Welcome to Old Bike Mart, the subscription-only newspaper with the UK’s largest selection of classic motorcycle classified ads.
This month’s OBM, as always is the case, features the latest news, reports from the racetrack, part and tool reviews and ‘how to’ guides. Newly discovered historic machines are revealed in all their unrestored glory and there’s a nostalgic look back through the annals of motorcycling history.
Here’s a taste of what to expect in issue 412…
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Stafford preview| Taking place over the weekend of October 19-20, this year’s Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show is, quite astoundingly, the 26th running of the event!
The missing link | Given the asymmetrical nature of motorcycle sidecar combinations, handling is always going to be a little interesting, and Mick Payne takes a closer look at how it can be improved.
Nine years that rocked the world… | Pete Kelly continues his look back over the first nine eventful years, from Honda’s first 125cc foray on to the Clypse course in 1959 until Mike Hailwood’s record-shattering TT victories in 1967.
PLUS | The UK’s biggest selection of classic motorcycle classified ads! Discover some of our readers’ tales, look back at some of the highlights from the greatest classic motorcycle shows, and make a date for upcoming events in your classic calendar!
Although news in the classic world has, of late, been of a fairly light and positive nature, a couple of things have popped up within the last few days (as I write this, the last couple of weeks as you read it) that maybe aren’t quite so optimistic, certainly at first glance.
Initially it’s the news about the Sunbeam MCC’s Pioneer Run changes, in which the club has decided to make some alterations that can make the run flow more easily, and reduce the level of aggravation that entrants undergo thanks to the heavy traffic conditions on the route.
This all sounds very positive until you discover that, within the changes, is the fact that the route tweak that was applied last year to avoid the junction on the A23 (that saw slow-moving veteran vehicles merging with much-faster traffic) resulted in the A259 coast road being used for the final run into Brighton, was actually seen as being equally frustrating.
This was due to the large number of traffic lights on the new route resulting in stop-start traffic, which doesn’t prove to be conducive to riding a pre-1915 machine, especially one with direct drive and/or a single speed!
Brilliant, I hear you say, a London to Brighton run that will be easier to ride on a veteran machine, what could be bad about that? Well, the run will no longer terminate along Brighton’s Madeira Drive and will, instead, end at Brighton City Airport.
For many, the Pioneer Run is all about that final destination (if that’s not too morbid a term), given that it’s a historic venue that has always, until now, been the target and focus of bikes that had left Epsom Downs some hours earlier. I know of at least one vintage owner and rider who has struck the Pioneer off his to-do list because of the change, and it remains to be seen if the number of people who’ll be happier to have an easier run to Brighton Airport outweighs those who want the run to end on Madeira Drive.
Some have said that the change will take money away from Brighton, but the airport isn’t that far out of town (about seven miles from Madeira Drive) so presumably those folk that stay overnight after the run will still do so.
And of course, benefits will accrue from this new arrangement – improved safety, less traffic, ample parking, plenty of room for spectators and on-site catering, all at one of the most historic aerodromes in Britain. But the argument is still whether it remains to be an event that can be called the Pioneer Run – the event that started in 1930 on very different roads, and with a different destination to what will be used henceforth.
Although I guess we should also bear in mind that the start of the run was originally at the old Croydon Airport, and not at Epsom Downs as it has been for many years, so it hasn’t really been on that original route for a long, long time!
Regardless, it will still be the largest gathering of pre-1915 solos, sidecars, tricycles and quadricycles in the world, and next year’s 45-mile route will still be a spectacle that brings lumps to throats, creates goosebumps on the hardiest of forearms, and smiles to the grimmest of faces. March 22 will certainly remain an important date in the classic motorcycle diary.
The second issue that has sprung into sight concerns something a little more modern than veteran bikes, although it has proved to be a very popular addition to the classic calendar in the 10 years in which it has been running.
During the Isle of Man’s Classic TT festival (which now seems to be the primary focus of the Island’s Manx GP fortnight), the Vintage Motorcycle Club has been running an event at the old RAF station at Jurby in the north of the Island. Using the road racing circuit at the airfield (right next to the prison, that you may have seen recently on TV) for the parading of classic road and race machinery (many piloted by some of the most famous names in motorcycling sport), the Festival of Jurby would see 10,000 spectators on the day between the two main race days of the Classic TT, making it the biggest single venue attraction on the Island.
Now, you’d think that something that was so popular would be immune to any kind of financial risk or regulatory change, but that seems not to be the case. At the risk of sounding like one of those folks who blames the impending departure from the EU for everything, it appears that this could actually be the case, because there are some uncertainties with regard to the changes with EU medical cards that could affect medical cover for non-Manx riders.
Of course, the VMCC doesn’t want to put any of the riders or spectators at the event under any risk, and in an official statement the club said: “Consequently, and pending professional advice, the committee has reluctantly, and with regret, decided to suspend the festival until further notice.” As you may have noticed, they’re not actually saying that the festival has come to an absolute end – contrary to what many posts on social media have said – as the event is being “suspended”.
Much like the complications that arose at Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount circuit, at which racing has now returned, hopefully by the time that next August comes around, any issues (whether EU-related or not) will be overcome and the festival will be up and running again.
Of course, for both of the cases which have been outlined here, we can only sit and wait to see what happens. Like many things in life, I guess…