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Bikes with Engines

Sequel to My First Bike

May / June 1951 and my school final exams were looming-up.

Sixteen years old and too young to even consider ownership of a motor-bike I was
introduced to a professional bike-racer across the counter of my Dad's beer-shop.
He was plainly foreign, Rhodesian in fact and very well known in his own country.
This interesting Stranger told us of his plans to ride in that year's I.O.M. T.T. races 
and as a result I was invited to view his bike at the house where he was lodging 
in Heaton Chapel, Stockport.
I arrived at the address in time to see the bike, an AJS 7R perched on a trailer 
ready for towing to the I.O.M.  Truly a sight for sore eyes.

January 1953 / My own first motor-bike

I think Mum and Dad took pity on me. Although I had achieved my aim of an
engineering apprenticeship I think M & D shared my opinion that I had 
exchanged a line of school desks for a line of drawing boards. So it was 
concluded that (somehow) a motor-bike would get me out more !
Cash of course would be paramount and the minimal support I got was Dad's 
approval to withdraw money from my Post Office Savings account, which   
seems harsh on reflection but I now see as a lesson in asset management.
 My first bike, a BSA C11 (250cc) was found in Warburton's Showroom, 
Bullock Smithy, Hazel Grove. It cost the princely sum of £100 which cleaned 
out my account, but what a good investment, as at the young age of 17 I was
licenced to see the World beyond the tram and bus terminii when very few
households had a single driving licence between them.

Autumn 1955 / My second motor-bike

It wasn't a conscious decision to dump the BSA, more like an act of God. 
An uncle pointed out to me that his old friend Harry had a bike for sale.
 It was the same age as the BSA yet had very few miles on the clock. 
So I was very pleased to pay Harry his asking price of £100.


1955 and my youngest brother Phil in the saddle.

The bike was a 500 Norton, seemingly immaculate but in a poor state due to
 Harry's over zealous servicing. It had been off the road and garaged for some
 time, but he had serviced it for unridden mileage causing overfilling of
the gearbox with oil; and the brake drums with grease!  As a result I found 
that clutch was slipping and the brakes were useless.
Eventually I restored the bike to good running order and she repaid me many
times over as a "transport of delight". For example, during my service in the
in the R.A.F. (Aug '58 to Aug '60) I would often spend the weekends at home
enjoying the journeys "intoxicated-by-the-exuberance-of-my-own-velocity".

Norton 500 A1 road Darlington Co.Durham

1958: A1 road near Scotch Corner, Darlington

Black Beauty, as I had named the bike, might not have enjoyed her   
retirement as I sold her to a biker who clamped her to a sidecar.
A reluctant combination, I think.

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1963 - 1987 twenty-four years without a bike. 
But in my dreams the long-legged Norton and I were often cruising the old roads.

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1987 - 2007 / Last but not Least of my bikes.

To some extent I let the side down when I chose a Honda VT500.
I suppose uncle Bill's reaction sums up my disgrace,  
I thought he was going to have a fit as he blubbered -
“ but it's Japanese ”.
And I don't think he (the true-Brit Velocette rider) ever spoke to me again.
However, the bike was a joy to ride. And only briefly were we caught in bad weather. 
I revelled in the luxury of riding on quiet roads at times of my choosing.
Eventually "Black-Beauty-Too" had to go as she became too heavy for me.
Ebay bidders were impressed by her history and she fetched a good price.

Honda VT500E engine


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Now finally, closing my '1951' remarks : -

The welcome Stranger I met in our beer-shop achieved his I.O.M. T.T dreams.
His name was Ray Amm who famously cleaned up in the 1953 I.O.M. races.
He was 1st in the 350cc Junior Race; and 1st in the 500cc Senior Race.

In 1955 he died in a crash; riding for MV Agusta in Italy.

R.I.P. Ray, well met.

Ray Amm 1953 T.T. riding Norton

1953 Isle of Man T.T. 500cc Norton

My Norton wasn't one of these. But it was a “ 500-Norton ”.

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