Indian Riders
Header image



Motocycle Club
Indian Motocycles - you can't wear them out                                  Indian Motocycles - built to last
My First Bike (2)


After reading Mike’s story about his old Raleigh, I thought I would see if I still had any photos of my own first motorcycle. So, I lifted the lid on my father’s old chest made from Madras tram seats (don’t ask), and after the moths and dust had settled I found the photographs you see here.

At sixteen I could not afford a motorbike (I stayed on at school to do A-levels), and there was no way my dad was going to buy me one, so I had to be content with admiring the bikes outside the local coffee bar, and riding a push-bike. My first actual encounter with a motorcycle was when three of my mates at school pooled their resources and bought a Norton ES2. I went to their lock-up and we all stood around admiring the gleaming black dangerous-looking machine. I knew I just had to have one of my own one day. However, that’s as far as it went at the time. They spent a lot of time talking about the Norton, but I do not ever recall any of them actually riding it. Their credibility went rapidly downhill in my eyes.

Anyway, I left school in 1966 and got a job in the printing trade. My second encounter was riding on the back of a workmate’s Rocket Gold Star in the summer of 1967. Half way down the Kingston by-pass I noticed flames around my feet and the back of the bike, so I politely pointed this out to the driver. He pulled over in double-quick time, turned the fuel off, and we managed to extinguish the fire before any real damage was done. The petrol pipe had split and dripped on to the contact breaker, and a spark had set it alight. After this interesting experience I felt it was definitely time to get myself a motorcycle.

I had another friend with a combination, who knew of a Panther outfit for sale in Swanley. I thought this sounded ideal, so I bought it for eight pounds and my pal towed me back to London up the Sidcup by-pass; a somewhat hair-raising experience for a total novice. It was a 1955 rigid-frame 600cc Model 100, with an

  panther1.jpg (2120595 bytes) panther2.jpg (5173991 bytes) 

enormous Busmar sidecar chassis attached. It is fortunate that I do not have a photo of the very first "rebuild" of this cycle. Inspired by the recently released film "Easy Rider", it was given a coat of electric blue Hammerite paint, a five foot sissy-bar supporting the exhaust pipes extended up with flexible tubing, a banana seat covered with an old oriental carpet, and a psychedelic paint job on the fuel tank that looked like someone had been sick over it. We bolted an old Steib bullet sidecar body, riddled with rust-holes, on to the Busmar chassis. I even rigged up a hand gearshift and foot clutch for heaven’s sake.

In 1969 I started at Art School, and the Panther was badly in need of an overhaul. So with the aid of my grant cheque I rebuilt it a little more tastefully in white and yellow, with nine inch extended forks from a later Model 120 with the excellent full-width front brake, a 500 x 16" rear wheel, a bobbed Sunbeam S7 rear mudguard, eight inch handlebar risers cut from solid aluminium, and a headlight off an old Daimler. The Busmar/Steib sidecar was ditched for a lightweight Swallow chassis bought for ten shillings, and I made a sports body for it out of plywood. The result can be seen in the oval vignette, taken when we were using the bike in a daft film a friend of mine was making at the London Film School.

In 1971 I finally decided to take my test and ride the bike solo. The second photograph shows a good view of the cycle with the sidecar removed. I soon got tired of the awful chopper handling, and returned the forksback to stock with the proper shrouds and headlight, and a decent front mudguard. The silly handlebars were replaced with a pair of Pride & Clarke’s "western" bars. I put the original footrests and pedals back on, and the Panther became a joy to ride. I could not find a photo of this final incarnation I’m sorry to say, for that was when the bike was at its best.

Sadly, my Panther was stolen by the Hell’s Angels sometime in the mid-1970s, and the police only recovered the frame. This was when my interest turned towards side-valve V-twins, but that’s another story

Andy Donald          


Back Button             


Indian Motocycles - you can't wear them out                                  Indian Motocycles - built to last  
Disclaimer:  Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, neither the Indian Riders Motorcycle Club, it's officials or any individual shall in any way be liable for loss, injury or damage resulting directly or indirectly from reliance of such information.  The inclusion of adverts  does not mean  that the advertisers are in any way endorsed by Indian Riders Motorcycle Club or it's officials.  Any disputes or claims must be taken up with the advertiser.