It was love hate love disappointment joy…

Ahhh me old Gilera Apache 125, 32bhp of loosely associated faults and bodges, removable L plates and great lights, a bike designed to be the coolest thing outside the chip shop, but still so full of hugely advanced features (for 1993) that it should have changed the shape of trail bikes for ever…. the mechanical design was so very clever it was still inspiring a lot of the best bikes until the middle of the last decade…

Alas it was just made at a factory where people only got paid every now and then, and the german electrical component company, who sold Gilera all the electrical bits had them specially made for the Italians in China out of salty sausage painted to look like copper connectors, so the electrics had a mind entirely of their own. I got mine in 2004 for £400 almost unused, it had been in a packing box for ten years held by the receivers when the factory went bankrupt in 1994. Legend has it Gilera knowing that they were on the verge of ruin put every good idea they had into a single great bike hoping it would turn some kind of miracle and turn the company around, and it nearly did, but the factory when bust just as they were about to ship them. So the first batch sat in sealed boxes for ten years while the rest of the bike industry did catch up. What a pity, who knows what Gilera could have done next.

I will remember it fondly, it could do the ton and (if the going was not too tough) it could hall itself over some off road stuff in a very quick and tidy way. Incredible amount of fun for £400. I have ridden a lot of off road bikes since but somehow the memory is still so good, I blame those rosy specs.

One sunny day I came out of a meeting in central london and it was gone; no sign of broken locks or metal filings. I asked the police to show me the traffic camera videos that must have filmed the whole theft but they declined to do anything at all to help recover it, I can only assume it must have been stuffed into some van, locks and all, by some scumbags… or maybe carried off by half a dozen 13 year olds. I guess it sleeps at the bottom of some canal somewhere… RIP Apache gone to meet your makers in the sky.



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