It could get messy. Send in Jenny.
Once again we found ourselves making an impromptu stop by the side of the road. Greg was complaining that his bike steered really badly round left-hand bends and really well round right-hand bends. He still hadn’t realised we’d welded his forks on two inches out of line.
Remind us why we’re here again? In the pub the idea was pure genius. Let’s make a home made version of that iconic 60’s film “Easy Rider”. What better image of biking freedom is there than riding the highway with the wind in your face and a sunset backdrop?
After emptying the piggy bank and scratching around the back of the sofa we realised that a fleet of Harley Davidson’s might put us a tad over budget. No bother, we’d make some.
Matt produced a blue-print for a Honda C90 based chopper. Well, when we say blue-print, we mean he drew it in blue ink on a beer mat. It was agreed that we would probably have to go through several prototypes and several broken bones before we had something that was rideable so we volunteered Jenny as the test rider.
The next morning we set to work. A C90 was stripped, the frame was chopped in half and lengthened with a scaffold pole. The forks were cut off and replaced with two metre lengths of square section steel used for office partitioning, and a fuel tank was welded in the big gap between the seat and the handlebars.
The test ride had to be carried out without a front brake as the cable no longer reached the front wheel. Jenny was unperturbed. She put on a lid, wobbled out of the drive and crashed into the kerb. We chalked this up as a good start since we weren’t expecting here to make it out of the driveway.
The next modification was to lengthen the handlebars to compensate for the ridiculously long forks. This seemed to do the trick as this time Jenny made it all the way to the end of the road before forgetting she didn’t have a front brake. The resulting head-on into a wheelie bin did at least prove the forks had some structural strength.
A few mods later and the prototype became the production model. A further eight chopped C90’s were churned out in progressively sloppier fashion resulting in the turd that was to be Greg’s bike. We figured since he didn’t have a licence and couldn’t ride that he’d be the least likely to notice how shit it was. It worked.
So after months of thinking about it, weeks of talking about it, and hours planning it, our quest to ride 2,500 kms to the Moto Faro Rally in Portugal was go. And then stop. And then go a little bit further… Not wanting to risk the wrath of the UK Police on what were effectively motorised Meccano sets, we trailered the bikes to the ferry port. Unfortunately this meant we hadn’t done any serious road-testing.
The early signs weren’t promising. Three of us ended up pushing our bikes off the ferry and rather sheepishly tried to bump start our way past the Customs officials. To add to the “Carry On Biking” scenario a bungy net let go resulting in a tent, sleeping bag and petrol can wedging itself into the back wheel of another bike resulting in a pathetic wobble to a stop and the faint smell of melting plastic. Up ahead we watch and winced as the rest of the pack negotiated a roundabout in the wrong direction. Welcome to “Cheesy Rider”.