Thursday 19 September 2013

Skoal Bandit

Today I learned that Skoal Bandit is a type of chewing tobacco - I googled it. Up until now I had assumed it was some kind of mysterious automotive product for fearless lunatics. Chewing tobacco isn't really very popular in this part of the world and as far as I know, Skoal never sold here. I guess I'm a bit disappointed.

Y'see, my introduction to Skoal Bandit was a big sticker on the side of a matte black VFR 400 driven by a lunatic courier. A big-hearted, talented, lovable courier, but a lunatic nonetheless. I was negotiating the Leopardstown roundabout one sunny, summery day when I heard a howling cacophony behind me. I pulled out of the way and this matte-black thing came past so fast that all I could take in was a Skoal Bandit sticker, a silencer made out of Heineken cans and a long leather leg stuck out in salute. I met him again more formally, later that day hanging out on Mount Street bridge with the rest of my colleagues.

I used to admire his fearlessness and his unrelenting energy and enthusiasm and I was simultaneously awed and appalled by his irresponsibility. He was the greatest, fastest, most natural rider I ever knew. He was heedless of risk and heedless of rules - he just didn't give a fuck! Everyone loved him. He was legend.

The other thing I associate with Skoal Bandit is a green Suzuki RG 500. I don't really know why this is so. Maybe I saw it in a magazine or maybe I saw it in real life - I can't remember. Anyway, the RG 500 was also legend and just didn't give a fuck!

It had a 500cc, four cylinder two-stroke motor, barely contained by a mid-eighties aluminum chassis shod with skinny wheels. It weighed a little over 150kg and made 94 horsepower with a vicious powerband. It was a lunatic bike. Some 30 years on, RG 500 motors are still highly sought after by specials builders. They're rare now and command high prices.

The last time I saw an RG500 was about ten years ago. I was stopped on Westmoreland Street waiting for the lights to change. The thing howled up beside me and sat there ring-ding-burbling in a cloud of blue incense.

Its pilot was wearing faded jeans and a khaki nylon bomber jacket with a telescopic aluminium crutch strapped across his back. His left lower leg was in plaster with his bare toes sticking out vulnerably. The lights went green, he crunched down into first gear with his plaster-cast and with a noise like tearing cloth, took off across O'Connell bridge in a rush of unashamed, infectious, mechanical joie de vivre, front wheel in the air. Into second, then third with his plaster shod foot, he maintained the power wheelie the length of the bridge.

I laughed so hard I cried.

Some things are just larger than life...

Skoal Bandit

Skoal Bandit

Skoal Bandit

Skoal Bandit

Skoal Bandit

#SkoalBandit #SuzukiRG500 #RG500 #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

1 comment:

  1. amazing bike thankyou for the share i have one but sadly rusty cranks big job now


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