Me & My Bike

1962 BSA A65 RIDER Clay Devening AGE 69 HOME Lex­ing­ton, Vir­ginia OC­CU­PA­TION Re­tired Den­tist

Motorcyclist - - Contents -

• I BOUGHT IT IN 1972. If I had been able to wave the magic wand and get the bike I wanted, it would have been a Tri­umph Bon­neville. Two of my bud­dies had Bon­nevilles, and I loved BSAS, British bikes, but I just hap­pened to be slightly fix­ated on Tri­umph. And so, when a class­mate said, “I’ve got this bike, $350, it’s a BSA,” I said, “Oh, well, it’s not a Tri­umph Bon­neville, but it’s a BSA.” I have to ad­mit, I wanted a bike with a 2-gal­lon tank. That’s a 4-gal­lon tank, and skinny lit­tle chrome fend­ers, and not such large side cov­ers, just be­cause I thought that looked sportier.

This didn’t look sporty, be­cause it wasn’t the color it is now, for one thing. It was red, but it was more of a deep, faded-out bur­gundy. It took a while for it to grow on me. And then every time we went out for a ride, my bud­dies on their Tri­umphs were stopped on the side of the road try­ing to keep the things run­ning. After I bought the thing, for 10 years I didn’t do any­thing but put gas in it, and oil and tires when it needed them. It was the most re­li­able thing go­ing—then some mice ate the wiring and that com­pli­cated things a lit­tle bit. But I got it be­cause I wanted a British mo­tor­cy­cle, the price was right, and I flat-out loved it.

I put about 10,000 miles on it in the years

Other than my fam­ily, it is the most con­tin­u­ous part of my life.

right after I bought it, and then even­tu­ally it just sat in our car­port for 10 years. It was re­ally sad­look­ing. I hated that faded bur­gundy so much that I took all the body parts off and painted it green. It looked like some­body had splat­tered spinach on it. When you just take a spray can to it, it never comes out look­ing like you thought it was go­ing to look. About a year and a half ago, I took it over to Me­chan­icsville, Vir­ginia, to Ron Grim at G6 Mo­to­sports; he’s ex­clu­sive to British bikes and vin­tage Har­leys, and for the first time ever, a me­chanic got into the en­gine. I had the head done, and man, did it sound good. I rode it back from Rich­mond that day and spent the next 500 miles just break­ing it in.

I gave a minute’s thought to sell­ing it when we moved up here, and I just couldn’t bring my­self to do it. Other than my fam­ily, it is the most con­tin­u­ous part of my life. You know, I jump on and ride it, and it feels just like when I first bought it. I am a much bet­ter rider now than I was then. I was lucky that I didn’t hurt my­self those first few years. But rid­ing is what it’s for. It’s got a low cen­ter of grav­ity and just drops into curves like no­body’s busi­ness. It sticks to the road with just noth­ing be­tween me and the wind. I don’t know, it’s just kind of like feel­ing youth­ful again. I’m not over the hill yet, but you know.

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