Honda CX500

My Maggot

The front three-quarter view of a S-registration red Honda CX500, parked in the sunshine by a Willow tree
The front end of my lovely big red Honda CX500. Purchased just for the bit above the headlamp

Those regular readers of my road tests will both by now know that I started with a small Yamaha trail bike before graduating to a rather uninspiring Honda CB200.

The choice of these bikes was helpfully determined by outside influences [Hi Dad] so my next upgrade had to be my own choice.  I decided on a Kawasaki 750cc 4-stroke bike.

However, the external influence raised its profile once more and I brought a 500cc Honda.  Something to do with him ‘only’ having a 360cc bike at the time and about to change it for a 650cc methinks.

Maybe that’s a bit unfair.  Although my shiny new second hand Honda CX500 wasn’t a Kawasaki nor 750cc it had many redeeming features.

Firstly it was as bulky as a 750cc.  This provided the stability and comfort that bigger bikes give.  Secondly, Honda’s were better built and more reliable than products from the Big Z.  And thirdly, well mainly really, it had a dashboard.  Yes, I agreed to the choice on the grounds that there were lights built in between the speedo and tachometer.  Sad really.

The other exciting addition to this on-bike dashboard was a temperature gauge because the bike had a water cooled engine and believe me in those days that was cutting edge.  Only the Suzuki GT750 ‘Kettle’ could boast this technology but that bike was styled in the dark and drank fuel like a whale filters plankton.

So I ended up with a red ‘S’ registration Maggot, for that is how I later understood that they were known.  The name wasn’t unjustified either as the bulky water encased engine resided under a substantial spreading fuel tank and enormous padded double seat.  Everything seemed styled for a much bigger bike and I suspected that Honda had plans for a 750cc version.  In fact, later incarnations took the size to 650cc and added turbos then a 750cc was made, so my suspicions were right.

The CX500 also took the mantle of tourer for those who didn’t want or couldn’t afford the magnificent 1000cc Gold Wing.  As it happened in silly laid back style it later became the Silver Wing.

My version was the bog standard CX500, a purring water cooled v-twin.  It was only a couple of years old and in fantastic condition.

It became a weekend plaything, tourer and then reliable commuter and fulfilled all roles well.  I reckon it is now still going, probably as a courier somewhere.

I first used the Maggot as a weekend plaything because I worked too close to my home to warrant using it much.  In the three mile journey I barely had time to close off the choke before arriving at my destination and actually spent more time warming the engine than riding to work.  So the Honda was used for getting to the disco at weekends [hey, it was the early eighties] and impressing the sixteen year old girls.  Nothing suspicious here, I was only a late teen myself.

The sheer bulk always made an impression and warranted due care when reversing off pavements.  Once, I went too slow and got to the point where foot doesn’t touch ground then side of bike does.

The rear three-quarter view of a S-registration red Honda CX500, showing the standard nature of the bike aside from a rear carrier and engine protection bars
The back end of my bright red Maggot, as purchased. Just look at that lush seat

I also increased my radius of exploration exponentially over the previous CB200 and the Cotswolds and Wales became my hunting ground.  Funnily enough I don’t recall ever going to the midlands or Norfolk – Can’t think why.

Inevitably I wanted to travel further and my mates and I discussed a round Britain tour using all the coastal routes.  This never came to pass but I still think it would be an adventure and will do the journey someday.

A few of us did settle on a tour into France, the evocative, exotic, topless French women of St. Tropez were the incentive so four of us planned to go.

As is usual in these cases circumstances changed and two of my friends, Jeff and John, taking advantage of their break from A-level schooling went ahead early and ended up settling on an island mid-way down the French west coast for the rest of the summer.  Spike and I had jobs, me full time and Spike as a paperboy or something, so we intended to follow on later.

The journey down through France was not as fun as it might be today.  We had never travelled abroad and the only preparations we made were painting our lights yellow and buying a map.  The map was poor and we got lost leaving Calais.

The French weather was burning hot and Spike, who had just purchased my father’s Honda CB360 yellow banana, was obsessed with his motor overheating so insisted on travelling around 40-50mph.  At these speeds the air cooling effect must have been abysmal on his engine as it was hardly effective on my CX500’s radiator.  However being the one with the temperature gauge made me the one worrying about it.  It set a poor tone for the holiday and resulted in a disagreement half-way down France.

In essence Spike wanted to join Jeff and John and start ‘pulling birds’ and I wanted to motor on down to St. Tropez where I argued the real action was.  Spike won out by refusing to leave the camp we had arrived at and my topless French women dream was destroyed.  We never even met up with the others and from what I heard later that decision could have saved Jeff and John’s friendship, but that’s another story.

The author on his red CX500 with Spike on his yellow CB360, flanked by some campsite friends
The mid-size bikes proved popular in France so Spike and I did make temporary friendships. And no, I do not know the contact details of the hunk on the right

Another memorable long journey made on the maggot was one into Wales.  I had a met a new girlfriend, Inger, who had never been on a motorbike before so we both looked forward to our trip.  She had no more idea than me that we were to undertake a 400-mile, six-hour ride and it showed how versatile the big Honda was.  In fact testament to the comfort of the seat that there was no complaint from either of us.

The amusing fact with Inger was that as she hadn’t ridden pillion before I asked that she leave the steering to me and remain upright at all times.  I meant perpendicular to the bike but she interpreted it as bolt upright.  Every time I leant into a bend she twisted her torso to remain upright.  I thought it hilarious, She was hardly big enough to destabilise the beast below so I let her carry on.  I didn’t tell her until we reached the Severn Bridge.  And for that Inger I apologise.

Mind you I cannot recall going out with her for long but that was more to do with the fact that I fell for her friend Fiona than because of my riding.

Excuse me for one moment while I recall Fiona … Thanks.

Fiona unfortunately didn’t have the inclination to get on my bike.  It wasn’t because she only had eyes for Suzuki’s or anything it was just that some people just don’t seem to get the biking thing, mainly because of the sort of event that next happened on my bike.  A car pulled out on me at a junction.

It was midday and I was taking a well earned lunch break.  Although I had crossed half of Southampton I only had a feint purpose in mind so was in no particular hurry.  The sun was out and the roads in those days still clear enough in places to enjoy a midday ride.

I was travelling towards Portswood doing no more than a few mph above the limit when I noticed a car waiting to pull out to my left.  I was on a main road so took little more care than at any of the other two-hundred or so filled junctions that I had passed that week.  The driver however didn’t want to follow the crowd, opted for not seeing me at all and pulled out across my path.  Naturally I braked.  Very hard.

The car in question was a Citroën Dyane, a sort of [hardly] upmarket 2CV.  The driver, fool enough to pull out in the path of a huge red bike, added to his stupidity by stopping once he saw me.  Little tip, why not consider keeping going next time?  If he had accelerated with all the pull his pathetic vehicle could manage I could have steered behind.  As it was he stopped slap bang in front of me across the whole road.  There were no steerable soft options and I braced myself for impact.

Now a fact known only to experienced bikers and the local Accident and Emergency departments is that many frontal motorcycle crashes result in damage to the bikers lower legs because when a bike hits a stationary object the rider slides forwards and imprints his knees into his own handlebars and stationary car.  Therefore in any bike accident, once it is inevitable, the golden rule is to get well clear of all metalwork.  In the case of T-boning a car that means heading straight on over the top.

I slowed as much as I could leaving an impressive black streak of rubber and picked my point of impact.  My heart wanted to hit the git square in his door but my head ruled that the bonnet would be a lower hurdle to cross.  The bike wedged itself behind the car’s front wheel, I raised my torso and took up flying.

I cannot recall the flight but do remember the landing.  Sliding down the road my episode with the Gilera moped came to mind but this time I reacted differently, I quickly stood up.  Unfortunately, I did this too soon and went flying once more.

It seemed my shoes were not designed for thirty mph and their destruction was testament to this.  Thankfully, other than the two vehicles and my crash helmet my shoes were the only casualty.

My helmet was a write off because they always are in these situations.  There seemed no damage to it other than a couple of round spots worn off the orange and green stripes at the forehead, but the car had a matching two-foot long parallel stripe on the bonnet.  This is proof that helmets save lives and why I didn’t need the ambulance that some witness called.

I went back to inspect the damage, such a long walk!

Despite the fact I had just invented unpowered flight I was in a better state than the driver, still sat quivering in his car.  An old man, I doubt that he drove again.  His car certainly didn’t, my CX500 was parked bolt upright three feet into it.

Annoyingly my motorcycle recovery specialist had just purchased a frame re-jigger and wanted to justify it’s purchase and bend the bike back into position.  It was just a few pounds short of write-off and I was too inexperienced to insist on it to the eager insurance company.  I didn’t even get compensation for my high speed shoes.  So, in effect the maggot wrote off a car and lived.

After the impact one of the replacement items was the forks, naturally.  Not that they needed a Citroën Dyane to make them flex, they were the weak point of the bike and were clearly not designed for the ‘two-ton’ weight.  Occasionally I would lean over the handlebars and look down the shaft of the forks whilst braking just to watch them bend back toward the radiator.

Other than that I couldn’t fault the Honda.  It chugged along effortlessly at any speed I chose to travel at and for any number of miles.  Reliability was excellent and fuel consumption acceptable for the size.  It was big and red and comfortable.  The v-twin throb was unusual, the modern era of popular twins hadn’t yet started and when I fitted an aftermarket stainless steel exhaust it sounded good.

It worked in rain and shine then more rain, mile after mile with little attention other than basic servicing and the shaft drive kept the back end from looking like a freshly hit oilfield.

All this reliability came in handy because for the final few months it became the archetypal commuter as it took me into the New Forest day after day in pursuit of my new girlfriend, Karen.

The author and his girlfriend Karen astride the Honda CX500
Things were getting dirtier as attention moved from wheels to girls. Meaning, of course, I didn’t give it such a thorough cleaning quite so often. The bike, I mean. The bike!

Those late night return trips along an empty motorway allowed me to test its standing start quarter mile abilities.  Can you imaging finding any time of day or night you could stop in the centre lane of a major motorway nowadays?  Mind you today’s 500cc bikes, although water-cooled, would now pull wheelies under such conditions. The CX kept its front wheel firmly rooted to the ground.

It was eventually sold when I realised the Fionas started outnumbering the Ingers so I had to get a car.  I did a poor deal that involved swapping it for a Hillman Avenger that eventually got swapped for a bicycle that got nicked.  It was a sad end to a good bike.

But the key question is would I have it back?  With that repaired frame?  No way.  Other than for sentimental reasons.  Parked up in a garage.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Apr 2018 but first published in the website in Jul 2005
The first two images are of the author’s Honda CX200 as originally purchased in late 1980.  The engine protection bars and rear rack were non-standard fitments by the original owner [image first added in Version 3 of the website]
The third image shows the author sat astride his bike, along with Spike [wearing leathers] and his Honda CB360.  The girl next to the author is a german friend met at the campsite.  The other two guys were also at the site but the author didn’t seem quite so keen on these two for some reason.  The image was taken around Summer 1981
The fourth image, dated around late 1981 shows the author sat astride the bike with the new non-standard stainless steel exhaust.  The other non-standard feature is the author’s girlfriend of the time.  The image was taken outside her, decidely non-standard, family home
The final two images and all captions were added on 2 Apr 2018

Honda CB200

Not a dream machine.

A standard S registration red Honda CB200
My brand new, second-hand, nearly stock red Honda CB200

With age comes experience.

The trouble was that when I purchased my second motorcycle I had neither.

I had just turned eighteen and had already cut my teeth on motorbikes (along with other parts of my body as well) and was ready to move on.

The Yamaha trail bike I was selling just couldn’t handle the way my biking days were developing and I needed a new steed.

More of my friends had graduated from their mopeds and I didn’t want to be left behind with all the high-powered horses that were amassing around me.

I say, high powered, all were under 250cc as this was the usual starting point for teenagers in those days.  Something to do with the fact that 251cc was deemed too powerful by men in grey suits for new riders.

Plus the Yamaha trail bike just wasn’t designed for two and my loins were calling out for company.

The author sat on his Honda CB200 which is loaded with huge bags and two spare helmets
My loins were calling out for company.  However, taking two spare helmets but having no spare seating is the definition of optimism

I set about searching for my next bike and considered all the two-fifty options available.

It was 1979 and Honda had just launched the SuperDream in 250 and 400cc flavours.  The SuperDream, or CB250N if you prefer, was a fantastically new variant on the old and bulbous Dream 250.  The trouble was it was brand new and very expensive for a new kid on the block.

Yamaha had the RD250 but Yams were always too race orientated.

Suzuki tried the same game with their GT250 but didn’t even have Kenny Roberts on their side.

But the most desirable to me was the Kawasaki KH250 triple.  It oozed sex appeal with its multi-exhaust layout, screaming two-stroke noise and links to the fantastic K900.  The twenty miles to the gallon was pitiful and the reliability suspect but the triple hit all the right notes.

I wanted to go with my instinct.

The problem with instinct is that old chestnut – practicality.

I wasn’t affluent enough to make passionate decisions and had to rely on my family to help finance the deal.  This help came with the inevitable ‘advice’ and that came in the form of ‘strong suggestions’ that I ought to buy a Honda and it shouldn’t be as powerful as 250cc.

I didn’t want a smaller engine than my 175cc Yamaha so there was only one choice.

Honda’s Dream machines had a sibling, the CB200.

It was an ugly mutt of a bike designed primarily for commuting and generally unloved, even by its owners.

It had good reliability from its basic, tried and tested, twin 200cc power plant but that’s like saying Nora Batty is good at washing up.  So what?

And its power was poor.

The only plus sides were it had a four-stroke engine and was red.  Despite my earlier love of the Kawasaki triple I have to admit that four-stroke power is much better unless your only desire is top speed or acceleration.  And Kwacker green is putrid.

The Cee-Bee’s most admirable quality was its comfort, particularly in comparison with the unforgiving seat of my previous trail bike.

In fact, I now wonder whether the ease of riding distances coupled to the (let’s be generous) gentle power helped form my love of touring mindlessly around.

Mind you at 18 to 19 a man has to look cool and the nondescript Honda did nothing for that.

It needed improvement and I started exploring the black art of customisation.

Not in the sense of chromed engine bolts, lowered track or power enhancements. Just a replacement exhaust and new headlamp.

A red Honda CB200 with Cibie Hedlamp and replacement exhaust
A Cibie headlamp, an upswept exhaust, no crash bars.  Much cooler.  Still not cool

The original exhausts were low uninspiring pipes running at low level parallel to the ground with unsightly oversize mufflers.  My replacement exhaust was a potent two-into-one upswept stainless steel pipe terminating in a stubby megaphone – loud and stylish.  Not many CB200s had them so it made it distinctly different.

The headlamp conversion was a Cibie unit, from the famous French manufacturer who were making a name for themselves producing large concave, efficient, bright headlamps.  Again this added to the style.  And let me see in the dark.

But despite these lavish and expensive enhancements the Honda was still as ugly as a Yak.  Only the Yak now had bigger horns.

The bike did fulfill some requirements though.

It’s rear seat was shared a few times and I put a few miles on the clock but I struggle to recall those miles with any detail.

I cannot even recall crashing the thing.  The only ‘off’ that I remembered is when I tried to charge down one of my ‘friends’ who had been terrorising my sister’s boyfriend’s party.

My colleague Chris had been idly throwing a knife into the kitchen wall due to a lack of ability to entertain himself properly at a party and I chivalrously intervened.

The result was that after a few more beers and being ejected Chris turned his attention to me.

I suppose trying to run down a threatening, drunken yob stood just outside the gateway, with a Bowie Knife recently in his possession, is a silly move but, despite warnings, he refused to move out of the way.

I gave it full throttle and dumped the clutch at which point he twisted deftly to one side and kicked out at the Honda.

His foot caught the rear of the front wheel and sent me and bike in different directions.  He then proceeded to kick a man when he was down – How cheap.

I would love to tell you that I leapt to my feet and battered the drunkard black and blue but anyone who knows me would write in and get this website closed down due to fraud.

Instead I writhed around wondering why it didn’t hurt.

Now, I know it was down to his soft trainers reigning hail on my thick jacket and helmet.

If I had kicked back he would have suffered worse – I had steel toecap motocross boots.

However, frustration took its course and Chris changed tack and decided to lay into the Honda instead.  It suffered worse.

Two weeks later, and after the intervention of parents, Chris had been forced to pay for the damage repairs and we were all mates again.  Kids eh?

So a few months later the Honda was sold to a new keen owner, ‘provided I removed that awful loud exhaust and huge headlamp’.

Thankfully this pre-dated eBay by several years so I still had the original parts.

It seemed the buyer wanted an original Yak.

So, as a conclusion – I should have brought the Kwacker.

I wouldn’t have needed to change a thing and would now probably be telling you a story about how I was innocently playing with my own knife when some do-gooder squealed to the host and got me kicked out of a party.  Then tried to run me down.

So in retribution I bravely kicked the living daylights out of him.

And then did the same to his naff Honda.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 28 Feb 2018 but first published in the website in Mar 2005.  All photos added in 2018
The first image is the author’s stock Honda CB200 as originally purchased at the end of 1979.  The crash bars and rear rack were non-standard fitments by the original owner
The second image shows the author sat astride his fully loaded Honda CB200 and was taken around Summer 1980
The third image, dated around late 1980 shows the author’s modified Honda CB200, showcasing the Cibie headlight unit and featuring the two-into-one upswept exhaust

My 2005 Top Ten Vehicles

21st Century Travelling

Maybe you were transported here by a strange new time machine, or even from another computer.  Any how you came you are welcome to read why I have chosen the next ten vehicles as my favourite of all time.

It is an eclectic mix of transport that I have either used or lusted after with envy.

Cyclists will note that I have not included a bicycle in the list.  After all cycle technology is now futuristic and sexy so I could forgive a lack of motorised power.  However I refuse to forgive saddle technology until I can actually ride a bicycle further than ten metres.

Of course, when compiling a list like this the rejected ones are nearly as interesting.

For instance you may wonder how I could have a list like this and not include a Ferrari.  Easy really, there’s none there.  A few may qualify on the grounds of looking fantastic but underneath is just a lightweight Fiat.  I’m not fooled, nor are many of the owners.  Check out the Owner’s Documents on any used Ferrari and you will be surprised to see so many names.  The hype doesn’t live up to the reality.  Great red though but this isn’t a favourite list of colours.

Keeping on the subject of cars, in the past I’ve swooned over the fantastically brutish Aston Martin Vantage and may still get one yet but how could I include a car that if a generous benefactor offered me a swap for any Aston from any time I’d really have no second thoughts about choosing the brand new, phenomally quick and beautiful DB9.

Some of the DB9’s details are cheaper than a crate of canaries although I’ve never been one to turn down a beauty because of a few small imperfections.  Mole on Demi Moore?  So what.

Another plus would be: “Blonde, James Blonde”. What a great introduction.

As you will be able to tell generally I’m not into classic vehicles.  I’d rather own a modern Bentley Arnarge than a 4½ litre supercharged model from the 1920s.  Unless I can sell it of course.  Plus, impressive that the 4½ litre Bentley behemoth is the most attractive classic car has to be the Jaguar SS100.  But still not as good as a couple of dozen modern vehicles.

I love bikes, it’s in my genes, whether I currently have a bike or not.  It’s all to do with the lack of a cycle when I was young and the freedom that my first moped rides brought me.  So I need to include bikes in this ultimate vehicles list and the Ducati 900 Monster was one of the first that I thought of. The reason why this strange naked retro was considered is that it re-vitalised my interest in bikes in the nineteen nineties.

I hadn’t had a bike for a while and the squared-off eighties styling never persuaded me to renew my interest.  The Monster 900 was a breath of fresh air.  It seemed so stylish and raw with an exposed engine and trellis frame it made me want two wheels again.  Thinking back, I can’t think why I brought a Yamaha Diversion 900 instead.

Oh yes. Italian electrics, Ducati clutches and a saving of about two grand.  And when you are able to make a choice based on such trivial reasons the original option doesn’t really deserve to be in a top ten.

And second best is why I cannot include a First Class dining experience aboard a ferry.  As you can tell from other entries I do like being spoilt.  So many cannot handle an obsequious waiter or fawning Maitre-d but I’m willing to be waited on hand and foot.  It’s not a case of being better than those who serve but the fact that it makes a pleasant change.  I’ll happily have a beer with the waiter afterwards.

A First Class dining experience on board a ferry, such as the cross channel version is a thoroughly pleasant way of passing the time.  But two reasons keep it off the top ten.  Firstly, the QE2 is infinitely better and secondly the QE2 doesn’t end up in France!

My final rejection is an oxymoron.  No, not the Ford 2-litre Oxymoron, but a genuine oxymoron from an age where such a beast could exist.  A cute war-plane.

Nowadays war planes are stunning, agile weapons of mass destruction but back in the 1920s at the dawn of flight the planes were not overly effective.  However, one stands out above the others, including the Red Baron’s exciting Fokker Tri-plane.

The Sopwith Camel first came into my life as a child.  If you were born a male in the late fifties or early sixties you would be familiar with Airfix kits.  Plastic self-build models that filled many a wet weekday after school.  They are still available but this tactile hobby, along with most other hands-on experiences, have become side-lined by the ubiquitous electronic games.  This is a shame as building a model is a very satisfying skill and I still fondly remember the first one I built – a Sopwith Camel.

This little bi-plane had all the ingredients of a favoured vehicle.  The styling was right with the curved leading edge to the wings, dual forward gun synchronised with the propeller and rounded tail plane.  A cute war plane, such an oxymoron.

So, onto the actual vehicles making my top-ten.


1969 Cooper F1 car

Photograpgh of a slightly tatty yellow and white Cooper racing car with steering operated from a leaning driver and a high rear wing
My toy racing car.  The wing on this model was set too high in this version, based on a late season entry.  So it now looks rubbish

Formula 1 racing has always held a certain appeal.  The fast cars, obscene money and glamorous locations keep the sport in my mind even if the last few years Schmedious results have kept it off my TV.  So it is natural that I should include a car from this pinnacle of motor sports.

I suppose it is a symptom of age that despite the obvious appeal of modern cars there is an era of racing that seems more glorious and it dates around the time I first got an interest in the sport.  I have chosen the Cooper F1 from the 1969 season as it was this car that, to me, epitomises open wheel racing.

The rear tyres look properly wide, the engine is exposed and the newly added wings were just right.  I like the front spoiler jutting from the actual nose and the rear spoiler was better looking mounted low on the engine.

I’ve never driven one, nor am I likely to as the price of classic F1 racers nearly match their modern counterparts but I can dream.


Aerial Atom

A black Ariel Atom stood in front of a red Jaguar XJ8
An Ariel Atom with my Jaguar XJ8 in the background.  I might need to take a moment

My next choice is not so far away from the car above and is probably chosen because of the similarities.  But instead of a having to be Ray Parlour’s wife to afford a classic F1 motor this blatant facsimile costs a more reasonable £30-40k.  Still a lot of money for a weekend car with no panels but well comparable with its natural opposition.

I love the Atom’s Meccano build and raw energy and can personally testify to its ability to deliver the goods that the look promises.  Short on comfort but very long on desire, the Atom deserves its place in this illustrious crowd.


Bentley Arnarge

Nearly as quick as the Aston but with seats like a Business Class jet and the torque to match.  I have never experienced power like the Bentley Arnarge delivers and in back to back tests with its bigger brother the Continental it wins on every count, including saving £100k.  The Continental may have the classic looks but I’m sure I can find an Arnarge to beat it.

The best car in the world.  Full stop.

Note that a full appraisal of my time with a Bentley Arnage will eventually be posted on this website


Concorde

My first aeronautical choice is probably in the list of everyone who has ever seen the Concorde.  Breathtakingly beautiful, stunningly quick and well out of the reach of the hoi-poli.  Marvellous.

The only problems are it’s cramped interior and that it has disappeared from our skies.

Worth every bit of pollution.

In the top ten? No doubt at all.


Dakota

A Far Eastern Airlines branded metal polished Douglas DC-3 hanging in the Smithsonian Museum
A Douglas DC-3 hanging in the Smithsonian Museum

The second most beautiful plane in the world [see above] hails from the time just before the second world war but its lines are just so perfect.  I love the fat fuselage, strong wing arrangements, classic twin prop design and sturdy tail.

Still operating in many places around the world today the McDonnell Douglas DC-3, known as a Dakota in the UK, is living proof that if it looks right then it probably is right.

I’ve yet to catch a flight in one of these beauties but guess that the reality doesn’t quite live up to the glamour.  Particularly as I’ll probably be in South America when I get a go in one.


Eurostar Best Class

I’m not much of a train buff.  For many years I rarely travelled on one thinking they were too expensive and inconvenient.  Also, with 8 miles between my home and the nearest station, thanks to Beecham’s cuts in the 60s, I never had cause to use them.

Not that I had no contact, my wife spent most of her career with a railway company and we took advantage of the odd subsidised trip.

Things have changed recently though as I now work mainly in London and the train is the only viable option.  I estimate that I have travelled over one hundred and fifty thousand miles sat on a train.  This experience, in all its sordid glory is why a trip on the Eurostar in the best carriages is such a delight.

I have travelled three times in First Class and on every occasion I have thought it most pleasant.  The large seats, at seat service and quiet comfort is reminiscent of travel tales of old.

Just don’t think that the modern version of First Class is the same.  For some peculiar reason, probably to do with the French translation, Business Class is the new premier travelling style and ‘mere’ First Class is a poor relation.

Now, how do I say ‘contravenes the Trade’s Description Act’ in French?


Honda CBX Moto Martin

A brown Moto Martin CBX motorbike
A Moto Martin CBX.  In brown.  Brilliant

The first bike in my top ten list is a hybrid vehicle and I’m not talking dual fuel.

In the late seventies Honda produced the stunning CBX with its fantastic transverse six cylinder engine.  Wider than a Cockney car salesman with a penchant for iced buns this behemoth was a dream machine.

Except two problems.  One, was the name.  Now Honda is a make to be respected for its engineering excellence and reliability but much like my Miele washing machine I don’t exactly look at the product with love.  The other problem with the CBX was the handling – the stock Japanese flexi-frames could never harness the engine outputs at the time.

Moto Martin, a small French custom builder came to the rescue by taking the engine and putting it in a stylish trick frame mounted with swoopy body parts with twin-headlamps.  All par for the course today but 30 years ago this was enough to make me tear out the advert and hang it on my wall.  Praise indeed.


Jaguar XJ

I own one.

Need I say more?

Note that a full appraisal of my Jaguar XJ8 4.0 will eventually be posted on this website


QE2

Who wouldn’t be impressed with one of the traditional Queens of the sea?

I have travelled the Atlantic on the QE2 and can confirm it is all that you would expect, then more.  One trip and I’m a confirmed cruise fan.  A tall order for the QM2 replacement to beat.

For more details about my experience on this most magnificent of vehicles see my separate story.  And be prepared to be jealous.

Note that a full appraisal of my time onboard the QE2 has already been posted on this website [8 Dec 2017]


Vincent Black Shadow

The author squatting down next to an immaculate Vincent Black Shadow motorbike
The two Vincents.  Vince and a Vincent Rapide.  The rarer Black Shadow was similar but faster with a black enamelled engine casing

Last, but not least, this list would be incomplete without the vehicle I was actually named after.  My father told me this, whilst saying I should have been grateful that he didn’t like Francis Barnetts.

Although this bike now looks a little quirky I am actually quite proud to be named after such a phenomenal bike from the nineteen fiftes, with a great reputation amongst those that know such things.

If only I could afford one now.  Think multiple grands.  And then some.

Fantastic name though.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the petrolhead section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 23 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The images all taken by the author, except the one he is in.  Obvs