Old motorcycle blabla sheets and our innocence – column

Old motorcycle blabla sheets and our innocence

A couple of boxes full of 'Motor' magazine from 1970 and 1971. Then I was about sixteen to seventeen and had a head full of dreams about motorcycles and girls. In that order. That tension of interest about the more pleasantly sculpted species has of course been playing and playing since the beginning of time. We just didn't have that many genders back then. But with those motorcycles it was very different. They had just been discovered!

At least: the motorcycles you could seriously dream about. Not the things you drove because you didn't have the money for a car. That was because the Japanese were conquering the world. The Japanese are a split people. Studies have been done and books written about it. They are pragmatic and future-oriented. From my family I learned how they coped with their loss of WWII and their crimes during that time. Gone is over. Don't talk about it anymore. Ai… That was actually the same as we did after the police actions.

What else but: Japanese are very status and prestige sensitive. Also among each other. This led to the Japanese motorcycle makers cheering each other after the final statement of the Honda CB750. And that led to the motorcycles that every right-minded 16+ year old Zündapp or Kreidler rider had the wettest dreams of. For the first time there were large, fast, highly dynamic engines.

Even better, that beauty didn't even come from Japan alone. At that time, Ducati had devised the 750 cc L-twins. Laverdas were invincible in long-distance races, the Benelli Tornado was the most revving British motorcycle ever to come out of Italy. The Yamaha XS650 was the best motorcycle BSA had ever made. And the ultra-touristy Moto Guzzi 750s even raced bravely and not without merit. The heavy Suzuki and Kawasaki two-strokes with expansion exhausts gave a whole new definition of noise pollution.

In short: in a world where speed limits were still quite symbolic, for the first time we had motorcycles that allowed you to trot at full trot to the Vosges or Alps instead of to the nearest dealer. All that beauty was – usually financed – just within reach of the motorcyclists who were on average decades younger than we are today.

Before that time you also had heavy, fast and extremely tough motorcycles. The BSA Spitfires, the Velo Thuxtons, the Triumph and BSA three-cylinders that were ready for production years before the introduction of the CB750. Triumph Bonnevilles, even Harley Sportsters. But in the innocently happy world of the early 69s, all those things came to a head in confrontation with the British legends on their deathbed. The only serious, heavy, fast motorcycle that was not only fast but also reliable was the BMW RXNUMXS. But that one was kind of priceless.

Meanwhile, this new, dynamic generation was so revolutionary that motorcycle journalism was also completely baffled by it. In texts and tests you can read genuine genuine enthusiasm. Because everything was all so new, so surprising, so fresh!

Subscribe now, that makes us happy and you will too when the first number falls on the bus

And the same was true for the 'import side', the importers and the dealers: A whole new world of advertising was discovered. A happy, enthusiastic and not yet purely marketing driven world without highly paid, double extra paid creatives and professionals. The world was still endearing in its innocence.

And about five years after the introduction? Then all that beauty was now affordable for the boys who were 16-17 when they were introduced. An R75/5 for 3.000 guilders, a Ducati 750 GT with a problem for 2.000 guilders. A Honda CB 750 K2 for two grand, a GT 500 Suzuki for six hundred bucks, a Triumph Trident T150V for 2.500 guilders, a Suzuki GT750 with sidecar and Reimo 3-in-1 for 2.750 guilders…. A TX for 1.000 guilders. A Laverda SF for 3.200 guilders… I've had them all…

That's all completely different now.

And that's a bit of a shame

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Old motorcycle blabla sheets and our innocence
Old motorcycle blabla sheets and our innocence
From the collection of Rob van Wisper Classics…. And now more expensive than 1000 guilders


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  1. Once, as an 18 year old, I rode a friend's Honda 500 four. Got off with nodding knees and swore something like that wasn't for me. I probably would have killed myself soon, What was that kick with that engine.

  2. Have pretty fond memories of my English bikes: my 1st, '2 Norton ES 56, was as leaky as a basket, completely dry after overhaul from head to toe, and really reliable: rides to Basel without any problems. My 2nd: BSA 500 SS, bought worn down to the wire, nevertheless also ridden without any problems (apart from a few minor things) (not without a few liters of oil on the luggage rack). My 3rd: Norton Commando 850 Interstate: after repair of a crack in the gearbox also extremely reliable. In between, another Ducati 250 MK 3, built from parts collected together (frame of 200 Elite from under the hay), with Borrani's, prepared block, factory megaphone, GP fairing: completely problem-free and significantly faster on dikes than Japanese 250 and 350 2 strokes.
    Later Morini 350 Sport with the grimeca in the front, and a Honda 500 Turbo: genius thing. Now I'm sorry I don't have them anymore….

    • British bikes were often quite bad 'ex works' in the end. But with love, knowledge and dedication a lot could be made up for. They only died en masse in confrontation with the Japanese of that time. And you could also get Italians done well. Bad reputations were given to the machines by bad riders and tall stories in the pub. And after those bad stories in the pub you got on the bike with ten beers in your aim to drive home as fast as possible…

  3. In contrast to Michiel, instead of a BMW R50 that was far too expensive for me, I bought a Harley that was much cheaper and won a puzzle ride at the Vughtse Motortoerclub that most members were not happy with. The oldest engine, the youngest member and the slowest engine. That was actually not possible. So then we started a club ourselves that has been around for more than 50 years now. And Dolf the German magazine Das Motorrad was also for sale here in the Netherlands. In it, a Guzzi was driven from Munich to Bremen and back again. Just to see what broke. The Guzzi remained intact. Later this was also done with an Electra Glide. Besides a few lost cho-things, that one also continued to drive. And a colleague of mine drove a tractor in half with his Laverda on what is now the N65. Fortunately, he flew over it and was able to tell it a bit scuffed and crumpled. But also from that time are the in-house builders who tinkered a car engine in a frame. It remains a wonderful time.

    • Reinder, I had an H1 drove it for 2 years and drove 50000 km and survived everything. It was a ROCKET of an engine.
      Would love to take another ride on an H1 to experience the feeling and whining again.

  4. I completely agree with Maarten.
    And as beautifully described in the wonderful story, as a 16+ Zündapp pilot I also loved all that goodies on two wheels. Because the thing had a problem with one of the cylinders, causing the burnt derivative of motor oil to smoke out of that exhaust, I didn't buy it then. Now I could hit myself in the head 🤦‍♂️ Otherwise, the Honda CB350 would certainly have been here after all the years and I would still have ridden it.

  5. Yes Dolf and then of course you forget to mention the English disease”. A virus worse than Ebola or Corana. I got that a few years before you wavered between motorcycles and girls. Then the choice was also limited, which the Jap had not yet appeared. After a Harley Liberator and BMW drama (let's say misstep), after the Match lessons, Norton and BSA's, came a real Triton 650. But when I bought my 71st Trident in 1, I was really infected. Despite all the bad publicity, I'm still riding that Triple. Today with my wife even a royal ride through South Holland. A few Triples have since been added, but also a modern Italian. The strange thing about this virus is that you can't get rid of it, the Spaghetti monster has been inside for a year.

    • If you can enjoy your chronic conditions, then you're in the right place. My T150V has also been nearly 50D problem free. But he demanded more care and attention than a nifty little princess!

  6. Another wonderful story and for me it is true because of the same experiences from that period.
    That was the time when you could spend a long weekend in Spain with a new Kawa for the GP.
    Travel time? One day there and one day back. No speed limits on the highway.
    The arrival of new models (and sometimes manufacturers) was impossible to keep up with.

    • And now everything has 200 horsepower and is electronically regulated at 2999 km/h because 300 km/h is really too dangerous. But we had and are more than happy!

  7. Great article, Dolph! Class. With nostalgia back to 'Motor' printed on 'plee paper', with names such as Notier & Harmsen, Heesse, Goethem, you name it. The first Cb750, RE5, etc. I took 2 full boxes back from the old paper, where my old gentleman had put the leaves. Where the Japanese trumped each other, while the English and Germans made improvements in the margins with their engines, and the Italians merrily hobbled in between. Nice though!

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