Classic Motorcycle Mechanics


The sunny side of the classic world, with the VJMC’S Steve Cooper


I’m washing a bike for a local show and it starts to rain; typical, bloody typical! This is a rare event as I never seem to have the time to go over my bikes in the way I feel they might deserve yet as soon as I get the kit out the heavens open. Personally I take this as a sign that the Gods of Cleaning don’t want me out with my chamois leather because the Gods of Spannering require me elsewhere. Cleaning a bike is really good way of spotting issues, this was something drummed into us greybeards back in the day when we served our apprentice­ships on the Sunday morning Rider Training ACU courses. Getting up close and personal with your bike allows you to spot the obvious and the not so obvious problems. Yet, just like anything else, familiarit­y breeds contempt; simply polish that bike every weekend and you are actually quite likely to miss the same issue that was there last Sunday. Arguably what we should be doing is actually riding our bikes and correcting any issue as it arises but if you have a small collection there’s very often insufficie­nt time to actively ride them all as much as you might like. Some enthusiast­s seem to have a never ending chain of restoratio­ns they gradually work their way through which inevitably fills up the garage and then the workshop. These are the people who unfairly often get accused of being from the ‘hidden-not-ridden’ brigade. Yet is it fair? If you get your kicks from restoring old bikes, taking minging wrecks back to the way they used to be, overcoming dire mechanical adversitie­s etc. then what is wrong with that please? Yes, ultimately, bikes were made to ridden but if we accept that most of us have more than one machine and ideally would like a dozen or so, how can we ride all of them to their maximum potential? Does anyone really have the right to say how and when an old bike should be used? No of course not. A recent social media post showed a guy who’d restored an early DT175 back to mint and then gone out and used it in filthy boggy field. The internet lit up with those calling for his head while many others supported him for using the bike as Yamaha had intended. The bottom line here is that it’s your bike so use it how you see fit. If polishing is your thing then enjoy your quality time with that old bike: if you’re a spanner twirler crack on with that resto and if riding’s your thing enjoy the road. The bottom line here is that we all get different things from our old bikes and no one has a monopoly on the correct way to enjoy them.

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