A RIDE WITH: TONY CAMPBELL
The new head of the MCIA talks RD350LCS and speeding.
HIGH SUMMER SUN is blazing down as Tony Campbell, the new head of Britain’s Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) romps along the empty lanes on his favourite Essex country biking route. Campbell’s loving the Kawa Z900RS that we’ve sourced for him. I’m doing my best to match his pace on a Yamaha Super Ténéré. We could be in a cinema advert for motorcycling bliss. For there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Except if we are talking metaphorically. In that case, we would be labouring under a massive dark cumulous. The sky would be blackened further by chickens coming home to roost. And we would be rapidly running out of tarmac. Doomed we motorcyclists are, thanks to: plummeting bike sales (a record 51 per cent drop from Dec 2016 to Dec 2017); soaring thefts (some 30,000 machines pinched last year); a death rate like a two-wheeled Somme (the highest casualties per mile travelled of all road user groups), plus the chill breath of the Grim Demographer down our necks – one in five riders is aged over 50. Meanwhile, biking’s carefree image has been hijacked by headline-grabbing balaclava-clad moped muggers, while the more mature among us are reviled as Saga-louts on blaring sportsbikes. Campbell’s mission at the MCIA is to fix all that and make Britain’s bike-makers and dealers happy again. Preferably before lunchtime. But at least he knows what he’s up against. The 54-year-old father of four’s biking history is from Central Scripting. It started with an FSIE. Campbell was so keen to mount the magic moped he got his Dad to bring it to his Saturday restaurant job, ready for one minute past midnight on his 16th birthday when he could legally ride home – in freezing February. Being a true Essex lad, he naturally graduated to the hooligan 250 du jour, a Suzuki X7. When Campbell ditched the L-plates, a Yamaha 350LC followed. Inexplicably, he chose to top that with a Honda VF400F from the era when the Big-h decided that daft innovations such as inaccessible inboard discs were more important than fun. Family duties enforced a four-year break until he got his first company car. That enabled him to buy his first in a series of Suzuki GSX-R750S, which included a rare race-homologation model.
‘Doomed we are, thanks to: plummeting bike sales; soaring thefts and a death rate like a two-wheeled Somme’
Things are going to have to change… apparently
Thrashing out the future of British motorcycling
Swooping the lanes of sunny Essex