After sixty years son fulfils dream of riding his father’s restored 1926 HRD

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An 82-year-old biker has fulfilled a long-held dream of riding his father’s 350cc 1926 HRD motorcycle, having stored the bike in boxes of bits for 40 years, before undertaking a 15-year restoration just to get it running.

Bill Morris is no ordinary rider, passing his test at the age of 69, when he says he was “a youngster” with the sole desire to ride his dad’s beloved original HRD TT replica, which was purchased to ride 15 miles to and from his job in Newport, over 90 years ago.

“He had an excuse to buy a motorcycle and bought this HRD,” Bill said: “He rode it throughout the 30s, but wore it out as he had no facilities for maintaining it. In fact, I don’t know how he rode it because there were so many things wrong with it. No clutch, no brakes, nothing, but he loved the bike.” 

1926 HRD TT Replica before the restoration

Bill’s dad kept hold of the HRD until finally relinquishing ownership to his son in 1960, when he had a home of his own in which to store it, and thus began the second chapter of the bike’s life.

“For the next 40 years, I found a dry place for it in every house I moved to. The engine was stored in a box in the airing cupboard and the frame had to take its chances out in the coal shed and things like that. 

“I knew it was a retirement project. My older brother and I restored it. We started about 20 years ago and it took us about 15 years to get it going.”

1926 HRD TT Replica at the Banbury Run

Bill was aided in the mammoth restoration by friend Phil Wilson who explains the technical details: “This is the works replica of the 1925 TT bike, so this is really, really special. 

“It’s a 350cc overhead valve, Dog ear JAP as they call it, that comes from the shape of the the rockers. It’s total loss oiling on it, so doesn’t recirculate the oil, but it does have a pump.

“The thing is the provenance because it’s been in the family for so long. We think there’s two, maybe three but this is the real thing, the others have probably gained and lost a few bits along the way. This was put in boxes, so there’s no aftermarket parts there, if there was such a thing, it’s fantastic.”

1926 HRD TT Replica engine

Learning to ride at 69 years of age is one thing but learning to ride a bike with more levers and settings than a modern-day machine is another, but Bill succeeded in the challenge and rode at this year’s Banbury Run in mid-June, following Phil on a Sunbeam.

Phil said: “Somewhere around the summit of Sunrising Hill he decided to follow the wrong Sunbeam. So we finished individually but it was a great confidence booster for him, flying solo! Entering the Banbury Run was the culmination of a dream that started 21 years ago.”