MATCHLESS TO ITALY

EDI­TOR AND AS­SO­CIATE EDI­TOR, 1999-2009

Classic Bike (UK) - - CONTENTS - BC

Brian ‘Badger’ Crich­ton thrums to the Alps on a pleas­ingly rusty Matchless

Iknew Clas­sic Bike right from the start in 1978, help­ing out with pho­tog­ra­phy on an early is­sue fol­lowed by oc­ca­sional in­volve­ment on a few fea­tures. I joined full-time in 1999, tak­ing the mag­a­zine into the new mil­len­nium as edi­tor.

At that time Bri­tish bikes were the core in­ter­est, es­pe­cially Tri­umph. And the clas­sic café racer scene was on the rise. Tri­tons in par­tic­u­lar were in bloom and val­ues were ris­ing. The scene was given a ma­jor boost by the of­fi­cial re-open­ing of the Ace Cafe in 2001. In ef­fect we had a per­ma­nent fo­cal point open seven days a week – and Lon­don had a new tourist at­trac­tion. Work­ing with Ace Cafe owner Mark Wilsmore, Clas­sic Bike based sev­eral fea­tures there – I even con­tem­plated ap­proach­ing Mark to con­sider open­ing a Clas­sic Bike satel­lite of­fice at the Ace.

These were ex­cit­ing times. The mag spon­sored the Ace through pub­lic­ity and still head­lined the world’s lead­ing clas­sic bike show at Stafford.

Ma­chine val­ues were ris­ing across the board and the Ja­panese clas­sic move­ment was strid­ing into the pic­ture. Clas­sic events were tak­ing place any­where and ev­ery­where, and plenty of ma­jor clas­sic names were key play­ers on the scene in­clud­ing John Surtees, Derek Min­ter and Phil Read, who be­came a CB colum­nist, fol­lowed by Peter Williams. And Phil and Peter still con­tinue to be VIP guests at many events.

Barry Sheene joined the clas­sic scene, his rac­ing ap­pear­ances at Don­ing­ton Park and Good­wood at­tract­ing vast in­ter­est. He won at Good­wood in his fi­nal rac­ing year (2002) and I made sure I was there to re­port it. The fol­low­ing year the world FIM clas­sic road race cham­pi­onship was in­tro­duced, set up by the per­sua­sive Ge­orge Beale. The se­ries only lasted a year, but it sig­nalled just how im­por­tant clas­sics had be­come.

Un­der­pin­ning this colour­ful de­vel­op­ment and ac­tion was the pri­vate owner in the towns and vil­lages across the land, keep­ing the clas­sic faith, pre­serv­ing the home in­dus­try’s her­itage, form­ing clubs to share knowl­edge and en­joy­ment – and of course us­ing their bikes. Rid­ing to Italy with the Ajs-matchless club was a high­light of my time on CB; you can read the story over the page.

To­day, 40 years on, Clas­sic Bike is the biggest­selling mo­tor­cy­cle mag­a­zine in print. An amaz­ing achieve­ment. I left the mag­a­zine in 2009 and since then the ed­i­to­rial teams have con­tin­ued to keep the con­tent fresh and turn up some amaz­ing bikes. They de­serve full credit for creative think­ing. And so does Peter Wat­son, who lit the touch pa­per in 1978.

‘I CON­SID­ERED A CLAS­SIC BIKE OF­FICE AT THE ACE CAFE’

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