Wednesday, 11 November 2009

In the Beginning....

I grew up reading custom car magazines and going to watch motor racing with my dad in his black cab. I already liked bikes but at 17 when my dad offered a second-hand bike as an incentive to get into university, (a car was too expensive), I got even more interested in bikes.

That was the start of 30 years biking, but I was never a confident mechanic. I admired anyone who modified vehicles and dreamed of doing it myself one day. It took most of those thirty years to gather the confidence to have a go. What was it going to be; custom, track bike, cafe racer? For the first time I was buying a bike that wasn't my daily transport. I didn't have to put reliability or practicality too high on the list of criteria. I had owned a lot of muscle bikes so didn't want to do one of those. I wanted something that was fairly light and that had good handling in it's DNA. And it had to be cheap. And I'm half Italian. So, Italian, exotic, light, good handling, cheap and easy to work on. Hmmm...Ducati two valve air-cooled twins. Monsters and Super Sports. Dreams.....

So in the summer of 2009 I took out a loan and ordered a 15ft by 9 ft shed. With the help of my fragrant Ducati-riding missus, I dug out earth in the back garden, broke up hardcore, laid framework and then got concrete pumped through the house.

Yep, my new bike workshop had no access to the street. We had tested the concept by pushing Mrs Cutter's Ducati 695 through the house (and through my son's bedroom). When my son realised that as well as motorbikes and bicycles, he was now going to have concrete pumped through the house he decided to move into my studio/office in the loft. The highest and lowest ends of the house got swapped as part of the general chaos.

The loan of 5k covered the shed base and shed, some new garden paving, a chicken house (this secured Mrs Cutter's total loyalty) paying off what was left of the loan on my daily ride AND a project bike. The bike was a private sale, a 1996 Ducati Monster 900. I rode it back from Nuneaton to London and didn't spare the horses, so it obviously worked after a fashion. And it was the right engine number to be an original large- valve model.

A couple of a months later a bench built from timber recycled from the shed base framework, some shelves, some insulation, some old tools, some piccies of all sorts of tasty bikes on the walls, and the Chicken Shack was turning into a home from home. And that big red rooster of a M900 was installed right in the middle of it all. Now for the hard stuff: creative and mechanical decisions, aspirations, no cash left and no skill - game on!