The sunny side of the classic world, with the VJMC’S Steve Cooper
Anyone who plays around with old bikes knows that, ultimately, whatever your stance on ridden-not-hidden, patina, full-on showstandard restoration or regular classic riding, nothing is cheap anymore. It’s an inescapable fact that whatever you need to keep an older bike running it’s going to cost. Yes, okay you can still buy a vast array of parts for semi-sensible money when compared to, say, a fairing panel for a modern Fireblade but what’s out there is no longer the pocket money it once was. And when you can’t get that last widget, what-not or doofer just what are you going to do? Pattern parts have been around for donkey’s years but most of us have stuck to OEM wherever and whenever possible simply because we know they fit and they work. Or have we? The moment you ditched those standard issue tyres back in the 70s you’d actually thrown off the cloak of conformity. And who out there didn’t fit better, non-standard brake pads as soon as originals wore out? And after that altercation with the back end of that car did you automatically fit stock handlebars? No, you damn well know you didn’t, simply because you really couldn’t be bothered to try and persuade the switch gear’s wiring through them… you rebel you! And so it went on. How many of us would actually go out and buy a genuine nut or bolt from their main dealer if they’d have had a perfectly usable one sitting on the shed bench? Like it or not we’ve been subliminally and subconsciously upgrading our bikes from the very day we’ve first owned them and many of us continue to this very day. More than the odd handful of top end show bikes utilise the odd bit of stainless where it doesn’t show and why not? Does it really matter if the bolts that hold the seat in place have the wrong sized heads? Does it hell! Sure, it’s grand to have a bike correct in every aspect but where do you draw the line? When is it time to take stock of the capital outlay of a project? In the shed I’m working my way through a 1970s street scrambler and I’ve already got some stainless fasteners lined up for the chain pullers. The original ones are beyond saving and, to be brutal here, I’m not paying Mr Yamaha another king’s ransom for fittings I can use from my own stock. Neither am I paying £50 for a pair of OEM bar grips off ebay. Don’t tell anyone but I’ve bought some pattern ones advertised as BSA/ Triumph; yes I know, heinous isn’t it? Same size and colour as the pair I need, they even have the same number of ribs on as the originals. Oh and guess what? They were made in Japan!