Tales from a Motorcycle  Saddle.

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"Preamble and Preowned"

Why Bike and What Bike?


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Preamble. I had no interest in motor bikes until a friend let me ride his Bantam (pictured below) around a field. From that moment I was hooked.   Lack of cash has always prevented me from buying something special, lack of courage: not venturing far, lack of time and desire: nothing built or restored. In other words, despite being an enthusiast, bikes have never taken over my life or been number one.  Without further ado, what have I owned?

1969 - 70  Sixteen years old and the one that started it all: a 1966 BSA D7 Bantam 175cc with 3 speeds and 8 bhp.  30 bought a lot in 1969! The rider is my cousin Robin, around nine years old.  This started something for him too as he progressed to 1100 Kwackers and Suzies.  I recall achieving 138 mpg at 40 mph and replacing the clutch cable and rectifier several times. Kicking back when starting it, plus backfires at speed was traced to a loose contact point pivot post. When I bought it, it would jump along in 2nd gear. The repair to the gearbox cost 12, two weeks gross wages for me. A friend bought a D14/4 - 4 speeds and 13bhp developed from racing experience. I didn't stand a chance with only 8 bhp. The brown on the exhaust is lacquer. I read that painting chrome with lacquer would preserve it. Spent hours scraping it off. Can't actually remember going anywhere on it..........

We all have to start somewhere.

A pig of the first order.

1974   55 bought a real old dog; a 1968 BSA D10 Bantam Sports. Now there's a contradiction in terms. Wasn't even good enough as a ride to work hack.  Completely gutless, probably because of the D7 piston. I came off it on ice so violently that the two girls in the Morris Minor who stopped were almost laughing. "What happened? One second you were on the bike, next second you weren't! We didn't see you fall!"  The spill locked the gear box in 4th and it was sold it for 20

1975 and time to buy a proper bike . . . . .

A bit bigger than Dad's Capri 80 scooter.

Ireland, not the Med.

1975 - 1980   A 1972 Triumph Bonneville 650cc T120V was purchased for 600.  The 'V' stands for five (speeds) but for some reason this one had only four. It looked good, went well and made a nice noise, achieving 70mpg as a norm. This was a rebuilt and re-registered model with a chrome frame. Dad did not approve but curiosity got the better of him.  I headed for Spain in 1976 and got as far as Abbeville in Northern France when a main bearing started knocking. The shortest continental tour ever? I faired better in Southern Ireland (picture above on right) where it rained everyday except this one. The chain came undone, locking the gearbox sprocket. Two brothers who worked on the Garda (police) bikes fixed it in an evening and charged me 12.50.  They were eventually persuaded to accept 14 - still not much for 1977. I sold it in 1980 for 450 to help a house purchase.

1979 In the search for reliability, smoothness and sophistication I purchased for 1000 a three year old naked Honda Goldwing GL1000. Mum found out how much I paid for a second hand motorbike and reminded me that her brand new Hillman Imp was only 850 a few years earlier.

I have no photos of the Honda, probably because I only kept it for three weeks.  I simply did not enjoy riding it. I started to cost out the accessories and then petrol costs - about the same as my Escort van. Not a good buy.

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