The clocks have gone back as from Sunday 31st October 2010, and British Summer Time (BST) is behind us—which has sounded a warning from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
The problem is specifically low sun both during the morning and evening rush hours, meaning that drivers are likely to face glare on the way to work and the way home. Add to that dirty windscreens, in-car toys, general stupidity and carelessness, and you've got a pretty good recipe for an accident.
The IAM cite government figure claiming 2684 accidents in which sun glare was the primary cause—higher than for accidents involving headlamp dazzle and bad weather combined.
So if you're on the road at rush hour times (in particular) keep in mind that the excuse "I didn't see you, mate" is likely to be heard twice as often over the next few months, and with some justification.
— Girl Happy
Watch out if you're in the Merton area of south London because the local council is using plain-clothed traffic wardens in unmarked cars to feel your wallet.
A motorist was recently ticketed at Raynes Park within "a minute or so of parking"—and whilst on his way to pay. The unmarked car, it's said, pulled up with two wardens inside.
The plain-clothed driver got out and inspected the car's tax disc and motioned his colleague to issue the ticket. The "offending" driver, 54-year old electrician Derek Anderson, objected. But Merton claimed that wardens do not have to be in uniform when (a) in their vehicles and (b) if they do not physically issue the ticket (whatever that really means).
But the Parking and Traffic Appeals services didn't agree and overturned the fine telling Merton it had behaved in an underhand manner.
Which it had—but no more than we've come to expect from British local authorities. And how much is this special unmarked service costing Merton? Around £4000 per month. And guess who's paying for it?
Keep in mind that losing the appeal won't necessarily curtail Merton's behaviour. Most drivers will just take it on the chin. You don't have to.
If you believe the Daily Mail, and we seldom do, 100,000 people were stopped last year under Section 44 of the Anti-terrorism Act, and exactly no one was arrested for terrorist related offences—although a few souls were nicked for carrying drugs or offensive weapons, or for objecting to being harassed in a public place when minding their own business.
Which tells you what? Simple. The police are stopping the wrong people. QED. Logically, the focus should be on targeting the likely suspects rather than trawling a random liberal net. But politically that's dynamite. So we're all under suspicion, which is about as smart as having everyone (not least white anglo-saxon families, scout troops, protestant vicars and geriatrics) suffer the humiliation of removing their shoes at airport check-in queues and carrying their pocket junk in see-through plastic bags onto waiting jets.
The overarching point clearly being that the authorities are either too stupid to know who needs closer scrutiny and who doesn't, or are too self absorbed in their bogus equality binge to bite this particular bullet and jerk the most likely leads.
Theoretically a bomb-toting Muslim fanatic can be any shape, size, age, colour, or creed. But in practice, the suicide bomber demographic is currently a young Asian or middle-eastern male.
In other words, when a white classic biker rapes a woman at the back of a petrol station, it's pretty lousy policing if you stop on suss all the passing black lady motorists. But then, Section 44 hasn't really got much to do with terror, has it?
Freedom of the road is everything. Keep your eyes on this one.
— Sam 7
Three years after his death, property belonging to James Sherwood "Bud" Ekins is going under the hammer at the Bonhams & Butterfields auction at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The sale is scheduled for 13th November 2010 and includes the 1936 74 cubic inch Harley VL (above) plus a number of classic cars pinstriped by none other than Kenny "Von Dutch" Howard.
Ekins, Hollywood stunt man, ISDT rider, and one-time Honda motorcycle dealer, is famous for jumping the fence in the movie The Great Escape, and less well known as the driver of the Ford Mustang in the movie Bullitt.
Items at the auction will include a number of Harley flatheads, various vintage cars, dozens of badges, posters, mascots—and sidecars used in movies such as The Wild One and Pearl Harbour. Ekins, a close friend of the late actor Steve McQueen, was born in May 1930, and died in October 2007.
— Big End
H&H Auctions estimated £200,000-£250,000 for this 1929 SS100 Brough Superior, but on the day (22/10/10 at the Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford, Somerset), the hammer made it all the way to a wallet-crunching £286,000—which makes this Brough a record taker.
Why such a high price? Who knows. It's certainly not the sum of the parts. But the bike, which is already well known to the Brough Club, is now doubly famous for being famous.
The previous highest price paid for a Brough Superior was in April 2008 when a 1934 SS100 fetched £166,500 at Bonhams' Stafford auction.
We spoke to H&H's George Beale and asked about the huge £120,000 jump. "This bike," said George "was quite simply a very, very original example. We don't have information about the first seven or eight years of its existence, but beyond that it appears to have had only three owners. Unlike some other examples we've seen, this one was correct in every detail."
But that still doesn't explain the huge price increase, does it?
"Not entirely," agreed George. "The rest simply comes down to good marketing. When these bikes come onto our catalogues, we don't wait for potential buyers to come forward. Instead, we're very active and get on the phones immediately and let all the likely interested parties know. I'm afraid that's really all there is to it. Good promotion."
The bidding, we hear, came from a number of commission and telephone bids, plus at least one buyer in the room. There are no details of who actually rode home on the prize, suffice to say that the Brough is staying right here in the UK—for the time being, anyway.
See more of this story below.
— Del Monte
If it looks like a 675 Daytona, sounds like a 675 Daytona, and even rides like a 675 Daytona, it's probably a 675 Daytona. Only it's not. It's the new 675R Daytona.
Newly released images from Triumph reveal "the first Hinckley bike to be fitted with Ohlins suspension as standard". Other features include uprated Brembo calipers and carbon fibre mudguards—together with a price tag that's tipped to hit as much as £9500 (or as little, depending on your point of view).
However, what's really interesting about this bike is the fact that Triumph has bestowed upon us a bastardised all-lower-case logo on the petrol tank instead of the familiar upper-and-lower-case design we've come to know and love.
Sounds innocuous enough. But corporate branding is as much a science as splitting the atom, a science where even minor tweaks on a Coca Cola can or a Cadbury chocolate bar typically take years to evolve.
Disney, Heinz, BMW, IBM, Nike, Harley-Davidson or Triumph Lingerie; all these brands are worth a fortune and are jealously guarded by regiments of hired legal guns happy to spill blood of any challengers.
But Triumph Motorcycles evidently feels confident that its mildly subversive seven letter revamp of the 675 Daytona tank badge will slip into our consciousness with everyone seeing it, but without anyone really noticing what is arguably the gentle unravelling of one of the world's greatest motorcycling brands.
Is it (like the new Speed Triple's controversial headlights) merely change for change sake? Or is Triumph showing the first signs of an identity crisis? We'll be watching closely and will let you know if other evidence comes to light.
— The Third Man
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge) is in the doghouse over comments he made about railway suicide victims.
During a recent interview, Hammond was alleged to have said that the Surrey-London train service was "pretty reliable, unless somebody jumps off the platform at Wimbledon, which happens with monotonous regularity."
It's the sort of glib comment anyone might make in the course of the average day, but when you're a government minister, such luxuries are beyond your reach and you need to know when to keep your trap shut. Which, clearly, Hammond doesn't.
Worse yet, Labour MP Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) has got his boxers in a tangle over the remark and wants Hammond to "apologise immediately to anyone who has ever been affected by the tragic events of a suicide for his callous flippancy." Quote/unquote.
Luckily for the families of UK suicide victims this isn't Japan where railway operators routinely charge around £46,000 for interrupted services when they get "one under".
Regardless, if you're reading this, Phil, don't despair. Just stay well away from the platform's edge for a few weeks, especially if there are any Birmingham MPs lurking in the vicinity. It'll probably blow over soon enough, but in the short term, why take chances?
Meanwhile, let's hope that Mr Mahmood, who is said to have billed the taxpayer £35,000 over the past eight years for food expenses, doesn't bite off more righteous indignation than he can chew. We wouldn't want him to lose his appetite completely.
As a footnote, you might also recall that in June this year, fellow conservative MP David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds) found himself under the wheels of a train at London's Victoria Station, but missed the live rail and managed to escape with only cuts and bruises.
Police said they weren't treating the matter as suspicious, and were mindful of the fact that Ruffley had recently been suffering from depression. Fortunately, the incident didn't happen at Wimbledon, huh? Imagine how that would have spoiled Hammond's day.
— Sam 7
According to FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists' Association) the Mandarins at the European Commission have rejected the notion of a "switch off" option for new bikes equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).
The announcement was made yesterday (21/10/10) as part of new type approval proposals. These include the abolition of the French 100bhp (74KW) power limit; more stringent restrictions on engine modification; and the introduction of "strong durability requirements for tailpipe emissions"—whatever the hell that means.
But it's the ABS issue that will perhaps concern riders most. Under new plans, it will be a requirement for all new bikes above 125cc to be equipped with anti-lock braking systems. However, under certain conditions, ABS might not be wanted—such as when riding off-road where controlled locking of the wheels is required (power sliding/rock hopping, etc).
The Mandarins, it seems, aren't impressed by that argument. Ignorantly, or just obstinately, they believe that the small percentage of riders who might want (or need) to have full braking control are heavily outweighed by the less experienced and technophobic motorcyclists who might permanently switch off the system and continue to crash and burn.
This, of course, is yet another daft example of officialdom seizing control, but leaving the rider with the responsibility for what follows— never mind that the faster riding afforded by ABS is, for many riders, just as likely to get them into trouble as out of it.
More ominously is the fact that once officialdom starts taking control, it's (a) reluctant to let go, and (b) doesn't usually know where to stop (i.e. speed limiters, daytime lights, even auto-braking sensors such as those mooted for cars).
If you're happy about the proposals, do nothing. If you're concerned, join one of the riders groups and help put the brakes on this one while you've still got a little control left.
The Irish Post Office, An Post, has issued a 55c stamp to commemorate 100 years of the Automobile Association in Eire. In 1910, Ireland had 56,000 miles of road and just shy of 8000 registered vehicles. Today, AA Ireland boasts 550,000 "customer relationships" driving on 63,000 miles of asphalt.
The first AA patrols, however, didn't actually get moving until 1920 (some of them on bicycles). The practice then was to ride around a set route and watch out for any member in trouble. During WW1 and the Irish War of Independence, private motoring in Ireland pretty much came to a grinding halt. Today, there are roughly 1.5 million registered cars on Irish roads.
The image on the stamp, incidentally, shows what looks like a 600cc BSA M21 sidecar outfit. But if you know differently, tip us the wink.
You can buy the stamps online, or pick them up from main Irish post offices.
— Big End
Norman Hyde says that there aren't enough decent quality pistons around for Triumph Trident T150s, Trident T160s and BSA Rocket Threes, and has commissioned a batch to plug the holes.
These are available for standard bores, +.020" and +.040". Rings, pins and clips are included in each set. The price is £232.65, which includes VAT. Note that these are not suitable for Hinckley Rocket Threes.
It's not stated how many sets have been made, except that it's a short run. But we do know that VAT goes up to twenty percent in January 2011. Keep it in mind.
— Del Monte
Lot number 1209 fell short of Cheffins optimistic £24,000-£29,000 and fetched a more realistic £21,000 on Saturday 16th October 2010 (Cambridge). We cited the relatively prosaic forks and brakes on this one (see below) and predicted a lower estimate of £22,000. However, we can imagine this bike coming back after a suitable revamp and perhaps raising the price bar a little. It's fitted with an electric starter (disconnected) which perhaps opens up the market a little to riders as well as collectors.
— The Third Man
H&H Auctions are estimating £200,000-£250,000 on Friday (22nd October 2010) for this 1929 Brough Superior SS100, which makes it the day's highest priced motorcycle lot. It was restored in 2000/2001 and has been used/paraded in Scotland, France, Spain, Austria and Italy. It's offered with a V5C and a dating certificate, but no other history.
These SS100s were fitted with JAP JTOR engine and heavyweight Sturmey-Archer gearboxes.
The auction will be held at the Haynes International Motor Museum in Sparkford, Somerset (see more on this auction below).
Reg number: UY 4993
Frame number: S987
Engine number: JTO/C21326/T
Cubic capacity: 986
MOT expiry date: none
Meanwhile, Lot 28 is this BSA-Triumph works Rocket Three ridden to victory by ex-BSA Development shop engineer Dave Aldana. It's estimated by H&H Auctions to fetch £160,000-£180,000.
Back in 1970, this was one of a trio of BSA "Highboy Racers" despatched to the USA to kick some ass at Daytona. Three Tridents were also sent. The riders included Gary Nixon, Gene Romero and Don Castro (Triumph Tridents) and Mike Hailwood, Jim Rice and Dave Aldana (BSA Rocket Threes).
The bikes failed to win at Daytona (1970), but they showed the world that there was plenty of headroom - a fact confirmed two months later at the Talladega 200 in Alabama when this Rob North framed Rocket Three, ridden by Aldana, won at 104.5mph.
The provenance is impeccable with a confirmation letter from the late Doug Hele, Triumph's Development Engineer. There's also a letter of authenticity by the bike's previous owner, Robert Iannucci, while Richard Peckett of P&M Racing has inspected the bike and is satisfied. The engine number checks out. Other racing damage details check out.
This is the one.
H&H tend to overestimate slightly. But in this instance, we wouldn't be surprised if the estimate was way too low. It goes under the hammer on Friday 22nd October 2010 along with 70 other bikes, many of which have wonderful tales of their own to tell.
Reg number: N/A
Frame number: T.B.A.
Engine number: HD00329A75R
— Big End
Remember the Spitfire funds of World War Two? Well if you do, you'll appreciate better than most that charity begins at home.
For years, Andy Tiernan has been producing these charitable calendars for a different kind of aerial hero, and has just launched the latest one for 2011. As ever, the artwork is by Nick Ward. And as ever, the price is very reasonable at just £5.
The fiver goes direct to the East Anglian Air Ambulance—which just might save your life someday if you fall off your bike in that neck of the woods. So think ahead. If you live further afield, flying doctors are always worth supporting, so if you need a calendar, make it this one. The ambulance is celebrating ten years of service, by the way, which means hundreds—if not thousands—of lives saved.
Cheques should be payable to "East Anglian Air Ambulance", and make sure you include postage stamps to the value of the 81p.
Andy Tiernan Classics, The Old Railway Station, Station Rd, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 9EE
— Del Monte
According to the weathermen a big freeze is about to hit the UK complete with arctic winds, sleet, snow and hail. It should last for just a few days, and then we're back to late October business as usual.
Keep in mind, however, that these are the same guys who earlier this year stated that they would no longer issue forecasts three months in advance because the "weather is just too unpredictable".
Last year, remember, the MetHeads predicted a summer drought and ... it rained. And rained. They also predicted a mild winter and we got the coldest for 30 years.
Maybe that was why, in July 2010, the BBC was said to have come perilously close to sacking the Met Office as their weathermen and employing instead a bunch of Kiwis who appear to know when to put away the sunglasses and pick up the snow goggles.
In the end, however, Auntie Beeb picked the usual Met Office suspects —but at a discount, note—and we've continued to get lousy forecasts with more days off the road.
But either way, it was all too late for Bournemouth Council who, in May this year, hired a local firm called Weathernet to provide more reliable forecasts. Why? Because the Met Office, through the BBC, kept predicting rain when then sun was destined to shine, thereby frightening away the tourists and losing millions for local businesses.
So much for one of the prime culprits in the great global warming swindle—which isn't even called global warming anymore (certainly not by the Met Office). It's now more commonly referred to as climate change, which conveniently covers their rear ends if it actually gets colder rather than hotter. Or wetter rather than dryer. Or whatever.
According to the Met Heads, anyone who still doesn't believe in global warming has "got their heads stuck in the sand". But from where we're sitting and shivering in the garage, staring at a gunmetal sky, waiting for an early Santa, it feels more like we're about to get our heads stuck in the snow. You might want to keep all this in mind the next time the propagandists come calling for your vote.
The estimate was £60,000-£70,000, but this legendary 498cc URS racing outfit built by Helmut Fath exceeded all but the most optimistic expectations hitting £92,000 at the Bonhams October auction at the Stafford Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show. With buyers premium, and VAT on the premium, the bill came to £102,700.
The revenue generated by this auction topped £1.2 million. Meanwhile, the show organisers were very happy at a massive attendance of 33,410 making it "the biggest Stafford ever".
For more on the World Championship winning URS outfit, check out Sump's August Classic Bike News page.
— Big End
Draganfly have got their mitts on a batch of these mainshaft sliding gears for Burman BA or BAP 'boxes. The part number is 3075-34. The tooth count is 20 and 26. The price is £195, plus p&p and VAT. Ouch!
But hey, if you gotta have one, you gotta have one. And most Burman boxes, according to Draganfly, needed 'em yesterday.
— Girl Happy
Norman Hyde is offering a new oil pump for T150s, T160s and BSA Rocket Threes (not for Hinckley Rockets, note).
They're CNC machined, so each one will be the same as the last and should fit perfectly—unlike the more "characterful" original pumps that occasionally needed a little persuasion to work properly.
The price is £175 plus change. They can be ordered direct from Norman.
— Del Monte
The venue is the Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford, Somerset, the auction house is H&H, and the shooting starts on Friday 22nd October 2010. That gives you one more week to load up some dosh if you want to register your interest in this 1960 AJS 7R or the 1961 Matchless G50.
Jack "Jock" West, then AMC sales director, was the driving force behind the 350cc "across-the-counter" OHC AJS racer which, in the hands of dedicated privateers, acquitted itself well—often against fiercer and better funded factory machines from the likes of Norton, Velocette, and Moto Guzzi.
First appearing in 1948, the 300lbs, 37bhp 7R was designed by Phil Walker. By the mid-1950s, development engineer and ex-racer Jack Williams had joined the firm and was eventually able to squeeze 41.5bhp from the (revised) 75.5mm x 78mm single cylinder engine. With its gold painted elektron cases, this is one of the most distinctive motorcycles in the history of British motorcycling, and still a very popular choice on the classic racing scene.
H&H tend to aim at the "blue chip" collector, which is why we think this bike is pushing the cash envelope a little. However, we remember that Bonham's flogged one a couple of years back for twenty-three grand (just below their lower estimate of £24,000-£28,000), so it's possible that H&H are right on the money. And if so, all those who bought one for around £14,000 three or four years ago might well have made a very sound investment.
Meanwhile, the prototype 496cc (70mm x 90mm) Matchless G50 appeared in 1958 and went into production the following year putting out a claimed 51bhp. This particular example was part of the Guggenheim Show "The Art of the Motorcycle" and is fitted with a Mick Hemmings gearbox. Once again, H&H are aiming high at £28,000-£32,000. But the market is hungry for more quality investment bikes, and there's little sign of a brake on prices.
— Coffee Shop
Triumph is in danger of hyping this one to death and disappointing us when we get to see it in the raw.
Only, our bet is that Hinckley has once again done its sums right and is about to deliver a wake-up call to BMW's excellent GS series, which is currently the best seller in its class.
Two new Tigers are being launched, both 800cc triples. They'll be available in two versions; one road-oriented with a 17-inch front wheel, and one for the dirt with 21-inch front rubber. Exactly how much dirt it will want to eat will become clear in due course. Meanwhile, if you're thinking of buying a GS, or anything else in its class, maybe you'd better pull over for a moment and see what Hinckley is about to serve up. Instant classic Brit? We think so.
We think this is one of the most exciting motorcycle projects in years and deserves all the exposure it can get.
Devised by Austin Vince and Lois Pryce, the Adventure Travel Film Festival is held once every year in the UK, and once in the USA, and offers a weekend of camping and socialising against the celluloid and digital backdrop of some of the greatest travel films ever made.
In the movie cans are such biking gems as One Man Caravan (1933: charting Robert Edison Fulton Jnr's epic voyage on a Douglas Motorcycle across Asia and Indonesia—see image right); Cycles South (1971: three men on three BSAs travelling from Colorado to Panama); Motosyberia (2007: Poland to the far side of Russia); and Rugged Road (1935: two women and a Panther outfit journeying from London to Cape Town).
Appropriately enough, the travel show won't be coming to a cinema anywhere near you. Instead, you're going to have to ride down to Devon, or get yourself out to Arizona, if you want to be a part of it (but if it was up to us, it would be held in a yurt in the Mongolian Desert and 500 miles from the nearest watering hole).
The price is £55, which includes camping. But if you want a proper bed, it can be arranged locally.
It takes place on Friday 3rd June–Sunday 5th June 2011 at Knapp House, Churchill Way, Bideford, Devon, EX39 1NT. This event is a must for any serious travelling rider.
— Del Monte
Okay. You all know the score. Winter's coming. It's getting cold out there. And you've gone soft over the Summer and can't face getting the bike out again until sometime around next April.
Well, Keis are making it harder for you to shy off going for that ride. They've developed this new body warmer which you can hook up to your bike's battery. Or, if the electrics on your classic heap are marginal leaving you with no extra capacity, there are plug-in Lithium-Ion battery packs that will keep your body core temperature in the comfort zone. That's the claim, anyway.
The battery packs come in two capacities; 2200mAh (milliamp hours), and 4400mAh. These should give you anything from 5 hours to 20 hours of warmth depending on whether you plug in the optional inner gloves and insoles.
The vest has a recommended retail price of £100. The insoles and inner gloves are £45 (per pair). The battery packs are £50 and £83 respectively, including charger.
Note that all Keis items take 1.3amps to get up to temperature, dropping to 1amp (some variance depending on temperature, wind chill, etc). The system is fused, so you won't cook your innards if you get heavily rained on.
If your budget is limited, you're probably best advised to go for the vest instead of the gloves and insoles. Keeping that core temperature up is essential. Get that right, and the digits usually look after themselves.
— Big End
Mr Kempton Park, Eric Patterson, will be a guest of honour at this year's South of England Real Classic Show & Bikejumble.
Eric will be bringing his "record breaking" Norton-JAP motorcycle fresh from his latest sortie at Bonneville Salt flats.
The show will take place on Sunday 24th October 2010 at the South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL. This is a good, grass-roots events which is mostly undercover. In fact, aside from the main hall, there are at least two other halls offering 5500 square metres of bike-only autojumble. That means no fluffy toys. No car boot rubbish. Just lovely greasy bike bits.
And if that isn't enough, you can feast your peepers on the BSA Owners Club's A65T Thunderbolt (circa '71/'72) and buy a raffle ticket for £1. Go along. Be young. Be fun. Be happy. Etc.
— Girl Happy
Tired of riding into potholes? Fed up with all the anti-bike bureaucracy from Brussels? Sick of being treated like a second-class road user? Well stop whingeing and do something about it.
How? The Motorcycle Action Group is co-ordinating a mass lobby of Parliament under the "Riders are Voters" campaign banner. It kicks off on Monday 8th November 2010 and your attendance is required.
But wait! You've got to register your interest if you want to show your face. These events need plenty of forward consultation and planning. So call 0800 9883193 and talk to someone from the "Riders are Voters" office. Or email MAG at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
They'll give you all the other details you'll need to know. Suffice to say that you'd better behave yourself on the day. Expect plenty of police video and press cameras, so best behaviour, if you will.
Don't neglect this one, please. The whole riders' rights lobby falls down without direct support, and when that goes down, ultimately it all goes down. If you want to preserve your right to the road, fight for it.
One more time now: Monday 8th November 2010. But call or email MAG first. Do it soon.
There are five days left if you want to put in a bid for this 100cc James Comet that's being auctioned on Saturday (16th October 2010). Villiers-engined bikes aren't for everyone, but this one is special. It comes from the late Tom Swallow collection—Tom being the man who founded the legendary prisoner of war magazine, Flywheel.
Flywheel was produced in Stalag IVB between 1944 and 1945. Only one (laborious and inventive) copy per issue was written on school exercise books by the inmates which was then passed from hand to hand around the camp.
After the war, with serious and chronic health issues to overcome, Tom became a motorcycle dealer and a highly inspirational figure, often completing long distance rides that would have challenged a rider enjoying perfect health. Tom Swallow was born in March 1918 and died in December 2007.
This bike is offered in RAF livery, but its history (at the time of writing) isn't clear. However, it comes from Tom's private collection and is estimated at £1200-£1500, which is almost certainly an underestimate. There's no V5 with this bike, but an old style log book is present.
1956 100cc James Comet 100
Reg. No. CRR 784J
Frame No.56 LI 587
Engine No.521 A10677
— Big End
Better watch it when sending your licence back for renewal, or to change your address details, or to update your photo, or whatever, because the DVLA is (what a surprise!) reneging on a promise to return old licences.
Why are old licences important? Because the DVLA has a track record of arbitrarily removing entitlements to ride motorcycles. This isn't a new phenomenon. It's been around for a while, often leaving riders with time-consuming and expensive remedial options, including re-taking their bike test.
Recently, the DVLA made a promise to return old licences if and when asked. But the message, we learn, still isn't getting through to everyone down there in Swansea.
The solution? Don't send your old licence back. Just wait until you accidentally mislay it, and then apply for a new one. Might cost a few bob extra, but it rules out any later argument—and you never know when the old one will turn up.
— Sam 7
Make the most of them while they're going, because they could be going for good in the not too distant future if government proposals get the go-ahead.
What's it all about? Shared urban space. It's not a new idea. It's been floating around for a few years; the rationale being that if you want to make high streets safer, you need to remove the demarcation lines between pedestrians and road users. That leads to uncertainty on the part of the driver or rider, and they slow down—often to a crawl (there's no word on how it affects pedestrian speeds).
Regardless, it's supposed to be a way of curtailing the dominance of the road user but without actually stopping traffic flow. It's counter-intuitive, but experiments show that "blurring the lines" can and does work. However, support groups for the blind have misgivings about it due to "navigational issues", while disabled groups have raised concerns of their own.
Coupled with this idea is a proposal to de-clutter the urban environment by removing street furniture, etc (also not a new idea).
All worthy ideals, perhaps, and there's a lot to be said in favour of slowing the traffic current. But we're wondering how we're supposed to park our classic bikes without a convenient kerbstone propping up the wobbly sidestands, never mind a gutter to help carry away all that escaping forty weight.
And what if it's really something more sinister? First the kerbstones, then the street furniture, then the white lines, and then the road itself. Makes you think.
— Girl Happy
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London has today (8th October 2010) launched a bus lane safety campaign intended to make car drivers more aware of motorcycles.
Since January 2009, bikers have been given legal access to 418 bus lanes controlled by Transport for London (TfL). But what started as an 18-month trial was extended in July 2010 for another 18 months (subject to an on-going legal challenge). Why the extension? Largely because, say campaigners and critics, TfL failed to support the trial with adequate awareness of the programme, thereby mucking up the experimental data.
That's being put right this time with radio broadcasts coupled with stricter speed enforcement. The idea is to reduce the number of drivers pulling left across bus lanes and swiping bikes—which are less visible than buses, and often a lot nippier.
Bike casualties have fallen four percent between 2008 and 2009 (738 down to 706), and have dropped 24 percent since the "mid-to-late 1990s" (quote/unquote). Which is amazing in view of the rise in London motorcycle usage, much of it by novice riders completely unfit to be behind a pair of handlebars in a busy urban environment.
Take note that this campaign is happening at a time when Johnson has recently thrown his hat into the Mayoral election race.
Did you see them last night? On the box? We're talking about the Sussex rozzers out their on the beat strutting their stuff during this year's Ace Cafe Brighton Burn Up (10th/11th/12th September 2010). Did you ever see such a bunch of smug, superior, self-righteous, self-satisfied plodders?
True, there were a couple of deserved-to-be-knicked bikers taking with the mickey with their high-speed, tyre-scorching, wheelie-popping antics on the A23 (and about half a dozen of them were taken off the road and had their rubber duly confiscated for their pains). But that was nothing compared to the motorcycle copper in pursuit of a speeding tearaway on a country lane, both of whom made it up to around one-forty.
If driving like a maniac is reprehensible, what do you call it when you're wearing a blue uniform (under your anonymous leathers) and chasing a maniac at double the national speed limit? Smart? Responsible? Or daft as a brush?
Meanwhile, another biker with a misplaced number plate (following what looked like a genuine bracket fracture) was held ransom at the side of the road while his mates went in search of a replacement—only to be told on their return by the attendant jobsworth copper that they could duct tape the new plate to the top of the pillion where it would be "visible to anyone who wanted to look at it". From a passing satellite maybe.
Elsewhere, they managed to nab a pushbike rider for cycling with no lights, and went in pursuit of an American girl who'd committed the heinous crime of riding a few hundred yards sans lid.
"Did you see that?" gasped PC Goddard, possibly the same man who put the suss into Sussex. "She's not wearing a helmet. I can't believe it! I can't believe it!"
Well we can. It was, after all, her head—and hers to do what she wants with, except when she's riding pillion on a motorcycle.
And this on the day when we officially learn from the coroner's Court that it took only 59 heavily armed Metropolitan police officers to execute one drunk, depressed and desperate barrister who was all but crying down the phone with a wobbly twelve bore shotgun stuffed under his arm.
"We put ourselves in harms way, so we had to plug him before he hurt one of us." That was the gist of the we-shot-him-in-self-defence argument. Apparently all other options weren't an option, including letting the man 's wife try to coax him out.
She later said that her husband will be greatly missed. But not by the Met who put seven bullets in him for being non compos mentis.
At Sump we love the police. We just wish they'd love us a little more, especially when we're drunk and desperate—which is increasingly the default position these days.
It's got the wrong badge on the tank. That's the fundamental problem with the new 773cc, 70hp W800 from Kawasaki. If it read "Triumph" there'd be a queue of classic bike fans around the block waiting to test ride—if not buy—one of these. But hardened Triumph men have to look the other way and pretend they haven't noticed it. And we know that, because we're pretty hardened here at Sump when it comes to Trumpets, and this Kwacker makes us squirm.
We first reported on this bike in August. Only, at the time it appeared that the W800 would be launched with disc brakes front and rear (certainly the pre-production images showed a rear disc). However, it seems that the rear brake is in fact a 160mm drum (the front, meanwhile, is the same 300mm disc as fitted to its predecessor).
Bore and stroke is 77mm x 83mm. And like the W650, it's got a single overhead bevel-driven camshaft and an eight-valve head. But unlike the old 34mm carburetted W650, this bike has fuel injection to satisfy the legislators. The clutch is wet, multi-plate. The gearbox is 5-speed. Weight is 475lbs (216kg), but it's not clear if that's wet or dry. The seat height is a little over 31-inches (790mm). But the path-to-ground isn't too long, so it should suit many riders of more modest stature.
The kickstarter, however, is gone—which is a great disappointment. Nevertheless, this is still a great looking "traditional" motorcycle that should find plenty of buyers. Pity Triumph hadn't built it.
— Big End
Triumph has unveiled its latest 1050cc Speed Triple at the Cologne Bike Show. It's 6lbs lighter, produces 128bhp with 81 lbs ft of torque (111Nm) at 7500rpm and has an all-up weight of 471lbs (214kg). Its sharp, angular looks are punctuated by revised trademark bug eyed headlamps, behind which sits the battery in a move designed to shift some weight forward.
The frame and wheels are new. The Showa suspension has been upgraded. Front brakes are Brembo. The rear are Nissin. Most significantly, the new Speed Triple has anti-lock brakes (ABS) as an option.
Other options include Arrow cans and the usual Speed Triple extras (belly pan, fly-screen, etc)
Make no mistake; this is a future British classic that will someday sit right up there with the original '59 Bonneville. If you're a 21st Century Rocker, this is a bike you can misbehave for hours on.
— Girl Happy
It's going under the hammer at Bonham's auction at Stafford on the 17th October 2010, and they're anticipating bids of between £12,000 and £16,000 for this restored Triumph Tiger 100. That's a fairly wide estimate, but the Triumph market appears to have cooled a little lately with many traders reporting a general slow down.
However, the Tiger 100 is a special case. Rarer than its Speed Twin stablemate, the four-speed rigid/girder, polished and ported Tiger was a very credible sporting machine in its day and capable of a genuine 90-95mph—and even a little more in the right hands.
This bike is said to have been restored sometime prior to December 2001, and features (purists look away now) a dynamically balanced crankshaft, unleaded valve seats and stainless steel wheel rims. The Tiger comes with old tax discs, a current MOT, a VMCC dating certificate, and various restoration receipts.
We think it's pretty much on the money, and if it reaches the top estimate, it means that these Tigers have roughly doubled in value over the past ten years.
— Del Monte
We couldn't let this day pass without mentioning Sir Norman Wisdom who's died aged 95.
Born in Marylebone, London, Norman entertained millions with his unique brand of little-man-against-the-world slapstick humour starring in classic movies such as On the Beat, The Bulldog Breed, Press For Time, The Square Peg and The Early Bird.
A lifelong fan of motorcycling, Norman had his share of biking fun and games and was a regular attendee of the Isle of Man TT.
He was knighted in 2000, but was at heart an ordinary man with a simple, down-to-earth outlook on life.
He died today, 4th October 2010, at his home on the Isle of Man and would no doubt have had something pithy and amusing to say about the fact that suddenly no one is laughing.
— Coffee Stop
The 1st October 2010 saw a 1p per litre rise in the price of UK petrol. The increase was set out in this year's April budget (under the Labour government), and there are two more rises to come (now under the Tory/Lib Dem pact).
The current average UK unleaded petrol price is around 115 pence per litre. The minimum you're likely to pay this month is around 110. The maximum is around 128. But after the next two rises, plus the New Year VAT hike to twenty percent, the more likely average cost is predicted to be around 125 pence per litre.
The cost of international crude oil, note, hasn't actually risen much in recent months. But various "fluctuations in sterling" has, say the government, helped put pressure on prices at the pumps. However, if you want someone to point the finger at, just start jabbing away at Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne at number 11 Downing Street. He's got a big hole in his wallet, and one way or another, we're going to have to fill it.
— Coffee Stop
From 4th October 2010, learner drivers will have to prove their ability to drive "independently" by following a pre-set route without being directed every step of the way. However, candidates are at liberty to ask the examiner for guidance (without penalty), and won't be failed for getting lost.
Additionally, instead of being required to complete two out of three reversing manoeuvres, learners will be asked to complete only one. Why? Because the new "independent" part of the test will take ten minutes, and there isn't enough time to fit in everything else (without lengthening the test and thereby increasing costs). So one of the reversing manoeuvres gets the chop.
All this is intended to produce safer drivers, but sounds more like the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has simply shifted the goalposts in an effort to be seen to be doing something progressive whilst actually doing little to raise the quality of the bloodstock.
Meanwhile, even if these changes make it marginally safer when new drivers are going with the flow, there's a pretty good chance that much of the improvement will be offset when they slam it into reverse.
The DSA moral? "We go forward by not going backward", or something like that. Sounds right in principle, but the practice might prove a little more alarming.
— Del Monte
Does the world really need another coffee table book on 1960s bikers?
Well, maybe. Certainly Horst A Friedrichs, the man behind the lens on this one, makes a convincing case for it. Launched at this year's Ace Cafe Reunion's Brighton Burn up (13th September 2010), this 176-page historical document is as gritty as a night on Brighton beach and as probing as an afternoon with an Irish priest.
We could wax lyrical about black leather and ton-up boys and Jacks Hill Cafe, etc, but you already know all the words on the great Rocker songsheet. Instead we'll just tell you that the list price is £19.99, and that Amazon is flogging 'em off at just shy of thirteen quid.
There are some wonderful images here that you'll want to rip out and frame and hang on your bathroom wall (or maybe frame and flog on eBay at some ridiculous price).
Hardback, 27mm x 20mm and the best part of an inch thick, Horst is happy to mix his coloureds with black & whites. The illustrations number 100, and the publisher is Prestel. Job done.
— Big End
It claims to be the oldest live music club in the world, but it will all be over by Christmas unless a sponsor is found. Why? Rent, rip-off rates (at over £1000 per week) and exorbitant alcohol duties to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are cited as the three evils that have all but brought the 350-capacity club to its knees.
Teddy Boys, Rockers, Mods, Greasers and Punks, the club has set them all jumping with bands and performers such as Bo Diddley, B B King, The Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Yardbirds, The Spencer Davis Group, The Kinks, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, The Jam, The Animals and The Stranglers.
During its original incarnation as the Feldman Swing Club, patrons and performers included Benny Goodman, Johnny Dankworth, Ronnie Scott, and even Glen Miller.
Still wearing its 1970s decor, the 100 Club—located at 100 Oxford Street, London W1—is a piece of London history that had its roots back in 1942, and is facing the axe in just two months. Better make your peace with it while you still can. When it's gone, it's gone.
— Del Monte
The Cycle Touring Club (CTC) looks set to challenge Boris Johnson's decision to extend bus lane access for motorcyclists. What began as an eighteen month experiment was (allegedly) increased on-the-fly by Johnson, which the CTC say is "unprecedented" and illegal.
And they've got a point. Local authorities should not, as a rule, be given carte blanche to do whatever they want with the roads without public consultation, and the CTC is going to take the issue to court to have the matter settled.
"Bus lanes are our safe havens" say the CTC. Which is news to us because the last time we looked there were buses and taxi cabs hurtling along them.
But perhaps more to the point, the cycle lobbies need to be reminded who actually pays for the roads—meaning motorists, bus companies, taxi drivers and motorcyclists. Moreover, if the CTC want to make war, perhaps it's time to remind Her Majesty's government that plenty of cyclists are quite capable of exceeding practically all of London's speed limits and cause numerous injuries to pedestrians (and motorcyclists), yet none of them carry insurance and/or wear number plates as required by other road users.
Additionally, almost no cyclists fit rear view mirrors, and then there's the question of helmet compulsion. Not that any of us at Sump actually want to get into a shin-kicking match in a bus lane or anywhere else. But what comes around, goes around. Know what we're saying?
— Sam 7
Better watch yourself the next time you're blithely bimbling along the contentious M4 London-bound bus lane with nothing to worry about aside from those maniacs in black cabs and those other maniacs in coaches, because it will soon be open season and the lane will be free game for anyone.
Rolled out in 1999 by Transport Secretary John "Two Jags" Prescott and quickly dubbed the "Blair Lane", the 3.5 mile stretch of red asphalt was the bane of log-jammed motorists unable to see the justification for a entire lane restricted for what was often only an occasional bus.
The Tories, it's said, feel that the lane was symptomatic of Labour's "war on motorists" and are scrapping it. But there's a catch. During the Olympics it will once again be restricted so that sweaty athletes and perfumed dignitaries can be shuttled back and forth while the motorised hoi polloi looks on in renewed frustration.
Of course, some might suggest that the Tories are simply trying to win over a few friends now that their death-by-a-thousand-cuts programme has drawn more than a few drops of public sector blood.
Either way, you're going to have to give your bar-end mirror an extra wipe with the Windolene before you make your next Eastbound run into the smoke.
Lot number 1209 (see main image, top) goes under the hammer on the 16th October 2010. Auctioneers Cheffins reckon this 1000cc Norvin cafe racer will sell for somewhere between £24,000-£29,000. We think that's a little on the steep side and figure that around £22,000-£25,000 is a more realistic estimate, not least due to the relatively prosaic Commando forks and Triumph TLS front brake.
Then again, in a generally collapsed economy, classic bikes are still bucking the trend and going from strength to strength. And this is a cracking looking Norvin.
The engine is a 1000cc Vincent Series D lump fitted with an electric starter (disconnected). However, the history of the motor is unknown due to lost records. Note the position of the oil tank filler cap at the rear of the fuel tank (the mind boggles, and possibly more than just the mind if you brake too hard).
Other specifications are as follows:
30mm Amal carburettors
Crank built and balanced by Colin Taylor of Kings Lynn
Four-speed Norton gearbox
Norton Commando forks
Wideline featherbed frame
Triumph TLS front brake
Engine case jointing faces built-up and remachined
Removable cylinder heads with engine in situ
Reg. No. RSK 553
12 volt electrics
150mph Smiths chronometer
Estimated 2300 miles of use
MOT and V5C
If you want to put in a bid, it's going to be sold at Cheffins, Cambridge. The fun and games start at around 2.00pm (Saturday 16th October 2010 in case you missed the date at the intro).
Cheffins lot number 1210 (above) was apparently sold to a policeman in Northern Ireland who raced it in the Temple 100 race of that year. The bike came back to the UK via the Isle of Man and is now on the auction block estimated at £9000-£10,000. It's running a BT touring gearbox at the moment. But the CT close ratio 'box will be supplied with the bike. The Sunbeam has a current MOT and a road fund licence (don't you love the quaintness of that phrase?).
Reg. No. BZ 233
One more thing: We're advised that the proceeds from this sale will be donated to Cancer Research.
— Big End