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Suzuki Katana


(Travels with Guido series #307, by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Apr 2021)


Pondering the ghosts of sheds past

I used love it when the eds on the print mags I worked for across the years would send out group emails to contributors. Generally it was a call-out for the brains trust to add a personal anecdote on a universal theme. Along the lines of what bike do you most lust after or, in this case, what you most regret selling.

Because being a scatter-brained fruitcake seems to be a prerequisite for working in this industry, they rarely actually get what they want. Usually there’s a week-long email flow of email gibberish (‘banter’ would be much too kind a description) which starts vaguely on-topic and ends up somewhere like who looks most like their least-favourite motorcycle. Rarely does anyone actually do what they’re asked, on time.

Suzuki Katana

Right. The whole problem with the email was it asked us to nominate just one bike you regret selling. Jeez, where do you start? Okay the Katana 1100. God that’s an uncomfortable and clumsy ride. Really. It’s got the ergonomics of a barbed wire pogo stick but I love the looks. And, once you get your head around how to ride it halfway effectively, it’s kinda fun in a dinosaur-wrestling way.

The main reason I owned one was I liked looking at it and it was so representative of the early eighties, with its quirky Hans Muth design and a stonking engine that completely overwhelmed the brakes. Funny thing is the values haven’t changed much in the years since I sold it, so maybe another is in order.

Honda XL350

Weirdly, a bike that keeps springing to mind is a humble 1977 Honda XL350. This was the MkII version, with a little more rake and trail than the first, which made it a surprisingly good road bike that could take to the dirt with no fuss. It really was a proper road-trail bike, though you were in no danger of setting any lap records.

I bought it for a pittance from a dealer in the late eighties and it was in mint condition. Nobody wanted old dirt bikes at the time. Several years later it got snapped up (again for a pittance) when I was inevitably cashing up for something bigger and shinier. Of course I sold it just before old dirt bikes started to become collectible. What annoys me most is that’s the bike I’d really enjoy riding today.

Yamaha GTS1000

Another decision that’s up there on the stupidity scale was flogging off the Yamaha GTS1000. Not just any example of a quirky and rare motorcycle, but engine and chassis number 001. Again, I was focused on the next shiny new thing that needed to be financed, and I may have been suffering a little restorer’s exhaustion, as it took a fair bit to get it back on the road. That said, I got my money back (a rare occurrence) and the next owner sold it for far more than he paid me. Hopefully whoever has it now understands what they have.


Speaking of quirky (I pretty much owned a museum of quirk for a while there), letting go of Klaus the Clownfish was probably a mistake, too. That was a bright red and yellow K1 BMW which I’m pretty sure could be spotted with the naked eye from any orbiting spacecraft. It steered like a Kenworth and wasn’t the quickest bike I’ve ever owned (or even the third quickest), but it had some undeniable Kraftwerk-style charm that eventually got under your skin.

There, you see? So many mistakes and so little time. Now we could get on to the topic of the bikes I regret not selling, but maybe that’s best left for another day...


Pics by Stuart Grant & Ellen Dewar

See the bikes in our shed

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