BRAINWASHED

 

BRAINWASHED

BRAINWASHED

Unbeknown to me the transformation had started from the age of around 6 and by 7, with one outing
around the cricket pitch on a Fannie B trials bike I was hooked. My bicycle had become noisey with
“fagg packets” shoved behind the brakes and flicking off the spokes to give that motorised noise and
a spare packet was always on hand as a replacement.

Hours of tromping through muddy  trials woods, the heat and the dust of summer grass tracks, the
long distance travelling in the back of Uncle Tom’s Racing Transporter to Brands Hatch and other
road race circuits were all preparing me for my introduction to the dreaded two wheel menace …. the
Motor Cycle !

After the circular tours on the Francis Barnett my desire and persistance was rewarded in the shape
of yet another Royal Mail cast off ……. the mighty 123cc rigid BSA 3 speed Bantam. All this for 5
pounds! ……. and at age 10 or 11 I still have to wait 5 years before I can legally be on the road. The
Bantam becomes a “woods machine” around the back of the house and I set up limited sections for
the gutless little beast with its road gearing. I get some of the basics ingrained and also have a grass tracking/speedway area where I can get some full lock power slides in when the grass is wet.

My first bike……. and it did 56 mph too!

With sixteen rapidly approaching the Bantam gets a huge makeover with a respray in blue, some
alloy guards and a new seat. Those nasty “L” plates are soon gone and with lots of summer farming
pocket money I’m in the need for speed!  This becomes an older Triumph Bonneville which turns out
to be a great leveller and on several occasions a near show stopper!

Like mine with the “joke” brakes

My Bonnie was cream and had apurple two tone tank, cream mudguards with a one inch purple stripe
up the middle. Bit of a pig to start but Dad was on hand to show how. Still have a couple of vivid
memories, the first being the brakes or lack of ! Classic T junction up ahead, downshifting from around
the ton brakes being applied, some retardation and then ……….. NOTHING!! …………… just a fading
sensation and realisation that YOU were not going to STOP.

Another one that stays in the memory banks was the night at the local village Saturday night dance. A
certain gorgeous young lady accepts the offer of a lift home on a fine and warm summer night and we
walk to the beast. I try to start her up, the bike that is, and all I get is a lot of chuff, chuffs and not much
action. Fiddle around with advance retard things and choke and with bike on center stand give it an
almighty wellie! CHUFF< CHUFF….. and with the kicker all the way down it returns the favor and hurls
me off into the parking lot.


A nicely restored model

It starts, and on she gets…….. this is nice!  Off we go and the route takes us through a series of S
bends by the village church and over a humped back bridge……. well this will be fun! Knowing the
brakes are crap it will be a lot of downshifting and fantastic noise on the overrun from the burgess
exhausts. Now I’m very familiar with these bends but my passenger is not schooled in body weight positioning and for every move I make she counteracts by leaning the other way. We come perilously
close to the Church’s flint walls and Geoff Duke is forced to back off and not ride it like you stole it!
Some time later she is deposited at her house with hair looking like she has been dragged though
the hedge backwards and giant streaks of eye liner and masscara all over her face from high speed
eye watering…….. and no doubt a little fear thrown in.

Some time later the Bonneville become a Triumph Bushman which was the early version of the
Mountain Cub which was sold here in the States. So with Road Racing cancelled my illogical mind is thinking the Triumph will be daily transport and evening fun and a weekend trials bike as it has a high
level exhaust and trials tires. Another 2 months and 2 trials later all thoughts of dual sport are out the
window and I get my cousin Tom’s 197cc Villiers engined 9E Scottish Greeves as he now has the
24TES.

A poor choice !!

No more road bikes until 1966 when I’m out in Cyprus and decide that the Mediterranean is the
perfect place for 2 wheels. A visit to the Yamaha shop and a quick test ride on a 250 twin. This nearly
results in a near arse over header hi side when having accelerated like a rocket down a side street
on the test run someone steps out in front of me……… first experience of having the shifter and rear
brake on the OTHER SIDES !!!

Who put the shifter on the left ?

The Yam is now mine and a perfect tool for all my needs. First incident was with lady friend who
alights at our evening destination and promptly catches her panty hose/tights on the exhaust pipe.
Quite amazing how nylon burns going outwards in an ever increasing circle. On return to her house
her mother is in the kitchen and looks aghast at daughters shredded tights and suspects the worst !
As the bike is outside on the drive daughter shows mother how it happened, but having learnt her
lesson wisely (or so she thought) elects to step off on the other side. Surprize, surprize, there’s
another pipe just like it on that side too! …… but it was an excellent demonstration!!

Long straight pipe……   and there’s another “tights” burner on the other
side

The last of the Yamaha road bike incidents occurs when my good friend, Ron, manages to overdo the “grape” at a Turkish Kebab and he needs to go back to the Officer’s mess. We set off but Ron
somehow falls asleep up against me and as we set off across a set of traffic lights he falls off
backwards under the acceleration. As he departs his feet come straight upward from the passenger
pegs and go under my arms lifting me out of the saddle. So now in trials stance with elbows pressed
in to hold the flopping rag doll we cross the lights and come to a stop where Ron rolls in the road and
wakes up.

Well its trials bikes only from this point on until arriving in the Falklands after we had taken the Islands
back. With transportation at a premium I discover we have a collection of despatch rider’s Can-am Bombardiers and as we have no motor cycle mechanic I’m in there in a flash and make a good one
from the wrecks. They didn’t look very pretty but were just about bullet proof and handled extremely well
in all conditions with a great turn of speed. Too many incidents to mention here but they are all
catalogued in the 5 articles of the Falkland Memoires.

My Falkland’s transport and fun 

Next road bike comes when I get to the States and become single again. This is my first experience
with the Harley Davidson marque and all the mystique that goes with it. 10 years later I’m still not sure
that I understand it. This has to be the biggest con trick of all time! How can you build an ugly bike reminiscent of the 50’s, with evil handling, grossly uncomfortable seating, immensely heavy, and built
as an ergonomic slum ? Then as a stroke of master advertising genius having persuaded the “Harley wanabee” to part with around $25,000, you convince them that they need to dress up like something
out of “Pirates of the Carribean” to ride the thing!

Rodeo chaps and the I’ve been everywhere leather vest

My entry level Harley is the 1999 Cobalt blue (purple) FXR2 which does have a sprung frame, is one
of the few that will actually corner (well nearly) and has proper footrests and controls as well as the
ridiculous highway pegs which were quickly removed! It did have some beautiful double megaphone
pipes which sounded fantastic and reminded me of Uncle Tom’s racing G50’s and 7R’s.

A beautiful noise from the twin megaphones

As the 4 bedroomed house is now MINE I can park the bike in the long corridor without getting
permission from anyone and very soon I see a need for an “off road” machine to visit places a Harley
just won’t go.  Next into the corridor comes the KTM LC400 which is not really an Enduro but more
dual sport which it does very well. I even enter it in a dual sport 2 day and much to the surprize of the
other entrants elect to ride it TWO up! I finish the event but would have to say I wouldn’t do it again as
its a bit tough on the arms and body.

The first KTM

Action in the AZ mountains

The corridor is getting hard to walk down now as a modern new Gas Gas has joined the inventory but
my quest continues with something in the crotch rocket mode. The next toy arrives in the shape of the Triumph 955i Sprint. My Triumph has come a long way!

It’s a “looker” and has brakes too!

This bike is quite something, oodles of power,  comfortable, and no nasty vices. Only problem was
the clutch cable that broke, which of course is really annoying with a new bike as there is a starter
interlock so you are screwed once the engine stops. New cable replaced under warranty which lasts
about 150 miles and then breaks again!!  3rd cable fitted when I get a factory recall notice to tell me
the clutch cable might break !!!!

Being British and a very pretty blue it seemed to be a Police magnet and I got stopped twice, the first
by a motorcycle patrolman, who I think wanted to look at the bike, and wasn’t writing me a speeding
ticket. Second stop not quite so pleasant as this newly qualified DUI car man wants to test his new
found skills.

The Police magnet

Its the first day of AZ Bike Week and also the first day when temps will crest 100 for the season.
About 2100 I’m on my way home and I’m seeing all the law enforcement cars hidden in the bushes
lining the main roads.  Having stuck religiously to the speed limits I finally turn onto my road, I’m hot
so flick the visor up and have a quick squirt through the box but as I roll off at 70 I notice the blue flash
in the bushes…… sure enough out he comes in hot pursuit.  First thing he says is ” Take your helmet
and backpack off and go and stand over there”

As I comply with his wishes I realise my T shirt is not perhaps the best garment to be wearing for this encounter as it has two crotch rockets laid over in a corner with a play on words motif….. “My drinking
team has a Racing problem!” We now play all the roadside games and eventually as other blue and whites arrive we go for the blow up the breatherliser finale. Fortunately for me I’ve been told how to
cheat these things so, while I have been allowed to smoke I have been hyperventillating. The blowing
begins and I stop on his call. The look on his face was quite something…….. several shakes of the kit
……. more checking…… nothing! (tee hee)  now I’m told I will have to take a Taxi home as they have
ordered one! My house is less than 100 yards away !!!!

At some stage I’m back in my Harley dealership and see the latest model Deuce. The dealership has
really gone to town on this one with about 6K worth of goodies and extras. I have to say it does look
really nice. The Duece frame does not allow for footrests in the normal position and has these
dreadful forward controls but other than that I do like the overall look of the bike.

The Duece before the mods with shotgun pipes and snakeskin seat

I come back to the dealership about a week later and see a SOLD sticker on the bars! Wander off
fuming thinking I should have done it last time I was here. A few weeks later I’m back again for
something and there is the bike minus the sold sticker ? ……. seems the wannabee couldn’t get
finance and the deal fell through. Two hours later I’m trundling home on the NEW Deuce. Good
friend and trials riding companion, Jim Wagner, who is the top Harley tech tells me there are some
special deals on uprating the engine but staying under warranty. Jim does all the work himself, big
barrells and pistons, big mikuni, Baisley heads, Vance & Hines 2 into 1 exhaust and I have a rocket
ship of a Harley. Of course it still steers like a pig, still an ergonomic slum, uncomfortable, and evil handling…….. but it makes a lot of noise and goes well in a straight line!

It was ridden solo for a long time until Brenda came along when the seat was changed and the
backrest added.

All engine mods done, and now a seat and backrest for Brenda

Enjoying the freedom of off roading the KTM gets changed for another but this time the full blown
enduro, the 520EXC. The ridiculous rules of Arizona allow this machine to be road registered
despite a Federal sticker to say it DOES NOT conform to US standards. I have mine lowered, a
decent bash plate put on and a computer that gives me a speedo. A truly phenominal off road bike.

The best off road bike there is

Meanwhile in the Crotch Rocket department I’m back at the boy racer dealership and they have last
years and the year befores left over Kawasaki ZX12R’s. For some reason the 2003 models are
MORE expensive than the 2004 ?  I query this with boy salesman and he goes off to check. Comes
back and says the prices are correct so I hand him a crisp $100 bill as the good faith deposit and its
MINE !

Mummy’s worst nightmare !

This beast is all black with gold wheels and really looks the part. 186 horses and around 200 mph
should you be so stupid. I take delivery the following day and its awful! Like a badly behaved dog on
a lead and not at all user friendly. The suspension is rock hard, which may be fine for 150+  but
doesn’t work in the normal 50-75 range. As I set about the rear spring I stumble on the problem as
the boy tech who did the pre delivery has the chain so tight that the spring can’t compress. I’m
amazed the chain didn’t snap. Performance wise, unreal, but not really a nice bike. I try a day on the
track with it ……. never again!

Fun, but not user friendly

About the same time I’ve been hankering after a Rothmans Honda and can’t find one so elect to
build one myself. I find a suitable machine in the form of an Erion Racing 929RR and this is gorgeous
in its untouched state as the owner has had everything show chromed and fitted special chrome
wheels and a nice exhaust.

It arrives, is duly stripped and all the panels and tank are sent off to my painter who has just finished
my two Rothman Honda trials bike shrouds. 2 months later all the bits are collected and the rebuild
begins.

The jig saw pieces come back from the painter…. wonder where they go ?

Well this is as good, and most likely better, than anything I could have bought. It looks fantastic,
its comfortable, a delight to ride, and very user friendly for a 150mph+ bike !! Perhaps my favorite all
round road bike.

My favorite road bike ever!

Bike week again and we take in the latest BMW. Most impressive and Brenda loves the rear end so
it joins the road division after floorboards, intercom and the Remus exhaust have been fitted. For a
bike weighing 850 lbs it is quite amazing and handles more like a crotch rocket than a heavyweight
cruiser.

All the luggage space she could ever want

…..and it motors and handles well too

With the sale of a piece of land I’m looking at the blue and silver single seater MV Augusta F4 1000.
This is just motorcycle art however you look at it and without doubt the finest machine I have ever
owned. Frightenly fast…… but beautifully engineered……. the noise from the 4 pipes under the seat
was truly orgasmic and as you went through 5000 rpm your mind was gone. I loved the “reminder”
sticker on the tank…….. “Do not exceed 9000 rpm while running in!!!!”  It would do over 100 in third on
the freeway ramp before you had to sit up, slow down, change up, and join the 70 mph traffic having
folded your little horns back into the helmet.

Insane and gorgeous

Finally the Deuce is exchanged for a Mk II Screamin Eagle VROD. More mods, intercom, seating,
backrest and floorboards for her and some performance pipes for me and it too joins the fleet. Not
bad, good performance, better handling, better suspension, poor range from the hidden tank, but
its still a Hardly Ableson.

The SE II with all Brenda’s rear end mods

A better set of pipes for the sewing machine

Happy motoring

……… and then the recession arrives and one by one the fleet disappears to put food on the table.

TONY DOWN

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