Real Classic - - Letters -

I had my first ride on a bike in 1946. A work­mate, just de­mobbed, spent his de­mob money on a new Match­less G80. I had my first ride on this bike with less than a hun­dred miles on the clock. Wem­b­ley speed­way be­came a weekly pil­grim­age. Over 50,000 spec­ta­tors for a weekly league match and the sight and sound of thou­sands of bikes leav­ing the vast car park – it made me a mo­tor­cy­cle dis­ci­ple for life.

I dis­agree with the DfT con­clu­sions (from the sur­vey men­tioned in Mem­bers’ En­clo­sure) on the cri­te­ria for tak­ing up mo­tor­cy­cling in the 1950s. The first was cer­tainly never ‘fun’. The most des­per­ate need was for wheels. Out in the sticks the near­est bus stop could be two miles away, the near­est rail­way sta­tion twenty.twenty The cost of even­eve the cheap­est sec­ond­hand bike was daunt­ing for ap­pren­tices who earned £50 a year. Un­less you had gen­er­ous par­ents, over­time and week­end jobs were the only means of sav­ing enough money. Suc­cess would prob­a­bly just about co­in­cide with call-up, when your in­come dropped back to four shillings a day, less de­duc­tions.

I bought my first bike at an auc­tion of exWD ve­hi­cles in Hong Kong in the early 1950. Squad­dies were not al­lowed to bid, so one of our Chi­nese me­chan­ics bid for me and got a 1940 Match­less G3 for HK$150. At the time a Hong Kong dol­lar was about 1s 3d. I had to risk tak­ing a Bed­ford QL into an out of bounds area to pick it up, but when we got it back to base in the New Ter­ri­to­ries we found it was in quite good nick ex­cept for scrap tyres and tubes. There was a Match­less agent in Kowloon, but ev­ery­thing had to come from the UK by sea, so that it took over three months to get new tyres. Small com­po­nents for G3s could be scrounged from REME work­shops but tyres were like gold dust.

Home in 1952, I spent ev­ery penny my mum had saved for me on the first day. Among the hundreds of bikes ad­ver­tised by deal­ers in the Mo­tor Cy­cle was a 1950 Triumph Speed Twin. It cost £215, which was only about a ten­ner less than a new one, but the wait­ing list was a mile long and I needed it that day. In the next sixty years it was fol­lowed byy Tri­umphs,p, Nor­tons,, sin­glesg and twins, AJS 350 sin­gles, a James, a Velocette MOV, AJS 650 twin, Gold Star BSA, AJS 650 side­car out­fit and in 2007 by a BMW R100RT with a Squire ST1 chair, ini­tially with a Yamaha XT225 Serow and now in com­pany with a Yamaha 125 scooter.

No car nowa­days but the BMW has clocked over 30,000 miles since 2007. Nearly seventy years of great mo­tor­cy­cling. Doug Al­mond, mem­ber 126

Thanks to ev­ery­one who has shared their mem­o­ries of how they started mo­tor­cy­cling – some great sto­ries and won­der­ful pho­tos. Speak­ing of which, here’s Helga on her grandad’s bike. See how she’s reach­ing for the lever! A nat­u­ral, plainly. And Terry Edwards still has his first bike, 50 years later. Great stuff! Rowena

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