Bowing out | 

End of a motorcycle column – so long, and thanks for all the thrills and spills

Finn Gillespie and his colleague Paul Browne are retiring the Bike Torque column but will still be found blazing a trail on a road near you

Finn Gillespie. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Finn Gillespie in South Africa for the 2008 launch of the BMW F800GS

Finn Gillespie at the California Superbike School in Silverstone, England. Photo: www.picman.co.uk

Finn Gillespie at the relaunch of the Yamaha V-Max in 2005 - that's him in the dragster

Finn Gillespie on a Moto Guzzi V85TT. Photo: Ernie Leslie

Finn GillespieSunday World

After 17 years, hundreds of columns and thousands of column inches, the Bike Torque column has finally reached the end of the road.

We brought you the first instalment in July 2005, and have had an absolute hoot since then.

Regrets? I’ve had a few, but there were many highlights along the way.

I got to ride BMW’s then new F800GS at the press launch west of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa – it was my first taste of really exploring the back of beyond on a trailie.

Finn Gillespie in South Africa for the 2008 launch of the BMW F800GS

I joined a group of wanderlusters as they completed the last leg of their trans-America motorcycle tour, from Alaska in the US all the way down to Ushuaia in Argentina. I hooked up with them in Santiago, Chile, before traversing the Andes countless times as we zig-zagged between Chile and Argentina and down through Patagonia.

For the relaunch of the iconic Yamaha V-Max, I got the winning ‘lotto’ ticket when my name was pulled out of a box containing the names of more than 100 fellow bike journalists.

What followed was simply surreal – me as co-pilot in a jet-propelled dragster driven by a crazy Frenchman as the Spanish air force did a flyover, Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamondsblasted over the PA, and we raced the reborn V-Max down an airstrip.

Finn Gillespie at the California Superbike School in Silverstone, England. Photo: www.picman.co.uk

I got to road-test every type of bike imaginable, from 50cc scooters to 1600cc inline sixes and beyond. I road-tested plenty of bike gear, all of which has the scars to prove it or has gone to the great bike gear cemetery in the sky.

And best of all, I made some great friends along the way.

Fellow motorcycle journalist Paul Browne is one of them – he took the reins in recent times when my ‘day job’ became too much to allow for a bike column on the side, and Paul’s witty and unique take on bikes kept the Bike Torque brand going.

Ciaran Hayes is another. His ‘baby’, Megabikes, has been the sponsor of this column for many years and he always helped out with test bikes and gear.

Finn Gillespie at the relaunch of the Yamaha V-Max in 2005 - that's him in the dragster

Aidan Lynam was another. He was the driving force behind RevUp4DSI, the original iteration of what us now RevUp.ie. Aidan helped set up the annual charity motorcycle event, which at that time raised funds for Down Syndrome Ireland. He tragically lost his life during the event in 2015.

Ernie Leslie and Kevin McNulty are two photographers who themselves had a passion for bikes, and took some great imagery for bike reviews.

Thanks also to Motormouths Robbie Farrell and Daragh Keany, who share with me a passion for all things petrol, diesel and (even) electric.

Finn Gillespie on a Moto Guzzi V85TT. Photo: Ernie Leslie

And a huge thank you to Sunday World editor Brian Farrell and his predecessor, Colm MacGinty, for giving a voice to Irish motorcyclists in the Sunday World.

There are countless others but I don’t have the space to mention them all. You know who you are.

You’ll still find me writing occasional bike news and reviews here in the Sunday World in print and digital or over on independent.ie. And for Paul Browne’s unique take on the world, check out motorcyclesonline.ie

Until then, keep ‘er lit.

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