Okay, we've just received the pre-production samples of these tees (31st October 2012) and they look great. The first production batch will be with us in a couple of days.
If any of you hulking BSA riders out there feel like squeezing your manly (or even womanly) chests into one, follow the usual links below and put your money where your mouth is. We'll be despatching immediately.
The price is £12.50 plus £3 postage and packing for UK customers, and £4 postage and packing for anyone living further afield. Buy two or more shirts, and you pay postage just once.
The T-shirts are black only, but we're looking to print black on white too, so let us know if you want one of those and we'll put one aside.
These tees, incidentally, are a fairly loose fit, so you might want to consider a size slightly smaller than usual. But check the main order page for precise measurements.
Sold? Okay. Take a closer look at the Beeza Geeza T-shirt page,
or click on the T-shirt below.
UPDATE: These tees are in stock now and selling well.
— Big End
It arrived the same year that Indian launched their first production motorcycle, and was on the market one year before Harley-Davidson got their trading act together.
This "time capsule" 1902 Rambler was built by the American Cycle Manufacturing Company of New York. It was launched by Lieutenant Colonel Albert Augustus Pope (1843-1909), a one-time officer in the American Union Army and later a transportation pioneer.
Albert Pope was a visionary businessman who brought together competing pioneer brands including Cleveland, Columbia, Crescent, Imperial, Monarch, Rambler and Tribune. He also gave his name to Pope motorcycles, but never lived to see his name emblazoned on the fuel tanks. The first Pope-branded motorcycle appeared in 1911, two years after his death.
But this was 1902. Indian had, a year earlier, produced a prototype motorcycle. This "Camelback" model was a 213cc, inlet-over-exhaust, chain-driven single of 1.75 horsepower, and was priced at $200.
The Rambler, however, was hot on its heels, and was a strong, sturdy and well-built machine featuring a long wheelbase for stability and a purpose-built frame (as opposed to an adapted bicycle frame). The engine was 2.25 horsepower. The fuel tank held approximately 1.2 imperial gallons, or 1.5 US gallons giving a range of around 80 miles. The maximum speed was around 30-35mph. Tyres were both 28 x 2-inch. The brakes were spoon at the front with a coaster rear. The original selling price was $225.
This example comes from the Manthos Collection of the Indian Motorcycle Museum, and will go under the hammer at the third annual Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale on Thursday 10th January 2013 at Bally’s Hotel & Casino on The Strip.
Aside from a few dabs of touch-up paint on the fuel tank, the Rambler (image courtesy of Bonhams) is said to be in original condition and has a reserve of $60,000-$80,000. It also comes with original paperwork.
Update: The Rambler sold for $66,700 (almost £42,000) after "intense interest from collectors in the audience and on the telephones". Looks like Bonhams once again got he estimate spot on.
— The Third Man
This firm won't mean much to most folk in the classic bike world, but a fair number of you out there will remember the controversial days of Dennis Poore's Manganese Bronze Holdings (MBH) that desperately tried to revive the British motorcycle industry.
We're back in the 1960s when Manganese Bronze Bearings, as it was then known, merged with Villiers Engineering Limited, founded in Villiers Street, Wolverhampton at the turn of the last century. Villiers had, in 1957, bought out J A Prestwich, famous for their ubiquitous and once all-conquering JAP engines.
A new firm was created: Manganese Bronze Holdings.
In the early-1960s, MBH bought up Associated Motor Cycles (AMC), a parent company which owned the AJS, Matchless, Norton, James and Francis-Barnett brands. But within a couple of years, AMC collapsed and was reborn as Norton-Villiers, a subsidiary of MBH.
By 1974, Norton-Villiers was itself in trouble having lost a lot of momentum during the past decade in the face of increasing Japanese assaults on the world motorcycle markets. The BSA-Triumph group (formed in 1951) was also feeling the pinch and needed refinancing and a fresh head of industrial steam.
The result was that a new company, backed by the British government, was formed by merging Norton-Villiers and BSA-Triumph. This outfit, headed by the much-maligned entrepreneur and ex-racing driver and ex-RAF wing commander Dennis Poore, was called Norton-Villiers-Triumph (NVT).
NVT was seen by all as the last chance saloon for an industry that pretty much deserved the rewards of its chronic complacency, and Poore was faced with serious decisions and unpalatable and unpopular choices.
By 1975, NVT was urgently looking to rationalise its business and decided to close the Triumph Meriden plant. That led directly to the famous/infamous Meriden factory sit-ins and shut-outs, which in turn led to the creation of the Triumph Workers Cooperative (1977).
This new worker-controlled and single-product firm carried on with the production of the Triumph Bonneville until 1983. NVT, meanwhile, was wound up in 1978.
Since then, the fortunes of parent company Manganese Bronze Holdings have fluctuated. The firm retained various BSA branded engineering interests (machine castings, sintering etc). These interests were, by 2003, sold off or absorbed into other divisions.
Following various commercial speculations, MBH ended up with just a single business dvision, that being LTI which manufactured black taxis.
But that division, unable to secure sufficient finance in a global downturn (and faced with various production problems), went into administration (similar to filing for Chapter 11 protection in the USA) on 22nd October 2012—which all but brings an end to a key British company once at the heart of UK motorcycle manufacturing. It isn't over yet for MBH. But the prognosis is poor.
Roger Dennistoun "Dennis" Poore died in 1987 aged seventy.
— Del Monte
The Vintage Motor Cycle Club has since July been raffling the above 1973 Laverda SF1 750cc twin and has issued a reminder that the draw is fast approaching. The bike is taxed, tested, and ready to roll.
The VMCC organises two raffles each year. January-June, and July to December. Tickets are £1. Members and non-member can buy, but apparently it's against the law to sell tickets to anyone living outside of the UK.
— Girl Happy
It was tipped by some pundits to reach £400,000, but on the day, "Old Bill" fetched a hammer price of only £260,000 at H and H's Duxford Sale on Tuesday 23rd October 2012.
Actually, with the buyer's premium of £31,200, that took the total price to £291,200, and that's a comfortable world record for an SS80 sidevalve, a world record for any Brough Superior, and indeed a world record for any classic bike.
But this was no ordinary "Rolls Royce of motorycles". This near-legendary 1922 machine once belonged to George Brough himself, and later belonged to Titch Allen, founder of the VMCC.
Prior to this sale, the record price for a Brough Superior was a 1929 SS100 that fetched £286,000, including buyers premium. This was in October 2010 at the H and H sale at the Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford, Somerset.
Some might argue, however, that in view of the fact that in January 2012 H and H increased its buyers premium from 10% to 12%, the sale of Old Bill actually represents a real term drop in the top-level price.
To clarify this point, Old Bill fetched £260,000 plus 12% (£291,000). But at just 10% buyer's premium (the earlier commission percentage), that would have been £286,000 which only matches the SS100 record auction price. Factor in inflation, and you've got a drop.
But the context is different, and this is an SS80 sidevalve as opposed to an OHV SS100, and the final price still represents the biggest Brough numbers ever.
Regardless, H and H worked hard to get top dollar for Old Bill—which is the correct currency, we understand, as the buyer apparently hails from the USA.
Auctioneer Simon Hope, it seems, was a little under the weather on the day, but nevertheless ran a pretty tight sale and kept the audience wide awake and attentive.
Other top sellers include:
Lot 49: 1928 Brough Superior SS100 at £100,800
Lot 60: 1915 Harley-Davidson Model F combination at £33,600
Lot 70: 1922 Brough Superior 11/50 at £28,000
Lot 47: 1977 Harley-Davidson XR750 at £17,920
There were 68 bikes in the sale, of which 46 sold and 22 remained unsold. Two were withdrawn. Interestingly, BSA Gold Stars had a bad day with a beautiful 1960 DBD34 Catalina left unsold; a very clean 1961 DBD34 unsold; and a 1955 DB32 also unsold.
Gold Star fortunes are known to fluctuate. It looks as if their value has either reached a plateau, or has dropped slightly. But the long-term trend has always been up, so these could be good investment material offering a fairly low risk, and a low to medium return.
But Old Bill was the one to watch on the day, and H and H are understandably very satisfied.
Here are some of the other bikes that especially caught our eye...
Above: Lot 42, 1929 Montgomery 1000cc. The estimate was £70,000-£80,000, but it went unsold. A poor man's Brough Superior? Maybe. But it's got all the right pre-war kudos, even though this example looked to us like a few details were wrong. The "patina" of the paint appeared a touch too "modern"; two-pack epoxy possibly. Also, the saddle looked American, and the tyres looked too large and carried the wrong (rounded) profile. But hey, we're not purists. If it moves, it grooves.
Above: Lot 65, 1960 500cc BSA DBD34 Gold Star Catalina. Unsold. This beautiful and rare single is our kind of Gold Star. It was expected to reach between £15,000 and £18,000, but the bidding went quiet at £9000, which seemed a lot more realistic to us. Then again, plenty of Goldies have changed hands for £10,000-£12,000. Looks knockout "in the flesh".
Above: Lot 33, 1963 650cc twin-port Panther Model 120, sold for £5152. The estimate was £5500-£6500. Panthers have been rising in value for the past 5-10 years. But prices seem to have stabilised a little lately, and this one looked on the money. These big cats used to be hardworking utility bikes for hardworking men, but few are using them in anger anymore. But that's cool. After sixty years on the road, they've earned a little fun. Nice restoration for Yorkshire's finest son.
Above: You can't get a better auction venue than the Imperial War Museum's site at Duxford. Great vibes. Plenty of space. Like-minded people. What more do you want from life? This one-time Battle of Britain fighter station is stuffed full of some of the most wonderful creations ever to come out of the British aviation industry including the Hawker Hurricane, the Supermarine Spitfire, the English Electric Lightning, the Avro Lancaster, the de Havilland Mosquito, the de Havilland Vampire, the ill-fated TSR2, the Hawker Siddeley Harrier "Jump Jet", and the BAC Concorde (which, okay, our Frenchie friends helped build). If you haven't visited Duxford, put it on your calendar—especially if H and H are running another auction on the day. Check out the American Air Museum while you're there. Fantastic stuff. Boeing B52, Lockheed SR71, McDonnell Douglas Phantom ...
— The Third Man
Bonhams' Stafford Sale turned over £1.3 million on Sunday 21st October 2012, with the above 500cc 1929 Grindlay-Peerless "Hundred Model" being one of the top sellers (it was pipped at the post by a circa 1958 Benelli 248cc Grand Prix Racer that sold for £74,300).
Meanwhile a 1930 Brough Superior SS-80 De Luxe ‘Black Bess’ once owned by VMCC founder C E ‘Titch’ Allen sold for £68,700.
A 1925 "barn find" 981cc SS80 sold for £63,100
Also, a 1930 Brough Superior Overhead 680 project found a buyer for £59,740.
— Del Monte
We reported on this in June 2012 warning that riders and motorists in France are, from July this year, expected to carry self-administering breathalyser kits when travelling through Gallic territory.
A "grace" period until November had been granted allowing visitors and natives time to adjust. But now it seems that the €11 fine will not be issued until March 2013.
Why? It's because the kits are required to be manufactured to the French Norme Française standard (similar to the British kitemark system), and the French firm Contralco and South African Red Line haven't been able to keep up with demand.
This supply problem has seen the costs of the (approved) kits jump from around €1 to €5, but if you're thinking of travelling anytime soon, don't panic. You've now got until March to get on the right side of the law.
However, if you ride a moped, you won't need a kit at all. In their dubious wisdom, the French government has decided that moped riders are excluded from the new regulations.
Take note too, if you will, that the legal blood-alcohol limit in France is 50mg per 100 ml (it's 80mg per 100ml in the UK). But in France, you won't automatically receive a ban for being over the limit, but you will get points on your licence and a hefty fine (up to €4500). Jail is also an option.
— Girl Happy
The funeral of Ken Heanes, "Mr ISDT", will take place on 25th October 2012. Ken, aged 78, was a legend in the classic bike world as an ISDT rider par excellence, a loyal and dedicated team leader, and a highly knowledgeable and trusted motorcycle dealer.
Son of pre-war trials rider Jim Heanes, Ken began his International Six Days Trial career in 1950 as a private entrant. He was sixteen years old. In 1956, he won a place in the Vase B team riding a specially built 175cc Tiger Cub.
In 1958 he joined the Trophy Squad and was a regular member of the six man team until his retirement in 1971.
Closely associated with Eric Cheney, Ken (the "Fleet Flyer") will also be remembered for the Cheney Triumphs and BSA thumpers he commissioned and sold from his Hampshire shop. He was also a good friend to the late Steve McQueen.
Ken's "golden age" trials riding career saw him competing vigorously against guys such as Arthur Lampkin, Jeff Smith, the Rickman brothers, and the Sharp brothers.
In his time, Ken notched up an impressive ten gold medals.
— Big End
It's called the KR GT-1, it's a prototype, and 48-year old Canadian actor Keanu Reeves wants to put the machine into production via his new company, Arch Motorcycles.
He doesn't own the firm exclusively. He's partnered-up with Gard Hollinger (from L.A. County Choprods), and the dynamic duo believes there's a big market for their creation.
Hollinger is the main spannerman, but the input from Norton Commando riding Reeves, we understand, is a long way from minimal. The new bike is set to be launched in 2013. No prices yet, and reliable details are unavailable. But the machine is based on a 2005 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide.
Anyway, check their website for more images and make up your own mind.
— Del Monte
Andover Norton has sent us details of a new stock of freshly-minted Norton Commando Roadster side panels.
Made from steel and etch-primed, they're ready for painting (ready for any kind of paint, we hear).
The left side panel (Part no. 06.3503) has the original specification tool pocket inside. The mounting bracket is fitted with a Dzus fastener clip.
The right-hand panel (Part no. 06.3504) has the spacer mounts inside to correctly align the panel to the oil tank.
The price looks good at £92 per pair, or £58 for the left side, and £39 for the right. All prices excluding VAT @ 20% (UK).
Telephone: 01488 686816 or visit http://www.andover-norton.co.uk
— Big End
Yes, that really is Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield, but we stuck him in the body and the T-shirt courtesy of Adobe Photoshop. Why? Because we're sick and tired of hearing about how a minor argument with a Downing Street copper has blown up into a row that now looks set to light the fuse for World War Three.
As practically everyone this side of Alpha Centauri will know, back in September this year, Mitchell tried to leave Downing Street by the main gate complete with his bicycle and was stopped by a couple of the Met's finest.
A row blew up with Mitchell allegedly telling the coppers, "... best you learn your *%$£!?&* place. You don't run this *%$£!?&* government ... You're *%$£!?&* plebs".
Mitchell did apologise for getting hot under the collar, but denied that he said the things he was accused of saying, especially the "P" word. Regardless, with no great wars to cover and no other juicy Whitehall scandals to unzip, the press calls have gone up for Mitchell's resignation; the Labour Party naturally want to maximize the political capital and also see him make a dishonourable exit; and the police want some blood on the pavement (metaphorically if not literally). But Andy's dug in his heels and is holding his ground, and we're 100% behind him.
Fact is, regardless of whether or not he said the controversial "P" word , the police ARE plebs. We ALL are—unless we're titled patricians. We're commoners. Ordinary folk. Non-aristocrats. Shop keepers. Craftsmen. Mechanics. Webmasters. Salesmen. Teachers. And coppers.
So okay, the word "pleb" in modern usage (and perhaps in ancient Roman usage) has other, less flattering connotations. But the British police are tough guys, aren't they? They wear stab proof vests and carry guns and batons and pepper spray and take Hendon karate lessons and tackle armed robbers and shoot dead innocent Brazilian students sitting on underground trains. They can take a little hot-tempered, spur-of-the-moment abuse, can't they?
Well apparently not. They now want to conduct yet more investigations and hold meetings and probably send the Downing Street copper's notebook off to the forensic lab to see how fresh the ink is.
They could have shrugged it off, and we would have respected them more for that. But somebody hurt their feelings, and now they want to hurt somebody back.
The arm of the law may well be long, but the skin is clearly dangerously thin.
Update: After three to four weeks in the trenches, a beleaguered Andrew Mitchell finally "fell on his sword" on Friday 19th October 2012 and resigned.
Hard to know which of these two SS80 Brough Superiors we'd pick if we had the choice. The one at the top is a 1925, 981cc barn find that, like most barn finds, carries a certain mystique. It's been off the road since 1930 (shame, shame), and has been in the same family for all those years.
But the machine below is "Black Bess", a 1930 De Luxe model owned, ridden and loved by the late Titch Allen, founder of the VMCC. Ex-despatch rider Titch, we hear, bought the machine post-WW2 and paid £50 for it.
Bonhams, who supplied the images, is putting these bikes on the block at the autumn Stafford sale, and the reserves are (respectively) £55,000-£75,000, and £80,000-£120,000).
Ultimately, we figure we'd have to pick Titch's bike. But we're skint for the rest of this season, so that's that. If you want to get a look in on the day, the Stafford Show goes down on 20th-21st October 2012 at the Stafford Show Ground, courtesy of Carole Nash Insurance and all that stuff. Check Sump's events listing. Okay?
— Del Monte
UPDATE: See further above for the sale price of these bikes at the Stafford Sale.
Not to be outdone by Bonhams, auction house H&H is raising a few eyebrows with the above 1933, 1098cc, 60-degree 11/50 Brough Superior SS80. This "no reserve" machine (Lot number 70) will be sold, by hook or by crook, at the Imperial War Museum Duxford Sale, Cambridgeshire on 23rd October 2012.
The bike was first registered in Edinburgh, Scotland, and last saw asphalt two years ago.
These torquey and powerful (for their day) sidevalves quickly built a loyal fan base when introduced in 1933. Powered by a JAP V-twin, and boasting a top speed of around 90mph (and over 100mph with some skilled fettling), the bike was an instant hit
The actual horsepower was around 32, but the bikes were taxation-rated at 11 by the RAC, and 50 by George Brough, hence the 11/50 designation.
Approximately 308 SS80s were built (some records have been lost). In 1940, just after the outbreak of WW2, the last example left the Haydn Road, Nottingham factory.
We'll be at Duxford to watch this one fly. Could be interesting to see just how much money comes flooding in when the sale is wide open.
UPDATE: This bike sold for £28,000
— The Third Man
We all know it as the Manx Grand Prix Festival, but it could soon be known as the Classic TT.
Details are still being finalised, but on the cards is a four-day shindig with family entertainment, period-style events, displays, a chat show, parades, autograph sessions and, of course, traditional classic racing alongside Formula One and Formula Two classes for more modern machines. In short, a total re-launch.
New race regulations are also anticipated together with moves to initiate competitions catering to all levels of competency.
The proposals are currently being thrashed out between the Manx Motor Cycle Club and the Department of Economic Development (DED), and your input is welcome.
Something to say? Talk to Colin Kniveton at: email@example.com
— Girl Happy
Meet Barry Thew, jailed today (11th October 2012) for wearing a homespun modified Reebok T-shirt celebrating the recent murders of two British police officers (Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes), both killed in Manchester on 18th September in a gun and grenade attack.
Bearing the slogans: ONE LESS PIG, PERFECT JUSTICE and KILL A COP 4 FUN.COM HA HAAA?, 39-year old Thew was handed down four months for an offence under Section 4a of the Public Order Act, specifically;
"...displaying writing or other visible representation with the intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress."
Thew received an additional four months for possessing cannabis in breach of an earlier 12-month suspended sentence order.
We talked to Shelley Brearley at the Greater Manchester Police press office and asked where the pictures (currently doing the rounds) came from.
"Oh, that was us," said Brearley. "We sent them out. Well actually, it was my boss, Michael DelRosso."
Which means that the image of this supposedly Public-Order-Act-violating-item-of--tatty-casual-wear, which would otherwise have probably gone largely unnoticed in Thew's local high street, is now being bounced off satellites around the planet for all to see and enjoy. Or not.
Of course, the press office issued the pictures for more honourable reasons rather than causing distress and alarm, etc. So that's probably okay. With that thought at heart, you can offend the world if you want. No one will touch you.
Then again, it's doubtful Thew really intended to cause much alarm or distress, and probably wasn't planning to harass anyone. Sounds more like this was simply a crude example of childish triumphalism, and maybe a misplaced attempt at humour. But you can't nick a bloke for that.
In theory, anyway.
So okay, you can understand the bitter sensitivities here. But four months for a stupid slogan when people convicted of far more serious offences are walking free with community service orders, fines and conditional discharges?
This issue isn't about justice. It looks more like raw, un-cut, pushed to the limit revenge by the state, and that's a lot more worrying than some prat wearing a tasteless and offensive T-shirt.
From now on, better be even more vigilant about what you drape over your chest. The T-shirt police are already out in force, and the thought police can't be far behind.
— Sam 7
If you're tired of the current hysterical media and public vilification of the late Jimmy Savile, you're in good company.
We've been listening to it for the past week and decided to blow off a little steam and restore some perspective to a sordid (and ultimately tragic) episode that's spiralled into absurdity, and hasn't hit the bottom yet.
Don't get us wrong. We're NOT defending the guy per se. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse—except that it isn't always that simple. It's worth remembering that many, if not most, of the allegations against "Pervy Jim" stem from a very different era where the age of consent in the UK wasn't as rigid a social boundary as it is today.
Put bluntly, back in the 1970s, a guy in his twenties or thirties (or older) could theoretically get nicked for having consensual sex with a girl of fourteen, but in practice, the coppers had the discretion to turn a blind eye. And they often did. Meanwhile, those found guilty of doing what came naturally (albeit clearly out of step with social convention) often got little more than a slap on the wrist rather than a lifetime chained to the sex offenders list.
DJs, pop stars, politicians, footballers, judges, royalty, chief constables and motorcycle racing heroes all had their share of girls (as opposed to women) and they commonly boasted about it.
Elsewhere, the nation was content to buy records by the million dealing with teenage love angst, often warbled by mini-skirted, lollipop-sucking pubescent females with little or no idea about the thinly-disguised innuendo commonly buried in the superficially innocent lyrics.
Meanwhile, juvenile movie stars like Hayley Mills, Natalie Wood, Linda Darnell, Jean Simmons and Elizabeth Taylor were ruthlessly exploited by the movie makers for their under-age sex appeal, whilst the Carry On films weren't beyond milking a few sacred sexy cows and lowering the bar as far as they could get it.
On TV, Benny Hill chased hundreds of saucy, scantily clad nurses and schoolgirls around a thousand phallic objects. And let's not even get started on St Trinians.
The point being that the world was different. Social acceptability was different. The context was different. Different was different.
But suddenly, a guy who raised millions of pounds for charity, donated thousands of hours of his life to wheeling the sick around Stoke Mandeville Hospital and putting in time at Broadmoor and Leeds General is a "sick sex offender" that "everyone at the BBC knew about".
Well maybe he was, and maybe he wasn't. Maybe some of that wheeling and dealing was for his own wicked ends. But he's been dead since October last year, and the world has had four or five decades to find the fire behind the smoke and get him up before the beak if that's where he belonged.
But being dead, the famous TV "Mr Fix It", with his flamboyant style and much-imitated catchphrases, can't defend himself, which means that sick suspicion can now rear its ugly head, trash his life and reputation with impunity, desecrate his grave, pander to concocted public outrage desperate for its next fix of scandal and maybe even (take note) grab a slice of his £7.8 million estate.
Taken in the round, there's no question that Jimmy Savile OBE did a lot of good for the world. He wouldn't have been on any Sump dinner party list, but he's now as dead as Elvis and the hypocrites at the BBC, the UK press, the social services, the various constabularies and elsewhere should have put up when they had the chance. Or shut up.
It's a small mercy that George Best and Barry Sheene et al are no longer with us. With their reputations for living life to the max (if not the minimum), and with the large number of females regularly throwing themselves under their belts, they would have been soft targets for anyone seeking a little media attention.
But hey, this is about rape and sexual molestation too, isn't it? Well maybe. Perhaps the victims are telling it just like it is. Or was. Or maybe a few are stretching the truth a little. Or a lot. And maybe there are a few grudges buried there too. And maybe Savile was guilty of grossly exaggerating his own sexual prowess and didn't do half the things he'd wished he'd done. And maybe much of this is an ordinary-made-in-England. mob-powered, hold-the-front-page hysterical witch hunt. And maybe this whole thing has simply been blown out of all proportion. And maybe not. But you can't libel the dead, and so it's open hunting season on flamboyant and recently deceased radio DJs.
Meanwhile, we suspect that there are still a few British DJs, motorcycle racing heroes, football stars, politicians, judges and chief constables now desperately hoping that the grim reaper gets to them before the morally outraged, guilty-until-proved-innocent hypocrites get their pound of filthy flesh.
It's a cruel world, brother.