It opened on 26th October 2012, and it ends on 3rd March 2013, and entry won't cost you a bean.
On display are 40 British scooters from 25 British manufacturers collected by one enthusiast, Robin Spalding (pictured below riding a Triumph Tigress 250).
Models include Douglas, Dayton, Triumph, Sun Wasp, Swallow, DKR and Brockhouse. Also, expect to see some rare prototype machines.
These British scooters never quite had the flash and pizzaz of Italy's long established Vespa and Lambretta brands.
But in another way, we actually like the Brit stuff better, perhaps simply because much of it is so austere and quirky—and things that are almost right are so often more right than right, if you know what we mean.
But if you don't, never mind. Go along to the Coventry Transport Museum and catch the exhibition for yourself. There's a lot of other two-wheeled, four-wheeled, and many-more-wheeled stuff there too to keep you amused and interested for a very long afternoon.
— Del Monte
It's the fifth edition, and it's as good as it ever was—if not better, and it's available now.
It's the annual Ace Classics (London) calendar, of course, featuring twelve beautifully photographed Triumphs captured out in the wilds of England and lit by God, as opposed to being tamed in a studio and blitzed with electronic flash.
If you ain't got one, you just gotta get one. That's all there is to it.
The price is a measly ten quid, and the size is ... well, calendar size. It's one bike per page, and one page per month, and as many calendars per customer as you like. And there's no better way to mark the passing of your days than by daily contemplation of a Triumph (unless, that is, you're a BSA/Norton/AJS/Matchless/Ariel man, etc, in which case you'll have to make other arrangements).
We could mention "Christmas" and "presents". But we ain't playing that game anymore. Just buy one because they're cool.
Meanwhile, read more on Ace Classic in the news item below.
— The Third Man
You gotta hand it to those Rushworth boys down in Lee, South London. When most of the rest of the western hemisphere is reigning it in and living on subsistence rations, Ace Classics, founded in 1991, is expanding and increasing it's footprint in the world of pre-unit, post-war Triumph twins.
Last night, Saturday 24th November 2012, saw the launch of the new Ace Classics premises right next door to their long established shop at 101-103 St Mildreds Road, Lee, London, SE12 0RL.
Ex-ISDT man Johnny Giles (images above), was there to cut the ribbon—or, more accurately, to blast into the new shop riding the same works 650cc Triumph he piloted back in the 1950s in the company of great riders such as Ken Heanes, Roy Peplow, Eric Chilton and Ray Sayer. At age 82, Johnny still rides in anger and is blessed with the kind of energy most of us had when we were sixteen.
Around 100 guests turned up for the opening, which saw a three-piece combo hammering out familiar rock'n'roll standards starting with Chris Spedding's Motorbiking, with more full-on crowd chin-wagging than the United nations.
Elsewhere in the building, there was enough nosebag to start a feeding frenzy, and enough booze to get drunk on the fumes. If you were there, drink plenty of water and lie down for a bit. And if you missed it, you missed it.
Above: Kevin Rushworth, Cliff Rushworth and Johnny Giles
Above: The original Ace Classics shop, and (below) the new addition
Since the early 90s, Cliff Rushworth has been a man on a mission to build, restore, service, and provide parts for the machines that many, if not most, Triumph men would call the greatest Meriden Trumpets of them all.
Ace Classics remanufactures dozens of items that would otherwise be pretty much unobtainable, and Cliff is set upon having these parts built right here in the UK, and to precise factory specifications.
In recent years, the day-to-day management of the shop has been handled by son, Kevin, who also knows pretty much all there is to know about Triumph twins from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. And that includes everything from the mechanicals to the all-important paint finishes.
Prices for parts and finished bikes are always very keen too, and broadly speaking, these Triumph pre-units hold their value well and are always saleable. Next time you visit the capital of the world, make sure you include a trip to South London and Ace Classics. It's one of the brightest jewels in the classic bike crown. Long may it continue to glitter.
Hughie is no longer with us, and sadly he never got to see the finished print of his book entitled: TRIUMPH. Production Tester Tales from the Meriden Factory.
Sounds to us that this publication deserves a better title than that, but we've got little doubt that this is interesting and entertaining stuff.
Ex-Meriden man, Hughie, was in later life noted as a top Triumph restorer. He wrote a number of books and fronted workshop videos detailing the right way to rebuild Triumph engines.
This new book is available now in the UK from Veloce Publishing, and will be available in the USA from January 2013.
It's a paperback. The dimensions are 25 x 20.7cm. It's got 160 pages. And it carries 183 colour and b&w pictures. ISBN: 978-1-845844-41-7 Veloce are asking £19.99 for a copy, but it's also available as an eBook.
Check out Sump August 2011 for more on Hughie Hancox.
— Del Monte
Okay, we admit it. We doctored this image with Adobe Photoshop in order to get (left to right) Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, and Bill Wyman in the same frame.
But if you manage to wangle tickets for their London O2 gigs on 25th and 29th November 2012, that's exactly what you're gonna get; six Rolling Stones with a collective age of 412 years (for whatever that's worth to you).
If you rode a motorcycle in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties or even noughties, the music of the Stones was as familiar as the rattle of your exhaust or the slapping of your pistons.
What's that? You're not a Stones fan? Get outta here. The Jagger/Richards songwriting partnership is one of the most enduring and evocative in music history and is up there with Lennon-McCartney and the brothers Gibb, and anyone else you care to name.
There are bands out there who would commit murder to boast even a quarter of the Stones' back catalogue—much of which you can wreck your eardrums with if you can get yourself a ticket and stand the two hours or so of some of the most memorable songs in pop history.
Taylor left the Stones in 1974. Wyman departed in 1993. But whatever forces split this particular atom have since dissipated, and these guys are ready to rock'n'roll again.
Prices of prime perches are, unexpectedly, now changing hands for thousands of pounds. But various sellers are telling us that, at the time of writing (21st November), £300-£400 will still get you through the door.
Fancy getting well and truly Stoned? Better make your move now before these kings of rock'n'roll royalty fade away forever.
— Girl Happy
Well it ain't Wallace and Gromit, and at first glance it isn't clear what it is. But study it for a while and it might grow on you, anyway.
This piece of "futuristic" motorcycle and sidecar artwork is a sculpture by the late Merseyside artist (Brian) Sean Rice, and Bonhams will be taking a hammer to it (so to speak) on Tuesday 4th December at their Chester Sale.
Rice was born in 1931 and died in 1997. He was a keen motorcyclist whose later artworks are said to be influenced not only by his riding experiences but also the infamous 1981 Toxteth riots in Liverpool that took place fairly close to his home in the nearby suburb of Walton.
From 1967 to 1980, Rice worked as a lecturer at Liverpool School of Art, and later established a foundry near Goodison Park in Everton.
Made from copper, bronze and iron, the sculpture is one metre high and carries an estimate of £3000-£5000.
Motorcycle outfits aren't really our thing, but we like this one plenty. It's stylish, a little menacing, a little disturbing, and certainly gives the desired impression of speed and grace.
Let's hope that whoever buys it looks after it a lot better than our local authorities, many of whom have allowed some great works of public art to be stolen and consigned to the furnace.
When it comes to investing in classic bikes, this one could be a very safe place to put your money.
— Big End
Most of us know him as that Guardian newspaper and London Evening Standard journo-bloke with a mouthful of controversial opinions and a regular seat on Question Time, but since 2008 he's been the chairman of the National Trust and busy working to keep our history & heritage alive, and our national parks free from riff-raff.
In 2004, Jenkins was appointed Knight Batchelor in the New Years Honours, so now we all get to call him Sir. If we want to.
But none of that has earned him a spot on Sump's hallowed news pages. He's here because he wants to scrap ninety percent of British traffic lights citing them as being responsible for many accidents rather than preventing them.
And he's got a point. Most of the traffic lights we encounter are redundant and sit at junctions that could easily be negotiated in much the same way that we negotiate roundabouts. Moreover, there's nothing like an imminent red light to dramatically increase your chances of getting rear-ended by some fool behind who's willing to risk catapulting you into eternity if you have the temerity to stop on demand.
Said "professional miserabilist" Jenkins, "I’d tear down 90% of traffic lights. They are merely ways in which the state exerts control over us. They’re also dangerous; most accidents take place at traffic lights because everyone is looking at the lights and not at other road users."
He might not exactly be on the winning side with this one. But the traffic light rebels are gaining new followers every day as Britain rushes to de-clutter the environment—which is exactly where the National Trust comes in.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has, meanwhile, ordered a review of the capital's lights, and other cities are following suit. Can't see much chance of anything too radical happening in the near future. But getting rid of most of our traffic lights is likely, on balance, to make classic biking better rather than worse.
So tip your lid for Jenkins, if you will. You might not agree with his views that the Falkland Islands should be handed over to the Argies (and leased back through the UN), but when it comes to his views on traffic lights, we think Simon is a saint.
— The Third Man
Take a good look at this guy. He's Bertrand Delanoë, and since 2001 he's been the left-wing, gay, mayor of Paris.
What makes him significant to anyone in the classic bike or car world is that he wants to ban from the French capital any motor vehicle older than seventeen years. Unless it's a bus, that is, which will get an extra twelve months grace.
You're right, this story has been doing the rounds for a while now. But it's developed new impetus due to proposals recently put before the city council.
The deadline, says Delanoë, is 2014. After that, he wants all the "dirty, smelly and noisy" old vehicles out of sight—which means beyond the boundary of the A86 ring road.
That means no more 2CVs, Renault 4TLs or Citroen DSs cruising down the Champs-Elysees. It also means that "traditional" classic British bikes will not be admitted to gay Paris, except Indian-made Royal Enfields.
Shocking? Unbelievable? Alarmist talk? We don't know. But the word is on the street, and we're just passing it on.
But what's behind it all?
Well, it seems that the mayor is preparing the ground for his successor, Anne Hidalgo, who needs to bolster her green credentials. Also, it's claimed that over 40,000 Frenchmen and women die prematurely in French towns, never mind that what's having the biggest impact on their lungs and lives are the diesel fumes (as opposed to petrol fumes) that have become the preferred perfume of the Parisian motoring masses.
There's some other political stuff going on too. The mayor is a keen advocate of turning Paris into a Low Emission Zone. He's already initiated numerous pedestrian friendly/bike friendly measures and has his heart set on cutting emissions by 30 per cent by 2015.
And behind this, there are European air pollution regulations that could lead to a €100 million fine in 2016.
To that end, he's thinking about establishing new speed limits on Paris' inner ring road, le Périphérique, plus tolls, eco-taxes, anti-personnel mines, tactical nuclear weapons, and suchlike.
He's got to get approval for all this, and that means cutting a deal with the Paris Préfecture de Police and the government. So it's not a done deal.
We're not sure what, if anything, can be done about this except to give him what he wants and stay away in droves—except that the classic droves are said to represent no more than three percent of traffic, and probably a lot less than that in terms of hard cash.
Meanwhile, there are still plenty of other cities at home and abroad that are prepared to tolerate the smelly, noisy, dirty classic minority. But the writing is clearly on the walls, much of it in French.
— Sam 7
We meant to have this one finished a long time ago, but what with one beer and another, we decided to have a few more beers instead.
But then—oh what?—our local pub burned down and we had a little free time until they built a new one and ... well, the rest is a long boozy story.
The point is, the T-shirts have finally arrived, so all you Bulleteers out there now have something new and original to wear when piloting your pride and joy.
Up close, these tees look pretty cool and come in the usual four main sizes. The price is £15.00, the T-shirt colour is Bible black, and postage is either three quid or four quid depending on where in the world you and your Bullet happen to be.
You can click here for a closer look at the design, or you can go straight to the order page. Buy two or more shirts, and you pay postage only once.
That's it. The pub's just opened...
— Big End
No, it's not the same Husqvarna that Bonhams sold back in May 2011 for $144,500. We checked. This 1970 400cc single is a different machine, and one year newer, but the connection is the same.
And contrary to rumours, it's not the bike featured in the movie On Any Sunday. But it's still a prime cut of biking beef—assuming you're into all that King of Cool stuff.
The Husky will be auctioned by Bonhams at its 3rd Annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction in January 2013. The bike comes with various documents to prove its provenance, but there's no word yet on the estimate.
We'll be watching from a distance to see if interest in McQueen is cooling (pun intended). Check out Sump May 2011 for more McQueen Husky talk.
Meanwhile, consignments for the auction are invited. Better check your shed for any motorcycle that Steve McQueen might have breathed on or even looked at. The guy's headed for sainthood. It's gotta be just a question of time.
— Girl Happy
We've only recently learned of the death of magneto auto-advance and retard unit specialist, Roy Price who died on 27th April 2012.
We knew Roy a little and found him to be a friendly, knowledgeable and dedicated motorcycle engineer full of energy and passion for his work.
Roy began his motorcycling career in 1951 riding grass track bikes, but without enjoying notable success. It was when, together with elder brother Stan, he tried his hand at sidecar motocross that things dramatically improved.
Over the next decade, Roy (above, riding) and Stan were regular competitors and notched-up dozens of wins, enjoying their best year in 1961 when they won 41 out of 49 races. Four years later, in 1965, the brothers won the British sidecar-cross championship.
It was in 1956 that Roy found his first job in the motorcycle industry working for North London bike dealer, Eric Kennard trading in Nortons. In 1968, Roy found himself working for John Tickle, also a Norton specialist. Later, he moved to Suzuki GB where he stayed until 1994.
Following his retirement, and operating from a workshop at his Cambridgeshire home, he specialised in magneto auto-advance units for British bikes only and soon developed a reliable system for Vincent twins. He also serviced and rebuilt distributors.
Roy Price was a regular trader at the Stafford Classic Bike Show and enjoyed meeting old friends and customers and listened carefully to the feedback on his products.
"People constantly misunderstand what I do," he once lamented, albeit with a resigned grin. "I don't build or repair magnetos. I work only with the bit at the end, the advance and retard units."
For full magneto rebuilds, Roy would direct enquirers to one of three or four specialists that he was happy to recommend.
In recent years, his health slowly deteriorated as he battled cancer, and in April this year he died. It's only a very small consolation that Roy was 82 years old.
He leaves behind a wife, Helen, two sons, and elder brother Stan.
Cambrian Tyres tell us that these Continental ContiClassicAttack wheel rubbers are the world's first radials designed specifically for classic bikes, and we ain't arguing because we don't know no better.
Unlike your average traditional cross plys, these tyres have 0° steel belt construction and feature Continuous Compound Technology. They also feature something called Black Chili compound and Traction Skin.
We don't know what the hell that really means either, but apparently these donuts are more stable on the move and don't react as badly to cat's eyes and manhole covers and road kill and suchlike.
Also, they've got softer shoulders and harder centres (in line with modern tyre thinking), but the change from one extreme to the other is gradual rather than stepped.
Well don't worry about it. The point is, these Continentals could help revolutionise classic biking. But no, they don't have the period look that purists are after. But if you enjoy your classic action on the street rather than on show stands, you ought to take a closer look at these.
They're not available until December 2012, and are being introduced in three sizes:
100/90 R19 57V TL (replaces 3.25 -19)
110/90 R18 61V TL (replaces 4.00 -18)
120/90 R18 65V TL (replaces 4.25 -18)
Continental has no plans at present to develop 21-inch classic radials or 20-inchers or whatever. And most guys with wheels of these sizes probably wouldn't want them, anyway. But if the demand is there, maybe the manufacturers will relent.
But what about the price? Well, importers Cambrian expect to see these tyres selling at around £210-£215 a pair. That's a fair bit more expensive than most of us are paying for our rubber. But these ContiClassicAttacks, we're advised, will give you more grip and confidence for pretty much the same mileage. Sounds like they could be money well spent.
— Big End
It's still forbidden for UK police officers to smoke on duty, except, apparently, when the police car doors are closed and the engine's running.
We're talking about the "Runlock" system which is installed in many Metropolitan Police Force vehicles and is on the move across the country.
If you haven't heard of it (and most coppers still haven't, it seems), Runlock enables a police officer to leave the vehicle's engine running when he or she is elsewhere engaged.
The system is wired so that any attempt to tamper with the vehicle will immediately result in a total shutdown, whilst also allowing a copper to return to his or her vehicle with the heater blowing or the air-conditioning keeping his or her rear end nice and warm. Or refreshingly cool.
More to the point, we're advised, Runlock enables the increasingly important on-board computer to stay operational ready for the next call-to-arms.
Well we must be missing something here because modern laptops usually come with battery power lasting five to six hours, and sometimes more. Moreover, extension powerpacks can double or triple that.
So we spoke to a Metropolitan police inspector about Runlock, and asked if the general increased fire risk of an unattended police vehicle was a fair price to pay for keeping all systems on the boil.
"Modern cars are built well and rarely catch fire," said the aforementioned inspector. "The chances of it happening are slim."
Which might be true. But when you multiply that risk by hundreds or even thousands of vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of operational hours, the risk has to be correspondingly high, doesn't it?
"No comment," said the inspector.
This is long overdue, but you might have to wait until next autumn before you see anything in writing.
The long and short of it is that the UK government is finally talking about "de-cluttering" the countryside and removing all the deadwood road signs that have blighted what's left of our green belt.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, we hear, has little time or enthusiasm for the proliferation in recent year of signs that often tell us (a) absolutely nothing useful, (b) confuse and distract us from the road, and (c) are left standing long after their usefulness ends.
Local authorities, says McLoughlin, will soon have greater freedoms to clean up their backyard, and will save money to boot.
Sounds like a plan, but in these desperate times of financial doom and gloom, we suspect a lot of new signs are coming our way, most of which will be intended to relieve us of even more of our money as the government desperately tries to make good the fiscal and pensions time bomb that's still quietly fizzing.
This news comes at a time when, apparently, plans are being drawn up to create numerous new toll roads throughout the UK to help fleece soft target motorists (and motorcyclists) out of their increasingly hard-earned coin.
The watchword here (or watch phrase) is "free flowing schemes" which refers to high tech charging systems to replace the conventional traffic-slowing toll booth. These schemes include paying by mobile phone, internet payment, onboard sensors, or simply via pre-pay schemes backed up by automatic number plate recognition systems (ANPR). This latter option, note, could mean that motorcyclists will be included in road toll charging.
New proposed or suggested toll schemes include the existing Blackwall Tunnel in East London ( a notorious traffic hotspot), and the proposed Mersey Gateway Bridge twixt Runcorn and Widnes in North West England.
Meanwhile here's a list of other signs that the local authorities might consider removing, plus one or two that should never have existed in the first place:
SURVEY: STOP IF REQUESTED
OLYMPIC TRAFFIC ONLY
— Sam 7
Now don't start getting all sentimental about it. Taking your fifteen-strong collection of classic iron down to your local MOT tester and having your bikes annually poked, prodded, squeezed and scrutinised was fun while it lasted. But come the 18th of this month, it's over.
The UK MOT vehicle inspection requirement for pre-1960 classic vehicles (unless used for hire and reward) ends on that date. From then onward, you'll have to be extra vigilant and do your own prodding and poking, etc.
Whether this is a good move or a bad move remains to be seen, and opinion is, naturally enough, divided. But ultimately, the roadworthiness of any motor vehicle is the responsibility of the operator, so now we're all going to have to be a little more responsible than we otherwise might have been.
On the downside, some pundits are predicting more accidents and casualties involving crocks like ours. On the upside, we could soon be seeing more classics on the road now that there are fewer legal hoops to jump through.
And, of course, both points of view could be right.
We're also waiting to see exactly how this change is viewed by the puppet masters at the EC, but we ain't gonna lose any sleep over it. We've got one or two neglected—but perfectly roadworthy—heaps at the back of the garage that haven't seen the light of day since the last MOT ran out (mostly because we were too busy to trundle down to the tester, and too tight-fisted to stump up the fee), and we've got riding plans.
Want more on this? See Sump May 2012.
UPDATE: We've been contacted by the DVLA regarding machines that owners feel should be dated pre-1960 (i.e. military bikes that were not released by the British army until the late 1960s), We're advised that the DVLA are aware of this issue and are taking a "helpful" approach. For dating purposes, they will accept photocopies of relevant pages from authoritative sources such as manufacturers records, and even Glass's Guide. But in special cases, dating certificates from approved experts will also be accepted. Just write to the DVLA and explain the problem. Alternately, ask your local post office for form V112, or download it online from here:
— Big End
Or maybe even 2014. It's not clear yet if or when the UK will see this bike. But in October, Royal Enfield displayed it at the 2012 Intermot Show at Cologne/Köln, so the company has apparently got something in the pipeline.
The frame was designed by Steve and Lester Harris of Harris Performance (two of the most talented engineers in the British motorcycle industry and legendary in their expertise). It's a duplex chassis that's a new departure for Royal Enfield Bullets and features fairly large diameter tubing. But that might be changed on production bikes.
The engine has grown from 499cc to 535cc. Brakes are Brembo. But once again, the specification is subject to change.
In some respects, Royal Enfield is in a similar position to Triumph back in the early 1980s when the firm had one basic product and needed to serve it up in as many ways as possible to keep interest alive.
Except that Triumph's production was, by then, down to a few hundred bikes a week, or less, whereas Enfield is currently said to be on target to build around 100,000 units this year.
Regardless, you can see the new/proposed cafe racer for yourself at the Motorcycle Live Exhibition at the NEC from 24th November-2nd December 2012.
It's too far into the future to quote prices, or even give detailed specifications. But it seems that Royal Enfield needs to complete a new factory before production begins. But they ought to hurry with this one. It's a good looking bike, and cafe racers are very much in vogue at the moment. Be a shame to miss a good wave when it's rolling.
— Del Monte