Sump: Henk, currently, you run the biggest military motorcycle web site on the planet, with special emphasis on BSA WM20s. How did this come about?
Henk: I didn't really plan for this to happen, but some time ago I changed my internet service provider and got some free homepage space. Being rather busy with my WDM20 at that time, I thought why not make a homepage about that bike. One thing led to another, and here I am.
Sump: Does your web site make you any money?
Henk: Having ridden BSAs for over 30 years and being none too confident of their reliability, I bought all the spares I could get. Soon after I started the website, I received lots of questions for parts and realised that I had more spares I would ever need for my own use. So I sold some of them. Now I buy whatever I can find and do indeed make some money with the website.
Sump: What do you ride?
Henk: I have a 1946 BSA B31 which Iíve owned for over 30 years, and two and a half BSA's M20s. Both models are fun to use, but I use the M20 more often.
Sump: Weíve heard that you've got some other unusual vehicles tucked away. Is that true?
Henk: Yes, I have indeed a few unusual vehicles. My first car was a Citroen 2CV and Iíve never owned any other make. I now have four 2CV's, the most unusual being my 1962 Sahara which is a factory built 4x4.
Sump: So what's with the military dressing up? Don't you have any ordinary clothes?
Henk: Soon after I bought my 1940 BSA WM20, I started collecting military motorcyclist gear, but Iím still not too comfortable wearing it. However, I have the feeling that most WW2 veterans actually enjoy seeing this gear being worn, as long as it's with respect, and that makes it easier for me to use it. I don't dress up often, and do indeed have ordinary clothes.
Sump: And how much does this military gear cost?
Henk: Most original WW2 items that fit a modern guyís belly are expensive. You can pay many hundreds of pounds depending on the condition and rarity. But luckily I have most the despatch riderís uniform already. So Iím kitted out.
▲ BSA WM20. There's always something interesting on Henk's website. The camouflage example above isn't typical of the machines on the site, but these bikes are spread around the world, and there's always room for personal interpretation.
Sump: Did you play soldiers when you were a kid?
Henk: No, I never did. I was more of a cowboys and indians type of guyóand I always wanted to be the indian.
Sump: Are you a member of a bike club?
Henk: Yes, Iím a member of the Dutch BSA Owners Club since the year it was founded in 1975.
Sump: What do you do for a living?
Henk: Some years ago I took early retirement.
Sump: Do you have a military background?
Henk: No. No, military background at all.
Sump: Doesn't all this mucking about with army bikes glorify war?
Henk: Well, it might for some. But for the majority of WM20 owners, I think it's the love of old bikes and the history that comes with it.
Sump: Youíre not one of these survivalists types with a nuclear bunker in the cellar and an arsenal full of guns and hand grenades?
Henk: Iím too lazy to be a survivalist. But I do have some deactivated firearms as part of my collection of wartime memorabilia. I try to collect what any solder might have owned during the war.
Sump: Are you going to be developing your site for German bikes and other military vehicles?
Henk: No plans for that at present, or for any other websites. But I do have an old Citroen 2CV Sahara website that I havenít updated for years.
▲ Wot? No BSA M20? Never mind. Norton 16H and Big 4 owners are welcome on Henk's site. But remember that it's a forum for military bikes, so try and stay on topic.
Sump: Would you like to have been alive during WW2? And, if you had been alive then, do you suspect that you might have been looking even further back into a different age and galloping around on horseback dressed like Napoleon?
Henk: Actually, I wouldn't mind knowing exactly how it was for those guys during the war, especially on June 6th 1944. But fantasizing about being there is enough for me. Iíve got no need to experience live ammo coming in my direction.
Sump: How far do you take this nostalgia?
Henk: Not that far, except maybe for commemorating a few significant occasions such as the ill-fated Operation Market Garden and D-Day. D-day is especially interesting to me.
Sump: Do you think it's healthy, mentally speaking?
Henk: No problems there for me, I think but some guys are going a little further than I think is wise.
Sump: If all the military bikes in the world vanished overnight, would your life come to an end? Or what else would you do?
Henk: I have always been interested in old bikes and especially BSAs and Citroen 2CVs. I would still have enough to do, but I wouldn't like the idea very much. Chrome plating on regular classics is just too expensive.
Sump: What do your neighbours think of you?
Henk: I don't think they mind at all; most even are quite interested. I have more problems with the 2CV hobby as I have restored a few in the back garden, and a lot of angle grinding is needed to restore a 2CV.
Sump: Have you ever been visited by Dutch the government or had your phone tapped?
Henk: Not as far as I know, but you never can tell.
Sump: What do you feel is wrong with the world, and how would you fix it?
Henk: I communicate with people from all over the place, and the subject is usually BSAs. Generally, I have no great solutions for anything. But I guess that everybody should get a simple hobby to keep their minds occupied. That will help keep us all out of trouble.
Sump: Describe yourself in one sentence.
Henk: I think I am quite an OK person and am generally happy with the way things are going.
Sump: What was the best day in your life?
Henk: Too many to choose one.
Sump: What was the worst?
Henk: Too many to choose one.
Sump: Where do you think you'll be in five years, and what do you think you'll be doing?
Henk: I will probably be in the same situation as I am right now. I don't like change very much.
Sump: Where can people find your web site?
UPDATE: Henk has since surrendered the website to friends and associates and is taking a well-earned retirement.
BSA Owners Club, Netherlands: firstname.lastname@example.org
▲ Back to the top