11th March 2013
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South of England RealClassic Show
The first event of the RealClassic year was a chilly one! Even so, stalwart riders braved the icy weather to join the crowds at the South of England Showground...
Few moments sum up the spirit of RealClassic motorcycling more than the one we witnessed on the way home from the South of England Show yesterday. It was bitterly cold, sleet and snow slicing sideways through the air on a chill Siberian wind. Traffic conditions on the motorway were chaotic; half the M25 was a no-go zone so most folk were diverted in the opposite direction. Visibility was ghastly. The majority of drivers looked forlornly lost, jabbing ineffective fingers at stupefied sat-nav systems.
In the midst of all this, making steady progress in the inside lane at a sensible 65 or so, was one of classic motorcycling's unsung heroes. A 1978 oil in frame Triumph Tiger, one of the British spec, single disc, single carb 750s - in that authentic 1970's corduroy-style brown livery - which rarely attracts a second glance. Except at the RealClassic South of England Show earlier in the day it picked up a prize, judged to be the runner-up in the 1970-on class. And on the way home it ably demonstrated why it deserved that award: the rider may have suffered frozen fingers but his Tawny Brown Tiger was more than up to the task…
In fact, everyone who rode a bike to the show really deserves an award of some sort for braving the chilly conditions. Most riders had barely defrosted themselves from the trek to the showground near Gatwick, just in time to be greeted by fresh sleet for the journey home. And everyone who brought warming cups of coffee to the RC stand gets a special thank-you! Editor Westworth definitely needed thawing out after prowling around all the displays and taking a quick spin on a previous award winner, an electric-start, disc-braked Rocket 3 (which will be appearing in the April or May issue of the magazine).
The lure of Mothering Sunday and the menacing weather reduced the number of bikes on display somewhat. A record number of machines had been entered in advance for the Show so the club and concours displays were spread over two halls - so on the day there were probably the same number of bikes on display as in previous years, but with a little more elbow room in between them. A wide variety of marque and enthusiast clubs were very well represented with displays from the VMCC, Sunbeam MCC, 'Adler to Zundapp' group, the Norton OC, AJS & Matchless OC, Honda CB750-Four organisation, BSA Bantams, Indian Riders, Sussex British MCC, previous winners the Francis-Barnett OC, Morini Rider, BSAOC, and the Busy Bee boys.
As usual, the event organisation was excellent thanks to Mrs Elk (aka Julie Diplock) and her team of helpers - and Julie took the wise decision to hand out the prizes a little earlier than usual, thus giving everyone plenty of time to get home before the worst of the weather closed in.
There are about a dozen classes at this show which means that around 20 or 25 people get to go home with an award. So inevitably there were 150 or more motorcycles which didn't win a prize - that's the nature of this type of event - but it doesn't mean they weren't admired by the crowds and the judges. And if you ever wondered how concours judges decide which bikes to give prizes to, then you'll want to read the April 2013 issue of RealClassic (RC108), where FrankW will explain all…
We especially liked a very smartly presented Triumph 250 Trophy, which looked far better-than-new in its red-and-black livery. The Honda 750-4 Club put on a very professional display with three interesting machines which included a big-bore special. They were beaten to the club stand award by the Norton OC whose display featured a broad range of bikes of the marque, from a girder-forked cammy single to a candy-apple red Commando roadster.
Other favourites included a pair of V-twins; a 1937 AJS Model 2 and a 1930 Indian. The latter was listed in the catalogue as being a four-cylinder machine, but we counted and definitely only spotted two cylinders.
A 1953 NSU Max took the award for the Best Lightweight. It's an interesting model in its own right - an 18bhp 250 with monoshock suspension and a strange arrangement for its overhead cam - and this particular bike is unrestored and very well preserved. The owner went the extra mile and created a delightful display which included a wee mechanic at work on the front wheel, and an array of period memorabilia.
A genuine Comerford Trial Cub took the runner-up award in the competition/special class.
The last of the truly lightweight Norton sporting sidevalves, a 1924 16H, grabbed a prize in the Best British class. This particular machine has only known three owners during its entire life - one of them was a plumber in Wales who used it for many years with a sidecar attached instead of a works van! It's now returned to solo status.
The bike which the judges most wanted to take home with them was a BSA 500 twin, a 1957 A7SS, so it grabbed the RealClassic award and will hopefully be featured in the magazine in the near future.
Finally, there are few people who would choose to ride a machine with 145bhp available via a powerband the width of a shoestring in snow, so the daft chaps who braved the snow on the Kawasaki Z1R-TC turbo-nutter-machine definitely deserved their award…
Words and photos: Rowena Hoseason. Full details of all awards and information about the next Elk Promotions event can be found here: www.elkpromotions.co.uk
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