he came second), both events being aboard sidecar outfits.

 

In the late 1960s he hung up his leathers and turned his hand to the design and production of racing motorcycles, chiefly powered by AJS and Matchless engines. It was then that Seeley began experimenting with Renolds 531 tubing and was soon producing ultra lightweight chassis of considerable strength and rigidity.

 

Seeley bikes quickly drew interest from many of the top riders of the day, but due to the closure of the AMC factory race shop in 1963, parts were getting difficult to source. So, to ensure a supply of engines and other components, Seeley began buying tooling and finished parts from rivals in the racing scene.

 

Colin Seeley

 

Colin Seeley astride a 1971 Norton Seeley MK3 Commando 850 Competition/Special pictured at the South of England Motorcycle Classic Show & Bike Jumble, October 2018. Features include a five-speed Mick Hemmings racing box (with magnesium cases). Race cams. 32mm Amal carbs. Lightened/polished internals. Boyer race ignition. Seeley Mk3 frame built in 2015 by Roger Titchmarsh. Ceriani front fork & 230mm Ceriani double-sided TLS brake.

 

 

Over the next few decades, Seeley frames and racing expertise was being sought after by the top riders of the day utilising engines from Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki. He also worked for a time with Bernie Ecclestone on the Brabham Formula One racing car team.

 

Beyond that, Seeley designed and sold numerous original spares and accessories, developed his own Honda powered roadster, was the UK importer for Lester cast wheels, was involved in the Norton Rotary team, became heavily involved in vintage racing, and helped run a charitable trust in memory of his first wife, Joan.

 

In short, he was one of those rare characters who understood everything about British motorcycling from retail, to design, to marketing and racing. And throughout it all (the odd dispute notwithstanding), he was considered an all-round nice guy, a reliable and trustworthy engineer, and a popular figure on the classic scene.

 

Colin Seeley is survived by his second wife, Eva. His death will leave a significant space in the lives of many people.

 


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