1967 Barracuda (pic kindly supplied by Ian Richardson)
A year or so later, I decided I needed something bigger, so a 1967 BSA C25 Barracuda arrived. At the time all my mates were buying Hondas, Suzukis and Yamahas (and Lambrettas, but we won't go there). My mate with the Lambretta used to work on a filling station forecourt, in the days when someone put fuel in your tank for you. I recall a few of us turning up and practised pulling wheelies round the back. The lightweight multicylinder JAP bikes were much better at it than my heavy old single, but I did get about 2 feet of ground clearance on a few occasions. Those days of abuse are a thing of the past for me, I prefer to get my kicks from coaxing an incomplete pile of disconnected, worn out bits back into life, and being able to ride it down (or up) the road.
The Barracuda had a high compression ratio, at 10:1, and wasn't the most reliable. In my naivety, I took the air filter off, thinking it would help the top speed. Trouble was, the C25 didn't have a choke lever to the carb, so a cold start was achieved by liberal flooding via the tickler. This resulted in me beating out flames frequently after a carburettor spitback (I always wore gauntlets/gloves - even in summer). Luckily it never caught fire properly. At the tender age of 17/18 it was good fun!
We all do daft tricks at that age, another thing I remember, was riding around for a couple of weeks with no front brake shoes in the front wheel. BSA had gone under, I was finding that spares were quite difficult to get locally, so I felt I needed to show dealers the shoes to get the correct replacements. I had to put the brakes on for a pedestrian crossing on a wet road just outside Selby abbey, and ended up broadside across the road (but managed to stay in the saddle). More than a little embarassing!
I didn't have any photos of this bike either, but managed to find a good shot of a very tidy example.
The C25 eventually suffered a complete lock-up (probably kickstart related, as it was impossible to depress). As I said, my knowledge at that time was zero, and after sitting idle for 6 months, it suffered the ignominy of being removed - laid down in the back of a small van, by 3 lads that wanted a field bike. I occasionally think back with regret for the missed opportunities with that bike......SWX 15F where are you?
The C25 was replaced by a Ford Escort Mk I, but the bike bug wouldn't die, and I kept reading the comics of the time. For some reason, I was particularly drawn to the odd page or two devoted to oddities, particularly vintage and veteran motorcycles.
I don't think anyone would argue if I floated the opinion that the C25 is a much prettier bike than the Raleigh!