Questions of taste

Here’s a simple question for you. Are you a crazy customiser or are you a stock bike stalwart? I bet you’re neither. I bet that you’re somewhere between the two and that exactly where on the dotted line between custom and stock you’d place yourself depends on the bike in question … and on many other things, too.

Why did Norton ever paint their Dominators red? Every time I see one it somehow manages to look wrong. So I stare at it and scratch my head a little. Which is exactly the point – Norton painted a few of their sturdy Dominators bright red to make them stand out. To make onlookers stop and stare. Because some riders really like that – being stared at. It takes all sorts. I can accept that. Like loud pipes, I can understand why folk fit them, although I’d not do it myself. I prefer to be gone before anyone notices that I was there. Other views are available.

And ‘custom’ means many things. Take the BSA Gold Star we have on the cover. At a quick glance anyone who knows a little about old bikes recognises at once that yes, there it is, a handsomely shiny and infinitely desirable Gold Star, the crème de la crème to some. Except it’s not. It’s a custom bike. Read the story to discover exactly how far it is from what it appears to be.

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It always amuses me how ready we are to take sides in any discussion. Show season is upon us: I shall be entertained as always by guys telling me how they hate/love custom/concours bikes, or trail bikes, or Chinese bikes or… add your own favourites. And how willing some of us are to escalate a conversation into an argument. It seems crazy to me, but everyone does it – at least, judging by the conversations I share at events. Note that: at events.

Because whenever I meet readers and riders while we’re both out there on the road using our wheels for their intended purpose these topics never arise. Hardly ever, anyway. What we discuss then revolves around the weather, our bikes, the weather, our riding gear, the weather, the state of the roads…

That’s it. See you out there.

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Frank Westworth
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