FF in VMCC magazine shock

January's Vintage Motorcycle (VMMC) Magazine features a piece on a Mr. John Harding, a builder of multiple 'Specials'. one of which is actually an FF, a basic cut'n shut of an RD400. Bodyless and similar to the several simple cut'n shuts built in the late seventies - John Bruce's BSA being probably the best known. Mr. Hardings example is chiefly notable for the extreme increase in wheelbase and he unsurprisingly complains about low speed handling. More interesting is that it was built in the nineties, after "Wide discussion" in the motorcycle press. If he'd engaged with this discussion he might have discovered the various FFs then in existence with normal wheelbases and even tried one of the production Voyagers. So it goes.

It's worth noting that the VMCC has a rolling 25 year age limit for acceptance in the club. So FJ is a 'Late Classic', on their 'machine register' and qualifies for a 10% discount on insurance from Footman James. It's even featured in a photograph, along with a description of the trigger throttle. As you can imagine this caused immmediate outrage, which alone justified the membership fee. A number of FFs, basically anything registered before 1996, are eligable for VMCC membership. All the Quasars for a start, which are entirely English and hence part of our engineering heritage (I'm quoting here). I think everyone with a qualifying FF should join the VMCC and post pictures, For entertainment of course, it's a bit late to convert the membership!

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Now in the One-Offs section of bikeweb.

The RD400FF in question can now be seen, along with its constructor's comments, in the one-offs section, here: http://bikeweb.com/node/3629

Cool, pity its so small

I was still waiting for the magazine to get back to me, for permission to put up this copyright material, you've obviously got much better contacts with the VMCC Magazine than me!

VMCC magazine

Royce, you may well have a long wait for a response from the VMCC magazine. The staff at Allen House, the VMCC HQ building, have nearly all left. I believe that there is one full time employee left, an archivist. The VMCC appears to be in terminal decline, with losses last year of around £175,000. This is despite having around 13,000 members, at around £40.00 per member. The current directors don't appear to have a recovery plan, and are currently asking members for suggestions. I reluctantly decided not to renew my membership, so that is one less FF member in the VMCC.

Contact the constructor?

The ideal thing, surely, would be to contact John Harding and ask him not only for permission to reproduce this photo in better resolution, but also whether he has any other photos of the machine we could use?

Good idea. Here's an e'mail

Good idea. Here's an e'mail address. johnharding197atlive.co.uk.He runs a business called British Motorcycles Bikes and Spares.

Bring it on

I've never had any trouble communicating with the VMCC myself, and members on here will know that they recently published a letter in which I suggested they faced a demographic threat to the value of old bikes. As they published the Harding photo and article they obviously had copyright, so where the first people to contact asking if Mr. Harding would like us to put up the pictures/s on Bikeweb. But now better connected people have taken this up and I look forward to yet another historic FF project being celebrated on this site. Presumably as a dire warning to other would-be FF innovators...

Wrong guy. Hardaker, not Harding is our man, it turns out!

So, I've just tried that address. Turns out the article wasn't by John Harding at all, at all. I have just received this reply from John Harding:

"Paul , Not me, it is the VMCC's editor demonstrating why he has just been given a pay rise!
The man in question is a John Hardaker, not John Harding at all.
You have joined a long list of people who have come to the wrong conclusion based on this error as Shaggy said " it was not me !".

So, it's John Hardaker who built the RD400FF, and whom we need to contact...

Update, further information from John Harding:
"Here is a link to a book about specials by John Hardaker, I would have my money this is the man."

Can't help there, I'm afraid.

Can't help there, I'm afraid. Never heard of him.


Whoda thort the VMCC would make a mistake with someone's name? I shall mail them immediately. Wot fun! I look forward to hearing the comments of the actual Mr. Hardaker in due course, no doubt the FF fact-checkers will run him down in short order - or before the VMCC anyway.