My first bike was a Tiger Cub

I recently found this photo, possibly the only one, of me and my first bike, PPA 53E (where is it now).


I bought this the day before my 16th Birthday, on the 31st of January 1971. My father, who had had bikes before I was born but not since, rode it home for me as I wasn’t old enough. I seem to remember it was a Saturday and so my birthday was on a Sunday and everything would be closed!

In the weeks leading up to my birthday a school friend had taught me how to ride his C15 so I was ready to go on the day, and off I went!! I passed my test on it about 2 months later and I think I had the bike about a year. I also seem to remember we had to take it apart for some sort of rebuild, my Dad doing the supervising.

As most people will say, "I loved that bike" and have often thought about buying another for old times sake! When I sold it I bought my second Triumph, a 1963 Tiger 90 (4366 AP), that had been converted to look like an American Bonneville with twin exhaust swept high down the left, an American style rear plate and new comfy seat.

I kept biking until I was nearly 18, due to finances as much as anything else. When I went for my car driving test about 20 months after my bike test, I went to the same test centre in West Wickham, Kent. When the examiner gave me my pass slip I looked at it and recognised his name. "You may not believe this" I said "but you took me for my bike test a while ago!"

"You’re a bit slow" he said "I recognised you as soon as you came in!!" Of course he had the advantage of knowing my name from the beginning!

I then gave up biking for a few years as I couldn’t afford a car and a bike, but the bug was just resting! After I got married we need two forms of transport so phase 2 of my biking life started, this time with Hondas (sorry), I then went on to work my way up the range and had 4 over the years. Then I gave up biking for about 12 years to have two cars until 1997 when I decided to start biking again.

I was desperate to go back to Triumphs and not knowing where to start I went into the dealer in Cambridge to discuss. I wasn’t sure whether to buy "old" or "newish" until the dealer said "Do you want to ride it or work on it?" As riding was the idea I set about finding a Hinckley model and found a 1995 Thunderbird 900 from a private buyer.


It was Good Friday when I agreed to meet the seller at a shopping centre car park half-way between our homes. Out of the blue I asked my wife to take me to the shops, I hadn’t told her what I was doing but we had been married for 18 years!!

She looked me straight in the eyes and said "You’ve bought a motorbike haven’t you??" I was caught, fair and square! Unfortunately it was raining (typical) but off we went with my really old Barbour and crash helmet, waterproof trousers and wellies!! What a baptism of fire to go back to biking!!

Since then I have had a Sprint, Bonneville SE, Speedmaster, Thunderbird 1600 and my current bike is a 2016 Bonneville T120 in the Silver and Red in memory of my Cub!


Malcolm Derrick