Jerry Larke’s old A7SS, swapped for a Manx later on.
30 May 2012
Reading the December 2011 issue, I came across the BSA Shooting Star article.

When I was on the top left of page 45, I realised that the BSA 134 EMK was the first real bike I had.

I bought the Shooting Star from BSA agent Clarkes of St Albans and had it ready and waiting to be ridden after passing my test on my 123cc BSA Bantam, AC214.

I owned the Shooting Star for a couple of years with no problems, with only one big ‘get off’ turning into a left-hand bend, Valley Road in Welwyn Garden City in very wet weather.

The front end of the bike went down and eventually spinning round I trapped my leg under the bike in the middle of the road – no one around at the time... A car pulled up and the door opened, with a very stern looking bloke looking down at me. I couldn’t believe it – it was my insurance broker! Superficial damage to the BSA, bashed leg for me and, of course, damaged teenage pride.

I fancied myself as a bit of a ‘boy racer’ and I had the chance to swap the Shooting Star with a bloke called Chris Lacey of Essendon, Herts, for a road-going 1948 350cc Manx Norton registration number JG0875 – is this still around?

This Manx brought my name to the attention of the local constabulary, especially local noddy bike patrol, PC Roger Shelford. On one of my forays to the Busy Bee in Watford at night, I was returning to Welwyn Garden City around midnight with very illegal and dodgy lighting; a crude spotlight on the handlebars, no battery charging arrangement and a pre-charged battery fitted under the seat. To my horror, the exhaust baffle blew out of the huge original megaphone exhaust on the A405 out of Watford and disappeared over the hedge. There was no chance of finding it so I had to carry on home.

The noise was incredible at such a late hour, especially on the overrun. I tried extending my right leg backwards to jam my boot over the exhaust to dampen the noise but this must have looked very weird. Adding to my run of bad luck, one mile from home coming through Stanborough, Welwyn Garden City, riding the other way was PC Shelford on his noddy bike, but he had already noticed something out of the norm. I took a very devious route through the houses of Welwyn Garden City and the backstreets. I was hoping by the time he had turned round and pursued, I would be dust…

When I arrived at my parents’ home, still trying to dampen the noise, there stood a huge angry shadow with crossed arms, tall towering police helmet and noddy bike parked on my parents’ drive.

What a defeat and humiliation for a testosterone-fuelled man and Manx Norton rider, as it would seem that the diminutive Velocette LE ruled that night!

Jerry Larke, via email.

PS. PC Shelford let me off, but my parents didn’t.

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The Classic MotorCycle Issue 42-01 - Jan 2015

Where legends come to life

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