The ideal bike?

Old Bike Australasia - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

I’ve been reading OBA for some time now (12-15 years) and thor­oughly en­joy it. See if you can res­ur­rect Mr Jes­sop. On a good day he is price­less. But my rea­son for writ­ing has to do with a bit of rem­i­nisc­ing. The thing which caught my eye was the photo of Ron Weste in ‘Un­der the Che­quered Flag’ in OBA 80. Sad and all as these mat­ters are (sin­cere con­do­lences to the Weste fam­ily, we have never met), I couldn’t help but no­tice his broad smile, as he sat astride a brand new Royal En­field In­ter­cep­tor 650 twin.

I took de­liv­ery of one of these, with ex­actly the same liv­ery, in Fe­bru­ary this year. And what a plea­sure – it goes, han­dles, stops, and looks like a real bike. A fly on the wall at its orig­i­nal Royal En­field de­sign meet­ings (in In­dia) might have over­heard some­thing like this:

“It needs to be well-built and ro­bust, we’ve got crappy roads. Its got to be able to carry 2 adults, 3 or 4 kids, and a pile of other stuff. And its got to do that ev­ery day of its life for the next 10 years. Its got to be able to take sear­ing heat, trop­i­cal down­pours, and put up with the cold. It needs to do 100mph, cruise all day at 65mph with still a good turn of speed, but also put­ter around in end­less snarling traf­fic at 10mph. All without miss­ing a beat. It’s got to be easy to ride, easy on the bum, all con­trols read­ily ac­ces­si­ble, with none of the clunky gear-changes of the old Bul­lets. And it needs to be easy to own and main­tain”. “We don’t want just an­other bloated, wheezy, cor­pu­lent, tech-fest, with all those wiz-bang un­nec­es­sary elec­tron­ics and plas­tics – or too much power ei­ther. What’s im­por­tant is what it is able to do in the real world, ev­ery day. Just good, hon­est, straight-for­ward mo­tor­cy­cling. Plenty of fun surely, but par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant is rejuvenati­ng the idea of ‘work­ing man’s trans­port’ ”.

Well, Louis the fly or not, I strongly sus­pect they’ve got it right. It is cer­tainly well de­signed, well built, and fun to ride, but time will tell. All of which is clearly rel­e­vant to Aus­tralia. As much as any­thing, there is the sense that it has been de­signed and built by peo­ple who un­der­stand and love of mo­tor­cy­cling, from the in­side, not just the dul­cet tones of the cash reg­is­ter. While this ex­u­ber­ance might sound sus­pi­ciously like yet an­other sad old blighter pin­ing for the romance of yes­ter­year, I sus­pect Royal En­field are in gen­uine dan­ger of re-ac­cess­ing the essence of mo­tor­cy­cling. Not per­fect mind you, but a pretty damn good ef­fort. Ron’s smile says a lot. Ted Davis Caulfield Junc­tion. Vic. It re­quired noth­ing else. It de­vel­oped around 9 or 10 horse­power, had an ex­cel­lent gear­box which was semi-au­to­matic. First gear was very low and the other three well spaced. The mo­tor revved out well and gave ex­cel­lent re­sponse. With its sprung heel it gave a much im­proved ride than my ear­lier rigid frame 1948 BSA 250. Per­haps you may con­sider a fea­ture about Jawa in a com­ing edi­tion? Thanks again for your ex­cel­lent mag­a­zine. Ed­win Youll Beaudesert Qld Your prayers are an­swered Ed­win. We have a Jawa fea­ture sched­uled for is­sue 82. – Ed

ABOVE Syd­ney Jawa agent Eric Moore’s 1950 ad.

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