Wheel alignment

Friday 12 November 2010

Embarassing motorcycle photos!

Like most people, we've got boxes and boxes of photos from pre-digital camera days.  Some are so awful, not even our kids will get to see them until we've croaked it.  Some of them make me wince but I'm prepared to make an ass of myself in the (faint) hope that other bloggers will be stupid enough to follow suit.

Me, in Dad's helmet and goggles, aged 5

I started motorcycling at 16 when my grandparents bought me a Suzuki 50.  I don't have any photos from that period (thank God), neither the 350cc Triumph which followed shortly afterwards.  However, I do have one with my 1955 Tiger 100, taken in 1966/7 at 19/20 years of age. 

Slim and plenty of hair - 1966/7 

Looking back, it's amazing how often I changed hairstyles and clothes - probably no different from most young people then and now .  Hard not to blush looking at some of them.  I think the following photo was taken in 1968.  Rushed home directly from work without changing for a photo and article in the local newspaper about my Mk 1 drag bike.

Failed attempt at respectability

At the dawn of the 1970's, clean-cut was out and hairy was back in.  The photo below was taken in 1970 at Santa Pod Drag Strip, UK.  The item I'm holding is a bent pushrod from the Mk 2 short-stroke drag bike.  The alloy pushrods didn't take kindly to violent cams and heavy valve springs but titanium replacements did the trick!  In the way that only true friends can have a sly dig at a mate, one of them reckoned that I looked like an extra from the original TV series, the "Avengers".  It's ok to snigger, honestly!

Ohh... the shame - 1970

The next photo is a non-motorcycling one taken in 1975 within a few weeks of emigrating to NZ.  Only noteworthy for the mid-70's male fashion sense (or more accurately, a complete lack of it).  Dear God, what was I thinking of???  The photo was taken at a geothermal area in NZ - I should have jumped in.  Anyone remember the Weston Master camera exposure meter hanging on my front?

The shame continues

The following photo was taken in 1987 after a decade and a bit without a bike whilst building a career and raising a family.  The Honda GB400 TT was an impulse purchase and Jennie was less than amused (an understatement).  At least it scratched the motorcycling itch!

Less hair and filling out a bit - 1987

This photo was taken in the mid-90's when I owned a BMW K100RS.  Our eldest son was very keen to own a bike and after a period riding a small trail bike on forest fire breaks to build his skills, his mother grudgingly gave permission for him to get a road bike.  Mercifully, she remained ignorant of just how quick those Suzuki X7's were!

Lyndon and me - mid 90's

The next photo was taken in 2005 on the edge of winter whilst waiting for the ferry to take us to the north island.  I was taking part in the Southern Cross round NZ in 5 days endurance ride.  Approximately 4000km of low-flying! Quite an experience, contributing to hair loss I'm sure.

My beloved Blackbird - 2005.  Now wearing spectacles to see where I'm going!

The final bike shot was taken last month whilst setting off for the 1000 miles in 24 hours Grand Challenge.  Only noteworthy because of a "full circle" return to the Triumph brand just over 40 years after my first one.  Oh, and one other thing..... considerably less hair than the early photos.

Over 40 years riding and still in one piece (more or less)

There's one non-motorcycling photo I wanted to include which was taken in 1972.  It would be hard to disagree that in most of the photos, especially the early ones, I look like a complete ummm... dork.  The subject of this photo most certainly doesn't. It's a genuine mystery with respect to what Jennie saw in me 38 years ago.  She's had a lot to put up with in that time, with me being an anal engineer AND a complete bike nut.  Can't believe my good fortune and I'm still unashamedly crazy about her.

 Venice on our honeymoon - 1972

Jennie - current date

Ok, so who is prepared to stick some photos of their early motorcycling days on their blog???


  1. Yer a brave man Geoff! (And a lucky one judging from the last picture.)
    Although I've been riding since 1970 (earlier as a passenger whenever I could get the opportunity) I think I probably only have 2 or 3 photos of me on (or beside) a motorcycle. And certainly none where I am as sartorially challeneged as you in Rotorua (I assume).
    Perhaps I'll haul out the boxes and go looking....

  2. Geoff: I am fixated on your last photo, you are indeed lucky. I remember "The Avengers", never knew what that show as all about, I only tuned in to stare at Diana Riggs. I have few photos from the early days but I need scanner help. I purchased a new scanner a couple of years ago but gave up. I need someone like you to come on over and show me how to work it. I may have to resort to just taking photos of them, but I have thousands of negatives, mostly self developed B&W.

    Wet Coast Scootin

    PS: you were sort of handsome, sort of . . .

  3. I love the 60's look (the hair AND the bike), and we all had to make it through the fugly 70's (not that I had much of a choice, I was a lil' kid back then).

    Your Honda GB400 almost looks like my XBR500. Nice! There are not many pics that I can contribute to the hall of shame though, I was always a bit camera shy, and didn't think about taking pictures of my means of transportation. But I will see if I can dig up something for you, and if I can get the scanner working. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  4. How fun seeing the old photos! I love the one with the suit - classy! You need to frame some of these and get them on the wall. Although I have to agree with you on the mid-70's fashion sense. :) A very lovely photo of Jennie. Timeless classic.

    What a wonderful riding tradition carried on from father to son, each generation. My family didn't like motorcycles. There were none in the family, and (one good thing) no old photos of myself to post. Well, I might have one from the early 80's.

  5. Geoff those photos are classic, you scored yourself one hot chicky babe there! THe picture of you and your son should be treasured all time. I would like to post some but my motorcycling days have not been long enough. I actually think the photo you labelled my shame 1970, is an excellent photo.

  6. Thanks everyone (I think). There are plenty of people to laugh at me, especially my mates; so I may as well get in first!

    Yep, at Waimangu, about 20km south of Rotorua. Hadn't adopted the Kiwi standard dress of T shirts, shorts and jandals (flip flops) at that stage!

    All the Avengers women were gorgeous. Joanna Lumley was my personal favourite :-). Our Agfa scanner is close to 10 years old but it's been great.

    Fugly is the perfect word for the 70's! The XBR was the European model with mags and plastic guards. The GB 400 and 500 models were for the Japanese domestic market but a few got into NZ and Australia. Lovely bikes.

    Thanks! I always thought that the suit and tie combination made me look like Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music except they hadn't formed then. Maybe he copied me, haha.

    Cheers mate, you'll do Jennie's ego no end of good! Lyndon has ridden all my bikes except the Street Triple. He also followed me into competitive sailing and acquitted himself pretty well. Very similar skill set requirement to motorcycling or flying.

  7. Well done Geoff.

    I was too young to experience shame in the 70s (its a bit hard when I turned 7 at the end of that decade.....)

    Its a shame you don't still have that GB400 TT, that is one of the most awesome looking bikes I've ever seen.

    Have a great day mate,


  8. Anthony:

    Quite happy for you to post later shame pictures, haha!

    The GB was a lovely bike. Put a full fairing on it later but in retrospect, I preferred it unfaired. Will send you some additional photos.

  9. Well you’re a brave man Geoff! Probably showing my age but I think all those pics look perfectly fine (though the 70's was a little cringe worthy & my platform shoes were taller than yours!)

    I’m not quite sure I’m ready for public humiliation via my blog yet, but have a gallery of my retro motos that has enough old pics of me for you to have a laugh!

    It’s at

    PS. I’ve changed the address of my blog. It’s now



  10. Jules:

    Thanks soooo much for the link - those photos are just fantastic!!! Weren't hot 2 strokes just the best? Our CEO's secretary and her husband had matching GT 380's. You looked pretty darned good - I never had a beard, but I did have a Zapata moustache for 5 years or so. Our kids think the photos are hilarious when I had it!

    Jennie would never forgive me if I posted photos of her in her "big hair" and big spectacles days!

    Cheers for the update!

  11. You must have missed this one Geoff: http://lh5.ggpht.com/_Yx3Z1G3hi7o/TMku_Ht7RdI/AAAAAAAAPQk/mQQ7EE5EBxc/s800/Plastic%20Fantastic.jpg

  12. Great post Geoff! Really nice to see the pics of you, Jennie, your son and your bikes. I like that early Tiger and I really like your Triple.

    You and I are about the same age. We got married in '71. Seeing those UK photos the thought came to me that you were there during all the British rockers. The shot of you in the suit looks like you could've been in the Dave Clark Five or Herman's Hermits! Very cool!

  13. I can thoroughly recommend the link to Tarsnakes' (Jules) photos - there's a bit of history there all right! Great machines too.

    Is that really you? Absolutely excellent!!!! Perfect proof that you're just a young 'un as toys like that were pressed tin when I was young a century or two ago!

    Many thanks! Back in the early 70's, I sold that Tiger to a friend. He hardly used it as he worked overseas for many years. It was about 10 years ago when he got a phone call from the ORIGINAL owner (in 1955) who had finally tracked down its whereabouts and a deal was done. A lovely story with a fitting ending.

    Haha - if you remember those 2 groups, you MUST be as old as me!!!

  14. Fantastic photos Geoff .. although of a slightly younger vintage - I grew up in the era of the stubby shorts, it is great to see the passion is just as strong now as it was for you 40 years ago. Cheers, Nick.

  15. Cheers Nick!
    You may well have worn Stubbies as a teen, but I wore them as an adult **cringe**. I have a photo which will never grace these pages!!!

  16. Here's two of me.....they aren't very old as I didn't start riding until a few years ago....

    First up is me with my first bike (a 125cc scooter)


    and next is me in my old house wearing my gear:


    (looks really tough with my son's highchair in the background!)


  17. Good man - excellent photos!

    That scooter is a wicked-looking beast. With your camo gear, you'll definitely have to buy a streetfighter or super motard as your next machine!

    Thanks for that!!!

  18. Thanks Geoff....perhaps a supermoto conversion of the VStrom could be done?

    While I was riding scooters I never liked the scooter-styled clothing and I chose the bike-rider styled clothing instead, knowing that some day I'd move to a bike.

  19. Geoff:

    thanks to you I have dusted off my scanner. tried to install the SW on my Windows 7. Had to go to the Epson site to download new drivers. Could not update Silverfast without paying for a new version. Can't figure out scanning sequence to activate silverfast or ICE. hope to figure it out soon and then search for old negatives

    Wet Coast Scootin

  20. What an enjoyable read Geoff, a few comments; I enjoyed the serious faraway look in the suit with the impossibly small tie knot, could you still tie one like that today?
    1975 in the checked cardi and it looks like checked trousers as well!!! I can dig the sideburns, I had them too then, we knew how to look seriously cool!
    From 1987 it appears that you started to look normal.
    The picture of Jennie is great!!! Also not sure what she saw in you, you're a lucky man Geoff!
    After such a display of courage I am almost ready to dig out some of my old pics!

  21. I've come late to the party. It's always neat to see old photographs. Thank you for sharing yours.

    On the other hand, I've found a flaw in your premise. At least in my case. You see, photos of me don't have to be OLD to be embarrassing!

  22. Andrew:
    Hahahaha - I can still tie a larger Windsor knot but wearing ties (and shoes come to that) are a rare event in Coromandel hippy land! Last time for a tie and decent shoes was our son's wedding in March. Yeah, from the mid 80's I was climbing the corporate ladder so had to conform a bit although in the 90's I started to revert to type and wore jeans to work most of the time! Oh, and Jennie still takes every opportunity to remind me how lucky I am, hehe.

    I'll see what else I can find among the boxes of photos in due course! Yes, I admit that my premise is flawed as Bobscoot has pointed out several times that my "lucky" red shorts I normally wear for fishing are pretty darned hideous. There is another aspect though - as we get older, we care less about embarrassments. There's a saying which I totally subscribe to: "Live long enough to be an embarrassment to your kids". I think this started when they were 5.


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