Few of you reading this would have heard of the guy on the left (above). His name is Ken Rees, and he's just died aged 93. This is the man upon whom, it's been said, Steve McQueen's character was based in the 1963 war movie The Great Escape. Not officially, you understand. Just by inference.
McQueen, you'll recall, played "Hilts", the "Cooler King" who repeatedly baited the Germans as he devised escape bids from Stalag Luft III. Well that was exactly Rees' forte; baiting the Krauts and ending up in the punishment block. The Cooler.
▲ Vickers Wellington bomber. Like the Hawker Hurricane and the Douglas C-47 Dakota, the Wellington (designed by Barnes Wallis of bouncing bomb fame) was one of the great workhorses of WW2.
A Wellington pilot, Rees was shot down in Norway in October 1942 whilst laying mines. He swam ashore, was captured and was sent to one of the camps populated exclusively by RAF personnel.
At Stalag Luft III, Rees was quickly selected for tunnelling duty because, being Welsh, he was obviously experienced as a miner. Except that he wasn't. Nevertheless, of the three tunnels conceived by the now legendary escape committee, Rees worked on tunnel "Harry" (tunnel "Tom" was discovered by the German "goons", and tunnel "Dick" was abandoned and never used).
The Gestapo, it's generally understood, executed 50 of the escapees. Rees was one of those "fortunate" enough to sneak back into the camp after the alarm was sounded and thereby avoided a bullet. He was eventually liberated in May 1945 by the advancing British Army having suffered terribly at the hands on his captors (mostly starvation, malnutrition and exposure).
It's not clear how many men made it to freedom during "the great escape", but the number 3 is the most commonly quoted figure.
“It’s been said that Steve McQueen's character in The Great Escape was based on me,” said Rees during a much later interview, “apart from him being a six feet tall American and me a Welshman of about four feet three inches who can’t ride a motorbike.”
Rees was born in Wrexham, Wales in 1921. He joined the RAF in 1940/41 and was involved in raids and bombing operations in France, Germany, Libya, Malta and Greece. Post-war, he flew Valiant V-bombers, and later ran a post office. He was also a tenacious rugby player.
Ken Rees' wife, whom he married in 1942, predeceased him. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
In a vague way, Rees himself survives to some extent in the character played by McQueen—which is perhaps a small consolation for the real life heroics of another otherwise largely unknown WW2 pilot.
— Big End
A couple of weeks ago, the Mortons Empire went and bought The Classic Dirt Bike Show (see here for details).
Now, the Empire has gawn and bought Fast Bikes magazine which used to be published by Future Publishing, and which is claimed (by Mortons at least) to be the UK's leading sports bike title.
Officially, the changeover coincides with the October 2014 issue, and we hear that the current Fast Bikes editorial team will stay at the helm. That means that superficially, not a lot will change. Same faces. Same magazine appearance. Same glossy features showing hunchbacked blokes dressed up like Power Rangers and leaning motorcycles at the same angles we achieve when we drop 'em.
What Mortons gets out of the deal is yet another motorcycle title for its ballooning portfolio and a tighter grip on advertisers (in theory, at least).
What the guys at Future Publishing get out of it is a cheque of unknown value (and possibly with some kind of profit-sharing deal to maintain enthusiasm in the product—but that's pure speculation on our part, note).
We've never had much use for Fast Bikes, but to find out what the big deal is, we chugged off up the street today to our local W H Smith. The manager, however, said that the magazine had sold out.
Is it just us, or has the universe got a little darker?
▲ Bill Kerr as Harold "Micky" Martin (1918 - 1988) in The Dam Busters (1955). The real Martin, a 617 Squadron bomber pilot, was awarded a DSO for clobbering the Mohne Dam with a bouncing bomb on 16th/17th May 1943 as part of Operation Chastise, the most celebrated raid of WW2.
It's difficult to talk about Australian actor Bill Kerr, who has died aged 92, without referencing Tony Hancock, because it was on Hancock's legendary 1950s radio show (Hancock's Half Hour) that Kerr made his name and shot to national fame.
But Kerr was also a reliable character actor who popped up in dozens of British and Australian movies from corny comedies to biting dramas, and yet is often unrecognisable between one production and another. Today, as far as the general public is concerned, he's all but forgotten.
▲ Sid James, Tony Hancock and Bill Kerr ham up a publicity shot for Hancock's Half Hour (1956 - 1960). The show was loved by millions of British radio fans, but Kerr was almost invisible in the street.
Among his roles was Micky Martin in The Dam Busters (1955 ); Bill Coke in The Captain's Table (1959); one of the "IPO" mob of bogus coppers in The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963); Jack in Gallipoli (1981); and Colonel Henderson in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
He also appeared in Doctor in Distress (1963); Doctor in Clover (1966); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966); early episodes of Doctor Who; and took a role in Compact (1960s British soap drama).
But as Tony Hancock's lodger (and stooge) at 23 Railway Cottages, Cheam (the radio locale of Hancock's Half Hour), Bill Kerr developed a following of his own and was soon feeding the lines and laughs to the likes of Hattie Jacques, Sid James, and the inimitable (but oft imitated) Kenneth Williams.
▲ Bill Kerr at work at the BBC (circa 1960). His role as Hancock's lodger began well but degenerated as writers Ray Galton & Alan Simpson (of Steptoe and Son fame) evidently didn't know what to do with him.
▲ Bill Kerr in the Wrong Arm of the Law (1963) as one of the IPO Mob (Impersonating a Police Officer) showing the British crooks how it's done. His acting roles were often small, but he was pretty much always in work. If you were an Ozzie performer with ambition in the post war years, Britain was the natural place to be.
He was born in Cape Town, South Africa, was raised in Wagga Wagga, Australia, came to the UK in 1947, and departed back to Australia in 1979.
Audiences down under enjoyed his performances as much as those up top, and he soon became a household name in his own country appearing in soap operas, comedies and the occasional drama.
In 2011, Bill Kerr was awarded a Wagga Wagga walk of honour plaque, which might sound like small beer compared to a pavement star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nevertheless, this was a local boy done good, and his life and work has been duly noted by his peers.
He died at his home in Perth, Western Australia—apparently whilst watching television, which is fitting.
— Del Monte
We must be getting behind with our far right literature because we'd never heard of Britain First until about two o'clock this afternoon.
But it seems that this particular bunch of new age Nazis has been goose stepping around the neighbourhood since 2011 and yelling: "Get the Pakis out!" and "burn the mosques" and similarly themed political slogans guaranteed to polarise opinion and start a punch-up.
The organisation was founded by Jim Dowson, a fundraiser for the British National Party who had a tiff with them and splintered-off even further right, if that's possible, to form his own gang.
This new bunch began life in Swanley, Kent and soon formed a more active wing called The Britain First Defence Force which carries out "mosque invasions" (now that's not a smart idea) and "Christian patrols" in Islamic areas (also a little risky) and standing outside the homes of Islamic leaders and making an 'orrible bloody racket.
Top of their current list of most-hated social pariahs are the "Muslim grooming gangs" now allegedly running amok through our streets in the style of the recently convicted Rotherham mob (image immediately below).
▲ In the UK, child abusers come in all shapes and sizes...
▲ ... also available in white
Well Britain First, which is already being closely monitored by the British police, the security services, the UK media and every Muslim in the country, is now in the naughty corner not for "Paki-bashing" and mosque burning, but for using the Royal Crown on its T-shirts and polo shirts and sundry memorabilia.
The government has already warned them that use of the logo constitutes breach of Crown copyright, and legal advice is being sought (possibly with the SAS on standby in Hereford).
What's worrying us isn't just that some of what these lesser-Hitlerites have to say is quite possibly true, or that we're paying a lot of money in general taxation to have coppers infiltrate their number and form all kinds of sexual relationships with whatever females are available (check the mainstream media for details).
No, the real worry is what we're going to do about all the union jacks splashed around the classic bike scene on club logos and petrol tanks and crash helmets. Because if we plebs and peasants can't have the Crown at our disposal, then we can't see why that's any different to having the union jack as a convenient all-purpose graphic.
Or is it simply that Britain First is too far right even for the more extreme elements of the Tory party, whereas most of us classic bikers are simply too far gone for anyone to worry about?
Britain First has, apparently, told the government to Eff Off ("and make sure you get those Pakis out before we do"), so we're watching the news with interest these days waiting for the SAS to pounce.
But the more likely outcome will, of course, be a boring Court case followed by the seizure of whatever cash is rattling around in the coffers of these Nazis.
So what's the moral? That's easy. When you're right, you're right. But when you're far right, you're always wrong.
Far Right T-shirts from Britain First
Alternative T-shirts from Sump
— Sam 7
Thieves have struck at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham stealing a large, but unspecified, number of trophies. It happened at around 11.00pm last night (27th August 2014).
It looks like this is a scrap metal raid, which underlines just how thick the bastards are because melted down, the trophies are not worth very much (just a few hundred quid, apparently). But in terms of memorabilia, their value is huge, and the museum would very much like to have them back.
There are security arrangements at the museum including (unspecified) CCTV and "a guy living on site". But clearly, the security was inadequate on this occasion.
The West Midlands Police, we understand, were pretty quick on the scene and pulled in their forensic people without delay. But it's not clear if there are any useful leads at present.
If you know anything about this incident, or can point a finger in the right direction, or are prepared to execute the thieving scumbags for a small fee, pass the word.
We spoke to James Hewing, Director of Operations, who confirmed that no motorcycles were taken. "It was just the trophies in the foyer," he said. Local scrap yards and dealers in jewellery and suchlike have been alerted, and it sounds like Hewing has got the matter in hand.
£20,000 is a tempting bait for information, and it underlines how much the museum wants the trophies back. But if you know something, naturally you'll call Hewing not for the reward but because it's the right thing to do, etc (cue the national anthem, chest out, stomach in).
Lastly, if you're a webmaster or belong to a forum (motorcycling oriented or otherwise) please pass the word.
Telephone: 01675 443311
We've just got a pair of these in the post, along with a lot of usual junk, and have been cooling about in them ("cooling" is a new Sump word, by the way, so don't wear it out, please), and now we've got to find something nice to say about 'em or the manufacturer and importer will probably sulk or something and our scrounging days will be done (with that firm, anyway).
So here goes. These glasses are black, which is nice. And they fit over our ears, which is even better. And you definitely can see through 'em (but everything looks much darker). And ... well, that's about it.
Except that the lenses are also polycarbonate and allegedly near unbreakable (we'll try them in the bench vice tomorrow). Those lenses, by the way, have been coated with this scratchproof and fog proof chemical stuff. And they're "decentred", whatever the hell that is. And polaroided too (which is something to do with cameras, innit?) Lastly, these shades are designed to fit smoothly twixt your bonce and your lid.
Which they do. Actually, these feel like pretty good glasses. The matt black finish looks reasonably classy. They wrap around our heads nicely. The plastic doesn't feel like it was made by British Leyland. And the joints/hinges appear to be well engineered without any slop. But how long they stay that way is anyone's guess. And consider this, if you will. They're not too flashy, which suits us well because we like to go incognito whenever we can. So clearly, the designer knew when to stop sculpting, which many designers don't.
But look, this isn't really about road-testing a pair of shades, anyway. It's really about tipping you off to the BRAND and increasing AWARENESS of it, and in that regard we've done our bit. So remember that these are UGLY FISH shades from The Land Down Under, and they' ain't too shabby at all.
▲ Speaking of UGLY FISH, how's this for an Olympic-winning trout pout from Angelina Jolie? Glug, glug, glug...
The price? Well, that's thirty-five quid, which we reckon is a little (oh-oh) steep. And we won't be thanked for saying that, but you guys and girls come back to Sump every day/week/month to hear the truth (or at least our distorted version of it) instead of a lot of commercial propaganda.
However, we ought to also mention in passing that we're cheap when it comes to eyewear and figure that pretty much all shades are worth no more than a couple of fivers. Or twenty quid if it's your birthday or if you're on your way to rob a bank.
There are other designs in the UGLY FISH range, including the UGLY FISH wrap-around Commando line at £19.99 and the UGLY FISH Bullet (glasses/goggles) at £39.99.
If you want a list of frame and lens options, call O117 971 92OO.
Alternately go and visit your UGLY FISHMONGER
— Big End
They say that a change is as good as a rest. Here at Sump, however, we wouldn't know about that because we never rest.
But if we were to take a day out of our usual frenetic schedule of bikes, beer, birds and more beer (not necessarily in that order, and often all at once) we'd consider nipping along to the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, Warwickshire this weekend and waiting for a bus or two.
Actually, we've been sent a press release telling us that there's going to be around 100 buses and coaches of all ages chuffing around and dinging their bells and showing off and winding back the years. That's because Heritage is launching a new bus festival for 2014 which it calls ... well, Buses Festival 2014 (they haven't told us what they're calling the event next year, but we've got a pretty shrewd idea).
At Gaydon, you can ride many of the buses around a purpose-built road, then visit the museum and explore the (pretty fascinating) history of one of the most iconic modes of transport ever developed. Also, it seems that there are going to be 180 vehicles of other types from road cars to race cars to sundry automotive British innovations. Expect, food, drinks, loos, trade stalls, St John Ambulance Brigade, disabled facilities and a gift shop.
And if this isn't enough, the Heritage Motor Centre reckons it's got the largest collection of British cars anywhere in the world, including the funky Thunderbirds Rolls Royce, FAB 1.
▲ This Ford-based FAB 1 was built for the 2004 Thunderbirds movie. You can see it at Gaydon, but it ain't as cool as the original Rolls Royce FAB 1 (shown below) as seen in the 1960s Thunderbirds TV puppet show.
▲ Hands up who else wanted to have sex with Lady Penelope (image below, fnarr, fnarr) in the back of this Roller. Don't be shy there, you naughty boys ...
So okay, this all sounds more like a family day out. But families need love too. So don't be a bastard. Get the wife and brats out of the house for a change (unless you can find something more compelling on Sump's events listings—in which case, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, ain'tcha?).
Advance tickets are £10 for adults and £6 for children (aged 5 – 15 years) or £12 for adults and £8 for children on the day. There's no information on family tickets, but you might want to check out their (irritating) website and see if you can figure out what the hell's going on.
— Girl Happy
Amazingly, and perhaps amusingly, the Metropolitan Police has allegedly warned that watching the James Foley beheading video could result in a prosecution under the Terrorism Act 2006.
Why? Because disseminating or glorifying terrorist material or propaganda is an offence, and supposedly the mere act of voluntarily witnessing the video, now widely posted online, is grounds enough to feel your collar. In other words, simply by becoming a passive part of the YouTube (or similar) audience, you're boosting the viewing numbers and thereby encouraging ISIS, IS, or whatever the hell this mob is currently calling itself, to continue its rampage.
The warning, which has been derided by many lawyers as "ridiculous" and "desperate" could nevertheless lead to various knee-jerk reactions from the often over-excitable fuzz (who have been known to murder the odd Brazilian tourist as and when the situation didn't really demand it).
The killer of journalist James Foley has been tentatively identified by the British Intelligence Services as Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary (aka Jihad John), a man who's likely to have his own collar felt as and when justice catches up with him, if it ever does. After that, he'll face the longest time in jail (unless the British SAS or US Special Forces reach him first).
"I suspect most of us don't give a monkey's what happens to this prat in heaven, whether he meets virgins or raisins—we just want someone to come along with a bunker buster and effect an introduction as fast as possible." — Boris Johnson, London Mayor
Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson has very different ideas on how to deal with this kind of murderously misguided religious fanatic.
Said Johnson: "Young men such as this killer are famously told that if they die in 'battle' they will be welcomed in heaven by the sexual ministrations of 72 virgins.
"Many of them believe it—even though scholars have suggested that the reference to 'black-eyed virgins' is in fact a promise of 72 raisins.
"I suspect most of us don't give a monkey's what happens to this prat in heaven, whether he meets virgins or raisins—we just want someone to come along with a bunker buster and effect an introduction as fast as possible."
Which sounds dangerously like incitement to violence. But we're broadly with Boris on this one and hope too that someone puts Raisinhead's lights out sooner rather than later. And permanently.
On a related note, it's also been suggested (with some credibility) that the Foley video execution is in fact a propaganda fake. Yes, say the theorists, Foley is definitely dead and is minus his head.
But, we hear, he was actually murdered more discreetly (and, we hope, mercifully) off camera, and the whole execution was managed with the help of a stage knife and a little ordinary theatrics (as evidenced by the lack of claret, the suspicious sound effects, and the sheer "mechanical" difficulty in decapitating anyone with such a small instrument).
Moreover, continues the argument, the word "Foley" is a movie term for staged sound effects created by Jack Donovan Foley whilst working on The Jazz Singer musical back in 1927—which, of course, has to be pure coincidence rather than a subtle clue designed to tip off the conspiracy theorists.
Here at Sump, we haven't actually watched the video. Instead, we prefer to give Foley whatever dignity he had left during those last moments. And overall, we don't believe in anything anymore anyway, least of all what goes on in the bloody middle east.
Or, conversely, we'll believe everything if you will. But whatever the truth is, it seems to us that in a world of roughly 1.6 billion Muslims, James Foley isn't the only person who's managed to lose his head.
— Sam 7
It's nice. It's cute. It's cuddly. It's a pocket Triumph. But it ain't £10,000 worth of motorcycle. Or is it? Certainly, the eBay seller has got ... well, let's call it "an interesting opinion" on the value of this bike.
If this was Triumph supremo Edward Turner's personal Terrier, we might understand why anyone would want to spend ten grand on one hundred and fifty cubic centimetres of otherwise unremarkable British lightweight four-stroke motorcycle.
But as far as we can tell, it's an ordinary (if early) example of the model, and this Terrier is certainly no dog. It's clean. It sparkles. It looks correct. But at that price, its bark has to be a whole bigger than its financial bite.
It's now on eBay (Monday 25th August 2014) and has belonged to the same owner since 1953 (although technically, as it's the son selling the bike that belonged to his late father, that makes it two owners by our reckoning, albeit with just one registered keeper).
But we won't quibble, and you can't blame a bloke for trying (and this kind of optimism is a rare thing and should be enjoyed). But on a more serious note, we think adverts like this further underline the state of the economy in which many (if not most) asking prices appear to be rising way above inflation rather than falling.
It's as if people are so desperate for cash they'll try it on in a way they might not have done when the economy was healthy and growing, and when things were more "easy come, easy go".
The advert is online with another 29 days to run. Apparently "the first to see will buy". Which might be true, but probably not at that price.
▲ One of Sump's very mildly customised T140 Bonnevilles. It's up for sale now for just £25 million. See the main copy for details.
Then again, the world is a funny place, and nothing distorts prices as much as the www in which a misplaced decimal point can help drive prices up, down or sideways. And hey, if you present an item widely enough and long enough and audaciously enough, someone somewhere just might lope along and snap it up. It happens.
And that's why we're offering one of Sump's own T140 Bonnevilles. It's for sale right now at just £25 million with only five owners on the book, a couple of small oil weeps and an MOT certificate with ink so fresh it's still wet.
First to see will buy.
— Big End
He was the original Brighton Rocker and unquestionably one of the greatest British actors of his generation. He was also a film producer, a movie director, a writer, an indomitable charity campaigner, a dedicated "committee man", an art collector, an entrepreneur, a husband, a father and a grandfather, not necessarily in that order.
To millions of us ordinary folk, however, Cambridge-born Attenborough will perhaps be best remembered as the psychotic gangster "Pinkie" in the gritty movie adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, Brighton Rock (1948). But his most chilling performance was arguably that of John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (1971), a film that also starred a young (and very convincing) John Hurt, another great English actor.
[More on the late, great Richard Attenborough]
The Brighton Speed Trials is back on and takes place on Saturday 6th September (which is about a fortnight from now).
We're giving this event an extra news mention because it had been cancelled for 2013 following the death of Charlotte Tagg who was a passenger in an outfit ridden by Roger Hollingshead (ASCO Honda).
For a while, the entire future of the trials looked in serious jeopardy, but successful negotiation by the organisers (coupled, no doubt, with Brighton Council's understandable fear of losing much needed tourist revenue) has put the event back on the map.
Exactly how long this convivial concord continues remains to be seen. So if you haven't witnessed this automotive extravaganza-by-the-sea, better go to it sooner rather than later. But entries, as far as we can tell, are now closed (as of 16th August 2014).
Spectator viewing is free from the street and from general adjacent public areas (pier, Marine Parade, beach, lamp post, etc). But there is a fee to enter the paddocks (no details have been given).
Lastly, you might not get a badge like the image above left, but marshalls are required at the show. So if you fancy a day out doing something useful with your life, contact the organisers and see if you can't mosey on down to the Madeira corral and get yourself deputised for a close up view of the shootout (assuming you can get front line duties, that is, which isn't always the case).
Sump Brighton Speed Trials story May 2013
Sump Brighton Speed Trials story: December 2013
Sump Brighton Speed Trials story January 2014
— Del Monte
In some parts of the world you can still lawfully murder your wife if she gives you grief. And in Hong Kong, we hear, a wife can terminally despatch her adulterous hubby provided she can do it with her bare hands (and she can then kill the love-rival by any means available).
We ain't sure if we believe these particular Chinese whispers. But there's no doubt that spousal execution is definitely going out of fashion in all but the most uncivilised parts of the world.
Here in Blighty, meanwhile, the British government is planning laws that will criminalise intimate behavioural abuse, which (presumably) could mean anything from giving your significant other a dirty look to humming Boy George songs in bed to whatever other form of gaslighting behaviour floats your boat.
There's a consultation paper currently in circulation exploring whether existing laws are adequate or need bolstering—never mind whether it's actually possible, in practical terms, to enforce "mental and emotional abuse" and "coercive and controlling" behaviour.
The British police, unsurprisingly, ain't too enthusiastic about getting themselves between warring partners who are drawing nothing but emotional and psychological blood (and the rozzers ain't exactly wild either about getting in the middle of flying matrimonial fists).
In fact, according to Home Secretary Theresa May, the coppers simply don't take that kind of abuse seriously and would rather concentrate their limited resources on things like rape, robbery, murder, terrorism and suchlike.
But the government (or at least Theresa May) has got a very large pair of knickers in a twist over this one, so we can expect some kind of shake-up of the domestic law status quo at some time in the foreseeable future.
It would, of course, be facile to suggest that anyone in a relationship that's giving them pain should simply exit stage left or right. We know it can be a lot more complicated than that. But you have to wonder how deeply the nanny state is going to involve itself in the more subtle machinations of intimate human interaction, and then wonder what sanctions the courts might impose on an otherwise satisfactory partner.
Regardless, we can at least see the legal profession loving this one. There's got to be huge scope here for real, imagined or purely vexatious litigation, and it's well understood that lately, British solicitors and barristers feel their earnings are being seriously eroded (and they're getting very uppity about it and are desperately looking for new income streams).
It's dog eat dog out there, remember.
— Sam 7
We don't know if this really is the last bike restored by Hughie Hancox, the late Ex-Meriden Service and Repair Shop/Experimental Dept man, and we don't know what difference the word 'last' might make to the market price. But the seller currently looking to unload this clearly thinks it's significant, so we're passing it on.
The bike (image above) is a 1952 650cc Triumph 6T Thunderbird. It's now on eBay (23rd August 2014) with a classified price of (gulp!) £16,000. It's a sprung hub model and is described as "North American Spec (Blackbird)". It's fitted with the correct SU carburettor. Actually, it appears to be fitted with the correct everything and comes with a long and impressive list of parts replaced and work done.
Apparently, before the current seller acquired it, the Thunderbird belonged to Evan Cosmo of Cosmo Classic Motorcycles based in St Leonards, East Sussex who, tis said, owned it for 20 years. The engine and frame number, tis also said, match. The post-restoration mileage is recorded as 50.
The bike will be supplied with all kind of certificates and/or letters of provenance. Meanwhile, we hear that it was featured in Hughie’s book Production Testers Tales from the Triumph Factory, and Old Bike Mart ran a feature on it.
But £16,000 for a Triumph 6T Thunderbird that isn't associated with a major celebrity? No disrespect to Hughie (pictured left).
Or maybe the price is right and we're further behind the times than we thought we were (which wouldn't be the first time). Anyway, if you're interested, this eBay classified ad has about a day left to run, and the seller will be interested in whatever offer you care to make.
This guy is probably as straight as a die. Need we repeat that? But eBay is full of convincing scoundrels, so check it out carefully if you want to put in a bid or make an offer. Make sure you see the bike before you part with cash. Go to eBay, or go straight to the horse's mouth.
— Big End
It was expected to sell at between $100,000 - $115,000, and it just scraped in at the bottom estimate at Mecum Auction's 2014 Monterey (California) Sale held on 14th - 16th August.
The bike was sold as Lot 501 on November 25th 1984 at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. This was four years after "The King of Cool" died (7th November 1980). It was part of Steve McQueen's estate.
This 1200cc Indian Chief sidevalve V-twin features magneto ignition, a Splitdorf generator, and a 3-speed gearbox.
— Girl Happy
We changed the logo to inContinental because some of these tyres, we're told, are leaking all over the place. And we're not talking about piddling little problems but major blowouts as the rubber detaches from the belts or wires or whatever the hell the gruesome inside bits are called (we could look it up, but we've been at the bottle again and we're half-cut).
But this is too serious not to mention in passing, so listen up. The problem revolves (pun intended) around 17-inch Continental tyres manufactured between 2007 and 2014.
The serial numbers on the affected hoops range from 1907 to 2614. And no, we don't know how to read tyre serial numbers either (not much call for it around here, but it can't be that hard). Then again, we tend to take it slow and easy on the road.
But we're mindful of the fact that plenty of you Sumpsters have fast bikes, so pull over, have a fag, and check the tyres for yourself or (better still) get an expert to do it.
These tyres (below) are on the possibly dangerous list, but we don't know if the list is exhaustive.
ContiRaceAttack Comp. Soft
ContiRaceAttack Comp. Medium
ContiRaceAttack Comp. Endurance
ContiRoadAttack 2 GT W
And while you're contemplating that, here are a few more things to consider.
1. Some of these tyres have been fitted as original equipment to new bikes, so we're not simply looking at aftermarket sales.
2. Tyres have a habit of hanging around for a long time in warehouses and shops and garages, so the dodgy ones might yet turn up on eBay or elsewhere at bargain prices somewhere down the line. Keep that thought safe in the back of your mind, if you will. And remember that old tyres are potentially lethal tyres, even if they look fine externally.
3. Continental has had numerous tyre recall problems in the past, but they're certainly not the only firm to lose grip. They claim that nobody has yet been injured, so this is purely precautionary and voluntary.
4. Affected tyres will be exchanged at no charge, but we don't know if that includes fitting charges. But hey, some costs in this life you just have to bear for yourself and put it down to experience. Are we right?
5. These are German, so the usual wry and politically incorrect/racist comments are invited and will be enjoyed.
6. Further down this page is a recall by Savatech Tyres. Check it out.
Continental Tyres Exchange Program
— Del Monte
News has just reached us that Bob Derrick, the man behind Classic Transfers died on Sunday 10th August 2014. For some time, Bob had been in poor health. He finally succumbed and is no longer with us.
Many of you have done business with Bob, and we've heard only good things about him. His prices were always very fair.
He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of both motorcycle and bicycle transfers. He was passionate about his hobby-turned-business and recreated many transfers and produced them as accurately as possible, largely using old-fashioned methods and techniques.
Water-slide transfers were Bob's preferred choice, but he also supplied vinyl graphics and paid equally close attention to manufacturing tolerance and materials.
Sounds like a lot of fuss for a few stickers? Bob didn't think so, and most people reading this will agree with him. The high standards he adopted are exactly what makes the classic bike world so satisfying and enduring.
British, European and American transfers, Bob Derrick handled them all and gave an excellent service.
For a while, his business had been in abeyance as he battled his health problems. But he would want the company to continue in his absence, and so it will. We understand that his wife, Marcia, and grandson, Adam will try to pick up where he left off. The business reopens on 9th September 2014.
Meanwhile, on Friday 22nd August 2014 at midday, there will be a remembrance service for Bob at Memorial Woodlands, Earthcott Green, Alveston, South Gloucester BS34 3TA. His family will be there until 4.30pm, and they invite all who knew Bob or simply want to pay their respects to come along.
— Del Monte
▲ Matthew Thompson and wife Leanne. Where do you stand on this?
He was riding an Aprilia motorcycle along the A149 at Castle Rising, Norfolk when 58-year old Maureen Haller, from behind the wheel of a black Audi saloon, drove into him and killed him. The accident happened on 16th February 2013.
Haller pleaded guilty to the charge of driving without due care and attention, and she was sentenced to 120 hours of community service (to be completed within the next 12 months) and banned from driving for two years. No blame was attributed to Thompson who, we hear, was riding in good road conditions, in good visibility and on an otherwise safe machine.
But now the family of 32-year old Thompson has, according to various news reports, launched an ePetition demanding a mandatory two year driving ban for anyone found guilty of taking the life of another road user or pedestrian. Moreover, the demand is that the offender must subsequently sit a driving/riding re-test and take a driving/riding awareness course before going back on the road.
Once again, it's an easy thing to ask for a mandatory minimum sentence. Emotions are understandably high, and these kind of personal losses can be devastating. Except that it's not clear or certain that such blanket sentencing would actually reduce the number of accidents or achieve anything useful.
A two-year ban might or might not change the behaviour of a particular driver. But broadly speaking, it's hard to see how taking someone off the road for 24 months and then retraining them and then putting them back will improve their driving standard. Yes, it might address their driving attitude, which might help. But accidents are usually more complicated than that. And sometimes attitudes harden rather than soften, not least where the offender disputes the conviction and feels aggrieved.
You could equally argue for a shorter ban until much more intensive driving retraining is undertaken (at the offender's cost, of course), and that might be just a few months or many years depending on the circumstance.
Unless, that is, we're simply talking about punishment, in which case we'd suggest (in many cases, at least) something a lot more severe than a "mere" ban which serves no one.
For instance, very heavy financial penalties might be imposed (possibly with a proportion of the funds going to the surviving family when suffering financial hardship due to the loss of a breadwinner).
Or a permanent ban might be imposed upon drivers who have a very poor driving record and/or are viewed by the examining authorities as intrinsically unfit for the road.
Or, in the worst case, a custodial sentence.
What's more worrying in these matters is the (understandable) public demand to effectively snatch powers from the judiciary, which is exactly what mandatory sentencing is.
These sentences don't empower a judge. They say: You must at least do this. Then you can add whatever extra sentence you feel is appropriate. And that's another dangerous road to travel. Courts should be free to decide across the range of penalties without being manipulated by public or political opinion. And that freedom should encompass everything from the maximum penalty to an absolute discharge.
To elaborate, there might well be circumstances whereby a driver has caused the death of someone through careless driving, but where there are extenuating circumstances that reduce his or her culpability. Such as what? Well, such as some unlikely emergency inside the car involving a family member.
Alternately, a driver might make a dangerous driving manoeuvre and cause a death due to carelessly following an ambiguous road sign or some other situation that "invites" carelessness. Put another way, the driver might well be careless, but who wouldn't be under the same circumstances? And there are any number of other scenarios that are best examined and judged during a full trial.
The fact is, most of us do careless things on the road every day, but unless various contributing factors are present, nothing serious comes of it. And when the worst happens, it's the job of the Courts to explore the reasons why and make judgements as it sees fit.
As such, we wouldn't support this ePetition. But we would support moves for broader and more severe penalties for the morons who kill, subject to unfettered judicial scrutiny.
Whatever you feel, it's a shame that Matthew Thompson, a man who leaves a wife and two young children, died so young.
Note that there's some confusion with the ePetition (link below). Some of the wording appears to be missing, so read carefully and check with other online reports. Note too that much of the concern of Thompson's family appears to be directed at Maureen Haller for attempting to appeal the conviction (this appeal, we hear, has since been dropped).
Matthew Thompson ePetition
— Sam 7
Some of you will know it as "Wrighty's Show." Putoline call it the "The Putoline Telford Twin Shock Classic & Road Racing Show". Mortons Media Group, which owns just about all the big shows in the UK classic bike galaxy (and most of the magazines) will know it as a done deal because they've just bought this event.
Alan Wright, who founded the long established show based at the International Centre in Telford, Shropshire (and who writes for Mortons' Dirt Bike Magazine) will be staying on to oversee the transition through 2015.
What it means for you classic dirty bikers is that the Mortons stranglehold has just got even tighter. Whether Mortons, based in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, improves the show or runs it into the dirt remains to be seen. But so far, they seem to be doing alright (but never as alright as they'd like to be).
Mortons Media already owns the established shows at Netley Marsh (Eurojumble), Stafford, and The International Dirt Bike Show.
At Sump, we naturally prefer independent classic bike events with their individualism and regional variety (as opposed to the more formulaic, meat grinder Mortons approach). But once again we're staying sanguine about this one. Things change. That's all. Mortons, the Tesco of the classic bike world, will do what all empires do, and that's assimilate.
Let's get over it and vote with our wallets.
— Big End
This is the 2014 model and it will set you back £39,000 ($65,000). It's hand built in Birmingham, Alabama, and it's the third generation of this mucho-macho piece of big-balls butch hardware. Also, after 65 bikes have been manufactured, they're stopping production of this model. Forever. So these motorcycles won't be quite as rare as the Mona Lisa, but don't expect to find them in ASDA (read: K-Mart in the USA).
And hey, don't even think of buying one of these unless you eat coach bolts for breakfast and have tattoos on your eyeballs.
[More on the 2014 Confederate Hellcat Speedster X132 story]
Just in case you haven't heard or need a reminder, the BMF Tail End Show scheduled for 13th - 14th September 2014 is cancelled. The reason given is that Mulberry Group Ltd, which was commissioned to promote the show, has gone into liquidation.
Their excuse is that the gate receipts on the big BMF Show in May simply didn't ring up the right numbers (apparently, the advance payments were adequate, but on the day, the more casual visitors stayed away).
Mulberry Group Ltd has, for the past five years, organised three annual shows for the British Motorcyclists Federation. The firm's last BMF shindig was the Kelso Bikefest in July (a great show, we hear). As soon as that was done, Mulberry pulled the plug.
We also hear that a row has since broken out between the BMF and Mulberry over the agreed wording of an official statement and ... well, we ain't going any further with that because we don't like to get too deep in this kind of tittle-tattle. Suffice to say that if you're planning to go to the show, we advise you to plan to go someplace else instead.
The BMF website, which (like the BMF) hasn't been firing on all cylinders lately, isn't giving much away, incidentally. But maybe you'll have better luck than us. The Mulberry Group, meanwhile, is equally tight-lipped.
— Del Monte
Once again this is shaping up to be the biggest gathering of Harley-Davidsons on the European mainland since ... well, since last year. It's the 17th European Bike Week and it takes place at the "picturesque lakeside village of Faaker See" in the Carinthia region of Austria.
The organisers reckon that over 100,000 Hog riders will descend on the village for this festival which is viewed as the "closing event in the Harley-Davidson season." Last year saw 70,000 bikes.
It's free, by the way. You just have to turn up and party, preferably with a Hog of your own and with the right attitude, whatever that means to you.
Harley-Davidson is providing the centrepiece village within the village. All the new bikes will be on display, and tours around the alpine roads will be organised (better check your brakes if you're riding anything older than around 10 or 15 years; and better check your head if you're thinking of riding there on an Ironhead Sportster).
▲ In a mass-produced, homogenised, straight-from-the-packet, direct-to-the-public, one-size-fits-all world, the sight of a few true individualists on the move warms the cockles of our hearts. Honest.
There will be demo rides, a custom bike show, bike hire on site, plenty of nosebag, gallons of alcohol, fields of camping, various hotel and motel deals, maybe a few fights, probably a lot of sex, plenty of illegal drugs, possibly a few guns and all the inconsequential Harley-oriented bovine produced fertiliser in the world.
The highlight for many, however, will be The Parade (capital "T", capital "P") which is expected to be around 25 kilometres in length and made up of over 75,000 Harleys on the trot and making a racket loud enough to be heard in Uzbekistan. Does the world deserve such munificence?
We doubt it.
This is basically Harley heaven on Earth, European style. And if you're going, get ready and strut that funky macho Milwaukee stuff because time is running out and you're putting on more weight every second.
We'd go ourselves but for three things:
1. None of us here at Sump currently rides a Harley (we're still Brit bound).
2. It's not exactly our kind of individualism (if you know what we mean).
3. There are a couple of John Mills movies on that week.
But we ain't sneering. No, Sir. No, way. No how. You have to get your rocks off as and when you can, and this looks to be as good a place as any. If you want more info, check the link below. And as Michael Caine said in The Italian Job, "Remember that they drive on the right." Have fun campers.
I'm feeling like Robin Williams. So take me to Hog Heaven, quick*
* The late, great and much missed Robin Williams could take a joke, so cool your heels, Brother.
Actually, Stephen Hill's design, in this instance at least, is very much on the wall. And today he shared this one with us, and we thought we'd share it with the rest of you Sumpsters.
It started as a freelance commission from a client (Jason someone or other), and the concept was amusing, original (as far as we can tell) and irresistible.
The rest involved a near life-size sketch, a nod of approval from the client, a step ladder, some paint, a steady hand, and however many hours it took to complete.
The planks were already there and lent themselves perfectly to the wall of death imagery. We like it plenty, and we're already looking at the Sump bathroom ceiling and wondering if it will work as well on chip paper.
Stephen (trading as HillCreative) is based in Hertfordshire and is happy to undertake other visuals, graphics, cartoons and general design.
Try this link for more on his work: Sump March 2014
— Big End
With the news that American comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide aged 63, it's easy to overlook the fact that actress Lauren Bacall has also died this month. She was a very stately 89.
Unquestionably one of the classiest women of her generation—indeed of any generation—Bacall was most famous for her relationship with Hollywood screen legend Humphrey Bogart whom she married in 1946. But in her own right, hers was a talent that has stood the test of time, and all her films sparkle with personality and shine with class.
Tall, slim, sultry, sophisticated and sexy, what arguably made Bacall particularly attractive was her intelligence and all-round coolness. She projected toughness, but often revealed glimpses of a more fragile personality that added to her mystique.
Born Betty Joan Perske in New York City, she was of German-Jewish-Romanian ancestry. She made her stage debut in 1942. The following year, through a modelling picture on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, she was brought to the attention of movie director Howard Hawkes and was soon signed-up by West Coast USA film executive Jack Warner for $250 per week (very decent money for its day)
In a later interview, she revealed that her voice was then "high and nasally", but after stressing her vocal chords in a series of exercises in which she recited Shakespeare and other writers, the low, gravely tone for which she was famous eventually emerged. It was this manufactured voice that she was encouraged to use for the rest of her career.
▲ Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep (1946), The Hays Code, which "morally censored" films of that era heavily adulterated Raymond Chandler's original novel, but the legendary Bogart-Bacall chemistry helped make the private dick movie a cool romp anyway.
Her films most notably include:
The Big Sleep (1946)
Dark Passage (1947)
Key Largo (1948)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Written on the Wind (1956)
North West Frontier (1959)
Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
During the later part of her career, she starred in:
The Fan (1981)
Appointment with Death (1988)
The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
But she was in danger of being famous simply for being Bacall rather than being noted for the parts she played. Nevertheless, she always brought the same class and coolness to her roles, and she well deserved her reputation as a star of the old Hollywood school.
▲ Lauren Bacall in 2009 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Governors Awards.
She also enjoyed a glittering stage career and won, or was nominated for, numerous awards and accolades including a Tony, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. But there was never an Oscar (except honorary in 2009). That prize always eluded her.
Her golden era was unquestionably the 1940s and 1950s in which many of her contemporary actors and actresses were replaceable, whereas there was always only one Bacall.
Humphrey Bogart, who gave her a son and a daughter, died in 1957. Four years later (1961), Bacall married Hollywood demi-legend Jason Robards and had another son.
By 1967, however, the marriage to Robards was over and she never remarried.
▲ Lauren Bacall and ex-husband Jason Robards in 1982, New York City.
In later years, she joined the celebrity circuit and was apt to make guest appearances here and there on chat shows and suchlike. She also wrote two autobiographies and became something of a minor political figure.
She starred alongside Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Betty Grable, Henry Fonda, Albert Finney, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Shelley Winters, Gregory Peck and Rock Hudson.
It's a cliché to say that "there will never be another like her". Except that there probably will be. However, there's certainly nobody in sight.
Welcome to the "The Openness of Local Government Regulations 2014".
It's just been signed in law (6th August 2014) by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, and what it means is that in England (as opposed to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) you can now lawfully sit in your local public council meeting and tweet and blog and capture raw footage for your forthcoming YouTube video without fear of ejection or bullying behaviour from officials and security staff. That's the idea, anyway.
In fact, it was actually lawful to record council meetings before the new law came in. What's changed is that the law is now more firmly on your side and prevents your local authority from obstructing you.
▲ There are currently 326 district councils in England. The breakdown is: 201 non-metropolitan districts, 36 metropolitan boroughs, 32 London boroughs, 55 unitary authorities, plus the City of London and the Isles of Scilly. They're all under the spotlight as never before.
Prior to this new law, the government had issued guidelines to local authorities seeking their "cooperation" in permitting filming/recording. But not unsurprisingly, many councils chose to ignore the guideline and either physically stropped anyone caught using recording equipment, or ejected them from council meetings, or both.
But those days are gone, theoretically, and councils will not be able to continue citing spurious health and safety laws, or claiming that members of the councils might suffer "reputational damage" or might feel "intimidated", or use any of their erstwhile bogus excuses. It's now open season in public council meetings as far as video recording is concerned, so get those lenses polished and do the necessary sound checks.
Why does it matter?
Because many council meetings are quite simply a farce and a disgrace and need the full weight of public exposure to limit municipal excesses. Moreover, the minutes of council meetings are commonly "adjusted" to suit the prevailing orthodoxy, with many public questions, comments, objections and points of order simply ignored.
Therefore, if your local council is making a decision about that bike show you're organising, or canvassing opinion about a new by-pass or motorway that's going to wreck your home, job or lifestyle, you can (and should) make your own video recording of who said what to whom, and how questions and answers were nuanced throughout the debate. You might find yourself amazed at the things you later notice when reviewing this kind of material.
It's a significant step in the right direction. But naturally it remains to be seen how councils will implement the new law and what methods they might use to obstruct it.
— Del Monte
Jean Panhard has died aged 101. Panhard et Levassor, the automobile firm jointly founded by Réné Panhard (his great uncle) and Émile Levassor, is almost forgotten now, except among the classic car cognoscenti.
But the pioneering French manufacturer (which gave us the Panhard Rod controlling rear axle lateral movement) was among the first to market a production vehicle to the general public, and is one of the greatest automobile innovators, notably with its Systeme Panhard which gave the world the established four-wheeled, front positioned engine, rear wheel drive blueprint.
Panhard et Lavassor was also the first company to introduce a gearbox (more or less as we know it), and famously won the 1893 Paris-Nice-Paris race and subsequently notched up another 1,500 wins on various automotive battlefields. On a further 10 occasions, the firm won the Index of Performance Award in the Le Mans 24 Hour race. In 1934, a Panhard Roadster clocked 133mph and set a new world record
Jean Panhard joined the firm in 1937 as Technical Director. His father, Paul, was in control at that time, and business was not good.
After successful beginnings using proprietary Daimler engines and showing the rest of the world the way forward, the Great Depression came down hard. Paul Panhard was in poor health. Industrial unrest hit the company workforce. The firm's latest model, the Art Deco inspired Dynamic (with its sleeve valve engine and central steering wheel) was a broadly critical success, but an unequivocal sales failure. To make matters worse, the firm had diversified too much and had failed to update tooling and equipment. In short, the old pathfinder was falling behind.
Following an order from the French military, the firm upgraded its manufacturing procedures and soon began experimenting with a new lightweight car. Then came the war and the German Occupation.
Post-war, Panhard dropped the Levassor part of its name (Émile Levassor had in fact died in 1897 following an automobile accident) and introduced the Dyna X saloon which led directly to the aluminium bodied Dyna Z. This vehicle, however, suffered materials accounting problems within the company (the responsibility of Jean Panhard himself) which forced the firm to abandoned aluminium in favour of steel, thereby losing its design edge and adding hugely to production woes.
Now as Deputy Managing Director (1949), Jean Panhard once again found the company to be in financial difficulties. Citroen took a 25 percent stake in 1955, and a decade later it bought the firm outright.
The company soon developed the Panhard 24, an advanced looking sports model not dissimilar in many respects to the Type 34 VW Karmann Ghia, the Renault Caravelle, and even the ill-fated Chevrolet Corvair.
This air-cooled flat twin of 848cc was built between 1964 and 1967 and (like the Karmann Ghia and Caravelle) was an occasional sight on the trendy streets of London, and other major European cities. But the Panhard-Citroen relationship quickly soured. The Panhard 24 was the last car the company produced.
However, there was a military division of the firm which continued and prospered, albeit through changed hands and management structures. Jean Panhard ran this division until 1981 when he retired. It's still making military vehicles such as the Panhard VBL (above).
Overall, Panhard's fortunes wax and waned over many decades, and the company never consolidated the grip it had during the pioneer era and the early part of the 20th century. There were moments of startling technical and design success, but also moments of major industrial and commercial incompetence.
Jean Panhard is generally credited as the man who kept the business afloat during difficult times, but failed to achieve the volume car production the company wanted and needed. Nevertheless, his was a tale of survival, both professionally and personally. His death marks another milestone on the classic motoring road.
Jean Panhard is survived by his wife (Jeanne Codron de Courcel whom he married in 1940) and four of their six children.
Harley-Davidson is making a big deal about this one, but we don't know what the fuss is all about. So okay, if you're planning to cruise coast-to-coast across whatever continent you happen to live in, you'll get a pretty good ride out of this. No mistake. But this bike is grossly technically overblown for our tastes (and has also got one of the ugliest nose fairings we've ever seen and is a long removed from the classic Electra Glide "batwing" design).
Harley-Davidson, however, is showing the bike right now at the huge 74th Sturgis Rally (4th - 10th August 2014) and is no doubt intent on stealing as much thunder as possible from Indian. But we think Milwaukee needs to up its game because the Road Glide is just not compelling. Not for us, anyway.
The 2015 Road Glide (a model that's been off the production line for a while) is running a 'new High Output Twin Cam 103™ (1690cc) engine' together with a 6-Speed Cruise Drive® transmission'.
Features include Reflex™ Linked Brakes with ABS, Dual Daymaker™ Reflector LED headlamps, and Boom! ™ Box 6.5GT infotainment system' (SatNav, music, etc). But you need to check the specific details with regard to the base version and the special model.
The bike does have its fans, mind; riders for whom you just can't get enough gadgets. And being a Harley, you have to respect it for simply being what it is (whatever that means to you). That fairing, we hear, has been put through all kinds of wind tunnels aerobatics and it does this, and it does that, and it works.
It's all part of Harley's 2014 'Project Rushmore' campaign, which is the firm's attempt to reinvigorate itself with new technology and new design concepts, etc. As ever with HD, Rushmore is being terminally over-hyped, but some good stuff is coming out of it. And if you're a big HD all-bells-and-whistles cruiser man, you probably won't be disappointed.
We don't yet know what the UK price is going to be, but what difference does it make? US dealers will get the machine on 26th August 2014. It will be headed to the UK sometime after that.
— Sam 7
The Romney Marsh Bike Jumble happens on 21st September 2014. And that's a Sunday. Entry is £4 adults.
What makes this event more newsworthy is the fact that local auctioneers Newland & Wood will be holding a kind of flash auction.
So how's that work?
Well, you turn up on the day between 10.00am and 12 noon with whatever you've got to sell and you register and book it in. At 1.00pm, the auction starts and continues until it's all gone. Or not.
We're advised that there's no fee to enter your lots, but there is a 10% fee to both buyers and sellers, which is reasonable. The kind of stuff going under the hammer will include bikes, spares, ephemera, bike clothing, etc.
Sounds like an exciting and amusing way to get things sold. But if you're a more traditional bike jumbler, you can mosey around the Romney Marsh Bike Jumble in the usual way.
This, take note, is an Elk Promotions event organised by Julie Diplock. She's got her head screwed on the right way around and is easy to do business with. So if you're a trader or a visitor, you're in safe and sensible hands down there in the best part of the Garden of England.
The Romney Marsh Bike Jumble is both outdoor and under cover. Other attractions include free-to-watch Motoball matches, plenty of food on site, real coffee, and a hog roast.
This event is easily accessible via the M20 motorway, and if you live in Northern France or Holland, it's a relatively easy trip across the Channel. And you can really have a great day (or weekend) at this place.
A mile or two down the road is Dungeness (image above), officially Britain's only desert. This is a pretty cool place to hang out and pose beside your bike and have sex on the beach with your girlfriend (don't ask us how we know that).
Also in the neighbourhood are the Denge sound mirrors or "listening ears" (image below) erected pre-WW2 and intended to detect German aircraft coming in from across the Channel thereby giving Britain's fighters a fighting chance (note: radar made the mirrors redundant). We don't know how accessible those concrete mirrors are, so do some homework/research.
There are also plenty of miles of easy walking in an almost spiritual part of the world that, in many respects, hasn't changed a lot in a thousand years. Bring a history book. There's a tale or two to tell around these parts.
Classic biking (as if you need reminding) isn't only about polishing aluminium in your garage or puzzling over your ignition timing at the roadside. It's about straddling that oily heap and going somewhere interesting, and Romney Marsh has got that in spades. Just don't relocate there. The locals like it bleak. And so do we.
So here's the plan. Hop a ferry or a motorway. Take in the Romney Bike Jumble. Buy some essential junk. Stuff your face. Take the Romney tour. Have sex in the dunes. Take a few snaps. Go home and review.
You'll die a happier man. Or woman.
— Del Monte
According to the author, Richard Skelton, this is "The story of biking's biggest, brightest and best ever decade".
According to us, this is pretty good stuff and well worth the lowly asking price of £1.29 (actually £1.25 from some resellers).
Actually, there are five books in the series, so if you buy the set, it will cost you £6.45. And that's still very good value.
The first volume takes us back to the beginnings of motorcycling. The other books place us squarely in the 1970s which is one of the most underrated decades in the last 100 years.
The writing is brisk, to the point, informative, illuminating and generally entertaining. The images could be larger. But eBooks are memory heavy, so you have to keep the size down. But don't let that put you off.
If you want to just dip in and try it for size, go for this Book 2 and read it. Chances are that you'll be hooked, so prepare to buy the rest of the set.
Skelton has clearly put a lot of time and energy into these eBooks (and we're talking about weeks, months and maybe even years). That kind of commitment and dedication deserves a reward. So dip into your pockets if you will. We recommend it.
Motorcycling in the 1970s - Amazon
Motorcycling in the 1970s - Kobo
— Del Monte
That would be Foundry Motorcycle on the UK South Coast. This outfit is (pardon the pun) bobbing up a lot lately, not least with us. But that's because they've been busy doing what they do best, which is building cool custom motorcycles such as the above G9 Matchless. And that gets our attention.
We've just posted a feature on this bike, and we recommend you check it out. Note that, as with all Sump features, it's a work in progress. So if you return to the page in a few days, weeks or year, you can expect changes and updates.
The pic above doesn't do the bike justice. But you can trust as when we tell you this is a beautifully executed piece of British iron and aluminium alloy.
Here's the link: FOUNDRY MOTORCYCLE MATCHLESS G9 BOBBER
— Big End
You can check out the basic specifications in the caption top left on this page and feast your eyes on the main image (above). But it's worth taking a closer look at this bike. We certainly think it's significant.
For many Indian aficionados, the Indian Scout—specifically the 101 Scout launched in 1928—was the firm's coup de grace. Designed by Charles B Franklin, the 101 Scout picked up where the standard 600cc Scout left off and featured a revised frame, increased fork rake, a longer wheelbase and a reasonably effective front brake. It was good for around 75-80mph, which wasn't bad for a modest 22 horsepower, 42-degree, 750cc side-valve engine.
The price was $300, give or take a couple of dimes.
▲ 1928 750cc (45 cubic inch) 101 Indian Scout. Bonhams sold this example in October 2013 for £17,250. Cheap.
Hill climbers loved it. Sprinters loved it. Board track racers loved it. But the 101 arguably became most famous for its appearances around the world on the travelling Wall of Death sideshows, and some 101 Scouts are still being used that way. Moreover, the momentum this bike generated is still on a roll.
▲ The first Indian Scout for seven decades. The warranty is 5 years. The bike is dripping Indian heritage cues. If you want one, you'd better make a (Warning: bad joke coming) reservation.
Clearly, the new designers at Indian have looked very closely at the 101 Scout and have managed to create a credible update for the 21st century. The original 42-degree cylinder angle has given way to a more modern 60-degree V-twin. But naturally, this is no side-valve/flathead chuffer. It's a 4-valve-per-cylinder, liquid-cooled DOHC up-to-the-second all aluminium alloy motor running a 10.7:1 compression ratio fed by fuel injection. Bore and stroke is 99.0mm x 73.6mm thereby making the engine "over-square". The cubic capacity is 1,133cc.
The wheels are both 16-inch cast items, but shod with 130/90-16 rubber at the sharp end, and 150/80-16 at the rear. The front brake is a single two-piston caliper. The back is single-piston. The discs/rotors are both 298mm. Forks are 41mm and of conventional design.
▲ You can have yours in Thunder Black Smoke (matt) or Silver Smoke (matt). But why would you not want the Indian Motorcycle Red?
The £10,000 price tag is likely to rise a little before these contenders hit British streets, and we can imagine one or two of these quickly changing hands for even more money when demand outstrips supply. Or is that too optimistic of us?
Clearly, in an effort to achieve a suitable retro look whilst maintaining a level of performance and handling required to take on Harley, Honda, Triumph and whoever, there's a lot of design contrivance going on here. But that's fair enough for a company that's still building, or rebuilding, an identity and positioning itself in a highly competitive market.
But what Indian has in spades is the fact that it was there at the beginning (1901) and has a heritage that few other firms can even begin to match, let alone exceed.
However, that radiator spoils it for us. It's no worse than the grill on, say, the V-Rod, but it's as elegant as your average lavatory air-vent and is crying out for something that makes a design feature of it rather than leave us with an apology. Overall though, we like it.
Wisely, we think, Indian has avoided the obvious traditional pushrod trap and opted for DOHC, and that pretty much puts this one toe-to-toe with the V-Rod, but cheaper.
We used to think that the golden age of motorcycling has been and gone. But we're not always so sure. Certainly, modern bikes represent terrific value for money and generally offer stunning performance and reliability. And from all accounts, this looks as good up close as it does from afar (we haven't got within groping distance yet to leak appropriate bodily fluids on the tank, you understand).
Indian is certainly bullish about its product. These 2015 Scouts, after all, come with a 5-year guarantee, and that's a big gauntlet to throw down at Harley's feet (HD standard warranty is currently 2 years). Interesting times.
— Big End
This bunch of ne'er-do-wells has so far staged two successful vintage and classic boot sales, both beside the River Thames. But now they've relocated to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Village in Stratford, East London (think of it as taking bronze and silver and now going for gold).
Not having the river flowing by a few yards away (and a view of the Houses of Parliament) knocks a lot of brownie points off this event. But the new venue is considerably larger, and in purely practical terms is probably a lot more suitable.
But practicality ain't everything.
Regardless, the date is 20th and 21st September 2014. That's a Saturday and a Sunday. Sump attended the last event, by the way, and it's clear that the organisers of this operation know exactly where they're going and how to get there. Marks out of ten?
▲ The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London;
it's a soulless glass, concrete and stainless steel purgatory full of people showing off, but the Classic Car Boot Sale organisers will show 'em how to show off in style.
But apply your brakes for a moment and kill your motor because it could be a little trendy for some of you more conservative types, so keep that in mind. However, if you're into vintage clothing, classic cars, trucks, buses, scooters and motorcycles, old vinyl, weird food, hot rods, 1940s and 1950s fashion, funny hairstyles, funnier moustaches, antique furniture, old TV sets, up-cycled ephemera, etc, then this is for you. It's hip, chic, cool, gear, fab and G-G-G-G-G-R-O-O-V-Y.
The organisers are inviting more traders and owners of classic vehicles to attend, and they're going to be a little choosy. So if you don't fit the profile, you might want to pass on this.
Note too that the aforementioned organisers recently experienced some kind of technical glitch on their website which trashed a lot of applications. So if you're long awaiting a response, try again (yes, they've grovelled a suitable apology).
Here are some snaps of the Classic Car Boot Sale we took in March 2014.
— Del Monte
Take a close look, because the sun is setting on the British paper road fund licence, aka "the tax disc". Come October 2014, you will no longer be required to display one on your bike (or car), as the law is changing.
Why? Because the paper disc is outdated. Modern computerised technology allows the coppers, the traffic wardens and other interested parties to quickly and easily check a vehicle's taxation status. Meanwhile, printing paper discs and sending them out in the mail costs time and money, and the nation simply can't afford such luxuries. Also, there's a thriving industry in counterfeit discs, and that will be snuffed out too (instead, some other scam will probably take its place).
You'll still be required to tax your bike or car as usual, note. But "failure to display" will no longer be an offence.
Also, it will bring to an end the time-honoured sale-sweetening practice of flogging a bike with "a couple of months left on the tax". Instead, every new owner will be required to tax a vehicle at the point where he or she takes possession (or declare it SORN: Statutory Off Road Notice).
Why the change? Officially, it's intended to prevent the new owner from inadvertently keeping an unlicensed vehicle on the road.
For instance: You tax a vehicle for six months. You sell it with three months left unexpired. And you tell the new owners that it's still taxed. However, you've actually claimed a refund on the tax disc, which the new owner is unaware of, and supposedly can't check. Except that anyone can go online to the DVLA website and inspect a vehicle's tax status.
What will actually happen is that the government stands to make a lot of money because you can only claim a refund on a FULL month of unexpired tax. Therefore, all those "half months" and "bits of months" will go in the government's coffers.
The changeover happens on 1st October 2014, just a couple of months away. So dry your eyes and get over it. The times they are a changin', but they ain't really changin' all that much. You've still got to pay.
More on this UK tax disc story: Sump December 2012
— Del Monte
You're not likely to have one of these on your classic bike. But plenty of Sumpster's have modern machines too. So watch out because these Slovenian manufactured tyres, we're advised, could kill you in an unexpected way.
Here are the ones to watch:
120/70 ZR17 (58W) TL SPORTFORCE MI
150/60 ZR17 (66W) TL SPORTFORCE MI
160/60 ZR17 (69W) TL SPORTFORCE MI
180/55 ZR17 (73W) TL SPORTFORCE MI
190/50 ZR17 (73W) TL SPORTFORCE MI
Savatech tell us that the first symptom could be a tyre bulge on the tread. That will lead to vibration. And in the worse instances, the tread will detach and you'll be temporarily airborne.
The fix? Don't ride the bike in anger. Instead, take the tyre back to the people you bought it from (without or without the bike attached) and tell them about the recall (they'll probably know, anyway). Demand your rights or just buy another tyre.
It doesn't look like anyone has yet come to grief over this (unless you know otherwise). Instead, it seems that the company has been conducting tests and has discovered the problem.
Here's what Savatech says:
"Customers can determine whether their tyre is subject to recall by checking the brand name “MITAS”, tyre name “Sport Force,” inscription “tubeless” and DOT* codes from 0114 to 2614, on the tyre sidewall. No other tyres are affected. The recalled tyres were made in Slovenia."
Okay? So be smart and check your tyres without delay. Be even smarter and have your tyre shop take a look. Be smarter still and check whatever tyres are on your other bikes. How many riders ever do that as often as they're supposed to?
— Big End