Original design from Sump
£15.99 plus P&P
It's a fickle world. You've probably noticed that. Take our Sump T-shirts, for instance. One week, it seems that everyone and his lawyer wants a particular design and we get dozens of orders for it. The following week, the planet changes its mind and wants something else from the range. It's like turning on and off a tap, and we wait weeks—or even months—before sales return to normal, whatever that is.
Who can figure it? Not us.
But some Sump T-shirts are perennials. They're pretty much in demand year after year. All the same, there are highs and lows, peaks and troughs—and occasionally we retire a design and give it a decent funeral, and replace it with something else.
We're telling you all this esoteric stuff as a reminder to get what you want while its going, because when it's gone, it's gone—and these new Classic BSA tees are likely to disappear pretty fast. They're in production right now (and right here in the UK), and we'll start despatching at the end of this week. So if you want one, you can place an order at this very moment and we'll put one (or even two or three) aside for you. And note that these advance orders help us figure out the range of sizes we're gonna need (and that's a surprisingly changeable thing between designs).
The price is £15.99 plus P&P. The colour is black. The design (featuring a BSA Rocket Gold Star) is original and not available elsewhere. The shirts are 100% pre-shrunk heavyweight cotton, and they're reinforced at the neck and shoulders. We wear the stuff we sell, incidentally. And we're always keen to get feedback from our loyal and intrepid Sumpsters.
Follow this CLASSIC BSA T-SHIRT link and muscle your way to the front of the queue.
▲ 2017 Triumph Bobber colours. Left to right: Jet Black; Cranberry Red/Frozen Silver; Competition Green/Aluminium Silver; Ironstone; Morello Red. Nice colours, but where's the cool 60s metalflake?
Is Hinckley being mean with the T100 paint pot?
And why does the Bobber have no pillion provision?
Why can't we have the colours we want on Triumph petrol tanks? That, at least, was a question posed yesterday by a Sumpster who contacted us via email regarding the options available on the 2017 Bonnevilles.
"Apart from my good self," he writes, "am I the only person who considers the colour choice on the new Triumph ... well a bit naff? The only colour on the new "classic" range which I like is that on the Bobber. Though I am not in the market for a Bobber it strikes me as strange or just a bit mean of Triumph to restrict the colours available to a particular bike. Why can I not order a new T100 with the colour of Competition Green/Frozen Silver as it is known and which is available on the Bobber? After all, that colour choice is in their range; just not for that particular model."
▲ Left to right: Fusion White/Aegean Blue; Jet Black; New England White/Intense Orange. The striping, Triumph tells us, is "hand painted." Hand painted? We should bloody-well hope so...
We receive similar emails all the time, occasionally asking us why we don't produce a particular T-shirt design, or why we don't make that design available in this size or that size, or why we don't supply it to this market or that market. One Sumpster asked us why we featured a particular bike on a T-shirt instead of another model broadly in the same range. Another asked why we didn't offer a particular shirt in colour (as opposed to grey tones).
▲ It's said that Henry Ford offered the Model T in "any colour you like as long as it's black" simply because he was cheap. Well cheapness was the name of his game. But it's also said that black was chosen because it dries fastest in the sun. Either way, there's a reason for everything. And Triumph, no doubt, has a reason for its colour options on the T100 (image immediately above). But who are we to question Hinckley's wisdom?
The answer to all these questions is simply that, like Triumph, we do what we do for a reason, and often for numerous complicated and intertwined reasons. A variety of factors influence most decisions in life, and we haven't the faintest idea why Triumph picks the colours it picks, or why it rationalises such colours in any particular way. But there's always a reason somewhere.
And as a footnote to that (and at the risk of being pedantic), Triumph doesn't actually offer Competition Green/Frozen Silver as an option (check the colours at the top of this news item).
▲ The 2017 Triumph Bobber. One seat, five colours and a long queue of customers desperate to get astride one. Hinckley's got a winning formula and the factory is on overtime.
Meanwhile, what we at Sump really want to know is why the new Bobber has no pillion provision. We recently posed that question to a few Triumph dealers and we received all kinds of interesting answers including:
"Why would you want a pillion on a Bobber, mate?"
"These are bikes built for solo riders."
"Another saddle would spoil the lines, wouldn't it?"
—never mind the fact that an optional pillion would broaden the appeal of the bike and probably lead to more sales, which makes us wonder vaguely if the architecture of the bike and/or the rear suspension set-up makes a pillion impractical or even dangerous. We've no specific reason to think this, take note. It's just a passing thought. Or maybe it's actually to do with pillion footrest provision.
But no doubt Triumph has its reasons for the absence of a Bobber pillion and for the limited range of colours on the current T100. And even if we were given a reason, who's to say that that reason is the truth?
The bottom line? Some things are just unknowable. You just have to get over it and move on, dude.
More on the 2017 Triumph Bobber
▲ The police might not be comfortable about using the word POLICE in this way. But the first role of the rozzers is crime prevention, and this bike cover idea just might save a lot of valuable police hours.
New thinking in motorcycle security
Another great idea? Or another dumb concept?
You know how it is when you have a "great" idea for some new product or service or whatever? You kick it around your head for a few months or, as is often with us, years. And you're always planning to do something about it, but secretly you know you never will. There's always another bike that needs cleaning, after all. And there's always another beer that needs drinking. So your great white hope of an idea is held over to a mańana that never comes.
C'est la vie.
Well that's how it is with this Sump bike cover concept that we've been thinking about. It's been bouncing around here for a long time, and we just can't decide if it's worth exploring/investing in, and we can't quite shake it off. So we're throwing it out here in case someone else has the wherewithal to do something about it.
The concept is simple enough. Invisible motorcycles don't get stolen. Ergo, the less visible you make your bike, the safer it is—up to a point, that is.
Yes, you can shield your bike with a cover, and many opportunist thieves will leave it alone simply because they can't immediately tell what's behind the curtain, and they don't want to be seen checking. But professional bike thieves are often a little more savvy and experienced, and plenty of valuable covered bikes are relatively easy to spot simply by looking at the overall profile, the bulges, the wheels, and the name of the dealer printed on the number plate, etc.
More to the point, many bikes are stolen because the thieves watch and wait over weeks or months. They get to know what's being parked where, and when, and by who. So bike covers have limited security benefits (but naturally, you'll perhaps still want to protect your wheels from the weather and pigeons, etc).
But what if bike covers were made more obvious; not by plastering the fabric with the logo of the company who manufactured or sold them, but via a large printed message reading something like: POLICE: WATCH THIS BIKE. You might additionally graft on an image of an ugly copper staring out like big brother.
The rationale here is that thieves will soon notice this cover, but so will everyone else on the street. That will put a lot more eyes on your motorcycle, and maybe even the odd CCTV camera, and that might act as a significant theft deterrent.
▲ If the police image (top of this news item) won't grab sufficient attention, maybe this will be a little more grabbable.
Won't work? Well maybe not. Or maybe it will. Two questions arise here. The first is the measurable benefit of the concept itself, and the second is whether or not bikers will actually buy the covers. We're not convinced of either, so we're kicking the idea around some more between beers and bikes.
Actually, we did more than this. We contacted a few firms that make and/or sell bike covers. Initially, we were thinking of adding motorcycle covers to the few products we retail on Sump with a view to commissioning our own designs. But the firms we spoke to didn't impress us much. And one of them, based in the North East of England, was completely bloody hopeless and, after our first contact, couldn't get it together to answer the phone, make a return call of its own, or respond to emails. You already know how that works these days.
So we're throwing the idea out here. If someone picks it up and runs with it, we might see these on the street. And if no one does, we might yet do it ourselves. Consequently, we'd be interested in hearing some feedback whether good, bad or indifferent. Just a brief email would do it. Note that two questions need answering here: Do you like the idea? And would you buy it?
Meanwhile, if you do see these covers on the street, remember where you heard it first.
[Editor's footnote: Sam's telling bloody lies. In fact, we've got a prototype cover mocked-up that we're currently using around town to gauge reactions. But it's crudely executed and we're embarrassed to show you. We might get around to it sooner or later...]
1939 746cc Nimbus Model C
The venue is Monterey, California, USA
This 1939 Nimbus Type C is being marketed by Mecum Auctions as "the coolest in the world". And one glance at the ghosted image immediately above is probably all you need to figure out why. Hollywood A-list actor Steve McQueen owned this motorcycle which will be put on the block at the firm's Monterey Sale, California, USA on 16th to 19th August 2017.
The Nimbus motorcycle marque hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. The driving (or is that "riding"?) force behind the brand was Peder Andersen Fisker (1875 - 1975), an electro-mechanical engineer who, together with Hans Marius Nielsen (1870 - 1954) founded a company called Fisker & Nielsen. That was in 1906. The firm exists today (as Nilfisk) and employs 5,500 people with an annual turnover of close to a billion euros. But its beginnings were a little more humble.
At the outset of the 20th century as the range of domestic and industrial applications increased, the market for quality electrical motors was huge and growing. The two men worked on motors for drilling machines, kitchen equipment, elevators, pumps and similar.
In 1910, having established Fisker & Nielsen as a quality manufacturer, the partnership was dissolved. Why? Because Fisker wanted to move into the vacuum cleaner market and ... well, clean up. He kept the name however, and that same year he took out a patent on an electrical vacuum cleaner which was hurriedly put into production and was met with some commercial success. But by 1914, with the advent of the WW1, things changed largely due to export problems and electric-supply rationing. As a direct consequence, Fisker now moved into motorcycle production, and by 1918 he had developed an impressive air-cooled inline-four bike ready for the market. The inlet-over-exhaust engine displaced 746cc and was nicknamed "The Stovepipe" (due to its large diameter top tube which doubled as a petrol tank). The bike, however, was branded as The Nimbus meaning "cloud" or "halo".
Features of this sophisticated motorcycle included suspension front and rear (a rarity for the age), shaft drive (also a rarity), a three-speed gearbox and a single-plate clutch. The (approximately) 10hp bike was good for between 50 - 55mph. Handling, performance and reliability were all above average. Maintenance was simple and straightforward. Fisker also campaigned his creations both at race meetings and on the road, and he was soon a popular local figure.
Presently, the bike was superseded by the Model B which was much the same machine albeit with thoughtful upgrades. But by the late 1920s, with around 1,200 motorcycles built, industrial rationalisation in the factory put an end to bike production. More to the point, this high-quality and therefore expensive motorcycle simply wasn't finding sufficient buyers.
Nimbus Type C engine technical details
The story might have ended there. However, in the early thirties Fisker (now supported by his son, Anders) tried again and developed the 746cc Model C or Type C. This OHC-engined bike, thanks to its distinct buzzy exhaust note, became known as the "Bumblebee" ("Humlebi" in Danish).
The bore was 60mm. The stroke was 66mm. The crankcase was an aluminium alloy. The cylinder block was cast iron. The block and crankcase were split horizontally. The overhead camshaft was gear driven. The main bearings were ball. The big ends were Babbitt metal (developed in 1839 by Isaac Babbitt). A single carburettor (which included a cold start accelerator pump) was mounted on the left side and fed all four cylinders. The dynamo was the firm's own design and boasted a high output. Ignition was by coil and distributor. The valves were left exposed, supposedly to improve top-end cooling.
As with its predecessor, it was a well-conceived, well-designed and well manufactured product. The police, military and Danish Post Office bought thousands. Most of the remainder were attached to sidecars and sold to the general public and tradesmen.
The example owned by Steve McQueen (1930 - 1980) was built in 1939. The 746cc engine is said to produce around 22hp and will propel the solo bike to around 75mph. The front suspension is telescopic. The rear end is rigid. Arguably the most distinctive feature is the pressed steel frame. The engine number is 4486.
Four years after McQueen's death, this Nimbus was among his estate items sold at Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. We don't know where the bike has been in the intervening years, but clearly it's now looking for a new home and looks in very good condition. We're advised that only 150 - 200 of these motorcycles are in North America. However, we've seen a few buzzing around in the UK, and on mainland Europe (especially Denmark), there are still thousands of running examples—all served by a pretty good spares back-up with a dedicated Nimbus Club.
Around 12,000 Model C Nimbus motorcycles were built before production ceased in 1960. No reserve or estimate has (yet) been posted with this bike.
So is this motorcycle as cool as Mecum tells us it is?
Well we think so, with or without Steve McQueen.
No more Cheffins auction news on Sump
(... well, until further notice, anyway)
Normally we wouldn't wash our dirty linen in public. But this is different. We're unhappy with Cheffins, and we know that we're not the only ones. More to the point, we want to do something practical about it because it's a fixable problem if this noted "Mid Anglian" auction firm simply gets its act together.
Our fundamental complaint lies with the company website. Put simply, it's total rubbish. It clunks. It's confusing. It dances around the screen. It requires way too much visitor input. And, most of all, it simply doesn't tell us what we want to know, when we need to know it.
The outfit behind this hole-in-the-internet is a firm called Igentics which claims to produce "stunningly beautiful yet engaging and customer focused websites". But we've had nine heart attacks and have died twice trying to manoeuvre around the waste of webspace that represents Cheffins' online window to the world.
We've covered Cheffins auctions dozens of times and have happily written thousands of words about the firm's bike sales, etc. We've got no hidden agenda relating to this business that, apparently, has been in the game since 1825. And for years we've dealt happily with motorcycle specialist Jeremy Curzon who's always been helpful and agreeable.
However, the site (which was rebuilt not so long ago and is now worse than before) is pure digital pain. Mostly, it's a functionality issue, and to that end we fairly recently gave Cheffins a long list of how it might be improved.
But nothing came of it.
▲ We're not anti-Cheffins. We're just anti-lousy websites, especially those belonging to firms we're trying to support. Let's hope that the company's management does something about it (and while we're hoping that, we're also hoping for peace in the Middle East, democracy in North Korea and a profitable exit from the EU). Might happen.
No doubt Cheffins spent a shedload of money on this site and now doesn't want to abandon ship or at least jettison its dodgy cargo. That's how poor management often works; by ignoring the problem until the problem becomes a crisis. But we've got less invested in this particular cruise, and we're ending the voyage as from now (think of it as the rats leaving, if that isn't overstating the issue or exaggerating the importance of the Sump rodents).
Our hope, however, is that the obstinate bosses at Cheffins will finally do something about it. That's the point of this news item. Not an idle complaint, and not a senseless whinge, but (to return to our nautical metaphor) a shot across the bows (albeit from our modest pop gun).
Cheffins needs publicity, and we're happy to give it—but not if we have to struggle with a recalcitrant website that seems to do everything but share essential information. And that site is our key access point to the firm's auction news.
But is the company going to pay any attention to us? Probably not. Sometimes (to press the nautical metaphor further still) businesses prefer to steam onward on inefficient, reluctant, leaky and generally clapped-out vessels rather than face a few technical facts, pull into a port and make the repairs and adjustments needed to keep the boat floating at the level where it ought to be.
We might return to Cheffins if the firm can get the problem sorted. Until then, we've hung the company sign on the wall and are using it for target practice. So if you're looking for new Cheffins motorcycle auction reports on Sump, you're out of luck because we're out of patience.
Pioneer children's TV presenter has died
"Mr Play School" was 83 years old.
He was a long way from the coolest TV personality in the world. And yet, in another way, he was as cool as they come. This is time-served children's TV presenter and entertainer Brian Cant who has died aged 83.
Many of you UK-based Sumpsters will remember this guy as far back as the mid-1960s. He was usually seen dancing around a TV studio wearing childish outfits, singing inane songs, pulling unlikely faces, and generally making a prized prat of himself.
If you were of a certain age, you might have been entranced by him. If you were of another certain age, you probably had very different views. But this man was as much a professional as anyone else on the other side of the TV screen, and he was loved by generations of kids.
For 21 years Brian Cant was the (silly) face of Play School, a TV series which outlasted him by only three years. He was also involved in other popular kiddie programmes from Camberwick Green to Trumpton to Bric-a-Brac. And he did more than merely perform. He helped create the parts he played and in doing so kept the characters vibrant and up to date.
This wasn't idle and aimless TV, note. There was an educational component to the programmes designed to engage the younger audience and pique their curiosity and imagination.
▲ Brian Cant and Chloe Ashcroft on the set of Play Away. If you can hum the theme song to that show, you're a closet Play Awayer and not as old as you think you are. It's no shame, mind. But don't do it in public.
There were some more serious TV acting parts too including Dr Who (1965), Dixon of Dock Green (1969), and Doctors (2011). He appeared in a few movies such as The Pleasure Girls (1965), The Sandwich Man (1966), A Feast at Midnight (1995). He saw some theatre and pantomime too. But Cant always looked a little awkward and wooden in these roles which was in marked contrast to his children's TV work where he habitually struck the right note and gave the cameras exactly what they wanted.
For much of his career he was "between jobs". TV producers were, it seems, never really sure how to handle him, if at all, and the parts that came his way were disparate. And that was a shame because Brian Cant had always wanted to be a serious actor; his children's TV presenter jobs were merely stepping stones to other things. In the event, however, he found his metier at the outset and was pretty much trapped by it.
A polite and modest man, Brian Cant was born and educated in Ipswich, Suffolk. He married twice and, perhaps appropriately enough, fathered five children. He was honoured in the 2010 Children's TV BAFTAs and received a special award.
If the first rule of coolness is not trying to be cool and simply doing your best in whatever field you happen to find yourself, then Brian Cant is head and shoulders above most of the usual cool dude suspects. We take our lids off to him.
How about you?
A few words on the possible future of the UK legal system...
Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn't actually all that new. The concept has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. What's changed in more recent times is simply that the digital age has made it more viable.
Already, AI is part of our lives and it's set to take increasing control of commerce, medicine, politics, science, education¨—and is likely to have an impact in any number of other fundamental ways. Anyone running a motorcycle with the latest ABS, traction control and pre-set riding modes has, to a greater or lesser degree, already partly surrendered to AI—or has at least opened the door.
The legal system is also set to change and embrace AI technology, but the implications have yet to be fully explored.
At present, if you break the law in the UK and get caught, more minor offences will see you hauled up before the beak (magistrate) who will mark your card accordingly, while more serious offences will land you in front of a judge where twelve members of a jury will listen to your tale and determine your guilt, and then decide your fate.
Broadly speaking (and we did say "broadly"), that system works, and it's worked well for hundreds of years. Trouble is, the law simply can't keep up with the demands of the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, access to that system in private/non criminal matters is, for many prohibitively expensive. Hence the International Conference on AI in Law—which was held between 12th - 16th June 2017 at King's College, London. It's the 16th such gathering at which the speakers posed complex questions of morality, ethics, fairness, societal manipulation and regulation in an effort to help introduce the new paradigm and mitigate the worst problems.
Professor Richard Susskind, IT advisor the Lord Chief Justice, summed up the overriding concern by saying; "There are tasks that we never want to entrust to machines, and decisions that we do want machines to take. But would we be comfortable with a life sentence passed by some form of artificial intelligence? It's a huge area that needs addressing urgently."
Of course, some would say that in view of how stupidly the legal profession so often conducts itself, a little intelligence of any kind would be welcome.
▲ Gort the robot dispensed summary justice in the sci-fi classic movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. It's been a long time coming, but the future of the UK justice system could be about to catch up with the fiction...
▲ ...on the other hand, Robby the Robot offers a slightly more benign view of things to come. Either way, when you get to be "of a certain age" the future becomes an increasingly scary place. It's no wonder we're all obsessed with classic motorcycles around these parts and are apt to retreat into our sheds and garages.
Beyond that is the warning (or insight, if you prefer) that there are systems and orthodoxies rapidly coming at us that have not been considered let alone addressed, and AI technology is way ahead of the day to day practical curve leaving a huge and worrying void.
Consequently, it might not be too far into the future when grinning hopefully at the judge and jury, and/or drenching your suit and tie in a Niagara of tears and pleading "a moment of madness" is no longer much of an option. AI, it's suggested, will have moved the game way beyond ordinary deceit and will instead study the stresses in your voice, check your pupils for dilation, get a sample your heartbeat throughout the trial, and compare your excuses with the other 43 billion lies on the legal database.
There's even talk in some circles that many law courts might in the foreseeable future become redundant, possibly being replaced by hand-held machines managed by the police, or even located in supermarkets, or on railway station platforms, or out in the street. If it happens, it will give new meaning to the phrase "Dispensing justice".
Tip: Be as ready as you can be if and when it comes.
British exhaust firm has been bought by the company MD
The purchase includes the associated Venom brand
Motad collapsed in April this year (See Sump Classic Bike News April 2017). But now there's some hope that the brand will not disappear and will instead remain on the marketplace. That, at least, is the hope of Mike Worthington of Direct Distribution Ltd.
For around ten years Motad had been supplying exhausts systems for Triumph Motorcycles, specifically for the Bonneville range. But then Triumph pulled the plug (or plugs) when it shifted production of the Bonnies to Thailand in the Far East. The scuttlebutt—which appears to be reliable—is that Motad had during that decade aligned itself a little too closely with Triumph and hadn't put enough time and energy into developing new products. But, as is usual with these intrigues, there are bound to be other pertinent issues and factors that have impacted upon the company's ability to stay viable.
Motad's MD at the time of the collapse was John Atherton. He's bought the existing Motad stock and will be disposing of it wherever possible under the trading name of Exhausts 2017.
Meanwhile, new owner Mike Worthington is looking to develop a fresh Motad-Venom range and hopes to have those products manufactured right there in the UK. However, given the highly competitive nature of global commerce, it's not clear if that will be feasible, economically speaking. In other words, Triumph went East thereby cutting ties with Motad, and a revived Motad could follow.
▲ Don't put 'em all in one basket, as the saying goes. And that's good advice. But then, being an original equipment manufacturer for Triumph isn't any old egg basket. Pity Motad didn't think to broaden its menu...
Motad began manufacturing in London in 1968. The firm quickly developed much sought after exhaust systems for the Honda 750-4 and 500-4. Over the next four decades the company built a name and reputation for quality and consistency. Later, as business fortunes grew, founder Alan Baker (who died in 2002) decided to relocate to Walsall in the West Midlands' Black Country, once the workshop of the world—and still a pretty compelling workbench and toolbox. It was in 2002 that John Atherton took the helm. Fifteen years later, the collapse happened.
As of today (17th June 2017) Motad's website is still up and running. It lists a large range of products for the Big 4 Japanese manufacturers, plus BMW and Triumph. But a statement on the site reads: "Unfortunately Motad Ltd. has ceased trading."
We wait with interest to see how this story pans out.
Free bike event in London
... plus gear, music & films
We've said it before, and we're saying it again; we gotta get out more. In the real world, that is. That's because we've just got a press release telling us about a free custom bike show soon to be held at House of Vans, London, and we thought, "Huh? Why the hell is anyone staging a bike show at a van showroom?"
Then we remembered vaguely that we'd heard of that place somewhere. House of Vans. So we looked it up on the web, and we discovered that it's some kind of offbeat, off-the-wall, leftfield creative exhibition space in South London (near Waterloo Station) embracing art, music, BMX bikes, skateboards and films and stuff. There's a matching set-up in Brooklyn, New York.
It's the London venue where the Assembly Chopper Show is going to be held between Friday 21st July 2017 and Sunday 23rd July 2017. But Friday is for VIPs only. So if you're not one of the blessed, you'll have to attend on Saturday or Sunday. Alternately, you can get a taste of the show if you turn up on Friday 7th July 2017 for the teaser exhibition (i.e.photos of forthcoming show bikes and a Triumph T100 bobber on display). There's no info on the opening hours.
The impetus for the event, we understand, is the 74th issue of Dice Magazine, and if you attend the July show you can check out that 74th Dice issue along with the other 73 issue covers that will be on display. What's that? Never heard of Dice Magazine? Well you wanna get out more...
All that aside, being a chopper show, you can expect a lot of choppers and chopperesque folk wandering around mixing with the custom bike royalty, whatever that means to you. We're told that "selected retailers" will be there which includes The Great Frog, Bonzorro vintage goods, Burns women’s denim apparel, LeBeef Kustom Metal Works, and Joe King helmets. Also expect live music and prize giveaways and free drinks courtesy of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Sounds good so far.
One more thing, chopperheads; there's a 100-seat cinema at the venue/complex/van showroom where the organisers will be screening all kinds of chopper/hooligans-on-bikes themed movies including Easy Rider, The Wild One and Chopper Town.
The location is: House of Vans, Arch 232, Station Approach Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8SW.
Need more info? Go check the link below. And if you're the energetic type, bring a skateboard or roller skates or something. If it's got wheels, this place looks like it's on a roll, ya know?
What if Panther Motorcycles got its act together again?
One man from Bedfordshire suggests how the new bikes might look
"If Panther Motorcycles were making bikes today, what might they be like?" That was the simple question recently posed by rider Lee Thompson from Bedfordshire. And we've wondered this kinda stuff before—although not specifically about Panther.
But Lee wanted to do more than merely sit and ruminate. Instead, he took a more deliberate flight of fancy and cooked up these images, then sent them to us for a look-see and an opinion.
He calls his concept the S180. It's intended as an update on the M-Series range of bike, the last of which was an M120, but with a modern turn of speed. So okay, 180mph might be a little optimistic. But so was 120mph when Panther's marketing people threw together their sales literature back in the fifties and sixties.
The rest of the design pretty much speaks for itself. Springer forks. A lusty single cylinder engine. A spine frame. And a general poise apposite to a modern Panther.
Maddeningly, there are no images of the primary-drive side of the bike, and there's no more detail other than what we've given you. So maybe Lee will get around to that sometime later.
Meanwhile, we live in hope that someone out there might take on the challenge of a re-launched Panther brand, ideally operating from a factory in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire. But not if all we're going to see from such an enterprise are leather jackets, waxed cotton gear and trendy shirts for the fashionista.
It's gotta be real motorcycles, or nothing. Right? And if such a company needs a stylist with the right sensitivities, Lee Thompson might be a good man to talk to.
Click here for a larger image of the Panther S180 concept.
UPDATE: There was a link from this story, but that link is broken and has been removed
The classic British motoring firm has ended a shrewd leasing deal
Business is booming
With a name like "Morgan", you'd think that Wales would be the spiritual and industrial home of one of Britain's best-loved motor companies; a firm famed for its classic, hand-built three- and four-wheelers aimed at the discerning gentleman. Or gentlewoman. But no. Morgan hails from Pickersleigh Road, Malvern, Worcestershire which has been its manufacturing home since pretty much forever.
The company was founded in 1910 by Henry "Harry" Frederick Stanley Morgan (1881 - 1959). The big news today is that the company has just re-acquired its home turf which it shrewdly sold off in 2006. That turf includes the Morgan Museum which hosts guided tours.
Why did the company flog it?
Because the firm needed the cash to develop new models. The accountants and management decided that it would be better to sell both the land and the buildings to a company called Stirling Investments, and then lease it all back (no doubt whilst employing all kinds of legal tax rules, regulations and loopholes).
That sharp move (a) released the much needed money which was then used to develop new vehicles, (b) allowed production to continue without a pause, and (c) maintained the firm's all-important commercial morale due to the fact that buying back the land and buildings was from the start an option.
▲ The Morgan Aero 8. One day people will say; "They don't make 'em like that anymore." But right now, they do. Prices for the Aero 8 start at around £92,000. That compares to around £40,000 for the EV3 below.
▲ The Morgan EV3 electric three-wheeler. See Sump Classic Bike News March 2016 for details.
As a result, Morgan has over the past decade developed a number of exciting new cars including the Plus E (an electric roadster), the EVA GT (a 2+2 grand tourer), and the Morgan 3-Wheeler powered by an S&S V-twin engine and driving through a Mazda gearbox (image immediately above).
The company is busy and profitable. It currently employs 177 staff, most of them craftsmen and women. And around 1,300 vehicles are produced each year with an average waiting time of six months. With so many "British" firms now under the total or partial control of Johnny Foreigner, it's nice that we've still got a class act that we can entirely call our own.
TVR, incidentally, is also still British. And mercifully, thanks to John Bloor, Triumph is still "one of ours". Take some comfort from all this, if you can.
Iconic American stunt rider gets centre stage once more
Topeka, Kansas is the location
"Launch" is the appropriate word when it comes to pretty much anything to do with legendary "death defying" stunt rider Evel Knievel, world-famous for throwing himself into unlikely situations that the rest of us wisely try to avoid.
The King of Kalamity will soon officially have a museum dedicated to his aerial antics, and if you're ever in the neighbourhood of 2047 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka, KS 66612, you can pay a visit.
The museum has scheduled a grand opening between 30th June 2017 and 1st July 2017. The guy behind the venture is Lathan McKay, a 39-year old Texan who progressed from extreme skateboards to extreme motorcycles and is currently described as an actor, writer, producer and entrepreneur (images immediately below).
A long time Evel Knievel fan, McKay, in 2012, hit upon the idea of creating a lasting museum dedicated to the memory of one of America's most prominent high-flyers and so began a nationwide search for memorabilia—much of which he quickly discovered was in very poor condition.
What followed were various acquisitions, restorations and funding issues, and then came the matter of finding a suitable location. McKay's leap of faith ended up in Topeka, Kansas which is just 100 - 120 miles or so away from the geographic centre of the contiguous states of the USA (i.e. excluding Alaska and Hawaii).
Attractions at the museum include bikes, clothing, crash helmets, posters, an interactive virtual jump experience, Knievel's "Big Red" Mack truck and trailer, and no doubt plenty of other suitable exhibits. Or facsimiles. Adult tickets are $20. The opening hours are: Tuesday - Friday 10am - 6pm. Saturday 9am - 5pm. Closed Sunday - Monday.
Note too that the museum is attached to Historic Harley-Davidson, the main H-D dealer for Topeka and thereabouts. So that will no doubt add to the vibe.
We can't get too excited about any of this. In fact, we'd rather throw ourselves off a canyon on a motorcycle than wander around this testament to human stupidity and ego mania. But on the other hand, we can see the ghoulish and morbid appeal of this iconic masochist whose entire career was more crash & burn than look & learn. That aside, we hope McKay's latest business venture makes him a few bucks.
Meanwhile, given the fact that this Butte, Montana-born daredevil did absolutely nothing to increase the public perception of motorcycle safety, you might think that Harley-Davidson would want to keep him a little further away than the building next door.
Evel Knievel died in November 2007 aged 69.
A little perspective on the June 2017 General Election
318 to the Tories, and 262 to Labour
It was her own bloody fault, silly cow. She over-reached her grasp and totally miscalculated her political (and personal) appeal to the British electorate—and in doing so grossly underestimated Jeremy Corbyn's ability to climb out of the hole he'd been in since taking command of the Labour Party.
What should have been a landslide victory in the 8th June UK General Elections has turned into a disaster of Titanic (or, if you prefer, Dunkirk) proportions. Instead of dramatically increasing the number of Tory parliamentary seats and winning an all-important overall majority, the Conservative party, under Prime Minister Theresa May, has lost 13 MPs (some of them ministers) and is faced with a hung parliament.
In order to form a government, the Tories now have to climb into bed with the Northern Ireland DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and look for sufficient common ground with which to bring a government together, and then hold the position.
Of course, Labour is refusing to acknowledge that they also lost. The best Corbyn could say in a post-election TV interview is that they [the Labour Party] "didn't win". And in case you've forgotten the result, the Tories took 318 seats (and commanded a larger share of the popular vote), with 262 seats going to the lefties.
What makes the result seem worse than it is for the Tories (as if it could be much worse), is that expectations for Labour were very low, and expectations for the Conservatives were very high.
And then the big switcheroo.
▲ Boris Brutus Johnson and Phillip Pontius Hammond. When you've got the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer behind you, better watch your back. This pair of Judases like their steaks rare...
But without getting heavily into party politics, and without naming the slimy Tory ministers who manifestly failed to rally to May's support at the critical hour when the result was announced, we want to spare a thought for Queen Theresa and offer an ounce of condolence for the pound of flesh she's lost.
We watched a billion hours of TV news coverage both before and after the result, and we can't recall a single word of heartfelt support from the "Tory faithful" (and naturally, we didn't expect any commiserations from Labour). It's not that we're hard line Conservatives here at Sump. We're not even soft line Tories. But watching someone having their ambitions crushed in such a brutal and public way is perhaps worthy of a passing thought for the pain that must have caused.
So okay, Queen Theresa was ultimately the architect of her own misfortune. But that's exactly what makes this a human tragedy.
Meanwhile, just remember that it doesn't matter who you voted for, the bloody government still got in. And unless Queen Theresa can now pull a big, fat Brexit rabbit from the EU hat (and can also address the most pressing issues in Corbyn's unrealistic manifesto), we could be looking at another trip to the voting booth in the foreseeable future.
Gawd 'elp us all.
Star of the sixties Batman TV show has died
He was 88
If ever an actor was typecast, it was William West Anderson—more famously known as Adam West—who has died aged 88. In a career that spanned seven decades, the role for which he'll be forever remembered is that of Batman in the US NBC TV series which aired between 1966 and 1968.
But West's career actually began primarily in TV western series such as Sugarfoot (starring Will Hutchins), Colt .45 (starring Wayde Preston), Lawman (starring John Russell), and the Overland Trail (starring William Bendix and Doug McClure). He also took a role in one episode of Walter Brennan's The Real Mcoys series. Soon after he appeared in an episode of Laramie (originally starring John Smith and Robert Fuller). And he found a suitable spot in The Rifleman starring Chuck Connors.
Adam West also appeared in various crime dramas such as Johnny Midnight (starring Edmond O'Brien) and The Detectives (starring Robert Taylor).
Following that came appearances in Perry Mason and The Outer Limits. But it wasn't all TV work. He took roles in various movies including The Young Philadelphians (1959) starring Paul Newman; Soldier in the Rain (1963) starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen; and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) starring Paul Mantee.
▲ Adam West as Sergeant Steve Nelson in The Detectives (1959).
When the Batman TV series was proposed, the late US producer William Dozier supposedly saw West in a TV commercial and quickly decided that that was the man he needed. So West became both the caped crusader and his stiffly conservative alter-ego, Bruce Wayne. After that, it was all downhill—or uphill depending on your point of view.
Adam West's Batman and Burt Ward's Robin were always intended to be camp and corny. The plots were outrageously improbable. The costumes were always perilously close to indecent (for the age). The direction and production was overblown. And the series was riddled (in some cases literally) with highly repeatable lines.
What made the series particularly eye-catching was the fabled Batmobile that zoomed around like a jet fighter and rocked like a bouncy castle every time it screeched to a halt in front of City Hall.
Supporting actors (in the TV series and films) included Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Cesar Romero as The Joker, and Julie Newmar,
Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether as Catwoman.
But it was Adam West in his grey tights and rippling blue cape who held the action together, such as it was, and lured the kids back to the TV screens week after week—and slowly watched the bat logo on his chest dissolve into an albatross that hovered around him for the rest of his life.
After 120 episodes of Batman, Adam West took roles in numerous films and US TV shows such as Bonanza, Maverick, The Love Boat, Night Gallery, and Hart to Hart. It's also said that Cubby Broccoli offered him the James Bond role in the movie Diamonds are Forever (1971). However, Adam West is reported to have rejected the offer believing that Bond should always be played by a Brit.
Ironically, more than once he subsequently took on the part of a washed up super hero and repeatedly found himself drawn professionally back to the Batman role, not least in the 2003 movie Return to the Batcave, also starring Burt Ward. Beyond that, he made a living via guest appearances on TV shows and on the fanlove circuit. And he co-wrote an autobiography (with Jeff Rovin).
He did much voice-over work, incidentally, and lent his resonant and immediately recognisable tones to dozens of contemporary cartoons and video games, but almost always with the Batman spectre loitering in the background. In 2010 he was granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Adam West, was born in Walla Walla, Washington State, USA. His father was a farmer. His mother was an opera singer and pianist. He married three times and fathered six children.
With equal measure he probably loved and hated the role of Batman, a character who kept him in professional chains, but at least had the decency to ensure he was reasonably well fed, well clothed, well respected and otherwise secure.
As an actor, William West Anderson was merely okay. But as a personality, he was engaging, modest, amusing and clearly didn't take himself too seriously.
In other words, he was exactly our kind of superhero.
Perfect show for the dull and boring at heart
We might attend...
Remember how it used to be? In the seventies? Jumps jets. Tower blocks. The Sweeney on TV. Lot of corrugated tin fencing surrounding derelict land ready for redevelopment. The Meriden sit-in. The Falklands War. The Miners Strike. The three day week. And hundreds of thousand of all-British cars on the move.
We're talking about Morris Marinas. Austin Ambassadors. Hillman Avengers. Austin Allegros. Morris Itals. Vauxhall Chevettes. Hillman Imps. And Ford Cortinas (to name but a few).
All ordinary cars. And in some instances, extra-ordinary. One minute they were rattling around, dripping rust and smoking up the streets. And then suddenly they were all gone and forgotten.
Or very nearly.
Today, many of the surviving models can be counted on your hands and toes. But if you care to visit Stowe House in Buckingham (near Silverstone racing circuit) on Saturday 22nd July 2017, you can reacquaint yourself with some of the survivors and pretend it's the seventies all over again.
▲ Actually, the Austin Maxi was both ordinary and extraordinary. Built between 1969 and 1981, this 1500cc/1750cc 5-door hatchback was the last car designed by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) before the firm became British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). Alec Issigonis created both this and the original Mini. Front wheel drive. Bags of internal space. And "Hydrolastic" suspension. Around 470,000 were built. And sold.
▲ The Morris Ital. Did you buy one? Built between 1980 and 1984 in the UK, and in China (as the Huandu CAC6430) between 1998 and 1999, this car was essentially a revamped Morris Marina. Once voted the second worst car ever produced in Britain, around 174,000 of these 1.3 and 1.7 litre saloons were built of which just a hundred or two survive. Feel those eyeballs getting moist yet?
Hagerty Insurance is behind this event. The inaugural Festival of the Unexceptional was held in 2014. That beeped the right horns, so the event returned for 2015 and 2016. And now it's back yet again promising to be bigger, better and more seventiers than before.
Hagerty calls it the "Concours de l’Ordinįire" which, with its Frenchy pretensions, spoils it a little. We prefer to think of it as an ordinary Motor Meet, or maybe a Car Turnout, or something else suitably downmarket. That aside, it's a free event and features cars and trucks built between 1966 and 1989, which naturally expands the seventies envelope.
And we ought to mention too that it's not all about British vehicles, anyway. Far from it. This is instead a celebration of ordinary motors from around the world; cars such as the humble Skoda Estelle, the modest Renault 4TL, the cheap and cheerful Datsun Sunny, the near anonymous Simca 1100, The quirky DAF 66 and .. .well, you get the idea.
▲ 1970 Hillman Avenger, later to become the Chrysler Avenger, and then the Talbot Avenger (such was the industrial and commercial wranglings of that era). It was also sold as the Plymouth Cricket and Dodge Avenger in North America. Brazil sold 'em as the Dodge Polara. The Argentineans sold 'em as the Volkswagen 1500. Engines ranged from 1,248cc to 1,798. It's said that 638,631 examples of his "unremarkable" car were built.
There will also be a Feast of the Unexceptional, so bring your own Battenberg cake, Curly Wurly bars, cheese and pineapple on sticks and Babycham (or a bottle or two of Newcastle Brown Ale if you prefer). Prizes will be awarded for the best and second best unexceptional car.
Stowe House is the former stately pile belonging to the Duke of Buckingham—and apparently the famous celebrity gardener Capability Brown did the weeding and hedge-trimming. The opening hours are 10am to 3pm. The postcode is MK18 5HZ. So if you've got a totally boring, unremarkable, aesthetically invisible and generally overlooked vehicle built between the mid-sixties to the late-eighties, get out the T-Cut, put some air in the tubes, clip on the jump-leads and bring it along.
And forget kitsch wheels. Kitsch, after all, has a certain inverted "coolness" that would be out of place here. So just keep it dull. But do try and "dress the part"—and when wandering around the grounds and gardens of Stowe House, try and talk the same nonsense that we all talked in the seventies. It all adds to the ambience, and you'll feel better for it.
▲ For us at Sump, the 1970s is where the world began and ended. All the rest is just history. So if you're of a similar bent, head for the Festival of the Unexceptional. It's bound to be wonderfully mundane.
▲ The Rover SD1 (Special Division 1), 1976 - 1986. 303,345 built. The smallest engine was 2,000cc. The largest was 3,500cc (V8). Another great concept from the British motor industry, but build quality plagued these cars. The police loved 'em. The Yanks bought a few. And when the SD1 was running right, it was so right. Survivors number around 300.
This sounds like our kind of show. We love all the ordinary stuff that the world has to offer from MZ ETZ250s to brown betty teapots to sheets of hardboard to sitting on the beach at Skegness with a knotted hankie on our noggins whilst sipping stewed tea from a dirty thermos flask. There are enough exclusive people in the world already.
Are we right?
1950 Vincent Shadow sells for $95,000 (£72,291)
Rare Triumph T140 sells for $25,000 (£19,318)
A 1950 Vincent Black Shadow was the top selling lot (Lot F125) at Mecum's Sale on 1st - 3rd June 2017. The hammer came down at $95,000 (£72,291). The 998cc V-twin has (evidently) been restored, and a time-lapse restoration video is available to the buyer. We're also advised that the bike has been verified by the Vincent Owners Club (VOC). But beyond that, there are few details.
The next highest selling lot (F126) was the immediately above 1951 Vincent Rapide which sold for $85,000 (£65,592). This gaudy "factory red" example has also been verified by the VOC. The bike is listed as "fitted with aftermarket carburettors with the originals included", but has no obviously special points of interest. Nevertheless, it's a very respectable price for a Rapide; a motorcycle that over the past five to ten years has proved to be a pretty sound investment, take note.
Here are the next eight lots—and note that Mecum has a complicated commission structure. Hence the fact that these are all hammer prices minus sales commission:
Lot S139: 1920 Henderson Ace Four, $85,000
Lot F133: 1932 Indian Chief, $77,000
Lot F138: 1914 Indian 8 Valve Racer, $67,500
Lot F158: 1913 Indian 8 Valve Racer, $67,500
Lot F139: 1906 Indian Racer, $62,500
Lot S120: 1931 Indian Four, $61,000
Lot F127: 1929 BMW R62, $60,000
Lot S138: 1913 Pope Single, $51,000
We counted 292 bikes in the sale of which 47 didn't find buyers. By our dodgy mathematics, that represents a conversion rate of approximately 84%. Note that Mecum might publish a different conversion rate, but that will probably include all motorcycle lots (i.e. parts and memorabilia). We've focussed solely on the bikes.
Finally, the immediately above T140V sold for $25,000 (£19,318). This bike was built in 1973, but didn't roll out of Triumph's Meriden factory until 1975. Why? Because of the now infamous blockade/sit-in that led to the creation of the Worker's Cooperative. For 18-months, very few motorcycles made it out alive, hence the rarity, hence the inflated price (and what tales these bikes could tell, etc...)
But would we pay three times the current going rate for this particular Bonnie? Not a chance. History is history, and this bike is a prime example of the species, but we'd rather have a couple of spare Triumphs in the shed.
How about you?
See Sump Classic Bike News May 2017 for more on this Zimmerman Collection Bonneville.
Scooter registrations suffer the biggest hit
All motorcycle categories are taking on water
Down, down, down and down. That's how we recently reported the disappointing news regarding UK motorcycle sales over the first four months of this year (2017) when compared to the first four months of 2016. Put another way, every month in 2017 has seen fewer UK bike sales than the corresponding month last year.
Well now we're adding another "down" because the May figures show a further fall. Specifically, in May 2016 UK bike registrations were 12,134 units. But this May (2017), that's dropped to 10,859. Every category of bike registration was down (adventure sports, supersport, touring, etc), with scooters taking the brunt of the fall (down a whopping 29%). The only growth area was motorcycles with a capacity of 651cc - 1,000cc which grew by 11.6%.
Outside of the bike trade, however, does any of this really matter? Well it might. Fewer dealers probably means reduced parts diversity, higher prices, diminished availability and less fresh blood on the scene to keep the motorcycle culture buoyant.
More to the point, given the reasonably good weather we've had overall this year (for bikers, anyway), the fall in motorcycle sales quite likely reflects the continuing economic mess we're in. We suspect that this isn't a "Brexit thing", and we also doubt that the imminent general election is at the root. This, instead, has been a slow and steady decline over the past ten years, albeit with occasional spasms of improvement in some market sectors.
What can you do about it? Not a lot, probably. With increased globalisation, the inexorable rise of information technology, the pressures of population growth and the various less obvious socio-political revolutions that are underway, the future is beginning to look like a very unwelcome place for many, if not most, of us.
Our advice? Just ride, drink, eat, laugh and fornicate for as long as you can. It could get a lot darker before it gets lighter.
Ryder, North Dakota, gets a visit from Milwaukee
Everyone's getting a bike licence, apparently...
The guy posing in front of the Harley-Davidson sign is Jody Reinisch. He's the Mayor of Ryder, North Dakota, and he's loitering out there on Highway 28 watching the birdie to illustrate the latest smokin' news story from Milwaukee's most famous son.
What's happened is that Harley-Davidson has selected Ryder as a town fit for intensive motorcycle training, and to that end has pretty much moved in and put all the eligible citizens on wheels with the aim of transforming the community into a full-blown, paid-up, soaring eagle, righteous biker town.
Are we sneering? Not at all. We love Harleys and the entire H-D franchise.
Meanwhile, the townsfolk are said to be tickled pink (or at least tickled orange, white and black), and they've temporarily changed the name of Ryder to Rider, and have agreed to have the words "Harley" and "Davidson" plastered on the water tower.
As we understand it, H-D had also been casting an eye over the towns of Independence (Missouri) and Freedom (Wisconsin). But Ryder's water tower was a pretty close facsimile of the aerial water butt adjacent to the company HQ in Milwaukee, and the bait was too tempting to resist.
That said, in light of the news story immediately below this one, Harley-Davidson might have aptly chose the town of Oil City, Louisiana (and you can visit that story in a few seconds).
So does all this sounds like small potatoes? Well maybe it is. But you can't blame a motorcycle firm for promoting its wares, and to that end Harley-Davidson has, in raw marketing terms, eclipsed many other companies—not least our home grown favourite, which is still Triumph.
As far as we know, Bonneville, Oregon has a broadly similar demographic to Ryder. There's another Bonneville in Wyoming, but that's a ghost town. And Idaho boasts a Bonneville County.
Moving up to Canada, there's a Bonnyville in Alberta, and there's a Bonneville Commune in South Eastern France. Closer to home there are any number of villes in Scotland that are very bonny. But we're having trouble locating anything appropriate right here in Shakespeare's country.
However, there's a Midsomer Norton down there in Somerset, and there's Enfield in North London, so maybe we're fixated on the wrong motorcycle firm.
Makes you think.
"Only Milwaukee Eight 107ci models are affected"
Two accidents and one injury have been reported
Talk to UK Harley-Davidson dealers and you'll be hard pushed to get consensus on whether or not there's a new factory recall regarding oil lines at risk of coming adrift. We were notified of this issue by a friendly Sumpster and we promptly made some calls.
Four H-D dealers we spoke to had "no idea", or "no knowledge" of an ongoing recall. Another two said that there wasn't. One other dealer we tried was closed on Monday. And the other one we called said that yes, there is a recall regarding the oil lines on the 107-cubic inch (1,753cc) Milwaukee Eight models, but only the "precision" oil-cooled bikes—as opposed to the Twin Cooled 114-cubic inch (1,870cc) Milwaukee Eight machines with additional liquid cooling.
According to Stateside reports, nine instances have been noted of an oil line clamp breaking free. Two crashes resulted, and there has been at least one injury.
We're not going to report any further on this because there's some conflicting information that will only cause confusion. But if you've got a Milwaukee Eight Hog, call your dealer at the first opportunity and ask to be put through to the service department; apparently, the sales people are not always notified about recalls—which sounds a little odd seeing as these guys and girls sold the relevant bikes and represent the H-D front line. But that's the position.
Meanwhile, make the call. Put your mind at rest.
Leather, CE-approved, waterproof retro footwear
Here at Sump we're not the world's greatest fans of complicated, super-hero style motorcycle apparel. That's because we're traditionalists. We like more everyday clothing; i.e. the kind of stuff you can wear on the bike, but doesn't look overblown in everyday situations. We're talking about Levi jeans, leather bomber jackets, cool t-shirts, and old fashioned footwear such as these new TCX Hero motorcycle boots.
A pair of size nines arrived a few weeks back, and we've checked 'em out as best we can—and we can tell you that we like 'em plenty. They ain't the world's cheapest, but if you want Shoezone, try your local High Street. These Italian-made boots are definitely at the other end of the market, and as ever you get what you pay for.
Check our TCX Hero motorcycle boot review and see if they suit you too.