Tag Archives: motorcycling

Two-Wheeled Tooty: Confidence Regained

Once upon a time, five years before he was named Tooty (in 1981), a young country bumpkin was talked into switching from Honda motorcycles to Yamaha. Here he is posing  with his mighty steed – a Yamaha RD125DX…

He and the Yamaha gelled instantly and he would become a life-long fan of the brand. But life being life – that is unknowable and often incomprehensible – in time his situation changed, and motorcycling  became a thing of the past. Then, in 2020 (21 years after quitting bikes), he took the plunge and returned to the fold…

Of course his mount was a Yamaha. A YBR125 to be exact. But it wasn’t the best that ever escaped that manufacturers stable. It wasn’t Japanese for a start! But he didn’t know that when he bought it. And he never really forgave the machine, despite the fact that it was totally reliable and never let him down. But he never felt entirely confident upon it – especially in traffic. Poor suspension: lack lustre brakes: feeble single cylinder engine were its major bug-bears – though Tooty had hoots of fun rushing down gravel-strewn, muddy-as-heck, and cow shit-ridden back lanes on it. Look at the picture above: does that really say “Confident rider”? Nah. What he really needed was something that would give him back the two-wheeled exuberance of his long-lost youth. Something with a bit of oomph. Another Yamaha obviously. But one built in Japan.  Regardez vous por favor…

Ten months later. Yup, I’m back – and on a cult classic too! But I think I might pass on the gravel-strewn, muddy-as-heck, cow shit-ridden back lanes for now. Maybe an off-road bike for those. Might have to get some motocross boots though. Hmm, sounds fun…

Tooty’s Re-appraisal

Whilst out walking recently, I discovered a location that gave me a previously unseen perspective on a section of road that I’ve travelled many times upon a motorcycle since the first time in 1973 aboard my dinky little (and dog-slow) Honda SS50Z. I took a photo of it…

Back in the day, when driven quickly, this was a section of road that could be quite challenging. As the decades have progressed it has become more so. In fact it now has a reputation for being an accident black-spot. Oddly it is easier to negotiate it faster on a motorcycle than in a car. Car drivers, it seems (judging from marks left behind on the bank of the preceding downhill adverse-cambered corner [right of picture] ), lose the rear end in a slide; hit the bank; and are catapaulted across the road – usually to crash into a drainage ditch (or through the hedgerow) just before the gate in the picture. Despite an uneven surface that includes ripples, cracks, potholes, and surface repairs, motorcycles move swiftly without incident (unless they meet an unexpected horse / cyclist / tractor / hedge trimmer of course). Although I must consider myself advancing in years, I still enjoy a quick squirt along this stretch. In fact I wind my Yamaha YBR125 flat out in top gear, which requires some serious leaning to stay on the apex. This is called fun. But then I looked at a second picture…

…and thought: “Flipping heck, there isn’t a whole bunch of room for error! Maybe flat out in top isn’t a good idea – even on a diddy bike like mine: a rider could travel quite a distance through the air at 60 mph.” So, dear reader, you can rest easy in the knowledge that, from now on, the world’s pre-eminent author of earplug stories will take it a little easier. If a bigger bike passes me, I’ll just let it go. Aah…such maturity.

Oh, Tooty: What Have You Done?

Back in the mists of time – or 2001 as it was known then – I won a competition. Actually I won two competions in the same magazine at the same time. One prize was used over and over until I was sick of it. It was a computer game, which I (much) later gave away to charity. The other prize has never been used. But so enamoured with it was I that I kept it and took it with me wherever I lived – where it simply took up space, and in one case went slightly mouldy. It was a genuine Kawasaki motorcycle jacket. Now bear in mind that I had given up motorcycling two years previously, and had promised my wife that those two-wheeled days were in the past. And they were. But I couldn’t let that jacket go. Then today a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi arrived outside my house. It was pulling a trailer. And upon that trailer….

Here’s a clue to the identity of the item that was on the trailer…

Now I finally get to use that jacket. It now has a purpose. It is no longer a waste of space. But I didn’t buy a Kawasaki. Of course I didn’t. I was once (long ago) known as The Yamaha Kid, you know. I couldn’t let the side down, now – could I! Now all I have to do is remember how to ride my Yamaha. It’s been a while. I don’t think muscle memory is gonna cut it this time. As my daughter put it to me: “I was seven when you crashed your yellow bike.” (the day I quit) “Now I’m twenty-eight!”

This is going to be horrible.  I can imagine my wife looking down at me from wherever she is now. “Oh, Tooty,” she’ll say, “what have you done? You silly old bugger.”