One of our Sumpsters is looking for information on this motorcycle, and more specifically on a certain Derek Jones. There's not much to go on, but here's what we know (or think we know).
1. The bike is a Wideline Norvin.
2. It was built around 1970.
3. The engine came from a kneeler outfit campaigned in the 1960s by a racer named Derek Jones.
4. The hp was reputed to be around 90 (to us that sounds way too high).
5. Derek Jones replaced the engine with a Weslake lump.
6. Jones was apparently sponsored by Daytona Motorcycles of Ruislip.
7. The gearbox on this bike has been cut off and replaced with a Manx 'box.
8. The front end is from a Norton Commando.
9. There are various John Tickle bits on the bike (clip-ons, rear-sets, alloy top yoke).
Any info, please send it to us and we'll forward it. Ta.
— Big End
We're you at this inaugural event? Owned and organised by Mortons Media, the show was held on the 21st and 22nd May 2016 and promised a weekend of drag racing (what else at Santa Pod?), stunt riding, a Show & Shine Competition from BSH (also owned by Mortons), a monster truck exhibition, mini monster trucks, a Run What Ya Brung event, food & drink, and music from AC/DC tribute band, Live/Wire.
Mortons is reporting "rave reviews from traders and visitors alike", but the press release isn't backed up by any direct comments, except from sponsor Principal Insurance which has been quoted as saying: "Not even the biblical rain that hit Santa Pod on Saturday could dampen enthusiasm, with the feedback from show-goers being really positive. It’s hard to single out one of so many highlights but the Run What Ya Brung was clearly a massive hit which attracted some awesome bikes."
So what's the word on the street? A couple of lines on an email would be much appreciated. But your comments won't be for publication (unless we hear anything compelling). We just want to get clued in.
Meanwhile, Mortons is said to be looking ahead to next year's event and is hoping to "build on the success", but no dates have been given.
Email Sump and spill the beans
— Del Monte
He was born Conrad Phillip Havord, but he was better known to a generation of 1950s TV viewers as William Tell, the Swiss folk hero famous for splitting an apple from his son's head. Phillips died in January this year (2016), but the news has only just reached us, and we wanted to mention his passing, albeit belatedly.
He was the son of Horace Havord, a journalist on the Sunday Express newspaper and a writer of detective novels. Horace Havord wrote under the pen name of Conrad Phillips, and this later became the stage name for his actor son (much to his son's later regret).
Conrad Phillips starred in 39 episodes of the British show William Tell made between 1958 and 1959. The series was filmed largely in the Snowdonia area of Wales. It was aired during a busy era of swashbuckling TV shows that included Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Richard the Lion Heart, and Sir Francis Drake, all of which now look hopelessly dated but were once the action shows to watch, especially if you were male and aged between six and sixteen. The then familiar call to the screen was Rossini's William Tell Overture which served as the theme music.
The 25-minute black and white shows (running with a single commercial break) were originally filmed on location, but were later relegated to the studio which gave the episodes a claustrophobic feel not untypical of the age. To save costs, the producers were happy to (obviously) re-use segments and shots from earlier episodes, and there was evidently a very small budget for the writers and special effects people.
Phillips was a suitable candidate for the role. He had the right physique and the right looks (somewhere between Richard Greene, Richard Todd, Tyrone Power and Victor Mature). Also, he had learned archery skills whilst training at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), and was therefore comfortable with the nuances of the crossbow, as made famous by William Tell.
▲ Funny how perspectives change. The legendary William Tell (Conrad Phillips) would today be considered both a terrorist and a child abuser. His son, Walter Tell (played by Richard Rogers) would be a suitable case for long term therapy. But in 1958 (and sometime around 1598), dad was a hero, and his son was a plucky little boy.
Phillips, an ex-navy man who served in WW2 (on landing craft), did most of his stunt work. It resulted in numerous injuries which on one occasion put him squarely and painfully into a wheelchair. In later in life, he endured a hip replacement, had both knee joints upgraded, and suffered from chronic back pain. Ultimately, these injuries put paid to a reasonably successful career in repertory theatre.
The William Tell TV series was relatively short-lived, but it travelled around the world and was watched in dozens of countries, including a few behind the Iron Curtain.
Phillips also enjoyed something of a movie and TV career appearing in the film The Battle of the River Plate (1956), and took "bit parts" in TV shows from Callan to Fawlty Towers to The Return of Sherlock Holmes to Emmerdale to Hannay.
In 1970, he also managed a hill farm is Scotland, and when he finally retired from acting in the 1990s, he repaired to Wiltshire where he wrote an autobiography (Aiming True) and ended his days aged a very "respectable" 90.
He married twice, fathered three children, and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
We don't know if this is actually a world record, but it's a hell of a lot of dosh to hand over for a dune buggy—or, if you prefer, beach buggy. The price was €56,000, which is currently around £42,500 or $62,000.
The dune buggy/beach buggy is undoubtedly a classic among classics and is arguably the greatest (and simplest) kit car of them all, although fans of the Caterham 7 and the numerous AC Cobra replicas might have something to say about that. But for our money (around five grand sterling maybe), the VW based beach buggy is the champion. But okay, they ain't much fun unless you have (a) a lot of sunshine, and (b) a beach with a lot of dunes to hop around on.
Elvis (image immediately above) drove a beach buggy in the film Live a Little, Love a Little (1968). And Steve McQueen, in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) took Faye Dunaway for a sandy blast in one of these bugs.
But this example is said to be special. It's a 1969 HAZ Buggy (HAZ for Hazard), and like all beach buggy derivatives, it owes its existence to Bruce Meyer's 1964 creation based upon a shortened VW Beetle chassis.
Autohaus G. Kühn built the high-quality HAZ Buggy in limited numbers from 1968 until the early 1990s. Its 1,500cc, OHV air-cooled, horizontally-opposed 4-speed engine is said to be good for 53bhp, which doesn't sound much, but it's not throwing a lot of weight around with that timeless fibreglass shell and those oversized (magnesium) wheels. We're advised that the vehicle is TÜV (German Technical Inspection Association) approved and has a Greek registration certificate.
The HAZ Buggy was sold by auction house, Sotheby's, on 14th May 2016 in Monaco. The Lot number was 286. We don't for a second doubt the provenance or the build quality, but £42,500 is making us reach for the oxygen bottle. Then again, what price taste?
At the same auction, a 1948 Tucker Y-1 "Torpedo" sold for €1,344,000 (£1,023,625 or $1,497,223). That eclipsed a Tucker which sold in April this year (2016) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for $850,000. Auctions America handled that.
This 166bhp, 335 cubic inch (5,489cc) OHV, horizontally-opposed, water-cooled, six-cylinder luxury saloon features a four-speed pre-selector transmission, front and rear independent suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The serial number is: 1049. That, we understand, makes it one of the last Tuckers to be officially built at the Chicago factory.
▲ 1948 Tucker engine. This flat-six lump is said to weigh just 320lbs and knocks out 372lbs-ft of torque. The cars, we're told, could hit 60mph in 10 seconds and would peg out at around 120mph. Preston Tucker made 98 engines, slightly more than half of which were fitted to his cars. The rest were sold as bankrupt stock when production began and ended in 1948. They turn up from time to time.
“Don’t let a Tucker pass you by” was the company advertising slogan back in 1948. But at this price, most of us have little option. For more on Tucker, the man and his automobiles, see Sump's March 2016 news story: 1948 Tucker "Torpedo" to auction.
Finally, this 1977 MV Agusta 750S America (frame number 2210320) fetched €105, 300 (£80,176 or $117,254). The 75bhp 750S in-line four was launched in 1975 and remained in production for five years until 1980. It was derived from the earlier 750s of the late 1960s, but was boosted to 790cc.
This example was sold with just 3,800 miles on the clock, which makes you wonder if it was really as much fun to ride as was claimed. Features include a 5-speed transmission, dual front discs (and disc rear), a wet multi-plate clutch and four Dell’Orto carburettors.
— The Third Man
East Anglian auction house Cheffins is looking for bikes and scooters for its Cambridge Vintage Sale on 16th July 2016. Among the early entries are a Vincent Black Shadow, a 1938 Velocette MSS, a Lambretta Li150, a BSA M21, a Sunbeam S8 Combination, a Triumph 6T & 5T, a BSA Shooting Star, and a Greeves twin. You can also expect to find some vintage cars and motorcycle/car spares.
If you fancy consigning something, contact Cheffins as soon as possible and check the terms and conditions. And note that the deadline for catalogues entries is 15th June 2016.
Telephone: 01223 213777
— Queen of Sump
Do you remember this guy? In fact, do you know either guy, come to that? In case you don't, the one on the left is Mr Ed, the talking horse in the 1960s US TV show. The other guy is actor Alan Young as Wilbur Post (Ed's owner) who has died at the grand old age of 96.
Young was an English actor born Angus Young. His birth town was North Shields in Northumberland, but his family moved to British Columbia, Canada (by way of Edinburgh, Scotland), when Young was a child.
As a teenager he had his own radio show on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), then later served in the Royal Canadian Navy and fought in WW2. The story goes that the navy preferred him to write morale-boosting comedy skits rather than man the guns. And that didn't suit Young who resigned and tried to join the Canadian Army—who rejected him due to his childhood asthma.
▲ Alan Young (right) and Rod Taylor in The Time Machine (1960). Young's English accent sounded cheesy in this US production, but he was in fact an expatriate Geordie Brit who found fortune in America.
In the 1940s and 1950s Young appeared in various US movies alongside stars such as Shirley Temple and Natalie Wood, and if you remember The Time Machine (1960) starring Rod Taylor, you might remember Young as the British army officer who appears as both father and son (David Filby/James Filby).
American TV viewers will be far more familiar with both Alan Young and Mr Ed. The series was quickly syndicated and aired across numerous Stateside networks. The production was first aired in 1961, and eventually hitched its wagon to the re-runs carousel alongside shows such as My Favourite Martian, My Three Sons, The Munsters, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Addams Family, The Beverley Hillbillies and that old favourite, I Love Lucy.
Mr Ed was also aired right here in the UK. If you're of a certain age (i.e above 60) you might have been a viewer. Generally, the running gag saw Wilbur Post (Alan Young) being embarrassed or humiliated or just confounded by the wit and mere existence of Mr Ed (who never explained how it was that he had learned to think and talk like a human, yet had no aspirations to do anything other than stand in a stable eating hay and offering pearls of wisdom.
The show was the high spot in Young's career. After the series ended in 1965, he became involved in a church, and he later returned to acting taking on small parts and providing TV and movie voice-overs. But he wasn't short of a few quid. Young had been canny enough to own a slice of Mr Ed, and he's reported to have made a fair amount of money in royalties.
He was also a regular attendee at comedy conventions and suchlike, sometimes in the company of a Mr Ed lookalike. But in 1973, the original Mr Ed died suddenly in California and was cremated.
Alan Young married twice and is survived by four children.
Today is Saturday 28th May 2016, which makes tomorrow Sunday 29th, and that's your last chance to visit the May 2016 Bikeshed Show at Tobacco Dock, London.
Organised by Anthony van Someren (aka "Dutch"), the show is promising 150 shed built bikes, plus motorcycle art, clothing, apparel, food and drink. You can also expect to find a working barbershop and three tattooists.
Some folk feel that this scene is becoming a little stale and burned out. The same old ideas repackaged and even regurgitated. However, we think there's life yet in this kind of homespun motorcycle craft and art. But don't take our word for it. Get along there yourself and see if it really is art, or just kitch. Or even a little of both.
Tickets are £15 advance (bit late for that if you haven't already got yours) or £18 on the gate—and that's a huge jump from 2013 when the entry was just a fiver. Opening hours are 10am to 8pm on Saturday, and 10am to 6pm Sunday.
— Big End
Like scooters? We do, especially when they're British. And that's not to say that we've got anything against the scooter output from other nations. It's just that the British never really seemed to have got it right. Instead, the Anglo-Saxon designers came up with ideas and creations that were almost so right, but somehow never quite had the classic style and pizzazz of Vespa or Lambretta.
Are we deriding homegrown scoots? Not at all. We just think the British carved some interesting new shapes, many of which went against the grain but came out looking ... well, interesting (think of the cars from Bristol, Allard or Jowett). And we love 'em. Check out the details of this new British scooter exhibit here if you're likeminded.
Mr Peter Allan, from Surrey, is the winner of the National Motorcycle Museum's latest Spring Prize Draw, a 1959 Triumph Bonneville T120, variously described as a "Tangerine Dream" Bonnie.
The hackneyed epithet aside, this is obviously a pretty cool prize, so all the more kudos to the NMM. The winning ticket was drawn by Steve Parrish & Steve Plater at the International Classic Motorcycle Show at Stafford on Sunday 24th April 2016.
Yes, this story is a little dated, but we were busy gallivanting around the USA on and off Route 66 when it happened (as you'll read at the top of this page), but we've managed to deal with it now.
Peter Allan's winning ticket number was: 1010699. The second prize went to J Higgins from North Yorks who won a 1966 Triumph Tiger Cub. The third prize (a luxury weekend break for two) went to Edward Kirkby of Derbyshire.
The details of the summer raffle are as follows:
1st: a 1990 588cc Norton F1 Rotary (value £22,000)
2nd: a 1951 500cc Norton ES2 (restored and with matching numbers)
3rd: a luxury “classic” weekend break for two people
Once again, the ticket prizes haven't been announced. But we think they're still two quid each. They'll be distributed soon in various ways, or you can follow the link below.
— Big End
Harley-Davidson has posted details of its new flat track competition platform. Based upon the current 750cc Revolution X Street 750, you can check out the details (such as they are) on Sump's mainstream motorcycle news page. [Sump May 2016 Motorcycle News]
— Queen of Sump
A petition aimed at newly appointed London Mayor, Sadiq Khan (and 4 others), has been launched. The petition's author is M Jones. The title is: "Take immediate action against the motorcycle theft epidemic in London".
So what's prompted this protest? Well, Home Office figures suggest that bike thefts in the capital increased by 44 percent between 2012 and 2014. According to Jones:
"This epidemic of theft seems to have no signs of abating as thieves become more brazen, acting with impunity and no fear of being caught to the extent that they are happy to capture their crimes on film."
And he adds:
"Even when the crime is caught on camera the Metropolitan Police have no interest in pursuing or investigating the case, often closing it due to "insufficient evidence". If a thief were to walk into a Post Office or bank and take £5,000; or were that value of goods were [sic] to be stolen from a business, action would no doubt be taken. That it is not in the case with motorcycle thefts is appalling."
And he continues...
"This can be combated by making motorcycle theft a priority for the Met Police and giving them the proper resources to investigate motorcycle crime and offenders."
Well good luck to M Jones with all that, because as much as we sympathise with his complaint (and as much as we loathe bike thieves and feel they should be paired up with suicide bombers), the hard fact is that the Metropolitan Police are simply not going to put motorcycles on any high priority policing list, not for more than a token press briefing, anyway.
The reality, as ever, is that the Met is up to its ears in terrorism crimes, political assassinations, everyday murders, rapes, historical sex crimes, serious assaults, major robberies, arson, burglaries and suchlike. Therefore it has enough to contend with without worrying about a few bikes. And it is just a few, relatively speaking.
Currently, the Met employs 31,100 police officers, 13,000 civilian staff, and
2,500 police community support officers. That total comes to 46,500, and the force operates with a budget of £3.5 billion.
These numbers compare reasonably well with, say, New York which employs 49,000 staff (including police officers and support personnel) and operates on a £3.2 billion budget ($4.8 billion).
In fact, it looks like New York gives you slightly better value for money, but there may be other factors involved here that give the NY rozzers a distinct budgetary advantage. On the other hand, the London coppers might simply be sloppier in how they spend the ratepayer's money.
And there's the rub. Once again we come back to how much we're willing to spend on policing (check Sump's bike burglarly story further down this page). As much as we love our wheels, we simply have to get used to the idea that to the wider world, motorcycles just ain't that important.
Tip 1: Fit a tracker, double lock your bike, stay insured, buy a baseball bat.
Tip 2: Be prepared to pay more income tax.
Tip 3: Get over it.
Sign the Bike Theft Petition
— Sam 7
Is there no stopping the Empire? The latest news is that Mortons Media, owners of almost all the UK classic bike rags and most of the major classic bike events has now gawn and bought the long-established Kempton Park Bike Show and Autojumble.
More than once we've caught a glimpse of the Mortons Men sniffing around the stalls and Kempton, and it's well known that the Empire was very interested in acquiring this London(ish) based event which has long been a second home to thousands of scraggy blokes like us ever on the hunt for that elusive bargain.
▲ Have cash, gotta dash. Actually, Eric Patterson held out for a very long time before flogging his Kempton Park venture. The show was his baby until the baby snatchers came a-callin' and finally made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Way to go, Eric.
Eric Patterson established the show around 30 years hence. Aided and abetted by wife, Cathy, Eric consolidated his grip on this sector of the classic bike community (in this area at least) and has built up more goodwill than Santa Claus.
But Vincent and Brough-Superior man Eric is approaching 70. He's as sprightly as a pogo stick and is still a very active motorcycle sprinter, not least on Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA. However, there comes a time in every man's life when he simply has to surrender to the overwhelming forces of ... well, hard cash, and we have little doubt that Mortons paid a hefty chunk of change to get its hands on Eric's piece of the action.
▲ Nick Mowbray (left) and Andy Kitchen (right). When the Mortonites come around, put up a brave (and expensive) fight before surrendering.
So how much did the Empire pay? Eric's not saying. He's an honourable bloke, and part of the deal is that he keeps his gob shut. Also, he's agreed not to launch any other event for the next five years. "Not that's I'd want to," he said when we spoke to him.
But Elvis isn't yet leaving the building. He'll be hanging around for the next year helping oversee Kempton and helping facilitate a smooth transition. That's also part of the deal.
Meanwhile, Darth Morton has promised to maintain the status quo and not do anything precipitous (never mind that the Empire is risking a lot of dosh and goodwill). Mortons' Nick Mowbray would normally be the bloke handling things at the Empire's end. But as we understand it (which is journo code for "we ain't sure about this"), Mortons' Andy Kitchen will be the bloke to chat to if you've got any enquiries.
Now is it just us, or are some of you guys suddenly getting the heebie-jeebies and wondering if Kempton is going to remain a fixed date on your calendar? Mortons, as ever, will do what empires do, which means acquiring more and more territory. And like all empires, it will sooner or later fall. But don't hold your breath.
Meanwhile, good luck to Eric (and Cathy). Seems to us that he did the right thing at the right time. Shame that another independent classic bike event has been swallowed up.
Update: Mortons has just sent us a press release advising that the next Kempton Park Autojumble will be held on Saturday 23rd July 2016. Also, Andy Kitchen has been confirmed as the main Morton man at this event.
Has Harlow Council in Essex brought an injunction to prevent the otherwise lawful gathering of motorcyclists? Well yes, actually. But apparently it's not as simple as that. The word on the street is that from Saturday 21st May to 31st March 2017, two or more riders enjoying an unauthorised ride on any piece of public land or strip of tarmac within the town or its environs between 10am and midnight is liable to prosecution. Or persecution, depending on how you look at it.
However, poor old Harlow Council has issued a statement claiming that although the strict wording of that injunction is correct, the underlying spirit is completely different. The idea, we're told, was to prevent a mass ride out on Saturday 21st May. The legal bombshell was aimed specifically at that event, and that event alone. And why? Because a similar unauthorised ride out last year led to hundreds of complaints from Harlow's ratepaying residents.
Of particular concern was the younger, hooligan element riding untaxed, uninsured and unregistered machines, and without a licence. The wider biking community was not the fundamental problem, it seems, but the members of this community were likely to give cover to the usual teenage yobbos.
So Harlow spoke to the rozzers, got an agreement with them, and then doorstopped a judge, and now unauthorised ride-outs are subject to a injunction which will last until next year.
Since the announcement of the injunction, and faced with complaints from hundreds if not thousands of UK bikers, Harlow Council has back-pedalled a few yards and reckons that we should all calm down (our words, not theirs). A statement said that "anyone riding bikes lawfully in Harlow on the road; anyone driving in a convoy or through the town; anyone learning to ride or teach others, or anyone taking part in a charity event" will not be troubled by the fuzz.
Also our words.
▲ Royal visit to Harlow in 1958. Once known as Harlow New Town, this post-WW2 construction was a wildly optimistic and straight-off-the-drawing-board experiment in social planning. Built adjacent to the Old Town, the UK government was keen to clear the London slums and put some money in the pockets of friendly developers. On paper, there's much to be said for Harlow. But in practice, it has its intractable problems including high unemployment, serious and petty crime and the occasional low flying injunction. You've been warned.
But the hooligan element (notably local kids on stolen scooters, etc) had better watch out because Uncle Bill is coming to getcha. We're still puzzling over why it needs an injunction to get the coppers to do what needs to be done. Hooligan bikers are a perennial problem, and there's no mention of more resources being given to the police. So presumably, where an ASBO, taser, a few dozen criminal laws and a good kicking behind a police van have failed, an injunction will do the trick.
Still, that's how it works when a local council runs out of cash and ideas; they look for a bigger hammer to crack whatever nuts are driving 'em crazy. We do have sympathy for Harlow residents, of course. But it looks like Harlow Council ought to have dealt with this one a little earlier in the year rather than play this particularly onerous trump card. Then again, we're seeing this thing only from a distance, so there might well be more to it than is immediately apparent (and we have heard that the run organisers were difficult to contact, which may or may not be true).
Either way, we're advised that Harlow bikers can still move around freely in groups and otherwise conduct business as usual. But if you engage in anything that looks like an unauthorised run (whatever that looks like), you risk having your collar felt.
— Big End
Here's another great metal sign to brighten up your garage or shed. Designed right here in the UK by your favourite motorcycle magazine, we opted for a 650cc Triumph TT image because we figured that pretty much everyone who loves Triumphs would agree that this is a pretty cool motorcycle (even though some folk will wonder what the hell is cool about a bike with no headlight, no tail light, no silencers and a potentially ankle-breaking kickback—but if you've ever ridden a TT, you wouldn't wonder for very long).
It vaguely crossed our minds to have this sign artificially aged with rust streaks and maybe one or two gouges and perhaps a bullet hole or something. In fact, we were even thinking of leaving the entire stock in a nearby ditch for a month or two and then flogging 'em with that time worn patina beloved of so many classic petrolheads.
But then we thought WHOAHH! That was then, and this is now. And you can do your own ageing by hanging one on a convenient wall and enjoying the view as the years slowly attack the steel and eat away at the ink.
These signs are printed the traditional way, which means direct to metal, ink to tin. They're good quality. But they're metal signs, remember, and not photos. So don't expect ultra high resolution prints on acid-free art paper and environment-hugging ink and all that fancy stuff. Just click on the image for a closer peek. You'll like what you see.
These signs ain't available elsewhere (or else). The size is 300mm x 400mm. They're drilled ready to hang. We'll ship 'em pretty much anywhere the world's postmen go. And the price is £14.99, plus P&P.
Ya know ya want one, so you'd better get one while it's going...
Take me to the Triumph: World's Coolest Motorcycles metal sign
Five times machine of the year, 1968 - 1972. That's some achievement. And even decades on, the Norton Commando is a fantastic bike to ride— but you have to have it sorted or it will make you cry. Fortunately, the Commando experts and aficionados have long since solved all of the inherent problems with the design, and these guys have introduced dozens of upgrades making the bikes better than ever.
Consequently, we wanted to add a Commando metal sign to our collection, and the above S-Type was arguably the obvious choice. Well, it was either that or the Roadster. But we opted for the S-Type simply because of those flashy high-level silencers that speak of the exuberance of the era when this bike hit the street.
Like the Triumph metal sign further above, this one is printed direct to metal (steel actually). And like the Triumph sign, we didn't try and artificially age it. The size is 300mm x 400mm. The design is all ours and owes nothing to anyone else. We've got them in stock ready to ship. And the price is £14.99 plus postage and packing.
If you like that aged look, hang it on the outside of the garage door for a while and/or run over it with the family hatchback. Alternately, wax it and hang it somewhere appropriate.
Want to take a closer look before buying? Okay, click on the image and it will explode in your face. Meanwhile, check out our Norton Commando Buyers Guide and see exactly what all the fuss is about with these bikes. But get yourself inoculated if cash is tight. These bikes are infectious.
Take me to the Norton Commando metal sign
— Big End
The best accounting numbers ever posted by Royal Enfield India. That's the official word from the Chennai-based manufacturer of the seemingly timeless 500cc Bullet and 500cc Continental. But Royal Enfield, owned by the Eicher Group, builds hundreds of thousands of smaller bikes for its domestic market, and it's largely these machines that are responsible for rising sales.
Nevertheless, Royal Enfield reckons that in the 12 months to March 2016, the firm's revenue jumped by 55.7% to £543.9million. This, we hear, is due to sales of 508,099 machines which is a 53.4% increase. The operating profit was 74.5%, or £141.58million. The company's net profit rose to £105.8miliion (66.1%).
Currently under the shrewd and watchful eye of chief executive and hands-on-handlebars Siddhartha Lal, Royal Enfield has been investing heavily in developing new machines and consolidating its position as a manufacturer of alternative/cool/classic motorcycles for the style-dude and dudess about town. The company is busy developing a new R&D facility in Leicestershire and is rumoured to be working on new and more radical models.
Last year, Siddhartha Lal was anticipating sales of at least 450,000 units. It seems that that number has been safely passed. The firm is now setting its sights on sales of 675,000 motorcycles for the 2016 - 2017 financial year.
— Queen of Sump
This is a new event backed by three organisations, specifically the British Motorcycle Federation (BMF), Aero Legends, and WW2 Headcorn Aerodrome. At the time of writing, it's not clear which group, if any, is driving this show. But at a practical level, it doesn't make much different.
It's called Merlins & Motorbikes which is a pretty clunky title, but if you're interested in both, or either, you've probably already get the general idea. Headcorn Aerodrome is in Kent. It's now a private field located 32 miles south east of London. During WW2 it was known as RAF Lashenden. Opened in 1943, Lashenden was built as an ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) which meant that it was intended to be used during the D-Day landings as a support airfield, specifically for the Yanks who flew P51 Mustangs under the auspices of the 354th Fighter Group.
The Mustang was built by North American to a British specification. The aircraft originally used an American Allison engine. But it was the fitment of the British Merlin that, so to speak, gave the Mustang wings. And altitude. Regardless, the Mustang was a superlative piece of Yankee engineering and for the first time gave allied bombers a fighter escort all the way to Berlin and back.
▲ When it comes to superlative WW2 aircraft, the North American P51 Mustang was up there with the Spitfire and Hurricane, albeit with the advantage of being a later generation design. It last saw action in the 1950 Korean War finally giving way to the stunning F-86 North American Sabre.
It's not clear if a Mustang will be present at this event (despite an image of the Mustang being pasted on the website). But you will be able to put your peepers on a brace of Merlin-powered Spitfires, one of which will be enjoying a 1,200 metre drag race with a motorcycle.
Sound daft? Of course it it. That's what most fun is all about. But if you're looking for something a little more down to earth, we're advised that there will be more than 100 trade stalls, an autojumble, live bands, an aerial display, various exhibitions, a best-in-show competition, food, drink and plenty of classic and modern bikes to gawp at.
The date is set for Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th June 2016. Tickets are £12 adult, £8 senior, £5 child (up to age 14). BMF members can expect a discount. Check the website for camping details and/or a web ticket discount. Good enough for you?
— Del Monte
For questioning, that is. But the coppers haven't (yet) actually marked him down as a suspect. He's just someone they'd "like to have a word with" regarding a bike shop burglary that happened in Braintree, Essex on the night of 14th-15th September 2015.
It seems that on that occasion 12 bikes were nicked. Among the haul were 9 x BMW S1000RRs, 1 x BMW HP4, 1 x BMW S1000R and 1 x KTM RC8. Also nabbed was a large selection of bike gear which included 44 tyres, various crash helmets, a pocketful of cash and suchlike. And during the crime, £50,000 worth of damage was said to have been caused to the family-run business.
Two blokes, aged 23 and 46 respectively, have been arrested and bailed until 5th July 2016. The guy in the image above has not been identified, so the police want some help in that regard. A couple of the bikes have since been recovered, and police are forensically testing the machines looking for larcenous DNA.
What immediately puzzled us was how the thieves managed to boost so many motorcycles without being apprehended. Shifting a bike from a shop and chucking it onto a van/truck (or two or three van/trucks) has to take around three minutes. Therefore, we're looking at maybe 36 minutes to move the lot. Then there's all the bike gear, the tyres, the lids, and the smashing of windows and doors and whatnot. And all this while a couple of alarms are ringing out bloody mayhem (one silent and connected to a 24/7 monitoring service).
But wait! It appears that the robbers broke in earlier that night without setting off the alarms, and they shifted all the bikes near to the doors. Then they returned in a couple of Ford Transit vans and completed the task while the bells were waking the neighbourhood (most of which is actually an industrial estate).
▲ BMW S1000RR. Is this the ultimate getaway machine? Nine got unlocked and loaded while the whole planet was looking the other way. In a high-tech world, it makes you wonder how it happens. But of course, that high-tech world is filled with low-tech people. Like us. So what can you do?
Nevertheless, there's (a) the theoretical threat of the cops themselves arriving both swiftly and mob-handed and feeling some collars, and (b) the threat of the owners showing up with baseball bats hoping to find out why two of three of their smart phones are telling them that there's something fishy going on down at the depot that they might like to know about.
Except that evidently didn't happen, so we can assume that whatever alarm system was installed, it was hopelessly inadequate. It certainly allowed some form of basic break-in without tipping anyone the wink. Or was all this, at least in part, an inside job (i.e a disgruntled ex-employee who knew the layout and knew how to silence the alarm)?
Well of course we don't know either. It's all idle speculation. But it makes you wonder about who was pulling the strings at Cannon Motorcycles to let this kind of theft happen on his or her watch (actually, it was Bill Cannon, aged 64). Then again, what the hell? This is only a quarter of a million quid's worth of motorcycle hardware.
Of course, it's easy to be wise after the marriage. But still...
Meanwhile, if you recognise the bloke above, you might want to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or phone the rozzers and spill the beans. But don't count on anyone answering the phone, not for a few days at least. This is the modern world, and we get the policing and alarm systems we pay for, and deserve.