When I was starting my biking career all those years ago (1980) the choice of helmets was fairly limited. Domestic (uk) manufacturers produced some pretty mundane stuff (Griffin, Centurion, Stadium etc) European helmets were a bit better (Nava, Jebs, AGV). If you really wanted to be top lad there really was only two choices Bell or………. SIMPSON.
These were the days before Simpson insisted on giving their helmets cringe worthy names like Banditoutlawrazorback MoFo, back then the numbers did the talking RX-1 M-30 M-50 etc. The M-30 was the one though, known on the street as ‘the star wars’ for fairly obvious reasons.
I can remember buying my first M-30, two of them actually. It was at the Earls Court Motorcycle show and must have been around 1982. I didn’t have a credit card back then, I don’t think anyone I knew did either. So I paid for the helmets with a cheque. The shop took my driving licence as security and once the cheque had cleared posted it back to me. The bit I find incredible was the price, at the time I was still serving my apprenticeship and wouldn’t have been earning more than £100 a week, these crash helmets with the obligatory black visor were £250 each!! With inflation that makes nearly £800 in todays money.
But why? Why was I willing to spend more than a months wages on two crash helmets? As bike helmets went they weren’t that great, the design was race car centric, they were draughty, noisy, had limited vision and were not even legal for use on our British roads………. and I guess that’s what the attraction was. In an instant people in the know could see you were a rebel, someone with a complete lack of respect for authority. Yep that 250 quid bought you an image and what an enduring image it was.
Original versions now go for good money and good ones are hard to find, if the outside is tidy you can bet your life the inside will have disintegrated. Norix are now remaking them under licence from Simpson along with a couple of other designs from the back catalogue however as with most things original is best.
I have always liked the first gen FZ750, the small fairing and original silver/red/black (it’s very dark blue actually) was so aesthetically pleasing to me, however those looks and the technology in the FZ were quickly bludgeoned by the blunt instrument that was the first GSXR. It’s easy to forget how quickly things moved in the bike world during the ’80 and in this age of worldwide austerity it’s also easy to forget that there was a time when bike manufacturers took risks and fought to be cutting edge, but I digress, back to the FZ.
I’d been looking for an early FZ for a while and it became quite clear that any 85 FZ was hard to find and it appeared good condition ones simply didn’t exist……. so I ended up buying this one. It really didn’t have much going for it though, non runner, some crash damage and it was miles away. It was a UK bike though with two owners and a pleasing amount of paper work and it was cheap! Having said that on the dark wet drive home the old adage about ‘a fool and his money’ kept echoing in my mind.
Project FZ was under way.
The 86 TT F1 GSXR750 that Yoshimura campaigned in the Suzuka 8 hour is starting to take an unhealthy hold of my imagination, to the extent that there is now an early 750 frame sitting in the workshop. While the project FZ750 moves on at a (ahem) leisurely pace I am already sourcing parts for a TT F1 rep…………. might happen, might not.
This belongs to another satisfied customer at least I think he is, we are still on talking terms. Nigel bought this 1100et as a complete but slightly tired runner as an antidote to his other show winning museum pieces, the idea with this bike was it was always meant to be a rideable classic, Nigel’s brief was simple but clear, uprated and sensible mods, a bike that starts on the button and is happy to tool along two up.
We think we achieved that. 1200 bandit front end but retaining the et headlight cowl and Renthal FatBars, bandit 12 rear wheel at the back with a set of slightly longer YSS shocks to raise the rear end a bit. The engine was rebuilt using a Wiseco 1170 kit and Dyna s ignition to complement the new Dyna coils, the cases were coated black by Camcoat. The pipe was built to Nigel’s spec. After jetting the engine fuels smoothly and produces just over 100 ponies at the back wheel. Fresh paint and a recovered seat finish the job off.