From the Blog

Ignorance is..


..bliss, or so they say. But sometimes it is just ignorance and it brings with it difficulties and penalties that are never expected. Let me explain.

It was 1978. I was living in Canberra, establishing gardens and lawns in a new home (don’t even bother) and riding my great little Honda 400/4. (love the front number plate)

I was also deeply engrossed in the establishment of Canberra Road Racing Club and our imminent first road race meeting on the streets of the yet-to-be-sold housing estate of Macarthur. As well, I was attending every road race meeting I could and that often meant riding up to Oran Park or Amaroo Park to photograph the various meetings there. Riding up inevitably meant riding with others, usually club members and I started to get a little “bike evny”. I’d mostly ridden small bikes at that stage but my clubmates all had 750 Hondas 900 Kawasakis, 750 Suzukis and even some exotica like Laverda 750s and Ducati 750s and 900s. They all had faster bikes than me! Now it doesn’t necessarily follow that I wanted to RIDE as fast as them; fact is, I didn’t, and, even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t have. I’d learned my limitations already. But I DID want to at least LOOK as fast as them and that meant that the “little” 400/4 had to go.

Its replacement was probably going to be  Honda, THAT loyalty had been established also, and the answer came in the form of a 1976 Honda 750F1 “Super Sport” (as in the picture above) The F1 was an interesting bike because it was released at the same time as the venerable “K” series 750s were still a catalogue model. So it wasn’t intended as a replacement for the iconic 750, but rather an augmenting of the range, designed to appeal to the rider who loved the engine but wanted a more modern look.

More modern it was. Longer, “coffin” tank and a factory 4-into-1 exhaust, it certainly updated the model. The down side was that its mechanical specification remained the same so it was mostly a cosmetic upgrade. Honda never even dealt with the dreaded pivoted caliper front disk brake!

In hindsight I should have taken it for a longer test ride – a quick squirt around the block is never adequate but my heart was set and I wanted it. The price was excellent, surprisingly so, and the bike was in great shape, even sporting an electronic ignition to replace the antiquated coils and points system that was the Honda staple. One could even see the ignition working as the bike had a transparent plastic points cover! Bling, for goodness sake.

Well, I paid for my ignorance in pretty short fashion. The bike was fast, MUCH faster than my old 400/4 and my “cred” meter reading went up as well but the bike itself, it was awful. It handled woefully, dangerously, in fact, and, after a few rides, some long and some short, I parked it in the garage and pondered my options. Of course my wife pretty soon sussed out that I wasn’t riding my new toy very often so it didn’t take her very long to figure out that I was suffering from a severe case of buyers regret. As always, she was at once sympathetic and accusing but, in the end, we both agreed that there wasn’t much point having it sitting there and not riding it so it was put on the market and sold.

And the ignorance? Well, had I known more, or had I asked some questions instead of trying to cover up my rash decision, I would have discovered what I now know, the steering head bearing were shot. No wonder it wouldn’t handle. If I had been wiser, I’d have fixed them and would have ridden the bike for years more and enjoyed it.

Ignorance is bliss, all right. In my case, I just ended up with the blister!