Bernie’s SWM

Bernie Schreiber in 1982 – Photo taken from publication ‘Observed Trials’ by Len Weed & Bernie Schreiber

Back in 1980’s during the heady days of twin-shock trials and well before the advent on the internet,  information on trials was only available in paper format. No checking the results of your trial ten minutes after you got home on ‘Facebook’, you waited until Wednesday for the Motorcycle News or Friday for Trials & Motocross News to see if you had made the podium! There were books written on the subject by the stars of the time including Sammy Miller, Don Smith and where our story begins America’s Bernie Schreiber.

In the mid 1980’s Bernie co-wrote with American journalist Len Weed, a publication called ‘Observed Trials’. One-hundred and ninety-two pages of tips and techniques on every aspect of the sport accompanied by many photos of Bernie showing you ‘how to do it’. Many of the photos are from world rounds over a number of years, whilst some of the technical sequence shots were taken in America, with Bernie riding his 320 and 350 Jumbo SWMs.

Bernie Schreiber’s 1982 TL320 SWM – Photo: Martin Matthews

One particular owner of a well worn copy of said book is Martin Matthews, collector of SWM’s and the man behind the UK dealership, MotoSWM, the only full-time parts suppliers for the brand. Back in November 2014, Martin was contacted via his Facebook page from a lady in Los Angeles who told him she had an SWM for sale that her husband had bought from Bernie Schreiber about 30 years ago.

The 1982 SWM of Bernie Schreiber in ‘as found’ condition – Photo: Martin Matthews

A couple of photos followed of a slightly tired looking, but mainly unmolested 1982 TL320, that exhibited many similarities to the bike Bernie was riding in the book. Whether it was the same bike was difficult to say, but the story sounded convincing, so a deal was struck, and many months later the bike arrived in England.

On first inspection there was one very big clue that it was the real deal, on the front hub Bernie’s initials.

SWM front hub showing Bernie Schreiber’s trade-mark initials – Photo: Martin Matthews

A few years earlier at the Malvern Off Road Show, Martin had displayed Bernies 350 Jumbo that is owned by Stu Clements, which has the very same markings. Other similarities to the bike used in the book included decals, headlamp, trimmed down front mudguard and wider footrests.

Headlamp detail of the Schreiber SWM – Photo: Martin Matthews

Obvious works parts from the SWM factory included alloy swingarm, short kickstart and front brake arm.

SWM factory brake arm – Photo: Martin Matthews

Looking at the bike and comparing it to the book, Martin was convinced it was the real thing, but there’s only one sure way to prove it, contact the the man himself. That’s where invaluable help arrived from the extremely enthusiastic James Brown. James had interviewed Bernie for his ‘Retrotrials’ website a few months earlier and was one of the few people within the sport who had his contact details.

Martin Matthews: “A very in-depth report on the bike was submitted to Bernie direct, and after several e-mail exchanges over the space of a few weeks, he confirmed it was indeed his machine without question”.

Non-standard footpegs – Photo: Martin Matthews

Martin Matthews: “I have decided to keep the bike in as close to original condition, the motor has been rebuilt with new bearings and seals and apart from some minor cosmetics, it will remain the same as it was back in 1982 with original paint and even the original tyres”.

SWM short-kick start lever with normal item shown for comparison – Photo: Martin Matthews

Trials Guru’s John Moffat was indeed fortunate to meet Bernie Schreiber during one of his rare appearances in 2008 at the Robregordo Classic 2 Day Trial near Madrid, Spain. Schreiber was the Guest of Honour at the event and rode a Bultaco supplied by enthusiast, Carlos Bosch. By a fortunate set of circumstances, Schreiber was invited to attend as a result of a chance meeting of Sotobike club’s Manuel Casado who was on a business trip who literally bumped into Bernie at an airport. Dialogue exchanged and phone numbers taken, the result was Schreiber back riding in Spain in 2008.

Trials Guru, John Moffat (left) with 1979 World Trials Champion, Bernie Schreiber in 2008 at the Robregordo Classic 2 Day Trial, Madrid, Spain – Photo: Trials Guru/Jean Moffat

It’s great to hear of these very special finds of old factory bikes or machines with history such as the Bernie Schreiber SWM featured.

Bernie Schreiber - SWM - 1983 SSDT - JH
Bernie Schreiber in action on an SWM on his way to win the 1982 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo: John Honeyman, Markinch, Scotland

With special thanks to Martin Matthews of MotoSWM – Click HERE for MotoSWM website

Thanks also to James Brown of Retrotrials for permitting a link to his comprehensive article on Bernie Schreiber in 2014. Worth a read – on the RETROTRIALS website – For the full interview with Bernie Schreiber – Click … HERE Retrotrials


© – All text copyright: Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat and Martin Matthews – 2016

© – All Images: Martin Matthews MotoSWM, UK (All Rights Reserved) – 2016.

© – Image: Trials Guru/Jean Moffat, UK (All Rights Reserved) – 2016.

© – Image: John Honeyman, Fife, UK (All Rights Reserved) – 2016.

© – Opening Image only: Len Weed or survivor, USA (All Rights Reserved) – 2016.

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