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  #1  
Old 22 Oct 2009
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British motorcycle industry

After myself and 'Dodger' highjacked a previous thread I have started one here!. Looking back #14
on the ideas and statements that was banded about when the industry was crumbling around their ears was nothing short of a joke, a statement was made that ' motorcyclists like nothing better than to spend Sundays working on their motorcycles.....priceless!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave ede
Don't forget the British motorcycle industry, I have just about finished Bert Hopwood's book 'What ever happened to the British Motorcycle Industry'? Talk about mismanagement....they should have all been put up against a wall and shot.
If it was not for the fact I am British I would have found the book funny. The book is still available on 'Amazon', well worth a read. Has anyone else read it(perhaps Dodger)? And what did you think of it?

I seem to remember reading it a couple of winters ago , it pretty much spelled out what we suspected was happening to the bike industry in those days .
I'll have to borrow it from my brother and read it again to refresh my memory !
I don't think Bert was right about his modular approach ,he was already outdated .The Brits should have been building lightning fast two strokes like the Japs [Yam and Kawa ] and behind the scenes building a DOHC superbike .
Fast exciting bikes will sell ,the Japs had that sussed .But the Brits were still churning out the same old shit trying to tell us "what was good for us " like some self important Grammar School teacher .
Crikey Edward Turner thought a 350 twin was going to be the saviour of the Brit bike industry -and this was during the period of the Honda 750 and the Kawasaki Z1 - give me strength !

But Britain was a funny place in the late sixties and seventies .Hell bent on self destruction and nobody gave a rat's arse ,they built some crap cars as well .

I guess once a sucessful niche industry [ like motorcycles] is sold to a conglomerate ,the money men begin to run the show and the expert enthusiasts who founded and guided the company during it's formative years are pushed aside .
Then the downward spiral begins .
Look at what happened to Buell ,sacrificed by Harley .[Who are so entranced by their own Harley lifestyle bullshit that they cannot comprehend what motorcycling is all about .]
It would have been far better for Eric Buell to buy back the company and produce real motorcycles in small numbers for enthusiasts .
Buells were never really my cup of tea ,but I'm sad to see them go .

But we still have a British Triumph ,John Bloor had a vision [and actually started off with a modular approach to bike engines ] [however that seems to have gone by the wayside ].
Triumph keep a keen eye on the market and produce bikes that sell .
As long as they remain independent they will thrive .

My apols for hijacking the thread .
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Old 22 Oct 2009
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Its great that Triumph is actually beating the "Credit Crunch" regarding their sales...

As you say, Triumph are making bikes that WE actually want!

Back in my yoof (late 70's) all I wanted was the fastest bike I could afford & legally ride - SUZUKI X7 - NOTE the period dress



The Jap's did indeed realize that speed was a winning formula.

Nowadays, the Government (Mr Brown should be had for TREASON in my book) are doing all they can to erradicate motorcycles so the yoof of today have zero encouragement to seek out 2 wheels
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  #3  
Old 23 Oct 2009
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Is that a Griffin helmet ?
Boy you were posh !

Sorry to hear that the Brit Gov is still anti bike .
Can't be as bad as the days when you could be ,[ and often were ] ,thrown out of a pub for wearing a leather jacket and long hair .- Can it ?

One thing that Ewan and Charley may do for us, is to lend an air of respectability to motorcycling and give the sport a broader appeal .

How about a Long Way Up Down Sideways and around the Bend on the new rumoured Tiger Cub ? --- now that would be a coup for Triumph .

Please Mr Bloor let it have a 21" front wheel and decent ground clearance .
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Old 23 Oct 2009
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Hi dodger, try asking anybody with a full UK bike licence what the criteria is for a newbie starting out to ride a bike, I bet not many could tell you! The gov are trying to make it as hard as possible to get into biking


A new Tiger cub in roumoured? not heard about that.

Saw one of the old cubs for sale at an autojumble recently, nothing special, not even a trials model and the asking price was ........£3995,
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Old 26 Oct 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
Is that a Griffin helmet ?
Boy you were posh !
Well spotted that man - It was YELLOW, but matt black had to do, until they did a darker colour in a "rattle-can"
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Old 28 Oct 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
The Brits should have been building lightning fast two strokes like the Japs [Yam and Kawa ] and behind the scenes building a DOHC superbike .
Fast exciting bikes will sell ,the Japs had that sussed .But the Brits were still churning out the same old shit trying to tell us "what was good for us " like some self important Grammar School teacher .
Crikey Edward Turner thought a 350 twin was going to be the saviour of the Brit bike industry -and this was during the period of the Honda 750 and the Kawasaki Z1 - give me strength !
I've not read the book and tbh not likely to unless a cheap copy turns up in my local Oxfam. I was a few years into my biking career when all this stuff came to pass and I really couldn't have cared less about it at the time. None of the British manufacturers were making anything I wanted to buy. It all looked old fashioned and no amount of marketing, race success or celeb endorsement was going to stack up against what my friends thought. They were all on scooters to start with and then Japanese bikes of various sizes.

Eventually though two of them broke ranks. My brother liked the look of the Triumph / BSA 350 and decided to trade in his Honda XL250 for one. The local dealer kept promising that they'd be here soon, just hang on. Eventually he gave up and bought a Suzuki 350, a really good bike that was virtually fault free for years until an accident wrote it off. A friend traded in his 250 Yamaha and bought a new Triumph Trident T150. This went back to the dealers so many times for repairs that they sent it back to the factory. The factory promptly went on strike (or a sit in or something) and the bike was stuck there.

We were just about to leave on a trip to Greece so the dealer lent my friend a (very) low mileage Bonneville. I'd been trading up the Jap bike ranks and had just bought a new 650 Yamaha twin. The Bonnie and the XS2 were chalk and cheese. Total problems with the Yamaha - a side panel fell off when I didn't tighten the fixing bolt (sadly, a truck ran over it!). The Bonneville fell to bits. Badly designed, badly built and unreliable, its only good points were that it was about 5mpg more economical than the Yamaha and handled a bit better. Pictures here if you're interested

My friend got the Trident back months later and used it for a Black sea trip the following year. It broke down in Romania and had to be recovered by the AA. Ever a glutton for punishment, these days he has a same era BSA Rocket 3 and "his n hers" matching early 70's 200cc Yamahas. The Yamahas are thrown in the back of his garage over the winter and with minimal maintenance, just work. I've never seen the BSA run.

Last edited by backofbeyond; 28 Oct 2009 at 12:09. Reason: quote error
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Old 28 Oct 2009
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Backofbeyond, That was not MY Quote
Seems to have been some sort of problem?
Ah, just seen that it was after Dodger and I hi-jacked another thread, it was 'Dodgers' quote.
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Old 28 Oct 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave ede View Post
Backofbeyond, That was not MY Quote
Seems to have been some sort of problem?
Ah, just seen that it was after Dodger and I hi-jacked another thread, it was 'Dodgers' quote.
Oops, sorry if I got it wrong. I'm blaming the fact that I seem to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to anything to do with the old British bike industry. Apologies and I'll see if I can correct it via the edit button
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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No big deal about the quote .

Interesting info there about the XS Yamaha !
The 650 Yam is one of bikings best kept secrets .
Ignored by many , unglamorous compared to the 4 cylinder bikes available at the time , this bike however has a lot going for it .
A very well built motor , SOHC , performance slightly less than a good Bonnie or a BSA LIghtning .The oil stayed inside and it didn't fall apart .But it did vibrate a bit and the handling was less than perfect .

You can pick them up for a few hundred dollars , I have 4 : 3 runners and one parts bike .The weakest part of the bike is the alternator and electrics [ the Prince of Darkness didn't have it all his own way ] -- it's usually the reason the bike was parked and never used again .
The engine was used for moto cross sidecar racing in Europe and for flat tracking in the US , so plenty strong .
A replacement permanent magnet alternator is now available as is a modern reg/rectifier .If you can find one cheap - buy it !

The bike I always lusted after was the Norton Commando .The styling was up to date ,exhaust note incredible , performance and handling good and the adverts had those gorgeous girls sitting on the bikes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But all I could afford was a Norton Atlas [750] which although it had the power and handling ,vibrated like a bastard and looked old fashioned .

Post 1970 Triumphs and BSA twins had that horrible "oil in the frame" and were ugly courtesy of the "stylists" at Umberslade Hall .
I could see right there that they had lost the plot .I rode a couple and was not impressed .

Part of the problem with Brit bikes was that roads had improved so much that ,instead of ging along at 60 mph with the occasional blast for a short period at "the ton" ,we were able to cruise so much faster and expected so much more out of them . The modern Japanese OHC multis could cope , the overstressed pushrod twins couldn't .

Even Norton had not woken up , they were still thinking about replacing the Commando engine with a twin .
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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I still have an XS2 - not the same one but a low mileage (8K) semi restored one that I bought a few years ago - and yes it didn't charge. Rewinding the rotor has sorted that out and all I need now is a set of original silencers for it. I know they're available from Mikes XS in Florida but I'd have to buy them from his Euro outlets at £1 = 1€ rather than at 1£ = 1.6$ so I've been waiting for the exchange rate to move in my favour. The way things are going it could take a while.

Back in 72/3 my budget wouldn't run to a CB750 and at the time I was looking the Z1 was still over the horizon. I was trading up from a 450 Honda and wanted something for long distance two up eurotouring. I'd shortlisted three bikes - Suzuki 500 twin, 550 triple and the XS2. Nothing British. The Jap stuff looked like the future had arrived early, the British stuff looked like it was being sold off as war surplus. That's how it appeared to me anyway at the time.

I eventually went with the XS2 as I thought the Suzi 500 underpowered after a quick ride on a borrowed one and Suzuki had brought in a new (disc braked) version of the 550 at a new higher price that I couldn't afford.

It's strange how you remember these things though as I thought the XS2 a big bike at the time - physically big that is. These days it looks tiny. My current one is much smaller and lighter than either of my 600 single trail bikes.

The marketing approach of "catch em young" certainly worked. Years earlier when I was puttering around on an old Lambretta a friend bought a very early Yamaha 100cc twin. Seeing it scream its way up the road converted us. In short order we went through a Yamaha AS1 125, a Suzuki T200, a Yamaha YDS6 250, a Honda CB77 300, a Suzuki T350 and a Honda CB450. Nothing British. What would I have bought anyway? A Bantam? The only person I knew with one of those was the class oddball.

The Commando did have a certain hairy chested appeal but I'm afraid it got tarred with the same brush. In fact I do remember seeing a couple of them at my local dealer that looked like they'd been literally tarred with a brush. That was never going to appeal to nice middle class girls. At least the XS2 looked bright and shiny.
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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I think my years on a Bonnie have shaken something loose in my head, for I now own 2 Enfield based Diesel bikes and am considering the new 500cc unit construction EFI Enfield C5 classic.

I did find though that 'I met the nicest people on the side of the road whilst broken down'
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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Hmmmm, I had an XS650, back in the late 70's.... Pile of pooh compared to the rest of the Jap Multi's... Too sluggish and ponderous



But my latest bike, just finished this summer....





I had all the usual Jap stuff (RD's - 250 &400, GT's 250, 550 & 750, couple of Bonnies, BSA A65, Z900, DT175.. etc), and now-a-days have a couple of Kawasaki Z1000's (early air cooled), a TTR600 and the Bonnie/Trophy 650 above. The Trumpet is the bike that puts the Biggest smile on my face - everytime I ride it
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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Pigford, What a nice looking bike, am sure it goes as good as it looks. I have never owned Jap multies, had CB 175 & 350 and small (125) Jap stuff for commuting, rest of the time Bonnies, Guzzis and BMWs, oh and 1 Commando.
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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xs2 silencers are $384 Canadian for a pair from Mike's XS in Canada .
Which seems a daft price to spend , I suggest autojumbles and flea bay ,
or some reverse cone meggas ,[which are v loud - but nice !!!!!].
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Old 30 Oct 2009
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Quote:
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Which seems a daft price to spend , I suggest autojumbles and flea bay , or some reverse cone meggas ,[which are v loud - but nice !!!!!].

Thats what I whacked on my XS650 - as per photo - they were called "Chop-pots" back in the late 70's and I got them from a Brit Bike shop in Portsmouth, South Coast UK
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