Sol's Katana Blog

Adventures of an idiot building a custom GSX1100S Katana



I’ve been riding bikes since I was 17 – more than twice as many years riding bikes than not riding! I’ve ridden on the road, dirt, and the track. Commuted, Sunday hacked, ridden solo and in groups. Crashed, scared myself, written them off, and picked myself up again. I’ve raced a Supersport 600, GP 250 two strokes running on avgas, tuned GSXR750 in an endurance series and various supermotards. I’ve had countless bikes over the years, I even chose a house because it had a double garage and space for a dedicated workshop. I’ve loved every minute I’ve ridden and looked after bikes. I have friends all over the country I’ve met through biking, and countless more bike riders I know on the Internet. You could say I’m a little obsessed by two-wheeled vehicles.

My parents tell me my first words were “car”. So the petrol-head in me started early. The fascination with bikes started a little later, but not much later. They were loud, and fast. What more do you need when you are a kid. I’d head straight over and just stare at them whenever one was parked up. My youth was spent gawping at other people’s bikes.

I have many recollections of bikes when I was a kid, but the following memories stick out. Like the ratty dirt bike, one of my cousins bought, that he used to ride in the factory complex across the road from their house. I remember it well because it was the first bike someone I knew owned. I remember the first bike I rode. A kid across the road let me “putt pftt” my way round his father’s allotment on his trials bike. I seem to remember we fell out after that first ride. Something to do with the fact I’d been watching Junior Kickstart and tried to ride it over the shell of a burned-out VW Beetle resulting in a blackened eye and some bent forks. I can also remember standing with my jaw on the floor as I watched a bike wheelie for the first time (Suzuki GS1000S, Gilesgate, Durham, circa 1978), and I can remember watching Barry Sheene tumble down the Daytona speed banking on “World of Sport”. All of these memories played their part in attracting me to bikes! However, if I had to pick a moment that convinced me I just had to have one. The one experience which decided for me …. it would have to be the first time I rode pillion on the back of a big bike. I was hooked. A mate’s Father owned a Triumph Bonneville 750. I was taken out on it when I was about 16. I had to have one – but parents being parents I had to wait until I was 17 before I was able to convince them. I bought my first bike – a Kawasaki KH100EX – with the sale of a computer, and the promise I wouldn’t be throwing myself down the road anytime soon! It’s been downhill since then :o)