Alan Prescott’s ramblings
Encouraged by reading “Tonker’s Tales”, I thought I’d recount some of my own motorcycling experiences, so you can blame Steve for this.
My first bike was a BSA Bantam 175, bought from the Bristol branch of Kings of Oxford. I “learned” to ride by reading instruction articles in “The Motorcycle” – the old Blue ‘un, for those who remember it. The article suggested that the dealer would give some basic tuition when you purchased your motorcycle. When I asked, the salesman said “There’s the kick-start, there’s the clutch, there’s the gear lever, there are the brakes, and there’s the twist-grip”. Basic or what? So off I went. It took me a while to realise that, when I stopped, it was advisable to engage first gear rather than try to pull away in top!
I passed my motorcycle test about a year later in the T.A., riding a side valve 500cc BSA M20, becoming a despatch rider mostly escorting convoys of three ton army trucks around various areas of the South West on weekend exercises and two week camps. The job was to block traffic to allow the convoy through, a bit like on a Scrumpie’s run, but we didn’t get hassle from impatient motorists. Of course, it could have been something to do with the steel helmet and the Sten gun! The army riding kit had all the waterproofing qualities of chamois leather, and there were frequent nights when I took off wet clothing and putting it back on, still thoroughly soaked through, in the morning.
Following on from the Bantam, I progressed to a BSA 650 Flash and then to a BSA Road Rocket. At this time I was into the Coffee Bar scene and we used to regularly swap bikes so I got the chance to ride Gold Stars, Vincents, Bonnevilles and others that would, years later, become very expensive classics.
One thing you needed to learn very quickly with the old Brit bikes was how to use a set of spanners with guidance on strip-downs provided by “Motor Mechanics” magazine, although it didn’t go down well when I used the family stove to heat up a set of crankcases so that I could fit new main bearings, the smell of burnt engine oil not improving the aroma of the Sunday roast!
Marriage brought a selection of sidecar outfits, first a Triumph, then a Panther and finally a BSA Super Rocket, until I was in a position to own both a car and a motorcycle.
Then followed a succession of more Brit bikes and several MZ 250s on which I toured Europe until my sons got too big for the back of the MZ and I progressed to big Japanese tourers. However as modern bikes got taller and taller, I decided to go the cruiser route and bought my present Drag Star about five years ago, soon afterwards joining the Scrumpies and the rest, as they say, is history.