25th March 2011
The first major classic bike show of the year attracts three men in a Lexus (to say nothing of the dog), as Richard Jones explains...
I know Jerome K Jerome is probably spinning in his grave as a result of this blatant plagiarism but there were three of us going on an adventure, albeit not on a boat but in a car, to the first big classic bike show of 2011 - the Bristol Show at Shepton Mallet. However I must own up immediately and say there was no dog, Montmorency or otherwise, accompanying us. There was a cockerel named Ivor who lives in the garden next to Jack but he was a noisy blighter and it was felt that this would be taking plagiarism too far.
'A car going to a classic bike show?' I hear the gentle reader ask; well, gentle reader, Jack takes his cycling pleasures sans engine, power provided by his muscles, and Chris' Harley Davidson Obeseboy (like a Fatboy but with more bling and 'performance' parts) only seems to operate when temperatures are in double digits. Anyway, it would take more Solvol Autosol to polish it up after such a trip than could be realistically produced this year. So it was a car and I was driving so there.
Chris and I set off early doors from Candy Floss City and picked up Jack from Bath after which we set off through rural Somerset chatting happily. That is until we hit the traffic jam about three miles from the showground - yes, gentle reader, we were not the only visitors travelling to Shepton in a car. Chris' helpful comment - 'I knew we should have gone on the bikes' - was not happily received by the nominated driver and we spent the next 90 minutes travelling the remaining three miles. Turns out the arm wavers at the entrance were insisting on taking entrance fees before letting people drive into the parking area as opposed to what may have been more sensible; ie park and then pay. All I can say is 'Doh!'
Pausing only for the compulsory roast pork and stuffing roll, coffee and Silk Cut (the latter for me only - traffic jams have this effect), we set off into the melee of the outside stalls. Never have I seen so much patina in one place and even Jack started taking a fancy to some of the more esoteric bits and pieces on offer. Chris predictably bought yet another pair of gloves and some sort of leather saddlebag for the Obeseboy (or at least that's what he said it was for). We then entered the first hall to see the bikes but found instead more stalls - Jack was beginning to wonder whether a classic bike show actually featured bikes in one piece rather than disassembled in a multitude of individual parts.
However we finally found the bikes and the first to catch my eye were this beautiful Indian...
...the similarly entrancing Royal Enfield 750cc Indian...
...and this Norbsa although I have to admit it was the paintwork that did it for me with this one
We then passed through the hallowed portals to the main hall where I met and spent a very interesting 20 minutes with Mr Dai Davies of the North Devon British Motorcycle club and his 1951 Vincent C Comet
Mr Davies is a London Welshman who has owned the Comet since 1985 and still regularly uses it - in fact, he celebrated his 70th birthday road by riding it from Land's End to John O' Groats. Mr Davies avowed that the Vincent was the greatest love of his life which I though was a very brave comment to make as Mrs Davies was, at that point, heading towards him with a mug of hot tea.
We then came across a brace of Nortons
From the mezzanine it's clear how busy the show was and where all the cars came from to cause the queues
As an employee of a certain Spanish bank which shall remain nameless I had to have a photo of this Matador - never heard of it before but perhaps the more well versed amongst you are aware of the marque?
I know I keep on about Vincents but this was one well worth a look at - a 1951 Black Shadow restored by Mr Gordon Nichols and ridden by him in Australia of all places. Well we do have a duty to demonstrate culture to the colonials I guess
I just liked this - don't ask me why but the Italians seem to be able to produce the most beautiful bikes
It wasn't entirely clear whether this Bat had been found at Stonehenge but given it's likely age it may well have been - beautifully restored and a delight to photograph
Two types of New Imperial - both prize winners but perhaps demonstrating the different approaches of classic bike owners. First the immaculate restoration
and now the Best Un-Restored prize for this 1914 293 cc example
Take your pick - pristine or patinated?
It's a little known fact that the Garelli is in fact of Welsh origin and not Italian - the double 'L' always gives it away
This 1958 Super Rocket was accessorised (did I really use that word?) with Eddie Dow special parts by its second owner, Dave Vaughan, in the 1960's. It then languished in a shed for 30 years before being discovered by its present owner, Terry Sheppard, in 2001 and restored in time to mark the 50th anniversary of Eddie Dow's 1955 TT win on a Gold Star
I wouldn't say I was a fan of Velocettes but this example stood and just demanded to be photographed
And finally this Humber which caught Jack's eyes - you can just see his headless body taking a photo of it. He saw it as the elegant compromise between his first love of cycling and motorcycling; he is now scouring eBay for a good example.
As such it was a very successful day - another convert to the broad church that is classic motorcycling.
The next International Classic Motorcycle Show is at Stafford on Easter weekend. See www.classicbikeshows.co.uk
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