You may be forgiven if you haven’t realised that in May this year it will be fifty years since Samuel Hamilton Miller won the Scottish Six Days Open Reliability Trial on his 244cc Bultaco Sherpa registered as 669NHO.
Miller had left Ariels to ride for the Catalunian manufacturer based at San Adrien De Besos, part of Barcelona in late 1964 to develop the Bultaco Sherpa into a machine that was to change the face of motorcycle trials forever.
The defection to the lightweight Bultaco signalled the end of the big four-stroke single as the bike to win at trials.
There is a celebration of the marque in July this year at the Circuit De Barcelona.
Sammy went on to further develop the machine and many British born riders followed him to ride for the Spanish factory, riders such as Malcolm Rathmell and the first winner of the world championship, Martin Lampkin with Frenchman Charles Coutard and Finland’s Yrjo Vesterinen who was to win three world Championships for Bultaco.
The Bultaco Sherpa was a revelation as it weighed much less than its competitors with a 52 inch wheelbase it handled and steered much better than its rivals and pulled well from low revs. It turned novice riders into award winners.
Well restored examples of the four-speed Model 10 Sherpa still command high prices, if you can find one for sale as these are very much collector’s items.
Miller had written into his contract with Senor Bulto, that if he didn’t win more than 50% of all events he entered, then Bulto was not obliged to pay Miller’s salary! Of course, Sammy did win more than 50% of the events and was so confident of doing so.
Miller told Trials Guru: “If I didn’t win all those events on the Bultaco, it wasn’t worth my time competing in the first place”.
However, Sammy Miller wasn’t the first to compete in the famous Scottish Six Days Trial on a Barcelona-built Bultaco, it was a Lancastrian rider called Tommy Ollerton who rode a 200cc Bultaco Sherpa N in the 1962 event. Ollerton’s machine was registered in the UK as PDV700. Tommy Ollerton rode in company with Oriol Puig Bulto, nephew of Senor Bulto, having travelled all the way from the factory to Edinburgh in a Fiat 500 car with a two bike trailer attached, carrying two Sherpa N models, one for himself and the other for Ollerton, who was supported by Anellays of Blackburn, Lancashire.
Having said that, it was Miller who gave the factory it’s first Scottish Six Days win and that is a major part of both the event and motorcycle trial history.