with a MAC. By Rob Jones.
was twenty years ago
today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.” So sung The
it was thirty years ago
in 1983 that I became the proud owner of a 1953 rigid Velocette MAC
registration number PNK52. And it was all the fault of my ex wife.
three years earlier,
Sue, a friend, had called at our house riding her Honda moped, and
that she had bought it for use back and fore to her office. Helen, my
thought that it would be a good idea if she bought a moped for her
mile commute and I could use the car for my drive to the school in
taught. While agreeing that the idea was sound, I disliked the thought
riding a 49cc through the local traffic and persuaded her that a proper
of 100cc would be better. There were better brakes, double the capacity
her out of trouble and being a proper looking motorcycle and not a step
through, I could ride it also. (I thought at least it would have a bit
street cred.) So at the ripe old age of 27 we bought a second hand T
Suzuki A100M and I became a motorcyclist for the first time.
age of sixteen, in 1970, I had badgered both my parents for a moped.
father, although having ridden Douglas Vespa scooters with me as
his foot down. “Leave it a year and I’ll teach you to drive and you can
the car.” He said. The car was a one year old Ford Cortina 1600 Super
Bronze. The car won.)
wife did use the bike
back and fore to work, and I borrowed it also, until she became
she had the car and the bike became my premier form of transport. I
rack and top box to carry my lunch, my school books and clothes, and a
bar fairing in matching blue.
the same time we were
holidaying in our caravan in Saundersfoot and accidentally one Sunday
found the VMCC Saundersfoot Rally on the harbour. The old bikes looked
interesting and the people were very welcoming, explaining about the
at the bikes and chatting to the various competitors, from all of the
I found out that to ride in the event one had to be a member and have a
over 25 years of age. The beginning of an idea was forming deep in the
recesses of my mind.
up in Aberdare in the
1960s I was well aware of motorcycle racing in The Park, my cousin
owned a BSA Road Rocket, used it to go to the Island
and my father had owned two Vespas on which I had pillioned.
idea crystallised in to
having a British bike and having a gentle run down in the Saundersfoot
To pursue this dream a few obstacles needed to be crossed. Firstly I
pass my test as I was still riding on L plates. Secondly I need to get
British bike. BUT how to get the cash and how to decide which bike it
the test proved easy.
At the time I was completing my Degree course and worked out that with
rise that went with it and selling the Suzuki I would have enough cash,
£500, with which to buy a British bike. The wife agreed. BUT which bike
I had bought a selection of the then new Classic Bike magazines but was
no wiser. It was suggested, by my wife, that I talk to a Roy Howard in
office and get his opinion. He had, after all, given advice about
underpowered moped. So calling into the office I was given the advice
to profoundly and inexorably change my life!
and BSA are ok but
run of the mill.” Said Roy,
“Vincents are really special but complicated and expensive. Velocette
good, reliable and well engineered bikes and they are always looked
The die was cast!
I knew of Velocette
could have been etched on the top of a pin and still have left room for
of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I don’t think I had ever heard of them and
quite amazed that with a name like that they were made in Birmingham.
I needed to find out some
information, so back to the magazines. Even there I didn’t find too
through the for sales
in the current copy of MotorCycle News an advert jumped from the page
smacked me in the face.
Sale 1953 Velocette MAC 350cc
Some spares. £500 ono.
phoned Bryn Thomas, a name
I had been given, in Merthyr, as he knew about Velocettes. I introduced
and explained why I was ringing. His advice was that the price wasn’t
if the bike was a swing arm but if it was a rigid it might be a bit too
Showing my ignorance I had the term rigid explained. This was certainly
out to be a sharp learning curve.
I needed to see the bike
and take someone sensible with me. Cousin Jimmy in Swansea
answered the phone and was more than
happy to come with me and look at the Velocette. So after a few more
to the seller a date and time was arranged. I do like it when a plan
the appointed time we
turned up, in Dunvant, to be met by the owner who informed us the he
get the bike to start. “It was ok last week when someone else came to
but today nothing. You can still have a look around it and I’ll sort it
later” He said. The bike did look in good condition with a dual seat
panniers. These hid the rear of the bike and on close inspection I
could see no
suspension units. The bike was a rigid. The owner explained the reason
sale when he showed us an immaculate Road Rocket undergoing a full
The money raised from the Velocette would finish the BSA. We agreed on
visit when he could sort out the starting.
following week we were
back. It turned out that the plug lead had a crack inside the core and
replacing the lead had cured the problem. The bike was wheeled out and
It sounded as lovely as it looked, with a great sound emitting from the
fishtail silencer as the throttle was blipped. It sounded even better
owner rode it up the street and back before stopping next to the curb.
was my turn to start it. What a palaver! Do I really have to do this
I want to start the bike! The sharp learning curve suddenly got
a few attempts following the instructions the bike eventually fired up.
Climbing on I took it down the street, executed a feet up u turn at a
junction and back up the hill changing gear as I went. Up to the top
down a few times and I knew I was hooked. The smile on my face was wide
pulled up. A wad of notes to the tune of £400 exchanged hands and I was
proud owner of a Velocette.
the previous visit
Jimmy and I had discussed the bike, He was happy with the way it looked
and he had
moved it around the drive and given it a good checking all over even
had no MOT. So we came to the conclusion that if it ran well, with no
sounds and I could ride it then I would buy it. As Jimmy later
grin on your face as you came up the hill was enough to tell me that
taking it home.” We loaded the bike into the back of Jim’s transit, put
assorted spares in as well and headed home with me sitting on the bike
way from Swansea
to Aberdare quite unaware that the steep learning curve was to continue.