More about Me

A lot of the people who've contacted me through this site seem to be around the same age as me with a similar biking background - I guess 80's strokers seem to appeal on the same 'wish-I-was-18-again' nostalgic level to everyone of a certain age.  Here's my biking history so you can compare it to your own.  And if anyone knows where any of my old bikes are, please get in touch...

Yamaha DT50M : XDN192V     Kawasaki AR80 : WGN434W

It all started a few weeks before my 16th birthday in July 1982 with a secondhand  Yamaha DT50M  (XDN192V) bought for 140 (cheers Dad !).  Is there a better bike than that first one that gives you your independence ?  Going to school was never so much fun.  The DT took me everywhere and taught me a lot about bikes (like you have to put oil in them or they seize - oops !).  When I turned 17 I moved up to a  Kawasaki AR80  (WGN434W) which was sadly stolen after 18 months never to be seen again.  It was a good bike, though trying to keep up with my mates on their 125's meant a crank rebuild was needed after a while.  In March 1985 I passed my test on a borrowed RD80LC (thanks Gav) and bought a  Yamaha RD350LC  (JKH304Y) a week later.  The best biking experiences of my life were all on the LC - all those long summer nights where you do a hundred miles but never really go anywhere.  I wish I'd still got it.  But in October 1986 with some savings burning a hole in my pocket, I sold both the LC and DT and bought a brand-new  Suzuki GSX-R750G  (D811LAT).

Yamaha RD350LC : JKH304Y     Suzuki GSX-R750G : D811LAT
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Me on my first 350LC Two days after I'd sold the LC, I received a phone call from a tearful woman who turned out to be the mother of the kid that had bought it.  He'd taken the bike home and his parents had gone mental - mainly because he didn't have a full licence to ride it.  Following a row, he'd left home and they hadn't seen him since.  Though sympathetic, I explained that he'd seemed delighted with his new purchase and that his domestic arrangements weren't really my problem.  The next night I got another call, from an angry bloke (his father) who threatened me with all sorts of stuff and said he was calling the police because I'd sold the LC in 'an unroadworthy state'.  I explained that I'd pointed out the dubious front tyre to the buyer before he committed to it, and had knocked him 20 off the price as a result too.  I also explained that you didn't need a full licence to buy or own any bike, just to use it on the road.  Nevertheless, they were both upset and I went round to see them and managed to calm them down a bit.  That was the end of it ... until I received a court summons in the post two days later.  Naturally my first instinct was to leave the country but on closer reading I realised that the list of traffic offences (wheelieing on a public road, running a red light, failing to stop for a police car) had occurred after I'd sold it - the day after in fact.  By this time I was thoroughly sick of this kid and his family so I went straight down the police station and gave his full details to the copper dealing with it !  Kids, eh ?
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I was only 20 and my mates away at university were running RD's and GSX250's etc. while I was poncing about on the superbike of the moment !  With hindsight I'm not sure why I didn't go for the RG500 instead but I loved the GSX-R and was gutted when some dozy twat in a Nova turned across my path and destroyed it in March 1988.  Hopefully that'll be my last ride in an ambulance.  While waiting for the insurance money, I still needed to get to work so I picked up a  Kawasaki KH250 (OUB569P) out of the local paper.  It never really ran properly despite loads of fettling, a complete stripdown and some 'professional' (cough...) tuning but it had loads of style and character.  Shortly afterwards I spotted another  Yamaha RD350LC  (B113VAG) for sale in the local paper - it had the proper yellow Roberts-rep paintjob so I snapped it up.  It had Microns fitted which I never really liked so my mate lent me his spare chrome Allspeeds for a while.  Three months later, the LC started making suspect noises from the bottom-end and I sold it in a panic, forgetting to swap the exhausts back first.  Sorry Dave !  By now, the insurance had finally paid out on the GSX-R so I bought a brand-new  Yamaha TDR250  (F482BAT).

Kawasaki KH250 : OUB569P     Yamaha RD350LC : B113VAG     Yamaha TDR250 : F482BAT

I still think the TDR concept was spot-on.  An LC-engined supermoto-styled hooligan machine is still my idea of the perfect bike.  But the TDR was a bit of a disappointment, being nowhere near as mental as the press made out, and with shocking build quality that made it rust overnight and cut out badly in the wet.  In January 1990 I traded it in for another new bike - a  Suzuki GSX-R750K  (G161NAT).  It did nothing wrong and took me everywhere but I never really liked the way it looked so in August 1991 I traded it in for a new  Suzuki GSX-R750M  (J311EAG).  The same bike - more or less - but with USD forks and much better styling in gorgeous black/purple.  But by April 1993 I was getting bored again and a trip to Padgetts in Batley to help my mate Grant replace his FZR600 saw me looking round their showroom with a twitching wallet.  I didn't really know what I wanted next but I went over to look at a GSX-R just like mine.  Except it wasn't a 750, it was a  Suzuki GSX-R1100M  (K11OOX) and it was brand-new.  Half an hour later and I'd swapped...

Suzuki GSX-R750K : G161NAT     Suzuki GSX-R750M : J311EAG     Suzuki GSX-R1100M : K11OOX     Suzuki GSX-R1100 & 750M's _____________________________________________________

SuperBike magazine used to sponsor a drag-racing series back in the 80's for ordinary punters on road-legal bikes - they called it Ultimate Streetbike.  I fancied giving it a go on my GSX-R750G and I persuaded a mate of mine with an 1100 Katana (Hi Dave) to enter the round at Blyton in 1988 with me.  We sent our entry forms off and got our race numbers back.  Then I totalled my GSX-R.  Dave was busy fettling his Kat ready for the big day and I couldn't stand being left out so I decided to just take my KH250 and race that instead.  Race preparation for me consisted of sticking my number '273' on the tailpiece and packing a bag of spare spark plugs.  On the day itself, my bike misfired the whole way there, running on two cylinders most of the time.  We got there and Dave shot off to scrutineering to get his bike approved - this achieved, he joined the queue of impressive-looking bikes awaiting their shot on the strip.  I started working through my bag of spare plugs, more in desperation than anything else.  Eventually it fired up on all 3 and I shot off to get the magic yellow chalkmark on the front tyre that signified it was fit to race.  Dave had managed a couple of runs already by the time I joined the queue, completely out of my depth among all the big musclebikes.  I reached the front of the queue and was only mildly amused to find myself up against the turbo GS1000 of Ken Taylor.  Ken did a big burnout and looked deadly serious.  I fiddled nervously with the fuel tap like I was adjusting something critical.  Green light - go !  15.72 seconds later and it was all over, although Ken was back in the pits and halfway through a cup of tea by then.  Nevertheless, the KH had run perfectly and I hadn't made a prat of myself at least.  I joined the queue again.  This time I was slightly less nervous and decided to do a burnout for a laugh.  I grabbed the front brake, stuck on some revs and dumped the clutch.  The crappy front tyre failed to find any grip and I shot forward with the wheel locked.  Two marshals ran over and I thought I was gonna get a bollocking - instead they braced themselves against the front forks and told me to try again.  I got the wheel spinning and held it there for what seemed like ages, with the marshals holding back the mighty triple and the crowd laughing (although someone came up to me afterwards and asked if I was really running a 750cc motor with 250 badges !).  The second run was even better though - 15.43 seconds.  I had no idea how this compared to everyone else but I assumed I wasn't going to be taking any trophies home.  By the time of my third run I had sussed out the correct startline procedure and did another burnout - the marshals were on standby (see photo) but I was OK on my own by now.  15.66 seconds.  I decided I wasn't going to get any quicker and parked it while it was still running properly.  Although obviously when it came to the trip home, it ran on two again all the way.  6 weeks or so later I eagerly flicked through SuperBike looking for the results.  And there I was - last place out of 117 runners.  How cool is that ? Me on my KH250 at the Blyton round of Ultimate Streetbike 1988
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By Autumn 1993 I still hadn't bothered learning to drive a car so whatever bike I had at the time was year-round essential transport.  The snow and salted roads had taken their toll on my previous bikes and I'd finally sold the KH, so in order to help keep the 1100 immaculate I bought a  Yamaha DT125R  (G176MAT).  Every snowy day could now be looked forward to instead of dreaded, with a winter commute seeing my speedway-style powersliding attempts get better all the time and the summer months seeing a leisurely stripdown and rebuild of the DT in an attempt to repair the ravages of salt and snow.  Work forced me to finally learn to drive in 1995 and the DT got sold a year later when I bought my first car.  The 1100 continued to provide everything I needed in a bike.

Yamaha DT125R : G176MAT     Kawasaki S3A 400 : SDN884P

Fast-forward to May 2000 - I've still got the 1100.  I still read all the bike magazines but none of the stuff in the showrooms really appeals any more and I've grown out of the sportsbike rat-race.  I start to get all misty-eyed whenever I see an old two-stroke and decide I need to get another one.  I keep an eye out in the local paper for anything suitable, hoping to score an LC or maybe a Kawasaki 500 triple.  Soon I spy an advert for a  Kawasaki S3A 400  (SDN884P) and go to have a look.  It's very nice but it's not a 500 so I make the seller a very low offer and leave.  He rings me a couple of days later and accepts it !  He's spent some time restoring it with new parts, though it's not so perfect that I daren't ride it like it was intended.  I have great fun howling through the streets leaving nice blue clouds everywhere again.  Ooh, it's good to be back !
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The flippin' Spreadle My Mum had a T-reg Honda Express that she used to go to work on.  Whenever my current bike was off the road for whatever reason, I used to borrow it.  It only did 28mph flat out but it would do that all day without complaint and still return 80mpg.  Despite the hopeless performance it was great fun to ride and would tolerate all sorts of abuse.  You could wheelie it by tugging on the bars while accelerating because it didn't weigh very much - the photograph shows what happens if you tugged a bit too hard - yes, a 3bhp moped remains the only bike I've ever flipped.  Luckily the top-box took most of the damage.  Another time I entered the forecourt of a petrol station a bit too fast, locked the front wheel on the greasy tarmac and slid up to the pumps on my arse in a shower of sparks.  Many years later I was consumed by a nostalgic desire to rescue 'The Spreadle' (as it was always known) from the dark corner of my Mum's garage and return it to the road - imagine my disgust to find she'd given it away to the rag 'n bone man some months earlier.
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Autumn 2002 sees me looking around for a 350LC to go with the triple, then my wife intervenes and the  Kawasaki KR250  magically appears instead.  This website is all about what happens after that of course, and the 'spare'  Kawasaki KR250  finds a place in the garage too.  Since then, I've sold the triple in order to make room in the garage to work on the KR's and picked up yet another  Kawasaki KR250  too.

Kawasaki KR250 No.1     Kawasaki KR250 No.2     Kawasaki KR250 No.3

In 2005, after 12 faithful years service, I finally sold the 1100.  I'd thought about swapping it for something several times over the years but never found anything else I wanted badly enough.  Well, it's the perfect bike - it starts on the button and you can just stick it in top gear and cruise to work getting 45mpg if you want.  But if you suddenly find you need to be at the other end of the country in an hour, you can switch your brain off and go nuts.  It deserves it's reputation for evil handling but that's just part of the fun.  Drag-strip hero (11.08 secs at the PB GSX-R Day at Santa Pod), two-up tourer or stunt tool - it'll do it all.  But a mate kept begging me to sell it to him and eventually I gave in.

In February 2006, having convinced myself that I still needed another 350LC, a lovely  Yamaha TZR250   (H773YGP) turned up nearby and I couldn't resist it.  It's the Reverse Cylinder (3MA) model, and the SP (Sport Production) variant which means it's got a dry clutch, close-ratio gearbox and various other little trick bits.

November 2007.  I'd been thinking about getting another GSX-R.  I wasn't really missing the 1100 but I kept seeing 'Slabbies' and feeling nostalgic.  I came very close to buying a nice original 1100G but then I spotted a   Suzuki GSX-R750RK  and snapped it up.  Like the TZR, it's a homologation special.  And in May 2008 I bought it's little brother, a  Suzuki RB50.

1991 Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)     1989 Suzuki GSX-R750RK     1985 Suzuki RB50

October 2008.  Almost 6 years after acquiring my first one, I've just bought my fourth  Kawasaki KR250.  Can't fit any more in the garage now though...

...not unless they're really small anyway.  So in June 2012 I buy a  Kawasaki KS-II 80.  And in April 2013 I sell the TZR.  In Oct 2014 I finally buy another  Yamaha RD350LC  and manage to squeeze it into the garage by relegating three to the shed. That makes it 21 bikes then, 8 of which I still own.

Red/black KR250 9 bikes Kawasaki KS-II 80 1981 Yamaha RD350LC
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Keeping my bikes company in the garage is my wife Sara's  Honda 250 Hornet, yet another grey-import 250, utilising the inline-4 motor from the CBR250RR that redlines at 16000rpm and the 180/55 rear tyre from the FireBlade !  Lovely to ride and so much better looking than the watered-down 600 and 900 Hornets Honda UK eventually brought in.  It's since been joined by her other toys, a pair of 'Gag' bikes : a  Honda NSR50  (repainted in Rossi/Nastro colours) and a  Yamaha TDR80  (completely stripped and restored) and a  Yamaha SDR200.

Her  Suzuki GSX-R400  and  Honda H100  are long gone now though, and the  Kawasaki ZL250 Eliminator  was never hers - the bike shop lent it to her while the Hornet was being shipped over from Japan.

Honda 250 Hornet     Honda NSR50 Gag     Yamaha TDR80 Gag    Yamaha SDR200
Suzuki GSX-R400     Honda H100     Kawasaki ZL250 Eliminator _____________________________________________________

Oh yeah, I'm also in the world's crappiest rock band - check out  The Bastards From Hell... _____________________________________________________

I was never really that bothered about cars.  I didn't learn to drive until I was 29 and only did it then because it was holding me back at work.  I bought my first car in September 1996, a 2.9 litre  Ford Sierra XR4x4  (J95OBA).  It had a lovely grunty V6 motor and all the toys.  Unfortunately it also had loads of problems that the previous owner had bodged.  I spent 2000 over 10 months fixing it, culminating in a complete engine rebuild.  After that, it was the great car that it should always have been but I quit while I was ahead and traded it in August 1997 for a brand new  Renault Laguna 2.0 RT  (R350HAT).  I kept that almost 9 years as it did everything I needed but eventually it reached the point in its life where it was needing regular repairs and I decided to replace it with something newer.  So in June 2006 I got a 2-year old  Ford Focus ST170  (VX54VLE), which provided mostly-reliable practical transport for 7 years whilst also being fun to drive.  But in June 2013 I swapped that for a  VW T5 Kombi  which functions as both 5-seat hatchback and bike transporter...

Ford Sierra XR4.4 2.9i : J95OBA     Renault Laguna 2.0 RT-Sport : R350HAT     Ford Focus ST170 : VX54VLE    VW T5 Kombi

I also co-own a 1991 Rover Mini Cooper.  'Charlie' was bought in 2002 especially to do the Italian Job Rally.  He is 1275cc, has a single carb, 2" stainless centre exhaust system (no cat), K&N air-filter and electronic ignition.  Rover Sportspack arches barely cover the 175/50 R13 Bridgestone tyres on Minilite-style alloys - also present are halogen headlights, 4 spotlights, twin airhorns, an upgraded stereo and a one-off airbrushed roof mural.  Creeping rust means that he is fresh out of a very expensive 6-month restoration by a local Mini specialist.  Check out  The Italian Job  for details of our Mini adventure...

Rover Mini Cooper
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Helmets


So what next ?  Well obviously my first KR will be buried with me, and the special is a keeper too (just so I can get it finished).  I'd love a mint red/black KR250S too but three KR's is enough - I'm not trying to collect them all.  I'm not sure whether the KS-II is a keeper or not but I can't see either of the Suzuki's going anywhere, nor the LC.

Did you notice that I've never owned a Honda ?  There's something about them that turns me off somehow, although I exclude the MVX250F, NS400R and MC21/28 NSR250 from that statement.  And the NSR50/80 Gag.  And the RC30 of course, although they seem to get more stupidly expensive every day.  But I'd quite like an FTR223...

Other stuff that appeals given a big enough garage and bank balance : a '89 GSX-R400RRSP, Mk1 Gamma 250, 250 Katana and another 'slabside' GSX-R.  Ducati ?  No thanks, as far as I'm concerned they're just Harley Davidson's painted red...

The TZR and the KR     TZR250SP and NSR50 Gag     4 Gags     Yeah, we like grey-import 250's here...     Suzuki GSX-R750RK and RB50