Writer of 70s pop hit You're a Lady has died aged 69
Peter Skellern's You're a Lady was an oddball song when we first heard it on Top of the Pops way back in October 1972. The vocals were "breathy". The delivery was ... well, "square". The lyrics felt like they belonged in the 1940s or 1950s. And the accompanying brass ensemble (the Grimethorpe Colliery Band) made us wonder if they'd simply been guided into the wrong studio.
But Peter Skellern, who has died aged 69, held his nerve at the piano and made no apologies for his stylishly romantic middle-of-the-road ballad that subsequently travelled the world compliments of dozens of singers (including Brigitte Bardot) who were happy to carry this particular tune.
If you recall that October, Alice Cooper was hammering out "Elected". Elvis was singing about his "Burning Love". 10cc was campaigning "Donna". And Lieutenant Pigeon was at number one with "Mouldy Old Dough".
Skellern's record label (Decca) was very pleased with You're a Lady. The song spent a creditable two weeks in the top ten and moved as high as number three. Not bad for an average bloke from Lancashire, and brought up in Bury, who was working as a hotel porter in Shaftesbury, Dorset when his song hit the airwaves.
▲ In the 1980s, Peter Skellern collaborated with noted lyricist, composer & humourist Richard Stilgoe. Three albums were recorded and the duo appeared together many times in cabaret.
Soon after this success, Peter Skellern sang the theme tune to the 1973 British TV series Billy Liar, and more limited success came his way with the songs Hold on to Love; Love is the Sweetest Thing; and Put out the Flame.
When the movie Blade Runner was in production, Skellern's skills as an economical lyricist (with an ongoing flair for the romantic) were put to work on the song One More Kiss, Dear.
Skellern wrote the theme tunes for many other TV productions, and in 1984, together with Julian Lloyd Webber and Mary Hopkin, he formed a short-lived group called Oasis. Although he had largely disappeared from mainstream public view, he was always busy behind the scenes providing words, music, voice-overs and a lot of old-fashioned charm. As an antidote to Alice Cooper (and we love Alice Cooper), Peter Skellern will do nicely.
He also managed to record over twenty albums whilst developing his interest in the Christian church, and he wrote a number of choral pieces. In October 2016, Skellern fulfilled a lifelong ambition and was ordained as a priest and a deacon.
By then, his health was seriously in trouble and he knew that the end was in sight. He leaves behind a wife and two children and a large volume of intelligent, stylish and sophisticated music.
Business is "booming" for Andy Tiernan
New stock urgently needed
Suffolk-based classic bike dealer Andy Tiernan is looking for more Panther and pre-war BSA motorcycles to add to his stock. Andy, who's been established since 1972, has long been a big fan of Panthers and usually keeps a handful in stock. He's also noted for a decent line of old Beezers of all types.
But what with the biking season waking up, the drop in Sterling and the usual alignment of unspecific market forces in the economy, it seems that he can't get enough bikes to satisfy demand. Which is where you come in.
So if you've got a BSA or Panther and are thinking of a sale or a trade, now is probably a pretty good moment. But wait! We have to declare an interest here because we know Andy and count him among our friends. However, that doesn't change the fact that he's a straight-shooter and likes to make a fair deal every time.
"Business," said Andy when we spoke to him today, "is doing very well at the moment. Some of my stock is going overseas, but there's growing interest here in the UK."
That's good to hear, and it runs counter to other trends that we've been looking at that suggest classic bike prices are cooling. Trouble is, it always looks different when you stand someplace else, and if Andy says that business is good, it's good for him. Give him a call. Make a deal.
Is your motorcycle delivery company insured?
Some advice before handing over your machines...
Here's a little tale for any of you Sumpsters out there planning to have one or more motorcycles shifted by a delivery service. Recently, we contacted one such firm. It followed a casual recommendation from a friend in the motorcycle trade. We needed to transport two bikes two hundred or so miles, door to door. Simple enough.
The delivery guy we spoke to (by mobile phone) quoted a price of £100 for the first bike, and just £50 for the second. Very competitive rates. So we checked again with three friendly bike dealers, two of whom said they'd used this guy before without problem and were still using him. One dealer, however, said that he was currently using a different firm. No reason given.
So we fixed a tentative date for a collection of the bikes and explained that a goods-in-transit insurance certificate would need to be produced. At that point, we were told by our would-be delivery guy that he didn't carry such a certificate. [More...]
"Matchless" SS80 Brough Superior is looking at the top money
One or two keenly priced lots in this sale
Wednesday 22nd & Thursday 23rd February 2017 is the date for H&H Auction's next sale. It will take place at Donington Park, Derbyshire and will feature a small-to-medium sized range of classic cars and classic motorcycles. So far, there are 77 lots.
We've been perusing the catalogue, and we can't see anything to get too excited about. But one or two items are perhaps worthy of a line or two.
The bike with the highest estimate is the (immediately) above 1939 Brough Superior SS80. Apparently, this 982cc sidevalve (nominally 1,000cc) is well known to the Brough Superior Club and has always been on the road in and around the Oxfordshire area. That's a Matchless engine, incidentally (in contrast to the earlier and more common JAP-powered SS80), and if you're interested, the estimate is £75,000 - £80,000.
We're watching this Brough closely. Why? Because classic bike prices are lately starting to struggle a little. At least, there seems to be some significant "adjustment" as marques and models come and go out of fashion, and various blue-chip examples appear to be coming off the boil.
H&H has also posted some interesting estimates on other motorcycles such as Lot 14 which is the (immediately) above 1961 500cc Triumph 5TA. This "bathtub" example needs some re-commissioning. But even so, the £1,500 - £2,000 estimate looks like a small chunk of change for a great looking and eminently usable 500cc Trumpet that will take you anywhere you want to go, and still at a reasonable/viable velocity. We're even considering a bid on this bike if the piggy bank will stand it.
Meanwhile, the (immediately) above 1998 BMW R1200C is estimated at just £3,500 - £4,000, and that sounds like a bargain for what is very likely to be a future classic that will command some big money.
Between 1997 and 2004 BMW manufactured around 40,000 of these flat twins (including the smaller 850cc R850C version). The designer was noted BMW man David Robb who had earlier worked for Chrysler and then Audi.
The R1200C was, and is, a divisive bike that usually polarises opinion. The model was intended as a radical re-interpretation of the modern motorcycle cruiser and might have loosely had an eye on Harley-Davidson's market. But it's doubtful that BMW, or at least David Robb, seriously thought this was going to get Milwaukee worried. It's a bold Germanic statement that looks more at home on the European mainland as opposed to the American continent. But, as with Saab cars, the fans are scattered thinly, but widely.
Today, people often see this custom as a commercial failure, and we've no idea how the numbers stack up on the profits and losses sheets. But still, 40,000 sales sounds pretty good for a radical design such as this, and we like this model just fine (well, subject to lopping a few inches of the handlebars).
BMW is reported to have cited the increasing unsuitability of the 1,170cc engine for the market that this bike entered and, after seven years, pulled the plug. Or plugs. Today, there is some speculation about the company taking another trip past this particular custom corner. But we haven't heard anything definite.
Beyond that, Lot 15 is the (immediately) above 500cc 1952 Vincent Comet Series C. Extensively restored in 2005, and little used since, H&H is estimating £15,000 - £18,000, which once again isn't exactly overly optimistic. Then again, we have seen a few Comets lately struggling to find buyers even at this price. Only, those were all Stateside. Here in the UK, the situation as of February 2017 might be very different. Stay tuned.
Test ride a Hog and enter a prize draw
Win and bike and collect two grand cash
Go into any UK Harley-Davidson dealer between now and 30th April 2017 and test ride a bike. This small and enjoyable manoeuvre will, apparently, make you eligible for a prize draw which could jet you and a passenger off to the USA, meet Bill Davidson (great-grandson of HD co-founder William A Davidson), hop on a 2017 Touring Hog, take the Great Lakes Tour, visit the HD Museum, then visit the HD production line in York, Pennsylvania, receive a £2,000 cheque to help you enjoy a weekend in New York City, and jet back home where a brand new Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle of your choice (which you saw being manufactured on the aforementioned production line) will join you.
The firm calls it the trip of a lifetime, and we ain't arguing. And that's the whole deal right there. Just ride the Hog and enter the competition. It's not clear from the press release what happens if you take the test ride and actually buy a bike. Presumably you get your money back or something. Either way, it's a pretty compelling come-on from a company that's actually doing okay on this side of the pond, but is struggling in its domestic market.
We'd take a test ride ourselves, only we never win anything in competitions. But someone's gotta win it. So talk to your local Harley-Davidson dealer and check that we've got the facts right, then book that test ride.
We've no idea how many people in the UK take a new H-D for a speculative spin each month, but we figure that the odds are pretty good.
"New DNA" spray to catch bike and scooter thieves
UV dyes and SmartWater-type tech rolled out
Apparently, there's an ongoing epidemic of motorcycle and scooter thefts in the Merseyside area which has led directly to the development of a "new" kind of high-tech spray designed to catch, or at least mark, offenders.
Actually, the spray appears to be using two existing technologies; specifically ultra-violet dye marking tech and a new kind of SmartWater. The combined product is called SelectaDNA Defence Spray.
The idea is simple enough. You're a Scouse copper. You spot a pair of mobile hooligans causing mayhem and otherwise having fun in the local streets and/or council housing estate. You chase said hooligans for a couple of hours in cars and on foot. You send for the dogs and a chopper and you get thoroughly irritated because you can't quite grab 'em. They're too slippery.
Then your partner hands you the SelectaDNA Defence Spray and you know your problems are over. Almost.
At the most opportune moment, you rush forward and spray the high-tech solution all over the ne'er-do-wells and thoroughly mark them, their knocked-off trainers and their hoodies. And then, when you later run them to ground (usually hiding under their beds or something) you flash a UV light in their faces and they're indelibly marked with a unique code that links them to the spray bottle or device you were wielding at the scene. And that's enough for the courts, which promptly gives the hooligans X-number of hours of community work, and they're more or less instantly back on the street.
It sounds as if the DNA component doesn't actually have much to do with deoxyribonucleic acid. We're figuring that that's just ad-speak for whatever coded thingies are in the spray. What we're really hoping for is a true DNA spray that enters the bloodstreams of the hooligans and corrects whatever crooked genes are present at the nuclear level.
Alternately, we could try and do something meaningful about UK unemployment and associated social conditions in deprived area of the country. But that's not seriously on the agenda at the moment, so it's back to the spray.
Got to be coming to a force near you sooner or later.
14 motorcycles on offer. 6 sold
1935 Aston Martin draws the big money
The top selling motorcycle lot at Bonhams' recent Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais Sale (9th February 2017) was the (immediately) above 2009 990cc Ducati Desmosedici RR which sold for €70,150 (£59,830) including buyers premium. The estimate was €50,000 - €60,000 which the bike (Lot 207) comfortably cleared.
Of the 14 motorcycle lots on offer, eight didn't find buyers which represents less than a 50% conversion. However, this wasn't really a motorcycle sale at all. Rather, this was a gathering of Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys and similar exotica. The bikes were more of a side treat.
The top selling lot overall was the (immediately) above 1935 Aston Martin Ulster which, we hear, saw four bidders slugging it out until the hammer came down on €2,012,500 (£1,714,730).
Regarding the motorcycles, it's hard to draw any performance conclusions, except perhaps to say that of the lots that failed to sell, the market appears to have been against the higher priced bikes. The non-sellers include:
1974 Ducati Formula SS €60,000 - €70,000
1972 Ducati 750 Sport €30,000 - €40,000
1985 Bimota 745 €40,000 - €50,000
1950 Series C Vincent Comet €23,000 - €26,000
That aside, Bonhams is said to be pleased with the overall results. But puzzlingly, the firm hasn't released details of the overall turnover at the sale. We checked around for the information we wanted, but at the time of writing this news item, that information wasn't forthcoming.
However, we can tell you that in 2013 Bonhams turned over £13million at this venue. In 2014, that rose to £17 million. For 2015, the only figure we can find is €21.5million. However, the Euro-Sterling exchange rate has since shifted, so we can't easily make the conversion. In the meantime, we're looking into this and will talk to Bonhams.
Check here for more on Bonhams' recent sales
Update: Bonhams has since sent us information regarding the overall turnover (bikes, cars & automobilia) at the Grandes Marques du Monde Sale in Paris.
February 2015: £16,396, 866 (€21,915,085)
February 2016: £8,318,465 (€10,860,324)
February 2017: £12, 966,546 (€15,238,625)
Hard & soft luggage kits for the Triumph Bonneville T120
Choose from the Dolomiti or Metro-T range
Owners of 2016 Triumph T120s looking for quality touring equipment can talk to Givi dealers and ask about the firm's new luggage racks and fixing systems for hard cases and side bags.
The Italian manufacturer, founded by ex-GP racer Giuseppe Visenzi and which currently employs around 500 staff, is also offering a new Race Café screen mounting kit and engine guards.
T120 Bonnie owners can select luggage components from the established aluminium Dolomiti or thermoformed Metro-T ranges (featuring a new Multilock system). We haven't seen any prices yet, so talk to your local motorcycle spares and accessories shop and point them at Givi.
Parking app for automotive bounty hunters
Smaller firms to benefit from new self-policing initiative
Did you hear the one about the private car parking enforcement firm that's paying a £10 bounty for snapshots of illegally parked vehicles? Well the punchline is that it's no joke.
The firm is UK Car Park Management (UK CPM). This outfit looks after parking acreage for firms such as Tesco and other nationally established companies. The idea is that you, as a smaller business person with land to defend, first sign a deal with UK CPM. Then you download a new parking app on your smartphone. Then you get out there on the ground and do your own policing. When you catch a miscreant misappropriating your turf, you take a snapshot of the offending vehicle complete with vehicle registration number, and fire it off to UK CPM.
A quick check on the DVLA database will (probably) reveal the name and address of the offender. The offender gets a £100 parking ticket in the mail (with a reduced rate of £60 if paid within two weeks), and you get a tenner.
▲ iTicket is one of many rivals to i-ticket. And it can only be a matter of time before we see i-Fraud, i-Ripoff, i-Scam, and similar. But beyond the immediate parking issue, there's the matter of the DVLA selling driver details to private parking firms. Do we really trust any of these guys?
However, it's not clear if you get the tenner regardless of whether or not UK CPM wheedles the money from the offender. But most vehicle owners are indeed on the national database, so the chances are that the system works reasonably effectively.
UK CPM calls the app "i-ticket". But we think they missed an opportunity by not calling it "i-snitch" or "i-gotcha". That's got a better ring to it. But is it fair on the poor driver or rider who really had nowhere else to park and needed to block or borrow a piece of your driveway, access road, slipway or whatever?
Hankies out, everyone.
Naturally, there will be a few schools of thought on this. But generally, we figure that most people will feel that if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. We also figure that human nature, being what it is, will sooner or later land a fist in your gob for your perseverance. And that remedial dental work could work out a lot more costly than ten quid.
Beyond that, we can also see a few opportunities here for some serious abuse of the system. Fortunately, it's not our problem. We're currently living way off the grid. But if you're faced with repeated territorial invasions, CPM just might have the solution. And if you don't fancy these guys, there are a few other players out there hoping to milk this cash cow.
Traditional market set to open in New Road
Tip: parking enforcement in the area can be fierce
This is one of those fringe stories that barely made it onto Sump's classic bike news page. Why? Because the interest here is tenuous. Nevertheless, this snippet will no doubt appeal to some of you Sumpsters, so here goes...
There's a new vintage market waiting to open on 11th March 2017 in New Road, Brighton. If you're familiar with "The Lanes", the Brighton area famous for the numerous antique, alternative and simply weird shops, you'll have some idea what to expect. Think Covent Garden or Camden Town. Think scented candles, T-shirts, vinyl records, and plenty of dodgy repro tat from the Far East.
New Road is a little further south and east and just a minute or so walking distance away from The Lanes. We're advised that the new market is "bringing you a brand new vintage throughout the year ... with the traditional market vibe of Brighton .... with beautiful vintage & antique stalls and much more."
We've cut and pasted the above marketing hype, but it might be worth checking out if you're in the area or fancy a trip to Brighton. Expect bric-a-brac stalls, artworks, old furniture, repro stuff. You get the idea.
We get down there as often as possible. Plenty of other bikers make the same trip, and every now and again something interesting turns up that might look good in the garage or hanging on your living room wall.
Draganfly adds 4,500 Triumph spares lines to its shelves
Leicestershire-based Supreme has closed after 50 years
Half a century. That's how long Supreme Motorcycles has been in bike business. Run by Heather Hallam, Dave Hallam & Dave Colley the Leicestershire-based firm built a name and reputation selling Triumph and BSA spares. But that's all over now that Draganfly Motorcycles of Bungay, Suffolk has bought the name, lock, stock and barrel. Or barrels.
Draganfly has made its name and reputation selling Ariel, BSA, Burman and Amal spares. The company is now clearing shelf space for Supreme's stock of post-war pre-unit and unit Triumph twin parts.
The Supreme website has gone. The phones have been switched. Erstwhile Supreme customers are therefore cordially invited to talk to the men at Draganfly. Just don't call on a Saturday, however, because on the traditionally busiest day of the motorcycling week, Draganfly is closed.
So why did Supreme close? We don't know for sure. These things are usually the result of various reasons. But we are advised that retirement has something to do with it.
Early February, which is about now, is the start date for the new diversion.
Telephone Draganfly on: +44 (0) 1986 894798
New lightweight goggles for low-profile Davida lids
£32.20 plus VAT
Davida has sent us details of a new, lightweight pair of goggles aimed specifically at owners of the low profile Davida Speedster V3 and Ninety 2 lids, but will also suit other Jet style helmets. The goggles are manufactured from 0.8mm-thick LEXAN® polycarbonate. They've got an anti-fog & scratch resistant coating, and they offer 380 UV protection.
The general idea is that you get a very snug, windproof fit with vents to keep the goggles mist-free, plus plenty of peripheral vision to help keep you alive. And to ensure the goggles stay put, there's a trio of silicon grippy thingies around the strap that, we hear, is kind to the helmet's paintwork.
The goggles are supplied with a protective bag, and replacement lenses are available. Choose from: Clear, Yellow, Smoke, Smoke Silver Mirror and Smoke Red Revo Mirror.
The price for the goggles is £32.20 excluding VAT. The price for the replacement lenses ranges from around seven quid to around twelve quid, also ex VAT.
Cool bobber T-shirt is back in stock
Black only, £19.99 plus postage & packing
Late last year we printed a limited run of T-shirts with this design and totally underestimated the demand. So we ordered another batch. But in between, we received a number of emails asking if the tee was available on a black shirt (as opposed to the original grey). It seemed a reasonable enough request, and we decided it looked a whole lot better on black anyway.
So here we are. We're expecting them to sell fast. So if you want one, be quick. The price is £19.99 plus P&P. Sizes are S, M, L, XL, and 2XL. We can, for a while, order larger or smaller sizes. They'll take a few days extra. And if we run out or something, we'll let you know pronto.
EAT SLEEP RIDE REPEAT
H&H Auctions is selling a one-man decades long collection
Anyone out there got a Kettenkrad for sale?
During 2017, H&H Classics will be flogging a collection of 30 Ariel Arrow and Ariel Leader two-strokes. The sales will begin at the firm's Donington Park Auction on 22nd February 2017, and will end at an unspecified date during the coming year.
The bikes were collected over a 30-year period by pattern-maker Clive Pearson of Leicester. His interest in the Ariel marque began when Pearson was a young man and became fascinated with the futuristic looks of the Arrow. His parents, we hear, were strictly against the idea of their son becoming involved with motorcycles. So he did the sensible thing and bought one anyway. He paid just £10.
At the time, Pearson wanted a Super Sports Golden Arrow which retailed at £79. And now, at age 68, he's got one (or two), but he feels it's time to move the collection on. However, it's not clear how many, if any, of the bikes are fully restored and ready to roll. But it certainly looks like most will at the very least need re-commissioning. What this collection does to Ariel Arrow and Leader prices is anyone's guess.
▲ On the mean streets of Leicester, the only way to get some respect is from behind the handlebars of a Kettenkrad. Designed and built by NSU, these WW2-era vehicles were good for around 45mph and could be operated with or without the front wheel.
Clive Pearson, we're pleased to say, hasn't been entirely cured of the collecting bug. He once owned a German WW2 Kettenkrad (a "motorcycle" with tank tracks), and he's looking to acquire another. So if you have one in the loft or something, talk to H&H.
Meanwhile, if Arrows and Leaders are your thing, pencil Donington Park in your diary. Or check out H&H's listing right now to see if anything else catches your eye.
Auction house is curiously silent about this sale
No press releases are expected regarding the results
"Bloodbath" is our word, not Bonhams, and it's perhaps a little dramatic. But when you check the context, you'll see why we make no apologies. The word "bloodbath" was coined sometime after we further examined the results of the firm's 26th January 2017 Sale at Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (see further down this page) and we wondered if an official press release was coming our way. A couple of days had passed since the auction, and no word. Finally we called Bonhams for clarification of the results and asked a spokesman if he could shed any light on exactly what happened. Certainly, from where we sat, the sale looked more and more disappointing by the minute.
The Bonhams spokesman was clearly reticent, so we asked, a little playfully, if it would be fair to describe the sale as a "bloodbath".
"No comment" said the spokesman, and we were given an email address through which to make further enquiries. That returned an email from another Bonhams spokesman stating:
"It doesn't look like there will be an official announcement from Bonhams about Las Vegas this year."
So, puzzled, we fired-off a follow-up email and asked WHY there would be no statement. This question drew a reply that read:
"They [Bonhams] didn't feel it necessary. They had a good sale and now are focusing on Amelia Island in a few weeks."
Yet another email exchange told us;
"What can I say? They [Bonhams] don't feel it necessary. It was a 70% sell thru rate at just under $4m total. Sure, some high profile bikes didn't sell, but they still had a good sale. The market reacted similarly with the classic cars in Scottsdale, although Bonhams had a higher % there."
We emailed to say that it looks very bad for Bonhams, PR-wise, if the company holds a high-profile sale and can't issue a simple press statement on the results. And we were told;
"...you're forcing a negative narrative. There's no reason for it, although you seem to have your mind made up. It's unfortunate to see this from a media outlet."
Well we didn't have out minds "made up". We looked at the results. We awaited a press release. We checked the results with the estimates. We ran some numbers. We looked again. We phoned Bonhams. We emailed Bonhams repeatedly. And we went back to the posted results and checked once more.
And the position is clear. Many of the top lots (see below) simply didn't shift. Many others sold way below estimates. But yes, there were some great sales successes. BMWs seemed to do pretty good, most of which were bang on their estimates, or slightly above.
▲ 1957 600cc BMW R69. Las Vegas January 2017 appears to have been a good sale for Beemers. This one (Lot 122) sold for $18,400 (£14,701) including premium. The reserve was $18,000 - $24,000.
A 1974 Ducati 750SS (Lot 131, image immediately above) was estimated at $65,000 - $85,000 but sold for $109,250. A 1970 500cc Indian-Velo was looking at $12,000 - $15,000 but sold for $18,400.
Meanwhile, however, a 1971 Norton Commando Production Racer was estimated at what sounded like a reasonable $8,000 - $10,000, but fetched just $5,750 (over $2,000 below bottom estimate). And to add to the woes, a 1941 Harley-Davidson WLA was estimated at (a very hopeful?) $28,000 - $34,000 (£22,414 - £27,217) and didn't find a buyer. These are just some examples.
So okay, all sales have their winners and losers, but this looks like a very, very poor event for the firm. And in the absence of a clear statement from Bonhams, you'll have to draw your own conclusions. And remember, a 70% conversion rate isn't necessarily saying very much if most of the top sellers failed on the block, and if many (or most) of the other bikes sold below bottom estimates. Additionally, last year Bonhams totalled around $4.8million at Las Vegas (see Sump Classic Bike News January 2016). This year, after all the extra hope and hype, the total was "just under" $4million. Still nothing to sniff at. But it's far short of expectations, and everything has to be seen in context.
And consider this, we totalled just a handful of the top lots and, based upon their lower estimates, calculated that over $2million went south, $500,000 dollars of which was expected to be realised on Lot 223, a 1936 Crocker.
So why does any of this matter? Firstly because it possibly has huge implications for the classic bike world. If the money is now turning away from the investment motorcycle market, it might mean that the world economy is doing better now and the investment desire has subsided. Or it might mean that the money has run out or has stopped moving, which is bad news all round. Or it might mean that Bonhams simply over-reached itself with unrealistic estimates. Or it might mean that we're reading the results all wrong. Or it might mean any of a number of other things (exchange rate issues, Trump in power, a butterfly fluttering its wings in the rain forest, etc).
But then you still have to question why Bonhams, one of the world's greatest auction houses, has failed to produce an official statement and simply wants to brush the results aside and move onto the next sale.
▲ 1954 499cc Vincent Comet. Bonhams, which supplied the image, estimated a sale price of $28,000 - $32,000. The bike was sold for $28,175 (£22,512) including buyers premium.
We don't want to talk the firm down. We don't want to talk the economy down. We don't want to compound the company's woes. We don't want to draw the wrong conclusions. We don't want to damage goodwill with Bonhams. We don't have an agenda, except to get some facts (or at least some opinions). We're not "forcing a negative narrative". But we would like some answers. Official answers, that is. And we suspect a lot of other people would like some answers too. In short, we think we're telling it like it is. For years we've been highly supportive of Bonhams. But that doesn't mean we're just going to gloss things over when it's commercially expedient to do so.
We told Bonhams that we were going to publish this piece, and now we have. If we get further info from the company, we'll be happy to post it. Bonhams has an excellent auction track record and will no doubt bounce back. But credibility begins by admitting your errors, weaknesses and failings. And at Las Vegas 2017, something pretty serious went wrong with the plan. The bottom line is that if this isn't a bloodbath, it's certainly a pretty nasty wound.
Over to Bonhams...
We tested these on our T140 Triumph Bonneville
Will suit medium to long-haul riders rather than short-haul
We've been road-testing heated insoles this month, which is a first for us. Being riders mostly of classic bikes equipped with relatively low output alternators and generators, we haven't had much to do with this kind of technology. Usually, there simply isn't much electrical power to spare.
But when we were offered these insoles to test, and what with winter being upon us (and what with our years rolling away a lot faster than we'd like) we figured we'd give 'em a go and see if they made much difference in real-world riding. And the quick answer is that yes, they make quite a big difference. But this statement needs some qualification and explanation.
Firstly, the dual power X300 Keis package isn't what you might think. For £59.99, the product box opens to reveal a pair of insoles and some cabling/wiring. With this package there's no battery pack, no mains charger, and no controller.
The idea is that you connect the first half of the power cable onto your motorcycle battery. That cable is 48-inches long and terminates at a connector block. Next, using some cable ties, you need to position the connector block somewhere suitable on the bike (possibly next to the side panel or something). You'll also want to secure/lose some of the excess cable.
Numerous headline bikes unsold
We're trying to figure out exactly what happened at the Bonhams Sale on 26th January 2017 at Las Vegas, USA. But at present, the results look very disappointing. For instance, the above 1936 Crocker "hemi head" (Lot 223) was expected to sell at between $500,000 - and $600,000. It said to be just one of seven hemis, and is the lowest numbered Crocker to go on public sale. But it looks like it didn't find a buyer. Certainly, at the time of writing the bike is still not listed on the results page.
▲ It's the same story with Lot 187, the 1949 Indian-Vincent. The estimate was $250,000 - $300,000. But it didn't sell.
It's the same story with Lot 208, a 2013 Ecosse Founders Edition T1 which was estimated at $150,000 - $175,000. No sale.
▲ It's the same story with Lot 200, a 1912 Flying Merkel that was estimated at $135,000 - $150,000. It didn't sell.
▲ It's the same story with Lot 233, a 1911 Reading Standard that carried an estimate of $110,000 - $130,000, and didn't sell.
▲ It's the same story with Lot 142, a 1958 Ducati 125 GP Bialbero. The estimate was $100,000 - $130,000. No sale.
▲ It was the same with Lot 217, a 1984 748cc Ducati TT1 Road Racer. The pundits were looking at an estimate of $125,000 - $150,000. But this high performance projectile didn't shift an inch.
It's the same story with Lot 224, a 1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead that was estimated at $120,000 - $150,000. It didn't sell.
It was the same story with Lot 298, a 1951 Vincent Series C Shadow that was estimated at $100,000 - $120,000, but no sale.
It's the same story with Lot 221, a 1975 Ducati 900SS Prototype. Estimated at $80,000 - $120,000, it didn't sell.
▲ It's the same story with Lot 202, an Indian TriCar Quick Delivery van. The estimate was $80,000 - $100,000, but no one bought it.
It's the same story with Lot 212, a 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E Twin (not to be confused with the McQueen Harley-Davidson XAE below). The estimate was $80,000 - $100,000, and it didn't sell.
It's the same with Lot 246, a 1952 998cc Vincent Series C Rapide. Bonhams estimated $90,000 - $110,000. But nobody bought it.
It was the same with Lot 280, a 1953 998cc Vincent Series C Touring Rapide. The estimate was $80,000 - $90,000. It didn't sell.
Most of these motorcycles, we figured, would find buyers fairly easy. And clearly Bonhams thought as much. But no sale prices have been listed, so until we can check with Bonhams, we marking these bikes as missing in action. And there were many others unsold.
But on the other hand, there were some (qualified) successes. For instance, the top selling lot was the (immediately above) 1914 Feilbach Limited 10hp. That bike was estimated at $150,000 - $200,000, and it sold for $195,000 (£155,492) which was just below top estimate.
But Lot 143, the ex-Steve McQueen 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E Big Twin (image immediately above) was looking at $100,000 - $120,000 and sold for just $88,800 (£62,024) which is some way below bottom estimate.
We're still analysing the rest of the sale, but as it stands, it looks like Bonhams has either over-reached itself, or the market has significantly cooled in the past few months.
It was supposed to be THE GREAT DUCATI AUCTION, but clearly the wheels have fallen off a number of bikes, including many of the Dukes. And that TT1 Road Racer further up this page (Lot 217) was expected to be the really big gun that, somehow, didn't even go "pop" let alone "bang".
Watch this space for updates...
Heavier financial penalties mooted
Animal cruelty "technology" fines coming
Currently, if you're caught "seriously speeding" in the UK and dragged up before the beak, any financial penalties start at 100% of your weekly income. However, under new and tougher sentencing guidelines, magistrates will soon be looking at 150% of your pay packet.
In this day and age, what with a large percentage of the country working any number of earnings-related dodges and drawing income from numerous sources (not to mention being on zero hour contracts), it's not clear how anyone clearly works out a weekly wage for anyone. But that's not the issue at the moment. The point is, the government is looking to get 50% tougher on heavyweight speeders, and the obvious sanction is via a wallet or purse.
In practical terms it works something like this. Currently, riding 80mph in a 70mph limit usually won't get you nicked, not unless there are other aggravating factors (heavy traffic, weaving, front wheel in the air, etc). But if you do get your lead jerked, any fines will be based upon 100% of your weekly income. Ditto for riding at 100mph in a 70mph limit.
But soon, if you're caught riding at 100mph in a 70mph limit, or even 50mph in a 30mph limit, 150% is the starting point. The key issue is whether the speeding offence can be considered "serious". More minor offences won't carry heavier penalties.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams has been quoted as saying: ‘Anyone who breaks the limit excessively is a danger to every other road user and is unnecessarily putting lives at risk." Presumably he's not referring to police vehicles which routinely hurtle along at 100mph plus. But let's not go there either right now.
▲ Are working TV detector vans an urban myth? Some say so. We've heard that TV detector van evidence has never been presented in a UK court. If true, you have to ask why. Meanwhile, penalties for licence evasion could be set to fall, in some instances.
Other new sentencing guidelines being mooted relate to animal cruelty and TV licencing. Specifically, the suggestion is that if you use technology to promote or encourage animal cruelty (YouTube videos filming hare coursing or dog fighting, etc), you'll find yourself in a correspondingly much bigger doghouse, and rightly so.
As for TV licencing, the currently annual fee/tax is £145.50. If you're caught watching the box (including, since September 2016, catch-up TV online), you'll probably get a fine. It can be up to £1,000. But in practice it's usually much lower. Maybe a few hundred quid, depending on the circumstances (i.e. persistent offender, threatening a licence snoop, and so on).
But the new guidelines will allow a magistrate to issue conditional discharges for hard-up cases or where the offence is considered more trivial (such as forgetting to renew a TV licence for a few months or something of that ilk).
In practice, it remains to be seen what difference any of this makes. Traffic cops are few and far between. SatNavs usually spot the cameras. Animal cruelty fiends are getting more and more sophisticated. And the general public is pretty shrewd these days when the TV licence snoops come calling.
All the same, be warned, or behave. Changes are coming.
Should the first MOT test date for new vehicles change?
Government seeks views from all road users
This idea has been floating around the ether for a while. But Her Majesty's government has now firmed up the notion with a consultation document. Specifically, Whitehall feels that improvements in automotive technology means that the first MOT for new cars and motorcycles can be put back one year from three to four (in line with Northern Ireland).
In other words, a new car or bike (on mainland UK) is currently not required to undergo an MOT test until three years after first registration. That, however, could shift to four years. And note that small vans could be part of the mix.
Before introducing new legislation, the government wants to hear from Joe Public and the wider motoring/motorcycling industry regarding the perceived pros and cons of the proposed changes.
Possibly the most obvious concern is the fact that brakes and tyres, arguably the most crucial components on a motor vehicle, are for many motorists and motorcyclists not likely to endure three years after first use; not without maintenance. Yes, modern brakes are fitted with pad wear indicators, and modern tyres have monitoring systems which obviate some of the concern. But that still leaves the prospect of tens of thousands of road users zipping around with serious tyre wear issues, damaged sidewalls and/or brake-line problems, etc.
And given the state of British roads, you can also factor in damaged suspension components and wheel bearings. Of course, the onus is always on the motorist/motorcyclist to ensure that his or her vehicle is roadworthy (and a valid MOT certificate, as the coppers are fond of reminding us, is no guarantee of that). But human nature being what it is (and finances being what they are for many), a large proportion of cars and bikes on UK roads are mechanically faulty, with some being seriously dangerous.
Light vans, incidentally, also form part of the consultation, presumably because such vehicles are primarily used commercially and are therefore more likely to hit high mileages (never mind the UK car-driving sales reps travelling 25,000 plus miles per annum).
The UK MOT was introduced in 1960. At that time, a re-test was required after 10 years, hence the Ten Year Test. But in 1967, that was cut to the present 3 years (and we're wondering if that's why the current MOT logo displays 3 triangles, hence our modified graphic above).
Of course, the government is keen to save money for road users. And naturally, the government wants to reduce associated administration costs. But there's also the loss of trade to garages/MOT stations which can have a knock-on effect for the wider UK economy.
Remember, it isn't just the MOT test income that helps keep garages/workshops in business. It's also the related repair work. Moreover, less MOT business makes it harder for smaller firms to maintain an MOT inspector. In short, there are numerous issues here that need to be considered.
So think carefully if, when and how you respond...
UK Government MOT Consultation Document
MOT scrapped for pre-1960s vehicles, Classic Bike News May 2012
Faulty product batch identified
Some systems could unexpectedly immobilise your bike
If you've got a Datatool S4 alarm fitted to your bike, DON'T RIDE IT if you've been experiencing any odd beeps, bleeps or faint glowing LEDs when the alarm is set to DISARM. That's the warning from Scorpion Automotive which owns the Datatool brand. This product, take note, is also being sold as a Triumph Approved Accessory.
Why the warning not to ride it? Because the immobiliser could kick in unexpectedly.
The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is said to be monitoring the recall. The general advice is to contact Datatool and/or the dealer who sold you the alarm. There will be advice on hand on how to check if your system is part of the recall batch. That said, if you've got any suspicions at all, check it out anyway.
We have seen a lot of complicated advice on how to identify the serial number for yourself and decode the affected products. But we wouldn't be happy passing that on. These things are best heard straight from the horse's mouth. So get on the phone or on the net if you've got any suspicions. Datatool has undertaken to replace any affected alarm free of charge.
These recalls are embarrassing and expensive for most firms, and goodwill can quickly dissipate. But we've heard nothing that would generally undermine our confidence in Datatool. The recall is the responsible thing to do. But you already know that.
Meanwhile, if you've got a friend with a Datatool S4 Red Series alarm, perhaps you'd been kind enough to pass the word?
Weekly scheduled motorcycle transport service into Europe
10% discount for groups of ten
We've never heard of Bikeshuttle, so we figure that many of you Sumpsters might not have heard of it either. And seeing as many of you like to indulge your wanderlust with a little European motorcycle travel, this news item might interest you. So draw close...
Bikeshuttle operates out of Northampton in the East Midlands. The firm runs a regular service transporting motorcycles onto mainland Europe leaving you free to catch a flight and save your biking energies for the foreign stuff (as opposed to wearing yourself with a long jaunt down to Dover, a tiresome ferry connection, and thence to Geneva).
Well that's where the Bikeshuttle ends up. So if you're headed for, say, Poland, this service might not suit you. But if Switzerland is in your field of view, you can have your bike delivered to what is more-or-less Central Europe. And if there are 10 of you on the same tour, Bikeshuttle is offering a 10% discount. In cash terms, this means a return delivery to Geneva and back to the East Midlands will cost £391.50. That, we're told, is a saving of £43.50 on the list price, and it will save you 1,500 miles of travelling which, as we said, you can cash in elsewhere on your sojourn.
There's a "handy transfer service" to Luton Airport where you'll need only hand luggage because Bikeshuttle will take care of the riding gear. The company can also help with overnight stays in Geneva, where necessary. But you'll be expected to book your own flights.
Bikeshuttle, launched in 2015, reckons its the only weekly scheduled service transporting bikes to mainland Europe. The services runs from mid-May to the end of September. They've got a "purpose built lorry" (don't you just love the word "lorry" as opposed to "truck"?).
If you need more info, talk to Bikeshuttle direct. Sounds to us like an interesting proposition. But we'd want to know a lot more about cancellations and motorcycle security and breakdowns and suchlike. Check 'em out, why don't you?
Incoming turbo-charged galaxy warping hype (duck!)
Read this and weep...
Ducati Motorcycles and fashion house, Diesel, have jointly created the latest thing for road warriors scootering around the neighbourhood zombie-infested post-nuclear war wasteland. Check Sump Motorcycle News Jan 2017 for the awful reality that's coming atcha!
Not-for-profit appeal seeks more participants
A ride around the dam plus "good company, a few beers and food"
We've reported on this event once or twice before, and not without some misgivings. The WW2 Dambusters Raid (aka Operation Chastise) on 16th - 17th May 1943 was unquestionably a major propaganda victory for Britain during the conflict, and it was also something of a military success—albeit with less long term and less destructive damage than was envisaged by the Whitehall and RAF strategic planners.
Fifty-three RAF aircrew and over 1,600 civilians were killed as a result of the WW2 attack on the dams of Germany's industrial Ruhr Valley—and most of those civilian deaths were not German military personnel (i.e. "fair game") but forced factory labourers, largely from the Soviet Union.
The aims of the current Dambusters charity are, of course, worthy enough; the objective being to raise money for various causes, including the Help for Heroes campaign and the RAF Benevolent Fund.
However, as times goes by these kind of events are being increasingly viewed as deeply insensitive, bordering on offensive. In fact, some would say that a bunch of guys coasting along and glorifying in what was essentially a pretty nasty episode in modern European history trivialises or ignores the wider human cost of the Dambusters Raid. In short, some have suggested that we need to learn how to remember WW2 and heed the political warnings, but without overly venerating the brutal military escapades and overlaying the horrific truths with a modern motorcycling jolly such as, in this instance, a day out at the dams.
Naturally, you might see it very differently, in which case you can follow the link below and perhaps join the "2017 Grand Slam Challenge" cavalcade. On the other hand, you might instead want to sit this one out and simply send a cash contribution to one or both of the aforementioned charities.
And before you decide, ask yourself how you'd feel if a German motorcycle club staged a charity ride based upon the infamous Baedeker Raids in which the Luftwaffe, in 1942, followed a 1937 copy of Baedeker's Guide and bombed the hell out of York, Norwich, Bath, Exeter and Canterbury simply to satiate Hilter's rage after Berlin was hammered by British Bomber Command. Or how about a Coventry Cavalcade in which the Coventry Blitz could form the backdrop of a German motorcycle charity appeal. Like the sound of that?
Meanwhile, we're hearing that just £24,000 has been raised since this annual Dambusters event began in 2012. And we're guessing that the collective cost of these rides is considerably more than the funds raised for the various worthy causes, which perhaps makes the success of this particular charity raid pretty disproportionate and unimpressive. But does any of this really matter? You tell us.
Money raised for charitable causes is generally welcomed. But maybe next year the organisers can find a less controversial way of doing it, such as the Dresden Run. Think that'll sound good?
See: Sump March 2013 Dambuster charity motorcycle ride
Multinational clothing firm accused of hijacking the H-D brand
Serial offender is headed back to court
Here's the long and short of it. Urban Outfitters is a multinational clothing brand based in Philadelphia, USA. Founded in 1970, it currently specialises in hipster, retro, kitschy, Bohemian and generally "cool" items of apparel for men and women. The company has had a chequered retail history.
In 2003 the firm launched a version of the board-game, Monopoly. Only this one was called Ghettopoly. Not very PC, and branded as racist.
Also in 2003, the company sold T-shirts bearing the slogan: EVERYONE LOVES A JEWISH GIRL. The lettering was surrounded by dollar signs.
In 2006, Urban Outfitters began selling gun-shaped Christmas tree ornaments.
In 2011, the firm upset the Navajo Native Americans by fielding a range of products called "Navajo". The Native American tribe has for years been using its name as a brand and logo.
And there are dozens of other complaints and criticisms levelled at this maverick firm that can't possibly, by accident, be stepping over and over again on the garden rake of controversy. In short, brand hijacking, in one way or another, appears to be the rule rather than the exception.
Well, in 2014 Urban Outfitters upset Harley-Davidson by selling remanufactured and reconstructed garments. Specifically, Harley-Davidson T-shirts and similar were being slashed and cut and re-sewn into new "sexy" shapes. H-D cried foul and claimed that their brand was being diluted and adulterated and had suffered damage. Moreover, H-D claimed that the products were being sold as if authorised, which they weren't. After a few lawyers bought a few new Porsches, a settlement was reached, and the matter was put to bed.
But now, Harley-Davidson is again suing Urban Outfitters, this time for creating bodysuits (see main image this story) and once again adulterating its reworked products with unauthorised tags, labels and designs.
Naturally, an action has been filed in the appropriate court, and naturally Harley-Davidson is looking for a big payout. And you can understand the firm's point of view. But whatever the result, you can be sure that Urban Outfitters will come up smiling. Publicity is, after all, publicity, and the regular column-inches generated in the media more than compensates Urban for the occasional slap on the wrist.
What we're now hoping is that Urban Outfitters buys a few thousand Sump T-shirts and re-structures them around a few sexy young things. Our despatch department is ready and waiting. But our lawyers may not be encouraged to get into the fray until some way down the line...
Where Do You Do To My Lovely? songwriter has died
Indian born brother of Eden Kane and Robin Sarstedt was 75
It was one of the biggest hits of 1969 which, together with David Bowie's Space Oddity, won that year's Ivor Novello Award for songwriting and received seemingly endless hours of radio and TV airplay. Pretty much everyone on this side of the Atlantic, including most of the European mainland, knew the record. We're talking about Where Do You Go To My Lovely? which was written and recorded by Peter Sarstedt who has died aged 75.
Sarstedt is one of England's most underrated songwriters. He scored another hit with Frozen Orange Juice which reached number 10 in the UK charts also in 1969. But although he never enjoyed another major recording success, he continued to make music for the next five decades and released no less than 15 albums.
Peter Sarstedt was the younger brother of 1960s pop singer Eden Kane who recorded the hit song Well I Ask You which made number 1 in the UK singles chart in 1961, and who was perhaps better known for Boys Cry which went to number 8 in 1964. He was also the older brother of Clive Sarstedt better known as Robin Sarstedt who scored a number 3 hit in 1976 with My Resistance is Low.
Sarstedt was born in Delhi, India. His parents, both of whom were classically trained musicians, worked in the British civil service and returned to the UK in the mid-1950s and settled in Croydon, South London. At that time, skiffle music was the in-thing and the big noise to make, and that's where the Sarstedt boys began their respective recording careers.
Musical success came quick and hard when Where Do You Go To My Lovely? hit the airwaves. The song, like Don McLean's American Pie was infectious and instantly singable. It was also slightly mysterious, haunting, controversial and suggestive. Underpinned by a French-sounding accordion, a waltz feel and containing numerous European references, the lyrics ran:
You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there are diamonds and pearls in your hair
You live in a fancy apartment
Off the Boulevard of Saint Michel
Where you keep your Rolling Stones records
And a friend of Sacha Distel
But where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head...
Numerous interpretations and meanings of the song have over the years been discussed. At one point, Peter Sarstedt suggested that it was about his girlfriend Anita, a dentist, who he later married. Others have suggested that the song was about Sophia Loren. And it's also been suggested that the main character in the lyric is fictional. Either way, royalties were at one point said to be earning Peter Sarstedt £60,000 per annum. In 1997, Sarstedt recorded a follow-up song called: The Last of The Breed.
After the hit subsided, Peter Sarstedt moved to Denmark but later returned to the UK and toured extensively. Numerous albums followed, pretty much all of them containing intelligent, thoughtful, contemporary ballads, a little folksy, a little poppy, and always very much from the heart.
He was still writing and working until 2010 when poor health intruded, and in 2013 he retired to a care home in Sussex. If, following his huge 1960s success, you haven't really given Sarstedt a second thought, you might want to now review a little of his other material.
Peter Sarstedt was quite simply a very much overlooked quality songwriter who made a significant contribution to British popular music and has left behind a large number of dedicated fans. He's survived by two children and both of his brothers.
The Jockey Club announces a £500 million redevelopment plan
Kempton Park could become the site of new housing stock
It's by no means signed, sealed and delivered, but there are clear plans afoot to redevelop Kempton Park Racecourse and transform this hallowed piece of horse racing turf into a new housing project. The news comes straight from the horse's mouth, which in this instance is the Jockey Club.
Classic bikers will perhaps primarily associate Kempton Park with a very different kind of horsepower. For longer than we can remember (which, given the amount of alcohol we consume, isn't necessarily all that long), Kempton Park has been London's premier autojumble as founded by Eric Patterson (image left). It was run by him up until May 2016 when Mortons Media, aka The Empire, bought the event to add to its bulging portfolio.
According to the Jockey Club, over the next decade £500 million is to be invested in its share of British horse racing sport, and as part of that investment plan Kempton is being viewed as prime housing territory. But nothing is expected to change until 2021 at the earliest. Then again, when you get to a certain age, four or five years is no time at all.
The Jockey Club, which boasts a 266-year history, owns 15 major UK racecourses including Aintree and Epsom Downs. Kempton Park, current home of the King George VI Chase, accommodated its first race in 1878. In 1932 a major fire severely damaged the grandstand. In WW1 the racecourse was a transport depot for military vehicles. In WW2 German and Italian POWs were stationed there. And in 2009 and 2014, we picked up some great value parts for our T140s and BSA sidevalves.
In short, it's had a chequered history.
There are still a number of hurdles to negotiate (pun intended) including a rash of thorny planning issues, any of which could scupper the whole deal. But the neighbourhood around Kempton, which is located roughly 10 miles South West of Central London, has a severe housing shortage, and the racecourse sits on an awful lot of fertile building land. If the Jockey Club proposals come to fruition, a new racecourse (or part thereof) will be built elsewhere (possibly Newmarket, Suffolk) and the King George VI Chase will be moved elsewhere (possibly Sandown, just a mile or so away).
As for the autojumble itself, it's too soon to know what will (or might) happen—and we can only wonder if, when Mortons (image immediately above) bought the event last year, it had any inkling that this venue might have a very limited shelf life. Or looked at another way, was Eric's decision to flog it when he did, more than a mere timely coincidence?
We might never know, and we don't want to ask. An amusing myth, after all, is much more fun than a simple banal twist of fate. Meanwhile, we suggest you go and enjoy your Kempton days while you can. The steamroller of history might not yet be on the move in that particular direction, but its engine is permanently ticking over.
UPDATE: We did speak to Mortons regarding Kempton park, and their spokesman was certainly aware of the redevelopment proposals. But he expressed no particular concern. "We're looking a long way into the future," he said. "It will be at least five years, and there is likely to be lots of consultation and possibly local objection to various aspects of the Jockey Club plan. And it may not happen at all. In the meantime, we'll be carrying on as usual at Kempton."
Mortons buys Kempton Park Jumble
Kempton Park bike jumble sells out
Polaris Industries winds up Victory Motorcycles
Indian Motorcycles is likely to find itself in a slightly stronger position
We confess that we hadn't exactly expected this, but neither is it much of a surprise. The "success" of Victory Motorcycles was always a little surprising, not least the relatively low retail prices of the bikes. When we thought about it at all, which wasn't very often or in much depth, we figured that owner Polaris Industries had deep pockets and was probably reasonably happy running Victory at a very low profit margin, or even at a loss. Prestige is important too, after all. Except that prestige alone doesn't pay the bills, and eventually reality kicks in.
What it all amounts to is that Victory Motorcycles is history. Polaris, which also acquired the Indian brand in 2011, has in recent years been running Victory and Indian side by side and desperately trying to get some clear water between the brands without sinking either.
This kind of commercial positioning is, like political positioning, very tricky. And what with Harley-Davidson flying lazy circles above the Polaris manufacturing plants, it looked likely that something was going to give. In hindsight, anyway.
The winding down begins immediately. Victory dealers will, no doubt, run down their existing stock, possibly at a loss—or at a knock down price. So there could be some bargains there. And Victory is obliged by law to supply parts for the next 10 years to cater for those owners who bought into the marque.
▲ 2016 Victory Magnum with a "21-inch wheel, slammed back-end, custom paint, and our best performing sound system ever." Polaris aimed high with this good looking bagger. At £17,899, it's not cheap in absolute terms. But it's good value for a low volume tourer such as this.
▲ 2016 Victory Hammer S. £12,999. No doubt the rival Harley-Davidson accountants had already figured out the profits and losses on this one and reasoned that Victory was about to disappear up Indian's exhaust pipe. But did the rest of us see it? We didn't.
Polaris has issued a long-winded and heavily spun statement explaining the reasoning behind the axe (investment considerations, struggling to establish a significant market share, etc), but what it boils down to is Indian. Indian is a far stronger brand and is easily outselling Victory. It's as simple and as ruthless as that.
So after almost 60 models and 18 years of hard work, much of it by Victory dealers busily campaigning and demonstrating the product at motorcycles shows around the world, it's all over.
▲ 2016 Indian Scout Sixty. If you're looking for a big American cruiser, it's now back to the old rivalry twixt Harley-Davidson and Indian. The question now is how many disgruntled Victory riders will exact some kind of commercial revenge on Polaris and look to Milwaukee for their thrills...
It's always a bit of a blow when this kind of thing happens, not least to anyone in the employment firing line. We suspect that Polaris will do what it can to save jobs at Spirit Lake, Iowa, or redeploy them. But there will be losses.
Meanwhile, UK Victory dealers will probably fill the niche in their showrooms, perhaps by putting a few extra Indians on the reservation. But the chances are that Victory sales simply weren't high enough to make a huge difference. If they were, the brand might still be here (but take note that this is simply speculation on our part, and should be treated as such).
Finally, if you own a Victory Motorcycle, you might be better advised not to panic and flog it quickly for bottom dollar. Cool heads get rich when everyone's running around with their hair on fire. Be smart.
See: Victory axes seven models (Sump Motorcycle News Sept 2016)
Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction on Thursday 27th January 2017
Plenty of Dukes and some other very cool stuff
This sale, we're led to believe, is being dubbed "The Ducati Auction". Why? Because Bonhams is fielding 38 Dukes which is apparently an "unprecedented" number. The location for the sale is the Rio Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas USA.
The star Ducati attractions are the following:
1984 Ducati 750 TT1 Works Road Racer. This is one of three European endurance factory racers considered to be the “rarest of the rare". Estimate: $125,000 - $150,000.
1975 Ducati 900 SS Superbike Prototype. 1979 AMA Superbike Winner. Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000.
Lot 240: 1973 Ducati 750 Works Road Racer. This is one of three factory racers "of its kind" and former Bol d’Or 24 Hours team bike and Isle of Man TT entrant. Estimate: $100,000 - $140,000 (see image immediately above).
1958 Ducati 125 GP. Rare early competition Grand Prix bialbero (twin cam) model. Estimate $100,000 - $130,000.
In total, we're so far looking at 345 motorcycles, and (as ever with Bonhams) there's some very cool stuff on the lot. Check this out:
Lot 135: 1970 Indian Velocette Venom (image immediately above)
Lot 143: 1912 Harley-Davidson Big Twin (ex-Steve McQueen)
Lot 161: 1949 Vincent Series C Rapide
Lot 167: 1949 Vincent Series C Black Shadow
Lot 168: 1955 Vincent Black Prince
Lot 179: 1962 500cc Lito Motocross
Lot 187: 1949 Indian-Vincent factory prototype
Lot 194: 1949 Vincent Series B Rapide
Lot 200: 1912 Flying Merkel
Lot 202: 1908 Indian Tri-Car delivery van
Lot 205: 1949 Vincent Series B Black Shadow
Lot 208: 2013 Ecosse Founders Edition T1
Lot 212: 1912 Harley-Davidson 8-X-E twin
Lot 213: 1912 Excelsior chain drive single
Lot 223: 1936 Crocker "Hemi head" (two images immediately above)
Lot 224: 1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead
Lot 233: 1911 Reading Standard Single
Lot 237: 1955 Vincent Black Knight
Lot 246: 1952 Vincent Series C Rapide
Lot 250: 1914 Feilbach Limited
Lot 255: 1932 Vincent-HRD 500 Python Sports
Lot 256: 1913 Flying Merkel
Lot 265: 1930 Montgomery
Lot 266: 1952 Vincent Series C Black Shadow
Lot 298: 1951 Vincent Series C Black Shadow
Take note that the above bikes are likely to be the biggest sellers, but there are plenty of others at more "affordable" prices. Overall, we counted 345 motorcycles, and we'd like to take home around 300 of them.
However, being the simple souls that we are, we've got our eyes fixed more realistically on Lot 170 which is a 1961 Harley KR flat track racer (image immediately above). The estimate is U$18,000 - $22,000 (£15,000 - £18,000), and that's probably more than we can rustle up at present. But we're watching anyway. Click on the link you've just passed, or on the bike, for a more detailed look.
As usual, we'll update the sale details in due course.
The Indian-Velocette (Lot 135) sold for $18,400 (£14,701).
The Crocker (Lot 223) didn't sell.
The 1973 Ducati Works Road Racer (Lot 240) sold for $40,250 (£32,095).
The Harley-Davidson KR (Lot 170) sold for $15,525 (£12,379)
No word yet on the other Ducatis in the sale.
All prices include premium
New braking light tech due in May 2017
Real time GPS/smartphone toy tracks your progress
We're hearing that this is a "world's first", but we wouldn't know about that. It seems to us that every time someone tells you it's the first time something happened, someone else will tell you that it happened before and/or that Leonardo da Vinci invented it.
But this high-level brake light from French firm Cosmo Connected, is certainly a new product on the market. The idea pretty much speaks for itself, but maybe we can add a few extra words for your edification.
The unit comes in two parts. The first bit attaches to your lid with 3M tape. That piece has a built-in magnet. The second part (the light) snicks onto the magnet.
Inside the light unit, there's an inertia thingy that recognises when you're braking. That causes the light to flash on, and in doing so warns vehicles behind, etc. We're told that the batteries last 8 hours, which we assume refers to continuous use (and which doesn't actually sound that long). The electronics, meanwhile, indulges in a continuous pow-wow with your (Android or IOS) smartphone and will recognise whenever you fall off the bike and land in a ditch or something. In which case it pings out an emergency signal which is picked up by a GPS satellite and bounced to an operator who'll call to see if you really are lying in a ditch, or if you're just thrown your helmet across the room at your girlfriend.
Additionally, the GPS facility can be configured to allow your significant other to snoop on you (in real time) everywhere you go, which will be great for some, and pretty bloody awful for others. The light is expected to be available in May 2017, and the price is expected to be around £84.
See the story below for more on questionable technological advances.
Forget gyroscopes. This bike has a different balancing approach
Asimo Robot tech on wheels
Remember Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger whistling for his horse? Well, you can do much the same thing now with this new self-balancing Honda. Not only does it manage to stay vertical, with or without a rider on board, but it's been fitted with some kind of horse whistle that encourages the motorcycle to follow whoever's given it the appropriate instruction.
There's nothing very new about gyroscopically balanced bikes, of course. They've been around for at least 10 seconds. But this machine, just revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, is different. Apparently, there are no gyroscopes on board. Instead, it manages to remain perpendicular in much the same way that any rider keeps a bike vertical; i.e. by twitching the steering left and right.
The difference is that the onboard computer can twitch a lot faster than any human. And to help things along, there's another onboard gadget that increases the fork angle for more trail, hence greater stability.
Based on the NC750X, the development of this motorcycle owes much to the robotics lab that created the Asimo robot. Honda refers to this box of oriental tricks as Moto Riding Assist Technology. If you follow the link below and watch the YouTube video, you'll probably agree (grudgingly or otherwise) that it looks pretty clever. And at first glance it seems like the solution to a problem that nobody actually has. But as ever, there's an application for everything.
People with balancing disorders, for instance, might soon find themselves able to pilot a motorcycle for the first time in their lives. Or riding home drunk from the pub might suddenly get a whole lot safer (not that we'd recommend or encourage such unlawful and irresponsible behaviour). Or maybe we'll all simply be able to take a country walk with our motorcycle obediently in tow, and even lighting the way ahead.
However, is it just us, or does anyone else out there find the accelerating pace of modern technology just a little disturbing? We're talking about the increasing redundancy of the human race. Augmented reality. The notion that once the machines take over, we'll have a beautifully run and wonderfully efficient planet that nobody but Asimo and his (or her) descendants will enjoy.
Maybe it's just encroaching old age, and maybe if we live long enough, technology might have something helpful to say about that too (as if there haven't already been plenty of advances in the sphere of gerontology). In the meantime, we're struggling to stay with the old order while we can, never mind that this diatribe was written on a machine that's a long way from the quill pen and a strip of parchment.
Check the video. It's the future. For some of us, anyway.
Honda Moto Riding Assist Tecnhology
"Bill Russell" wins the Velo
"Mr Clipperton" gets the Davida
The Vintage Motor Cycle Club (VMCC) has announced the winners of the June - December 2016 raffle. So if your name isn't Bill Russell, and if your ticket number isn't 203601, you didn't win the top prize which was the (immediately) above 1961 500cc Velocette Venom.
We note from the press release that there's no other information on Mr Bill Russell (or any of the winners) aside from the ticket numbers. No geographical location, for instance, and certainly no mugshot. And although we don't for a second doubt the VMCC's honesty and integrity (and the lawyers can read that line twice), it might significantly enhance the raffle and boost PR if the biking public were ... well, let's say "given the opportunity to see the smile on the lucky boy's face." And if Bill's a little shy, as many of us are, perhaps the club could contrive some other means of sharing just a little more of the winner's identity? Just to satisfy our cynicism and curiosity.
In other words, being honest isn't always enough. You have to be seen to be honest. And the more honest a raffle looks, the more likely folks are to buy into the gamble. That's the theory, anyway.
Meanwhile, here are the other winners:
Second prize went to a certain Mr Clipperton who bought ticket number 008320. He won a Davida Classic Helmet.
Mr J Middleton with ticket number 073896 took third and was rewarded with a year’s subscription to Old Bike Mart and The Classic Motorcycle.
Mr Phil Hodges with ticket number 074244 came fourth with a year’s subscription to The Classic Racer magazine.
Mr Cunningham with ticket number 001413 took the fifth, so to speak, and received a one year’s subscription to Bonham's Motorcycle Auction Catalogues.
Now, the Velo and the Davida lid are very worthy prizes. But waiting up to half a year to be rewarded with a one year's magazine subscription (no disrespect intended to publisher Mortons) sounds a little mean for an organisation such as the VMCC which, as far as we know, isn't short of a couple of quid. Still, it's better than nowt. And in this life, we must be grateful for whatever reward, returns or largesse comes our way.
Still, if the movers and shakers at the VMCC are reading this (and why wouldn't they be?) how about upping the ante just a little with something more memorable and enduring? A pair of gloves, for instance. Or something of that ilk.
It's just a thought, of course, and none of our business ...
▲ The use of a tractor in Slovenia has led to huge changes in the rest of the EU that's threatening to impact on UK motorsport. Or is it?
Recent EU Directive is "mandating third-party race insurance"
Government consultation document launched
British motor sport is under threat. Or so sayeth a joint statement issued by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), the Amateur Motor Cycle Association (AMCA) and the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU). It involves what's become known as the Vnuk Judgment and it could lead to all legal motorsport in the UK coming to a crashing end. Pun intended. At least, that's what's being claimed by the doom-mongers. But we're not so sure.
Here's what happened: In 2014 a Slovenian farm worker named Damijan Vnuk was knocked off a ladder by a tractor towing a trailer. Vnuk looked to the tractor driver's insurance firm to make restitution, but the insurance company wriggled out of it by stating that the accident happened in the farmyard where the tractor was being used as a "propulsion device" and not on the road as a "transport device". There is a distinction there, but it's a thin one.
There was a legal challenge, and the Slovenian Supreme Court subsequently told Vnuk that he didn't have a ladder to stand on. But the European Court of Justice (ECJ) disagreed and ruled that in this instance, the insurance firm in question was liable and hadn't made the on-road/off-road or transport/propulsion distinction as part of the original contract. The ECJ further ruled that as the tractor was going about its normal business in the normal way, it was covered by insurance. So the firm was expected to pay out.
Fast forward to the present moment and we have the British Government looking to implement a new Motor Insurance Directive (MID) that, we hear, could have unintended consequences for what Whitehall calls Newly-in-Scope vehicles. This refers to vehicles not currently covered under the UK Road Traffic Act (ride-on lawn mowers, Segways, fork lift trucks, etc) that could soon be required to buy third party insurance to cover victims of off-road accidents. Remember, third party motor insurance in the UK is required only for vehicles that use the road.
The worry now is that motorcycle sport could be hit hard by the ECJ judgment. Why? Because most motorcycle sport is uninsurable as far as third party claims are concerned. That's what we're hearing, anyway. Therefore, if all motorcycle sporting bikes have to be third-party insured by law, and if they can't be insured, that's the finish line before the race has started.
We've been looking hard at the relevant EU directive and at the messages put out by Whitehall, and we can't actually see any need to panic.
1. The UK is expected to soon exit the EU and will be able to ignore any directive. However, the government is keen to point out that up until the point where the cord is finally cut, the UK will indeed obey all EU directives. So there could conceivably be some short-term pain (which the motorcycle sport industry reckons would be extremely damaging). But the position is not necessarily terminal, or irrecoverable.
2. The UK government has certain derogation powers whereby it can specify which vehicles should and should not be included in the new directive. So it could require fork lift truck and garden mowers to carry insurance, but make an exception for sporting bikes and allow the general public the luxury of accepting any concomitant risk. But how this would be policed is another (major) issue.
3. It's not yet clear how the EU itself will (shortly) amend the existing insurance directive. And beyond that, there might well be legal challenges to be reckoned with.
We ought to mention that the aim of the directive isn't to hammer motor sport. The aim is mostly to "harmonise" insurance cover across the EU and ensure that all European citizens are third-party protected wherever they happen to be on the continent. However, the recent ECJ Vnuk ruling had impacted on this plan.
The MCIA reckon that in the UK, the motorsport industry employs more than 50,000 people. Additionally, that industry annually generates £11 billion for the economy. Motorcycle sport is said to attract 1.9 million spectators and 58,000 riders, and it accounts for 4000 off-road and track events.
We're taking these figures at face value.
Clearly, there's a lot to be examined both in the courts, at Whitehall and at Brussels. And the lawyers are looking fat these days. But it's all but impossible to imagine the EU introducing legislation that will wipe out motorsport across the UK and/or the continent. Nevertheless, changes of some kind are on the way for some of us. So if you've got concerns, follow the link below and see where you stand on this issue.
Meanwhile, you might consider this: If it's true that UK motorsport really is uninsurable as far as third-parties are concerned, maybe that's something that ought to be looked at. In other words, if you attend a race meeting, shouldn't you expect certain standards of physical safety and other forms of protection? And if so, the people best placed to assess that risk are arguably the actuaries rather than the motorsport industry itself which, no doubt, will be happy to cut a few corners (no pun intended) if it keeps the bikes rolling and the turnstiles spinning.
And one final thought: In view of how stupid and reckless most of the human race is, there's a good argument to be made that all of us should carry some form of personal indemnity insurance. The higher premiums engendered by the most dangerous among us might do much to mitigate the worst excesses of their actions.
Or would this be pushing social responsibility and personal liability just a little too far?