classic bike racing   Experiences of a 70s biker

japanese motorbikes from the seventies

Motorcycling UK | The beginning | My first bikes | Ton up times | Yamaha yarns | Recent exploits + contact | Nostalgia | RacingRiders stories

The beginning:        A bit of history: I first started getting interested in bikes in the late Sixties.

Visits to a slightly older cousin put me in close proximity to  his daily transport, usually a large capacity single cylinder British bike. I remember being more threatened than excited by his bikes. They seemed to be massive unweildly things and I could not see the appeal in actually wanting to ride one of them. Things were to change …………Then there was the day that my father, a vintage car owner, took me to a classic car racing meeting at Oulton Park in Cheshire. As well as the car racing, in which I was fairly interested, there was also to be held a classic motorcycle race. We were viewing from a few hundred yards past the starting grid and as the bikes were wheeled out, accompanied by their black leather clad riders, I had a idea that this was going to be something worth watching. Soon the bikes were fired up and the race was underway. As this ear splitting, mobile black cloud of smell and noise passed across the front of us and disappeared into the first corner I turned to my Dad and shouted ‘Did you see that!’, a phrase which has lived with us both ever since. I soon started buying motorcycle magazines and papers. I also littered the house with sales brochures and road tests in the hope that my Dad might also start to get interested in the subject. Of course the only time he did actually comment was to say how dangerous they were. At school one of the teachers started a motorcycle club. This was a bit of a breakthrough as it gave us a bit of lever for the safety argument. ‘They can’t be that bad can they? The school wouldn’t be running a motorcycle club would they?’ became a well used line. The class which was run on one evening a week gave us reprobates an insight into how bikes work and allowed us to actually get our hands dirty taking them apart and trying to put them back together again – but what we really wanted was to ride them ……….. The club’s only running machines were a Triumph ‘Tina’ scooter and a 200cc Francis Barnett 2 stroke motorcycle. After stripping down, reassembling and probably ruining a Lambretta scooter engine for some weeks we were then considered qualified to move on to the actual riding stage of the proceedure. It was agreed that we should start with the scooter, simply riding round in a circle around the yard before being allowed to take the Francis Barnett on an unsupervised run along the half mile long lane which led into the place. The scooter was automatic so the proceedings went without a hitch, apart from one poor lad who did a simulation from the opening scenes of the film ‘American Graffiti ‘ ( a must if you have not seen it ). A couple of lads took the Barnett out without any major problems then the big moment arrived – my first ride on a proper motorcycle.We had been shown where the gears were, one up two down etc. I decided I would just leave in a gear and not bother changing so the clutch lever was pulled in, a gear was selected and the clutch was eased out whilst gently opening the throttle. I think maybe the throttle opening was slightly excessive as the bike lunged forwards leaving a trail of blue smoke behind it but all was well and I was actually riding the thing. It went so well that I even changed up a gear and increased speed. I can remember riding merrily along watching the end of the lane looming up and thinking ‘ How do I stop? I need to turn round. Eventually I cleared my head, pulled in the clutch and gently applied the brakes till I came to a smooth stop. I kept the engine running and sorted out the gears whilst stationary. I then rode back and pulled up smoothly as if I’d been riding for years. Great stuff – I wanted more.

My next 1st hand encounter occurred when my parents took me with them to a friend's party. I really did not want to go as I could not think of a worse way to spend an evening. My saviour that evening came in the form of the hosts' son, a long haired, laid back lad of about 20. ' Would you like to have a look at my bike? ' he cautiously enquired. Before you knew it we were standing in the garage admiring a sparkling blue Yamaha YASI 125 twin. I had recently read the road test on this bike as I already considered myself to be something of an expert. ' This is the bike which will lift it's front wheel in the first 3 gears without using the clutch ' I remember thinking. Shortly afterwards the ignition was turned on and I remember being totally impressed by the illuminated instrument cluster particularly the green neutral indicator lamp. In due course the bike was fired up and I was offered a go on the back. He was obviously out to show off a bit so corners were taken fairly quickly with a large angle of lean but the bike was ridden sensibly and I was suitably impressed - to such an extent that I decided there and then that I had to have my own bike, sooner rather than later.


zundapp motorcycle suzuki 200 invader

Motorcycling UK | The beginning | My first bikes | Ton up times | Yamaha yarns | Recent exploits + contact | Nostalgia | RacingRiders stories





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