My ride was a Triumph 1971 650cc twin, a single carbed version of the famous Bonneville . In the 1960’s it was hot shit, by the 70’s it was outdated and Triumph were hovering on the precipice.
The four speed gear box was archaic as were the electrics , it was no more advanced than it’s early incarnation and fell victim to the rise of the Japanese companies and their advancements in design and technology.
On the weekly Sunday ride bikers pass each other like pond life, occasionally a friendly nod from another rider, a custom that has existed as long as I have been riding. Sunday is an opportunity to show off your wheels and the Triumph despite it’s many flaws is a great looking bike.
The Triumph is, although some may disagree the most iconic motorcycle ever made, it was not the fastest or the most reliable but the sound from the exhaust pipes is music, maybe not music but it sure sounds better than a lot of records I have heard in my lifetime.
As for it’s iconic status, well how about Marlon Brando in The Wild One, Clint Eastwood in Coogan’s Bluff, Steve Mcqueen in The Great Escape, no other motorcycle had an illustrious film career like Triumph.
Here is some sales blurb from the American Triumph advertising department.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO RIDE THE TRIUMPH BIKE?
It’s sort of like being shipwrecked on a deserted island with 34 of the 54 contestants in the Miss Celestial Body Pageant. And a little like free falling from 7,000 feet with a parachute you packed yourself and having it open. And something like getting a letter from an old army buddy and finding 20 dollars you forgot he owed you. And almost like catching a 250lb marlin with a 50lb test line on a glass rod after everyone laughed at you on the way out in the boat. And kind of like getting on an empty airliner and having the blond stewardess mistake you for Steve what’s his name. And it’s a bit like air boating up the waterway in the Okefinokee Swamp and watching the alligators run for cover. And sort of like nervously going to your first karate lesson and breaking the instructors nose. And a little bit like sliding down a thirty foot waterfall into a dark lagoon and coming up smack in the middle of some native girls doing their fertility rite.
That’s sort of what it’s like to ride the Triumph . Sort of. Because the Triumph is the Triumph. And there is no other bike……no other anything…quite like it. So if you want to know what it’s like to ride a Triumph, get one.
That was 1968 and times have moved on, that’s the problem with riding a classic , you are forever stuck in past like a frigging time traveller.
The bike is an old boy magnet, leave it anywhere, come back and some geezer will be standing by mesmerised, they look like they are in a trance and I have to break the spell, I say the same thing ‘Don’t tell me, you had one back in the day.’ And of course they did.
But now Mr Triumph has gone to sleepy land, being a exceptionally unique bike in original condition I am going to keep him for special occasions as I now have another bike.
This funky moped is an unknown quantity, it’s the motorcycling Black Knight Satellite, it is a Ducati ,a motorcycle I dismissed for a variety of reasons.
One aspect of riding a motorcycle that is pretty tedious is the attitude thang goin on with some motorcyclists and some ,not all fall into that Top Gear idiot camp.
So a Ducati is a bike to be derided as a finicky expensive piece of Italian trash , I will be in a minority as a Ducati rider and no one will stop to admire the bike, perhaps it is a perfect ride for an recalcitrant misfit like myself.
So why did I get a Ducati? the honest answer was ‘Song of the Sausage Creature,’ a review of the bike by Hunter S Thompson.
I thought it would be cool to own a bike that HST once rode, the only other bike I know he wrote about was a Vincent Black Shadow and that is a very rare and esoteric motorcycle beyond the reach of mere mortals.
Ducati stopped making this particular bike in 2002 and mine is one of the last models, Ducati for some un explicable reason neglected to put their name on the tank, every other bike company in the world puts their brand name on the fuel tank but on this particular model they left it blank, they also issued it in a matt black colour giving it the appearance of some kind of black ops machine.
There is no ‘it’s a bit like’ with the Ducati, superlatives are useless, the Ducati is built only for one purpose, speed, and when it hits it’s comfort zone of 80mph and beyond it feels fabulous, it’s only later when the fear of speeding tickets flood your brain and the thing is sitting there brooding under covers you begin to worry.
And then you begin to feel slightly sordid having had some strange fetish like attraction to a heap of metal, but that’s the way it is and that’s the way it will always be.