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10th April 2006


Opinion: Why are we here? Part three of tons

Stuart Morrisson takes up our challenge to explain how his interest in classic motorcycles has developed over the years. Will he ever be brave enough to buy a Brit?...

Yes. I too was part of that happy band of teenagers destined to follow the Jap route or the Brit route. Personally, I never really owned a Brit bike (apart from a Raleigh Runabout - but that's a different story!) but went from Honda 250 G5 (remind me to tell you about that one), through a GS550 (DB with wire spoked wheels) and on to a very up-to-date Quacker Z500.

A Honda CB750F2 yesterday.

It started with my sister's boyfriend who had a Honda CB750F2 (mag wheels and 4 into 1 exhaust). He took me out for a ride, tapping me on the knee and pointing at the speedo showing 120mph! That was it - I wanted a bike. So bought my mate's Dad's Raleigh Runabout. Wished I'd kept it - worth a fortune now. But a pile of pooh at the time and I rode it (helmet-less, licenese-less, MoT-less, tax-less and brain-less) around the close where I lived.

After a few months I bought a Honda CB250G5. On my 17th birthday I took to the roads. What a dream it was! What a pile of pooh I found out it really was! My friends had a BMW R65 and a Matchless 350, a Yamaha XS70, a Yamaha RD400, RD250, Norton 750, a Quacker KH250, etc.

All very different machines but somehow equally matched. We had such jolly great fun riding out on a summer's afternoon to Bournemouth, Lyme Regis, Dartmoor, etc.

My best mate was an author at Haynes [was his name Phil, by any chance? TP] and he brought a different bike each time they stripped it for the next manual. He'd turn up with a Suzuki GS1000S, then a Yam Seca, then a Ducati Hailwood Replica (which he couldn't kick start) and so on.

My sister's boyfriend's brothers rode a Honda CD175 (made my G5 look sophisticated!) and the KH (totally bonkers). My best mate from school sold his Suzi AP50 and bought one of the first Yam RD250LCs - wow, what a bike!

Random CB750 bits on eBay.co.uk

On the dark side, other friends' brothers had a Bonneville 650, a Royal Enfield, a (dare I say) an AJS. 'Acres of chrome' one of them said. 'Pile of pooh' we said, and so it began. Not content to deal with Mods and Taff-Speed Lambrettas, we had now laid down the gauntlet to the Brit Bike Brigade!

A Honda CB750F2 in drag.

Then we went dirt biking....

My DT400MX, my best mate (and soon to be best man) DT175MX, TS185s, PE185s, IT175s, XR200s. I even had a Honda XL250MotorSport for a while (rubbish off road). My girlfriend had a TS100, her friend a TS185, her friend a DT175MX and so on. Never saw a Brit bike off-road. Never even really thought about it. Someone had a Cheney XT500 (but a very serious rider) and someone else the DR400 (not the 'leccy start thing we have today), but nothing Brit.

Then came cars and then came marriage and then came kids... and that was the end (for twenty years).

And now... DT175MX, DR400 (old school), GN400 and very recently Guzzi V50 (summer project).

I would like a Brit bike but am frightened off by Whitworth, paper gaskets and right-hand (foot) gear changes. Might change my mind for a nice Bonnie or Interstate, though...


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