One Saturday morning my Dad, out of the blue, asked me would I like to go and have a look at a couple of bikes. My persistence had paid off. He had accepted that I was not going to be put off and had probably decided that this was the only way he was going to shut me up and get back to normality. Besides, the pile of MCN’s being left all over the house was beginning to get in the way! Our first viewing was of a Yamaha 80 at a local dealers. They let me ride it round the yard and I would have bought it there and then but no, You need to look at a few to get the feel of things , my Dad, a salesman by profession, advised me. We looked at a few more bikes both privately and at dealers, mostly BSA Bantams and Triumph Tiger Cubs, which looked like they had been around the block and ‘ down the road ‘ a few times. Then my Dad surpassed himself and agreed to buy a blokes Honda Benly for the princely sum of 30 quid. This suprised me as this bike had clip on bars and twin megas. It sounded lovely. However, on getting the thing home we discovered a few problems with it which did not go down too well with my Dad who demanded a full refund. On reflection I think that this bike had just returned from the Isle of Man where it had probably been run in a production race or something. I did manage to get out on it before it was returned and needless to say it was a heck of a machine! Shame! The next stage was a serious talk with my Dad during which such words as ‘fast, loud, unreliable and more sensible ‘ came into play. We agreed that as a starter bike the Benly was indeed a bit ambitious and we ended up in the local Honda dealers with my Dad shelling out for a new Honda CD 90. I think he was just glad to get the Benly episode behind him.
So in 1970 I became the proud owner of a nice shiny, black CD 90Z. This bike was Europe’s answer to the S 90 (sport), a bike primarily exported to America. The only difference was slightly different styling including a bigger rear mudguard for our wet English roads. It
My lovely 1970 Honda CD90Z on which I learned to ride and passed my test
had flat bars to retain the sporty image and for a 90 it had a fair turn of performance. In those days you did not need any formal rider training. You just showed up with your L plates and off you went. I used the 90 every day and soon became ‘as one’ with it hurling it through corners and holding the throttle against the stop whilst flattening myself against the tank in order to maintain a top speed of 65 on the clock. Indeed, I became so good at over revving that on one trip I managed to bend the valve stem – a job for the repair shop. I soon decided to take my test as the L plates were losing me street cred.This was a simple run around a predetermined course and also involved the examiner jumping out from behind a parked car to signify the request for an emergency stop. No problem as you could see him standing there with his clipboard from hundreds of yards down the road. I rode a text book lap and was soon tearing up my L plates. I went everywhere on the 90 and trips from my home in the North West of England up to the Lake District were not uncommon. A lot of the time I rode with my mates. We had quite an assortment of bikes between us. Regular turnouts included a Norton Dominator, BSA Starfire, Suzuki Invader and a new fangled electric start Honda CB 175 twin. More exotic machinery included one of the first Yamaha 350 models to appear on our shores (not sure which model) and a rather strange Italian 160cc bike called a Ducati! which my mate crashed then ended up spraying it yellow! What a sight we must have been. We even had one lad who rode an MZ 250 for some time ,until he totalled it across the bonnet of a Mini! I kept the Honda for over a year even managing to settle the debt with my Dad from the various part time jobs I was doing, but then it was time to move on.