“That’s cheating,” grins the lad next to me on the 60s-racer style Honda special to my left as I thumb the starter on the Scrambler. “I know,” I shout back over the fumy rumble. “But there’s nothing to kick.”
Meanwhile he’s reaching down in neatly ironed shirtsleeves and waistcoat to flip out the pedal for another prod as the little single refuses to idle. It’s a bizarre but joyous scene as we prepare to set out across central London in the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride which raises millions worldwide for prostate cancer.
Startlingly, there must be nigh-on 1000 bikes here. Everything from Nortons and Vincents to Chinese Sinnis-based specials and a smattering of Scramblers.
The signal is given, and it’s time to roll. People know the way, kinda, but it’s a case of getting out there and keeping your wits about you. This is the first time in years I’ve ridden in London and I’m impressed with the Scrambler. First and second are super-tractable (on the FT especially, which seems to have a sweeter response than an Icon I rode earlier this year). Easy controls allow me to switch attention between enjoying the spectacle and focusing on the gridlock as we weave across Tower Bridge. Tourists ogle and take pictures, a couple hop onto the back of the Norton in front. It’s a hoot.
Ninety minutes later we’re back in Southwalk and the Scrambler’s drawing attention. An old boy points his stick at the tank badge, I’m in for a ribbing. “Not going to do much scrambling on that are you son? And why’s the mudguard so short? If you took a bird out, she’d be soaked.” Well, he’s got a point. But do I care?