Note to self – be happy with what you’ve got

AS you may well do, I scout the classifieds, checking those small ads for the chance of finding that perfect bike before anyone else gets the chance; it tickles my ageing fancy. I also check the dealer ads, I check the auctions and even the scary world of eBay. For what? Well, to be frank, I’m not quite sure. Something shiny, something different: something else.

Currently I have a hankering for a Triumph pre-unit twin, after giving my Trident or Rocket 3 fantasy a rest to the behest of my bank account. I did enquire about the value of my organs, but a misspent youth put paid to that…

My original plan last year was simple. Buy a bike that could sum up British classic motorcycling in one. So start with a single, spend some time with it and then cast it aside for a unit twin. I then intended to upgrade to a pre-unit twin, eventually ending with a triple. Then back to wherever I felt happiest and stick with it. Made sense to me.

A B31 came up with good history. Pretty little thing, if somewhat mundane and slightly rough around the edges, so it suited me fine. Old enough to be pre-unit, magneto-equipped and manual timing; but reliable enough for me to be reasonably confident I would not only get to where I was going, but return also. It was also clearly not standard with its alloy mudguards so just like mud they should deflect the rivet counters. They don’t seem to bother with mere everyday bikes, anyway. A deal was struck.

My insurance renewal turned up last month, signifying one year’s ownership. 3241 miles, three breakdowns (all fixed at the side of the road), two oil changes, two tyres, one carb gasket, four pillions – two of which have since bought classics, countless off-road forays, dozens of bike meets, two hill climbs, one dirt track race and one Motogymkhana round. Who needs a Goldstar or a Vincent?

My daughter and I loaded it up and headed down to Suffolk for ‘The Tripout’, a relaxed chopper festival. One 16-year-old and what they class as ‘essentials’, camping gear, beer and tools were carried in a somewhat precarious manner, but we arrived without a glitch. Parked in amongst some incredible bikes (alright I have a vintage chopper fetish) with months, years of work in them, the Beeza sat next to a modified, rapid WD M20 and both gained many an admiring glance and a few nice comments. Beer was had, music was enjoyed and bikes gawped at.

We felt proud. And I felt guilty. Why am I always looking for the ‘next bike’ when mine is loyal, from the period I want, will easily cover 100-mile journeys, happily carry a pillion, is a hoot to ride and still gets the thumbs up from others.

Racing Velocettes, desirable Hondas and concours Nortons are all lovely, but I for one can’t afford them. I like using my Plain Jane B31 with its rusty tank and non-standard mudguards even more now. I’ve ridden thousands of bikes (as I write this I’ve been trying out a Zero electric bike capable of more than 100mph) and yet my 350 provides me with a smile everytime. But I suppose there’s no harm in looking…

Hope you’re still enjoying the good weather.

Be good

Matt Hull
editor@classicbikeguide.com

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