500cc DBD34 Summer Raffle prize was won by a Dutchman
See the Winter Raffle reminder below
If you've ever wondered what a 1960 BSA 500cc DBD34 Gold Star Summer Raffle winner looks like, we can put you out of your misery. He looks pretty much like this guy—Bart Maatje from the Netherlands.
The raffle has been running for three months, and now it's over. The winning ticket (No: 9001753) was drawn by road racing "superstars" Freddie Spencer, Peter Hickman & Maria Costello. It happened at the National Motorcycle Museum LIVE open day on Saturday 4th November 2017.
The runner-up prize was a 1955 BSA C11G 250cc motorcycle. That was won by James Taylor from Lincolnshire. His ticket was No: 0160289
Dave Cross from Northamptonshire bought Ticket No: 5015751, and he won a "Luxury classic weekend hotel break for two people".
Finally, the National Motorcycle Museum (NMM) has reminded us—and has therefore reminded the tens of thousands of Sumpsters perusing these pages—that the NMM Winter Raffle is offering a 2018 Triumph Speedmaster as the first prize.
For details, check the link you've just passed.
175bhp, 100bhp and 75bhp options mooted
Projected bikes to be built in the UK and overseas
No doubt the success of Triumph's Bonneville scramblers coupled with the general resurgence of interest in parallel twin engines has helped spur Norton Motorcycles into developing this new parallel twin scrambler concept from Donington.
Currently, the bike, which has been the subject of much discussion at this year's EICMA Show, appears to be more wishful thinking than manufacturing fact. Certainly there's nothing turn-key at present.
Nevertheless, Norton CEO Stuart Garner is sounding pretty bullish about the project, and we've got no doubt that the current motorcycle market would very much like to see a bike such as this on the high street. The only question is whether Norton can put sufficient commercial weight behind it and bring the bikes in at the right price.
Currently, Norton is busy signing contracts with numerous firms in China and India, the idea being to build a new range (or multiple ranges) of bikes for both the home and overseas markets, with manufacturing taking place both here in Blighty and overseas depending where the bikes will be sold. But keep in mind that Triumph has its Bonnies built in Thailand, not Hinckley.
The engine for this proposed bike is pretty much one half of the firm's creditable V4 racer. A 270-degree crank, we're told, will spin at the heart of this 4-valve per-cylinder, 650cc, liquid-cooled engine. Three power options will be offered: a 175bhp supercharged model, a 100bhp pot-boiler, and a 75bhp option for those with more limited funds who simply want a cool and more modest bike for general zipping around, joyrides, posing or commuting. Wheels are likely to be 18-inch or 19-inch front and 18-inch at the rear. ABS is a given. Traction control is pretty much de rigeur these days.
Naturally, Norton is raiding the archives looking to include as many retro styling cues as possible in order to bolster its heritage claims, etc. A scrambler model will be first along, followed by a more roadster/touring oriented machine. That's the plan, anyway.
The target weight for these bikes is around 140kg (308lbs) which sounds nice on paper and will sound better in the showrooms, but that's a tall order for a strong, durable, practical bike with sufficient features to keep the market happy whilst also keeping the legislator's sweet with regard to issues such as induction noise and exhaust noise, emissions issues, braking requirements and so on. And lightweight bikes demand more expensive lightweight alloys. Keep that in mind.
The price? Well, we're hearing numbers ranging from £10,000 - £12,000, and we'll believe that if and when we see it.
Norton has got form regarding failure to deliver the goods, so we're just keeping an open mind about this bike. No doubt the will is there, but hopeful/upbeat stuff like that often gets lost on the road to reality. Then again, Norton is hungry and ambitious, and Garner's a tenacious man who's done a fantastic job of getting this far with a brand rebirth project that's had its fair share of failures to launch.
Meanwhile, the parallel twin and/or scrambler market is getting very crowded lately with Ducati, BMW, Moto Guzzi, Royal Enfield, Yamaha and others marketing some great bikes, each firm looking to consolidate its footholds on the middleweight retro showroom floor.
It isn't that Norton isn't perfectly capable of building the bikes. It's just, as we suggested, the question of building enough at the right price in an increasingly saturated market to make the books balance.
See also: Norton - Zongshen engine deal
WARNING!!! If you read this tale, you'll want to travel
£9.99, and available now from Amazon
40,000 kilometres, 20 countries, 7 years, one Royal Enfield motorcycle, and no plan; this is the story of Jacqui Furneaux's epic ride across the Far East, through much of Australia, a small piece of New Zealand, across the Pacific to Central America, north through the USA into Canada, and then back to the UK.
Yes, the world is filled with travel books, and there are more than a couple of motorcycle travel books out there in the wild (Jupiter's Travels; One Man Caravan; Rugged Road, etc).
Nevertheless, everyone's story is a different adventure, and some are way more adventurous than the next—and this book clearly falls in the latter category.
An ex-nurse and a long time motorcyclist, Jacqui Furneaux left the UK in 2000 and travelled by plane to India where she collected a brand new 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet. She was fifty years old.
What followed was a daring, scary, comedic, romantic, stubborn, dramatic, violent, death-defying and often lonely journey armed with her obvious wit, her natural resilience, yards of self-reliance, a bag of tools, a spare can of petrol, a few changes of clothes, around £300 per month and a large knife.
On the journey, Furneaux faced (and faced down) amorous brothel keepers, ruthless pirates, mad drivers, madder sailors, wild animals, and any number of other hazards that are all part of a day's ride for the average global motorcycle trekker.
The writing is "immediate" and "everyday", meaning that it reads like the diary it is. So forget any pretence at literature—and we say that without a hint of criticism. The voice is just right. The tone is spot on. And you feel that you couldn't get closer to the adventure unless you were riding pillion.
We haven't read the entire book. We've read only extracts. Nevertheless, we can smell the petrol and the oil and the hot rubber. We've already got sand in our ears, road dust in our eyes, mosquito bites everywhere and an aching in our bellies for an adventure of our own.
Jacqui Furneaux is currently back in the UK, no doubt rebuilding her life and perhaps even planning the next long ride into the unknown. There's still time.
Here at Sump, we can't but help admire people who do things like this. On the one hand, we think they're pretty stupid and irresponsible risking their lives on these harebrained jaunts into the third world, and beyond. But on the other hand, we only wish that we were able to be this stupid. Riders such as Jacqui Furneaux really know how to live, and you can only do that when you risk everything you have and live for the moment.
And what a moment.
Go check the website. Buy the book. Start planning your own next moves. There's probably a journey like this in just about everyone. The trick is having the courage to go and tease it out.
75 customs in the 2018 National Championships
Stoneleigh Park is the venue
So okay, it's still 2017, and April 2018 is five months away. Nevertheless, when you get to a certain age, the clock of your life slips into top gear and blasts along at full throttle. So we're giving you plenty of warning with this one, and you can make a note of the date on your calendar as you see fit.
Kickback is organised by Lorne Cheetham. He's a hard working guy with vision, ambition and drive, and many of you would already have enjoyed a Kickback Show.
His next shindig is 7th - 8th April 2018. It will happen at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, and the show will play host to the 2018 National Championship For Custom Bikes.
You can expect not less than 75 examples of the custom motorcycle fabricator's art as practiced by the loftiest professionals and the lowliest amateurs (and no one should underestimate the skill and creativity of the amateur, huh?).
Other treats include the Best Young Builder award, a professional stunt show, burn-ups, fire-ups, food, free parking, trade stands and the Shed Jumble. There's probably more going on than this, but we've got short attention spans around here and diminishing cranial capacity. So we're cutting it short.
Just go check your calendar (and if you haven't yet got one, Andy Tiernan will flog you one), and make a date. We don't know Lorne, incidentally, and we've got nothing invested in this event—except the hope that it gets bigger and better every season.
Tickets are £12 on the gate. Discounts for advance payments, etc.
SS100 V-twin gets sexed up
Bike on sale for 2018
"Pendine" is to the UK what "Bonneville" is to the Yanks. Well, sort of. This famous 7-miles stretch of beach along Carmarthen Bay in Wales has over the last century played host to hundreds of motor racing competitions and record attempts on both two and four wheels—and it's seen its share of disaster too.
Malcolm Campbell chose Pendine for his first record breaking attempt in his legendary 350hp "Bluebird" Sunbeam.
J G Parry-Thomas was killed there whilst racing "Babs", a 450hp aero-engined special that was once "Chitty 4" and owned by Count Louis Zborowski.
Speedway racing, sprinting, speed testing, and sand racing, Pendine has seen it all, heard it all, and is always ready for the next hopeful. And so it was perhaps only natural enough that Mark Upham's reborn Brough Superior company should pick up the Pendine moniker and attach it to one of the firm's bikes.
The 2018 Pendine Brough Superior is powered by the same 100bhp V-twin as used in the current 997cc, 88-degree V-twin SS100. But the stylists have transformed the bike with a pair of high level exhausts c/w slash cut silencers, a minimal nose-fairing, and a boat-tail seat unit.
A new swinging-arm with a right-side shock absorber/damper has also been designed to lengthen the wheelbase and improve straight line stability.
There's no word yet on pricing or availability. But these bikes ain't exactly hanging on a rack. Waiting for delivery is part of the dubious appeal of enjoying high-end luxury motorcycles and cars. That said, the firm has made giant strides since the 2013 SS100 was launched.
We can see a long queue for this one.
More on the SS100 Brough Superior
Chinese-owned Benelli has revealed a new 373cc single Imperiale retro
New bike sales Jan - Oct 2017 down 15.5%. 92,913 units. Honda tops
A new range of Moto Guzzis based on an 850cc V85 concept is planned
Sunday 12th Nov 2017. Ring of Red M25 & M60 poppy rides. Wear red
Perugia Harley-Davidson is the 2017 Custom King
But what the hell has that got to do with Pink Floyd? Read on...
You have to be a Harley-Davidson dealer. You have to base your custom bike on the Sportster platform (Iron 883™, Forty-Eight® or Roadster™). You have to spend no more than $6,000. And 50 percent of the parts used have to be drawn from the Harley-Davidson parts catalogue.
That's the rules for entering the Harley-Davidson Battle of the Kings (BOTK) annual competition, now in its third year. And if that sounds like a recipe for original, inspiring, innovative, thought-provoking custom bikes, you must be a very special chef. Here at Sump, we've tried hard to get on message with this yearly nepotistic corporate rivalry, but we can't.
It's like listening to the last couple of Pink Floyd albums—and we lurve Pink Floyds almost as much as we lurve sex in car parks (details on request). The point being that Floyd pretty much ended up plagiarising their own material with every new song sounding suspiciously like a perfectly crafted, beautifully engineered parody of the original music that once made the band so great.
These BOTK bikes are all ... well, nice. Yeah. Shiny and clean and colourful and whatnot. But it's all become just blarghhhh. The same old same old Pink Floyd, self-promotional, navel-watching exercise in motorcycle masturbation. It's like Groundhog Day on wheels. What H-D calls a custom, we call a pastiche. What Milwaukee calls originality, we think of as a cut-and-paste job.
All that aside, the winner this year is Perugia Harley-Davidson which operates out of some place in Italy that we can't pronounce. 191,000 H-D dealers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa were in the fray, and we're advised that 80,000 votes were cast. A short list of 10 dealers was eventually created, and at the 2017 EICMA Show in Milan, a name was pulled out of a crash helmet or something.
So Perugia Harley-Davidson is the 2017 Custom King, and their offering is a motorcycle dubbed "Bombtrack" which doesn't do, say or mean anything to us either. Maybe they should have called the bike "Endless River" or "The Division Bell."
But are we just being mean and grouchy? We maybe. A little. But not entirely. This custom competition, with its various constraints and parts-bin orthodoxy, simply lights a fuse that just won't fizz. Not for us. So maybe we need to get out more or something.
Meanwhile, congrats to Perugia anyway. If you've won something, you must be a winner. That's how it works, huh?
648cc, SOHC Interceptor
648cc, SOHC Continental GT650
Royal Enfield has unveiled two new motorcycles for 2018: the Interceptor and the Continental GT650. Both bikes are powered by a new 648cc, 78mm x 67.8mm, parallel twin engine with the power output quoted as 47bhp @ 7,100rpm with 52Nm (38lbs-ft) @ 4,000rpm.
The vertically split crankcase features a 270-degree crank driving a single overhead camshaft operating 4-valves per cylinder. The Bosch fuel-injected, air/oil-cooled engine drives through a geared primary to a chain final via a 6-speed gearbox.
The front rubber is 100/90-18. The rear is 130/70-18. The front brake caliper is evidently nothing to speak of and grips a single 320mm disc. The rear caliper is equally anonymous and operates on a 240mm rotor.
▲ 2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor. It's got the hallowed RE name. It wears the hallowed Interceptor badge. But it's not exactly dangerous, is it? And the Interceptor was a wonderfully dangerous motorcycle in its day.
▲ Even from this angle, the best we can say about the styling is that it looks okay. Actually, it looks about 10 years too late. But let's give Royal Enfield some slack. The firm has made a giant stride forward, and we can see a lot of people being very happy with one of these.
It's hard to say anything too conclusive about these bikes. Royal Enfield simply hasn't provided much detail yet, and what information is available is mostly marketing hype telling us that:
"The Twin Is In: The 650 Twin is the rebirth of Royal Enfield's legendary parallel twin cylinder engine. And it's driving two Royal Enfield classic motorcycles - the Interceptor and the Continental GT. While classically styled and visually beautiful, the new engine is Royal Enfield's most forward-looking yet, with a cleaner, elegant look, fewer components, less weight and easier maintenance."
But we have to say that we're not exactly overwhelmed. Royal Enfield has for months been talking big and promising plenty—and okay, the launch of two new bikes is a major leap forward for the increasingly hungry and ambitious Indian firm.
Except that it's not really two bikes at all. It's one bike wearing two shirts and fooling no one. Currently Royal Enfield is awash with money, and parent company Eicher Motors could set fire to its bank roll and watch it burn for months. Consequently, this feels more like a wasted opportunity to equip at least one of the bikes with some more toys, upgrades and accessories even if the accessories are optional extras (actually, we have seen some optional extras, but not enough to send the launch vehicles into a significantly higher orbit).
We're thinking about twin front discs, a cockpit fairing, (more serious) clip-ons, rear-sets, a power hike, different pipes, etc. Granted, with just 47bhp on tap, neither bike is likely to carve a groove in anyone's tarmac. Nevertheless, a few more bells and whistles would have improved the kerb appeal if not the swerve appeal.
▲ 2018 Royal Enfield GT650. Nice poise for the boyz, but not enough toyz. No doubt there will be some extras on the shelf sooner or later. But we think they should be revealed now while the camera flashbulbs are hot. The bikes probably look a lot better up close. They often do.
▲ Actually, it should be said that RE is aiming the bike at A2 licence category holders, which rationalises the power output. But another 20 or 25bhp, via re-mapping or re-plumbing would draw in a very appreciative crowd. Royal Enfield calls the 'bars "clip-ons", incidentally. However, we would have liked them clipped on a little lower than that.
For all that, it's great to see the long established Royal Enfield name re-revived, and we've got no doubt that the firm will be working a lot harder over the next few months and years hoping to take an increasing slice of Triumph's cake. But Triumph still has a huge lead here, and we don't see Hinckley overly concerned. Yet.
Still, the world motorcycle game plan just got a little more interesting. The bikes are expected in Europe in April 2018. We're still awaiting pricing details.
Tickets are £2 each
Or is that five for a tenner?
The National Motorcycle Museum's Winter Raffle is open as from today, 6th November 2017. The first prize is the above 2018 Triumph Speedmaster. Second prize is a luxury hotel break and dinner for two. Third prize is a Triumph Visitor Experience Factory Tour for two—and note that the competition is open to UK residents only (excluding Northern Ireland).
Now, the NMM has in the past organised some compelling raffles with pretty good odds. The bikes offered have been everything from BSAs to Nortons, Triumphs and even Vincents. Better still, if you missed out on the first prize, there was usually a pretty decent second prize bike on offer.
But that's changed now, and second prize is the aforementioned hotel break and dinner which, if we're honest, feels like a bit of a let down. Don't get us wrong; a prize is a prize, and a dinner is a dinner. But if you start high and then fall low, people are apt to notice the imprint in the dirt.
So we're lamenting the loss of a motorcycle as a second prize. But maybe the economics simply don't stack up at present. You need to look at the numbers.
But that aside, there's another point here worth mentioning—and we've mentioned this before somewhere on Sump (can't find it at present).
The thing is this, the raffle tickets are offered at £2 each, but they're sold in multiples of five. Therefore you have to pay at least £10 if you want a single ticket. Therefore the tickets are NOT £2 each but are £10 for a handful, and that's not the same thing.
Sharp practice? Sounds like it. But let's just call it shrewd marketing. We have mentioned this to the NMM (a year or three ago) and they pretty much shrugged it off. So we called this morning and spoke to Renee Dos Santos (shop manager) who went quiet for a moment, then said, "I don't know anything about that. I just sell the tickets."
No doubt we've upset a few people with this news item. But people are fragile souls these days, and they shatter easily (and we won't let that stand in the way of a fair news story). Nevertheless, there's a relatively small issue here that's worthy of a passing mention.
So if you're reading this James (Hewing), NMM director (image immediately above), maybe you'd once again like to reconsider the marketing of these tickets. The tickets are only £2 each if you can buy them each.
Of course, a ten quid ticket, or 5 two quid tickets with a chance to win a Triumph Speedmaster is pretty good. We might even buy one (or five) ourselves. But we still think it's a little disingenuous to present the prices this way.
What do you say, James?
Tiger Cub specialist in the spotlight
Terrier framed sprinter catches our eye
No special reason for this news item, except that we ran across this Cub whilst trawling the web and thought we'd share it. Actually, we first saw it some months ago and meant to take a closer look. But what with one thing and another, etc...
Anyway, we've got a special interest in Triumph Tiger Cubs, but we haven't decided if this is exactly our style. Nevertheless, it looks like there's some quality engineering work going on here, and there are bound to be some Tiger Cub fans who haven't yet discovered this outfit.
So here you are.
We don't know the firm, except through the usual grapevine. The business is run by Chris Davies, was set up in 2012, and operates out of Brierly Hill in the West Midlands. Services include engine/gearbox rebuilds, aluminium welding, cylinder head refurbs, general restorations, parts and paint. And no doubt if you've got a special build in mind, Chris will be happy to talk and see your project is viable.
The Tiger Cub has been out and about challenging sprint records and suchlike. We haven't been following that closely. But if we're in the right place at the right time, we'll throw something together. Good enough?
Telephone: 07955 555112
Ángel "El Nino" Nieto, noted Spanish motorcycle racer has died aged 70
Two hurt in London-Brighton Rally road accident. 1902 Benz overturned
Brooklands Museum, Military Vehicles Day. 10am - 4pm. 19/11/17
New Moto Morini Milano unveiled. Bialbero Corsa Corta, 1187cc V-twin
Only Fools & Horses Reliant Regal to sell Silverstone Auctions 10-11/11/17
Two strokes are the theme this year
The East Anglian Air Ambulance is the benefactor
The theme for Andy Tiernan's latest calendar is two stroke motorcycles. And once again, the artist is Suffolk man Mike Harbar who's produced six eye-catching drawings in pencil and watercolour.
We took a particular fancy to the above 1952 350cc Mk1 EMC (Ehrlich Motor Company) which is why you're now looking at an image of it. The other five bikes are:
1924 499cc Dunelt Model C
1929 500cc Scott Squirrel
1940 342cc S.O.S Magnetic
1925 250cc Levis Model K
1913 269cc The New Comet
As ever, the calendar also carries a potted history of each motorcycle marque, and it makes for interesting reading too. But aside from the obvious benefit of having a calendar on the wall, this one also lists some of the major show dates for 2018—and the sales of the calendar will go towards keeping the East Anglian Air Ambulance in the sky and ready to come to the aid of whoever needs it. It's one hell of a service that's easy to take for granted. So if you can support it, please do.
Just send a cheque payable to "EAST ANGLIAN AIR AMBULANCE". And note that Andy makes nothing out of this calendar, but try not to hold that against him.
UK residents should pay £10 for each calendar. That will also cover second class postage. If you're a European resident, the calendar will cost you £14 (postage included). And if you live elsewhere in the world, it's £15.50 (also with postage included). And one more thing, you can pay via PayPal at: AndyTiernanCalendarDonation@outlook.com. But a cheque is preferable, if you will.
Here's the postal address: Andy Tiernan, The Old Railway Station, Station Rd, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP13 9EE, United Kingdom.
Innocent classic car avoids the crusher, but gets jailed
Ford Motor Company finally does the right thing
This tale is a simple one, so we'll tell it simply. A 1959 Standard Ten saloon that was headed for the crusher courtesy of the Ford Motor Company has been granted a reprieve.
A guy in the north of Scotland was looking to buy a new Ford Transit van. To qualify for a hefty discount under the UK government's scrappage scheme, he needed to put something in the pot. In this instance it happened to be a 1959 Standard Ten saloon that, as we understand it, was both roadworthy and carried a current MOT.
Different manufacturers set different requirements for suitable crusher candidates. Supposedly, the owner of a given vehicle is required to have had it in his/her possession for a minimum period (60 days or 90 days or similar). And supposedly the vehicle in question should be Euro 1- 4 emission rated.
Euro 1 was introduced in 1992. Euro 4 was introduced in 2005 and came into effect the following year.
However, this Scottish guy offered his (non-Euro emissions rated) Standard Ten as part-exchange, and Ford said okay, so end of story. Except that classic car groups, backed by Practical Classics magazine got wind of it and were deeply troubled by the notion of an otherwise decent little classic family runabout going to recycling, especially as the Standard Ten is getting a little thin on the ground (but not exactly endangered).
The Ford Motor Company initially refused to relent and insisted that the car must be destroyed. That's the scrappage principle, after all. One in. One out. But the negative publicity, if not a sudden flush of common sense, changed the firm's corporate mind. So an agreement was thrashed out with the other interested parties whereby the Standard won't be crushed, but will not be allowed back on the road either.
Consequently, the "Ten" will most likely be headed to a museum or used in some other strictly off-road capacity (promotional vehicle or wall art or trendy office desk or whatever).
Danny Hopkins, editor of Practical Classics, reckons that something fundamental needs adjusting here. There is, he argues, a difference between some old banger headed for recycling, and a viable classic car effectively being "vandalised".
And we broadly share his view. Trouble is, where exactly should the "historic" axe fall? And if, as in this case, vehicles are to be saved only due to special intervention/negotiation, how long is that vehicle supposed to remain off-road in a museum? One year? Ten years? One hundred? And what's the point of saving a classic car only to stick it in mothballs?
▲ The 948cc, 63mm x 76mm, 4-cylinder Standard Ten was built between 1954 and 1960. With just 33bhp, a single Solex carb and pushrod operated valves, the car struggled to reach 69mph. But these were well-built machines priced at £580. 172,500 were manufactured in the UK, Australia and India. The Standard Motor Company was founded in Coventry in 1903.
Plenty of other perfectly viable (and even desirable) classics have already been crushed under the scrappage scheme first introduced in the UK in 2009. The stories/fables come up in the press every once in a while—and it's hard to blame the sellers who are naturally trying to get maximum return for whatever investment they've made in their classic vehicle. And the Ford Motor Company wants to turn a profit too. You have to be realistic.
So on a more personal level, if you owned an old jalopy/heap/rust bucket, and if one of the big car manufacturers was willing to apply, say, a £7,000 discount toward a new two-litre whatever, would you sell? And note that some manufacturers are offering anything up to seven grand "on selected models".
Ford certainly was.
So far, there's no scrappage scheme for motorcycles, and we can't see one on the horizon. The government, of course, gets a hefty tax bonus on sales of new cars, and the government could also get a tax bonus on new bike sales. But the will doesn't appear to be there at present—and no doubt there are many other factors at work and at play.
Meanwhile, a nice little Standard Ten saloon has been saved for posterity and placed on a pedestal of some kind until the scrappage scheme gets the overhaul it evidently urgently needs.
New bike to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Commando
Limited edition run of 50, and then maybe a few more...
You might have thought Norton could have come up with a more original and more evocative name than "California"—not that we've got anything against that great American state. It's just that Moto Guzzi has already been there and done it, and we would have preferred something more ... well, British.
And that's not simply down to rampant patriotism. Instead, it's because this new bike is intended (on accountancy notepaper at least) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Commando. Consequently, we wouldn't have minded if the new addition to the Norton range was called, say, the "Britannia". Or the "Buckingham".
▲ Was this the blueprint for the new Norton California? Bonhams sold this 1972 Norton Hi-Rider "factory chopper" in 2011 for £5,792. Prices have since climbed a little, but not hugely.
Or, given the high 'bars and the banana yellow livery, Norton might have called it "The Hi-Rider" as some kind of twisted homage to a broadly similar, and very unsuccessful, choppersque bike introduced in 1971 by an earlier incarnation of the company.
Better still, Norton currently has a distributor in California; a dealership that operates out of a city called Westminster in Orange County. And "Westminster", you'll probably agree, has a certain English ring to it. But instead, the bike is called the "California" (possibly because that's currently where the Norton money is), and that's probably the end of that.
Here's what Stuart Garner's Norton has to say about the new California motorcycle (and note the "easy riding" reference and the klunky grammar/syntax/punctuation, etc):
"Norton launch the new Norton Commando 961 California. "The easy riding roadster." A classic hand built English roadster has heart, passion and a soul. The California oozes all of these qualities and more; timeless style, classic looks with the best of current performance components in ABS Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension and that fabulous hand made Norton chassis. The California is available immediately, Norton will announce a very special offer this week around the 50th Anniversary of the Commando.
Norton, we understand, is planning a numbered limited edition run of the California, and then the bike will be available as an off-the-peg production model, also called the California. Given the rising number of millionaires and billionaires in China, India and Russia we're expecting at any day the Norton Hunan, the Norton Bengal, and maybe the Norton Siberia. You can laugh, but think how ridiculous the name "Triumph Bonneville" sounded the first time you heard it.
We don't have a confirmed price yet for the California. But you can pick up a new 961 Commando for somewhere between £15,500 and £16,500.
Four new police F700 BMW motorcycles are on the prowl
Stingers and DNA sprays are to be deployed
The London Metropolitan Police is "fighting back" against the scooter gangs that have been terrorising the capital over the past few years. Increasingly brazen, the mobile robbers have been linked to around 16,000 crimes including bag-snatching, mobile phone & laptop theft, muggings, shop-lifting, burglaries and even murder. Closer to home, thousands of scooters and motorcycles have been bike-jacked and broken for parts.
As if it could be much worse, the robbers have been assaulting bike-jacking victims with powerful acids causing life-changing injuries and disfigurement.
So much for the history lesson.
Well now, in an overdue effort to combat the problem the coppers have re-equipped themselves with a quartet of F700 BMW motorcycles, plus stingers, plus DNA spray, plus a game plan designed to run the villains to ground.
Villains? That word almost dignifies the antics of these lowlifes who have been using wildly disproportionate force to relieve everyday people of relatively small sums of money. But seeing as this is a family publication, we're toning down our language.
Knocked-off mobile phones are routinely sold for less than £100, and often for just a tenth of that. Ditto for laptops. And even the theft of a complete scooter or motorcycle often realises just a few hundred quid on the black market. Not much for reward for the damage done.
▲ Cressida Dick, the 57-year old Commissioner of the Met Police, earns £230,000 a year following a "self imposed" £40,000 pay cut. We're getting a little teary-eyed over that. Now who says crime doesn't pay?
Cressida Dick, head of the Met reckons that bobbies on bikes is the answer to the problem, and here at Sump we can see that having a fast, determined, well-organised and suitably equipped reaction force could make some difference on the street. That said, there are 32 London boroughs, so divide that number by four motorcycles and you can see that the blue line is going to be stretched a little thin.
Meanwhile, the real problem regarding scooter and motorcycle theft is simply the fact that they can be stolen. The motorcycle industry simply isn't taking the problem anywhere near seriously enough, and motorcycle pressure groups and well intentioned motorcycle demonstrators are still aiming at the wrong target.
As we've suggested before on Sump, this is largely a technical issue. As soon as the bikes can't be stolen (via gearbox locks or instant brake locks or new thinking on steering locks, etc) the bikes won't be stolen—at least not in the huge numbers that the biking world is currently facing. And as soon as serious tracking devices are installed (complete with delayed activation and ignition shutdowns) the rozzers will be better able to run the thieves to ground.
▲ We know that the Met Police has budgetary problems, but it might still be worth reminding the force that...
▲ ... Triumph also makes motorcycles.
But naturally, an increased police presence on the street can only help deal with related scooter crime, so we're grateful for that. However, chasing robbers after the fact is no substitute for combating the problem before the fact. And if you've just been doused with sulphuric acid and find yourself in the back of an ambulance on your way to the hospital, it will probably be little comfort to hear that the cops chased the villains for an exciting 15 miles around London before collaring them in an alleyway.
Interestingly, Commissioner Cressida Dick has also invited the general public to "channel their outrage" and "mobilise" against the scooter gangs, which sounds suspiciously like a clarion call for vigilantes—but is probably just a poorly conceived and offhand remark.
That said, if you manage to grab one of the thieves and happen to beat him (or her) within an inch of their life, and if the police nick you for it (which is a distinct possibility), you might want to try the Cressida Dick defence when you have your day in court.
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