The new and shiny issue of Back Street Heroes*, the finest custom motorcycle magazine in the Universe, has just arrived at BSH Towers. And pretty splendid it is, too. From Robbie's gorgeous Ironhead to Vlad's immaculate hardtail Triumph, a minimal BSA A65 all the way from Virginia and an Old School XS650 from Derbyshire, via Autumn NABDness, the NASC Street Rod Nationals Chops & Bobbers Show and the Harley Super Rally, we think you'll like it. Oh, and there's Ogri. too.
*Wait till we get the Lucky 13th issue in tomorrow...
According to today’s Derby Telegraph, the first new Nortons have begun rolling off the production line at its Donington Park factory.
The name of Norton has changed hands as many times as that of Indian, but the latest owner is Stuart Garner (pictured), businessman, entrepreneur and previously known to the likes of us through one of his other ventures, Spondon Engineering. Garner says that it will be eventually producing over 100 bikes a month, and that the first will be delivered in two weeks’ time. As we reported back in September, Norton will be unveiling two new machines, the 961 Commando and the Cafe Racer Commando (both of which are based upon the modernised design produced by Kenny Dreer a few years back), at the International Motorcycle & Scooter Show at Birmingham’s NEC at the end of November. The word is that the company has now secured enough orders – some 200 special edition Commandos – to begin full production. However, with the greatest of respect, we will be waiting and watching. And, obviously, pawing the bikes at the NEC.
From Le Rock, Notts' Harley and custom specialists, comes a new idea, and one which might solve that perennial Christmas present dilemma. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about your Harley works, and been too embarrassed to ask – or not known who to ask – then put yourself in the safe hands of Mr Kev French.
Le Rock is now offering a 3-hour evening and an 8-hour day course during which Kev will take you into the world of mechanical understanding.
The 3 hour course takes you through all aspects of the machine and gives an invaluable insight into your motorcycle. The full day is much more in-depth, involving a more thorough study and understanding of how it all works, from servicing and customising to tuning.
The evening course (which will be on Tuesday) is £60, while the full day – on a Monday – will cost £90. With a maximum of six people per session, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and have one-to-one tuition from Kev. For more information and a booking form, telephone 01623 632266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harley-Davidson announced today that its shutting down its test facility at the Talladega Airport in Alabama, with the loss of around 100 jobs.
The MoCo says that it's consolidating its test operations from the current three sites in Talladega, Naples, Florida., and Mesa, Arizona, and basing everything at the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Ariz.
The move to Yucca will take place sometime next year. Incidentally, there's a truck on a stick near the Arizona Proving Grounds. I realise this may be of little consolation to the Talladega workforce, but I was pretty impressed when I saw it a couple of years ago...
Back in June we told you about 'The Harbortown Bobber', the latest film from One World Studios - aka Zack Coffman and Scott DiLalla, the men behind 'Choppertown' and 'Brittown' - which catalogues the build of Scott's own Triumph. Despite several invites to the premiere (hey, just make us feel bad, guys!), we couldn't get over to the film's debut showing in California, but it was well-received by all accounts.
BUT ... in the next issue of BSH, out in newsagents next Thursday, you will be able to read about the building of the Harbortown Bobber in an exclusive feature.
Huge congratulations to BSH's good mate, Les Harris, El Presidente of National Association of Supertwins, and now Supertwin Top Gas Champion 2009! Les only intended to go drag racing a couple of times to see what it was like ... at least that's what he told me twelve years ago! Well done, old friend.
Prescot Museum in Merseyside is currently running a new exhibition called ‘Megaphones and Magnetos: A history of the British Motorcycle Industry’, which the Knowsley Arts and Heritage Service has created in conjunction with the Vintage Motorcycle Club (Northwest Section), National Museums Liverpool and other contributors.
The exhibition charts the development of the motorcycle and the changes in the British industry from its origins right up to the present day. On display are a number of motorcycles dating from the early 20th century,through to the heyday of the industry in the 1960s, among them Kelvin Prosser's 1956 Triumph Tiger 100, seen here under the Mayor of Knowsley, Councillor Dave Smithson, who said; "There is some fantastic motorcycling memorabilia on show here at the exhibition and I would urge anybody who has a love of motorcycles to come along and see it for themselves.”
The exhibition will run until 4th January 2010 at the Prescot Museum, 34 Church Street, Prescot, Merseyside L34 3LA. The museum is open on Tuesday – Saturday from 10am to 5pm (closed between 1-2pm) and from 2pm-5pm on Sunday. Admission is free.
Forget tiers of fluffy white icing and piped curlicues, this is probably the coolest wedding cake in the world.
Produced by Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore (and the subject of TV series, ‘Ace of Cakes’), it was made for the nuptials of Bob Parsons and Renee LaBelle in Virginia, USA, last weekend. Parsons is the CEO of GoDaddy.com, the world’s largest Internet domain registrar and web hosting company. But, before you think that the new Mrs Parsons is a remarkably tolerant woman (although I have no doubt she is), this full-size edible Ducati with horns, lights and moving wheels was only the groom’s cake. The official wedding cake was a more traditional ten tiers tall. The fabrication of the cake bike will be shown in a future ‘Ace of Cakes’, and Parsons – who’s recently opened a Ducati dealership in his hometown of Scottsdales, Arizona – was so pleased, he presented Goldman with a real Duke.
Yesterday Buell owners in Wisconsin staged one last ride to support the firm, following parent company Harley-Davidson’s shock announcement that it was closing down Erik Buell’s sports bike division. Despite pleas from owners and local business associations, Harley has made it clear that it’s the end of the line for Buell. A spokeswoman for the MoCo, Pat McSweeney, said "We chose not to sell Buell, and [to]simply end production, simply because of the interdependencies that exist between Buell and Harley-Davidson. That is the decision we made, and that is not a reversible decision."
The Christmas present for the biker who has everything but taste. Available from www.drinkingstuff.com is this Motorcycle Grip Bottle Opener, which revs up every time you open a bottle with it. We reckon that could get old real quick.
Falling off your bike is embarrassing enough. Falling off in front of an audience of millions is more so. That's what happened to film star Brad Pitt on Friday when, while being followed by a photographer, he clipped a car tyre and dropped his Shinya Kimura-built chop. You can see what happened here - OOPS - but what's more painful is how the poor bike is manhandled onto the back of a pick-up by some blokes who obviously have no idea what they're doing...
Further to our recent news item, Israeli bikers continue to protest again proposed increases in motorcycle insurance. Another demonstration today slowed the Ayalon highway, from where the bikers intended to turn into Tel Aviv to distribute leaflets and pizzas. Pizzas? That’s our idea of a good protest!
This item comes to you courtesy of industry insider, Cyril Huze, at Cyril Huze. We wait and see with anticipation whether it will apply to UK dealerships...
Last Monday, 3 days after Harley-Davidson decided to drop Buell I was informed that my local Harley-Davidson dealers in South Florida were already re-writing sticker prices of every Buell in stock to 50% of the original MSRP. Then, Milwaukee faxed to all dealers to announce an incentive to help move all Buell models out of the door as fast as possible. The dealer money incentive was supposed to be kept top secret. Not for a long time… Harley-davidson informed every dealer that they were giving them $5000 for each Buell leaving the show floor, whatever the model! So, it means that a dealer selling a brand new 2009 1125 CR could sell the bike previously listing at $9999.00 for $4,999.00 without losing any money.
As soon asthe price at which you could steal a 09 Buell was lmown (as low as $3500.00 in some dealerships), a bargain hunters bidding war began making the selling price of Buells going back up & up, but the dealer still pocketing $5000 for each sale. Bargains? Maybe a few left depending of where you shop. But the best deals may be gone in your area. In all negotiations there is a winner and a loser. And I hope you win at your dealership. For me, it’s quite sad to see the spectacle of Harley-Davidson taking such desperate measures to sell part of their business. And I begin to thinck that Harley-Davidson may lose even more when selling MV Agusta. I don’t see who is going to offer more than what Harley paid about 1 year ago to acquire the Italian manufacturer. Anyway, if you buy a Buell at deep discount, try to get the Lightning XB125 strretfighter or the XB12R as featured above. They are for me the best values and warranty remains & parts will sill be available . But, still this situation is very sad.
Eye of Ra MCC is holding a Halloween Party this Saturday at Hafodyrynys Rugby Club in Crumlin, Gwent. There'll be a live band, a rock disco and cheap(ish) booze. It'll cost you three quid on the door and BPA, please. For more details, visit Eye of Ra MCC.
According to Florida Today, jailed bike builder Billy Lane is seeking a reduction in his prison sentence.
In a defence motion to reduce a sentence filed in 18th Judicial Circuit Court, attorneys Greg Eisenmenger and Robert Berry said the family of Gerald Morelock who was killed in a crash with Lane have remained in touch with Lane after his sentencing.
Lane, 39, pled no contest earlier this year to one count of vehicular homicide for crashing his pickup truck head-on into Morelock's motorcycle while speeding past slow traffic in a no-pass zone on September 4th 2006. He also was sentenced to three years of probation.
During sentencing, the victim's brother, Byron Morelock, and nephew, Sean Morelock, declined to recommend a punishment. But they asked the judge to impose a sentence that would use Lane's celebrity status to help save the lives of young people through a foundation they plan to create. They also said they had built a relationship with Lane, who made a sincere face-to-face apology early in the case.
However, Lane's attorneys say that the media interest caused the family to be overwhelmed and vague about their feelings on a prison sentence. The lawyers now want Circuit Judge Robert Burger to give the Morelocks another opportunity to be heard and to cut Lane's sentence if he sees fit.
The Association for Safe International Travel has just released a study which names the ten worst roads in the world. Most of the entries are little surprise – the Pan-American Highway in Costa Rica, the Sichuan-Tibet Highway in China, the Luxor-al Hurghada Road in Egypt which is well-known bandit country, where, so to avoid ambush, most drivers don’t use their headlights at night…
But, at number 8 of this roll call of mayhem is the A44. Yes, our A44, and, in particular, the 25-mile section between Leominster and Worcester. I know this stretch of road, and while it is indeed something of an accident black spot with numerous blind corners, I’d hardly rate it up there with Brazil’s ‘Rodovia da Morte’ or Highway of Death which runs along the top of high cliffs or the Patiopoulo road in Greece which has potholes, gravel, sheer drops either side and no guard rails or lines. But, as the A44 is particularly popular with bikers, you might care to remember the ASIT’s findings.
The full Top Ten of the World’s Most Dangerous Roads is:
1. The North Yungas Road – Bolivia 2. BR-116 – Brazil 3. Sichuan-Tibet Highway – China 4. Pan-American Highway – Costa Rica 5. Coast roads – Croatia 6. Cotopaxi Volcan – Ecuador 7. Luxor-al Hurghada – Egypt 8. A44 – UK 9. Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road – Greece 10. Grand Trunk Road - India
On Sunday 25th October, the London Borough of Southwark will be erecting a Blue Plaque in tribute to one of the great names in motorcycling history, Edward Turner. The plaque will be unveiled at 2pm at 8 Philip Walk, Peckham SE15 where Turner lived during the 1920s. Members of his family will be present, along with speakers from the Ariel Owners Club and the Daimler SP250 Register. Everyone is welcome.
Further to our previous item regarding the demise of Moto Morini, we were delighted to hear from the Fabulous Biker Boys in response, with some heartening news which deserves a more high-profile posting.
"As the spokesman for Moto Morini's UK importer I've got some good news. The factory is still in business and not about to be asset stripped. The credit crunch caused a cash flow problem and so Morini went into voluntary liquidation to protect itself from creditors. Under Italian law this gives the company time to sort out its problems and carry on trading. The UK Morini owners club has just visited the Bologna factory and confirm that it's business as usual. The UK dealer network is expanding and there's a new UK specific website too - so it's not all doom and gloom. If you haven't ridden one of these potent 1200cc V-twins then book a test ride ASAP!"
Following the September announcement that it intended to close the Buell plant throughout November and December of 2009 as a cost cutting measure, the company announced today that it is to formally end the production of all Buell products.
In a further move to reduce operating costs, the Company is also placing legendary Varese, Italy, sports bike manufacturer MV Agusta up for sale, following the July 2008 confirmation that it had turned to MV Agusta as a purchase target (for $109m) following the failure of its efforts to buy Ducati. . "Buell and MV Agusta are great companies, with proud brands, high-quality exciting products and passionate enthusiasm for the motorcycle business. Buell has introduced many innovative advancements in motorcycle design and technology over the years, and MV Agusta is known in Europe for its premium, high-performance sport motorcycles. However, our strategy to focus on the Harley-Davidson brand reflects the fact that we believe our investments in that brand are a better utilization of overall company resources," said Keith Wandell, Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson.
In a statement about the closure of the company he founded, Erik Buell said: "I will always be proud of what we have accomplished. It is a testimony to what a small group of passionate and inspired people can do, and with brilliant innovations, we've produced some of the best-handling bikes of all time.
"I personally look forward to exploring how I can continue to work with Harley-Davidson to bring advanced product technology to riders" said Buell.
Remaining inventories of Buell motorcycles, accessories and apparel will continue to be sold through authorized dealerships until the inventory is cleared. Warranty coverage will continue as normal for Buell motorcycles, and the Company will provide replacement parts and service through dealerships.
The decision will result in a reduction over time of about 80 hourly production positions and about 100 salaried positions at Buell.
Not being fluent Japanese speakers, some of the nuances of this TV game show is lost on us. However, the idea appears to be whether contestants can name a tune played by revving a bike throttle... Cool hair, too.
Italian manufacturer, Moto Morini, has gone into voluntary liquidation after being unable to pay its staff’s salaries last month. The factory at Casalecchio di Reno is remaining open for the present in the hope new finance can be found, following the company’s decision to enter voluntary liquidation which will involve the selling of assets. Interestingly, sales figures of Moto Morini motorcycles were up for the first eight months of 2009 as against the same period last year, but no-one at the company is willing to comment on this new turn of events.
Fresh from taking 3rd place in the World Championship of Custom Bike Building, Freddie Krugger took his S&S-powered 'Overmile' out onto the famous Spa-Francorchamps race circuit in Belgium. Definitely no case of 'show bikes don't go' here...
If, as we mentioned in a recent entry, Harley-Davidson was to entertain ideas of setting up a production facility in India (and we’re not saying that it is, but stranger things have happened!), it might not find it quite as easy as it imagines. Honda is currently threatening to shut its factory in Haryana, Northern India, down.
Honda India’s Vice President of General Affairs, Mohan Deepak, claims that production at the plant has slumped by 50% in the last two months due to a worker go-slow. Rather oddly, the Honda workers’ union claim that its members are not taking industrial action or going slow, but that many parts are unavailable due to suppliers being on strike. Honda is planning to go to court to, well, make everyone work.
The BMW C1 was one of the more unusual motorcycle launches of the last ten years. With its roof and four-point seat belt, it was a head-turning sight on British and European roads (although not in the US, where it was never available). The idea was that the C1 would appeal to city car drivers with the convenience of two wheels, but with the emphasis on safety – in fact, BMW claimed it to be so safe that the rider didn’t need to wear a helmet, although, as it was classified as a motorcycle, helmet laws still applied in the UK.
But the C1 appeared to be neither fish nor fowl. Nobody who already rode a bike was going to be tempted, and the target audience – car drivers – were unconvinced by the safety aspects, or the fact that, at £12,000, it cost more than many small cars. Just two years after its launch, the C1 was discontinued.
But, with Teutonic efficiency (and doubtless, a reticence to waste all that R&D money), BMW has re-developed the C1 as an electric vehicle. The company has done this in partnership with Paiggio and eSUM, a European initiative involving local authorities in Paris, Barcelona, Rome and London. BMW claims, ‘This is what a safe, environmentally-friendly and highly practical single track vehicle for city traffic could look like in the future’. BMW says there are no plans to put the C1-E into production but, should electric bikes become a popular and viable alternative, BMW is going to be ahead of the game with a tested design ready to roll.
Israeli motorcyclists are currently taking on their government in an impressively organised campaign against an increase in compulsory insurance rates scheduled to take place in November.
In a well-coordinated media campaign, moped riders, biker groups, online forums, the Israel Motorcycle Club, small businesses and journalists have banned together to bring the issue to public notice. It began with slow-moving riders convening on the Ayalon Highway, one of Tel Aviv’s major routes, in order to illustrate the gridlock and chaos that would result if the increased rates force people to switch to cars. Motorcycles then filled car parking spots in city centres, and, last Thursday, motorcyclists mounted a demonstration by riding half-naked in swim suits or their knickers, the message being that the insurance will strip them and force them to ride without coverage.
The campaign is also enlisting celebrities, and is being aimed at the finance minister and prime minister of Israel.
Author and former oil rigger, Paul Carter, is currently engaged on a huge adventure to circumnavigate Australia – on a bike running on fish and chip oil.
The biodiesel bike, built by the University of Australia, is the only one of its kind registered in the country, and runs on recycled cooking oil and waste fats (although, with some irony, Paul’s continental 13,000-mile ride is sponsored by oil service companies). It’s estimated that it will consume around 650 litre of oil during the journey leaving behind it a haze of fried veg.
Senior lecturer at the UoA, Dr Colin Kestell, says the university wasn’t keen to part with the motorbike, but decided it would lend it to Mr Carter in his quest to encourage more people to use biodiesel.
If Paul makes it back to Adelaide in December, he will then attempt to break the world land speed record for biodiesel motorcycles on another machine built by the University, this time trying to crack the current 165mph record on the salt flats of Lake Gairdner. You can follow Paul’s trip at The Good Oil.
Following the success of an Italian version, next year will see a UK series exclusively for Harley-Davidson XR1200s.
British Superbike Championship race series organisers, MSVR, has developed the championship in conjunction with Harley and performance parts specialist, Harris Performance. Registration has already opened for the 2010 XR1200 trophy, with Warr Harley-Davidson of London having already confirmed its entry. As well as Harley dealers, individuals with an ACU Clubman licence and deep pockets are invited to enter the ten race, eight event series, although the entry fee for privateers will include an XR1200, full race kit developed by Harris and a season’s tyre deal with Dunlop.
The calendar for 2010 has yet to be confirmed but will run between April and September, and will include rounds at tracks such as Brands Hatch, Donington and Silverstone.
Despite the downsizing at its US plants - and another seventy-one workers were laid off last week - and the fact that worldwide decline for Harley-Davidsons has declined by 12%, the MoCo is continuing with plans to branch out onto the Indian subcontinent.
There are already plans in place to open dealerships in Punjab, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi, and now Harley is now looking to open shops in various more India cities.St present, all fifteen Harley-Davidson models sold in India will be imported from the USA factories, although it's tempting to speculate how long that situation will prove to be viable, and a keen young soul might suggest that production - or a proportion of it - is moved to India. After all, it happened in the 1930s with the manufacture of the 'Rikuo', a re-badged 750 or 1200 flathead, which was made under licence to Harley using the MoCo's tooling. Then, in the build up to World War II, and with the Japanese company refusing to bow to pressure from Milwaukee to licence the new Knucklehead design, Harley employees were asked to leave Japan ... leaving all their tooling, blueprints and factory behind. Rikuos - Japanese Harleys - continued to be built until 1958.
A recent study by Fortune magazine of 100 famous international brands concluded that the Harley-Davidson brand had dropped in value by some 43%, the most dramatic drop of any company included in the study. Small surprise then that Milwaukee is attempting to seek out new markets. Let's hope it doesn't end in tears this time.
Police in Germany usually have to contend with speeding Audis and BMWs, but last week a biker attempted to outrun a police patrol in Maulberg – on a beer crate that he’d converted into a mini quad bike. Matthias Krankl tried to give the pursuing Old Bill the slip by fleeing into dense woodland where, rather embarrassingly, he got stuck in mud. Officers said; “The quad only has a tiny one cylinder engine but somehow he managed to break the speed limit. We were very impressed with the workmanship so we congratulated him. And then we confiscated the machine.”
So, you've just bought a new Harley V-Rod. What's the best thing to do with it? Take it to bits and make it better - obviously! And that's just what Colin at Moore Speed Racing in Poole, Dorset, has done...
Those of you with modern satellite television and a penchant for fluffy things should tune to the National Geographic Wild channel on 4th November 2009. the 10pm slot sees the premiere of a new series, ‘Rescue Ink’, which documents a group of bikers who’ve come together to form what they call, “an army for animals.”
Rescue Ink is based in New York City, an area of more than 20 million people, and, consequently, with thousands of neglected animals, from dogs to piranhas. The group is composed of security guards, bouncers and an ex-NYPD detective, and is on call 24/7 to take on cases that no-one else will.
Each one-hour TV episode takes viewers on ‘ride alongs’ as members follow up on leads, taking an average of 100 calls a week at their headquarters on Long Island. They’ll confront alleged animal abusers, rescue fighting dogs, investigate stolen animals and (firmly) encourage owners to give up their pets if it is in the best interest of the animals. Their motto is ‘Abusers Are Losers!’ and they are working hard to establish themselves as a nationally recognised animal welfare organisation.