I sold the Triumph 5TA to a British bike enthusiast, I even threw in some spare clutch springs.
Shortly afterwards my family moved to a different part of the country. I soon got to know new people and started ‘knocking about’ with a lad whose pride and joy was his GT200 Lambretta scooter. He wasn’t a mod or anything. He just
liked Lambrettas and I must say I was quite impressed. This one had an Ancilloti race kit comprising of an overbored cylinder, racing seat and brightly coloured expansion chamber type exhaust. It certainly looked and sounded the part and even went quite well. It made me look at scooters with a new respect. At the time I was riding around on a ratty Honda 125 single which I had bought in a hurry as a temporary measure after the move. One night my mate rang me and said he had a bit of a surprise for me. On arrival at his house I was ushered into the garage and there it was – an immaculate black and gold Yamaha DS7 250 twin. As he fired it up, memories of my first ride on the YAS1 came back to me. I now knew what it was that I wanted. I was soon pulling up outside my mates house on a yellow and
white version of his bike. It was a year older than his but was a good, clean bike. We rode our DS7’s, quite often together, right through 1974 becoming part of a local gang of bikers all riding Japanese bikes, mainly 2 strokes. They were mainly: Suzuki ‘ram air’ GT 250’s, a GT 380, a Suzuki 500 twin and even a Kawasaki 250 triple. One of my favourites, for obvious reasons, was a Padgett Yamaha YAS1 125 in complete race trim boasting full race fairing, race tank & seat, clip ons, rearsets and black expansion chambers. The lad who rode this bike had no fear whatsoever! He prided himself on being able to see off literally any other bike. If he didn’t get you on the straights he would come underneath you through the twisty bits.In those days none of us much fear regarding riding. When we all went out for a run ( most Sundays ) it would naturally develop into an out and out, no holds bared, road race. I even found myself riding the same stretches of road over and over and timing myself to see if I could improve on my times! It was quite common to see two bikes lining up together on a straight section of road outside a certain pub ready for a standing start 1/4 mile drag race. We used to live in a rural area and Saturday mornings would often be spent inspecting certain sections of road to see if anyone’s bike was wrapped around a tree. Quite often it was! There were even a few inevitable deaths and eventually this must have hit home because me and my mate swopped to cars shortly after this period. Thereby lies another series of tales – web site being worked on (only kidding- see 'recent exploits).
CRASHES: I count myself very lucky to have survived my early bike riding days without serious injury although I did have plenty of close shaves!
I slid off the 90 once through a roundabout on some ice – my mate on the back was none too impressed, especially as his hands were frozen anyway. Once, with my sister on the back, the throttle jammed wide open and silly me went to turn off the ignition with my left hand whilst still in gear. This resulted in the bike flipping straight over and dumping us both on the tarmac. Whoops!
I was off the Triumph more than I was on it.It’s a good job it had crash bars because I regularly used to test them. I must have been a familiar sight scudding down the road on my side with sparks flying everywhere. I would always blame diesel on the road but in reality it was badly adjusted brakes coupled with poor handling and lack of bottle that caused most of it. I never came off the DS7 which is just as well as I don’t think I’d be around to tell the tale. I was sometimes very close to what would have been a very big ‘off’. I can remember running up a grass verge once at about 60 mph. The bike was twitching all over the place but by some miracle I stayed on and got it back on the tarmac. You don’t forget things like that!
A moment of reflection: Of all the bikes I’ve owned, I miss the DS7 the most. It was very quick, wheelying at the drop of a hat. It handled superbly and you really had to be doing something very silly to get into serious
trouble on it. The main thing which will always stay with me though is the sound it made. Not the exhaust note, which was actually pretty well behaved, but the air intake induction drone. It was fantastic and varied from a gentle whine at
low throttle to a full blown howl especially when opening the throttle wide when in a fairly high gear. Happy days!In my mid Twenties I did return briefly to bikes. I had a Suzuki Hustler purely because I’d always promised myself one. This was a red T250J and was a bit of a let down for some reason. It constantly oiled up it’s plugs and I just could not get it to run sweetly. I ended up with a Honda CB400N Superdream which was far more reliable and even though it had a ‘sissy’ reputation, due to the advent of the big Honda fours, it counted as one of my favourite bikes. I really enjoyed my time on it completing several runs to Cornwall with complete ease. I was by now very interested in racing, purely as a spectator, and I used this bike to travel to the various race meetings at such venues as Oulton Park, Mallory Park, Donnington Park and Silverstone. I was at the G.P. practise session at which Barry Sheene had his very nasty accident when he rode over a fallen competitor’s machine which he could not see for various reasons. I went to many of the Transatlantic meetings where the likes of Freddie Spencer, Randy Mamola, Kenny Roberts and later Kevin Shwantz made regular appearences. I have also visited the Isle of Man TT races several times which is a subject in itself! These days I am busy wearing out my 15th or so company car but whenever I am stuck in a gridlock on one of England’s motorways I still think back to the seventies and the bikes that I rode.