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Bike Profile - Posted 9th March 2009

Honda CB250N Superdream, Part 2
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20-odd years ago Simon Lock 'mended' his previously unbroken 250 twin. It then made a hideous racket. Such is life...

I chose to ignore this regular audible reminder of my humbling at the hands of Haynes and took to taking as many girls as possible for rides around Warwickshire. It was great fun. By my second year living out meant that transport was really useful and got you lots of mates. I soon worked out that taking a bike to parties meant you could always offer your attractive female friends a lift home. One such friend, let's call her Hilary, decided that a lift home on a frosty February night in the mini-est of mini-skirts was just the job. How she screamed as the cold froze her to bits! She is still a friend today though so it can't really have been that bad.

1980's Honda ownership: The Reality. Simon and his stunt double prepare to ride the Honda.

By year three I was back in halls and doing maintenance in the car park again. One day, as I sat next to Clanky, fiddling with the brake, a window was lowered in a car parked nearby and a voice intoned, 'Is this your motorcycle, sir?' It was the first time I'd encountered real-life Dixons of the Traffic Dept.

'Is it taxed, sir?' they asked with that sort of air that means they already knew the answer.

'Of course,' I replied. 'The tax disc is just here.' Except it wasn't.

'Would you like to step into our car then, sir?' Apparently an eagle-eyed traffic warden had spotted my tax disc inside the car of the scrote who had nicked it off the bike earlier that day. Plod enjoyed a fine joke at my expense but, of course, they then had to come to my hall to take a statement. Cool public images of relaxed, long-haired, woolly jumpered hippies are somewhat dented by being accompanied across the student grounds by two hulking great police officers. Damn!

The police figured in another of my Superadventures one evening as I travelled the familiar A34 towards Coventry from Newbury. Approaching Woodstock I decided that I could accelerate and overtake a police car as I left a roundabout, without breaking the speed limit. Duly opening the throttle wide I reached the rear of the car, at which point the drive chain broke and wrapped itself around the rear wheel.

The rear wheel incident I blame on Zen and the Art. In the book Robert M Pirsig wants to mend his friend's loose handlebar mounts with strips of beer can, used as shims. Now, Superdreams have a rear sprocket design of some interest to accident investigators. The original sprocket has a large central hole that is filled with a bush that ensures the sprocket won't wobble on the spindle. The whole affair is then held on by a large circlip.

It is not uncommon when a sprocket is replaced by an aftermarket item for the bush to be omitted and the sprocket to wobble. Mine did that. Not knowing that a bush should be in there I manufactured from baked bean cans (what else would a student use?) shims to hold the sprocket steady against the circlip. Appropriately at Woodstock, my shims had tuned in, turned on and dropped out, followed swiftly by the drive chain.

eBay Dreams...

Luckily the chain snapped and fell into the road whilst the police disappeared into the distance. At about this time I noticed that there was one solitary house nearby. I pushed the bike to their drive and knocked. 'Not another bloody broken down thing. They always want to use our bloody phone,' was not quite the reception I had hoped for. After being allowed to phone my dad I was ejected into the gathering dusk and cold. Three hours later, at home, I had to spend the rest of the weekend hiring a van and finding a breaker with a decent rear wheel. And that was when things started looking up.

Assembly in the reverse procedure... 'Look at its sleek, streamlined Eurostyling...'

From my dim and distant schooldays I remembered a Superdream being parked up and never moving at a house on my route to school. I cycled up there to find it was still under a sheet. The guy told me it was rubbish and never worked. He pulled off the sheet and I saw a bike with no panels, seat or tank but it was mine for 20. I'd have to push it home but he said he had a few spares if I could get my dad to pick them up. The spares were an immaculate tank, seat and panels. I pushed the beast home with a seized brake (I hadn't learned then to tap the caliper with a mallet) and swapped bits off mine onto the new beast. It started and was so quiet I kept thinking it had stalled. At last, a decent engine!

The next Superadventure involved a student who is known to me only as Barry Seminar. I christened Barry with this wonderful surname because he really was astonishingly clever: the cleverest person I had ever met, in fact. But, he was quite an intellectual, as you might imagine. His specs and polyester jumpers just didn't do him any favours so I offered him a spin to show him the other, wild side, of life. Barry Seminar wasn't aware of his splendid new name until he turned up a bit early for our ride. I was out but my girlfriend duly said, 'Ah, you must be Barry Seminar.'

Despite this revelation Barry still wanted to have his 'experience' so off we went. After about five miles Barry was behaving a little oddly, squirming and so on. I put this down to fear of the Power of Honda and continued trying to go fast enough to select fourth gear, without much success. Strangely the bike then lost all power and sidled to a silent halt. At this point Barry made it clear, through steamed up specs and a closed visor, that something was missing.

It transpired that what was missing was a large part of Barry's shoe.

Said shoe was attached to my carefully polished silencer and was smoking and smelling in a most distressingly pungent manner. I'd like to say that we, or at least Barry, hot-footed it home but we were prevented from doing so by my discovery that there was no fuel in the tank. The bike had seemed to use quite a bit recently and I was about to find out why. There was a small hole at the lowest point of the seam.

Barry came in very useful for pushing the bike in a sort of limping manner, as befits a man without a sole. Fuelled up we struggled home. Soon after that I locked my dorm door and, with a friend and two soldering irons, repaired the tank. 'Will soldering it make it explode?' we both wondered. Luckily for all the other residents we discovered that it didn't.

'Look at its sleek, streamlined Eurostyling...' Honda CB250 Super Dream advert.

And so my Superdreaming went on. I toured the Lake District two up with a sports bag strapped to the tank, went on rallies in the darkest, deepest Forest of Dean but, of course, never managed to attract any winsome wenches outside my own Dreams (sorry about that!). I have such fond attachment to Superdreams that I keep buying them. I've owned about six now.

But, spoiled by the power of bigger toys and the loss of student innocence, they have never been the same as that first one. I have wonderful memories of riding through Warwickshire evenings smelling the changing seasons, looking at the blueish glow of the clocks and listening to the rattle of that camchain, with some beautiful but unobtainable girl on the pillion. It would not be wrong to say that those were truly days of Superdreams!


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