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It was 1989 when I rode a real motorcycle for the first time. My brother had bought it in the nearby village Menaldum. We had never seen a motorcycle like this – it appealed to us because of it’s off-road nature.

Up till then, the only off-road bikes around were mopeds. My brother had bought a brand new Yamaha DT50 Enduro in 1980. As soon as I was allowed to ride it legally, I bought it of him. He himself was the proud owner of the technically superior, but not as good-looking, Honda MT5. Most of my friends rode similar mopeds. On the back of our helmets, it read: “OFF THE ROAD TEAM”. Yes, we were cool. Far cooler than the other guys riding Zundapps and Kreidlers.

Unfortunately, there was hardly anywhere you could go off-roading. We could ride the fields of my father’s farm after the crops were harvested, but our mopeds didn’t have the power to take on that kind of dirt. The only sufficiently equipped street-legal motorcycle that I knew of was the Yamaha XT500. A pretty rare sight. I often visited the local shop “Jager Motoren” but I do not recall them ever having an off-road motorcycle for sale. The only thing left was to drool over the XT500 sales brochure (the one with the horses – as we all remember..) we managed to get hold of. It seemed like a faraway dream to be ever owning a machine like that. Until my brother came across this bike.

It was a Honda XR500, registered in 1982. A similar bike to a Yamaha XT500, but Honda. We later discovered it was the (twin shock) 1979 model. It wasn’t in very good shape but the engine was working properly. My brother had saved some money and he seemed serious about buying it. And he did! Finally, I got a chance to ride it. My brother kicked it to live and explained it wasn’t much different from riding a moped; first gear down, the other 4 up. There I went, riding it like a moped, full throttle, shifting through all the gears. I felt the adrenaline rushing. This was amazing! But the fun changed to a big scare when I tried to brake for an intersection. I got there just after shifting into 5th gear. I tried to brake hard. I learned then and there that a 130 kg motorcycle with drum brakes doing 100 kmph, carrying a grown man, needs time to stop. I crossed the intersection on sheer good fortune and survived. I took things a lot easier riding back and was still a bit shaky when I got off the bike. But I knew I had to get one. And I did. I bought the XR of my brother about a year later. For me, it was the start of a motorcycle era which continues with Rumble Speed Shop. As does my love for my original XR500



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