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6th April 2016

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South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

Spring in the air! Paul Miles heads south to Ardingly in West Sussex where fair weather brings out an impressive array of classic bikes...

Spring is in the air so it must be time for the Ardingly bike show. I’ve trotted along for several years, with 2015’s offering being as wet as I can remember. With temperatures of 17 degrees forecast, I had higher hopes for this year and wasn’t disappointed. Arriving about 10.45am on my trusty Z1R we were directed to the most distant perimeter road to park, such was the demand on space. The promise of good weather and old bikes proving irresistible so early in the biking season had lured seemingly everyone with an interest in old bikes out for the day.

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

Elk Promotions tweak the show each year and it was good to see a large and very busy BSAOC stand raffling off a restored C12 whilst entertaining the assembled throng with rock and roll music – whether they wanted it or not! I took along a show novice who asked why anybody would want to pay to win a BSA C12 and why not raffle a Triton instead as they were bound to sell more tickets? Answers on a postcard…

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

The Surrey Norton Owners Club boys did themselves proud and as well as the usual impressive lineup of twins, there was a Manx and a beautifully patinated Inter, oozing vital fluids. My pet novice suggested the latter needed a lot of work in order to be nice, describing it as a rough project. The NOC man managed to remain calm – just about.

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

1970s bikes are increasingly vying for space at shows and there were some very shiny examples on display, although as you might expect some of the most impressive machines were ridden in by paying customers and arrayed in vast swathes outside. I particularly liked an early Gold Wing, Laverda 750SF with extra red paint and a yellow Harley-Davidson side-valver, looking suspiciously like it had been pre-patinated. A gloriously scruffy Sunbeam single sparked the perpetual debate about at what point patina becomes neglect. The novice thought it ready for the skip, of course.

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

I would say there were fewer jumble stands than in previous years, but the event clashed with at least two other bike jumbles I knew of within thirty miles. At least there was the superior sausage stand, decent coffee and artisan bread company that seemed to be doing brisk business. Not very rock and roll is it? The balance was restored somewhat, when I spotted the Triton rider, munching a burger whilst leaning against his machine. That’s more like it.

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016
Pre-Owned Nortons on Now...

Old books, manuals and memorabilia were much in evidence, but really, does anyone actually collect old spark plugs? The choice of the rusty bikes was a swinging arm Velocette MAC that looked like an easy project, which almost certainly means it wouldn’t have been, but was complete and easy on the eye.

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

There were several bikes I’d have taken home, but the best for me was the square fin TR5 Trophy. It was delicious, but didn’t look like it had been ridden there, despite the fine weather.

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

Great day, great ride there and back, good food and good weather. See you in the summer…

South of England Classic Motorcycle Show, 2016

The next Elk event at Ardingly is the Summer Classic Bike Show and Bikejumble on Sunday 24th July 2016, at Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL: elkpromotions.co.uk

Ace Tester Miles welcomes your comments, catcalls and compliments on Twitter


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