Saturday, 29 July 2017
On Yer Bike!
I've noticed this bike parked here occasionally, the owner working nearby I suppose. This is one of the machines that I lusted after in the days of long ago. When aged a slender fifteen years (I'm 32 now) I would often stand outside Alexanders Showroom in Lothian Road dreaming of the wealth required to buy a BSA, Triumph or Norton Motorbike. Earning £5:10 shillings a week, minus Nine shillings for National Insurance,meant this was just a dream. In those days you had to be sixteen to get a licence, when I became sixteen they raised the age to seventeen! It made no difference, I was only on something like seven pound a week then.
Standing in Slateford Road just before then a rich young man on a brand new Royal Enfield with a bright red petrol tank trundled past my jealous eyes. This was however the last Royal Enfield to be made and within a couple of years the company was dead, the result of much better Japanese bikes, Honda and Suzuki, dominating the market. Royal Enfield had opened a factory in India where the bikes still sold successfully and that factory bought all the machinery in the West Midlands and still today continues to manufacture Royal Enfield bikes. I suspect that in the Asian subcontinent the locals can fix these much easier than they could the Japanese versions. Some are offered on sale in the UK and sell well today.
I did eventually obtain a Suzuki myself in 1976 which did not last as long as it ought, my technical skills were to the fore and I sold it cheap to my neighbour and moved far away. It was a bit of fun at the time but not as romantic as a BSA Bantam or one of those large monsters that I leered at in the window. I also found that while 1976 was a record heatwave year, the drought was fearful, rain however when it came was not a comfortable item to drive through on a motorbike. I can still dream however and pretend I want and can afford and can avoid falling from a 650cc BSA brute!