My Life in Bikes Ross Noble
Comedy genius, observer of the insanity of humans, seriously dedicated bike nut, and doer of charitable goodness.
Occupation Comedian, actor, author, Riders for Health ambassador
When did you start riding?
I didn’t start until I was 17 or 18. My mum is the most risk-averse person in the world, so I never rode when I was a kid. But I absolutely loved Kick Start, and I was really into Street Hawk. I used to ride around my back garden on a Raleigh Grifter, the heaviest bicycle known to man, trying to do trials stuff. It didn’t go well.
Freedom at last
When I was 17 I left home and moved to London to be a stand-up, and could get a bike at last. I thought I’d just get a nice little 250, but checked out the insurance and it was like £5000. But I wasn’t going to give up. I was so desperate that I bought a Honda City Express – 49cc of twist-and-go madness. It had a top-box, and one of those clip-boards on the front, because the bloke who owned it before me had used it to do ‘The Knowledge’. So I left it on, and people would nod to it and say ‘doing The Knowledge mate’, and I’d be like ‘er, no’. I used to have an A-to-Z on there and everything, so I didn’t get lost riding between gigs. My crowning glory was riding to a gig in Southend, with my mate as pillion. We set off in the morning, and didn’t get there until 9pm. Then we rode home again. We kept getting stopped by the police, who thought we’d nicked it. Every time I checked over my shoulder for traffic, my mate thought I was checking on him, so he’d make eye contact and give me the thumbs up.
My first proper bike
I bought a Kawasaki KMX125 – it was even on knobblies, ideal for riding around London. Then a Bandit 600, followed by an ex-Police Pan European, which still had all the lights and stuff on it. The logbook only had my name and the chief constable of Strathclyde police on it. I never got nicked on it. Strange that. I even bought a white helmet and a fluoro jacket and, I know its frowned upon, but I used to have so much fun. I could get anywhere in no time. Then I had a GSX750F Teapot, which was bloody awful, followed by a Hayabusa, which was too much. I went to buy a sensible Monster, but the dealer said the waiting list was enormous, so I bought a Hypermotard SP instead.
Blunder down under
I was spending a lot of time in Australia, and bought the un-coolest bike I’ve ever owned, a Yamaha XV1600. I was doing big miles, and thought it’d be great. It was a huge mistake. A lot of people wouldn’t have told you about that. I replaced it with a BMW R1150GS, then the 1200., and my first trials bike, a Honda TLM250. I always get talked into buying bikes that are too much though. I bought a CRF450X to do my first enduro, which was a 24-hour race. It was pure insanity.
Then they all melted
Then it all went a bit silly. I got a Ducati Streetfighter, then a GSX-R750 and a Daytona 675R – which I’ve still got. Then my house burned down, and I lost about ten bikes, they all just melted. Next was a Husky 510SMR, Tiger 800XC, Bonneville Scrambler, then my wife bought me a 1976 Norton Commando. I was really getting into off road, and had a load of KTMs, too.
What’s in the garage now?
I’ve got the ’76 Norton, a Multistrada, the Daytona track bike, and a 1290 Super Duke R on loan from KTM. Then I’ve got my GasGas Raga rep trials bike, a regular 250, a Husaberg 300 2-stroke, a KTM 350 4-stroke, and another 250. I think that’s it. I think. Oh, and a big f**king security system. I’ve got CCTV trained on the garage at all times, and I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on it, they’re all locked up, so get that you f**kers.
Would you buy anything back?
I’d love my BMW R1150GS back. I rode around Australia on that bike, and did 26,000km in one big trip on it, but I can’t have it back, it melted in the fire. I miss the Hypermotard, too. I wouldn’t have that XV back though.
Lust or reality?
I quite like that Desmosedici, and I really like the look of that Superleggera. But I’m not into all the shiny stuff, my favourite current bike is actually my GasGas trials bike.