Well 'ere goes…
Brands Hatch Boxing day races 1974, I was there on my 250 Honda when I saw a pair of Yellow 250 Desmo’s being ridden around to Druids, I thought they were absolutely stunning and sounded wonderful.
Back at work after the holiday break I asked an older biker about them and he explained what a Desmo was.
Fast forward to 'Spring '75 and I bought my 1st new big bike a T150V Triumph Trident for £839, (I was still only 17 years old ) when I went to pick it up there were 5 other Tridents and a 750SS Desmo £1,640 on the end of the row waiting for their new owners…
Once again I was stunned there was this bike that had everything I’d ever wanted on it already as standard, but it was well out of my price range ££££’s as I was taking home about £17 a week as an apprentice.
Less than two years later I struck a deal with Vic Camp( who’s shop was a short walk from where I lived in E17) to trade in my Trident for a 2nd hand low mileage ‘74 Yellow 750 Sport, but on the way home my Trident’s clutch pull rod let go and burst out of the cover on the primary case…BOLLOX!!!
By the time I’d repaired it the Sport had been sold.
Three friends bought Ducati V Twins a new 860GT, 750S and a 750SS, they all let me ride them I thought the 860 was a bit of a bus, the 750’s handled really well but weren’t as fast as my Trident/Rocket Three race bikes (I owned 5 Triples inc’ a Rob North).
Fast forward to Spring '79, I’d got a new higher paying job/spare cash, was fed up with spending more time working on bikes than actually ridding them, so I went after a 2nd hand Rickman CR1000 Kawasaki, turning up at the shop to buy it it disappeared up the road.Yes some lucky f’cker had beaten me to it.
The salesman asked if he could help? I replied “Please tell me that guys just taken the Rickman for a test ride?”
He told me the BAD news and asked if there was anything else I fancied? I answered only the new 900SS Desmo but it was out of my price range at £2,460.
It was then that he swung into gear telling me about the finance deal on Italian bikes theat men’t that over 3 years the Ducati 900SS would actually cost me less than buying a CB900FZ Honda,
A week later I picked up my new '79 900SS (which I still own to this day) I was still a few months short of my 22nd birthday.
…and that’s when the real love affair started,I covered 16,800 miles in the 1st 10 months before I blew it up and being too poor to pay someone I rebuilt it myself.
I’ve rebuilt it a few times over the years, it’s now covered well over 130,000 miles.
20+ years ago and by now a died in the wool Ducati fan I saw my 1st 851 being ridden along the Euston Rd in London,(I was taking my then “little” boys to London Zoo) yet another Ducati that was out of my price range!
But around 13 years ago finding myself with some spare cash I bought a '92 851, thinking that it was the ONLY way I was going to be able to afford a 4 valve Ducati,
I’ve now owned that one for all of this time, bought a '74 250 Yellow Desmo to rebuild and another 851/888 along the way.
I’m no bike snob and have I owned a lot of other bikes, more Yamaha two stroke twins inc’ a TZ350A and a genuine Yamsel than I’ve got fingers on my hands, Honda’s and I even ride/totally abuse/neglect an old MZ two stroke that a good friend’s christened…
“The Bike that will not die!”
Well over 100,000 miles now on the original piston and bore.
…And that’s the short version, apart from 2 or 3 Holidays I’ve taken all of mine on my bikes since '75,(my 1st TT) been all over Europe and have been over for the TT/MGP somewhere around the 26 times.
There’s parts of Ducati’s or complete bikes in almost every room of my home, garage and loft (they’re also stored in friends garages) it really does look like Ogri’s home in Paul Sample’s cartoons.
I love my Ducati’s but there isn’t one of them that I wouldn’t swap for a very good Yamaha TZ750…
That’s easy to say until someone calls my bluff, because it would be very hard to let either my '79 900SS or '92 851/916cc special go as I’ve put soooo much work, time and cash into them over the years, both of them really are now one offs almost irreplaceable and they’ve given me sooo much fun both ridding and modifying them over the years.