Okay, here's the latest shock-and-awe offering from Royal Enfield; the 2012 Bullet Desert Storm. Sounds a little full of itself, we know. Desert Storm, huh? But Royal Enfield and the military go together like ... well, guns and ammunition, and we still haven't tired of the permutations of this most perennial of motorcycles.
In fact, we think the "sand" paintwork looks pretty cool, and we don't give a hoot that there's a little too much chrome on this one for a serious military mount (but that's nothing that a trip to Halfords and a few cans of matt black paint can't fix). It's not supposed to be an army bike. It's just a nod towards REs roots—not to mention a sly flanking manoeuvre intended to squeeze some notes from your wallet. But trade is the name of the game. That's what makes the world go round.
As with all current Enfields, this one is powered by the latest fuel-injected, 5-speed, pushrod engine complete with kick- and electric-start. Electrics are, of course, 12-volts. The headlight's halogen. Tyres are Avon Road Riders.
Royal Enfield has over the years supplied tens of thousands of bikes to British and Commonwealth armies. But this one's clearly intended for non-combatants, and if you want one, it'll cost you £5195. It does come with mirrors, by the way. But we digitally nipped 'em off because that was the largest picture box we had.
— The Third Man
The bike's been all around Europe raising money on the The Great Escape 2 charity ride, and now it's going under the hammer on 1st December 2011 at Mercedes Benz World, Weybridge, Surrey.
Created from a standard Triumph Bonneville T100 and modelled loosely on the bike that Steve McQueen/Bud Ekins rode in the movie The Great Escape, Bonhams are expecting it to sell for between £9000-£12,000.
The Great Escape 2 ride started out in June 2011. The "McQueen" bike (above, picture courtesy of Bonhams) was accompanied by five other machines, all Hinckley Triumphs and all prepared by Laguna Motorcycles in Maidstone, Kent.
The bikes covered 3,200 miles visiting twelve European countries and taking in various "Great Escape" sites. The objective was to commemorate the lives, and deaths, of fifty RAF officers who, on direct instructions from Hitler, were shot for attempting to escape Stalag Luft III in March 1944.
The registration number, incidentally, will be sold off with the bike along with a V5C and a current road fund licence.
Monies raised from the ride are being donated to Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion. The target of £10,000 was achieved, but donations are still coming in. Want to do your bit?
— Del Monte
One hundred years. That's how long Watsonian (now Watsonian-Squire) has been in business. You might have thought that the wheels had completely fallen off the sidecar business yonks ago. But not so. Thanks partly to movies such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Watsonian-Squire has seen a boost in this small, but dedicated market and continues to field a quality product that doesn't look like disappearing in the foreseeable future.
Quite simply, some guys need to be pried off their outfits with a crowbar, and Watsonian are anticipating an extra long lever with these revised models.
Based on their established GP Manx design, the new Aviator (above, paired with a 500cc Royal Enfield) is a nod towards the glory days of the RAF, hence the "Battlegreen" paintwork, the sharks teeth (a la 112 Squadron), and the chopped down screen reminiscent of early wood and canvas bi-planes.
In fact, the 85kg sidecars are built of fibreglass with a steel perimeter frame and have, we're advised, loads of legroom and a boot, to boot.
Prices start at £3995 (in plain black without decals). The factory are expert at fitting these to just about anything, and if you're new to sidecars, they'll help with tuition too. Or you can opt for the standard GP Manx chair as shown above attached to a Triumph Rocket-3—which is an awful lot of power for.
Want to find out more? Contact Watsonian-Squire on 01386 700907 or visit watsonian-squire.com.
— Girl Happy
This is all a bit technical, and we've had to much to drink again. So we're (hic) going to give it to you in Andover Norton's own words. Now pay attention, because they're not going to repeat it:
"Andover Norton now have stock of newly manufactured Commando con-rod bearing shells which offer improved wear characteristics over the original equipment items.
They still have the high quality Lead-Bronze bearing substrate of the original shells, but offer a more advanced bearing surface than the original Lead-Indium overlay treatment. They now have a superior Lead-Tin-Copper finish overlay for a longer service life and greater wear resistance. Sometimes original is best, but if improved technology is available it is wise to make use of it for this type of demanding application!
· std. size part no. 06.4285
· -0.010” part no. 06.4286
· -0.020” part no. 06.4287
All at £34.80 + VAT.
For information please contact your preferred Norton parts dealer, Andover Norton can also be contacted directly on 01488 686816 or visit www.andover-norton.co.uk"
Got all that? Good, because we're opening another bottle here (hic).
— Del Monte
"Fifty bikes spanning seventy years of history". That's the long and short of the Du Pont family motorcycle collection that Bonhams is putting up for sale in January 2012.
Included in the auction will be the following:
- an unmolested 1903 Indian Camelback
- an early factory restoration 1908 Indian Camelback
- a factory restored 1908 Indian twin
- a rare and original 1909 Pope single
- a circa 1915 Indian twin board track racer
- what is believed to be the last Indian Chief supplied to a dealer
There's also a 3000-mile 1951 Vincent Black Shadow, a 1959 ex-Francis Beart Norton Manx, plus bikes from Triumph, BSA, Merkel, Ner-A-Car, Harley-Davidson, Gilera, Honda and Yamaha.
If you can't find something in this lot to suit you, try collecting garden gnomes. But the real question is: Can you afford any of it? To find out, keep an eye on the Bonhams website (link below).
The event, specifically, is the Second Annual Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale to be held on January 12th at the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino on The Strip. You don't have to be there in person, remember. But you have to "be in it, to win it". So register an interest.
— The Third Man
It's beginning to look as if dying was a pretty good career move for Steve McQueen, because interest in him today is as great, or arguably greater, than it was during his lifetime.
Like Elvis, James Dean, John Wayne and Evel Knievel McQueen's in danger of becoming something of a one dimensional all-purpose public caricature with a high recognition value, but with a depth of personality that few care to scratch let alone explore.
Well this new tome (above) aims to put some meat onto the bones of the legend. Published by Motorbooks, Steve McQueen: A Passion for Speed is written by Frédéric Brun and features lots of hitherto unseen snaps of the co-called King of Cool, an epithet that's becoming so tired that it makes us yawn.
But Motorbooks has done a pretty good job of packaging up the guy between a different pair of book covers, and there's no doubt that McQueen fans will feel a fresh blast a cool with one.
The book's not just about his bikes, note. McQueen was into cars and aircraft too, and pretty much anything that moved. But any true McQueenite will know that and will expect no less.
Exploited in life and exploited in death, the man might well be resting in peace, but the legend isn't. Which is a shame really, because it seems that underneath the fakey Hollywood glitz, he was a pretty ordinary guy at heart, and one who enjoyed the same things that most of us enjoy.
The recommended retail price is £25. ISBN: 978-0-7603-4248-0.
Here's a treat for all you culture vultures suffering from an overdose of cabin fever and lousy TV. The Yorkshire Film Archive has posted a movie on its website entitled "Hot Work" and is available now for you guys, and girls, to check out.
Commissioned by noted piston manufacturer Hepworth & Grandage Ltd, who trade under the more familiar brand name of Hepolite, this production details 34 minutes and 38 seconds of classic British motorcycle sport, and is one of the best biking documentaries we've seen.
With commentary by Grand Prix road-racing champion Geoff Duke OBE (who does an excellent job of tying together the narrative threads), this video transports you back to the mid-1950s to the world of trials, scrambles, speedway, road racing and even a little stock car action.
The film maker is Charles Harold Wood; a renowned Yorkshire celluloid maestro with a back-catalogue off 3,000 titles whose handiwork can also been seen in old Gaumont and Pathe newsreeels. But you won't be thinking about any of this when you get your peepers on this film which is the perfect armchair antidote for the lengthening autumn nights and long winter to follow.
Expect to see footage of the Banbury Run, the Scarborough Road Races, the Scott Trial and Odsal Speedway. Featured riders include Dave Curtis, Jeff Ward, Johnny Giles, Don Rickman, Arthur Lampkin, Dave Bickers, Jeff Smith, Allan Jefferies and Geoff Broadbent.
We don't know how long the film will be online, so do yourself a favour and put the bike tools away, kick out the in-laws, slap the brats off to bed early, put out the dog, open a bottle of something that isn't particularly good for you, and watch it now.
— The Third Man
The 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R had debuted at the 2011 Milan Show showing off what promises to be another two-wheeled hit for the Hinckley, Leicestershire-based firm currently suffering from an overdose of the Midas touch.
The engine, we hear, is the same-old-same-old 1050cc three cylinder lump that almost no one has yet been able to find much wrong with, and which has powered this bike to pole position in its class. The gearbox, however, has been tweaked to make it just that little bit slicker
But what makes the "R" different from the stock Speedster is the rolling chassis upgrades which include a multi-adjustable Ohlins 43mm NIX30 front fork, a matching Ohlins TTX 36 rear shock/damper, forged aluminium five-spoke PVM wheels, and four-pot radial monobloc calipers from Brembo.
And it's still got switchable ABS if you want it.
The colours are Crystal White or Phantom Black, and to make sure everyone else knows you're not riding a common or garden variety Speed Triple, the sub-frame has been splashed with red and Triumph has stuck an "R" on the tank.
The pundits are anticipating a ten grand price tag, which all sounds okay, but we think that Hinckley has mucked up the 2011 and 2012 graphics big time and ought to put the bikes on the emergency drawing board and sort it out before anyone else notices. A bike like this deserves better.
— Girl Happy
According to Motor Cycle News, their planned protest ride to the European Parliament scheduled for 22nd November 2011 has picked up support in the shape of Steve Baker, MP (Tory, High Wycombe), and more recently Mike Weatherley, MP (Brighton & Hove, and incorrectly listed on the MCN website as "Steve"). Oops.
Baker, by the way, is aged 40, ex-Royal Air Force and is said to be anti-war, but pro-nuclear deterrents. He's also campaigning against High Speed 2 (the proposed ballistic link between London and the North East) even though it misses his constituency by a comfortable margin. And he's "actively campaigning against the implementation of the Tobacco Display Ban".
Mike Weatherley, meanwhile, is aged 54, a qualified ski instructor, rides a bicycle, loves rock music in general (and Iron Maiden in particular), is anti-fox hunting, and was recently embarrassed when his estranged second wife was "outed" as a prostitute.
As for the protest itself, that's being waged against "stifling EU measures [designed to] make bikes impossible to modify". These measures, according to MCN, include "so-called onboard diagnostic systems on new bikes [that] could detect non-standard parts and trigger a warning light until the 'fault' is rectified by a dealer. Routine faults could be reported in code decipherable only by a dealer, preventing home-servicing."
Except that the die is still some way from being cast, with the eurocrats currently being largely unable to get enough heads around the same table at the same time to agree, or disagree, about anything.
But a protest ride is a protest ride, never mind that MCN's march on the mandarins is "timed to coincide with a committee vote on the proposals [and] will start and finish at [the] European Parliament Brussels."
Sounds like the shortest protest ride in history. But still, we have to commend the increasing interest in legislative matters more recently shown by the wider British biking press; interest that co-incidentally appears to be inversely proportional to falling sales of their newspapers and magazines.
But let's not be cynical. If you want to lend your support (and don't we all love MCN?), check the MAG and BMF websites for more details of the current EU "anti-bike" proposals (some of which are, note, largely phantom), and be grateful that so far, classic bikes in the UK are still mostly immune from the ravages of Brussels bureaucracy.
But take note too that there's much political infighting going on here between MCN and the riders' rights men including MAG, the BMF and the Federation of European Motorcyclists (FEMA), not all of whom are in agreement about whether to support this protest. Specifically, FEMA has (a) got aerated over the fact that there are "inaccuracies" in the MCN online petition, and (b) is unhappy that the anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is lending its muscle to the ride and thereby muddying the political waters.
It's beginning to look like the script to a soap opera, which is why we're staying clear and going down the pub. You can read all about it on Facebook, whatever that is. Nothing like a consensus, huh?
Most people still don't know who the hell Von Dutch was, so let us clue them in. Von Dutch was the Golden Age Southern Californian god of pin-striping. Born as Kenny Howard, he was also known as Joe Lunch Box Bach and had a long standing love-hate relationship with alcohol that finally punched his card.
Von Dutch built bikes and cars and painted them and mucked about with knives and guns too. In fact, he'd paint pretty much anything for a challenge. Born in 1929, he died in 1992 aged 63, after which his daughters flogged his name to a clothing outfit (pun intended), and that's why you see a lot of female trendy types walking around with Von Dutch splashed across their boobs.
Anyway, some of his stuff is up for auction tomorrow (Saturday 12th November 2011) at the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles. Bonhams is handling the sale, and will also be auctioning items from Ed (Big Daddy) Roth and Steve McQueen's collections, plus various celebrity cars and suchlike.
We have mentioned this before, but here's your last chance to get on the phones and place a bid. Items range from a Von Dutch business card, estimated $500-$700 (immediately above), to a rebuilt 1966 650cc Triumph Bonneville estimated at $18,000-$20,000 (main image).
Now that's a lot of money for a Bonnie with some flames slapped on the tank. But the provenance is strong, and the kudos of riding it down to your local drag meet is hard to beat.
Note that it's not clear if Von Dutch actually owned the bike. It looks more like a paint job for a customer. So keep that in mind. And there's a 1965 Rickman Triumph Metisse, also striped and also estimated at $18,000-$20,000.
If there's a king of Krazy Kustom Kulture, Von Dutch is as good a guy to hang the crown on as anyone else.
— Del Monte
£11,000-£11,500. That's said to be the price tag on this new addition to the Triumph range, a bike designed to kick some BMW GS ass and win the war all over again.
Three cylinders, 1200cc, 135bhp, shaft drive, fly-by-wire, switchable ABS, cruise control, traction control—plus a whacking great alternator kicking out enough power to run a range of electrical accessories and most of Hertfordshire.
Sounds like pretty heavy ammunition, but the BMW has got deep roots and a loyal fan base which will make it a very bloody battle. Then again, Triumph has a brand second to none and is currently riding a wave of sharp design and fielding products that people want to buy.
But oh-oh! Look at the seat height on that one. We haven't got a tape measure handy, but it looks like a significant number of potential customers are gonna need a grappling hook and a head for heights if they want to straddle that seat. Doesn't Triumph know that plenty of guys (and gals) have got the heart, but not the legs?
Apparently they do. Which is why a low seat option is on offer—which is usually a high seat with half the stuffing pulled out, which isn't exactly what the vertically challenged are after.
No word yet on when the first bikes will hit the shops, but flat economy or not, these Tigers are likely to sell fast. But is BMW worried? They certainly ought to be.
Remember Rollerball? We do. Directed by Norman Jewison, Rollerball hits the cinema screens back in 1975 and made a lot of people sit up and pay attention.
Basically, it's an allegory about individualism versus the state, except that in this futuristic beat-em-up bonanza, corporations have replaced countries leading to conflict and intrigue both on and off the track (which sounds spookily prescient, huh?).
James Caan is the hero who becomes bigger than the game, so the men in suits want to take him down a few notches and restore order and reassert control over the hoi polloi, etc. You get the idea.
Anyway, cue knuckledusters, spiked helmets, rollerskates, body-armour, track motorcycles and lots of blood and violence as sports teams compete to be the best and settle their individual macho differences.
So okay, the movie ran out of steam about halfway through, but the imagery lives on long after the sketchy plotline has faded from memory.
Well, Sideburn magazine is certainly happy to resurrect some of the visual excitement on Saturday 19th November 2011 when their Rollerburn event kicks off at the Newark Showground, Lincolnshire. This promises to be nine hours of controlled mayhem, and includes a gaggle of girls in fishnets plus motorcycles plus live bands plus a roller derby plus a bike show plus... well, you'll find out the rest when you get there.
Davida is supplying the helmets which recreate the colours of the original Rollerball teams (Houston, New York, Madrid, Tokyo), and Davida will no doubt supply you with replica lids as part of their usual custom painting program—or any other colour lid that takes your fancy.
Tickets are a miserable ten quid, which makes this one of the best value events around. Check the websites below for more info.
— The Third Man
Apparently, if you want a brand new Brough Superior and can stump up the readies, you'll still have to wait until 2013 to take receipt of your retro wheels - unless, that is, you buy it straight off the Builtwell website.
Builtwell? It's a new clothing store for the "men of character" - like Steve McQueen and Ernest Hemingway and James Dean and Paul Newman - and flogs a lot of very expensive and high quality clobber including shirts at $260, and $3,500 leather jackets and whatnot. The theme of the site changes every couple of months or something, so in the foreseeable future it'll probably be angling or scuba diving or Grand Prix racing. You get the drift.
But for now, you can buy a genuine fresh-from-the-factory "reserved" SS100 Retro Pendine Racer, allegedly the "most coveted model in the Brough Superior stable", and it'll cost you just a quarter of a million rectangular pictures of George Washington.
Frankly, we're beginning to OD on Broughs. But in an ever polarised world, where some blokes earn more in a single insider-trading deal than the rest of us earn in a lifetime, if you're not Broughing it, you must be roughing it. That's the word on the street. Wall Street, that is.
Anyway, take a look at the Builtwell site and see how your character shapes up. Then take yourself down the pub and drown your sorrows in some suds. It's a hard life when you have to do the bulk of your shopping at ASDA and Primark, huh?
The government has issued proposals to scrap the MoT test for bikes and cars manufactured before 1960.
Why? Supposedly, it's all down to a Tory/Lib Dem commitment to cut bureaucracy and red tape. But some would argue that it's just a desperate act by a desperate government hoping to save a few pennies at a time when the kitty is less than empty.
According to Mike Penning, Minister for Transport, classic bikers and classic motorists have already got it pretty well figured out when it comes to routine maintenance and fitness for the road. Therefore, why do they need anyone else poking around their greasy bits?
But it is just a proposal at the moment, and if you want to have your say, check out the link below. For our money, it sounds like a questionable move. Human nature being what it is, people get lazy and complacent, which could eventually put a lot of very dodgy vehicles in the hands of a lot of incompetent mechanics. And we're not talking merely about a few extra vehicles, but tens of thousands—many of which are easily capable of the national speed limit, and beyond.
On the other hand, very few accidents are due to mechanical failure, and the proposals, if implemented, would firmly shift the full responsibility for vehicle maintenance back to the owner/operator where it belongs (not that an MoT certificate was ever a guarantee of vehicle integrity beyond the moment it was issued).
Moreover, there are many countries around the world, including numerous US states, where regular road safety checks are not mandatory.
Vehicles in Manitoba, Canada (for instance) are required to be tested only when first registered, or when changing hands though the trade. Once purchased, no further testing is required by the current owner. Some other Canadian territories have no safety testing regimes at all.
Bulgaria tests only the brakes. The Netherlands, meanwhile, doesn't test vehicles more than 50 years old.
In the UK, various classes of vehicles, including some military, historic and industrial, are MOT exempt.
At the other extreme, New Zealand requires older vehicles, HGVs and rental cars to be checked out every 6 months.
Interestingly, numerous studies have failed to show conclusively that countries and states with mandatory vehicle inspection programmes actually have better road safety records than countries and states without. Part of this is due to flawed methodology, and part of it is due to different criteria and inconsistent accident reporting. Either way, this one is likely to see a lot of polarised viewpoints.
According to the government, two thirds of pre-1960s vehicles travel less than 500 miles a year, and their MoT failure rate is considerably lower than post-1960s vehicles. The bottom line, however, is simply one of cost-effectiveness. In short, is it worth subjecting old crocks to MoT tests where there's a lot of "pain" for very little gain? That's the thinking, anyway.
The closing date for the consultation is January 26th 2012.
— The Third Man