The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is set to launch a naming and shaming campaign against Vehicle Testing Stations (MOT stations in oldspeak) that have been disbarred, defrocked, divorced or dismembered (or whatever the appropriate terms is).
It's all part of the British government's drive to "enhance the Customer Garage Experience". There are 21,000 DVSA testing stations in the UK. Last year (2012 - 2013, "only" 100 stations fell into the government's gun sights. Yes, there is an appeals process at work, and the DVSA says that no station will lose its MOT status until the appeals process has been completed. Or should that be "exhausted"?
MOT stations, we hear, are generally removed from the DVSA list for two reasons; incompetence and outright fraud. Quelle surprise!
But why name and shame? Simply to warn us which garages are rogues and/or idiots. So if you're interested, you can elect to have emails sent to you advising on who's currently in and who's out. What an offer huh?
DVLA NAMING & SHAMING SCHEME
— The Third Man
▲ Mick Woollett co-piloting in the above Norton outfit at the Dutch TT in 1957 with Swiss rider Edgar Strub at the helm.
Mick Woollett, journalist, author and ex-racer died in February 2014. We've only just got the news here at Sump, but that ain't no reason to give Mick a mention.
He was born Neil Rodney Woollett, but from an early age was given the nickname "Mick". It stuck with him through his life.
His riding career began with Cyril Smith in 1956 where he helped win races in Metter and Chimay, Belgium. In 1957 he rode with Swiss rider Edgar Strub. They finished 4th in the Dutch TT and 5th at the Isle of Man.
At that time, Motor Cycle News had just been launched, and Mick began contributing to the publication (mostly race reports). In 1959, he met his wife in South Africa. Following his wedding, he retired from racing and became a full time journalist with Motor Cycle News.
In 1961 he jumped ship and moved to Motor Cycling (affectionately known as The Green 'Un) and became sports editor. As a journalist he was said to be tenacious and made many personal friends and professional enemies.
A new publication entitled Motor Cycle was formed (1967), forged from the enduring rivalry between Motor Cycling (The Green 'Un) and The Motor Cycle (The Blue 'Un) which saw Mick reprise his role of sports editor. This new publication switched from magazine format to newspaper format and continued until 1976 when it was re-branded as Motor Cycle Weekly, and Mick became editor. He also worked for The Classic Motor Cycle.
By 1983, Motor Cycle Weekly, struggling with circulation against Motor Cycle News changed its format to magazine. Soon after it collapsed.
From then on, Mick Woollett further developed his writing career and became an author of many motorcycling books, notably Mike Hailwood: A Motorcycle Racing Legend, and Norton: The Complete Illustrated History.
Both are considered by many as "essential reading".
— The Third Man
▲ Lot 1207: 1947 600cc Norton Big Four. Registration number: LEL 978. Frame number: F7.38673. Engine number: F7.38673. Sold for £4,900.
We've been meaning to get this story up online for days, but we've only just sobered up. So be grateful for what you've got, okay?
Richard Edmonds is an auction house that, until now, we haven't had much to do with. The firm is based in the South West of England and operates out of Castle Combe Racing Circuit in Wiltshire, and Toddington Railway Station, Gloucestershire.
On 28th February and 1st March 2014, Richard Edmonds held a two-day sale at Castle Coombe and (amongst other stuff) fielded a number of classic British project bikes and one or two bargains (or what certainly look like bargains) that we might have bid on ourselves had we been ready for it. The first date (28th Feb) relates to automobilia. The bikes, cars and commercial vehicles went under the hammer the following day (1st March).
The next sale is on 30th and 31st May 2014, also at Castle Combe. Day two, once again, is for bikes. Need more information?
▲ Lot 1201: 1962 BSA Bantam 175cc. V5C and a VCC dating certificate.
Sold for £600. Looks like the 'bars need tweaking. Low price Bantam.
▲ Lot 1203: 1949 Ariel 350cc Model NH. Registration number: KFJ 184.
Frame number: R3723. Engine number: DJ2054X. Some re-commissioning is anticipated. Sold with a new V5C, an old green log book and various receipts. £4,200
▲ Lot 1287: 1932 Jap LTOWZ/Y 60 degree engine, no. 11985/SA. Rebuilt with twin float carburettor, engine plates and clutch driven plate and gear wheel. £9,000. Sold
▲ Lot 1210: 1947 BSA M20. Registration number: HLC 326.
Frame number: 37471. Engine number: BM21-11503. This bike is fitted with a 600cc M21 engine (as opposed to a 500cc M20 unit). A V5c and an old green log book was present. Sold for £2,500. Sounds like a fair wedge of profit for someone (maybe £500 - £750 at current prices. Possibly a little more).
— Del Monte
▲ Check out the late Captain Maurice Seddon on YouTube.
Captain Maurice Seddon has died at the age of 88. Or perhaps 87. It isn't clear, but we've marked 1926 as being the year of his birth.
One of the true "characters" of British society, Maurice Seddon was a motorcyclist, an inventor, an ex-British army officer (Royal Signal Corps), an ex-despatch rider, a herbalist, a linguist, an electronics whizz kid and what many people describe as an all-round fruitcake.
He was also a highly cultured and intelligent man renowned for his original and innovative approach to just about everything from alternate motor fuels to sound systems to VW Beetles to heated clothing to argument.
▲ Decades after the Turbo Visor had been petty much consigned to history, Maurice Seddon was still enjoying the experience of perfect visibility in wet weather (and perfect warmth with his bespoke heated gloves and body warmer).
Seddon was born in Hampstead, London to Frank Seddon and Margarete Gertrude Necom. His father was said to have been the heir to Seddon Salts, once a major player in the British salt industry. His mother was a German born concert pianist.
His father, as we understand it, deserted the family when Seddon was very young. Penniless, Seddon was forced to turn to his own resources to provide an income; a situation which no doubt formed on of the major strands of his inimitable character.
He was educated at Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland, and later attended Exeter University. He did his military training at Catterick, North Yorkshire and Aldershot, Surrey before being shipped to Germany.
As an adult, he lived in the Datchet area of Berkshire from 1958 and was a familiar face on the local streets driving either one of his eccentric cars (a gas powered Rolls Royce), or riding one of his beloved BSA B33s heavily jury-rigged and bristling with oddball electronic and mechanical devices (think of them as two-wheeled Swiss army knives and rolling test beds for his many inventions).
He established a firm called Audiorama, fitted a working television to his Rolls and used the vehicle to ply his trade.
In his declining years, after living alone with his dogs "running wild in the garden", Seddon retired to a nursing home and was compelled to sell his bikes to help fund his care. Truculent and stubborn to the end, he died in early March (2014).
▲ Sump, July 2012, ran a news item on Captain Maurice Seddon and the sad story of his bikes. See: Captain Maurice Seddon bikes for sale.
Almost everyone who'se been involved with the UK classic bike scene for the past few decades knew of, or had met, the Captain. But the chance are that no one ever really knew him. True eccentrics are, almost by definition, unknowable. And in many respects, there's no doubt the man was a royal pain in the saddle for many who crossed his path.
But he was one of our own, and he'll be missed and remembered for many years to come, which is all any of us can ever really hope from history.
Pop art is a movement that, according to Wikipedia, sprang up in the UK in the 1950s, and in the USA 1960s. We have to confess that we still don't really associate pop art with Great Britain, which probably underlines our ignorance. But the last time any of us here at Sump was in Washington DC and New York City, we saw a lot of that (often kitschy) stuff at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and we weren't all that impressed.
That's probably because the movement has become something of a victim of its own success and is prone to ill-conceived parody from third rate imitators. You see it everywhere on the streets on advertising hoardings, and you see it in the glossy magazines, etc, so that when you see it on the wall in an art gallery, you think; "ho hum, this guy needs to try a little harder than that."
The US side of the movement was pioneered and developed by guys such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
The British movement doesn't seem to throw the same hardhitting celebrity punches, and the only guys we can immediately associate with it is David Hockney and Eduardo Paolozzi.
So much for the art-history lesson.
Anyway, Sumpster Stephen Hill has been in touch and is looking for pop art commissions from bike clubs, bike businesses, show organisers, biking publications, etc. He works in various media and can create this stuff as big, or as little, as you like. Classic bikes. Modern bikes. Cars. Trucks. Buses. Anything, probably.
We don't know the guy from Adam, so we're not offering any recommendations, but there's some stuff on his website that looks pretty interesting.
And don't let the simplicity sink your boat. It takes a very special kind of fool to write a 3-minute number one hit record. And the same goes with plenty of other disciplines. Simple is tricky.
Just check him out and see if his stuff fits into your master plan for your life. And if it does, you can tell him who sent ya.
— The Third Man
George Osborne, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced in the March 2014 budget that Vehicle Excise Duty "tax discs" will be "on a roll" as from 1st January 2015.
However, from 1st April 2014, all classic vehicles built before January 1974 will be exempt from "road tax".
Need clarification? Okay, what it means in simple terms is that the exemption dates have moved up a notch and will continue moving up.
Currently, only vehicles built before 1st January 1973 are tax free.
From 1st April 2014, vehicles built before 1st January 1974 will be exempt (the threshold has therefore moved on one year).
From 1st April 2015, vehicles over 40 years old will be exempt, and that exemption will roll on and on in the way it used to before Gordon Brown scrapped the 25-year rolling tax exemption rules.
The government says that changes are cost neutral. We're wondering if in fact this small carrot is a precursor to the government scrapping the road tax disc altogether and putting extra tax on fuel. If that happens, what the government gives with one hand, it will take away with the other.
That said, for most classic owners, an extra tax on fuel would make more financial sense seeing as the majority of classic vehicles cover a minimal annual mileage and mostly sit in sheds and garages. But we've no evidence to suggest that this is the government's thinking, except that the UK is still skint and needs as much cash as it can get.
As ever, we're watching this to see if the exemption really does apply to vehicles "built" as opposed to "registered" before the aforementioned dates.
Keep watching, Sumpsters. The truth is out there somewhere.
— Girl Happy
▲ Does Darth Vader really ride a Triumph Terrier? We figure he rides anything he bloody-well wants. But what dark forces drew him to Kempton Park bike jumble?
It's official. Yesterday's Kempton Park bike jumble (Saturday 22nd March 2014) was so overbooked, organiser Eric Patterson had to lay on a lot of extra pitches to keep the traders from starting a riot. Public attendance was high. The weather, mercifully, mostly held. And the total number of pitches was said to be somewhere above 300 making it one of the busiest Kemptons ever.
Sump was there again armed with camera and attitude, and so were a few other press people, both from the wider continent and much closer to home—not least Mortons Media Group which isn't exactly a stranger to Eric's regular and essential classic bike calendar fixture held at its usual spot on the South West corner of London.
But was it our imagination that on this occasion, Mortons was fielding a few extra staff? If so, we can only speculate why. We can also only speculate on why one of those visitors was Nick Mowbray, head of Mortons show division.
▲ Luke Skywalker ▲ Eric Patterson
Mortons, in case you don't know, already has a half-Nelson (if not a stranglehold) on the UK's classic bike show circuit, and it's well understood that they'd like to get total submission from all challengers.
Kempton Park is one of the leading and best independently-organised classic bike jumbles in the UK, and there are plenty of folk who'd very much like it to stay that way. But like all empires, Mortons is a hungry band of conquerors, and around this corner of the galaxy, they've got the deepest pockets. Their brand of business style is not universally loved, but we'd be unwise to underestimate this particular force.
Then again, empires come and go.
Let's hope that, for the time being at least, Eric "Skywalker" Patterson doesn't do anything precipitous (and just remember, Eric, that whatever they're offering, they'll probably pony-up double that).
[More on this Kempton Park story]
We found this geetaw on eBay tonight (22nd March 2014) and thought we'd share it with you culture-starved Sumpsters. We once made a table lamp from a Villiers engine case, and we've got a few guitars in the corner to twang whenever we've got a free moment. But we could certainly find a place for this stringbox.
The item's got three days to run. The starting bid is £150. No one is yet bidding. And the rumour is that Seasick Steve has got a 6-string version. We wouldn't know about that, but we know what we like, and we like this.
The seller's name is devonshiregoodies. And if you're interested, you know what you have to do.
— Del Monte
It sounds like another silly season scare story, and maybe it is. But this one's giving us the willies, not least because the threat has already been partly turned into a reality.
Put simply, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, wants to clean up the air and make it breathable again. A worthy aim, we'd all agree. Trouble is, the latest discussions aimed at cleansing the British capital's atmosphere of noxious hydrocarbons and sundry carcinogens could scoop up hundreds of thousands of classic vehicles from motorcycles to cars to trucks to buses to anything else that rolls down the pike. [For more on this, click here]
It's one of the most famous automotive styling houses in the world, and it's had its share of ups and down since Guiseppe Bertone died in 1997.
Now, having sold much of its manufacturing plant to Fiat and unable to reinvent and reposition itself, this classic firm is headed for bankruptcy.
The company founder was actually Giovanni Bertone. At the age of 28, he launched the business in 1912 in Turin, Italy and quickly caught the eye of a number of movers and shakers of the era and became well known for the excellence of his coach-building. The First World War forced him to close his shop, but he reopened in the 1920s and went from strength to strength, forever pushing his designs thereby helping reshape global car manufacturing thinking and styling.
In 1972, Giovanni Bertone died at the age of 88. By then, his second son, Guiseppe (nicknamed "Nuccio") was comfortably in the driving seat with a long list of design plaudits behind him.
We're talking any number of drop-dead-good-looking vehicles from Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Simca, Abarth, Mazda, Jaguar, BMW, Citroen, NSU and Iso (check the above 1960s V8-powered Iso Grifo that seemed to merge the best design cues of the Jensen Interceptor and the Aston Martin DBS).
Later, the firm would conduct design exercises for Chevrolet, Opel and Aston Martin. But successive financial problems and failed solutions undermined the company's fortunes leading to huge debts and downsizing.
The latest round of problems has seen Bertone more or less throw itself at the mercy of the Italian courts which will decide if the company should be wound up, or sold to the most suitable bidder.
Staff are being sent home. Work is not being completed. And history is unravelling. But we're hoping that Bertone survives. You can practically write the story of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s around Bertone styled vehicles. The firm has also designed the odd scooter and motorcycle crash helmet.
But Nuccio is gone. So perhaps the time has come to do the decent thing and let Bertone vanish. Only, there's still mileage in the brand, and branding is what it's all about these days.
Being plain old bangers-and-mash British bikers, our sense of style leans more toward Anglo-Saxon conservatism rather than Italian flamboyance. But if we had to get knocked down and killed on the roads by some fool in a car, anything from Bertone would be a pretty cool way of arriving mangled at the Pearly Gates—and an Iso Grifo would probably make God himself come down for a closer look.
Other great Italian design houses include Pininfarina, Italdesign, Zagato and Ghia.
— Big End
Allors, ooh-la-la and merde, it seems that the Parisian authorities have today banned cars and motorcycles from entering the city in a kneejerk bid to cut severe air pollution in the French capital.
The "one-day" ban came into force this morning at 05.30 hours (17th March 2014, Central European Time) and at present affects only petrol and diesel powered vehicles with odd-numbered registration plates. But if air pollution levels are still high come tomorrow, the ban will switch to even-numbered registration plates. And so on.
However, if you've got three or more people in your wagon (or, presumably crammed onto your bike), the gendarmes will waive you on instead of brining you to book and writing you a ticket or carting you off, or whatever the hell they do these days.
An unfavourable combination of hot and cold weather conditions is said to be trapping the pollution which would otherwise probably blow across the channel and settle over London (and we've got enough of that already).
The French did try this banning business before in 1997. The arguments over whether or not it did any good are still raging. But naturally, the authorities have to be seen to be doing something. Business people, meanwhile, are understandably very unhappy.
Last Friday, the pollution levels registered 180 micrograms of PM10 particulates per cubic metre, which is more than double the safe limit of 80 (not that there's such a thing as a safe limit). PM10, we understand, refers to particulates from vehicle exhausts. But domestic heating systems and industrial manufacturing equipment has played a part.
It's easy, of course, to criticise the Parisian authorities. But when the guests are dropping like flies, someone's gotta open the bloody window. But could this happen here in Blighty? We think so.
So okay, a lot of people would try and dodge such a ban by owning two or more vehicles. But governments are tricky bastards. If they don't get you one way, they'll get you another.
— Del Monte
Two upcoming events for your diary, both courtesy of the Ace Cafe. The first is the 16th Southend Shakedown run. It departs the Ace Cafe at 10.30am on Easter Bank Holiday, Monday 21st April 2014.
Here's the route: A406 East to A12 East, to A127 East, and onward to Southend seafront.
▲ Southend Pier; world's longest pleasure pier at 1.34 miles. Below, this was how Essex folk used to enjoy their holidays. Now they're all in Spain.
The A127 is the Arterial Road, and there are plenty of stopping places for you laggards and wimps. Take notes that there are average-speed cameras on that road. Not sure if they're still working, but the Essex rozzers are.
And hey, leave Southend as you found it, please. Some of us around here have a special affinity for the place and we want it intact when we next get down that way.
Meanwhile, this year's 7th Margate Meltdown happens to be the 50th anniversary of the infamous mods & rockers clashes of the early 1960s (if you subscribe to the press hype of the day, that is).
The run will happen on 26th May 2014, which is another Bank Holiday. The riders will leave the Ace at 10.30am and will follow this route: A406 - A13 - M25 - A2 - M2 - A299 to Margate seafront.
▲ For a long time, Margate has been on no one's must-visit-before-I-die list. Now, the place is undergoing something of a renaissance, but the Victorian heydays are long gone. Plenty of cheap property lately. And illegal immigrants too, if that matters to you.
But what's with the M25 and the M2 on the route? That ain't no way to ride classic bikes and scooters which belong on A and B roads where they can safely break down. But it ain't any of our business.
If you're interested, you know what you have to do and where to pick up the exodus. Alternately, just make your way to Margate seafront.
If you're from the Netherlands, Belgium, or Northern France you can probably attend this event without too much trouble. Just remember that we drive on the right side of the road, which is the left.
And if you see any moddy boys, make sure you smash their faces in properly (and you mods, stick up for yourself and don't take any crap from the rockers; there are bound to be press people lurking around, and they love a photo-opportunity and a memorable front page lead).
— The Third Man
We stumbled upon this business when we were stumbling and clumping around the www the other night, and we thought we'd share it with you guys. The shop is called Rabers. They hail from Northern California which is in a place America.
Looks like an interesting outfit with some pretty cool stuff for British iron. We especially like the above unit 650/750 Triumph primary chain covers which are:
1. Custom finned cover: $329.00
2. A&A (Barnes type) replacement flat track cover
(will not allow use of alternator): This now carries the Eddie Mulder Ltd logo. $299.00
3. ACK Products replacement flat track cover
(will not allow use of alternator): $219.99
Click the link below and give Rabers the once over and add them to your list of dealers you might be able to do business with. We've got no connection with them, you understand. And we don't know how reliable they are. Like we said, we're just spreading the word.
— Big End
The dates to remember are 11th-13th July 2014. That's when the inaugural Mallory Bike Festival picks up where the Festival of 1000 Bikes left off. Or so the organisers have promised.
In recent months, Mallory has has more than its share of problems and, as a result of noise complaints from nearby residents, has faced closure. Whatever promises and arrangements have since been made to pacify the locals and the august members of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, it seems that the Leicestershire track still has a future of some kind. But perhaps that was inevitable with the huge Triumph Factory being a major local employer thereby putting motorcycles very much at the forefront of the council's mind.
Fifteen times World Champion and 10 times TT winner Giacomo Agostini and Derby’s John "Mooneyes" Cooper will be headlining the event. These two guys are famous for laying down at Mallory Park one of the most nail-biting contests in the history of motorcycle sport. At least, that's what the press release told us. But we wouldn't know because here at Sump we're all road-going people as opposed to track-going people.
But in 1971, it seems that Ago was campaigning a 500cc MV Augusta, while Cooper was riding a 750cc BSA Rocket Three triple and duly thrashed Agostini by a whopping ... three-fifths of a second (and with only an extra 250cc of engine muscle beneath him).
That said, when it comes to the MV and the BSA, we're comparing apples with oranges, and Cooper's victory was well earned, and hundreds or thousands of motorcyclists still remember exactly where they were on that day.
There aren't a lot more details yet on the event, suffice to say that the organisers feel they've got something to shout about to start the festival rolling. You might want to try extra hard to support this festival, because without it, there's a fairly large hole in the annual UK motorcycle calendar.
— Del Monte
We missed it the first time round, but we weren't going to make that mistake twice. So when the organisers reorganised it, we nailed the dates to our petrol tanks and waited in the garage with a coffee flask and sandwiches.
The date, by the way, was actually two dates this time; the 15th & 16th March 2014. The location was the Thames South Bank right under the London Eye. The whole world turned up to see what was going on. And we've just come back with the pictures. [For more on the South Bank Classic Car Boot Sale, click right here...]
The man who helped wreck what was left of the British Motorcycle Industry? Certainly, some think so. In 1974, Tony Benn—who has died aged 88—was Secretary of State for Industry in Harold Wilson's Labour government. It was a role that suited him well (but not necessarily everyone else), and Benn was keen to make his mark and strike a blow for the common working man.
To that end, he was instrumental in establishing what was then something of a fashionable social experiment popularly referred to as workers cooperatives. The three best known examples were the Scottish Daily News, Kirby Manufacturing, and Meriden Triumph—none of which was a success. [for more on Sump's Tony Benn obituary, click here]
You might well be shivering every night beside what's left of a candle and eating cat food just to survive, but Hinckley Triumph is looking to consolidate its grip on the UK big bike market in 2014 and is anticipating significant growth.
In 2013, the Leicestershire firm sold a record 38,314 bikes. For 2014, Triumph is gearing up for around 42,000 units. So okay, much of that, if not most of that, will be in the form of exports. Nevertheless, any growth for Triumph is welcomed, not least because it all helps bring the bacon back to Blighty.
— Del Monte
We're talking about Llexeter Ltd which distributes parts for the Lex Moto and Pulse brands, and also owns: www.chinesemotorcyclepartsonline.co.uk
Most classic bikers probably wouldn't have heard of any of those, but in the bike trade, Llexeter (from Exeter) is very well known and claims to be the numero uno Chinese parts source in the UK.
But what is a bitcoin?
Well, it's a virtual currency—or crypto currency, if you prefer—that was launched in 2009. Despite the image above, the concept doesn't have any minted coins. Because it's virtual, the value exists only in the ether, and in the heads of those people who believe in it. So forget pocket metal. Think numbers.
Well, the bitcoin exchange exists in much the same way as money exists inside your credit card. It's there, but it's not there. And any Scotsman travelling south of his home border and presenting a Scottish pound note to an English shopkeeper knows all about what happens when there's no faith in a currency. Scottish notes are, of course, legal tender in the UK. But being legal isn't the issue. Faith, and a willingness to transact, is the issue.
Here at Sump, we still don't fully understand how bitcoins are created (actually, mined from the ether), except that they rely upon encrypted electronic promises to pay the bearer; a system underpinned by a public ledger that records and tracks the history of each bitcoin, and tests/checks its validity.
A bitcoiner (to coin a phrase) creates a bitcoin wallet and uses that to store part of the relevant encrypted information that proves his or her ownership. Other encrypted parts are kept on a world computer network. Supposedly, bitcoins are difficult (if not impossible, or at least not cost effective) to counterfeit. Supposedly, the computational power needed to crack the numbers is too huge or something. Various world governments treat the concept very differently, with attitudes ranging from toleration to deep suspicion to open hostility.
Only 21 million bitcoins will ever be made (think of it as a fixed gold reserve). But as with with any currency, their individual value can rise and fall. Currently, around ten million bitcoins are in "circulation", each worth around $200. You can, if you want, buy bitcoins and stuff them under your digital mattress and hope that the diminishing supply increases their demand and value. But it could go the other way.
We have no idea whether these new virtual coins represent the long term future of trading (motorcycle or otherwise), but Llexeter (from Exeter) clearly wants to be in on the ground floor. It remains to be seen if and when other bike dealers buy into the concept.
Meanwhile, try spending a few bitcoins the next time you're down at Kempton Park, then let us know what happened.
— Girl Happy
IT'S NOT JUST THE BIKE. IT'S THE JOURNEY. Most motorcyclists, classic or otherwise, no doubt feel much the same way. The real enjoyment of bikes, for most people, is the travelling. Certainly, we've covered thousands of mile on our own M20s, and we're planning on racking up a few more now that spring has arrived.
This T-shirt is available now (but stocks are limited due to a promotional run), and the price is £15.95 plus postage and packing. Printed on black cotton, we've got these in stock in SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE AND EXTRA-LARGE. But we might be able to accommodate larger sizes. If you want one, follow the link below.
BSA M20 T-SHIRT
— Del Monte
Stand back everyone! Stand well clear! We're terminally cynical here at Sump, and it could be contagious. We've just heard that the Automobile Club (AA) and Halfords (the national car accessory and bicycle chain of stores) is about to launch a road safety campaign aimed at two wheelers. And the first thing that pops into our heads is: "Cut the bull$4&!. What's the discount!?"
That's because we're congenitally incapable of believing that the AA or Halfords ever does anything that doesn't have a few bucks in it for them. That said, ya gotta eat, and the money wheels have to be greased, and if this safety campaign helps keep a few more bikers and cyclists alive (well, bikers, anyway), we ain't complaining.
This campaign kicks off either yesterday, or today, or tomorrow, or last week or next week. You'll pardon our vagueness, but the AA and Halfords haven't exactly flooded the press and media with reliable information about this seismic safety event. But it seems that one million stickers are being printed and handed out at Halfords stores to anyone who'll affix them to their car mirrors.
Coincidentally, we've just returned from a shopping sortie to Halfords (seems they're out of stock of eight track players and needles for our gramophone), and no one said a dickie bird about any safety stickers. Then again, the Halfords staff were all busy gossiping among themselves, as usual, so we might have missed the sticker man.
The idea is, of course, to wake up sleeping/dozy/stupid/carelesss motorists and remind them that there are other mobile people on the planet. But we've got a suspicion that all the drivers who actually care about such issues will happily take up the sticker offer, while all the bastards won't. Which means that the AA and Halfords could be preaching to the converted with this one and might be better advised to hand out stickers for the boot lids (trunk lids for our American Sumpsters) where the bastards will actually get to see them.
But it's out of our hands.
However, if you're passing Halfords, you might want to grab a few stickers and apply them as necessary as and when you're cruising through traffic lanes. One way or another, this is a message that simply has to get through.
— Big End
We don't actually know much about this outfit. But a regular Sumpster sent us some pictures today and tipped us the wink (thanks, David), and we decided to post them here. The company is called Bandit 9. It hails from somewhere in China and is run by a guy named Daryl Villanueva.
The customs featured here are based on two platforms; the ubiquitous (by Chinese standards) Chiang Jiang 750 flat twin, and the Honda SS. [For more on Bandit 9 Customs, click here]
...except that it's not actually much of a secret any longer. Fortunately, someone went and spilled the beans. But it seems that the UK government has been caught snooping on us via 1.8 million Yahoo Chat accounts.
Using the government's Cheltenham-based listening post, GCHQ, millions of user images have been intercepted and downloaded so that ... well, so that the government can throw an all-night party and sit and look at them all.
Except that it's not funny.
The recently revealed interception program, we hear, was active between 2008 and 2010 (and probably ongoing) and was codenamed Optic Nerve.
You'd think the government would have had the good sense to do what was done in the war and use a completely irrelevant codename, such as Operation Dishcloth or something.
But Optic Nerve? Well, that's a bit of a giveaway. Next time, they'll be calling it Operation Let's-Spy-On-Joe-Public-Via-Webcams and hope that nobody figures out what's happening.
Regardless, they've been snooping indiscriminately again. And apparently, they've scooped up a lot of pornographic images too. But our guess is that they'll be interested only in naked Muslims building bombs while they're copulating for Allah and discussing it over the web.
▲ GCHQ (AKA "The Doughnut"). The UK government's snooping centre. Tapping your phone and reading your emails is all in a day's work.
What can you do about all this? Not a lot, except take a hammer to the webcam on your computer, or at least use it more carefully—and strictly not when you're planning a terrorist outrage.
You can't blame the government for wanting to keep an eye on things. But when that eye is smack on the top of your computer and spying on whatever it is you do in the erstwhile privacy of your living room, it's crossed a line.
Better keep that Tony Blair plastic mask ready for when you really have to post a full frontal nude shot of yourself on your Yahoo account.
Once again, we're reminded of how George Orwell got it right.
— Sam 7
▲ Lot 217. This 1963 BSA A65 made £3,332. The bike was estimated at £3,000 - £3,500. Hydraulic front brake conversion. V5C present.
Anglia Car Auctions (ACA) is said to be very pleased with the results of its first classic bike sale held on Saturday 1st March 2014 at King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Sump was there at the auction and we were impressed at the way Anglia handled the sale, not least by actually riding the rideable bikes into the sale room rather than simply pushing them all up to the microphone. It makes a difference to the vibe. The event was well attended with a good upbeat atmosphere.
Of the lots on offer, ACA say that 75% found buyers on the day, with ongoing post-sale interest that could take the overall success rate up to 80%. Which is not bad at all.
It's also worth noting that ACA seem to have got most of its estimates right on the nose, which tells us that the firm has researched the market carefully and know who its buyers are. Here are some of the lots that sold:
▲ Lot 212. This 1958 Dnepr Ural K750 Army Combination made £2,150 from a £1,500 - £2,000 estimate. This bike came from Russia, via Poland and sported a machine gun turret and a reverse gear. Looks good value.
▲ Lot 202. Greeves Hawkstone Scrambler. Villiers 33A engine. The estimate was £1,100 - £1,300. The buyer said £1,182. Looks a good price for any Greeves, albeit a project in this case.
▲ Lot 235. AJS Model 14. Full MOT and V5C. Est: £1,200 - £1,400. Sale price? £1,128.
Other sales included:
|Benelli 900 SEi|
|Triumph Bonneville (1971)||£3,816|
Despite the success, there is no follow-up auction listed yet, but Guy Snelling at ACA is hoping to see another sale by September 2014.
Sellers fees for motorcycles are £25, plus 5% sellers commission (both plus VAT). Buyers fees for bikes are 7.5%, plus VAT. There's no VAT on the sale price of the bike.
— Big End
Remember when Motor Cycle News was flogging around 200,000 copies per week? When Performance Bikes was flogging somewhere north of 70,000 copies per month? When Classic Bike magazine was selling around 45,000 copies every four weeks?
We do. But times have changed, and the rout is on. Below are the updated UK magazine sales numbers for 2013. They make for depressing reading for the publishers, and a worrying signal for bike traders who rely upon cost effective advertising and good national exposure.
|Publication ||2013 ||2012 ||Change|
|Motor Cycle News||85,651||94,941 || -9.78%|
|Performance Bikes||16,384 ||18,811||-12.90%|
What it all means is that Classic Bike is now the biggest selling UK motorcycle magazine. But even so, sales have dropped further from 41,191 to 39,125. Not critical, but these numbers continue to go the wrong way.
MCN is down to just 85, 651 copies per week which must be causing a lot of embarrassment at publisher Bauer. Despite a fairly recent revamp, which was actually little more than sticking an Elastoplast on a readership amputation, MCN is beginning to look like a freebee paper.
Worse still, Performance Bikes has dropped to a miserable 16,384 copies per month which probably puts its future in serious jeopardy unless it can (a) quickly find a lot of interested sports bike riders, or (b) reposition itself in the market (which might be very difficult given its restrictive title and remit).
But what of Mortons Media Group titles?
Well Mortons steadfastly refuse to have its sales figures audited, so they can quote any numbers they want to would be advertisers. The group owns The Classic Motorcycle, Classic Bike Guide, Old BIke Mart, Classic Mechanics and some other stuff that's slipped our minds at the moment.
We're betting that all these titles are losing readers to a greater or lesser degree. But unless Mortons supplies some audited accounts, there's simply no way of being sure. For the average motorcyclist, classic or otherwise, you can treat the falling magazine sales as a fairly reliable indicator of what's happening in the wider economy.
Therefore, it's still the classic bike market that's in the lead (albeit largely by default), and even that sector is on the slide. Meanwhile, if Mortons feels disposed to give us (and its advertisers) its true sales numbers, we'll be pleased to include them here. And who know? We might even believe them.
Meanwhile, watch this space...
At Sump, we're always looking for better quality luggage as an antidote to the acres of synthetic rubbish currently at large on the market. Not that you can always blame the manufacturers. Times are hard, and as ever, goods are usually built down to an "affordable" price, etc.
But some firms go the other way; firms such as de Bruir. The company manufactures the above Parachuter backpack, and retail it at a whopping £441, which is roughly what we paid for our last classic bike projects (cheapskates that we are).
These bags are handmade from European Bridle Leather, whatever the hell that is, and de Bruir will knock one up for you in various large sizes. And they are very, very large—so keep that pillion seat free.
£441 is a lot of dosh for a lot of people, but this gear looks like quality stuff that will last a lifetime—or, at least, a very long time. Garvan de Bruir is the man behind this product. He's based in Kildare, Ireland, and he's got plenty of other leather products in the bag for the discerning biking gent.
Check it all out for yourself sometime. Phone: (+353) 087 6182290.
— Girl Happy