Rodger Mount

FORT WILLIAM’S FINEST

For a few years now I have been pestering a resident of Fort William to tell me about his trials riding days. Initially this fell on deaf ears – all the excuses were dragged out, such as “I have a terrible memory” and “nobody will remember me riding now”. I was undeterred, however; this man had been the Best Scottish Rider in the Scottish Six Days Trial in 1971, 1972 and 1974, I had to get his story. Finally, during a vacation at the luxury accommodation at his Fort William establishment, I wore him down over a perfect breakfast one morning. The proviso was that if he gave an interview, I had to be finished by eight o’clock at night as he is an early riser. Lochaber in North West Scotland has produced many fine trials riders over the years, and also several Scottish Trials Champions. This is possibly due to the Scottish Six Days Trial being run on their doorstep, where the terrain ensures a steady supply of ground to hone trials riding skills. One such man is Rodger Charles Mount.

Words: John Moffat (This article was written for Classic Trial Magazine and first appeared in Issue 38).

Pictures: John Moffat/Trials Guru; Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William (permission of Anthony MacMillan) – John MacDonald, Fort William – The Mount Family, Fort William – Alan Vines/Yoomee Archive – Eric Kitchen – Some images: Yoomee Archive.

Rodger Mount (247cc Montesa) on Loch Eilde Path in the 1972 Scottish Six Days.

Born in the March of 1951 in Inverness and raised in Fort William, Rodger was the oldest son of Charles and Elizabeth Mount. Rodger’s mother and Farquhar ‘Fachie’ MacGillivray were siblings, which makes Rodger Mount and Alastair MacGillivray, who was Scottish Trials Champion in 1974 and 1979, first cousins. Rodger was the oldest of three brothers, followed by Kenneth and the late Colin Mount.

Royal Marines

The Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, “In memory of the officers and men of the commandos who died in the Second World War 1939–1945. This country was their training ground.” – Photo: Yoomee Archive.

Rodger’s father, Charlie Mount, and business partner to be Mike Beacham, arrived in Fort William as Royal Marines in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War. Charlie was brought up in Birchington, near Margate, Kent and was a time-served bricklayer, as was Mike Beacham. Originally deployed on the Orkney Islands, when the commanding officer realised both men had a trade they were directed to the engineering deployment and began laying the foundations for the Army Nissan huts and buildings at Achnacarry Castle, the home of the famous ‘Commandos’ from 1942, based in Lochaber, which was to be their training ground. Most of the big houses in Lochaber were commandeered by the British Army for Commando training, including the ‘secret’ base at Inverailort Castle, close to ‘Piper’s Burn’ and the home of Mrs Cameron-Head, a supporter and landowner of the Scottish Six Days in later years.

Charlie Mount struck up a friendship with Mrs Cameron-Head, doing building and renovation work on her property after the war years in exchange for shooting rights on her property. When the war had ended, both Beacham and Mount had met their intended spouses in Fort William so they returned to make their home and livelihoods in the Lochaber town. They formed their builder’s partnership, ‘B&M’ – Beacham & Mount, which lasted for several years until Charlie Mount decided to go on his own and formed ‘Modern Builders Limited’ who had their base in Fort William’s North Road.

Schooling

Young Rodger was to be educated at Fort William Primary and Lochaber High schools.

Mount: “I couldn’t really be bothered with school, I wanted to leave as soon as I could; so at fifteen, I packed in school and began a bricklayer’s apprenticeship with my father’s firm, Beacham and Mount in Fort William.” Rodger worked hard at his apprenticeship and by the time he was ‘time-served’ he could lay up to one-thousand bricks or three-hundred blocks per day, and made a good living out of it.

Modern Builders Ltd yard in North Road, Fort William – Photo: John MacDonald, Fort William Collection.

First Taste of Off Road

When he was fourteen and still at school, Rodger and his good friend Alister ‘Queerie’ Weir were allowed to take turns riding around on Ali McDonald’s BSA C15T at the back of McDonald’s shop in Alma Road. McDonald was, along with his brother Hugh, an accomplished trials rider and had ridden the Scottish Six Days many times with their friend Ron Thompson. Rodger was quite taken with the little BSA and reckoned he could get good at this trials lark, so at the age of sixteen he bought a 250cc Greeves from local rider K.K. ‘Kimmy’ Cameron in 1967. He can’t remember exactly which Edinburgh-organised trial that he first entered, but he did pick up the ‘Best Novice’ award at his first attempt. At the next event he took the ‘Best Non-Expert’ award and soon rose to the ranks of a ‘Scottish Expert’. He learned his craft on the Greeves but soon needed something a bit more up to date.

Rodger Mount on his first trials machine, a 250cc Greeves bought from friend, K.K. ‘Kimmy’ Cameron. – Photo: Mount Family Collection.

Rodger was becoming a more forceful rider; being a bricklayer kept him physically fit and he was as strong as an ox. He was stockily built and was a rider who took charge of his machine. He favoured the state-of-the-art ‘knees bent outwards’ style of riding similar to Malcolm Rathmell. Mount was known to throw himself around on top of his machine to maintain both balance and forward motion, and refused to take a dab unless absolutely necessary!

Practice Makes Perfect

Rodger had joined the local Lochaber and District MCC, and his eye was firmly set on riding the big local trial, which of course is the Scottish Six Days. He entered the 1969 event, aged 18, on a new 247cc MK1 Montesa Cota and was issued with riding number 112. The Montesa was bought for Rodger by his father, who had taken a keen interest in his eldest son’s sport. The machine was supplied by Donald Buchan of Perth and registered LES711G.

Rodger Mount on the first of his 247cc Montesa Cota machines in the 1969 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William

Mount: “I had a new machine every year without fail; that way you had less effort to keep it running spot-on and I had a good wage packet from working for my father. I practised a lot back then, in fact I was never off the motorcycle, they were well used. Starting in 1968, for three years we had sixty council houses to renovate for Highland Council in Kinlochleven.”

Rodger Mount on the first of his Montesa Cotas at a Scottish national trial in 1969.

“I would ride the trials machine from Fort William over the hills and Mamore Road to Kinloch, timing myself for the journey. Then at lunch time I would go practising on some sections near the village, then ride home again at dinner time, then go out for another hour on some sections near the house after dinner.” Rodger found the handling and power characteristics of the Montesa Cota much to his liking and far superior to his second-hand Greeves. His first SSDT was uneventful but disappointing, as he failed to finish.

1970 SSDT on the 247cc Montesa, Rodger Mount tackles ‘Pipeline’ – Photo: Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William.

At this time he was riding in all the Scottish national events along with Lochaber stalwarts Allie ‘Beag’ Cameron, Archie MacDonald, James McManus and his cousin Alastair MacGillivray, known locally as ‘Ali MacGill’. The following year, 1970, Rodger entered the SSDT on a MK2 Montesa Cota and was allocated number 118. He came home a very creditable 37th place, beaten only by fellow clubman Archie MacDonald who had his best ever placement in 32nd place. Best Scot that year was Allie Cameron, also on a Montesa, with Mount fifth-best Scotsman. This made Rodger even more determined to better his score and final position.

Front Cover

In 1971 Rodger’s photo appeared on the front cover of the SSDT official programme, but not feet up; he was captured in a position where the front wheel had connected with a large boulder and was set to go over the handlebars on the famous ‘Grey Mare’s Ridge’.

Watched by Billy McMaster Jnr, Sammy Miller and SSDT Secretary, Jim McColm (on the far right), Rodger Mount comes to grief on the Grey Mare’s Ridge, this photo adorned the cover of the 1971 Scottish Six Days official programme.

However, 1971 was to be Rodger’s year, on yet another Montesa Cota, but the model with the much smaller and lighter alloy hubs. He was to win the Allan Hay Memorial Trophy for the Best Scottish Rider, in 12th position, and that made RC Mount the highest ever Scottish-born finisher since 1935 when Bob MacGregor won the second of his SSDTs. This record he held until Les Winthrop finished in ninth position some 19 years later. The headquarters for the ‘Scottish’ at that time was the Highland Hotel in Alma Road, Fort William. The daily results were posted up manually each evening and Rodger was astonished to find he was lying in 12th position. A local man who frequented the hotel bar ‘acquired’ the leaderboard sheet that night, and it is one of Rodger’s prized possessions from 1971 to this day.

One of Rodger Mount’s prized possessions, the hand-written Day 3 results taken from the master scoreboard which was at the SSDT headquarters at the Highland Hotel in 1971, (Photo copyright: John Moffat/Trials Guru)

Rodger also claimed the Scottish ACU Trials Trophy, wrestling the crown from his rival, Kenny Fleming. This was Rodger’s first title, just five years after taking up the sport, and he went on to dominate the series, being Scottish Trials Champion in three successive years 1971 to 1973. He relinquished his crown to his ever-improving cousin and travelling companion, Ali MacGillivray.

Mount: “I literally handed the 1974 Scottish Championship title to my cousin Ali MacGill. I had met my wife Dora in 1973 and spent some time with her when she was a teacher at Gracemount Primary School down in Edinburgh and I couldn’t be bothered competing in the final two championship rounds, and that gave the title to Ali!”

Alastair MacGillivray seen here in the 1980 SSDT on Cnoc A Linnhe, was handed the 1974 Scottish Championship by cousin Rodger Mount – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Bitter-Sweet

1973 was to be a bitter-sweet season for Rodger. He had bought a new Montesa for the SSDT, but he failed to secure an entry in the dreaded ‘ballot’. This greatly frustrated the reigning Scottish Champion as he had a good chance for not only the Best ‘Scot’ award but perhaps an even higher finishing position, having finished in 20th place in 1972 as a member of a Montesa team, but still no ride! Rodger approached the Yorkshire-based Dalesman concern through Competitions Manager Bill Brooker, who agreed to let Mount ride in the official works Dalesman team. This was the first time a reigning Scottish Champion had not secured an entry in the Scottish Six Days, the Scottish trials community was rather surprised at the time and the tongues were wagging.

Rodger Mount on the works Dalesman-Sachs in the 1973 Scottish Six Days – Photo copyright: Eric Kitchen

Mount: “I thought Jim Sandiford might have entered me in the official Montesa team as I had remained loyal to the brand, but his teams were by then full – Jim was a gentleman and couldn’t put someone out when he had already agreed a place. Bill Brooker came to my rescue and gave me a 125 Sachs-powered Dalesman that had been ridden by Peter Gaunt. It was quite a good machine really, but we couldn’t get it to respond correctly when we got it home to Fort William. I contacted my friend Ron Thompson who was a good engineer and mechanic, he played about with the carburetion until he got it running crisper.”

Grim determination written all over his face, Rodger Mount makes a concerted effort on ‘Laggan Locks’ on the factory Dalesman in 1973. Photo copyright: Eric Kitchen

Rodger weighed the little Dalesman into the Gorgie Market sheep pens in Edinburgh on the Sunday and noticed that the rear wheel had only one security bolt. He spoke to Bill Brooker, who said it would be fine as it was only a 125 and wouldn’t be a problem. He started off the week with some good rides and was in front of his two team members. On the Friday, however, the security bolt sheared, and it is not an item that riders usually carry or an item that support crews carry in vans either! Rodger had three punctures as the wheel kept pulling the valve into the rim, and he became two hours over the allotted time and was excluded.

Mount: “When Bill Brooker heard what had happened, he was not only horrified but very apologetic, it had never happened before!”

Montesa

With the bitterness behind him, Rodger switched back to his Montesa after the Scottish and bought another new Montesa Cota towards the end of the 1973 season, which was to become sweeter. The final round of the Scottish Championship was to end in a nail-biting finish at the Edinburgh St George Club’s Colonial Trial at the ‘Hungry Snout’ near Gifford in East Lothian, a four-hour drive from Fort William. Two riders had gathered enough points to win and were level-pegging going into the final round. They were Mount and rival Ernie Page, who had by then established himself as a British Trophy International Six Days Team rider. Page was the Ossa distributor for Scotland, Mount was on the Montesa. The Scottish ACU Championship was an 11-round series in those days and Rodger was keen to take his third Scottish title.

Mount: “It was a tension-filled day, I can tell you! Ernie wanted to be Scottish Champion as he had won a Scottish Scrambles Championship a few years before and this would have made him the only Scotsman to win both Scrambles and Trials titles, but I was riding well and wasn’t going to give in.” The final scores were tallied, RC Mount was proclaimed the trial winner on 33 marks lost, and the title went to the Fort William man once again. Ernie was runner-up on 46 marks. Rodger finished on the championship on 77 points, runner-up was Ernie page on 76, Alastair MacGillivray was third on 61 and Allan Poynton fourth on 53. MacGillivray was title winner the following year and Poynton became Scottish Champion in 1976. Rodger married his sweetheart Dora Black in 1976 after a short engagement and they had three children: daughter Laurie was born in the April of 1977; Roger, who became Scottish Youth Trials Champion and latterly Scottish Premier Trials Champion in 2004, was born in January 1982 and Steven, also an exceptionally good trials rider, was born in April 1983. Son Roger served an electrical apprenticeship with Archie MacDonald, another trials connection.

So why did Rodger Mount stop riding trials at the ripe old age of 25?

Mount: “The family came along and that took up a lot of time, I was still working for my father’s firm and, in 1978, he had bought the Cruachan Hotel in Achintore Road which is the main A82 trunk road. I had won the Scottish Championship three times, so I reckoned I had proved myself. It was a busy hotel, and I built the main extension, which doubled its size. I was also the breakfast chef, so I’ve been cooking full Scottish breakfasts for nearly 40 years! My Dad said I missed my vocation, I should have been a chef. I ran the Cruachan with my brothers for two years then I wanted out, so they bought my share in the hotel and I bought Myrtlebank to run it with Dora as a guest house. Then a few years later we bought the property next door, which had been hotel owner Ian Milton’s house and doubled the accommodation of the business. I was just too busy to ride trials. I had another go when I treated myself to a new 349 Montesa in 1979, but I had lost my edge and I don’t like coming anywhere other than first! I did the Scottish on it that year, but the gearbox broke and I was out due mechanical failure.”

Rodger made a return to trials in 1979 with this 349 Montesa Cota, watched here by his mother, Elizabeth and infant daughter Laurie Mount – Photo: Mount Family Collection.

Business Life

Rodger and Dora have built up a successful guest house business which is regarded as one of the best in Lochaber, all done through sheer hard work and maintaining high standards.

Rodger Mount hard at work as ever in the kitchen of the Myrtlebank Guest House, Fort William – Photo copyright: John Moffat/Trials Guru

Mount: “Quite a few of the people I rode in the Scottish with stay here at Six Days’ time; they have stayed here for years and so have their children, who now compete. We are usually fully booked for SSDT week and I start the breakfasts at 06.00am, so that the early riders have a good breakfast in them for the daily run – that is important! My oldest son Roger is a keen fisherman like myself and he also took a liking to the trials, so I bought him a machine and he was a natural at it. He became Scottish Youth Champion and then won the Scottish Trials Championship in 2004. He should have ridden for longer as he was particularly good, but then work and children came along.”

SSDT 2000 – Roger Mount – Gas Gas – Cameron Hill – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

“Steven was also an exceptionally good rider, he also had a natural talent for trials, and he too should have ridden longer. They both fancy riding the SSDT together next year – if they get through the ballot, of course.”

1971, left to right: Allie ‘Beag’ Cameron, Kenny Fleming, Rodger Mount and Alastair MacGillivray

On asking Rodger if he had ever been paid for riding or winning trials he smiled and replied: “Only once, Hugh McDonald told me that if I beat Kenny Fleming in the Scottish Championship to win it, he would give me 100 pounds. This was at the time when new Montesas were around 400 pounds to buy new. Well, guess what, I did beat Kenny and Hughie paid me the 100 pounds in cash.”

The time had flown by and it was now close to nine o’clock in the evening. True to form, Rodger took a yawn and said: “Right, it’s past my bedtime; see you in the morning!”

1971 SSDT with Rodger Mount at home on the 247cc Montesa on ‘Laggan Locks’

 Alistair MacMillan & West Highland News Agency:

Whenever the 1970s SSDT photos are looked at when pulling together an article, photos emerge with the copyright of Alistair MacMillan or West Highland News Agency stamped on the back. Alistair, affectionately known in Lochaber as ‘Scoop’, was a journalist and photographer. He initially reported for the Highland News, covering news and pictures in the Lochaber area to the extent that the local newspaper: ‘The Lochaber News’ was born. He also covered articles for the Press & Journal, playing a significant role in increasing circulation locally from six copies to around three thousand, as well as national papers and radio stations. 

Mr. Alistair MacMillan of West Highland News Agency was a great supporter of the Scottish Six Days Trial and made every effort to contact the daily newspapers with photographs and reports from Fort William and Lochaber during SSDT week each May.

The Express called him ‘Our man on the mountains’ due to the number of mountain rescue reports he covered! Alistair reported extensively on the Lochaber & District Motor Club and the Scottish Six Days Trial from the early 1960s, for both the Lochaber News and the Press & Journal. He also took footage of the events for Grampian TV, BBC and STV news as well as performing radio interviews for BBC Radio Scotland. A lot of skill and bulky equipment was required to do this back in the day! A trials magazine used his dark room to process their photographs and would take their prints, still wet, to the nearby telephone exchange for a wire-man to transmit them to make it for that week’s edition. Again, a far cry from everything being done from one device at the touch of a button and being instantly accessible. However, it was his forward thinking that meant he was the first to photograph all competitors of the Scottish Six Day Trials at a specific section, which gave riders the opportunity to purchase a copy at his office at 101 High Street, Fort William and later at the Milton Hotel, the Trial Headquarters. Alistair MacMillan’s images are now copyright of his son, Anthony MacMillan, who has given permission for Mr. MacMillan’s work to be exhibited on Trials Guru website.

Watched by local man, Archie MacDonald, Rodger Mount (247cc Montesa) in the 1972 SSDT – Photo: Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William.

With thanks to C.J. Publishing Ltd, this article on Rodger C. Mount was written specially by John Moffat for their Classic Trial Magazine in 2021 and first appeared in Issue 38.

Back issues of Classic Trial magazine available HERE

For more articles on Scottish trials riders, go to Great Scots on Trials Guru: HERE

Coming soon… The Rodger Mount Story

Mount: “It was a tension-filled day, I can tell you! Ernie wanted to be Scottish Champion as he had won a Scottish Scrambles Championship a few years before and this would have made him the only Scotsman to win both Scrambles and Trials titles, but I was riding well and wasn’t going to give in.”

Read all about one of the finest Scottish trials riders to come from Fort William, here on Trials Guru – Dedicated To The Sport.

NOW PUBLISHED: HERE

Manuel Soler Replica

Words: John Moffat; Yrjo Vesterinen

Photos: Bultaco Motorcycles; Todotrial – Horatio San-Martin; Malcolm Rathmell; Carlos Bosch; Yrjo Vesterinen; Barry Robinson; Eric Kitchen.

Manuel Soler – Photo: Horatio San-Martin/Todotrial

Manuel Soler, son of Juan Soler Bulto and the Grand-nephew of Bultaco founder, F.X. Bulto was a development trials rider with the family factory.

Sadly Manuel died a relatively young man in January 2021 at the age of 63. He was revered in his native Spain (Catalan) and after his death many tributes were made on social media and a trials series named in his memory.

Madrid trials enthusiast, Carlos Bosch a hotelier and lover of Bultaco motorcycles decided to create a tribute- replica of Manuel’s 1974 model 133, a machine that never reached volume production, but was a rare development model only supplied to factory riders and some importer supported Bultaco riders. The recognised number of these machines constructed was a lowly 13 units.

The factory prototype Sherpa T model 133 of French Champion, Charles Coutard taken in 1974, identified by Yrjo Vesterinen as the early type frame of the 133 model – Image Credit: Bultaco Motorcycles

Less than a handful were ever made and they found their way into the hands of Manuel, Ignacio Bulto, Charles Coutard, Martin Lampkin, Yrjo Vesterinen, Alan Lampkin and Javier Cuccurella.

Photojournalist, Barry Robinson tests the rare factory model 133 Bultaco Sherpa of Malcolm Rathmell in 1974. It is believed there were only 13 ever made and were supplied to factory riders only. Photo: M.C. Rathmell

Carlos Bosch was inspired by a photograph of Manuel Soler competing in the 1974 Scottish Six Days Trial in Glen Nevis, issued with racing number 37. The photograph is the copyright of Mortons Publications, Hornchurch and therefore we are not in a position to show the image. However, an artist made a caracatuer drawing based on the photo, which Manuel used in his social media pages.

Artwork based on a photograph taken of Manuel Soler in the 1974 Scottish Six Days Trial – Artist: Unknown

Soler’s machine was registered by the Bultaco factory in Barcelona as B-F-8896. Bosch realised that he had a healthy stock of Bultaco components that would possibly make a nice replica machine, so he set to work, using the photograph as a guide.

Factory rider Javier Cucurella on his 325cc Sherpa model 133 carefully guiding the machine over the rock slabs of ‘Edramucky’ Ben Lawers in the 1974 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo Copyright: Eric Kitchen

Bosch selected a Sherpa 250cc frame as a starting point, the short version used on the 1977 M190, which is almost identical to the 1975 model 158 frame.

Malcolm Rathmell on one of his special Bultaco Sherpa model 133 with English registration in 1974, this is probably the later frame type – Photo copyright: Barry Robinson.

The tribute bike motor is taken from the Sherpa model 199A, a 325cc, five speed from 1979 and creator, Carlos Bosch reports that it is a strong one and pulls really well. In keeping with the 133 model, the cylinder head has been copiously drilled to save weight and improve heat dissipation, as carried out by the factory at the time.

Fuel tank and airbox were taken from the 1975 model 159 Sherpa, which is quite fitting as that Sherpa model is known in Spain as the ‘Manel Soler’ the machine developed by Manuel in 1975 from the later version of the model 133.

Manuel Soler seen here in 1974 testing the prototype Sherpa model 133, B-F-8896, which the factory used as a publicity shot for brochures, posters and advertising cards – Image: Bultaco Motorcycles

Obviously the shape is not identical to the 133 model as the component was bespoke to that model and made of fibreglass, although a few had aluminium versions.

The 159 Sherpa tank was repainted and liveried to resemble Soler’s works model 133 tank – Photo: Carlos Bosch

The 133 frame was distinctive and unlike the previous and subsequent production machines. There was also more than one version of the 133.

The model 190 frame (250cc) makes a good starting point for a tribute-replica Bultaco, due to the curved front down-tube feature. Photo: Carlos Bosch

Trials Guru took the liberty of contacting three times World Champion, Yrjo Vesterinen, having been a factory contracted rider at the time of the Sherpa 133.

Vesty: “Of course I had a Sherpa 133, in fact I had two because riders who were not Spanish, did not have the opportunity to visit the Bultaco factory very often and it made sense to have a spare machine to hand. Manuel Soler, Ignacio Bulto and Javier Cucurella usually had one bike as they could leave their machine at the fatory for repairs and any upgrades or modifications. It was not a popular version of the Sherpa for the riders and there were changes made to try an overcome the rider resistance.

“The 133 was a true prototype/development bike and went through quite a few changes during an eighteen months development cycle. It was not the same as the model 159 which was mass produced from 1975 and known in Spain as the ‘Manuel Soler’ model. The steering stops were quite different on the 133, it used a bracket fixed to the steering head which comes up against a concentric pair of yoke stops, whereas the production Sherpa relied on two rods fitted to the frame with nylon bump stops which contact the lower yoke. The front frame of the early version of the 133 and production model 158 (250cc) are similar with the curved down-tube. The model 159 frame was different and based on a subsequent frame design. The engine of the 133 was set further back in the frame than the model 92 of 1973.”

Photo: Carlos Bosch ‘Manuel Soler tribute-replica’

Carlos Bosh’s Bultaco M133 tribute/replica – Photo: Carlos Bosch

“I have looked at the photographs of Carlos’s tribute Sherpa and it looks very nice indeed, he has captured the escence of the 133 without having the components to make an exact replica.”

A Sherpa model 159 airbox was used in the Carlos Bosch build.

“The airbox of course is not the same as the 133 bike, but the colour scheme utilised gives an acknowlegement to the factory model.”

The Vesterinen Sherpa 133:

Yrjo Vesterinen’s Bultaco Sherpa 133 from 1974, clearly shows the steering stop on the steering head, flat bottom yoke and the exhaust of that year used on the model 124/125 Sherpa. ‘Vesty’ retained this machine and is now in his private collection.

Vesty continued: “Comparing the tribute bike to my own 133, you can spot the differences, but Carlos Bosch’s machine looks very purposeful and I believe he is happy with the finished article. He has tried very hard to keep the machine looking similar to what Manuel’s works bike was like in the 1974 Scottish.”

Photo: Carlos Bosch ‘Manuel Soler tribute-replica’

The offside rear view of the Manuel Soler 133 tribute-replica.

Photo: Carlos Bosch ‘Manuel Soler tribute-replica’

The Soler 133 tribute-replica is a fine looking machine – Photo: Carlos Bosch

In memory of Manuel Soler 1957-2021

New! Trials Guru Archive

Just launched, the Trials Guru Archive, all the photographers accessible in one place on this website!

To make life easier and so that you can all enjoy the many photographs with this online facility, we have put all the various pages together in one section so you can browse or find photos easier than before!

All copyright is attributable to the photographer in every case. Have a look and see what is available on Trials Guru.

Link: TRIALS PHOTO ARCHIVE

Toshi Nishiyama, The SSDT and Honda

SSDT and Honda

Toshiki Nishiyama, known in the trials world simply as ‘Toshi’ was the first Japanese trials rider to ever take part in the International Six Days Trial and Scottish Six Days Trials.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat spent some time in the company of Japan’s trial super-enthusiast, at the 2018 Telford Off Road show and they talked about Toshi’s first attempt at the Scottish Six Days in 1971 and later events.

Toshi riding a BSA B40 in the Pre’65 Scottish Trial on Loch Eild Path – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

Toshi made many friends in the UK during his visits. Toshi rode the SSDT 7 times and the ISDT 10 times during his riding career which spanned from 1971 until 1990, he also organised many trials and enduro events in his native Japan.

Here Toshi tells us about his Honda connections for the annual event held each May at Fort William.

Toshiki ‘Toshi’ Nishiyama (247 Montesa Cota), the first Japanese rider to compete in the Scottish Six Days on Loch Eild Path in 1970 – Photo: Ian Robertson, Midlothian

Toshi: “I became the first Japanese rider to participate in the Scottish Six Days Trial with my Montesa Cota 247 in 1971, and on Honda’s four-stroke machine three times, including a TL125 in 1973, TL145 in 1974, and TL250 in 1975. In fact, it was the New Zealand rider, Tim Gibbs told me a lot about SSDT and ISDT when he came to Japan. When I first went to the UK in December 1970, Tim introduced me to MCN’s Peter Howdle.

When I arrived in London, Peter introduced me to Comerfords’ Derek Cranfield, and in turn, Derek introduced me to Bob Gollner again, and as a result I was able to join Bob and SSDT together.  In 1971, I participated in UK trials for almost a year, learning about rules, techniques, sections, courses, machine, management, and so on. I returned to Japan in January 1972 to promote full-fledged trials in my country. 

Mick Whitlock (left) discusses one of his frame creations with dealer, Bob Gollner

Honda then released the TL125, and three Japanese riders participated in the SSDT in 1973. The TL125 was still made with a parallel steering angle frame and front fork, and the steering was a little heavy. So I asked Whitehawk’s Mick Whitlock to move the footrests a little backwards, and then fitted a Girling rear shock for testing. The tyres were changed to Dunlop’s Trial Universal.

Toshi in the 1973 SSDT on the Honda TL125, watched by the official observer, Miss Margaret Muirhead on Coalasnacoan, near Kinlochleven. This is a publicity photo for a Japanese magazine.

I changed only one rear tire every two days, but when I ran for a day, I changed the direction of the tyre. I said that I did not change the front tire for 6 days, or I could only service the bike for 15 minutes before the start every morning, so I could not afford time. The 5-speed transmission was a cross of 1 to 3 gears, and the 3rd to 5th speed was wide designed. I dropped one drive sprocket tooth for the SSDT, and the maximum speed was about 85 km/h.

Toshi Nishiyama on the Honda TL125 tackles ‘Ben Nevis’ in 1973.

According to Honda engineers, there is no problem even if it runs with full open throttle, so I was able to start Edinburgh and finish the entire process of Fort William safely. Frankly, the four-cycle 125cc engine was powerless and most sections I had to run in 1st gear. Even if I try to start with the 1st gear, the climb slope is tight, the bike will move forward even if the rear wheel rotates, but in the 2nd gear I stalled due to lack of torque. I had no choice but to get into the section.

Toshi held on to the little Honda TL125 after the 1973 SSDT. One day he plans to restore it and ride for fun.

From my experience so far, the Girling rear shocks for TL was not the best, so I obtained a custom-made set from KYB who produced rear shocks for TL and TY for sale. The rear shock absorber of Toshi Nishiyama Special and the engine’s maximum rpm dropped because the displacement was changed, and the maximum speed was 80 km/h. However, unlike the TL125, the 2nd gear could be used in the section and the performance of the rear shock has changed significantly, making running in the section much easier. The front and rear wheels were buried even if it rushed in with the 3rd with TL125 to pass through the swamp of the mountain stream, and it was a thing that drained remarkable physical strength to get out of each swamp.

Toshi Nishiyama in 1974 on the TL145 at the SSDT

In that respect, it was a little easier to lose the bogland using the 3rd gear as it turned out to be a TL145. Of course, the running in each section also reduced the worry of stalling, and I managed to run through the ‘pipeline’ section with the 2nd gear. I finished the event and won a First Class Award.  I was so happy.

Toshi Nishiyama on the TL145 in the 1974 SSDT – Photo courtesy of: Alan Vines/Yoomee Archive.

In 1975, Honda released their new TL250, so I participated in the machine. The engine was based on the Honda SL250 trail bike, and the engine was also quite bulky and heavy. I think that there was certainly about 108kg. The only problem was that the vehicle weight was remarkably heavy and the seat height was also rather high.

Toshi with the UK registered Honda TL250 at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh in 1975 prior to the Scottish Six Days start the following day.

To be honest, the bike was too heavy for me who was small and had no physical strength. However, the torque became strong, and the stall due to the lack of power as before has been lost. The TL250, which was one size larger than the TL125 and 145, was a heavy, like a tank. I had a hard time picking the machine up when I fell off. And when you get over the staircase in the section, the engine spins for a moment. The cause seems to have been with the carburetor, and as a countermeasure, it was constantly overflowing to keep the fuel level, and petrol had to always be dripping from the overflow, and the fuel consumption was remarkably bad. I completed the trials and won the First Class Award again. 

Ace spanner-man Reg May, crouching on right, supervises Spaniard Javier Cucurella making running repairs on his 325cc Bultaco at the Scottish Six Days Trial in May 1976, watched by Toshi Nishiyama on the right – Photo copyright: John Hulme/Trials Media

After Honda, I rode the Scottish on Bultaco and had a very good relationship with Comerfords and Reg May, but that is another story.”

TOSHI NISHIYAMA

Nishiyama was so proud of his award winning at the SSDT that he had this decal made following his 1973 first class award. Photo: Toshiki Nishiyama, Japan

COMING in 2022

New, for the trials enthusiast, a forty years celebration since the only American to win a Trials World Championship, won the Scottish Six Days Trial, Trials Guru will present a new venture online!

I’m very excited about this new venture in 2022 and you’ll hear untold stories with GLOVES OFF. I’ll be expressing my thoughts about the sport then and now.” – Bernie Schreiber

‘GLOVES OFF – Bernie Schreiber’, will launch in 2022 on TRIALS GURU as a regular and exclusive column in the news feed, and will be archived on a page for trials enthusiasts.

Gloves Off Archive link: WATCH THIS SPACE!

The Gloves are off – Bernie winning the 1982 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo: Eric Kitchen.

WORLD CHAMP SCHREIBER Returning to The USA

Exciting news has been made available to Trials Guru that former World Trials Champion Bernie Schreiber will be returning to Montana USA on the 40th anniversary of his double US National Championship victories there in 1982 to conduct a two day trials school during an event of five consecutive days that includes the annual Whiskey Gulch Two-Day Trials in Butte, Montana, June 15-19, 2022.

Schreiber, America’s only World Trials Champion (1979) and Scottish Six Days Trial winner (1982) will be holding his signature “Master Class Experience” two day school to start off the festivities and will be the Guest of Honour for the ‘Champions Day’ celebration held on the third day. Schreiber will also take part in the finale, the Whiskey Gulch Two-Day Trials, an event that brought in over 100 riders from eight different states in 2020 as part of the Conquer The West Trials Series which began in 2017. This is a two day event series in the western USA where riders take part in at least four events to earn points towards their respective final positions and has expanded to include ten-two day events in 2022.

Montana is of particular interest to the 1979 World Champion ever since winning those two US Nationals on his way to securing the 1982 US National Championship title as the two events were a stark contrast of back to back days. The first National held in Bozeman on July 3 was very easy as Schreiber’s 7 mark winning score proved, yet the second one in Whitefish was anything but as Schreiber’s 144 mark score still stands as the highest winning score in the history of The US National Championship series.

Montana native Rich Hilbun organized that second record setting national in Whitefish and recently had the idea to contact Schreiber about returning on the anniversary to conduct a trials school. The five day format was the result of their following discussions along with Dan Larson of Mossy Rock Trials & Off-Road who organizes and sponsors The Whiskey Gulch Two- Day Trials which began in 2009 and has taken place annually without interruption since.

Schreiber, who has a very unique approach to instruction that combines elements of hands on riding together with a strong focus on the mental side of the sport said, “I’m proud to be Guest of Honor at the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trials in the beautiful state of Montana. The gold and silver treasure state of America is every trials rider’s dream destination to discover the outdoors and off-road riding. In 1982, I remember taking home gold twice in Montana. Rich Hilbun and Dan Larson at Mossy Rock Trials & Off-Road are excellent organizers and together we came up with a plan to make this happen. It is very exciting returning in 2022 to teach, ride and celebrate in such a memorable place. Who knows, I might take gold again, but will be very happy with silver as well!”

Hilbun, who made first contact with Schreiber about his return said, “ That second 1982 national in Whitefish, we set the sections up to be difficult because the previous round in Bozeman was so easy. The weather didn’t cooperate and it poured down rain. I remember Bernie saying it was like a round of the world championship. That was a great compliment and with Bernie doing his trials schools all these years later we thought to have him come back on the 40th anniversary, and are honored to have the legend of US trials return. Bernie made such an impact on the sport then and still today. We are all excited to host him as the Guest of Honor for the 2022 Whiskey Gulch Two-Day Trials week!”

Larson, who has owned Mossy Rock Trials & Off Road since 2011 and is an authorized dealer for TRS and Beta motorcycles, began his shop repairing bikes for trials riders primarily providing a means for riders in the South Central Montana area to have support and also specializes in restoring used bikes said, “ As the organizer of the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trials for the past 12 years and sponsor of the event with Mossy Rock Trials & Off Road since 2011, it is such a privilege to host America’s greatest of all time trials riders. We have such a beautiful trials area here near Butte and I am thrilled Bernie will be making history with us once again! We will have the following classes for the Whiskey Gulch Two-Day: Novice, Amateur, Intermediate, SR Intermediate, Advanced, SR Advanced, Expert Sportsman, Expert, Championship & Vintage/Classic.”

For information on the Schreiber Masterclass Experience Trials School and Champions Day, please contact: Rich Hilbun at trials213mt@gmail.com

For information on the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trials and partnership opportunities, please contact:

Dan Larson at dan@mossyrocktrials.com

Words: Matt Liberatore

Seven Years of TRIALS GURU

We have come a long way since March 2014 when Trials Guru was launched on the internet as a website and also facebook.

There are many pages of features, articles and information which records the history of motorcycle trials, the riders and the events.

It is almost impossible to record everything, but we hope that people the world over like what we do.

New features will continue to be released as they become available.

Remember to use the index and search panel to find what you are looking for!

SSDT Archive is open!

A new feature under ‘Major Events’ has been opened on Trials Guru.

Entitled ‘SSDT Archive’, it has just been opened by showcasing the front covers of the Scottish Six Days Trial programmes from 1947 until now.

There are still a few to be displayed as their images are currently being worked on, but the full set will be online for all to see shortly.

Some of the programmes appear for sale on internet auction sites from time to time and the older editions command high prices for a piece of trials history.

Have a look, there may be one that quite interests you.

https://trialsguru.net/ssdt-archive/

The Premier Trial Website – Recording the History of the Sport 'Since 2014'