In a world of increasingly lousy telephone service, it's nice to bump into someone (so to speak) who can (a) actually pick up the receiver in a timely manner, (b) speak nicely and politely, (c) listen carefully to the question, (d) offer clear advice and support, and (e) suggest a suitable product at a very agreeable price.
We're talking about Tina at Welders Warehouse Ltd in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, the first recipient of the newly created Sump Award for Great Service.
Specifically, our enquiry was regarding the level of protection offered by a generic solar powered auto-darkening welding helmet when said helmet lens fails to perform (such as when it's been left in the shade for a long time and needs a small charge to get kick started). Generally speaking, it seems that if your welding helmet doesn't automatically darken at the first flash of an arc, you're still at least temporarily protected from serious eye damage (note that different suppliers quoted different levels of protection).
In other words, the minimal level of protection offered by these helmets, even with no charge, is generally sufficient to offer adequate screening from UV and infra-red light. But you wouldn't want to push your luck by using a helmet that doesn't rapidly black-out when you strike up.
If you're an experienced welder, all this might be obvious. But being mere amateurs, it wasn't obvious to us a couple of days ago when we were welding a bracket in the shed and, after half a minute or so, realised that the lens hadn't actually darkened.
Sounds dumb, but in the heat of "engineering" battle, it's easily done. The upshot is that no damage was caused (except maybe to the bracket due to our lousy welding). And a lesson was learned.
The helmet we were using is a fairly old SWP 3041 item, and many such helmets have non-replacement lithium batteries. Therefore, when the batteries are dead, the lid is junk (unless you know better). Therefore, they can fail without much warning.
With these auto-darkening helmets, you have to work out your own level of comfort with the limited controls available. But as a rough rule of thumb, you should first set the SENSITIVITY to maximum, and the DELAY to minimum, and then adjust the (outer) DARKENING control to a comfortable level. Then you can start fine-tuning everything. But as ever, check the specific instructions from the manufacturer (which are usually pretty vague and minimal).
We invited Tina to suggest a replacement product, and she picked the (above) Speedshield V Automatic Welding Helmet. It's solar powered, and is on offer at £69.00. And that price includes a pair of welding gauntlets, a welding apron, and a 1.50 dioptre lens for close-up work. Tina can't speak for other welding helmets, but believes that this one at least will protect you with its fail-safe level of ultra-violet screening.
If you're not sure if your current auto helmet matches or exceeds these specifications, or if it's old and tired, you might consider a replacement. Arc-eyes are not much fun. And blindness, we understand, is considerably less enjoyable. And before we forget, these lenses usually recharge not merely from available sunlight, but from the UV light generated by the welding process. Nevertheless, they can become weak and slow-reacting if left in the dark for too long. Just keep that in mind.
We don't know Tina, and we've got no connection with Welders Warehouse. We just think that on this occasion at least, we got very good service, so we're tipping you the wink.
Final comments go to Tina's boss: Give the woman a pay rise, huh? Really good staff are hard to find, and if you don't pay them well, they're apt to roam.
Telephone: 0845 899 4400 or 01908 699802
— Del Monte
Talk about desperate marketing. Or is it really just very shrewd marketing? You can decide for yourself after you have a gander at Ural's latest scheme to rope in a few more buyers for its increasingly dated looking 749cc flat twin shafties (and, we might add, "increasingly dated" isn't necessarily a bad thing). As you've probably surmised, this outfit is clearly hoping to cash in on the latest Star Wars movie, and it plans to do that by appealing to your dark side.
Essentially, this machine is the same 78mm x 78mm, 2-valve-per-cylinder, air-cooled boxer-engined combination c/w four forward gears and one reverse coupled with Stalingrad styling drawn from more than half a century ago. It also features Ural's standard sidecar driving wheel arrangement that can be engaged as and when the going gets rough. But this right-on Ruskie goes one step further by including a three-feet long Darth Vader-style light sabre (or Lightsaber® in US-speak). These bikes will be available only in America with a price tag of $14,999, and just 25 examples will be built to keep it nice and exclusive.
You might think that no one is going to buy this motorcycle purely for its overt Star Wars connection. However, you'd probably be wrong. The bike immediately above, after all, is the 2009 Red October model. The crimson livery is intended to commemorate the ... wait it, "25th anniversary of the novel, The Hunt for Red October, or the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution, whichever comes first." And Ural has, apparently, flogged a few of these.
Our next witness is the bike above and below which is the 2013 Ural Gaucho Rambler. The price was $14,350, and "only" 50 were built for the US market. Features include the "sunburned canvas upholstery and a 'Journey West' blanket by Pendleton Woolen Mills."
Ural tells us: "This is a bike ready for the long road and the spiritual journey devoid of stuff. No need to pack, no need to prepare, there’s nothing to do but go." [look, we gotta get out more - Ed].
Meanwhile, the bike below is the 2014 space age Ural MIR model complete with a tonneau cover that serves as an emergency blanket, a high intensity LED spotlight, and a solar panel for trickle charging the bike during those long Siberian winters (see Sump October 2014 for more on the Ural MIR).
Ural's entire marketing strategy appears to be the creation of limited edition bikes pandering to whatever happens to popular or trending on social media. Not that we care one way or the other. Different strokes, and all that. And at least Ural is putting some fun and adventure into motorcycles which is where it's at, or (as far as we're concerned) ought to be at. And there's a two year unlimited mileage parts & warranty guarantee with these bikes which will be a great comfort in those dark reaches of whatever galaxy you happen to be in.
— Big End
We've received an interesting email from a guy named Stefano Mangini who's been 28 years in the saddle and is looking for backers for his 21st century motorcycle top box project. It's called Wheelrider, and it's a purpose-built wheeled carrier that you can quickly and safely remove from your bike, pull out a handle, and drag to the airport. Once there, or even en route, you can charge your phone or tablet with a built in solar cell, and this box will apparently fit standard size aircraft luggage lockers.
A docking carrier platform has also been developed with which you can secure a full face crash helmet to the bike (a waterproof hood is part of the deal). And there's a website with video footage that you can watch and see the thing in action.
But look out!
We had problems with this site. Nothing terminal, you understand. It just locked up one of our computers for a while. Probably some kind of scripting issue. So if you've got an Isambard Kingdom Brunel era PC, make sure you've got five or ten minutes to waste should the internet decide to have a bad hair day.
The top box is manufactured from some kid of plastic, or multiple-layers of plastic, and it looks pretty tough. There's also a carbon fibre case for guys and girls who've got a thing about carbon fibre (which ain't us).
What Mangini is looking for isn't sales, remember. He's looking for people who want to invest in the project and help carry it—or in this case, pull it—to market.
The target amount is $100,000. So far, around $12,000 has been pledged by 52 backers. The campaign has 25 days to run. Meanwhile, the appropriate web link is below. It will take you to a site called Kickstarter which calls itself a Benefit Corporation, and which appears to be a crowd-funding portal with a social conscience. At least, that's the story we're getting. If you check out the ABOUT US link on the site, you'll hear that nine million people around the planet have backed a Kickstarter project.
And what exactly are these projects? Well they can be anything from Chineasy (a simply way to learn Chinese), to a neighbourhood music project, to a pizza delivery service for astronauts, to an educational computer toy for kids (which is no toy). The limit is only your imagination (and the number of people willing to back you).
Good luck to Stefano, we say. And good luck to you if you back this project. There's bound to be a risk involved. But quite a few people have done very well by climbing aboard this kind of elevator when it's in the basement. On the other hand, don't gamble your home or your shirt, huh?
Take me to Kickstarter
— Sam 7
Classic Bike dealer Andy Tiernan is making us feel old. Just the other day we were running a news item on his 2013 calendar. Earlier this morning we ran a piece about his 2014 offering. A couple of hours ago we were up to 2015. And now we've arrived at two-oh-one-six. That's how it seems anyway; our lives flying by like ... well, like pages falling off a calendar.
It's possible, of course, that Andy isn't actually responsible for our declining years. But he's certainly responsible for these calendars which are rapidly becoming something of a rite of passage for classic bikers.
Usually, Andy's artist is Nick Ward (who's done a sterling job down the years). But for the coming year, we're treated to artwork from Mike Harbar who lives down under in Oz. The calendars feature 6 bikes; a 990cc 1938 Brough Superior, a 350cc 1951 Velocette Mac, a 500cc 1951 Norton Manx, a 1954 500cc AJS Porcupine, a 1960 650cc Triumph Bonneville, and a 1962 650cc BSA Rocket Gold Star.
The price is £10, which includes second class postage and packing. All monies go directly to the East Anglian Air Ambulance—and we understand that last year, the sum of £1,027 was raised for these flying medics. So your support does make a difference. Here's an address for your cheque (made payable to: East Anglian Air Ambulance).
Andy Tiernan Classics
The Old Railway Station
Suffolk IP13 9EE
Finally, keep in mind that Andy Tiernan (based in Framlingham, Suffolk) runs an honest business with a huge range of constantly-changing classic bikes. We'd trust him with everything from the national nuclear trigger to our Triumph brochure collection. Andy Tiernan for prime minister huh?
— Del Monte
It's taken a long time, but Triumph founder Siegfried Bettmann has finally been awarded a blue plaque. Or perhaps we should say a "commemorative" plaque.
Why? Because there are numerous "blue plaque" schemes in the UK, and for some people, it's only the English Heritage plaques that count. All the rest are considered ... well, pretenders. But no doubt The Coventry Society, which is behind this particular plaque, would disagree.
Siegfried Bettmann was born in 1863 and came to England in 1885 (or 1888 according to some sources). He started work at Kelly & Co founded by Frederic Festus Kelly. The firm produced business directories. You can think of them as Victorian Yellow Pages (but if you're British and of a certain age, you'll be familiar enough with Kelly's Directories).
Bettmann stayed at Kelly & Co for a while perfecting his grasp of the English language and familiarising himself with British customs. Then he moved to The White Sewing Machine Company, married an English woman, and consolidated his roots.
By around 1886, Bettmann had started a bicycle firm that soon became the Triumph Cycle Company. Moritz "Maurice" Shulte, a German engineer, happened along at that time, and the two men had much in common, not least their interest in bicycles, the fact that they hailed from the same city (Nuremberg), and that both men were intent on settling permanently in God's Own Country.
Operating from Much Park Street, Coventry, their first motorcycle was produced in 1902, and most of the rest of Triumph's illustrious and rocky history is well known by most of you Sumpsters.
What's less well known is the fact the Bettmann entered local politics and became a city councilman in or around 1907. In 1913 he moved up a gear and became Lord Mayor of Coventry. But within a year, Britain was at war with Germany—and was also at war with pretty much everything that was German. Including Bettmann.
German Shepherd dogs soon became Alsations. People named Schmidt or Schmidtz became Smith. King George V changed his name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor. The Canadian city of Berlin, Ontario, became Kitchener. And the Yanks started called "hamburgers" "liberty sandwiches". Mercifully, hamburgers became hamburgers again when things calmed down a little.
▲ Triumph founder Siegfried Bettmann photographed in 1913 when he was Lord Mayor of Coventry. Here's a timely reminder that immigration can sometimes lead to wonderful things happening...
Bettmann, we understand, was hounded from office. The anti-German sentiment was not merely strong but was a weeping wound, and from that point onward his life largely descended into obscurity until he died in 1951.
John Young "Jack" Sangster bought Triumph in 1936 paying £50,000. Siegfried Bettmann maintained his links with the firm until he died. Maurice Schulte left the company in 1919 and was dead within a couple of years.
Well Bettmann, at least, has been finally recognised, albeit by a relatively small number of people. We looked (briefly) into the rules governing the English Heritage Blue Plaque Scheme Award, and as far as we can tell, Bettmann is eligible. But the English Heritage scheme is, apparently over-subscribed. And anyway, who really needs anyone else to endorse his or her name on a plaque nailed to a brick wall?
Unquestionably, Siegfried Bettmann punched above his weight, both politically and industrially. But his real interest was never in motorcycles, or even car production (that began in 1921, and ended in 1936). No, Bettmann was a bicycle man, a businessman, and something of a politician.
If you want to look to the men who really put Triumph motorcycles on the world map, you have to look to Jack Sangster, Val Page, Edward Turner, Jack Wickes, and Bert Hopwood. Nevertheless, Bettmann was the founder, and if you ever pass his plaque (in North Avenue, Stoke Park, Coventry), you might give him a passing toot. Preferably on a Triumph.
For a German, this man made a pretty good Brit.
— Big End
Meet 54-year old Urs Urbacher. He's a Swiss drag racer and custom bike builder who's got something or other to do with Project 156 which, we think, involves a new V-twin engine or something from Victory Motorcycles.
If we sound vague about this, it's because we've been struggling to untangle the message embedded in a wordy and therefore tedious Victory Motorcycles press release, and we've given up with it. That's pretty normal these days: emails getting dumped into our inbox telling us something about someone who did something or other to something else and ... well, it will be in the shops soon if and when we figure out a price.
So it's probably best that you just look at the pretty picture above (Victory sent just the one image, but we found some more on the firm's website— see below) and move onto the next story which is about a mining museum in Derbyshire looking for some memorabilia. And if you meet anyone from Victory Motorcycles, maybe you could tell 'em to sharpen their pencil.
The bottom line is this; if you can't make the press sit up and pay attention, maybe it's time to start sacking your copywriters and marketing people and employ some straight-talking, stripped-to-the-bone talent. To claim your proverbial 15 minutes of fame, you've usually got around 15 seconds. Or less.
— Del Monte
Miners, Mills, Mineral Waters and Motorbikes. That's the name of a new exhibition at The Mining Museum in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. Sounds like an unlikely title for an exhibition. But it might have something to with the convenient alliteration. It could perhaps equally have been Miners, Mills, Mineral Waters and Macaroni. Or Miners, Mills, Mineral Waters and Malapropisms. But motorbikes are more interesting. And anyway, bikes are largely what Matlock Bath is currently famous for.
To that end, Derbyshire historian Clare Herbert is looking for old photographs and memories of the area, ideally pre-1950. Faded pictures of granddad, or grandma, on a broken-down Brough will do. The mouldy war diaries of Norton Ned will also help. Or maybe you've got an interesting piece of biking scrimshaw hand-carved by Mike the Matlock Matelot during his long sea voyages to and from the island of Madagascar (it's possible, so don't knock it).
Two or three hundred years ago, Matlock Bath (not to be confused with the town of Matlock a mile or two up the road) was a popular 17th century spa town that slowly blossomed into a residential and holiday destination for the wealthy and the not so wealthy alike.
If you've ever been there (and we've made the pilgrimage dozens of times), you'll know that the town has something of a seaside feel to it. There's a faded gentility there that, in later years, is arguably being eroded by the influx of thousands of motorcyclists pounding the pavement (or even tormenting the tarmac) on most weekends throughout the warmer months, and there are a fair few bikers on the move during the rest of the year. But the thing is, bikers bring in the money, and Matlock Bath would be a lot poorer if the council ever manage to chase away the two-wheeled hordes (which at times appears to be the agenda).
Mining and quarrying used to be a major industry in the wider Peak District area. In fact, there are still a few large quarries in the vicinity extracting limestone, gritstone, shale—plus lots of other stuff we don't know how to spell or pronounce.
But this appeal is about the Mining Museum which is an integral part of the local community and needs your support. So if you can dig out some old and relevant biking memorabilia, bring it on. And the next time you're cruising up or down the A6 past the museum, maybe you'll consider dropping in for a visit. It's £4 for the museum alone, and £7 for the museum and the mine. These are adult prices, note.
— Big End
Eighteen bikes from the MC Collection Motorcycle Museum in Stockholm, Sweden are to be auctioned by Bonhams at its Paris Grand Palais Sale on 4th February 2016.
The museum was founded in 1999 by Christer R Christensson and backed by motorcycle historian Ove Johansson (how comes all these foreigners have funny names, huh?). Bonhams reckon that it's the first time the museum has offered any of its collection for sale, which doesn't strike us as a very interesting fact. But you might see it differently.
However, we are interested in this 1948 Gilera Saturno (image immediately above). The estimate for this motorcycle is £7,800 - £11,000 (€11,000 - €16,000), but there's currently no other information on the bike. Nevertheless, we can tell you that the 499cc, single-cylinder, unit-construction, OHV pushrod Saturno range was produced between 1946 and 1959 (although competition versions appeared as early as 1939). It was offered in either Turismo or Sport specification.
The cylinder bore is 84mm. The stroke is 90mm. Power is 22bhp @ 5,000rpm. The swinging-arm was notable for its unconventional horizontally-sprung design. Until 1952, the front fork was by girder, and then Gilera upgraded to telescopic. The weight is around 390lbs. The top speed is approximately 90mph.
It's said that a little over 6,000 Saturnos were manufactured by Gilera during the post war years. These bikes were also available in competizione specification and acquitted themselves exceptionally well on the European racing circuits (think Italian BSA Gold Stars). The top speed of these competition models reached close on 110mph.
Meanwhile, a 1972 450ccc Ducati Scrambler (image immediately above) is also going under the hammer at Paris. The estimate is £6,900 - £9,900 (€9,800 - €14,000). But at this point, Bonhams (which supplied the images) has offered no supporting information.
What we can tell you is that the Scrambler range began in the early 1960s with 250cc and 350cc "narrowcase" bikes. It was created for the US market, but the machines eventually became available elsewhere in the world, including Italy. The 436cc, 87mm x 75mm, OHV single-cylinder "widecase" Scrambler entered the market in 1969.
What made these motorcycles so desirable to US buyers was largely their easy-going, off-road styling that made the bikes suitable for American back roads, deserts and hill country escapades. They were indeed sold as dual purpose machines and today command a very loyal following, and one that's prepared to pay plenty for these beautiful bikes.
The original build quality was always hit and miss, and occasionally it missed by a long way. But most bikes have since been retrofitted and restored to better than factory condition.
More on this Gilera and Ducati later as and when Bonhams spills the beans.
Lastly, we want to leave you with this wonderful skewed translation that we picked up on an Italian site when trawling for corroborative information for this feature. Sooner or later, Google translate (and similar software) is going to produce word perfect transcriptions that will be the death of wonderfully goofy paragraphs such as this. But for now, we can enjoy.
"The Scrambler, in the motorcycle field, a type of vehicle with characteristics mainly road, which led to minor modifications to make it suitable for dirt roads or off-roads short of significant difficulties."
Priceless stuff, huh?
— Girl Happy
We've got it into our heads that we've seen this gizmo before someplace, but we can't remember where. Or when. A more basic device was used in the 1957 Robert Mitchum movie, The Enemy Below in which Mitchum is a US destroyer captain playing potentially lethal cat-and-mouse "games" with submarine commander Curt Jurgens. We might have seen it there. Or maybe it was simply in one of those occasional press releases that comes down the wire and gets accidentally deleted.
Except that this new system by Bosch has more to do with the enemy at your side, notably vehicles that creep into your blind spots while your attention is distracted by, say, a particularly foxy female (or whatever) and lurks there waiting for you to carelessly/blithely change lanes or hang a sudden left.
The device works via four ultrasonic sensors; one on each corner of your bike. The onboard computer thingy registers passing objects, but rejects those that are stationary, or those coming up ahead. Instead, it calculates which objects are slow moving on your rear quarters and flashes a warning in your side mirror.
If you pass a car reversing into a spot, it won't trigger an alarm.
If you pass a car appearing out of a side turning it won't trigger an alarm.
If anything comes up quickly, it won't trigger an alarm.
If you're moving slower than 25kph or faster than 80kph it won't work.
The system is designed for urban biking rather than country lane cruising. But, as life-saving as it might be in the right circumstances, we can see all kinds of problems. Not least situations where there's a busy bus lane on your left, or a busy filter lane. That could perhaps lead to distraction and irritation. And how will it function/annoy with a particularly active pillion, or in group riding? Or when you've got vehicles creeping up on either side? And if you deactivate it in such circumstances, might you then forget it's off and subsequently make a manoeuvre expecting a warning? And what if you begin to rely on it and become lazy with your rear view checks?
So okay, all such technology can be misused and carries a risk. And Bosch, which has 360,000 associates worldwide and annually turns over 49 billion Euros, has probably looked at it from more angles that we've ever measured. Nevertheless, we'd take a lot of convincing before we'd fit this system to one of our bikes even though we're not blind, or deaf to the benefits.
There are not pricing details yet, nor information about a launch date. But we'll be listening out for both. You might want to do the same.
— Girl Happy
▲ The "Girl with the diamond tears" gazes uncertainly over DB's shoulder. You can't see her other hand, but we think she's feeling for a pulse. Or maybe a wallet.
You have to see this to believe it, and you might not believe it even then. But be warned; if you suffer from asthma, or any disease of the nervous system, or have a heart condition, or have eaten within the last 24 hours, or owe us money, DO NOT VIEW THIS footage. It was uploaded to YouTube in September (2015), but we've only just sobered up and spotted it, so we're treating it as news.
It's the most cringe-worthy performance we've seen since ex-Labour leader Neil Kinnock's 1992 "We're alright!" rush of blood to the head moment. It's supposed to be a kind of surreal modernist spaghetti western tale about a cardboard Evel Knievel character, and it's embedded in a promotional vehicle for Belstaff (which, as a clothing brand, is currently about as cool as a warm day in Hades).
What the hell David Beckham (riding a hopped-up and accessorised Triumph Thruxton R) is doing in this short movie is a mystery. We know that he's previously been involved with Triumph. But his general over-exposure on the world's fashion and fad stage (in which he's aligned himself with everything from H&M underwear to Venetian Macao casinos to Homme aftershave to Sprint mobile phones) leaves us gasping for a reality check and looking forward to death.
▲ Beckham actually died midway through this film. But the director said they could finish it anyway. No one would notice. He's since made a partial recovery and just the other day was heard speaking his first words.
Even A-list actor Harvey Keitel starring as some kind of grizzled bandido-cum-film director and acting way beyond the red line can't save these 17 minutes and 28 seconds of naffness.
Written by Geremy Jasper (correct but unusual spelling of "Geremy"), the movie is called Outlaws, but appears to be referred to as "Beckham's Bonneville Film". The name Outlaw, incidentally, refers to the Belstaff Outlaw jacket Beckham is wearing, which costs just (gulp) £1,250.
The direction is stilted. The imagery is irredeemably derivative and clichéd. The dialogue, such as it is, is dire-logue. Beckham gazes vacuously here, there and everywhere, a man with fewer expressions than a fresh corpse. And there's about as much meaning here as a squirt of toothpaste, and as much entertainment as being on the wrong side of a firing squad.
There were hundreds of people involved in this, all of whom now have contracts on their heads for crimes against cinematography. The single saving virtue of this production is the fact that it's not compulsory viewing.
Are we exaggerating? Watch it for yourself. It's currently on YouTube. And because we don't know how long it will survive until Belstaff realises the error of its ways, we don't want to risk a dead link. So just cut and paste the info below and watch how Beckham bends it until it breaks.
— Big End
It looks better than ever. That's our first impression, and Triumph Motorcycles has way too much at stake to screw this up. So we're convinced that the 2016 Speed Triple will perform better, ride slicker, provide more rider feedback and will find itself in the hands and garages of a lot of fans.
The Euro4 emissions regulations are on the way. These rules, which come into force on 1st January 2016 (for totally new bikes, or 1st January 2017 for existing models) will further tighten exhaust gas limits and ensure that engine designers are ever more frugal with fuel. The regulations also require a motorcycle exhaust emissions to remain within prescribed limits after 20,000kms of use.
To address this and stay ahead of the legislators, Hinckley has, we hear, introduced 104 changes to an engine that's now 20mm narrower. The cylinder head and combustion chamber are new. The crank is better machined (no details on this yet). New pistons have arrived. And new ride-by-wire throttle bodies are here.
A less restrictive exhaust system (offering 70% more flow) will, says Triumph, deal more efficiently with spent gases. A slipper clutch will help ensure improved gearbox control and traction. And a smaller radiator looks more stylish and is claimed to be better at doing its job. Also, there's now an air intake over the headlights (we're not too crazy about that yet, but maybe the styling will slowly convert us).
The electronics have been improved with four pre-set riding modes, plus one more configurable mode. The pre-sets are: ROAD, RAIN, SPORT, TRACK. The fifth is whatever you can get away with. Switch-able ABS and traction control is a given.
The 2016 Speed Triple R will arrive with a carbon fibre front mudguard, fuel tank in-fills, a better Öhlins NIX30 inverted fork (no specifics given), and an Öhlins TTX36 RSU shock. Also, the handlebar clamps, risers, swinging arm pivot covers and rear wheel nut are machined from billet aluminium (or possibly some other appropriate alloy).
It's the same bike, but different. More powerful and torquier says Triumph (we're awaiting the numbers), and still at the top of its game.
Britain at its best, we say.
— Big End
Is interest in the late Hollywood actor Steve McQueen ever going to wane? It doesn't seem so. As with the relentless and morbid fascination with Elvis, or the Titanic, or John Lennon, the legend just grows and grows, and there's no end of stuff being dredged from the Atlantic or rediscovered in a cardboard box at Sun Studios or found under a desk at Abbey Road.
Right now it's Steve McQueen's custom built 1952 Chevrolet camper van. Known as "Dust Tite", this vehicle was built by a guy named Harold Van Hoosen. We don't know anything about Van Hoosen, and we wonder if the name is real or a sly play on words ("van" and "Hoosen", like "house"?). Makes you think, huh? But a plaque on the truck reads: Northern Sheet Metal, Yreka, California (ex-gold mining town at the top end of the state).
Anyway, this vehicle allegedly also has the dubious distinction of being the last vehicle in which McQueen ever travelled. There's a grim story which accompanies this claim, but we ain't going there because McQueen was dying, and we figure that's very personal stuff.
However, we can tell you that the longbed stepside Chevy is fitted with a 235-cubic inch straight-six motor driving through a four-speed transmission. There are five-gallon gas tanks on the running boards. A driver's spotlight is fitted. The colour is Forest Green. The camper compartment is fabricated from aluminium. And we hear that McQueen particularly loved this vehicle. But then, they say that about pretty much all his stuff.
We don't know how much touring the Hollywood superstar did in this wagon, but it's certainly been touring the auction sales looking for a long term home. It was flogged by Mecum Auctions in 1984 as lot 626 at the Steve McQueen Estate Auction at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
In July 2013, Mecum Auctions had another go at selling it at Santa Monica, but it looks like that failed. Then in August 2015, this truck appeared on eBay with a starting bid of $50,000. And now it's on the block again, this time at Anaheim on 12th-14th November 2015. It's lot number S112.
So okay, it's not exactly a sexy machine, but the provenance is unimpeachable, and you could enjoy a lot of weekends cruising around wherever in this truck. If anyone out there is seriously interested, they'll need to do a little deeper research into the sales history. We've simply sketched it here because life's too short and we've got a desk full of stuff to wade through, and a lot of work to do in the garage.
And then there's some leftover beer from last night to dispose of, you know?
You don't have to be a Chelsea fan to make a pilgrimage to Stamford Bridge football ground. That's because there are more interesting things going on there than watching a bunch of sweaty and overpaid blokes kick a piece of leather around.
Instead, you can take a look at the free Kickback Show that will go down on 12th - 13th December 2015. The organisers reckon there will be 60 - 100 custom bikes on display including chops, brats, cafe racers. Also, you can expect to find the usual gamut of biking products from lids to saddlebags to must-have accessories, etc.
Warr's Harley Davidson, the home base of which is in the adjacent Kings Road, is supporting this show. So is Urban Rider, Gigi Montrose, La Rocka, Pride & Clarke, Lipstick & Gearstick, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Fastec-Racing, Helite, Hi-Spec Coatings, Gold Top, Vulcanet, Redline Clothing, Viking Thor, Raw Steel Choppers, Hurricane Airbrush, Takakuda, RD Customs, Untitled, Run Riot, Curiosity Moto, Down & Out Café Racers, Two Wheels Miklos and Muff.
Kickback is organised by Lorne Cheetham and Zoe Cano at ShowCo Ltd. You can get your free tickets by going online and visiting KICKBACK CHELSEA LONDON.
Finally, what's the deal with that cool T100 Triumph Bonneville custom above? Well that was built by Shaun at Down & Out cafe Racers based in Barnsley, Yorkshire. Simon Krajnyak took the snaps, incidentally. Here's a link for a closer look at that Down and Out Cafe Racers T100 Bonneville.
— Big End
His most famous creation was the Batmobile as used in the 1960s Batman TV series featuring Adam West (as the caped crusader) and Burt Ward (as Robin, the Boy Wonder). But there was a lot more than that to top US auto customiser George Barris who has died aged 89 just shy of his 90th birthday.
A Chicagoan, he was born George Salapatas, the son of a Greek immigrant. Following the early death of his parents in 1928, George and his brother Sam moved to Los Angeles. From a very early age, the boys were involved in car modification. Their first creation is said to have been a 1925 Buick.
When George Barris was just 18, he opened a custom shop. His brother, Sam, had been serving in the US Navy. But upon his discharge he joined George and they rekindled their passion for designing hot rods and performance cars. This dynamic duo was soon building a reputation and became familiar faces on the hot rod and racing scene of the late 1940s and early 1950s, both as engineers and as competitors.
By the mid-1950s, George was working alone at the business, Sam having left to pursue other professional avenues. By the 1960s, there were only a few people to call for TV/movie cars and automotive props, and one of those people was Barris.
In the early 1960s, he created the Batmobile. The Batmobile was based upon a Lincoln Futura concept car built in the 1950s. Following a red re-paint (for cinematic purposes), that Futura was used in the 1959 movie It started with a kiss starring Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds.
▲ 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car. It costs $250,000 new and was sold for $1 (plus "other valuable considerations"). A replica of this car was made, and numerous replicas of Barris's Batmobile are motoring around.
The Futura did the usual show rounds and was a popular sight. Then, its job done, the Ford Motor Company sold the vehicle to Barris for, it's said, just $1. Barris parked the car at his shop and left it until a TV producer called looking for a custom-built vehicle for a new TV series, and you can figure out the rest.
George Barris also built the Munster Koach and the Drag-U-La car used in The Munsters TV series (image immediately above). Later, he fabricated a customised Plymouth Barracuda that was used in the movie Fireball 500 (see Sump April 2015). And if you watched the US TV series, Mannix, starring Mike Connors, you might remember the Barris-built Oldsmobile Toronado used in series one. Then think back to The Beverley Hillbillies, and in particular to the old heap driven by Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett. That's also a Barris creation.
▲ Barris Sidewinder. There's a 400hp Buick engine in there. It's mounted transversely and drives a free-floating axle via double chains. Magnesium rear wheels. Tyres from a DC-6 aircraft. And a parachute for stopping. Way to go, George.
Sadly, George Barris was caught up in a few controversies, and entirely of his own making. At one point in his career, he did some restoration work on a Back to the Future movie De Lorean and later built a replica. So far so good, except that it's claimed Barris later exaggerated and misrepresented his involvement with the De Lorean project (both movie and manufacturing) until lawyers compelled him to desist.
Regardless, he was up there with the best of them and well deserved his reputation as one of the great Kustom Kings. He was married and had two children.
The National Motorcycle Museum (courtesy of Carl Fogarty) has just drawn the winning ticket in its April 2015 - October 2015 raffle for a Vincent "Shadowised" Rapide (see Sump May 2015). That bike was won by a guy named Phillip Tingle with ticket number 1574620. We've actually jumped the gun on this and can't tell you from where in the world Phillip Tingle hails (the official announcement isn't until next week, so pretend you haven't read this).
For the November 2015 - April 2016 NMM raffle we're now looking at a 650cc Triumph T120 Bonneville, and not any old Bonneville. This is for the iconic '59 Bonnie (image immediately above).
The second prize is a 199cc 1966 Triumph Tiger Cub. The third prize is a luxury classic weekend for two. Tickets are normally £2 each, and we've no reason to think the price is any different this time. Fancy your chances? They're still way better than winning the National Lottery.
Meanwhile, if you want to read a little more about Carl Fogarty's involvement in the Vincent Rapide draw, click here.
— Girl Happy
These are new from Burton Bike Bits and are suitable for:
Royal Enfield 350/500 Bullet
Indian Bullet 350/500 1950-2006
Royal Enfield 500 Twin
Royal Enfield 500 Meteor Minor
Royal Enfield 700 Super Meteor
Royal Enfield 700 Constellation
The stock clutch drums are cast iron, whereas these drums are manufactured from a weight-saving aluminium alloy and are a direct replacement—but you'll need to upgrade to splined clutch plates which will give you a smoother clutch action.
Burton can supply those clutch plates too. However, in some instances you might have to lightly turn-down your clutch pressure plate for added clearance. Hard anodised. 56 tooth. In stock now.
The price for the new Royal Enfield Bullet clutch drum is £115.00 (or £138.00 with UK VAT). A set of splined Bullet cork clutch plates (0.176") will set you back £27.80 (or £33.36 with VAT). Expect similar prices for other alloy clutch drums in the Royal Enfield range.
— Del Monte
Led Zeppelin chop? That's what a lot of folk are calling it, anyway. But more accurately, this was the 650cc Triumph T120 chopper that once belonged to Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham (31st May 1948 – 25th September 1980).
John Bonham died after a prolonged drinking binge. But like a lot of young men during the 1960s and 1970s, he caught the chopper bike bug and bought this one from Burbank Customs in California. In fact, we understand that the other three members of Zeppelin also commissioned Triumph customs from the same source (but we haven't been able to confirm this information).
Dubbed "Sunset Tripper", this Trumpet is said to have been inspired by the Harley Panhead chop ridden by Peter Fonda as "Captain America" in the 1969 seminal road movie Easy Rider—except that Bonham splashed a union jack on the fuel tank instead of the stars and stripes.
We like this bike plenty, not for its practicality, of course. Instead, we like it because it reminds us of when we were young and when the chopper craze was at its height which was a roller coaster of excitement and youthful exuberance.
Back then, almost anything with ape-hanger handlebars was cool. And just about anything with extended forks was supercool.
This Triumph has the essential ingredients necessary for a seventies British custom; a Triumph (or BSA or Norton or Ariel engine), a chromed hardtail frame, twisted steel springer forks, ape hanger handlebars, a banana seat, a cissy bar, high-level silencers, a 21-inch front wheel, forward foot controls, a 16-inch rear wheel, and double headlights up top (rectangular will do fine).
Stick some shower hosing around a few cables. Paint the tank with a daring design and (ideally) have it pinstriped, fit a custom tail light (a cats eye or an Iron Cross design works well, but this bike has a standard Lucas item), and bolt on a mini speedo.
A machine such as this was once your ticket to sex, drugs and a lotta hassle from the coppers. But what did you care? You were a chopper pilot, and as long as you had a bedroll strapped to the 'bars, and some fuel in the tank (and maybe a fresh reefer in your denim cut-off pocket) you were a player on the scene and could always find a friend somewhere along the road.
When John Bonham died, the bike stayed in the family until 1988. Then son Jason Bonham (also a drummer) sold it. The chop went to Denmark for a few decades, and then arrived in the USA. The bike was said to be in generally good condition, but the rubber parts had deteriorated.
Profiles in History, an American auction house that specialises in movie and celebrity memorabilia, recently handled the sale (1st October 2015). The estimate was $30,000 - $50,000. The hammer came down at $40,000. The new owner is unknown.
Here at Sump, just looking at this motorcycle makes us feel about eighteen years old again. How about you?
— Big End
Now rack your brains, good citizens, because this car could have been purloined at any time since 1995. The Hertfordshire Fuzz is said to be seeking information on its whereabouts which by now could be anywhere in the galaxy. It's said to be worth around £1,000.
Sounds amusing perhaps, but there are a couple of sad aspects to this tale of modern thievery. The first is that the Ford Motor Company had the temerity to tarnish the hallowed Mustang name with this ugly and emasculated second generation "pony" car.
The second point (and even more sad) is that the erstwhile owner died, apparently having not used or even seen the car for two decades.
The third point is that the theft came to light only after deceased's daughter was sorting out her late father's affairs and remembered the vehicle that had been tucked away in a distant garage (which was quite probably why the ailing owner had neglected it for so long).
The final sad point is that this tale is likely to be repeated many times in the foreseeable years as guys like us continue to hoard automobilia, classic motorcycles and assorted essential junk that we haven't clapped eyes on in decades, don't really need, can't really use any more, but are too stubborn and possessive to relinquish.
The moral? If you really can't bear to dispose of your rusting assets, at the very least have the foresight to catalogue and itemise your bric-a-brac so that your spouse, offspring or sundry family members can (a) locate it, (b) understand what the hell it is, and (c) capitalise on it.
You won't much enjoy your afterlife if every few weeks you're being summoned back to the Ouija board by another fraudulent medium telling you that your widow would like to know where the hell that old Brough Black Shadow thingy is, or is asking how much you want for the 1953 Ariel Square Two crank-sprocket.
Consider yourself warned.
Auction house Bonhams will be flogging a few motorcycles at its 10th December 2015 sale to be held at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, North London. There's nothing to get excited about here. In fact, at present there are just five motorcycle lots.
Specifically we're looking at a:
1934 Scott 498cc Flying Squirrel, est: £4,000 - £5,000 (image above)
1926 AJS 350cc Model G6 'Big Port, est: £7,000 - £10,000 (image below)
1953 Triumph 498cc Speed Twin, est: £7,000 - £8,000
1981 Triumph 744cc T140 Bonneville Royal Wedding, est: £4,000 - 6,000
c.1940 Ariel 348cc W/NG, est: £2,500 - £3,500
There are eleven classic car lots; ten of which are four wheelers, and one of which is a Morgan three-wheeler. Some more lots will possibly be consigned as November passes into December. But that's the position as of today (3rd November 2015). These images are courtesy of Bonhams.
If you're in the vicinity, the RAF Museum is an afternoon well spent. It ain't Duxford, but it's a more intimate place, and you're not so overwhelmed by the number and scale of the exhibits.
Nevertheless, there's an impressive range of aircraft including:
an Avro Lancaster bomber
an Avro Vulcan bomber
a BAe Harrier
a Bristol Beaufighter
a Boeing B17 "Flying Fortress"
a Bristol Bulldog
a Bristol Blenheim
a British Aircraft Corporation Lightning
a Consolidated Liberator
a Curtiss Kittyhawk
a de Havilland Mosquito
... plus a few Supermarine Spitfires, the odd Hawker Hurricane, a Eurofighter Typhoon, and dozens more cool and classic aircraft including a (controversial) Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter. If you're into that kind of stuff, which we are, we can highly recommend this place. Just try not to step on too many school kids.
You can find the Royal Air Force Museum at Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL. Admission is free.
— Big End
We're told that 342 veteran cars (pre-1905) managed to trundle all the way from Hyde Park Corner, London to Madeira Drive, Brighton during the 2015 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run—or VCR according to Goose Live Events which organises the run and thinks that those three soulless letters are a suitable abbreviation for this most prestigious motoring event.
The day began, as ever, with the ceremonial tearing up of a red flag, a ritual intended to commemorate the original Emancipation Run, held on 14th November 1896. That first run marked the end of the 1865 British "Red Flag Act" which limited "light locomotives" to just 4mph on a public highway and required a gentleman to be walking ahead and waving a piece of scarlet cloth on a stick.
The Red Flag Act was scrapped in 1896 (actually, there were numerous acts), and that allowed the British automobile industry to get the brakes off and play catch up with the French, the Germans, the Belgians, the Italians, the Spanish and all the other automobile-minded developers at work (and play) around the world.
This was the 119th Anniversary Run. The day started suitably misty and ended (suitably) in sunshine. The air temperature was unseasonably mild throughout. The entrants (not competitors, note, for this is not a race) took a route past Buckingham Palace and down The Mall before passing Big Ben and crossing Westminster Bridge. It's only the third time that Buckingham Palace has been included in the route, and we suspect that the most famous royal residence in the world will become a permanent milestone.
The oldest vehicle was the steam-powered 1888 Truchutet. Driven by Daniel Ward, it appears that this is one of the earliest vehicles to have ever completed the event. We're pleased to say that the Truchutet made it all the way to the West Sussex finishing line (around 40 vehicles didn't make the 4.30pm close this year and thereby failed to win a coveted finisher's medal). Also in the running was the 1904 Darracq as used in the classic 1953 British movie, Genevieve (you can enjoy that film in particular for the scenes with the coppers riding Triumph Speed Twins).
The first finishers this year included a 1903 Berliet driven by John Bentley, and Jan Bruijn piloting his 1904 Fiat. As ever, various celebrities were in attendance including Pink Floyd's drummer, Nick Mason and DJ Chris Evans. Bonhams was the leading sponsor, and £350,000 was, we hear, raised for Children in Need.
— Big End
Back in June this year, we reported the death of prolific British motorcycle journalist and author Roy Bacon. At the time, we couldn't find confirmation of his passing, but were reasonably satisfied that our information, drawn from an oblique source, was correct.
We've since discovered this small announcement posted in the Isle of Wight County Press Online dated June 26th 2015. Roy lived on the island for many years, largely in the small village of Niton, and later at Ventnor.
We note too that in August (2015) an Elizabeth Bacon, aged 78, also died. We don't know if Elizabeth was Roy's wife or was related in some other way, but they were both Isle of Wight residents, and so you'll have to draw your own conclusions.
Here's a link to our earlier news story on Roy Bacon.
— Del Monte
▲ Hayley Mills and Hywel Bennett. Excellent performances from two of Britain's top actors of the 1960s. McCartney's soundtrack is, in its way, as good as anything the Beatles ever wrote. Well, almost.
If you're into classic British movies and classic British motorcycles, you can have both in the 1966 Boulting Brothers' production of The Family Way, the movie version of Bill Naughton's play, All in good time. That's what we'll be watching tonight.
Starring Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, John Mills, Marjorie Rhodes and Murray Head, this top notch ensemble of British acting talent is ably supported by the likes of Avril Angers, Barry Foster, and Diana Coupland.
Set in the early 1960s, and largely filmed in the northern cities of Bolton and Rochdale, The Family Way is a tale of newly married Jenny Piper (Hayley Mills) and Arthur Fitton (Hywel Bennett) who are (ahem) unable to consummate their marriage.
Why? Well, for all manner of reasons, not least the pressures put upon the young couple to adhere to social and moral conventions of the day and perform their matrimonial duties in the glare of familial scrutiny. Beyond that, it's actually a story of betrayal and devotion, both maternal and paternal. And there are some classic motorcycle scenes provided by actor Murray Head, one of which involves a trip on his BSA unit single to a local trials meeting.
▲ John Mills: "He walked through here like it were a public convenience!"
Marjorie Rhodes: "If you say that again, I won't be responsible ..."
As a window into British sexual and domestic mores of the 1960s, it's difficult to see how this movie can be bettered. The photography is impeccable. The set-pieces, such as they are, are perfectly staged. The dialogue is crisp and economical (and sometimes extremely funny and extremely sad). The plot thickens with a savage realisation. And the movie ends on exactly the right dramatic fulcrum leaving you, the viewer, unsure of which way to topple.
▲ Murray Head and Hayley Mills. There ain't many biking scenes, but they're convincing and add a little social depth and colour.
At times, the film unfolds like a stage play. But always, it feels real and gritty and sharp. Paul McCartney wrote the (excellent) music. Bill Naughton (who also wrote Alfie, and Spring and Port Wine) adapted his play for the big screen. John Boulting produced the film. And Roy Boulting directed it.
It's hard to overstate just how good this movie is. Along with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; Spring and Port Wine; This Sporting Life; A Taste of Honey; A Kind of Loving; and Room at the Top, The Family Way is your non-stop time-travel ticket back to (arguably) a more hopeful time in British history despite the manifold privations of the era.
John Mills (Hywel Bennett's father in the movie, but Hayley Mills' real life dad), puts on a performance of a lifetime as Ezra Fitton, a practical down-to-earth working class man who has enormous trouble seeing what is bleedin' obvious to everyone else.
Actress Marjorie Rhodes is Ezra Fitton's patient, wise and enduring wife. She enjoyed the same role in the original Broadway play and won a Tony award for her efforts.
In particular, watch for her "flashback scene" and see if you can figure out how, in the pre-CGI era, it was done (we think we know, and it's a simple but highly effective technique: see the image on the right for your cue).
Hywel Bennett is also excellent, and ditto for Hayley Mills who, for once, fails to nauseate with her occasional cinematic descents into cloying coyness and pseudo-sexual naivety bordering on infantilism.
Murray Head, who made his name in Jesus Christ Superstar is perfectly convincing as a 1960s biker. He nicely props up his corner of the Fitton household and steals no one's thunder.
Go get the film. Ride home. Park the bike. Open a bottle. Prop your significant other on the sofa beside you, and watch this 115-minute movie. These days, this film is largely forgotten by all but the British movie diehards. But if you're into this celluloid stuff, and if you haven't seen it, you'll remember this one for a long time to come.
The date will be 7th January 2016. That's when Bonhams will be holding its 8th Annual Las Vegas Sale at Bally's Hotel & Casino in the brightest city on earth (as viewed from space, and not necessarily anything to do with local intellectual prowess—no disrespect intended to the good citizens of Las Vegas).
We've been sent some teaser images intended to make us all reach for our wallets. But around here, we're just poor boys and girls. However, we know that some of you Sumpsters have a bob or two stashed in boxes under your beds, so check out these very desirable mo'sickles and see what tickles your carburettor.
▲ 1955 Vincent Black Prince. When you're in the presence of this kind of nobility, you're supposed to take off your hat/lid. Phil Vincent miscalculated royally with this bike and it was a poor seller. Bonhams, however, reckon they can flog it easily enough. The estimate is $90,000 - $110,000 (£59,000 - £72,000).
▲ The tank is steel, but the bodywork is fibreglass (or fiber glass if you're on the far side of the pond). Fibreglass sounds mucho cheapo now. But it was cutting-edge in the 1950s, and no one was embarrassed to use it.
▲ The view from the helm. These bikes were built for all-weather touring. More lately, most of their mileage happens between auction sales (in the back of a truck). Phil Irving and Phil Vincent would, we suspect, be disappointed. Nevertheless, in this world you've gotta keep moving the dosh around or the economy collapses.
Moving on, the bike immediately above is a 1926 Indian Daytona Factory Hillclimber. The frame number is 4. The engine number is M353. Bonhams estimates that $100,000 - $120,000 (£65,000 - £78,000) will change hands for this rare machine.
We don't have too many hills in our immediately neighbourhood. But if we did, something like this would do nicely for those sudden shopping trips.
Finally, we're looking closely at this bright yellow 45-cubic inch 1929 Indian Crocker. What makes it interesting is (a) the immediate Albert Crocker connection, and (b) the fact that it's a recreation rather than an original bike. That's our understanding of it, anyway (Bonhams has so far supplied almost no details, so we're patching this news item together from scraps).
Albert Crocker was a mid-west "Indian man" who later founded his own firm in Los Angeles, USA and built some of the world's most devastatingly beautiful OHV V-twins. The motorcycle immediately above is one of six (also quoted as seven) sidevalve Indian Scout 101s fitted with an Albert Crocker OHV top-end kit. It was created by renowned Florida-based bike builder Gwen Banquer as a faithful homage/replica.
Albert Crocker, we understand, supplied his first OHV kits with cast iron barrels and heads, and then (for all the obvious reasons) switched to aluminium for the top-ends. We're not sure if this is the same motorcycle that was sold at auction on January 14th 2006, but we think it is. We don't have a price for that sale. And either this same bike, or a similar one, was sold by Bonhams on 5th May 2007 at San Francisco. It fetched $93,600 (£61,017).
We also know that on 3rd May 2008, Bonham sold another (blue) Indian Crocker (engine number: GB OHV 01) for $64,350 (£41,949). Additionally, Bonhams offered that same bike for sale on 8th January 2015 at Bally's, Las Vegas. The estimate was $70,000 - $90,000 (£46,000 - £59,000). We don't have a sale price for that either, assuming it did sell.
Frankly, we're a little confused by all this. But the underlying point is that these Crocks get around, and Bonhams is getting many bites of the same cherry (which is their business, of course). We'll be trying to straighten this out when we next talk to Bonhams. Watch this space.
— The Third Man
These are the bikes that most die-hard Bonneville fans have long awaited; a brand new, built-from-the-ground-up generation of liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel twins with some serious grunt, up-to-the-minute riding enhancement systems, and the classic style that Triumph made its own decades ago.
Five new Bonneville models have been announced for 2016. These include:
In its press releases, Triumph has reiterated many times that these are all high torque engines. So let's take a look at what specifics we have.
The 900cc Street Twin (image immediately above; essentially a more basic/entry-level Bonnie) is said to knock out a very healthy (59lbs-ft) 80Nm @ 3200 rpm with torque available across the rev range. Triumph describes this one as offering "stripped-back styling and a dynamic riding experience". The engine, note, features a 270-degree crankshaft as typified by the current Triumph Scrambler.
Next, the 1200cc T120 Bonnevile (image immediately above) is said to generate 77.4lbs-ft (105Nm) @ 3100rpm. That, says Triumph, is 54% more torque that you get from the current stock T100. Squint, and you could be looking at a late 1960s Bonnie. We're assuming the crank is 360-degrees.
▲ Triumph Thruxton R for 2016. Not only does it walk the walk, but Triumph says it torques the torque. We're awaiting the power figures, which are never enough, but we know we won't be disappointed.
Meanwhile, the new, 2016 Thruxton (image immediately above) will put no less than 82.6lbs-ft (112Nm) @ 4,950rpm between your legs. That's said to be 62% more torque than the current Thruxton.
The 2016 Thruxton will be offered in two specifications; the standard model (with a traditional/conventional front fork), and the R-version (shown here, albeit with an optional cockpit fairing).
All bikes are equipped with a slip assist clutch (for lighter action), ABS, traction control, a ride-by-wire throttle, four selective rider modes, distinctive LED rear lights on all models, LED daytime running lights (on all the 1200s where legislation allows), a USB charging socket and an engine immobiliser. The frame, engine, and bodywork is all new. Expect revised geometry, tauter handling and a whole lotta power (details have yet to be released).
Incidentally, the Triumph's press releases were pretty sloppy and confusing, so expect some of these details to change slightly as we unravel the mysteries. Also, there's an awful lot that Hinckley hasn't told anyone. So this story is going to run (while the factory milks it for all its worth, and good luck to Triumph).
▲ "TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES SINCE 1902". A nice touch? Or a cheeky play with history? You can save that one for the pub debating society.
Clearly, Triumph has put a lot more thought and effort into these bikes than it did with the 2001 Bonneville. The firm has gone back to basics, has listened to feedback, has poked its designers and engineers with a sharp stick and has demanded something superlative. And at first glance, that's exactly what's been delivered.
Everywhere there are wonderful touches, from the fuel injectors styled like Amal Monobloc carburettors, to the ignition points cover (which no doubt has some contrived practical function, to the restyled (and more angular) cam covers, to the elegantly creased side covers.
The fuel tanks certainly carry a more pleasing eye-line. The primary covers are beautifully developed and look perfectly natural; ditto the new timing cover, the barrel and the cylinder head.
As if that ain't enough, the new 'bar end mirrors add that extra '60s touch. The saddles are pure Bonneville nostalgia. The grab rails carry that perfect half-moon shape. The silencers are set just right. And the indicators are suitably minimal. We anticipate plenty of high tech features on the instrumentation.
Meanwhile, if you're looking to individualise your 2016 Bonnie, Hinckley is offering an "aggressive" Brat Tracker Kit, a Scrambler Kit and an Urban Kit. Details to follow, no doubt.
But the best part is simply the 1200cc of muscle that's coming right at us. Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Kawasaki and BMW (in particular) will be watching these new bikes very closely. We think there are going to be fights down at your local Triumph dealer—assuming, that is, the first road tests are positive. And why wouldn't they be?
If Triumph has got it wrong, these new Bonnevilles ain't likely to break the bank. Nevertheless, Triumph clearly recognises the importance of consolidating its market and is evidently working hard to address the serious competition out there. Except that for many riders, suddenly there is no competition. There are only these new Bonnevilles.
So when can we expect to see the first road tests of these bikes? Well we've just spoken to Triumph's PR people, and they're looking at April 2016. We think it's pretty cruel to dangle the carrot that far in front of the donkey. But what can you do? There are no prices yet. However, Triumph reckon the numbers will be "competitive". We could speculate on this point, but speculation isn't our strong suit, and you can do that for yourself.
When they're launched, we'll be taking a very close look at these motorcycles with a view to buying, and we ain't bought a new bike in more years than any of us here can remember.
One final point; we're all disappointed that these new Bonnevilles are to be assembled in Thailand. We'd naturally like to see them rolling of an assembly line in ... well, Hinckley, Leicestershire will do fine. Of course, the bikes would cost a little more. But some guys might pay extra for the privilege.
Fender guitars are built in Mexico, Japan and the USA, and they're priced accordingly. Motorcycles are, of course, a little more complicated than guitars. But if enough people tell their dealer that they'd like a 100% British built Bonnie, maybe John and Nick Bloor would get to hear it on the grapevine.
— Big End
— Big End
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