Monday, 20 December 2010

State of the Art, and a Word on Parallel Twins

So now a bit of easy stuff - playing the critic. Much as I love to see the cafe racer, flat track, retro and other alternative bike styles flourishing (flourishing almost everywhere other than Britain that is), I have a gripe. I get the whole, "let's use plentiful and cheap Japanese bikes with character to base our projects on" - XS650, SR400, and various other trail bikes and so on. However, I am increasingly seeing the use of bikes that where unloved when they first appeared, and often for good reason. Just cos it's getting old doesn't mean it's cool. Sorry, but Honda CM250 et al?

Yes the winner of the Deus build-off showed abundantly better skills and talent than I can aspire to, with Much Much Go, and I love the exhausts, the stance, the paint job. But the donor motor? And comstar wheels? Not for me - ever. The same goes for the brilliant Wrench Monkees' Monkee #4 using an XS500. Why would you? At least the aesthetically similiar Icon bike, The Snake Charmer uses a rabid two stoke dirt bike motor. For me there has to be some "go" with the "show" unless there is extra charm instead. A lot of the 80's Japanese bikes being re-cycled now just don't have that charm in their genes.

Parallel twins (pre - modern clever firing orders and fuel injection) are pretty low on my favourite engine configuration chart. Low power and nasty vibrations. Brit bike's make up for this with character and stroke. That character has rubbed off very knowingly on XS650, W650 so they have their charm. But the legions of dull commuter bikes that utilised this configuration, XS, Dream and Super Dream, and the equivalents from Kawasaki and Suzuki, belong where they live, in the unglamorous bit of the past. Just my opinion you understand.....


  1. I agree and I certainly wouldn't bother 'customising' one of then. I do have to stick up though for the Honda Benly CD200 - I had several the most was 50 quid, the cheapest was free, and they took me to work and back reliably in London for years. Handled well, went well especially with sprockets with an extra tooth or two, and were so comfy. My last one also spent time in Italy with me, only to be nicked outside my house in London one morning, and I was really quite upset. You see them on Ebay now as 'classics', 6 or 700 quid sometimes.