Monday, 20 October 2014


Stafford is now permanently on my calendar and twice a year at that. The shows are becoming not just a sketching trip for myself but a great chance to catch up with motorcycle friends old and new. I spent just as much time talking motorcycles as drawing them, which is a great balance.. I also have a chance to see if I can find the missing bits for my current projects, and resist buying new ones!

More information on the Classic Bike Shows at Stafford and elsewhere can be seen here:


(watercolour & ink)

The Flying Merkel was the star of the Bonhams auction and fetched a staggering £104,540 (incl premium). There were some great elements on this early machine including the rear suspension setup, seen in more detail in the photo below. Also an intriguing tap on the front exhaust as it exits the barrel, thoughts from people I spoke to ranged from just a plumbing fitting that worked for a fix at some point to an exhaust whistle.... any thoughts please comment.

Bonhams had this to say about the bike's history:
"This rare Veteran-era American classic was discovered in an Ohio barn in 1956 by one Mort Wood, who sold it on to a fellow 'antique motorcycle' enthusiast, Emmett Moore. It appears that ownership reverted to Mort Wood, for it was from him that the machine was purchased in 1994 by the late Bernard Thomas, proprietor of Antique American Motorcycles. In original condition when acquired, the Flying Merkel has been treated to a mechanical and light cosmetic rebuild but otherwise remains untouched."

Read the full Bonhams write up for more information on this stunning machine.


(watercolour & ink)

1929 Ariel Model G Sprint Bike

(ink sketch)

Running on pure methanol this Model G sprint bike looked right, and so I had to sketch it. A lot of tuning has gone into the engine making this a true sprint bike. A great touch is a Norton positive device has been added to the original Ariel gearbox. A positive stop means you cannot push through more than one gear at a time, which is pretty handy on a sprint bike.

Ducati 600 Supersport

(ink sketch)
The October Stafford show is geared more towards more recent classics like 80's Japanese bikes and sports bikes rather than my usual fair of vintage and veteran machines. I was asked to sketch this Ducati which I was glad to do and actually found that there is just as much to draw on a modern Ducati as there is on a classic bike. It was tricky to fit the details between the frame as there is only small sections visible. I really enjoyed drawing something different to my normal choice, and learnt a lot from the sketch. 

Sprint Bikes

 My choice from the jumble would have been this 80's sprint Bantam. By chance I met with the builder of this great machine Ron who told me that it was doing sub 15 second runs and topping out at 90mph which is pretty impressive for a 175cc running with 25% methanol. At one meeting the bike came second to a Norton Dominator which show that Bantams in the right hands are real contenders!
One of Rons more recent creations was this Bowns Autocycle sprint bike, styled on a Brooklands racer. I love this sort of thinking and hope to see more of it. The Villiers engine has been tuned beyond it's 2hp origins and in it's previous bike won the Coast to Coast run last year. So the owner has good hopes for it in the National Sprint Association next year.

 More Sprint Bikes were to be found in the jumble and auction, such as these Rudge and Norton examples...

Trials and Dirt Bikes

Another bike on my wish list turned up as a pair of consecutive numbered 1956 competition factory built AJS Trials machines being sold as a pair! Unfortunately I didn't have 6 odd grand.

 Interesting Villers powered mud plugger


Intriguing Aermacchi Harley Davidson

1953 TT Sprint, Norton JAP

Cycle Motors

Nice New Hudson!
Possibly the most over ambitious price for a Power Pak at £325!!

Vintage and Veteran

 1920 New Hudson Deluxe Touring Model, for sale at Vintage and Veteran

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Motorcycle Film Festival, New York 2014

After Tom Rochester made a short film about my piece for The National Motorcycle Museum's 30th Anniversary, much to my surprise it got accepted into the Motorcycle Film Festival in New York. Well of course I had to make the trip to New York to watch motorcycle movies, and see what the motorcycle scene is like in the big apple for myself. 

Before the festival started I spent a four days sketching at a couple of motorcycle workshops. It was a fantastic opportunity to spend time in two of New Yorks finest workshops Sixth Street Specials and Paul Cox Industries. The sketching involved producing 360 degree panoramas of the workshops. I spent half a day sketching out the basic composition and then another one and a half days inking as much as I could, sketching for around 6 hours straight per day. I still have a huge task ahead of me to finish these panoramic sketches which average 4 meters long. I will post the full pieces once they have been competed, but until then here are some details of what was done during my visits...

Sixth Street Specials


Hugh's Office with lift
The Other end of the shop with Matchless
(note: All ink sketches are WIP, details from a 4m roll)

Since the mid 80's Hugh Mackie has run his repair shop from the same premises on 6th Street in the East Village. He only works on British bikes specialising in Triumphs. The spirit of this shop is something to aspire to; Hugh knows he's not going to make a fortune running the business but he's happy with that, as he'd rather concentrate on the bikes he's passionate about and educate others in the art of motorcycle maintenance. He also has a very positive attitude to his neighbours helping them out whenever he can. 
Whilst sitting in the middle of the shop sketching for two days I really got a feel for the place with all it's comings and goings of both bikes and visitors, it felt very welcoming and homely. The walls are filled to capacity with photographs, posters and various junk. Junk is possibly the wrong word for the objects that decorate the walls as everything has a story. For example the boot that can bee seen in an alcove above the workbench (top sketch), was put there as a reminder after a friend pulled a wheelie outside the shop. His foot was already held together with plates and pins foot and his foot shattered when it hit the ground. They managed to pull the boot off just before his foot swelled up.

Paul Cox Industries

Display to Workbench
Knife Making Area
(note: All ink sketches are WIP, details from a 4m roll)

Initially I thought that the two workshops were totally unrelated but on my final day at Hugh's I found out that Paul started in Hugh's workshop with a leather making area in what is now Hugh's office. Since these early days Paul has come a long way as he now runs his own workshop that builds choppers from scratch. The frames, forks, fuel tanks and leatherwork for the seats and detailing is all done in house at Paul Cox Industries. As well as producing choppers of incredible quality with a real eye for detail Paul also makes knives and produces leather goods which are finished with immaculate detail.

The Motorcycle Film Festival

The Motorcycle Film Festival is now in it's second year and it's definitely an event to watch out for. Featuring over 30 films over 3 days the range of subjects was really varied making each screening fresh and entertaining. Most of the screenings were full if not at standing room only so it shows that the festival is pulling a good crowd. 

The opening night showed the Peter Starr's 1980 film Take It To The Limit. This was the first time I'd seen this film and it had some incredible footage of people like Mike Hailwood on the TT course and others such as Kenny Roberts, Steve Baker, Barry Sheene and many others. Watching a film like this with an audience is great as everyone gets into it and it becomes real entertainment.

Other feature films were Dirtbag, documenting the Dirtbag Challenge that takes place every year in San Fransisco, the New On Any Sunday which is an update to the original classic bike documentary. The festival ended with the epic Penton: The John Penton Story. Which documents the incredible story of trials and long distance rider John Penton. As well as a wide range of feature films there was a fantastic schedule of shorts throughout the festival.

On the Saturday I got a little bit of sketchbook action in....

My Trail 90 Honda CT90

(ink sketch)
This CT90 and the one below belong to Kurth and her husband Adam, who had traveled for 3 months from Medford Oregon on their CT90's. The Motorcycle Film Festival was just a stop off as they are aiming to make it all the way to Key West. To see their journey so far and follow it please go to their blog My Trail 90 or Facebook Page.

Schildkraut Thunderbird

(ink sketch)
I always enjoy the challenge of drawing these long american beasts. The challenge lies in the fact that they are so long and the angles on the bodywork are all over the place.

 Works Engineering were certainly busy over the weekend and they also had a great delivery truck!
Co Founder Corrina had two of the best machines of the weekend. This BSA and the fantastic Ford pick up.

Stuff I found in the Streets of New York....

 Mercury Cougar XR7
 Dodge pickup
 Siamese Twin Hydrant
 There were a lot of Schwinn bicycles around
Something about those water towers. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Kop Hill Climb 2014

Every year the Kop Hill Climb always has a great line up of cars and motorcycles, and this year was no exception. I could only attend for one day this year but what a day it was, the range of machines spans a huge period from veteran to modern hybrid and supercars. The event is always a joy to attend as the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. To find out more about the event please go to the 

I travelled to the event with sketching friend extraordinaire Stefan Majoram, for his take on the vent please visit his website.

1947 Moto Guzzi Dondolino

 (ink sketch)

I initially picked this bike because it looked unusual and I'd not drawn any Italian motorcycles until this one. Turns out this is a pretty rare bike. The Dondolino (Rocking Chair) was produced as a gentleman's racer after WW2 as an affordable, reliable and robust machine. This made it ideal for private racers who wanted to take part in the races that emerged after the war. In 1946 Dondolino's were ridden to victory in both the Swiss and Spanish Grand Prix. It was also a winning bike in many 1st and 2nd division races in France and Italy. More importantly the Dondolino proved it reliability in the Milan to Taranto race, a extremely long and testing event.

Velocette Sprint Bike

 (ink sketch)
I saw this Velocette last year but did not get a chance to sketch it. So I made sure I got it this time. The tank had been changed but it had the charm that only a rough and ready sprint bike has with modifications and fixes which are practical rather than aesthetic. In other words I love this bike. 


 (ink sketch)

BSA 3 Wheeler

 (ink sketch)


 Indian Scout
 Brough Superior
 1929 Rex Acme TT racer (previously owned by Ewan McGregor)

New Imperial


 Austin Healy Frog Eye Sprite
 Salmson Cyclecar
 Ford Delux
 Early Streamlined Lotus