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17th October 03

Buyer's Eye Again

Frank Westworth is always looking for the perfect motorcycle. He only has about twenty slightly imperfect motorcycles already, but at the truly enormous Netley Marsh Eurojumble he found yet more candidates for Shed stardom...

I'd never been to the enormousness which is the Netley Marsh Eurojumble before, despite repeated proddings from John Budgen, organiser and Ariel specialist. Don't know why (why I'd never been, or whyfor the proddings!), indolence, I guess. But this year was different. This year, we made it, and an utterly outstanding event it is too. Never been to Netley? Go to the next. You will have a grand time, guaranteed.

As well as the huge array of jumble stands - at which I found the last major component needed to complete the assemblage of mis-matched bits which is the Toastmaster - there were loads of bikes for sale. Loads. Did you get that? Loads. So many bikes in a glorious profusion of conditions that I could have emptied the family coffers in no time. The fact that the family coffers were already empty saved the day…

A Fine Array Of Bantamery

A lot of folk like BSA's Bantam. I've owned a few over the years (most of them a very long way off) but they are too small for a gent of my size to be comfortable on. However, for everyone else they have loads of advantages, like they're cheap to buy, cheap to run, and are well served in the spares arena. They're everso easy to work on, and have a mighty fan base, too. You're never alone when you ride a Bantam, allegedly!

Nearly bought a Bantam when I was 16. My life might have been different...

And here was a decent enough array of BSA strokery; half a dozen Bantams from £300 to £600. A Bantam for Everyman, almost, ranging from the humble workers right through to the late sporty variant nearest the camera. They were all described as being in 'ride-away-today' condition, and man who had them was John Bull, 01225 742091.

One-owner Norton

There are many one-owner machines about … but there cannot be many left which were built in 1935! Check out this ES2, offered for sale by George Cohen, Editor of the Norton Owners' Club magazine, Roadholder. For just £3000 you could have become the second (presumably) proud owner of this unrestored and entirely original machine. Timewarp motorcycles like this one always tempt me, and when I saw the bike again at the VMCC jumble at Shepton Mallet I was just as tempted. Particularly when I saw all the work that George has already done to the engine's internals.

Beyond Patinated?

The Norton and its stablemate had been transported back from South Africa, and came complete with astonishing provenance; original bill of sale, factory correspondence, stuff like that. The very stuff in fact that an anorak dreams of. I am that anorak, and I am still dreaming… Check out 01460 52646 if you want a rare treasure.

First-kick Firebird

Just look at this! Rowena had her hand in her purse the moment that John Anderson set foot to kickstart of this immaculate, entirely original, 6200 mile BSA twin. And yes, the Firebird Scrambler started first kick, despite the jeering of the audience (OK; I was the jeerleader), and when John offered Rowena a ride, there and then, I had to step in to call a halt to the proceedings! We might never have seen her again…

What's going on with that front mudguard then? Is it meant to be like that?

John makes a habit of re-importing bikes like this one; just back from Ohio and it 'didn't need a spanner near it'. Phwoar, etc… It was up for grabs for £3500, and you can find John at 01568 750658.

(Sandals. Never go to a bike show wearing sandals. It means you can't whizz around the field on bikes like these. Sigh. RH).

Tricksy Triumph or Two

This is the bike we should've bought on the spot and Rowena claims that she would have ridden it home. Sigh. What a cutie, she say, besmitten with thoughts of an Adventurer but sadly lacking the wallet to match her aspirations. And this 500 twin is more unusual than you might think; this is a Triumph T100C dating from 1971 (or so; forgot to note the engine number), and was riding on very late forks, complete with small conical hub front brake, titchy T25-style clocks, high pipes, and a full-size conical hub at the back.

I always think you can tell a lot about a bike from its control cable routing...

This treasure, resplendent in red and silver, was offered at a piffling £1850, and of course at that price it was sold, so there's no point in listing the vendor's details. However, it was sold to a friend of a friend, so watch these e-spaces!

Standing behind the tasty Tiger 100 was a neat example of its oil-in-frame 650 sibling, a TR6. This is the early Umberslade Hall model, too often derided by folk who've either never ridden one or who should know better. Do not believe everything you read! In fact, to any rider even faintly familiar with modern motorcycles and their elevated riding positions, these Triumph twins are no bother, no bother at all.

Blue and red? It'll be stripes and checks next...

This TR6 was offered at the same £1850 as the T100C, so if you read elsewhere that you can't get a good, sweet-running (which it was) Triumph twin for less than two grand … well, what can I say?

Another Tiger

There seemed to be a lot of decent machines offered at sensible money over the Eurojumble weekend, and indeed more than one of the bikes on offer had been repatriated from Euroland. Like this 1955 (I think) Triumph Tiger 100. Check it out; this would make a RealClassic Tiger indeed.

This bike has seen life...

The Trumpet was well away from being stock, but if that didn't worry you, then I think you'd agree with me that the asking price of just £1850 (again) was entirely sensible. Do you care that a real, genuine, alloy-barrelled road-ripper like this has a few dodgy bits, like a loud set of meggas, a later headlamp and a much later grabrail? No, me neither. I'm no great fan of Triumph twins, truth be told, but you could do a load worse than this one. It would certainly have made a shedmate for Daisy, the most well-travelled Triumph on this site.

Not everyone likes the steering of the early Triumph swinging fork frame, but almost everyone would be seduced by that little rasper of an engine.

Norton Nearly For Sale

Cast your eyes over this 1960 wideline Norton Model 50. Isn't it entirely splendid? If there wasn't already a 1960 wideline Norton Model 50 awaiting restoration in the farther reaches of The Shed, then … but you've heard all that all too often.

Not to be confused with any other Notrons you may have seen lurking round here.

I've heard the Norton Model 50, a 350cc ohv single of gentle demeanour but considerable charm, described as 'the safest motorcycle ever built', because it sits that soft engine in a set of cycle parts which could handle the fire-breathing Manx, and which would go on to accommodate the 745cc Atlas twin!

In fact, these are easy starters, supreme steering singles; packed with history, and with the long legs which went with even medium-capacity singles in those long-lost days. There's little acceleration (they just sort of gather speed up to about 55mph) but once you've reached your cruising gait, the Norton will pound along up hill and down dale, using little fuel, not too much oil, and with no stress at all.

The Norton was very original, it had seen some repairs and some gentle restoration, but with standard parts wherever possible. Only the seat isn't standard. The owner told us that it took some effort to get an exhaust pipe with the right bend out of Armours, but he did it - and Armours will now have the right pattern (which will of course come in handy when I get around to fettling mine!).

The bike had been fitted with a new clutch, big end, gearbox bearings, as well as that exhaust, and it had a full T&T. 'It wasn't over-shiny,' said Rowena; 'carries its age with dignity…' Can't say more than that.

The Model 50 has been used regularly for VMCC runs, and the owner hoped he wouldn't sell it immediately as he was due to go on a run two days later. Did he get his £2450? I would hope so.

Another cooking 350

A handy contrast to the Norton Model 50 came in the shape of this tidy, functional AJS Model 16, also a 1960 model, and also from the old school of working 350 singles. A lot less flashy than the Norton, even when it was new, the AJS also has a pedestrian ohv single engine in a bicycle which would later be expected to cope with the 650 CSR twins - and later, after the addition of a set of Roadholder forks and Norton wheels, with the mighty 750 Atlas engine. You can imagine that the AMC duplex frame was not at all stretched by the gentle long-stroke single…

Now there's a front mudguard that fits *propery*. Much better.

That said, these are again charming bikes to ride. The engine has the same big end and main bearings as the 500 singles, and is pretty much indestructible if ridden with a little sympathy. There's no point in revving an engine like this - if you want a revver, buy a twin - but the monster flywheels enable the AJS to maintain an easy long distance gait. And they're reliable and served by one of the best club spares schemes in the business.

Although lots of folk ignore them and undervalue them - a glittering example of the Matchless equivalent G3L reached only £800 at the recent Palmer Snell auction - that is their loss. Richard Gaunt was offering the AJS for an excellent £1200! But only for the one day. The price would have risen if he had to take it home and polish it up…

And to close…

Take a look at Sam's black AJS, all the way from Cornwall. Oh, the irony. We were meandering around in the expert company of Chris Read, Editor of the AJS & Matchless OC's fine magazine, The Jampot, and if that resulted in our looking over a lot of AMC bikes, then so be it. There are none better. Chris, like ourselves, is a Cornwall resident, and we were highly entertained by the notion of taking this 1962 Model 18 back home again.

Oh dear; I think I'm developing a mudguard obsession...

Sam, the owner, had been clearing out his collection to make way for something very special; his very own BrufSup. The Brough has arrived but he'd yet to pay for it, so needed to sell! sell! sell! at Netley Marsh. And sell it almost certainly did.

'Can I kick it over?' I asked, innocently. Of course I could. I was actually just checking the compression … and the bike fired up, just like that. And ticked over like a clock.

So what do you get for the £1900ono that Sam was asking? You get 10 months T&T, a very good frame indeed, and one of the very best 500 singles ever made. No sporting pretensions, and none needed. Coil ignition, alternator lights, and almost useful front brake and a ride so fine you'll wonder why they don't still build bikes like this today - outside India, that is.

And there were loads more bikes too. Like the…


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