Manuel Soler Replica

Words: John Moffat; Yrjo Vesterinen

Photos: Bultaco Motorcycles; Todotrial – Horatio San-Martin; Malcolm Rathmell; Carlos Bosch; Yrjo Vesterinen; Barry Robinson; Eric Kitchen.

Manuel Soler – Photo: Horatio San-Martin/Todotrial

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.

The factory prototype Sherpa T model 133 of French Champion, Charles Coutard taken in 1974, identified by Yrjo Vesterinen as the early type frame of the 133 model – Image Credit: Bultaco Motorcycles

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.

Photojournalist, Barry Robinson tests the rare factory model 133 Bultaco Sherpa of Malcolm Rathmell in 1974. It is believed there were only 13 ever made and were supplied to factory riders only. Photo: M.C. Rathmell

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.

Artwork based on a photograph taken of Manuel Soler in the 1974 Scottish Six Days Trial – Artist: Unknown

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.

Factory rider Javier Cucurella on his 325cc Sherpa model 133 carefully guiding the machine over the rock slabs of ‘Edramucky’ Ben Lawers in the 1974 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo Copyright: Eric Kitchen

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.

Malcolm Rathmell on one of his special Bultaco Sherpa model 133 with English registration in 1974, this is probably the later frame type – Photo copyright: Barry Robinson.

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.

Manuel Soler seen here in 1974 testing the prototype Sherpa model 133, B-F-8896, which the factory used as a publicity shot for brochures, posters and advertising cards – Image: Bultaco Motorcycles

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 159 Sherpa tank was repainted and liveried to resemble Soler’s works model 133 tank – Photo: Carlos Bosch

The 133 frame was distinctive and unlike the previous and subsequent production machines. There was also more than one version of the 133.

The model 190 frame (250cc) makes a good starting point for a tribute-replica Bultaco, due to the curved front down-tube feature. Photo: Carlos Bosch

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’

Carlos Bosh’s Bultaco M133 tribute/replica – Photo: Carlos Bosch

“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.”

A Sherpa model 159 airbox was used in the Carlos Bosch build.

“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:

Yrjo Vesterinen’s Bultaco Sherpa 133 from 1974, clearly shows the steering stop on the steering head, flat bottom yoke and the exhaust of that year used on the model 124/125 Sherpa. ‘Vesty’ retained this machine and is now in his private collection.

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’

The offside rear view of the Manuel Soler 133 tribute-replica.

Photo: Carlos Bosch ‘Manuel Soler tribute-replica’

The Soler 133 tribute-replica is a fine looking machine – Photo: Carlos Bosch

In memory of Manuel Soler 1957-2021

New! Trials Guru Archive

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.


Toshi Nishiyama, The SSDT and Honda

SSDT and Honda

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 riding a BSA B40 in the Pre’65 Scottish Trial on Loch Eild Path – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

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.

Toshiki ‘Toshi’ Nishiyama (247 Montesa Cota), the first Japanese rider to compete in the Scottish Six Days on Loch Eild Path in 1970 – Photo: Ian Robertson, Midlothian

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. 

Mick Whitlock (left) discusses one of his frame creations with dealer, Bob Gollner

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.

Toshi in the 1973 SSDT on the Honda TL125, watched by the official observer, Miss Margaret Muirhead on Coalasnacoan, near Kinlochleven. This is a publicity photo for a Japanese magazine.

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.

Toshi Nishiyama on the Honda TL125 tackles ‘Ben Nevis’ in 1973.

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.

Toshi held on to the little Honda TL125 after the 1973 SSDT. One day he plans to restore it and ride for fun.

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.

Toshi Nishiyama in 1974 on the TL145 at the SSDT

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.

Toshi Nishiyama on the TL145 in the 1974 SSDT – Photo courtesy of: Alan Vines/Yoomee Archive.

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.

Toshi with the UK registered Honda TL250 at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh in 1975 prior to the Scottish Six Days start the following day.

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. 

Ace spanner-man Reg May, crouching on right, supervises Spaniard Javier Cucurella making running repairs on his 325cc Bultaco at the Scottish Six Days Trial in May 1976, watched by Toshi Nishiyama on the right – Photo copyright: John Hulme/Trials Media

After Honda, I rode the Scottish on Bultaco and had a very good relationship with Comerfords and Reg May, but that is another story.”


Nishiyama was so proud of his award winning at the SSDT that he had this decal made following his 1973 first class award. Photo: Toshiki Nishiyama, Japan

COMING in 2022

New, for the trials enthusiast, a forty years celebration since the only American to win a Trials World Championship, won the Scottish Six Days Trial, Trials Guru will present a new venture online!

I’m very excited about this new venture in 2022 and you’ll hear untold stories with GLOVES OFF. I’ll be expressing my thoughts about the sport then and now.” – Bernie Schreiber

‘GLOVES OFF – Bernie Schreiber’, will launch in 2022 on TRIALS GURU as a regular and exclusive column in the news feed, and will be archived on a page for trials enthusiasts.

Gloves Off Archive link: WATCH THIS SPACE!

The Gloves are off – Bernie winning the 1982 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo: Eric Kitchen.


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

For information on the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trials and partnership opportunities, please contact:

Dan Larson at

Words: Matt Liberatore

Seven Years of TRIALS GURU

We have come a long way since March 2014 when Trials Guru was launched on the internet as a website and also facebook.

There are many pages of features, articles and information which records the history of motorcycle trials, the riders and the events.

It is almost impossible to record everything, but we hope that people the world over like what we do.

New features will continue to be released as they become available.

Remember to use the index and search panel to find what you are looking for!

SSDT Archive is open!

A new feature under ‘Major Events’ has been opened on Trials Guru.

Entitled ‘SSDT Archive’, it has just been opened by showcasing the front covers of the Scottish Six Days Trial programmes from 1947 until now.

There are still a few to be displayed as their images are currently being worked on, but the full set will be online for all to see shortly.

Some of the programmes appear for sale on internet auction sites from time to time and the older editions command high prices for a piece of trials history.

Have a look, there may be one that quite interests you.

Alan Ketley death

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.

Alan Ketley (325 Bultaco) – Photo: Mike Rapley

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.

Bob Adams

Scott Trial 2021 Programme out now

The Scott Trial official programme which is sold to raise money for the local Scott Trial charities is now on sale, priced £5.00 per copy.

Edited by Michelle Wilkinson, it is packed with information for the event and is a must have for any Scott Trial follower or enthusiast.

Copies are now on sale at the following outlets:

Brookes Garage, Richmond, Neeps & Tatties, Richmond, Reeth Post Office, Reeth Paper Shop, Copper Kettle Cafe, Reeth; CB Inn, Arkengarthdale; The Red Lion pub, Langthwaite; CJ Tennants, Richmond and X Lanes Store, Richmond.

The event is being held on Saturday 16th October 2021, starting from Feldom Ranges, Sturdey House Lane, Richmond, DL11 7LS.

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