And two young custom builders were competing against each other. On the left, one Arlen Ness, and on the right, about to debut the Roadrunner Triumph in the USA, John Reed. It might be a few years before John would whup Mr Ness's ass at the Oakland Roadster Show, but he always had the edge on Arlen for surly glamour and bad boy good looks.
In my humble opinion, the Americans have never really quite ‘got’ the idea of the trike. And, I’m afraid, this new venture from Wisconsin firm, SS (a different SS to S&S Cycle who are also, confusingly, based in Wisconsin), is doing little to change my mind.
On paper, it has the right ingredients – a 113 cubic inch Ultima V-twin, chunky 14-inch rear wheels, LED lighting, digital speedo – but, in the flesh, it looks curiously cartoon-like. SS says that the trike was ‘originally designed to appeal to ‘non-trike’ people … This new generation of trikes take a fresh new approach to the world of triking’. It’s that very marketing aspect which may be the SS trike’s downfall in the USA. Riding a machine this low, which the rider sits into rather than on, with limited sight lines seems to guaranteed to scare the living daylights out of any non-trike person the first time a huge semi truck roars past them. Mind you, that seat looks like it's designed for the average Yankee arse.
Following on from the rapturous greeting Peter Fonda received at Goodwood from the Managing Director of Cartier, another sign of just how, um, fashionable custom motorcycles are becoming.
Last week designer Karl Lagerfeld staged a photo shoot for the label he has created for French fashion house, Chanel, the centrepiece of which was this Triton, built especially for Lagerfeld. So far, no-one is saying who built the bike (although we understand it was someone in Toulouse), but have stated it will be a one-off.
And it's looking rather good, if we do say so ourselves. Loads of events - with massive coverage of the Farmyard Party - and a range of bikes from Vic Jefford's astounding new trike to possibly the maddest Yamaha XS650 in captivity and a Proper British Bike. We've also got the first part of Nick Sanders' Parallel World around the globe trek on an R1 and a guest appearance by a group of young chaps calling them the Stockers. All coming to a newsagents near you on 6th August.
Further to the news this week that the Welsh Motorcycle Show was being forced into bankruptcy by yet another orchestrated 'hitch' to ensure that the Hereford Show could not go ahead, we've received this from Vern 'n' Pete, two gents who were already planning a fund-raising ride to help out the WMS.
Vern & Pete’s Buy Us A Pint Ride
Despite WMS being forced into bankruptcy the ride is still going ahead – because we are not going to rollover and give up. After what has happened it is more important than ever that it goes ahead. Before anyone starts about you’re not going to raise enough to save the show – it wasn’t about that. We never thought we would raise thousands by any means but we believe in Steve, Dai and Err, don’t like what’s happened and wanted to do something positive to help out. What we are doing is not illegal – so they can’t stop us and if enough people get behind us and support us it will show that people do actually give a f**k and people will take notice. The whole reason we came up with the JOG to Lands End non stop idea was because it isn’t going to be easy to do. This is a much as we can do that we can fund ourselves and I’m sick of being asked how much of the donations we are going to use to fund the trip – once again – nothing. If we were funding the trip out of the donations at present we wouldn’t even get to Inverness.
Some people have asked how we are going to prove we did it. When we start, every time we stop for fuel and when we get there we are going to send pictures to our good mate Stevie who is going to post them up. Back Street Heroes has offered to help with this as well. More than that, I don’t see what we can do, short of GPS trackers and that sort of stuff but that costs more money than we have got. A fair few have said that they will donate after we have done it – fair enough, one of us could break down or have an accident, etc, and might not make it. We have set specific rules for the ride – for full details go to Rag-Cymru.
At the end of the day, we are just a couple of ordinary bikers who want to ride our bikes in support of other bikers who in our opinion have been severely shat on and it’s something that other bikers can support and make tthose responsible take notice. A few have asked if they can do a stint with us; yes, by all means – all we ask is that you are not on your own because if you are, and you have a problem, we will have to stop as well to help you and we haven’t got time. Times are hard at the minute and we appreciate that. If you can’t afford a donation, then give us a wave or something – te hours in ad just having pissed down our legs again because there wasn’t enough time at the last stop, we’ll appreciate any support. If, at the end of the day when the dust has settled and the ride is over and we have raised f**k all and another dozen rallies have been cancelled, at least we can say that we had a go.
We would like to thank all the people who have donated to our ride and the RAG fighting fund. It is genuinely and deeply appreciated. We would also like to thank Garry from Farcanal for providing us with the T-Shirts, our club for all their support and last, but by no means, least our brother, Stevie One Bloke One Tune – Sorry Mandolin, for offering to stay up all night and post the pictures when we send them.
If you don’t like what has happened and you want to do something - Buy Us A Pint.
Warwickshire police were today turned down in its appeal to the Stratford-upon-Avon licensing authority to have the licence for the Bulldog Bash revoked.
We're not sniggering at all. Especially not at the Birmingham Mail piece which this morning referred to top Warwickshire copper William Holland as 'Ass Chief Con Bill Holland'. Ass Chief Con? It has a certain ring about it...
With the Welsh Motorcycle Show and Anglesey Motorcycle Show both halted last year by police intervention, WMS show organiser Steve Bennett has spent much of the last ten months trying to find an alternative site. After being turned down by 22 - yes 22! - venues, he managed to book Hereford Race Course for the beginning of June, only to be told just days before the show that the licence had been temporarily withdrawn from the venue. He was offered an alternative date of 14-16th August. We've just heard from Steve, and this is what he said:
The Herefordshire Council Licensing Department will not issue a Premises Licence without the application going before a full committee meeting. They will not hold the meeting until the 10th of August. The licensing committee might then grant the license, grant the license with conditions or refuse the application. This is four days before we are due to open the show.
I cannot borrow the £16,000 needed for the advance deposits that need to be paid between the 1st and the 7th of August given this problem.
Without this show I cannot clear the company debts caused by the 2008 cancellations. The company is therefore in breach of company law.
I have asked the company accountant to start the process of bankrupting the company.
I apologise to all those people who have lost money because of this decision.
Unfortunately, it looks that Dyfed-Powys police has done what it always - for its own and, to us, unknown reason - been striving to do, and that's to destroy two excellent shows, and to make Steve's life a misery.
There are many ways to make yourself look a complete idiot on a bike, but few will cost you as much as one of the latest film spin offs.
Universal Designs is currently in development to produce a replica of Christian Bale's Batman suit from 2008 film 'The Dark Knight'. Officially licenced, the suit has a strong Cordura mesh base with heavy-duty four-way stretch spandex inserts, removable body armor in both the jacket and trousers, removable lightweight interior lining, form-moulded leather and Kevlar armor sectons and made from quality tanned cow hides. We're not sure whether the hides were tanned after death, or if they came from sun-worshipping cattle. Universal Designs already sells a Bruce Wayne motorcycle jacket which will set you back £250. Expect the Batman suit - which also includes boots and gloves - to be quite considerably more than that.
Harley-Davidson has announced that a further 1000 employees will lose their jobs following the announcement of a 91% slump in quarterly profits, as the Milwaukee Motor Company's profits fell to £12 million pounds in the second quarter of 2009, as against £135 million in the same period last year. The firm has also warned that sales could fall by as much as a third in the coming year.
The new round of cuts is in addition to the 1800 job losses that were announced over the coming year as part of a cost-cutting and efficiency drive which will see the Wisconsin factory close and production scaled down at another plant in Pennsylvania.
Several hundred people turned out yesterday for the funeral of Terry 'Nobby' Clarke of Hawg Haven yesterday. A cortege of bikes (I stopped counting at past 150, and still they kept coming) followed the hearse and the Hawg Haven works van which was towing a trailer carrying the last bike on which Nobby worked. As he'd wanted, his closest friends and family wore not black but bright Hawaiian shirts, and the crematorium at Horsham St Faith, Norfolk, was packed with bikes and people. I think that Nobby would have been quietly very pleased.
In a shock announcement, Harley-Davidson and Buell UK have decided not to exhibit at this year’s International Motorcycle and Scooter Show at the NEC in Birmingham.
The reason is, according to a Harley UK press release, due to the Motor Company’s ‘increased focus on multi-location experiential programmes for consumers in 2009’. What we think that means is it sells more bikes through test rides rather going to the NEC.
Earlier this year, Harley launched its Judgement Days programme, and has already provided over 2500 test rides for potential customers. It will now be going on the road with the Judgement Days Tour which will, from 25th July, include the first sight of the 2010 models. The new bikes will reach dealers in time for an August Bank Holiday launch which means that, by the time the NEC show rolls around in late November, the new Harleys will be pretty old hat to many potential buyers.
The Harley and Buell stands have both occupied large stands at the NEC in the recent past, and it remains to be seen whether that space can be filled, or whether other manufacturers will be reconsidering their budgets.
One of the most established names in American custom bike building is closing down.
Milwaukee Iron, run by Randy Simpson, is shutting up shop after 26 years in the business; Randy cites the downward turn in the market and competition from overseas as the reason for the closure.
The firm came to international attention when it was the focus of a Discovery series called ‘Southern Steel’ four years ago but the current economic climate has prompted Simpson’s decision, as he explained.
“I’m just tired of chucking money into the business when I don’t think the economy’s going to recover fast enough for me to get it back. I’m ready to step off and watch the merry-go-round, and ride my motorcycle for a while.”
He plans to sell the shop’s building and equipment at auction on August 27th, as well as the rights to the shop’s name. Everything will be liquidated in an auction that will be open to the general public and broadcast live online. Along the items up for grabs are plasma cutters, hand tools, welders and several of Milwaukee Iron’s most famous builds.
But there is one lot in particular that is guaranteed to attract the most attention. All the firm’s stock of parts (which includes Flathead cases, engines, new/old stock front end, pistons, Pan, Shovel Evo and Sportster frames, custom frames and a huge 40-foot container packed to the roof with parts will be auctioned as one lot to the highest bidder.
Year by year, kids’ toys get cooler, but few are as chilled as this excellent rocking chair designed by Felix Goetze using a single cylinder, two-stroke engine and parts from old German bikes with pinstriping by Thomas Weber. Here at BSH Towers, we all want one!
With the weather set to be bright and sunny this weekend (honest!), should you find yourself at a loose end, you could always take yourself off to Derbyshire where the Rock & Bike Festival will be putting on a massive line-up of live bands. The Rock & Bike Festival (which is absolutely nothing to do with the Rock & Blues) will be headlined on Friday by Oliver Dawson’s Saxon and the ever-popular Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts, and on Saturday night by the Levellers. As well as the big acts, the bill will feature another ten bands each day, as well as a custom bike and trike show and tattoo competition on Saturday.
Pre-book tickets are now closed, but you can still buy tickets on the gate for just £35 (which is around three quid a band, plus a free custom show and camping!!). For more details, visit Rock & Bike Fest.
Rock & Bike Festival Draycott House Draycott Derbyshire DE72 3PD 17-19th July 2009
In the early hours of this morning, Australian motocross star, Robbie Maddison became the first perform to leap a motorcycle from one side of Tower Bridge to the other – while the bridge is open. He’s been planning the leap since New Year’s Eve when he successfully leapt from a ramp to the top of the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas.
Maddison – who holds the record for the world’s longest motorcycle jump – performed the feat at just before 3 o’clock this morning, jumping the 25-foot gap between the two spans of the open bridge over thirty yards above the River Thames. Oh, and he didn’t just leap the river – he performed a no-handed backflip before landing safely!
In a shock last minute ruling, the Chief Constable of Norfolk has forced the cancellation of the Eastern Lights motorcycle cavalcade, which was due to take place on Sunday 26th July.
On Friday 3rd July, the organisers were informed that Norfolk police would withdraw its cover for the cavalcade if a Temporary Road Closure licence was not obtained. The police then pointed out that it would take 8 weeks for such a licence to be processed. All the local authorities involved, including the Highways Agency, were unaware that this was a requirement.
Chairman of the event’s organising committee, Paul Howard, said "I have been involved with this event for eight years and Norfolk police has never before mentioned that such a licence is necessary for a moving cavalcade. I understand that any successful application for this licence along our route would attract a fee of £850, plus extra charges for each road needing to be closed off."
Over the last 8 years, Eastern Lights has attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators and has raised over £45,000 for the James Paget University Hospital Accident & Emergency Unit. If those riders who have already paid their attendance fee want to donate that money to the hospital, it will be handed over to the James Paget, or, for refunds, visit Eastern Lights.
The organisers are devastated at the cancellation … however, they will be happy to see any bikers who just happen to turn up at Royal Green, Lowestoft between 10am and 4pm for a free get together. There will be trade stands, a live band and Honda powerboat racing, but more than anything, there will be an opportunity to show the Chief Constable of Norfolk that bikers don’t go down without a fight.
With US President Barack Obama currently visiting Russia, you might have expected high-level international talks to be taking up the time of Russian Premier Vladimir Putin. But no. After a two-hour meeting with Obama on Tuesday, Putin, known for his outdoors lifestyle (he was recently photographed bare-chested on a fishing trip, and has a black belt in judo), met with our old friends, Russia’s Night Wolves MC (who, incidentally, have one of the coolest club houses in the world).
Putin was welcomed by Alexander Zaldostanov – known to everyone as ‘The Surgeon’ - who explained that the club was about to leave on a run to the International Bike Show in Sebastopol, this year dedicated to the Black Sea Fleet and the 65th anniversary of the city’s liberation from German occupation. The Night Wolves presented the Prime Minister with a painting featuring the club’s logo, and, in return, Putin gave them a large Russian flag and his best wishes for the trip. It’s hardly a photo-opportunity you could imagine Gordon Brown getting enthusiastic about…
It’s a well-known fact that you can buy almost everything in the world on eBay. But one lucky bidder is now the proud winner of a pretty remarkable machine: the Batcycle.
The motorcycle and sidecar outfit used in the original 1960s TV series of ‘Batman’ has just sold on eBay US for £18,250. The bike was based on a 250cc Yamaha Catalina, and had a custom sidecar featuring a removable go kart with its own 50cc engine for Robin, and a one-off Plexi-glass nose fairing. It was built by Kustomotive (the first Batcycle in 1966 had been a ‘65 Harley outfit, but it was rented and only used for one episode), who then leased it to the TV series for $50 a week.
After the show was cancelled, Kustomotive used the Batcycle for car shows, and built four replicas. This Batcycle (supposedly the one used in the TV series) has covered just 8245 miles, which doesn’t seem much distance for a super hero. Maybe he’s just a local Caped Crusader for local people. Whether the Batcycle comes with the original equipment – a mobile Batscanner, a remote control ejector button, remote control steering by which Batman could control the Batmobile, and a smaller version of the Batmobile’s battering ram – is unknown.
Further to the news of the loss of Hawg Haven’s Terry ‘Nobby’ Clarke last week, we can announce that his funeral will take on 20th July 2009. It will begin with a memorial ride from Terry’s home, and anyone wishing to show their respect is very welcome to join the ride from the Quality Hotel roundabout, Barnard Road, Norwich NR5 9JB, to head towards St Faiths Crematorium, 75 Manor Rd, Horsham St Faith, Norwich NR10 3LF for an informal service at 16:15
All mourners are encouraged to join a further celebration of Terry's life at The Lodge Country House, Vicarage Rd, Salhouse, Norwich NR13 6HD, which is expected to continue well into the early hours of the morning. Camping facilities are available.
The Clarke family has respectfully requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the British Heart Foundation in Terry's name.
The regenerated Indian Motorcycle Company has just unveiled two new models. The Bomber will be offered in Military Green with pin-up girl artwork on the tank, reminiscent of World War II war birds, while the seat has, in Indian’s own words, ‘the look and feel of an old bomber jacket’.
The second model, the Dark Horse, will be available in Thunder Black, Indian Red and Deep Water Blue and follows Harley’s lead in having many blacked out components. Both bikes will be powered by Indian’s air-cooled, fuel-injected 105 cubic inch PowerPlus V-twin with baker six-speed gearboxes and Brembo four piston front brakes. The two new Indians will join the existing range of the Standard, Deluxe, Roadmaster and Vintage, and will be produced in limited editions, although we don’t know as yet just how limited. Possibly as many as they can sell, which, as the Dark Horse (the cheaper of the two) starts at $27,999 or £18,500, may not be too many.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed was brought to a rousing close yesterday with Peter Fonda leading a group of custom bikes from Krazy Horse Custom Cycles around the track to phenomenal applause from the crowds. It was the first type custom bikes had been part of the track displays and exhibited in the Cartier Style et Luxe, probably the finest and most important concours event in the world, and the bikes proved to be one of the biggest draws of the weekend. Krazy Horse's 'Zeroesque' was voted best in the bike class by a panel of celebrity judges including Yasmin le Bon, Viscount Linley, James Martin and Will Young, and a delighted Paul Beamish collected his silver trophy from - of course - Peter Fonda.
Peter Fonda turned out to be charming, and genuinely pleased with how much interest the 40th anniversary of 'Easy Rider'. Here he poses with a Captain America copy, brought over to the Style et Luxe by Harley-Davidson Hannover's Mattias Korte (on right behind bike).
The first day of the Goodwood Festival of Speed has been hot in all ways. The sun blazed down all day (we won't mention which bike builder now resembles Chi-Chi the panda after wearing sunglasses all day), and the display of custom bikes on the lawn beside Goodwood House has generated constant crowds. Peter Fonda seems a little overwhelmed by the amount of attention he's received, and his run up the hillclimb aboard a Captain America-inspired chopper was one of the highlights of the day. Jesse James's Baja Trophy truck is utterly mad, and the Chevy 7.2 litre engine can be heard half-a-mile away!
All of us at Back Street Heroes are deeply saddened to hear that Terry Clarke - known to all and sundry as Nobby - of Hawg Haven in Norwich passed away on Friday night.
With his lifelong friend and business partner, Jon Quantrell, Nobby will be well-known to BSH readers through the Hawg Haven bikes such as 'PsyBawg', 'Barnstormer' and the 'Las Vegas Wedding Bike', and to many rally-goers for his and Jon's ability to party hard. We would like to extend our heart-felt condolences to Nobby's wife, Wendy, Jon and Penny and to all of his family and many friends. He will be missed.
Hornsea Youth Club’s continuing success at the recent National Youthbike Competition (this year they won awards for a three-engined minimoto drag bike with nitrous, and a minimoto covered in newspaper to highlight drinking and driving) has been tempered by break-ins at the youth club’s Lincolnshire workshop. John Metcalfe, project leader, told the BSH Blog;
“I’ve worked on a voluntary basis for years on this venture, giving my time, experience and equipment so the young people can achieve something, and, if nothing else, it keeps them off the streets – and then this happens. I was recently employed for a few hours a week to run this project hopefully to move it forward, but this has knocked us backwards, I just hope that we can recover.”
Not content with their first haul, thieves then went on to burgle the workshop twice more in the following week, taking a pillar drill, welder, bench grinder, hand tools, three pit bikes and John Metcalfe’s personal tool box full of tools. Centre manager, Di Bishop, says that the whole bike project at the Hornsea Youth Club is in jeopardy with the loss of such essential tools. Thus, the project is appealing to anyone who can help, whether by donating hand or power tools, financial assistance or even items that could be raffled. If you can help – and what could be a better feeling than getting kids into motorcycling? – ring the Youth Club on 01964 534269. Anyone with information on the burglaries, or who has recently been offered tools matching the description of those taken, is asked to contact Hornsea police on 01964 530322.