February 5, 2006 at 11:18 pm #11358RadarModerator
After a break of several months it was good to hook up with people and feel like the biking summer is not too far way. On a cold and misty Sunday morning, Thumper, Imperial Data, I and non forum member Red Leader whimped out and rolled up in Thumper’s company car! Max, forum new boy, who had made the trip from Manchester on his BMW GS, was not impressed! Good to put a name to face nonetheless. Before too long two of colleagues from where I work also rolled up, both in cars. Max had all of us marked down as southern softies by now! Just to drive the point home up rolled Digger on his R1 all the way from Liverpool! At least two bikes were on the car park now! Then we heard the distinctive rasp of Gixer’s GSXR1000 and she rolled up with Born2bMild perched precariously on the pillion with Poochick on her SV650 just behind. Last to arrive was Katana with his young son. Now he too had arrived by Suzuki, an 800, but it was a car! What a bunch of whimps we are…
Digger’s R1 and the Max’s GS
Where are the riot police when you need them?
Anyway 12 of us and Katana’s lad headed into museum where ID promptly scored us the group discount, despite the requirement being for 20 or more. Well done ID!
In the lobby of the museum we came across the first oddity a huge enclosed sidecar combo (a Seely), where the controls were on the inside of the sidecar and included a steering wheel! There was also a taxi combination there too dating from the 1920’s.
The entrance hall, before you get into the museum proper boasts a decent display of bikes in its own right. Bikes to suit all generations are there, the one that caught my eye in here was the Nemesis V8 Norton concept bike of a few years back. Stunning machine and a great pity that it didn’t make the market place, where I am sure the likes of the Hayabusa would have had their hands full.
The V8 Norton
Also on show are three bikes damaged in the great fire that nearly wiped out the collection in 2003. Well the word “damaged” kind of understates the devastation that must have been wreaked upon the place, the bikes were burnt to a crisp and a Vincent V twin was actually showing signs of melting and disintegrating! The achievement of rebuilding this unique collection is truly an outstanding and worthy of all bikers support.
Once into the main exhibition halls you are greeted by a stunning collection of bikes and initially it is difficult to take it all in. Spread before you is the finest British bikes of the last 100 years. This is the NATIONAL museum and as such it is only British bikes that feature here.
For me the bikes from the mid 1960’s, the failed prototype machines from the 1970s, and the Norton rotary racers, that are the highlights. However whatever period, there were British bikes take your fancy.
1968 BSA Spitfire. Beautiful looking machine
The 1913 Humber with no less than FIVE different foot controls, including a lever to open a flap on the exhaust to make a popping noise to scare dogs. Fabulous, you couldn’t make it up! The 1912 850cc Wilkinson with an inline four cylinder engine, full suspension and shaft drive, awesome. The 1932 Brough Superior that had twin back wheels, amazing stuff!
Countless brands and names now long since gone scattered the halls; Arno, Ascot Pullin, Calthorpe, Douglas, New Imperial and many others. Of course the great names such as Triumph, Norton, BSA, Vincent, Velocette, Enfield etc were all there too alongside some of the failed attempts to restart bike the industry like Hesketh and Silk.
Some of my favourites were the Norton rotary trace bikes dating from 1987 to 1994. There was a stunning line up right across the back of one hall Hard to imagine where else you could see this kind of line up. Names like Spray, Hislop, Nation and Haslam bring back happy memories for me. It was an emotional moment when I saw Barry Sheene’s last race bike that he rode at Goodwood to victory in 2002 before we lost him to cancer. He had signed his name on the tank, priceless.
Staggering line up of Norton Rotary race bikes 1987 to 1994
Barry Sheenes last number 7
Of the many intriguing prototypes on show the 4 cylinder Triumph from 1973 really caught my eye, but here were a whole line a neat test and prototype bikes from the early to mid 1970’s that really showed that we could still have been a contender on the world stage with proper backing and management.
Not all the bikes had a petrol engine, and Katana’s young son made straight for a jet powered record bike, complete with a tail fin. Not a bike to offer to push start!
We took just under 2 and half hours to look around the exhibits, but you could easily spend twice as long if you wanted to drink in every detail. The bulk of the group head to nearby Solihull for a pint, some grub and talk over what we had seen, while Max headed back to Manchester muttering something about us all being softies. Max, we will turn up on bikes later honest! My two colleagues stayed at the museum to look at some of the machines in real depth as one in particular is a real enthusiast for the 1940’s and 1950’s machines and wanted to see more.
Gix’s GSXR1000, Poochicks SV650 and Digger’s R1
From a forum point of view this was our first meet of the year and I think a success. It was good to meet Max, Ana (such a quiet lass), and B2B for the first time, and meet up again with forum stalwarts Katana, Digger, Gix, Thumper and ID.
Here’s to more fun later in the summer!
Next trip, BSB round anybody??February 6, 2006 at 8:20 am #44676maxParticipant
lol great post and pic,sorry i didnt stay for a quick drinkFebruary 6, 2006 at 11:35 am #44677
Born2bMild perched precariously on the pillion
I am wondering if you can see me from behind at all! Must look like B2BM is riding from pillion seat!February 6, 2006 at 12:14 pm #44678Born2BMildParticipant
Didn’t think I was that big!February 6, 2006 at 3:52 pm #44679
It aint you thats big mate its me thats tiny lolFebruary 6, 2006 at 6:38 pm #44680katanaParticipant
Great write-up Radar.
*The car is a 660 not a 800 though*February 7, 2006 at 6:36 pm #44681poohchickParticipant
It was a great day out and It was made even better by meeting such a great bunch! Gix and I have been out a few times, met Thumper in Brum once before and Max the other week. It was good to see thumper again, he is soooooo lovely and great to see the big mighty Max again! I think the highlight was seeing the JPS Nortons (hold me back) they were cream!!! But to be honest, Digger was the funniest guy I’ve ever met and very dry! Radar was a real sweety but I think somewhat taken aback by my impressive yet extremely quiet disposition fnar fnar! Katana really knows some stuff and I enjoyed chatting with both him and ID bout my bike, ID was a great crack! B2B probably one of the loveliest guys ever, really genuine! And the non forum members were really friendly! All in all a great time and I can’t wait for the next one (will try and be a little more subdued next time……..not!) xxxxFebruary 10, 2006 at 8:25 pm #44682
Nice little group photo…..
left to right…Digger, Radar, Redleader, me, ID, Born2bmild, Katana, Thumper, Poohchick on her knees (quiet at the back please lol) and the littlun is Katanas lad Max, and of course behind the camera is forum member Max.February 12, 2006 at 8:59 am #44683LexParticipant
I’m surprised you didn’t drown in all the leaking oil. Why no museum with Jap bikes in it, they are better!February 12, 2006 at 9:22 am #44684maxParticipant
lol brit bikes are boring. BMW are the best.
and i dount mean black mans willys.lol
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