‘There’s a guy works down our chip shop swears his Elvis…….’ Were the last lines of a song on the radio that we heard before we turned the car engine off. It was a good song by Kirsty McColl, that still resonates with people, even though it was released in 1981, which is a bizarre link. We had come to see a 1981 Yamaha TY125 Trials bike that I’d seen for sale in a local e-advert site. Just like the song, this little Yamaha was a thing of its time and in my humble estimation, would be an appreciating asset, or read another way, a good excuse to buy another motorcycle.
The the bike was located in the Vaud region of Switzerland. This region is unique for a number of reasons ranging from skiing to wine production. It also gets extreme temperatures from -20C to 40C, of which the latter temperature being just short of the melting point for a man like me from North Yorkshire, UK, Island in the North Sea. We had driven down the middle of the valley on the main autoroute and then taken a sharp left, up into one of the many small valleys. We drive up through vineyards which are classified as a world heritage site. The roads are just wide enough for the car, are stone walled in on each side, and the gradient is about 20%, or 1 in 5 in old UK hill climb measures.
The valley sides are terraced and the vines are grown in neat rows, just as you would expect in a perfect Swiss landscape. It is also grape picking season, so the vineyards are full of people harvesting the fruits of the vines. Half of the people picking grapes are the families that own the vineyards, or for the bigger vineyard owners, teams of workers, and all seasonal immigrants. Every country needs seasonal immigrants. Fact.
We climb, or rather the car does, from the valley floor, which is about 500 metres (1500 feet) above sea level to the village where the bike is located at 1800 metres (5400 feet). At this altitude, I’m already expecting the carburettor settings on the bike to be set for ‘altitude’. The village is at the end of the road. Beyond the village, there are only sheer mountain faces stretching into the sky another 2000 metres (6000 feet). It is a spectacular setting. The GPS on the car exclaims arrival at the location, but it isn’t clear in reality, which house is the right one, so we call the bike seller (he’s only the seller if I decide he’s lucky today. Maybe), and he walks out of one of the houses to meet us. We shake hands and follow him to the back of the house where we are met by stunning valley views, and a little Yamaha 125 parked outside a shed. The seller beckons me to look over the bike. The bike doesn’t look quite as good in the flesh as it did in the photos. However, its original and has potential. It also starts first time and I ride it around the yard. All is good, and after some polite haggling, we shake hands on a deal.
Looking around the sellers yard and into a number of the original Swiss Chalet style sheds, including a couple of more recent home-built sheds, there are other motorcycles that the seller is either riding daily, or renovating/modifying. He shows us around. I notice on the ground by one of the sheds, a radio controlled car. This small model car is designed to climb and descend rocky mountain landscapes. I look interested at the technology. The seller asks me if I want to try the little car out, which is like ‘YES PLEASE!’. After several minutes driving the car around the garden, I hand the controller back to our new friend and he shows me what the little car is really capable of, by tackling the fearsome rockery at the bottom of the garden. it does it with ease, or its a combination of car and driver.
We then decide to put my new acquisition in to the van and the seller helps us load up. We then prepare to say goodbye, and the seller asks if we want to join him for a glass of wine. Yes is the answer. It is about noon, or wine-o’clock, and we follow him into a traditional mountain chalet house. Its completely made of wood. We are greeted by the seller’s mother and father and beckoned to the conservatory. This glass building overlooks the whole valley and the October sun is pouring into the room. We sit down on wooden benches, and cold meats, cheese and wine is brought to the table. The next 90 minutes sees the food and three bottles of great, local Swiss wine consumed. Swiss wine is not recognised as a global front runner in the tasting world, and it is also not easy to buy outside of Switzerland, but let me tell you this for nothing; on this day, it was the best wine in the world. Try a bottle one day. You’ll see what I mean.
Prior to any wine consumption, we had agreed that on this occasion, my wife would drive back (this isn’t always the case before you pass judgement on me). This means that I drank more. As it was getting on for 2pm, we had to decide whether we stayed and drank all afternoon, then stay the night, which our hosts proposed, because neither of us could drive, or call time and head back home. We decided on the latter. We said goodbye and we drove back down the mountain into the valley. There is a point on the alcohol consumption curve where everything is fabulous in the world, and sitting in the passenger seat of the car, this is exactly what I felt. A grand day out, sunshine, vineyards, a new toy in the van, and a fab wife in the driving seat.
So, what about the bike? Well, its a 1981 Yamaha TY125 trials bike and it looks good, goes well and is sooooooooo original, that it has its complete original (that’s twice I’ve used the word ‘original’ in this sentence) toolkit, and original (3 times) handbook. The bike doesn’t look like its seen a winter, probably due to the fact that the village is under 1.5 meters of snow for 3 months of the year, and it hasn’t done may kilometres either. For a baby Yamaha motorcycle, it’s a top buy.
We get back to the house and unload the bike. I have few cups of sobering-up tea and spend some time looking at what I’ve actually bought. Its a nice experience. Before long, the clock in the hall announces the second ‘wine-o’clock’ of the day, so its back to that temporary and wine-fuelled feeling of ‘all is well in the world’, and actually, it bloody-well is!
All photos by the author