We’re still here!

Classic Bike Guide - - Con­tents - WORDS BY OLI

CBG talks to the old bike world about how they are still open for busi­ness

Clas­sic Bike Guide looks at how our trusty old bike spe­cial­ists and traders are

still look­ing af­ter us and how we can help them, de­spite coro­n­avirus

WITH PRETTY MUCH every­thing in lock­down we thought we would look into how the clas­sic parts trade is do­ing. Are we just wait­ing for all this to blow over while watch­ing Bar­gain Hunt and re­runs of Shed and Buried, or are we busy in our own sheds, garages, back gar­dens and, in some cases, liv­ing rooms, mak­ing our bikes bet­ter than they were be­fore in prepa­ra­tion for the start of our de­layed spring?

You can still buy mo­tor­cy­cle parts. In­deed, the Gov­ern­ment is ac­tively en­cour­ag­ing us all to buy things over the phone or on­line. And with so many of the sup­pli­ers that keep our wheels turn­ing be­ing small op­er­a­tions, our busi­ness is what’s go­ing to make sure they are all still there when we can get back to what makes us happy.

Hard­est hit in clas­sic mo­tor­cy­cling terms are the small op­er­a­tions that rely on shows and au­to­jum­bles for a good part of their trade – those hardy souls who travel the coun­try week in and week out.

Paul Goff does a lot of busi­ness at shows, sell­ing elec­tri­cal com­po­nents and his justly fa­mous LED light­bulb up­grades among other things. And his home-based busi­ness is still de­liv­er­ing the goods.

Paul said: “Things are a bit dif­fer­ent, but I’ve al­ways worked from home and walked with my parcels to the Post Of­fice ev­ery day, and I’m still do­ing that. Trade or­ders have dried up a bit, be­cause shops have closed, but the mail or­der has car­ried on.

“We’ve ac­tu­ally had a small boost in the past few weeks, but this might pe­ter out. Peo­ple are work­ing on their bikes, but there might be a feel­ing soon of ‘why bother work­ing on it if I can’t ride it?’

“We’ve got plenty of stock, but a lot of our stuff comes from abroad and it is tak­ing a lit­tle while longer to get here. One of our Chi­nese sup­pli­ers is op­er­at­ing from her bed­room.”

Paul’s web­site norbsa02. freeuk.com lists his stock but doesn’t al­low on­line or­der­ing. Email him at norbsa02@aol.com or call 01494 868218 9am-5.30pm with your re­quire­ments.

“No­body was mak­ing any money, and they have to trade to sur­vive.”

An­other trader who you’ll see at shows and jum­bles and on­line is Ger­ard at Corn­wall­based Skye Mo­tor­cy­cles. He’s usu­ally seen with a huge range of Bri­tish spares at shows, trekking them hun­dreds of miles ev­ery week­end. Right now, you can or­der his stock on­line. “We do most of our trade at shows, so this has been a big prob­lem, but we are still sell­ing new and se­cond-hand parts on­line and over the phone.” Af­ter a brief hia­tus, where sev­eral small sup­pli­ers closed down, some are start­ing to come back on stream, es­pe­cially the smaller spe­cial­ists.

“No­body was mak­ing any money, and they have to trade to sur­vive. ”Visit Skye at


Those with sub­stan­tial mail or­der op­er­a­tions have their own chal­lenges to sur­mount:

“If you turn up, we will wave at you through the win­dow but not sell you any­thing!”

Ariel, BSA and Tri­umph parts wizards Dra­gan­fly have closed their counter and ap­pear to be op­er­at­ing their mail or­der busi­ness with close to mil­i­tary pre­ci­sion. Their ex­cel­lent web­site gives the low-down on how the Suf­folk com­pany is keep­ing go­ing.

“The Gov­ern­ment has said that on­line re­tail is ‘open and en­cour­aged’ with postal ser­vices run­ning as nor­mally as pos­si­ble, so we will con­tinue to take and dis­patch or­ders as nor­mal. Our shop premises are closed to the pub­lic. If you turn up, we will wave at you through the win­dow but not sell you any­thing!

“Our staff are very im­por­tant to us, a lot of them are ac­tu­ally fam­ily, and many have been with us through thick and thin, as we have been with them. Some have been ad­vised to stay at home due to ex­ist­ing health is­sues and some are work­ing at home be­cause they can.

“We have a skele­ton crew at the shop, and we are stag­ger­ing work­ing hours to have as few staff in the shop as pos­si­ble at any one time. This means it will take longer to an­swer the phone or emails, it will take longer to dis­patch your or­ders, but it does mean you can call us at 7.30am and we’ll al­ready be at work!”

De­liv­er­ies and col­lec­tions are be­ing made from out­side the closed shop doors, so our staff don’t have con­tact with couri­ers and vice versa, to re­duce any pos­si­ble ex­po­sure. Keep an eye on Dra­gan­fly’s web­site to check the lat­est sit­u­a­tion dra­gan­fly.co.uk

“We are still work­ing and tak­ing or­ders”

Cen­tral Wheel Com­po­nents have closed their shop but are still trad­ing. War­ren Hard­ing from CWC said: “We are work­ing on a skele­ton staff of 10 in­stead of the nor­mal 45, but we are still work­ing and tak­ing or­ders – our tyre divi­sion Wheel­house Tyres is also op­er­a­tional, but only for mail or­der.”

The phones at both CWC and Wheel­house are still manned, or en­quiries can be for­warded to info@cen­tral-wheel.co.uk or info@ wheel­house­tyres.co.uk

“For many of our cus­tomers, their bike is their only mode of trans­port”

South coast sup­pli­ers of parts and con­sum­ables for a huge range of bikes We­moto are still op­er­at­ing on­line.

Daisy from We­moto said: “Busi­ness has been steady. For many of our cus­tomers, their bike is their only mode of trans­port, so we’re glad we can help keep them on the road at this time. There are a num­ber of cus­tomers who are putting their bikes away, but there also seem to be a lot of cus­tomers who are now work­ing on bike projects at home, so it seems to have evened out.

“We have a huge num­ber of sup­pli­ers. Though some of our Euro­pean ones have closed tem­po­rar­ily and we’re see­ing de­lays with some oth­ers, we’re for­tu­nate that we keep quite a bit of stock in our ware­houses, so sup­ply isn’t an is­sue at the mo­ment, and we’re still get­ting stock

in daily.” Visit we­moto.com

“I think we’re of­fer­ing an essen­tial pub­lic ser­vice”

Monty from Monty’s Clas­sics on the Devon and Cornwall bor­der was, as ever, up­beat. The Tri­umph twin spe­cial­ist says: “We’re do­ing very well at the mo­ment. We’ve been flat out for two or three weeks. I ex­pect there will be sup­ply prob­lems later on, but most of our sup­pli­ers are small fam­ily busi­nesses and they are keep­ing go­ing. This all de­pends on how things go of course. We’ve got good stock. I think we’re of­fer­ing an essen­tial pub­lic ser­vice, keep­ing blokes in the shed for hours, keep­ing them sane and stop­ping do­mes­tic ar­gu­ments. I think a lot of peo­ple are tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to do those jobs they’ve been putting off for a cou­ple of years. I wish ev­ery­one in the trade well.” Visit mon­tysclas­sic­mo­tor­cy­cles.com

“There aren’t the planes fly­ing to take things over­seas”

Nor­ton spe­cial­ists Norvil have closed their work­shop but the mail or­der busi­ness is still ship­ping parts. Gareth from Norvil said: “Touch wood, we’re do­ing all right. We make a lot of our stuff our­selves, so sup­ply is less of a prob­lem and our sup­pli­ers make things in small batches with many of them still trad­ing. We’ve ob­vi­ously got a lot less staff work­ing.

“De­liv­er­ies are still work­ing in the

UK, but ship­ping abroad is tak­ing longer sim­ply be­cause there aren’t the planes fly­ing to take things over­seas.” Norvil are

at norvil­mo­tor­cy­cle.co.uk

“Be­cause we are sup­port­ing the mo­tor trade… we’re al­lowed to stay open”

Hitch­cocks, Royal En­field parts sup­pli­ers to the world, have closed their counter but are still trad­ing. Dave from Hitch­cocks said: “Be­cause we are sup­port­ing the mo­tor trade and keep­ing peo­ple mov­ing, we’re al­lowed to stay open. We’re tak­ing tele­phone and web or­ders. A few of our staff have been ill and we are run­ning on a skele­ton staff, but things are tick­ing over. There’s a lot of guys at home twid­dling their thumbs with noth­ing to do, so we’re still sell­ing.

“Some sup­pli­ers have shut, but there’s quite a lot of stock. The eas­i­est way to buy from us is to do an in­ter­net or­der. If it’s a big or­der and you can sup­ply the part num­bers, it would be re­ally help­ful.” Visit hitch­cocksmo­tor­cy­cles.com

“De­liv­er­ies are op­er­at­ing as nor­mal”

The BMW spe­cial­ist Mo­tor­works are happy to send you some bits for your Beemer so it’s ready for the sunny rid­ing days to come. “We are cur­rently op­er­at­ing with re­duced staff, but the phones are open, and we are dis­patch­ing your or­ders,” say the Mo­tor­works team on their Face­book page.

“If pos­si­ble, please place your or­der on our web­site. We have more than suf­fi­cient stock on the shelves to ful­fil or­ders in the com­ing months and de­liv­er­ies are op­er­at­ing as nor­mal.”

Visit mo­tor­works.co.uk

“We’re op­er­at­ing a split shift sys­tem to re­duce con­tact”

Ja­panese spe­cial­ists David Sil­ver Spares are reg­u­lars at big bike shows and have a sub­stan­tial mail or­der op­er­a­tion.

Their re­tail sales counter and the David Sil­ver col­lec­tion are closed un­til fur­ther no­tice. Mark at David Sil­ver said: “We’re op­er­at­ing a split shift sys­tem with half the staff in for the morn­ing and the other half in the af­ter­noon to re­duce con­tact. On­line is busy and as long as the couri­ers are op­er­at­ing, so will we. It’s ac­tu­ally quite a busy time, with a lot of peo­ple who have been putting off jobs find­ing they sud­denly have the time. A few things have dried up, but all our main sup­pli­ers are still good. Con­tact us by email, phone or via the web­site david­sil­vers­pares.co.uk

De­spite every­thing, the clas­sic mo­tor­cy­cle world is still op­er­at­ing, al­beit in tough cir­cum­stances. Keep fet­tling, keep pol­ish­ing and get those bikes ready for the road. Be pa­tient with sup­pli­ers who are do­ing their ut­most to keep things rolling. Let the phone ring a bit be­fore hang­ing up, wait for those over­loaded web­sites to load and ac­cept that your courier might take a day or two longer to get those valve springs and oil seals to your door. And later in the year, when you are all rid­ing those sweet run­ning bikes that will be all the bet­ter for the wait, you’ll know the peo­ple who helped keep them run­ning will still be there for you next time you need them.

“We’ve ac­tu­ally had a small boost in the past few weeks”

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