If you're stuck for something entertaining to watch on the box tonight, try this instead. Made by Liverpool motorcycle dealer Victor Horsman, this movie dates from 1955 and takes about forty minutes end to end. But it's an interesting snapshot of Britain in the 1950s, with a solid road safety message at the core.
Entitled "Rode Safely" (sic), the movie features a number of well-known and well-respect TT and ISDT riders of the era including Nobby Clark, Bill Quinn, Eric Wilson, Keith Walker and Ken Morris.
Some nice footage and plenty of staged accidents are underpinned by cool-headed, pragmatic middle-English dialogue patiently explaining how to do just about everything on two wheels without crashing into car doors, running over kiddies or flipping your sidecar outfit on its roof.
— Del Monte
The VMCC's current raffle, which kicked off in July 2011, will be drawn on Friday 16th December 2011, with the winner being notified pretty much immediately—which gives you just a few weeks to get yourself a ticket.
The VMCC (Vintage Motor Cycle Club) organises a couple of raffles each year; January-June, and July-December. The last winner was Mr J Kidd from Kirkaldy, Scotland who rode away on a 1975 750cc Triumph T160 Trident.
This time, first prize is a 1963 650cc BSA Rocket Gold Star, and someone is going to stick it under their Christmas tree this year.
Second prize is a Davida “Classic” helmet. Third Prize is a years subscription to Old Bike Mart & The Classic Motorcycle. Tickets cost £1 each.
Chances of winning this, when compared to, say, the National Lottery are high. But as they say, you have to be in it to win it. For a larger image of this bike, click here.
— Girl Happy
You can't blame Hinckley Triumph for wanting to make some dosh, especially when cash is in such short supply, but we wish they'd chosen another way to get it.
What we have here is the latest T100 Bonneville offering from Hinckley, served up as a homage (or is that fromage?) to Steve McQueen. Because frankly, it's about as cheesy as you can get.
Modelled very loosely on the 1960 Triumph TR6 Trophy piloted by McQueen (and Bud Ekins) in the movie The Great Escape, this 2012 machine will be supplied in faux olive drab with plenty of black bits, a single seat, a rack on the back, and a limited edition number and certificate to prove that it's one of just 1100.
In the movie, the bike was supposed to be a German despatch machine or something, and probably fooled 99% of the viewers glued to the big screen. But to anyone with any knowledge of pre-1970s motorcycles, McQueen's bike looks as fake as a Chinese Rolex.
But don't get us wrong. We love the Hinckley Bonneville and have piloted a few over the years. But this one, along with the Meriden Jubilee Bonnie and Royal Wedding Bonnie, really ought to have been recycled before delivery.
Hinckley will no doubt sell all 1100 without much trouble, and the bikes will bring back a lot of much needed export dollars. But couldn't the factory have come up with something really special rather than a fake of a fake that was fence-jumped by someone other than they guy who got 99% of the credit?
No prices yet, but the barmy-army T100 goes on sale next year (2012). Steve McQueen would roll over in his grave (or maybe Bud Ekins would do it for him).
£240,000-£280,000. That was the estimate Bonhams had in mind for this piece of classic bike history when it came up for auction at the firm's October sale at Stafford. But the hammer came down when the bidding reached "just" £210,500—inclusive of buyer's premium, which means that the bike fell way short of expectations.
Originally, this 1929 Brough Superior SS100 (engine number JTO/C 20728/T) was supplied with a 980cc JTOR JAP engine, but owner Charlie Hobbs wanted more power and stripped the motor and went looking for extra horses.
Two years on, the bike was running 1140cc with new pistons specially made by J A Prestwich (JAP). A very respectable 57bhp was claimed with the maximum speed touching 106mph.
But Hobbs was unsatisfied and took the bike to Ted "Barry" Baragwanath (pictured left). Baragwanath, a well-known and well-respected Brooklands sidecar racer and tuner (who also ran a motor repair business in North London and was noted for wearing a winged collar with his riding gear) coaxed the horsepower up to around 65 from 44. This was achieved by increasing the compression ratio (to 8.3:1), fitting two Amal carburettors, installing higher lift cams, and generally pressing all the right tuning buttons.
Moby was now able to hit 115mph in top gear (3rd), and reach 109mph in second. Despite all this, Hobbs didn't fare as well as he'd hoped at Brooklands, but he did better at the Gatwick Speed Trials in both the solo and the sidecar class.
In 1936, the Brough was bought by brothers Ken and Ralph Bilbé who raced it with some success at Brooklands and further clocked up 23 speeding ticket on the road. By 1940, Moby Dick was sold and passed through the hands of Alfred J Cain and Tom Eccles, the latter of whom kept the bike for 40 years. In 1980, Louis Holland bought the bike, but soon sold it to Roger Bilbé (son of Ralph) who had been patiently tracking down the machine.
In April 1999, Moby returned to Brooklands for the first time in sixty years, still in the ownership of Roger Bilbé.
Bonhams is bound to be disappointed at the result of this sale, and will no doubt be looking anxiously at their next sale at Harrogate to see if this represents a new downward trend (see item below).
For more on this, see Sump September 2011.
— The Third Man
These Brough's keep on coming, and Bonhams is happy to keep floggin' 'em off. The latest is the above 1928 SS100 ex-sprinter that goes on the block on 16th November 2011 at Yorkshire's most famous spa town. The estimate is £165,000-£185,000.
Brough Superior club president Dick Knight purchased the bike in the 1970s and converted it back to road use twenty-odd years later. It's a fairly well-known machine and the provenance looks good. But what about that estimate? We think it's on the money.
Other notable attractions at the Harrogate auction include:
- 1955 Vincent Series-D Black Shadow (estimate £34,000-38,000)
- 1950 Norton 500cc International (estimate £17,000-20,000)
- 1939 Ariel Square Four (estimate £12,000-16,000)
Bonhams will also be auctioning a number of "barn finds" including :
- 1956 BSA CB32 Gold Star (£300-500)
- circa1956 Triumph 5T (£200-400).
With inflation now running at around 5.2 percent in the UK, that money stuffed under your mattress is worth less and less every day, which makes classic bike auctions more and more attractive seeing as this is one sector of the struggling bike industry that's still on an upward climb. The bubble has to burst sometime, but it hasn't happened yet.
Make your play.
— Girl Happy
Okay, our dinner's on the table and the beers have been opened, so we're not going to waste time with this one. Seems there's a new crash helmet manufacturer on the block and they're launching their funky-coloured range this December (2011).
The 1960s/1970s flavoured lids are both Jet style (1.94lbs) and full-faced (2.76lbs), all made from fibre glass, and designed for the style conscious rider—which is pretty much all of us, huh?
These lids, note, are ECE 22.05 certified which, it seems, is the current European standard. But does that make them approved for use on the roads. Apparently so. And all over the continent too. Just open the box, pop one on, and get rolling.
We haven't yet tried one of these, so you'll have to do your own leg work. The price of the open-face lid is £172. The full-faced lid (not shown) is £192. Prices include VAT. Sizes range from XS to XL, and you're spoiled for choice with fifteen colour combos, including seven metal flake options. The outer lining, by the way, is hand-stitched leather. The inner lining is washable velour.
If you're a bike business looking for a new product line, Grand Prix are seeking resellers. So you know what you have to do.
— Del Monte
Sammy's involvement with AJS and Matchless motorcycles long pre-dates the creation of his motorcycle museum in New Milton, Hampshire.
For instance, Sammy's first Irish road race, we hear, was astride a 350cc 7R AJS. Well now he's become an honorary member of the AJS and Matchless Owner's Club and has another certificate to hang on his wall along with his numerous trophies.
Something and nothing? Well that probably depends upon which side of the certificate you are. Sammy certainly looked pleased with himself, and some would say that his contribution to British motorcycling has been justly rewarded. That's the club view, and we're certainly not arguing about it.
Pictured left to right is Roger Limb (club PRO), Sammy Miller, and Rob Swift (club chairman).
— Girl Happy
Drive or ride dangerously in the UK and you face a maximum penalty of two years in clink. Drive or ride dangerously and kill someone, and the maximum penalty rises to fourteen years. But if you cause an injury, minor or serious, the British courts are not at liberty to factor that in and can impose only the lower of the two sentences.
But that could be set to change.
Road safety groups and individuals have long been lobbying for a change in the law in which the consequences of injuries caused by dangerous driving is factored into the punishment. The government has finally capitulated through plans to introduce a new maximum penalty of five years.
That would leave us with three offences:
Dangerous driving - maximum of two years jail
Causing serious injury by dangerous driving - maximum 5 years jail
Causing death by dangerous driving - maximum 14 years jail
Under the new plans, judges will be able to adjust sentences to address the distress, pain and damage caused by dangerous driving/riding, a move which will significantly shift the onus further onto the offender. This new legislation, says the government, could lead to an extra 230 prison places at a cost of around £10 million, but whether it works as a deterrent remains to be seen.
It also remains to be seen whether the government is prepared to shell out the extra money given the current state of the economy in which police and prison staff numbers are in decline.
The new offence will be tabled as an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which is currently at Committee Stage.
— Del Monte
That's the starting bid, anyway. But the buy-it-now price is $17,900. It's been up on eBay before, but it didn't find a buyer, so it's back again.
The seller is St Louis Car Museum—or, more accurately, St Louis Car Museum and Sales. Spot the difference?
The St Louis, Missouri organisation/firm was established in 1991 and "actively buys, sells and trades everything ..." from an 1908 ABC Highwheeler Model C to a 1958 Edsel to a 2012 Shelby Mustang to a 1985 Yamaha RZ350. They flog aircraft too.
The outfit also handles vehicle storage, all of which makes it sound less like a bona fide museum and suspiciously like a car dealership.
Anyway, in view of the walking-speed performance, you'd think the last accessory you'd need for your M20 is a sidecar. But these bikes aren't about performance (we know because we've got one). They're all about charm and nostalgia and dressing up, etc.
It's a 1939 model with a "military" engine number. There's a video with the listing, and it looks and sounds about right. But $13,975 to get the ball rolling?
Good luck to the "museum" if they can flog it at anywhere near this price. But bad luck to the mug who digs his or her hand that deep in their pocket/purse. Our valuation? Well, £13,975 is about £9003 at tonight's exchange rate (9th September 2011). We figure that £5000-£6000 is a more realistic figure.
By the time you read this, the first 1720cc Indians built by US firm Polaris Industries will be coming off the production line.
Polaris took over the company earlier this year (as reported by Sump back in May) and planned a range of three bikes, now confirmed as the Classic Chief, Chief Dark Horse and Chief Vintage. The first machines will undergo technical evaluation to ensure they comply with current regulations, and then the big lever will be pushed and Polaris will be churning them out.
At least, that's the plan. Or hope. But there's a recession on (in everything but name), and Polaris already own "rival" Victory Motorcycles.
Additionally, it's not clear whether these new Indians will be on the UK warpath because Alan Forbes (ex-Rezillos front man and long time Indian restorer and Indian parts supplier) is laying claim to the brand in the British market—and Forbes has already had a less than totally successful stab at launching the Dakota-4 (immediately above) here in Blighty, and might not yet be done with his plans.
Then again, we can see Forbes and Polaris getting together in the very near future, if they haven't done so already, and hunkering down to a little old-fashioned horse trading. The Indian brand in the UK is a popular one and can undoubtedly take a large slice of Harley's pie. It's hard to imagine Polaris not factoring in a little local revenue into their long term business plan, especially while times are so tough.
But Forbes has invested a lot of his own time and money into his Indian business plans. And there's always personal feelings at stake.
Still, it would be a shame not to see one of the great American icons in significant numbers back on British streets, even it the original company went bust more than half a century ago back in 1953.
Gotta million quid to spare? If so, Triumph specialist Bill Crosby, founder of the London Motorcycle Museum, would like to have a chat. Bill, proprietor of Reg Allen Motorcycles in Ealing, West London has been campaigning the museum since it opened in 1999.
It houses around 400 bikes, most of which are Triumphs, and with a significant number being prototypes that Bill acquired over many years—not least during the final months of the Meriden Workers Cooperative.
The problem, however, is that the museum needs to develop its identity to include bikes of other marques from around the world, which in turn requires more space, which requires more dosh.
There are various possible grants available, including the national lottery fund and the local authority. But so far, the pennies simply haven't fallen into the right pocket and growth has been slowed. However, Bill, aged 79, is nothing if not persistent, and aided and abetted by sons Mark, Gary and Sam is constantly trying to find that elusive pot of gold.
We've visited the museum some years ago,and whilst it doesn't have the glitz and pizzazz of the National Motorcycle Museum or Sammy Millers, it nevertheless does contain some very interesting stuff, especially for Triumph men, and will be a whole lot better once the big money starts to flow, which it probably will sooner or later.
You can visit Bill at his shop at 39 Grosvenor Road, Hanwell, London, W7 1HP (Triumph, Royal Enfield and AJS), or visit the Museum at Ravenor Farm, Oldfield Lane South, Greenford, Middlesex UB6 9LD (open Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays, 10am to 4.30pm). It's just a short ride from the Ace cafe and will make for an interesting diversion.
Entry is £5.00.
— The Third Man
So that's another year almost done with, which makes it calendar season again, and that's why we're looking at a couple of winsome wenches decorating a 1939 Matchless Model X outfit (eyes right, everyone).
The AJS & Matchless Owners Club have evidently been out and about with their polaroids and Instamatics and it's the same "successful" 1940s/1950s formula as last year with girls in various states of undress, and is either cheap and tacky, or harmless fun (depending on your sexual politics, etc).
Either way, the calendars will officially be launched at the Classic Mechanics Stafford Show and, apparently, the November Classic Motor Show at the NEC where you can get a close up look at the calendar girls who are helping with this year's Matchless G12 raffle.
But you can buy the calendars now online at the club website. Prices are £8.95 (UK), £9.95 (Europe), and £10.95 (World). Postage and packing is included.
— Girl Happy
It's nearly always a shame when an independent magazine hits the skids, but that's what's happened to Riders Digest. This pint size tome has become a familiar feature over God knows how many years. We've been picking 'em up since we were in short trousers, or so it seems, but the last issues have now gone to that great printing press in the sky.
What happened? The recession, that's what. People ain't buying, so businesses ain't selling, so magazines ain't getting any ad revenue. It's as simple as that.
Editor Alan Dowds is understandably disappointed. The mag carried a lot of interesting features and had a unique style and voice. But all might not be lost. Dowds is said to be thinking about an online magazine, but there's still the thorny problem of ad revenues—unless, of course, you can monetise your publication in some other way.
If you want to send your commiserations, Dowds is still monitoring emails, but don't expect a prompt response. Planning a new mag, or a new version of an old mag, takes a lot of thought and planning, and in the current climate, things just ain't happening quickly.
— The Third Man
Is this the coolest Triumph around? Probably not, but Arthur Fonzarelli—the character played by actor Henry Winkler in the US TV series Happy Days—made these wheels among the most famous on the planet.
Not that you ever saw much of them if you watched the show. Usually there was just a three second clip of the bike on the opening titles, followed by the occasional shot of the Triumph parked in a garage or something with Fonzie standing beside it and combing his tresses.
Nevertheless, it's a stand-up piece of TV history and will attract Bud Ekins fans because it was actually his bike too (albeit after the show was finished with it). It's a 1949 Triumph TR5 Trophy scrambler; a machine that Ekins prepared for the show's producers simply by removing the front mudguard, raising the 'bars and spraying the tank silver.
There were actually various bikes used on the production, but this one is most closely associated with The Fonz (who, it seems, couldn't actually ride it properly). We don't yet know what the reserve is, but it goes under the hammer at Bonhams' Classic California sale on 12th November at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
But what's New York-born Winkler, now aged 65, up to these days? Well, he's been busy directing movies and TV shows, writing books, and encouraging people to back Barack Obama. And just last month, he also received an honorary OBE from us Brits for services towards children with special needs, which is pretty cool.
The reserve price for this bike hasn't yet been posted, so your guess is as good as ours what it will fetch. But Ekins memorabilia is becoming increasingly sought after, largely due to the Ekins-McQueen connection. So we could be talking about fairly big bucks here.
— Del Monte