Classic Trial Magazine Issue 36

Packed with articles, Issue 36 of the Classic Trial Magazine is a cracker!

Comerfords, Thames Ditton Part One

With Part One of ‘Look for Comerfords!’ it charts the success of the Thames Ditton motorcycle business that still exists in different forms to the present day. Part Two will be in Issue 37 due out in early Summer 2021.

An article on the late Chris Milner; the 1971 Scottish Six Days; the first Yamahas to take part in the SSDT, plus much, much more.

Yamaha in the SSDT article

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Bultaco Lockdown Project by Willie Robertson

Ladies on Trials Guru

A new section has been created in Trials Guru to celebrate over 100 years of female competitors in the sport of trials.

Miss Irene Draper competing on her father’s farm on a BSA Bantam, her father Harold Draper is the gentleman on the right wearing the trilby hat. Photo courtesy Chris Smith, Wisconsin.

We are still expanding the section as we receive more information and facts about women riders in the sport, from all over the globe.

Jump straight to it HERE

Damper put on Overseas events

Following on from the UK departure from the European Union in January, the trials world woke up to the fact that transporting a trials machine to overseas events just took a leap forward in cost.

It was known that leaving the EU would bring new challenges, but few realised that it would bring higher costs as well. It is rapidly turning into a head-scratcher. It was universally known for some time pre-Brexit, that travelling overseas from the UK would require the obligatory ‘green card’ insurance document which can be obtained from the vehicle owners’ insurance company. There is also a requirement to purchase an International Driver’s licence from the Post Office to compliment the DVLA photocard driver’s licence scheme.

However, carrying additional vehicles inside a van or on a trialer, along with tools and equipment such as portable generators and spare parts poses new challenges for overseas competition plans.

This week the Auto-Cycle Union announced plans to try and smooth the process of taking competition machines over to European events.

Many argue that trials bikes are not ‘racing’ machines, but of course the word ‘racing’ is regularly used in place of the phrase ‘competition’ by the European countries. The terminology can cause concern amongst the trials fraternity and has done for many years. This has been increased over the years with trials motorcycle manufacturers utilising the word ‘Racing’ to promote higher performance or higher specification models for instance.

Given that trials machines can have a value of multiple thousands this could require a deposit of around £2,000 refundable after the machine has been repatriated to the UK after the event.

Most trials machines are no longer registered for road use, except for the Scottish Six Days and a handful of road based events which have been in decline since the 1990s.

Up until 2020, the process of loading up bikes in a big panel van and driving to Andorra or Costa Brava was very popular with British enthusiasts, but that has changed since January, not just because the Covid pandemic has closed borders and travel routes.

The realisation that expensive ‘carnets’ will be necessary and with border controls even more stringent, this means more expense and increased time spent at border crossings while paperwork is checked and perhaps machines are off loaded for inspection.

In short, a carnet is a customs permit allowing a motor vehicle, be that car or motorcycle, to be taken across a national border for a limited period of time.

Over the last month, the online social media chat rooms have seen increased traffic on this thorny subject with opinions traded like confetti.

In short the concessus appears to be that the cost while not totally prohibitive, may in fact limit the volume of riders prepared to shell out hard cash of several hundreds of pounds to allow them to ride abroad.

The ACU issued a statement on 10th January, the contents are reproduced below.

It will be interesting to see whether the costs really curtail British riders to compete on a more domestic level in future.

On 31 December 2020, the temporary transition arrangements in place between the EU and the UK expired, affecting the movement of motorsport vehicles and equipment to the EU. Following advice, The Auto-Cycle Union understands that an ATA Carnet will be required to temporarily move motorsport vehicles and equipment across to the border. An ATA Carnet is an international Customs document that operates like a passport for your goods.  It allows the temporary importation of goods into countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system (the EU and 40+ additional countries) and avoids you having to pay unnecessary taxes or duties. ATA Carnets cover all goods that are leaving the UK and returning within a 12-month period.  They do not cover disposable goods (oil, fluids) that will be used while out of the country or items that will not be returning to the UK. The ATA Carnet simplifies the customs procedure into a single document and makes the importation process much quicker and easier to handle.  To avoid unnecessary border delays and customs checks the carnet should be acquired in advance of travel. There are two parts to the carnet:

  • The processing/arrangement fee of the paperwork (VATable)
  • The premium (non-VATable) The Auto-Cycle Union has secured a special deal with the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) for ACU members of a fixed price processing/arrangement fee of £240+VAT. This is discounted from the standard fee of £330+VAT that non-members of the GBCC would pay. Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce is appointed as part of a network of Chambers around the country to issue ATA Carnets. The second part of the fee is the Premium. This can either be a refundable deposit of 40% of the vehicle’s value or a non-refundable insurance premium to cover the 40% proportion of the premium.
  • Applying for ATA Carnets: Carnets are applied for through an electronic portal called ‘E-cert’ and processed and posted out next day delivery or made ready for same day collection. A walkthrough of the process and further information for Auto-Cycle Union members is available here Please do not call The ACU with any ATA Carnet enquiries, but Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Carnet Specialist, Jonathan Crosbie, can be contacted by Auto-Cycle Union members on 0121 274 3217. GBCC also offer an express ATA Carnet service for Auto-Cycle Union members for a £35+VAT premium (normally £75+VAT), and if all the information is available and correct an express Carnet can be turned around in as little as one hour (Monday-Friday 0800-1600). To access the Auto-Cycle Union ATA Carnet discount with Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, please reference your 2021 ACU Club Affiliation Code and the name in which it is registered when applying.

Source: Auto-Cycle Union


The news that every SSDT fan and rider was dreading has now been officially released. The 2021 SSDT has, like the 2020 edition, fallen foul of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The following press release was issued on Tuesday, 26th January 2021 and reads:

“The Scottish Six Days Trial, cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, has unfortunately been cancelled for the second successive year.

The event, founded in 1909, has only ever been cancelled for the two world wars and in 2001 for the foot and mouth outbreak.
The organisers have considered the various options with regards the entries that were carried over from 2020.

It was thought only fair that  entries will not be carried forward again for 2022.  Therefore, in October 2021 the entries for SSDT 2022 event will open online and if applications surpass the number of places available then the usual ballot process will take place. 

The organising committee felt this was the fairest way to move forward.
The organising Edinburgh & District Club are very aware that the loss of such a major event in the calendar is not only a massive blow to the sport and all those involved, but also to the Lochaber area particularly Fort William.

The Club would like to reassure everyone that they will be working closely with all of the stakeholders, landowners and managers, organisations and agencies that are involved to ensure that we come back in 2022 with a fantastic event.
The Club would like to thank everyone for their continued support and look forward to SSDT 2022.”

Manuel Soler Tribute

Due to the ongoing restrictions that limit sporting activities in Madrid, Spain due to Covid-19 pandemia, the Madrid based Federacion Madrilena de Motociclismo (FMM) has designed a new ‘local’ trials combined championship for modern and classic trials.

However, the go ahead ‘Moto Club Sotobike’ wanted to continue with some trials only for classic bikes with classic rules, as a result they will arrange for a new ‘Triangular’ trophy for classic trials.

The dates selected are 2 & 3 October, the Robregordo Classic and the 28th November for the ‘La Caleriza’.

This classic triangular series will also pay tribute to the memory of the club’s good friend and Robregordo competitor Manuel Soler, that passed away on 20th January.

Peter Fletcher 1937-2021

1962 SSDT – Peter Fletcher (Royal Enfield 249cc) on ‘Foyers’ – Photo: Norman Hawkins, Abergavenny

Peter Fletcher, the former Royal Enfield works trials rider has passed away aged 83 years at his home at Nidd, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire on Friday, 22nd January 2021.

Fletcher who was nicknamed ‘Fearless Fred’ was a motor dealer from Leeds, son of road racer Frank Fletcher from whom he inherited the business.

Peter Fletcher (Left) with Arthur Lampkin and Tom U. Ellis from Ripon at the Scottish Six Days weigh-in at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh – Photo: David Wood Archive, Bradford

Peter did his National Service along with BSA factory star, Arthur Lampkin and they remained friends for life.

Fletcher formed OSSA Moto UK in 1970 with partner Alan Kimber to import the OSSA trials and enduro machines from Barcelona, Spain when Mick Andrews was their official factory rider. Fletcher formed the OSSA Moto UK trials team comprising of Andrews, Dave Thorpe and Bill Wilkinson.

No details as to Peter’s funeral arrangements were available at this time.

Five giants of off-road motorcycle sport: Left to right – Jeff Smith OBE; Peter Fletcher; Gordon Jackson; Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin & Arthur ‘Ping’ Lampkin – Photo courtesy of Colin Bullock/CJB Photographic

Manuel Soler 1957-2021

It is with great sadness that we have to report the sudden passing of former Spanish National Trials Champion, Manuel Soler in the early morning of Wednesday 20th January 2021, aged 63 years.

Born on 9th March 1957, Manuel was the grand-nephew of Bultaco founder, F.X. Bulto, he was the son of Juan Soler Bulto, the nephew of Senor Bulto and played a huge part in the development of the Sherpa trials models.

Copyright Claudio Pictures – Here we have Vesty and trial friends: Manuel Soler on the far left, Dave Thorpe, Chesterfield, England & Joan Pere Santuré from Andorra. Photographed in 2013 at Highland Classic 2 day Trial (Bultaco Edition), Alvie Estate, Aviemore, Scotland.

Manuel started trials riding at an early age on a specially built small scale Bultaco and was nicknamed ‘El Monstruito’ (the Little Monster) by his close friends and family. He became the first Spaniard to win an FIM World Championship round at Espoo, near Helsinki, Finland on a 325cc Bultaco in August 1979. He was Spanish National Champion four times in succession, from 1974 to 1977, taking over the coveted title from his cousin, Ignacio Bulto.

1975 – Bultaco Sherpa T model 159 ‘Manuel Soler’ – a factory photograph showing the ignition side – image courtesy of The John Hulme Catalogue Archive/Trial Magazine UK

The 1975 Sherpa model 159 is refered to in Spain as the ‘Manuel Soler’ model as much of the bikes development was down to Soler’s input when riding the prototype version in national and then world trials.

Soler was responsible in testing and writing reports for the factory technicians to make improvements and once said that the Bultaco factory at San Adria De Besos was in effect the family garage.

Manuel Soler told Trials Guru in 2013 when on a visit to Scotland: “The Bultaco factory was our garage, all our motorcycles were stored and worked on there by the firm’s mechanics. Even my little bike was there for a long time. When the factory closed, all my bikes and those of my cousin Ignacio were sold by the liquidators. I was a development rider and every day I tested Sherpas, made a written report and made suggestions on how to improve them, it was my job”.

Manuel Soler on a 325cc Bultaco Sherpa at the Highland Classic 2 Day Trial in 2013 in Scotland – Photo copyright: Donald Young, Stonehaven.

With the demise of the Bultaco company in 1980, Soler moved camps to ride for the rival Montesa manufacturer and latterly the Merlin, under the control of Ignacio Bulto.

Bultaco publicity from 1975 showing Manuel Soler and advertising that Bultaco Motorcycles and Soler were Spanish Trials Champions.

More on Manuel Soler in an interview in 2019 by Todotrial


ACU pull plug early on events

The Auto-Cycle Union have pulled all permits and thus cancelled all their events in England and Wales, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands are unaffected but can only be run with caution.

In a statement issued by their Trials and Enduro Department on social media page on Tuesday 5th January, 2021 they stated the following:

Coronavirus (Covid-19): PM Boris Johnson announces new national lockdown in England –

Boris Johnson has announced that England is to enter its third national lockdown, which means the government is instructing everyone to “stay at home”. The national lockdown is immediate, as of today 5th January and the Prime Minister also said in a televised address last night, the “weeks ahead will be the hardest yet”.

The announcement comes as government figures on 4th January revealed the UK has reached another record daily high of 58,784 new coronavirus cases, making it the seventh consecutive day in a row where there have been over 50,000 new Covid cases across Britain.

So, for motorcycle sport it is quite simple. Any planned ACU event in the next few weeks in England and Wales is now unfortunately cancelled.

SACU licence holders should follow the instructions issued by the Scottish Government and any information issued by the SACU. For those resident on the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, you can continue with ACU activity but follow any instructions issued by your independent administrations. Please adhere to and respect the UK Government advice and stay at home. Continue to support the NHS and follow the instructions issued by the Prime Minister.

There is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the two vaccines which are now being administered in a planned UK Government vaccine programme, the Pfizer vaccine announced a few weeks ago and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which was rolled out today (4th Jan), but for the time being it is very important we do our bit to support the NHS. Do not do anything which may put motorcycle sport in a bad light. Further updates on when ACU activity can re-commence will be issued following further updates from the UK Government.

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