Al's blurb

Hello, welcome to Al's blurb, a blog from the world of freelance motorbikng journalism.

Every couple of weeks I'll be updating you with some of the back story stuff, unpublished pics and any insider stuff that can get away with printing without being sued.

Hopefully you'll like it enough to keep coming back for more. Comments or emails are welcome, but don't expect replies to random abuse, I get that from half my editors as it is...

Lately then, I have been mainly gathering material for The Cafe Racer Phenomenon book, which is due out with Veloce Books in August 2009. Some great interviews with riders who were active in the 60s, 70s and 80s, modifying bikes, going to The Ace, Calypso, Station Cafe at Tamworth, Johnsons on the A20 etc. Interviewed Paul Dunstall a couple of weeks back and found it fascinating to hear how he got into the tuning and customising business. Just made a few sets of spare exhausts for his own Norton Dommie racer, then people came in the shop asking for a set...took off from there. Within a few years sponsoring Ray Pickrell, beating factory Nortons and a 64 page catalogue mail order business worldwide.

It's the grass roots stuff that brings a book like this alive though... talked to a guy called Pete Schneider, he met his wife-to-be via building a cafe racer - a Yank mag wanted a pretty girl sat on the bike for a feature, so Pete recalled a girl who was a nice looker from school, asked her to pose, chatted her up and ended up marrying her!

I'm all fired up getting the social side of it, the human stories in there, as well the usual stuff about the bikes themselves. Another guy told me how he built a bike inside a council flat in the early 70s, then took the front end off - having tested it by running the bike in the flat - and transported it downstairs for his first road run in the lift. Brilliant.

Otherwise, I have been at Trade Expo and the MCN London Show.

The Trade Expo has all the new kit for the year for the dealers to look at and some things caught my eye; Bering have some waterproof leathers, lovely Segura BLH budget gear and the Trophy group who own Bering/Segura also had some natty scooter aprons for 2009. I liked the retro Lancaster leather jacket that BKS/Frank Thomas have for this season, but then I am an old giffer...

Delkevic in Stoke are gearing up to do loads more products in 2009 - radiators, exhausts, slip-ons - they have a new system for the old Honda CBX1000 six, plus a system for the VFR 750 FR-FV models.

Highway Hawk had adjustable bar risers for cruiser bikes, dead simple idea, yet effective, just rotate the bars through about 90 degrees, as well as gaining the extra couple of inches height by fitting `em. Cool.

The word from Mike at Victory UK is that the US brand is gonna do some work with Hawg Haven, on creating a limited edition Victory later in 09 - should be good, Hawg Haven have done show-winning bikes in the past, some featured on the Carole Nash stands at the NEC.

I heard from a classic bike dealer yesterday that one guy took his life savings out of the bank recently, bought a Gold Star and Velo Venom, had the fluids drained from the bikes, and keeps them in his living room as a better, safer type of investment. Let's face it, you get cock-all interest from the badly run banks these days...

Got me thinking, out of today's cheaper bikes, which might be classics? Hard to pick out something like a Goldie, a bespoke racer, as they don't really make stuff like that these days, but I guess an early twin headlamp Fireblade, 98 Yamaha R1 or maybe a Kawasaki ZXR750 can only go up in value if you find an unmolested example..? Otherwise the rare modern machines like RC30s, Duke 916 SP, Bimota Tesi/SB6R etc is already at classic Britbike money.

all for now, Al the Blurb.