Author Topic: My bikes... Part 2  (Read 897 times)

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Offline PaulH

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My bikes... Part 2
« on: April 29, 2014, 12:05:16 PM »
A quick 'follow up' to Part 1 which I wrote yesterday, this post covers a couple of big old Kawasaki lumps and a Suzuki GSXR which I owned in the early 90's, complete with shocking 1991 fashion in one of the photos, so stand by for a laugh...

By the end of 1990 I'd had my RD350YPVS about a year and had been loving every minute. I didn't have a car licence back then, so my bike was my transport whatever the weather and I was on it as often as possible. There were a few other lads in the Regiment (I was in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars, for those wondering) with bikes and one of them, our Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant (Staff Sergeant) kind of took me, as a young Trooper, under his wing. A giant of a man at about 6'6" tall, he was a Barnsley lad like me and we got on well despite the vast difference in rank. At that time he had a tidy 1981 Kawasaki Z1000ST, which was the shaft drive version of the famous 'Zed'.

It had been modified with clip-on style bars, a nice 4-1 Motad exhaust which gave the bike an almost turbine like sound, a Giuliari 2:4 seat and, with hindsight, a pretty shocking paint job! (in fairness the tank & panels weren't bad it was just the frame, forks & swingarm in an awful pale blue). Now, I reckon Garry had an ulterior motive in this introduction to the big Zed, as in early 1991 he dropped the 'She's for sale soon' bombshell into a conversation...
The price he wanted was well within reach and I'd already decided I wanted a 1000cc bike so that was that; I put the RD350 up for sale (yes, I should've kept it!) and very soon was trundling around Wiltshire & Hampshire on the Z1000, prior to riding it over to Germany when the Regiment moved there to our new posting in Wolfenbuttel. As you'll see in the pics, the Z1000ST really was a big old beast; I'm no midget at 6'1" tall but still struggled to get both feet on the floor at a standstill! By this time I'd also (using my 20years of 'wisdom') changed the lovely Motad exhaust for a rather ugly Harris 4-1 in black- it did make the bike sound seriously growly though...

1991 was a busy year, I got plenty of riding done early on and got to explore parts of 'East' Germany which had just opened it's border with the West, and made lots of trips to Braunschweig. One of the return trips from there was a bit of a challenge; the clutch cable snapped meaning I had to start the bike and then get it 'rolling' before getting into a gear. I had to try to ride back without stopping, which I just about managed. A couple more bump/rolling starts were needed along the way but it got me back to camp eventually! Come the end of July that year and our Squadron were off to Cyprus for a tour with the UN (it was a hard life!) so the Zed was wrapped up until we came back in early February 1992, by which time I was hankering after something more 'modern'...

Now, once you've picked yourselves up after laughing at my 'taste' in 1991 fashion, I'll move on to my next dream machine which was....

A 1986 Kawasaki Gpz1000RX. Some of you may know that the 1000RX was the 'replacement' for the legendary Gpz900R, and as such was not particularly well received by many. Essentially Kawasaki had taken a decent handling (for the 1980's) good looking sports bike which had re-written the rule books when released, and turned it into a bit of a porker in the RX, with handling which gained a reputation for 'biting back' if you weren't careful.
Did this put me off? Oh no! ::)

The bike was bought 2nd hand whilst I still had the Zed, but quickly became my primary transport. It was indeed rather rapid but the handling felt pretty good to me, which was probably unsurprising after riding the Z1000ST for a couple of years! I got a lot of miles under my belt on the RX, riding it to and from Germany on leave via various European ferry ports. It was reliable, fairly comfortable and made a great Autobahn cruiser both one or two up so I can't have too many complaints really.
By the end of 1993 the Regiment were stationed in Bergen Hohne, after an amalgamation in 1992 with the 15th/19th when we formed The Light Dragoons. Anyway, November that year saw me travelling for another tour but this time not so cushy, to the war torn Balkans. It was during some leave at the end of that tour in May 1994 that I came to own one of my favourite all time bikes, a 1990 Suzuki GSXR1100L, but first a pic of the Gpz1000RX-

I traded the Gpz in on the big Suzuki, which was one of the first road bikes with the 'new' upside-down forks developed in racing. This was another machine with a poor reputation for handling, largely due to a combination of big weight, big power and a mind boggling array of suspension settings...
Like all my bikes though, I took my time in 'getting to know' it and to be honest it seemed to have been pretty well set up by the one previous owner. I again rode this bike all over (still no car license) Europe and the UK, by this time pretty confident in my abilities and also the bikes' capability, which I'm sure I didn't really come close to exploiting fully. I did some ridiculous speeds on this thing though (on the autobahns ;)) and had so much confidence in the front end that I could lock the front wheel intermittently from about 70mph to standstill, leaving little black tyre marks in my wake... Not summat I'd recommend or attempt these days!

Looking back, I was rather silly on that bike but I was 24/25 years old, single with no real responsibilities and as we all know, we were immortal at that age weren't we?  ;D

I enjoyed a couple of cracking years with the GSXR but the end of 1995 saw me posted back to the UK and now with a car license; I couldn't afford both so in 1996 the GSXR was sold to make way for my first car... I'd still love another of the big GSXR1100's but would be very picky as to which model and as with quite a few 80's/90's bikes, prices are well on the up for decent examples. I'll finish with a couple of pics, my apologies for the quality but they were taken in the days of film cameras so are essentially 'photos of photos' to get them on the computer... Part 3 of My Bikes to follow in a week or two!

Ride safe  :)

« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 05:27:43 PM by PaulH »