I hope this is OK to post here because it is basically an advert for the VMCC.
As a "younger" member (early 30's) I was asked by the club to do a piece on what got me into classic bikes. In my experience the average age of people with an interest in classic bikes tends to be older which makes sense due to people having an affection for machines from their youth.
My experience as a "younger" enthusiast has been extremely positive with older enthusiasts tending to be happy that someone younger shares their passion.
I thought I would post this here to prompt the question, why are you into classic brit bikes? Is it because it is what you've grown up with or are you like me and are just drawn to them despite them being 30-50 years my senior?
I have always had an affinity for things older then me.... Vintage cars and old hollywood movies . WW2 pinups and 50's cheesecake. Once I got the bug for BSAs, it was an extension of what Ive been drawn to all of my life.... I had a Schwinn Stingray 5 speed Fastback bicycle as a kid and lived on that bike all day doing Evil Knievel stunts with my friends.... I even rode that bike to my first job until I got my first Chevelle. Motorized 2 wheels was just a natural progression. I couldn't have my muscle car in The City and once I was turned onto the British bike scene here it was all over... Hook line and sinker.... My obsession with the American 50s lifestyle , think American Graffiti movie, had been exhaustively strong in my world. Learning of the same period in Britain breathed new live into learning about the Rockers and the Ace Cafe etc. etc..... But more then that British bikes are working mechanical art pieces . Well designed in appearance. Easy to work on . A thrill to ride and even better--- the friends that I have made because of these wonderful machines is priceless .... Thanks to Britbike.com and the International rallies for that ......
"1974 Triumph Trident, good condition, $900." The lady who answered the phone, her first words were, "It's kick start only." I thought, "Great! It's a real motorcycle!" It took a few rides, but I got used to the RH shift and convinced that that's how it should be. Until I bought that bike the extent of my mechanic abilities was keeping a VW on the road. I made my mistakes with the Trident, but by the time it needed rebuilding I was ready. I appreciate the relative ease of maintenance and the fact that, for the most part, spares are still available. Mostly I like the intuitive handling, enter a corner at the correct speed and the bike finds the correct line through the corner.
I blame an old employer and good friend. I was never into motorcycles, I always liked mechanics but was more a Hot Rod/Kustom kinda guy. Anyway, Owen would tell me this story of sitting down by the Gosport ferry terminal on a Saturday night watching this guy pull up on a nearly new 68 Bonnie. He would pick up a bit fanny and roar off only to return a while later looking for the next bit! Years later he ran into the guys brother and had to ask about the Bonnie. Sure enough it was still in the family but neither brother would ever consider selling it.
Fortunately for Owen the owner was now married, to a well known lady known as " Sweaty Betty ". He gave up all the habits of youth in order to save 500 pounds in 5 pound notes. He then waited until the brothers were out, knocked on the door and waved the cash under Betty's nose. Sure enough he was soon pushing the bike home, flat tyres and all!
I heard this tale a few times before I finally met the fabled Bonnie, I still remember the sound coming up the street, it was fantastic! The bike was dry as a bone with not a leak insight and looked rougher than a $2 prostitute. I was hooked and eventually brought my TR6 from a guy Owen had ridden around with in the 80'S.
Took me a few years before I talked him into letting me paint the old girl.
The two bikes together circa mid 1980
Again in 2008
And that beautiful Bonnie as it was last time I saw it
Now if I could just raise the cash to buy the Bonnie and ship it over here so the two bikes could be reunited.
Last edited by R Moulding; 05/01/207:07 am.
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space 'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth'
Bought my first Triumph 650 in 1974...I was new to bikes.paid about $600, no one wanted them. Actually I enjoy working on bikes more than riding them, a an old heap provides plenty of that...
79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,61 A10 .On a bike you can out run the demons.. “But I don't want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can't help that,” said the Cat: “we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.
"Actually I enjoy working on bikes more than riding them, a an old heap provides plenty of that..." Hillbilly bike, I agree with your statement. Nothing more rewarding than taking an "old heap" and bringing it back to life. The sound of an old motor coming to life after a long slumber is music to my ears and the smell of long cold metal heating up for the first time after 50+ years is perfume to my nostrils. But I do enjoy riding them also...sparingly; to be savored like fine wine.
They say every dog has his day.. Trouble is, nobody tells the dog which day it is !
In my case I grew up on L.I. N. Y. My dad and Godfather were heavy into the sporty car world. As a pre teen getting to ride in all brands of foreign cars got me hooked. The town I lived in also had a Brit bike dealer and BMW bike dealer. Riding my pedal bike there on Sat. and seeing and hearing those machines did me in. Then in the early 60's my dad was hired as the general manager @ North Country Mtrs. in Manhasset. next town over Port Wasington was the home of Ghost Motorcycles. Many a Sat. I would be dropped off there and spent ours lusting over motorbikes. Moving on, 1970 I get a part time job prep/make ready @ Foreign Cars of Suffolk. Datsun. Alfa, Jag, Rover, Lancia. where I should have stayed. Out of HS in the summer of 1971 my brain goes haywire and I'm sucked in head first to the muscle car era.That turned into 28 years as Mr. Goodrench. Making decent $$ in 74 BMW blows me away when the R90S lands here. Still way above my pay grade but a 900 Z-1 was not. I had learned to ride motorbikes as a kid on mini bikes and up to some friends dirt bikes as I got older. Early summer 1974 I had stashed enough $$ for a down payment and bought a 74 900 Z-1. over the next year Dick Cycle West 1/4 faring, 4-1 pipe, carb jet, black chrome super bike style bars. Many $$ and trips into see Jack O @ Orient Express. Rode the Kwacker for years. Then in 77 got a deal on a left over T-160 and I have been doomed since. Through the 80's & 90's picked up more bikes. Couple more Tridents, a 69 Victor. some Suz GS's. 19 yrs ago bought a 76-R-75/6 airhead, my wife of 20 yrs rides also so that added to the pile. New Bonny in 01, a A-65 ridged, Yam. dirt bike. 650 Suz. and a custom T-160. 4 yrs ago we sold both T-160's her Suz. her 01 Bonny. She still had our shared 05 Z-750S to ride till last May. She bought an 05 Tri. Bonny Speedmaster with just over 3500 miles. My last new bike is a 03 Bonny and of course in cafe trim. Thruxton before Tri. did one !! As of today we are down to 14 bikes. 5 currently tagged, the rest properly mothballed. I retired in July 2015 and social distance by riding every day!!!! Keep Bik'n Brit or anybrand!!!! Regards Geoff
My parents HATED (literally, hated) motorcycles. So, there was no way they were ever going to buy me one (or either of my older brothers) especially because we were 10 kids and if they bout a vehicle for ONE, they were going to have to buy lots and lots of vehicles.
So, I rode friends' mini-bikes and dirt bikes till I got a decent job as a short-order cook and bought my first bike, a used 125 street-legal "enduro" type. That started a string of buying used bikes, as I was never able to afford a new one. So, you might say I STARTED OUT on "classic" bikes, although back then they were just USED.
I got into Britbikes when I made a trade for 5 project bikes in exchange for a used A/C system for a friend's house, including the ductwork. One of those bikes was a '69 Bonnie with scrambler pipes from a TR6C. That was the beginning of a long, happy collection of classics, mostly Triumphs (44 so far).
I've never really cared for modern bikes since they started making them look like they ran into a brick wall, with the tail up in the air and plastic bodywork everywhere. I made an exception when I traded a '78 Bonnie for a 2000 Triumph Legend 900 triple, then bought a 2002 Bonneville for my wyfe, and again when I bought a crashed ZRX and rebuilt it. That is the extent of my 2000 or newer bikes, the next newest one is a 1992 TDM850 which is definitley considered a classic.
GrandPaul (does not use emoticons) Author of the book "Old Bikes" Too many bikes to list, mostly Triumph & Norton, a BSA, & some Japanese "The Iron in your blood should be Vintage"
My first bike was a '68 Suzuki TC 250. Rode it around the farm when I was 15 and 16. Second bike was a '70 Suzuki Titan. I graduated high school at 16 and went off to see the world. On my way home at 17, I was in an accident and didn't walk for awhile. At 18, I was in the market for another bike. It was 1973, I wanted a Sportster, an add for a '71 Trident was in the local paper. I bought it. More than 100,000 miles and a few rebuilds later, I still have it. In 1978, Classic Bike came out. It gave old bikes a certain cachet beyond simply old bikes. I remained hooked. At this point I generally favor pre-72 in most things - cars, boats, music, etc.
About 12 years old, out with my buddy on his All-State scooter, a BSA Lightening passed us and then pulled up to turn around. We stopped and talked to him for a few minutes. Candy apple red and chrome and vibrating front wheel as it idled. It was like a Playboy bunny in the flesh and about as unobtainable. I was hooked. Of course, the BSA and Norton girl ads added fuel to the fire.
Around the age of 12 we had a Honda 45 that was stripped down & ridden around a future expressway easement . On one corner lived one David Jones who had both an A10 + the hots for a young lady who lived 3 doord down from me. Thus he would regularly offer to give me a lift home in the off chance that he might bump into Julie .
That was the bait & I was caught hook line & sinker . A little latter another person who liveved on an adjoining property to the easment dragged us into his garage one day when we had been very hard at it all day. Now we thought we were going to be deep in the poo , but in a couple of hours we ( well my friend who livd opposit the easment ) was the proud owner of a Hagon framed Gold Star short circut bike fitted with an Oscar 3 speed box . This is the machine I learned how to ride properly on and those far better than I won a lot of races on . So I was now hooked on BSA's Then the "bike" neighbours desperately needed cash so I bought one of their project bikes which happened to be a horrid mixture of long & short stroke A7 & A 10 bits originally built for road racing but abandoned after the first season. I had a lot of fun on that bike, when it was running, got into a lot more trouble on it because when it did run it was very fast and have been a BSA man ever since.
I’ve been around motorcycles all my life and at 12 years old I lucked in to a job at the local BSA shop for $1 an hour. Started out sweeping, cleaning up and polishing the bikes. Worked my way into uncrating and assembly. By the time I left for the service at 17 I was also doing oil and tire changes. A month after I came home (2 years 8 months and 16 days) I bought my first A65, it was chopped up and in a mess. I have owned, rode and rebuilt it (many times) for over 46 years. I don’t know about being a classic but I guess I’d say we’re surely old friends.
Nothing ticks you off more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong!
Small print Disclaimer: I am not responsible for spelling, grammar or political correctness. Actually I'm not very responsible at all!
Here's a thing. I hit riding age in the late seventies, just as the Japanese invasion was in full swing, but I followed me old dad and me older brother and my first bike was a Tiger Cub, which became a BSA Starfire, then a 5ta .... and that was that. I've been a Triumph man ever since, with the odd dalliance with some other marques along the way. But there's ALWAYS been a Triumph or several in the garage.
I was never tempted to stray from the Brit iron, and never have. I don't really know why except to say I love the character, the little foibles, the smell ....
HI GRAHAM! Nice to "see" you my man, hope all is well over there.
Why am I into classic bikes, eh?
For me it goes back to my childhood, growing up on army bases and seeing the hot bikes of the day- the mid 1960s. Somehow I got this image in my head of what a motorcycle should look and sound like. That image has never left me. Such a distinct sound and definitely a certain feeling that only a Brit Bike has. I've ridden a bunch of various bikes over the years, and owned a few BMWs ( have 2 of them parked just a few feet away as we speak), but I hope not to be without a British Motorcycle of some sort ever, in my whole life. I cut my teeth on Triumph but now ride a NortonCommando. But even among other brands or marques, classic or vintage is still my primary focus. BMW's airheads have a place with me, I've owned 3 so far. A 'modern" bike has its place, in my world, for sure. Well, I say "modern" but my newest bike, the mighty BMW K1200RS, is getting up in years as a 2002 (or is it a 2003?) model.
For sheer fun and the enjoyment of motorcycling it will always be classic and mostly classic Brit.
"It is no measure of health, to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
So, back in the mid seventies a mate and myself bunked off from school (it was only a sports afternoon anyway) and rode our trailbikes some sixty miles to the nearest major town just to go and hang out at one of the bike shops. While we were checking out the latest offerings from Yamaha and Kawasaki one of the salesmen came over (we knew him well because we did this sort of thing fairly often) and asked us what we thought. I wasn't overly impressed and told him that I was more of a Triumph guy. I can only think that my opinion had been swayed by the glossy ads in the back of the motorcycle mags that I was buying at the time. "Well" said Merv (the salesman) "we've just had an old Triumph come in". He led me to the back corner of the building and showed me a rusty, oily old Triumph that had been painted from one end to the other in badly brushed on black enamel. It didn't matter to me, I was in lust! The manager didn't want to sell it to me preferring to sell it to an enthusiast. For $300 that bike became mine and I became that enthusiast.
"Live the life you love, find a god you trust and don't take it all too seriously"
Mine was a rather odd transformation. As a lad I used to dream and draw choppers, usually Sportsters with 6" over springers and Z bars. Then one afternoon we were loading my older brother into a dorm a UT. Parked out back was a Commando. "Dang, THAT's a MOTORCYCLE!" I was hooked.
I'm 55 so not exactly the 'youth' the OP is asking about. I wasn't into motorcycles at all until my 40s. I didn't grow up wanting a bike nor was I around many, though Dad did have a few Hondas at the time. My local foreign car repair shop also sold used biked. As my first car was a Fiat 124 I was there frequently! I wasn't interested in the bikes but I clearly recall paying my bill at the counter and seeing some sort of late 1960s Triumph in the showroom. Gorgeous. It instantly struck me as what a proper motorcycle should look like. I loathe fairings, Transformer styling and that tail-in-the-air look that seems to be in fashion now. Nothing looks right next to a Triumph twin.
After a few Japanese bikes I bought what I really wanted, a 2008 Bonneville. Enough of the past to have character while lots of modern to be reliable. Then I added a Tiger 800. I know, still not classic bikes. But I had a mind to get something old to have as a hobby bike as I'd had plenty of old cars over the years including a Austin Mini. I got hooked up with Joel at Retro Tours and got to ride a variety of machines. Meh on the BSA, scratched my chin after riding the Triumphs and said "Hell yes!" after a weekend on the NortonCommando. Also liked some of the Italian steeds. But cost and other garage occupants have kept those all at bay for now.
However, I did pick up a broken and forlorn 2007 Royal Enfield Bullet. I put it back together and have been riding it frequently since. Yes, it's built in India and not the UK. No, it's not really old...but it really is a 1955 motorcycle built in 2007. It's horrible in a lot of ways...and totally fun! Now I'm looking for a true Redditch built twin...while still pining for a Norton. I've got my BMW race car up for sale so I can afford to fill my garage with these horrible old motorcycles! My only regret is I found them so late in life.