Suzuki Made in Canada

The title is perhaps a little misleading, but here we have a custom-built 125cc Suzuki trials machine which has been made in Japan, re-engineered in Canada, by a Scotsman.

The machine is the proud possession of exiled Scottish superenthusiast, Stuart J. McLuckie who lives in Thunder Bay in the province of Ontario, Canada and it is probably better described as the Mark 2 version of a machine he built and developed in the early 1970s when riding trials in his native Scotland as a member of the Edinburgh based Melville Motor Club.

Born in 1951, Stuart studied on day release at the old Napier Technical College in Edinburgh and took up employment at St Cuthbert’s Co-operative Society in the city. In fact the same company that gave Sean Connery of James Bond fame a job as a milk delivery boy!

Stuart worked as a mechanic on the company vehicles based at their Fountainbridge headquarters. At the time he lived in the Comiston district of Edinburgh and took up trials riding in 1968 riding a Greeves at the annual Edinburgh St. George Evening news Trial, progressing to a Cotton. He shared transport to events with Douglas Bald and on occassion, Ernie Page. He rode the first of his Scottish Six Days Trials in 1970 on a 247cc Montesa.

Stuart met his wife to be, Wendy Kingon-Rouse at the RAC/ACU Motorcycle training scheme at Edinburgh’s Gorgie Market, the scene of many SSDT first day starts. Wendy was a keen motorcyclist and was learning to ride on an Excelsior scooter, then progressed to a brand new 125 Suzuki, supplied by Graeme P. Chatham’s Abbeyhill dealership. Stuart also took up riding motocross in 1970 on a 250cc CZ.

The outgoing, effervescent McLuckie was also one of a gaggle of trials, speedway and motocross riders who took part in Scotland’s Ice Racing venture in 1972. Using modified 175cc Greeves/Puch Pathfinder trials machines, sourced from dealers in Scotland, they raced indoors at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Ice Stadium and at Aviemore. Wendy and Stuart eventually married and emigrated to Canada in 1974.

Around 1971, Stuart had struck up a friendship with Edinburgh dealer, Graeme P. Chatham, who was the main promoter of the Ice Racing venture along with Trevor Hay. It was from this friendship that spawned the special Chatham Suzuki trials machine, developed from the 1972 TS125 Trail model.

Stuart McLuckie: “We took a brand new TS125 from Graeme’s showroom in Abbeyhill, it was registered YWS11K and loaded it onto my Mini pickup and I set about stripping it all down at home. The bits I didn’t need were returned to Chathams and sold off as spares or used in their workshops to repair damaged machines.”

The TS125 was powered by a 123cc five speed motor which pushed out a creditable 9.7 BHP at 6,400 RPM.

Handily, the TS125 came with 21 inch front and 18 inch wheels which was ideal for trials use, but the little Suzuki had steel rims as standard, so an Akront flanged rim was fitted which took a 4.00 section trials tyre on the rear and an unflanged mudshifter style Akront with a 2.75 section up front. The original metal side panel ‘125’ badge was retained fitted to hand made alloy side panels and the original TS125 fuel tank was gifted a couple of sculpted indents at the nose to allow for tighter full lock turns.

McLuckie: “I admired what Peter Gaunt had achieved with his first Suzuki based on the 120cc Trail Cat, then another later version using the TS125 and I wanted one just like it, the TS125 was easily sourced and I got to work making a trials bike out of it.

The idea also came from a Suzuki (JOV198E) that Trevor Hay had from 1968 until 1971 which came from Suzuki GB and had been an ISDT bike converted at Chathams for one-day trials use.” Trevor handled Chatham’s advertising, so that was the original Chatham connection I suppose.”

McLuckie rode the Chatham Suzuki, called the ‘TC125’ in all the Scottish national events including the Loch Lomond Two Day trial. He made improvements constantly and the bike created much attention at the time and useful publicity for the Chatham dealership.

Time goes by and Stuart makes his living as a skilled machinist in Canada, but retained his love of all things motorcycling and embarked on various projects, building trials specials to amuse himself over the years. But there was a hankering to recreate the little Suzuki he enjoyed riding in his twenties in Scotland. Over the years, he kept a vast photographic collection of his engineering exploits and is always happy to show them to those that have an interest in trials machines.

The original Chatham Suzuki has long since disappeared having been sold into private hands in the mid 1970s.

How the ‘Mark 2’ Chatham Suzuki was created:

Having retired from the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company working as a machinist for thirty-seven years, the winters can be long at Thunder Bay and Stuart McLuckie gets restless if he hasn’t got a project to keep him busy.

So, to keep him out of mischief, in 2019, a worn out 1973 Suzuki TM125 motocross machine was sourced as the supply of TS125 model was, by now, virtually non-existent in Canada. This was to be married with a 1976 TC125 motor which was pretty much worn out. The TC motor had a four speed high/low gearbox.

McLuckie: “The frame has been modified front and rear,  steeper fork angle, and the rear subframe this all new. The wheels and hubs are original, rebuilt with stainless spokes and a lot of polishing. The forks are original but need some work on them, a wee bit on the stiff side. I hope that Peter Gaunt is up there smiling as he was the original inspiration?”

Stuart sourced the opaque white plastic mudguards from the UK through InMotion in Egham, Surrey as they looked better than other plastic guards on the market. The original Chatham Suzuki sported the popular VF (Vaccum Formers) black plastic guards of the period, now unobtainable.

Finished in a lovely metallic blue, as a nod to the Mark 1 Suzuki of the 1970s, Stuart has adorned it with tasteful decals which reflect the Scottish/Canadian connection and his trademark ‘Up Yer Kilt’ decal is on the front number plate.

A small decal on the tank spine, proclaiming ‘Made in Japan, Re-engineered in Canada’ is typical of the fun-loving Scotsman who is known for his quick witted, highly amusing comments.

Without a doubt, the Chatham Suzuki Mark 2 is a stunning little trials machine and if it performs as good as it looks them Stuart J. McLuckie’s time has not been wasted. No doubt this will not be the last of his winter projects, because you can’t keep a good Scot down!

UP YER KILT!

Derek Rickman

Derek Rickman of Rickman Brothers fame on his Royal Enfield Bullet – Photo: Ron Custard

Derek Rickman, one of the brothers who created the Metisse brand of bespoke motocross machines in the late 1950s has died today, 3rd July 2021 after a short battle with cancer. He passed away peacefully at Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington in the New Forest.

The Rickman brothers, Derek and Don were dominant in 1960s European motocross and developed their own purpose built machines using both Triumph and Matchless engines, having raced for Royal Enfield previously.

Dave Gittins in his book The Rickman Story captured the whole saga perfectly and their machines are classed as collector’s items in the current period.

Photo credit: Ron Custard

Ludo More 1937-2021

Lewis ‘Ludo’ More from Currie, Midlothian has passed away at the age of 84 years after a long illness. He was a long- standing member of the Edinburgh St. George Motor Club and competed in Scottish Scrambles and trials from 1954 until 1972.

Known universally as ‘Ludo’, he was Scottish 250cc Scrambles Champion in 1958 on a Francis Barnett when he was 21 years old and first worked as a salesman in the Edinburgh motorcycle trade in 1952, when he joined the large Alexanders dealership in Edinburgh. Eventually being told to quit scrambling as he may become injured, and the company would not pay for him being off work.

Undaunted, Ludo quit scrambling at the age of 25, simply continued to compete in Scottish trials instead and that seemed to satisfy his employers terms.

Ludo worked for Messrs. Alexanders, Tommy Hughson at Meadowbank; Reid Allan & Paterson at Broughton Place Lane and Ernie Page Motors in Polworth.

Ludo was to become famous with the Golden Jubilee Scottish Six Days Trial in 1959 as he was a team member of the Lambretta scooter team which included Alan Kimber and Geoff Parker.

1959 – Lambretta scooters fielded a team of three riders: From left: Geoff Parker; Lewis ‘Ludo’ More and Alan Kimber, seen here at the Gorgie Market start area.

The trio finished the event intact, which was a feat in itself as they must have ridden the most unsuitable machines ever to have entered the trial.

The three Lambretta Li models were entered for the 1959 SSDT as a publicity stunt to highlight the reliability of the Italian made machines. These were imported into the UK by Lambretta Concessionaires, which eventually became part of the Suzuki importer ship headed by Peter Agg.

In later years, Ludo had become a bit of celebrity in scooter circles due to the many cine films that were made at the time of the SSDT effort and in recognition of his achievement in 1959, was invited by the SSDT Committee to present the prizes at the awards ceremony in 2015.

Ludo is survived by son Colin and daughter Sandra.

Funeral Arrangements:

Ludo More’s funeral will take place on Friday, 2nd July at Mortonhall Crematorium, Edinburgh at 11am. Attendance will be by invitation only and available online, see below.

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Gwyn Chambers 1934-2021

Words and photos – Mike Davies

Trials and Scrambles rider, Gwyn Chambers from Brecon in South Wales passed away on June 1st 2021.

Gwyn had ridden a variety of different makes of trials machines and appeared on the scene as a teenager in 1953 when he started winning awards.

That year he was selected to to represent the East South Wales Centre in the Inter Center team trial held near Luton. It would appear that he started riding on a 125cc Tandon followed by a HJH, several James models then a 250cc Greeves before gaining sponsorship from the Cotton factory who supplied him with scrambles and trials machines.

Gwyn trained as a plumber when he left school but in 1956 whilst serving in the Army on his National Service, he was selected to ride a 350cc BSA Gold Star in the ISDT held in West Germany where he gained a silver medal.

One of Gwyns favourite events was the Scottish Six Days Trial in which he competed several times winning special first class awards.

In 1965 he gave up motorcycling for a while and followed his brother into competing in car road rallies. He started in a most unlikely vehicle being a Ford Cortina Estate, quickly followed by a very trick Ford Anglia with a special engine provided by the Ford Factory.

Gwyn ran a garage and tyre depot in Brecon until he retired at the age of 65 and took up golf as a hobby as well as enjoying skiing holidays with his family.

I am grateful to Gwyn’s family for loaning me pictures of Gwyn that he had obviously treasured.

Did you miss the SSDT?

Don’t worry, you can listen to all the interviews and chat that went on Nevis Radio during the week that the 2021 SSDT should have taken place in Fort William and beyond.

Every day is listed below, click on the links:

Monday:

Nevis Radio – Day 1 of the Virtual SSDT 2021

Tuesday:

Day 2 of Nevis Radio Virtual SSDT 2021

Wednesday:

Day 3 of Nevis Radio Virtual SSDT 2021

Thursday:

Day 4 of Nevis Radio Virtual SSDT 2021

Friday:

Final Day of Nevis Radio Virtual SSDT 2021

Peter Valente 1953-2021

Peter Valente enjoying the Highland Classic – Photo: Iain Lawrie

Funeral Arrangements:

Peter C. Valente’s funeral will take place on Friday, May 28th at 2.00pm at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh, EH7 4HW (off Ferry Road). Due to ongoing Covid restrictions, attendance will therefore be limited and by invitation, however it is intended that the funeral will be broadcast, details are as follows:

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The Scottish Trials community was both saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of Peter C. Valente on Sunday 2nd May 2021.

Peter Cosmo Valente was a trials rider from Edinburgh who rode his first trial in April 1971, The Campbell Trophy Trial organised by the Dunfermline and District MCC on his four-speed Bultaco Sherpa.

Sadly, Peter died after suffering a suspected heart attack at a trial run in Fife, exactly 50 years later. He competed every season from 1971 to 2021.

He had ridden events for 50 years and died doing what he not only enjoyed, but was passionate about.

Peter had been participating at the East Neuk club’s trial at Drumcarro, near St. Andrews in Fife when he felt unwell, returning to his vehicle. There were first aiders present and then Paramedics who did their utmost to revive him, but sadly he slipped away peacefully.

Peter was born in Edinburgh in June 1953 and was Trials Secretary of the Melville Motor Club in the 1970s. He was also a member of the Hawick & Border club and latterly had been actively helping the Galloway MCC set up their trials section.

He enjoyed road runs and took part in the annual Moidart Run and T. Arnott Moffat Memorial Run since its inception in 2017. Peter always turned up with something interesting and enjoyed the cameraderie and friendship of like-minded enthusiasts.

Peter and his younger brother Simon were active riders in trials both north and south of the Scottish border. He was the type of person that proved you did not have to be a ‘top flight’ rider to gain the respect and comradeship of other competitors and officials in the sport.

Peter also enjoyed fun at events and around 1975, he and brother Simon appeared at an Edinburgh St George trial wearing bright red jerseys that were almost identical, but written in block capitals on the backs were the words: “THIS ONE” and “THAT ONE”.

Peter was inspired to ride trials in February 1968 while spectating at the Edinburgh Southern ‘Coronation Trial’ which took place near Bathgate, West Lothian and was bitten by the trials bug.

Over the years, Peter owned just about every trials bike known to man, this included his first Bultaco Sherpa four-speeder, progressing to five 5-speed Bultacos,  one of first Mk 2 Ossa MARs in Scotland, then a Kawasaki KT250  followed by a Honda TL250 which he found overweight and didn’t keep it long. He also owned one of first Beamish Suzukis in Scotland, followed by a Montesa 348, Fantic 200, Yamaha TY250 and latterly a Montesa 4RT.

Peter competed in two Scottish Six Days Trials. His first was in 1977 on the Beamish Suzuki, but the front forks compressed heavily and failed to rebound, he soldiered on with no front suspension for a couple of days but cried enough and was forced to retire. Undeterred, Peter returned six years later in 1983 on the 156 Fantic when he finished in 206th position and he was satisfied that he had taken on and finished the historic event.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat gave his own personal tribute:

I have known Peter Valente since he first started riding, three years before I took up the sport, as I observed at Scottish trials for five years prior to riding myself. He was the sort of person that was easy to talk with and when I got a bit older, I was in Peter’s company along with his brother Simon, Graham Smith, Dave Mowat and Roy Kerr when we all were members of the Hawick & Border club which was run by the Smith family and some others.

I remember when we all went south to spectate at the Scott Trial, in 1978 and we all squeezed into Peter’s Renault 5 car and followed round the course, stopping off at various sections to watch the aces at work. We had the time of our lives that October Saturday and on several occassions Peter had the little Renault airbourne. Going up was fine, but the landing was rather interesting!

I discovered that Peter’s middle initial ‘C’ was actually ‘Cosmo’ and this highly amused us all, because there was a television character at the time portrayed by Les Dawson called ‘Cosmo Smallpiece’. We all thought it highly amusing, well all except Peter, and when he got over the initial ridicule, he actually entered a few events as ‘Cosmo Valente’.

Peter C. Valente was a keen trials rider, an enthusiastic road rider, cyclist and sportsman. He was highly regarded by all who knew him. He never lost his schoolboy enthusiasm for the sport and the pastime of motorcycling. I had heaps of respect for Peter and also his brother Simon, they were a fine pair of brothers.

We had the best of times and the best of friendships.”

G.F. Smith; J.O. Moffat; P.C. Valente & R.A. Kerr – Photo: Eric Kitchen

Gordon Jackson on Nevis Radio

Make a note in your diary to tune into Nevis Radio on Monday 3rd May at 09:00 (GMT) when you will hear the 1961 SSDT winner Gordon Jackson discuss his Scottish Six Days victory, 60 years on!

Gordon has retired to near Bordeaux in France, but he will be linking up live with the Fort William based radio station to take us back over half a century to hear about his famous of all his four Scottish victories on 187BLF, the factory AJS that now resides in Sammy Miller’s Museum.

What a week we have lined up for listeners both local and worldwide from Monday 3rd to Friday 7th May when Scottish week should have been on!

Listen to Nevis Radio HERE

SSDT 2021 on Nevis Radio

We all know that the actual 2021 Scottish Six Days Trial has had to be cancelled due to the worldwide pandemic, BUT… just for SSDT fans –

Nevis Radio will be transmitting from Monday 3rd May to Friday 7th May a special two hour daily show about the SSDT. Live from the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Fort William!

Trials Guru – 2016 SSDT Nevis Radio – © – Image: Trial Magazine UK

Supported by Trial Magazine and Michelin Competition Tyres, Simon Abberley and John Weller, in association with Trials Guru‘s John Moffat will jointly host a star-studdied line up of guests for the week.

Simon Abberley will be on hand to twiddle all the knobs to make sure we all hear Nevis Radio during SSDT week!

Trial Magazine UK’s John Hulme will also be on hand to talk about the annual event.

Eric Kitchen (left) with John Hulme of Trial Magazine (right) – Photo copyright: Heath Brindley

You don’t need to live in Fort William to listen either, its available on your device: HERE

We kick off at 09:00 GMT on Monday 3rd May until 11:00 GMT daily until Friday 7th May.

Go on! Set your reminders now, so that you don’t miss the SSDT action and chat!

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