James Whitham Column - Sep 09

I'm a naked bike fan, I like just about all of that genre of stuff

Going back not that long, fifteen years I guess, naked bikes were kind of shitty, but now I love them. Because if you ain’t got a fairing you aren’t tempted to go flipping mental, if you’re doing 80mph you feel like you are going 80mph, and they are great for titting about on. Absolutely.

Back in the day manufacturers never really thought about naked bikes, they were things that motorcyclists would turn their noses up at, but now it’s a proper niche in the market and everybody makes a decent one. Thinking about it, most manufacturers make more than one, they make a modern street fighter type thing, but also the stuff I like, big old retro styled ones with piggy back shocks and wide bars.

These bikes make me think of the days when men were men, male grooming meant you were a poof and facial hair and the slight waft of Brut was compulsory. I like the fact they don’t make you want to ride like a tit, get a stoppie wrong on an XJR1300 and the consequences aren’t worth thinking about. Go over the top and it would register on the Richter scale…

I’ve also had one of my most memorable moments on naked bikes with the magazine over the years.

We rode up to Scotland on big naked retros for Burns Night. At the time it was quite an ordeal. But it was worth it, not only were the bikes a right good laugh, but the sight of wee-wee dribbling out of the bottom of Mackenzie’s kilt onto the floor of the most expensive hotel in Edinburgh will go to the grave with me…

I’ve been saying for some months now that Jorge Lorenzo is the new kid on the block, but I tell you what, he’s going to be the man. He seems to ride better when he is knocked about than when he’s fully fit. Foggy was like that, he was like a wounded badger, always more dangerous when something bad had happened and he had some bits missing! When Lorenzo knocked his shoulder out at Laguna, or broke both his ankles last season, they injected him with something to dull the pain and he just went out, gritted his teeth, and rode like a man possessed. I don’t know what they stuck in him, but I could have done with a bit of it when I was racing!

I’ve bought a knackered AP50 and a ‘72 Honda Dax Monkey bike thing. They are both tatty, but I built them up in my mind and I just couldn’t help myself. I’ve also bought a 1953 Norton! I know, I’m sorry. I’ve never had a British single in my life. I have no idea how long this fetish will last, but I really wanted a bike with a kickstart that if I didn’t get it right would fire me up through the garage ceiling…

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