Monday 17 October 2011

Bonhams Sale 19290 - Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show, Stafford, 16 Oct 2011

In the Bonhams catalogue

-SG- A well restored 1926 four speed 588 OHV outfit accompanied by much verbal bally-hoo in the Bonhams catalogue linking it to Phil Pike and the special outfit he rode in the 1926 ISDT and, shortly after, to win the Maudes Trophy for  Nortons. The facts of the matter are not quite so definite as Bonhams' script writer suggests. The only original 'Pike' part of the machine appears to be the frame - or part of it - as Barry Tyreman had to remedy the unfortunate fact that when the frame was acquired, the head lug and front down tube were missing. That he managed to build a bike of this standard atall from such poor remains is a matter for which he should be congratulated. It appears that all of the rest of the bike came from accumulated parts or parts acquired for the project. The one major item Barry was unable to source was a set of the correct four spring Druid forks so he modified a later pair of two spring Druids to suit the tall headstock of the frame. The tanks also were made for the project - hence the standard small oil tank fitted during the early stages of assembly (pic below) and the large oil tank with frame mounting lugs on the finished product. The present crankcases started life in a Model 18 despatched in May 1927.

Apart from  failing to mention that so little of the bike is actually original, Bonhams' blurb wrongly describes the bike as a Model 19 and wrongly describes the Big Four as being 588cc 79 x 120. Who writes their stuff for them, for goodness sake?  If a model number can be ascribed to the machine atall, it is more akin to the Model 44 although Barry tells me the frame differs slightly as the Pike bike has rather less ground clearance. And just to add to the blurred picture, the Science Museum letter is also slightly incorrect - though we can't blame Bonhams for that!  The actual entry in the despatch books reads as follows:

Engine number 30818: Frame number 21180: Magneto number 95544: 588 OHV: B and B carb.:  26 x 3.25 W.O Tyres: 4 Speed: HWT Shock Abs. Druid forks (ie Druid forks with heavyweight shock absorbers): Tank number 514. Extras: 8" Front Brake and Steering damper. Despatched 25/6/26  to Pike P  (ie Pike Plymouth).

Note brazing, new headlug and front downtube
Just after completion
The photos directly above, courtesy Barry, show the bike during assembly and just after it was completed.

Bonhams' comments:

"We’ll forward to the vendor for his info.

Technically the description is correct - the frame was the one used - albeit it has had a major rebuild incorporating non-original parts (which is what we advised prospective purchasers over the weekend).

As with any machine it is always sold strictly as viewed and you did exactly what every prospective purchaser should do and research a lot it in advance of the sale.

But one or two points (and I must defend our descriptions). They are written on the basis of what the vendor advises and provides. We always endeavour to research a motorcycle ourselves but time is, as always, a factor. But where new information does come to light in advance of a sale we will place a saleroom notice or ‘addendum’ on the machine.

You will also note ‘Model 19’ in the title is in inverted commas and that it is described as a Model 19-based outfit (further on we state its specification is approximating to that of a Model 19). I think Norton by Mick Woollett records the Big Four as being 588cc 79 x 120 - and this may have been where that info came from - but I’ll double check!

Kind regards,

Department Director
Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London, W1S 1SR"