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Old Boy Blues

Guest Post Received 24 May 2024

By Ian Douglas

There is a Facebook site entitled "Over 50 and Still on Two Wheels in the UK", I'm nearly 25 yrs over that entry level which makes me feel distinctly elderly. Time to call it a day? At the Section Meetings I notice the people there are getting younger as it were. Worse, as I speak to them I find my attitudes are somewhat frozen in the past. I haven't their optimistic outlook, the do and dare they have. I observe this in a dismal kind of way. The latest machines aren't for me, things like fuelling, comfort and wind resistance are more important to me than they were. I might be better off at home in the garden listening to next door's radio 4. Actually, I hate that, somehow it is OK if I put a radio programme on but somebody's else's choice grates.

Eventually it seems, one has to take a long hard look at one's bike fleet especially when some are beginning not to be used. Even if SORNed (kept off road) it is still wise to keep insurance going and that's a cost, plus vehicles deteriorate if left for any period of time. On the other hand the used market isn't good at present so it is a question of fixing a minimum price that I'd be prepared to let any go for thus beginning the process of downsizing. Most of you won't be anywhere near this stage but unfortunately the twilight zone is threatening my run of good fortune. Partially it's a financial thing too, inflation has taken a toll in recent years.

Cartoon of a rider running to the toilet as his wife asks if he's had a good ride on his motorcycle

A good day for me means being prepared for roughly 40 miles of what I regard as clag to reach a point where development starts to thin and what one loosely might call open roads make themselves evident. I do what I can to duck and dive round the built up nodes but there's only so much one can do in that department. On the other hand, being penned up listening to radio 4 in the garden isn't really what I want and the motorbike is a better means of escape than a car, the latter being less of a joy and susceptible to congestion. There we are then, pair down to that last machine if I can bear to let the others slip through my fingers, we almost want to keep them for their own sake.

I'm not sorry to say goodbye to the used bike motorcycle purchase phenomenon, the deal that one is so pleased with turning out to not be quite the great value that you supposed. One bike I bought looked great but once apart one could see numerous inner fairing lugs were damaged, presumably by the bike having gone over at some point and the exterior having been put right. Still, so far that one hasn't been any trouble to speak of.

One bike is 1000, another is 900 and the last is 600. The bigger ones are heavier and more to road tax, the smaller one is lighter and more flickable. It's nice owning and riding larger machines but the fact is, at least in the UK, that the authorities are closing in as 20mph speed limits are increasingly applied. Not only that but motorways aren't a barrel of fun with so much traffic out in the faster lanes. Speeding penalties are ever more onerous and the roads more thoroughly monitored. The larger bike doesn't like doing sub 20 mph, I have to change down into first, maybe it is my fault putting longer legged cogs on. Being old is like getting caught doing something or other against the rules at school and being put in detention.

A chap and his dog look through a shed window as he imagines riding a motorcycle

I couldn't give up motorcycling entirely, it's worth maintaining the ability to attend an event that might be enjoyable or for a spell of good weather when things seem a little quieter. To date, no serious aches and pains but the worry is mostly to do with getting dopey, distracted or forgetful - a longer ride can do that to you anyway but particularly if you tire prematurely as with ageing as one's attention span can diminish. We don't perhaps realise it but humans, like classic bikes, become fragile and less able to take punishment in their stride. Better to appreciate this earlier rather than later methinks. It's all rather depressing but that's life as they say at each stage, there are pluses and minuses though.


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Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Sounds very sensible to me Ian, why pay hard earned wonga on a garage ornament. To clarify though, that's pretty much what we all do, isn't it? My VSTrom has hardly turned a wheel yet this year and we're approaching the longest daylight of the year!
When I sold the Pan, it started to be a pain, I thought it would too. Then I thought what you thought, just get rid, life's too short.
I put it on an ebay auction for a price I'd be happy with and let the fun commence. Sold after two days to someone who paid almost twice the starting price just to get it off the auction. You just after ignore the idiots and the hard luck stories and take the money and run.
Good luck fella and enjoy it whilst you still can.
Upt.


11/06/2024 16:20:32 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
When I was reading Ian's post I was thinking - he's got a 1000, a 900 and he thinks of his 600 as his "small" bike. I think of my 500 (actually 471cc) as my BIG bike and it seems plenty quick enough for me. As you point out Ian with the UK's 70mph max on motorways and dual carriageways, 60 elsewhere and the perpetual expansion of 60s becoming 50s, 50s becoming 40s, 40s becoming 30s and 30s becoming 20s - my 47hp "beginner" bike is already way too fast.

I hope I can still enjoy my riding when I'm 75. I've a friend who's 82 and just returned from a week's blast around Scotland with friends, there's plenty of time Ian.
13/06/2024 08:16:34 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I'm a similar age Ian and have gone through similar thought processes. Ten years ago I was perfectly happy hauling a 955i Tiger around but soon found it too much and progressively "downsized" to my current stable of a Yamaha SRV250 - which I think I have eventually got sorted - a BSA Starfire fitted with a DRZ400 engine - currently beining titivated - and a Norton Electra 400 scheduled to arrive today. All of which have elctric starts as I was starting to feel tottery kickstarting the Norton ES2 which hopefully will be sold in the next few days as it is fast becoming a shed ornament. But as you say it's not a seller's market at the moment....

One advantage of the older bikes is free road tax and no need for MoT which reduces costs significantly especially when the lower insurance premiums are taken into account.

I also find that anything over 50 miles or so riding makes me very tired (although am currently suffering what is known as post-viral fatigue after shingles). But it's not the distance it's the fun involved. And as I also enjoy fettling as much as riding I'm not bothered about racking up stellar distances.
13/06/2024 10:36:49 UTC
nab301 said :-
Interesting post , while not in the 70'ish age group I did enter my 60's in recent years and have found I don't seem to have the same levels of biking stamina that I used to have for long trips . The 1100cc bike I have barely gets used because while comfortable enough to ride it produces a lot of discomfort afterwards and also running costs are quite high .
Currently I spend most of my time on smaller bikes but I find that I need a regular biking fix even if it's just a short commute to keep my endorphin levels up! See link
Nigel

https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/news-and-views/blog/why-motorcycling-shoul...
13/06/2024 13:24:30 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Interesting article Nidge.
I usually return from long multi day rides slimmer (less fat) and feeling generally strongerer.
That despite eating and drinking like the proverbial pig. And I'm not talking about water and lettuce.
Upt.
13/06/2024 13:58:15 UTC
Glyn said :-
Without this starting to sound like the "four Yorkshiremen", Monty Python sketch, I also am in my 70th year. The bigger bikes that I enjoyed only a year or two ago are getting too much to handle in the garage, let alone on the roads. My main issue is osteoarthritis That gets better and worse several times a day. I have decided to sell the Deauville (smaller engine at 650 but heavy and tall for the shorter more mature gent), keep the BMW because I love it andno-one would want it then start looking for a Honda-ish 250 or similar. I can't imagine having no bikes at all in my garage.
15/06/2024 09:48:09 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Glyn, you can buy what you damn well please. Obviously!
One reason I am now Pan less is at around 500 + kilos with Er'Indoors, me and the luggage onboard it could be a tad heavy at times. I wished I could blame it on the missus but she's like a gypsies whippet.
Downsizing to the STrom was a revelation, still is, not only is it actually a lot lighter but it feels even more so. No noticeable loss of oomph and very capable.
I don't think you'll have to go all the way to 250 to get something manageable. There is a plethora of 4/500's out there now which are swifter, lighter, more practical and yet just as useable as the Dullville.
Good luck buying/selling.
Upt.
15/06/2024 13:02:46 UTC
KiwiJeff said :-
Interesting post Ian definitely a theme here. Having carved out some budget from the wife's travel fund I have also been looking for some months for a smaller bike for short rides and gravel roads. While the Bandit is "only" a 600cc it is still 225kg with a full tank and having had to arrest it's fall in the garage when it got off balance some months ago my slightly torn left knee joint is yet another reminder that I'm getting old! 69 last month. The modern over complicated, expensive to fix, high seated 250 to 300cc motorcycles don't really do it for me but finding oil/air cooled, carburetor motorcycles that aren't wrecked and neglected is difficult in our small market. Have bid on a few older 350 royal enfields and Himalayans but they are still very popular here so people are happy to pay a bit more than I want to spend for what can be 7 year old bikes. The Honda CB300R while a bit modern for me is light and being a Honda will no doubt go forever so have looked at those as well. It's always fun looking and bidding, something will no doubt turn up. The Bandit stays in the fleet it is a great open road bike that costs nothing to run and I still enjoy longer runs of up to 200 miles on it Regards Jeff
16/06/2024 00:19:44 UTC
ian said :-
thanks for your various comments guys
17/06/2024 11:55:44 UTC

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