The biking season is coming to a close with this gathering
But the price might scare off a few bikers...
The date will be 8th, 9th & 10th November 2019 (Friday to Sunday), and the venue will be the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. This is the Classic Motorbike Show which will probably be eventually gobbled up by the Empire (Mortons Media), but for the time being is organised by Clarion Events. The address of the NEC is: North Ave, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1NT
As expected, there will be bikes galore, trade stands galore, clubs galore, an autojumble with parts-a-plenty, and special exhibitors. That's the plan, anyway. And while we remember, we've noticed that the organiser has also spoken of hundreds of classic cars on display (if that makes a difference to anyone).
The hours are as follows:
Friday: 10am - 6.30pm
Saturday: 9am - 6.30pm
Sunday: 9am - 5.30pm
The ticket price is going to hurt, mind. It looks like a Friday adult gate ticket will give you a £34 ache in your wallet. On Saturday and Sunday, that gate price will reduce to a mild throb of £27. But if you book online (and you'd better hurry), you can get a 15% discount painkiller. And if you need a little extra therapy, the organiser says: "All tickets allow entry into both The Classic Motorbike Show & The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show with Discovery."
Meanwhile, if you bring the wife/husband and/or kids, there are other prices that won't make you feel much better. Or are we being unfair? These events, after all, take a lot of organising, and the NEC doesn't give away floor space. Nevertheless, we think we can find something more compelling to do in the Sump garage. However, you might feel different—and then there are the traders trying to earn a living.
So flip your coin and let the fates decide.
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Review under way following numerous (predictable) fatalities
More smart motorways are coming
According to current Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, (Tory/Welwyn Hatfield—see image immediately below), people are "dying on smart motorways". Consequently, an urgent review is underway into how to mitigate the problem.
Smart motorway sections were introduced in 2006. They've taken a while to spread, but you're now likely to encounter them in most parts of the country. Certainly you can find sections on the M1, M4, M5, M6, M9, M20, M25, M40, M60, M62 and M90. Some feature "dynamic hard shoulders", and some sections have been converted to "all lane running". In other words, the hard shoulder has been removed permanently.
The idea behind the system is primarily to ease peak time congestion. To facilitate that, gantry traffic cameras monitor the flow of vehicles, then as needed flash a message onto an adjacent screen/noticeboard telling drivers and riders to now use the "dynamic" hard shoulder, or slow down, or resume the m-way speed limit.
Additionally, the system is designed to close any of the two or three typical motorway lanes by flashing a large red X on the board. Motorway users are then compelled to switch from that lane at the first opportunity until otherwise directed. Failure to obey the smart instructions will result in a fine (currently £100 with possibly three penalty points on their licence).
Trouble is, the hard shoulders were originally designed as breakdown lanes, and generations of drivers and riders have been conditioned to treat them as such. As a result, such road users are naturally/habitually disinclined to follow the posted instructions. So more confusion occurs when drivers fail to understand the X signals that flash up on the board. And that can quickly be fatal.
But what if a vehicle does break down? Well that's simple, says the government. You simply roll to a halt in one of the numerous Emergency SOS areas/zones—except that many, if not most, of these areas are roughly one and a half miles from each other. That's probably not so bad if you're travelling at 200mph or thereabouts. You can coast a long way at that speed. But if you're motoring along at 60 - 70mph, there's a fair chance that you won't make it to the SOS zone. So you aim for the hard shoulder. Only, that could suddenly be in use when the message board has just signalled everyone to help "de-congest" and use that lane.
So is it any wonder that, given the already complex nature of motorway traffic flow (not to mention the sheer idiocy of many drivers), people are getting hurt?
To compound matters, drivers are then advised to exit their vehicles on the left side (or passenger side) which isn't easy to do in many cars and trucks. Then drivers should use the adjacent emergency phone, summon help and clamber over the m-way barrier and wait.
However, if you can't make it to an SOS zone, drivers should pull up on the hard shoulder (busy or otherwise), switch on their hazard lights, dial 999 and wait in their vehicle with their seatbelt on—this latter piece of advice being ominously reminiscent of the fire brigade telling the recent Grenfell Tower residents to stay in the burning building rather than get the hell out.
Meanwhile, hands up everyone who's got a relative, friend or neighbour who can barely clamber out of their slippers never mind scale a motorway crash/safety barrier.
Well the good news is that the government is on the case. The bad news is that it was these turkeys who sanctioned the smart motorway network in the first place. The even more bad news is that more smart motorways (aka motorway-widening-schemes-on-the-cheap) are to follow. Why? Because when they work, they work. Meanwhile, when they don't work, people die.
Until the review develops some cogent solutions, our advice is to simply avoid smart m-ways whenever possible and enjoy the back roads. Motorcycles on motorways are no way to travel high.
Next month we'll be discussing what to do when approaching a roundabout with a sudden reverse traffic flow, and how to negotiate a one-way street when the vehicles in front do an unexpected directional switcheroo and are coming straight atcha.
Be careful, people. Or be lucky.
Government video: How to drive on a smart motorway
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THIS DAY IN HISTORY
29th October 2019
1843: The first commercial telegram ever sent was fired off from Paddington to Slough, right here in the UK. The 'gram was sent down the line of the Great Western Railway by Sir William Cooke (inventor) and Charles Wheatstone (scientist and inventor). But the railway company wasn't convinced of the merits and rejected the equipment numerous times. Instead, they preferred the shorter range hydraulic signalling technology. But eventually the telegram triumphed. Meanwhile, others around the world claimed "firsts" of their own, including Samuel Morse who, the following year, sent a telegram down the wires from Baltimore to Washington, USA. By 1861, the United States east and west coasts were wired and jabbering away using Samuel Morse's dotty and dashy language. A new communications age had begun. And because of it, you're now reading this story on your phone, tablet or desktop computer.
1929: Wall Street Crash. The New York Stock Exchange crashed on "Black Tuesday" and helped send the world into the worst depression in history. Actually, the dominoes started tumbling on 24th October 1929 on "Black Thursday". But there was a lot of money to pour down the drain, and down it went. Shares collapsed. Fortunes were instantly wiped out. Companies went bust. Many suicides followed. Two months earlier the London Stock Exchange had also crashed. That sent a ripple across the pond. In the USA, a huge financial bubble had been growing for many years during the early 1920s. That bubble had sent the nation into a frenzy of manufacturing, buying, selling, and unsustainable growth. Then it went pop and most of the world took a hit. It took decades (and WW2 to climb out of the hole). As a result, numerous motorcycle firms in the UK, the USA and elsewhere around the world watched the money dry up and saw their customers desert them.
1969: The day ARPANET woke up the world. Before Skynet in the Terminator movie franchise arrived, there was ARPANET. This was the first time that two computers "talked" to each other over any distance. The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network was a "packing switching" technology which facilitated long distance reliable communication between research centres. That was the original aim, or so many claim. The US military, however, latched on quickly. Why? Because the technology could maintain coms in the event of a nuclear strike. Imagine sending dozens of army couriers from New York to LA by different routes, all carrying the same message and headed for the same address. The bombs might get some of them, or nearly all of them. Some couriers might lose parts of the message, and some might lose other parts. But there's a good chance some messengers will get through. And there's a good chance that the message can be pieced together. Well that's packet switching, simplified. By 1990 ARPANET had been superseded, and so we've moved rapidly from the basic telegram to the highly sophisticated internet. But what comes next?
1971: Duane Allman killed on a motorcycle. He was the founder of, and driving force behind, the Allman Brothers Band—and you hardly need us to remind you that the Allman Brothers' song Jessica is the theme music to the BBC Top Gear TV show. A highly competent guitarist and session musician, Duane Allman (aka "Skydog") was particularly noted for his masterful slide guitar skills and improvisational technique. The band had just released their album, At Filmore East. They were on a roll. But on that fateful day he was riding his Harley-Davidson Sportster (allegedly at high speed) in Macon, Georgia, USA. However, at a local intersection he swerved to avoid a stopped truck carrying lumber. There was a huge impact. The bike flipped and landed on him. Duane Allman died some hours later in hospital. He was just 24.
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Biking hero's budget reprint
We're gonna keep this news item brief, largely because it doesn't actually warrant much space, but also (as we've said before on Sump) we're not Ogri fans and wouldn't have anything meaningful or interesting to say about him.
But others, no doubt, disagree. So we're happy to tell you that a new Ogri book is on the way and is expected to be available after 25th November 2019.
Created by Paul Sample in 1972, the strip first appeared in Bike and was later aired in Back Street heroes.
The press release from Laughing Gnome Books tells us that we'll be looking (or not) at "150 of the greatest strips as selected by fans" (apparently crowd-sourced). The book also carries an interview with Paul Sample, and "never-before-seen illustrations drawn from his private sketchbook will be published".
The publication is evidently a slimmed/budget/second bite version of "How to make my getaway": The Complete Compendium of Ogri Strip Cartoons 1972 - 2013 that was first put on sale in 2017. It featured 443 strips.
This version has 176 pages. The dimensions are 240mm x 320mm. The ISBN is: 978-1-9161879-0-0. And the cover price is £24.99.
Gotta make someone a great Christmas present. Maybe.
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Ex-speedway star/smuggler/convicted villain Split Waterman dies aged 96
Mahindra MCs tipped to buy Peugeot Scooters outright. Undisclosed sum
UK government is considering green number plates scheme for EVs
27/10/2019: "5,000 bikers" ride for biking PC Andrew Harper killed on duty
Aston Martin & Brough Superior to reveal limited edition bike at EICMA
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A detailed account of bikes built between 1957 and 1974
Veloce Publishing: £27.50
To get straight into it, this is a great book. Okay? So if you're into 350/500cc Triumphs—and into any other 350/500cc British classic—you might want to check this out. You might become converted.
Firstly, this book has got a "feel good" quality to it and reminds us of just how nice/cool/stylish/"affordable" middleweight Triumph twins are. And it's easy to overlook their appeal when you've "upgraded" to 650cc and 750cc Triumph roadsters.
But Edward Turner's original parallel twin was, he's been quoted as saying, the right size for the design and dimensions. And looking back, pretty much every 350cc or 500cc Triumph twin we've ever ridden has returned a great, easy-going ride with nimble handling. And they can crack on too when you've fettled them appropriately.
Written by Peter Henshaw and Justin Harvey-Jones, these pages are packed full of history, technical data, advertising material, sales information, specifications, modification advice, plus a general insight into owning and living with one of these bikes. There's also a chapter on what might have been the much-needed replacement for these bikes, namely the stillborn BSA Fury/Triumph Bandit concept.
Even more interesting is a chapter, as revealed by John Nelson (ex Triumph Service Manager) detailing exactly how Meriden operated. This explains the inner workings from concept, to design, to materials acquisition to production, to marketing, to packing and delivery. It's a fascinating fly-on-the-wall account that adds a new dimension to the Meriden factory and helps put the 350/500cc Triumphs (and other Triumphs) into a meaningful context.
So okay, one or two of the captions are mere throwaway lines. And we would have preferred this as a hardback rather than softback. But as an in-depth study of these often overlooked middleweight Trumpets, this is a great beginning, and possibly not a bad place to finish. Except that there's always more information out there to be ensnared and committed to print.
There are 160 or so pages in this book. There are 225 images (a mix of colour and B&W). The book dimensions are 250mm x 207mm. The narrative is relaxed, unflashy and reasonably economical.
The price direct from Veloce Publishing is £27.50—which may or may not include P&P; the details are confusing.
We're still dipping in and out of this book and learning all kinds of things that we didn't know. And sooner or later we'll have read the whole thing. But for now, having read odd chapters and flicked through every page from beginning to end, we're happy to suggest that you take a closer look for yourself and see if you agree.
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The original look is back
Will be offered alongside the Cafe and the Street models
Kawasaki has just announced the reintroduction of the "classic" 773cc W800 for 2020. The bike will be offered alongside the current Cafe and Street roadsters. The familiar mechanicals and styling are pretty much where they were when the bike was withdrawn in 2016. But the popular retro parallel twin has been revamped for the new season, and it neatly plugs a gap in the Kawasaki range.
Check the link for our Kawasaki W800 news story. It's over on our Motorcycle News pages.
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Auction house claims 92 percent conversion rate
Ex-dealer Bill Crosby's collection returns £332,000
There are numerous ways of looking at this story. The immediate and obvious headline is the fact that Bonhams appears to have had another decent sale at Stafford on 19th - 20th October 2019. The world famous auction house is claiming a turnover of more than £2 million with a sell-through rate of 92 percent. And whilst we haven't studied the numbers, we're happy to take Bonhams at face value. When this firm crows, there's usually something to crow about.
But underlying this spasm of pecuniary exuberance is the fact that the Bill Crosby collection of 90 motorcycles raised £332,000 with every lot finding a buyer. That's good news, you might say. But the sad fact is that Crosby, now in his 80s, didn't want to sell the collection in the first place. That's because this haul of aluminium and steel and rubber came directly from the London Motorcycle Museum in Greenford, Middlesex which closed on 7th October 2019 having failed to secure sufficient operating funds and/or a lower council rates rebate deal in order to stay viable.
Crosby, erstwhile proprietor of Reg Allen Motorcycles in Hanwell, London which also recently shut its doors and downsized to the adjacent workshop, began his collection way back in the 1970s when Triumph Meriden went belly up. Crosby was one of the first in his Transit van to make the final pilgrimage to the West Midlands factory hoping to beat the other tomb raiders to the punch.
Not that he was happy about the company going bust. Far from it. He'd been a time-served Triumph Man and, as we understand it from talking to him many years ago, he'd rather that the business of building motorcycles had continued. There had been many good years. Nevertheless, the death certificate had been issued, the undertakers were on call, and there was an estate to be dealt with.
What followed was the acquisition of numerous rare and interesting Triumph prototype motorcycles and suchlike that helped form the nucleus of his collection. That grew over the years, and finally Crosby opened a museum with which to accommodate his bikes. You can read more about Crosby and his museum by following the link below. Suffice to say that the wheels of fate have turned another revolution, and now the museum is gone, the collection is split, and Crosby has trousered over £300k. But it's no doubt a pretty miserable moment when viewed from the perspective of broken ambition, the collapse of a dream and the loss of what might have been an enduring legacy. And he might well have some debts to settle.
We'd send Crosby our sympathies direct, but he wouldn't want them. Not from anyone, we think. And although it's a little crass to suggest that he'll at least be able to sit back and relax in considerable comfort in what's left of his years, we suspect that any celebratory wine he might be guzzling will be corked.
More prosaically, Crosby's 1977 750cc Triumph "Strongbow" Flat tracker sold for £33,350 (Lot 239). That was more than three times its top estimate. Meriden Triumph built half a dozen or so of these bikes in the late 1970s shortly before the end came.
Also sold was a 1981 Triumph TS8-1 prototype (Lot 241; image immediately above) that fetched £13,225—which strikes us as a little low. This bike, some of you will recall, was shown at the 1981 Earls Court Motorcycle Show. It was as ugly as sin, what with its angular hatchet-job fairing, even worse front mudguard and ponderous tail piece. Nevertheless, the bike marked a fleetingly hopeful moment for Meriden which by then was on a ventilator sucking fumes.
With its eight-valve head, electric starter, rubber-mounted engine and cast wheels, the bike was unashamedly gunning for BMW's touring market. But the world wasn't convinced, not least by the fact that the classic parallel twin underpinnings were outdated and desperately in need of a ground-up revamp.
With one "push-mile" from new, the TS8-1 might have had a different fate had it arrived a decade earlier. But although it drew a lot of attention on its display stand, it was the kind of attention fans might give an ageing starlet who was making a swansong even as the final curtain was coming down about her ears. Just one example was built, and this was it; hence our feeling that £13k plus change is cheap.
Also sold was a 1982 Triumph 649cc TR65T Tiger Trail (Lot 237; image immediately above). That fetched a smokin' £16,675. We're told that it's just one of six bikes built by Meriden, all featuring a short-stroke, single-carbed 650cc engine that was otherwise identical to the existing 750cc T140 lump.
A 750cc (short stroke) TR7T Tiger Trail was also produced, and in greater numbers. Somewhere between 180 and 200 units is the generally quoted figure. Both bikes benefited from the squarer engine dimensions. But as with the TS8-1, it was all too little, too late.
Next, three sprint bikes built by the late back street motorcycle engineer and racer Bill Bragg sold for £20,700 (Lot 290). Dubbed the Peril Equipe, Bragg built these bikes in the early sixties following a bad sidecar racing smash at Crystal Palace which took him within feeler gauge distance of meeting his maker. Whilst recovering in hospital he wisely decided that quarter-mile sprinting was a safer way to go and an acceptable outlet for his mechanical talents.
After an 18-month engine coupling tussle and sprinting campaign with "Twin Thing", a double Triumph-engined racer housed in a Norton frame, Bragg re-focussed his efforts on single-engined bikes and zoomed in on 650cc Triumph twins. What followed were "Yellow Peril" (13.39 quarter mile), "Scarlet Peril" and "Blue Peril" (11.19 quarter mile), the latter of which was boosted by a Shorrock supercharger supplied by Sydney Allard of Allard cars. This, take note, is claimed by some to be the first time a Triumph twin was supercharged.
Bill Bragg was an innovator in the sprint world and a very practical, down-to-earth man with one or two unorthodox "engineering" tricks up his sleeve; a man who wouldn't have looked out of place in a Boy's Own type comic of the era. He emigrated to Australia in 1966. The bikes faded from view, but were rediscovered in the late 1990s and subsequently restored. You can see them every once in a while on various sprint circuits in the UK.
Other Crosby bikes from BSA to Rudge achieved respectable prices, but we're still studying the results and will update this piece if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Pope's Harley-Davidson (Lot 448M, see elsewhere on this page or follow the link) sold for £48,300. Hardly a miracle, but there will be an extra large stash of coins in the Vatican collection box tonight which are said to be going to a good charitable cause (possibly minus admin fees, or so the more cynical among us might think).
Following on, the top selling lot at this sale was the immediately above 1927 Brough Superior Overhead 680 (Lot 316). The "Overhead" refers not to overhead cams but the overhead valves that were grafted onto JAP's 674cc sidevalve V-twin platform. George Brough was already marketing his SS80 one-litre sidevalve and one-litre SS100 OHV models (both V-twins) and wanted a smaller, lower cost OHV bike to accommodate potential buyers on a slightly tighter budget.
First shown at Olympia, London in 1926, the bike entered production the following year. It was a huge success and led directly to the creation of the higher-specification Black Alpine 680.
The bike shown here was bought by the vendor's late father in 1955. He paid £40, still a fairly substantial sum then. It was attached to a Milford sidecar, and its owner used that rig to pass his motorcycle test. A modified chainguard, revised oiling system and replacement gearbox was at that point already fitted.
In the 1970s the Brough Superior was used in several Banbury Runs and picked up a couple of awards. It has at various times been restored and was last road-taxed until the end of February 1990. Consequently, it's in need of re-commissioning/restoring. Engine and frame numbers match. A V5 registration document is present; ditto for a copy of the Works Record Card.
The bike sold for £92,000.
London Motorcycle Museum story
Hi Big End and colleague’ Sumpfolks, An extremely sad tale this, the sale of Bill’s amazing collection. And I must say the figure of £332,000 at auction seems some way under the actual value. Before coming to live on the IoM I was born and raised in Northolt, North West London, just down the road apiece from Greenford where Bill founded his brilliant museum. I got to know the good man a bit and always enjoyed a visit to see him for a look around, brew and a natter. Bad do what Ealing council have done by ‘pulling the rug from under him’, and also a great shame that no other sites for his museum relocation could be found despite many people attempting to do so ever since he got the bad news from Ealing. I personally do feel sad for Bill as it was his life’s work collecting and letting us see these, some very special indeed, machines—not only Triumph’s but many other makes too, plus his always friendly greeting and knowledgeable conversation, plus of course the ‘all important’ mugs of tea.—Selwyn
I attended parts auction on both days and my conclusion was the
prices being realised were VERY erratic, with some performing broadly as
expected and others, it seemed, way out. The prototype Triumph TRW with
a hammer price of £2300 stood out as incredibly cheap to me, and the very
complete and in good order TRW swinging arm prototype at £4500 seemed
similar. Look at the results online and draw your own conclusions about how the market is doing and where it's heading.—The Village Squire
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The Godfather's scooter is looking for a buyer
(... make him an offer he can't refuse)
It's not often that The Godfather, aka The Wild One graces the pages of Sump Magazine. But here he is, in the digital flesh, pictured with a Vespa scooter (cue: unconvincing Photoshop montage above).
The story goes that the scooter belonged to movie producer Elliott Kastner. Kastner produced Where Eagles Dare (1968) starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. He also produced The Missouri Breaks (1976) starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson.
Kastner, we're told, used the scooter in Rome as a prop in a short film, then shipped it to the UK, specifically to his house in Berkshire. Brando, who died in 2004, was a regular visitor to that house, and occasionally The Godfather used the Vespa to gad about town and country—never mind that the bike was unregistered for use on UK roads.
Does that naughty factoid add a little spice to what is an otherwise pretty dull story? Marlon Brando at odds with Scotland Yard?
But not for us.
Either way, Kastner's son, Dillon, inherited the bike and sold it to a certain Chris Bishop who for 25 years was Head of Furniture at Pinewood Studios. Elliott Kastner (who died in 2010) apparently kept an office at Pinewood (as if that makes any difference). We also learn that Dillon Kastner has since penned a letter to the effect that, yeah, he remembers Brando riding the Vespa.
Sound like thin provenance to anyone out there?
Now, had Brando used the Vespa in a movie, or owned it, or signed it, or had even been photographed sitting on it—or even photographed glancing absently at it from a distance—we'd be more impressed. But all we have is the scooter and the letter—and it's lucky that Dillon remembers Brando riding the bike, because otherwise the Vespa might be worth just a couple of grand or so. But with the Brando connection, it could be worth ... double that.
Anyway, H&H Auctions will be flogging the scooter (or not) at its next sale at the National Motorcycle Museum (NMM) in Solihull. The date will be 2nd November 2019. So if you're a Brando fan, an Elliott Kastner fan, a Chris Bishop fan, or just looking for a Vespa with a little sketchy provenance, you'd better break open that piggy and start counting coins. We haven't seen an estimate, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. These days we miss a lot.
Meanwhile, we think we've got a stolen back scrubber around here that Elvis used once or twice, plus a letter from a Las Vegas hotel maid to go with it. Now 'ang on a bit ... it's around here somewhere ...
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Don't say Koni, say Ikon
A few YouTube words on why you might want these shocks/dampers
We must confess that we know Roger Kirwin from many, many years ago. Not very well, mind, but well enough to know that we like him and trust him, and that's largely why we're happy to give him the oxygen of publicity right here on Sump.
Roger has spent most of his life in the motorcycle trade and has much experience at all levels from sales to servicing to aftermarket parts. He currently owns and runs ikonsuspensionusa.com.
The back story here is that Ikon picked up where Koni (shock absorbers/dampers) left off in 2015 when the Netherlands firm decided that the motorcycle market wasn't worth bothering with anymore, and focussed on its other heavy industrial suspension products.
An Australian firm quickly picked up the manufacturing rights to Koni, then very conveniently switched a few letters around and gave the product a new branding. But the basic design of the suspension remained as it was.
Sometime later, Roger Kirwin happened along and launched a distribution business from his base in Pennsylvania, USA—which is a long way from where Roger started out in Southport, Lancashire, UK.
What brought him back into our field of view was a press release from Janus Motorcycles (check out the guys above) which was looking to share a new video with Sump visitors. The video is part of a "Parts Talk" series; this one highlighting the fundamentals of Ikon suspension which are a crucial piece of original equipment for Janus's quirky and interesting bikes. Not familiar with this outfit? Well click the link you've just passed. In February this year we briefly mentioned this energetic US marque.
Anyway, you can check out the video and familiarise yourself with Ikon suspension. If it helps any buying decision, we're still running around on a set of original Koni Dial-a-Rides which have hugely improved the handling and comfort of one of our T140s. We fitted them 15 years ago.
Meanwhile, there are maybe half a dozen types of rear suspension units in the Ikon range. The company also makes and sells fork springs. We haven't looked into where you currently might buy this kit on this side of the pond. But we're pretty sure Roger can set you straight if you have problems. It's a simple video, nicely done. Check it out—and say hello to Roger Kirwin for us. He's okay.
Finally, make sure you check out Janus Motorcycles. In a world of sameness and mediocrity, this company is distinctly and refreshingly different.
YouTube Ikon Suspension video
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Warwickshire-based firm plans a new range of delivery vehicles
Olde-worlde design cues on a new age platform
Remember the Morris J-type van? Launched in 1948 by Morris Commercial Cars, this 10cwt (half ton) vehicle was once a familiar sight on British roads and a popular choice for shopkeepers, parcel delivery firms, ice cream vendors, general traders, government departments and similar.
Originally, the J-Type was fitted with a 1,476cc 4-cylinder, 3-speed sidevalve engine that was upgraded (or, depending on your feelings about sidevalves, downgraded) to a 1,489cc 4-cylinder, 4-speed OHV unit.
Either way, it was a great design at the right price at the right time, and today the J-Type is fondly remembered and cherished by all sectors of the motoring community including everyday classic owners, historic restorers, vehicle collectors and hotrodders—and one or two J-Types are still in active service.
Well now we learn that a revival of the brand is underway with the development of an up-to-the-minute electric van to be manufactured by Morris Commercial, a Worcestershire-based start-up clearly hoping to cash-in on the fabled Morris brand. Or maybe that's too cynical. It might be that there are people involved in this project who, for more nostalgic/sentimental reasons, would like to see the Morris name back on the street.
Details of the new vehicle (to be badged as the JE) are sketchy, and we've seen no clear images; just the usual tedious teasers. But there's talk of a full-electric power train hooked up to the usual lithium-ion battery pack and underpinned by an advanced carbon fibre chassis. A fully operational prototype is expected to be formally unveiled later this autumn.
And if you think you can see a Chinaman lurking in the bamboo, you're right. The Morris name was acquired back in 2005 when Nanjing Automobiles bought the assets of the collapsed MG Rover Consortium.
In 2007, China state-owned SAIC bought those rights (either jointly or entirely; details are unclear), and SAIC also owns (troubled) van maker LDV—which currently produces a range of electric delivery vehicles.
Over the last few decades, we've seen numerous revivals of otherwise defunct marques and models ranging from Mini to Rover to MG to the VW Beetle and the Fiat 500. Not all have been entirely satisfactory, neither critically and commercially. Though one or two (such as Mini) have been a howling success. So we're reserving judgement on the revival of the Morris brand until we see it up close. But something un-scratchable is starting to itch.
And of course, whatever else it is, it won't really be "a Morris" at all; not as we feel about the brand. Resurrecting the dead is usually pretty gruesome, and Morris Commercial has been mouldering in the grave for over 50 years. However, Morris was once a great company, and there's plenty of history in the archive to be raided, dusted down, rehashed and put on the market.
It's slightly different for Triumph which, thanks to Les Harris building the stop-gap "750cc Harris Bonnie", managed to maintain some kind of plausible continuity between the old and the new. Or, if you prefer, the living and the dead.
And Royal Enfield is also a genuine continuity brand; arguably more so than with Triumph. But at Sump, we're still struggling with Ariel, Matchless, Norton, Brough-Superior and Indian. Yes, the spirit in most of these marques is present and (mostly) correct.
Beyond that, to be more sanguine about the resurgence of Morris Commercials (if it comes to fruition), it's not exactly a new commercial phenomenon. Rebranding has been happening since branding was invented, and many of our most cherished marques simply wouldn't be here if someone hadn't created a new business from the ashes of another.
Ask Phil Vincent.
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Co-star of the Tarantino movie Jackie Brown has died aged 78
He enjoyed a career spanning five decades
It's almost as if actor Robert Forster didn't exist until Quentin Tarantino made the classic movie Jackie Brown (1997). And now, in what feels like the blinking of an eye since that film was first screened, he's gone.
Just like that.
Robert Forster was one of those actors possessed of a face that many, if not most movie fans were at least vaguely familiar with, but a face to which few could put a name. However, he was in fact one of the busiest actors in the film industry both before and after Tarantino plucked him from near obscurity.
He was born in Rochester, New York State and originally wanted to be a lawyer. However, his life took a different turn and he chose acting and enjoyed his first movie Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) also starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. The film, a tale about sexual repression and murder, didn't do well at the box office, but Forster gave a decent enough account of himself as Private L G Williams.
He was soon back on the big screen in The Stalking Moon (1968) starring Gregory Peck and Eva Marie Saint. Forster played Nick Tana, a half-breed Indian, in a western drama about revenge and a massacre.
▲ Robert Forster as Banjon. This detective series was never rewarded with high enough ratings and was cancelled mid-season. He also appeared in numerous episodes of another US TV series, Police Story aired between 1975 and 1977.
Other roles quickly followed, and between 1971 - 1973 Forster enjoyed a stint in the US TV series, Banjon (not to be confused with Banacek, starring George Peppard). In this 1930s-era show, Forster played Miles C Banyon, a private detective operating from an office in the (fabulous) and famous Los Angeles Bradbury Building. If you're remember the movie Blade Runner (1982), you'll be at least vaguely familiar with the Bradbury Building (or a facsimile thereof; cue hysterical "skin jobs" giving Harrison Ford a good thumping, etc).
It's said that Forster's acting, on-screen presence and phiz later impressed Quentin Tarantino so much that he cast him in the Max Cherry role.
Robert Forster was 56 years old when Jackie Brown was made. At that point in his life, his career was waning—although it had never deserted him entirely. He'd simply seen most of his best years, had lost much of his recognition quotient (perhaps due the fact that he generally played his roles very differently), and was going nowhere in too much of a hurry.
Some B movies came his way. Many of the other roles were almost cultish, often by way of action flicks and suchlike.
▲ Given his good looks, acting skills, screen presence, and popularity with producers and directors, it's hard to see why Robert Forster wasn't a bigger star. But sometimes, the right vehicle simply doesn't come along. Certainly, less deserving actors have got a lot further that the guy we'll long remember as Max Cherry. We'll drink a beer to Forster this evening.
Jackie Brown (based on the novel Rum Punch by US crime writer Elmore Leonard) gave Forster the springboard needed to elevate him from a vaguely remembered dramatic actor of yesteryear to one of the hot tickets of [then] modern cinema. His role as Max Cherry, the jaded bail bonds man, was so well received that he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Following Jackie Brown, Forster made dozens more movies, and he soon became a familiar face on TV—invariably now recognised as "the bloke from that Tarantino movie".
Overall, Forster enjoyed a whopping 112 movie appearances (count 'em), and 65 TV appearances. And given the number of re-runs on our screens, chances are that he'll be with us for many years to come and will be more famous in death than he was in life.
He was married twice, fathered four children, and was still working almost to the end of his life.
The next time you watch Jackie Brown (and it's the kind of film that we feel warrants repeated views), check the poster on the wall of Max Cherry's office. It's an advert for Barnum & Bailey Circus where Forster's father worked as an elephant trainer. A small homage to his old man.
Why are we telling you that? No special reason. It's just one of those things you do when you've got someone on your mind.
Robert Forster was 78 years old.
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Built in the 1960s
But is it a genuine replica or a real fake?
H&H Auctions has sent us some details of an "exactingly built copy" of a 1946 Gilera Saturno Competizione 500cc, a bike that will be offered for sale on 2nd November 2019 at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, West Midlands.
The motorcycle was created in the 1960s by ex-works rider Ettore Villa and used in Italy for historic sprints and parades. In 1992 the Gilera was bought by collector Raymond Ainscoe. It was moved on in 2006 to racer Tim Jackson who, we hear, modified and uprated the bike for competition, notably at the Goodwood Revival. In 2010 Jackson rolled in 6th at Goodwood, and in 2014 he finished 7th. Over the years the bike also has been raced at Silverstone, Mallory and in Belgium.
There's no more information on this particular bike, so prospective buyers would be well advised to carefully check the provenance. The estimate is £11,000 to £13,000.
The Gilera Story in brief
Giuseppe Gilera (image right) was born in 1887. At the age of 15 he began a mechanical apprenticeship with the Bianchi motorcycle company. He later moved on to the Italian branch of the Swiss Moto Reve company and spent some time at the firm's factory in Geneva.
In 1909, at the age of 22, Gilera built his first motorcycle. Working from his premises in Milan, this 310cc, four-stroke, OHV motorcycle was his own design—and from all accounts was a well thought out machine.
Gilera raced that first bike in hill climbs, and in 1911 launched a "modest" racing team. That eventually attracted the attention of investors, and soon the business was manufacturing a sidevalve single and a twin.
The Saturno first appeared in 1939 as a sporting machine, ideal for Clubman racing. The Saturno racing prototype, featuring a 32mm Dell’Orto carburettor, appeared in 1940. Works rider Massimo Masserini, on his first race on the machine, won the Targa Florio in Palermo.
In 1946, following the FIM ban on superchargers (which scuppered the firm's 250cc supercharged four), Gilera needed a stopgap machine while other options were being considered and developed. So the 497cc OHV Saturno (designed by Giuseppe Salmaggi) was dusted down, technically speaking, and put on the track. That bike featured a 35mm carburettor, a single camshaft, a 4-speed transmission, a girder front fork and a full width front brake. It was reputedly good for around 36hp @ 6,000rpm. Top speed was around 90mph, and the handling, largely due to its patented swinging-arm rear suspension with enclosed coil springs, was excellent. Telescopic forks arrived in 1950.
The road-going Saturno was produced between 1946 and 1958. The firm built 6,026 examples. The racing models were, we believe, limited to 25 units—but there is much debate on this, take note. In August 2019, a reputedly 1948 500cc Saturno sold on eBay for $9,990. Note that as with the BSA DB Gold Stars, the original motorcycles spawned numerous fakes. So if you're buying, get some expert eyes.
In 2016 Bonhams sold a 1947 Gilera Saturno Sport (a road oriented model, take note) for $9,775 (£7,731). We've seen other high and low prices for Gileras of this vintage. If you're thinking of bidding, just beware of misunderstandings in the market. It's a little complicated. And we have to confess that our knowledge of the marque is very limited.
Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960, Giuseppe Gilera's interest in racing waxed and waned, largely due to the death of his son and the deaths/injuries of various top factory riders. But in its heyday, the company was a major racing force and produced a large range of motorcycles for the sporting and general consumer market.
In the 1960s sales declined markedly, and by 1968 the receivers were in. It was, as ever, a sad moment. The following year Piaggio took over. Today the company produces small capacity scooters and motorcycles.
Giuseppe Gilera died in 1971.
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Electrical gremlins shut the assembly line
Owners are advised to stay away from domestic AC circuits
Firstly, anyone who owns or is currently using/riding/stealing a Harley-Davidson LiveWire can carry on using/riding/stealing it without undue concern—just as long as they don't recharge it with a domestic AC charging point.
We don't have details of exactly what went wrong. But some kind of fault in the charging circuit has been belatedly discovered by the H-D engineers. As a result, the production line has been shut down while the experts try and figure out a cost-effective solution.
Meanwhile LiveWire motorcycles, we're advised, should be charged only at a Harley-Davidson dealership via a professional fast charger.
There's no word on when production will be resumed, and we've had no direct press release communication from H-D. Instead, the word is out via the Wall Street Journal which, we hear, has received a "leaked" document from a Harley-Davidson insider.
Supposedly, there are red faces all round at Milwaukee. MoCo has, after all, spent a huge wedge on getting these bikes exactly right in order to consolidate its market penetration, and the firm is pretty much staking its future on electric two wheel transportation.
More on this if and when the lights come back on...
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675cc middleweight roadster gets a timely (or is that overdue?) upgrade
The price is likely to be around £10,300
Triumph Motorcycles has revamped the already very successful Street Triple RS and will be landing them on British beaches in the very near future. Much of the new bike is however the same as the old, albeit with numerous styling tweaks and revisions. But Triumph at least feels it's done enough to please the old guard and lure a few more new recruits. So what do you say?
Check Sump's Motorcycle News pages for details
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Barber Motorsport Museum Sale hailed as a success
The top selling lot was a 1910 Flying Merkel
We haven't checked the all numbers. Life's too short, and there are bikes to be ridden and beer to be drunk. So wisely or unwisely, we're taking Bonhams press release at face value. And what this long established international auction house is saying is that the firm's sale at the Barber Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, Alabama on 5th October 2019 topped out at $1.13m (around £830,000) with a sell-through rate of 80%.
But it's worth noting that some of the headline lots didn't find buyers. One such item was Lot 155, a 1940 Crocker Big Tank which was estimated to sell at $495,000 - $595,000 (£400,000 - £480,000). The other was Lot 152, a 1949 998cc Vincent Black Shadow Series C estimated at $110,000 - $130,000 (£89,000 - £100,000) [check here for more on those bikes].
Meanwhile, the top selling lot was the above and below 1910 884cc Flying Merkel V-twin (Lot 158). Joseph Merkel (1872 - 1958) founded the short-lived company in 1902. A largely self-taught mechanical engineer, Merkel was nothing if not an innovator, a gifted draughtsman, and a pioneer of motorcycle design.
Based in Milwaukee, he began his business at the turn of the 20th century by designing, developing and manufacturing components for the bicycle industry. That venture led in 1902 to the creation of his first motorcycles.
These 4-stroke, IOE (inlet over exhaust) air-cooled singles were simple, rugged and badged under the "Merkel" name. Rated at 2.5hp, the 314cc, IOE, F-head singles had no transmission and featured a direct belt drive with no clutch or brakes. And interestingly, the bikes used the front down tube of the frame as the exhaust header (Merkel wasn't the only motorcycle manufacturer to do this, note).
Development was rapid, and three more F-heads followed until in 1907 Merkel launched an IOE inline-four. This chain-driven prototype was well thought out, but expensive to produce and never saw volume production. A 441cc racer followed in 1909. And that same year, a 997cc V-twin was unveiled. This 87.63mm x 82.55mm set the pace and tone for future Merkel V-twins. Soon enough "mechanical" (i.e. cam-operated) inlet and exhaust valves were introduced (as opposed to atmospheric inlets).
Meanwhile, the Merkel Motor Co (1902-1908) was subsumed into The Light Manufacturing Co of Pottsdown, Pennsylvania. Trading as the The Merkel Light Motor Co, this firm continued until 1912 when The Miami Cycle Manufacturing & Co of Ohio took the helm.
During this era, the various companies created dozens of motorcycle designs, from singles to V-twins—and reputedly also a tricycle. Merkel also built a large number of cars (around 150 is the usual quoted figure).
The bikes were priced at around $155 - $185 for the singles. The V-twins cost somewhere between $240 - $285. The final bikes featured a two-speed gearbox, chain drive, and a right-side kickstarter. The later V-twins, incidentally, were offered in two engine capacities: 885cc and 1,000cc.
From the early days the bikes been active on the racetracks, and thanks to their superior build quality, and (it's said) their German made engine ball bearings (as opposed to the more usual bronze bushings), the bikes were winners rather than losers. Novel front and rear suspension, efficient cam designs, high-quality materials and that near iconic looped frame all added to the potent Merkel brew.
The marketing men at this point decided that the product name needed a revamp, and so it became The Flying Merkel. And to make the bikes highly visible on the roads and race tracks, someone suggested the bright orange livery which became part of the brand trademark and identity.
The company continued to develop its product and notched-up numerous feats of endurance and prowess that were highly publicised. But the market was contracting and rationalising, and by 1917 the USA had entered the First World War. Consequently, manufacturing was given over to the munitions industry and suchlike. And when the hostilities ended, the days of the Flying Merkel were over.
Joseph Merkel continued his involvement with motorcycle design, and he took an interest in the wider politics of motorcycles, notably with regard to general usage, road safety and motorcycle taxation. But his days of motorcycle manufacture were, sadly, done. And today, Merkels and Flying Merkels are highly sought after, especially those that carry original paint and satisfactory provenance.
Early marketing blurb tells us:
"The company rightfully played up build-quality in its showroom brochures, telling prospective buyers, "In presenting The Flying Merkel we believe we are offering you the world's finest motorcycle. No effort or expense has been spared to place The Flying Merkel on the top rung of mechanical achievement and it is today, without doubt, America's premier machine for comfort, speed and reliability. It is a machine to depend upon – a machine whose reliability is a thousand times a proven fact."
We wouldn't argue with that.
Joseph Merkel was by no means the only American motorcycle pioneer. But he was certainly one of the most prolific and inventive, and he gave the likes of Excelsior, Indian and Harley-Davidson much to think about.
The Oct 2019 Barber Motorsports' Flying Merkel
The 1910 Flying Merkel 884cc Twin (images further above) has been built "largely from an original and complete bike". So read what you will into that. It features front and rear suspension (the former being courtesy of hidden springs in the headstock; a design that other manufacturers used on their own machines). The engine number is: V 2857.
The bike was estimated at $150,000. But it sold for $100,000 (£79,252), no doubt largely due to its incomplete history.
Note that in October 2014 Bonhams sold a 1914 V-Twin Flying Merkel for £104,540 (around $130,000). That was at the Stafford Sale.
Other headline results
Lot 159: 1913 Thor Single (believed unrestored): $51,750
Lot 153: 1951 Vincent Black Shadow Series C: $54,050
Lot 145: 1955 Vincent Black Shadow Series D: $46,000
Lot 146: 1952 Vincent Black Shadow Series C: $40,250
Lot 159: c1968 Egli Vincent: $37,950
Lot 126: 1913 James 4¼ combination: $27,600.
Lot 165: 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross (ex-Bruce Brown): $18,400
Having since taken a longer, more in-depth look at this auction, we think there's very distinct evidence of further cooling in the market—certainly as far as this sale is concerned.
For instance, check the following:
Lot 209: 1976 Triumph 750cc T140V Bonneville, $3,680 (£2,916)
Lot 208: 1969 Triumph 749cc T150 Trident, $7,475 (£5,924)
Lot 210: 1963 Triumph 650cc TR6SR, $5,520 (£4,374)
Lot 163: 1930 Harley-Davidson VL Combination: $16,675 (£13,215)
All these bikes look to be in reasonably good order, and all sold for at least 20 percent less than they might have just a few years ago. The 650cc Bonnie, meanwhile, looks to be 30 - 40 percent lower. Beyond that, there's a lot of other British stuff that either didn't sell, or sold for very low money.
We're less sure about the other stuff. The Jap bikes look to have held up reasonably well (albeit from a low base), but we think the Ducatis are down. However, these are merely subjective impressions. We're generally stronger on the Brit and Yankee stuff (pricewise) than on the European or Japanese bikes. Best check the Bonhams site for yourself and see if you agree.
See more on this auction on Sump September Classic Bike News 2019
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Troubled charity event needs to bolster its finances
No entry fee (as such), but a £5 donation is expected
Check the above poster and you'll see that the next Brightona show is scheduled for 13th October 2019. As the name suggests, the venue is Brighton, East Sussex. Specifically, on Madeira Drive.
If you're not familiar with Brightona, it's a charity based motorcycle show offering all the things you might expect at such a gathering. It's manned (and womanned) by volunteers, and we're advised that two years of poor weather has hit the finances hard. Actually, the organisers are now in the red, and they'd like to get back into the black and thereby keep the event viable.
Ultimately, it all comes down to visitor numbers. There's no entry charge as such. But if you attend, you're asked to provide a £5 donation (which will earn you a pin badge). The Sussex Heart Charity will be the recipient of your largess/generosity—no doubt after the bills have been paid. And we're not suggesting any impropriety here. Far from it. These events, even with volunteer help, always have costs to consider; costs such as advertising, public liability insurance, erecting the event stages, show programmes, sound systems and suchlike.
So if you're looking for something to do and somewhere to go on the 13th of this month, give Brightona some consideration if you will. The 13th, incidentally, is a Sunday.
We don't have any connection with the show, by the way. But we like to support a "healthy" (meaning varied and independent) motorcycle lifestyle scene, and we've got no reason not to support this one.
Update: Maybe some of you Sumpsters could re-post this story on your website or Facebook page or whatever, or just give this show a mention.
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Custom H-D to be auctioned
Frank the Pope bloke is "doing it for charity"
Our first reaction was that this was a wind-up. Something to do with a new Monty Python's Flying Circus series maybe. Or maybe it was Donald Trump firing off a little fake news of his own. Or maybe we were still tucked up in bed with our teddies and having another stupid dream.
But no. It's all true. Sadly. The above Harley-Davidson custom has been "blessed" by "His Holiness Pope Francis" and will be auctioned at the forthcoming Bonhams' Sale at Stafford (20th October 2019). The proceeds will be "donated to the Pontifical Mission Societies". The Harley is expected to sell for anything between £50,000 - £100,000.
The bike, we hear, is called ‘White Unique’, which is an interesting moniker is these racially sensitive times. A guy named Dr Thomas Draxler of the Jesus Bikers group from Austria dreamed up this one, possibly with his own teddy in arms.
Then Bavarian Harley Davidson dealer, Würzburg Village, supplied the motorcycle and "collaborated with the Jesus Bikers on its customisation".
The machine is "finished in pearlescent white, with Chicano (Mexican American) style detailing, numerous gold-plated components, a Dorne wreath ornament, a sunken cross and Pope Francis’ signature on the tank." The press release carried some other notes on this bike, but nothing that's worth repeating.
It's not the first time a motorcycle has been blessed by the pope and flogged off to help the starving/under-privileged masses. We'd almost forgotten that (some things you really don't want to remember). But in 2014, a "holy" H-D FXDC sold for €241,500, also courtesy of Bonhams.
Now call us cynical if you must (and we've been called that once or twice), but it must be manifestly clear to anyone with even a tiny nugget of rationality and independent thinking that organised religion is the nastiest, most insidious, most odious form of mental and emotional slavery the world has ever seen.
Never mind Joe Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Adolf Hitler and Attilla the Bloody Hun, it's the long succession of pontiffs, imams, rabbis and other religious leaders who have caused the greatest misery to the human race. Why any government in the 21st century still tolerates the rampant social manipulation of these overblown, over-indulged cults [did we spell that right?—Ed] is a mystery.
▲ We've been told for years that God rides a Harley. We'll this one is about as close to that questionable assertion as you're likely to get. The Pope has conspired with Bonhams to raise some dosh for charity (and yes, we know that "conspire" is a loaded word). Pity "his holiness" didn't also think of unloading some catholic gold and property. That should help fill a few bloated bellies.
Of course, people are apt to hang on to their religion until the bitter end, and we've all witnessed the number of misguided souls who have done exactly that, often with a suicide belt around their waists, an AK in their hands, or with some other instrument of death carving a bloody message to their god.
Ultimately it all comes down to one thing; people believe in the almighty because they're going to die. God is simply a bogus insurance policy designed to comfort the weak minded and convince them that life actually has some meaning and that there is an ultimate redemption. Which there probably isn't. As we've said before, if the religious people of the world knew they were never going to die (perhaps through the less than divine intervention of some weird science), would they still believe in God?
Answer? No. There wouldn't be any point.
▲ We were thinking of knocking up a few of these T-shirts for anyone else who shares our disdain/contempt for organised religion. If we get any interest, we'll print a few. Until then, keep praying. Billions of people swear by it, especially the meek, the poor, the suffering and the under-educated.
Meanwhile, society collectively maintains the nasty masquerade that grovelling in front of Frank the Pope is, at least as far as the world's Catholics are concerned, the next best thing to grovelling in front of the almighty. We're so used to this charade that we don't even question it anymore. And all the organised religions have their peculiar grovelling routines and similar self-deceptions.
Religion is one thing. Bring it on if you're desperate. We don't have a problem with private spirituality. But organised religion is something else, and we think it shames Bonhams to have anything to do with this project.
However, £50k - £100k is a lot of moolah, and there's commission on that. And of course, it's all being done for charity—and when you bring out the big charity guns, you can blow any argument to hell.
Are we right?
In my day they called them village idiots. The ones with bikes were
called motorcyclists and they just liked motorcycles.—The Village Squire
I thought Sump was supposed to be about motorcycles, not religion. Don't need your opinions about religion even though I may agree. —Graham Hibbs [Hi Graham. 1. Sump isn’t a motorcycle magazine, as such. It’s a magazine for motorcyclists. There’s a difference. Check it out and you’ll see that we cover a lot of fringe stuff. 2. This is a story about motorcycles; motorcycles and religion. We’ve simply commented on the fact that religion is being used to auction a bike. 3. We did post a flashing warning sign. 4. If you don’t want to read our opinion, then don’t read it. Look elsewhere on the web. Does that clarify things?—Ed]
It must be odd to be a believer. One can be as unkind and cruel as possible, then ask your god for forgiveness, and presumably get it, then go ahead and do it again. If a good god created everything, why create pain and misery for all animals including us? Religion is for people who need a crutch, and perhaps we all do from time to time. The trouble is that some people use the crutch to inflict pain on others. An interesting thought is to compare religion with conscience. One's conscience tells us to protect what is dear to us. When I was young in WW2 I remember in church praying to god to help us kill the Germans—and thinking that little boys in Germany would be praying to the same god to help them kill us.
— Marten Harwood.
There we go. I’ve asked you to keep me in touch with your “magazine” whenever it hits the newsstands, or whatever it hits. The piece on religion and the Pope’s bleedin’ Harley was superb, by the way. It reminded me of Mark Williams (?) and the first editions of “Bike” which appeared in the early 70s and seemed totally anarchic at the time compared to everything else that was on offer. But I did subscribe to Motorcycle Sport from the age of 15 in 1965 and that had some superb contributors like Titch Allen and Phil Heath. Then they added “and Leisure” onto the title and it went downhill pretty quickly. Anyway, I’m prattling. Thank you.—Frank Chapman.
Right on!! My cousin is married to a Northern Irish Baptist (!) minister, and with a couple of drams inside him, he happily admits to being "one of a small band of people who have a degree in Fantasy and Mythology". He's well paid though..... Put me down for one of them t-shirts, please, XL
AMEN! Btw...I am god.—Leo Brady
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New Tacita T-Cruise Urban. 11kW - 40kW. €10k - €19k. 70 - 137mile range
New Triumph Rocket 3 R & Rocket 3 GT. Available from early spring 2020.
"Low-emission" EVs encourage UK government 80mph speed limit rethink
Yamaha revises 321cc MT-03. 42bhp. Inverted fork. Available UK Dec 2019
Driverless Ford Mondeos being trialled in East London. £13.6m program
Young drivers urged to share dash-cam info with parents for improved safety
Zero rated "road tax" EVs; government warned revenues to fall by £billions
Andy Tiernan 2020 calendar. £10 UK (inc P&P). £15 Europe. £17 world
Call me old fashioned (and many probably will) but these bikes [Tacita T-Cruise Urban] powered by batteries and fancy washing machine motors will, I feel, never deliver the rush I get from my BSA Gold Star and my other old bikes powered by I.C.E. technology. They need to produce some exhaust noise, have an aroma generator' that makes a smell of warm oil and a styling job that doesn't look like something from 'Flash Gordon', which the cruiser version does to my eye. Sensory input is largely what riding bikes is all about and it goes much further than just moving, whatever the speed. As for the range of 137 miles? I don't think touring will ever be an option.—The Village Squire
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1,750 motorcycle lots under the hammer
Three (minor) collections are on the schedule
The date is 21st - 26th January 2019. The place is South Point Hotel & Casino, 9777 Las Vegas Blvd S Las Vegas, NV 89183. The event is Mecum Auctions 29th Annual Vintage & Antique Motorcycle Auction—which is a bit misleading because many, if not most of the lots, are neither vintage nor antique. But they are either classics or modern classics, and as usual there's a lot of interesting stuff on the schedule.
We're still perusing the list however, and have paused to take a closer look at Lot R303, a 1950 Norvin billed as a Vincent-Norton (images immediately below).
Marketed by Mecum as the "ultimate cafe racer", the bike has apparently been in the care of the same owner since 1968. Aside from the obvious 998cc Vincent V-twin engine and the Featherbed frame, the features include a "fresh" engine, Grimeca 4-leading shoe front stoppers, flat-side carburettors, an electronic ignition, "modern pistons", a "modern clutch", and a 12-volt alternator.
If it's of interest to anyone, the frame number is J12258184. The engine number is F10AB16607. We like this bike for its timeless simplicity, and we note that as with many, if not most Mecum lots, there's no reserve.
Mecum has listed the Norvin as one of its star bikes, and we agree. Some bikes are just right. This feels like an everyday, rideable, and not-too-precious machine.
Meanwhile, we're looking at Lot W95 (images below) which is a 1942 Indian Scout 741. No special reason for eyeballing this one, except that we like Indians (especially Scouts), and we like bikes that you can park up against a fence or hide in a hedge or something. Also, we suspect this bike is an ex-military machine which would explain the military air cleaner, and there might be some history worth exploring.
Indian produced around 30,000 of these 741 Scouts during WW2. Officially listed as the 741B, the bikes were used by American, British and Commonwealth armies. In fact, if you were in the battlefield and saw an Indian motorcycle coming at you from way in the distance (as if you could tell it was an Indian) you could bet your soldier buddies that it was a 741B, and 9 times out of 10 you'd win the bet.
Good handling and reliable, the 741 was a popular mount. Typically, the bikes were quickly picked up post war by young men looking for (relatively) high speed thrills, and more than a handful saw action on the travelling Wall of Death shows that criss-crossed the American and European continents. Chopper builders picked up hundreds or thousands of others.
Interestingly, this 500cc (30.5ci) sidevalve V-twin carries the following piece of guidance: "Purchases by a NV [Nevada] Resident or NV Dealer are on a Bill of Sale for display purposes only. Not for highway or public road use."
Hmm. But we've been studying the enlarged pictures and there doesn't seem to be much wrong with it, structurally speaking. So re-commissioning shouldn't be too difficult given the generally good availability of Indian spares. There's no reserve. The bike, incidentally, comes from one of three collections:
The Stephen Ross Estate Collection
Eclectic mix including Indians, H-Ds plus a couple of old Brits
The Len Fitch Collection
Seven bikes, mostly Japanese sports machines
The Hamilton Triumph Motorcycle Collection
Trumpets from 1912 - 1977, including a nice little 250cc XO
(image immediately below)
There's really not much more to say here until we've had a more complete look at the catalogue. Meanwhile, check it out for yourself if you're hankering for something new (or is that old?) and different. Given the current slightly depressed motorcycle trading market in both the US and the UK, we think there could be a few bargains here. And importing into the UK isn't all that hard to do.
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