Trial Guru ‘special section’ on classic trials, which include Pre’65 and what we now refer to as ‘twin-shock’ machines.
LIVING THE DREAM – ANDY HIPWELL & THE PRE-65 SCOTTISH TRIAL
Words: Andy Hipwell; John Hulme/Trial Magazine Copyright
Having ridden in modern trials from a very early age, Gas Gas UK Spares Manager Andy Hipwell decided he fancied a change, took the plunge and purchased a non-runner 1960 BSA C15 from his dad’s trial-riding friend Peter Cooper for the sum of £1,000.00. The attraction? The 2008 ‘Pre-65 Scottish’; welcome to his Highland holiday.
Andy Hipwell: Having made the decision that the Scottish Six Days Trial was not for me I decided to look at the Pre-65 event. With the two-day event based in Kinlochleven it would also give me the opportunity to tackle such famous SSDT sections as the steep rocky hazard named ‘Pipeline’, a trials section long admired by many including myself. “How good would it be to clean Pipeline on a Pre-65” – yes, a dream for many riders including me. The Pre-65 idea came to life when I mentioned to my father, Les, that I was looking for a machine suitable for this type of event; he mentioned this to his local trail-riding team consisting of himself, Trial Magazine Editor John Hulme’s father Ron, Phil Granby and Peter Cooper. Peter mentioned he had a non-runner tucked away in his garage, a BSA C15 of 1960 origin. I duly arranged to view the machine and decided it was all there – two wheels, frame, front forks and an engine – and all that was needed was some tender loving care. After a little ‘haggling’ on the price the machine was mine for £1,000. “What have a let myself in for?” was the question running through my mind as I loaded it into the van along with the usual ‘Box of Bits’ that come with these older machines – it always amazes me what people will save, and they always tell you how important the ‘Box of Bits’ is! When I got the machine back to the garage one of the first calls was to my good friend and Pre-65 hero Dave Thorpe, who gave me the heads-up as to what I could and definitely couldn’t do to my new acquisition in preparation for the big event.
So with the help of ace engineer Alan Whitton my first purchase was the favoured PVL ignition to get the beast up and running. Once I had the bike running I purchased a new set of shockers (Ohlin’s) because the ones that were on it seemed to just be something rigged to separate the wheel from the mudguard! When I say we had the bike running this is basically all it was, so the next logical stage was to try and tune it for the event of its life. Unfortunately, after my dad explained that I needed to ‘grind the valves in’ the engine was taken out only to find that a few of the old-fashioned English threads had previously been stripped – brilliant! Obviously none of my workshop – metric – rethreading equipment was any good, so a trip over to another good friend, bike engineer Dave Ashton, was necessary. With the machine back in one piece, it was time for fine-tuning rides up and down our fields trying to sort the carburetion out. A full two days and a new Amal carburettor later we had it running something like okay. Trying it out on some little rocky sections on the edge of the field gave me the first taste of what it was potentially capable of. Bring it on! It was then time to enter the famous Scottish Pre-65 event and so I sent the entry form off, hoping it wouldn’t go into the dreaded ballot and I would get a treasured ride in this famous trial. When the “Your entry for the event has been accepted” letter arrived I was genuinely quite excited. The next hurdle for me and machine to overcome was to actually test this budding partnership in full-on competition in the Cuthorpe Trial held around the Chesterfield area. All the local favourites were entered so all I expected to be able to do was try and make it to the finish in one piece. So realising I had only dropped a couple of marks up to the final group I was in good spirits! Unfortunately, as I have come to realise riding with my new-found competitors, these type of events are never over until you have ridden the final section. With one section to go my treasured little machine gave an unexpected cough and stopped dead – typical! These few extra marks saw me drop down to about 10th position; still a good result for me but it made me realise just how good the guys are who ride these old monsters week in week out. All in all I was bitten by the Pre-65 bug, but I realised I needed to get a lot more used to the characteristics of these fragile machines.
Here we go:
And so on to the main 2008 event. Working for Gas Gas UK I have been driving up to the highlands for the last six years with my brother Kev as backup for the guys riding the SSDT on our machines. This year was different, however, as I was borrowing Kev’s newly finished camper van; I turned off the main road and headed down the side of the Loch to Kinlochleven. No turning back now, this was actually happening! On entering the hub of the village I was flagged down by another good friend, local builder Martin Murphy, who promptly told me to park the camper outside his house and come and have a brew; great Scottish friendliness straight from the off. The big morning arrived and, along with all the other 175 lucky competitors, I had the bike checked over under the scrutineering tent and then nervously rode up the starting ramp. With butterflies whizzing around my stomach I was off on the most anticipated ride on the old machine. Being an even number, the awesome pipeline section was going to be encountered early on. Upon arriving at the foot of what seemed to be the longest section in history, the next job was to suss out the exact line of assent. Here we go then – concentrate, Andy! The first of the two subs flew by and with riders scattering left and right I took the little bike to within a couple of feet of the end cards before what I can only describe as a pair of suicidal rocks jumped out and grabbed at my wheels. So a couple of dabs later I was out of the top of the most famous section in the world – fantastic! The rest of the weekend’s event went by in somewhat of a blur, I have to say. I had some good rides but also had some disasters. The rolling rocks of Mamore Road are enough to test the best of the best. The big slabs of Blackwater Dam and the breathtaking scenery all around you as you ride is just simply magnificent, and to try and get the old heavyweight machines over the moor and back down to the village is just a nightmare in itself, even for the most accomplished of riders. Come the awards evening, all my new friends and a lot of my old ones were all there eagerly awaiting the final outcome. I told my brother I would really like two things to come from my first attempt at this trial: firstly to finish in one piece, which I managed, and secondly to try and finish in the top fifty. When my name was called out in fortieth position I nearly jumped for joy! Well that was it; one down, hopefully many more to go.
The disappointment of not getting through the ballot in 2009 can only be eclipsed by the jubilation of getting the go-ahead in 2010. My experience of the 2010 Scottish Pre-65 Trial went from strength to strength as my friend Martin offered me a room in his house in the centre of the village for the weekend, which in fact was the perfect base for the trial. As I set off down the start ramp I tagged on to a friend of mine, Chris Hague, aboard his immaculate Vellocette and we ended up riding around together all weekend, showing each other our preferred lines in the sections, some good, some not so good. We seemed to help each other along until we came to the dreaded pipeline section. Well, that year it all came together perfectly and I scored my first of two double cleans. Ecstatic would be an understatement! With me and Chris finishing the weekend only about two marks apart, we both enjoyed going up and collecting our first-class awards come the presentation evening. The following year, 2011, having being lucky enough to again get through the dreaded ballot, started a little strange. On going for a test ride on the bike up at our normal practice ground, Hawks Nest, I found the bike was not quite performing as it should. A quick trip round to ex-BSA works rider Mick ‘Bonkey’ Bowers’ garage had it running like a dream once more. Just a reminder how fickle these bikes can be at the best of times. The trip up to Kinlochleven was also different this year as I actually had some back up in the form of the new Classic Trials Bike test rider and partner Janice Proctor. Again stopping with Martin Murphy and his lovely wife Sheri – we seem to make more and more friends each and every visit to the highlands. At this year’s event I ended up riding alongside none other than the eventual winner Steve Saunders. Obviously he stole all my best lines in the sections (only kidding Steve!). Steve’s winning ride of only two marks lost didn’t really emphasise exactly how hard this year’s trial was. Although the weather this year was quite good this made for little or no water in the streams which, strangely, made them appear even more slippy than other years. Another first-class award finish was achieved, with only just a few marks separating the top 30 riders.
Andy Hipwell concluded: What an unbelievable Pre-65 experience I feel I have had, all starting with a desire to try something a little bit different. I have met some of the most helpful and kind people in the trialling world, without whose help I couldn’t have done what I’ve done. A big thank you to everyone, you know who you are. Long may the adventure continue.
With special thanks to Trial Magazine for the use of their article.
© – All text copyright: Trial Magazine UK – Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2017
© – Images: World-wide Copyright John Hulme/ Trial Magazine UK (All Rights Reserved) – 2017.
ACTION – PRE-65 SSDT
Nick Shield fuels up the Faber framed Triumph Twin at the start of the 2011 Pre’65 Scottish Trial at Kinlochleven
The idea for me to ride in the Pre-65 Scottish was conceived in July 2011. I should know better by now than to go out with my good friend and Classic Trial Magazine Editor, Mr Hulme, at The Reeth 3 Day Trial, as that is where most of his mad ideas are hatched which usually involve me! I did at least talk him out of riding the Scott Trial on a Pre-65! “What about the Pre 65 Scottish” he suggested. I quickly responded, “But I don’t have a Pre-65 machine” and then I heard those famous words “leave it with me”!
Words: Nick Shield
Pictures: John Hulme – John Shirt Snr
I answered John’s prayers over a machine when my good friend Andrew Bingley agreed to loan me his recently completed project, a Faber framed 500cc Triumph Twin with me thinking, ‘that should be heavy enough’! The pictures to confirm it was what we said it was were taken and the entry sent in. I was sat at work and the phone rang, it was my wife Diane, “There’s a letter arrived with a Scottish post mark, do you want me to open it”? “Go on then”. There was a silence and then, “you are a jammy bugger, you’re in”, I had an entry! It was then on the phone to ‘Bing’ and a quick trip to pick up the machine and get it sorted. The machine is nice looking but just needed the final little tweaks to make it ride nice, the suspension was sorted front and back not much though, just a change of springs and oil to the forks. The clutch needed two hands to pull in so a seven plate clutch was fitted with a new cable and the result was fantastic, result! So then it was off to our local practice area with good friend David Taylor who is a Triumph ‘Guru’. On my first ride down a rock filled river I thought, ‘what have I done, I can’t ride the thing’, but Dave soon stepped in, “It’s far too rich on the carburation, come down a jet size” and a twiddle with the magic screwdriver on the mixture screw and she is purring like a kitten. The problem is though she also barks like a pit bull when the throttle is opened. So with a couple of events under my belt we were on the road to Scotland.
Signing on takes place Thursday afternoon which is very civilised for trials and a chance to meet old friends with much ‘banter’ flying about concerning the trial and the machines. I was quite pleasantly surprised how much interest there was in myself riding in the event, problem is you never know quite what Mr Hulme has been saying! Friday arrived and as we were driving up the valley to Kinlochleven overlooking the loch we had sun, rain and snow confirming we were in Scotland. As I unloaded the machine from the van it attracted much interest from the usual trials enthusiasts but I concentrated on sorting out my rucksack I would carry and decided on what type of riding gear to wear as I decided we would run into showers. I was not worried about keeping warm as I was sure the Triumph ‘multi-gym’ I was riding would look after this. I don’t normally suffer from nerves but I must admit as I was getting to the front of the queue for scrutineering I was getting a bit twitchy. I had visions of being sent packing with my tail between my legs for some infringement. As it happened my worries were unfounded and I was soon on the top of the ramp being flagged away by George Greenland.
I was an even number (to keep the entry flowing odd numbers go one way around the course and even numbers the other) and so was off to Pipeline first, not what I wanted really as any Pre-65 rider will tell you this is the one hazard they want to clean. I was an early number and would have liked to have been eased into the event. Up we went, no problem. She rode the sections as if we were on rails with the exhaust note blowing small children over on the way, wow I was happy, maybe I could win! With a nice double clean to start I eased my way into the trial, the sections were perfect for the old machines with no tight turns, just straightforward ‘up and over’ type river sections. I rode all the Loch Eilde sections with no problems and then we arrived at Leacann Na Faire, section one. So I clean the hard bit no problem and have a ‘dab’ within sight of the ends card! I was a bit annoyed with myself but it’s better than a five! I rode the rest of the sections by Loch Eilde clean and arrived back at the start to refuel on one mark lost, happy. I then set off on the loop that the ‘odd’ numbers attempted first and arrived at Cnoc A Linnhe. I suddenly wished I was an odd number as the lack of water meant that the boulder type rocks in the streams had just polished up nicely with the muck that was being dragged on them by each machine. Whilst walking the top of the four sections I was constantly being told “everyone was cleaning it earlier” – brilliant! So off I go at full noise (it sounds lovely) and bounce off something about a quarter of the way up and proceed to ride up the right hand side where nobody has ridden before, scattering rocks and riders on my way, couple of hefty dabs and I was out. I had mixed feelings cursing I wasn’t at the section earlier, but considering the mess I got myself in, it could have been a lot worse. The next section at Pollock Hill was just the same, nasty slippery rocks, a thirty yard wrestle with the Triumph and I came out with a dab. The next five sections were all cleaned and I arrived at the top sub of Camas Na Muic. John Hulme was sat there with a stupid grin on his face; camera around his neck, “This was easy until about 10 minutes ago”, cheers John! A four foot waterfall had got a massive round boulder dislodged and sat about two feet away from the bottom of the step, not easy. There were various lines but I decided on the full on attack straight at both which meant I would be launching at full noise up the step, straight at John. The thinking was if I fell off he would be too busy diving out of the way to take any photographs! As it was the bike rode straight up with no problems, so I finished the day with a nice clean. Riding back to Kinlochleven I knew that with four marks lost already there was no way I was going to win, but it wasn’t a bad effort for my first try, and I could not remember enjoying a day’s trialling more!
Saturday morning and we are signing on at the school today, and what do you know I did better than expected and was up the pointy end of the results for day one. We were heading up the Mamore Road for our first sections and the sun was shining, happy days. What do you know the very first section of the day at Mamore I have a dab, let’s get it out of the way early I thought, and then promptly cleaned the harder top sub. The next three groups were ridden clean down the sides of the Mamore road; I must have stopped three times to ask if riders had broken down? The reply was always the same, “No its just riders looking at the view” so a couple of times I sat down and did the same. There is no time to sit and look in the SSDT, an event I have ridden many times, and I cannot remember how many times I had been down the Mamore Road and I had never stopped and looked at the scenery, ‘magnificent’ no other word to describe it! Next was a nasty section Sleubhaich, I had ridden this in the SSDT. A dab on the slippery slab at the end was needed and then across to Callart Cottage. These sections shouldn’t be a problem, and yes you have guessed a dab goes on the easier of the two, observed by Phil Granby. A nice ride over the hill then with magnificent views over the loch, I broke the descent up by stopping and having another sit! The next two groups had spectators two or three deep; the sunshine had brought plenty of people out, no more marks lost, so back to the start for refuelling. Pipeline was next; could I repeat my day one clean? The answer was no, I picked a bad line and paid the price, a slack dab was needed. Next the Aluminium Works with a couple of sections with a lot of spectators, two cleans and back to the start for a splash of petrol. Then we were off down the side of the loch to do the loop the odd number did first, Garbh Bheinn, Cnoc A Linnhe, Cameron Hill and finally Camas Na Muic with no more marks lost, so I finished with a score of eight.
Did I Enjoy It?
You bet I did! The two days had flown by. The whole event was so relaxed, no problem with time. I had over an hour spare both days and I had done my fair share of sightseeing. There was then the presentation on Saturday night with a really good turnout. I was awarded the Best Newcomer which amused a lot of people with me now being 50 years of age! I had dipped my toe in the Pre-65 world and really enjoyed it, so much so that there is now a BSA C15 residing in the garage, so I will definitely be back, ballot permitting.
With thanks to Trial Magazine UK for being permitted to reproduce this article.
© – All text copyright: Trial Magazine UK – Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2017
© – Images: World-wide Copyright John Hulme/ Trial Magazine UK (All Rights Reserved) – 2017.
Photographs and their copyright:
- We respect the copyright of our photographers who give us access to their work free of charge.
- Please do not breach copyright laws by taking images from this website for use elsewhere. Permission has been sought and granted from the copyright owners for the use of images on Trials Guru.
- We are indebted to our photographers for their continued support of this venture.
- Please be aware: All photographs displayed on Trials Guru are not held in any archive by the website operator, as the images are the legal intellectual property of the photographer only.
- We do not sell any images used on Trials Guru, if you wish to purchase a copy, we can put you in touch with the relevant photographer.
The Premier Trial Sport Website for photos, articles, news and the history of motorcycle trials