Monitoring down a XS650, 35 years after we gave it away!


It’s a wierd, and really vaguely miserable, factor that just about all of the bikes constructed for BSH competitions appear to simply vanish into skinny air the second they’re handed over to the fortunate winners of mentioned competitions. Most, however not all…

By Nik

This XS650 might look acquainted to long-term readers of the journal as a result of it was given away in points 31 and 32, again in 1988. It could even be acquainted to those that watch Henry Cole’s ‘Shed & Buried’ tv collection on Quest because it appeared in an episode of the collection earlier this yr when it was discovered within the care of a gentleman by the identify of Taff, purchased by Henry, received going once more by the well-known Allen Millyard, after which, apparently, offered to the man who’d gained it initially all these years in the past again in 1988.

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The programme was aired again in June, and a few months later we had been approached by the present proprietor, Roy, who wished to know if we wished to, or knew anybody who would possibly need to, purchase it. The mixed BSH coffers, sadly, contained about 13.5p and, anyway, I’ve two BSH bikes already, the Future Bike and the 45, and don’t have storage area for a 3rd. Roy’d determined to promote it ’cos it’s kick-only and, like numerous us today, he’s not pretty much as good with kick-starts as he was once (it’s our age, y’know – kick-starting bikes when you’re the far facet of fifty isn’t as straightforward because it was once). I instantly requested if I might {photograph} it for our fortieth yr difficulty and, not too lengthy after, on a blissfully sunny day, made my means over to Oxfordshire to see a motorbike I’d solely ever seen earlier than in footage.

Contemplating 35 years’ve handed, the XS is in fairly rattling good situation – the chrome’s nonetheless good, and whereas there are some marks within the very sparkly purple paint they’re not instantly apparent and so don’t detract from its appears and, in reality, add to its patina. The unbelievable Don Blockside engraving on the engine and forks remains to be as completely executed because it was all these years in the past (though one cam cap’s clearly gone walkies over time, and been changed with a plain one) and, general, the entire air of the bike’s one which anybody’d proud to personal – it actually does, because the outdated saying goes, look pretty much as good now because it did then.

The place it’s been for the previous 30-plus years remains to be a little bit of a thriller (if solely bikes might speak, eh?), and upon wanting again to difficulty 31 the main points of the bike as reported then are greater than a bit of bit sketchy – it was constructed for BSH by the fellows at Customized Fasteners after they had been nonetheless in Redditch, earlier than they moved to Wales, and engraved by the legend who was, earlier than his passing, Don Blocksidge, so I received in contact with Steven Myatt, who commissioned the construct all these years in the past, and requested him about it.       

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“Hello Nik. Sure, I bear in mind it properly. Customized Fasteners had been nice supporters of BSH, they usually did all of the work. They had been primarily based in an industrial property in Redditch then (they moved to mid-Wales), and ran a really spectacular operation. Don (Blocksidge) lived not too far-off additional up the M5 (in Wychbold, I feel, close to Bromsgrove). He was a beautiful man, and so gifted. He did all his work freehand, within the shed in his backyard – he engraved numerous shotguns and navy stuff for officers’ uniforms (he made the massive badges for the members of the Order of the Garter), and from 1946 he was an apprentice with gunsmiths Webley & Scott, and that’s the place he discovered his craft. John Reed launched him to me in about ’81, and he did numerous work on the Kawa I in-built ’82, and we confirmed his work in Scootering in 1985, and he received numerous enterprise from that. Watching him work was great.

“We picked the winner of the competitors one morning simply earlier than Christmas. We had been shutting up for the festivities that lunchtime so everybody went to the pub however, after a pint or two, Alastair and I made a decision to play Santa and take it to the brand new proprietor. We phoned him, however he advised us later that he thought it was a mate pulling his leg. We had a type of Ford Sierra P100 pickups (scarily skittish backend) so we put it on the again of that and set off. He was engaged on the constructing of the tunnel underneath the estuary at Conwy, and dwelling in a tiny stone cottage constructed into the Norman city partitions. He couldn’t imagine it once we turned up. Actually, he was weeping with delight. He rounded up some mates, and some bottles of whisky, and Al and I had far an excessive amount of to drink earlier than heading again to Manchester.”


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