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Suzuki TS185

The Blithering Stare

(Travels with Guido series #241, November 2020. Pics: Ben Galli & Lou Martin)

Suzuki Hayabusa

When your offspring question your sanity, again

Anyone with kids will know the look. It’s that one that only your own offspring can do properly. We at Chateau Conrod call it the blithering idiot stare.

It all started a while back when one of the kids’ friends graced us with a visit and caught me wheeling the humble single-cylinder bike out of the yard, to ride to work. He was a nice lad who, unlike my daughters, could restrain himself sufficiently to be polite to his elders, even when they’re clearly mad. He nevertheless needed an explanation and sought it from Ms A jnr. “Why,” he enquired, “does your father take that thing to work when he’s got all those really nice big bikes in his shed?”

I suspect he secretly harboured an ambition to grab Hannibal the 2003 Hayabusa by the scruff and ride, laughing hysterically, off into the sunset.

Anyway, back to the issue – my apparent idiocy. Ms A could offer no explanation, putting it down to the usual parental tendency to make life even more absurdly difficult than necessary.

That viewpoint was helped in no small measure by my choice of mount that day: the unsuspecting 1985 Suzuki TS185ER. A humble little two-stroke single-pot trail bike, it’s fondly remembered by many folk of my generation – for some, this was their first ride.

If it has a failing, it clearly was designed by people who I’m fairly certain did not have a picture of Yours Truly on their desks. Otherwise they would have made it much bigger. And they may not have anticipated the load I was carrying, namely my usual bag of tricks including laptop and camera, plus two more bags containing a semi-professional video outfit and tripod. All up, the poor thing was lugging at least its own weight, if not more.

In truth there was no need to take it, but I was curious. This was the first time in a few years it had been further than the front gate. Originally bought for the gals to go trail-riding (many years ago), it spent ages languishing, largely unloved, behind the shed.

It’s worth nothing and I couldn’t bear to sell it, so we dived in to a few repairs and put it on the road with club registration. With just 11,000km on the clock, it’s actually pretty fresh in the engine department and it seemed a shame to waste it.

As it turned out, it was great fun and did the job easily. The return trip in peak-hour traffic, in the wet on the trials-uni rubber, was less fantastic but where would we be without the odd challenge in life? This time it was Ms M jnr who wandered out to see what all the racket was when I got home.  “You didn’t ride that to work, did you?” was the disbelieving enquiry. Yup – that’s when I got the blithering idiot look. As a connoisseur of these things, I have to say it was a cracker…

What they’re missing is the sheer fun of riding these little bikes, with their inherent light handling and simplicity. Fair enough, I’d not want to do it every day, but as with any good menu, your motorcycling diet should have some light, shade and contrast. Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it…

See more Travels with Guido columns here




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