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Southern Section Miscellany

Denis Jenkinson
Motor Cycle Legend
By Bob Melvin

As a young lad, one of my treats in life was to read my father’s only subscription magazine, Motor Sport. In the 1960s Motor Sport was sort of the gentleman’s version of Autosport magazine with one of its regular contributors, Denis Jenkinson, their regular European and Formula 1 correspondent.  Whilst Denis, known to his pals as ‘Jenks’, Jenkinson’s professional life revolved around 4 wheels, his heart was always in the 2-wheel camp. 

I first met Jenks at the 1972 Motorcycle World Records meeting at RAF Fairford. I was the travelling marshal and he turned up in a pre-production, Jaguar XJ12, that he was driving on a road test for Motor Sport. During a ‘testing’ of the timing lights, Jenks took the new Jaguar throughthe speed trap at a smidge over 140mph, a seriously quick motor at the time. Later, he took me for a brief ‘spin’ and I was mightily impressed – being driven by Jenks!

Amongst his claims to fame, Jenks was sometime passenger to World Sidecar Champion, Eric Oliver, winning the event in 1949. He was also a supporter of both motorcycle and car hill climbing, sprinting, and drag racing in the UK during its formative years. He campaigned his own, modified TriBSA at various events and was, until his passing in 1996, a Vice President of the National Sprint Association.

In 1979 Jenks competed at the inaugural Ramsey Sprint during TT Week, an event organised by yours truly. He arrived on The Island with his competition machine lashed to a sidecar, hauled by a Norton twin (from memory). This was true motorcycling dedication. The last time I met Jenks was on ride-out to a club trial, somewhere in the depths of Hampshire, where his familiar figure, sporting the distinctive beard, was Jenks, observing a true grass roots motorcycling event.

Jenks greatest achievement however, was, without doubt, his navigating Stirling Moss to winning the 1955 Italian road race, the Mille Miglia. This event saw cars racing over 1,000 miles on open public roads with Moss and Jenkinson, the event’s only non-Italian winners, at an average of 98mph over the actual course distance of 992 miles. A record that still stands today, with the event being discontinued in 1957. Jenks account of this event remains, for me, one of the most descriptive pieces of motoring journalism I have ever read.

By David Stevens

For several weeks my beloved R1150 RT (15,000 miles 2003) had been difficult to start easily, but with perseverance it did start But, using the choke I could get it to run, although a  bit on the “lumpy” side. Enough was enough, I finally decided to visit my friendly BMW specialist, Worthing based Eric Anderson, for his diagnosis.

Several thoughts emerged, unbalanced carbs, spark plug issues, wiring faults – the list was far from definitive. We started by replacing all 4 spark plugs. Being an RT with its full fairing, this required removing both mirrors and side fairings, together with the associated 32 screw fixings. Did the designer ever think about this fairly basic task from the point of view of a service engineer?  Clearly, No! Before removing the main spark plug, the stick coil required extraction. Wow! It was much shorter than expected – probably because it was broken in half!  I was amazed that this cylinder fired at all.
On the basis that this coil had clearly exceeded its sell-by date, I decided that both coils should be replaced - ”belt and braces”. Maybe it was an age-related issue as the bike is nearly 16 years old .Each coil was £97 from BMW. It’s only money after all.

Following installation, the bike started and ran as intended.

Subsequently visiting YouTube, I found many examples of this issue, some even having caught fire in operation! This component is found in many BMW models, I guess I was unlucky or lucky not have encountered total failure in the middle of Europe.

David's issue revealed -
broken coils
Leaking or Rusty Fuel Tank?

If you're restoring  or riding a classic or vintage bike, corrosion and leakage from the fuel tank can be, to put it mildly, an irritation.

At the recent Skittles Event I happened to bump into an old acquaintance enjoying a pint in the bar. John Elton-Payne is a dyed-in-the-wool bike racer specialising in racing 50s such as Itoms.  Based in Waterlooville,  John also offers a resin tank lining service and may be worth a call to discuss your leaks or rust .

Enjoy the (being taken for a?) Ride

Glancing back through old magazines, have you ever thought about how much the bikes being reviewed would be today? Southern Section member Robert Anthony very kindly sent me a copy of a BMW Motorrad price list from 2006. It makes fascinating reading but begs that question - what is the current equivalent price and are we being taken for a ride?

Using the Bank of England's inflation calculator I have produced a table comparing some of the best selling models. The results are interesting and, considering the developments in the tech offerings, in my opinion, the price differences on the GS are not as significant as expected whilst the touring models are even more surprising.   
Model 2006 Price 2020
Current BMW Entry Price
R1200GS £8955 £13,113 £13,845
R1200GSA £9755 £14,221 £14,870
R1200RT £10,895 £15883 £14,870
K1200LUX* £15,215 £22,181
*K1600GTL £20,270
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