When I was a boy, motorcycles and the people who rode them were still considered a bit second rate. “Bikers” continued to suffer from a lingering reputation of ne’er do-wellness caused by films such as Marlon Brando’s The Wild One, not to mention past events such as those rather unfortunate skirmishes between mods and rockers on Brighton’s seafront.
But to me and a few others serving a long stretch at a Benedictine monastery school, the appeal of motorcycles lay not in stale connotations of flick knives, knuckle dusters, greasy hair and burn ups, but in the almost indefinable thrill of riding them (which we had then yet to really experience) combined with an unashamed love of their aesthetics.
It was the late-1970s, a decade or so before the proliferation of plastic-clad super sports machines saw motorcycle design take a whole new turn – which meant break times (and history lessons, if we could get away with it) were spent poring over magazines such as Bike and Motorcycle Sport.
We ogled the rich chromework of Kawasaki Z1000s, Yamaha RD400s and Suzuki GT750s; admired BMW’s new “smoke effect” paintwork, and marvelled at the exotic nature of the Ducati Darmah and Moto Guzzi’s race replica “Le Mans”.