Simoncelli ZeRo BHP
'what i think of crying rivals'
can it beat 180bhp?
october 2011 n the petrol issue n zx-10r v er-6f on mpg n burning issues n the last gallon of fuel n the post-petroleum era n globewarmers group test
tHe PetRol iSSue ultimate exPeRience
how would you use your last gallon?
uSe it WHile you’ve got it!
190mPH SuPeRBike: leSS tHiRSty tHan a commuteR we show you how
HoW long Have We got?
making the most of petrol power
OctOber 2011 £4.10 us$9.95
BMW R1200GS ANd K1600GTL
HARLey-dAvIdSoN STReeT GLIde
GuzzLING Go-juIce oN THe coMfIeST
BIKeS IN THe uNIveRSe
RAGING THIRST MV AGUSTA F4-RR WE risk £18k BEAUTY ON A TrACkDAY
f ro n t
Rupert Paul ThaT’s shoT The fox
hose of you lucky enough to have heard Viv Stanshall’s ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson End’ may know the bit when an egg, balanced on a garden pyramid since Henry’s father brought it back from Cairo in 1888, splits open. From it hatches a small, fabulously beautiful dinosaur. ‘The reptile sparked in purple, turquoise, emerald and gold, and thrilled with life,’ narrates Stanshall. But Henry, claiming it’ll ruin the orchard, calls for his rifle and shoots it. Well, something that mad has just happened in real life. The Met Police is shutting down its Stolen Vehicle Unit. Now policemen are not always popular with motorcycle riders, but the SVU in Chalk Farm contains the UK’s last team of coppers who specialise in tackling organised bike theft. Closing it and redeploying its handful of staff to more general duties is like rounding up the last few pandas in the wild and sending them to the taxidermist. So why should you care, exactly? Here’s why. A local force can usually solve a simple case of dimwit theft, where the local klepto-kid permanently borrows a bike and keeps it at his house. But the thing that pisses off most motorcylists is organised theft: high-value bikes lifted by opportunist gangs who sell them on to ringers – criminals who disguise a stolen bike’s identity by building it onto an apparently legitimate frame. These parasitic sons of bitches drive up the cost of our insurance, force us to carry heavy locks, and have sent an estimated 10,000+ disguised and
rebuilt bikes back into circulation. Oh well, you say. A little local difficulty and everything’s okay again. But no. Research by the Met suggests that the financial loss, hassle and heartache of theft causes 11,000 people to give up bikes for good each year. That’s 11,000 people not spending money to help keep your local dealer open, not buying new bikes that you can afford in three years’ time. On top of that, a ringed bike has been transplanted into a new frame by a mechanic of unknown competence. It might be unreliable or dangerously unsafe. And the bike’s definitely not yours, even if you paid full market price for it from a franchised dealer. It still belongs – the recognisable bits, at any rate – to the person it was stolen from, or their insurance company. If that fact ever comes to light you are in for a nasty surprise, followed by a soul-destroying attempt to get the money back from the person you bought it from. And because you never owned it in the first place your insurance was never valid either. Even if the bike checked out fine on HPI. That’s the thing about disguising a bike’s identity. It’s designed to fool dealers, buyers, sellers, database companies, insurers – everyone. The only people it doesn’t fool are the guys who work in the Met’s Stolen Vehicle Unit. The best-known are Mike Pilbeam and Gavin Smith, both riders themselves, but their colleagues are just as cunning when it comes to car, truck and plant theft, and they all co-operate on the big jobs. As a result they have the skills to
n > Closing the Stolen Vehicle Unit is like rounding up the last few pandas and sending them to the taxidermist identify any model by its paint code, restore ground-off and re-stamped frame numbers, and patiently log the incomprehensible twists and turns that spring up when you trace the history of several hundred nicked bikes. The end result is they caught ringers and got them banged up. On one occasion I watched them do it. But they achieved a lot more besides. They’re hoping to bring a test case to court, which could finally outlaw the sale of frames with log books for new and recent bikes – currently a heaven-sent loophole for criminals. They’ve been persuading the bike industry to adopt one industry-wide marking system (it’s already worked brilliantly for JCBs and the like). And, of course, this year the entire unit raided Brands Hatch during a race meeting, which should encourage racers and trackday riders to ask a few more questions about the used bikes and parts they buy. But the SVU’s best legacy is to have educated us. I used to think stolen bikes were almost all smuggled abroad or broken for spares – a hopeless situation. Now we know they’re just recycled back into the bike trade for you and me to buy. And we can avoid buying them by checking that the engine and frame numbers use the original typeface (each manufacturer has their own typeface and it’s unique to their bikes). It’s up to us now.
Rupert Paul has been writing about bikes for 26 years. He is also a qualified mechanic and editor of MCN Sport
TH Te e sT Br ita in â€™s
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Heading south to Miami Beach... in Mablethorpe. This is the flitting A1031 in Lincolnshire