Long ago and far away – The story of my Royal Enfield Supermeteor 698cc or better:
my early life with motorbikes - by Roland Sorgner

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When I was eighteen in January 1974 I was old enough to get my driving licence. My preference was to take both car and motorcycle tests. I passed my driving test in April 1974. At 16 I was allowed to ride a 50cc motorcycle limited to a speed of 40 km/h – this made me laugh – at best my Garelli was able to do100 km/h – sounding like a 50cc-racer. I only say, that our local Policemen liked me and I was only ordered a few times to bring the bike back to its original condition.

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pic garelli1 – in original condition (1971)
pic garelli2 & 3 – the finish stage of my "tuning" (1973) -pic was taken in winter – that’s the reason for cross-tires

 
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In October 1973 I’d bought my first motorbike – illegally as I had no driving licence at this time. It was a German DKW H2 250cc built in 1952.

pic DKW-H2 - my first "motorbike"

 
rainer1.jpg The price was about a little more than nothing, but I think, that this bike would be a good collectors piece in our 21st Century. My friend Rainer, he was 16 at this time, used to own and ride (!) a BSA A7 500cc built in 1958. Our number-plates were home made – from cardboard. We’d done short rides, always after midnight but it was winter and bloody cold. rainer3.jpg
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pic rainer1 – look at the fake registration plate
pic rainer2 – a beautiful bike - BSA A7
pic rainer3 – when we were young

 
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It was on Easter-Sunday 1974 that Rainer visited me with his Honda CB50 to tell me that he’ve found in an newspaper a fitting bike for me – an Royal Enfield. "Never heard of it – what does it look like?" was my answer. So we ride to Mauthausen in Upper-Austria, the town close to the Concentration-Camp – the present owner lives near to that camp in one of the houses which was built as married-quarters for SS-officers, but there is no link - thank God. The Enfield didn't look real good – but was cheap enough for me to buy. We both took short rides and found it OK. The bloke had an Triumph Trident 750cc too – but it wasn't available – damn!

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pic RE1974-1 – first look only thumbnail
pic RE1974-2 – another look only thumbnail

 
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When arriving home with our 55cc bikes we talk only about that Royal Enfield Meteor Minor Sport 500cc – our biggest problem supposed to be - "how can we bring that bike from Mauthausen to Amstetten (our hometown)?" – the distance is about 45 kilometres – but without having any driving licence – a big problem! I can’t remember how we’ve managed the transport problem, but two weeks later my parents got a heart attack – finding the bike in their garage – the second attack following a few weeks later. A few weeks after "the arrival" Rainer and I began to strip the bike, as we found out that there was a lot of bad work done previously on the bike – I’d bought an absolute "non-runner." For that work we’d needed 100% of my fathers garage – he was "really amused". His only words were, "you can never fix that bike and bring it back to running condition –put it together and sell it !" – After 3 months blocking his garage he gave me an ultimatum, "one week – or scrapyard !" – So I’ve done – sold them to another chap for 75% of what I’ve paid ...... but he hadno money and wanted to payment by instalment. That was OK by me and my father got back his garage. A few weeks after that I’d passed my driving licence and my Grandma gave me the money for a new motorbike – a Honda CB360. As anybody who reads that can imagine, as my screwdriver and spanners were not locked up somewhere back in my Father's garage ........ after a short time (about an year) I’ve started to "tune up" my Honda.

pic cb360-1 to 3 – should I be happy with this rice-cooking bike ?
pic cb360-4 - another "long ago" – look at the bike
pic cb360-5 - looks good ..... look at the silencers

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In early 1975 I’d found out that the new owner of my beloved Enfield had no money – and soon enough I was lucky to get my bike back...... but Father did not know! So I’d found another home for all that British scrap. Franz Wurz, a far relative of Alexander Wurz, present time Austrian Formula 1 driver, let me store all those bits and pieces in his farm-house.

A little later I’ve found out, that in the Netherlands, at Berg en Dal, a chap named Karl Ebben had founded an Royal Enfield Owners Club. So the only thing was, to start any conversation by letter – and he answered to me, telling me that getting spare parts would be no big problem.

In July 1975 Karl Ebben organized a Royal Enfield meeting near his home-town – this was my first holiday trip with any motorbike. I told my parents that I was going to Bavaria ....... whilst Berg en Dal is close to Nijmegen (near Arnhem) – about 1000 kilometres from Amstetten.

As anybody can imagine, the (British bike mad) kid from Austria soon found a few new English friends. One was Mick Page from the Midlands, another was Brian Johnston from Garforth, Leeds. About these two chaps later......

pic NL1975-1 - REOC Membership card
pic NL1975-2 - Karl shows prize for competition winner
pic NL1975-3 - RE Interceptor 900cc prototype 1969
pic NL1975-4 - RE Interceptor 900cc prototype 1969
pic NL1975-5 - Karl’s Interceptor I
pic NL1975-6 - Karl’s Interceptor I

pic NL1975-7 - the crowd
pic NL1975-8 - but was not a big meeting
pic NL1975-9 - Bob’s BSA 650 Golden Flash
pic NL1975-10 - well restored Panther 350
pic NL1975-11 - Mr. Gray's British Bullet 500 (Gander & Gray –
Main Distributor at London)
pic NL1975-12 - Interceptor with engine problems (pic was a gift)

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to be continued......

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