‘I dropped my BMW GS in front of my mother’ ‘Rutter is proper old-school and looks like a normal bloke’
Ex-tour de France commentator David Harmon reveals his love of proper bikes Which four people would Q19
Q1 What are you riding?
I’ve got a Triumph Scrambler that I’ve customised a bit. I’ve changed the suspension, re-covered the seat, fitted new lights and knobbly tyres. I’ve also made a little bash guard for it from an old bit of aluminium plate I found in the road. It’s quite handy offroad now on the trails around where I live, despite the weight, and it’s good for little B-road blasts. Ultimately I’d like to kit it out with racks and head off around the world on it. I’ve also got a Yamaha TDM900, which is great for commuting.
Q2 Which living motorcyclist do you most admire?
Michael Rutter. He’s proper old-school as he’ll ride almost any bike on any circuit and he looks like a normal bloke.
Q3 What’s your worst motorcycling habit?
Taking mirrors off motorcycles. I like to think it makes me more aware because I have to constantly look around, but it is a bad habit.
Q4 If you could have one riding super skill, what would it be?
Instant knowledge of the feedback the bike is giving me. The amount of times I’ve felt or heard something and thought ‘what the hell is that?’
Q5 What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on a bike?
186mph on a Honda Super Blackbird.
Q6 When were you last scared on a bike?
Commuting on the M6 recently two trucks decided to cross paths with me in the middle, so I had to accelerate out the front of an ever-diminishing gap.
Q7 How many miles have you done in the last year?
15,000 or so – I use the bike all the time, for everything.
Q8 What’s the highest mileage you’ve covered in one day?
When I first commentated, I started with the Le Mans 24-hour race and I used to ride there because it’s impossible to get in and out of the circuit in a car. That must have been 700 miles.
Q9 What irritates you most on a bike?
Cold hands just drive me crazy. I’ve tried everything and it never works – I have to have heated grips on in summer!
Q10 You’ve got two weeks off: where are you going?
I’d ship my Triumph to the US and ride along the Appalachians. I’ve always wanted to do it on a mountain bike but I’m not fit enough these days.
Q11 Got one pearl of wisdom for new riders?
Ever fallen off in a car park (or somewhere equally embarrassing)?
God yes. I fell off in front of my mother when I had a BMW R1100GS. It was fully loaded with all the panniers and I even had a big piece of marine ply screwed to the back, so I could fit a big round barrel bag on. I dropped it saying goodbye and I couldn’t pick it up and she just stood there watching me for 30 minutes while I struggled with it. I remember saying ‘It’s alright I know what I’m doing: I’ve got a technique’ and I still couldn’t budge the damn thing.
Q13 Do you have one indispensable item of kit?
My Sidi Courier boots. I bought them about 15 years ago and they’ve shown no sign of giving up since.
you invite on a Sunday blast?
If I could I’d invite my late fatherin-law as he had a lovely old Douglas and we’d have lots of coffee stops as it would break down all the time. Then it would have to be Steve Mcqueen, Kevin Schwantz (who would leave me behind in the first corner) and the great Barry Sheene.
Q15 Do you have a tool you couldn’t live without?
My torque wrench. It took me ages to get one and I can’t live without it now.
Q16 Do you adjust your suspension?
I did for years but more recently I realised I don’t really have a clue. I work with a guy in Telford at SSR Suspension, who is great, so now I just leave it to the experts.
Q17 If you could have one of your bikes back, which would it be?
An old partner of mine had a Moto Morini 500 Sport that I used to nick all the time and I really miss that.
Q18 What would you never buy?
An Enfield Robin Diesel. It was adapted by a company in Daventry and they effectively cut out the bottom of the cradle and bolted in a diesel generator engine. I rode one once and it would do 180mpg but it was so slow it was dangerous. It took an age to get a gap big enough to join a roundabout.
Which road (or track) would you have built on your desert island?
The road from Uppingham to Market Harborough. It’s so lovely – down the hill and around the gentle bends. You can go quite quickly but there’s nothing that will take you by surprise.
Q20 If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?
I’d get rid of inheritance tax, so that if I inherit something one day I can afford more bikes.
With multi world champ Andy Tennant
He’s best known in the cycling world but is a full-on biker Harmon says his Triumph is quite handy down trails