A snapshot of my motorcycling life – Peter Jennings, August 2017
My first experience of motorcycling was at the age of 14 where my brother gave me a 50cc Philips Panda moped and had endless fun on farm tracks for a couple of years
Like many of my contemporaries at that time, I got into riding motorcycles on the road at the age of 16 in 1966 with a Tiger Cub so I could get to work as an apprentice at Marshalls in Cambridge – Peter Carré was also there at that time a year ahead of me. A number of bikes followed in the next years – Triumph Speed Twin, Norman B4 250 bought from Lord Steve with Villiers 4T engine ending up with a Bantam D7 (paying just £7 2s 6d) I used as a student. After graduation and discovering the shelter of 4 wheels and the attraction of mini-skirts, interest in motorcycles fell by the wayside – until some 20 years ago.
I obtained this basket case of a Bantam D1 125cc with rigid rear-end from a colleague I worked with at Cambridge Instruments. He bought the bike brand-new in 1952, riding it from Oakington to Cambridge for 10 years, covering just over 28,000 miles. He took it to pieces to have it re-bored and to re-paint it but he did not paint it or put it back together. When I acquired it, it was in a very sorry state and 10% or so of the parts had disappeared. Ownership transferred to me and the plan was that I would restore it and we would both use it, but sadly he died before the restoration began.
Having re-discovered the motorcycling bug and appreciating the under-powered Bantam, I bought a one previous owner 1996 BMW R1100RS with 13.5K miles on the clock some 9½ years ago.
Notable ‘firsts’ for me with this bike:
The last bike I bought is a 1961 AJS 31 CSR, 650cc twin from a neighbour. He had had bought the bike circa mid-1990’s and had only covered some 600 miles since its restoration and it had stood some time un-used and although near complete, was getting in need of some TLC.
Since acquiring the bike I have made some small changes including conversion to 12v electrics. It is very comfortable and a joy to ride.
What I like about this bike is that there are not many AJS or Matchless machines about – primarily due to the fact that in the ‘60’s they cost around £50 or so more than the BSA or Triumph equivalents at that time, so not surprisingly, they never sold in mass quantities.
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