Are you a self confessed Petrol head? We all probably grew up playing with toy cars and bikes. Dreaming of the day we would one day drive on the roads. Most of us are now victims to the addiction of the combustion engine. The sight, smell and sounds are all unique. Metallic, dirty and oily engines around the world draw us all like zombies outside. The engine transformed our lives. It gave us our first taste of freedom and independence. It took us to places that we could never have otherwise reached. Can you honestly imagine life without petrol?
“Many addicts first experience would have likely been a motorbike engine“
Can you recall your first encounter? For many I bet the answer was a Honda Cub. Did it belong to your Dad? Uncle? Your older brother, or his mate?
Aged about 12 or 13, Barry my best mate and I went halves on an old red Honda C90. We paid £5 each toward the rusty red and white motorbike. Most of our weeks paper round money gone. It was a motorbike to us, not a scooter or moped as some might say. It seemed massive and we could both sit on the dual seat. Neither of us had ever ridden a bike before. It had no number plate, indicators or back light and we had probably just bought some old lady’s bike that had been stolen by the older kids up the park. We didn’t care and were none the wiser. On Barry’s Dad’s drive way we tried to get it going. I remember seeing my grandad test spark plugs on the lawn mower and suggested trying that. We “wannabe mechanics” found a socket and whipped the plug out. I poked the spark plug in the distributer cap and told Barry to hold it near the bike while I kicked started the bike. As I kicked it, Barry lept across the garden and shouted! I now know that we had a good spark! His Dad came home from work and after telling us we had wasted our money but helped us out. Before we knew it the bike was running like a little sewing machine in the garden. I remember the smell of petrol and the mud burning on exhaust where it had been ridden round the fields already. I don’t think you ever forget that smell? I got the bug for all things petrol then and there…
Coldblow woods was up the road. An unused field and woodland. That was where all the cool kids rode their motocrossers. The next weekend we pushed it up to the field, slowly getting more brave as we went and sitting on it while rolling. Eventually near the field we rode it along the path to the field. Hacking across the fields without lids and through the woods. We spent hours taking it in turns riding round the old overgrown Royal Marines sports field field avoiding grumpy dog walkers. We worked out how to wheelie it. The Barry sat on the back and I revved it up then stamped on the foot lever we shot forward into first and off we went. Once or twice Barry rolled off the back! Another great moment, there was a big chalk bomb hole and a rope swing. Anyone who knew the woods would know what I am talking about. The made a great place to ride up and down. Like you do, pushing and egging each other on we would go fast up the hill and jump at the top. I won’t ever forget landing the bike between the v of a split tree trunk and it taking both of us to remove the bike from the base of the tree! Eventually it ran out of petrol and we pushed it home again.
“Are there many Honda C90’s out there for a fiver these days?” I would think not!
We did this weekend after weekend all of that summer. That was my first experience of motorbikes and tinkering with engines. I can’t remember if we killed the Honda or I decided I wanted a bike of my own but Dad helped me get a little red Yamaha Passola. This was all road legal and went at about 20 mph flat out. I spent many days riding this round the same field. I am sure this would have been my younger brothers first motorbike experience too? A couple of years later I got a geared Yamaha DT50 and that’s when I learnt to ride with gears.
Those summers holidays where probably the best ones ever! The addiction still remains. 40 odd cars later and countless motorbikes. I don’t think it will ever change! Will future generations get so excited over an electric motor? I think not…
If you like fun and adventure on small bikes too, please see my other posts below and follow GFOSB both the page and the group on facebook for regular updates.