Real Classic


- Frank Westworth Frank@realclassi­c

First things first, as is only right. Apologies if you rolled up to the recent Stafford Show expecting to find me manning a trestle table in RC'S traditiona­l on the balcony by the bar location. I failed to make it! Well, OK, you'll know that if you were there and I wasn't, or if you follow my meandering­s on Facebook. What happened? What was the excuse? Mechanical failure, surprising­ly.

The modern conveyance boasts final drive to its rear wheel by belt. Belts are great one great improvemen­t in my (modern) riding life has been the end of endless fiddling with drive chains. Belts are improbably strong and reliable, too fit and forget, as we probably suggested when they were introduced as aftermarke­t primary drive kits for Norton Commandos and the like. At this point I should confirm that I've never fitted one and never felt the need to, as primary chains on my bikes stay in trim for rather longer than final drives.

However, back to the plot. I was already snarled up in the vast traffic jam which envelopes the West Country every summer weekend, even though I'd decided to ride up on the Friday, nice and early. One of the desirable features of modern satnav systems is that they appear to direct everyone onto the main roads, which means that those of us who never use satnav, relying on mapnav, which is easier somehow, can often enjoy a decent and reasonably quiet ride on lesser roads, except where the old trunk roads have become completely entangled in the vast sprawls of housing which have sprung up since I last bought a road map.

The transmissi­on usually a model of smoothly civilised behaviour shuddered a couple of times when accelerati­ng at low speed. Unpredicta­bly. Mostly it was fine. But it got steadily worse, until the occasional tapping suddenly produced a blow like a steel hammer being whacked against the bottom of the engine. This, I can assure you, is alarming, so I turned around and headed for home, managing to get from roughly Bridgwater to Bampton before accepting that something was seriously wrong and pulling up to call the AA for recovery.

Which is when the comedy started. There is no cell phone signal in that bit of rural Devon, which is why I found myself tottering up a sunny hillside in relentless heat wearing full riding kit after a gent at the garage outside which I'd pulled up had suggested that rather than use his land line I might find a signal up the hill. Such a response is unusual, especially as the gent concerned was fiddling with a couple of bikes at the time.

However, despite failing to find a signal, a very nice man pulled up in his pick up and took me to his trout farm (really!) where I could use his land line. This would have been around 3pm. I finally returned home at around 2am, fortified by another total stranger who pulled up, discussed the situation and returned with a big bag of sandwiches and great coffee. A strange day, and a reminder that the old motto of'be Prepared'still applies.

The failure? Stone chippings from roadworks had got between the belt and its front pulley, wrecking both.

And congratula­tions to Moto Guzzi one hundred years old and still building excellent ohv traditiona­l twins. Shaft drive, too. Here's to the next century!

Ride safely,

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