We bag a 'classic'

Published: 01 October 2005

Which brings the saga up to date. I now have a Benly which reaches the heady speeds of 65mph on the dual carriageway, starts pretty much first time, and only needs constant revving to stop it stalling at traffic lights. The brakes are rubbish, the headlight is equivalent to a small candle, the frame has a hinge in the middle, and the skinny tryes mean the tram lines left by lorries become a challenge and test of nerve. And in all honesty, some of the most fun and exciting rides of the last year have all been in the last two months of Benly use. Planning ahead to keep up my momentum and avoid using the rubbish brakes has made a 10-minute commute into a daily dose of adrenalin. If that isn't enough, with no fuel guage, there's alsways the joy of running out of petrol. At least the bike is fairly light to push. I've started restoring and protecting the bike from the weather. It was thoroughly cleaned with Hippo bike cleaner, and coated with ACF-50 anti-corrosion, which i know will stop any rust from getting worse. Now I need to fix the slipping clutch, sort the fuel once and for all, and replace a few rusted nuts and bolts. Oh, and sort the rear numberplate.

I also need to work on my classic riding attire. Boots, kevlar jeans and a black jacket all work, but a retro lid is need to stop people laughing every time I ride past! Having said that, I've never had a bike which has got so many looks, waves and smiles from other motorcyclists, including my cynical colleagues at Emap. Especially when I'm forced to wear a leather one-piece and race-rep helmet into work! If you have any experience on Benlys, words of encouragement, or think I should be commited, email daniel.thornton@emap.com, or followed the Related Topics link, right.

Before going into the details of my new-found classic biking hobby, I should probably explain that this won't be a rags-to-riches restoration with no expense spared.

In fact, it's an ongoing saga which follows my attempts to run a 26-year-old bike without bankrupting myself.

In 2004, I decided I needed a spare bike to work on and commute with. nothing else was available. A chance conversation with one of my colleagues and a swap deal unfolded, with old un-used guitar amp for both the bike, and a little cash to pay for the insurace. A quick test ride showed me that the little Honda started first kick, changed gear well enough, and seemed to fit the bill.

At which point I became the proud owner of a 1979 Honda CD185T Benly. So proud, in fact, that after sorting cheap insurance for my old tiddler through Carole Nash, that I ignored it in my garage for about eight months as I played about on brand new bikes.

When an accident in July 2005 left me without a modern bike, I finally realised it was either the Benly or rely on lifts to work. Queueing up for tax (£30 for a year), I realised the MOT had expired. And the bike now wouldn't start.

I took the bike by van to a local garage and asked them to sort the MOT. A couple of days and £110 later, and I had an MOT, a new battery and two new spark plugs. Which let me get as far as the post office for my tax before refusing to restart.

Leaving the bike for about 20 minutes seemed to cure the problem, but then it failed to start again. It made it painful to fill up with petrol, as I stood around hoping the Benly would fire into life. But after fiddling with the idle, the fuel tank and the carbourettor, it now starts first time, even though it doesn't tick over. At least the enclosed chain means a minimum of lubing and adjustment.

In addition, the MOT also picked up on the cracked rear numberplate, corroded swingarm, bent gear lever, and bent centre stand.