18th April 2016
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Bill Little Says Goodbye
After 40 years in the British and classic bike business, Bill Little is heading for retirement. He signs off in his own words...
It’s been much better than a proper job but this is the year that I have decided to retire after almost 40 years in the trade. If I’m honest I have always preferred the buying to the selling part, probably something to do with turning a hobby into a business.
Motorcycling was in my blood from quite an early age. The first bike I ever rode was a lovely G3 Matchless which belonged to the brother of my friend, Chris Nichols of Comnic fame, who is still outfit racing today. We were about 14 at the time and we use to ride around the old gas works yard at Cricklade. Shortly afterwards my first purchase was a joint venture another school friend, £4 each, a late 40s B31 – we removed the mudguards and use to pretend to be drag racers on the old air field at Blakehill, now a nature reserve.
Since the late 1970s thousands of bikes have come and gone most of which I have personally road-tested, solos and outfits. I love the grunt of a V-twin and regularly use a Guzzi outfit myself. But I fail to see the fascination with Broughs or Vincents and why prices have got so silly – I’ve had them in the past, never enjoyed riding them and have no desire for them now. I’ve always been of the opinion that bikes are for riding, with Velos remaining my favourites even though the technique of getting them started sometime evades me. Nevertheless I have ridden thousands of miles on my trusty Velo including the first End to End, and it also took me on my first John Bull Rally in Belgium.
We survived three recessions and had a lot of fun. Our first Open Day in 1991 came about because of I needed to raise charity sponsorship for the first End to End and as there were other motorcyclists in the village taking part in the locally organised VMCC event I needed to think of something different. The Open Days went on for another 20 years – they were a lot of hard work but great fun. The final demise of the Open Days came about because of the unpredictable British summers and the unreliability of the bands – we couldn’t do much about the weather and somehow we always managed to find great music at short notice, but at times it sent me to lie in a darkened room! Becoming a granddad also had something to do with it.
In conjunction with Bob Fisher (now VMCC area rep) we started a new VMCC section – West Wilts – in 2004. I was more than happy to leave all the work to Bob – he had made such a good job organising the End to End! The section is very active and goes from strength to strength.
The best thing about motorcycling is the people you ride with and those you meet on your travels – no matter what they ride. Sometime this year I will close the doors of the barn for the last time but I hope for many years yet I will continue to enjoy the riding and taking part in road trials.
Why not join me for the VMCC West Wilts Section White Horse Trial on the 3rd July 2016 or perhaps the Colombres Rally in October?
There may be a few bikes left in Bill’s retirement sale: www.classicbikesuk.com
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