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Hair Today - Gone Tomorrow

Chip-free John Hays sets off from the Hollybush. But will he ever get there?

In the beginning it was all very simple. God made British Bikes and I had a Triumph Tiger Cub.

My budget was 50 and the bike cost me 45. The remaining fiver went on third party insurance, which left me with no money for crash helmet. In those days they weren't compulsory and  anyway I had a fine head of thick, curly hair. These days helmets have to be worn but the hair has gone. A coincidence or a cunning government plot to make all bikers baldies?

But back to the beginning. To keep the bike on the road I had a set of rusty feeler gauges and a plug spanner. To keep warm I relied on a battered leather jacket. As a back up I put on a pair of women's tights under my jeans and shoved copies of the Daily Mirror down the front. Finally, to find my way I had a battered map of Wales and a tourist information leaflet from the Isle of Man.

This was British biking at its best. I was often cold and wet, frequently broken down far from home and usually lost. But it was fun and, although I didn't know it at the time, I was learning my basic trade as a biker.

Chips with Everything

Terry 'No Chips'. Last of the rebel riders?

Today technology has totally taken over. Bikes and bikers both have chips with everything.

When I take my T-Sport in for a service they plug it into a computer. Chips control the fuel flow, take over the timing and tell the 'mechanic' what bits to bin, when and why. My rusty feeler gauges are forgotten and breakdown assistance is just a mobile phone call away.

When the weather looks wet and windy I wrap up in my aluminium-lined windproof, waterproofs wearing just a T-Shirt underneath. The ladies tights are no longer strictly necessary - but then some habits are harder to break. Even the worry about getting lost has gone lost thanks to global positioning technology.

This is comfort biking at its best. You are rarely cold and wet, need never worry about breaking down and can always be sure of knowing not only where you are but where you want to go and the best way to get there.

When the Chips are Down

No Lid, No Chips & No Worries for Joe on his Indian

But are all these silicone chips just comfort food for the modern motor cyclist?

Maybe the men in suits set out to tame us with all this technology. If you take the risk out of riding do you also take the rebel out of the rider?

It could all be part of the same plot that began when crash helmets came in and my hair started to come out...


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