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  • September 01, 2022 4 min read

    From the pages of Progress June 2022

    “Do you ride anything from the last century?

    Or a custom, rat or anything old and quirky
    that you wouldn’t bring to a Group Meeting?

    Fancy a ride with some others on bikes of a similar age?

    “Bloody Cheek! “.. that you wouldn’t bring to a Group Meeting?” I would bring any of my bikes to a Group Meeting. I have always been a great believer in “It’s NOT what you ride, but HOW!” On the other hand, it maybe that it’s me that is “a custom rat or old and quirky...”?

    Nothing wrong with my 20th Century motorbikes. The only reason I didn’t bring my 1987 Honda C90 Cub to a Pot Luck Group Meeting was that it does not comply with over 200cc rule.

    I had ridden her down to an evening Fish & Chips ride out starting from Westerham, but that was only because I was taking the long way round from work to home! Bought it for 25 quid off a colleague at work. Bargain!  

    On my very first Group Meeting I rode my 1977 BMW R100S. It was used to do my 200 miles of ‘homework / practice’. However it shared Pot Luck duties with my other bike: a 1991 Harley-Davidson Sportster.

    I went on to take my Advanced Test on the BMW, with Jon Taylor. After it was over, he asked how I was getting on with the accuracy of the speedo. At an indicated 30mph it was doing well below 25mph. Little old ladies in Nissan Micras were trying to overtake me on the way to Banstead. Apparently back when the Metropolitan Police first introduced the BMW, they had to fit Smiths speedos as the German engineering was so suspect and inaccurate. (Nothing changes does it?)

    Later I went on to do my (Local) Observer’s Test on the BMW over a Norfolk weekend. (Bye the Bye, my Associate on that day was Mark Corrance, the husband of Sue Corrance, who in the June Progress wrote up her return to biking on Madeira.) He was riding a Honda Fireblade from memory.


    As I progressed with Observing I found that if I was mounted on the BMW, the Associates would never sparkle. They just rode like they thought a Boring Old Fart on a BMW would expect them to ride. In those days before Charley Boorman & Ewan McGregor made BMWs the choice of the uber fashionistas, it was considered that BMW riders also had pipe and slippers.

    As a result most of my Observing was done with the Sportster. This perked up the Associates no end. They had all read the damming write ups of the British Motorcycle Press (BMP pun intended) about how H-Ds did not go, stop, handle or even start. Now here was this bearded old fart who could keep up or even out pace them on a demo ride. There must be something in this Advanced Riding / PSGA / System malarkey after all. 

    Over the years I have ridden both these bikes over an awful lot of England, Wales, France, Germany and Italy. And in all weathers and at all times of year.

    Of course owning an older vehicle is not always plain sailing. There have been some adventures along the way. Things do go wrong but the technology is at a level that you can often fix or work around yourself. Often the service provided by the old bike specialists far out shines that of your modern approved main dealer / agent / concessionaire. 

    Note shovel!


    Some older LAMkins may recall the SSI on Remembrance Sunday 2013. I overfilled the tank at Cobham Services on the M25 and set the BMW alight when I started the engine. My thanks to George E for wielding the fire extinguisher in a timely manner!

    There was no serious damage and the bike would start, if not exactly rideable, so she was recovered to my home. The cables were ordered on Monday and the parts fitted by lunchtime Wednesday. Well they could have been fitted Tuesday afternoon but they arrived just a bit too late. Can the MeisterSchafters at Park Lane provide that sort of service, I wonder?

    1st attempt to start my new ‘blue’ BMW.

    As a Postscript I am not too enamoured of 21st Century bikes at the time of writing. My 2010 Suzuki Gladius SVF650 is running (sort of) but needs a new petrol tank, pump and filter due to rust particles in the fuel injection system. (She may also need a replacement EMU / ECU.) This is the newest, most sophisticated, complicated, overhead camshaft machine I have ever owned. Problems manifested themselves first in Italy and then reached breakdown proportions on the island of Sardinia.

    Here I am working between 08.00 and 11.00 and then again between 17.00 and 19.00 in the shade of a tree in the garden/ parking slot of our holiday flat. Trying to clear as much sh*t out of the system to ride the bike across France home to Blighty.


    Gladius dismantled under a tree

    Remember it is not WHAT you ride, but HOW! 

    Andrew Craster


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