NZ Classic Driver


(The History press)


Phil West

ISBN 978 0 9576450 9 7 Reviewer’s own copy

Yes, I know that this is a classic car magazine but I’m pretty sure that, like me, many of our readers have owned motorcycle­s, and maybe still do. So, here’s a nicely produced book that should appeal to anyone with happy memories of bikes from the 1970s. Part of the attraction for me is that I was a bike dealer for a couple of years in the early 1970s. So, it has been interestin­g to see what author Phil West picked as his 50 machines of the decade.

It was a fascinatin­g decade as far as motorcycli­ng was concerned. The British bike industry was then on its last legs but the book includes the likes of Norton Commando and Triumph Bonneville T140. Like the Trident and Rocket 3, they were too little, too late – largely due to the impact of bikes such as the Kawasaki Mach IV, Z1 and, of course, the Honda CB750. All of them feature, along with six-cylinder machines from Benelli and Honda. The Suzuki RE-5 was a brave but doomed attempt at introducin­g Wankel power to bikes.

The bulk of the machines in the book are 500cc and above; a number of them are examples of what became known as UJMs (Universal Japanese Motorcycle­s). Smaller bikes are included though - there are a couple of trail/ enduro models from Suzuki and Honda. Japan’s 250cc two-strokes are represente­d by the threecylin­der Kawasaki and twins from Yamaha and Suzuki. The 1977 Low Rider is the only Harley-Davidson here, but European marques such as Laverda, Morini and BMW make the 50.

Many of the bikes were not commercial­ly successful at the time but have since become real collectors’ items – and within these 160 modest sized pages can be found an enjoyable cross section of what lit the fires of bike riders 40-50 years ago and, in many instances, still does today.

$43 | Review by Mark Holman

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