Ton up times
I sold the Honda to a family man who was looking for a cheap commuter bike. He could not have done better as I had run it in nicely!
Even though the Japanese bikes were now coming through thick and fast, it was still considered cool to have a British bike. So it came to be that I bought a dark red Triumph 5TA 500 twin. It had high, wide bars and just sitting on it gave you a feeling of power. My main problem was starting it. There was no decompression valve so I had to muster all my strength to get the thing the turn over on the kick. Quite often it would spit me straight off but eventually I mastered it and was soon be a regular easyrider, cruising around watching the world from behind my dark tinted Polaroids. I rode my 5TA with a couple of other guys, one on a very nice Norton Dominator deluxe. We fancied ourselves as hardcore bikers with studded cut off denim jackets and oil stained jeans. We were for a while far removed from the clean and friendly image which Triumph UK sales were trying to portray at the time! We even got into a few fights with skinheads but I soon realised that side of biking was not for me. My 5TA was actually an ex police bike. It had a metal tank panel where the radio had been and a Craven top box, in white, where the aerial had been mounted. Indeed one evening whilst filling the bike with fuel a burly copper got out of his patrol car and came over to me. ‘Here we go’ I thought. ‘What have I done wrong?’ but the guy took off his hat and proceeded to enthuse about the bike and how well it was looking . ‘Hope you’re looking after it, son.’ It turned out that it had been his bike when he was in the traffic division. My Triumph was pretty cool for the period with high bars, twin upswept chrome megas (sounded wicked) and full crashbars. I covered quite a few miles on it but it did have some major drawbacks. For one thing, it went through loads of clutch springs – I got fitting them off to an art. Also, it vibrated. Boy did it vibrate! Anything more than a ten mile run became a chore. A dental assessment was needed after every outing. I had not bought the 5TA for it’s performance but constant defeat in traffic light burn ups was taking its toll on my morale. The roads were full of brightly coloured, extremely quick Japanese two strokes and I wanted one.