Tuesday 14 April 2020

A Personal Motorcycle History.......Or A Misspent Youth? Part 2

What follows will probably only make sense if the previous post is read first.
There I was the proud owner of my first motorcycle all paid for, legal in the eyes of the government and in possession of a shiny blue Stadium crash helmet. However as I said before having never ridden a motorbike, absolutely no experience whatsoever.

 Dad took me onto a private road and explained the controls. Made sure not only that I understood where they were, but also what they did and why! I'll post the image of the ST70 again below....

This image is taken from the internet (apologies for any copyright infringement)
The engine gearbox etc were  based on the world best selling Honda Cub. Well proven technology, the gearbox is connected to a centrifugal clutch, This was one less thing to learn at this stage. The front brake controlled from the right hand lever on handlebar (as UK bicycles and motorbikes).The right foot controlling the rear brake and the left foot the gears... all 3 of them! Of course the mighty engine producing 5.2 bhp connected to the twistgrip throttle on the right handlebar
Off I wobbled, no dramas that I remember...after about an hour of gradually getting the hang of things and increasing my speed and practising braking I was given some sobering advice.
Thoughts I have never forgotten...Any small bump or scratch caused by a collision on a car....would more than likely have resulted in a visit to hospital...or worse had it been a motorbike.

At that I was on my own...next day I commuted to work in Kendal from Windermere. No problems.

I loved it...it was summer of course and as well as the commute I would be out every evening and days off exploring the Lakes roads and lanes. The motorbike enabled me to venture so much further than the pushbike. 

Every week I was reading the Motor Cycle newspaper from cover to cover, listed within it were the national and local events for Trials, Scrambles (Motocross), Grass Tracks and Road Racing. It wasn't long before I was spectating. Fuel costs were minimal almost 100mpg from the ST70 and although at this stage I wasn't travelling that far I was certainly putting the miles in. it wasn't all plain sailing though I had a couple of tumbles...neither at any great speed or with any damage to me...there was a little loss of paint on the Honda though.
After a few months I clearly remember one Sunday morning announcing I was off to watch The Travers Trophy Trial at Alston. Over 50miles and over Hartside. Dad said I was asking a lot of the little bike and a bit of mechanical sympathy was never a bad thing. I didn't go. 

I was earning about £15.00 a week, my "Board" was £5.00...What I needed was a bigger bike, with my limit being 250cc as I was yet to pass my test.

The image is from the internet (apologies for any copyright infringement) It is identical to the one I owned
 I had only owned the Monkeybike for less than 4 months, during that time we had moved to Kendal we had a large garage...which wasn't used for cars (the camper was to high)....Into my life came the above, a Honda XL250 Motosport. A 4 Stroke single cylinder 4 valve engine, kickstart only  It was bought used, again from James Walker's in Kendal. Proper clutch this time of course, 5 gears! and about 4 times more powerful. The choice was influenced by what I was seeing at the events I was spectating at, and it's apparent ability to traverse rough ground.
 Surely now there was no distance to great. It was still fairly economical, almost twice as fast, more technologically advanced...and frustratingly unreliable! Not unreliable in a bits dropping off/breaking way...just never knowing if it would start...unpredictable might be a better word.

A classic case...January 1976 and I had been watching an All Wheel Drive Trial above Dubbs Road near Windermere. All went well, I had enjoyed the day...until it was time to go home to Kendal. Would it start, would it buggery! No phone at home in those days...I had been brought up to be as independent as possible...time to start pushing then. Fortunately the first section is more or less downhill, perhaps it would start running it off/bump starting? Nope...flat to Staveley and just beyond on the A591. But then a long uphill (where a Police motorcyclist stopped and said he would give me a tow if I had a rope...I hadn't..great offer though) before a coast down into Kendal. Upon pushing it into the garage at home after about 7 miles it was for sale in my mind. I turned round and thought I'll just give it one last kick over....of course it started....

I took my motorcycle test in Kendal in the January 1976 as well and passed first time...I'd been putting the miles in somewhere in the region of 6000 miles in all weathers in the 5 months or so. The test was no whre near as rigorous as the present one. From memory, a few questions on the Highway Code. Then the tester walked round the block, you rode in the opposite direction hence he saw you a number of times including his "suicide" move as he stepped out in-front of you to carry out the "Emergency Stop"....Brave Man!!

As the  old cartoon said "That's all for now folks"
Stay Safe and Take Care

No comments:

Post a Comment