Real Classic - - From the front - Frank West­worth Frank@re­al­clas­

The Shed cur­rently has a guest mo­tor­cy­cle – a rare no­tion. This one’s a twin, a pushrod air-cooled twin, of which there are lots of oth­ers in there, but it’s an Ital­ian twin this time. Cylin­ders arranged in a V. Aha! So it’s a Moto Guzzi, is it? Nope; it’s a Morini, parked next to Rowena’s Guzzi V35 – so a brace of Ital­ian 350 Vees. And what a fine ma­chine it is, too: more next month.

Rid­ing the 3½ pro­vided sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties for what passes for thought in my sun-baked cra­nium. At a pre­dictable tan­gent, too. Re­mem­ber the 1970s? Re­mem­ber the de­ri­sion from the Press about the UK’s mo­tor­cy­cle of­fer­ings – Triumph and Nor­ton by then, mostly – be­ing hope­lessly out­moded and out­classed by the far-eastern im­ports? Re­mem­ber also that those same Press guys al­most uni­ver­sally ad­mired Ital­ian Vees, the only one of which to sport a more mod­ern ohc engine be­ing the least re­li­able…

I told you that my thoughts had been lat­eral! Back then I rode al­most ex­clu­sively an­cient Brit, mainly be­cause an­cient Brit was cheap and af­ford­able, while any­thing Ital­ian was not. I also rode eastern Euro­pean, for sim­i­lar rea­sons and with vari­able re­sults – I switched to a cheap used Jawa be­cause it should have been more re­li­able than the an­cient Brit. But it wasn’t, so I re­placed it with a brand-new MZ, which was. And was also my first-ever new bike. Glory days, of course.

Rid­ing the Morini along the sin­u­ous lanes which are so com­mon down here, I won­dered whether those de­rided Triumph twins with their ohv top ends could ac­tu­ally have been de­vel­oped fur­ther. And if they had been how well they’d have stacked up – not against the ohc mul­tis from Ja­pan but against the air­cooled ohv op­po­si­tion from Italy. Cer­tainly, the Com­mando is as de­cent a ride as any con­tem­po­rary big twin from Italy or in­deed from Ger­many.

Some of this think­ing had been prompted be­cause un­con­sciously some­how I’d been rid­ing down small roads which we’ve rid­den a lot on Rowena’s Triumph T100C – an­other ohv air-cooled low-tech twin, and in truth the Triumph is ev­ery bit as com­pe­tent as the Morini. That changes when we hit the main roads, head­ing home so that this mag­a­zine could ac­tu­ally get fin­ished!

Once onto the A39, the amus­ingly named At­lantic High­way, the Triumph’s lim­i­ta­tions be­come un­avoid­able. It re­ally is scream­ing when pushed to 70-75. I’m un­com­fort­able with that. No doubt lots of folk ha­bit­u­ally ride their 1970s Triumph 500 twins like that … or they claim to. The Morini has more gears than the Triumph and al­though it has lit­tle ex­tra per­for­mance to of­fer at 70mph it feels a lot less stressed. I’d not want to tackle a long motorway jour­ney on it, but there’s no doubt that the ex­tra years of de­vel­op­ment and the ex­tra gears make a huge dif­fer­ence.

Which set me to won­der­ing… I have a mem­ory that I once rode a late Day­tona fit­ted with a 5-speed box, but… But no. I can’t re­mem­ber any­thing else about it. Just food for thought.

Ride safely

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