IT'S NOT JUST THE BIKE. IT'S THE JOURNEY. Most motorcyclists, classic or otherwise, no doubt feel much the same way. The real enjoyment of bikes, for most people, is the travelling. Certainly, we've covered thousands of mile on our own M20s, and we're planning on racking up a few more now that spring has arrived.
This T-shirt is available now (but stocks are limited due to a promotional run), and the price is £15.95 plus postage and packing. Printed on black cotton, we've got these in stock in SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE AND EXTRA-LARGE. But we might be able to accommodate larger sizes. If you want one, follow the link below.
BSA M20 T-SHIRT
Stand back everyone! Stand well clear! We're terminally cynical here at Sump, and it could be contagious. We've just heard that the Automobile Club (AA) and Halfords (the national car accessory and bicycle chain of stores) is about to launch a road safety campaign aimed at two wheelers. And the first thing that pops into our heads is: "Cut the bull$4&!. What's the discount!?"
That's because we're congenitally incapable of believing that the AA or Halfords ever does anything that doesn't have a few bucks in it for them. That said, ya gotta eat, and the money wheels have to be greased, and if this safety campaign helps keep a few more bikers and cyclists alive (well, bikers, anyway), we ain't complaining.
This campaign kicks off either yesterday, or today, or tomorrow, or last week or next week. You'll pardon our vagueness, but the AA and Halfords haven't exactly flooded the press and media with reliable information about this seismic safety event. But it seems that one million stickers are being printed and handed out at Halfords stores to anyone who'll affix them to their car mirrors.
Coincidentally, we've just returned from a shopping sortie to Halfords (seems they're out of stock of eight track players and needles for our gramophone), and no one said a dickie bird about any safety stickers. Then again, the Halfords staff were all busy gossiping among themselves, as usual, so we might have missed the sticker man.
The idea is, of course, to wake up sleeping/dozy/stupid/carelesss motorists and remind them that there are other mobile people on the planet. But we've got a suspicion that all the drivers who actually care about such issues will happily take up the sticker offer, while all the bastards won't. Which means that the AA and Halfords could be preaching to the converted with this one and might be better advised to hand out stickers for the boot lids (trunk lids for our American Sumpsters) where the bastards will actually get to see them.
But it's out of our hands.
However, if you're passing Halfords, you might want to grab a few stickers and apply them as necessary as and when you're cruising through traffic lanes. One way or another, this is a message that simply has to get through.
This AA-Halfords road safety campaign might interest you...
— Big End
We don't actually know much about this outfit. But a regular Sumpster sent us some pictures today and tipped us the wink (thanks, David), and we decided to post them here. The company is called Bandit 9. It hails from somewhere in China and is run by a guy named Daryl Villanueva.
The customs featured here are based on two platforms; the ubiquitous (by Chinese standards) Chiang Jiang 750 flat twin, and the Honda SS. [For more on Bandit 9 Customs, click here]
...except that it's not actually much of a secret any longer. Fortunately, someone went and spilled the beans. But it seems that the UK government has been caught snooping on us via 1.8 million Yahoo Chat accounts.
Using the government's Cheltenham-based listening post, GCHQ, millions of user images have been intercepted and downloaded so that ... well, so that the government can throw an all-night party and sit and look at them all.
Except that it's not funny.
The recently revealed interception program, we hear, was active between 2008 and 2010 (and probably ongoing) and was codenamed Optic Nerve.
You'd think the government would have had the good sense to do what was done in the war and use a completely irrelevant codename, such as Operation Dishcloth or something.
But Optic Nerve? Well, that's a bit of a giveaway. Next time, they'll be calling it Operation Let's-Spy-On-Joe-Public-Via-Webcams and hope that nobody figures out what's happening.
Regardless, they've been snooping indiscriminately again. And apparently, they've scooped up a lot of pornographic images too. But our guess is that they'll be interested only in naked Muslims building bombs while they're copulating for Allah and discussing it over the web.
▲ GCHQ (AKA "The Doughnut"). The UK government's snooping centre. Tapping your phone and reading your emails is all in a day's work.
What can you do about all this? Not a lot, except take a hammer to the webcam on your computer, or at least use it more carefully—and strictly not when you're planning a terrorist outrage.
You can't blame the government for wanting to keep an eye on things. But when that eye is smack on the top of your computer and spying on whatever it is you do in the erstwhile privacy of your living room, it's crossed a line.
Better keep that Tony Blair plastic mask ready for when you really have to post a full frontal nude shot of yourself on your Yahoo account.
Once again, we're reminded of how George Orwell got it right.
— Sam 7
▲ Lot 217. This 1963 BSA A65 made £3,332. The bike was estimated at £3,000 - £3,500. Hydraulic front brake conversion. V5C present.
Anglia Car Auctions (ACA) is said to be very pleased with the results of its first classic bike sale held on Saturday 1st March 2014 at King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Sump was there at the auction and we were impressed at the way Anglia handled the sale, not least by actually riding the rideable bikes into the sale room rather than simply pushing them all up to the microphone. It makes a difference to the vibe. The event was well attended with a good upbeat atmosphere.
Of the lots on offer, ACA say that 75% found buyers on the day, with ongoing post-sale interest that could take the overall success rate up to 80%. Which is not bad at all.
It's also worth noting that ACA seem to have got most of its estimates right on the nose, which tells us that the firm has researched the market carefully and know who its buyers are. Here are some of the lots that sold:
▲ Lot 212. This 1958 Dnepr Ural K750 Army Combination made £2,150 from a £1,500 - £2,000 estimate. This bike came from Russia, via Poland and sported a machine gun turret and a reverse gear. Looks good value.
▲ Lot 202. Greeves Hawkstone Scrambler. Villiers 33A engine. The estimate was £1,100 - £1,300. The buyer said £1,182. Looks a good price for any Greeves, albeit a project in this case.
▲ Lot 235. AJS Model 14. Full MOT and V5C. Est: £1,200 - £1,400. Sale price? £1,128.
Other sales included:
|Benelli 900 SEi|
|Triumph Bonneville (1971)||£3,816|
Despite the success, there is no follow-up auction listed yet, but Guy Snelling at ACA is hoping to see another sale by September 2014.
Sellers fees for motorcycles are £25, plus 5% sellers commission (both plus VAT). Buyers fees for bikes are 7.5%, plus VAT. There's no VAT on the sale price of the bike.
— Big End
Remember when Motor Cycle News was flogging around 200,000 copies per week? When Performance Bikes was flogging somewhere north of 70,000 copies per month? When Classic Bike magazine was selling around 45,000 copies every four weeks?
We do. But times have changed, and the rout is on. Below are the updated UK magazine sales numbers for 2013. They make for depressing reading for the publishers, and a worrying signal for bike traders who rely upon cost effective advertising and good national exposure.
|Publication ||2013 ||2012 ||Change|
|Motor Cycle News||85,651||94,941 || -9.78%|
|Performance Bikes||16,384 ||18,811||-12.90%|
What it all means is that Classic Bike is now the biggest selling UK motorcycle magazine. But even so, sales have dropped further from 41,191 to 39,125. Not critical, but these numbers continue to go the wrong way.
MCN is down to just 85, 651 copies per week which must be causing a lot of embarrassment at publisher Bauer. Despite a fairly recent revamp, which was actually little more than sticking an Elastoplast on a readership amputation, MCN is beginning to look like a freebee paper.
Worse still, Performance Bikes has dropped to a miserable 16,384 copies per month which probably puts its future in serious jeopardy unless it can (a) quickly find a lot of interested sports bike riders, or (b) reposition itself in the market (which might be very difficult given its restrictive title and remit).
But what of Mortons Media Group titles?
Well Mortons steadfastly refuse to have its sales figures audited, so they can quote any numbers they want to would be advertisers. The group owns The Classic Motorcycle, Classic Bike Guide, Old BIke Mart, Classic Mechanics and some other stuff that's slipped our minds at the moment.
We're betting that all these titles are losing readers to a greater or lesser degree. But unless Mortons supplies some audited accounts, there's simply no way of being sure. For the average motorcyclist, classic or otherwise, you can treat the falling magazine sales as a fairly reliable indicator of what's happening in the wider economy.
Therefore, it's still the classic bike market that's in the lead (albeit largely by default), and even that sector is on the slide. Meanwhile, if Mortons feels disposed to give us (and its advertisers) its true sales numbers, we'll be pleased to include them here. And who know? We might even believe them.
Meanwhile, watch this space...
At Sump, we're always looking for better quality luggage as an antidote to the acres of synthetic rubbish currently at large on the market. Not that you can always blame the manufacturers. Times are hard, and as ever, goods are usually built down to an "affordable" price, etc.
But some firms go the other way; firms such as de Bruir. The company manufactures the above Parachuter backpack, and retail it at a whopping £441, which is roughly what we paid for our last classic bike projects (cheapskates that we are).
These bags are handmade from European Bridle Leather, whatever the hell that is, and de Bruir will knock one up for you in various large sizes. And they are very, very large—so keep that pillion seat free.
£441 is a lot of dosh for a lot of people, but this gear looks like quality stuff that will last a lifetime—or, at least, a very long time. Garvan de Bruir is the man behind this product. He's based in Kildare, Ireland, and he's got plenty of other leather products in the bag for the discerning biking gent.
Check it all out for yourself sometime. Phone: (+353) 087 6182290.
— Girl Happy
The badge says "Lotus", and the colour scheme (arguably) says "Lotus", and Lotus say it's a Lotus. So it's a Lotus, right? Well kind of. That's because this new—and first—sortie by "Lotus" into the two-wheeled world is promising us an 1195cc KTM V-twin engine housed in a steel, aluminium and carbon fibre chassis and built in Germany by Kodewa, the Formula 1 specialists currently up to their suspension wishbones in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Lotus has simply rented out its name and heritage and hasn't much else to do with the project beyond collecting a royalty. The bike is called the C-01 (which rhymes with...well, take-the-money-and-run), and we hear that a limited batch of 100 machines will be built.
The usual hyperbole such as "raw" and "aggressive" and "breathtaking" is being bandied about by the PR people. And we've heard a few other words being bandied about that we won't repeat here. As for looks, we actually quite like it. But looks ain't everything. And the price? Stick around. Sooner or later they'll think of a convincing number.
If you want to see some more images of the Lotus C-01 click here.
— Big End
Two women rape victims have been given leave to sue the Metropolitan Police for negligence following "systemic (investigation) failures".
The story revolves around London black cab driver John Worboys who, between 2002 and 2008, is said to have raped over 100 women and is now serving a "life" sentence to offset whatever dubious pleasure he got from his acts.
The ruling was made today (28th February 2014) by Mr Justice Greene who identified multiple instances of police negligence and incompetence which conspired (for want of a better word) to leave Worboys at liberty to continue his sexual attacks.
It's well established that the modern British police force (and probably plenty of other forces worldwide) is barely fit for purpose. But in fairness to the rozzers, it's not entirely their fault. Fact is, the economics of the Western world have changed hugely over the past 20-30 years. Practically all police forces are seriously strapped for cash and grossly undermanned (even when you factor in the often huge salaries of the top officers).
But if we doubled the size of the various UK police forces, it still wouldn't be enough, and as tax-payers, we simply don't want to pay more. And now, given the economic constraints placed upon the UK, we can't afford to pay more tax, anyway.
▲ "You'll never guess who I had in the back of my cab the other day!" takes on a whole new meaning following Worboys' attacks.
So Worboys drugged and raped the women in the back of his cab, and the Met screwed up the various investigations and missed numerous opportunities to jerk Worboys' lead, and now the victims have been told they can sue the Met and thereby extract more cash from the public purse which underpins police budgets. Moreover, we're told that this is a green light for dozens, if not hundreds, of other rape victims to come forward with their hands out.
Rape is a pretty horrific and traumatic crime, but we're scratching our heads and wondering why it is that every time someone wants compensation, it has to be in terms of cash (or cheque).
So okay, it's hard to figure out exactly what else to offer. But we might start by making coppers more personally accountable for their negligence.
And we could try fast-tracking changes to policing practice in line with victim experience (rather than simply leave it all to inept police steering committees).
Or we could simply acknowledge that there isn't really any compensation that's going to undo or mitigate whatever trauma has been inflicted on the victim and tell 'em to get over it.
Or we could nail the perpetrators to a cell wall and give the victims licence to extract their own form of restitution.
Or we could continue taking more and more money from the public purse, thereby further undermining the police and making it even more likely that further screw ups will follow.
Currently, the British police compensation bill is running at hundreds of millions of pounds per annum, often with obscene payouts awarded for trivial things such as bruising, hurt feelings, and (we hear) flea bites.
It's gone way beyond compensation. Today, it's largely a culture of con-pensation (albeit not in this instance). Regardless, it's got to stop somewhere. But currently, there's no end in sight.
— Girl Happy
If you've got any information on the above firm, Classic British Motorcycles, we'd very much like to hear it.
The National Motorcycle Museum has sent us a press release advising that they're celebrating 30 years since its 1984 launch. To that end, there are going to be numerous events held throughout the year including the showing of GP race movies and a pop-up art gallery displaying the work of artists, art students and local school kids. The event will be entitled: A Celebration of the Motorcycle.
The pop-up gallery kicks off in June for six months, and the museum is looking for more entries—and if you manage to flog anything, 100% of the money will be yours. Various corporate events will also take place, and the year will close with a Christmas party.
Doesn't sound like a very exciting programme on offer, but it's only February. Then again, this is the National Motorcycle Mausoleum. You can't expect too much from what is essentially a motorcycle graveyard.
— Del Monte
This is a row that's been going on for a long time, and has now been settled. Or so we're advised. The upshot is that the European Union took exception to the idea that the UK will, in extreme circumstances, sentence a murderer to a "whole life term with no hope of parole"—as happened just today with one of the killers of Lee Rigby, the soldier who was hacked to death at Woolwich, South London, on 22nd May 2013.
The EU cited Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which outlaws inhuman or degrading punishment; i.e. sticking someone behind bars until they croak. Specifically, says the EU, "there must be both a prospect of release and a possibility of review".
Some would argue that Rigby's killers, Michael Adebolajo, aged 29, and Michael Adebowale, aged 22 deserve nothing less than inhuman and degrading treatment. But that, of course, isn't how any civilised justice system works.
However, Lord Thomas (above) recently ruled that the UK was not in breach of Article 3, so the EU can eff off. How so? Because we already have a "get out of a jail early" clause written into the British Crime (Sentences) Act of 1997. It's called Section 30, and it allows the Home Secretary to show mercy and release a "whole life prisoner" in extreme circumstances.
This is what happened with Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs who, in August 2009, was released early on compassionate grounds when doctors agreed he was terminally ill and didn't have far to shuffle off this mortal coil. Biggs actually kept his pecker up until December 2013, further underlining the long-established fact that you can't trust the quacks.
Biggs wasn't convicted of murder, note. But he still had a long sentence to finish.
Another example of the statutory early-release powers relate to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the infamous Lockerbie bomber who was also released (by the Scots under similar authority to Section 30) having been diagnosed with a terminal illness (and who also didn't die quite as quickly as some hoped and expected). The Home Secretary was vociferously against that decision, but the control had long since devolved to Scotland.
Regardless, it seems that the EU misunderstood the full extent of the Home Secretary's powers which actually have a wide, and undefined, latitude. Therefore, Michael Adebolajo's whole life term could, in theory, be commuted at some point in the future to an early release (but we sincerely hope the bastard rots). Meanwhile, his companion in crime, Michael Adebowale, will serve a minimum of 45 years.
Why the difference in sentence? We don't know. Seems to us that Adebowale was equally guilty, but we weren't at the trial, so we're not arguing about it.
The bottom line for this story is that for once, the EU hasn't been able to humiliate our judicial system, and that a British Judge has been able to give Strasbourg his own interpretation of Churchill's famous V salute. That said, it's hard to understand why it took so long for everyone to read the relevant legal documents and figure out that there has been no breach by the UK.
As a biker, however, you might want to keep in mind that Lee Rigby was identified (by his killers) as a soldier not only because he was in the vicinity of Woolwich Arsenal Barracks, but also because he was wearing a "Help For Heroes" hooded sweatshirt.
Well plenty of you guys have raised funds for this soldiers' charity, and more than a couple of you wear the sweatshirts too. Better keep that in mind if you fit the general profile of a serving squaddie.
Worth a thought.
— Big End
In case you're not in the know, here's the basic story. Brian Hampton, the fat and unhappy looking git on the right (immediately above), killed Jade Clark (above left) on the A31 in Dorset. It happened on 24th February 2013.
Fifty-eight year old Hampton (a health and safety inspector) was drunk, and was driving his Volvo car whilst under a drunk-driving ban when he hit 16-year old Clark who was riding her moped to work. Hampton, who was also driving without insurance, stopped briefly at the scene, then left Clark lying in the road, and drove away.
Clark was subsequently hit by other vehicles and was killed.
Hampton tried to cover up the crime by telling his wife that the Volvo had broken down (or had hit a deer, according to some stories), when in fact the vehicle was actually being crash repaired. The police, it seems, did a stand-up job of investigating this hit-and-run and visited over 1,000 owners of suspect vehicles, and presently felt Hampton's collar.
He was charged, tried and convicted of causing death by careless driving. For that, he received a two year jail sentence, plus four years for perverting the course of justice, making six in total. Since then, the bastard has appealed the length of his sentence, but not the conviction itself.
That's what prompted the ePetition aimed at Her Majesty's Ministry of Justice asking them to step in. It was launched recently by a guy named Robert Parker and is currently being backed by the Motorcycle Action Group. They want Hampton locked-up forever, never mind cutting his sentence. And to that end, they need more signatures.
However, this ePetition is misguided, and here's why:
Firstly, it's NOT the place of the Ministry of Justice to interfere with the independence and machinations of its own judiciary. It doesn't matter how nasty the crime, or how odious the Volvo driving scumbag happens to be. Appeals stand and fall on their own merit, and we'll be in serious trouble if and when the Ministry of Justice panders to appeals for what, it can be convincingly argued, is essentially public retribution fuelled by perfectly understandable bitterness and anger.
Secondly, the ePetition specifically asks that the appeal should be rejected and that the sentence should be increased. Well, you can't have it both ways. You have to hear the appeal first. And the objective of the appeal is to ensure that there have been no judicial irregularities before, during or after the trial, and then review the sentence. And that review can find that (a) the sentence was correct; (b) that the sentence was too high; or (c) that the sentence was too low.
But there's no legal mechanism to simply ignore Hampton and throw a bigger book at him. He first has to have his day back in Court and plead his case. And if the appeal is granted, Hampton could get significantly more porridge. However, we'd guess that six years is about on the nose for this one. He'll do about half that and will be out, and probably back behind the wheel and drunk as a skunk.
Thirdly, the ePetition cites the fact that Hampton received the greater part of his sentence not for causing a death, but for perverting the course of justice. Well logically, and perhaps counter-intuitively, perverting the course of justice IS the more serious crime. Why? Because that justice underpins everything ELSE. If you want murderers, rapists, thieves and drunk drivers to get their due come-uppence, you have to bulwark the system itself with extra heavy penalties. It might be that he should have received a heavier sentence for causing the death, but it sounds as if he received exactly what the law prescribed or mandated given the usual alcohol-abuse-is-a-social-illness-plus-I've-got-a-family-to-feed mitigation plea.
What's more worrying here is that every time a motorcyclist is killed on British roads, lynch mob mentality breaks out and the villagers start lighting flaming torches and go after the nearest monster.
Well if you don't like the current system, change it. Tear it down. Help build something better. If you can, that is (just do it without the flaming torches, huh?).
But Hampton did what he did, and he was duly sentenced, and naturally he wants a shorter ride through the penal system. Who wouldn't?
So he's made an appeal. And if he has his day in Court and gets his sentence hiked by a few more years, we won't lose any sleep over it. And if, on the day he comes out of nick, he gets drunk and drives a car into a tree and dies in a huge fireball, we won't be sending flowers.
But we ain't signing the ePetition because it's inappropriate to try and compel the Ministry of Justice to interfere with its own due legal process. And it won't influence the appeals process one way or the other, anyway.
The British legal system is one of the best in the world, albeit a long way from perfect. But let's get some perspective back here. Jade Clark should not be dead. Hampton is a scumbag. The law has to run its course. And we need to calm down a little out there.
It's on eBay right now (20th February 2014) and is carrying an asking price of £39,998. Or forty grand. We've got no idea if this is realistic or not, but the market will no doubt tell.
The bike is a 1959/1960 499cc Model 30 Manx Norton. It was bought in 1962 from J.F. Jackson of Bradford who, we understand, was a specialist in racing motorcycles. Tom Armstrong bought the bike himself for £295. Over the next ten years the Norton was heavily raced (and not without some success) having been worked upon by the legendary Francis Beart.
The frame was lightened, which saw the removal of the frame plate which carried the numbers. The numbers were re-stamped on the frame, and Armstrong says that they're still there under the paint.
The Norton was campaigned at the Isle of Man TT and Manx. Names such as Reg Dearden, John Tickle and John Hartle all, it's said, had a hand in keeping this machine moving at maximum velocity. The last race of that period was the Scarborough International of 1972. Andy Molnar, we're told, has since rebuilt the engine, and Armstrong, who now runs a guitar shop in Sunderland, feels that the time has come to part company with the bike.
According to his eBay listing, the ad has six days to run, and Armstrong will consider "sensible offers". You can reach him via eBay, or through the link below.
— The Third Man
It isn't only Robert M Pirsig who put some Zen into the art of motorcycles. There are a lot of other quality artists out there patiently and methodically recording the world as seen from the tips of their pencils, pens and brushes.
Martin Squires, who we've featured before on Sump, has his own updated take on the bike scene, and he's just released Volume 4 of his sketchbook which is available now for just £5—or £10 for the colour version. Could make a nice gift for someone if you're looking for something a little different and uplifting.
If bike art is your thing, contact Martin through the link below and get your copy while it's available. Life without motorcycles would make the world a much duller place. But life without art is unthinkable.
Meanwhile, check out Martin's latest video advert:
— Del Monte
Most of you probably won't know Anglia Car Auctions (ACA). They hail from King's Lynn in Norfolk and are well known in the region as a car auction firm. But now they've decided to expand into the classic motorcycle world and will be holding their first oily bike sale on Saturday 1st March 2014, which is just over two weeks away.
We've checked their listings and, as far as British bikes are concerned, there's not too much to get excited about. The lot with the highest financial expectations is the above 1954 500cc Vincent Comet which is carrying an estimate of £15,000 - £17,000. Doesn't seem that long ago when you could easily pick up a Comet for sub-ten grand. But they've moved up a lot in recent years. We've got no idea if that's a realistic price in the current economic climate. But we'll know in a fortnight.
Also on offer is the (immediately above) 1933 250cc Velocette MOV. The estimate is a more modest, but not necessarily more realistic, £6,000 - £7,000.
Meanwhile, the 1971 250cc BSA Fleetstar (immediately above) is looking for £1,500 - £1,700, or above. These are rare and docile bikes that were built largely for national police forces, and in this case, the money looks to be about right.
There are a few rough-and-ready Greeves motorcycles at "affordable" prices in this sale, and Greeves seem to be fairly good value at the moment as classic bike prices continue their "downward adjustment". There are a couple of Triumphs on offer too, which you can check out for yourselves.
Overall, Anglia Car Auctions could do themselves a favour by (a) supplying some better pictures for the classic bike market, and (b) supplying a little more information on the lots. We don't want to tell anyone their business, you understand. But a quiet word in the ear often helps, and this sale needs a little more spit and polish if it's going to compete with the bigger outfits.
Auction update: The Vncent Comet made £16,125. The Velocette MOV made £6,450. And the BSA Fleetstar made £1,397.
— Girl Happy
Everyone's getting cheap these days. Have you noticed? Budget this. Discount that. Pile 'em high and flog 'em cheap. Well screw ASDA, we say. Some things in life have got to be just right, hence our new Second Skin range of T-shirts, the first of which is this cool rocker tee.
All our shirts are good quality. We pick 'em carefully and spend long hours on the designs, and we get plenty of repeat orders. Meanwhile, the shirts that don't make the grade end up as rags in the garage for cleaning the Sump motorcycles (polishing aluminium and wiping away road grime being the ultimate fate for any T-shirt, huh?)
But with this new range we're working on, we didn't want to go cheap. We're leaving that to Primark and the aforementioned ASDA. Instead, we wanted to aim even higher than usual and come up with something a little more special.
Hence this here skin job.
These tees are £19.95. They look nice. They certainly feel extra nice. And we're very happy to put them on these hallowed pages.
If you want one, click on the link below, or hit one of the images and you'll be teleported to our buying page. You'll feel a lot better inside of one than you do outside.
And hey! When this shirt reaches the end of its life, don't waste it on something run-of-the-mill. Keep it for that special bike in the garage. A cool cafe racer will do nicely.
Sump British Rockers T-shirt
— Big End
He spent ten years in the role and helped raise £110,000 for numerous charities, but now he's given up the chair.
But he hasn't gone far. In fact, Alex is now the vice-chairman. Not the greatest leap in the history of mankind, but our guess is that that nevertheless represents a lot of responsibility shifted from his shoulders to someone else's.
Last year, the Fenmen celebrated their silver anniversary at Wimbotsham, Norfolk. This year, the annual event will be held on 25th August 2014 (August Bank Holiday Monday). If you want more details, call: 01953 889499 or 07710 828022.
— Del Monte
Morton Motorcycle Media hasn't given us any hard numbers, but we're told that despite the extreme wet weather that we're experiencing in the UK at the moment, the "crowds came out in droves" last weekend (8th & 9th February 2014) at the 34th Carole Nash Bristol Classic Motorcycle Show.
The Best in Show prize went to Gaby Hunt who displayed his freshly restored 1929 San Sou Pap Emmags 50 (image above). We know very little about this elusive marque, but we can tell you that this example is running a Swiss MAG engine (presumably 500cc) housed in a pressed steel frame.
The name "San Sou Pap", we understand, actually means "without valves"; a reference to the firm's earlier 98cc - 248cc two-stroke engines. Subsequently, the company built OHV machines running engines manufactured by JAP and MAG. The marque appeared in 1923, and was discontinued in 1936.
Beyond that, Mortons also tell us that the Norton Owners Club won a Best Club Stand award for a pretty good display modelled on a 1960s shop-front (image immediately above). Elsewhere, someone (unnamed) designed a stand around a horse stable.
Sounds like trivial stuff, we know. But it's essential trivia that helps keep the classic bike scene trundling along year after, so congrats to all who put in the time, energy and enthusiasm.
Mortons are back, as it were, at Stafford in April. But check Sump's events listings to see what else is on.
— Del Monte
Davida crash helmets are a bit like Fender guitars in that there ain't too many products in the range, but somehow the firm manages to keep moving the project on in subtle and not so subtle ways.
These six new lids, resplendent in their achingly exciting hot rod/chop shop candy colours, fall into the not-so-subtle category, and are pretty enough just to hang on the wall, never mind stick on your head and go riding.
But they are built for riding, and we've got no doubt they're manufactured to Davida's usual high standards. The helmets are part of the firm's "Colourways" range, and go by the name "Cosmic Candys".
Colours include: Cosmic Candy Silver-150; Cosmic Candy Red-151; Cosmic Candy Blue-155; Cosmic Candy Yellow-153; Cosmic Candy Green-154; and Cosmic Candy Burgundy -152.
We took one look and were instantly sexually aroused and had to nip off sharpish and do something about it. But how about you guys and girls? Got any red blood left? Or too far gone to even think about staying young?
Tip: Stay young as long as possible. It's better than death.
Finally, Davida is asking £265 for these hand made candies when splashed on the Davida Jet and Ninety2 lids. When splashed on the Davida Speedster and Classic, the price is £220.83. Talk to them direct, or harass your Davida dealer.
These are the coolest colours we've seen on anything for a long time. When we get ours, we'll be keeping them in the fridge.
— Big End
Here's another interesting bike that Bonhams flogged on 6th February at its Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais sale. It's rare, it's quirky, it's oh-so-very-French, and it puts us in mind of something they might have used in the cult 1960s psychedelic sci-fi movie, Barbarella.[More on this MGC Grand Sport Type N3]
...that would be a cyber earthquake, as opposed to anything tectonic, you understand. But one of our computers imploded a couple of days ago, and then the back-up suddenly went down, and then it was serious action stations here at Fortress Sump.
The upshot is that some of you guys and girls might have noticed odd things going on around here, such as news stories appearing and disappearing, and pages vanishing off line, and the odd link that refused to connect.
We think we've pretty much got it cracked now, but there might yet be one or two bugs that we've overlooked and have yet to put right. So bear with us if you will while we get a bigger hammer.
Commander Shore (above), head honcho in the 1960s TV Series, Stingray, famously warned us that: "Anything can happen in the next half hour." And he was right.
Apologies if anyone lost sleep over it.
You can expect to see more price cutting as the UK economy fails to make any significant recovery here at the beginning of 2014. From 14th February, Royal Enfield is shaving £200 off the list price of the new Continental GT Cafe Racer knocking it down from £5,199 to £4,999.
Meanwhile, we're reminded that the standard Bullet, list-priced at £4,100, will be dropping to £3,999. However, we've just spoken to a Royal Enfield dealer who said, "Well it's all news to me."
In recent times, Royal Enfield has been struggling for sales, with many dealers now bolstering their showroom stock with cheap Chinese imports and classic motorcycles. The new Enfield importer is MotoGB which recently took over from Watsonian Squire and planned to inject new cash and energy into the brand.
Unquestionably, the build quality has improved significantly over the past few years, but its unique selling point—i.e. the ultra low price—has long been creeping upward and forcing customer reappraisal in the wake of "rival" machines such as the entry level Triumph Bonneville (£6,549 RRP), the Kawasaki W800 (£6,899 RRP), and the Harley Sportster (£6,899 RRP).
Note too that when we spoke to the relevant Triumph, Kawasaki and Harley dealers, all three bikes had special offers and/or discount attached.
Clearly, Royal Enfield is looking to put a little more price space between itself and its rivals, and bringing the Continental GT price down below £5,000 isn't going to hurt anything, except profitability.
So who's buying?
— Del Monte
At age 83, it was about time that Dave Nourish put out to graze. At the cutting edge (literally) since around 1945, Dave Nourish has spent the best part of a lifetime building and modifying motorcycle engines for grass track racing, road racing and any number of other competition disciplines—and more than a handful of people are still running his famous 8-valve power units on the street. His engines have notched up win after win after win, and he bows to no one. In short, he's something of a legend in his own lifetime.
But Chris Bushell, the UK face of the Moto Giro d'Italia, is now the man to talk to and aims not only to carry on where Dave Nourish left off, but to take the business a few stages further.
Based on a farm just outside of Tonbridge, Kent, Chris has moved all the machining equipment, the spares, and half a century of production records, charts, blueprints and notes from Rutland to a new 1200 square foot home (plus mezzanine). And because Dave Nourish avoided computers the way most of us avoid income tax, the history of Nourish Engineering is mostly documented on paper (with, we hear, stacks of carbon copies).
"Were already up and running," said an upbeat-sounding 57-year old Chris Bushell. "We've got three staff, an easy commute, fantastic views, and a lot of little pigs running around outside and fattening up nicely for bacon. But we're concentrating on new engineering work and have just built and sold our first batch of billet crankshafts for Triumph, Norton, and BSA twins, plus one or two for the G50 Matchless. And we've got more on the way."
The core products at Nourish Engineering are crankshafts and 8-valve kits for Triumph twins. But the firm also handles general engine machining, gas flowing, dynamic crank balancing, engine fettling work, and pretty much anything else than goes on between the head and the sump.
A complete Nourish parallel twin race engine currently costs £6,750, plus VAT. An 8-valve head and barrels kit for a Triumph twin costs £2,350, also plus VAT.
Chris Bushell has a background in IT and is actually more closely associated with Ducatis. But he'll no doubt be cross-pollinating his skills and knowledge and bringing a new dimension to Nourish Engineering (which now, and for the first time, has a website and an email address).
Dave Nourish is therefore officially in retirement, but we suspect that he'll be a familiar face around the relocated engineering business that served both him, and thousands of motorcyclists, so well since the end of World War Two.
We're hoping that his retirement is a long and satisfying one.
— Big End
Bonhams is auctioning this pretty radical 91-cubic inch/1,525cc custom motorcycle built by SBS (Special Parts Supply). Based in the Geertruidenberg, Netherlands, SBS builds bespoke Harley-Davidson customs and clones, and sells custom goodies and services. [More on the SBS Speed Demon]
These might not be to everyone's taste, so to speak, but over the past few weeks (during which we've been busily testing them in the, er, field as it were), we've grown very attached to them.
The idea came to us in a dream, ya understand. The number 69 just appeared one night in the ether like it was a message from the other side.
Even more weirdly, when we talked it over the following morning and added up the number of parking tickets we got between us last year, it also came to ... you guessed it, 69. So we were straight down the local T-shirt printer who looked at our fag-packet artwork, sniggered, and suggested that we got the number wrong.
"You mean 59, don't you?" he said. "The 59 Club and all that motorbike malarkey?"
And we said, "No. 69. Like the Taoist-Buddhist ying-yang symbol thingy. That's what it means, don't it?"
So he smiled like the wise old Buddha himself and said, "Well it's your money." And he went ahead and ran off a couple of dozen. So now you can have one too. Or 69 of them if you like.
These tees come in the traditional 59 Club colours of black and white, and by an even weirder coincidence, they're produced for us by the same firm that produces the famous 59 Club T-shirts (freaky old world, huh?).
But we like 69 better, and we're betting that you do too. Our recommended retail price is £69, but we're flogging 'em at a more realistic twelve quid plus postage and packing.
And if any of you guys or girls out there understand what the printer was sniggering about, let us know, will you? There are some things in the world that even smart people like don't understand, and we can't make head nor tail of this one.
Okay. I'm interested. Take me to 69 heaven.
— Big End
If we had one of those funky New York loft apartment des res hideaways, we'd be inclined to made a bid on these characters. They're four feet high, made of fibreglass, and look like they're getting ready to procreate. Which is a hell of an idea. Stick those in the loft for a couple of hours, and who knows what might happen?
But if we had them (so to speak), they'd only go in the back of one of the Sump garages along with the old motorcycle frames and crankcases and spiders and whatnot.
But don't let that stop you. These two oilheads are being sold by Bonhams at its Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais sale in Paris which is in a place called France. It happens on 6th February 2014, and the hour will be 12.30pm, Central European Time.
Both have got an estimate on their heads, which is £490 - £660 each (€600 - 800), and that makes them what some folk like to call "affordable". If you're a bike dealer, classic or otherwise, these would look pretty cool guarding the entrance to your emporium and welcoming in your customers.
So okay, there are plenty of other Mr and Mrs Drips scattered around the planet. It's not like you'll be buying anything too original. But the price looks right, and as far as motoring icons go, you gotta work hard to find anything more memorable. Or evocative.
UPDATE: Mr Oil Drip sold for £2,000, and Mrs Oil Drip fetched £2,125
— Big End