My love of motorcycles came from days spent as a young boy at the Transatlantic Trophy races in the seventies. Watching the likes of Kenny Roberts, and Randy Mamola scrapping it out with a bunch of Brits led by the ubiquitous Barry Sheene. Not surprising then when my first ‘Real’ bike was an RD350LC. The closest thing I could get to the bikes I had watched racing.
I took that first bike and did everything I could to make it go faster. Luckily, a friend of mine worked for the fabled Terry Beckett at the time. He would come over and help me to recreate what he was doing to the TZ350’s with my LC. Of course it had to have a Dyson/Plastic Fantastic body kit. Slowly but surely it turned into possibly the scariest bike I would ever ride.
I remember a 900SS Ducati pulling me aside one day on the motorway. At the services his comment was, “You really shouldn’t be going that fast on that thing”. That was a statement that stuck with me and always made me smile.
A Colourful History
My bike history is colourful to say the least. After my days riding 2 strokes I took a standard Honda 500/4 (The cheaper option than a 750) and tuned every last ounce of power out of it. I fitted Thruxton bars and rear-sets, along with a 4 into one Dunstall exhaust. It was my companion on many journeys and I rode it for many memorable miles.
I also rode a Honda CJ360 for a long while. Again it was modified and turned into a street scrambler years before that became an accepted description.
My British Phase
Then I turned to British bikes, and that is where my love of the parallel twin engine as a design comes from. I had 2 x A7’s, the second a full bore production racer which embarrassed many bigger bikes over the years. I owned a triumph TR25 Trophy Trials for a while too. That is where my love of off-road riding came from, although to be honest, it wasn’t the greatest bike.
Then a Kawasaki KLE500 took over as my everyday bike. It was a great workhorse with an unburstable engine. It took me to so many places I could never list them all and honestly, it never let me down once. I would probably still have it now if some bright spark hadn’t rear ended me and written it off.
Many Special Bikes
Since then I have owned many special bikes. Each has its purpose and they do sometimes get sold so it is an ever changing collection.
My series 1, DL650 Vstrom has been my general dogsbody for many years now and I can;t imagine ever getting rid of it. It is a ratty old thing after years of abuse but still did a 4,000 mile trip around Europe this year. 2 up and fully loaded it did everything I asked of it and as usual was totally reliable.
I still have 2 x Yamaha FZR1000’s, which I consider one of the best motorcycles ever built. One kept for an occassional trackday the other I will be working on again soon.
My Triumph Daytona 955i has one of the most breathtaking engines ever made too. It is the earlier 955i with the faster Lotus cams but not the high compression pistons and has been tuned for 120bhp at the back wheel.
There is also a Laverda SF2, 750 twin that arrived as a pile of oily boxes but is getting ever closer to being finished. Check out the other blogs for more details about some of the bikes.
A Search For The Ultimate Adventure Bike
My search for the ultimate adventure bike brought me from my KLE500 to the Vstrom, but getting the right on/off road balance for me AND a passenger was never going to be easy. I tried an old a DR600 Suzuki, KLR600 Kawasaki and more recently a Cagiva Navigator. The latest addition is an old Rotax powered Aprilia Pegaso 650 which I am looking forward to riding more but it isnt the best pillion bike.
Customising Is Standard
I also love the process of customising and creating a bike that is personal to me. Getting all the little bits right. I took a mild mannered Honda Shadow VLX and turned it into a fire breathing monster. An old Z650 came in a rough and rusty rolling chassis with a pile of parts and it became a fantastic flat track style custom. There is still a carb fed Honda CB1100XX Super Blackbird in pieces sat at the back of the garage which I have plans for too.
I have a CB700SC nighthawk S which I adore, a rare bike in the UK but possibly one of my favourite bikes of all time. For nearly 12 years now though my Suzuki DL650 Vstrom has served me faultlessly. It is a hard bike to beat on many levels, but one bike has not been enough for me for years now. I was also the proud owner of one of the last Cagiva W12’s left in the country. A bike that I never tired of for riding alone, but most of my riding is done with a pillion so it went to a home where it gets ridden more again.As always more will come and go.
Why not join us at the BAREBONESMC forum on Facebook. It gives you access to a helpful group of riders and mechanics from across the world. The group began in the UK but has now become a worldwide phenomenon. So whether you are buying, selling, or simply want advice, there really is no better place to go for anything motorcycle.
If like me you have a passion for everything Laverda, Take a look around the shop for some fantastic Laverda merchandise. There is a special TShirt for those other certified Zane owners too. Click here to see the ‘Only A Zane Will Do’ TShirts. You can find a Laverda 750 Formula Tshirt Here.
Join us on the Italian Motorcycle Owners International Facebook page too. It’s a great place for members to share their stories, experiences and love of Italian Bikes with others.
All for FREE.
You can find some interesting biker videos on YouTube here too.