I hadn’t planned on visiting the 33rd International West Kent Run Weekend at The Friars in Aylesford. But with some last-minute spare time, I popped across in the car. And I’m glad I did. There were a total of 362 bikes registered for the concours display. And unusually, to be judged, you had to take part in the Saturday rideout, meaning that all the bikes were useable rather than pure show machines.
Plus there were the bikes brought by the various clubs from across the country, and a variety of interesting two-wheeled machines being parked up by visitors. As someone who appreciates the older vintage bikes, but identifies more with motorcycles from my own lifetime, the motorcycle park had some of my favourites from the day.
Other attractions included a motorcycle gymkhana, autojumble and a sporting display including a tribute to local legend Bill Ivy. The winner of the 1967 125cc Grand Prix championship was born in Maidstone in 1942 and won his first GP in Spain in 1966. In addition to his title, he also became the first 125cc rider to lap the Isle of Man TT circuit at more than 100mph. Sadly he passed away after an accident at the Sachsenring in East Germany, when the 350cc Jawa he was riding seized.
One of the Bill Ivy tribute machines on show was the latest 50cc Ducson-engined Sheene Special bike, developed by a certain Frank Sheene, whose son became a fairly successful motorcycle racer himself.
Proceeds from the gate at the West Kent Run will be donated to the Headway West Kent charity. And it was pretty well run by the West Kent section of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club. Although it might be nice to have more than one burger van to cut down on the queues…
There were a huge range of older vintage and classic bikes. Some of which I have to admit I’m not familiar with. Like the 1931 Terrot HST, or the 1937 New Imperial Model 36. And it was fascinating looking at the collections of club bikes, including Velocette, Scott Flying Squirrels, Rudge Whitworth, Panther, Francis Barnett and Norman, alongside more familiar names like Triumph, Ariel, BSA, Royal Enfield and Moto Guzzi.
It’s possible to see classic motorcycles in museums. But here you could get up close, talk to owners and get advice. And it’s pretty unusual to be able to stand right next to an 1897 Leon Bollee Voiturette. Which means that the entire 120 year history of the motorcycle was covered in one field.
And there really was something for everyone, from sidecar outfits to trikes, 125cc machines, dirt bikes and more. In fact, it was so surprising to run into an early 1990s Honda CBR600F, I ended up taking a picture of it.
33rd International West Kent Run Weekend 2017 Gallery