▲ 1914 Flying Merkel. Said to be in "highly original condition", this un-restored 60-cubic inch (983cc) inlet-over-exhaust (IOE) V-twin was once owned by the late Emmett Moore (1911 - 1992). Moore was the co-founder of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) and worked for BSA, Indian and Kawasaki. He was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in 1998. Joseph Merkel founded the Merkel Manufacturing Company in 1892. Ten years later he produced his first motorcycle (1902). In 1910, with the company under new ownership, the first "Flying Merkels" appeared, so named for their amazing (unofficial) racing prowess and successes. The last bikes were produced in 1917. This 1914 Flying Merkel is a full-suspension model. Features include the Merkel telescopic front fork coupled to a rear monoshock. That's right. Monoshock. Ignition is by Bosch magneto. The weight is approximately 280lbs. Top speed is 60mph, plus. The price new was around $275. "If it passes you, it's a Flying Merkel" was the sales slogan. This one is up for grabs at Mecum's sale at Monterey, California (18th - 20th August 2016). It's Lot R416. No estimate has been posted, but we think this Merkel will fly.
So who's who in motorcycle news?
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Classic bike wall signs
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That's the name of the new(ish) page we've added to Sump Magazine. However, it's been slow going. Part of that sluggishness is because we're simply not campaigning the service as hard as we might. And you have to campaign these things if you want people to sit up and pay attention. And part of that sluggishness is because the river of commerce in the UK, and elsewhere, has silted and not a lot of money is moving around.
But we put the section online as a kind of low-key service to Sump visitors. Buy, sell, exchange etc. We'd had a few people email and ask for such a page. And we had a couple of dealers suggest the same thing.
So we obliged.
▲ Sump's new classic bike bargains feature. The ideal place to buy or sell your cafe racer, bobber, chop or special. Come and make a deal....
But as we said, the economy isn't helping much. We watch closely what the old motorcycle market is doing, and at present it ain't doing very much. And what business it is doing is often nobody's business.
So okay, there are still a few blue chip classic bikes fetching top dollar (and more than a few blue chips trying it on with little success). The cafe racer, bobber and "brat" bike phenomenon is currently in vogue. But overall, hope is triumphing (or is that Triumphing?) over experience, and the easy money of yesteryear has generally become very hard money.
One dealer, for instance, explained just the other day that he'd felt compelled to cut the price of his stock by a whopping twenty percent. And that was across the board (okay, except for one or two machines that were "extra special" and which were worth holding out for).
Another classic bike dealer said that last year was the worst trading year since his business was founded a decade and a half ago. Yet another had just returned from his accountant and was "too fed up to comment" (we're paraphrasing here).
And another dealer was hoping to break into the bobber and cafe racer market, except that his view is that the bobber thing, in particular, is a fad and will be over as soon as he gears up for it and adjusts his stock. Also, the bobber trend (quote/unquote) needs a special sensitivity. Merely hacking off bits and adding "attitude" doesn't necessarily ring the right bells. There's a steep learning curve in what is essentially an amateur scene, and therefore possibly not a lot of money at the top of it.
So generally, the market is suffering. Some of that is natural adjustment. Prices have, after all, been rising for years. The market was overheated and now it's cooling. Readjusting, if you prefer. People are downsizing expectations. But things will change for the better if we all just stay cool and keep our nerve (not that everyone likes rising prices in this particular market, anyway).
So whatever classic bike you've got for sale (or bobber, cafe racer, chopper or boxes of bits), fire off an email and a snapshot and we'll spread the news as far as possible. Just make sure you include the price, your contact details and your general location (and if you can work out a way to send hard cash by email, we ain't too proud to accept it).
Meanwhile, Sump Magazine is doing its bit for the war effort. We've recently bought a couple of "new" old projects that sooner or later will probably appear on Sump Magazine. One is shaping up to be a cafe racer. But we ain't sure what to do with the second wreck. A couple of people have suggested building our own bobber, but we're still kicking the tyres and thinking about other possibilities. And we're still buying spares for our existing heaps and wearing them out as much as possible.
However, many of you people are still tightening those purse strings and focussing on the essentials (rent, mortgage, food, energy, etc). Except that a classic bike, bobber, cafe racer or chop is essential, isn't it? And if you disagree with that statement, you could be on the wrong website.
Anyhow, times are tough, and we don't want to keep saying it (for fear of adding to the general air of despondency that's being breathed these days). Our advice, for what it's worth, is to keep riding, keep buying, and keep the money moving as much as possible.
Most of all, keep living. You're a long time dead, after all. And for for the guys and girls at Sump Magazine, nothing makes us feel more alive than taking off for another trip on our favourite mounts.
Classic bike workshop
Finally, we've added a couple of other features. The first is our CLASSIC BIKE WORKSHOP section. It's no big deal, really. Just some notes and snapshots of the problems we've been having with our machines.
Naturally, we've also included the solutions. We'll be developing this feature as and when things go wrong (and round here, things are always going wrong). Click the image above to be whisked there, but other links will appear if you just wave your mouse around the screen or look down the column to your right.
Also, we've put our mini-movies on a new VIDEOS landing page for your convenience. Most of our humble offerings can now be viewed without leaving your favourite classic bike website. But one or two require a redirect to YouTube.
Okay, that's it. Gotta go. Have wheels, have fuel, will travel ...
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