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.
Photos: Bultaco Motorcycles; Todotrial – Horatio San-Martin; Malcolm Rathmell; Carlos Bosch; Yrjo Vesterinen; Barry Robinson; Eric Kitchen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 133 frame was distinctive and unlike the previous and subsequent production machines. There was also more than one version of the 133.
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’
“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.”
“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:
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’
Photo: Carlos Bosch ‘Manuel Soler tribute-replica’
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After Honda, I rode the Scottish on Bultaco and had a very good relationship with Comerfords and Reg May, but that is another story.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trials and partnership opportunities, please contact:
The trials world on the south east was saddened by the death of well-known trials rider, Alan Ketley.
Alan was an accomplished rider in the SE ACU centre and at one time worked for Comerfords/Bultaco UK as a sales representative, looking after the many Bultaco agencies throughout the UK.
He had been sufering from Parkinson’s Disease for some years and was from Erith, South East London..
Details of Alan’s funeral arrangements are:
Friday, 29th October 2021 at Beckenham Crematorium at 09.30 am.
Trials Guru wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his daughter at this very sad time.
Tribute to Alan Ketley from his friend Bob Adams:
The passing of Alan KETLEY “ Ketters “ is a huge loss to the trials scene. We travelled the UK & continent in his mini pick-up as well as tackling National trials. His most remembered achievement was beating Sammy Miller to win his first National.
Al rode for the South Eastern Centre team many times but the North Kent combine was his favourite scene. He was a champ in every class, Ariel, James , B40. He was a wiz on long steep hills where throttle control was key. He was truly a class act Brands Hatch in 1965.
Al was asked to ride the Bultaco Sherpa and rode it brilliantly. His dad only ever came to one trial, Weavers Down, and Al finished on clean THATS the way to show your dad how good you are! He worked for Comerfords in his younger years selling Bultacos all over the UK and servicing the dealers. Parkinson’s put paid to a trials return in the last decade. Al leaves a daughter “Amanda” and two grandchildren.
The Premier Trial Website – Recording the History of the Sport 'Since 2014'