The RJM Logo The Best of British RESTORATION and REPAIR

Established 1989


A brief history of RJM Classic Motorcycles.

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My motorcycling career

I started my motortrade career and training in December 1969, with a Volvo distributor as it happens, when their motto was "Volvos for the fortunate few". With a need for transportation and a weekly wage of £8.00 a much-abused Ariel Leader, the former property of Kent County Constabulary, got me started on two wheels once I had fitted a replacement chassis and got it through an MOT.

Me and my cousin Mark aboard the much converted ex Kent Constabulary stink wheel in about 1969

My first big twin was a very badly improved BSA Thunderbolt cafe racer acquired some time in the 1970's. The second, in the 80's was a very non -tandard Spitfire I raced in the battle of the twins and formula 750 series with the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club and occasionally with the Kent Combine. An extra part-time job at Hamrax Motors in Ladbroke Grove financed the racing and commenced my migration from the retail franchised car trade to the classic motorcycle industry.

My original A65 before I got at it   My Spitfire Group 2 bike. Notice the hydraulic steering damper and the sneaky and illegal fork brace hiding under the front guard

In the late 80's I made the mistake of buying a brand-new post-Meriden T140 Bonnie from the sadly-missed Chris Buckle at Roebucks Motorcycles in Pinner. The bike was quite the worst motorcycle I have ever owned. Chris did his best to keep me on the road, even lending me his personal BMW K100 for one trip to the Manx GP where I was due to be marshalling after the Bonnie went bang again. Chris was more than a little handicapped by the appalling build quality of the new bikes and by his mechanic not being completely happy with the bike's technology. Once it was out of warranty I tore it down and rebuilt it properly.

A very late T140 and possibly the worst bike I ever owned, notice the Ali barrel and the rear sets

This went some way to convincing me that there was room for someone in the industry with Chris Buckle's integrity who could actually fix these things which is what I have been doing now in Ram Yard for about 20 years. In early 2008 with the help of my son I found time to build another twin for our personal use, another A65.

My pride and joy and the bike's not bad. Son Rowan and the A65 taken on the long bank holiday run 2008   Me and him at the Ton-up Day at Jack's Hill Cafe 2008

The shop history

The history of the shop really starts on the classic racing and autojumble circuit in the mid 1980's operating out of a Bedford CF2 van and a lock-up garage. This was soon after augmented by the acquisition of half of a tiny industrial unit which we operated evenings and weekends, building the business up by what is known these days as sweat equity, in our new home Unit 2A Ram Yard. Strangely, the jobbing printer who occupied the other half of the unit had, at one time worked in the drawing office at Ariel Motors at Selly Oak.

The famous Van with 2 litre Opel Manta power. It could tow a caravan at a genuine 100mph   Open for business in the paddock at Snetterton

Front of house in the old place   Unit 2a Ram Yard. RJM's first real home   Workshop in the old place

The decision to go "full time" is, I doubt, ever an easy one but, for better of worse, I took the plunge in 1989 followed shortly after by a move to a much larger unit at 3 Ram Yard. The property owner threw in a mezzanine floor he had kicking around and even helped us to install it. A phone call from a former co-worker in the car industry donated a whole lot of ex-WD racking the former property of the local Vauxhall dealer who was re-equipping, which got us up and running on a real tight budget. Even more strangely, it turns out, when the footings were being dug out for Units 3 and 4 they disturbed the grave of a buried BSA C11.

Our first days in Unit 3 and a very rare shot of the lorry

Finding it necessary at that time to maintain a presence on the Show, Racing and Jumble scene we also acquired a 7.5 ton Dodge Commando with a box body which was converted into a walk-on shop with overnight accommodation. Happily, three years later, pressure of work at the yard led to the retirement of this noble beast. Ten years ago, the some what unexpected retirement of my former business partner let to the closure of our mail order spares service to allow me to concentrate all of my efforts on repairs and restoration work.

Bang up to date, yep it's a big place for just one mechanic, Units 3 and 4 Ram Yard

By now the previously cavernous Unit 3 was beginning to feel a bit cramped, and about five years ago the opportunity came up to acquire the freehold of both Units 3 and 4. It seemed like a scary decision at the time, but a no -brainer with hindsight. A substantial mortgage has to be preferable to an increasingly difficult landlord any day.

Text and graphics copyright (c) 2008 RJM Classic Motorcycles.