The crown­ing of the CBOTY win­ner and all the other news from a sell-out show full of glit­ter­ing sur­prises

Once again the Carole Nash/MCN Lon­don Mo­tor­cy­cle Show proved a great suc­cess, with a record num­bers of vis­i­tors head­ing along to Lon­don Dock­lands’ Ex­cel Cen­tre over the three days in Fe­bru­ary, from Fri­day 17 to Sun­day 19.

The event has found a win­ning for­mula with its re­fresh­ing mix­ture of new bikes, ad­ven­ture bikes, cus­toms and clas­sics – the colour­ful va­ri­ety of styles makes for a more mixed crowd of mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­asts than you would nor­mally ex­pect to see at any sin­gle event. With a live stage arena in the mid­dle of the hall fea­tur­ing fun and games with some of the most pop­u­lar rac­ers of to­day, the clas­sic and custom ar­eas were lo­cated along with the Coys auc­tion in one half of the enor­mous ex­hi­bi­tion hall.

Clas­sic Bike’s sis­ter ti­tle Built, which cov­ers custom ma­chines and life­style, had a stand for the first time and proved a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion, while the CB stand housed the fi­nal­ists in this year’s Clas­sic Bike of the Year com­pe­ti­tion as usual.

Ten out­stand­ing restora­tions were pre­sented by their own­ers for dis­play and for the fi­nal votes to be cast by show­go­ers; al­though on­line reader votes had been col­lected over the pre­vi­ous months, it is usu­ally the

vot­ing at the show that de­cides the re­sult - and this year the 1000 guinea prize went to Les Phelps, with his su­perb 1939 Match­less ‘SS100’ spe­cial win­ning by over 100 votes from the rest of the field.

Les’s bike is es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing be­cause it is ef­fec­tively the bike that Match­less never made. Al­though the Plum­stead com­pany made a 1000cc over­head-valve V-twin en­gine that they sup­plied to Brough Su­pe­rior and Mor­gan as a pro­pri­etary unit, Match­less didn’t fit it to one of their own V-twins – their mighty Model X had to make do with a side-valve en­gine through­out its pro­duc­tion. So why didn’t Match­less go the ex­tra mile and make their own ohv bike? “I don’t know,” ad­mits Les. “It’s great to ride – re­ally torquey and pow­er­ful. It’s a great en­gine – the only real prob­lem is how hard it was to get it into the frame. If you look, you can see how close it is to the tubes. Match­less did make one ohv twin, it was a pro­to­type for a mil­i­tary side­car out­fit made dur­ing World War II. Badged as a Sun­beam (Match­less owned Sun­beam at the time) it was fit­ted with Match­less tele forks, but it didn’t go into pro­duc­tion and was bro­ken up. I’d guess an ohv twin would have just been too ex­pen­sive to make at the time – I’m cer­tainly pen­ni­less af­ter build­ing mine! But I’d like to thank ev­ery­one who voted for my bike; I’ve re­ally en­joyed the week­end and it was just a fan­tas­tic sur­prise to find I’d won. I’d have voted for Gor­don Lund’s Ve­lo­cette my­self!”

Les wasn’t the only one who left the show happy. The Coys auc­tion on Satur­day saw a va­ri­ety of bikes find new own­ers, in­clud­ing the fas­ci­nat­ing collection of (mainly vintage) ma­chines for­merly owned by leg­endary south-coast Triumph dealer, the late ‘Jock’ Hitch­cock. Fa­mous for a stonewall at­ti­tude to any cus­tomer who dared to come in ask­ing for parts for any­thing but his beloved Meri­den-made mod­els, Jock had none­the­less ac­crued a se­lec­tion of other makes in his per­sonal collection, rang­ing from a sporty oil cooled 1923 Dot-brad­shaw to a rare two-stroke 500cc mo­tocross Jawa from 1969. Mo­tor­cy­cle con­sul­tant An­thony Godin seemed well pleased with the re­sult of the sale. “It’s long been a dream of mine to bring a qual­ity clas­sic mo­tor­cy­cle auc­tion to the Cap­i­tal,” he said. “This is only our sec­ond year at the MCN Show and al­though we were pretty sat­is­fied with last year’s re­sult, there has been a def­i­nite in­crease in in­ter­est this time that I hope will con­tinue to grow.”

Michael Davis’ Com­mando gets a bit of buff­ing You like bikes built in which coun­try, you say? Will Odling’s cool Honda CB350G gets snapped

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