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Blimey – it’s cold outside. All too quickly, the nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping like a valve on a botched downshift. So is it time to wrap the bikes up and dream of next spring? Well if you’re like us at CBG, then fewer riding opportunities signal the busiest time of year – the beginning of ‘The List’.

My List is the culmination of all those jobs you don’t need or don’t want to do while there is riding available. A good buddy of mine, Pete, once told me how he kept his Matchless so perfect. Not perfect as in shiny, scratch free and as new – though it is really clean – but how it rides like a new bike with a complete absence of squeaks or knocks, how all the cables are perfectly adjusted and it always starts first time – whether it’s  cold, hot or in between. His answer? “Only have one bike and never take it off the road. Do a job that you can finish in the time you have, like a weekend. So if you want to sort your forks and your head races, but can only find the time to do one, then do that and always, always put it back together. You may end up doing some of the same jobs again, but once that bike is off the road it’ll become a project.”

This simple statement struck a chord, as I cast a rather shameful eye around the workshop on a rare day off. The Starfire is superb and ready to ride, plus it’s a great bike when the roads are a little iffy. But that’s where the good news finishes. The racebike needs painting and a new loom. My CL 350 needs a new fuel tap and the rear light electrics repaired. The CB needs its carbs off and cleaned out, the BSA could do with the timing adjusted and headraces tightened, while the Honda Bros, the B40 and the Suzuki are in boxes. Somewhere. My brothers’ bikes also need attention and I’m sure I owe them favours. And then there are the cars…

So my List is gaining an order, with the small jobs first to help gain momentum. And once they’re finished, there’s another list. A harder list. A list of what I’m going to keep and what needs to go. I’ll admit, it feels impossible to just have one bike – can’t define why, can’t justify more than one, but one needs to be honest with oneself.

And time, that oh-so-precious of commodities, is always being asked of elsewhere. So to be kept, each bike will have to justify its place.

Is it fun, is it practical, does it excite? Living in Norfolk, the smaller bikes are great for the back lanes, but, being in Norfolk a distance-swallowing, mile-munching machine has its uses when you need to travel outside the county – or the 21st century, as some call it.

And then there’s sentimental attachment. My racebike’s an example – isn’t worth that much, never will, but I’ve had it for 10 years and I know every nut, bolt and shim on it. And once painted it could look great in the dining room…

Looks like winter could be busy, so I’m glad of Charlie, my little helper. Be good.

Matt Hull
editor@classicbikeguide.com

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