My motorcycle ownership started with an RG250. Let’s start that again. My PROPER motorcycle ownership started with a MK2 RG250. A 1985, freshly-restored by a friend, mint, tuned, DEP-can sporting RG250.
The phone call from my mate came just as I was starting my third year of University. Unfortunately, due to my student status, I wasn’t exactly flush with funds, and the very reasonable £1,000 asking price may as well have been £10k. However, one of the benefits of being a student at that time was the introduction of the rather wonderful Student Loans Company. This fabulous organisation was set up to loan needy students roughly £1,100 every year that they were in full time University education. The borrowed could then be paid back over a very lengthy period when the student’s professional income reached a certain threshold. That year the worthy students of Leeds University invested their newly-procured loans in implements of study – books, computers, tutors, etc.
All except one.
I hit the student loan office as soon as it opened and put my name down for the full amount. As soon as the cheque hit my bank account I was back down home and signing my name on the bottom of the V5. The glorious Gamma, a bike that I had coveted for the past 18 months, was mine.
One small problem.
I mentioned earlier I was a student at University. Leeds University. The student areas of Leeds weren’t the most secure of places to leave anything. My ratty TZR125 had been lifted (and recovered) on three occasions before it disappeared for good one Sunday night. The prospect of bringing my new pride and joy into the same environment wasn’t very attractive. Instead I did a deal with my friend to leave the Gamma exactly where it was. A brief 20-mile ride was all I had time for before needing to get on the coach back to Leeds.
The Gamma stayed where it was for 12 months, dutifully kicked over and properly warmed up every week by my friend, and taken out for a good run on the four or five occasions I made it back to the Midlands during breaks from University life. Every snatched adventure into that razor-sharp powerband is firmly etched into my motorcycling psyche. 12 months into my ownership stint I graduated, got a job and had to sell the RG to raise the money to rent a house. Being a grown-up sucked at that point in time. I wish I could remember the registration number.
So I’ve always wanted another. Nice RG’s are much rarer than LCs and either come up cheap when I’ve got no spare money or sit for sale at a ridiculously optimistic price for months on end. Over the past twenty years I’ve made two attempts to rekindle my love affair with Suzuki’s alloy-framed smoker. The first was just bad. Very bad. I shudder when I think about it. The second was a restoration attempt on a very poor C-registration Mark 2. It finished up sort of roadworthy, but a shiny new T595 Daytona took all my attention and I pretty much gave the Gamma away to a friend.
By now you must have realised that all this prevarication is leading to the fact that attempt number three is well underway. The occasional eBay trawl for an affordable RG yielded a Mark 1, imported to the UK in 1998, at a reasonably sensible price point. A little haggling and a delivery cost agreed and the blue/white smokebomb was on the way to the Retro-RR garage from Cheshire. Excited was a complete understatement.
Wheeled out of the van, my first thoughts jumped to how small it all was. The rear wheel tyre seemingly narrower than the front of the GSXR1100 brooding in the corner of my garage, and everything looked……spindly. I wondered if the whole thing would feel as frail as it looked. Feeling strong compression on the first kick of the starter started to ease the apprehension of buying a 32-year old 2-stroke unseen. The engine bursting into life at the first attempt certainly helped. The first ride would come the following morning – more on that later. I’m once again the owner of a running, road-legal RG250. There’s lots to do - but that can wait. It’s time to play powerbands once again.
Unless it goes bang of course.