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BRIT IRON takes you behind the scenes
September 22, 2017

BRIT IRON #48
September 2017


ABOVE: Almost 100 British bikes all in one room, and nothing but Brit bikes. When's the last time you've seen that? Well, this time may be the last time.

THE LAST CLUBMANS SHOW?
As you read in the last issue, it was announced at the 30th Annual Clubman's All-British Weekend bike show that it would be the last. This incredible British-only motorcycle show has been a part of San Francisco Bay Area bike culture for 3 decades in San Jose, sponsored by the good people at BSAOCNC (the BSA Owners Club of Northern California). The venue was closing (Santa Clara County Fairgrounds), and after 30 years the small cadre of club stalwarts who put it on every year are now growing tired. So that’s it, end of the line, right?

It triggered in my an urgent need to save this show and resurrect it as a whole new animal. I drafted a plan and presented it to the BSAOCNC Board of Directors (through a proxy, I didn’t actually ever get to speak with them about it). It was a bold, simple plan to roll the Clubmans Show (which usually only got the same 200 people to attend each year) into the enormous Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show in Half Moon Bay CA. This one-day car show/air show/tractor show/everything-show draws 20,000 people a year and they’ve been dying to add a motorcycle component to it. We would have had our own pavilion at their show, exposing our gorgeous old Brit bikes to a much wider and more diverse audience. The show would still have been a BSAOCNC event with judging for the bikes, and a raffle bike like always (imagine how many raffle tickets you could sell at a show like this). I wanted to have club members conduct walk-around tours for the public to show and explain these bikes. I didn’t just want the public to walk through and say “ooh and ahh” and then go look at the airplanes, I wanted to make an impact, to teach them something about these bikes, and hand them a glossy packet to take with them.

That’s the kind of impact we need to find this next generation of Brit bike enthusiasts. When I first got into cars and bikes in the early 70s, there were still tons of guys into Ford Model Ts. There were clubs and shows and rallies and races, there was a huge aftermarket parts industry, customizers, restorers, hot rodders, all around Model Ts. Then those old guys died off and the Model T went with them. They’re still there, but no one cares. You don’t even see them at auctions anymore. The same thing will likely happen to our beloved British bikes if we don’t do something to prevent it. WE MUST introduce a new generation of enthusiasts to these great historic machines.

I saw this new and improved Clubmans Show as an excellent way to accomplish all these things. However, the BSAOCNC Board of Directors did not agree. After 6 months of dithering, they finally turned me down. I’m not sure why, unless there is another plan to resurrect the show. However, my contact on the Board says no, that’s not the case. So, I really don’t get it. My plan would have cost the Club nothing, and any cost involved I was willing to bear personally, it would have sold tons more $1.00 tickets to the raffle bike, and would have exposed the Club and the bikes to a gigantic new audience. When they turned me down, I proposed doing the show anyway, under a new name (just in case they were worried about the reputation of the Club or the Show). All I asked for from them was a list of people who had put bikes in prior Clubmans Shows that I could contact about my new show, to try to fill it up with some nice bikes. They also refused on that count, unanimously. I’m not really sure why, they help other Clubs with their events all the time. But there it is, and now the time is drawing near, and a show like this, even the simplified version I was planning, takes time, people, planning and lots of work to make happen. So, it seems like the BSOCNC wants to make sure there are no more Clubmans Shows. Too bad, I was willing to do it. Oh well. Kind of sad, really.



QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING
We went to the Quail Motorcycle Gathering on Saturday, May 6, 2017, in the beautiful Carmel Valley. The Quail is a very high-end show, with a $75 admission at the door, but it includes a gourmet lunch with white table cloths, a live band all day, and tons of cool stuff to see and do. And of course one of the finest collections of concourse-grade vintage and classic bikes of every size, shape and type. The array the bikes out on the meticulously-manicured lawns of the Quail Lodge Golf & Country Club, surrounded by tents full of vendors, clubs, food and wine. What a day! My wife and I met our cousin and his girlfriend and we toured the place together. The rain threatened all day long, but never quite let go. But the wind got cold at times. We bundled up and had a wonderful day.


This year, the honored marque was Norton, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Commando. So there were Nortons aplenty, all clustered together, and maybe because of it, the other bikes were better-organized into groups this year than I remember at prior Quail shows. All the Brit bikes, all the Italians, the BMWs, the 2017 Quail-page.


Motorcycle racing legends Kenny Roberts, Mert Lawwill and Wayne Rainey were interviewed on stage with an adoring audience just a few feet away. The Quail has turned into one of the most important motorcycle shows on the West Coast. Check out all the action at this year’s Quail on my 2017 Quail-page.




THE BSA-MAHINDRA STORY DEVELOPS
You’ve probably already heard that the BSA Motorcycle brand was purchased this last October 2016 by Indian tractor giant Mahindra, with plans to start producing BSA Motorcycles again in India. Mahindra has been building lightweight 2-stroke commuter bikes and scooters for years now, mostly for the Indian home market and the rest of Asia. Flush with cash from their very successful tractor business, they wanted to move upmarket in the motorcycle biz, and so went shopping for a brand to buy. BSA seems like the obvious pick, and they paid $4.1 Million for it, then a few months later bought the Czech dirtbike maker Jawa as well. They plan to build both bikes in their massive industrial complex in Pithampur, Madhya Predesh, India. Both brands will be devoid of any reference to Mahindra, with the BSAs targeted at upscale buyers in Europe and America, and new Jawas for Asia and the rest of the developing world, with production starting with the 2019 model year.

THE BSA-MAHINDRA STORY DEVELOPS
You’ve probably already heard that the BSA Motorcycle brand was purchased this last October 2016 by Indian tractor giant Mahindra, with plans to start producing BSA Motorcycles again in India. Mahindra has been building lightweight 2-stroke commuter bikes and scooters for years now, mostly for the Indian home market and the rest of Asia. Flush with cash from their very successful tractor business, they wanted to move upmarket in the motorcycle biz, and so went shopping for a brand to buy. BSA seems like the obvious pick, and they paid $4.1 Million for it, then a few months later bought the Czech dirtbike maker Jawa as well. They plan to build both bikes in their massive industrial complex in Pithampur, Madhya Predesh, India. Both brands will be devoid of any reference to Mahindra, with the BSAs targeted at upscale buyers in Europe and America, and new Jawas for Asia and the rest of the developing world, with production starting with the 2019 model year.


The big question is what will the bikes be like? Mahindra has been very tight-lipped about it and all we have is conjecture, educated guessing and a few insider tips. There have been a few artists’ renderings here and there, but nothing definitive. Then I got an email from professional motorcycle designer Lee Thompson who says he was hired by BSA before the Mahindra buy out to help design an entire line of new BSA Motorcycles. He sent me several of his drawings and they’re quite impressive. He gave me permission to use them and his own words on a new page on my website all about the BSA-Mahindra. But even this is still not a sure thing. No one, outside of Mahindra, knows what the new 2019 BSAs will look like. Will they do it right? Will they screw it up? I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to find out.



NEW PAGE: VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE PICTURES
I get dozens of emails a year from people sending me ancient pictures of old bikes and people from a bygone era, asking me to help them ID the bike. It was their dad’s or their husband’s during the war. In the name of nostalgia, many try to find the same old bike and get it restored. So, I decided to launch a new page on my site as a place to put all these wonderful old photos. This is history here and it needs to be shared, not left in a shoebox in a closet. So I’m grateful to have them, and if you have any old vintage pictures that include motorcycles, and preferably British motorcycles, in any way, please send them along. And if you need help identifying a given motorcycle, just ask, and I’ll put it out to all our viewers. Or you can approach it from the other side, and see if you can help ID someone else’s bike from these scratchy old photographs. It’s very cool stuff, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. You can find it all on our new Vintage Motorcycle Pictures-page.



THE 2018 MOTORCYCLE CALENDARS ARE HERE!
I love motorcycle and car calendars. My big dilemma is that I only need two, one for my office, and one for my shop. I’d like to buy 10, they’re usually that nice. Check out the new 2018 calendars and see for yourself. And now’s the time. Today’s calendars are usually 16-month calendars, which means that a 2018 calendar starts with September 2017 and runs through the end of 2018. So you get the last 4 months of this year for free! And think of all those extra pictures! So, please go to my



NEW MILESTONES FOR CLASSIC-BRITISH-MOTORCYCLES.com
I started this website on October 19, 2010. Not quite seven years later, we now have 453 pages of rich content all about our favorite subject, and we’re dancing around the 200,000-hits-per-month mark every month. We actually broke the 200K barrier twice this year, in March and in May. And this month should be close. We’ve prided ourselves in building our traffic the old fashioned way. By earning it. We’re not tricking people, or over-promising and under-delivering, or paying for traffic. We just delivering good, honest, hard-to-find content about a subject that very few people know much about anymore, classic British motorcycles. We always try to publish eye-popping photos of the bikes, events, etc. that are unique. I take most of them myself at motorcycle shows, auctions, on rides, in museums, and in the shops I visit. I’m not just pulling the same old photos you’ve seen a million times off Google Images. Anyone can do that. I’m passionate about these bikes, and that’s what drives me to go to the bikes, take great pictures, and write solid content. I hope you like the result. And thank you for your support over these last 7 years, please help us grow, keep coming back, do your shopping here, and tell your friends. Thanks.

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