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Not the Triumph

(Travels with Guido series #335, Oct 2020)

Indian pic by Ben Galli Photography

Kings Mountain Indian Chief Vintage

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen

How a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing

Over the years, some kind of pattern has developed when it comes to introducing a new motorcycle to the household. I make some sort of casual mention of it in conversation, and partner Ms M snr may or may not take an interest at the time.

Bikes don’t take up much room, and we have a lot of them, so these days the discussions are generally amiable because the bills are paid, the kids are more or less off our hands, and sometimes we even manage to find a bit of spare cash lying around. Not enough to head over to the Auld Dart to buy a matching pair of Vincents, but enough to be reasonably sure of where the next meal is coming from. So there’s no real animosity in the discussions – they’re driven more by intellectual (or morbid?) curiosity. Clearly it was time to spice things up a little.

For a variety of reasons, I’ve been doing a bit of a clean-out of the Indians. The first to go was the 1947 Springfield Chief. Lovely bike, and we had some great times. But I wasn’t really riding it and it wasn’t a great physical fit – too small for someone my size. The good thing was I pretty much got my money back on that one. That’s where a good solid classic can beat a late model hands down: it may not make you rich, but a cared-for example is a pretty safe place to park your money.

I did end up buy a couple of other toys, including the first-model GPz900R that I rode back from Alice Springs to Melbourne in a fly-drive program with a twist. Great fun.

Next on my list was one of the modern Chief Vintages – I had a 2003 and a 2009 version sitting in the shed. In fact, the latter, a Kings Mountain build, has just 1200km on it. So yes, I have an expensive new old stock motorcycle sitting in the shed quietly rotting away. Not good.

It was a bit of a toss-up, but the earlier bike, the Gilroy, found itself on the auction block. Annoyingly, this was going to mean crystallising an inevitable loss, as the machine had fallen in value over the years I’ve had it. On the plus side, we’ve had some great trips and I place a value on that.

However it was less stellar as a financial decision. Most vehicles go through some sort of value cycle and models like the Gilroy might have long term collector interest. I’m probably selling at the bottom of the curve. Give it another decade and it may well be worth more than it is now, thanks to its place in the overall story of Indian motorcycle development. That’s a risk, and in the meantime I could do something else with the money.

There’s the key: not just how much money you’re losing or making, but how the capital could be otherwise employed – such as buying another vehicle on the bottom of its value curve. One that might clamber out of the slump sooner, or do something else that you want. Or both.

In addition to the excessive fleet of motorcycles, Ms M snr and I also have a modest herd of cars, and one thing I noticed we were missing was a roadster. However adding another automobile to the fleet is a much bigger deal than a motorcycle, physically and psychologically. It’s definitely a source of debate.

Recently, muggins announced the Indian was sold and ‘we’ might be buying a Triumph. “What sort?” she asked somewhat innocently. “A TR7,” was the bland response, knowing damn well she had no idea what that is. “And what is a TR7?” I responded that it’s a four-cylinder, without venturing any further info. That seemed to be enough, as she lost interest and wandered off into the middle distance to rearrange her WWII book collection.

I reckon I’ll get her undivided attention if a TR7 turns up in the driveway. Might be able to sell tickets to that little discussion...

Triumph TR7 roadster





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