ALL OF A SUDDEN – and it always somehow comes as a complete surprise – the clocks spring forward and winter’s gone. You can perform physics as well as I can, and we both know that the clock shift has no effect on the weather. Come along now, it can’t. But it does.
No sooner did I remember to shift the clocks – prompted by the fact that I was an hour out somehow – than sunshine descended on the Cornish fastness where I lay my head. Just like that. And with the sunshine, so with the hordes of bikes. Hordes. It’s like an invasion sometimes. Generally peaceful and silent car parks are suddenly clogged with machinery, some of it interesting – in fact much of it is interesting from some point of view or other. Car parks filled with parked cars – as you’d expect them to be – are generally pretty dull, though the Cornish summer auto invasion beings with it more VW camper vans that you could believe were ever built. Not so when the car parks are filled with bikes. There’s a buzz, a glitter, a tension…
…and there’s a lot of noise. A lot. At the outbreak of every summer I find myself wondering how many of these machines ever pass an MoT, and if they’re too new to suffer that particular indignity, how they get away without enraging officers of the law. Were there any around, which there rarely are. I think I answered my own question by accident. A decent proportion of the racket, oddly enough, isn’t from exhausts. It’s from the engines themselves, many of which whine and whistle even at tickover.
I’d parked up the almost-modern twin, chasing that elusive sunny day ice cream, and was feeling smug and at the same time outraged in a genteel, superior way that just about every bike around was making much more noise than my own, which has an impossibly quiet engine for an air-cooled twin, and all its original – quiet – exhaust kit. Phuttered off, ice cream addiction sated, feeling cool, calm and socially responsible, somehow. I am an elder, an almost distinguished gentleman, after all.
Returned the following day on the ancient Brit, enjoying its first riding summer in a couple of decades. Ice cream. Return to motorcycle. Apply the vast wristful of throttle it demands before it will start … and made more noise than everyone else. These 1940 silencers are … less than silent. Maybe I should stop criticising others.
That’s it. See you out there.