4 June 2012

Ful-Phil-ED: Avid collector Phil Shore explains how and why he picks his motorcycles

Like many kids, I made the testosterone-fueled transition from bicycles to minibikes to Honda 90s around age 13. Already a budding scientist in school, I voraciously studied every book and magazine article on motorcycles and their technology that I could find.

My addiction began in the spring of 1970. A friend of mine had just purchased a brand-new Kawasaki Mach 3 500 two-stroke. Being a trusting sort he handed me the keys. At around 4000 RPM as the front end began to rise off the pavement under full acceleration, the boy became a man. That same week I read the famous article in Cycle Magazine: "The Big Seven – Superbike Comparison Test.” This seminal article with its scientific approach to measuring performance cemented my addiction to speed, performance and the technological advances that created them.

From that month on, the technological and performance revolution advanced rapidly. Like world records in sports, quarter-mile times would drop by tenths of a second, and top speeds would increase by 2 to 3 miles-per-hour every year over the next decade. Each year, a new comparison test would create a new “King of the Hill” superbike, and a new object of lust. On weekends, I would take a break from my medical textbooks for an hour or two, and read all the motorcycle magazines from cover to cover.

Then I got busy with medical school, residency training, marriage, children and building my practice. But I never forgot my addiction to and passion for those superbikes; I had always wanted the fastest and best-performing machine (as scientifically documented in the comparison tests) available from that past era. I also wanted motorcycles that featured various engine configurations and engineering features that resulted in improved performance. This became the focus of my collection. When I finally had the ability to acquire the bikes of my past dreams — I did. More than 20 years ago I made a list, starting in 1969 and ending in 1980. Averaging one motorcycle per year, I acquired most of the motorcycles on my list.

(Click here for more about Phil Shore's collection.)

The first bike I acquired that fit the theme of my collection was a 1973 Triumph Trident. I was actually searching for a BSA Rocket Three, but could not find one in good condition (though I soon would). The BSA Rocket Three and the Triumph Trident embraced both old-school looks and superior handling characteristics with superbike performance. The BSA Rocket Three, ridden by Dick Mann, won the Daytona Superbike race in 1971. It would be the last hurrah for British motorcycle dominance in motorcycle racing.

I have been collecting literature and studying motorcycle evolution. I see my collecting focus now shifting to the superbikes, or technological marvels of previous eras. Examples include an early Harley belt drive, a 1920s Cleveland four-cylinder and an Indian 101 Scout, a 1930s OHV Knucklehead Harley-Davidson and a Brough Superior, a 1940s Crocker and a 1950s Vincent, as well as a Norton Manx. I'm also still keeping my eyes open for a few ’70s bikes, including an MV Augusta, a Laverda and a 1978 Kawasaki Z1R-TC Turbo.

As a physician, my profession demands the highest level of mental and emotional focus in the care of my patients. However, in my spare time, my motorcycle collection instantaneously transports me back to a time when a boy became a man. This balance between my profession and my passion for collecting keeps me “Ful-Phil-Ed!”

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