As I wrote my editorial piece for last month’s issue, introducing myself to you wonderful readers, I was struck by the timing of my move into the editorial chair, what with it coinciding with Old Bike Mart’s 400th issue.
Consequently, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into timing of late, invariably while I’m walking the dog and in deep thought as to what I’m going to write for the following month’s editorial.
And, of course, the timing is such that I have always forgotten the superb prose which I’d concocted with the help of my faithful hound by the time I’ve got back from the walk, fed the dog and put the kettle on…
Although it’s not just me as, of course, timing is something that affects us all, from the day we’re conceived, right through to our eventual demise. And, for motorcyclists, it plays an important part in our chosen pastime.
While our time spent out on the road owes a lot to our own personal timing as well as that of fellow travellers – from the simplest of gear changes, through to the potential of poor timing by someone pulling out of a side road on our approach – I was considering the more avant garde perception of how timing can be seen as being coincidental, rather than the steadfast, formal and fixed timing that we might at first think.
So, more like the wildly varying concept of ignition timing on a BSA C15 than the precision required in cam timing for a high-revving, quarter litre Honda six.
That conflicting consideration of coincidence versus measured timing is well described by much of the content of this issue. Many of you will be reading it on November 11, a full century since the guns fell silent over Europe.
As a small tribute to those who fought, and fell, for King and country during the First World War, we have three pages of haunting images from life aboard two wheels during this conflict, starting on
And how about the unfortunate timing involved in the two tales of British race bikes that could’ve made a serious impact on racing, if only the timing had been a bit more apt, or some funding had come at just the right time – the tales regarding the BINDY single and twin-cylinder Alpha Centuri are on pages 41 and 26 respectively.
Timing is something that we’ve all lacked when we hear about that obscure barn find in the back of beyond, simply because we weren’t there at the right time.
There’s a hint of jealousy involved when someone finds a dusty classic tucked under a tarpaulin, but timing has got nothing to do with it. It’s all hard work, research, and hard-nosed questions asking about hidden bikes, and if they’re for sale!
Some say that there’s no such thing as a barn find nowadays. Well, they’re not urban myths – take a look at one of the lots for the H&H Classics auction at the National Motorcycle Museum, on November 9.
There’s a Royal Enfield outfit that has been found, lurking, in a garage that has been blocked to access (partly due to a tree growing over the door) for 53 years. That’s longer than the ’Bodmin Broughs’ that went to auction in 2016.
And this, seemingly, is set to continue, with auction houses across the globe managing to find their way into garages, sheds, lock-ups and barns to find the forgotten relics that we all dream of stumbling across.
That’s not timing, it’s concentrated research and a little bit of luck. Timing really comes into play with the sale of the bikes when they go to auction.
Too early and the price rises quickly, too late and the bike is sold. It’s much the same at an autojumble – if you get there too late it’s already gone, but buy it too early and you may have missed out on bagging a bargain as the price will reduce as the day goes on.
And there’s more than a few people who have turned a swift buck by buying a bike within minutes of an autojumble opening, and then selling it while wheeling it back to their van or trailer! That’s a true master of timing at work!
And there is yet another element to getting your timing right, and it’s one that is probably rather apt for this time of year.
Now that the clocks have been turned back an hour, far too many of us just accept that it is now winter, and therefore the bikes must be locked up until springtime.
If you’re one of those people, you’re wrong! Rather than sit in front of a freshly lit and roaring fire on a crisp autumnal Sunday morning, reading the paper as the dog at your feet begins to singe, why not wrap up in your warmest clobber, jump on the bike, head out to a local transport cafe or pub for a steaming brew and a full English.
Get home before the earlier, cold evening starts to creep in, and you’ll still get chance for a decent amount of fettle time in the garage. And that’s one example of timing that deserves to be repeated and practised, and that will never, ever get boring!
Enjoy the issue,