My motorbike addiction

It appears that I have some quirks in that I like:

  1. Accelerating faster than the planet spins
  2. The feel of wind in my face and hair
  3. Rain pissing down the back of my neck
  4. Having manly, dirty, oilish hands
  5. Testing Newton’s laws on greasy roads

To assist me in the fulfilment of these small urges, I ride motorcycles. I’ve ridden them now for 51 years and survived two minor scrapes with only glancing damage to the bikes. (The human damage healed without intervention…)

Here’s the roll of honour, in order of ownership. The BMW was a long keeper at 17 years all told: but some the others often stayed in the family for many years as well.

The Beastie Vintage Thoughts…
Velocette LE Mk3 200cc 1963 The very first. And the first one to be stripped down and repaired, as well, after I seized it into a headwind. Micro-peining, anyone?
Triumph Tiger100C 500cc 1954 Sprung hub racing bike, scary as hell. First time over a ton, the number plate vibrated loose… then the mudguard… and then the…
Norton Model 50 350cc 1957? A rare, beautiful single in a 500 featherbed frame. I rode it to school daily, much to the amusement of my teachers (who told me stories about their motorbike days in the ‘30s and ‘40s). I wish I’d kept this one forever, but university called.
BSA Thunderbolt 650cc 1973 Last of the Meriden line, with oil-in-frame, split saddle tank (no, really split: vibration again), and the feeling of needing a stepladder to mount the thing. I built a sidecar for it and discovered all about corners once again.
Suzuki Twin Titan500cc 2-stroke 197? Bought as a project, ridden once and stripped down (and the best thing for it, too – a horrid lump of metal). Sold it to a young chap, who is still alive to tell the tale 35 years later. Good-oh.
Honda CB750K 750cc Four 1969 One of the model originals. Kept it more as a conversation piece because it was such a pig to ride around corners. It was a placeholder to keep the addictions at bay for a while, but I didn’t miss it when I sold it.
Honda CX500 500cc 1978 Single front-calliper model. Don’t call it a “maggot” because it was a brilliant bike, taken all around the South Island. Lots of mechanical work to do: unravelling Honda’s unorthodox thinking was a blast. This bike kept me sane. Sold it to my ex- bro-in-law 25 years ago and he still has it. Still talks to me, too.
Suzuki GN250 250cc 1981 Strictly speaking, my ex-partner’s bike. But I stole it. Lovely little thing and it also went around the Main Island with no problems.
Suzuki GN400 400cc 1978 Oddball kickstart-only version of the GN250 using s DR dirt-bike engine. Remarkably stable and agile. Sold it to a work colleague, on long-term credit. Such is life.
Honda CX400C 400cc 1978 I liked the CX500 so much I bought the factory… no, wait, I tried the custom style for a change and quite liked it. This bike also went up and down the Island with surprising ease. And at  good speeds, too.
BMW R80RT 800cc 1988 The last of the old airheads, with monolever suspension and those lovely Bing carburettors. Ex-police model, which meant that traffic always moved aside for me as I split the lanes. Brilliant. I kept it for 17 years, which really says it all. Open visor at 120 kph? Wonderful fairing design. Sold off to finance a project, dammit. Stupid thing to do.
Yamaha Virago XV400 400cc 1983 Couldn’t resist this: quite a rare bird, in fact. I bought it on TradeMe from Auckland (kind of deceased estate) and shipped down at huge expense. Spent 6 weeks in pieces and then went like a little sewing machine. Made a fairing and packrack and I was off… and then I thought, I’m too old for this. So I sold it. In 2017.
Suzuki DL650 V-Strom 2007 Well, that holiday from reason lasted all of four days. I bought this 650cc dual purpose machine to once again scratch the omni-itch. First computerised bike I’ve owned, and it’s refined compared to some of the rip-snorters I’ve had. But why do they make these bikes so tall? It wanted to lay down and sleep at stop signs, so I fixed that: I lowered the suspension and cut the seat and became king of the world again.  Vive les short-arses, I say.

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