£100 Veloce publication is perfect for lovers of Vincent specials
875 colour and B&W pictures
248mm x 248mm
In September (2016) we carried a brief news item on the launch of this book. However, we couldn't provide an intelligent review until we received hard copy from publisher, Veloce. Well that book arrived a week ago, and we're happy to report that it's one of the best things from any publisher that we've seen in a long while.
Firstly, if this volume fell on your head from a first floor window, it would probably kill you. It's simply huge and is jam-packed with images, history, insights, facts and feelings about the other most famous (and certainly the most legendary) motorcycle in the world. But if you're looking for more mundane road tests from the forties or fifties, or even later road tests from more recent history, you won't find it. If you're looking for a minute-by-minute account of Phil Vincent's and Phil Irving's personal beginnings, and endings, that's not here either. There's not much on the Stevenage factory, and the book is in no way a manual.
This, instead, is a book about that other Vincent, the one beloved by the Vincent diehards who prefer to race, modify, tinker, specialise and innovate. That above all else. The images, both black & white and colour, are highly evocative (and more than a couple of snaps are wonderful). The writing is full of heart and passion. The subject matter is well focussed and constrained. And the design is ... well, largely irrelevant. But it's by no means bad.
Instead of concerning yourself with font choice, kerning, leading, margins, captions and whatnot, you'll be too busy reading intently about the high-speed antics of the Vincent boys and girls who've seized this motorcycling platform by the throat and have literally propelled it into areas that Phil Vincent and Phil Irving would have undoubtedly approved of, and would quite probably have marvelled at.
The chapters include narratives on Egli-Vincents, The Seeley Vincent, The Vincati, Gunga Din, The Capon-Vincent, The Parkin-Vincent, and numerous other performance specials of which we've never heard. And there's even the odd Vincent chopper.
If we had to gripe, and unfortunately we're kind of obliged to if only for journalistic balance, we would have liked some more mundane stuff here including the aforementioned road tests and sales material and suchlike if only to provide a wider context. That said, the Vincent crowd are already well acquainted with the context and will easily look beyond that.
You can't read this book in a day, or probably in a week, not unless you stop doing pretty much everything else. Here at Sump it would take us a month or more to read it properly, and maybe another year or two to re-read and re-map the relationships between the players and fully acquaint ourselves with what is effectively a parallel world that's neither classic nor modern. It's not heavy going in terms of the writing style. There are simply lots of words.
In our last news item we mentioned that you can't judge a book by its cover. And we're reminded of the truth of that statement. It's far better than we expected, and we suspect that Author Philippe Guyony probably needed a blood-transfusion after this work.
Put simply, books such as this could put television out of business, at least as far as Vincent lovers are concerned.
Veloce's price is £100, and it's worth every penny. And if there's a Vincent owner in your life, you simply can't go wrong with presenting this book as a gift.
See Sump Motorcycle News September 2016 for more on this story
Cool album of original 1950's twangin' rock'n'roll
Petrolheads step this way
Fast Cars, Loose Women & Rockin' Sounds. That's what this collection of raw and raunchy rockabilly promises. So if twang's your thang, you won't be disappointed. There are forty great original songs stuffed with enough youthful energy to take some grey from your hair, some flab from your belly and maybe even some of the hardness from your arteries. We stumbled on this boogie beatbox a week or so ago whilst trawling YouTube, and we've been playing it pretty much ever since.
As the album title suggests, the focus of this compilation is hot rods, 1950s style. And these artists aren't modern fakes. They're the real thing pouring it on thick and sweet. It isn't simply the sound of the slapping double basses, the razor-edged screech of the semi-acoustic rhythm guitars, or the cheeky T-shirt-and-acne lyrics that does it for us. It's also the roar of flathead V8s and the squealing tyre rubber that gets the heart pounding. So if those sounds work for you, this album is an essential antidote to the dullness of middle age and a message to contemporary youth that great music is as old as you want it to be, and is always best served fresh.
The longest rockin'-hillbilly track is Hoyt Stevens' '55 Chevy at 3.28. The shortest is Billy Wallace's Burning the Wind at 1.46. But between those two modest extremes, it's all pretty much seamless rockin and rollin'. Other tracks include James Gallagher's Ford and Shaker; Johnny Roane's Drag Strip Baby; Johnny Lane's Rockin' on the Dragstrip, and Bobby Johnston's Flat tyre with lyrics such as:
"Down the road and over the hill
I took my baby riding in my automobile
Just riding along with my heart's desire
And a ... sssssss..... a flat tyre
Grabbed my jack and reachin' for my spare
And great googwoogah it was flat as a chair
I took out my pump and started pumpin' back
When ... ssssss ... another flat ..."
Meanwhile, there's something here for Gene Vincent fans, Roy Orbison fans and much more. Just make sure you turn the volume up until the windows are vibrating. It doesn't work if you don't do that.
Are we connected in any way with Not Now Music which released this in 2013? No. We just like it and feel like sharing it.
So go and search YouTube for Hot Rod Rockabilly. It's claimed to be officially licensed content, but you'll have to contend with half a dozen or so adverts that pop-up between tracks. Our advice is to contact Not Now Music and/or hunt online for some place to download this album. Whatever it costs, pay up. While the music plays, you'll feel a little younger.
61 bikes listed for sale
28 listed as sold (later claimed to be 33)
Rikuo (Harley-Davidson clone) sells for £9,040
Godet Egli-Vincents fail to sell
George Beale Matchless G50 fails to sell
Firstly, we're a little slow in posting this story, so we're putting that right without further ado. The belated story is that H&H Auctions Duxford Sale at the Imperial War Museum on 12th October 2016 didn't exactly set Cambridgeshire alight.
Of the 61 motorcycles on offer, we counted 28 that were listed on the company website as sold. That's a conversion rate of just 41 percent. However, H&H has since told us that they actually sold 33 motorcycles which gives a conversion rate of 55 percent. We're assuming that these other bikes were sold post-sale. Either way, H&H is naturally a little disappointed at the result. Ideally, they'd love a 100 percent conversion rate, but would happily settle for 70 - 80 percent.
And there were some interesting bikes in the sale including two circa-1980 Godet Egli-Vincents estimated at £50,000 - £60,000, a 2004 George Beale G50 Matchless Replica estimated at £25,000 - £27,000, and a 2011 Tonkin Tornado (Manx Norton special).
The Godet Egli-Vincents didn't sell. Neither did the G50 replica. And as far as we can tell, the Tornado was withdrawn (H&H's spokesman didn't have details when we called). But it should be noted that Duxford is primarily a car auction, not bikes. And as we understand it, car sales were much healthier with a claimed 70 percent conversion rate and a turnover of £5 million (that figure includes bikes)
But H&H won't be flogging motorcycles at Duxford in 2017. That venue will be reserved for the aforementioned car auctions. The firm is instead planning a heavier assault on Donington Park, Derbyshire. And the next sale at that location is on 16th November 2016 (times have yet to be posted).
One bike that has caught our eye at Duxford (but we'd totally missed earlier when perusing the lots) is a 1955 Rikuo. This 747cc flathead Harley-Davidson clone was produced under licence in Japan. The story of Rikuo's association with Harley-Davidson is long, complicated and very political.
But essentially, in the early part of the 20th century, Harley-Davidson's access to British Commonwealth markets was subject to hefty/punitive import taxes. Both Harley (and Indian) consequently looked to Africa and the Far East for their much-needed growth, and up to a point things went well in Japan with good sales to the police and the military, plus some private sales.
The Great Depression helped scupper much of that market when the Yen collapsed. The solution, according to some, was to manufacture the bikes in Japan under licence. This fitted well with Japan's economic and political philosophy, and it further addressed the nation's basic transport needs.
By 1935, a motorcycle factory was built, and numerous H-D sidevalve models were produced up until WW2 (the figure of 18,000 bikes is commonly suggested). The bikes were badged as Rikuo, which translates roughly as "King of the Road". Many were fitted with driven sidecar wheels along with other items of military equipment. Essentially, it was Harley-Davidson that kept large elements of the Japanese army on the move right up to and beyond when the nation invaded China in 1937.
In 1947, following the post-war reconstruction of Japan, motorcycle manufacturing recommenced with the above Harley-Davidson 45 clone (three bike images in this story). The bike wasn't an exact copy. The Japanese engineers had their own ideas about how to adapt the design for local needs. By the late 1950s, production came to an end.
The engine on this example apparently turns over, but the bike will need re-commissioning. The estimate was £10,000 - £12,000. The bike sold at slightly below bottom estimate at £9,040. No further details were available.
Check Sump Classic Bike News October 2016 for more on the Duxford Sale
1924 996cc Croft-Cameron sold for £203,100
1948 Series-B Vincent Black Shadow sold for £113,500
1937 1,096cc Brough Superior 11-50HP sold for £85,000
The 2016 Bonhams Stafford Sale has just ended (16th October 2016) with the firm boasting a respectable £1.6million purse. The top selling lot was the (immediately) above 1924 996cc Croft-Cameron V-twin which found a buyer for £203,100. The estimate for this bike was £160,000 - £200,000, so Bonhams couldn't have got any closer if it had used a smart bomb.
The runner-up, sales-wise, was the (immediately) above 1948 998cc Vincent Black Shadow Series-B. The estimate was a fairly conservative £50,000-60,000. But the auctioneer walked away with a smug £113,500.
The Vincent therefore upstaged a 1937 1,096cc Brough Superior 11-50HP motorcycle combination (ex-Sheffield police) that sold for £85,500 (image immediately below). Apparently, five of these 60-degree sidevalve V-twin outfits have survived. Three of them are still in the UK. The sidecar has been recreated. Note that the blunt nose design isn't typical of the pointed deck of the standard Brough Superior Cruiser outfit (see the image further down this page).
These motorcycles entered production is 1933 and were withdrawn in 1939. The intended market was overseas police forces looking for a fast and cost effective patrol and pursuit vehicle. Maximum speed of a solo bike is reckoned to be around 85mph. In combination trim, around 70mph was possible.
Interestingly, the torque curve is said to be very flat thereby allowing the rider to drop to 15mph in top gear and, by dint of a little jiggery-pokery on the advance and retard lever, still have viable traction, even on hills.
The bike has undergone much restoration work, including a new petrol tank (by Ernie Rowe) and a replacement gearbox shell. But the engine and frame numbers match.
Bonhams is very satisfied with this sale. The auction realised £1,572,712. The sale rate was 94% of the lots offered, and at 94% of estimated value. What it all means is that Bonhams nailed it shut and has once again consolidated its position as the top UK auction house, at least as far as classic motorcycles are concerned.
At Sump, we were getting a little concerned about some of the prices in the classic bike sector, many of which appear to be in freefall. In fact, we've still got some misgivings in that regard. But this sale result has gone some way to reassure us that the end isn't exactly nigh. On this occasion at least, the market has dipped its hand deeply into its pocket.
Norton introduced the 650cc Dominator range in late 1961. The frame was narrowed to create the Slimline Featherbed chassis (thereafter to be distinguished from the older Wideline featherbed frame). Among the first examples was the Manxman. With its twin-carburettors, the high bars, the polychromatic blue & grey livery, and the white piping on a red saddle, it was intended to appeal to US tastes, but failed. And that's where pretty much all the Manxmans went. A less radical 650cc Dominator was introduced for that year (image immediately above), which in 1962 was followed by the De luxe model. That season also saw the introduction of the more sporting twin-carbed 650SS for the UK market. Later, the SS was joined by a (single-carbed) Mercury. The Manxman stayed in production for just one year. The 650SS stayed for six years. The last of the 650cc Norton twins was the aforementioned Mercury produced between 1969 and 1970.
In the background is a 249cc Norton Jubilee. It was named to commemorate Norton's diamond anniversary. This quarter-litre is said to be the smallest engine Norton ever built. It was also the first unit construction engine manufactured by the firm. The bike arrived in 1958 and stayed in production until 1966. Originally it was offered with rear enclosure panelling (similar to Triumph's "bathtub", but by 1964 Norton finally accepted that it was unpopular and ditched it for more conventional styling.
BMW's "zero emissions" crusade continues
German government "to end petrol/diesel vehicles by 2030"
Yes, it's another (possibly electric) concept bike, but the context for this one has arguably changed a little over recent weeks, and that makes it perhaps a little more interesting and thought-provoking. What's happened is that the German Bundesrat has just voted to ban petrol and diesel engines by 2030. We're talking about road-going vehicles here, and not necessarily other equipment that utilises four-stroke cycle motors.
But don't panic. Yet. The vote doesn't carry any immediate weight. Instead, it needs to be rubber-stamped by the European Commission which could take years, or decades, of wrangling among the other 27 EU nations (or 26 if and when the UK finally cuts the cord).
However, the Germans swing a lot of weight, both politically and industrially, and they've got friends among the Norwegians who not so long ago passed a similar resolution. And there will no doubt be a few other nations fretting about the (probable) myth of global warming (see The Zeppelin File for more on this) and climbing on the alternate-power bandwagon, most of which is currently (no pun intended) electric.
Consequently, the rush for battery cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses is gathering pace, and as the necessary electric infrastructure develops (which it probably will), there will quite likely be a negative pressure on petroleum-centred infrastructure. In other words, the more electric charging points there are, the less interest there will be in supporting the existing petrol stations—unless the two technologies can somehow converge (perhaps with quick-change battery provision or ultra high speed charging).
The company, incidentally, isn't exactly saying that this is an electric bike. BMW prefers the term "zero emissions", which could refer to a hydrogen fuel cell (or some other high-tech or novel form of propulsion), never mind that "zero emissions" is a misnomer. Somewhere in the chain, there's a dirty exhaust pipe.
All the German car manufacturers have developed electric vehicles, but BMW is perhaps further ahead that the others. Hence the Vision Next 100 concept bike.
Interestingly, this motorcycle has a rubber frame, so to speak. Or a "Flexframe", if you prefer. The headstock doesn't operate in the usual way. It seems that the whole bike curves or bends or something (the details are beyond our puny intellects, and BMW's press release was a little vague on this point). But we can tell you that the tyres handle the suspension requirements, and that onboard gyros keeps the bike right-side-up even when the rider tries to put it upside-down.
BMW envisage no instruments on the bike. Instead, the rider (or space pilot) will wear special goggles with eye-movement functionality. The similarity to the existing Boxer engine is, of course, just BMW's way of segueing the past with the future.
Meanwhile, the Vision Next 100 program has a broader scope than "mere" motorcycles. It's part of BMW's core exploration of the future and encompasses cars and other forms of related technology.
If and when this future arrives, we can see a very long queue forming for the bikes are cars. So okay, most of us are wedded to the idea of petrol-powered engines in much the same way that previous generations were wedded to the concept of the grass-powered horse. But like it or not, electric/alternate-powered are going to play an increasing role in the future of personal transportation. And the Germans have, typically enough, already laid their towel on the beach.
Suicide Customs from Japan takes the Freestyle Class trophy
Michael Naumann takes second prize
Fred "Krugger" Bertrand takes third prize
Top prize in the 2016 12th AMD World Championships Freestyle Class went to Suicide Customs from Japan which presented the world with the (immediately) above 1973 1,000cc XLH Ironhead Sportster called "Rumble Racer".
It's the third successive year in which Suicide Customs has walked away with the coveted trophy. The builder is Koh Niwa. He was one of 67 competitors from 23 countries. 82 bikes were entered.
The second prize (Freestyle Class) went to Michael Naumann from Germany for "Simple Iron" which his take on the Ironhead Sportster. That's the entry immediately above.
Meanwhile, Belgian Fred “Krugger” Bertrand of Krugger Motorcycles took third place (Freestyle Class) for his 103-inch S&S Cycle-powered “LADD” (pictured immediately above).
Now, maybe we ought to get out a little more or something. Because as much as we recognise that these three motorcycles represent hundreds of hours of work and God only knows how many brainbytes of thought, it's nevertheless hard to see anything here that's significantly different from anything we haven't seen a hundred or more times.
All three bikes appears to be rehashing established trends and bringing very little to the banquet that, in one form or another, wasn't already on the table. That said, we weren't there to study the bikes up close, and there's nothing like direct eyes on polished steel and aluminium (or flesh) to appreciate the quality of the engineering.
But we have looked at a lot of photographs of these motorcycles, and nothing really impresses us. Good engineering, yes. Plenty of care, effort and what appears to be meticulous finishing. Serious builders all. But we'd expect more than these on the AMD World Championships winners podium.
Or is it simply that custom bike building has largely reached a plateau and needs a totally new wave to swamp it and bring out something truly radical? Ultimately, form follows function, and motorcycle function is pretty much the same as it was 100 years ago. A revolution is long overdue.
Meanwhile, we quite like Larry Moore's "Kontrolled Kaos" (image immediately above). Moore hails from Witchita, Kansas where he runs a custom shop. This Shovehead entry took fourth place (Freestyle Class) and features dual Morris magnetos (nothing new there), split rocker boxes (also nothing new), oil and gas in the split fuel tank (nothing new there), and exaggerated board track racer styling (nothing new there either). But there's a novel vertical leaf spring arrangement for the rear wheel that we haven't seen before. And as with the other bikes, the workmanship is meticulous.
Also, we like "Alcatraz 521" (image immediately above) from Italian builder North Coast Custom. We know nothing about the bike except that it's a two stroke and took 5th place in the Cafe Racer Class. We searched the web for more info, but at the time of writing, there was nothing helpful.
And finally, we like this bike (immediately above) from Iron Custom Motorcycles which hails from Kharkov, Ukraine. This was the winner in the Cafe Racer Class (check the hand-made 56bhp, 555сс 3-cylinder 2-stroke engine).
We don't say that this bike is pretty. However, it's quirky and interesting, and those colours fight hard against each other, but work in a kind of bizarre Eastern Bloc, not-quite-on-message way.
Tesco accesses DVLA database
Database security concerns
We're talking about the UK-wide Blue Badge scheme which allows disabled shoppers to park as close as possible to the (Tesco) supermarket door instead taking a hike across the car park.
The scheme has long been abused by "frauds" and "cheats" and sundry ne'er-do-wells who are too lazy/busy/thoughtless to park somewhere else. So Tesco has deployed a new high tech device which scans the displayed badge and forwards the information to whatever parking contractor is on the company books. The contractor checks the details, and if you're displaying a bogus badge, your goose will be cooked and a fine will wing its way to you in the mail.
We haven't got a lot of sympathy for the cheats. But on the other hand, when you just want to nip in for a pint of milk or to use the facilities, a few seconds in the disabled bay (with or without a phoney badge) doesn't seem like much of a crime (not that we've ever transgressed).
But of course, pensioners, the disabled and the chronically ill see it very differently and take issue with offenders regardless of how many blue badge parking bays are still vacant. Anyway, you've been warned.
More worrying is the fact that these parking contractors can get easy access to the DVLA database which means that pretty much anyone else in the universe can get access because parking contractors, in our experience, rarely occupy offices on any kind of moral or legal high ground. Not for long, anyway.
This isn't exactly a new development. The DVLA has long been careless and irresponsible with its information, and any teenage hacker can probably by-pass the government security. But it's worth remembering that your private details and the details of your expensive motorcycles are practically in the public domain. So if you're concerned about security, double it.
The information age is a double edged sword, and sooner or later it's going to spill some unexpected blood. And beyond that, in this age of brutal and desperate commercial competition, it's a brave (and possibly very foolish) supermarket that starts a war with its customers, especially when so many of them are the enemy.
Celebration of German pioneer cars
130th anniversary of Karl Benz's Patent Motorwagen
120th anniversary of the Emancipation Act
The 2016 Bonhams London to Brighton Run has a distinctly Germanic flavour this season. That's because the event is celebrating 130 years since Karl Benz presented the world with his Patent-Motorwagen, while Gottlieb Daimler, just sixty miles away, quickly followed suit with an adapted horse-drawn carriage of his own.
Consequently, it's "widely accepted" that this was the birthplace of the car as we know it. Except that these things never really have a birthplace. It's always smart men (and women) standing on the shoulders of other smart men (and women). Nevertheless, no one around these parts is doubting the huge contribution made by the Germans with regard to personal motorised transport. So it's game on for the Krauts.
But why 130 years? Well why the hell not? As ever, any excuse for a celebration of some kind is a good excuse. So the organisers are laying it on thick for our German cousins.
Over 400 entries are expected. Among them are 14 German cars including rare marques such as Adler, Delin and Cudell plus a Benz Victoria, Benz Phaeton (both from 1898), a 1901 Benz Spider (image immediately above) and a 1902 Mercedes Simplex.
Now, it's a well know fact that most of the world still hasn't turned out to watch and enjoy the London to Brighton Run (not to be confused with the Pioneer Run), and if that includes you, you can put it right on Sunday 6th November 2016. But take note that it kicks-off before 7am. And if you can make it a day earlier (5th November), there's a free-to-watch classic car show in London's Regent Street, W1. Actually, the entire week preceding the run will showcase motoring art, lectures, history talks and suchlike in and around Regent Street.
The run is open to all three- and four-wheelers built before 1905. It's organised, as ever, by the Royal Automobile Club. And this year marks the 120th anniversary of the Emancipation Act which finally allowed "light locomotives" on the road to (a) increase their speed from 4mph to 14mph and (b) scrap the requirement for a bloke to walk (or run) in front of a vehicle waving a red flag.
We can't see there being many, if any, veteran bikes on the day. But it's nevertheless all very cool and evocative stuff, and you can always ride the route and enjoy the parade. Just be sensitive, if you will, to the needs of the entrants. The vehicles that can stop often can't do it quickly. And those that have stopped often find it hard to get going again.
But it's a hoot, and you'll remember it forever—and hopefully for the right reasons [That's not the correct use of the word "hopefully" - Ed]. The run, which is said to be the longest-running motoring event in the world, starts at Hyde Park, London and ends on Madeira Drive, Brighton, West Sussex.
Cow skin bomber jacket for £799
100% made in Italy
So okay, at £799 this piece of cow skin is way beyond the means of our humble pockets and purses. But we know that quite a few of you Sumpsters are sleeping above huge wads of cash and can afford to spend this kind of loot on a jacket that you might wear when, say, slumming around your local autojumble or even Chelsea antiques emporium.
Actually, £799 isn't even that much these days, and there's no substitute for quality—which is always cheaper in the long run. This bomber jacket is made by Matchless which, as you no doubt know, is currently owned by the Malenotti family. In 2012 these guys bought the Matchless name and rights and transmogrified the brand into an Italian fashion house aimed squarely at the medium heeled classes.
But hey, you can't always blame folk for having a lot of money. It ain't their fault they were born into it, or were smart and resourceful enough to earn it or otherwise divert it into their pockets. Good luck to 'em, we say. In this world you gotta get it while it's going.
Anyway, you don't want a lecture on financial morality. You just want to know about the jacket which is made from "Matchless leather", which presumably comes from a Matchless cow. Features include a couple of zipped side pockets, underarm aerators, elastic wool on the neck, on the wrists and around the lower edge, and a viscose lining (a kind of artificial silk made from cellulose, aka rayon). Also, it's "100% made in Italy".
Truth is, we haven't seen the jacket up close, but we're angling for a freebee (strictly for review purposes). So if you're interested, climb off that bed, drag out a few bundles of notes, contact Matchless and made a deal.
What's that? You hate the idea of buying anything from a fashion hut that stole the hallowed Matchless name? Well it's a bitch, and we're not crazy about it. But life moves on, huh? Classic Matchless Motorcycles had their moment. Let's be satisfied with that.
Also see: Elvis Presley found alive on moon
More on the Malenotti Matchless brand
BMW RnineT Pure Suzuki GSX-R1000 Triumph T100 Black
Triumph Street Cup BMW RnineT Racer Moto Guzzi Audace
Kawasaki Z650 & Z900 Honda Fireblade Honda CB1100EX
Plenty of rehashed bikes at Intermot 2016
BMW introduces the RnineT Racer
Triumph introduces the Street Cup
This is a particularly busy season for us, what with Stafford coming up (15th - 16th October 2016), Intermot (5th - 9th October 2016), and the EICMA Show next month (10th - 13th November 2016). Consequently there are plenty of new, old and simply rehashed bikes being unveiled, unearthed, sold and otherwise shifted around the new and classic marketplace.
We're doing our best to feature the motorcycles that interest us and which we figure might interest most, or all, of you Sumpsters. If you're curious to find out what's on the way, click any of the nine images immediately above. That will take you to our Motorcycle News pages (as opposed to our Classic Bike News). More to follow...
New 900cc Street Twin variant at Intermot 2016
Traction control, ABS, £8,600
It's just been unveiled at the Intermot Show in Cologne, Germany. It's called the Street Cup, and yes, you read that right. "Cup", not "Cub", as in "Tiger Cub". That aside, it's a 900cc Street Twin with a whole new "urban" attitude and it's coming this way in the new year. Curious? [Step this way ladies and gents...]
Harley's "Follow the Sun" competition
£4,500 prize on offer
Once again, Harley-Davidson is offering UK and Irish motorcyclists a chance to win a trip to an exotic location. All you have to do is take a test ride on a Hog of your choice between 1st October 2016 and 30th November 2016.
The "Follow the Sun" competition trip will be available for two people, and £4,500 (€5,000) is being offered to "customise" the adventure. But it's not clear if a bike is part of the deal, or if you're expected to rent a motorcycle from a dealer in SA. Yes, we could phone HD-UK and ask. But have you tried getting through to these people lately?
Anyway, if you fancy a shot at some sunshine (and "there's never been a better time", we're told), go and talk to your local Harley-Davidson dealer anywhere on the UK mainland or Ireland, book that test ride, collect whatever proof is needed and put your name down on the competition list.
Someone is going to win it.
It's also unclear if you can enter multiple times, but we suspect that that ain't gonna work. Our advice is to make sure you understand exactly what's on offer here because there's a lot of ambiguity. Copy and paste the following address for the terms and conditions:
If you win, you'll be expected to make your trip between 1st January 2017 and 20th April 2017. The winning entry will be announced on 12th December 2016.
New hardback for £30
For the past few days we've been dipping into and out of British Café Racers, a new hardback publication by Veloce, and evidently part of an ongoing series.
It's that kind of book; the type you pick up and browse for five or ten minutes, then go and mow the lawn or something, think about what you've read, and later return for another fix.
The book arrived a week or so ago, and we've not read it cover to cover. But we can tell you that it's an eclectic mix of both the traditional café racer and modern interpretations of these cultish bikes, and it's therefore a worthy insight into the scope of the café racer scene. But if you're a purist with a limited view of what really makes a quintessential British café racer, this one might not suit you at all. There's probably way too much dilution in these 128 pages (248mm x 248mm).
That said, there are 250 pictures, and pretty much all of them are decent enough, meaning well focussed, well lit and reasonably well framed. The chapters cover pretty much all the established marques from BSA to Norton to Triumph to Vincent, and we're treated to plenty of interestingly named home-badged bikes from Elmdee to Carberry to Barton Norvin to Godet to Trocket Weslake.
The publisher blurb tells us that this is "The first book to concentrate solely on the British-powered café racer" as opposed to any of the numerous books that feature the bikes only as a part of the wider rocker scene. However, we're not at all convinced by Veloce's statement. It seems to us that we've seen a few books dealing solely with British-engined hardware. But typically, we can't actually bring one to mind (but then it is nearly midnight, and we've been at the bottle again; actually quite a few bottles).
Overall, the writing is fairly basic and lacks any wit. The author is Uli Cloesen, so it might simply be that English is not his first language, therefore a lack of Anglo Saxon humour perhaps can't he helped. Nevertheless, the material is being presented in English, so we're judging everything at face value. We wouldn't call the writing dull. But it doesn't sparkle or have a compelling narrative voice.
And here's another observation; there's no "poetry" here. We're not talking about Wordsworth, mind. We were just hoping to get something more evocative and flavoursome; something that we might want to repeat, or an image to gaze at for an hour or so, or just a couple of really GREAT shots that sum up the café racer experience. But we were left wanting.
Another criticism is that there are a few bikes in these pages that, to our mind, don't really qualify as café racers at all. And that easily leads to a charge of "padding". In fairness, it's all a matter of opinion. But we think a little more focus wouldn't have hurt this publication at all. Meanwhile, some of the picture angles are repetitive (check pages 30/31 with almost identical images of a Seeley Matchless, or pages 64/65 where a T150 Trident gets pretty much the same shot give or take a few degrees). With that in mind, this book would have benefitted from larger images, and fewer of them.
But clearly, the author knows his stuff and/or has done his homework, and we've learned a thing or two here, which is exactly what you want from a new book.
To sum it up, this is a good book, but with limitations (not least in its uninspiring design). It will certainly suit most riders interested in café racers and their development/interpretation. It would be very well received as a gift, and it's likely to get picked up regularly and explored. There's also a useful resources section at the back.
As an addition to your motorcycle book library, you'll probably want this. But as a book to treasure, you'll be less enthused.
Veloce is offering it for £30 direct from its website, and we haven't bothered to check who's discounting it, if anyone. Look for ISBN: 978-1-845848-96-5.
Annual dealer calendar, £10
Proceeds go to the East Anglia Air Ambulance
In case you don't know, the image above is of a 1936 BSA Y13. These beautiful 750cc OHV V-twins belong to that magic inter-war, leafy-lane, Rule Britannia era of British motoring and are now both rare and sought after (especially around here at Sump).
The 71mm x 94.5 mm air-cooled twin features a 4-speed gearbox, a dry multiplate clutch, 7-inch SLS brakes front and rear, a dry sump [did someone say "Sump?" - Ed], a double gear pump, a girder front fork, a rigid rear end, and enough olde-worlde charm to make you weep with nostalgia on every ride. The top speed is around 75mph, and easy-loping happens at fifty to fifty-five.
This Beezer is featured here because it's one of the pencil & water colour artworks embellishing Andy Tiernan's latest calendar, this being for 2017. Mike Harbar is the artist. Like Andy, he hails from the wonderful county of Suffolk (but is now living in Australia) and was the guy responsible for last year's calendar sketches. He'll welcome any commissions, incidentally, and can sell you a print or two.
There are six images which includes the above BSA Y13 for November/December 2017. The others images are a 1914 Ariel (Jan/Feb); a 1914 Rex (Mar/April); a 1927 P&M Panthette (May/Jun); a 1926 & 1927 NUT (Aug/Sept); and a 1913 Lea Francis (Oct/Nov). All the bikes, except for the OHV Panthette, are sidevalves.
Andy Tiernan uses these calendars for a little extra business promotion (not that he really needs it), but the profits from sales go directly to the East Anglian Air Ambulance. So if you live in or around Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk or Cambridgeshire (or the rest of the country, and America, Canada, Argentina, China, etc) be generous. These men and machines really do keep the grim reaper at bay and are worth their weight in gold. Since 2000, when operations began, 19,501 missions have been flown. If you know anything about helicopter flight and risk, you'll appreciate exactly what an achievement that is.
If you want one, write a £10 cheque payable to "EAST ANGLIAN AIR AMBULANCE" and send it to Andy. That includes second class postage, and that will bring a calendar to your letterbox.
The calendar is, as ever, dedicated to the memory of Dave "Beret" Berry (an employee of Andy Tiernan) who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2006.
So that's the pitch. Can you help keep this air ambulance flying?