My first "legal" bike was bought for my 16th birthday (1970), a nice little Ariel Arrow. On the way home from picking it up, the alternator gave up the ghost and I ended up pushing it for about 8 miles. This was my introduction to the mechanics of motorcycles. A new alternator was aquired from Writers,the Ariel specialist (no longer in existance), and when it was fitted I smoked my way to the local RAC/ACU Training Scheme to learn to ride properly. This was the only condition that my dad layed down when he got the bike for me.
The Arrow lasted me about 2 years. A mate of mine was racing BSA Bantams but had just given up so I had one of his engines and put it in a rolling chassis I got from my local breakers for £10. I think it must`ve been one of the fastest 125cc bikes in my area (clocked at almost 105mph). The only problem was I had to strip the engine twice a month for bearings etc. This bike was the first of about 8 Bantams. The next bike was the only new bike I have had. A 250 Ossa Explorer, used for work during the week and off road at weekends. I even tired my hand at a novice trial. While I had the Ossa, I entered the "Spot the ball" comp in MCN, and I won!!!. The prize was a 900cc Dresda Honda, but I had not passed my test. So instead of doing the sensible thing of keeping it for later, I sold it, silly boy.
When I eventually passed my test (the old one) I picked up a 500cc Tribsa complete with RRT2 gearbox. Clip-ons, rearsets,aching shoulders, numb bum, this was a caff racer. I posed on this for about 3 oilly years. Then I got married. Nuff said.
After a break of 8 years I decided I needed to get back on 2 wheels. I picked up a Honda 90 to see if I still had what it takes to commute to London (15 miles each way). I managed to survive for 8 weeks and then got a Honda 400/4. What a good bike that was. Plenty of go and it was so easy to handle. The engine was bullet-proof. That bike was ridden hard for almost 2 years. Then a car pulled out in front of me and bent the forks. I was in the middle of replacing them when it was nicked from my front garden.
Then came a big mistake. I bought a 425 Suzuki. It never ran right, it drank oil by the gallon and was off the road more than on. So it got outed after 3 months.
I now have a bike that with some luck and some help may last me into the nxt century. In 1975,my Dad had a bad accident on his 1958 Ariel 350. After comming out of hospital he needed transport while he rebuilt the 350, so he bought a 650 Ariel. It was really ratty looking but went like a rocket. In 1992 it had been sitting ,unused for 15 years so I started to srtip and rebuild it. Not exactly to original spec but how it might have looked in about 1961/2, straight bars, goldie silencers etc. In 1994 it was finished and running better than ever. Then came that fateful day NO OIL RETURN TO THE TANK!!!!. After some poking and prodding I found the oil scavenge pipe had split. Do I split the cases again or can it be done another way???? I am going to try to slip a plastic pipe over the copper one and seal the ends and hope it holds.
If I won the lottery / football pools / got left lots of dosh by a long lost relative. The third thing I would do is start buying some very special bikes.
The first run of the season was the Ace Southend Shakedown. I`m afraid I was one of those fools stuck inside a tin box for this one, as I still have oil problems on the Ariel, but it was most enjoyable even so. The weather, being kind did help to bring out loads of bikes and even a few scooters.
Having left home somewhat later than expected, once through the Dartford tube and onto the A127 the bikes started to appear. It seemed to me that every eating place along the 127 was awash with two wheelers except one, the Blinking Owl which was shut!. I don`t think the Fountain of War car park could have stood one more person let alone bike. As Chris (my son)and I sat in the traffic, the bikes ran past us, Goldies, Vellos, BSAs, and some nice Japs. The closer we got to Southend the more bike seem to appear.
After eventualy finding a place to park the car at extortionate cost, we followed the stream of bikes to the seafront. The large car park next to the Sealife Centre was reserved for bikes only. There was every type from VW engined trikes to replicas of american police bikes. Walking along the front there were bikes parked wherever there was a space large enough. After meeting a few old mates, admiring the bikes and playing the arcades, we had to leave. I hope this is going to be a regular run as its not too far for fettling bikes for the "long hot summer" to come.