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31st August 2006

Summer Fun 3

Yet more old bikes in action, this time at the Popham Megameet and Ariel Club Annual Rally. As the Megameet is held at an airfield there's probably a joke to be made about 'aerial' and 'Ariel' (feel free to insert your own punchline)...

Popham Megameet 2006

I'm not exactly sure when Popham airfield, just south of Basingstoke, first opened - it was about 25 years ago if my memory serves me well. I do remember I was there with my dad, my uncle and my cousin on the great day. I was rather surprised at the time that anyone would build an airfield on the side of a hill and that's still the first impression you get when you arrive for an event like the Megameet. Popham has always been 'bike friendly' and the Megameet's success is down to the enthusiasm of the organisers and the fantastic location - what could be better than to spend a day in the Hampshire countryside surrounded by classic bikes with a backdrop provided by dozens of autogyros, biplanes and microlights? Great stuff!

MV Racer

The event is divided between two arenas, an autojumble and club display areas, all of which were pleasantly busy this year. The jumble isn't big, but there was a fair bit of interesting stuff to be rummaged through and some very good bargains to be had from the helmet/clothing trade stands. Just for once I didn't buy anything, but that was more a reflection on the current state of my projects than what was available on the day. I was however tempted by a MV four that was for sale. I didn't ask the price, but I would guess at around 25 grand.

Another MV. Flash! Ah-arrr...

The club stands gave a good account of themselves, with an interesting, if slightly unusual range of marques on show. The MV stand was, as always very impressive with an almost priceless collection of machines on show including a beautiful unrestored racer. I'm always pleased to see machines like these still in private hands, especially when the owners are prepared to take them to shows in the middle of muddy fields. I like to think it's all done just for my benefit, thank you!

Another couple of stunning bikes in the display marquee were a 1932 Francis Barnett Condor and a four cylinder Marsh. The latter was a classic example of British engineering ingenuity and was a home-built four cylinder racer designed and constructed by an enthusiast who believed that we should have a bike to take on the likes of the mighty Gilera and MV fours. I'd like to find out a little more history on this bike and its builder so maybe there will be a full write up in the future if I do…

Of all the club stands, the one that actually impressed me most was the one with lots of scooters on it! Well to be honest they were rather more than scooters and the club in question was the Moto Rumi OC. It doesn't matter how many times I see a Moto Rumi, they always put a smile on my face. I'd love the chance to ride one and from what I've been told they go as well as they look. If that's correct, then they must go very well indeed because they look sensational. The little scooter was so ahead of it's time it still looks futuristic today - in a sort of Flash Gordon way!

Random Fanny B Stuff on

Gordon's Alive?!...

Talking of Flash Gordon, there was an astonishing Mega sidecar attached to the 'wrong' side of a Yam FJ1200. I reckon the whole thing was wider than my old Caterham, and probably cost more when it was new, so in that respect I can't really see the point of it. Must be an interesting experience in that chair though!

Another real head turner was a 1959 Yamaha YDS1-R. This was a 'kit' bike that could be built by buying the necessary race parts from Yamaha and then converting your standard YDS1. The result was a potent 250 that once again the British bike industry failed to notice. The fact that most of its race successes were in Japan and America were no excuse. This was 1959, surely someone must have noticed how advanced it was? Interestingly, the carburation was by Amal and is it me or does that look remarkably like an early Cotton Telstar tank? Anyway, that's in the past. All credit must now be given to owner/restorer Richard Tracy who has done a fantastic job in bringing this 'Asama Racer' back to life. (See more of it at, and if you're really keen hang on a couple of months for a feature which is in the pipeline!).

The rain held off for most of the day and a couple of light showers were easily dodged amongst the tents and stands, not the least of which was the RC display. Rowena was handing out HobNobs and magazine subscriptions whilst Frank was 'judging'. I've tried working out if this is an acronym for something, but conclude that it's code for 'let's see what can be bought for a hundred quid'. I finally met Woodie which was great, despite not being able to hear a word he said owing to a loud Moto Rumi being run up.

Jerry attempts to make a quick getaway...

Alas, I missed Jerry, well sort of; I was there (along with everyone else) watching him kick the Goldie into life… and then I got a cup of tea and he was still at it… and then I replaced the batteries in my camera and… well, you get the idea. I was amazed at Jerry's stamina. You don't reckon he's got an ultra low compression piston fitted do you? The sound of Jerry's Goldie leaving the arena provided the final soundtrack to a great day out and one that I'd highly recommend if you're local, or a good over-nighter if from further afield.

See you there next year!

RC Reporter: Russ Gannicott


Ariel Owners MCC Annual Rally 2006

Some time ago, Nitor wrote; 'the Ariel Owners Club is a friendly club that literally spans the globe.' This accolade continues to be true and showed through the gathering of Ariel enthusiasts gathered for the 2006 Rally at Baskerville Hall, Clyro, near Hay on Wye on the Herefordshire/Welsh border.

The organiser, Len Ore, invited riders 'to quickly get the signing-on formalities over, go away, meet friends, kick tyres and generally enjoy yourselves.' Autojumble goods were displayed around tents or the boots of cars and riders wandered around picking up all sorts of old worn-out parts as well as the important gaskets and nuts and bolts that keep our machines running.

I took some along some parts to clear my workshop shelf and spoke with members from Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Australia and the far flung regions of the UK. Many riders would look over each others' machines and talk about similarities and difficulties and occasionally go for rides on each others' machines.

Andy Hughes' 1920 Sports machine which he rode around the site to chat and check out available spares.

If someone was struggling to start a reluctant engine there was always someone on hand to offer advice, a kicking leg or a spark plug.

Scenic ride outs were conducted in small groups to take in the Elan Valley and the Birds of Prey Centre. At the same time, a coach was arranged to take people to Witley Court and Hay on Wye.

This image shows the Leaders and Arrows lining up before their ride out.

At 18.00hours, machines were lined up in ranks for the concours judging under headings of the usual veteran and vintage, (known as the black machines), and then singles, twins, fours, two strokes, military, competition and the concours-de-tat.

A square picture of a four.

There was a further run to Hay Bluff and Llanthony Abbey planned for the Sunday with concours results being announced at the prize giving on the Sunday afternoon. The AOMCC president arrived with a team of Italian riders on their way home from riding to the North Cape, thereby setting an example to all members of the club to continue riding their machines, thereby wearing them out and keeping the manufacture of wearing parts going!

Random Ariel Stuff on

Inevitably...All participants seemed to have enjoyed themselves and plenty of Black Sheep seemed to be consumed. The club's website is at www.ariel

RC Reporter: Reg Eyre


More random Ariels


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