Classic Bike Guide

Buying our own Nostalgia

Oli looks at the idea of owners’ clubs for modern, learner bikes – a possibilit­y?


Afriend has a son who passed his moped CBT on his 16th birthday and, as a result, he has been bought a motorcycle. As Dad is a classic rider, he bought him a used Mash 50. If you haven’t seen one, they’re a bit like the Honda

CB50 that came out in 1978 when the

16er laws changed, only a tiny bit flashier. They’re quite smart little things for a 50cc; sort of semi-café racer style, with a dinky little air-cooled four-stroke engine which propels him along at 29mph.

At first the youngster wasn’t keen on the Mash, as all his mates have screaming trail bikes and the Mash 50 is a bit old school. Also, it only runs on E5 petrol, so he must use a different petrol station to everyone he knows. It has, however, been given an appreciati­ve welcome by we old codgers, and he’s done more than 1000 miles on it in his four weeks of ownership, so it can’t be all bad.

Some young riders will ride forever and become old riders, some will not, and some will return when a nostalgic whiff of Lynx Africa or a social media post reminds them of the days of their glorious, misspent youth. These cheap bikes have come a long way since I saw my first Yamazuki (no, really) rusting away outside my local Morrisons. It was just six months old, and the local bike shop refused to work on it “because it’s Chinese sh…” – you know the rest.

And I begin to wonder. Is there a Mash Owners’ club? There’s a Facebook page that’s entertaini­ng, but I don’t know if there is a club. How about Lexmoto? Or

Mutt, or Brixton? AJS already has one and there are several owners of modern AJS 125s who are members – indeed, the club used one on its calendar.

One of the reasons why people will pay £7000 for a FS1E or £9000 for an RD350LC, or – incredibly – £12,000 for one of the nearly unrideable Fantic 50 choppers is that at a certain age, we start buying back our own nostalgia, though I personally wouldn’t thank you if you dropped off a restored version of my first bike, a terrible Batavus HS50, on my doorstep wrapped in a bow.

But when we reach 50 or 60, we find we have enough money to buy the bikes we wanted when we were young, and this fashion-led desire skips forward as another group succumbs to the march of time. It’s why the price of 1950s classics has stagnated and of 1960s classics has started to stall, while bikes from the 1970s have shot up and you have to pay £20,000 or more for a Z1B; even the venerable old T140 has risen in value by a sizeable amount in the past five years.

It’s not just motorcycle­s, obviously. People lust after once ordinary items like

Ford Cortina MkIIIs, or old guitars, vintage vinyl, and Atari games consoles.

But back to owners’ clubs. As their bikes grow older and less attractive to the nostalgic, will the current stalwarts start to fade and will the ones that remain be the multi-make clubs like the VMCC or the British Two Stroke Owners’ Club? Some one-make clubs will, inevitably, fall by the wayside.

And what of the Mash or the Mutt?

Will social media suffice to keep the community of owners together, or does the tribal desire to gather together mean something more traditiona­l will occur and there will be new owners’ clubs?

I like to think that in 2051 one-time owners of the Lexmoto Venom will spend years meticulous­ly restoring them and get together on a yearly basis in a field and play silly games, while others rummage through autojumble­s hunting for plastic fork guards and the correct period LED indicators for a Pulse Adrenaline. Why shouldn’t they, after all? I would.

I hope, too, there will be vicious schisms between Mutt Mongrel owners and devotees of the WK Scrambler about which used the Chinese version of the Suzuki GS125 engine better.

I’ll be advising the young Mash 50 owner that, rather than just leaving it to fester in the garden when he’s 17 and moves on, he coats it in ACF50 and stashes it for 20 years, just in case. And I hope he ignores me, too, because he should ignore such patently ridiculous advice from an old bloke.

It’s not just motorcycle­s, obviously. People lust after once ordinary items like Ford Cortina MkIIIs, or old guitars, vintage vinyl, and Atari games consoles.

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