It might not affect you too much as a classic motorcyclist, but there are few of us who don't also run a car, and it pays to stay up to date with the law. And that law says that from October 1st 2012, wheel clamping on private land in England and Wales is illegal. It will also be illegal to tow-away or block a vehicle, or otherwise immobilise it without lawful authority.
That means certain station car parks, airports, ports, "strategic river crossings" and so on. In other words, any land that has special dispensation under various Acts of Parliament. But if you park on, say, a farmer's field or a private factory car park, clamping is now a no-no.
The Scots saw the light way back in 1992 and haven't tolerated this private clamping nonsense, and Northern Ireland is still fair game for the cash-or-cosh cowboys. But in the rest of GB, you can smugly tell the clampers all about the Protection of Freedoms Act, etc, and/or call the coppers if the bully-boys stick a Denver Boot on your wheel.
It's been a long time coming, and way too many people have been threatened, assaulted, extorted, bullied, ripped-off and even marched to a cash machine (often for minor infringements, or having fallen foul of parking traps). But now the government has pulled the plug on those antics, so the clampers will have to come up with a new dodge.
And that could include ticketing. So beware. However, private land parking enforcement staff will need to apply to the DVLA to access motoring addressing information, and to do that, they will need to belong to an accredited trade body.
But—and pay careful attention here—the DVLA can, and does, routinely release names and addresses of motorists to anyone with a justifiable reason for having the information (suspicion of involvement in a road accident, or accident witness, etc). So it's not clear what information will be generally accessible to the ex-clampers. But you can be sure that some strong-arm tactics will resurface in one form or another.
Magistrates, however, are now empowered to fine illegal clampers up to £5000, whilst Crown Court judges will enjoy dishing out unlimited fines.
Meanwhile, new rules will allow councils to chase-up unpaid fines not only against the owner of a vehicle, but also from the registered keeper. And clamping and towing, etc, will continue on public roads and public land.
So what is this Protection of Freedoms Act? Well, it's a new piece of legislation designed to restore certain public freedoms that have been eroded over the past few decades. Clamping is one such example. Storage of DNA material by the police is another, notably when a defendant has been found not guilty. The act is also intended to limit or remove abuses relating to criminal records checks, and end the highly controversial "stop and search" baloney.
The thinking behind the (LibDem sponsored) act is sound, but it remains to be seen how it will play out in the real world.
Keep your eyes peeled.
— The Third Man
That's the bad news. But the good news is that motorcycle deaths are down by ten percent. These are 2011 figures, take note, in which 1,901 people were killed in road accidents. That's three percent up on 2010.
At a glance, here the official stats:
Overall fatalities: 1,901
Motorcycling deaths: down 10%
Cycling deaths: down 4%
Coach and bus passenger deaths: down 22%
Car occupant fatalities: up 6%
Pedestrian deaths: up 12%
Seriously injured: 23,122
Where it gets more worrying for bikers is the fact that provisional figures suggest that drink-driving deaths are rising and have accounted for half the 2011 increase. What that means, in simple terms, is that an extra 51 people were killed on the roads in 2011, of which 30 deaths have been attributed to alcohol. That's a significant jump, and you can read what you will into that (recession/depression/cheaper alcohol/etc).
However, the majority of road accidents are still due to simple negligence with drivers, riders and pedestrians looking the wrong way.
— Sam 7
Two dead coppers. Women too, as if that make a difference. Which it doesn’t, except to the UK press. And now once again the call to routinely arm the British police has gone out, and the gung-ho hysterics are “fired up” and shooting wildly from the hip.
On 18th September 2012, PC Fiona Bone (left) and PC Nicola Hughes were shot in Manchester whilst dealing with a routine burglary report.
The two women walked straight into the sights of wanted killer Dale Cregan who was armed with a pistol and a hand grenade. Having used both weapons at pretty much point-blank range, Cregan saved armed Mancunian coppers the fun and games of tracking him down and shooting him dead, and blithely surrendered himself at the local nick of his choice.
He's since been charged with the murders and has been remanded in custody—and no doubt, when he's convicted and sent down, he'll be something of a prison hero.
The killings, meanwhile, sent "shock waves" around the police community which has held a highly-public vigil for the dead officers.
Said Ian Hanson, chairman of the Greater Manchester Police Federation, "What we've got are two young girls who went out this morning and they've got an absolute right to come home tonight to their loved ones. This is cold-blooded murder. It's the slaughter of the innocents."
Innocents? Hardly. But slaughter, yes. Hanson, note, has a track record for talking trite nonsense.
But before all perspective is lost, it's worth remembering here that a lot of other British public servants (firemen, ambulance staff, doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, etc) also lose their lives in mindless attacks whilst going about their working business; servants who generally have a lot less training and a lot less back-up than the average copper. And no one talks about arming them too.
Mercifully, in 2006, 47,000 British police officers were polled, and 82% of them voted against being routinely armed. However, that still leaves around 10,000 coppers who feel very differently.
Fact is, the British police have “plenty of form” and behave hysterically whenever the threat of firearms arises, and have a habit of prematurely discharging weapons and plugging the wrong person. So God help us if the aforementioned 10,000 (in particular) ever get their itchy fingers on a daily trigger.
The classic age of the friendly village bobby quietly ticking you off for a noisy exhaust, no front mudguard and/or no road tax is long gone. Modern British policing, especially in cities, has changed beyond recognition and has been militarised to the point of absurdity. Hardnosed rules have supplanted individual discretion. Intractable soulless enforcement systems underpin the new-age target-driven thin blue line.
Shame that a couple of people (female or otherwise) were murdered. But it would be a bigger shame if the legacy of those executions was to put the rest of us at even greater risk from the people charged with protecting us.
Yes, that's Lord Digby Jones and Sir John Major sitting astride a Hinckley Diamond Jubilee Bonnie that's been donated to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Trust.
Digby Jones (Baron of Birmingham, no less) is the ex-Confederation of British Industry chairman and current chairman of Triumph Motorcycles, while ex-British Prime Minister John Major is the guy who superseded Thatcher and made a similar impact on the British consciousness as an asteroid missing the earth by a trillion miles.
The bike will be auctioned in the near future, and the proceeds will be used to help fund one of Her Majesty's pet projects across what's left of the Commonwealth. Triumph, we hear, is building only 60 of these machines, so bagging one will probably be quite a coup, not to mention a pretty sound investment.
The last time (Meriden) Triumph produced a Jubilee Bonnie (T140J) was back in 1977. It was designed to celebrate the Queen's 25 year reign. They built a limited edition run of 1000 bikes, then decided to cash in and build another 1000, and then allegedly another 400. That didn't do much for the investors, so let's hope that Hinckley plays with a straighter deck.
For many years, Meriden Silver Jubilee Bonnies fetched an extra premium, but prices have since adjusted, and generally speaking, they're not that popular with most buyers and sell for roughly the same price, give or take a few hundred quid.
This one, however, could be different. But ultimately, as far as we're concerned, it's a motorcycle that ought to be ridden rather than stuffed in a vault. But then again, you pays your money, and you do what you want with it.
It's okay by us.
But how is the bike different to a standard Hinckley Bonnie? Just a splash of paint really. Still, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?
— Big End
They've long had these in Holland and elsewhere in the world, and now the British government is looking to introduce them here in Blighty.
So far this year, 15 teenagers and 84 adults have come to terminal grief peddling on UK roads, and the Department for Transport wants to do something about it. Moreover, in 10 of the last 13 quarters, the number of cyclists killed or injured has risen.
Watch out for that phrase "killed or injured". The government and the mainstream press invariably lump those two stats together which often distorts the truth.
Nevertheless, there are many more cyclists on the roads these days, and the number of dead is worrying the government.
The green lights, which will soon be trialled in the capital by Transport for London, are likely to be positioned at "eye-level". The idea, we hear, is to give cyclists a few extra seconds to get clear of junctions and obviate the danger of drivers turning left across their path.
Advocates think it's a good move. But critics argue that motorists could be confused by the extra green light and treat it as a filter, thereby negating any safety benefit.
The AA's spokesman and president, Edmund King, argues that many UK junctions already have a large green rectangle and an advanced cycle line painted on the asphalt, so bicycles "already have a head start"— which underlines what a silly sod King is. Lining up a row of cycles across a lane ahead of a squadron of frustrated four-wheeled commuters isn't, after all, exactly a recipe for harmonious vehicular interaction, especially when there's a huge disparity in vehicle speeds.
Regardless, HM Gov is now consulting widely on this idea, so if you've got any views you want to share, particularly with regard to how it affects motorcyclists, you know what to do.
— Sam 7
We reported on this last month; Stephen Johns' classic car (and bike) museum in Porlock, Somerset. The time had come to sell up and retire, and on Saturday 8th September 2012 Johns put the whole shebang up for auction at Beaulieu, courtesy of Bonhams. And as you can see from the headline to this story, the sale made £667,128. But Bonhams had a few other unrelated lots under their hammer, and overall, the Beaulieu auction took a very respectable £2.6 million.
All ten cars in the Exmoor collection sold, and all thirteen motorcycles also found buyers. The top lots were a 1927 Bugatti Type 40 Roadster (£149,340), a 1972 Ferrari ‘Dino’ 246GTS Spider (£144,860), and a 1923 Rolls Royce 20hp Doctor’s Coupe (£57,500).
Cutting loose from the museum after 12 year was no doubt something of a wrench (we get withdrawal symptoms if we're absent from our garage for more than a week or so), but £600,000, plus change (but minus commission), no doubt helps ease the pain.
Nice work if you can get it.
— Big End
We've been asked to spread the word about a new E-petition doing the rounds, and being the agreeable/helpful/socially responsible people we are, we're doing it now.
The EC has issued new roadworthiness proposals which, if implemented in their present unadulterated form, could make ownership and use of a classic bike or classic car very tricky, if not impossible.
Put simply, it seems that the EC are talking about banning any post-production modifications on classic vehicles (electronic ignition, modified brakes, or even a V8 engine transplanted in a Francis Barnett Plover).
Now we ain't about to lose too much sleep over this, because these things usually start off with "The End of the World is Nigh" and end up with a headline reading; "No One Hurt in Small Earthquake". And there is some other sensible stuff in the proposals.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be ever-vigilant and ready to pour some boiling engine oil over anyone loitering with or without intent beneath the classic castle walls.
So if you want to fire a few shots before war has been officially declared, check the links below, read the nonsense from the EC and/or go straight to the petition.
Yes it's a fag, but don't get careless out there. All that's needed for evil to triumph is for good men to look the other way (or something like that).
So do what you gotta do.
— Girl Happy
Okay, we want to get this done quickly because The Wicker Man is on TV and it's getting near the scene where Brit Ekland is about to cavort naked against the hotel wall and drive God-fearing policeman Edward Woodward crazy. But meanwhile, it seems that Norman Hyde has produced a brake upgrade for the Hinckley Bonneville SE.
The standard set-up is a Nissin two-piston floating caliper (not ideal) grabbing a 310mm (fixed) disc. Hyde's kit includes a 325mm floating rotor and a four-piston Brembo Goldline caliper.
And don't confuse floating calipers with floating discs. A floating disc is self-centering and therefore enables the caliper to grab it smoothly and more effectively. A floating caliper slides back and forth and tries to punch above its weight.
Anyway, the price of Norman's kit is a stop-you-in-yer-tracks £546 (including VAT). But hey, that's a lot cheaper that slamming your bike into a tree because your anchors were weak.
If you're cheapskate/cost-conscious/or simply unconscious after the price revelation, you can opt for Hyde's 310mm floating disc which works with the (Triumph) factory braking set-up. The price is £201.60 plus VAT. But we reckon that if you really try, you can probably get the 60p knocked off the price. That'll buy you half a bag of chips if you live in Hull.
On a more serious note, we know and trust Norman Hyde, and we know that he sells pukka stuff at the best price possible. So buy or don't buy. It's your call if you want to risk crashing into a tree and getting pulped and having grieving relatives snivelling at your funeral all because you couldn't stump up a measly 500 quid.
(How's that, Norman?)
Call the man himself on 01926 832345 or visit www.normanhyde.co.uk for details.
Meanwhile, it's back to Brit Ekland...
— Sam 7
That's Mike Ellis; the bloke in the sunglasses. We didn't know Mike, but we're sorry to say that he's gone. He was just 41-years old when, back in April this year (2012), the Royal Enfield he was riding was involved in a collision with an 18-ton truck.
Mike was working for Royal Enfield UK as their workshop manager. In his memory, a memorial run has been organised by the company in conjunction with the Cotswold Advanced Motorcyclists. It takes place on Sunday 30th September 2012 and is intended to be an annual event.
A £5 donation is asked of everyone taking part. The money will go to the purchase of a local defibrilator (a jump-start machine for the heart), and it's £5 well spent.
If you want to ride the run, go to the Watsonian-Squire factory at Moreton-in-the-Marsh. Arrive by 9.20am for a 10.00am start. The postcode, for all you satnav junkies, is GL56 9RF). There will be a 60-mile ride around the North Cotswolds, so make sure your bike is ready to go the distance. And all bikes are welcome.
For details call Watsonian on 01386 700907 or visit www.royal-enfield.com.
And remember to spare a thought for Mike and, more to the point, his family. Forty-one years old is no age at all.
They don't know what they're talking about. The French government, that is. After all the hot air about the impending introduction of high-viz jackets in France (see Sump January 2012), it now turns out that someone pressed the wrong buttons on the calculators.
Earlier, we were told that from Jan 2013, the French government is demanding that 150cm2 of reflective material must be worm on the upper body of bikers who ride machines over 125cc. 150cm2 is about the size of an armband.
Now it seems that the EC are in fact demanding 1000cm2. So what's happening? As far as we can figure it, the EC have issued minimum standards for high-viz personal safety gear. But this requirement is a directive only, and not a regulation.
Directives, take note, are regulations with fewer teeth, and they can be ignored. But if a member state (France in this instance) chooses to apply a directive, it must meet the minimum requirement, which is 1000cm2; the size of a reflective bib.
This is all because the EC wants to "harmonise" requirements across Fortress Europe, never mind that "harmonise" is actually a misnomer. "Harmonisation" means to "bring into agreement", which in itself doesn't imply that everyone needs to sing the same notes.
What the EC actually wants is homogenisation. But that doesn't sound so attractive, and it underlines the entire EC ethos which is intended to make us all the same, even though European nations are often strikingly different.
But harmonise or homogenise, it's in the lap of the Frogs now. France can drop the whole thing if it wants, or it can press ahead and demand the Full Monty.
We'll know soon enough.
— Big End
No wonder ex-Roads Minister Mike Penning (left) is looking so glum. Prime Minister David Cameron's recent cabinet reshuffle (4th September 2012) saw Penning shifted to Northern Ireland.
Interestingly, that was a fate that also befell Sir Peter Bottomley, MP, a former Roads Minister himself and the man British bikers loved to hate (remember the controversial leg-protector idea?).
The move to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is, in fact, a promotion, but it's not a promotion that everyone wants (with Northern Ireland typically being seen a political purgatory).
And the loss is all ours. Penning always had a very positive attitude towards bikers (being a biker himself). But now he's gone, and that's that. So put your hands together for Mike and wish him well. We do.
Meanwhile, three new faces appear at the Department for Transport. The titles are a little confusing, so bear with us:
Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, London, is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport. He hails from Southampton, is married and likes hockey. His professional background lies in finance. Hammond is said to be looking after buses, rail and shipping.
Simon Burns, MP for Chelmsford, Essex is Minister of State for Transport. Burns infamously called commons speaker John Bercow a "stupid sanctimonious dwarf" (which may or may not be true), so it's clear he doesn't like little people very much.
Burns, whilst driving his 4X4, also knocked down a cyclist and caused his victim some serious spinal injuries. So that probably tells you just how much he THINKS BIKE.
You've been warned.
The Secretary of State for Transport is now Patrick McLoughlin, MP for the Derbyshire Dales (and an ex-miner). He's the guy who jerks the leads of Hammond and Burns. Let's hope he keep those leads short.
It's not entirely clear whether Hammond or Burns will look after the issues that affect motorcycling. But it looks like Burns is the man to watch, especially if you also ride a pushbike. We'll keep you posted.
— The Third Man
Back in May 2011 we reported on black-faced/grey-faced
Triumph/BSA/Norton electronic speedometers and tachometers being marketed by SRM Engineering at £189.95 and £179.95 respectively.
Well, now you can buy Chronometric-styled digital clocks to replace those ailing mechanical instruments on your pre-1963 classic that are becoming increasingly expensive, and even theft prone.
These digital units come with a “fake” drive cable within which the wiring is housed. Calibration of the speedo is said to be a doddle (apparently, you have to drive a measured mile or something and then program that in). Not sure about the tacho, but they've probably got it figured out. But what’s the price? We don’t know yet. We haven’t been told. But they’re likely to be around £150-£200 depending on who’s retailing them.
The company handling the wholesale supply is Puca Ltd. You can call them on: 01974 282404, or check their website.
— Del Monte