Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Trial Trail

December 2011 Classic bike news

– Above: Howard R Davies, 1895-1973. You’ve seen HRD often enough on the petrol tanks of Vincent motorcycles; well this is to whom those initials belong. When way back in the 1920s a young Phil Vincent wanted to build and market his own bikes, he feared that his name had no brand value and so looked to buy into an existing marque and piggy-back on that until his personal reputation was secured.

Howard R Davies was a motorcycle builder, a motorcycle TT racer, an ex-motorcycle despatch rider, and an ex-World War One airman (twice shot down and finally captured and imprisoned). A Boy’s Own hero and a man’s man, this 24-inch x 28-inch photograph of HRD is currently on sale on eBay (as of 11th December 2011). The buy-it-now price was (gulp!) �1,245 but has since been dropped to (only) �622.50.

It’s a little rich for us, but maybe one of you guys has deeper pockets.

May 2011 Classic bike news

Manx Norton screen for Thruxton Bonnies

Sump visitor Selwyn Morgan asked us to pass on this modification for owners of Thruxton Bonnies with clip-on ‘bars. It seems that the (Hinckley) Triumph flyscreen, as fitted to the Special Edition Thruxton, costs a hundred quid, which can be a little hard to stump-up in these straitened times.

However, talk to Barry at Mead Speed in Newport Pagnell, and you can pick up a Manx Norton numberplate/flyscreen for �50. For an extra fiver, Barry will cut an eight inch hole for the headlight.

You’ll need to turn up a couple of alloy spacers 35mm long, with a male thread of 13mm to screw into the headlamp, and a 13mm female thread to screw the screen on. These threads are approx� 25mm long, we’re advised.

The other fitting requirements should be pretty obvious once you knuckle down to it, and include a cut-out for the ignition switch. You should be looking at around �60 for the complete thing if you know what you’re doing. Whether or not you think it’s an improvement over the standard Hinckley design is another matter.

And remember that this mod won’t fit the later Thruxtons with a one-piece handlebar.

� Girl Happy

2012 Andy Tiernan calendar

Andy Tiernan and Nick Ward have gone and done it again; one more calendar, drawn, signed, sealed, printed and delivered�at least, it will be delivered once you stick your hand in your pocket and do what’s necessary.

These calendars are practically a rite-of-passage for classic bikers. In fact, your garage isn’t a true classic bike garage unless and until you’ve got a Tiernan calendar nailed to the wall above the vice and beside your current pin-up.

The money doesn’t go to Andy or Nick, note. It goes straight to the East Anglian Air Ambulance, and that’s whose name should be on the cheque. The price for these minor works of charitable art is a miserable five quid, and the ambulance needs your contribution to carry on saving lives.

So don’t be mean.

That aside, Nick’s sketches�nay, studies �of six classic Triumphs are beautifully drawn and highly evocative and will get you thinking Spring thoughts during these dark and desperate days of winter.

If you’re buying from the UK, add 92p for second class postage. If you’re elsewhere in the EC, add �1.79. Everyone else add �2.60.

Meanwhile, check out Andy’s site. He’s changing stock all the time, and he trades on his reputation and will see you alright.

� Del Monte

Top five UK biker gripes revealed

According to Swinton Insurance, the single biggest on-the-road complaint by British motorcyclists are drivers who fail to indicate properly.

One thousand riders, we hear, were polled, with 53% of them citing poor indicator etiquette, followed by airborne cigarette butts (21%); potholes and road damage (11%); unnecessary bad-weather overtaking (9%); and poor observation and ineffectual use of mirrors by other road users (6%).

If that chimes well with your own riding experience, then good luck to you. But it seems to us that the firing-order is wrong there, with poor observation being the motoring behaviour most likely to stoke our boilers, closely followed by idiot cyclists, idiot bus drivers, idiot scooterists, black cabs, close-passing, and tailgating (not necessarily in that order)

Of course, we don’t know what the questions were. But in any case, you can’t argue with the actuarial industry who, at times, appear to know as much about risk as a five year old playing with a shotgun. It’s no wonder premiums are so often way out of kilter with our day-to-day experience.

But still, their press release and transparent promotional plug was an amusing little distraction in an otherwise dull day, so put your hands together for Swinton with their 603 one-stop shops, etc. They’re the UK’s leading high street insurance retailer, or so they claim. And no, they didn’t pay us to say that (but if they’ve got a little loose change lying around, we’re prepared to say it a second time).

� The Third Man

Harley-Davidson sued over dodgy ABS warning light

So okay, the trial hasn’t happened yet, and all the evidence has yet to be heard. But on the face of it, we’ve got some sympathy for the victims of a road accident that left the rider badly banged around, and left his (now estranged) wife with brain damage and lifelong health issues.

So what happened? It seems that Californian rider Jack Wilson had been cruising about on his Harley-Davidson Road Glide for around 15-months thinking he had anti-lock brakes on demand, when all he had was a (non-lighting) icon on his tachometer. So when he finally urgently needed to throw on the anchors (faced with sudden gridlocked traffic), the wheels locked and down he went.

Wife too.

Now the lawyers are flying lazy circles, and the wife wants a big settlement.

The salesman who flogged them the bike, it’s claimed, verbally led the Wilsons to believe that ABS was a feature of their Hog. But Harley-Davidson, and the salesman, claim that Jack and Judy had clocked over 12,000 miles and ought to have figured it out by the time the emergency happened. Moreover, Messrs H D claim that all their Road Glides are manufactured with the warning light embedded in the tachometer in readiness for optional ABS.

And hey, nobody else has complained. Or lived to.

Harley’s excuse sounds pretty dodgy to us, and will probably sound equally dodgy to the judge�if it goes that far. Which seems unlikely.

Meanwhile, any Harley riders out there had better check that all the other labels and lights on their bike really perform a meaningful function�and better check the tank badges too just in case you haven’t upgraded to an optional Honda.

It’s a painful reminder of what can happen when it doesn’t do exactly what it says on the tin, huh?

London bus lane victory for bikers

The experiment is over. From January 2012, motorcyclists will be granted permanent access to the majority of London’s bus lanes.

Transport for London (TfL) has conducted two 18-month trials to see exactly what the effects might be of opening bus lanes to bikers, and�surprise, surprise�they’ve concluded that it’s safer for bikers, presents no significant risk to cyclists, cuts emissions, and speeds commuting.

But let’s be gracious in victory. TfL has made their views clear, and the lanes are ours. But WAIT! Not all bus lanes are Tfl Lanes.

You can, and will, still get ticketed if you transgress and use those lanes not open to bikers.

But how do you tell which is which?

Broadly speaking, TfL operates the red routes, with local authorities operating those bus lanes marked with yellow lines along the kerb. So check the signs and check your watch, because most of the hot spots are policed by cameras, and policed by the buses too.

To ensure that things continue to run smoothly, a code of conduct has been drawn up which can be summarised thus: Don’t do anything stupid.

Birmingham, Reading, Bath and some London boroughs have long opened their bus lanes to bikers. But TfL’s decision is significant and can only help encourage other British local authorities to follow suit.

� Girl Happy

JVB Brit Bobber�yours for �15,000

Take one (Hinckley) Triumph Thruxton . hack away the mudguards, shave the seat, fabricate some narrower side-panels, rework the headlight, chop some height and slap some new paint on the tank, and there you have it; one Brit Bobber weighing in, we hear, at around 200kg.

The engine and tank look bigger and more muscular, we’re told. The rest is slimmed-down and taut. You sit low and relaxed, but the bars (designer Jens vom Brauck calls them chopped down ape-hangers) bring your fists up in front of your face.

We ought to be more impressed, but we ain’t. Seems like we’ve seen a thousand variants on this theme, few of which have broken any new ground at all. But Cologne-based designer Jens has collaborated with Berlin bike builders Urban Motors and has given the soup another stir.

Nice enough wheels, if you like that kind of thing (and generally speaking we do). And it’s easy to see that a lot of (hidden) work has gone into this project, but it’s hard to see fifteen thousand euros. And a 200kg bob-job?

Sounds like it needs to cut down on some more pork pies.

But what do we know? It’s taken us about ten years to stick a new wiring loom on our spare T140.

Anyway, there’s more where this came from (and between you and us and GCHQ, more interesting stuff�particularly the Jap crap), so check out the site.

� Sam 7

Annual SORN to be scrapped.

And V5Cs too?

Rumours of this have been circulating for a while, but now it’s official. The government has declared its intention to scrap the annual Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) requirement and replace it with a single, one-time DVLA proclamation.

Currently, UK motorcyclists and motorists have been obliged to declare annually if and when their vehicle is off road. The paperwork and postage generated by this requirement was colossal, not to mention the rampant (and expensive) bureaucracy involved coupled with the onerous burden of fines for failing to remember which of your numerous classics is either hors de combat . broken down, rotting in disgrace, withering on the vine, or just languishing forgotten at the back of the shed.

Scrapping SORN is just one of 142 regulations that will be bite the bullet, or be improved, as part of the government’s Road Transport Red Tape Challenge (launched on 7th April 2011) and intended to cut waste, shrink the pressure on the public purse, and generally behave a little more intelligently.

Other changes include:

Removing the need to have an insurance certificate (by working more closely with the insurance industry and handling it all online).

Scrapping the requirement for riders and drivers to retain a paper counterpart of their driving licence.

Scrapping the automatic issue of a V5C vehicle registration certificate for fleet operators, and eventually rolling it out for the private rider/motorist�which means that the writing may be on the wall for log books.

Under the current rules, failing to declare SORN incurs a penalty of �80 for each offence, whilst making a false declaration can result in a maximum fine of �5000, and even imprisonment. The changes will probably still incur the same maximum penalties, but you’ll have to make your declaration only once.

We would have made all this up, except that we’re not that smart. But apparently the government has been forced to wise-up to the fact that the UK is awash in senseless regulation (much of it introduced by Tony Blair and Co) which we simply can’t afford anymore.

We can only hope that the government also will now also consider scraping away the vast majority of the yellow (and red) lines that make parking (and even stopping) in the UK a major burden for ordinary citizens, and which are a huge slap in the face for thousands of shopkeepers who have had their businesses decimated through the loss of old-fashioned kerbside trade. We’re not holding our breath in anticipation of this, however. The yellow line scam earns big cash for our bloated councils, but on the other hand, they’re not doing anything to help get the economy moving.

More on all of this soon. But for now, we’re (almost) beginning to enjoy this recession.

Royal Enfield Crusader info wanted

It was built by the Royal Enfield factory in 1961 and has been residing in a shed since 1965. It’s got an all-alloy engine based on the 250cc Crusader, a four speed gearbox, a lightweight frame and long leading-axle trials forks � which were shared with the Bullet trials. Also fitted is a genuine trials speedo casquette and Renthal handlebars.

Owner Dennis Yates, who inherited the bike from his father, would be very interested if anyone out there can shed some light on this machine, or on similar machines.

According to author Roy Bacon, Royal Enfield listed this model for two years�1962 and 1963�priced at �210 and �225, respectively. Evidently, the bike wasn’t a great success and has been largely forgotten.

� Del Monte

Footnote: This bike is currently on eBay (as of 22nd December 2011) with 32 bids and a current price of �2611. Whether that reflects interest in the bike, or the registration plate (590 VPL) remains to be seen. But it seems an awful lot of dosh for an otherwise unremarkable 250cc Brit single).

Update (24th December 2011): The Enfield sold for: �5,207.76

Joint enterprise bikers cleared

Remember back in August 2010 when five Yorkshire bikers were charged for causing the deaths of one of their riding buddies and his wife? Well the charges have been dropped.

Dean and Helen Slater were killed when riding between Cottingley, near Bingley, Yorkshire to Squire�s cafe in Sherburn-in- Elmet, also Yorkshire. During the 32-mile ride, Slater, piloting a modern Yamaha sportsbike, lost control over a bridge and hit an oncoming Vauxhall Vectra. Both he and his wife died at the scene.

Five other riders were subsequently charged with jointly causing death by dangerous driving.

However, at Leeds Crown Court on 5th December 2011, Judge Geoffrey Marson threw out the case stating that There is no evidence from which a jury properly directed could safely conclude that the way in which any of these defendants rode in some way caused Mr Slater to ride dangerously or caused him to continue to ride dangerously.

In other words, Slater was solely responsible for his own demise and the death of his wife. Not that there was much doubt that the group were at times speeding. And probably taking chances.

But ultimately, the evidence against the other five riders was not viewed as compelling enough to show much promise of a conviction.

More commonly used in incidents such as gang violence, riots and street brawls, joint enterprise�also known as common purpose or common design�is intended to convict those viewed as peripherally complicit in an offence.

But it can also be dusted and deployed by the woefully incompetent Crown Prosecution Service for lesser crimes, and has recently come under renewed scrutiny and criticism for inadvertently, carelessly or even vexatiously convicting members of a group who were in fact largely, or entirely, innocent.

The 1952 Derek Bentley/Christopher Craig Let him have it murder intrigue is one of the most well-known examples of a conviction by joint enterprise. More recently it was used to convict three teenagers of the murder of Garry Newlove, even though Newlove (aged 47, from Warrington, Cheshire) died from a single kick to the head.

The Home Office, note, keeps no records of exactly how many people have in recent times been jointly convicted under the law.

� Del Monte

If you thought the days of great barn finds were behind us, you’re gonna have to think again. In fact, we’re looking at a whole new generation of essential junk because men being boys, they will hoard and hoard until they die, which is when the cycle�or even motor cycle� starts again.

This lot (above) was found not exactly in a barn but in an old village hall near Bristol and will be put on sale by Bonhams at, appropriately enough, the Bristol Classic Motorcycle Show on 18th February 2012.

1928 Ariel Model B De Lux (estimate �1,000 � 1,500)

1936 Ariel 350cc Red Hunter (estimate �1,000 – 2,000)

1946 Norton 16H (estimate �1,000 � 1,400)

1947 Velocette KSS (estimate �3,000 – 4,000)

1958 Panther Model 100 (estimate �1,500-2,000)

1960 Velocette Venom (estimate �3,000-4,000)

Most of the machines are in a woefully neglected state, some of which have suffered a little further during collection, we hear. The lot preview is still under construction on Bonhams’ site, so you’ll have to be patient and wait for the full list. We’ll update this story as and when the info comes in.

Meanwhile, try not to spend all your pennies in the Boxing Day Sales. What with the Euro going belly-up, and Merkel and Sarkozy desperately trying to force 26 very disparate nations into marching to the rousing strains of Das Lied der Deutschen and La Marseilles, we’ve got a suspicion that a few very serious bargains are on the way when the big meltdown happens.

� The Third Man

BBC online road death map

We don’t know how long this one will be up on the web, but it’s there now (Tuesday 6th December 2011). It’s an interactive map that plots a decade of UK road deaths, county by county, vehicle by vehicle, etc. In hard numbers that’s 36,371.

The gory years are 1999-2008, inclusive (different years are quoted by other sources), but if you’re from Northern Ireland, you’ll have to look elsewhere for the full picture. The Department for Transport supplied the data, the object being. well, we’re not sure really. Information for information sake maybe? Or more public fearmongering?

Or just a responsible reminder of the perils of being alive in a dangerous world.

Either way, you can go and muck about with the map for yourself and decide what it has to offer, but don’t come crying to us if it all suddenly looks a little too close to home.

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