Norman Hyde is offering the above suspension goodies for W800 Kawasaki owners. Made by Aussie firm IKON—a cunning acronym for KONI—the shock absorber looks suspiciously like the equipment fitted to one of Sump's Triumph T140s, and we can tell you that ours offer a big improvement over standard Girling/Hagon items. But you gotta pay for it, and Norman Hyde is asking £319.20 per pair, or £366 for chrome.
The shocks are progressively wound, and offer four damping positions (adjustable without the need for tools). You can rebuild these shocks too, note. So okay, they're not cheap. But the ride will be significantly improved.
Meanwhile, if you want to beef up the front, Norman will flog you a pair of progressively wound fork springs for £94.80.
Talk to Norman Hyde on: 01926 832345. Or check the website below.
— The Third Man
The organisers claim it's the biggest classic bike & car market in Europe attracting 4000 exhibitors and 50,000 visitors, and it takes place in Mannheim, Germany.
Yes, that's a bleedin' long way to go to buy a couple of spark plugs and a head gasket for your B33. But on the other hand, these foreign autojumbles often throw up all kinds of oddities that you just don't see in Blighty—and you know you need to get out more often, anyway.
The big 2011 Veterama show takes place this year on the 8th and 9th October. But to prevent anyone going cold turkey between one event and the next, the organisers have added two spring shows for April. The first is on the 9th and 10th—which caters to both cars and bikes. The second is on 16th and 17th, which is bikes only.
Tickets are between €5 and €20 depending on how many days you opt for, and whether or not you qualify for any discounts. Check the website for travelling instructions, etc.
We've never visited this show, so you'll just have to ask around. But keep in mind that April is a fairly busy month for classic bikers, so check Sump's event listing.
— Del Monte
Len Paterson's Cylinder Head Shop hardly needs any introduction from us. For almost two decades, Len has been the man to talk to for up-to-the-minute cylinder head work including valve seat cutting, installing unleaded seats, re-facing, polishing, porting, welding and aqua blasting. In fact, if Len can't do it, it probably can't be done. The Cylinder Head Shop, with its French-built Serdi Systems equipment, has worked on (and has rescued) every type of head you can think of from OHV, to flathead, to bronze head, to F-head.
It was a brave commercial move when Len set up shop back in 1993; a move that required a huge financial investment underpinned by years of hands-on slog. But now the time has arrived to take the next step forward, hence the tie-up with BLR Engineering founded 38 years ago by Trevor Barnes, and now owned and operated by classic car engineering wizard, Ian Mole.
The new venture will be called BLR Engineering Ltd trading as The Cylinder Head Shop. The business will be operating from Len's premises in Wallington, Surrey.
What makes the timing particularly exciting for Len and Ian is that the Cylinder Head Shop has just been appointed worldwide distributor for G&S Valves' "V" Range marketed under the "Nucleus Sport" banner.
The Cylinder Head Shop already produces its own high performance Nucleus Sports Elite products, but having long-established G&S components in their arsenal can only increase market penetration for both firms. When we spoke to Len, (now 61, but going on 18), he was extremely upbeat his new business moves and is looking forward to successful partnerships with Ian and G&S.
Do we recommend Len Paterson? 100%.
The author is Arthur Gent. The publisher is Crowood Press. It's got 208 pages, 57 colour illustrations, and 177 black and white pictures. The covers are hard, not soft. The size is 10-inches by 8-inches (none of those awful millimetres here).
It's primarily a reference work and deals with machine dating, specifications, company history, etc. The price, incidentally, is between £20 and £25 depending on who you buy from.
Books on Francis-Barnett are a little thin on the ground, so this one should fatten up your interest.
Arthur Gent: 01603 419056
— The Third Man
News has reached us that this year's Mike Hailwood memorial run (reported last month) came to tragic halt when Neil Christian, riding a BMW, was in collision with a car and died instantly. Neil was said to have been travelling in a group that included David Hailwood, Mike's son.
The accident, we hear, was caused by a car joining a short stretch of dual carriageway. Neil was knocked into an Armco barrier. The car ended up in a ditch where the driver, who survived, needed to be cut free. Neil was from Hertfordshire. The funeral was on March 31st 2011.
Over 700 riders are claimed to have been in attendance that day. Mike Hailwood and his daughter, Michelle, were killed in a car crash 30 years ago on 21st March 1981.
— Girl Happy
You used to have two choices for your A7 or A10 dynamo drive. Either it was the stock chain set up (can be messy and noisy), or you converted to V-belt. However, both chains and belts require maintenance—and even then, belts are prone to slippage.
The solution? Well Dynamo Regulators Limited think their above 15mm wide toothed belt drive sorts it out. Here, you've got the quietness of a V-belt and the strength of a chain coupled with zero-maintenance and—wait for it—a twenty percent increase in gearing (over standard) offering significantly more electrical oomph for lower mechanical umph.
The firm recommend this kit for 12-volt conversions using a DVR2 regulator (they can supply the regulator). If you're seriously using your A7 or A10—and possibly Ariel Huntmaster—this is a must.
The price is £82, which includes UK postage. Cheap? We think it's a bargain not to be missed.
Call: 01489 880552
— Del Monte
No, that that Captain America, set to hit UK cinema screens in July 2011 in the movie Captain America: The First Avenger. This is the Peter Fonda chopper from the film Easy Rider—or, rather, a "faithful replica", as opposed to one of the numerous Evolution-engined Harley clones currently rumbling around the world.
Fonda's iconic Harley Panhead was based around a couple of 1949-1952 ex-police Hydra Glides. Ditto for Dennis Hopper's "Billy Bike" (give or take a year or so). The original machines were stolen sometime around the end of filming in 1969, presumed broken.
In 1993, the late ex-Los Angeles Times publisher, Otis Chandler commissioned replicas of both bikes which were bought and displayed by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation at their historic 1998 exhibition The Art of the Motorcycle. The Guggenheim, however, "doesn't collect bikes", and so the two iconic replicas are now for sale.
The Fonda replica is being auctioned along with "a faithful" Billy Bike copy. The estimates are between $15,000-$20,000 for the Hopper machine, and $20,000-$30,000 for the Fonda bike. They'll be sold without reserve, and the sale will take place on May 14, 2011 at Quail Lodge in Carmel, California.
If you've ever fantasised about taking that once-in-a-lifetime
Pan-America motorcycle adventure, these could be the machines
to do it on (if you can stand the discomfort and can handle the minimal tank range.
Just watch out for the rednecks.
— The Third Man
The good news is that the current UK drink drive limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood is to remain following a government re-think*. But the bad news is that new roadside equipment and testing powers are on the way that will detect that spliff you had for breakfast or that quick snort of coke you took with your lunch— leading to an instant ban.
The government was considering dropping the drink drive limit to just 50mg per 100ml, but that would wreak havoc in the drinks industry (and cut revenue for the cash-strapped chancellor), so the huge number of boozy motorists (and motorcyclists) can carry on as before, while the far less common druggy-drivers are in for a rough ride.
Not that we condone drinking and driving or even drugging and driving. But there's another aspect to this worth mentioning, which is the move to scrap the right to a blood test following a positive breathalyser reading—provided you're less than 40% over the limit. In other words, if the breathalyser says you're guilty (by a factor of no more than 40%), you're guilty. If however you're more than 40% over the limit, you can still opt for a trial by blood. Which is where it all starts to unravel.
Fact is, the drink drive laws in the UK are largely nonsensical. Most deaths aren't caused by drunk drivers. Most deaths (by a wide margin) are caused by perfectly sober idiots, which is why we really need the rozzers out there on the street armed with idiotalysers taking all the more obvious maniacs off the road instead of wasting public money following the government's target-driven obsessions and relying on speed cameras to snare the soft targets.
Put simply, what we have with the current laws is the persecution of a large number or road users who, though often technically over an arbitrary limit, were otherwise doing no wrong. Sure, a significant number of drivers involved in road accidents are found to be over the limit. But a significant number of drivers involved in road accidents were no doubt also listening to the radio or chewing bubble gum, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there's a substantive correlation. In short, even "drunk" drivers are victims of bad drivers (sober or otherwise).
The proposed laws will now mean that many marginal cases will face an instant ban based upon a simple (and supposedly reliable) roadside breath test, while it remains to be seen how the new drug testing equipment performs in real world policing. The government watchword is greater enforcement, not that we've got many of the enforcers left on the streets anymore.
Our advice is not to drink and drive at all. But you have to be realistic if you want to actually have a life before you die, and this kind of blunt hammer, reactionary, criminalise-Honest-Joe-Public policing is unlikely to do much to alter the habits of the serial offender, but will likely have a serious impact on the otherwise sensible, socially responsible, and sober road user.
* Scotland, note, could yet be implementing a drop to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The question is likely to be resolved after the May 5th (2011) Holyrood elections.
When it comes to classic music for the classic bike generation, it doesn't come much more classic than The Shadows. It's all too easy to forget just how influential this boot-stomping, guitar-twanging, up-to-the-minute British combo was. But with 69 UK hit records in their back catalogue, they made even The Beatles sit up and take notice.
Today, however (Friday 18th March 2011), brings the news that Jet Harris, the original bass-player with The Shadows, has died at the age
Born Terence Harris in North London, Jet (2nd from the right, main image) met Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch back in 1958 and, being the "first musician in Britain to play an electric bass", quickly set the pace for a string of hits that included "Apache", "Wonderful Land", "36,23,36", FBI and "Man of Mystery".
Jet left The Shadows in 1962, and together with band member Tony Meehan enjoyed a few more hits before a near-fatal car crash almost put his lights out forever. In the 1970s, Jet took up a career as a photographer, but within a decade he was back in the music biz. His final album was in 2007.
Squeeze out a few tears if you will for the passing of this man. But not too many. Jet lived a very full life, gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people and left a legacy that will endure for generations. Better to dust off some of that old vinyl, or log on to YouTube, and re-live some of the best moments of The Shadows.
Terence "Jet" Harris. 1939-2011.
— Del Monte
It started on 15th March 1921 and became one of the most famous marques in motorcycle history. And because today is 15th March 2011, that makes the firm 90 years old—which hardly makes it the oldest bike company on the block (Royal Enfield, Harley-Davidson and Triumph are ahead by a decade or two), but it's still an impressive innings and worthy of a slice of birthday cake.
Now owned by Piaggio, Motor Guzzi also enjoys the accolade of being "the oldest European manufacturer with an unbroken production run". Whether that's true, we don't care. We're just happy that these thunderous Italian rapscallions are still around. But with Guzzi new bike sales fairly static over the past few years, and with world finances tightening, it remains to be seen whether this firm will see another ninety. Let's hope so. But their V7 racer has certainly been well received, and Guzzi will be putting in extra effort this year, notably in the adventure market. Around 400 bikes were sold in the UK in 2010. The target for 2011 is 500 units.
— Girl Happy
The Pre-65 Club has announced the cancellation of the Northampton Classic event at Sproxton, North Yorks on April 10th 2011. Instead, there will be an extra meeting held at Marks Tey, Essex on the same date. Check the link below for details.
— Del Monte
Easter's coming round again, which means that the famous
Red Marley Hill Climb is gearing up for another weekend of mud, sweat and maybe even a few tears.
The quarter-mile hill climb has been a staple of the British motorcycle sport scene since the 1920. But this year adds a whole new dimension with a demonstration of battery powered motorcycles courtesy of Swiss firm, Quantya Electric Bikes. That's likely to shock and disappoint one or two petrol purists, but hey, there's room enough for all if we just open our minds a little, huh?
Anyway, the action begins on Sunday 24th April 2011. There are three classes (plus an all-comers class). Last year saw 120 riders on the hill, with the record held by Carl Pope (19.53 seconds/Cheney BSA/2009).
Entry is £7 for adults. Kids go free. Camping is £10 for the weekend. The location is Great Witley, Worcestershire WR6 6JJ—and the special guest this year is John Peters who was famously shot down in a Tornado jet over Iraq and ... well, you know the rest.
— The Third Man
Ace Times: Speed thrills and tea spills, a cafe and a culture. That's exactly how Redline Books are pitching this latest tome from Classic Bike writer Mick Duckworth.
You'd think that the story of rockers and 60s biker cafes and quiffs and Gene Vincent would have been done to death (and a half). But hey, you can put a new spin on pretty much anything if you try hard enough, and Redline are touting this as: "... the definitive history of London’s Ace Cafe, the roadside pull-in that became the most famous haunt of motorcycle riding ’Ton-up kids’ in the Fifties and Rockers in the Sixties. The book also tells the story of other lively bikers’ haunts of the past, like the 59 Club, the Busy Bee and other cafes around the country."
But look, Mick's a good, straight-talking, fact-finding writer and has been working on this for a few years. So you can be sure you're gonna get your money's worth.
We haven't read it, and if we had a copy we wouldn't have the time to do it justice. So this is one book you'll have to judge by its cover. It's 312 pages thick, looks mostly (if not entirely) black and white, and is available now from Redline at £29.95.
Yorkshire's first purpose built motorcycle cafe? That's what we're told, and why shouldn't we believe 'em? It's called The Manor Cafe and it opens ... well, some time in mid-April (apparently you've got to check the website for updates).
Anyway, it'll open when it's open, and you can find it just outside Bellerby, near Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The idea is to serve up simple, honest everyday fare for simple, honest, everyday bikers—with a little continental nosh thrown in. Which sounds okay to us, especially with all that chocolate box scenery thrown in.
Starting a new business at the best of times is hard enough, and this is a long way from the best of times. So get on down there and stuff your faces or something. Just try not to get too carried away with all that fresh air and all those winding roads.
— Del Monte
Better get those hankies out because one of the great British motoring marques has fallen foul of the economic times and has gone into administration (3/3/2011).
Always quirky and quintessentially British, this low-volume motor manufacturer (established in 1946) was a fave among discerning gentlemen, free-thinking company directors, overloaded pop stars, well-heeled Thesbians, Harley Street quacks and general Bohemian types.
Twenty jobs have already gone, including two in the firm's only showroom (in West London - an old haunt of one or two of us here at Sump). But managing director and owner Toby Silverton is said to be optimistic that a "suitable buyer" can be found. However, as it stands, the firm's financial structure has collapsed, so production has stopped.
Servicing and repair work will continue, at least for the time being. Beyond that, we'll just have to see who steps into the breach. And if that someone is from anywhere east of Clacton, south of Brighton, west of Haverfordwest or north of John O'Groats, there's going to be a lot of bad blood flowing.
Bristol Cars, in its present form, was created by the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) and AFN Ltd who owned Frazer Nash. Models included the Beaufighter, Brigand, Britannia, and the Blenheim Roadster and Speedster (right). At its peak, production was around 100 vehicles per year. But it's thought that this number had dropped to around 20 machines—despite some exciting and up-to-the-minute (and still a little quirky) designs.
But Bristols were never going to be common as muck (they left that to Porsche), and for that we can be grateful. Nevertheless, the survival rate is high, and we might yet see these wonderful hand-built machines back where they ought to be, which is on the fringes of British motoring. It's a sad day.
— The Third Man
The date is Saturday March 12th 2011 which, at the time of writing, is just one week away. We're talking about Battistinis' regular Retro Revival event which this month includes a "St Patricks Party like no other".
It starts at 7.00pm and finishes at midnight with Rock'n'Roll music by Jelly Roll; a "stunning" burlesque act from Mysti Vine; double act "Lila D'Or" & "Fluffy Bunster", plus belly dance Artiste "Cara Bowen".
And if that ain't enough, the Vintage Hair Lounge will be in attendance, along with hot rods, custom bikes, hand-crafted jewellery stalls and plenty of 1950s bric-a-brac. If all this doesn't sound like a hoot, you need your horn fixed.
Tickets cost £12 each. And remember; these events are all about atmosphere. So dress the part, dust off that T-bucket, bobber or chopper, pick up an extra packet of Lucky Strike and make your play.
In case you don't know, the location is Queens Road, Bournemouth— which isn't quite Santa Monica or Oakland, but it has got something of a California feel to it when the weather cooperates.
Lastly, we ought to mention that this event doubles as the launch of Battistinis' California Dreamin' Expo which takes place on 28th-29th May 2011, also in Bournemouth.
Expect dozens of eye-popping choppers, semi-naked girls, vintage flat trackers, semi-naked girls, Evel Knievel memorabilia on display, more semi-naked girls, a tattoo convention (with semi-naked tattooed girls), customs bike parts for sale, beer, some more girls and so on.
Who was it who said that you haven't read Shakespeare until you've read him in the original Klingon?
Well who cares? But you haven't seen The Great Escape or Electra Glide in Blue until you've seen them on the big screen, which you'll soon be able to do at the White Rock Theatre in Hastings, East Sussex.
It all happens on Sunday 29th May 2011 when the Bike1066 FilmFest kicks off. The idea behind the Fest is put some of the old-time atmosphere back into the movie-going experience—which means a proper sized cinema (as opposed to a modern multiplex toilet cubicle peep hole) with ten percent of the profits going to the charity Help the Heroes.
Notwithstanding the fact that it's a national disgrace that wounded British soldiers are in need charitable help (as opposed to proper State support), you might want to get along there and park your rear end on one of the art deco auditorium's 1000 seats where you're likely to be in good biking company.
Facilities include a restaurant, a few pubs, somewhere to stash your riding gear and a "chill out" view of the briny. Then there's the prospect of a day out at the seaside, etc, and you can listen to the band of the Royal Gurkha Rifles who are supporting the event. So what more do you want?
Meanwhile, if you can't wait that long, there's also the Bike1066 Spring Opener event on 2nd May 2011 (May Day) that's going to turn Hastings into Motorcycle Town. Bike1066, in case you're wondering, is an initiative intended to promote biking in general, and more particularly biking in 1066 country, meaning East and West Sussex. If you're in the bike trade, it's an opportunity to make some sales. If you're not in the trade, it's an opportunity to hang out and generally muck about and have fun in the usual way.
Lastly A BIG WORD OF WARNING! Don't park your bike immediately in front of the pier, or to the east of the pier. There's serious subsidence issues there. Check the Bike1066 website for details.
— Del Monte
H&H Classics Limited set an estimate of £12,000-£14,000 for a 1938 350cc Excelsior Manxman at their Stoneleigh Park Race Retro auction held on February 26th 2011, but the public had other ideas regarding the true value of this little gem and drove the bidding all the way to £26,640.
Or maybe H&H wasn't all that surprised. Setting a low reserve is a common auction tactic, and pre-war classic bikes are still in hot demand. But still, it's an impressive result. That said, the single-cylinder bike (registration: COP 27) was sold with a lot of history (much of it related to ISDT campaigning), plus spares to put it back into full road trim.
There was, however, some dispute regarding the authenticity of one or two of the components on this bike. But overall, its essential provenance is fairly well established and it's a cracking machine that oozes pre-war racing exuberance and creativity.
— The Third Man