Contentious and inflammatory opinions from your own pens (or keyboards...)
I was appalled to read John Naish’s column in the February 2017 issue of CB in which it was stated that a classic motorcycle in the UK does, on average, only 835 miles annually. I do wonder, however, how much of this is a chicken-and-egg situation with classic motorcycle magazines. In January 1977 Bike magazine published an article entitled ‘Living with a 20 year old Banger’ in which Royce Creasey and Harry Harrison expounded the virtues of living with a Velocette Venom and a Triumph Speed Twin. Both bikes were scruffy, badly painted and totally unoriginal – they wouldn’t stand a chance of being featured in CB now. Rick’s column or Our Classics is as close as you’d get.
What you do feature a lot are bikes that are bought by men who rode a bike in their teens, gave up for 30 years, then got nostalgic and spent far too much money on buying a heap and loads more money on restoring it to ‘original’. Said bikes then very rarely get ridden because their new owners have spent too much money to sully them with road dirt, or realise that 30 years ago these bikes were as bloody awful to ride as they are now. Are you giving people what they want to read about or are you creating a scene people think they should buy into? Myself? I’ve ridden nearly every day, year-round for the past 42 years on a variety of British, German (East and West), Czech and Japanese bikes. Some ‘classic’ some just old.
By the time this is printed, I will have been to the Dragon Rally, where there will have been the odd Brough, Vincent and a plethora of other classic bikes – all dirty, all being used and all bloody good fun. Go and find them and do some articles on them – then people might realise that old doesn’t mean hands off. IAN SMITH Brilliant. Hope you like the TRW in this issue. We’re aiming for more features like it. Gary
John Naish’s piece in which he quoted the fact that the average classic bike owned in the UK does 835 miles a year made me ponder on what the definition of a classic is. Is it age, is it rarity, is it something that was famous in its day?
For me, it is about charisma: sure, it needs to be old – does that mean 20, 30, 40, 50 years or more, or what? – but above all it has to be a bike that inspires passion in its owner. I have a bike that I love that is not a classic in many people’s book – a 1993 BMW R100 GSPD with 116,000 miles on the clock. After a 500-mile day through Spain – with no problems and in total comfort – the other week, I got off it thinking: ‘That is a classic bike’. I think Hugo Wilson did the classic bike world a huge favour when he edited CB a decade ago by opening it up to Japanese bikes. There was snobbery about them at the time, but as so many of us have grown up on those machines, and loved them, of course they are classics. But why aren’t we putting more miles on them? Bikes are for riding, not for looking at. On the other hand, many people get great pleasure simply from rebuilding them and often have no time to ride once they’re finished. Each to his own idea of ‘classic’, then.
I thought the photograph below might interest you. It’s the original front numberplate for Mike MORE MILES MORE SMILES
Hoping that you can help me with a plea to your readers. I am trying to locate my old blue Honda CB900FZ, registration number KNH 859V. I bought the bike new in 1979 – at the time I worked at Cyclomoto, a Honda dealership in Brackley, Northants. I built her out of the delivery crate and then covered about 1500 miles on her before the foolish allure of an MGB GT made me sell her.
Now retired, I would love to find her, with a view to buying her back (if possible) and your readers may know of her whereabouts so that the current owner can (hopefully) get in touch with me. DVLA’S database shows that she hasn’t been scrapped, but does not appear to be on the road. Unfortunately, regulations dictated that they could not help with the current owner’s details. If your magazine can assist by publishing this in your Letters pages, I would be very grateful (I can be contacted on 07960 189584). Thanks for a great read.
Having read the interesting letters about the Accles & Pollock advertising in recent editions, I happened upon an actual advert from a copy of Picture Post, dated June 6, 1953 that was in a collection of my late mother’s bits and pieces (see above). This was a special edition for the coronation, so there was lots of special advertising. A few pages later, I found an advert from BSA which included the Golden Flash! How things have changed in 60+ years!
SCRATCH THE ITCH
I was very impressed by the model GS750 shown on the Letters page of the March issue. Would it be possible to do an article on how Ian Grundy made the model? Are there any others out there? How do they do it? It looks more difficult than restoring a real bike!
I have been scratch-building model railway engines for years, but I wouldn’t know where to start with a scratch-built bike model. I would like to do one, though.
PAUL BANKS It’s certainly a thing of great beauty, Paul, but with so many other great features in the pipeline it’ll be difficult to fit it in. Mark H
Want to see more scruffy, badly painted and totally unoriginal bikes like this in CB? Ian Smith does
We’re told the pun on the company name in the industry was ‘N**kers and B***ocks’. We’ll leave you to fill in the asterisks... Jackson’s Greeves trials bike (see CB February), purchased at an autojumble years ago. I wonder if the original bike still survives?