Come for a ride down fat bike elettrica and take a moment to ponder what was important for you and motorcycling on retro bikes we’d kill for!
The Bonnie ruled when I bought my BSA 350 single around the late 60s. Couldn’t afford motorcycle gloves then, so my dad being a welder, gave me a pair of welding gloves. They were made of canvas and came up to my elbows, and when I painted them black, they were almost waterproof.
I remember seeing an Electra-Glide on the black and white telly and thought to myself how stable it looked with its huge tires and large clear wind-shield. The cops riding it on the TV show would never fall off that thing. What’s more…it had electric start! I had to kick-start my rusty ole dunga every cold morning and hold in the compression key so the lever wouldn’t fly back and break my leg! After that I bought a Beeza Lightning 650 that started easier and was gentler on the leg, but I always lusted after a Manx Norton, after seeing one at the TT. The Manx was perfectly suited for the challenging island TT course and the 500 single had a top speed of around 130 mph. I’m sure they wore welding gloves back then instead of leather motorcycle gloves.
Just as Valentino Rossi changed the sport of motorcycle racing in recent times and has become the sports biggest drawcard, Giacomo Agostini ruled the roost in the 60s. He was fast, dedicated and classy on his MV Agusta. The three cylinder 500 was renowned for its excellent road handling. Ago always looked sinister in his black leathers, motorcycle gloves, pudding basin helmet and goggles.
John Britten was a New Zealander who built his Britten motorcycle in 1991. He threw all the engineering rules out the window and started with a clean sheet of paper. He designed, built the bike and engine which became revolutionary and may have just been the world’s best motorcycle ever, had he not died of cancer in 1995 at the age of 45. His bike remains years ahead of contemporary design. Andrew Stroud pulled on the motorcycle gloves and racing leathers as one of the few racers to have had the privilege of racing a Britten superbike.
Another machine you have to don the leathers and motorcycle gloves for, before Alzheimer’s gets you, is the “widowmaker”, or Kawasaki Mach IV. In the early 70s, the Mach IV was the quickest, most intense street machine ever built, entirely for the single purpose of scaring the hell out of you! It had a narrow power band and if you didn’t rev it to about 4000 rpm it would cough and die on you. On the other hand, if you did over rev it and drop the clutch, its two-stroke 750 engine would scream and throw you head over heels in an uncontrollable “wheelie”. Do not learn to ride on this beast!