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It’s official – classic bikes make you feel younger, more attractive and happier…

(WARNING – the above statement has no scientific facts behind it but I was told by a bloke down the pub and I believe him)…

WELCOME to the June edition of Classic Bike Guide. The sun is out and hopefully you’ve been riding. As well as the sun breaking through, three events have made me feel really good about the classic world we love. 

‘Boy’ and I visited the British Historic Racing round at Mallory Park. The racing was great and the bikes varied massively, both in style, age and performance. But it was the camaraderie and openness with strangers that struck me. Over the years I’ve spent much time in race paddocks but never have I felt so welcome and part of the day, especially when asking questions about what had been done to the bikes – and I had ‘boy’ tagging along on his bicycle – an accident waiting to happen – but welcome we were. The ages of the racers and helpers ranged from young to rather less than young! If I get our racebike finished, it’ll be a nice way to spend the weekend.

Next to the Stafford show. I get bored easily, so to prevent aimless wandering we set up a bench to build up our Honda CL350. The interaction with the crowds was fantastic, with banter aplenty and so many of you came up to say hello and offer advice, ask questions and take the proverbial. The mood was distinctly upbeat. In fact so much time was spent mardling that the bike wasn’t finished…

The ages of those attending were most interesting. Yes, the average age was as you’d imagine. But it wasn’t all men of increasing years – with more ladies, families and teenagers than I’ve seen at modern bike events. It’s so exciting to see a great range of people destroying the stereotype of classic bike ownership.

My local bike meets have started up again. Old Buckenham’s Two-Wheeled Tuesday sees hundreds of bikes with everyone mixing on the village green, while the Whitwell and Reepham Station also attracts a similar number on a Friday. Classics mix with sports and that’s just the riders… To me, the sight of a young, glitzy-leather clad, black-visored rider looking at a 60-year-old bike warms my cockles.

Some pastimes are staring extinction in the face – tragically few are coming into traction engines, for example. The skills are being lost and the attraction is passing over the next generation – plus they’re not exactly easy to live with or store. Classic bikes are easier to live with – they can be used and you can learn how to fettle them. And if you’re not mechanically aware then no worries, there are so many new classics available that you start with a button and ride them to your dealer when you need. And these in turn often lead to an older bike.

So next time you see a way to encourage others into looking at our old bikes, let us know. In a world where forest schools are seen as a great way to give children skills they are losing, think how much satisfaction can be had from showing someone how to start an old bike, fettle a carb or lace a wheel. Motorcycling has been my life and career for 25 years – I bet many of you can beat that by a mile. Think of the enjoyment it’s given you and what it could give to others. This, in turn, will help us to give classic bikes the best chance of being around for generations to come.

This month we have a feature on learner classics. It has all the info someone needs to try biking for the first time and looks at good first-time and learner-legal classics. If you know someone who might fancy it, lend them your copy to see what they think. 

We are also looking at the most under-appreciated of learner bikes, the Honda CG125. ‘Not a classic’ I hear from the back? A bike produced for over 40 years and still in production that has helped thousands upon thousands of riders to learn to ride? A bike we had trouble finding to photograph as they’re all still in use! Oh, it’s a classic all right.

Right, enough of this, the sun is out and I’m sure I need to go out. Classic bikes make you feel younger, more attractive and happier – I’ll go with that. Be good.

Matt Hull
editor@classicbikeguide.com

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