1969 Norton Commando "Yellow Peril" Production Racer. We've obliged to mention the "Yellow Peril" epithet because that's how most bikers commonly refer to these handsome hot rods. "Yellow Peril" was originally applied to anyone from the Far East deemed to be a threat to the West. Consequently, this clunky 19th century xenophobic metaphor doesn't intrinsically have anything to do with Norton motorcycles. Nevertheless, ingrained word association has left us with this less-than-golden sobriquet to do with as we will. All that psycho-social introspection aside, these street-legal, direct-to-the-public, 131mph factory-fresh racers feature higher compression pistons, a racing camshaft, shortened pushrods and half an acre of custard-coloured (or mustard coloured) plastic. This 750cc, 4-speed older restoration (Lot S151) is part of the Jim Lattin Collection. Mecum Auctions will be offering it for sale on 1st - 2nd June 2018 at Las Vegas. No reserve. We rode one long ago. Ouch.
UPDATE: The bike didn't sell.


May 2018  Classic bike news



May 2018 Classic Bike News

The Daily Not News

IOM jaywalker in the hoosegow

Rare Norton Hi-Rider to auction

Clint Walker: 1927 - 2018

Ducati Museum Hailwood exhibition

Tougher protection for cops mooted

One liners

New London-Brighton Run route

April 2018 Classic Bike News

Bonhams Spring Stafford results

Royal Enfield Interceptor NMM raffle

60th International Motor Scooter Rally

New Honda "Monkey Bike" for 2018

Carole Nash's dangerous roads

An Austin Anthology from Veloce

Bonhams Stafford Sale reminder

One Liners

Bradford Dillman: 1930 - 2018

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

Autonomous Tesla claims a cyclist

Motor insurance premiums fall

March 2018 Classic Bike News

Watsonian's GP700 & Indian Chief

Bonhams Stafford Sale April 2018

One liners

We Ride London new demo date

Dee Atkinson & Harrison March Sale

Bull-it Men's SR6 Cargo trousers

Franklin's Indians: Veloce Reprint

One Liners

Kenneth Arthur Dodd: 1927 - 2018

Carole Nash Google Petition

New Musical Express is out of print

1954 500cc Triumph-Matchless chop

1,800 bike collection to be auctioned

Art Exhibition at Sammy Miller's

2018 Cardiff Classic Motorcycle Show

John Lennon's monkey bike: £57,500

One liners

This day in history

February 2018 Classic Bike News

Foscam Wireless Camera system

Pioneer Run eBook: now £2.99

Oxford Clamp On brake lever clip

One liners

2018 Curtiss Warhawk unveiled

Here's the latest bike scam attempt

George Beale appointed H&H director

Next Kickback Show 7-8th April 2018

"Alley Rat" - 2018 UK BOTK winner

One liners

Defeat the online scammers with Skype

Triumph Hurricane scammer alert

CCM Spitfire-based Bobber for 2018

Cafe Racer Dreams: 8 bikes stolen

Coys' Feb 2018 London Excel Auction

Thieves ransom Triumph Thunderbird

Harley-Davidson recalls 251,000 bikes

"Police biker" banker convicted

Bringsty Grand Prix Revival 2018

Two new Weise wax cotton jackets

Murderous solicitor is still on the books

£7k - £10k Triumph 'X-75 Hurricane'

Retro wireless GPS speedometer

"Anvil Motociclette...

2018 Triumph Speed Triples launched

Royal Enfield Flying Flea stolen

Brühl Twin Turbine Motorcycle Dryer

January 2018 Classic Bike News

Laser Power Bar Extension Wrench

One liners

Harley-Davidson quits Kansas City

Online traffic accident reporting plan

Silverstone Auctions February 2018

12th Annual Dania Beach Show

Black Lightning sells for $929,000

Online motorcycle scammer alert

One liners

AJS Tempest Scrambler for 2018

Charterhouse's February 2018 sale

Can anyone add info on this rider?

HJC FG-70s Aries Yellow helmet

One liners

Peter Wyngarde: 1927 (ish) - 2018

Death Machines of London - Airforce

Lancaster Insurance; reality check

One liners

"Fast" Eddie Clarke: 1950 - 2018

Bonhams' Las Vegas Sale reminder

Ban on credit/bank card charges

December 2017 Classic Bike News

Information on this picture wanted

Levis Motorcycles set for comeback?

One Liners

Oops, we screwed up [again - Ed]

H&H December 2017 sale at the NMM

Immortal Austin Seven from Veloce

Triumph T140V for sale: 237km

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

MCN closes its biker forum

Arm rural UK coppers suggestion

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

Falling bike sales, 11 straight months

Triumph Birmingham is set to close

New electric black taxi breaks cover

Semi naked girl straddles an Indian!!

November 2017 Classic Bike News

Riding Japan; new touring website

British motor racing anniversary day

Triumph T140 restoration guide

Ratchet handle taps & dies - Chronos

White Helmet Triumphs reach £12K

H&H's first timed automobilia auction

Goldtop £50 off gloves—limited offer

London pillion rider ban idea

Ford Design in the UK - Veloce

Thruxton Track Racer Kit offer

Want to post a comment on Sump?

New Davida "Koura" full face helmet

One liners

NMM BSA Gold Star winner details

Norton 650 twin scrambler planned

RE travel book: Hit the Road, Jac!

Stoneleigh Kickback Show April 2017

Brough Superior Pendine racer

One liners

H-D Battle of the Kings 2017 winner

New Royal Enfield 650 twins launched

NMM's 2018 Speedmaster prize

Meriden Off Road Tiger Cubs

One liners

Andy Tiernan's 2018 calendar

Scrappage scheme classic car poser

Norton launches the California

Scooter gangs face new response

One liners

September 2017 Classic Bike News

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

New BSA M20 "Blueprint" T-shirt

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

December 2015 Classic Bike News

Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister: 1945 - 2015

"Motorsport" CBE for John Surtees

Rare Vincent 2-stroke Uniflow Engine

Mick Grant replica 961 Norton racer

Old Biker's Mantra T-shirt from Sump

Evel Knievel's XL1000 movie bike

H&H Chateau Impney Sale results

Broughs of Bodmin Moor to sell

Flying Tiger Moto Man poofy soap

Petrol drops to £1 per litre

Porsche Sunbeam S8 special to sell

Ural gets on the scrambler trail

Anthony Valentine: 1939 - 2015

Huge UK government tax disc loss

Optimate 5 Voltmatic charger on test

Watsonian Squire T100 sidecar

November 2015 Classic Bike News

Redesigned Sump Triumph T-shirt

Great service at Welders Warehouse

Ural's 2016 Dark Force combination

Wheelrider project seeks backers

Andy Tiernan's 2016 calendar is here

A blue plaque for Triumph founder

Victory Ignition Concept custom bike

Matlock Bath Mining Museum appeal

Swedish Italians head for France
Side view assist tech from Bosch

David Beckham's Outlaw movie

New Triumph Speed Triple for 2016

Steve McQueen's Chevy camper van

Kickback Show London Dec 2015

George Barris: 1925 - 2015

NMM to raffle a 1959 T120 Bonnie

Royal Enfield splined clutch drums

"Led Zeppelin" chop sold at auction

Have you seen this Ford Mustang?

Bonhams Hendon Sale Dec 2015

Movies we love: The Family Way

Bonhams 2016 Las Vegas line-up

Triumph's new Bonneville line-up

October 2015 Classic Bike News

Mark Howe Murphy: 1932 - 2015

Comet Classics' Pride at the NEC

Stand up for Owen

Old Empire Motorcycles Gladiator

Record money at Bonhams' Stafford

Richard Davies: 1926 - 2015

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

Triumph's 2016 Bonneville teaser

Another Hayward T140 belt failure

Second generation HUD for bikes

Marzocchi closes. It's official

Gordon Honeycombe: 1936 - 2015

Indian Scout IKON shocks

Harley-Davidson XA to Wheatcroft

The Complete book of BMW Motorcycles

So who's answering the Sump phone?

September 2015 Classic Bike News

Fat bastards. And skinny dudes

Fonzie's Triumph to auction. Again

Urban rider's workshop initiative

The NMM opens its doors for free

Great speedo cable fix from Venhill

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

Worst Netley Marsh autojumble ever?

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

August 2015 Classic Bike News

Jake Robbins Royal Enfield custom

Music we love: Everyday Robots

Ebay: Rare 1956 250cc Indian Brave

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

"Tougher and darker" HDs for 2016

Yvonne "Bat Girl" Craig: 1937 – 2015

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

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

July 2015 Classic Bike News

Where BSAs Dare

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

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

June 2015 Classic Bike News

Christopher Lee: 1922 - 2015

Triumph Motorcycles: 1937 - Today

News about Roy Bacon

France bans earphones on the road

Road deaths up: first rise for 14 years

Daniel Patrick Macnee: 1922 - 2015

Tri-Cor is now Andy Gregory

Matchless-Vickers to stay in Britain

Samsung truck video safety tech

First middle lane "road hogger" fined

Brando's Electra Glide to auction

Pulford® wax cotton jacket, in "sand"

James "Hansi" Last: 1929 - 2015

Suzuki's UK café culture campaign

Disappointing Historics June Sale

DVLA "paperless counterpart" fiasco

Classic face masks, Boken style

Vibrating steering wheel idea for dozy drivers


May 2015 Classic Bike News

Council streetlight switch-off warning

Twinkle: 1948 - 2015

Historics' Brooklands sale draws near

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

April 2015 Classic Bike News
Norman Hyde polished T100 headers

Cheffins Cambridge Sale results

Harley's "Job of a lifetime" winner details

John Stuart Bloor is now a billionaire

BSMC Show, Tobacco Dock, London

"Rusty Blue" Route 66 motorcycle kit

Erik Buell Racing closes its doors

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

March 2015 Classic Bike News

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

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

New drug-driving regulations are here

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

RE Continental GT, soon in black

February 2015 Classic Bike News

Lincoln bans legal highs in public places

Leonard Simon Nimoy: 1931 - 2015

Cheffins Cambridge Sale: Apr 2015

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

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

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



January 2015 Classic Bike News

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

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

Sump news archive



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Quality news is currently in very short supply. Everyone's struggling to fill their pages. Here's a brief round-up of the non-stories and trivial reports currently circulating the motorcycling press. No snoozing, please...

TT fans stop traffic to help ducklings cross Quarry Bend - Visordown

5 steps to getting your lid #ride5000miles ready - MCN

Volvo delivers demo car to your door - British Dealer News

Top 10 most common MOT-exempt bikes - Visordown

Suzuki reveals 2018 Merch (Suzuki Toaster) - Bennetts Bike Social

Guy puts dirt bike engine in Barbie Mustang, Becomes legend - RideApart

Want to comment on this story? Okay. Hit the icon on the left and email us. Note that we moderate this field to weed out the more obvious cranks. feedback@sumpmagazine.com

Well done Sumpheads. I too have been watching how news is slowly degenerating and dumbing down, and not just the motorcycle rags which I don't buy anymore. Today's TV news, the newspapers and the radio news all sounds like it was written by idiots for idiots. Coupla days ago I listened to BBC newsreader Ben Brown wittering on for ten minutes about The Two Ronnies "Fork Handles" comedy sketch simply because the script was up for sale (for the second time). My missus reads The Daily Mail which every day announces a new cure for arthritis, cancer and pretty much everything else. I despair. We are a society in crisis. —JackTheLad, in my garage

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IOM jaywalker in the hoosegow


Story snapshot:

Practice races held up by wandering Yorkshireman

Stranger in town faces marshals and a posse


You have to appreciate the irony of the Isle of Man court which has just jailed James William Ford, a 67 year old TT visitor from Bingley, West Yorkshire.


Ford, we hear, was spotted walking along the tarmac at the village of Crosby just minutes before the start of an IOM race practice session. As ever, the roads were closed to the general public, and race marshals leapt into the corral and told Ford to bugger off.


When that didn't work, the marshals arranged for the Yorkshireman to speak on the radio to the clerk of the course, Gary Thompson, who also suggested that Ford might take his problems elsewhere or the sheriffs would be called.


"Well they'd better be big lads," Ford is alleged to have said. "Because I ain't moving." That's not a direct quote, but you get the gist. So the cops came mob handed and nicked Ford.


Under local laws, this low down cowboy was charged with obstructing the race and failing to comply with a race marshal's instruction, and he was convicted and given a month's spell in the pokey plus an exclusion order banning him from the island for 5 years. Extreme? You tell us.



Police Sergeant Andrew Reed (pictured immediately above) was later quoted as saying that Ford's actions were "dangerous and irresponsible"—presumably as opposed to being perfectly safe and totally responsible when hurling yourself around public roads at anything up to 200mph.


Hence the irony.


Don't misunderstand us. If people want to top themselves competing in the TT, good luck to 'em. But nicking this Yorkshire puddinghead and giving him 26 days porridge for being a menace sounds a little unfair when two spectators were killed in 2007; 11 spectators were injured in 2013; a group of spectators were narrowly missed by a sidecar outfit in 2017; and when around 250 riders have been killed overall since the fun began. 


These are just the casualties that we can remember. There are probably others that can be attributed indirectly, if not directly, to the TT.


Total annual expenditure at the TT is somewhere around £30 million (IOM government figures), which underlines the morbid truth that there are dangers that you can afford, and dangers that you can't. Or won't.


Let's keep things in perspective here, huh?


Want to comment on this story? Okay. Hit the icon on the left and email us. Note that we moderate this field to weed out the more obvious cranks. feedback@sumpmagazine.com

Hi Sump, another bloke on the IOM has just been nicked for driving the wrong way over the mountain in a one way system. They called him "dangerous and irresponsible" too, but it looks like his mistake is more "honest" and he doesn't have the attitude of the other bloke. So he'll probably only get a fine. The moral: When all else fails, apologise. Works for me. —Sunshine Boy, Penrith

Serves him right, obviously a complete bonehead who cannot comprehend common sense, putting himself and other people in danger. Once he would have been flogged and sent to Australia, but they have enough criminals at the moment, mostly in government. —J.Connolly, NZ

It's one thing for the riders to risk their own necks, but it's another thing if a brain dead spectator wants to further endanger lives. I agree with the court. —Dave Kelly

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Norton Commando Hi-Rider - 1971 model


Rare Norton Hi-Rider to auction


Story snapshot:

Factory chopped Commando expecting £7,500 - £8,000

UK registered from new, and in running order


So okay, there's rare and wonderful. And there's rare and not so wonderful. And naturally this 1971 Norton Hi-Rider (Lot 206) is both, and neither, depending on your outlook. But if you were around when these motorcycles were new from the crate, and if you're not a hard line Norton purist, you might well now be casting a reasonably favourable eye behind your rose tinted spectacles.


The idea of a factory Norton chopper was pure kitsch, of course. And taken out of context it's hard to see this bike in any other way. But 1971 was an exciting and eventful year for many of us in the UK. It wasn't just the wonderfully overblown trappings of the glam rock era, or the industrial turmoil that saw the lights going on and off at the most inconvenient times, or the IRA murderers routinely hitting the headlines, or the first airing of the (then essential) Old Grey Whistle Test, or the "confusion" of newly opened spaghetti junction in Birmingham (which wasn't very confusing at all).


The underlying excitement was also due in part to the on-going chopper craze which began a few years before the movie Easy Rider (1969) hit the screens, but drew fresh impetus after Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper set those famous Harley-Davidson Panhead wheels rolling.


Norton Commando Hi-Rider

Those 14-inch ape hangers did nothing for the handling. Nevertheless, they certainly kept the rider on the right cultural highway. The (largely unsatisfactory) front drum brake gave way to disc in 1973. And those peashooter silencers, then as now, made exactly the right sound.



Norton's Hi-Rider was a direct, shameless and very cheesy attempt at cashing in on that craze, and it came about following Dennis Poore's latest trip to the USA, or so the legend goes. Dennis Poore, as you might recall, was the much maligned head honcho at Manganese Bronze Holdings (MBH) which bought Norton in 1966. The British bike industry was in crisis, and everyone still standing was drinking at the last chance saloon.


Poore, we hear, had personally seen the chopper cult take a grip on the young American riders of the day, and US sales of Nortons were crucial for the revamped company's survival. No one at Norton Villiers was very impressed with this motorised Raleigh chopper bicycle concept. Everyone who was anyone knew exactly what Norton's heritage was all about, and that was building racing—or at least sporting—motorcycles. Everyone also knew what the oft-derided beach-beatnik/bar hopper Harley-Davidson Sportster was all about, and the Sportster market was partly what Poore had in his sights.


Dennis Poore - Norton Villiers Triumph

Ex-racing driver Dennis Poore had the unenviable task of salvaging an unsalvageable British motorcycle industry, and he was going to be nobody's friend. But when Norton was shedding pounds, the Hi-Rider brought in a few extra pennies. This 1975 shot shows poor Poore in typical defensive form.



The first Hi-Riders were 750cc. They were hastily conceived and designed, and the Norton marketing people who allegedly dreamed up the moniker did what they could to give it legs. Or wheels. The headlight was smaller than standard at 5.5-inches. Ape hanger handlebars were de rigueur. The saddle was based upon the aforementioned Raleigh Chopper. And that included a notional cissy bar for that sleeping bag or bedroll if ever you fancied a night in the back garden.


From the start, the British press was unimpressed. They were shocked even, and Poore got it in the neck in a dozen ways. But surprisingly, the Yanks took a different view. They were a little—or a lot more—laid back and weren't hamstrung by that legendary British reserve and inflexibility. Instead, they saw the Limey Hi-Rider largely as a fun motorcycle; a local boulevard cruiser with a decent turn of speed as and when required. Consequently, Poore flogged a fair number of examples (albeit with significant market variance). Unsurprisingly, the bike did better the further west you travelled.


Norton Commando Hi Rider engine

Amal 30mm carbs were standard issue, but it looks like Mikunis have (wisely?) been retro-fitted. There's no word on the mileage, but we're guessing it won't be very high.



In 1973 the 750cc engine was upgraded to 850cc. Mercifully, the Hi-Rider was never cursed with Norton's ill-fated (and ill-fêted) Combat engine—which didn't mean that the bike was without its problems. In developing the Commando, Norton had made numerous fundamental mistakes, largely due to the firm's slash-and-burn cost-cutting orthodoxy. But the bikes were generally never ridden that hard anyway, and some weren't ridden at all—perhaps partly due to delayed embarrassment, and perhaps partly because a few likely lads anticipated a future investment nest egg and squirreled their Hi-Riders in warm sheds and dry garages and cosy living rooms.


We've ridden a couple of these high boys and they crank along pretty good. They are, after all, essentially Norton Commandos, so the engines shake around a little at traffic lights, and then smooth out between 2,500 and 3,500rpm. The power output is quoted as anything up to 60bhp for the 850cc model, and if you believe in visiting aliens, you can chuck that figure in the same box. Realistically, we reckon it's more like 45bhp for the 750, and maybe a few more for the 850. Performance-wise, you could still probably hit the magic ton. But with those 'bars, it's more a question of the ton hitting you.


The saddle design naturally makes no practical difference to the rider-masochist (and a pillion is pretty much out of the question). But those 'bars (as mentioned, and as is the way with ape hangers) take some getting used to. The peanut fuel tank won't carry you far, but two imperial gallons was (by some folk) considered sufficient given the 50 - 55mpg economy.


Beyond that there's really nothing else to say about the Hi-Rider experience. But if you want to enjoy the full Dennis Poore factory chopper escapade in the way it was envisioned, it's time to rake out those platform shoes, Paisley flared trousers and Ban-the-Bomb medallion. Seventies chops, after all, were as much about the hippy culture as the biker culture, which simply enhanced the wonderful absurdity of the least practical motorcycle form ever conceived and constructed.


This Hi-Rider is to be sold by H&H Auctions on 26th July 2018 at the National Motorcycle Museum Sale. The estimate is £7,500 - £8,000, and the starting bid is £3,750.


Peace and love, man.




UPDATE: The Norton Hi-Rider (Lot 206) sold for £7,425


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Clint Walker enjoyed motorcycles on and off the set. This publicity shot dates to 1959 and the film Yellowstone Kelly. That's US actress Andra Martin (b.1935) up front, and that ought to be John Wayne behind. But Wayne was otherwise committed, so Walker got the girl.



Clint Walker: 1927 - 2018

Story snapshot:

Star of Cheyenne TV series has died aged 90

The Hollywood movie star appeared in 41 films


His full name was Norman Eugene Walker, but his first billing was as Jett Norman in the US movie Jungle Gents (1954), one of many films in the Bowery Boys comedy series. However, Walker didn't even get a credit for that brief end-of-movie appearance.


The name "Clint" came along the following year when Norman Eugene Walker appeared as Cheyenne Bodie in the US TV series Cheyenne which ran until 1963. That's how most people will remember actor Clint Walker who has died aged 90.


Born in Hartford, Illinois, Walker worked on a riverboat and in a factory before joining the United States Merchant Marine. That was in the closing stages of WW2. Following that, he enjoyed a series of indiscriminate jobs from sheet metal worker to night club bouncer—this last position no doubt being suited to his huge six foot six inch frame and Charles Atlas physique.


After drifting to Los Angeles, California he came to the attention to the legendary Cecil B DeMille and took a role in The Ten Commandments (1956) also starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner.


Left to right, Trini Lopez, Frank Sinatra, Clint Walker and Brad Dexter. This first ever Japanese-American co-production enjoyed mixed critical response for its anti-war overtones and phoney acting (notably by Sinatra). But it's a reasonably enjoyable piece of hokum if you're the lots-of-ketchup-on-my-burger type. NOBODY EVER WINS is the final line. Fade and cut.



Walker later appeared in None But The Brave (1965), a war movie underlining the futility of armed conflict starring (and directed by) Frank Sinatra. Walker played the role of Marine Aircraft Wing Captain Dennis Bourke who takes command of a squad of island-stranded marines and becomes embroiled in an on-off battle of wits and bullets with an equally stranded squad of Japanese soldiers. Cue existential debates, political negotiations, strategic military dilemmas and ingrained tribal loyalties.


Two years later Walker returned as Samson Posey in The Dirty Dozen (1967), Robert Aldrich's fanciful and OTT WW2 yarn starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Jim Brown, Robert Webber, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine and numerous other now well-established names (including singer/actor Trini Lopez).



But by far, Clint Walker was a western actor, and that was exactly where he preferred to be. Notable/memorable films and moments include Night of the Grizzly (1966), Sam Whiskey (1969), The Great Bank Robbery (1969), More Dead Than Alive (1969), Yuma (1971), Pancho Villa (1972), The White Buffalo (1977) and Maverick (1994) in which Walker took a cameo role.


His acting style was generally cool and unemotional. His screen presence was ... well, substantial. His lines were usually delivered in a clear and authoritative (but never particularly memorable) manner. And it always seemed that movie and TV directors and producers were never able to find exactly the right role that gave Walker the kind of commanding and iconic parts enjoyed by, say, John Wayne.


After his early success with Cheyenne, it seemed that Walker was more famous simply for being Clint Walker than for the other parts he played. But he continued accepting roles here and there, his career (such as it was) gently spiralling down to a low ebb. His final role, for instance, was not as the Clint Walker that we remember, but simply as the voice of Nick Nitro in the live-action/special effects comedy Small Soldiers (1998).



The brightly coloured poster belies the fact that Fort Dobbs (1958) was a modest B&W western that failed to hit the big time at the box office. The morality was a little dubious. The plot was convoluted. Walker was still honing his acting skills. But the storyline hit most of the right spots and gave us Indian attacks, gun-running, chases galore, more bullets than Royal Enfield and Virginia Mayo providing a satisfactory love interest.



A staunch Republican, Clint Walker married three times and fathered one daughter. In 1971 following a skiing accident he was pronounced dead, but made a quick and full recovery, and he eventually settled in California where he spent the final years of his life.


He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and earned one or two minor awards. But for all his height, weight, bulk—and despite his powerful voice (which was capable of some pretty tuneful warbling)—he never achieved the more rarefied altitude of his Hollywood contemporaries. And today, there's at least one generation, and possibly two, that would be unable to put a face to his name, or vice versa.


Clint Walker "The Big Guy" and wife Susan in 2008.



But we like Clint Walker's workaday and generally reserved style and remember him as a good-enough actor, which is usually good enough for us. We looked to see how widely his death had been reported, but we couldn't find mention of it on any news channel. No doubt, however, in the US his status is rated a little higher and will have earned him a few thoughtful and respectful words on the network news.


We hope so.




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Mike Hailwood's 350cc Ducati Desmo

Hailwood's 1960 350cc Ducati Desmo racer.



Ducati Museum Hailwood exhibition


Story snapshot:

Three racebred Desmo dukes on display

Temporary exhibition will last until September 2018


The Ducati Museum in Borg Panigale, Bologna, Italy is hosting its first temporary exhibition. This one is entitled: THE DESMO TWINS OF YOUNG HAILWOOD, aka Mike the Bike (1940-1981).


Three racing Ducatis built between 1958 and 1960 are at the core of the display, specifically Hailwood's 125cc, 250cc and 350cc Desmos created by the late Fabio Taglioni (1920-2001) and kept in fine fettle by ace Ducati mechanic and engineer Oscar Folesani. The bikes were all crafted at the request of Mike's father, Stan Hailwood.


Left to right, Stan Hailwood, "Mike the Bike" Hailwood, and Ducati mechanic Oscar Folesani


Hailwood campaigning his 250cc Desmo at Silverstone, 1960


The show is open right now and will stay open until 15th September 2018. If you're planning a trip to Italy any time over the next few months, and if you're a Ducati/Hailwood fan, you might want to swing by this museum.


At Sump, we've never been initiated into the Ducati fold, and so we haven't yet made the Bologna pilgrimage. But from what we're hearing, it's a pretty cool way to spend half a day of your life.




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Tougher protection for cops mooted


Story snapshot:

Police pursuit drivers/riders get Home Office reassurance

On street bike thieves can expect a tougher response. Maybe


The UK Home Office has moved to quash the "myth" that police drivers and riders are unable to pursue the new wave of British "moped criminals" whilst said ne'er-do-wells are on the move minus their crash helmets.


The response comes in the wake of vociferous and angry protests from the "motorcycle community" following the recent violent bike theft phenomenon which has seen numerous victims clubbed, slashed, stabbed and doused with acid.


London is the epicentre of these attacks. But the problem, which is an unwelcome feature in many cities, goes beyond bike theft and includes mobile phone snatching, laptop robberies, camera theft and simple muggings.


British police forces, we understand, operate according to broad Home Office guidelines, but they enjoy a great degree of latitude regarding exactly how to implement such advice. Put simply, chief constables can pretty much tell their officers to do whatever needs to be done providing that such action can be legally justified. And officers, for their part, are clearly anxious to forcefully tackle this problem, but not without implicit and explicit guarantees aimed at protecting their interests, both professionally and personally, should push come to an overly hard shove.


We haven't actually seen any clear and definite new proposals from the government. It looks more like the Home Office is simply paying lip service to police officers and chief constables—whilst throwing bones to the media—but without sticking Whitehall's neck out any further than it already is. In other words, nothing has actually changed, except perhaps the general agreement that it's time to get a lot tougher.


It's a tricky balance between enforcing the law and stopping these thieves in their tracks, but without overly risking the safety and security of the bystanding public. At Sump still believe the ultimate solution lies more in preventing bike theft simply by making it unattractive, impractical, unprofitable if not impossible. But that requires a lot more input from the motorcycle trade which still looks a long way from providing a technical solution.


When you're next looking to buy a new bike, make sure to ask about heavyweight and imaginative security features. Bikers can mostly fix this problem with their wallets. It just requires a concerted effort on the showroom floor.


See also: Amber Rudd to restrict acid sales, Sump October 2017


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"Revolutionary" Scottoiler xSystem. Motion activated. £199. 5 flow rates

1947 BSA C11/1953 Francis-Barnett Falcon. Dover Transport Museum raffle

Terminator 2 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy to auction. June 5/6/7/8 2018

Continental Tyres 2019 Harley tour competition. 9 nights, 1,500km, + bike

Bosch unveils one-time-use, anti-slide, side-thrust assist technology

Curtiss Motorcycles unveils electric Zeus at Quail Lodge [Check here too]

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New London-Brighton Run route


Story snapshot:

122 years of history in the trashcan

Entrants to be split into two groups


Yes, it's bloody sacrilege. But it's gonna happen, and we suspect it will claim a few casualties (heart attacks, strokes, suicides, etc). The story is that the established London-Brighton Run route from Hyde Park Corner to Wellington Arch, Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace, down The Mall, round Parliament Square and over Westminster Bridge and due south to Madeira Drive, Brighton is under assault.


Seems that someone has pulled the pin on this grenade and has decided that traffic congestion is a problem (as if it ever wasn't), and so the usual suspects are going to be split into two groups with the secondary cars (Group B if you prefer) headed instead past Westminster Abbey and over Lambeth Bridge where they'll converge with the A-Team (or whatever they'll be called) somewhere near Croydon.


If you're not indoctrinated into the London-Brighton lore, it probably won't make much difference to you. But if you've got any passion for British motoring tradition, you'll probably be crying round about now.


The Westminster Bridge route is, of course, the one depicted in the movie Genevieve, notably in the final scene where the starring 1904 Darracq (supposedly with a mind of its own), limps over the bridge to the notional finishing line as agreed by rival entrants Alan McKim (played by John Gregson) and Ambrose Claverhouse (played by Kenneth Moore).



This is the first time in its 122 year history that the run (not a race, remember) has switched its route. And it begs the question of how the organisers will decide who gets to be in the classic Westminster Bridge photoshoot, and who gets the Lambeth rat run.


Additionally, it's reckoned that the new route will open the event up to more spectators and generally enhance the tradition—which sound exactly like the old Dunkirk spirit of spinning a bitter defeat into a glorious victory.


Regardless, this year's event will be held on Sunday 4th November. And once again, Bonhams will be organising an auction on the preceding Friday.


As ever, only cars built before 1905 are eligible to enter—and we wouldn't be at all surprised if one or two of the participants decide to boycott the 2018 event in protest (especially if they've been relegated to what might be referred to as a bridge too far).


Yes, times change as they must. But here in Blighty, some things are changed at your peril.




See: Sump Classic Bike News August 2017


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BSAOC's Diamond Anniversary


Story snapshot:

Open Day at Market Harborough, Northamptonshire

The UK's "largest single marque club" invites you to a party


It's sixty years since the BSA Owner's Club (BSAOC) formalised its existence as a one-stop-shop for all things related to BSA motorcycles. Since then, the club has grown hugely and currently claims to be the largest single marque motorcycle club in the UK. The BSAOC is also custodian of the official factory records dating back to 1907. This includes despatch records, factory parts books, handbooks, catalogues and service sheets.



If you want to share in the celebrations (such as they are), the club will be commemorating its diamond jubilee at Market Harborough Rugby Club on Sunday 27th May 2018. The postcode is: LE16 9HF. And you don't have to own or ride a BSA to get in through the gate. Just turn up. Celebrate. Ride home safely.

We don't have any details regarding the entertainment, etc. but we're assuming that the club has got something significant in mind—or will it all simply reduce to a bunch of blokes and birds standing around on the grass kicking tyres, arguing over rivets and wondering where the party is?


To find out, contact: Phil Bull natsec@bsaownersclub.co.uk. But we have to say that a big club like this ought to be able to promote itself and its six decades on the frontline with something a little better than the dismal details we found on the website.


Tut tut.




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Manx Norton courtesy of Aste Bolaffi


Aste Bolaffi breaks into classics


Story snapshot:

Established Italian auctioneers move into motorcycles and cars

Thirteen biking lots are on offer


Italian auction house Aste Bolaffi—noted for its professional interest in everything from fine art to furniture to jewellery to exotic wines & spirits—is about to holds its first classic car and motorcycle sale.


If all goes to plan, the event will happen on 23rd May 2018 at La Pista Di Arese in Milan, Italy. This newly restored 1,428 metre track was once the home of Alfa Romeo. More recently, the site has found new significance as a test centre for all kinds of driving disciplines and skills.



Aste Bolaffi will be holding the auction inside the now iconic main building designed by architect Michele De Lucchi. And to make this inaugural event extra special, attendees are invited to watch one or two of the automotive lots take to the track for a little innocent parading and showboating (no details here).


There are 13 motorcycle lots and 60 car lots currently listed in the catalogue. Most of the bikes are racing machines, the most optimistic of which is an undated Norton Manx (main image this story) carrying an estimate of €36.000 - €40.000.



Overall, it's a fairly modest collection of two-wheeled hardware and isn't likely to ring alarm bells anywhere else in the auction world. But bigger things have grown from less, and no doubt the larger and more established players (Bonhams, Mecum, H&H, etc) are likely to watch this one with passing interest and ensure that their respective positions are secure. We'll be watching this one too, but we don't anticipate any great shock or surprises.

Aste Bolaffi was established in the early 1990s, but the firm claims roots dating back 130 years. Note that 15% commission will be added to the hammer price.





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DPD raises pay and cuts penalties


Story snapshot:

Delivery man's death prompts significant corporate changes

Plus a few words on the gig economy


The next time you have motorcycle parts (or anything else) delivered to your home, office, workshop or wherever, you might want to spare a thought for Don Lane. Lane, 53, was a self-employed DPD driver from the Bournemouth, Dorset area who recently made national news regarding a cancelled hospital appointment—and who subsequently collapsed in December 2017, and died in early January 2018.


Actually, he'd missed a few appointments.


Silly boy, you might think. Should have put his health first, etc. Only, Lane's (typical) contract with DPD (Dynamic Parcel Delivery) meant that any driver who failed to show up for work, or who couldn't provide a replacement driver, was liable to be fined £150 per day. Lane had already been hit with such a penalty and didn't much fancy another, so he took a chance; a chance that cost him his life.


DPD is one of numerous UK firms operating in the gig economy. Rival companies include Deliveroo, Hermes and Yodel—and the list is growing with plenty of hopefuls (including taxi firm, Uber) looking to break into this lucrative sector.


Typically, self-employed drivers working for the big name UK delivery outfits are officially operating on minimum wage, but in practice earn considerably less. Currently, the UK minimum wage for adults aged over 25 is around £7.83. These drivers buy/lease and operate their own vehicles, pay their own vehicle and public liability insurance, pay their own fuel costs, handle their own maintenance expenses, and deal with their own taxation burdens. They are also generally expected to make a minimum of one hundred-plus drops per day in their target areas, and are frequently worked to near total exhaustion.


If these drivers fail to make a drop—perhaps because of poor addressing or because the recipient isn't available to take delivery—the driver usually has to return at his or her expense. And occasionally that involves multiple returns. As such, the average earnings per drop can reach as little as 50 pence. Once in a while, the driver is actually subsidising the delivery.


Since Lane's death, DPD has said that it will guarantee a minimum wage of £8.75 per hour for its drivers, and will scrap the £150 per day no-show penalty. It will also, we understand, now offer drivers the options of working as a self-employed franchisee, or operate as a self-employed driver, or work directly on the company payroll—no doubt at a lower rate. The difference in contracts, take note, has very different legal implications.


However, whichever way you look at it, the business models of the big delivery firms rely upon pushing drivers to the absolute limit whilst creaming off their corporate cut.



For many of us, the only way to get parts for our bikes is via delivery services. But are we simply fuelling the employment problem and helping the uber-rich get uber-richer? And is there an alternative—such as via a new kind of regular motorcycle market place, or by local bike shops doubling up as parts delivery points? Or maybe you've got a better idea?



Dwain McDonald, CEO of DPD, has been quoted as saying: "[We are working on a] complete reappraisal of every aspect of our driver package. That will also give drivers the opportunity to have worker status, which means they will get a steady wage, sick pay, 28 days’ holiday and a pension. Our aim is simple – to make DPD the carrier of choice for delivery drivers and for our drivers to be the best rewarded in the industry."


DPD also claims that the "average annual salary" (under these terms and conditions) will be £28,800. Furthermore, worker-status drivers will not have to pay their own vehicle costs, etc.


Note the weasel-worded "average annual salary" which suggests that some, or many, drivers will still be earning way below that amount.


Currently, the UK government reckons that over one million people are now working regularly in the gig economy. A spate of recent legal challenges hasn't entirely clarified the legal position or provided the kind of employment assurances needed to make this sector a healthy place to earn a crust. However, many UK workers feel that they've little viable option but to hit the highway the DPD way.


Meanwhile, here at Sump we're unable to yet make any meaningful contribution to the widening gig debate. It's just another depressing and demoralising facet of the ongoing globalisation paradigm fuelled largely by the rampant www and exploited by the more uber-ambitious among us.


Ultimately, Don Lane has to take the full responsibility for his life's decision. But it's easy to see how everyday financial pressures lead to these kind of tragedies. You can see his mistake. But you can't really call him a fool.


Beyond that, aside from making sure you're at home when the delivery men and women call (which isn't always realistic), and aside from tipping the drivers an extra quid or so (thereby helping the corporations maintain their dodgy policies, practices and profits), what can we do? We'd be interested to hear some views on this.


DPD is owned by the French La Poste group. It currently counts 38,000 employees, and in 2017 posted a revenue of €6.8 billion.



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NZ Speedway champion Ivan Mauger (1939 - 2018) has died aged 78

Supervised L drivers will soon be allowed on UK motorways (4/6/2018)

The Norton Commando 961 is to be offered for sale in India (£24,000)

AMA Bonneville Speed Trials, Utah returns 25th - 30th August 2018

The Met Police (London) launches a "Be Safe" anti-bike theft campaign

The Banbury Run will mark its 70th anniversary, Sunday 17th June 2018

Mahindra launches 397cc Jawa Special. Euro 4 compliant. UK? Maybe

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Touratech Travel Event 2018


Story snapshot:

Motorcycle travel kit firm invites trekkers to a Welsh party

Free to all, but first come first served


We're told that 2000 worldwide visitors found their way to the Touratech Travel Event 2017. And if they can find their way all the way to Wales from who knows where, who can tell where they might end up?


That's the thinking of the organisers, anyway; to meet riders with an interest in serious travelling, to exchange stories and anecdotes, to explore details of the relevant kit required, to ride a few demo bikes, to attend a few workshops and generally psyche themselves up for that global tour they've always promised themselves.


BMW, Ducati, Honda, KTM, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha will, we hear, be in attendance, and they'll be hauling their show trucks and marketing equipment, so expect a little soft and hard sell.


If all that sound like something worth starting your motor for, you can tackle the first leg of your great personal journey by riding down to Rheola Grounds in Neath, South Wales and joining the activities.


It's a free event, note. It will start on Friday 11th May 2018 and will finish on Sunday 13th May 2018. Here's the full address: Glynneath Road, Resolven, Neath, South Wales, SA11 4DT. Check the Touratech website for times.


Keep in mind that there are limited places, so register your interest sooner rather than later. The word is: NO WRISTBAND, NO RIDE OUT.


Sounds like an adventure in its own right.






We were going to grab a few screen images from the Touratech site to help illustrate this story and make it more appealing and attractive to visitors. But we couldn't find any shots worth grabbing (bikers crossing raging rivers or traversing rope bridges or being shot at by bandits, etc). Then we noticed that the event exhibitor list still hasn't been completed with just a week to go), and most of the rest of the site doesn't look too clever. No big deal. Not in cosmic universal terms. But we figure Touratech, which manufactures some great kit, ought to be able to do a little better than this. Next year guys, huh?


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Alan Clews CCM founder


Alan Clews: 1938 - 2018


Story snapshot:

The founder of CCM has died aged 79

Ex-scrambler turned businessman leaves a lasting legacy


Alan Clews, scrambles rider, businessman and founder of CCM (Clews Competition Motorcycles), has died aged 79. A self-made man, his riding career began in the 1960s in which he was both a very credible performer in the dirt and a familiar face on the international scene. During that era, Clews was working in a chain of newsagents owned by his wife's family. But motorcycle competition was where his real passions lay. However, laying his hands on the right racing equipment was tricky.


In the 1960s, the BSA Competitions Department was fielding some pretty convincing B50 works specials. These factory hot-rods were hard to obtain and expensive to boot. Refusal to sell one to the hoi polloi was the company rule rather than the exception. But in 1971, when the Competitions Department closed, Clews shrewdly purchased a huge inventory of B50 engines and sundry BSA components. Soon he was building bikes in his garage to his very exacting specifications, and in doing so created a new tool with which to crack a very hard nut.


His first bike was a highly successful B50-based creation with a good power-to-weight ratio, point-and-squirt handling, top-line tuning—and something of a handful in the wrong hands. Nevertheless, as word spread, and as the plaudits rolled in, other riders wanted some of the same. And so CCM was founded.



In the 1970s, the age of the four-stroke motocrosser was all but at an end—at least as far as the established British bikes were concerned. Japanese, Spanish and Swedish motorcycles ruled. But for a few more seasons, CCM four strokes pitched into the breach time and time again and, with the right man in the saddle, on the right circuit, and with a favourable lucky wind, the Beezas often came out either on top, or very near it.


However, if Clews wanted to stay in the game—as a businessman if not merely as a rider—it was clearly time to up the ante, power unit-wise. The answer came courtesy of Austrian manufacturer Rotax which agreed to supply him engines thereby helping keep CCM in the top league, which in turn did nothing to hurt the Rotax brand.


In 1984, Armstrong bought the company, but Alan Clews remained at the centre of operations. Military MT500 bikes, also powered by Rotax engines, were soon being built by Armstrong-CCM. Harley-Davidson subsequently acquired the rights to this model in 1987. The full story of these bikes is, of course, a little more complicated. Regardless, the shifting fortunes and acquisitions helped keep the CCM flag flying in a reasonably profitable, but never certain, breeze.



In 1998 the Robson family bought the CCM name and chattels. During this period, the company manufactured a Suzuki DR-Z400 powered off-roader. It was a good machine. Nevertheless, by 2004 the business was no longer viable and the firm went bust. It was then that Alan Clews re-purchased the company and assets and gradually breathed new life into CCM with a wide range of bikes and options based upon a BMW GP450 engine. There soon followed the R35 Supermoto and the FT35 flat tracker.


Since then, CCM has widened its appeal with a range of factory customs and specials based on its 600cc Spitfire concept, and the company has gone from strength to strength. That said, many feel that CCM has shifted too far from its origins and has devalued its heritage, not least by incorporating numerous Far Eastern engines and sundry foreign components into its product. And that's unfair because it's quite simply a global world with global realities, and there are few, if any, manufacturers who create a complete motorcycle in-house. Moreover, CCM has always been a pick'n'mix motorcycle company, and there's a long tradition of that kind of commercial expediency going back to the beginnings of biking.



What we're focusing here is simply Alan Clews' energy, innovation, imagination, dedication and staying power that's kept CCM vibrant and competitive for nearly five decades. And that's something we can all doff our lids at, n'est-ce pas?


Over the years, CCM riders include Jimmy Aird, Vic Allan, Vic Eastwood, and John Banks. The company has in recent times been managed by Clews' son, Austin (pictured above with Alan).


Funeral details have not been released, so if you're a CCM fan or a friend of Alan Clews, you might want to keep an eye on the company website. The man deserves a good send off.


Also see: CCM Bobber - Sump February 2018



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Vauxhall sacks entire dealer network


Story snapshot:

326 dealers will lose their franchise

Some of them will be invited back into the fold


Vauxhall Motors has given walking papers to every dealer in its 326-strong (or, apparently, 326-weak) UK car sales network. As of now, they've all got two years notice, which doesn't sound like fair warning when you consider the investment that goes into establishing a Vauxhall car showroom. But no doubt the contracts have been signed in blood with the terms and conditions as tight as a duck's ... well, mouth. So there's probably not much that the current dealer principles can do about it—except perhaps look towards the burgeoning Chinese and Korean brands which are always hungry for a larger slice of the cake.


We're not talking simply about the investment cost of the bricks and mortar, or the shop fittings and stock. There are other heavy expenditures involved including delivery vehicles, tools and equipment, staff training, insurance, local planning costs, advertising programmes and dozens of other expenses that are usually seen and understood only by the bosses and the company accountants.



At the end of the two year notice period, some of those dealers will be invited back into the fold—subject, no doubt, to new terms and conditions. Actually, Vauxhall's current owners reckon that most existing dealers will still be on books 24 months down the line. Moreover, the forecast is that few if any of the current 12,000 or so jobs will be lost—and if you believe that, you could be overdue for your next reality check up.


The suggestion is that many of the employees will simply shift to other car franchises (not necessarily Vauxhall). Except that the general employment trend in the motor industry is headed down.



Vauxhall Motors was founded in 1857 by Alexander Wilson. The company, located at 90–92 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London manufactured pumps and engines. Andrew Betts Brown came along in 1863 and bought the firm. He renamed it Vauxhall Iron Works. The first complete car was built in 1903. Two years on, the company relocated to Luton, Bedfordshire—which is still the spiritual home of Vauxhall.


US firm General Motors (GM) bought the company in 1925. In 1929, GM partly acquired a stake in German firm Opel, and two years later GM fully owned that company. For decades, Vauxhall and Opel have since been pretty much synonymous, albeit tweaked for their respective markets. In 2017, the French conglomerate Groupe PSA bought both brands. And PSA, note, also owns Peugeot, Citroen and the lesser known DS brand.



So why have all the dealers been effectively sacked? Well, as you might expect there are various reasons. These include poor performance across the range (with some dealers well below par), a radically changing marketplace, over exposure in certain areas, inadequate exposure in other areas, pressure from new brands, over production, etc, etc.


In 2017, Vauxhall sold 195,000 cars in the UK. That's 22 percent down on the previous year and compares to an average 5.7 percent drop in overall UK car sales. A similar re-franchising exercise will be happening across the channel in mainland Europe with regard to the Opel brand.



Are we going to climb on our soapbox and whinge about this kind of irresponsible advertising that condones, if not encourages, excessive driving behaviour at the wheel? Not this time. We're simply going to tell you that the Astra is one of the firm's greatest successes. Over four million have been built and sold since it was introduced in 1979.




Currently, Vauxhall (PSA) has just confirmed plans to built its next generation vans at the Luton, Bedfordshire plant. But the future of the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire which produces the Astra model, is looking a lot less positive. In recent times, 650 jobs have already gone in the wake of two job cut programmes. More losses are anticipated.


This kind of re-franchising isn't a new phenomenon, incidentally. It happens from time to time, and every time it happens it's painful for most of the dealers involved.


In terms of the size of its dealership network, Vauxhall is in number two position trailing behind Ford. But after the dealer purge (which is the right word for it), Vauxhall is expected to be in third position. It's not clear which dealership network will take its place.




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Confederate Motorcycles is back (ish)


Story snapshot:

Curtiss is staying put and still going electric

But the old Confederacy is, it seems, back on the march


If you're a regular Sumpster, you might remember the (immediately) above graphic from Sump, August 2017. But we make absolutely no apologies for re-using it today. That's because (a) we like the look of the Confederate Flag, (b) it's appropriate to the following story, and (c) it saves us having to work-up another image.


What's happened is that last year we reported that the Confederate name and brand was, in the light of rising political hysteria, considered by the company as too toxic to continue, so owner Matt Chambers cast his net around for something less divisive. Hence the re-brand to Curtiss in honour of Glen Curtiss, aviator, aviation pioneer and pioneer biker.


You can read all about that story via the link you've just passed. Meanwhile, some of you will perhaps be pleased to hear that the Confederate name, rights and intellectual property has recently been bought by Ernest Lee LLC, a firm of lawyers and venture capitalists that was founded in London and Pennsylvania, but now operates across 20 or more countries.


We checked and couldn't find too much about these largely invisible guys and gals, and we spotted no obvious motorcycle connections. But the contact details took us to Florida, USA, and it appears that most of the company activities are US focussed (largely on contemporary tax issues which, some might suggest, is another hot potato and becoming as toxic as the politics of race and gender).


Meanwhile, you can decide for yourself if it's a co-incidence that Confederate General Robert E Lee and the company name (Ernest Lee) has any political, personal or other associations.


Either way, the current promise that Confederate Motorcycles will sooner or later be back in the market place sounds suspiciously like the old "The South will rise again" battle cry. But if you'll give Ernest Lee the benefit of the doubt, we'll join hands with you.



The new company will be called Confederate Motorcycles LLC. In a recent interview, an Ernest Lee spokesperson was quoted as saying, "[We] believe the Confederate name is no more synonymous with racism than is ‘Rebel’ or the Confederate Flag itself. We acknowledge that there are some that disagree with our viewpoint, but [we] felt that allowing individuals to discuss their differences of opinion is paramount to the democracy in which we all live."


It's not the first time politics has impacted on automotive engineering and marketing. Swallow Sidecars, which became Jaguar, allegedly felt the need to dispense with the SS100 moniker for fear of being associated with the Schutzstaffel aka SS, the militarized wing of the German Nazi party.


And poor old Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche spent years trying to live down the fact that he'd once been an honorary officer in the aforementioned SS claiming that the dubious accolade was at the personal insistence of SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, "There was no way I could refuse," Porsche had said more than once during his life (1875 - 1951). Either way, that must have been a seriously big albatross flapping around his private horizons.


We don't yet know what kind of bikes the new Confederacy will produce. Curtiss (aka the old Confederacy) is still going electric (we hear). But we're figuring that it's probably not yet over for the petrolheads wedded to bikes such as the Hellcat, the Wraith and the Fighter—that's assuming that actually building motorcycles is part of the wider game plan. Ernest Lee is, after all, a coterie of tax lawyers with all that that implies.


Finally, if Ernest Lee really wants to rub some salt in the open Confederacy wound, the company might try suggesting new bike model names such as the Confederate Lynchburg, the Confederate Bull Run, and the Confederate Ball's Bluff, all of these being greater or lesser military successes by the Southern "rebels". On the other hand, we're all friends now, ain't we just?


Stay tuned, Sumpsters.


See: Sump Classic Bike News August 2017


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