From Cyril's memoires dated 2 October 2006

Heat. Without it our bikes would go nowhere, but dealing with it can be a problem. My lovely young wife Francesca reminded me of this on a recent trip to the south of Italy on my Ducati Multistrada. Underseat exhausts are a tidy design, but, she explained, squatting over a hot pipe for a few hours can lead to a certain amount of discomfort, especially in an Italian summer. By the time we reached our hotel, Francesca was desperate to jump in the shower and douse the bush fire, as it were. Being a gentleman, I insisted on applying a slathering of cold-cream. It was the very least I could do.

The temperature in a combustion chamber can reach more than 1000 deg C, so there's a hell of a lot of heat to get rid of. Liquid cooling helps, but I recall a trip to South Africa in 1982 when we were involved in pre-launch tests of the superb, air-cooled Suzuki GS1100GK. The simple aim was to put in plenty of miles on three bikes in high temperatures and our small team comprised myself, chief engineer Colin Craywell and one of his young protégés, Ashley Gardener. Much could have been learned from that trip, if only things had gone according to plan.

Ashley Gardener was a tall, skinny, wax-white youth in the Peter Crouch mould, very uncomfortable in the hot South African summer and if something wasn't chaffing then something else had broken out in a rash or had swollen painfully. We were all in the hotel swimming pool one evening and I'd never seen so many mosquito bites on a man. He assured us they were 'all over' and had to be dissuaded from proving the point in a sheltered area behind the chlorination out-house.

Day five's itinerary demanded that we take a long and extremely exposed route from Britstown to Moffie. The bikes were checked the night before and we set off well loaded with water and food. The morning went very well and Colin and I were loving the ride, dicing with one another, or just sitting back and enjoying that silky motor and the stunning scenery. Ashley loitered at the back like a sullen teenager and at each stop reeled off a list of blisters, sores and throbs.

The road deteriorated badly and we were reduced to 20mph for more that 30 miles. Well, you can imagine that on a fully-faired air-cooled bike in 40 deg C, the heat rising up from the engine was enough to boil an egg. My eggs were certainly boiled. After a while we realised that Ashley was no longer with us. Colin offered to go back to see what had happened, while I stayed beneath a shady poes tree.

After half an hour I started to get worried. After an hour I jumped on the GS and retraced our tracks. A mile back, I found both Ashley and Colin and the vision I was presented with in that sun-scorched landscape is one I've never shaken from my mind. Colin's bike was on its centre-stand and the throttle was pinned open, the rear wheel spinning furiously. He was lashed to the bike on his back with his head on the clocks and his legs splayed over the panniers. He was absolutely naked and gagged with what I assumed to be his own underpants. I could see no sign of Ashley.

Then, from behind me came a blood-curdling scream and I turned in time to see a spark plug spanner fly past my left ear. Ashley was naked, too, except for a bandanna fashioned from an inner tube. His scrawny, almost hairless body was smeared with engine oil, presumably taken from his own machine, which now lay on its side in the poephol bushes. He squawked like a bird and with uncanny agility scaled a nearby tree, from where he proceeded to put on a lewd display of genital gymnastics while grunting, babbling and drooling. It was hard to tell whether he was in a state of arousal or if his distended manhood was the result of yet another nasty bite, but distended it was. Meanwhile, the bike was still revving painfully in the background and Colin began to yelp in pain as Ashley pelted his rotund, naked form with spiky fruit from the tree. It was a scene straight from hell.

Back in Britain, the doctors blamed heat stroke for Ashley's bizarre interlude and a week later he returned to work. However, Colin Craywell never recovered fully from the trauma and he spent the rest of his working life in a Jawa-CZ dealership just outside Chorlton-cum-Hardy. It seems that for Colin the nightmare was never-ending.


Auto erotica

From Cyril's memoires dated 22 September 2006

Twist 'n' go motorcycles, highlighted recently by Honda’s DN-01 and Yamaha’s FJR1300AS, prompt much debate. Emasculated beasts for those who don't have the skill to swap ratios? Or a natural development letting the rider concentrate on other aspects of machine control? My own opinion is darkened by a rather unpleasant experience.

Few will remember HappyTime, a Dutch set-up moderately successful with 50cc scooters in the late Eighties. But in 1981 their ambitions had been higher. At the time I was European sales manager for Suzuki but a friend of mine told me that HappyTime, who were as yet unknown to me, could offer lucrative freelance work. Truth be told, I needed the extra cash due to my then wife Anoushka’s heavy addiction to vodka, horse meat, gambling and shopping, usually in that disastrous order, so I agreed to get involved. If only I’d known.

I met Arty Boerelul, HappyTime's owner, at the firm's base on an industrial estate to the south of Amsterdam in the spring of 1981. Something about him immediately put me on my guard. The lace-up leather trousers, zapata moustache and bubble perm were fine. No, it was a fevered look in the eyes that made me uneasy.

'For shure, Shyril, I'm not bringing you here to be shafting you, you know? I’m wanting everything to be shtraight up!' I'm sure he didn't intend the double entendres.

'I'm having a great thing to be showing you - a monster that will shurely impresh! I'm hoping you'll be taking it in your hands!'

This, Arty explained, was the future. A motorcycle with automatic gearbox but also, unlike Moto Guzzi's Convert and Honda's CB750A (recent experiments back then), he told me it had plenty of power as at its heart was a turbo-charged Kawasaki Z1-R engine. But it was also a hideous carbuncle, a massive torque converter contributing to its pot-belly girth.

'I'm calling it the Freefist Slippy,' said Arty proudly. Given that I was employed in a marketing capacity, I convinced him to think again.

I managed to avoid riding the contraption for quite a while, until one fateful day when Arty said, ‘Shyril, we've been working for sheveral months and you've not yet ridden the beasht. For shure, you're needing thish for the true knowledge.'

For shure, I hadn't been looking forward to this moment. The only time I'd seen the machine in action had been in the hands of Arty, who would manfully wrestle it out of the carpark, vicious power surges and coarse and thudding ratio shifts causing his bubble-permed head to rock violently back and forth like a hairy bladder on a stick. However, the money was good and if I wanted to keep the work I needed to show willing.

The first 100 yards were fine. Yes, the change into second severely cricked my neck (I heard a definite twang) and when I throttled off slightly the instant lurch threw the borrowed and ill-fitting open-face helmet over my eyes. At this point I'd still not collided with anything, so it was going relatively well. But as I pushed the helmet off my eyes I thudded into a pothole, the jolt causing me to open the throttle no more than half an inch, but the result was disastrous.

With a sickening lurch the turbo kicked in, whipping my head back on my cricked neck, which locked solid with a blinding white flash of pain. I let go of the machine (by now, incidentally, called the Freebase Wristy) and tumbled off, bouncing into the road. I lay there helpless and watched its progress.

The chances of the riderless bike ploughing into a delegation from the Lesbian Society of Rotterdam, down to assess production of a new range of strap-on 'accessories', must have been a million to one. Luckily, there were no serious injuries, but quite a few nasty gashes.

Arty Boerelul and I parted company at that point and I never again heard of him or his Freebase Wristy. And I have to say that since that day I've had an aversion to anything that's automatic, straps on or is a diabolic combination of the two.