When I was about eight years old, my Dad came home with a Triumph Tiger 650. It had a blue and white tank, and it thundered along. I would lay in bed, waiting to hear its distinctive engine sound coming up our street, meaning that dad would soon be home.
It leaked oil, and lived up to the poor build-quality reputation of British bikes from that period. He would ride it all week to and from jobs, and at the weekend, he’d regularly have to strip it down and rebuild it. This is an unimaginable thing to have to do today.
One day, it was so cold outside that he pushed the bike into the small hall of our terraced, suburban Edwardian house. He spent the day stripping the engine down and rebuilding it; we didn’t have any money to pay a garage to get it mended, and anyway, Dad always fixed stuff.
My little brother and I thought it was great having a motorbike in the house. My mum was less impressed. At last, when he’d finished, he kick-started her (the bike not mum). The whole house shook, and we screamed with delight; so, he revved the engine, and the stained glass in the front door nearly fell out. Mum told him to stop before we all died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
We always knew that summer was on its way, as dad would remove his well-worn Belstaff Trialmaster, and insist on waxing it on the dining table. The distinctive scent of the strong weatherproofing wax permeated the whole house. I loved that smell.
During the summer, Dad and his mates, including Ray (The Obsessive photographer), would go for long rides, often down to the West Country, or to watch the bike racing at circuits like Snetterton. We would be following in the car, and watching them all having a great time as they rode together.
Dad felt guilty giving up on his Triumph and the British motorcycle industry. So it was with some reluctance that he bought a Honda CX500. His biker mates teased him for riding a Japanese bike, their favourite quote being, "Rather eat worms than ride a Honda." Dad would shrug this off with the knowledge that the Honda would never let him down. And it didn't.