Thursday, 18 September 2014

Tow-tally Impressive

Here at UKMotortalk we're big fans of smart & innovative design and whilst at the recent Goodwood Revival we chanced upon something that really caught our attention.

Now, perhaps you're one of those really outdoors-y people who like to spend as much time as possible careering down sheer cliff faces on a thousand-speed mountain bike with your mates, or maybe you're a classic motorcycle fan & enjoy showing off your pristine 1959 BSA Bantam all over Europe.

All well and good, but what are your options if you want to stay over and make the most of a long weekend at your sheer cliff face/classic motorbike meet?

Hotel? Pricey, and if it's a big event you're at, probably booked up way in advance.

Caravan perhaps? Ok if there's room but probably not ideal if you are heading off the beaten track a bit.

The good old tent then? Maybe, but they can take up a fair bit of valuable space in a car, especially if you've got all your other gear to lug about to & from your event.

Well, what we discovered on our trip over the road to the more retail & entertainment-focussed part of the Revival might be just what you're looking for..

Resembling  the progeny of a one night stand between an Ifor Williams trailer & an Ariel Atom, the SylvanSport Go appears at first glance to be a pared-down version of the sort of thing your local gardening firm might use to cart lawnmowers around in if designed by Jonny Ive (for those of you not in the thrall of Apple's every product release, he designed the iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc).

However, look a little more closely and you start to notice that all is not as it might seem, as mounted atop the smart silver-painted tubular framework is what resembles a slimline version of the seemingly-ubiquitous Thule roofbox favoured by Audi A6/BMW 5/Volvo V70 owners up & down the land.

Look a little closer still & you'll discover some intriguing ring-pulls not dissimilar to the kind you only yank out of a hand grenade if your next action is to lob it as far away from your current location as possible..

Parked next to this apparently compact trailer on the stand was what appeared to be a funky-looking trailer tent from which emerged Steve Downey, the friendly & avuncular proprietor of Valke Outdoors, the Somerset-based importers of the Go, and a man who was about to demonstrate to us just what a clever piece of kit it is.

Steve began by telling us that whilst Go is a well-established & well-known product in its native USA - no less an authority than National Geographic calling it "The Coolest Camper Ever" - a slogan prominently displayed on the frame of one of Steve's demo models -  it's new to our shores, but he reckons it'll be a hit once people realise just what it can do.

So, we asked him, what exactly can it do?

Essentially, he explained, it can go from being the low profile futuristic-looking trailer we'd just been wandering round to the airy & spacious accommodation we were now currently sat inside, because, in a feat of packaging of which the afore-mentioned Mr Ive would be proud, all the hi-tech, ripstop fabric currently sheltering us from the West Sussex elements stows neatly away into that deceptively slim roof-box we'd spotted earlier.

And, into the bargain, the trailer was capable not only of transforming into a place to rest your head after a hard day's quad-biking, it would transport the quad bike as well..

It's the versatility of the Go which is its real USP it seems. The compact framework we'd seen on the first of the two rigs parked up in Lord March's back garden actually adjusts in height from 1.3 metres (51 inches in old money) in closed 'Travel Mode' up to an impressive 2 metres (79 inches old skool) when transporting your quad bike, jetski, 1/2 tonne of garden waste for the tip etc.

And for those of us who stand somewhat above average height the good news is that in full-on camping mode, the roof height is a vertiginous 2.2 metres (colour) or 87 inches (black and white) so if rock climbing in 6 inch (15cm) heels is your thing, you've been thought of too..

Adjusting the height of the trailer to the different configurations is as simple as removing the hand grenade safety pins and winding the mechanism up or down to the required setting using a hand crank attached to the front of the trailer - although Steve can sell you an adaptor for an electric drill if you're knackered after a day's hooning in the boondocks. Or just idle.

Other, somewhat more useful accessories offered to complement the Go's already pretty comprehensive kit list (it comes with self-inflating mattresses for instance) include a handy solar-power system for running low-current LED lights, as well as 12v & USB outlets, essential for charging your iPhone in the middle of nowhere or the Silverstone GP campsite (much the same thing if we're honest).

Steve sees the Go as a bit of an automotive Swiss Army Knife - today taking the remains of an old kitchen down to the council dump, tomorrow ferrying you & some Lycra-clad chums off to the Fells for a couple of days' charging up and down on mountain bikes & we'd have to agree, it's a versatile & clever machine whose rugged construction & ability to travel on less than perfect surfaces might also lend itself to use by the emergency services for use at incidents where a temporary R&R facility could be handy. Even if's just somewhere to sit & have a warming brew, it could prove attractive to organisations such as HM Coastguard who routinely find themselves stationed away from civilisation when called into action.

At £8994(GB) it's not exactly cheap - a fairly decent trailer tent will set you back around 5 & half grand - but that's not the point. The Go will get you there & shelter you in reasonable comfort but it'll also take all your kit into the bargain  - or 'toys' as Steve smilingly referred to them - & that so far as we can see is a unique proposition.

Dave Wakefield

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Rockingham BTCC – Sept 2014


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 photo gallery

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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

UKMT Podcast – Canadian Grand Prix Preview

UKMT’s Graham Benge looks forward to the Canadian Grand Prix. Who will the “Wall of Champions” claim this year?
Download the episode HERE
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Sir Jack Brabham

I was fortunate enough to meet and interview Sir Jack on many occasions, and I well remember he was always willing to stop and chat, even in his later years when his profound deafness made question and answer sometimes confusing!!

A triple World champion in 59, 60 and 66, he was a larger than life character, as many Aussies are. He could be a tough adversary, his robust driving in his early dirt track days in Australia earning him the epithet Black Jack.

Arriving in the UK with little money or experience, but loads of determination, Jack teamed up with John Cooper and his father. He soon started to win races against those such as Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks in the little Cooper F3 cars with their rear mounted motor cycle engines, and the Coopers and Jack soon got into F1 with what was then a revolutionary layout. The ultra lightweight rear-engined cars were nimble and soon started winning races, Sir Jack even pushing his car over the finish line to win his second World Championship without petrol!!

Sir Jack was also a very talented intuitive engineer, and his 3rd World Championship came in his own designed car, the only man to win a World Championship in a car with his own name on.

‘Brabham’ the car went on to be one of the great names but Jack retired just after winning his last race in 1970.

Slowed by poor health in recent years as he got into his late 80s, I remember his great enthusiasm for the Goodwood Revival in the 90s and early 00s where he raced against old friends and rivals with the same vigour as ever. Sir Jack was one of the great figures of a classic age of motor racing in the 50s and 60s, an age when the racing was as ferocious as the partying afterwards. A great character.

Graham Benge

Monday, 21 April 2014

UKMT Podcast – The Chinese Grand Prix

The latest UKMT podcast, the Chinese Grand Prix review, can be downloaded HERE
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

UKMT Podcast – This week’s F1 comings and goings

Graham keeps up with this week’s F1 news, and looks forward to the Chinese Grand Prix.
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Monday, 7 April 2014

UKMT Podcast – Bahrain Grand Prix analysis

UKMT’s Graham Benge looks back at a thrilling Bahrain Grand Prix…
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Thursday, 3 April 2014

UKMT Podcast – Bahrain Grand Prix preview

Graham looks forward to the weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix Download the podcast HERE Keep up to date with the UKMotorTalk Podcast…

Monday, 31 March 2014

UKMT Podcast – Malaysian Grand Prix Report

UKMT’s Graham Benge looks at the twists and turns of Sepang. Download the podcast HERE Keep up to date with the UKMotorTalk Podcast…

Monday, 17 March 2014

UKMT Podcast - Australian Grand Prix – Race Report

UKMT’s Graham Benge looks at the highs and lows in Melbourne….
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Keep up to date with the UKMotorTalk Podcast…

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Formula One 2014… The wait is nearly over…

…. and for many of the teams the recent weeks of testing under the new regulations have been fraught with problems as they come to terms with the demands and complications of the new hybrid power trains. Red Bull, for example, required some precision hacking of cooling holes in the bodywork as their heat dissipation calculations clearly went a bit awry.
The season begins as traditional in Melbourne but for some of the teams it will be another massive test session. Expect Friday’s sessions in particular to be topsy turvy in terms of times. As they say 'the old order changeth'..!
So who are we likely to see actually racing not just car sorting?
Well, so far the Renault engined teams all have problems, the Mercedes engined teams don't and Ferrari are very impressive.
Expect Mercedes with Lewis and Nico to feature well. They are one of the few teams to actually complete a race distance. Ferrari also look very strong but the battle between Alonso and Raikkonen will consume a lot of management time! Force India have also gone very well.
Red Bull are struggling with power train and chassis issues and have only run a hundred or so laps in 12 days of testing. Lotus also look to be on the back foot with their package.  I don't expect Seb to be a strong contender in the early races but watch out for his team mate Ricciardo. He'll go well once Adrian Newey sorts the car.
It’s the same at Lotus where Grosjean will feature if they can get the car sorted, and Williams are completely revitalised with the expection of a new career lease of life for old soldier Massa.
McLaren also look strong once more with Ron back in charge, Eric Bouillier joining him on the pit wall, and Jenson with new boy Magussen showing well.
Look out also for the new cars’ noses… They are as many, as varied and some are as ridiculous as a clowns’ convention.
So what have all of the teams learned about the extremely complex new hybrid power trains? Not enough apparently! Expect a race of car failures, as for most of the teams reliability will prove to be a major issue, and, at this stage, there is no guarantee of a full grid come Sunday. I can’t wait!
Graham Benge

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The NEW Ford Tourneo Connect

UKMT's Graham Benge talks to Ford of Britain's Sales Director, Andy Barrett, and the new Tourneo Connect's interior designer, Ulf Rontgen about how the car has developed, and its capabilities.

Monday, 24 February 2014

360 degrees video onboard the 2014 Mercedes F1 car

Join Nico Rosberg as he takes the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 W05 round the Silverstone track for the very first time….


Friday, 24 January 2014

UKMT Podcast – 2014 F1 Season Preview

UKMT’s Graham Benge looks forward to another year in F1.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 - Side View

With all the changes in regulations, this year looks to be one of the most unpredictable for some time.

Download the podcast HERE

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bernie Ecclestone to face German court

So the case against Bernie is finally to go to court in Germany after being dragged through lower regional courts for nearly a decade.

Bernie of course denies that he bribed a German banker to smooth the deal which sold the greatest part of Bernie's F1 rights to a pan-European group of investment bankers.

The prosecutors case as so far stated seems to rely solely upon evidence from the imprisoned German banker.

I find it very curious that this has rumbled on for so long before any charges have actually been laid against Bernie.

The whole thing is almost Machiavellian which perhaps seems apt as Bernie is involved BUT let's see what other evidence appears. I'm ready to believe Bernie is  shrewd, manipulative, a tough negotiator but a criminal? I don't believe so, he is simply not that stupid.

Time will tell…

Graham Benge