The only way I used to see getting a classic motorcycle to life was to restore it as its maker had intended. Yet, here I am, riding something that the old hands at Birmingham Small Arms would have never thought about. To them, this model was their contribution to the war effort. To them, this motorcycle was going to keep their kids from learning German in school. To them, this two-wheeler was a tool, forged in the fires of war, and not much else.
I’m clicking down the road at what seems to be about 60 kph. I don’t know for sure, as there is no speedo to refer to. The 500cc, 13 bhp, single-pot, sidevalve motor is chuffing along comfortably, but it takes forever to hasten its pace. And then its time to turn.
Grip is something most car drivers take for granted. Motorcyclists, however, know of the term more intimately. In any case, the huge Avons offer ship loads of the stuff, so much so that getting the bike to change direction is akin to convincing Anna Hazare to go off a hunger strike. The large tyres tend to catch and exaggerate every rut, even the smallest of ones that go by. It can get unnerving at times, but then almost as quickly as that thought of crashing flashes through your head, it’s over and you’re back to enjoying your ride. It does take a little getting used to, this motorcycle. I’ve ridden rigid rear ended, girder forked bikes before and yet, I couldn’t go about plodding around without a care in the world simply because the tyres have changed the riding dynamics to such an extent that it rolls like no other M20 around. Not that its bad, just different. Very, very different.
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