A RIDE WITH: TONY CAMP­BELL

The new head of the MCIA talks RD350LCS and speed­ing.

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By John Naish Pho­tog­ra­phy Chippy Wood

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

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