Two readers’ letters in this issue raise niggling concerns about the future of classic bike riding, and I put the word in italics to emphasise the difference between riding and owning.
In his emailed letter to OBM, Hugh Dixon says what a great day out he had riding his old Triumph Bonneville in the ‘Spirit of the Sixties’ event organised by the Westland Classic Motorcycle Club on Sunday, May 13.
Having ridden in this relaxed and carefree event since the 1990s, he was struck by the chairman’s notes in the programme suggesting that entry numbers were falling.
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“What’s happening?” he asks. “Hasn’t motorcycle riding always been about conviviality, catching up with old friends and chatting to fellow motorcyclists about a common interest?
“Is the time approaching when all people do with their bikes is put them into a van and take them to shows, or polish them up and stick them in their front rooms?”
By coincidence, another email about the same subject came in from OBM reader Ray Dealey, who fondly remembers his early motorcycling days around Leicester.
The haunts that he and his friends visited in the 1960s have nearly all gone, and he laments: “I can’t help feeling that the classic bike scene has faded somewhat.” A visit to his nearest classic bike spares shop now entails a round trip of 50 miles, and from what he can see, the younger generation of riders seems interested only in modern bikes.
“Where have all the good times gone?” he asks.
If such fears are true, I’m sure that many readers will have their own ideas about why – perhaps ranging from ‘Has the fad for restoring old bikes to perfection, and then hardly using them afterwards, done more harm than good?’ to ‘The people who enjoyed riding such bikes in their heyday are growing too feeble to do so any more, or sadly have already passed away.’
I’m sure that there’s a grain of truth in both arguments but, as ever, I would love to receive as many views on the subject as possible and perhaps make a really decent article out of them.
Look forward to hearing from you.