Jan Rooms

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Achievements:

^ ■ Three time British Superbike Champion

- - Four time 250 & 350 British Champion

'4fJZ* ■ Yamaha RD350LC Pro Am World Cup Winner

If - 2nd Suzuka Eight Hour Race

"The Most Successful British Grand Prix Rider Since Barry Sheene"

Come and hear what this racing hero has to say

Ticket Price: £10

All proceeds to charity

www.thetrojanrooms.co.uk -mf

The Trojan Rooms, 28-32 South Parade, Whitley Bay

Advance tickets available online or from The Avalon Bar, 26-28 South Parade, Whitloy Bay

■ Merit MerrcM Ä Technology

MÄS MOTORCYCLES

www.meritpe.co.uk

www.classicbikenights.co.uk

Biking Legends Coming to the Toon

The Avalon, Tyneside's only motorcycle specialist bar is the venue for a series of "Biking Legend" evenings, set within the hotel's impressive 200 seat Trojan Rooms. The venue is ideal for such a charitable initiative, dreamed up by Avalon owner

Mick Farwell and classic two stroke nut Chris Berriman, as there is more than enough space for guests to mingle with their heroes, enjoy a drink and watch film footage of legends in action on no less than 15 large screens. Each event will also feature a display of iconic new and classic motorcycles. Chris, whose company. Merit Merrel Technology, sponsor Bradley Smith, one of the UK's hottest Moto-2 World

Championship prospects, has lined up a number of "Biking Legends" to appear in future. He says "The north east is a motorcycling hotbed, I'm sure the biking public will get right behind this charity event. We plan to put on four shows a year and so far Ron Haslam, Steve Plater, Mick Grant, Randy Mamola, Simon Crafar and Bradley have all indicated they may attend". These dates will be confirmed in the near future.

Up first on 4 February is Scottish hero Niall Mackenzie, Britain's most successful 500GP motorcycle racer since Barry Sheene, who is the only man to have won three successive British Superbike

Championships (1996-1998). Niall will have tales of derring-do from his wild, formative years, his time as a works 500cc racer and may even dish a bit of dirt, or at least reveal the true face of race legends such as Doohan, Rainey, Lawson et al.. The evening will certainly provide a fascinating look at the GP and BSB scenes through the eyes of one of the most popular riders of recent years.

Ex racer, and Sky British Superblkes commentator Larry Carter will compere proceedings and will introduce some local home grown racing talent too.

Mick adds, "This sort of event hasn't happened too often in Newcastle, so we want to give the North East an opportunity to get up close and personal with some real legends and there are few better than Niall Mackenzie, what a way to start!" said Mick. For those wishing to stretch the night out a little longer you can stay over with the Avalon Hotel offering reasonably priced accommodation. In fact, it would be rude not to. Tickets are £10 and are available from www.theavalon.co.uk or call/write to The Avalon Hotel, 26-28 South Parade, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, NE26 2RG, (0191 2510080) or pay on the door. More information on the event can be found on www.classicbikenights.co.uk

Biking Legends nights apart, the Avalon Hotel has an ever open door policy toward all motorcyclists, be they classic, custom, modern, scooters et al. Taking a club run out?

Why not call in for lunch.

cBcw news jJMlimillMUMllMUMUL Five Minutes

//ALMOST CLASSIC

Kawasaki W650

When Kawasaki built their lovely retro motorcycle in 1999, they forgot one important thing. The badge. Problem was that it had one and it said 'Kawasaki'. If they'd built this bike without them, then the men-in-green could have fooled an awful lot of people that this was the real thing.

Words and Photogrpahs by Steve Cooper

The W650 really looks the part. Arguably more so than the latest Triumph Bonneville and a lot more than any previous (or post) Japanese attempts to copy an old British twin.

Maybe it's because they were really trying to make it look authentic - previous Jap twins, like Yamaha's XS650 (and Kawasaki's own W-series bikes from the late 60s) had been too busy trying to be a good bike in their own right - maybe it was because it was just so good to look at and ride.

The parallel twin engine runs a bore and stroke of 72 x 80mm, which is closer to a T120 Bonneville's 71 x 82mm than the BSA twin (75 x 74mm) from which the first Kawasaki Ws were copied. It also runs a 360 degree crank, like the Brits but it isn't a straight copy for instead of pushrods there's the strange choice of bevel gear, shaft driven, overhead cam, twin CV carburettors, four valves per cylinder, electric start and the gearchange is on the left. It's got a kick-start too, which is cool because kicking a bike into life is part of the relationship and its all the more enjoyable when you know that crisp carburation and digital Ignition means it's always going to fire first time.

Uke most modern copies, the illusion is good, but only up to a point. Those Smiths lookalike clocks are a bit corny and the emasculated noise from the barrel silencers is a bit limp - our old Brit bikes sounded special because they weren't perfectly balanced and the timing was never this good. There's a strange hole too where the spark plugs should be, they're actually right under the tank buried deep inside the cam cover. Odd.

Riding the W650 is good though. The engine is smooth, free-revving, but torquey too and quick enough to leave the traffic behind. The gearshift is slick and the handling and roadholding are surprisingly good for a retro bike with narrow tyres and soft suspension. It's easy to ride in or out of town - a genuine all rounder so long as you don't want to go too fast for too long.

The best bit though is the price. A tidy example can be had for less than £2000, Most are reasonably low mileage, most have been looked after and a fair few have been turned into a tasty cafe racer or short track replica special.

Kawasaki dropped the W650 in 2008 - getting an air-cooled bike with carbs through the latest emissions laws is tricky - but they've reintroduced It as an 800cc bike with fuel Injection (but no kick-start) for 2011.

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