Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Bikes I’ve Owned....

I have owned just five bikes which I guess is not that many really. A few people I know have got that many in their garages now!

Here are the bikes I have owned....

First a Honda C90......


I got my first bike, a Honda C90 in red and white, when I was 16 years old. Looking back now, I think it was a good bike to learn to ride a bike on, as with just 3 gears and no clutch, it was very simple to ride. I read the Honda Cub range has been made continuously since 1958 and is the biggest selling bike of all time with over 60 million sold. Wow, to think mine was one of them! When I first got the bike I thought I was pretty cool.... Okay, I was young and impressionable! I enjoyed the bike and did all the maintenance myself, all self-taught. I passed my bike riding test on this bike.

My next bike was a Yamaha YR5 350cc, in orange....


While riding a Honda with no clutch was easy, the first time I tried to ride this “proper bike”, I realised I didn’t know how to use a clutch. I was probably 17 at the time and I had never driven a car either, so how to operate a clutch was a mystery to me. I learned quickly though, on the tiny forecourt of the bike dealers and on the way home. I did ok as I made the journey without incident, but then immediately took the bike out for a ride and ran out of fuel and not realising the bike had a reserve tank (I was more interested in finding out about girls than reserves), pushed the bike to the nearest petrol station.

I kept that bike for many years and as my only form of transport, rode it everywhere in all weathers. I crashed it a few times due mainly to the stupidity of the other road users. Okay, it was probably my own stupidity and recklessness....

I then went up-market and bought my third used bike, a magnificent Suzuki GT750, known as “the kettle” because it was water cooled with a radiator....























I think I was probably about 21 at the time I got this bike and I kept this bike until I got married and had kids when a car became much more necessary and the bike had to go. I was living and working in London and even though this was meant to be a long-distance touring bike, most of the journeys I did were short, buzzing around London. It was an unusual bike and now very sought after as a collector’s item. I wish I had kept mine.

It was then many many years before I even rode another bike. I was 49 years old and in London one day I was about 30 minutes early for a meeting. I needed to find something to do while I waited, so I went to look in a Harley dealer I knew existed in west London. I hadn’t gone there with the intention of getting a bike, just to have a look. I liked the big, new shiny bikes and wondered if I could ride one after so many years of not riding. I arranged to rent one for 4 days and a few days later I rode away from the dealers on a Road King. I didn’t need 4 days to make my mind up as within about an hour I decided I wanted one and went back to the dealer and ordered my very own Road King ....





















I was a born-again biker! I loved being back riding again and soon went on a few long distance trips across Europe. This Road King was the bike I did my tour of the USA on.

I attended a few Harley-Davidson rallies and had seen many of the one-off custom bikes at many shows and decided I wanted one. I had a good idea what I wanted and designed in my mind a long low bike and I found a H-D dealer in Waterford in Ireland that could build just what I wanted.  Thirteen months later I had my own dream bike....


I called the bike Tradewinds and entered it in a custom bikes show in St Tropez in southern France where it won best in class. It has done very well at custom bike shows since and for a custom bike, it has done many miles as I just love riding it. My Road King is my touring bike and my red custom bike is my show-off bike! Harley-Davidson heard about the bike and very kindly wrote about it in one of the HOG magazines and also put it in one of their e-zines

So, I have had just 5 bikes. Not so many really, but I am feeling the urge to get number six.....

28 comments:

Webster World said...

Was the Yamaha a 100 twin?

Gary France said...

Webster - Nope, it was a 350cc twin which I meant to include in the text, which I have now done thanks to your question.

Charlie6 said...

A very nice collection of motorcycles Sir.

I started with a 2006 Honda Shadow Aero 750 (Gretl), but quickly outgrew it...not soon afterwards was seduced into the path of Teutonic Over-Engineering and traded Gretl for an '04 R1150RT (Maria), Brigitta the '87 R80 came along as the "spare" motorcycle after an accident involving ice and Maria; and she quickly became the "main" motorcycle.

As Maria was no longer getting ridden enough, she was traded off for Natasha, the '96 Ural Sidecar Rig, who introduced me to the world of exciting offroad/on snow rides and periodic breakdowns.....

So, I've owned 4...wonder if there's a fifth in the near future?

Nice posting.

dom


Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Redleg's Rides

Gary France said...

Charlie6 – Of your bikes, I think I like Brigitta the best. Natasha probably gave you more fun, but the R80 lines are a classic. You getting a fifth in the near future? I’d put money on it!

Circle Blue said...

Wow, that first bike looks familiar :)

My 2010 Symba is a 101cc clone of your first bike. I guess I have some catching up to do.

My Symba is my first motorcycle and my second 2 wheeler. My first two wheeler was a little blue 49cc scooter. It proved to be an adequate urban commuter, but was challenged on hills.

Of course, now I'm thinking about another bike. There are just some places I want to go that the Symba can't go. So, I suspect another bike is lurking out there waiting for me to discover it. Hmmm, I wonder will it have two or three wheels.

Nice post.

~Keith

Geoff James said...

Gary:
I love to see what other people have owned and thanks so much for posting. Two stroke twins are wonderful, hooligan fun! Our backgrounds are not dissimilar and I got back into bikes after looking in a showroom window next door to where I'd gone to pick up a yacht sail. No plan to get back into it either before that moment.

May you have many, many more years of contentment!

Raftnn said...

I alos love seein what other people have owned. Each bike has its own stories to tell. Looking forward to seeing number six.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

I love all of your bikes, esp the latter two. My bikes weren't all that exciting but I have owned nearly 15 bikes since the early 60's. And just today I swung my leg over a couple of more in the dealer's showroom.

you know it all starts with "just a look . . ."

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Canajun said...

Gary - Great history, and that write-up on Tradewinds is very cool indeed (as is the bike itself). Not many riders can make that claim to fame.
And your post encourages me to do something similar about the bikes I've owned, although I'm afraid it will be somewhat longer.
Cheers.

bluekat said...

It seems like everyone I've talked to who rides, or rode in the past, started on a Honda 90. I love that little Yamaha 350. Love the size, love the style. Ron's first bike was history when kids came along. Funny how babies have a way of doing that. Thanks for sharing the bikes. It's fun to see the bike history. :)

Gary France said...

Keith – The Honda C90 was a great bike and I am really glad I had it because it started my passion for motorcycling. Two or three wheels – isn’t it great even thinking about a next bike!

Geoff – Hooligan fun indeed. I cringe sometimes when I remember what I got up to on that bike! Looking in shop windows is normally the domain of the females of our species, but that weakness affects men sometimes too!

Raftnn – You are right, for there are many stories associated with those bikes....

Gary France said...

Bob – Wow, 15 bikes! You must do a similar post to mine, so I (we) can see what they all were and how your taste in bikes has developed. Just a look reminded me of the Hollies song, Just One Look...

Canajun – I think it should be obligatory for all bikers that have blogs to show the history of the bikes they have had. I look forward to seeing yours a great deal.

bluekat – with over 60 million having been made, I think you are right about so many people having such a Honda. Although only 350cc, that Yamaha had enough speed via its 2-stroke engine to scare the living daylights out of me at times. It may have had something to do with the way I rode it though....

Chris Luhman said...

Great post Gary! Learning on a smaller bike is the way to go. You should get another bike. You need a few more arrows in your quiver. ;)

I have owned 5.5 bikes. I wrote about my bike history on my "about" page, but I should probably fill in the details a bit more in a proper post.

-Chris @ everydayriding.org - year round riding in Minnnesota

iansolley said...

I think you need a classic my friend - come down here for the day and we can go over to Verralls near Crawley -have a look at their current stock www.verralls.com - I love the inter-war years bikes and they seem to be a complete bargain - but what do I know.

Gary France said...

Chris – I do feel the call of another bike! I don’t get it, how do you own .5 of a bike? You need to do a proper post and explain.

Ian – I took a quick peek at Verralls website. I wish you hadn’t suggested that because now I feel the need for two bikes! When the weather improves, I will take you up on your offer of going and having a look with you.

iansolley said...

its a great place to visit - lets both get one - I want the 1929 Cotton/Blackburn!

SonjaM said...

Great posting! I owned nine bikes over a total of eight riding years, some of them at the same time. (http://2wheelersrevisited.blogspot.com/2010/11/motorcycle-pictures-yes-embarrassing-no.html)

I really love your Tradewinds, but I would never dare to ride such a valuable piece, so I better stick to my Nella. If I could ever afford a custom bike it would inevitably lead to owning a cafe racer Triumph or Norton.

Gary France said...

Ian - You can have the Cotton / Blackburn beacause I like the 1926 BSA! Oh, wouldn't it be nice....

Sonja - I remember seeing your posting about your previous bikes and whaqt is so brilliant about it is not just seeing the bikes themselves, but most of the pictures show you sitting on them - fantastic! Riding Tradewinds is a joy. Yes, you have to be very careful, but I just love everybody looking at it. There is a TV series on over here at the moment called Cafe Racer and every time it comes on I think "Sonja would like that bike!"

BeemerGirl said...

Great post! My mother loved her C90 too. She kept it for 30 years until her husband decided to trade it. She hadn't ridden it in probably 20 years, but she still loved to look at it.

You hint at a sixth bike...any hints for the rest of us on what it might be? ;-)

-Lori

Gary France said...

Lori – There is something about the C90 that makes it appealing. It certainly isn’t the best looking bike I have seen, and it is a bit geeky, but still loveable at the same time. My son and some friends plan to buy and old one each and go touring on them! Hmmmn, it was just a hint about bike number 6, because I am planning to write a post about what I might get..... so, you will have to wait!

GYMONR said...

Nice Bike!!!
Big Al

Anonymous said...

Gary:
I loved following your trip across the U.S. I received my motorcycle endorsement a few years ago, and after following your blog I purchased a 2011 Road King Classic. Again, its been great following your adventures and I'm looking forward to following your trip to Spain.

John

Chris Luhman said...

Yes, I should probably explain that .5 in a post... :)

Gary France said...

Big Al – Thanks!

John – Wow, I am glad that I have been able to help you along your motorcycling path. I am sure you will have a great time with the Road King. Good luck Buddy!

Chris – Yep.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

You need to do a "Make us Guess" post before the reveal. Just give us a few crumbs as a hint. Both of your bikes are unusual and easily recognized. I think you need an incongnito model, NOT a Ducati but mainstream one where you can park and no one would know it was you, sort of an anti-custom

HINT: buy a Super Tenere so I have something to ride, in BLACK , thanks

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Gary France said...

Bob - I didn't see where your comment was leading until I read the last line. Then I laughed. The bike I am likely to go for is.... You are right, I should do a post about it, so you will have to wait a while!

Anita said...

Hi Gary, This is unrelated to your post. I saw a question of yours to a help site about the "follow up comments" notification and I'm wondering if the question was ever adequately answered.
It appears on my blog when people comment, but not on some of my favorite blogs. I'd like to tell people how to get it to appear, but I don't know what to tell them. It would be really great to follow all the comments on a particular post.

I guess I'll see it it's on yours when I submit this comment.

Continue to have fun with your motorcycles!

Anita said...

Well Gary, I guess no one has yet to tell you how to get the follow-up option on your comment area. It wasn't there when I posted. Awww...