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Bike Review - Posted 15th October 2012
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After three decades out of the saddle, David Broughton makes a classic comeback with the bike he rode as a teenager...

'Dad, what bike did you have when you were seventeen?'

'A BSA C15 but when I passed my car test I sold it to buy an old Hillman Husky. That was over thirty years ago and I haven't been on a motorbike since.'

A few moments later.

'Dad, there's a C15 on and there are no bids on it, come and have a look.'

I prised myself out of the armchair and looked at the bike, a lovely almond green. Yes, agreed, it was a nice looking bike but I haven't been on a bike for over thirty years.

'Go on Dad make an offer.'

'Go on Dad make an offer.'...

I had no intention of buying a bike but as there were no bids and seven days before the auction finished I reckoned that (1) someone would bid higher than me before the auction ran out, and (2) the quickest route back to the armchair was by putting in a low bid.

Two days later. 'Dad, you're still the highest bidder.'

That's OK I thought, plenty of time for others to bid. No need to panic.

Four days later. 'Dad you're still the highest bidder.'

A little more worrying, but most people bid at the last minute I reassured myself.

Ten minutes to go before the auction end. 'Dad, you're still the highest bidder.'

C Series BSAs on

OK, I thought this is getting serious. The bike is 130 miles away, I've no motorcycling gear and I've not ridden a motorcycle for over thirty years!

5. 4. 3. 2. 1. 'Dad, you've won!'

'Yeah right, that's not funny.'

'No Dad, look you really have won.'

I looked, I gasped, I looked again. If I had a mobile phone and knew how to text it I would have texted OMG. But this was real. I had just bought a 1961 BSA C15 and it was 130 miles away waiting for me to collect it.

The already famous BSA 250 Star with many fine feautures. Reinforced glass fibre leg shields available... BSA C15

Fast forward five days, on a train to destination BSA. Earlier in the week I had to visit a motorcycling clothing shop to purchase my leathers and helmet. These cost more than I had paid for the bike. On the train panic was rising. I had planned to ride the bike home - 'What a fool! Why didn't I hire a van or find a mate with a trailer?' No, like an idiot I had decided to travel up by train and ride the bike home all on the premise that it had an MOT certificate.

Two stations to my destination. What if I couldn't remember how to ride the bike? It had been over thirty years.

Destination arrived. 'What have I done?' The seller's directions in his email showed that it was only a short walk to his house. Could I feign bubonic plague and turn back home and request a refund at a later date? No, I had to make contact with the seller.

After introductions I was introduced to the bike. Love at first sight! Sure, she (it's always a she) was a bit tatty on the paintwork and there were some worrying dribbles of oil from underneath.

After tea and cake and documentation completed it was time to leave. LEAVE? How could I leave? I couldn't remember how to steer, let alone use the controls.

Quickly, I made up a story that I was meeting a mate at the station and would get togged up once we had met. Heart pounding, legs like jelly, I pushed the bike to the station. What next? I was 130 miles from home. I looked at the bike, I kicked it over and it started first kick. 'So I can't claim it does not work, what now? Could I ring the RAC and say I'd broken down?'

Three flaws with this strategy:

  • It was dishonest.
  • The bike had not broken down.
  • I wasn't a member of the RAC.

    Opposite the station was a large lay-by. I got dressed complete with body armour (new experience) and kick-started the bike. She purred! Sitting on the C15, I was no longer 48: I was 17 again. I could have stayed all day listening to her dulcet tones. But I had the slight (did I say slight?) problem of getting her home. Clutch in, gear engaged and... stall and wobble. More panic. What to do? No choice, kick-start again, into gear and slowly we're off. Whoa! Forgot about cars!

    Two miles in, heart thumping, wind in my face and a huge Cheshire grin on my face. Seventeen again on a Beesa. Why did I leave it so long? Come to a junction, two choices home via the M26 and M25 or a much longer route via country lanes. It was getting late and I am a fool so the M26/M25 route beckoned.

    In lane two of the M25 I needed to move over four lanes. New panic, heart in overdrive, hadn't factored in that I would have to do a left hand signal: look behind to check I could safely cross. I can do it… it will be ok if there is no traffic. No traffic? This was the M25! Somehow, somehow, much too traumatic to be stored in my memory, I crossed the lanes successfully.

    Three hours later I turned into my road and as I approached I saw my son looking anxiously down the road, with tears streaming down his face. 'Oh Dad, I thought you'd been killed and it would have been entirely my fault.' I hugged him and thanked him.

    'No son, I'm seventeen again. Priceless!'

    'No son, I'm seventeen again. Priceless!'... BSA C15


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