Alan Shepherd and Walter Kaaden

Posted on: 01.26.10

This was a letter I received from one of my boyhood heroes Alan Shepherd. At the age of 12 I had been given my first set of oil paints and the first painting I did with them was one of Alan on Tom Kirkby’s G50 Matchless.Thirty four years later I was racing at Scarborough and Alan was parading his MZ . I introduced the adult me to Alan and was suprised and delighted that he remembered the painting and even better, he told me the great Walter Kaaden had admired it so much Alan gave it to him to hang in his home in the old East Germany.

2 comments for this entry:
  1. A comment from: andrew

    great pic, wonder where this mz bike is now, i have 14 in my collection

  2. A comment from: Ray Battersby

    I too recall meeting Alan Shepherd at Fleetwood at about the time that you gave Alan your painting. He came to give a talk to the Fleetwood Motorcycle Club in a first floor room above the bar of a town-centre pub. Alan came with his pal and fellow MZ rider Derek Woodman and they brought with them the only MZ roadster in Britain (which they were using as publicity in their still-born project to be the first UK importers of MZ motorcycles). Alan had also brought his Honda 250-4 factory racer which stood in the central aisle of the meeting room.

    At around ten o’clock, just as the talk was ending, somebody asked Alan if he’d start the Honda. Alan obliged and I recall a guy cupping his hands around the rear tyre and yanking upwards in short, sharp bursts whilst Alan sat astride the machine in gear and on its stand. GRRR!………GRRR! GRRR!……….GRRR! GRRR! GRRR! BURBLE.

    And so it went on, the Honda bellowing bursts of beautiful burbles around the small room. But the engine just refused to catch on. “Let’s take it down and start it on the road outside,” somebody suggested. The factory bike was carried aloft by many willing members down the stairs and into the street outside. It was winter-time and it was cold and very dark. Within a couple of attempts, Alan had bump-started the Honda and yowled off along the deserted promenade, the noise from the four long, open megaphones bouncing off the seafront B&Bs. Lights came on in bedrooms as Alan made a fairly fast turn and before any police arrived, he had wheeled the bike into the back of his van. This has been a vivid memory of mine for the past 45 years.

    Fifteen years later, Alan was working for Sun Testers as their sales representative. He used to visit me when I worked at Suzuki in his attempts to persuade me to issue a dealer bulletin recommending Sun Analytical Testers. He was a most charming man but one who very easily forgot the start of his sentence before he’d finished it. I believe this was probably the effect of his motorcycle accident. Alan possessed a really gentle nature and was incredibly thoughtful too; my secretary was very impressed when Alan once returned with some flowers after she had mentioned an upcoming wedding anniversary.

    Oh yes. He was also an extremely talented motorcycle racer.

    Did Suzuki ever recommend Sun Testers? Despite Alan’s disappointment we just couldn’t. Their high prices (being a US import) sealed their fate. I think he may have had more luck with BMW.