Growing old together with rose tinted glasses

Growing old together with rose tinted glasses



An old mate of mine Phillip White recently came up with an interesting subject about older riders and their motorcycles, and  memories this started me thinking about myself and also friends still riding in their twilight years.

Phillip can be ruthless in his logic proven recently by putting to bed sentimental thoughts on me selling my 1944 Indian Chief outfit which had been ridden extensively in the last 15 years or so ownership, I rode it to Sydney and back on a rally with my then 9 year old daughter also many other events over the years but eventually I decided it wasn’t being used enough after a layup of 2 years and I pondered selling it . Unfortunately I had to split it up and I sold the sidecar to my ex apprentice and the solo to another friend, they had been together since WW11 so a very hard decision and me being so sentimental it was a decision I asked Mr White about, & ruthlessly he said “Your’ve got the memories and the photos, piss it off” seriously a down to earth statement!

I sold it and still miss it.


That’s what inspired this article about older riders and most selling their big heavy modern motorcycles because they can’t manoeuvre it even in the garage, also if it hits the deck they can’t pick it up, so they ponder buying a smaller machine or even consider buying a machine they had in the past,( might pay to read my previous article on BMW’s and ex-girlfriends) at this point.


I find quite a lot of my returning customers at work are reborn classic bike riders buying an old Bonnie like the one they had when they were younger, surprisingly they all say “ it’s not like I remember it” well of course they and the machine have aged 50 plus years and like Cherry Ripe’s , Fish & Chips not tasting the same as they used to. The bike if it’s been maintained and serviced is the same, your body isn’t and I can prove this easily, a very small number of us have the same machine they had when they were young, I’m one of them.


I bought my 1951 Vincent Rapide in 1973 I was 21 yo and with good wrists and back I rode it 10-20,000k a year and at various time it was my sole transport it rode harshly at the time and over the years I improved the suspension which made it tolerable but compared to a seventies plus machine rather antiquated. I rode it earlier this month and yes it’s still not fantastic, so what’s changed the bike certainly hasn’t but I have I’ve gained 15 kgs and now have a bad back and osteoarthritis in both wrists and have ridden more modern machines that’s the spoiler those creature comforts in cars for instance like power steering and fast glass as well as air conditioning in new cars have made those treasured memories of your HZ Holden out of date.


Cunningly I recently bought a Holden VS commodore Ute for just picking up compost and timber etc the reason is it’s just turned 25 and now eligible for club permit, I bought a brand new one in 1998 except a V8 5 speed manual and have very fond memories of that vehicle. The one I have bought now is a V6 auto and has clocked over 275,000 KLM’s like my hair it’s white and the new one 25 years ago was black we have both faded over the years, it’s a  harsh reality, it is noisy in the cabin, power steering is harder than later model vehicles and it has had a LED conversion done as it’s lights with my eyes are not as good as we were. Yes it’s slightly leaks(so do I) and needs engine mounts as they have sagged, again like me but I have upgraded the crude radio to a Apple-play monitor and can answer a phone in it now somethings can be improved unlike me but similar to the Vincent in comparison but the difference is the age of the vehicles and myself.  Maybe when I bought my new Ute back in 1998 it wasn’t that good like my memories tell me it was nor was the Vincent. When I first started riding on a 1959 Triumph 350 bathtub initially I imagined it was a Thruxton Bonnie & eventually even in my teenage years I grew out of it, 15 years later one came into the shop for a RWC I was itching to renew my acquaintance the model and even considered buying it, that rapidly evaporated on the roadtest it was underpowered and woefully inadequate braking and handling I had grown up!


So yes if you are comfortable going back in time remember dinosaurs existed even then!

Phil PIlgrim

Jan 2024