24th June 2015
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Super Sausage Sunday Classic Motorcycle Meet
On any sunny Sunday, the Super Sausage comes alive with all kinds of creatively customised classics - and Richard Jones even spotted some standard spec old bikes in the mix this month, too...
It’s a sssizzling, sssunny Sssunday so it must be the Sssuper Sssausage – hence the ssssuperb ssssibilance. Sorry: it must be the unaccustomed summer heat getting to what passes for my brain. What passes for normal service will now be resumed.
The Super Sausage Café is located on the old A5, or Watling Street as the Romans may have called it, between Milton Keynes and Towcester. It has become a popular venue for motorcyclists, no doubt drawn by a helmet lock-up, a huge car park and owners Gail and Chris Murray’s very reasonably priced menu which includes everything a biker could need. The day I popped in, said café not being a million miles from Jones Towers, the car park was full to the brim with bikes, riders and accompanying pillions and although there was a lot of new machinery the odd classic could also be spied here and there.
There were a trio of Triumphs parked together – sorry, alliteration alert – and this 1959 350cc 3TA was the only one I could photograph due to the lack of space. Although it could be argued that the full bodywork has now attained a period charm – it was styled by Jack Wickes and was intended to keep the machine clean in Britain’s wet weather – Triumph’s decision to market the bathtub does seem rather bizarre given this was the age of stripped down motorcycles. Triumph’s main export market in the USA particularly disliked the look and, as machines lay unsold, dealers would strip off the metal panels to make them more acceptable to our chums in the States.
It’s hard to believe that Norton were still building sidevalve machines with rigid rear ends as late as 1950 although, in fact, the Big Four single and the smaller half litre Model 16H continued in production until 1954. The big 596cc engine, sturdy rather than speedy, had graduated from being a pre-war gentleman’s tourer to a post-war sidecar hauler. James Norton himself appreciated the earlier 633cc version – it was reduced to 596cc for the 1948 season – and toured around South Africa for several thousand miles on a Big 4 outfit in the early 1930s. The machines were also utilised by the forces during WWII, again with sidecar use being common. Perhaps the pre-war look is emphasised by not only the rigid rear end but also the single saddle; this was only replaced by a dual seat in 1953 although, being from 1950, this example should have the laid-down gearbox, an improvement that was introduced in that year. Better brakes and a larger fuel tank had to wait until 1951 and the ultimate improvement, an 8 inch brake, only came in for the final year of production. This was the oldest machine I photographed at the Super Sausage and it certainly looked it. This is by no means a criticism, rather I’m surprised that it is only 67 years old.
Continuing with things Norton you could hear the sounds of jaws dropping and mouths watering as this Triton pulled into the car park. It dates from 1960, which is presumably the age of the 750cc Triumph engine, but it looks like it could have rolled out of the builder’s garage, freshly completed, that morning. Clearly a lot of time, effort and money had gone into making this special so very special and, from an onlooker’s viewpoint, it was not wasted. It is almost – if not actually – a piece of art, and it’s the sort of machine you could imagine in pride of place in a gallery. Thankfully the owner seems to want to ride it rather than look at it.
As good things always come in threes I’ll finish with this potential classic of the future, a 2014 Norton 961cc Commando Sport which I have to say I like quite a lot but, sadly, not enough to spend £14,500 on one straight from Donington. I could also consider the Commando SE that Venture Classics are selling; only 200 of this model were built and this one is signed by Stuart Garner, Norton’s CEO. Again, sadly, a gnat’s whisker under £17,000 is just too much for the Jones Towers’ coffers.
If values are anything to go by then this Kawasaki Z1 from 1973 must be approaching classicdom (although spellcheck tells me there is no such word). It’s dohc 903cc four-cylinder engine with two valves per cylinder put out 82bhp, was said to have a top speed of 135mph and could cover the quarter mile in just under 13 seconds. Handling was said to be better than the marque’s 750cc two-stroke triples but I’m not sure how much of a recommendation this is… With a tank of fuel it must have weighed in at about 540lb so I would certainly be careful going around bends if it was mine. With prices well into five figures -- £15,000 seems to be the cheapest – it’s good to see another rider who likes to take his machine out rather than calculating the return on investment ratio.
This BSA dates from 1972 and is 650cc capacity so I’m guessing it’s a late model Firebird Scrambler given the raised exhaust system and mesh cover. I think it’s fair to say the paint job is not factory standard but it is certainly eye-catching although I think I prefer the red of the earlier models.
Heading out on to the highway was a BMW airhead which I think, if memory serves me correctly, is the R75/7 which was around between 1976 – 1979. Nice bike although I have to say the photograph looks far better in black and white, especially with the café sign in the background.
You don’t need me to tell you what this is but is it the 250cc or 350cc? Answers on a postcard to my Flickr site if you are able to say although I’m going to guess the larger capacity given twin discs at the front.
Let’s finish with a potential classic of the future although the owner will have to wait another 24 years before he or she can ride it at VMCC meetings. The Indian Chief with its 1811cc motor weighs in at 812lb dry, and that’s before you add on all the cowhide that has been used to make that custom seat, panniers and buckskin fringing. Retailing at £19,000 BC (Before Customising), you need to be really sure that it’s the bike for you.
Next time there’s a sunny Sunday – or any other day for that matter – get yourself down to the Super Sausage and indulge in some traditional biker food and you may well also see some traditional bikes too.
You’ll find more photos from this event and many other motorcycle rides and shows at Richard’s archive: www.flickr.com/photos/cerrig_photography/sets/
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