Saturday, November 04, 2006

Motorcycles we have owned

When I first joined the Royal Air Force back in 1976, I swapped my mini for this Honda CB250K4. I did not have a full driving license at that time and drove it on a provisional license. It used to frighten me silly at the age of 17. This picture was taken at RAF Leeming.
When I was posted to RAF Buggen in Germany, I bought this Honda CJ360T off my dad, it was named the flying banana. It managed quite a few trips around Germany despite not really being heavy enough for a touring bike. I still had the Honda 250 and a Suzuki T500 two stroke at the time.
As if three bikes were not enough, I went out and bought a brand new BMW R75/7 on the 21st September 1977 for my 19th birthday. This was later fitted with a German police touring fairing. I have fond memories of this bike and would love another.
Here is a picture of 19 year old me outside my dads house on the BMW. My dad used to be a trials rider fro the Army and took the bike off road much to my disgust. After this I went through many bikes including a Honda CB750F2, a Kawasaki 360, a BSA 350 and many more, but I have no photos of those bikes. They did not get used much as I had a family by this time.
After a Honda CBX550F2 and a BMW K100LT I went onto this Yamaha XJ900 Diversion, It was a good bike and I used to travel the 60 miles a day to RAF Wyton on it. I used to meet a guy on the way who also worked at Wyton and tried to keep up with his BMW R1150RT, but never managed to get there before him.
So I sold the Yamaha and bought this 6 month old BMW R1150RT twin spark. I could now keep up in a very relaxed style.
Due to the narrow drive I used a turntable in the garage to turn the bike every night. The seating position on this bike was too upright for me and would give me back ache in the lower back. In addition the seat was a little too high and there was always the risk that I would drop it at low speed, so
I bought myself a BMW K1200GT, brand new. The riding position was a bit further forward and the seat in its lower setting was perfect. This had the heated handlebar grips, heated seat and ABS. With 130 bhp it was plenty fast ehough for long high speed journeys. I one clocked 148 mph on the A14 and that was a true reading on the GPS, the speed was showing over 155 at the time.
The same bike with the full sized pannier lids fitted. Taken on the M11 on a return from our first France trip.
This was Judes Honda Blackbird CBR1100XX. The photo was taken in St Ives, Cambs. This bike was supposed to have around 165 bhp and a top speed of over 180mph, but it was a good match fror the K1200GT.
Again taken on the M11 at the same time as the photo two pictures up. On this trip we used to laugh as I had a heated seat and grips, but Jude said that she did not need them as she would warm her hands on my bum when we stopped.
After we had decided to move to France, we changed the bikes for a couple of BMW R1100S's. This is them sat outside the dealer in Northampton the day that we picked them up. Mine, the silver one, was brand new and Judes was a couple of years old, but came with panniers. They both had heated grips, much to Judes delight.
First thing to do was remove the catalytic converters and fit a strait pipe to the silencers. I also fitted pannier rails to my bike as Jude did not like having them fitted. The GPS was also fitted to mine.
An early trip out to Castle Acre in Norfolk was one way of getting some miles on mine to run the bike in.
This picture was taken after we had moved to France and we were on our honeymoon. We took a three day trip through the Pyrenees. Despite the very hot day there was still snow in the high mountains. We eventually strapped the jackets to the rear of the bikes and rode in shirtsleeves as the temperature passed 35C and was on the way up. Most UK riders would never ride without leather, but with a high risk of dehydration and the fact that the French motorcycle cops do it, we though it a good idea.


At 6:32 pm, Blogger kettle738 said...

Hello Bob, I've just come across your blog pretty much by accident; my wife and I are in a very similar position to you...keen bordering on obsessive motorcyclists (I ride she pillions) and we are taking early retirement next year planning to move to the Dordogne. I'm 48, Linda is 47, I have been a plod for 30 years, 27 of those in traffic division in London on bikes and cars..and if I'm honest it's changed so much in that time I will be glad to be out of it.

The one wonderful your RAF service is that it comes with a pension at an age young enough to enjoy it. We know the Dordogne very well, my closest friend (Motorcycle dealer) used to own a house in Siorac and we holidayed there for years.

Our plans at present are to sell up here, bank the money, put everything in store with a removal firm...(except my bikes and trailer which I will come back for)....expensive but necessary, because I need to move a small bike workshop as well as all the usual house stuff....and then find somewhere to rent long term, up to five or six months while we find and buy a property.

The area we are looking at is roughly a 20 mile radius around Domme...depending on how easy it is to sell up here, I may be renting from next June onwards and my main concern at the moment is finding somewhere to rent....we also have two pug dogs, very small the size of large rabbits to consider.

Bikes...first bike a sports moped in 1974 a Gilera RS50 sports, I thought it was the bees knees, followed by a Suzuki T250J Hustler, several CB450 Hondas, 4 speed and 5 speed, early GL1000 Gold wings, no less than seven GT750 Suzukis..(still have one of those) Z900s, GS1000s, XS1100s, two RE5 rotaries (not quite as bad as their reputation suggests) moving on to more modern stuff in the shape of a (1989) ZX10 and a ZZR1100 and literally countless others.

I had a bit of an advantage in that I started working at 16 for my friend who had started up his used bike business and of course I had access to an endless supply, I could change bikes like other people changed clothes, owning anything up to half a dozen at a time....drove my parents mad. I left the bike business in 1977 and joined the Met, my younger brother joined the bike shop in my place and still deals in them.

I'v grown up a little bit, reduced my fleet to two, a BMW R1100R, an early one, 1995 which my brother found, eight years old with 5,000 miles on it, living in a heated garage in Oxfordshire. The owner had bought it used from the local BMW dealer managed 49 miles and been taken seriously ill and it stayed in his garage for the next five years...I bought it and after a new fuel pump and sender unit (gummed up by stale fuel) it runs like a swiss watch.

The other bike is a 1978 Suzuki GT750B, water cooled two stroke triple, one of the last 100 GT750s made. I bought this one in 1989, again through my brother, he was offered it, went to look at it and made a derisory offer of £40 which was rejected. The problem with this bike is that the guy had owned it from new, he had used it for about 18 months, it had fallen over on both sides, he put it in his garage where a tin of paint fell onto the tank and then left it outside for eight years. His dog used it as a pissing post until the centre stand rusted through and collapsed and it fell over....that was the state it was in. The reason I went to look at it was that it was a one owner bike and he had only managed 3,000 miles in all that time. When I looked at it it still had the original tyres, very important to an anorak, and confirmed the mileage of course, the seat had survived unscathed and the engine turned over and felt fine...£80 got it. I took it home filled it with fuel and a new battery and it ran like it had just left the factory. long story saw a bit of use and I filched nice parts from every GT750 that came through the shop..until they dried up and collected NOS bits as and when they surfaced. Five years ago I restored it properly and it now looks gorgeous, can't see me ever getting rid of it, although by comparison to anything modern it's a complete nail to ride.

I'm quite keen to know if there is much of a bike culture down there, see lots of them on holidays of course but that's not quite the same thing as out of season.

I'm really glad to hear you love it there because it's a big move for us, we have always lived in the same area near friends and family and it's only natural to be nervous about major change.

If you happen to know anyone with a rental property in the right area I would be interested to know, only problem being that until (if) we have a date for completion I don't know exactly when we will be coming. All I know for sure is that it will not be before the end of May at the earliest.

If I can attach a bike pic or two I will. I'm a complete ignoramus with this blogging thing... first attempt, how do you get in touch with someone via e mail or is that not the done thing?

Mick and Linda Taylor.

At 8:18 pm, Blogger madman said...

Hi Mick. If you would like to give me your email address I'll help all that I can. Don't put it here for all to see, send me it on and I'll reply.


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