Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Once the Suzuki 90 had given me the bike bug, I had to have something bigger. The "Grapevine" soon let me know that there was a very tidy 350 Suzuki for sale in Carterton (about 15 minutes from here). One look at the way it had been cared for convinced me that this was the bike for me. A deal was soon done and I now had a bike to tackle the open road. The previous owner had modified the exhaust baffles in it so it did have a bit of a crackle to it's note. My father (a non motorcyclist) didn't like it and told me he always heard me coming home at night. It did some reasonably long day trips on this and it was totally reliable, but in typical two-stroke fashion, not particularly economical. I remember once travelling over 200km (over 400kms round trip) tovisit a friend...only to find he wasn't home. But it was still fun ! Looking at the above photo, which shows a workmate (Kelvin Stevens) trying it for size, the handlebars look horrendously wide now. Time passed and a perusal of my bank balance told me it was time to buy a "real" bike. I went to my local dealer and ordered a brand new Honda 350 Four.

The Honda arrived in it's crate on a Friday and the dealer, knowing I was desperate to ride it, offered to assemble it on a Saturday morning. I went down to my dealers early and watched the procedure and heard it fire up for the first time. It was music to my ears.

The 350 Four was smooth, quiet (even my father approved) and economical. I remember once on a section of a holiday trip getting exactly 70 mpg. That's about 4 litres/100kms for the youngsters. It was totally reliable, but like most bikes of this era with their 4 into 4 exhausts,  it started to rot out the mufflers. This wasn't helped by the fact that it was my only vehicle so had to be used for the daily commute to work as well as weekend touring. With it's redline at 10,000, I was particularly fond of the sound it made at these high revs. It was my first brand new bike, my first 4 stroke and my first bike with electric start.  I managed, with careful welding, to extend the life of the mufflers long enough to trade up to something bigger....

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