Firstly, may I, on behalf of all who work at Classic Bike Guide towers, wish you a warm and prosperous New Year! May your bolts not round off, your petrol not turn stale and your tyres be eternally pumped up. And if you see a mild forecast over the festive period, keep away from the sherry – some wonderful rides with quiet roads can be had while the rest of the world are cramming mince pies into their already-bloated bellies.
If ever you’re feeling the years then relax – we are trendsetters! The annual Motorcycle Live show was busy and saw even more new bikes featuring a classic style, with Norton releasing two new, affordable and frankly great-looking 650 bikes – the Atlas and Nomad; Triumph giving over half their stand to the Bonneville family; Metisse showing their range, while CCM enthralled the crowds with a full-scale replica Spitfire fighter plane on their stand alongside the numerous Spitfire bike range.
And it wasn’t limited to the British manufacturers – Honda have remade the infamous step-thru Cub and several other models were shown with historically-inspired paint schemes, Yamaha painted a modern XSR in XT500 colours, Kawasaki had painted a lot of Z900 tanks in retro schemes and Suzuki rebuilt one of their RG500 race bikes on stage. Clothing wise, we are also captains of fashion, with wax cotton and distressed (knackered to you and I) leather everywhere. Tell your kids or grandchildren that next time they laugh at your traditional ways!
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I talked to boss man of Norton, Stuart Garner, about the new models (see the video of what he said on the Classic Bike Guide facebook page). Obviously Mr Garner was waxing lyrical about the 650s that offer a reasonably-priced entry into the brand. But what came over to me was how, despite his status and fortunes, he came over as a real biker – one of us. He told me how the conversations over coffee at work are about bikes and how the new 650s have been made to withstand not just off-roading, but have parts made from metal rather than plastic so ‘it can be kicked back into shape after a spill so you can keep on riding’. It was truly great to hear the CEO talking like this.
Meanwhile, this month has been hectic at Norfolk Ned HQ with my exploration through the pile of ES2 parts I’ve bought, while trying to finish the bikes that I need to move to have some bench space for said thumper. I still haven’t got a manual for it, but joining the local Norton owners club and talking to friends has given me advice and confidence in working on the bike – along with the obligatory sarcasm and mockery. It’s brought to my attention how our love of old bikes bring people together, with time, help and advice exchanged. A good friend is building a rather nice Metisse for his boss’s son. With the Nickel-plated frame and Triumph’s unit twin installed it’s beautiful half-built; how nice will it be once finished?
Every time I see people like Neville I learn about bikes that I never grew up with. Our old bikes are often a release from daily life; could others benefit like we do? I aim to get some younger people interested, in the hope they get some of the satisfaction that we do. Working on bikes, riding or modifying them; let’s get others interested. And it’s always useful having another pair of hands in the workshop no matter how small they are…
Right, I’m off for another mince pie. Have fun and be good