Motorcycle: Riders View - Riding The Classics
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:45:20 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Riding The Classics
Of all the two-wheeled trends of recent years, the growth of classic hiking is perhaps the most dramatic. For most of the motorcycle's life, the classic concept has barely existed. To most riders, old bikes have simply been that: old bikes. Interesting and useful to a degree, but generally less desirable than the superior machines of the day.
That attitude began to change in the 1970s, as Japanese bikes took over the motorcycle market and an increasing number of enthusiasts became nostalgic for the old-fashioned, mainly British, machines of the past. The launch of Classic Bike magazine in 1979 reflected a growing demand, although at that time few people could have imagined the way in which interest would snowball.
These days classics are a major part of the motorcycling scene, above all in the UK. There is a wide choice of specialist magazines, each full of advertisements from firms who sell, maintain, restore, make bits for or insure classic machinery. Complete Nortons — Manx racers and Commandos — are built from new parts. Many European dealers specialize in importing British and Japanese bikes from American states where the combination of con-sistently high sales figures and a kind climate has left clean old machines in abundance.
And there is a huge choice of events for classic bikes, too, from club runs and race meetings to shows and concourse contests. At the latter, fanatical officials dock points for a restoration that uses over-polished alloy or slightly the wrong shade of maroon on a side-panel. Bikes restored to factory standard - or, better still, with a verifiably interesting history - are highly desirable and change hands for vast sums of money.
The question of how to define a classic bike causes much heated discussion. To some hard-liners only British bikes qualify; others accept American and European machines too. One of the fastest-growing organizations of all is the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, which caters for owners of Japanese bikes over 15 years old and has more than 4,000 members.
Things are more precisely defined for really old bikes, for which long-running organizations such as the Vintage Motor Cycle Club have established rules. Veteran bikes are defined by the VMCC as those built before 1915; vintage as made between 1915 and 1930; and post-vintage as between 1931 and 1945.
At the other end of the scale are those riders who prefer their classics straight out of a crate. Most current Harley-Davidson models, the glut of Japanese retro-bikes and Triumph's 1995-model Thunderbird-complete with traditional mouth-organ tank badge and peashooter silencers - combine the advantages of modern engineering with the look and at least some of the nostalgic appeal of the originals.
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