1980 Kawasaki Z500

Engine 498 cc 4 cylinder 8OHC
Power 50.00 HP (36.5 kW) at 9000 RPM
Performance 119mph 0-60 in 5.3 seconds
Gearbox 6 speed
Curb Weight 210 kg

I bought this bike in 1984 from a guy who lived along the road from my mother in Alloa. It cost me £150. The fact that it had cost the previous owner about £1,500 new, 4 years earlier, tells you something about the condition it was in.

The previous owner didn't have much experience with bikes and had a few accidents, including almost losing his fingers in the back sprocket whilst adjusting the chain. He had fitted a useless (from a noise perspective) Piper exhaust, K&N filters and had brush painted the tank black. It had sat for a year or two, unused, in the front garden of his house. The front fork seals had deteriorated and leaked oil all over the brakes which had also seized from lack of use. The battery was sulphated up and the speedometer was smashed.

But for me it was a dream purchase. A proper 4 cylinder bike, with electric start, alloy wheels and double disc brakes on the front and one on the back. It was a great bike, never broke down and never fell off it, thank goodness.

It was reasonably quick too, in one duel with a Honda CX500, I saw 120mph on the clock.

The piper exhaust was a nuisance though. To get it through the MOT I made up some baffles using aluminium plate, chicken wire and fiberglass loft insulation. The noise suppression only lasted a few days.

One one memorable occasion I was travelling back from Stirling to Alloa, quickly, in the early hours of the morning. As I  slowed to turn in to Tullibody, I saw blue flashing lights way behind in the distance. I meandered into the village but was not expecting to see a police van from the other direction swerved in front of me to block the road. After a bit of a "telling off" I was able to go on my way, insufficient evidence to merit a ticket.

The biggest problem with this bike was the insurance. At 19 years old is was £186 for 6 months third party. When it lapsed I had to sell the bike. It made £350 so a small profit to put towards my first car.