Classic Bike News, February 2009

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The world of classic motorcycling loses one of its famous names, but in many other respects the shows still go on…

Les Harris

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Not many folk are capable of converting their ideas into metal. Les Harris was one of those. His business was originally based around the manufacture and supply of spares, mainly Triumph spares and mainly to the trade, and was based in Rushden.

When Triumph at Meriden closed in the Mid-1980s, and John Bloor acquired the rights, Les Harris did a deal to continue the development and construction of the T140 Bonneville while the new modern Triumph concern found its feet in Hinckley. Harris built his own versions of the T140, using a fair number of Italian components to replace those no longer available from UK suppliers, from a factory in Newton Abbott. And as his licence to build Bonnies waned, so he surprised many folk by announcing that he was putting another famous name back into production; Matchless. Which he did, building several hundred 500cc ohc singles in Devon.

Lester Harris and a Matchless G80

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Although not a huge commercial success (Les once famously announced that if he had been a millionaire before building his Matchless G80 he certainly wasn’t afterwards), the bikes were a lot of fun and command a loyal following to this day.

Les Harris died on February 17th 2009, aged 69.

Frank Westworth

(Image from Shirley Harris)

Brilliant New BSAOC Site

The BSA Owners’ Club has a brand-new sparkling website which is a credit to the club. It contains an extensive history of the marque and an overview of the club, who’s who in the organisation and how to contact them, details of the dozens of UK branches, how to join, a full range of regalia, machine dating, information about the monthly magazine, a list of models which are served by the club’s technical consultants and much more. The only downside is that if you want to join the club then you’ll still have to print out a form and send it off in the snail-mail: perhaps a method of paying online might be in the beta version?!

The new site is clearly laid-out and easy to navigate, with some clever animations to keep things interesting – but not so many that the pages won’t load and you go screen-blind from looking at them! We understand that much of the credit should go to Kay, who produces The Star magazine, so she deserves a round of applause.

See it for yourself at

Japanese Show New Date

The Classic Japanese Motorcycle Show at Donington Park Exhibition Centre was postponed in February thanks to the heavy snow. The new dates have been confirmed as the weekend of 2nd and 3rd May 2009 – which means there’s extra time for owners to enter their classic Japanese machines into the concours display. The weather should be considerably better in May (we hope!), which will make it rather more enjoyable to ride your classic to the show.

The Classic Japanese Motorcycle Show at Donington Park Exhibition Centre

Classic Yamahas on eBay

This two-day event includes Club stands, private entries, over 150 trade stands plus indoor and outdoor autojumble and features road, racing and off-road Japanese classics of all ages. It opens 10am to 5pm both days and admission is £8 for adults – but if you prebook your bike into the display you’ll be able to buy a discounted admission pass in advance.

Call 01484 452002 or see

Bill’s Birthday Bash

Wiltshire-based British bike specialist Bill Little celebrates an impressive assortment of anniversaries this year so he’s holding an extra event as a birthday party. Bill and Lynn Little started trading back on 1st May 1979 (so that’s 30 years in 2009), plus Bill and assistant Alistair (who joined the team shortly after the start) enjoy ‘landmark’ birthdays in 2009 which total 110 years. And no, we don’t know exactly how old each of them are, and we’re far too polite to ask questions like that!

To mark the occasion Bill is holding an additional autojumble and ride-in, on Saturday May 2nd 2009. There will be tea and refreshments on offer, and plenty of classics to view in the yard. Professional and part-time stallholders are asked to wait until August 8th for their free stalls at the usual Open Day; this is a less formal event to celebrate the birthdays and clear out some of Bill’s extensive stock of interesting old components…

More info from 01666 860577 or

Normandy Veterans

The veterans of World War Two will be remembered at the Kempton Park autojumble on March 21st 2009, when RC Clubman Adrian Crossan will be raising funds for the Normandy Veterans’ Association to go towards the 65th D-Day anniversary in June. Autojumble organiser Eric has donated the stand-space and Adrian is working hard to generate some extra cash for the NVA – it’s especially important now that so few of the veterans are left to commemorate the date.

Look out for Adrian’s stall with two WD bikes; a 1944 Matchless G3 and a 1942 Royal Enfield CO, and buy a strip of raffle tickets from him. You might win a weekend in Normandy, an RC fun bundle or an hydraulic bike bench, but you’ll definitely be contributing to a good cause.

Beezumph Dates Confirmed!

The Trident and Rocket 3 Owners Club will be holding the famous Beezumph event at Cadwell Park on the 14th and 15th August 2009. At what must be the friendliest track-based event in the UK, there are classes to suit everyone from novices to racers. If the track isn’t your cup of tea then there will be plenty to see and do in and around the paddock, with the LMM Marquee showing the club’s P1 amongst other exhibits, George Pooley’s Emporium containing some amazing specials, Rob North racers from the NMM and a host of famous names who mingle with the riders and spectators alike.

Last year Rally tickets and track places were a completely sold out, so get your applications in early to avoid disappointment. Further news will appear soon, but expect to see more BSA and Triumph triples there than anywhere in the world, and look out for a bike never seen before in the UK.


Prices are the same as last year, starting at £10 (in advance) to spectate and £25 for a Rally ticket, both of which include camping. Track tickets and full details are at

Club Show Is Go

The 6th National Classic Bike Clubs’ show will be held on Sunday 24th May 2009 at Stanford Hall, Lutterworth, Leicestershire. This is a major show for all British, European and Japanese classic and vintage bike clubs run by the VJMC. Featuring show commentary by Jim Reynolds with Mick Walker leading the judging, this popular event is a perennial favourite with its laid-back atmosphere and superb vistas of traditional tree-lined English parkland.

Clubs should get in touch with the organisers now to organise their display space; call 01933 441145 from 9am to 4pm or email [email protected]


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