FROM THE FRONT

Real Classic - - From The Front - Frank West­worth [email protected]­al­clas­sic.net

It feels a lit­tle as though I’m re­peat­ing my­self, here – re­peat­ing what I jab­bered away about the sur­prise, de­light and con­sid­er­able en­ter­tain­ment which ar­rived by sim­ply rid­ing an old bike – a par­tic­u­lar type of old bike; in this case a 500 Tri­umph. You may re­call that I passed some rather amus­ing miles aboard both our own se­ri­ously scruffy T100C and a rather more shiny Day­tona last month. And they were both great, with their com­mon fea­tures shin­ing through, as you’d ex­pect, de­spite the con­sid­er­able dif­fer­ences in their cos­metic con­di­tion.

What I failed to con­sider at the time was this… one of the oner­ous tasks of a mag­a­zine ed­i­tor is de­cid­ing which bikes make the grade to make the page. We – ed­i­tors – have a ten­dency to favour the un­usual, the odd, the ex­otic, the head­line bikes, if you like. Some­thing to shout about. The rea­son for this is ob­vi­ous – we want you, gen­tle reader, to choose to read our mag­a­zine, not one of the al­ter­na­tives. It’s less im­por­tant with a mag­a­zine like RC, be­cause we rarely find our­selves com­pet­ing for newsagent shelf space – which is a very good thing in­deed. And in any case, we fea­ture real sto­ries about real clas­sics (there’s a good name for a mag­a­zine there, I’m sure!) of­ten writ­ten by the bike’s owner, which is al­ways a good thing. How­ever, we’re as in­ter­ested in the odd and the ex­otic, too…

What the two Tri­umphs re­minded me is how all-en­com­pass­ing the old bike world has be­come. When it started out in 1977 (I think), the em­pha­sis was on glam­our, on her­itage, on his­tory. Pedi­gree and prove­nance may have been around then too. I was largely un­in­ter­ested in such ma­chines, and in­deed this is still the case, but watched with some amuse­ment and plea­sure as the scene ex­panded to in­clude not just Gold Stars and Rocket Gold Stars but also Rock­ets and B33s. BSA’s glo­ri­ous 250 Gold Star took a long time at­tain­ing clas­sic sta­tus, but there’s still hope…

What is slightly sur­pris­ing – at least to me – is that al­though I’ve been (usu­ally) for­tu­nate enough to ride lots of as­pi­ra­tional big name ma­chines down the years, the bikes I’ve ac­tu­ally en­joyed the most have been of the more pedes­trian per­sua­sion, non-CSR Matchless twins, for ex­am­ple. Nor­ton’s ohv bangers arouse my de­light in a way that no cammy job ever has, while Tri­umph’s Tigers are al­ways wel­come in The Shed, but any­thing with ‘R’ as an en­gine suf­fix is likely to be only a fleet­ing vis­i­tor.

So imag­ine my amuse­ment when I trolled off to bor­row some­thing re­ally ex­otic so I could write about it. Well… to be ex­act there were two ex­otics avail­able on the same day, one with four cylin­ders and an over­head cam, the other with an ohv flat twin en­gine and a pressed steel frame. Both bikes have flat steel frames, in fact, now that I think about it. So you can work out what they are…

How­ever, the bike aboard which I ac­tu­ally rum­bled away into the wintry sun­shine (OK, it rained rather a lot) was some­thing much more mun­dane, much less in­ter­est­ing … ex­cept to me. What was it? It was a BSA, a once cheap’n’cheer­ful plod­der and now re­ally rather rare. I loved it. You can read about it next month…

Ride safely, and we hope ev­ery­one has a great new year

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