Most people reading this will know my story. Its not a story that is particularly impressive or inspirational, in fact its none of those things. However it is my story and the facts cannot be changed, they can only be embellished.
I’ve always been around bikes. Before I was a twinkle in the eye my dad rode a Heinkel scooter between Rotherham and Manchester. Manchester was where he settled and were I was born. As a child I remember various bikes that I know know to be a Honda Superdream and an BMW R80RT before he got a BMW R100RT, the bike I spent many hours on the back of. There was one other bike and for the purpose of this story I’m going to call it a Honda. What I do remember was that it was a 175cc trail bike and when sitting on it my feet didn’t reach the floor so I’d hop from foot to foot. It was this bike that gave me my first experience of riding solo on the fields at the back of where we lived in Sale. I was probably 9 years old at the time.
At the age of 16 I left school and started an electrical apprenticeship. It was 1984. Like most parents I’m sure that my dad didn’t really want me on a motorcycle on the road but having got my final written warning from work for turning up late I needed to get off public transport. I was working all over Manchester an often needed to catch three buses. A motorcycle would give me the independence I needed. We bought a Honda MT-50. It was a fine bike for a 16 year old and since some previous owner had tinkered with the exhaust baffles I could get the best part of 40mph out of it. After some time it started to become unreliable in the rain due to an electrical fault. It was time to move on and I had my eye on a flash new Honda MBX125F, more refined and less common than the Yamaha RD125LC of the day. As often happens I was cleaning the MT-50 ready to sell it and I found the electrical fault. A corroded going from the alternator that would short out whenever it rained which was all the time in Manchester.
I got the MBX on my 17th birthday. It was a beautifully sunny day at the end of March and it was delivered to me on the back of the dealers van. The 125cc liquid cooled, 2 stroke sports bike was a different world to the 50cc ‘moped’ I’d just sold. I was still serving my apprenticeship and while many of my peers had taken their driving test and were in cars I was happy with my two wheels. The 17 year old me was also happy to get wet. He didn’t care if it was raining. He didn’t care that the water soaked through his jeans. He was going to look good on the bike. Back in the day no-one else cared anyway. It was never the weather that got the better of me. It was the girls. They wanted boys that had a car. That and the fact that if I didn’t pass my bike test I lost my licence. You could only ride up to 125cc on a provisional licence and you only had two years to get the test done else you were on a year ban. You could however pass your car test and have an unlimited provisional entitlement. I passed my car test and bought the car but in doing so the bike was gone.
This is where we fast forward for the first time to 1991. I’d found myself out of work with spare time on my hands. My brother-in-law decided he wanted to get a motorcycle and needed to pass his test. I had always regretted not taking my test and still had dreams of riding those bikes of whose posters adorned my bedroom walls as a teenager notably the ‘dogs’ at the time, the Kawasaki GPZ900R (red, of course). I agreed to do the training with him and we took our test. I past first time with ease, I had been riding on the road for years and had many miles in my tank, it was a formality. He failed and had to retake his test. Despite passing my test and having the ability to buy any bike without limit to engine size or power (seriously, there were no restrictions back then!), I had no job with a young family and no means to buy a bike. My brother-in-law however free from family and financial constraints went out and bought a Suzuki GSXR750. It wasn’t long before he lost it up the notorious Cat and Fiddle and went under a car. He survived after a period in intensive care. Chances of me getting a motorcycle after that? Bugger all!
This is where we fast forward again. Thoughts of having a bike were a distant dream and long forgotten. We are now in 2013 and it has been 22 years since I rode a motorcycle, and that was during the bike test. It was a late night in January and we were watching TV. More specifically we were watching Top Gun. Tom was riding his Kawasaki down the runway waving at the F-14 Tomcats. We all know that he was strapped to a trailer but that’s his story, this is mine. My thoughts went back to that poster I has so many years ago. The fastest road bike of its time and the first stock road bike to exceed 150mph, the GPZ900R. The first Kawasaki Ninja. I turned to Jayne and said “that’s the bike I always wanted and never had”. I expected nothing more than a dismissive scowl of disapproval. The reply changed everything. They talk about pivotal points in your life, your wedding, the birth of your child, Manchester United winning the treble but this was truly a life changer. “Why don’t you go and buy one then”. I remember it taking a moment or so for it to sink in such was the magnitude of what was now possible. It wasn’t long before I was trawling eBay.
It didn’t take too long for me to find that things had moved on from the 80s. There were a whole new breed of bikes available and regardless of the GPZ being the catalyst I wasn’t really into buying a classic bike. After a bit of research it seemed that the bike for me was another Ninja, the ZX6R-636 and there was one for sale in a dealer near me (green, of course). I drove over to the dealer to see it. It was in pristine condition and despite being a 10 year old bike it could have been brand new. I drove home the owner of a Kawasaki ZX6R-636 A1P. I was the owner of a supersport bike. I was a motorcycle rider again.