My main bikes since 17 ~The Long and Winding Road

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    A few years ago I had the notion to become a journalist and work for a bike magazine. I applied for a job with one of the major titles, but as my CV had nothing to do with bikes or biking I decided to submit an alternative CV detailing all the ‘main’ bikes that I have owned over the years and what impact they had on my life. Well I didn’t get job obviously and the CV has been sitting on my PC ever since. I thought that you lot might find it of interest…

    Mar 2020 to Date
    BMW R1200RS Sport SE
    Job Description: Smooth Touring…

    Well the MV wasn’t getting used. It was perhaps a little too focussed and bonkers for me. So I wound going all sensible and trading it in for one of these…

    The Covid -19 Lock down limited things a bit initially, but I have managed over 10,000 miles now. Highlights have included trips to the IoM,Scotland and a fabulous tour of Ireland. The bike has not been entirely trouble free, but it is a lovely bike to ride and and a great all-rounder. Here’s my initial imprssions when I first picked it up 

    Oct 2015 to Mar 2020
    MV Agusta 1090 Brutale RR
    Job Description: God knows…

    One quick test ride and one quick squiggle on a finance form and I seemed to have another bike. This was a brilliant machine. Bonkers quick and it could slice through corners like a rapier. However in nearly 5 years I did a little under 2000 miles on it. It was so impractical that I rarely used it. Such a shame. I was sad to see it go, but you can’t keep them all!

    July 13 to date
    Ducati Monster S2R1000
    Job Description: The Italian Stallion

    My first non Japanese bike…a leap of faith? Time will tell!…little update…the Ducati has been nothing short of superb, fast enough to be fun, reliable, great in the twisties and a roar from the exhausts to die for. Best memories exploring the Spanish Picos.

    August 09 to July 13
    Yamaha FZ1S Fazer
    Job Description: Sports Bike for old fat blokes

    Well another bike to challenge the Thundercat…the early promise was fulfilled and I enjoyed 4 years and 10,000 miles on this cracking bike. I loved the power, the comfort and the handling on 3 trips into Europe. The bike is tall though and I did not always feel at ease getting on and off the old girl. Overall a superb machine, I will miss it a great deal.

    Nov 05 to April 07
    Yamaha XJR1300SP
    Job Description: Proper Bike.

    After years on poncy sports bikes time for some heavy metal!!!! The XJR was a real muscle bike, and the creamy torque of the big air cooled lump made the big Yam easy to ride. However for some reason the fire did not burn in quite the way I thought and I sold the beast after only 18 months. Now I find myself missing that smooth effortless performance…


    Mar 00 to date
    Yamaha YZR600R Thundercat.
    Job Description: Sports tourer.


    This bike marked my return to the front of the pack, or at least towards the front. Blessed with a stupid name, a strong engine and compliant suspension well suited to the bumpy Worcestershire lanes that surround my home. This bike is first I have ever bought purely as a toy, my demise from day in day out biker to Sunday morning scratcher complete.
    Initially I was restricted to “600cc squadron”, the group I ventured out with weekends. This was great fun, but the chance to build a relationship with your bike isn’t there, that only comes with constant use and care in all conditions and circumstances. That has come in the last few years as the loss of a company car has meant much more day in, day out riding too. During 2007 I used the T Cat for a stunning 2300 mile, 10 day blast across France, Italy and Switzerland. The T Cat was faultless.

    Nov. 91 to Mar 00.
    Yamaha FZ750 Genesis.
    Job Description: Pure Sports (Well, that was what it said on the fairing!).


    My “line in the sand”, the encroachment into my biking life that the onset of wife, mortgages and children inevitably brings stopped here. Bought initially as a good all rounder and pressed into daily service. In one glorious summer I crammed 10,000 miles into only four months as I blasted between Norfolk and Worcestershire every weekend. Rarely have I ridden so swiftly and so well, I knew every little nuance of the bikes behaviour, where the engine pulled best, how to exploit the quick steering 16” front wheel, what I could get away with basically. My route was punctuated with clock towers on churches and town halls etc. and I set myself bogie times from clock to clock that I had to match or beat. All very silly of course, but huge fun and a good way a breaking the pattern of the same run time after time.
    This bike and I became old friends as I cared for her as she slipped gracefully into her dotage. New suspension, brakes, pipes etc. Gradually she fell from regular use as the pressures of working and family life grew. Even at the end she looked great, Micron pipe glinting in the sun, that iconic 20 valve engine still keen and eager to propel me into a world where troubles are sucked away in the slipstream.
    But old father time is unforgiving, unrelenting foe and eventually the time had come to move on. When she slipped from view for last time a lump formed in my throat. Goodbye old friend, still crazy after all these years!

    June ’89 to Nov’91.
    Yamaha RD350F2.
    Job Description: Budget Sports. (I think).


    They say never go back out with an old girlfriend, and this bike rather proved the point. After my first YPVS this bike was something of an anti-climax. By the time I bought it new the Powervalve legend was fading, the RGV Suzuki and KR1-S Kawasaki had adopted the mantle of the chosen tool of the lunatic fringe.
    A good bike in many ways that I enjoyed riding, but it lacked the edge of the earlier models. The raw fun was gone and our time together was pretty quiet, although blowing away a local nutter on a heavily RD350LC fitted with a tuned YPVS engine was a highlight. To be honest the biggest thrill it provided was that only collecting a brand new bike can bring, that heady mixture of nerves and anticipation.

    Sept. ’88 to Mar. ’89.
    Honda VF1000FII
    Job Description: Dinosaur.


    Oh dear, we all make mistakes and this was mine, a huge bike in every respect and I hated it. Quite why I bought it continues to elude me. On the test ride I was pulled out on by a Nun in Transit van of all things, but did I take the hint, oh no. The handling was extremely top heavy and I had no confidence on this bike at all. A powerful, gusty engine was a highlight, but the whole added up to much less than the sum of its’ parts.

    So here was a bike that at time in my life I could ride at will that I actually chose to leave in the garage. Not surprisingly, it did not last long in my hands and just after we took an unplanned flight literally into the Norfolk countryside (in bid to keep up with a GPZ900 mounted friend), she was hastily sold and money spent on my wedding ~ see, I would do anything to get shot of it!

    Jan. ’87 to Sep.’88.
    Suzuki GS550E
    Job Description: Definitive UJM.


    Had a hard act to follow after the manic YPVS that proceeded it. A good solid bike that did many things well, and went about its day with a minimum of fuss. The first and to date, only bike I have taken to the IOM. At time when I was buying my first house the GS was a good tool to keep my hand in. Not the greatest bike, but hey, a bike is a bike!

    Mar. ’85 to Jan.’87.
    Yamaha RD350YPVS.
    Job Description: Adrenaline Pump.


    The absolute DB’s! This bike and I spent a roller coaster 18 months together, thrashed and ultimately perhaps inevitably, crashed. The bond between bike and rider was strong here, and at the time I owned this bike they were THE machines for the young lunatic about town!
    There were so many highs and so many lows. Formation wheelies in traffic, side by side with my best mate aboard an identical bike, crazy high speed rides to nowhere just for the hell of it. The thrill of scaring your girlfriends shitless! It was not big, it was not clever, it never impressed the girlfriends, but so what!
    In 18 glorious months it ate 7 tyres, countless brake pads and I generally poured money into my habit ~ everything had to be scarified to allow worship at the altar of the POWERVALVE.
    It had to end in tears and sure enough on September evening I came second in an unequal fight with a Bedford lorry – boy did that hurt. The bike was put back together again, but something had gone, the feeling of invincibility that only the I high octane mix of ignorance and youth can bring. Time to move on, but the memories will linger forever.

    April 1984 to March 1985.
    Yamaha RD250LC.
    Job Description: First Sports Bike.


    My first step into “big bikes”, the LC was a great fun bike. Light, fast and furious it really was the best bike for me as a (fairly) skinny 18-year-old seeking cheap kicks. The first bike I clocked 100 mph on, the first I took touring with my mates, and this first bike I took to pieces. After my CB100 the bike seemed so fast and I felt I had the respect of my peers. The LC provided me with a year of fun, what more could I ask for?

    October 1983 to April 1984.
    Honda CB100N-A
    Job Description: Learner legal sports.


    Where the habit I can’t just kick all started. I really wanted a 125LC but could not afford the insurance! I learnt to ride on this bike wobbling around the car park of disused factory, then later  passed my test too. I discovered the world of “Bikers” when I joined a local club, the bike redefined my life in a way I had not imagined possible. The joys of “going prone”, pulling my first wheelie getting my first conviction ~ all done on this little bike. I thrashed it to within an inch of its life, but somehow I never managed to fall off. We all seem to keep a special place in our affections for our first bike, and I am no different.

    The Others!

    A have also owned a various points: A Ducati Scrambler ClassicFZ600, 2x Superdreams, another 3 YPVS RD350s, 2 CB250RS, RD250E, RD250LC a KH250, a CD185, Suzuki EN125 and a couple of ZR550 Zephyrs. Those are just the ones that worked there were more such as a C50, a MZ another CB100N etc


    The gs 550 was the first real m/cycle i ever owned
    i know i have lots of bikes but the gs was the only one witch i rode as a road bike,unfortunatly for me i had a hernia whilst owning this and could not sling a leg over it,so sadly it was sold i then never had another road bike to keep for myself
    Ihave probly owend close to a 300 differant bikes in the last 25 years but only reacently have i had an interest in riding on the road my wifes duke has been a pleasure and my motard is great if i dont go to far,
    my mate owns a bike shop and loans me his bikes as and when somthing fast or interesting comes allong, so i dont go rusty


    Hey Cookeye, get Radar to tell you about, if memory serves me right, the burn on his leg (GS550)and the lower glass in the rear door of his batch pad on Lime Tree avenue (GS550)
    I borrowed the bike for a while and had a great time frightening Richard Anderson who had a FZ1000.
    In retrospect slow and heavy, but when its this or no bike at all I’ll take the GS (they were also made like brick s*** houses)


    slow and heavy forgot i still have a gs 1000 thats big slow and real heavy
    think i should sell some off the crap and make some room around the sheds


    Go on then Radar, tell us about that burn. Did mine on a zx10 exhaust and I still have the scars. Come to think of it, the exhaust still had my skin on it a few years later. Ouch[xx(]


    Do you want to know about my burn’t leg? Well basically I used to park my GS550 up around the back of the small Barrett built rabbit hutch (very small modern house for non UK members), I then called home. This was a tricky move down a narrow path and then a 90° turn up my own garden path. I had to ride the bike as there was no room to push it. Anyway one night I was tucking the GS away for the night and just as I made the turn I catch my waterproofs on next door’s fence and over falls the bike. One four into one exhaust collector box on my leg with the engine still running… Now I know what it is like to be branded. Yes we do smell like pork when cooked! Much pain for ages, couldn’t even walk for a week. Boy do I feel sorry for people who get badly burnt – 18 years on still have the scars!


    Bet you said “Oh dear” when that happened. Like the description of the VF1000. I’ve never heard a story that wasn’t a joke which contains a reference to a nun in a Transit van…..


    just read this thread,what a write up!man,radar ur a bigger fan of the RD,kudos.i remember the time when in 92 i was a 14 yrs ond boy,the RD’s production was stopped and india was without a world class bike.tht year i had learnt driving and riding bikes,they were all 100cc or less,a boy living in the same locality gets a used 88 model RD,i saw him popping wheelies,beg him to let me try it.he makes fun of me,i go stubborn and finally get the ride,it almost pulls ur arms out,shoves you back and floats the front end,i was scared and was shaking like hell,loved the feel.u guys r lucky to have so many models of the pocket rocket :-)

    1987 Yamaha RD 350B
    In first gear whack the throttle.


    That burn explains the strange tattoo on your leg which read:
    ‘5013 SB IKUZUS’ and the British kite mark? I always thought you were in some kind of cult!
    (still doesn’t explaing why you shave your legs and wear those ankle bracelets though!)


    Radar tells me the legs were shaven for aerodynamics and the ankle bracelets were for his rheumatism.

    Yeah, right. Still, have to say that was a great write up about the bikes mate, you are really in the wrong job.

    @Rajnish – I know what you mean about the RD pulling your arms out, it’s a great sensation when you first ride one. The only other bike that did that to me was a Kwak GPZ750 turbo. Nothing till about 6000rpm then BANG – in comes the power. Love it.


    LOL yes the RD’s r good buzz,the Kwak tht too with a turbo must be huge kicks :)

    1987 Yamaha RD 350B
    In first gear whack the throttle.


    Always fancied the Kwak turbo and ended up with a Katana instead. Probably a good choice as there aren’t many Kwak turbos left on the roads now. Did they all blow up?

    I’ve donated to the forum, have you?


    I haven’t seen one on the road since the early 90’s. They are very expensive to repair if the turbo fails. One hell of a great ride though.


    CB-100N was my first bike too and was the same colour.Took it to the limit to much though and blew a valve and a piston ring.Great little bike though.

    Take it easy out there


    Good article, Mate. If I hadn’t started to get interested in bikes, I deffinately would start after reading it.

    Diving now!… Diving now!

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