Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Toughest Motorcycle In The World: Part Two

To recap, some little scrote has made off with my Superdream.
Angry wasn’t the word to describe the way I felt. Boiling with unsuppressed rage would be getting close. Imagine Yosemite Sam in a really bad mood. 
This fetid piece of pond slime had made off with the only thing of value I owned. 
Not only that, I was without transport to get to work. Without a bike I could well lose my job.

After a morning's fretting, at lunchtime I had a phone call from the police with some good news, and some bad news.  

Firstly, they had found my bike. 
Second it was upside down, in a ditch with lots of bits missing.  
The thieving little bastards had stolen the petrol tank, sidepanels, front wheel, seat, indicators and silencers.  
The remains sat outside my house for a few hours while I tried to work out what to do. 
I had the remains of a Saturday and all day on a Sunday to do something. Attempts to beg and borrow a vehicle came to naught.
I stood outside the terrace looking at what was left of the Superdream.
Then I had an idea. 
I would  build a motorcycle so unique, so weird and so revolting from the remains that no-one would ever try to, or want to, steal it.  
To the basement!
I spent a while chucking bits about until I had a pile of scrap iron, rusty nuts and bolts and bits of abandoned motorcycle projects. 
This was transferred to the side of the road and I set to with a will. 

shortly after transformation

The old hefty plastic rear muguard was ripped off and an old mudguard from my BSA project was bolted on.  
A back light from the dim and distant - I think it was off the TS250, was attached with a bit of bent off cut steel and some parcel tape.
The thieves had trashed the collector box, so I took the end of the exhaust pipe from the allegro, which had fallen off, chopped it roughly in half with hacksaw and bashed them into the ends of the exhaust pipes with a hammer. 
Then I fixed on the two old megaphone silencers from my Morini by dint of  whacking them in place with the same 5lb lump hammer until they fitted.  
A bit of skip diving at a local industrial estate scored some perforated steel sheet, and this was inexpertly turned into a makeshift side panel and fastened with bits of wire, and I found another one in a box. the lack of symmetry gave it a bit more charm.
Over the following weeks the metal side panel  quickly acquired a surface coating of  rust.  
The seat base was battered out of an old metal box, and a bit of old seat foam was glued in place and a cover, cut from rotting vinyl, was held on with glue and gaffa tape.  This looked wrong, right up until the moment I turned it the other way round, when it looked perfect.
The old wreck supplied a new front wheel and a beaten up petrol tank. 
I bought some cans of spray from a car shop, painted the tank white, then sprayed it fluorescent blue and covered it with flecks of yellow, green and orange paint.
It looked like a series of teenagers had popped their boils over it. 
I later found that the blue paint was soluble in petrol so every time I spilled petrol on it, it ran, leaving a  lovely gooey residue, that dried in a manner not unlike Artex.  
And then I took an old  paintbrush and painted  on the tank,  “Better To Die On Your Feet  Than Live On Your Knees”, in  black enamel.  
The thing was, beneath all  the crud I had attached, it was still the same old Superdream  underneath, and as I was to discover, damn difficult to kill.  
It was pressed into service,  and travelled 50 miles a day,  every day, for a year, with  minimal servicing. 
All I really did to it was top the oil up once in a while, with supermarket  20-50 multigrade, and bolt things back on as they fell off.  
This motorcycle talked to me. It was charmed - it told me when things were getting loose or overheating. One one occasion it warned me when I had a puncture, just before a thrash down a motor way, I swear.
After a year Parcelforce closed the Pontypridd depot, and moved operations to the far side of Cardiff, adding ten miles each way. 
70 miles a day? The little Honda shrugged it off. eighty to the gallon, eighty miles an hour on Chinese tyres and Asda oil. When the rear sprocket rubber bushes gave out, I jammed bits of sliced up inner tube into the holes to take up the slack.
After a while it needed an  MoT so I took it to a garage run  by a septuagenarian Polish refugee in Maesteg. This wild eyed old boy would not work on German or Russian vehicles on  principle and his every third word was “fuck”.  
He looked at the relic of a Honda and kicked the front wheel. “This your fucking bike?” he said. I nodded.  He kicked the back wheel.  “You wan’ fucking ride this fucking bike, it fucking your fucking funeral,” he said, and wrote out an MoT.  

A year on, another child and the Superdream hasn't missed a beat

No matter how hard I treated  it, it kept coming back for more. I replaced the shock absorbers with a pair of metal struts for a bit when they wore out, but it was a bit  uncomfortable so I bought some second-hand shocks. And I found  an old Alfa 2 into 1 exhaust system when the megaphones fell off. 
I saw a couple of summers on it, one drenchingly wet, and the other so hot I'd been surrounded in a cloud of superheated oil mist,  and it had taken me on on winter dawn rides down the M4 so cold that on one occasion I'd had to be lifted off it and carried to the office to warm up. It had never broken down.
In the end, the poor thing was completely worn out, every single component was slack, and it had got dangerously sloppy.

I put an ad it the local paper, offering it for fifty quid - but not until I'd unbolted the Morini's front brake master cylinder which had been pressed into service when the Honda one burst, because I really didn't want anyone riding off on it.
Two very spaced out dudes came up from Swansea, shoved it in the back of a van and gave me £50 for it.
Incredibly enough a few  months later I got a letter from the DVLA telling me someone wanted to put it on the road, and would I confirm that I'd sold it...   

The Toughest Motorcycle In The World

● As a footnote, some months after the bike was stolen,  I was out on my rounds in my lorry in Bridgend, when I saw a black Honda 250 Superdream on a local housing estate. I stopped, and on closer  inspection I found it had my tank, seat and exhaust pipes on  it.  

I shot off to the local police station, and told the officers, but didn’t expect them to do anything. 
Three weeks later I  had a phone call from the police. 
“When are you going to pick this bike up, sir?” asked  the officer.  
It turned out the police were  “aware” of the behaviour of the owner of the house the bike was parked in front of. 
They had gone down to the house of this well-known bike thief with a van, heaved the Honda into the back, and posted a note through his letterbox, telling him that if he wanted his bike back, all he had to do was go to the police station to collect it.  
When he didn’t, they asked me if I wanted it. 
I took it away, bolted on a new ignition switch,  applied for the documents, and, to my immense satisfaction,  sold it for £400.


Harris said...

GREAT story! Warmed the cockles of my heart.We 've all at sometime suffered at the hands of some low life scuzball bike/car/guitar thief so its great that for once the vic comes out on top,NICE ONE mate!

Ixion's Disciple said...

cheers! its a rare victory, but sometimes the gods are smiling down!