News: Vintage Motorcycle Clubs

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The UK’s largest classic bike clubs have been busy. The VMCC has given away an Ariel Red Hunter, while the VJMC want to tempt you with… a Yamaha Chappy!…

The Vintage Motor Cycle Club drew their raffle last month, and Mr D P Thomas who is pictured here is the lucky winner of the top prize, a 1959 Ariel NH350. We’re kinda curious to figure out what the other motorcycle is, the one with which the Red Hunter will be sharing shed-space. You can just see the mystery machine lurking behind Mr Thomas, complete with top box. (The other bike has a top box. If Mr Thomas has a top box then he’s keeping it hidden). Is it perhaps an MZ? Look at the squared edge of the pale blue petrol tank. Looks a bit MZish. We should definitely be told.

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More Ariels on Now…

However, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever to spot in the background of the next photo: presumably because aliens beamed up this BSA Gold Star and it’s now floating in an inter-dimensional warp, waiting for someone to win it in the next VMCC raffle. The 350 Goldie is first prize in the VMCC’s autumn draw, with a Davida crash hat for the runner up. Tickets cost an utterly affordable £1 each, and will be distributed to RC magazine subscribers with the Sept issue. You’ll also be able to pick up tickets from the RC roadshow at various events throughout the autumn – so come and see us at Shepton Mallet, Stafford, Ardingly or Malvern.

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A 350cc BSA Gold Star, yesterday....

The raffle draw will then take place on the 17th of December 2010 so the lucky winner will have his new Goldie to ride for the New Year. You can order tickets from the VMCC by calling 01283 540557 or see


Meanwhile, there’s a belief in some circles that the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club take themselves far too seriously and that the club is all about obsessional detail, rivet counting and preened trailer queens that move seamlessly from one show to the next… piffle!

We’re into having a good time and, to prove we don’t all gravitate towards some corporate, fundamental orifice, look at the accompanying picture. This little fella is the perfect antithesis of a classic, air-cooled four or some notionally hairy-chested factory custom. It was rescued from a life as a field bike and restored in a non-factory colour because that’s what the owner wanted, so no show winner there then.

A classic, and very much of its time...

Does it sit in some air conditioned garage never to turn a wheel? Oh, most certainly not. The little Yamaha Chappy is used just as the makers intended as commuter and fun machine that starts reliably, brakes better than many four times its size and outshines a lot of small bikes in the handling better than it has a right to. Of course when new it was just another ‘quirky little monkey bike’ and treated with scorn and derision by real bikers but times change. Park up at a bike shop or club night and see the reactions; forget your GSX-Rs, YZF-R1s, ZX whatever, the humble little Yamaha is guaranteed show stopper every single time and this is a key part to the VJMC scene.

Our members are passionate about all kind of Japanese machinery irrespective of type, capacity, purpose or age. If it came from Japan, had two wheels and a motor then there’s a very good chance someone in the club has one or knows about the machine. We have a wealth of knowledge that’s there ready to be drawn upon to provide the resources to get that old rice burner back on the road where it belongs. Everyone knows of one old Japanese nail that’s languishing in a shed, at the back of a garage or under a tarpaulin. Hand over the money, drag the thing home, give us a call and get that motor running — cos you know you want to really.

Steve Cooper, VJMC


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