THE EAST MIDLANDS MOTORCYCLE SHOW
Half price admission! This we like, but the reason given was that some motorcycle and trade exhibitors had not turned up, and as I stepped into the Exhibition Hall at Donington circuit I could see a lot of empty floor space, and the exhibitors that were there had been spread to pad out what remained.
Cold clear & bright
I'm guessing those due to be at this Sunday 1st February event were put off by the recent snow and very cold conditions. For sure it was struggling to get much above freezing, but the day was bright, the roads were clear, and there were a good number of punters filling the car park.
The theme of the show was classic Japanese motorcycles, but an exhibit that was garnering a lot of attention was a 1936 Calthorpe 500cc, in such immaculate condition that dust wouldn't dare land on it. It is a beauty, and the owner/restorer had placed a framed printed advertisement from the bike's year of manufacture next to the bike. It was yours for £44.10p, and £5 would secure delivery from Pride and Clarke, the only dealer in the country that sold this bike.
The proverbial 'reader of a certain age' will remember this dealer. They occupied a long line of properties along the Stockwell Road in Brixton, South London. They were rumoured to be the largest dealers in Europe at one time, and in the late fifties and early sixties when sales of bikes were booming, they carried stock of around two thousand new bikes in addition to the used machines on display.
Japanese bikes did predominate. Not all would be considered classics, whatever the given interpretation is, but care and money had been lavished on their restoration. A Suzuki Super Six resplendent in black and chrome raised a few memories. In my young days I worked for a dealer who was one of the first to import one of these 250cc twin cylinder two strokes with a six speed gear box, they were reputed to reach 100mph...and you could ride them on L plates.
The centre of attention
We took the bike to an open practice day at Brands Hatch, where it was the centre of attention. The aim was to run it in on the track and enter it in the Thruxton 500 race. The owner/dealer claimed the first laps, and binned it at Clearways...should have let me have the first go, I was the 'works' rider. It was a while before I eventually got my hands on it after repair.
If any Japanese bike deserves the epithet 'classic' then the Honda CB400 is in that category. They were only produced over a two year period from 1977 to 79; yet at the time they seemed to be everywhere. And why not? Lightweight; a smooth engine; a four into one exhaust sweeping around the frame; and a five speed gearbox. They were used by commuters, couriers, tourers and for reliable riding pleasure. There were two on display including this gleaming yellow one that had won a few awards.
-- The uk2strokes.co.uk stand was filled with two wheel goodies shining under the imaginative lighting they'd rigged. A couple of owners' clubs had pitched up: Yamaha FJR owners who displayed this bike and trailer, that could rival an artic truck for length. The Yamaha Star and Virago owners club brought a Road Star Warrior, a cruiser with attitude - 1670cc; 0-60mph in 4.55 seconds; 134mph and R1 suspension to control it.
It didn't take long to do a couple of circuits of the show, but I was able re-stock my dwindling WD40 supply and bought a book I'd been meaning to acquire for a while – 'Uneasy Rider' by Mike Carter. The story of an early forties bloke, divorced, bored, never ridden a motorcycle before, who has a tendency to get lost; wobbles off and goes on to cover 20,000 miles through 27 countries. I'll review it soon, and I was pleased to get it from a bike book stall rather than Amazon.
We've put a few pics up for your enjoyment.
Anyone go to the East Midlands Motorcycle Show? Or is there anything you like in these photos?
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