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I don't go out of my way to select the unorthodox – there's just some sort of natural affinity: so my first bike was an MZ, just like my first databases were all Pick O/S and my first computer was an Amiga.

MZ are - or were when I first had anything to do with them - sturdy single-cylinder two-strokes renowned for their road-holding and, er, well-known for their appearance. My first, recommended by a crony who had had already lost count of the number of machines he'd had, was almost immediately christened Plug. This was the shorter, politer form of 'filthy, dirty, oil-swilling, plug-eating heap', but the name stuck even after I had to my surprise been successfully coached through stripping and rebuilding the engine to replace worn oil-seals and bearings.

My current machine, languishing unridden in a friend's shed until we get organised enough to bring him triumphantly to his new home in the first garage I have ever owned, is Harvey. The dealer in Nice said he was one of the last machines to come through under the old Eastern Bloc arrangements, so they must have been banging at the Wall as he left the works in Zschopau. Strange how astonished people on BMWs and 1100-plus Jap machines can look when they realise that's a 250 coming up the Alpine pass toward them with a sidecar.

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