My love of motorcycles stems from reading Bike Magazine in the 1970’s. Mark Williams was the owner and top journalist at the time. He wrote a weekly column called ‘Running Out of Road’ and I remember he wrote the famous ‘Faster than a very fast thing’ statement when reviewing the Suzuki GSX1100E.

At the time the GSX (1980) it had a top speed of around 140 MPH. Riders discovered the GSX was truly world’s apart from anything else in the two wheeled world. The evolution of motorcycles has progressed from the wonderful GSX to 200 horsepower ballistic missiles.

My ballistic missile is not quite 200 horsepower, but 163 is sufficient for a 250 kilo bike. In truth the machine is too fast for this pilot these days. My physical ability is not what it was, therefore there is no hanging off the saddle in reach of ultimate speeds through the bends.

Although, the machine is quite quick enough to enjoy a sprightly ride along British A roads and well known twisty motorcyclist haunts. One has to always be aware of the speedometer as three figure numbers appear as if by Merlin’s command. And for those of you who are motorcyclists, I’d comment ‘You would have to be nuts to discover the K1200’s roadholding and handling limits on a public road.’

I name my machines after TinTin characters. This one is Captain Haddock. And the association is perfect. It is a hooligan of a machine and one which has no respect for the young contenders to the two-wheeled throne. It also drinks fuel as fast a the Captain can finish a bottle of rum.

At 20000 miles the bike should be in better cosmetic condition. But this is the way I like bikes. Not for me is the concours bright and shiny show stopper. (Although, my Kawasaki ZZR1100 is being looked after a little more than my psyche prefers). The patina of previous owners seems to cast a character within the soul and spirit of iron horses. To renovate beyond mechanical needs seems a pointless task. Preferring a set of reconditioned brake callipers, rather than an oven baked frame and bright shiny metal work is my path.

I love the idea of poor cosmetics resulting in bargain buys. Even so, it is worth writing that I’ll be buying a 40 thousand pounds Vincent Black Shadow with part of my Euro-Lottery Jackpot, but this will be no immaculate machine, a well worn and ridden bike is order of the day!

Oil changes and other servicing projects are very much part of my love of motorcycling. And on old machines, home mechanics come across some interesting ingenuity and occasional death trap repairs made by previous owners. Home servicing saves a fortune, although, tyres are my real indulgence, one cannot spend too much money on the little patch of rubber between bike and tarmac… Bridgestone tyres are my gods.

Mechanically, the K1200R is very good and for the first time I’m servicing a machine using an electronic service gismo: the reality is, without the plugin diagnostics the home mechanic is swimming in a shark infested garage. There is also a known issue with the ABS system on this range of machines. An expensive and final fix is available and when the time comes, the spanner-monkey (my partner Liz) will be eager to do the mechanical surgery!

During hard acceleration its aftermarket exhaust rages like a homicidal maniac. Twist the throttle forward to slow down and it backfires like a mischievous road racing machine. Unfortunately for Captain Haddock this aspect will soon be changed as I replace the firecracker exhaust to the original. Not because I do not love the Captain’s growl, but because wisdom dictates it is good policy not to draw the bikes presence to the attention of law enforcers!

The idea of the BMW being a stealth 170mph machine appeals. And the lesson can be considered worthy of consideration in many of life’s situations. To play one’s hand too early or be a bully amongst fair-minded people never ends well. The brash and boastful are fair game for ridicule when situations fall thorough the floor.

I rode Captain Haddock on a brisk journey from Wales to Nottingham a few weeks ago. It’s speed and agility for an 18 years old machine never cease to amaze. While refilling the too small four gallon tank a driver who I’d overtaken some miles back pulled up to the pump next to mine. ‘God in heaven! That machine is incredible, I couldn’t believe the acceleration when you overtook the stream of cars.’ ‘Yes, it is a quick machine, but I was nowhere near its full potential.’ He shook his head and said ‘Take care my friend.’

Of that you can be certain.

See You Soon

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