Biking’s room 101

Published: 01 May 2002

George Orwell had some cracking ideas. One was a cell where you faced your worst nightmares. Room 101 was a place of torture central to his novel 1984. The BBC picked the idea up and ran with it for a comedy show in which celebs get to name things they would hate to find themselves faced with in their personal Room 101. Since they aren’t about to invite all of us on for a motorcycling special, here’s a version just for us…

Fieldsheer Acid Worm Leathers:

Blame it on Fogarty for bringing them into the public eye or the designers for their " altered states " , but there’s no denying the Fieldsheer Acid Worm leathers belong back in the ’80s with Acceeed House smiley face stickers, blippety-bloppety music, warehouses and police busts. We know they’re still out there. You only have to go to a race meeting to see people proudly sporting them, or dive into a bargain bin at the Ally Pally Road Racing and Superbike Show... last spotted at £100. Maybe they’ll become retro cool soon. That must be why people are hanging on to them, mustn’t it?

Aprilia Moto 6.5

Designed by the man responsible for some of the coolest designer furniture, hotel interiors, watches and cutlery the world has ever seen, the Moto 6.5 by Phillipe Starck promised so much. Unfortunately it was a bit of a shed to ride, mostly unreliable and the orange and silver paintscheme only attracted the attention of people attending dodgy clubs in Soho. If you disagree don’t worry, you can still get one new for £3999. Nice idea Aprilia. But Mr Starck should stick to the toasters.

Buying Pre-Worn Kneesliders

There’s a whole black market thing going on where Mr Uppity-Ups can buy the look of a Sunday afternoon kneesliding god. Would you believe dealers are also getting involved in this game and are flogging worn sliders for MORE than a set of new ones. If you’re one of them who buys worn sliders or asks your mate to scrub them in for you, think cleverer. There’s a movement going on that says it’s cooler to have your knee a couple of inches from the Tarmac anyway in a TT-racer style. Either that or you can tell people you burn through them so fast you need a new set on every time you ride.

Steve Berry

On the face of it, the man who showed bikes off to the masses with his appearances on Top Gear should be applauded. The reality is our Mr Berry wobbled off on bikes at walking pace and hired in professional stunt riders for any serious action. His voice grates and his knowledge of bikes is often questionable. At least now Vicki Butler-Henderson has got her licence she can fly the flag for us. She’s much better to look at and if you can listen to her without melting into a puddle you must still have your ear-plugs in.

Shaun The Sheep Rucksacks:

The original character from Wallace and Grommet, we don’t have a problem with. The rucksacks themselves? No problem with them either... if they’re bought by small children to carry their lunchboxes to school. But when they’re flapping around on the back of some minging pillion on the way to Brands? Ha ha ha ha ha... not.

Silver Dream Racer

Along with Easy Rider, David Essex’s Silver Dream Racer is one of the most celebrated (or should that be notorious) bike films of all time. The plot doesn’t exactly thicken as thin out as we watch our hero win the big race on his rather trick Phoenix Spartan 500cc square-four (the Silver Dream Racer in question). Taking his hand off the bars to celebrate his hard-won victory the bike goes into a massive weave. The crash goes into very slo-mo and Essex seems to be replaced by a scarecrow as he gets flung off the bike and the whole film turns Thunderbirds. Best watched drunk among close bike-mad friends. Or perhaps, best not watched at all

Rat Bikes

The official definition of a rat bike seems to be a bike that is never repaired or looked after until it’s absolutely necessary. Why that means you grab an old shed like a CB750, cover the entire bike in matt black paint, find a few sheep skulls and glue them on to the headlight then skin a dead animal for the seat cover we have absolutely no idea. Rats’ tails and unwashed denim cut-off jackets bathed in dog eggs are not compulsory, but it helps with the oh-so-charming image. Throw them away!

Michael Meacher:

Minister for the Environment Michael Meacher penned a letter asking chief constables to clamp down on motorcyclists riding bikes in national parks, but only after looking into the possibility of banning us from riding in these areas all together. His spin doctors must have got some good overtime. Denials, U-turns and " I never " s were pumped out thick and fast. Odd that he refused to speak to us when we tracked him down to a conference in Columbia and continually refused an interview when he returned to the UK. We ended up having to doorstep him when he attended a radio show in Peterborough. And his spinning docs even rang the editor to object to that. He’s since said bikes and riders are lovely. Amazing what a cornered politician will say, isn’t it?

Sidewinders

Skirting the law and finding loopholes in daft legislation is, of course, something sharp-thinking motorcyclists enjoy. Sidewinders were perhaps the ultimate example of this. When the learner law changed to limit L-plate riders to 125s, they were still allowed to have a 250 – if it was fitted with a sidecar. Enter the Sidewinder, a lightweight plastic and metal hinged tray that just about passed muster (legally) as a sidecar. Couldn’t carry a sausage, let alone a passenger. Most riders rejected this fashion faux pas, opting for a better-handling sidewinder-less125... particularly if they could illegally derestrict them.

125 Cruiser V-Twins

A cruiser should be big, throbbing and long. Ideally with a massive motor, loads of torque and size 11 footboards. So why would anyone buy a 125 " cruiser, " and even worse, a 125 cruiser trying even harder with a thimble-potted V-twin motor rattling around in its baby frame. At least 125 two-strokes are fast and CG125s are cheap. But a 125 Virago?

The Gatso

Remember when you only had to keep an eye out for proper real-life cops who would nick you there and then and would do it while sharing an insight from their own riding experience? Now we have a gauntlet of grey boxes to run. Miss them and you could get a brown envelope in the post and that’s the first you know about creeping a few miles an hour over the limit on a clear day with no traffic within a mile. Maurice Gatsonides is Dutch. He was a sorted bloke who won the Monte Carlo rally in 1953. He developed the Gatso to measure speed on rally stages. He must feel like Einstein did about the atomic bomb.

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2

THIS isn’t Mission difficult. This is Mission Impossible. Or so it would seem when the makers of Mission Impossible Two claimed Tom Cruise had done all his own bike stunts... including the one-handed pivoting rolling stoppie while shooting the baddies. Someone with the combined talents and balls of AC Farias, Evel Knievel and Kevin Carmichael wouldn’t try that at home. Good work Cruise, you’re the man. Now let’s see you do it again. Live... in your own time Tom.

Some of your choices for the bin:

Sports bike owners who leave huge shiny bits of unused tyres on the edges. What a waste. Aaaargh. Give me your GSX-Rs dammit! If you really must spend your life going fast in a straight line, go to Brussels on the Eurostar. Mark Craft e-mail

I’d consign airhorns at race meetings. I go to listen to a highly-tuned engine being worked hard by a very proficient rider, not some moron who likes to make a stupid noise every time the riders come past. Bob Livesey Preston, Lancs

Potholes in the road, because I keep crushing my bits on the tank going over them. David Taylor

Put GPZs in Room 101. All of them. They’re repulsive looking things. Kristian Richer

Scooter riders. I pulled up to a red light on my CB400 Super Four. And there’s one right up my arse. Do they honestly think they can beat me off the line? Stuart Pollard Exeter, Devon

Black screens. Why do people fit them? You can’t see out of them, so what’s the point? And also Suzuki TL1000S riders, mainly because I haven’t met one that doesn’t think they are the daddy when it comes to riding fast... in a straight line perhaps. Simon Mason e-mail