The 2016 Telford Classic Dirtbike Show…Report & photo collection by “Mr J” at www.classicdirtbikerider.com
The man on the mobile phone said “I’ve done nothing but talk all day”, a split second later both he & another fella along with a third person pushing a motorcycle all tried to go through a narrow fire door at the same time, Ouch ! Not a good way to end the day but cuts, bruises & broken bones aside, the man on the phone was right, 90% of the Telford Classic Dirtbike Show is all about talking. Exhibiters & stall holders will agree that sometimes you do have a profitable day & make a few sales but Telford is as much a PR exercise as anything else, the classic motorcycle off-road scene here in the UK is quite a small close knit community, you have to get out & meet your potential customers. In this modern age when people are expected to just click a few buttons & send several hundreds of pounds off into the mysterious world of the Interweb, it can make all the difference in the world when a rider is deciding who to trust with their hard earned money if a seller spent five minutes chatting face to face with them several months ago at the Telford show.
Pretty much the first thing paying visitors came across at the show this year was a classic Ford 400E van, yes ladies & gentlemen a four wheeled vehicle at a classic motorcycle show ! But what a wonderful thing it was, dark red in colour, immaculate both inside & out, complete with “Villiers” logo on the back & sides. I really hope that next year a few more sign written classic vans or pick-ups can be gathered together to form a bigger display, even an early 80s Bedford CF or Ford Transit in good condition is a pretty rare sight these days & lets face it vans have played an important role in the history of off-road motorcycle sport that’s for sure.
After the classic Ford the next couple of displays you came upon were the “WME Pre 85″ boys & their neighbours “The National Twinshock” gang. Both stands were ram jam packed on the Saturday with riders signing on for the new season. I was starting to think that Nigel Green of the Pre85 club was not of sound mind when he told me he sometimes races a 500 Cagiva, they were a bit of a handful back in the day, but considering he’s just persuaded none other than Michelin Tyres to sponsor this years Pre85 series he can`t be all that bonkers, can he ? Next door the national twinshock gang were busy promoting their new Hawkstone Park two day “Festival Of Legends” event, it will be held at the world famous circuit later this year during September. Geoff Shuttleworth & Darren Hudson report there is quite a growing list of famous riders from the past who have agreed to either race, take part in a parade lap or just hang out & give interviews, so best of luck with that boys.
It`s quite a well know fact that Saturday seems to attract the more serious buyer & this year was no exception, it`s also the opinion of many that some of the prices being asked can be, shall we say, a little on the optimistic side but if you get busy & look hard enough there’s always rare & hard to get items available at a decent price. Luckily this year the weather played ball & wasn’t too bad for the autojumble boys outside, cold but pretty dry, who will ever forget the time it snowed a few years back. As the photos will show there was quite a good collection of used stuff on offer outside as well as a few tidy looking bikes on sale. It`s only when you attend the show on both days that you realise just how much gear does actually get sold, the dealers will always tell you they wanted to shift more stuff but some of the stalls, both inside & out, did look quite a bit lighter on stock by the end of play on Sunday afternoon.
Inside the main hall one of the first stalls I stopped at or should I say interviewed, yes that definitely sounds more professional but then again I am more like the bumbling Boris Johnson, the only difference is I turn up armed with a camera & tend to get in the way even more. Anyway back to the main point, some of the first people I spoke to were the 73 / 74 Honda CR250 boys at “ASR” Andy Storey Racing, it`s their own fault, the 1980 red rocket fitted with a 1983 CR480 engine they had on display, had attracted my attention & drawn me in, this was the machine that American rider Todd DeHoop raced at last years Vets MXDN, it was actually built by their good friend, Stevie Denton of “Phil Denton Engineering Ltd” I’m told that Todd wasn’t too impressed with the machine, it vibrated like crazy while he sat waiting to go out for his first practice session but as soon as he got underway the engine smoothed out & he quickly fell in love with his new toy, as far as I understand he`s coming back in 2016 to race the same bike again & this time he should go even quicker because last year the rear shocks had been set up for a different / heavier rider. The lads also had another of the “Denton” bikes on display, Todd’s stripped down 1986 250 Honda Evo machine, my word dear reader, the standard of these bikes is getting higher every season, I remember listening to DeHoop give a radio interview back home in the US shortly after last years Vets MXDN, he was amazed at how fanatical the British fans & riders are about Twinshock & Evo bikes, he commented on how it`s common place for guys over here to sink ten grand or more into a rebuild. While I was at ASR I took the opportunity to ask if they ever managed to get new stronger gearbox clusters made for the early 73 / 74 CR250, the answer was yes they did, in fact they are having a third consignment manufactured, I might be wrong but I think they quoted a retail price of £1700 per set. Oddly enough later in the day & talking to a different rider about the early 73 / 74 CR250 Honda, he told me about a batch of conrods he had persuaded a company to make for him, the only problem was they had a minimum order quantity so it cost him £2000, it think this underlines the fact that vintage motocross enthusiasts here in the UK truly are fanatical.
On the Saturday I bumped it to the walking encyclopedia & photographer of classic scrambling events, Mr Eric Miles, not for the first time I told him he should write a book about all the information he has rattling around in his head. I got the same reply as usual, “Me write a book Mr J, no I don`t know much about scrambling” he then proceeded to launch into a 30 minute series of personal anecdotes about people such as Jeff Smith, Dave Bickers, “Bonky” Bowers & even Murray Walker. I will tell you something for nothing dear reader, Eric Miles does more to capture what’s going on & promote the world of classic scrambling than pretty much anyone else, last season I think he did more miles up & down the country than ever before. Yon can forget the glossy motorcycling magazines & news papers, they eventually get either thrown in the bin of filed away never to see the light of day again, no next time you have an event & organise a photo shoot of the winners or a famous face from the past, take Eric gently by the elbow, lead him to the front of the photographic pack & tell the person at the centre of all the attention to look straight down the lens of Eric`s camera first, the AMCA & organising clubs need to look after Mr Miles, he`s one of a kind.
The Telford show is definitely the place to go if you are thinking about getting your suspension sorted out, lets face it, most motocross bikes are plenty fast enough for clubman riders once the motor has been thoroughly rebuilt to as new, standard specification, most experienced riders will tell you your wasting your money trying to build a 100mph machine. No I think if you have money to spend it would be wiser to invest it in quality suspension components, with the right kit you should end up with a smoother more controllable machine, less fatigued & probably produce better lap times than if you go searching for out & out power. Of course this years classic dirtbike show was sponsored by “Hagon Shocks”, they supply all sorts of shocks for both road & vintage dirt bikes, they also have a history connected to both speedway & motocross with their fabulous alloy framed machines. Another stand I dropped by was “Owens Moto Classics”, Mike who runs the company is a bit of a four stroke fanatic, he always seems to have very tidy C & J framed bikes or original Eric Cheney machines for sale. He’s now involved with “Protech Shocks”, Mike handed me a rear damper unit (minus its spring) suitable for something like a Red Rocket, flippin eck ! it felt about as heavy as an empty Coke can. I pressed him on the price of these hand built in the UK items, for either a mono or a set of twinshocks the range starts at a reasonable £300 inc VAT, £60.00 for a service & they have all spring weights available at around £50.00 a pair. The third stand I rocked up at that also dealt in the dark art of suspension tuning was “Race Base” ran by the suspension guru Simon Gower, an interesting character who I spent quite a while talking to & someone who i could easily write an interesting article about, if I can twist his arm into advertising on my website ( come on Simon you know you want to ) may be I will at some point but for now lets look at the things he can do with your front forks. Simon would be wasting his talents on someone like me, all I know is as long as the forks keep the mudguard up off the front tyre, then they work just fine, Mr Gower could set to work fitting springs that suite my weight, retuning the shim stack or valves or whatever they are called, altering the weight / amount of oil in each fork leg as well as altering the pre load & rebound but at the end of the day all someone like me concentrates on is “A” trying not to fall off & “B” did I bring enough coffee & Jaffa cakes to last the day. On a serious note Simon can perform all the aforementioned tasks & set your forks & rear suspension up to a standard good enough for top level racing. Services offered for your front suspenders are, top tubes can be given a special ” Titanium Nitride” coating, this is to help overcome “Stiction” or static friction & give them a super smooth action, available in all sorts of colours, if your tubes are in mint condition & don`t need re-chroming first it will cost you £250 a pair, should they need re-chroming that will cost you an extra £180. Your lower legs can be given a quick sand blasting & then receive a nice “Hard Anodised” finish that protects them from the outside world as well as, surprisingly, from the oil inside, including the blast clean you are looking at around £130. Once you have a lovely looking pair of legs you can choose to have new springs inserted for £95.00 or adjustable fork valves at £220 fitted.
As the show came to a close on the Sunday afternoon & everybody started to leave I caught up with Jason & Colin from “J K Racing”, if you have seen my photo collection from last years event, these are the boys who had the long line of Suzuki RMs for sale, this year they had brought along a bit more of a mixed bag, I’m pretty sure they had well over 15 bikes on offer but Jason Bell the owner said this was just a small sample of their stock, it totals up to around 100 machines, most are near mint condition hand picked imports from the states. Colin made my day when he said ” You know Mr J, I read your article on dirtbike security & that night I double checked the alarm for the first time in a while & also made a few more changes to beef up security”, this was exactly why I wrote the article, not only does it help someone keep hold of their bike or bikes but it just might keep a few more stolen machines off the market, this is something that affects anyone who is looking to purchase a second hand dirt bike, If you haven’t already read my article click on over to the feature page & take a look, it might just save you some heartache.
While chatting to various people over the weekend there seemed to be an underlying opinion that the vintage dirt bike market is beginning to slow down or change, are we reaching a point where the supply of imported vintage dirt bikes is outstripping demand ? Regular overseas visitor to the show Jef Bens who deals in classic Husqvarna spares, is beginning to think that most of the vintage Huskys have now been restored & owners require only service items to keep them on the track. My own personal opinion “Yes dear reader I have one & your going to get it” is each period of vintage dirt bike history has its followers, today you usually have two types of competitor, “A” a rider who was too young or did not have the finances to ride at the time, they could only stand & watch but now, finally, they have the money to take part & emulate their heroes of yesteryear or “B” they did race back in the day & are reliving their youth while they still can. Special Note…there is a rare type of person, or should I say “Mysterious Life force” that has to go into special category “C”, intergalactic visitors from outer space, since the day they appeared & started to compete they never have or never will stop racing, secretly armed with super powers of strength & speed, they quietly walk among us using unassuming code names such as “Pete Mathia” or “Bill Brown”, I will say no more dear reader, I have already said to much, my life may already be in danger ! ……Unfortunately for us poor creatures of planet earth time moves on & each generation gets older, off road riding is a physically demanding not to mention dangerous business so riders eventually decide to hang their boots up for good & sadly some of those riders from the 50s & 60s are now starting to past away. This means that eventually the interest in a certain period starts to slowly ebb away, younger fresher riders do come in but it seems not enough in number to replace the out going riders, no doubt each era of racing be it, classic scrambles, Twinshock or Evo, will carry on but how many riders will choose to race machines from the aforementioned eras in another 30 years is debateable, of course by then the classic dirt bike show will be full of stalls selling period riding gear from the year 2016 & guys will be searching out hard to find parts to rebuild those icons of their youth, the Honda 450F, Yamaha WR450F, Suzuki RMZ450 etc, etc, etc………I hope you have enjoyed reading my report & looking at the 100 plus photos bellow, all were taken at this years 2016 Telford Classic Dirtbike Show. Make sure you tell all your friends to come on over & take a look, until next time, all the best from Mr J.