Monday, 25 April 2011

Bikes wanted, cash waiting

 In 1997 I decided to make brief second foray into the second hand motorcycle business.

I'd just signed on for a three year humanities degree at the dear old alma mater, The University of Glamorgan, or as it was known in those days "degrees 'r' us".
These days I believe it to be quite a good university. Back then it was full of overly muscled sports sciences students, stoners studying environmentalism and a fair proportion of people who either couldn't get in anywhere else, or were attracted by the honest Welshness (and cheapness) of the place.
And for what I went to study, which was writing and drama, it was staffed by some remarkable talents.
With no qualifications other than four dodgy GCE's and an Grade E in A-Level technical drawing, oh, and an RTITB diploma as a semi-skilled motor mechanic, I went in as a mature student, got a full grant, and a full student loan. But it wasn't going to be easy - as a postie I'd been making well over a thousand a month, and I was going part-time, so that was going to be halved and I still had a family to support.
So I used my student loan to start a short lived second-hand motorcycle business, working on the principle that even if I only made a tiny profit, the money would last longer if tied up in aluminium and steel.
So I took out a small ad, saying I wanted to buy a motorcycle. Any motorcycle.
By the end of the week I had spent £1,000 and had amassed a Honda CB500-4 chopper from a kid in Builth Wells, A Suzuki GS400, Three quarters of a CB550, A Kawasaki KE100 trail bike from a bloke in Newport and a Benelli 250-2C.
The GS was sold in days, but the rest didn't go quite so smoothly.
The CB500 was kind of funky, and I liked it a lot, so didn't mind hanging on to it for a bit.
My CB500 chop. These days it would be called a rat. I thought it looked very cool

I broke the CB550-4, selling enough parts to make my money back, and still having the frame and forks to off-load. I never did sell those bits though, and they went into the crusher with the Peugeot when the council cleared my lock-up.

The KE100 was a lovely little bike, and far too attractive to leave on the street. The teenagers round my way would have had it away in a trice.
The Kawasaki KE100. As a motorcycling parent it is compulsory to keep photographs of your children looking silly in order to embarrass them later in life

So I stuck it in the basement, where mice chewed a hole in the two-stroke oil tank. I fixed it with a hot knife and some gaffa, sold it for a tidy profit to a kid three streets down, and as I expected he only had it for a fortnight before it got stolen.

The Benelli was a mystery. The bike was pretty much immaculate, and the bloke who sold it to me started it up, and it ran fine, so I gave him £200 for it.

Looked great, wouldn't run worth a damn.

But I could never get it to run for more than a  mile before it would cough to a halt and refuse to go again. But if you left it for a few hours, it would start up again for a mile and die again. I never got to grips with it, but still managed to sell it for £350, despite warning the buyer about this baffling fault. As far as I know he never worked out what was wrong with it, and in the end it got chucked in a skip...

And while all this was going on my whole world was turned upside down, the response to the demand: "It's him or me." turned out to be "him", and I went from my family home to a single bedroom in student digs.

I flogged the chopper for a healthy profit and good old Cassius the XS650 took me to and from work, and back "home" at weekends to see the kids.

And for a few years automotive nonsense took a back seat while my time was taken up with studying, writing, working, looking after the sprogs at weekends, acting,  falling in love and generally arsing about with drama students and musicians. Despite everything else, I had a ball...

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