TX500 tales

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN -

The Ariel Leader and Yamaha 500 twin ar­ti­cles (OBA 76) rang a few bells. As a 16 year old I learned to ride on an Ariel Leader in Dorset, Eng­land. It was my fa­ther’s and he never said a word when he found me qui­etly putting it away af­ter a ride. So I adopted it and he went off and bought a very nice rigid A7. I went around all the lo­cal “Scram­bles” cour­ses fol­low­ing the Rick­man broth­ers and their ri­vals Triss and Bryan Sharp. Triss had a satin-chromed frame al­loy Tribsa with Manx (sac­ri­lege) hubs. The cour­ses in the south were quite fast over un­du­lat­ing ground, like one at Bul­bar­row, Dorset.

Whilst the Leader wasn’t very fast it didn’t lose much cor­ner­ing speed. The build qual­ity in terms of the paint­work was poor. Later af­ter pun­ish­ing my­self with a cou­ple of Ariel 350s I bought a BSA 441 Vic­tor Spe­cial from Bur­netts in South­sea, Portsmouth. I hope you have some read­ers who can re­mem­ber Bur­netts. It made lots of noise in Nor­mandy (vis­it­ing the beaches) and Brit­tany. The BSA ended up with me in New Zealand, where af­ter a year I dis­cov­ered sec­ond gear was made of cho­co­late. It was re­placed by a late T100, then a Yamaha TX650A with the al­loy rims, then by a 400 four, in red of course. By then I had be­come a much-hated MoT traf­fic of­fi­cer, not with Po­lice Pow­ers but enough to do en­force­ment, breath tests, etc. Mo­tor­cy­cling for a liv­ing skat­ing around wet and windy Welling­ton on 1972 tyres and shiny stain­less brakes. Woo hoo.

Bikes in­cluded YR5, XS2, Suzuki 380 Triple (won­der­fully re­li­able as a park bench) and an XS500 which seemed to be not much big­ger than an RD350. When Mickey’s hand gets to 10, change up. I can’t re­call any is­sues with it be­cause we were only do­ing city hops and the odd sprint along the water­front, but it han­dled well in the wet. I used to call in at the deal­er­ship, where a lot of con­ver­sa­tion was about the TX750, which ended up with a deeper sump and oil cooler fit­ted. Costly reme­dies. We did no­tice the 500 had a slip­per chain ten­sioner some­where which was largely taken up on assem­bly, oops. These were the days of RD350s fin­ish­ing in the top ten (I think) in the Cas­trol 6 Hour at Man­field, and ev­ery­where else in our sum­mer sea­son. Good days, but against this the 500 saw the sun­set. David Dorey Dan­nevirke NZ

Kevin Liggs’ TX500.

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