The offer of a free entry to Beaulieu Motorcycle World for the entire weekend with camping thrown in was too tempting to miss out on - my thanks to Stuart http://www.dieselbike.net/ for organising it all.
In all the trip from Brentwood Essex, to the New Forest is over 120 miles and as the better half was not about to miss out on an outing we packed the car with the camping gear leaving Sluggy a bit lighter for the journey, I made do with the tank bag for valuables and GPS and rear carrier bag for spare clothes, waterproofs and my puddin-basin helmet.
As ever planning the route is a challenge when your bike can only average 45 mph on the flat, but thanks to the modern convenience of Tom Tom GPS, this is now a simple matter of choosing a restricted speed route of 40mph and the software avoids all the motorways - neat.
Needless to say that Sluggy never missed a beat, the steady chug from the motor was only silenced on the Woolwich ferry and once in desperation when I needed a pee badly. I arrived at the event some 3 hours ahead of the others and spend a grand afternoon enjoying watching the displays and manufacturers stands being erected before retreating to the food and beer open marquee for some overdue lunch. Inevitably having the bike parked up next to your table in the sunshine means that your meal will be disturbed by the "Is that a diesel?", "How many miles to the gallon?" questions.
In all the journey took just under 4 hours, most of that time was taken negotiating the endless traffic lights and one way systems in London - once out into open countryside we bashed along at up to 50mph except for the long hills where Sluggys lack of power is felt and we dropped to around the 40 mark.
Diesels on Display
We set up the dikes for display in the last of the 4 classic bike marquees Sluggys in the foreground with Stuarts Hatz powered bike behind (well I took the picture....)
I was glad of the display cards as these were read by many and seemed to answer many questions from the public.
Just to ensure fair play - here's one with Stuarts bike in the foreground.
This has the Hatz IB30 engine and was one of the first to be converted by Charnwood Classics in the UK, this is a far more sophisticated engine than Sluggy's Greaves (Lombardini) lump and features electric starting. This has to be one of the neatest conversions for a Royal Enfield Bullet and even retains the original engines silencer - the one at the end of the pipe is a dummy.
I take my hat off to Stuart who has toured extensively on the continent as the stickers on his bike attest, he has traveled to the Hamm diesel bike rally in Germany and toured through northern France.
But what about the rest of the Show?
Well there were lots of displays to satisfy all interests - importers stands ranging from the latest cruisers from the states to the real 'bum in the air' sportsters from the big Japaneese firms with everything in between. Trikes seem to be growing in popularity, and these range from the home built VW/Reliant efforts to the very professional Goldwing and Harley conversions that seem popular with the older generation - some arrived complete with trailer tent in tow! I often wonder why trikes are more apparent these days than sidecars - I reason that they must be easier to learn how to ride and negate the need for a motorcycle licence.
The Watsonian Squire Royal Enfield display looked quite impressive, the new Electra X is now starting to be the more dominant bike on display. For me the cutaway engines and gearboxes are always an attraction as I have a fascination for how mechainical items work.
Beaulieu as a venue has to be one of the best, the grounds and Abbey are worthy of a visit, and the National Motor Museum has some intersting displays and historically important vehicles.