Some of the other bikes I have owned - Page 2 of 3
Honda XL250 I was now divorced and penniless my next bike cost me £150
from Cambridge Bike breakers. A 250 Honda XL trail bike with a 23 inch front
wheel. This XL250 changed my life more than any other bike. I live in the country
and I started riding Green Lanes and riding down the local Gravel pits. My riding
skills improved enormously as a result. I fell in love with off road riding and
virtually stopped road riding for 8 years.
Yamaha XZ550 Vision Café Racer x 3 I had £500 and I
wanted a road bike I could take to the TT. I bought a non
running XZ550. I stripped it, fitted clip-ons, rear sets, spax
shock and adapted a racing seat from a YZ750. I panel beat
the tank to give clearance for the clip-ons. I painted the frame
red, wheels gold and the rest of the bike red & white. I
polished everything I could and the finished result was I think
The standard XZ550 was so rare I was always being stopped
and asked what I was riding. I took it to the TT and overtook
every other V Twin all week except for one Guzzi. I just loved
hunting down Ducati riders on the XZ550. The handling
was quite good however the rear shaft drive made the rear end
heavy and a bit vague.
A friend from work bought 2 broken XZ550's plus a 3rd engine
to build one like mine. He soon lost interest so I bought them
off him for £175. The second version I built was blue/white
then I built another red/white bike. One had a seized big end
which I had to fix and on the other the ignition/ecu was never
quite right (Typical Yamaha). I sold them all and made about
£2000 profit in total.
If only the R&D people at Yamaha had thought of turning this
frumpy tourer into a sports middleweight they could have
been 10 years ahead of the Suzuki SV650.
I loved the XZ550's so I thought that a Moto Guzzi 650 Monza would be the perfect upgrade. How wrong could I be,
the performance was far inferior and it was built by people who failed the entry exam to build Yamaha's in the
1970's. When cleaned and polished the Monza looked lovely, sounded great and everyone admired it. I serviced it
and fixed so many things that were not working The 650 Guzzi could cruise at 80 and I rode 300 miles in a day to
Thruxton and back for a washed out BSB meeting. The next day I cleaned the bike, took it for a spin and the engine
dropped a valve in a 30 mph limit. It turns out "They all do that mate" because Guzzi friction weld the valve heads
onto the valve stems eek!
I drove to Brighton to buy a secondhand head, barrel and piston and rebuilt one side. It ran OK so I sold it. The next
day the new owner called to say it had dropped a valve (other side) on the way home. I lost so much money on this
bike, at the time money I simply did not have. I should have known better because Dad had a Mark II 850 Le Mans
in the 1980's and we both agreed it was totally overrated and had too many inherent problems.
The wife of an acquaintance of mine offered me her husband's Honda ?. Even better he refused to take money as
payment. We got it in the back of my car and I took it home. I had it running in 30 minutes. I recall this bike had
some sort of wind up clockwork starter mechanism, quiet clever. I sold it to my local postman who used it for a
couple of years.
This is a photo of the bike but I don't know the model and I don't care enough to look it up!
Italjet 350 I had watched a Trail Bike Enduro Club event (TBEC) at Chippenham in Suffolk and I wanted to join and
give Enduro's a try but I needed a cheap bike. This Italjet 350 was in a local dealers. The bike had a 350 Bultaco
aircooled engine in an Italjet frame with the rear shock horizontal between the bottom frame tubes under the
sump. It sounded OK, the engine was simple and I liked it's quirkiness. I road it a Whaddon for my first Enduro.
What a bitch to start. It ran OK but it was so outclassed, not that it mattered, I was almost dead from exhaustion
after 2 laps I sold it shortly afterwards (2 years later I was completing 12 laps, getting into the top 10 finishers and
loving every hard fought minute of it).
Why do the Italians create such clever bikes but don't bother to make them robust enough to use?
I sold my XL250 and bought a K100 from a work colleague. It was in a terrible state but only cost £75. I had seen
some guy riding up and down near vertical slopes at the gravel pit on his K100 which made me want to give it a
try. I tuned the engine, I resprayed everything green and bought another seat. The K100 was small, nimble,
torquey and great fun off road. Unfortunately it was not much fun on road getting there.
A young lad and his dad came to look at it. Off his son went and he came back grinning from ear to ear wanting
the bike. I'm sure my version was much quicker than his dad thought possible.
Kawasaki KMX125 I wanted a reliable Trail bike that I could also ride in Enduro's. I bought a KMX125 from the
local airbase I then went trail riding in Wales with the Cambridgeshire TRF. The first trail I ever rode was also the
most difficult trail I've ever ridden, what a start to my green laning. Over a deep, wide stream, through a hedge
then up a cliff using an old pack horse route that was sometimes used as a trials section. We all stopped several
times with overheated engines. The Cambridge TRF were a great bunch and we had some fantastic times over
many years. I also road the KMX in TBEC Enduro's, it could not keep up with pukka Enduro bikes. A good job
because the suspension was hopeless at speed off road, I would hit a bump at speed and it would throw me off.
A well built, reliable, sturdy bike that misfired for 100 yards every time you went near water.
There was a company in the New Forest named XR's Only who imported XR600's from the USA. They had a
container with 42 bikes imported from California and I was the first to visit. This XR was mint, 4 years old, no rust,
just perfect. So I bought it. I took the XR600 Trail riding, Enduro Riding and I went Moto Crossing as well.
The engine ran well (it was a Honda after all) and it had a Supertrapp silencer. I had the front pipes chromed
locally and she looked a treat. The frame kept cracking and I had to get it welded up in about 6 places. In the end
we got a bit tired of each other after a Welsh 2 day event. Big 600 cc 4 strokes are too heavy for me to lift out of a
I was still single and I fancied a go at Trials riding to I bought a TY250 and rode one event at a reservoir in
Leicestershire. It was sort of fun but not really for me, all that bunny hoping the better riders were
doing in their Lycra suits. I did enjoy riding up and down some previously impossible hills at the local gravel pit.
My eldest son who was in his teens also loved riding it
These bikes were gold dust in the UK. I advertised it for £200 more than I paid. The first guy came round, he
was a farmer and wanted to knock me down in price. No joking I had 10 more phone calls while he was
haggling. He bought the TY but he was so unhappy that I would not budge on the price.
Kawasaki KX100 & KX125 I bought the KX100 for my two sons to learn Motocross. It cost me £510 and we ran it
for 3 years and I sold it for £520. After 1 year I then looked for a KX125 and drove to Swansea to collect this one.
The KX125 cost me £750 I had to replace the 3rd gear cog (Caused by landing hard with a foot on gear lever) and
I fitted a new piston. I got my money back when we sold it. Off road biking can be so cheap if you are handy with a
Both the KX's were brilliant bikes for teenagers. Well built with good performance and good suspension. I even
rode the 125 in an Enduro when I was between off road bikes.
Suzuki GS1000 Malcolm one of my TRF friends started buying used Japanese bikes back from Italy. They were
all low mileage with no rust. This gave me a chance to try the bikes I could never afford in my youth and make
some cash. All they needed was some TLC. On this GS1000 I had to get the tank resprayed and replace the
white seat. The GS1000 was fun to ride, it felt heavy and dated but it was still a good bike.
I sold it to a mysterious guy from Ireland. We arranged for me to trailer the bike up to Hollyhead and he met me
off the ferry. We did the deal, he paid cash and while we were chatting Special Branch came over and took him in
for questioning. I never knew his name, I guess even terrorist suspects can be into bikes.
Kawasaki Z900 Another bike I always wanted to try. This one came from Malcolm with a kinky Italian brown
suede seat cover. I rode over to Straightline Racing to buy a new Alpha 4:1 exhaust system. They offered me
£380 for my airbox and a free set of K&N's. I said no but on reflection maybe I was being stupid.
On my first ever ride it was rattling at the front. I stopped and found the all nuts fixing the axle to the bottom of
the fork legs were loose. From that moment on I will not ride a strange bike without a pre-flight check.
I sold it to a Policeman.
In 1996 Suzuki UK were selling new 1994 RM250's for £3,000 dressed up in Greg Albertine WC colours. I bought
mine from Bowers of Bury St Edmunds. A fantastic feeling to ride it new. I loved the RM. I modified the engine as
per Eric Gorr's recommendations and fitted a flywheel
I was now getting top 10 finishes in TBEC enduro's. I also rode the Welsh 2 day Enduro, the John Banks, the
Hyde Parker and many other events. This bike was great to ride, the forks were a little harsh (or probably I was
not really quick enough to fully compress them) and the brakes never quite matched my previous RM.
The guy I sold it to fussed around and moaned at every little nick and imperfection. He gave me the cash then
laid the bike on it's side in the back of his van, no blanket, fuel still in tank, no hold down straps and drove off.
What a Plonker! I have great memories of this bike.
Suzuki RM250 By this time I was riding Moto Cross practice tracks every weekend. Common sense prevailed
and I finally bought a pukka 250 MX bike for £850. I suddenly found out how easy pukka MX bikes were to ride.
The suspension could really make light work of surfaces that had me fighting the heavy XR. I fitted a flywheel to
the alternator for Enduro work (I could not afford a proper RMX version). I reduced the size of the transfer ports as
per Eric Gorr's articles in DirtBike Rider. The brakes were by far the best I have ever had on any bike, I could out
brake everyone with one finger and lift the rear tyre off the ground. Better riders would come past and I'd still beat
them into a corner. It was also good at lock to lock tank slappers when I took one hand off the bars to pull my roll
off. I nice bike for £850.
After a few years away from road bikes I wanted to get back so I bought a year old Suzuki SV650. A good choice. I
fitted an Art Exhaust can that was about it. The SV was good fun on the road and it did everything I needed. A bit
like my XZ550 with an extra 20 BHP, Yamaha definitely missed a trick there. Dad bought it off me.
Dad and I both found that the SV650 would get into a vicious tank slapper if accelerating hard on a bumpy road. I
have never owned another road bike with this problem. In the UK road testers recommended them for beginners
which tends to prove that they don't actually ride their test bikes much. I bet a few too many novices got caught out
and crashed. The son of the guy who owned my local Bike shop wrote off his SV650 crashing while accelerating
on a bumpy straight, nasty!
On holiday I met a guy named Bob who took 3 weeks off each year to tour the Alps. I was hooked and I wanted to
do the same. When I returned to the UK I searched the Web and joined the BigTrailBike.com site. I booked to
ride the Stella Alpina event in 2003. I needed a bike and bought this Honda XRV750 Africa Twin from
Cambridge. I fitted a taller screen, Remus exhaust, crash bars and a top box. It was a great bike, another one of
my favourites, it looked splendid in red, white and blue. When I removed the bodywork the Honda finish showed,
there was corrosion everywhere. I also remember that removing both the front cylinder spark plugs is a bitch.
I rode some long trips in the UK and then the Stella Alpina. Riding the Alps for the first time is one of life's
greatest prizes. Especially in the company of a great bunch of guys who love their bikes and ride fast. The Africa
twin really needed more Ooomph, at times I was flat at 85 uphill, into wind on the French motorways. Then there
was the seat which was excruciatingly painful on long trips. Honda should have developed the XRV rather than
replacing it with the Varadildo. There were 850 conversion kits but why bother when I could buy a Tiger 955i.
GasGas250EC I bought a nearly new GasGas250 from Halifax in the middle of the Foot and Mouth scare when off
road bikes could not be ridden (Unlike off road race horses!!!). The GasGas was a copy of a Honda CR250 engine
in a bright, chrome plated copy of a Kawasaki KX frame. GasGas incorporated a balancer shaft, a low central fuel
cell and it had a 6 speed 125 type gear box. Cycle parts included an Ohlins shock, quality swinging arm, "U" rims,
huge spokes and electronic instruments that never worked. A very clever Enduro bike developed for Paul
Edmundson. The GasGas was so easy to ride. The soft suspension soaked up everything and for lesser riders
like me I could nail it for the whole 3 hours in an Enduro whereas the KTM 300 proved to be too much.
Surprisingly the GasGas ran perfectly for 3 years although the trip and speedo never worked. It was noisy through.
At one event even brand new bikes failed the noise tests. I got re-married and I sold it because I had to give up off
road riding it seemed I no longer had the time.
3rd KTM300 EXC (New) After 2 years I sold my 300EXC and bought a new replacement (Also in it's box). I took the
bike to an Enduro to run it in and it laid it's chain on the ground in the first lap. Dooh! This bike vibrated too much for
me and it was so outrageously fast, even more so then it's predecessor. I stripped the engine to have the crank
checked. Everything was KTM perfect. Unfortunately I got too much arm pump and tennis elbow from riding it
because the bike was so indecently quick. I could clear most table top jumps and my trouble was landing too far off
the end. I could out drag anything on this bike, quite incredible. I sold the KTM because I could not maintain a
decent speed in a 3 hour event. A better rider would have loved it.
Ducati 900SS My father got a call from the brother of my godmother who had a neighbour who's lodger had a
bike for sale, was he interested? You could not make it up. I went up to northern England and bought the bike,
not knowing exactly what I was going to see.
This was an Australian spec Ducati the guy had bought in Singapore and brought it back to the UK. It had all
the paperwork and was very original, no rust, Borianni rims, paper thin bodywork with the original paint. The
pictures do not do it justice, it was in amazing condition and completely unrestored.
I had always longed to ride one of these but a Ducati! Italian! Every time I switched it on different lights would or
would not work. I could start it 3rd kick but it was a challenge to get going. I advertised the bike and so many
callers were put off because it was imported. Dickheads, where do they think Dukes are made, Guildford?
Other callers wanted the later model with cast wheels (and the soft Darmah engine) What!!! Were they
completely mad? Anyway a great guy came to see it. He knew all about them, he pointed out a few minor
things that were not original. He started it first kick and paid the asking price. I made enough money to pay for
my Tiger 955i and he got probably the best, most original 900SS in the UK so we were both happy.
I only ever rode the Duke 10 miles, it was smooth but I just knew it was fragile and I dare not give it any stick,
especially after my 650 Monza. I have vowed that will never buy an Italian bike to keep, I have learned from bitter
experience to distrust the build quality.
Mondial 151RS 150cc Scooter (New) I bought a brand new Mondial 151RS Scooter to keep in Turkey for £655
on the road. It has a 4 stroke engine, automatic clutch and variable transmission, disk brakes and looks great.
The Mondial scooter is fantastic. It rips up to 100 kph and will go anywhere. Great fun. I love exploring solo or 2
up, going to the shops, finding new beaches etc. If I were retired I'd even ride it back to the UK just for the buzz
of touring Europe on a 150 scooter. Spares are cheap e.g. The front pads needed replacing and I paid £40 to
have a new master cylinder, new pipe, new caliper assembly fitted plus an oil change and a new spark plug. I
have ridden it 5,000km so far, nice.
Daytona 955i It had to be done. I fancied trying out a Daytona and I picked this one up in Kent. It was mid
winter and the train I took down got delayed. I rode home in a snow storm for 105 miles as it got dark. My Klan
heated jacker was working but my fingers and toes were so cold I had to stop to warm up. I really liked the
Daytona, a bit more power than the Tiger 955i and much taller gearing gave it a fast, relaxing long legged
personality. They look the business in yellow and sound so good next to a Jap 4 cylinder. This Daytona had
been ridden all year yet under the bodywork there was nowhere near as much corrosion as my Honda XRV.
Triumph really do supply a good quality, long lasting finish. I sold it on eBay to a guy in Czechoslovakia who's
brother came over in a van to give me the cash and collect it.
2nd KTM300 EXC (New)
Somewhere in Tunstall forest
Honda CB500 twin Someone I knew through work offered me this CB500 as a non runner. It sat round the side
of my house for a year. I got it going but the bike was not worth fixing up so I sold it on. The only time I have not
completed a "Project Bike". It would have been really boring when finished so I thought why bother.
Kawasaki Z900 Italian Café conversion Malcolm had a
rather sad looking unfinished Italian Café conversion
gathering dust. I bought it and you can see the result. The
fibreglass fuel tank was beautiful, it was sculpted to
mould to the body of the rider. I rebuilt, polished and
sprayed the bike. It looked very good. I took it for a test
ride the day before the MOT and a Police Car followed me
home. I had no tax, no mot but they admired the bike so
much they let me off.
I found the Z900 too much of a stretch and I could barely
reach the bars. It ran well but oh the brakes. When I ride
a 20 year old bike I find that the brakes and the grip from
the tyres are really poor and show their age.
I sold it and trailered the Z900 down to the M4 Services
near Swindon. On the way I learned that Princess Dianna
had just been killed, very sad.
1st KTM300 EXC After 2 years I sold my RM250 and bought a Pumpkin coloured 300 KTM from a friend. It had
such a smooth tractable engine and a seat that made you stand. I rode it in one Enduro. The gear lever fell off
on the first lap and I rode the remaining 3 hours in 4th. These KTM's can really lug and it never wanted to stall.
So much easier to ride in an Enduro than my RM and so quiet. On the down side it was high and wide and no
where near as nimble as the RM. I liked it so much I decided to buy a one of the new Tangerine Dream KTM's.
Triumph Tiger 955i (New in 2003) All the details are contained in my Tiger 955i pages
I wanted a new KTM300EXC and a friend was keen to start importing them. After a long saga I
got the second of the new Tangerine coloured KTM's to reach the UK. I wanted to get the KTM in
it's crate and assemble it myself. That is my bike in the box on my drive. What a great day.
The KTM was so slim, so light, so nimble and so tractable. Everything about it was 100% better
than my previous off road bikes. I rode it in the John Banks Enduro when no one else in the UK
had seen one, not even the works KTM riders. I felt chuffed to bits. Boy this KTM was fast, when
I opened the throttle it was like Star Trek "Engage Warp drive Mr Scott... Aye, aye Captain".
Whoosh. I know road bikes are quicker but the shear exhilaration of winding up through all the
gears while crossing a bumpy field, braking hard to do a 180 turn round a tree and blasting
back again is so very rewarding. Only riding a Tiger 1050 fast up some of the Alpine passes
After 12 months I took the engine apart to try and improve it. The quality of the KTM engineering
was incredible. Every casting was perfect. Every gasket was a perfect fit, no rough edges
anywhere. I just put it back together. The engine was great to work on. Truly the best
engineering I have ever seen on a bike. Well done KTM.
I rode it in the Welsh 2 day and I was in 8th in the Clubman's class till I fell and crushed a finger.
I still won a Silver medal (But not a Gold). The only issue for me was the spokes which showed
rust even though I washed the bike after every event.
Suzuki GSXR1100K Another of my all time favourite bikes. I was getting divorced
and knowing I would soon be penniless I saw this nearly new GSXR in the local
paper. Metallic charcoal and silver/grey in as new condition. I paid £3,600. The
"K" model was the last of the right side up forks. The press slated it after some
TT riders reported handling problems. The engine has been de-restricted and
she was so fast. I clocked 175 redlined in top going up a gradient. The 1100 had
a prodigious mid range in 3rd, or 4th 100 mph was never more than 2 seconds
away. The handling required continuous rider input and you could not sit neutral
on the K. I had to force it into corners and pick it up on the way out. So very
rewarding to ride, a real "Mans bike" I loved it to bits. I think the handling issues
were caused by the rebound damping being too firm. On bumpy corners the
suspension compressed and could not recover in time for the next bump which
caused me a couple of moments!
I was a member of the Peterborough Bike club and the 1100K could live with
anything. I know that Busa's and ZZR1300's are now quicker but in its day the
GSXR1100K was so much faster than anything else on the road. I absolutely
loved it. I rode it all summer and sold it to for £4,200. Perfect.
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