FROM THE FRONT
Areasonably common topic of conversation among old bike buffs is to reflect ruefully on bikes we’ve sold but which we wish we’d kept. Everyone seems to have one – or more than one. Do you? If so … do you ever ask yourself why that is? Also: would you buy another as close to your original as you can get? If so, why? And if not, why not?
There isn’t the space here to ponder Reasons For Selling, but when I read Mike Estall’s tale of his Tiger further on inside this issue I found myself smiling a little. Mike’s talking about a Triumph, and I’ve run a few of those down the years, including one or two all-alloy T100s like that in his entertaining tale. Do I regret selling them? No, not really.
In fact … I actually regret selling very few of the bikes which have departed The Shed down the years. There’s always been a reason for doing so, usually that old familiar financial pressure, but often a simple urge to ride something else, to try something else, to move on a little. Where I fear I may differ from a lot of other riders is that not only do I tend to idealise the dear departed (motorcycles, that is) but I also have a depressing tendency to acquire another, just like the other, to see whether it lives up to my memories of the original. Usually… usually, they do not. There’s a simple explanation for this.
One of my earliest great bikes was a G12 Matchless, a 1961 650 of no particular wonderfulness – which however somehow confirmed me as an ‘AMC Man’ because of the great rides we did together. There were some utterly memorable trips: we rode between the Clyde coast where I worked for a summer, and the family home in Somerset several times, and broke down only rarely. It was great. Of course eventually I blew it up and sold the remains, replacing it with several other bikes, although a lot of them were AMC twins.
There’s a G12 Matchless in The Shed at the moment, in fact. A 1965 CSR which has been there for almost a decade and which gets a romp every so often. It’s really fun to ride. Does it match up to the 1961 original? No. Of course it doesn’t. Which brings me to that simple explanation. In 1971 when I rode my first G12 I was 18. The world was a wild world, brash and bold, and so was I. The bike was part of the unfolding of exploration which was so common among my peers back then, and is likewise among today’s youth as well, I’d imagine. Does riding a bike similar to one from long ago replicate that glorious learning experience? No, of course not.
Do I regret selling that G12, or indeed any of the other AMC twins which have come and gone down the years? Any of the Nortons, BSAs, Triumphs and so on which have done likewise? No, of course not.
But revisiting the past is always a perfectly valid reason for buying another bike, isn’t it!