Since then, almost every year, the notion of riding has cropped up again, but receded in the face of practicalities as I watched the cost of obtaining a motorcycle licence increase dramatically over the decades. I'd never bothered to do the m/c test because I thought it would remain a simple upgrade to my car licence, but that changed and the m/c test is now a multi-part process costing hundreds of pounds.
The urge to ride a bike again stuck this time, longer than the usual one or two weeks, It became an obsession that went on for months and into the next year. I had to ride again. It was now or never.
I questioned my obsession; should I get a small diesel van instead?
Nah, that wouldn't do.
At first I wanted an enduro style bike, very tall, with aggressive styling and knobbly tyres, designed for the road, but also for tearing through muddy tracks, along beaches, along woodland paths. An adventure toy, but one which could also be ridden across the Sahara Desert. I was reading dozens of adventure ride reports and the idea of going somewhere like Mali in Africa seemed the most wonderful long term plan. After all I'd sailed the whole coast of the Sahara Desert from north to south and it would be fantastic to do it again by sand. I could even write another travel book.
As I gathered information I began to realise I enjoyed reading about other people falling off into 2 foot deep mud baths, with their bikes steaming with evaporating water, or slipping down woodland embankments, twisting their wrists and grazing their shins in the name of adventure. But, I realised what I really wanted was a bike that could take me anywhere I wished to go, by road. There are hundreds of small lanes within a 30 mile radius of my home and I would be able to ride without a particular destination, for riding's sake, maybe to reach the beautiful Suffolk coastline and walk on the beach. Not go tearing up and down the beach on a trail bike, let alone splurging across a desert in 30C heat.
I then had a problem because modern motorcycles just didn't look like proper bikes. I tried a few out and the engines felt far too racey, lacking the 'feel' I was after. But old bikes are old bikes, they often have maintenance and reliability problems for a rider who is not an experienced mechanic. At times, I felt there was no particular motorcycle which ticked all, or at least most, of the boxes of my dream machine.
Eventually, out of the blue, the answer came to me in a motorcycle from 1983, the, BMW R65. 650cc twin cylinder, air cooled classic, not yet vintage. A proper bike.
This one ticked every box. It looked great. It was in fine condition. It was within my budget. It was powerful enough to cruise faster than the big lorries which otherwise loom up behind and slowly overhaul a vulnerable rider on a less powerful bike. Yet it was small enough to enjoy as a riding machine on local roads between Woodbridge and the coast. It was cheap to insure because only older, slower riders want them (they are much slower than a modern 650cc). The R65 can do over 100mph, but is happiest at around 70mph. It gives between 40 and 65 miles per gallon of petrol. And it does all this with the high reliability of BMW engineering, certainly in comparison to the old British motorcycles.
|BMW R65 (1983)|
Because I am 50 years old the insurance cost is surprisingly affordable. This is strongly affected by the type of motorcycle and the R65 is in a low cost insurance category, because racey riders are just not interested in buying them, but this factor attracted me.
That and the photographs in the for sale advert. This one, I thought, I cannot resist and it is this one I purchased.
|BMW R65 (1983)|
I have yet to gain my m/c licence, so it will be garaged until I pass. There were many things to sort out: my eyesight was not up to the standard of being able to clearly read a car number plate at 20 metres distance. I had an eye test at Specsavers and ordered some glasses. A friendly neighbour gave me a helmet and goggles. I found a leather jacket in the local Oxfam shop for a tenner.
And the dog. 'Loba' my cairn terrier, is included in my tiny adventure. After lots of research I found a rucksack wide enough to carry her in, while strapped to my chest with her weight resting between my legs on the bike tank.
As 'Ogri', the cartoon character in Bike Magazine, said,
|'Ogri' cartoon copyright Paul Sample, at Bike Magazine.|