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Different Strokes........3 Noises Off....


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Noises off……

The precision click of a Parker 25 ballpoint pen.

The sound of a Snap-On ratchet tightening a bolt.

The rope winder on an ocean going yacht.

The burble of a V8 engine.

The sharp crack of a Montesa 4RT engine.

The irritating high pitch whine of a lone mosquito in your hotel room in the dead of night.

Emotive sounds each and every one.

Think back, if you will, to bikes and cars you have owned or aspired to own. Then identify which of them you were most attached to and hold the fondest memories. Then ask yourself why.

I remember vividly my first push-bike with proper tyres. Passed down from a cousin who had outgrown it and still a little too big for me (8 yrs old ‘ish). Kneeling next to it and listening intently to the crank/freewheel as I rotated the pedals backwards.

I remember too (13 yrs old) the Sony cassette player my friend had. A top loader with “piano key” controls that when pressed were quite special in that they were firm, secure and robust. You knew they wouldn’t fail or stick. A bit like an Audi door handle.

My first car I bonded with of course, but why? Not just because it was my first surely? The solid and secure clunk as you closed the door to the outside world, then perched upon the hideously bouncy vinyl seats but basking in an air-cooled glow as the engine started instantly despite the -12C temperature outside. The flat four engine located right at the back waffling and clinking through its tortuously complex exhaust/“heat” exchanger.

So why did I bond with my next car, given that it was such a dog?! A 1970 (this in 1985) two door coupe with only one functioning door, fortunately the driver’s near side front. Yes, you read that right. Near side front. And as I write this I’m struck by the irony of going from one car with virtually no heater, to another whose heater I couldn’t actually turn off! But I forgave it it’s faults because it was a very rare beast(dog) indeed being a Dodge Challenger (BFC 154R) with a small block 318 cubic inch 5.2l V8. Nice! Also benefitting from the manual gearbox with the proper Hurst competition shift. Very nice! And talk about torque! A pity then it had drum brakes all round, a wing and door in primer and a lot of filler, the remainder in metallic moss green. But with that Hurst shift it returned better mpg than would my old “K” reg’ Range Rover later. Also a dog, also green, and also manual. And I’ll leave you to decide at which end of the reg’ plate the K resided……!

After my all too brief flirtation with American muscle, I went back to something a little more Teutonic with a beautiful Audi Coupe GT (BFU 363W). A proper thing though sadly, not the hairy chested Quattro, but that five cylinder engine sounded glorious when you got on the loud pedal. But after 60k miles, what began as charmingly quirky electrical issues, got to me. Then one day I was dazzled by a 3 series from the Bavarian Motor Works and the Audi was gone.

A beautifully engineered oatcake. Bland. Dull. Reliable. Swapped with a dodgy dude in Durham for a Range Rover Classic. Not bland. Not dull. Not reliable. 12 mpg. Brake failure on the drive home. Nice! But I loved it! Burbling V8, commanding driving position, what’s not to love?

After that life changed and space was required, the resulting aberration manifested itself in the form of a Montego (no hint of ginger) Estate. Bland. Dull. Reliable-ish. But I did like the rev’ counter.

Then I got my multi-cylinder mojo back. A Rover SD1 2.6 (D874 MOJ) . A lovely drive but with appalling build quality. When it rained I could have kept fish in the glove compartment! But that six cylinder engine was a delight, all wrapped up in a body that was a blatant copy of the Ferrari Daytona. Bonded!

That gets us up to 1996. And the good people of Weissach, Germany, tempted me.

Since its launch in the 80’s I was totally smitten by the Porsche 944 styling. A more svelte and elegant sports car was either Italian mega-bucks, or simply non-existent. But at the prices they were asking, way beyond me. Then I spied one in another dodgy forecourt in a lesser known part of Bradford. It was black, and it was calling me! Yes it only had four cylinders, but they were BIG. And I could afford it. From the very first moment I sat in it and closed the door. Clunk. I was having a Beetle flashback. And then when I first looked through the wing mirror and gazed down the swoopy flanks to its rear arches? Bliss. And it was plenty quick enough too, with the handling simply sublime. It wasn’t the finest example of the marque but there was something strangely empowering as you turned on the headlights and watched them rise smoothly and silently from the bonnet.

Since then: Volkswagens many and various. All fine in their own way, brand new through work, but none of them food for the soul. Lacking that certain something.

That brings us back to two wheels.

Regular readers of my ramblings will know that I dallied mercifully briefly with the two stroke. Noisey, rattley and smokey. Until I settled on the proper suck, squeeze, bang, blow, that was the Beta Rev 4T. Two wheeled civility I thought, kneeling down beside it listening as it waffled through its short and efficient exhaust. Bonded. Then onto the 2011 Evo 4T. Not quite as waffley, but nevertheless, beautifully softly spoken. Bonded. Then right up to date with the current Montesa Cota 260 4RT. What a thing! It reminds me in a lot of ways of my Dodge, lots of torque from minimal revs with a sharp crack through the exhaust. Bonded? I may move into the garage!!

The only thing lacking in my automotive cv is electric.

Now. What did I say about mosquito’s……?!

Keep ya feet up!


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Tea, well, I have allways wanted to rip the heavy muffs off a proper 4T trials bike and put on a megaphone for proper effect!

My old Honda 305 scrambler had nice straight pipes!

Edited by copemech
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  • 1 month later...

My best bike noise by a country mile was a Guzzi 1100 Sport (carb) with carbon cans. I used to do early shifts, so I routinely rolled down my sloping drive and coasted 100 yds or so down the road before firing it up to avoid upsetting my immediate neighbours.

Went on a Boys' road trip to Normandy / Brittany and my mate got the royal hump as everywhere we stopped, no-one gave his new 916 a second glance.

Like Peter, I'd have to say a Buick / Rover V8 takes some beating- I've owned, loved and lost both a P6 and a 2-door RR Classic. Ah, the fuel bills..

My reverse trike only has a 50bhp VT500 motor; but with a 9-10k redline and a fabricated race pipe, it wails!

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  • 1 year later...

In recent times it has to be Bruce Ansty on the Padgets YZF500 at the classic TT. Sweet sounding, and precise like a surgeon with a scalpel, makes a change from all the axe murders!

One of my favourites from the past. Not just a bike but a situation as well.

My dad’s, 1967 Ducati single cylinder race bike, running open mega exhaust. At the classic Manx Grand Prix, (before it became the classic TT) when they still used to have morning practices. It was a beautiful clear, dry bright morning. Dawn breaks and the first pair goes. I was in the first few pairs away. By the time I get to Kirk Michael it’s just me, the course and the sound of the bike reverberating off all the buildings! I have never known anything like it before or since. It remains the only time I’ve ever been aware of the atmosphere I’m in while racing! Makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about it!

See you can love 2 and 4 strokes!!! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

The best sound has to be a Matchless G80 Motocross bike with a straight through pipe!


My favourite road bike was a Matchless G80CS with pillion seat and QD lights - made up in Plumstead for me in the Comp shop and delivered through King's of Oxford, where it was waiting in a special display window above the main door - and handed over by Stan Hailwood complete with local press camera.


Before the motorway speed limits were introduced I did the run from the bottom of the MI to the end of the road, at that time, which was at Watford Gap, every weekend for nearly six months, whilst I was on a Diploma course at Chelsea, and Mary was staying with her Mum on the farm just outside Rugby to help out whilst I was away, then home to Market Drayton for each weekend.


The M1 stint was just over 96 miles in those days and I did that regularly just under the hour.........


And that was before crash helmets were introduced.

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  • 2 months later...

I am so with you schmorgas.

After all of the cars I have had, from a 74 Supper Beetle, 69 Pontiac Lemans, deisel VW etc. to all of my bikes from my first Yamaha MX80, IT 250, to my current 4RT 250, I am so connected to the sound and feel of the 4RT I can't think of any vehicle I like more than the sound and feel of that bike!

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