About me:

I have a BSc in Mathematics and an MSc in Differential Equations but that all seems like a very long time ago. Following graduation, I started my working life in 1975 in the design office at Hawker Siddeley Aviation in Kingston, Surrey, where I learned about the design and construction of military aircraft and systems. The two main aircraft that were ‘on the stocks’ at the time were the Hawk Trainer and several variants of the Harrier VTOL. From that point on, I was no longer a mathematician but an engineer.

After Hawker’s, I did a spell as a civilian with the RAF and then I went into Systems Engineering (computers, electronics, communications, data processing), designing and building solutions for mainly military applications. Then a small group of us formed our own systems engineering company, which thrived for the 13 years that I remained there as Technical Director, and grew to employ over 60 people by the time I left to become a consultant in Systems Engineering. Since then, I have worked for three different consultancy firms and, until recently, I have been working for one of the most successful UK engineering consulting firms.

In 2014, I decided that I had had enough of the constant travelling and ever increasing complexity of the consulting business and so I resolved to spend the rest of my working life doing what I love best – maintaining, repairing and restoring (and riding whenever possible) old British bikes. I would love to play with all of the old British marques but one has to be practical about it, so I have limited my sphere of interest to the bikes that I know well – post-war Sunbeams and 4-stroke Ariels. I have owned examples of these for quite a few years and I am intimately familiar with their design, characteristics and quirks.

I also own a modern bike – a BMW K1300GT, which has covered many thousands of miles of commuting, touring and pottering. Over the decades, I have owned many other British bikes (AJS, BSA, Triumph, Francis Barnett), a Dneipr combination and quite a few BMW twins and fours. I have always done all of my own maintenance and repairs, starting with my very first bike that I bought for £10 when I was 15 years old. My mother was not impressed when I laid out all of the engine internals on her kitchen table. I have restored several bikes, including a handsome BMW R75/5 which, needless to say, I wish I had never sold.

I come from a motorcycling family. My uncle rode an Ariel VB, 600cc side-valve with a sidecar until he became too frail to ride. He never drove a car. My father owned, among other things, two Panther Model 100s, one of which had a huge Canterbury Carmobile triple-adult sidecar attached, in which we went on many family camping holidays.

My current British bikes, a Sunbeam S8 and an Ariel VH, are unrestored. I like them to be tidy but I prefer them to have a certain amount of patina, commensurate with their age and history. That’s just a personal preference.

In terms of design, it is hard to think of two motorcycles that are more different. The Ariel is a traditional British design, based on a well tried and tested formula, still successfully used with variations by a number of other manufacturers in the post-war era - BSA, Royal Enfield, AJS/Matchless, Norton and others. The Ariel singles and the twins both used many of the same design features, the only significant exception being the use of plain bearings in the bottom-end of the twin engines instead of the balls or rollers used in the singles. Almost everything else was pretty much the same. However, the Ariel variants, particularly the 350 and 500 singles, proved to be good performers and relatively reliable, both as a daily work horse and as a competition machine in trials, sprinting and road racing.

The post-war Sunbeams could hardly be more different. The engine layout resembles that of a car, quite unlike the layout that had become familiar to British riders. The all-aluminium, rubber-mounted, along-the-frame parallel twin with overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication, car-type single-plate dry clutch, in-line gearbox, drive-shaft, rear worm/wheel drive and interchangeable wheels (on the S7 models) where not entirely unique features individually but, together, they formed a very unusual package indeed. Its newness did mean that there were some initial design flaws. Some were rectified early on by small design changes, some of which could be retro-fitted by their owners but some flaws remained throughout the whole production life. But, with careful setting-up, they can be very reliable machines indeed.

Ariel claimed 23bhp for their 500 single. Sunbeam claimed 25bhp for all of the 500 twins. Strangely, the Ariel feels a little more lively on the road. The Ariel also has considerable potential for tuning and many owners have squeezed remarkable performance from them. Very few people attempt to tune the Sunbeam twins to any significant degree. For a number of reasons, the engine design is not well suited to it. Sunbeam owners need to adopt a more stately riding style, which can be very rewarding if you are not in too much of a hurry.

I decided to form Foxwood Motorcycle R&R when I heard that Peter Bird had decided to retire and close his own motorcycle repair and restoration business Sunbeam R&R. I have great respect for Peter, his thoroughness and the quality of his work and it is my intention to adopt the same ethos and to shape my business very much according to the same model. The only significant difference is that I can take in post-war 4-stroke Ariel singles and twins as well as the Sunbeam twins. I have taken the following text directly from Peter’s web site www.sunbeamrandr.co.uk, since it expresses my own views and intentions pretty much exactly.

My customers enjoy and appreciate the care and attention I put into their bikes. Some are rare and expensive, but others are even more precious - because they have been bequeathed by a loving family member. Whether yours has a low 'market value' or not, I treat all with equal & utmost respect, and I share every stage of the task - as photographs & written task reports with you - the customer. I assess and report on what I find, but you call the shots. Stage accounting being usual - to avoid that shocking bill!

I only work to the highest of standards... Better to get the job done properly once, than to have the frustration and cost in needing it done again. But let me know your requirements
& budget - and I'll do my best to give you the very best value.



P.S. I am in Hampshire, 45 miles south-west of London, but I can recommend a cost-effective and very reliable motorcycle transportation company - should you require it.