Saturday, May 19, 2007

An Inappropriate Love Affair!




I did something unusual Friday...fell hopelessly in love with a motorcycle. I mean, I've had motorcycles pretty much forever, starting with a Bridgestone motorcross bike back in the 1960s, graduating to a whole parade of quirky British Nortons — I mean, they were good enough for Che Guevera and Keanu Reeves, right? They were weird when they rolled out of the factory'; they're weird when you rebuild them...I became convinced that my last Nort, a 750-cc Combat Commando I'd bought from some idiot who'd built his own "chopper," wanted to kill me...it was those spooky shudders from the tuned frame when the bike went from from 70 to 80 mph. Every Nort I ever owned seemed to pass through some time/space barrier at about that speed.

So I sold the Combat Commando for a tidy sum five years or so ago, and the guy who bought it did a miraculous 100% factory show-class restoration on it. He sent me pictures; I swear the freakin' bike was leering at me! I've been very happy with my blood-red '94 Honda Magna, which as I've written before, is one of Honda's huge mistakes...a "power" cruiser...all the right looks with a for-real 4-cylinder street bike engine, especially since I had it overhauled last year. It's quick, and will the recent work and a change of tires handles like it's on rails.

Still, cruisers are cruisers, and once a Brit bike guy, always a Brit bike guy. I've pondered the new Nortons, bur so far they're pretty much vaporware. And as much as I love the Ducati Monsters (definitely NOT a Brit bike!), I figure that or a Buell or one of the other streetfighters will probably kill me.

I've found myself aimlessly flipping through eBay, seeing if there's a fastback Norton, or the pieces of a fastback Norton, for sale

So I'm at a production house in Denver yesterday, which happened to be next door to the Denver Triumph dealership...of course I had to take a tour. I'd seen the retro Bonnevilles, which didn't float my boat; somehow I'd missed the Triumph Thruxtons, amazingly a Norton-styled cafe racer, a la the breathtaking Tritons, Triumph engines in Norton frames.

In Norton yellow, no less.

Shades of the Ace Cafe, Eddie Cochran and all things Rockers. Be still my heart. In an act of will, I didn't buy the thing on the spot. There's a racing series, so you can jack it from 69 bhp up to 100...maybe midsummer...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

And now for some British electrical component humor (attempt):

Q.-Why do they serve beer warm in England?

A.-Because Lucas built refrigerators.

Nice looking Triumph, BTW.
Real nice.

Barry in IN

Overload in Colorado said...

Being a Buell owner since 1997, and currently owning two, I think you should look at the current Buells, especially the Lightning Super TT, s flat track styled bike. That said, I ride my little Buell Blast more than my big S1WL Lightning, as it's more comfortable for a small guy like me, and I'm riding it at urban speeds.

There's been a swing in recent years back towards standard styled bikes, or at least the modern version thereof. The Honda 599 would be the modern version of your Magna.

Will said...

At first glance, I thought it was a Norton Commando...
After changing hands a couple times, my fastback's body parts went to some collector in New Zealand. Doner bike was the first Commando in the US. Two tone paint and polished parts. Importers' dealer show bike. Had pad in the center of tail for emblem. Crated bikes: one color, no polished alum. Dealers pissed.
BTW, single biggest power gain for Norton: Cycle Shack 2-1 header. Standard 750 engine with increased compression and jetting would pull redline in high with 23T sprocket! With porting,32mm Amals and Megacycle cam, could flat run away from a GS1100E Suzuki in the swoopy backcountry near Hollister. Ran 350-370 mainjets, depending on state of aircleaner. Stock 4plate and 5plate clutches couldn't hold the HP, even the early 4plate bonded pad type that were trans eaters. Figured out a different setup that wouldn't slip when it hit 5500rpm. Suzuki rider was a very good club racer, I got on the track a couple years later. Should have raced it instead of Guzzi LeMans. Oh well, hindsight.

RVN11B said...

I knew that sooner or later I would run into some one else that had cut his baby teeth riding a Bridgestone 90cc bike.

Mine was a 1967 model I had talked my father in to putting up the down payment for me.

Of course I paid for the rest of it but it was worth it.

Rode that thing year round rain or shine or snow. Only one element prevented me from riding and that was ice on the roads.

Fun times back then.

GeorgeH said...

Look at the Enfield 500 singles being made in India.

http://www.royalenfield.com/app/US/default.asp

It's an inexpensive classic Brit thumper, perfect for running the fire roads.

All of us past 40 are way too fragile to be riding street bikes.

Joe in Memphis said...

Oh, yeah Anon...?

Well, why didn't the British ever build wristwatches?



A: They never could figure out how to make them leak crankcase fluid. (Any MG/Triumph/Jag nut has probably heard this a hundred times...)

hazcat said...

I'm a cruiser gut myself. Been riding since 72.

Currently have a 94 Virago 1100 shaft drive.

Might make the move to something more suited to around town as I just don't do the long rides anymore but just can't find the one that 'does it' for me.

A little Triumph 650 America might do.