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  1. #1
    Senior superstar Churchy's Avatar
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    Tribute to the late Les Harris February 17 2009


    "Saviour of the British motorcycle industry".

    http://www.musicswapshoppe.com/triumph_wanted.html



    "A MOTORCYCLE display team will sound a throttle roar in memory of a Torquay businessman who resurrected the Triumph Bonneville motorbike and met Margaret Thatcher.

    Les Harris, 69 and from Torquay, died at Torbay Hospital on February 17 from a progressive lung condition, which he suffered from for more than 10 years. Mr Harris leaves behind his wife Shirley, his children Carole, Debbie, Angela and Chris, and 10 grandchildren. Mrs Harris said: "Les was a decent, very hardworking man, with an all-encompassing passion for work, life and his family. He had a mischievous sense of humour and an irreverent intolerance for snobbishness. He also had a dress sense all of his own. "Les has left behind a great legacy in our children and grandchildren and our lives have been immensely enriched by his larger than life character and absolute unconditional love for us all."

    A motorcycle enthusiast, Mr Harris set up his own business in 1974 manufacturing and selling spare parts for classic motorcycles. As British motorcycle firms Norton Motors, BSA Small Heath and later Triumph collapsed, Mr Harris would pay for and store parts to be delivered straight to customers. As the parts stocked up, L F Harris International Ltd started trading out of a warehouse in Newton Abbot before acquiring an engineering company in Leighton Buzzard and opening a retail shop in Paignton. Mrs Harris said: "With the demise of the Triumph motorcycle factory in Meriden, Les and I made a bid for the rights to the Triumph name in 1983. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in this; however, we were offered the opportunity to licence the name for five years and so an incredible journey began with the move to a bigger factory and warehouse." Press coverage of their venture was global and resulted in an invitation to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. In 1987 the Harris' were visited by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. "Les was so proud of these visits. For years he has been hailed as the saviour of the traditional classic Triumph motorcycle all over the world. He loved this time, making many new friends as he dealt with customers around the globe," Mrs Harris said. In 1988 the couple decided not to re-licence and Les began to design his own motorcycle, producing The Matchless G80. The production of the motorcycle ceased after 1990 in the midst of the recession and the business returned solely to the production of spare parts for classic motorcycles. The family-run company now trades from Pavor Road in Torquay. At his funeral this Saturday, six soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team will carry the coffin and provide a 'throttle roar' as Mr Harris enters and leaves the church. Mrs Harris explained: "Les was not in the White Helmets, but our company built their bikes and donates motorcycle spare parts to them." Mr Harris' funeral is at 1pm on Saturday at St Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road, Wellswood, Torquay. A wake will follow at the Palace Hotel in Torquay and a private cremation will be held on Monday, March 2 at 2pm."

    http://www.musicswapshoppe.com/club.html





    Above: The White helmets featured on the bikes built & maintained by Les harris

    In a month 2 years will have past since the loss of Les Harris. He and his family are very down to earth and He has always been one of my hero's

    Hi I found this website and noticed people were wondering about the White Helmets bikes. My father is Les Harris who made the bonneville in the 80's. Although now just makes spares for the classic bikes (Triumph, Norton, BSA, Matchless), previously in Newton Abbot, now the company has moved to Torquay in Devon. The White Helmets bikes are 750cc Tigers, they started production in 1998 and were dispatched to the White Helmets in 2002. This is where they had there opening in Cornwall for the unveiling of the new bikes. I was there although only young at the time! Its nice to see people showing an interest in my fathers bikes, I now work for him as an engineer and seeing people talk about these bikes is quite unbelievable to say the least considering i now work for him! The White Helmets invited there sponsors to partake in a "training day" last year, needless to say me and my brother in law jumped at the chance to represent the company and ride the bikes! It was an amazing experience and the display team are great fun! I really would like to hear more on this forum about these bikes!

    Hi, sorry but its just spares we do now. I would love to make a new batch for the White Helmets but its not up to me unfortunately! We supply to the White Helmets and classic British bike spares dealers around the world, but the company hasn't built a bike since the last White Helmets build. Nice to hear there are still a few Triumphs around!
    Hi sorry its been a while since i posted a thread. No i am not related to Chris Harris the speed rider. Unfortunately my father Les Harris passed away on tues the 17th of Feb 2009 in hospital. He has been suffering with COPD for many years and although i am at a great loss i am happy to say he went peacefully. The company shall be carrying on as it always has despite the trauma me and my family now face. To all of you who have posted threads on forum related to my father i thank you very much

    Well the name "Harris" Bonneville will remain in History forever, but pretty sure they never exported to the States. There was a Harris on Ebay for sale here in Australia, I cant find the link now but did save the picture. What a sad loss for his family. From what I have read, his family always came first and they must miss him.



    musicswapshoppe

    - Yes, you are right- his family always did come first and he is missed more than I ever thought possible. Thank you for your kind thoughts...................RIP Dad xx

    Nice to hear from you
    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply Caz, it is much appreciated. I had actually sent a private message to your brother, regarding your loss. I hope you get the opportunity to read it as it applies just as much to you and your sisters as it does Him.
    Take care
    David

    (Source rat)

  2. #2
    P Plater 250cc
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    Good read
    cheers

  3. #3
    Senior superstar Churchy's Avatar
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    Thanks Steve

    A lot of history on the Bonneville mainly, and where Harris fits in, can be found here http://www.musicswapshoppe.com/triumph_bonneville.html
    You might also enjoy this page to http://www.musicswapshoppe.com/bonneville.html
    Mainly girls (should appeal to you) and nothing on Les Harris. But there is comments re Doug Hele another Meriden Triumph Icon, who knew Les Harris well (scroll to comments at bottom
    More comments here http://www.musicswapshoppe.com/club.html

  4. #4
    Administrator Site Admin

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    Bump two years now past

    Not sure if really fits this section. But at least this section is open to anyone to read.

    Les Harris Bonneville In 1984 the T140 production rights were licensed by the new owner of Triumph, John Bloor, to Devon-based engineer Les Harris who produced 1,300 complete motorcycles at his Newton Abbot factory between 1985 and 1988 when the licence was not renewed . These machines were distinct from the Meriden product having as standard, German Magura switchgear with Italian Paioli front and rear suspension and Lafranconi silencers.

    (Source wiki)

    Serial Numbers


    1985: 000009FN to 000177FN
    1986: 000192GN to 000787GN
    1987: 000797HN to 001194HN
    1988: 001200JN to 001257JN

    http://otautubay.com/tm/background.html

    (Total 1,185 bikes


    Australia 167. Belguim 23. Chanel Islands 2. Denmark 9. England 286. Finland 30. France 97. Germany 106. Gibralter 4. Holland 8. Hong Kong 12. Ireland 4. Italy 15. Japan 180. New Zealand 72. Norway 37. Scotland 6. Sweden 52. Switzerland 74 and Wales 1.


    CLICK HERE

    TO GET NOTIFICATION EMAILS. YOU NEED TO POST ON SUBJECT

    http://www.ratscafe.org
    & http://www.musicswapshoppe.com/triumph_bonneville.html


  5. #5
    P Plater 500cc Orange Street's Avatar
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    In 1988 Les decided not to re-licence the rights to the Triumph and began to design his own motorcycle, the Matchless G80
    This guy had an interesting life!
    Also from wiki
    The Matchless G80

    Fitted with a Rotax 494 cc air-cooled engine, there was also a Harris Matchless G80 built with a twin front disc brake and an electric starter. These were produced until the recession of 1990 when the business returned to the producing much sought after spare parts for classic motorcycles. Les also built 8 Matchless G80 for trial with the White Helmets Display Team. However, these were not taken on and were returned to the factory where six were supposedly dismantled and reassembled as road bikes. However two were supposedly presented to the Colonel and Adjutant of the Royal Signals regiment. One is known to exist in Northern England, the other is in the Salisbury area.
    Rock on




  6. #6
    Veteran Pro racer debs77's Avatar
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    Les Harris

    This was a really great read. I love reading tributes like this and learning the history of things! I really loved the picture of the 1981 blue Bonneville with the shaped seat!

    I still love Mikey's bike but I can now see why you love them so much Dave!

    The symbol on the Matchless looks familiar. Is it used anywhere else?

    Thanks for the history lesson. I enjoyed it! :) :)

  7. #7
    Senior superstar Churchy's Avatar
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    The symbol on the Matchless looks familiar
    Matchless started in 1899 so there is every chance you have seen this logo before Deb.

    1987
    "It had been many years since AMC* had failed, but the Matchless name returned to the market through Les Harris - who had also built the Triumph Bonneville after the close of Meriden. This new, classically styled machine was the G80 and used a four-valve Austrian Rotax engine. Although the frame was British, many other parts came from Italy."

    * AMC Was name of company after they aquired Sunbeam in 1937.

  8. #8
    Senior superstar Churchy's Avatar
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    I normally only resurrect this thread when february 17th comes around. But out of the blue, I got a very late reply from Chris who is Les Harris's son and thought would share

    Hi David
    I am sorry I didn't reply sooner, since my fathers death I have been extremely busy and if im honest I have only recently started to get my life back to normal. I really appreciate you are a fan and I am so happy he made such an impact on yourself and others.
    Of course I will visit the sites you have linked, once again I apologise for not replying sooner.

    Many thanks

    Chris Harris
    I of course replied with links to here :-)


    thank you for the links, I will be checking up on them, it is nice to see that people do really care. After reading the ratscafe blog I noticed the G80. As it happens my dad actually left me the last Matchless G80 off the line, ill try and get some pics to post soon. As for the fact my family is mentioned doesn't bother me at all, its absolutely fine.

    Chris
    Once I get the picture/s from Chris I will post them here

  9. #9
    P Plater 500cc Orange Street's Avatar
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    Is it known how many G80's were produced from 1988 to 1990 ?

    looking forward to pics

  10. #10
    Senior superstar Boof's Avatar
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    Has anybody ever seen one for sale :?:
    Are there any in Aus :?:
    Now hideing in the fitness protection program


    BOOF (Ian)

    What goes round comes round

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