Tuesday 6 September 2016


My favourite motorbike was a Kawasaki GT550. They fitted and suited me and their reliability was legendary. They were blessed with lazy and benign handling characteristics, they had a multi-function display that would have looked futuristic in the 80's and self-cancelling indicators with tactile feedback.

I called mine "The Old Faithful" and I rode nearly a quarter of a million miles on it. The only times that it didn't take me to where I wanted to go were when it was stolen and when it had a flat tyre. It had a shaft drive running in an oil bath so it never once asked me for a new chain and sprocket. It broke a couple of clutch cables, but I was able to start it in gear and carry on riding it with clutchless changes. About half way through its life I took the frame out and had it powder coated. It had a twin-coil lost-spark ignition system so when one of the coils went wrong I could ride it home on two cylinders. I think the worst fault was when the steering head bearings went rusty and stiff. It was almost impossible to balance but I carried on taking it to work while the bearings were on order.

Compare that to my Yamaha T-MAX which is less than 4 years old and has 22,500 miles on the clock. It has developed a serious and expensive fuel injection fault and every time it gets hot it strands me at my destination for a few hours while the (submerged) fuel pump cools down.

Richard "It's like that one girlfriend that you never really get over." B

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