SPIRIT OF ’76
Editor Gary Pinchin, a tidy Triumph and the strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd...
It’s scary to realise Classic Bike was launched 40 years ago. I remember eagerly looking out for it in my local newsagents after seeing it advertised in MCN. I’d ditched my ’76 Bonnie by 1978 after a rather irksome crankshaft issue was too challenging for a mechanically inept person like me, and bought an early XS650 (reliable, but overweight and nowhere near the charm). But my heart still was, and still is, with the old bikes, so it was rather exciting to discover a mag that, by and large, covered all the old stuff that drew me to motorcycling in the first place.
Even back then, it was a joy to be able to relive the history of motorcycling. And, like Ben Miller says in his piece, the fascinating thing about bikes isn’t just the metal or the events, but the people who created the machines – or those who ride them. Imagine, all these years later, the pleasure of being directly involved in a magazine that offers so much scope to create. It’s not just looking back on the history of motorcycling, but talking to those who are actively preserving it with the bikes they build and ride.
I joined CB at a time when the interest in anything retro or vintage was in vogue, a time when so many people had become tired of the anodyne computerised path we are all being led down. It was also when development in modern motorcycles had virtually come to halt and people wanted something different. No surprise that classic bike sales were on a roll, providing that real-world connection whether it’s getting handson with spanners, riding them or both.
I recall doomsayers expressing fears that online auctions would kill traditional autojumbles and traditional traders, and I’m sure it’s hurt some businesses. However, from what I see there’s plenty of traders still going strong, producing good quality repro parts – and the jumbles are still a major attraction for those sourcing original stuff. The important aspect missing from online auctions is personal interaction and, as we all know, the social side of classic motorcycling is one of the key things that continues to make our scene so appealing.
I still meet plenty of people riding around on original bikes, there’s always new restoration projects of matching-numbers bikes, but there’s also classics being created by genius shed-dwellers from old engines and frames that have been dormant in sheds for years. Not only that, the classic event calendar is as busy as ever, so it’s one hell of a vibrant scene. To tweak a really famous motorcycle manufacturer’s slogan: ‘Let the good times keep rolling...’
‘THE SOCIAL SIDE OF CLASSICS IS A KEY THING ’