During a recent discussion on the Ducati ST owners’ list about the relative merits of kickstarts and electric starts, I was forcibly reminded of a friend’s 1954 BSA B33 500cc single. Despite having the flywheel mass of the Brooklyn/Forth (choose according to domicile) bridge, it would frequently not-quite-make-it past TDC and kick back with the full force of its very long stroke. But in slow motion, as befits a very leisurely motorcycle (at ‘touring’ revs it was firing every other streetlight). Quite enough to cause any or all of: knee to hit chin (moral: don’t stick your tongue out while kickstarting a motorcycle); knee to hit handlebar with eye-watering force; or, and from the spectator point of view, finest of all, to fire the entire hapless and sweating human being into orbit – half a dozen of these things in sync and Britain would have won the space race years before Gagarin and Thunderbirds got in on the act. Landing was iffy – I’d arrive in the gutter, do a half roll and rise to my feet just in time to watch the thing gracefully keel over sideways and land with the metallic sigh of a job well done. I like – I REALLY like – electric starts.