The good news is that Andover Norton has commissioned a new batch of AP Racing 2195 two-piston calipers that have been "unavailable for some time". The bad news is that you'll have to wait until July 2012 before you receive them.
Yes, it sounds a bit like preparing for Christmas in the middle of June, but these are tough times, and Andover Norton might well be testing the market before haggling with suppliers over the unit price.
Well test-away and get some of that British money moving around these shores. But the calipers ain't cheap at around £249.95, plus VAT. Each.
Then again, they do the job of hauling your classic racer down from hero speeds to zero speeds, and if you've got a 1960s, 1970s or 1980s period Trident, Rocket Three, Commando, Bonnie or whatever, these are the ones to have.
We really hate running this story about BMW fitting the Datatag security system as standard across its range of bikes. Instead, we want to be running a story saying that Triumph is fitting Datatags as standard, but that wouldn't be true.
BMW has a long track record of being a go-ahead, forward-thinking, responsible firm, and is now consolidating its reputation by improving motorcycle security.
The system includes the Datatag transponders, microscopic number dots, UV "etching", and the usual security stickers warning the thieves to look someplace else.
What's needed now is for Triumph Motorcycles to match BMW's move and offer this set-up across the range. It's gonna hurt Hinckley, because Triumph is already highly competitive and offers a good deal on its world-class bikes—and that probably doesn't leave a lot of profit headroom. But for our money, security comes above luggage deals and centre stands and bits of bolt-on bling. However, it remains to be seen if the public agree.
If you want to fit the Datatag system to your own Hinckley Triumph (new or used), dealers have quoted us anything from around £125-£150.
So how about it, Mr Bloor? Are you going to pick up the gauntlet? Or are the Germans going to have it all their own way?
There's a new currency developing. We've been watching it mature over the past few years. It's called the classic bike dollar (or pound, or even yen), and it's highly inflationary.
Take the above KLG plug. You'd "normally" expect one of these to sell for ten to fifteen quid at an autojumble. Maybe a little more. But this one just sold on eBay for over sixty-five pounds, plus £2.25 postage.
There were 12 bids, which could simply be a couple of guys slugging it out, or could be three, four or more buyers in the fray. Either way, someone just had to have it, and it's by no means the wildest example of classic bike spares spending. As money gets tighter, so the precious metal become not cheaper, but more expensive, and so the buyers become more desperate.
And it's hard to see that this plug is ever going to fire another cylinder. So what is it? An investment? A pension plan? Or just another example of eBay bidding frenzy?
Forget the gold standard, double lock your bike, pour on some SmartWater, and talk to Datatag. Even that humble, oily old heap of yours could be worth more dead than alive, and the thieves and eBay traders (which are often one and the same) know it.
Meanwhile, better hang onto that box of NGKs you could never quite bring yourself to stick in the Triumph. When Greece defaults, those could be all that's left between you and starvation.
— Sam 7
Back in December 2011 we reported that this was coming, and now it's here. As from 23rd January 2012, Transport for London's (TfL) has opened to bikers most of its divisive Red Routes bus lanes, and the move is permanent.
That means on most major metropolitan routes you won't have to return to weaving in and out of traffic to get to wherever the hell it is you're going, but (naturally) you'll still be sharing the lanes with buses, taxi-cabs and cyclists—and any number of motorists who all-too-frequently stray from the straight and narrow in an effort to beat the traffic queues.
So watch it.
And here's your second warning; not all the Red Routes are open to motorcycles. On some, you'll definitely get a ticket. So keep an eye on the signs, or check out TfL's website. And if you're visiting from overseas, and don't confuse Red Routes (marked by double red lines) with ordinary bus lanes (marked with double yellow lines). Different local authorities have different rules. It's a mess.
There were fears that Tory Boy Boris was going to petutantly veto permanent bus lane access after getting into a very heated ruck with a group of bikers protesting over the Westminster "parking tax" (June 2010).
Boris was caught on film telling bikers: "Do you want to stay in the bus lanes, or what? Then stop this protest."
But the threat has evidently dissolved, and we're advised that Boris's decision has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he's up for mayoral re-election on Thursday 3rd May 2012.
Boris's leading challenger is ex-London Labour Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone who's trailing in the polls and, so far, doesn't seem to have much ammunition left to outgun Tory Boy. But Ken's an experienced political opponent and might yet pull a rabbit from a hat.
Or, more likely, Boris might well do (or say) something really stupid and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, etc. Either way, unfettered motorcycle access to the majority of Red Routes is said to be "permanent", whatever that means to you.
If you feel the urge to express your gratitude to Boris, you can email him here. Might be worth doing if you want to help keep the Mayor on side. It's doubtful he'll personally read your electronic missive, but you know how word gets round ...
— The Third Man
Here's a special date for your diary, especially if you're looking for something a little different to the usual gauntlet of summer classic bike shows.
The 8th Hotrod Hayride kicks off on Friday 27th July 2012 and winds up two days later on Sunday 29th. The venue is Dunsfold Park, near Guildford, Surrey, GU6 8TB.
This is a weekend of pre-66 hotrods and pick-up trucks, plus choppers, bobbers, drag racing, girls in fishnet stockings, cool dudes in T-shirts, rockabilly music, bluegrass music, rhythm & blues—plus, beer, camping, a freak show, the Demondrome Wall of Death, and a flea market.
Tickets are £58 if you book (note that we don't say "pre-book") or £65 on the gate. Kids and dogs are welcome (up to a controlled point), and you can bring a caravan or motorhome if you really must.
Dunsfold Park is an aerodrome built by the Canadians during WW2, and later used during the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift. As an aerodrome, the Olympic organisers, we're advised, might want to appropriate the runway for taxi purposes thereby forcing a short-notice change of venue, so factor that in.
If you're still up for the Hayride, check out the web details below. And hey, do something about that paunch, will you? You'll look ridiculous in pegged jeans with half your belly hanging over the top. Have fun.
— Del Monte
It's all over for the foreseeable future. Rebecca Harris (pictured below), Tory MP for Castle Point in Essex, yesterday (Friday 20th January 2012) had her Daylight Saving Private Members Bill thrown out in the Commons.
What it means is that British clocks will continue as they are, advancing to British Summer Time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October, and back to Greenwich Mean Time for the rest of the year. That means the usual brighter winter mornings and, oh-oh, darker/miserable/depressing winter nights.
Harris was hoping to radically change conditions in the UK by "improving road safety, reducing the British carbon footprint, increasing evening leisure time, boosting tourism, and generally improving health".
The political muscle for change was there. Over 120 MPs had pledged support backed by innumerable organizations including the AA, various councils and wildlife trusts, RoSPA, Brake, the Institute of Advanced Motorists and PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety). The government was behind it too. But the bill was "talked out" of the Commons (read: filibustered or sabotaged) by a number of naysaying MPs introducing "wrecking amendments" and even "quoting the Bible". So the vote never took place. So the bill is dead.
Had it been successful in the Commons, it wouldn't automatically have led to a change in the clocks. It would simply have moved to the next stage, which would have been a more detailed exploration of the consequences of "going continental". But that's not going to happen, and it's hard to see when there will be sufficient momentum to re-introduce this issue.
For our money, this bill couldn't have come sooner. Health, wealth and—almost as importantly—classic biking is irrevocably tied to the weather, and that includes quality daylight riding hours. Changing the clocks to continental time would unquestionably have upset many and caused disruption, but on balance, the benefits appear to far outweigh the disadvantages (even though it might ultimately have led to Scotland having its own time zone—although David Cameron denied this would happen).
But in these recessionary days, a little tinkering with the chronometers could be exactly what's needed to kickstart the economy and literally brighten the social lives of millions.
What makes it all the more galling is that a couple of MPs can torpedo the entire democratic process simply by wasting time in the chamber, raising vexatious "points of order", or simply spending a little too long in Westminster lavatories. Meanwhile, the British military is getting shot to pieces in various global campaign theatres trying to teach the rest of the world about democracy?
Ho, ho, ho.
See an earlier Sump post on this for more info.
— The Third Man
This story is running as fast as we can chase it. The Federation of European Motorcyclists (FEMA) is reporting that the FFMC, a French biker group, has persuaded the French government to back pedal on its demand for mandatory high visibility vests for riders of over 125cc bikes by 2013 and accept ... an armband instead. Or even armbands.
As we reported, the original proposal was for 150cm2 of reflective material to be worn on the upper body. That's about the size of medium sized book. But pressure from the FFMC, we hear, had forced a rethink.
Said Frédédric Jeorge of the FFMC "It can be included in the jacket itself (like most new ones already have), and if not, be for instance a simple €2 armband to be worn above the jacket. We still oppose that decree, because of the completely disproportionate penalty for not having one: 2 points out of the 12 of the license (6 for beginners) and €68 fine." Quote, unquote.
Note that French bikers are penalised by losing points on their licence rather than gaining them.
What it all means is that the position now is totally unclear. We've got numerous reports still claiming the original "high-visibility vest" plan is going ahead and that the FFMC has not persuaded the French government to rethink the proposal. Other reports state that the new rule is indeed "off the table".
Our advice is to sign the e-petition (details below), alert your MP and MEP to the threat, and watch this space.
— Del Monte
MAG man Jon Wilmer, Regional Rep for Thames Valley, has initiated an e-petition in response to the French plan to make high-visibility vests, or patches, compulsory for riders of bikes above 125cc. If implemented, the law will come into force on 1st January 2013. Ireland will follow suit (no pun intended) the following year.
We've already posted an item on Sump regarding this proposal. Click here for details. Meanwhile, leave your mark on this petition if it bothers you. But equally importantly, tell it to your MP and MEP.
Petitions work only up to a point. You absolutely must also tell your parliamentary representatives.
Talking to your MP does work. It's simply a question of public pressure. You might try using the Human Rights Act as an argument, making the point that freedom of dress is a fundamental liberty in a free society. There's little or no justification for restricting that liberty simply because someone is sat on a motorcycle.
Note that riders of machines below 125cc are exempt. So are cyclists. So are pedestrians. The law, therefore, is irrational. It unfairly discriminates against motorcyclists on large capacity machines. France needs to be stopped. Ireland too.
Don't put this off. Sign the e-petition. Write to your parliamentary representatives. And boycott French (and Irish) products or something if you feel very strongly about it—and make sure the companies you're boycotting know it.
And be warned; these things are infectious. Other EU states might conceivably decide to introduce "Dayglo" laws of their own. And it could someday come to the UK. Be smart. Think ahead. Help put this one soundly to bed. If it's possible.
Here's the link for the e-petition:
Here's how to find the email address of your MP:
Here's a draft letter for you to copy and send to your MP. Get emailing please.
— Sam 7
One of the first principles of drafting a law is whether or not it's enforceable. But you can't tell that to the French who, from January 3rd 2012, have outlawed the use of satnavs that warn of speed cameras.
But interestingly, and amusingly, satnav firm Garmin appear to have clinched a deal with the French government that allows them to warn subscribers (using new model devices) that there are "problem areas ahead".
Users of other makes of satnavs, or older Garmins, should remember to switch off the device when travelling through French territory—not that the gendarmes are allowed to check, apparently. There are various privacy statutes that make it unlawful for a French copper to see exactly what is and what isn't programmed on your electronic map. That's the theory, anyway.
How it all pans out remains to be seen, and on the face of it, this law sounds pretty daft. But failure to comply will set you back €1500.
"Danger zone" warnings, incidentally, aren't exclusively reserved for speed cameras. Black spot accident areas and level crossings will also be highlighted with the same alert. But if you get a beep on your Garmin and see a danger zone ahead on a grey post about three metres high, our advice is to slow down in the usual manner.
You'll get a warning within 4kms on motorways, 2kms on major roads, and 350 metres on urban roads.
The next time you're on the Calais-Dover ferry and breathe the usual sigh of relief at the sight of the white cliffs, you can take a second breath for us.
Vive, er, la France.
The Motorcycle Action group counted around eighty lids at Labour MEP (South East Region) Pete Skinner's recent biking surgery held at P&H Motorcycles, Crawley, West Sussex on Saturday 14th January 2012.
Skinner, who has a sympathetic ear for the concerns of bikers troubled over a raft of new and planned legislation issuing from Brussels, gave up a couple of hours to answer questions about EU biking-related developments and, more specifically, the inner workings of the European Commission (whose abtruse machinations and recondite behaviour is pretty much on par with that of Opus Dei).
It was bitterly cold, we hear, but a respectable number of riders made the effort to speak and listen, and by all accounts were rewarded with a generally agreeable meeting. Further details haven't been forthcoming, but it certainly seems that Brighton MAG were the organising group (but if you know differently, pass the word).
Pictured above (left to right) is Steve Manning (Art Motorcycle Training), Pete Skinner MEP, and Paddy Tyson (Motorcycle Action Group).
— The Third Man
Okay, here's a date for your diary, particularly if you live in the South East corner of this green and sometimes pleasant land. The South of England RealClassic Show & Bikejumble kicks off at 10.00am on Sunday 11th March 2012.
This show is one of the earliest in the calendar and is a bike only event boasting a pre-1980 display. It's under cover too, so you can ride or trailer your pride and joy and polish the life out of it safe in the knowledge that all your hard work will last for at least the rest of the day. Moreover, the show has expanded this year with another new hall, the Stockman Building.
But watch out all you vegetarians and Buddhists because a very large hog is going to be murdered, roasted and devoured. That said, you can take some comfort in the fact that it's a "free range" hog, so it probably had a good and thoroughly fulfilled life before someone slit its throat.
That aside, this show is said to be growing, with the usual club stands and food stalls, etc. Don't expect an "A-list" autojumble. But there's usually some useful and necessary stuff waiting to be haggled over, and above all else, this show is a more friendly, personal and grass roots event than many of its contemporaries.
The venue is the South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL. Gates open at 10.00am. Admission is £6 for adults, and £5 for RealClassic members; ditto for seniors in receipt of a state pension. Kids under 16 go free.
— Del Monte
Fifty motorcycles and one hundred lots of rare Indian motorcycle parts from the Du Pont family collection were sold by Bonhams at its second annual Las Vegas Sale on 12th January 2012. The sale generated over $1 million, which was double the estimate.
The lots were collected during the depression era by L Paul du Pont, one-time president of the Indian Motocycle Company (and yes, that is how Indian preferred to spell motorcycle, and that is how to spell du Pont when speaking of an individual family member as opposed to the company as a whole).
Du Pont was founded in 1802 and began by manufacturing gunpowder. One hundred years later, the firm branched out into the mainstream chemical industry, and soon added paint technology to their list of interests. In 1930, Du Pont Motors merged with Indian. Du Pont car production ceased, and L Paul became the big chief of Indian.
The January Las Vegas sale generated plenty of telephone interest with "spirited bidding" from Europe, the southern hemisphere, India and the Middle East.
1906 Indian Camel Back in original condition sold for $72,540
1915 Indian Twin Board Track Racer, unrestored $67,860
1940 Indian Four, unrestored $44,460
1953 Vincent Series C Black Shadow $120,500
1924 Ace 4-cylinder engine, in unused condition $35,000
1912 Henderson 4-cylinder engine $32,500
1912 Indian Twin $8,750
Original muffler for an Indian Twin $3,750
A carburetor of an early Indian Hedstrom $3,250
Circa 1895 Columbia “shaft drive” bicycle $2,250
Meanwhile, other lots from the sale unrelated to the Du Pont collection raised close to another $1 million.
1955 Vincent Black Prince, restored $122,500
1911 Indian 7hp Twin $84,240
1928 Henderson DeLuxe Four $70,200
1955 Vincent Series B Rapide $46,800
The image above (courtesy of Bonhams) is Lot 203, a 257cc 1917 Indian Light Twin Model O. This rare bike featured a horizontally opposed fore-and-aft engine similar to a Douglas and was sold in a less than complete condition as a project. Maximum speed of the Light Twin Model O was around 36mph. By bi-plane photo (above) was included in the sale. Lot 203 sold for $10,764.
Notable bikes that didn't sell included Lot 270,
a 1925 Coventry Eagle Flying 8 (see main image above and caption, top left); Lot 294, a 1965 Rickman Triumph Metisse 500 Street Scrambler, estimated at $18,000-$20,000; and Lot 275, Eddie Lawsons' unconsummated 850cc 1975 Norton Commando Roadster (pictured right, and first de-crated just a few months ago) which was estimated to sell at $25,000-$35,000.
— Girl Happy
From 1st January 2013,
motorcyclists in France will be required to wear "high visibility jackets".
Perversely, the regulation will apply only to riders of machines over 125cc—a group which, take note, are statistically shown to be involved in fewer accidents than riders of smaller capacity bikes.
The reflective area of the jacket will need to be at least 150 square centimetres (roughly the area of a medium sized book), and be worn on the upper body. The reflective area can be in the form of a rectangle or a stripe; details aren't clear.
The penalty for failure to wear, or refusal to wear, is €68. The law will apply to both French riders, and visiting overseas riders.
Motorcyclists in France are already required to wear reflective stickers on their crash helmets and ride with headlights on. The rationale for this high-viz law, it's been reported, is that the French government is concerned that a rider lying in the middle of the road will have more chance of being seen by an oncoming motorist when lit up like a Belisha beacon. Which is probably true.
But by that logic, a pedestrian—or rider of a smaller capacity machine—lying in the middle of the road, is perfectly acceptable.
Except that this issue isn't really about logic. It's about authoritarianism and ignorant reaction.
Calls have been made for a petition aimed at the French government. But petitions have only very limited value, and are quickly forgotten. One suggestion is that riders objecting to this move should hit the French where it hurts most, and that's in the pocket.
Just contact the French Embassy and advise them that you'll be boycotting French goods wherever possible, and will be looking elsewhere for that summer touring holiday (Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, for instance). If enough riders protest, it could force a change of heart.
The underlying danger is that this kind of safety hysteria is infectious and could conceivably find its way across the Channel. And take note that even if you're in favour of wearing reflective jackets, you should STILL consider opposing this regulation. Why? Because it not only restricts your freedom of choice in matters of personal safety, but gives licence to the French government to ignore the bigger issue which is improving Gallic driving standards.
You can write to the French Embassy here:
French Embassy in London
58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT.
Emailing, however, appears to be difficult with only limited access addresses being made available. However, you can try contacting the French visa section at:
Either way, if you strongly object to this high-visibility law, it's worth the price of a stamp and a fifteen minute letter. Better write today. Tomorrow never comes. So much for liberté, égalité, fraternité, huh?
— Sam 7
Now don't get excited because this is very tenuous, but the long-standing rumour that a "new Triumph Tiger Cub" is being developed has jumped a notch recently after Triumph's man in India spoke out about the firm's medium-to-long term plans.
Speaking on the Indian website Business Standard, Ashish Joshi, Triumph's Indian managing director, was yesterday (9th January 2012) quoted as saying; "... the company has a six-year plan that defines the product strategy. It (the plan) has got a few bikes. They are of a lower capacity...the development time is three years. Every premium bike manufacturer is looking at downsizing their products. I would say looking at a future strategy perspective it may be on the cards."
That's a direct quote incidentally, hence the "clunky" language. And it certainly hints that Triumph might well be looking to consolidate, or develop its foothold in India with a range of new machines more suited to local conditions and the local economy.
On the other hand, it might simply be that Joshi is merely thinking a lot further ahead than Triumph is actually looking. Or maybe he's just spilled the beans before Triumph was ready to open the can. Certainly, Hinckley is keeping mum about this at the moment. Or is the firm simply testing market reaction with a little well-contrived leakage? Or is that too subtle?
But what might such a bike be called? The notion of the name "Cub" can perhaps be immediately discounted as too "old" and "cute", and the "Tiger" identity is now firmly linked to the firm's large capacity adventure/trail bikes.
Meanwhile, the name "Street Single" has been bandied about, which naturally has a certain Hinckleyesque ring to it. For our money, a new pint-sized Trumpet can only be a good move, not least here in the UK. As for styling, it seems pretty certain that many, if not most, of the existing design cues will be carried forward
Triumph currently produces slightly less than 50,000 units per annum, and output has been steadily growing. The company is locked in fierce competition with firms such as BMW and Harley-Davidson and hasn't shown much obvious interest in taking on the small-to-medium sector dominated in the UK by the big Jap four, and by God-knows-how-many-Chinese-brands in South East Asia and elsewhere.
But with the new emerging global markets, all that could change, and the 125-year old Triumph brand carries a lot of weight worldwide. We can't see Hinckley seriously trying to take on the bargain basement Chinese manufacturers, but we can certainly see the firm aiming at the more quality end of the market, which is where the company belongs.
Bring on the new "cub", we say, especially now while the company is on a roll.
— The Third Man
See the piece below: Triumph to build bikes in India
Mortons Media, "The independent Publishing People" (whatever that means) were naturally a little nervous about lighting the fuse on this one. The nation's on the skids, after all. Money's tight. Jobs are scarce. The euro looks set to implode.
But the classic bike world, apparently, is continuing to buck the trend. and the bubble hasn't yet popped. So a winter classic bike shindig at Newark, Notts could have gone either way. Especially a two day event.
Mortons, incidentally, already runs the Stafford Show, the Bristol Show, the Netley Marsh Show, the Great Scottish Show,and the Scottish Dirt Bike Show. They also publish about fifty (mostly enthusiast) magazines (see what they mean by "independent"?). Now it seems that the Classic Bike Guide Winter Classic Show is set to join the portfolio.
Over the weekend (7th-8th January 2012), there was a passable club presence with the London Douglas boys (as ever) putting on a lot of style, along with the New Imperialists, the Gold Star Owner Club (Staffs branch), the pre-65 (but going on 70 or 80) AJS and Matchless mob, the Trident and Rocket 3 guys, a trio or more of Italian bike clubs, and a few Jap (but not JAP) collectives strutting their stuff. And naturally, the ubiquitous VMCC put in a presence.
Most of the show was under cover and "well heated", as Mortons was keen to emphasise. But the UK is currently basking in one of the mildest winters on record, so the weather God was kind to the organisers this time around.
Carole Nash was the sponsor. Steve Plater (2009 Senior TT winner) and Alan Carter (Grand Prix winner) were the guests of honour. Our spies at Mortons tell us that the firm are "satisfied" and feel they've certainly got "something they can build on".
We listened to half a dozen or so visitors who broadly gave the show the thumbs up, most of whom said they'd look in again next year. But the bike displays were reportedly disappointing, in terms of numbers, and the trade heavily dominated making the event feel like ... well, like one of those awful magazines forever scrimping on good editorial, endlessly recycling features, and generally stuffing the rest of the pages with adverts.
Food stalls were in short supply, and as ever, the queues were long. But it was generally busy enough. Tickets, by the way, were £8 per day or ... £16 for two days.
As for the traders, a few said they were very disappointed at the thin pickings and wouldn't be rushing to book a stall next time around. But that will probably change come next year when hope once more triumphs over experience.
One trader expressed the view that Mortons ought to be able to do a lot better than this with all their resources. Except that Mortons never really was in the business of doing better, not when it can chug along "doing very nicely, thank you".
The bottom line? If you were looking for something inventive, inspiring and original on the classic bike scene, you were likely to be sorely disappointed. But if you simply needed a harmless antidote to the usual Christmas glut-fest and associated cabin fever, Newark might well have been the solution. Can't see the company bean counters complaining, anyway.
Note: Thanks to artist Martin Squires for the above sketches (Douglas, New Imperial and Velocette) made the at 2012 Winter Classic Show.
— Del Monte
We know that there are plenty of you bikers out there who share our interest in classic pedal power, which is why you're looking at the image of a new book about the Raleigh Bicycle Company (eyes left, please).
Raleigh started building cycles in 1887 in Raleigh Street, Nottingham. Two years later, the firm began developing its first motorcycle, and by 1903 the Raleighette (forecar) appeared; a three-wheeler that died a quick and merciful death (1908) when financial troubles overtook production.
In the 1930s, Raleigh produced a light delivery van based on an acquired design (the Ivy Karryall). There soon appeared a three-wheeled car known as the Safety Seven. The Reliant motor company was a later spin-off from Raleigh when the firm decided to cut car production and concentrate on bicycles—which brings us nicely back to this book.
The author is Tony Hadland who's got plenty of form writing about the British bicycle industry, and from all accounts knows his stuff and writes with the kind of up-close-and-personal passion that turns a run-of-the-mill book into an authoritative and highly entertaining tome.
But look, we haven't seen this in the flesh, so check it out for yourself at your local booksellers. It's hardback, colour, 28.2mm x 22.2mm, and is stuffed with illustrations and old brochure material. Sounds like a hoot. The price is around thirty quid, depending on where you buy.
Raleigh was once one of the biggest bicycle manufacturers in the world building, at its peak (1951), over one million units per annum. Over the years, the firm absorbed Humber (bicycles), BSA (bicycles—including Sunbeam and New Hudson)), Triumph (bicycles), Carlton (bicycles), Hercules (bicycles), Phillips (bicycles), and Rudge (bicycles). It also acquired Sturmey-Archer (gear systems), Brooks (saddles), and Reynolds (531 tubing).
A great old British company? We think so, and you will too when you delve into the history. The firm is still (barely) trading, by the way. But the golden age is long gone.
— The Third Man
The men at the ministry are once again reconsidering mucking around with the clocks and taking us an hour forward to continental time. If this new daylight saving idea goes ahead, we'll be looking at darker mornings and lighter evenings—unless you live north of the border with Scotland where the differences won't be so apparent.
Yes, this kind of thing has been tried before. Between 1968 and 1971 Britain stayed on British Summer Time (BST), but the idea was dropped largely due to pressure from the naysayers who felt the extra dawn darkness simply wasn't worth the light at the other end of the tunnel.
But the wheel has turned another revolution, spun this time by the hand of Rebecca Harris, Tory MP for Castle Point in Essex. The government has promised to support her Private Members Bill and give it the necessary airplay in the Commons.
The upshot is that under the proposal, we'd still have the familiar business of resetting the clocks twice a year, except it would all be one hour later (from current UK time), thereby matching continental chronometers.
Not everyone is in favour of this change. Farmers, businesses involved in indoor entertainment, and transport companies have traditionally opposed daylight-saving. But sportsmen, the retail sector, the police, many psychologists and the road safety lobby see major advantages and would broadly like the measures introduced.
Yet another group want to see permanent BST, which would mean putting the clocks forward in March, and leaving them there all year round. This mob claim (with some justification) that human circadian rhythms are often dangerously disrupted by the bi-annual juggling of sleep patterns.
Our guess is that a change is indeed on the way. The UK, like much of the western world, is in financial trouble. Daylight saving could, it's argued, cut crime and policing costs. It could also benefit the health service by reducing the incidence of seasonally affective depression. It could benefit retailers by encouraging evening shopping. It could encourage tourism. And it could generally improve the after-work social life of the average Brit and cut our carbon footprint.
Additionally, the road safety lobby is more powerful than ever, and claim that up to 88 motoring-related deaths a year could be saved. And then there's Cameron and Clegg who are desperate to stay popular. So if this dynamic duo can't give us economic growth and jobs and decent pensions, they'll probably try to fob us off with a little extra daylight.
For you and us, a little extra riding time at the end of the day will be mostly welcomed, especially as the average classic biker is getting long in the tooth and is already facing a long darkness of a very different kind. Bring on the sunlight, we say.
The date is Saturday 14th January 2012. The location is P&H Motorcycles Ltd, 61-63 Gatwick Road, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 9RD. The event is a chance to listen to what Peter Skinner, MEP, has to say about the current state of play in Europe with regard to pending motorcycle legislation.
Fifty-three year old Skinner is the Labour MEP for the South East region of the UK. His background is in economics, and he sits on a million committees. But more importantly to guys like us, he's got a direct line to the European Commission, and he's sympathetic to the concerns facing British bikers.
He's very approachable and listens, so if you can get along there and pitch some questions, or just give him an audience, it will probably be an afternoon well spent and will demonstrate the strength of feeling out there.
The show starts at 2.30pm and ends around 4.00pm. An hour and a half might not sound like much, but this is MEP time, and it doesn't come easily.
So be there, or beware. And hey, keep in mind that P&H Motorcycles are facilitating this meeting, so if you need a new pair of gloves or a lid, or even a new bike, polish a few coins and be generous.
Triumph is looking to open a new assembly plant in India to help it break into the country's lucrative high-end motorcycle market. Four sites are being explored, with assembly to begin in March 2012, and full production by June.
It's unclear exactly which bikes will be built in India, but the word is that four models will be assembled at Triumph's new plant, with another three being manufactured elsewhere and sold alongside. The firm is also anticipating a network of 12 dealerships.
Why now? Because the time is right, according to Ashish Joshi, managing director of Triumph India. Harley-Davidson has been in the country for a few years. Suzuki, Yamaha, BMW and Ducati also have footholds. The increased polarisation of the Indian economy has left a lot of spare cash splashing around, and the Triumph brand is said to be held in high regard, not least due to British imperial influence and interest in the sub-continent over the past 100 years.
Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson is reported as having seven dealerships on the Indian map, and is planning another three. The number of Harleys on Indian roads is thought to be around 1000 units. Triumph clearly feel that there's enough cake to go round, and is planning a four-year strategy to ensure the other bike manufacturers don't scoff the lot.
Triumph already build bikes in Thailand at a plant with a capacity of 130,000 units annually. In view of the firm's rapid growth, that number seems very realistic.
The Indian bikes will, we hear, enter the market via the CKD route (Complete Knock Down), meaning that parts will be manufactured elsewhere and assembled locally by relatively unskilled labour. This will allow Triumph to exploit import rules and taxes, whilst retailing its product at rates comparable to those in the rest of the world. That should set the tills ringing and keep the Hinckley accountants happy.
Should Royal Enfield be worried? Probably not unduly, not unless and until Triumph field a single-cylinder product similar to the Bullet (i.e. a new Tiger Cub), the idea of which has been repeatedly rejected by the company which sees its future at the higher end of the motorcycle market.
But which models are likely to be fielded? The Triumph Thunderbird Storm (pictured immediately above) was recently shown at the Delhi Auto Expo alongside a Speed Triple and Street Triple, so your guess is as good as ours.
— Sam 7
So okay, this isn't exactly breaking news, but it's worth a mention for any of you techheads out there with iPhones in your toolbags or stuffed down your Belstaffs.
Shortly before Christmas. Carole Nash launched a free app to "help keep you in touch with your favourite insurance firm in the event of a breakdown or an accident".
What's that? You don't know (or care) what an app is? We're hearing you loud and clear, brother, but apparently it's a little program (or application) that you download to your mobile phone.
Carole Nash advise us that the app communicates with satellites and tells the breakdown people exactly where you are. Also, while you're lying under that juggernaut waiting for the fire brigade to cut you free, you can jump-start the claims process and spill the beans on what really happened before your lights go out completely.
But there's more. The app also helps you avoid premium rate telephone charges when calling Carole (who in fact flogged the company back in 2006 to Anglo-French firm Groupama). Additionally, the program enables Le Group to literally keep a track of you and then litter your phone with electronic junk mail.
Now don't get us wrong; here at Sump we've all got policies with Carole Nash, which generally gives pretty good VFM. But the firm would get more of our business if they cut the premium rate crap and just answered the phone the way they used to do when Carole was in the driving seat.
Groupama, by the way, were recently embroiled in a (naughty, naughty) software piracy intrigue, and have been accused of filing false information regarding their accounts. Hardly the world's most heinous crimes, but you might want to keep all this in mind when giving this firm "free" access to your phone.
You had to be in it to win it, and Alan Hobba from Royston, Herts (pictured above) was in it and did win it, and walked (or rode) away on a 1963 650cc BSA Rocket Gold Star. The ticket number was 522326. The draw took place on 16th December 2011. Alan is chuffed to bits.
Which brings us to the next Vintage Motor Cycle Club raffle, which is fielding a 1977 T140J Silver Jubilee Triumph Bonneville (pictured immediately below). The VMCC organises two such raffles each year; Jan-Jun and July-Dec. Naturally, there are prizes for second, third, fourth and fifth, and naturally we can't be bothered to list them. But the VMCC have, so check out their site for more info.
Jubilee Bonnies are a long way from our favourite Trumpets, and over the past few years they appear to have fallen in relative value. But underneath those chrome-plated ally engine cases and the "royal" livery slapped on the tank, side panels, mudguards and wheel rims, they're nothing but a plain old common or garden variety T140, and that's a good enough prize in its own right.
That said, this particular machine has the added cachet of once belonging to none other than John "Mooneyes" Cooper (pictured astride the bike) who—if you know your British racing heroes—beat Giacomo Agostini back in 1971 at Mallory Park riding a BSA Rocket Three.
Tickets for the next raffle, by the way, cost £1. And if you're from overseas, splash out a little, will you? Here in Blighty, these days we need all the spare change we can get.
— Del Monte
For generations, they've been doing it the wrong way, and now the government is "minded" to legitimise at least one of their peculiar habits. We're talking about cycling the wrong way up a one-way street, of course.
The idea is to further promote cycling as an environmentally friendly, efficient, cost-effective and anti-congestive method of personal locomotion, so at least some of Britain's streets marked NO ENTRY could in the foreseeable future be sporting a small pushbike graphic together with some kind of WELCOME sign.
Barmy? We don't think so. Whisper this quietly, but here at Sump we're not actually above or beyond the odd pushbike jaunt, and the notion of being able to exploit all the local rat-runs whilst being able to see the whites of their eyes is an appealing one.
Apparently this kind of cycling is common is some parts of mainland Europe, and the government is keen to stay in step. Can't see the law being extended to motorcycles, but the lycra louts are already pleased with the proposal (and will no doubt be all over this idea hoping to further their strident "reclaim the streets agenda").
But in the meantime, it's still open-season on idiots riding the wrong way, so do what you have to do. For the next year or two, the law is still on your side. Just make sure you take extra care with anyone that looks like us.
— The Third Man
For some guys no restoration project is complete without a dealer decal stuck on the mudguard/toolbox/frame or wherever. Fortunately, Val Emery can address this need and has assembled a large number of transfers ready to water-slide or varnish onto your fresh (or even old) paintwork thereby giving your classic that extra air of authenticity.
The water-slide decals are a later addition to the collection. The varnished-fix type hail from the early 1900s to 1930s and were made by Harold Peace, once the largest commercial transfer supplier in the country trading from 74 Water Street, Birmingham—and later from Bangor, North Wales, and then Mid-Wales.
Not your cup of tea? Well never mind. Others see it differently and will be happy to stump-up the five quid (plus postage) that Val's asking. If you need something bespoke, Val can help with that too.
We don't know Val and haven't seen these decals up close, so we can't vouch for quality, etc. So email and ask some pertinent questions and buy or don't buy. Or speak to Val at the Stafford Show and buy direct.
— Del Monte