Guy Martin, star of the film ‘TT3D – Closer To The Edge’ and various television series is to ride a 350cc Ariel in the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish Trial on Friday 29th and Saturday, 30th April, 2016. He will also undertake duties as the official guest of honour for the event which takes place around the village and hillsides of Kinlochleven, Argyll.
The Pre’65 trial secretary, Anne Gordon added: ‘We are delighted to announce that Guy Martin, Motorcycle Racer and TV star has agreed to be Guest of Honour for the 2016 event and has also entered the trial to try his hand at Pre’65 trials riding. It is a great honour for us to have him at the trial and we would like to thank Simon Sharp and Owen Hardisty at Hope Technology (our Saturday Day Sponsors) for helping us to get Guy to the event after we approached them at last year’s SSDT. We are really excited to have such a celebrity at our event and hope he enjoys taking part. I don’t think there will be many people who have not heard of Guy, as he is well-known through his very illustrious motorcycle racing career as well as his many film and television shows that have us all enthralled with his very hands on and down to earth approach’.
The Pre’65 Scottish is always massively oversubscribed with over 150 potential entrants disappointed at not getting through the inevitable ballot of competitors. However it should be clarified that Hope Technology are the event sponsors and as such, are entitled to what is effectively a ‘wild-card’ reserved entry as part of their sponsorship deal, which in this case has been granted to Guy Martin for 2016. The appearance of Guy Martin at this event, both as a rider and guest of honour can only be good for the sport of trials and the ever supportive inhabitants of the town of Kinlochleven.
Who is Guy Martin?
Born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England in November 1981, Guy was the central racing character when supported by the Irish-based Wilson Craig Honda team in the docu-movie, ‘TT3D – Closer to the Edge’ which was filmed during the 2010 TT races and screened in 2011. This set Martin on the road to a lucrative television career having competed for many years at the Isle of Man TT with success, but so far no outright TT win to his credit. He has ridden for AIM Yamaha, Relentless/Tyco Suzuki and Hydrex Honda teams in the past.
Martin is interested in all things mechanical, his main occupation is an HGV mechanic with an independent truck company in Grimsby Lincolnshire, which specialises in the maintenance of Scania trucks. His father Ian who also ran a similar business is also a former motorcycle road racer who retired from racing in 1988 after an accident at Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount.
Martin has been the central character in several television documentaries which has taken him half way around the globe to India and most recently to Latvia in a Chanel Four production in which he retraced the life of his late maternal grandfather, Zanus ‘Walter’ Kidals in the war-torn Baltic state of Latvia which saw occupation by both German and Russian troops in the second world conflict. His grandfather was a displaced person known as ‘DP’ arriving via Hull where he met an English girl, married, settled and worked in Britain.
By coincidence, the town of Kinlochleven saw many DPs, like Martin’s grandfather; arrive from war-torn Europe and the Balcan states of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania as there was work available at the North British Aluminium Company smelter in Kinlochleven. One such man was Lithuanian born Paul Kilbauskas, who arrived in 1947 and found employment at the aluminium works and with co-worker and friend Ian Pollock discovered the many paths and sections that are still used by both the Pre’65 and Scottish Six Days events that make use of the Leven Valley in early May. Kilbauskas later became a ‘Tunnel Tiger’ working on the large hydro-electric schemes in the Scottish Highlands.
Guy has harboured a desire to compete in Pre’65 trials since 2011, but television and racing commitments rendered it a ‘back-burner’ for a few years.
The Pre’65 committee having secured sponsorship with Hope Technology which has an association with Guy through his interest in mountain bikes and eventually Simon Sharp and Owen Hardisty made the approach to see if Martin would be Guest of Honour at the annual event, now in its thirty second year.
Guy Martin has turned his skilled hands to many things in front of camera, including a two-year restoration of a Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft which had been buried in a French beach since the second world war; a rebuild of a narrow-boat called ‘Reckless’ and much more; including riding a hydroplane motocross bike across a lake and setting a speed record for a pedal-cycle. He was even fortunate enough to be allowed to work on the last flying Vulcan bomber aircraft XH558 during preparations for its final flight in 2015.
On loan specially for the Pre’65 Scottish Guy will be riding a 350cc Ariel HT3 which used to belong to Lancastrian ace, Chris Gascoigne who campaigned the machine for many years and has been a winner in Chris’s hands many times over.
Added attractions for the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish from 1966:
There will also be an appearance of the 1966 Scottish Six Days winning BSA C15T of Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin. Registered as 748MOE, it will be ridden in the Pre’65 by Alan’s son, James Lampkin to celebrate 50 years since Sid’s SSDT victory on the very last British four-stoke machine to win the Highland classic. This will be James Lampkin’s first pre’65 Scottish although he has competed in the SSDT for many years.
James Lampkin: “Dad realised that it would be 50 years since the BSA won the Scottish in 1966 after he bought the bike back again in October 2014. It is very original having passed through quite a few owners since it was sold off in 1967. Although he doesn’t ride trials himself anymore, he was very pleased when I agreed to enter on the BSA. I’m really looking forward to it”.
The entries are open for the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish Trial which takes place on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th April, 2016.
If you would prefer to a set of forms posted out to you, please send a large, stamped, self-addressed envelope to Mrs. Anne Gordon, Secretary Pre’65 Scottish Trial, Fairshiels, Blackshiels, Pathhead, Midlothian, EH37 5SX. Please note: that e-mail entries or late entries will NOT be accepted under any circumstances.
A new machine eligibility guidance booklet has been produced this year by Willie Stewart, the event’s machine examiner, which gives clearer guidelines on what is eligible for the annual highland classic. Anyone who is unsure of any component is welcome to contact him for clarification using the email address provided in the booklet. Please take the time to read these guidelines and the accompanying notes to ensure that you are aware of the regulations and remember to send two clear A4 (297mm x 210mm) colour pictures with your entry form. If your pictures are not clear then your entry will not make the ballot process so please be aware.
Trials Guru recognises the talents of a man from Redhill, Reigate in Surrey who has brought literally thousands of wonderful and exciting colour sporting images into magazines, periodicals and books the world over. His name is Don Morleyand what’s more he’s a trials rider! Well actually, Don is a frustrated road racer at heart as he didn’t have the funds available to race when he was a young man, so took up trials riding instead, being the less expensive motorcycle sport option!
Described as the ‘Godfather’ of sports photography by Fast Bikes Magazinein the article they ran on Don in their September 2010 edition, Morley is respected the world over by riders, athletes and team managers because of his uncanny ability to press the button just at the right moment.
Raised in Derby, Don started taking photographs for a living in the 1950’s when it was all glass negatives, progressing to processed roll film. He began his motorcycle photography as a staff photographer with Motor Cycle News in 1957.
Morley is a 100% professional sports photographer, joining forces with Tony Duffy’s “All-Sport International Photographic Agency/Don Morley” in the 1970’s, his images of sporting events and competitors are highly sought after around the globe.
Don is also an accomplished author, writing several books which include: Classic British Trials Bikes& Classic British Two-Stroke Trials Bikes; Spanish Trials Bikesand Trials: – A Riders Guide, to name but four!
Morley has photographed many events, not just sporting events, witnessed the Munich Olympic Games terrorism atrocity to name but one major international incident and much, much more. He has had a varied and interesting life as a sports photographer.
Don has owned several ex-factory trials machines in his time as a rider, including the Johnny Brittain Royal Enfield 500 Bullet HNP331 and another ex-factory Enfield, LUY86. He appeared in the BBC TV series, ‘Perpetual Motion’ in an edition which covered the Royal Enfield and Enfield of India story in 1992. Morley is an acknowledged expert on the Royal Enfield marque. He built a few special trials machines including a BSA B40 and also wrote a series of articles on the development of four-stroke trials machines for the ‘Classic Motor Cycle’.
Don was one of the first to take up Pre’65 trials competition back in the early 1980’s on an ex-Brian ‘Tiger’ Payne AJS.
The one thing you notice about Don is his serious nature, he is a professional after all, he took photographs to make a living, but he does have a good sense of humour as well.
Trials Guru’s John Moffat met Don Morley many years ago at the Pre’65 Scottish at Kinlochleven, initially it was a frosty meeting as ‘The Guru’ intimated that Don had made a “slight mistake with a factory registration number” in one of his books! After a good frank chat, it was all ended very amicably, as this was merely an amateur enthusiast correcting a professional. Let’s face it EVERYONE can make a mistake. Happily, from that day on ‘Trials Guru’ and Don Morley have been good friends, their paths crossing occasionally and they are always happy to meet each other.
Don saw the funny side of the argument and said jokingly: “John, that’s OK, as long as you don’t want Osprey to reprint my book to make a correction!”
Morley once took a photo of ‘The Guru’ on his G3C Matchless with the great Gordon Jackson standing alongside, at Kinlochleven, the machine which was loaned to Jackson for the 2000 parade at the Scottish Six Days. The image has been a prized possession of ‘The Guru’ ever since.
So, the next time you see a photo credit as “All-Sport/Don Morley” under an image of a racing bike at speed, you can say that this image was taken by a true enthusiast and … a trials rider!
Don Morley, Reigate, Surrey, England. – Trials Gurusalutes you, because you are an enthusiast as well as a photographic professional. – Thank you also for the kind permission to use one of your wonderful photographs on this website.
Part of the Mortons of Horncastle Limited group, Mortons Media Group Limited is a commercial operation which produces a large range of magazine titles in classic & modern motorcycle areas, scootering, heritage railways, heritage transport, lifestyle and farming.
They have an extensive archive of motorcycle images and own the late Brian Nicholls Collection, which is a large trials and off-road motorcycle sport collection. Many of the stars of yesteryear are captured in action, many in black & white but also colour images taken over 100 years of motorcycle sport.
The archive is a combination of staff photographs taken by photographers of The Motor Cycle, Motor-Cycling and many other titles over the years. All these images are now copyright Mortons Media Group and may only be used by express permission and payment of fees.
Trials Guru thoroughly recommends viewing this archive, there is a search facility to find riders or machines.
You can order prints on line without the protective water-mark and these are of high quality.
Site Recommended by Trials Guru – Dedicated to the sport of Motorcycle Trials.
The ACU Benevolent Fund, the only registered UK charity that provides for motorcycle riders, has just benefited by the tune of 200 GBP from initial sales of John Moffat’s book, Motorcycle Competition: Scotland 1975-2005.
Released for sale on 30th March, 2015, it covers the four main motorcycle sports organised in Scotland during that time frame and features many of the Scottish champions who went on to British, European and even World championship status.
The book’s forward was written by eight times TT winner, Jim Moodie and has 134 pages and over 200 photographs, many never seen before from photographers such as Eric Kitchen, Jan Burgers, Graham Milne, Jimmy Young, Iain Lawrie and Ronnie Weir plus many more.
Copies are still available online through Trial Magazine UK website: Here
The ACU are delighted at receiving the sum of money, every penny of which goes to rider benefit.
Many words have been spoken, but little written about, responsible land use in motorcycle magazines and periodicals. One could ask the question – Is this a taboo subject?
Not taboo as such, but it is complicated and a very thorny subject that has provoked spirited debate.
The primary intention of this article is not to create further debate, but to be educational and informative for the benefit of the sport of trials, to create a better understanding of not only responsible land use but to recognise what controls it.
Motorcycle sport’s governing bodies such as the Auto Cycle Union, have endeavoured to address and promote responsible land use for well over thirty years, evidenced by its membership of LARA (Land Access & Recreation Association) in 1986. It works with its affiliated clubs through its own Land Access Advisory Service.
Part of the problem appears to be lack of proper understanding of the subject matter and that is probably caused by either people not being able to find relevant factual information, or don’t fully understand it when it is discovered. Perhaps some of the terminology is alien to some of us?
It’s possible to view website forums and dialogue which covers the subject in threads such as “where to practice riding skills” and similar subject matter.
However many of these forums are locked, only viewable by members with passwords or by subscription and for good reason. It is an attempt to stop people abusing the privilege of using land, made available by landowners under certain conditions.
This locking or restriction to access however does give the impression that perhaps something subversive is going on, whereas that is not the case.
Providing details of where to ride legally off-road is outside the scope of this article, so please, don’t get over-excited.
There are however many areas in the UK, specifically set out for legal trials practice for competition training and for leisure trials riding. With full landowner permissions in place, membership fee requirements, codes of practice, restrictions of use and insurance, perhaps even owner/operated, this is without doubt a responsible and sensible approach.
It is important to understand that there is no such thing as ‘waste ground’.
All land in the United Kingdom, including common land, is owned by someone, be it an individual, group of people, company or other legal entity. However, its ownership may not be clear or be a simple task to establish who the owner is.
Let us attempt to clarify matters by examining factual information, in an understandable way, in an attempt to remove any mystique which surrounds such a complex subject.
Hopefully this article will be sufficiently informative, without going into the fine detail of legislation, insurance and such matters.
To explain in simple but factual terminology and restrict it to parts of the United Kingdom and confined to motorcycles, but equally this can apply to other areas in the UK and four wheeled vehicles also.
Also it is important, perhaps crucial, to understand that trials riders do not have any legal right to ride their motorcycles off-road.
Why is this so, what does the law say?
The Road Traffic Act 1988 (Section 34) clarifies it as follows:
Section 34 – Prohibition of driving mechanically propelled vehicles elsewhere than on roads.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, if without lawful authority a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle—
(a) on, to or upon, any common land, moorland or land of any other description, not being land forming part of a road, or
(b) On any road being a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway, he is guilty of an offence.
So, there we have it, any motorcycle activity performed away from, or off the public highway without lawful authority (permission) is recognised as ‘illegal riding’.
We won’t probe, evaluate or discuss matters concerning the legal penalties or remedies, as that would be down to a court of law to decide as appropriate.
For clarity, let us examine a specific example of a sizeable piece of land to assist in the demonstration of how this works and what restricts or even forbids the casual use of land by off-road motorcyclists.
The area is fairly well-known to the trials sport community let us look at one specific area. After all, this is a trials based website and the rationale could be easily be applied and compared to other similar areas in the country.
The area is in Northern Scotland, known as the ‘Leven Valley’ this name may not be instantly recognisable to the reader, but with further examination its mappings reveal: Pipeline; Blackwater; Corrie Odhair on the south of the River Leven and Loch Eild; German Camp or even Leiter Bo Fionn on the north side, then it will appear familiar. This land whilst appearing to be wild, rugged and fairly remote is actually very closely managed.
The name known to trials enthusiasts as the ‘Blackwater Path’ is actually the ‘Ciaran Path’ which is very popular with recreational walkers, hikers and mountain-bike riders, who incidentally do not require express permission to traverse it.
Access to the countryside was increased by statute with the creation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for England and Wales and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, in Scotland, these rights exist only if they are exercised responsibly, as specified in the Scottish Outdoor Access code. Some will know, or have heard of the Ciaran Paths’ famous catch net, constructed by members of the Scottish Six Days Trial committee in the late 1960’s with the prime intention of prevent riders competing in the event and their machines from falling into the deep gorge as they climbed the path towards Blackwater and beyond.
Access to the countryside requires responsibility, sometimes this is absent.
The construction was simple, perhaps even crude, but very effective, being fashioned from scaffolding pipes cemented directly into the bed-rock on the edge of the gorge.
No doubt there have been many wayward hikers and bikers caught by its netting since its construction. Whilst this has most probably gone unreported it was a useful safety addition to the Ciaran Path for many of its users since its construction some forty years ago.
This is an area with an industrial heritage and history. These paths and the German Prisoner of War encampments were constructed to provide the manpower to build the various dams, culverts, penstocks and conduits in the area together with the associated infrastructure for the development of the aluminium smelter.
These paths do erode over time, due to the severe winter weather in the area and by the constant use by walkers and cyclists. Parts of the Ciaran Path are already eroded, undercut in places and in need of repairs.
Prisoners of War were used during their interment during the First World War, to construct many of these paths and there is a display within the Post Office in Kinlochleven which gives more information on this. These paths have been established for more than a century. Here ends the history lesson.
All these places described above are on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI, usually referred to as Triple- SI). In Northern Ireland the designation is ‘Areas of Special Scientific Interest’ or ASSI.
The reader would be astonished to learn how much of the SSDT route makes legal use of SSSI’s. Many will have watched, observed or even ridden in this particular area.
Many hours are spent each year in meaningful discussion and negotiation between trial organisers and both the local land agents and SNH personnel.
What statutory instrument created SSSI’s and when?
Originally notified under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, SSSIs were re-notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Improved provisions for the protection and management of SSSIs were introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (in England and Wales) and (in Scotland) by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2010. (Source: DEFRA).
How many sites and how much land is controlled by SSSIs?
Scotland has over 1,400 sites designated as SSSIs, representing approximately 12.6% of the total land area of Scotland. Approximately half of these sites are located in the lowlands and uplands area. There are over 4,000 sites in England, covering around 8% of the country. (Source: Scottish and UK Government).
Let us look more closely at this area of land and in particular its SSSI status, with the help of resources freely available in the public domain.
In the Site Management Statement issued by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Leven Valley (Site Reference 927) is denoted as being a SSSI.
Here are some details:
The Leven Valley SSSI forms part of a larger 3000 hectare woodland grant scheme and the interest lies in both trees and rock formations, so described as: Upland Birch Woodland and Dalradian rock, but the scope is of course much wider, covering the flora found in that area.
To give an indication of the extent of the SSSI it is approximately 10 kilometres in length and 6 kilometres wide, so it is very large indeed.
There are no less than eleven specific activities that require not only the landowners’ permission, but permission from SNH, which is funded by the Scottish Government, its purpose being to care for Scotland’s nature and provide support to those who manage it.
However, this consent is not required if the organisers have been given prior ‘planning permission’ from the local authority, under Part III of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.
For motorcycle events such as the SSDT, the Pre’65, promoted by Edinburgh & District Motor Club Limited plus any other localised events organised by Lochaber & District MCC who promote the annual Ian Pollock Memorial Trial in the Leven Valley area.
The specific requirement to apply for consent from SNH is under reference number 26: ‘Use of motorised vehicles likely to damage vegetation’.
Why do we need to legally protect these areas described as SSSIs, why is this particular area deemed sensitive, why is it important and why is it necessary to have such controls?
Private research reveals that the Leven Valley SSSI is home to many different mosses and liverworts, collectively known as bryophytes. Some are very rare, dating back to pre-historic times.
Bryophytes play a part in protecting us, as these soft plants form a huge sponge on the valley floor, slowing down the flow of rain water from the surrounding hills which runs into the burns and eventually the River Leven.
This water slowing effect protects the Kinlochleven area from potential flash floods, given the high annual rainfall locally.
Thinking about it logically, conversely this explains why there are so many flash floods in residential areas nowadays. The ground has been waterproofed by buildings, structures, roads and footpaths so that rain water now planes off faster, causing localised flooding and worse. Flooding can affect us all.
The beds of mosses, blanket bogs and wetlands found in the Leven Valley SSSI area also absorb and effectively lock up, many tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, potentially for thousands of years, into the peat below. That is providing that they are not disturbed, depleted or destroyed, hence the protection provided by SSSI status.
Depletion can occur through invasion by non-native plants such as the Rhododendron, which can spread rapidly, is difficult to control and covers large areas of ground. Similarly, animals such as deer, sheep or cattle roaming free or even inappropriate use by vehicles, can cause damage if not properly controlled or managed.
Now we can see the rationale for protection of this and other areas like it, we can begin to fully understand and appreciate why these areas are deemed sensitive and significant.
Protection does not automatically mean total exclusion of all activities, hence the continued use of the area by major trials events, but this is only achievable by proper application for permissions, negotiation and mutual agreement.
The SSDT has been running since 1911, the Pre’65 since 1984 and the Ian Pollock under its former title ‘Spring Trial’ since the late 1950’s. These events make legitimate use of the Leven Valley.
This does not however give their promoters any legal rights to continue using this ground, purely because of the length of time the events have been in existence.
Most of the ground described above and used in these motorcycle trial events is under the current ownership of Rio Tinto Alcan, a multi-national company whose principal office is in Montreal, Canada.Rio Tinto Alcan is the result of many company mergers and take-overs over the years, tracing its roots back to the British Aluminium Company in 1894 the entity that originally purchased the ground in what is fundamentally the Mamore hill range for the water rights, thus ensuring sufficient water to create power generation for the Aluminium smelter based down in the town of Kinlochleven itself.
The SNH Site Management Report in 2008 stated:
“During monitoring in 2002, the SSSI was found to be subject to a number of detrimental influences, the most important being: the spread of rhododendron; grazing/browsing pressure (due to deer and, probably to a lesser extent, stray sheep); annual burning; and motorcycle scrambling”.
In the above statement, let us simply replace the words ‘motorcycle scrambling’ with ‘off-road motorcycle activity’ for additional clarity, for that is what the report eludes to.
By giving cognisance to the above information, we can now begin to appreciate and understand what legislation event organisers have to consider and address fully when promoting a motorcycle trial in this area.
This is why such organisers stipulate that no unofficial following of the event by motorcycle is permitted or condoned, as only insured riders and officials may take machines onto the ground as allowed by the owners and ultimately SNH.
Similarly this is why all event officials must ‘sign in’ with the event control so that they are accounted for, have contact details and are insured under the governing body’s insurers for the permitted event.
Are things now falling into place?
During the research for this article, we spoke with Cathy Mayne, the locally based Operations Officer with Scottish Natural Heritage and the person charged with the task of negotiating with the motorcycle clubs.
There are some issues with casual use on the SSSI, as we have for other areas of land that is so designated and a focus of trials or other off-road vehicular use.
Hence the sensitivity of these areas. Permission for events such as the SSDT, the Pre’65 and Pollock trials are given only after careful consideration, planning and negotiation, with quite a few restrictions and stipulations put in place”.
We have used a land example from Northern Scotland, but of course there will be thousands of similar examples dotted throughout the country.
The Scott Trial, another event over 100 years old, held in the North Yorkshire National Park is another where planning permission is required and for a finite period at that.
So, we as riders of trials motorcycles do not have any rights to roam, unlike walkers and cyclists, but express permission is required from landowners and even governmental bodies to enable us to ride off-road.
Consider these matters, as illegal riding does directly harm our sport.
There are many other organisations committed to individual and group off-road motorcycle activity other than organised events, for example the Trial Riders Fellowship of England and Wales who make use of BOATS (Byways Open to All Traffic) and UCRs (Unclassified Country Roads), so their members don’t actually ride off-road, they encompass forty-two regional clubs. But in the example we have examined, permission is granted for organised events because of the level of controls afforded by an event and the frequency of such events.
We hope that the reader will now have a more detailed knowledge of this issue and a better understanding as a result.
Do you now understand more about land use restriction and the rationale than before you read this article? If so, then this article has been worthwhile.
Not generally known, but here we have Ariel HT500 registered as 786GON, known as ‘Sammy’s other Ariel’. During the late 1950’s and 1960’s Sammy Miller had access to two HT500 Ariels, his famous version GOV132 and the machine pictured here. The bike is now in Italy in the possession of a collector, having been owned by Jock Wilson (Comerfords) Ernie Page, Roy Kerr and Tim Beaven, plus some other individuals
The machine was put on sale in early 1965 by motorcycle dealers, Comerfords Limited in Portsmouth Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey along with GOV132. Comerfords having taken over the support from Ariels to Sammy Miller when the factory had ceased manufacture of trials machines. 786GON was for sale at £350, which was almost £150 more expensive than a brand new Greeves two-stroke at that time.
Arthur Fowler bought 786GON, but returned it for sale at the end of 1965 to Comerfords and Jock Wilson purchased the machine.
After selling the bike to Harry Rayner, Wilson bought it back from another owner, John Parry, at which time Jock Wilson slowly restored the machine to its former glory.
Wilson sold 786GON to Scotsman Ernie Page, himself an accomplished trials, scrambles and ISDT competitor, who owned Page Motors in Edinburgh, who at that time had a sizeable motorcycle collection. After a period of time, Page sold the Ariel to former employee, Roy Kerr, himself a former Scottish trials champion.
After some years under the ownership of Tim Beaven, the bike was then sold to a private collector in Italy called Carlo Ramella. The Ariel lives on but in its new home in the Italian alps.
Justyn Norek a design consultant from Turin, made the following observations of 786GON when a test of the machine was undertaken by the German ‘Trialsport’ magazine in March 2014, here they are:
“Frame: In Reynolds 531 tubing, modified with steeper steering angle, oil in frame.
Fuel Tank: Beautifully styled in fibreglass, very light and slim design, one bolt mounting with depression in front part to allow full lock of the steering, with the fork coming close to the tank. Perfectly done by Butler Moulded Laminates, the creation of Chris Butler. Also the builder of the Butler trials machine. It has a metal logo on the top of the tank a real work of art.
Seat Base: Integrated with the rear mudguard, another artwork in fibreglass by Butler. Very slim viewed from the top, in cream white finish, synonymous with Miller’s Ariel. It also had the integration of the rear registration number plate. The seat is perfectly designed to be light and slim, but still comfortable.
Exhaust system: Starting with the beautiful curve, extremely compact and well tucked-in to the motorcycle. It terminates with a small silencer breathing out the hot expelled gasses on to the rear tyre knobs. This ingenious idea allows for cleaning of the rear tyre from any mud and leaf-mould and also warms the tyre rubber for better grip.
Kick-starter and Gear Shift levers: Bored out to shave more weight from the machine.
Speedometer: Mounted to the engine plate and protected by the aluminium shield from mud etc. It is not the easiest to look at when in operation, but who looks at the speedometer during an event. This was merely an attempt to keep the machine street-legal.
Chain guard in fibreglass, neatly styled with simplicity, weight-saving and functionality.
Front mudguard: Again in cream white fibreglass by Butler. minimal and beautifully shaped and in perfect aesthetic harmony with the fuel tank, seat base and rear mudguard units. This creates an unforgettable aesthetics of this historic motorcycle.”
Technical Specification of 786GON:
ARIEL 786GON – Technical Specifications:
Engine layout: Single cylinder, vertical cylinder in light alloy.
Bore & Stroke 81.8 X 95 mm
Compression ratio: 8.5: 1
Max power: 24 hp at 5800 rpm
Carburetor: Amal monobloc.
Oil system: Dry sump with double oil pump and separate oil tank.
Frame: single down front tube in Reynolds 531 steel – Weight around 14 kg.
Front: Hydraulic telescopic forks with sliders shortened from Norton road-holder, yokes from BSA shortened to shorten wheelbase.
Rear: Rear swing-arm on silent-block bushes with chain oil system incorporated, Armstrong shock absorbers.
Wheels: steel rims, tyres front: 2.75 x 21, rear 4.00 x 19.
Brakes: Front: drum type 180 mm – Rear: drum side type 180 mm
Main dimensions: wheelbase 1340 mm
Ground clearance 220 mm
Seat high: 810 mm
Steering head angle 63.5 degrees
The magazine Trialsport in Germany carried a full report using material from Justyn Norek Snr and his son Justyn Norek Jnr. If you can read German language, here is a link to the article on the internet, (you may need to right click on the link to open it):
Tommy Milton was born in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland in March, 1916. Sadly, his mother died a few days later, so he was raised in the home of his mother’s aunt. He attended Yardheads Primary School and Leith Academy, but left when he was fourteen to begin work. From his early teenage years, he had enjoyed cycling and ‘tinkering’ with his bicycle, a necessity since he did not have the means to buy a new one. His circle of friends were into motorcycles and he duly acquired a 1936 New Imperial, on which he competed in a few reliability trials prior to 1939. He joined the recently formed Melville Motor Club around this time.
With the advent of war, he enlisted early, without waiting for his ‘call-up papers’, so that he had a good chance of becoming a dispatch rider, and this he did.
He was selected to attend a three week course in basic maintenance which, in the confusion of the early war years, turned out to be a three month course to train Army fitters, and he was allowed to remain, passing out with flying colours.
After the war, the trade unions recognised this qualification as equivalent to an apprenticeship, thus enabling Tommy to become a Navy fitter at Port Edgar in South Queensferry, his job for the rest of his working life.
While Tommy was in the Army, he was sent to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and his particular friend there, also from Leith, had left his new Ariel Red Hunter at home. Sadly, his friend was drowned in an accident and so, after the war, Tommy acquired DFS 122 from his friend’s mother, the bike on which he was to compete in trials, grass tracks and, especially, hill climbs in the forties and fifties. He won the Scottish Hill-Climb Championship (Standard Class) in 1949.
In the early fifties, as his riding career was winding down, he became a committee member of the Melville Motor Club, going on to become Secretary and Treasurer, and generally the main pillar of the Melville for the next fifteen years or so, eventually handing over to the next generation to Trevor Hay (see article: Great Scots – Trevor Hay).
Tommy married Margaret (Peggy) Wood, also from Leith, in 1942, while on leave. The couple were separated by the war, meeting for a few days over Christmas, 1944 in Sheffield, before Tommy was de-mobbed in mid-1945.
Tommy and Peggy had two children – son, Tommy Junior and daughter Maureen.
In addition to his Melville duties, Tommy was also a member of the Scottish Auto-Cycle Union Management Committee, serving as an SACU Steward at many events, especially scrambles. He was also one of the founding group of the popular ‘Scottish Clubman’ magazine, under editor Fred Stephens of Stonehaven. Tommy undertook distribution of the magazine to all the Edinburgh motorcycle shops each month, as well as roping in son Tommy and daughter, Maureen to sell them at each Sunday’s events. He also contributed a regular monthly column on whatever took his fancy, under the pen name ‘NOTLIM’ – simply his surname reversed!
With his outgoing nature and willingness to help others, Tommy had become a mentor to a legion of younger riders. These included Scotland’s celebrated racer, Bob McIntyre who began his illustrious career competing with Tommy in hill climbs. In recognition of his many years of service to the Club and the sport, the Melville made him an honorary life member, an honour the SACU also made him later as an honorary vice-president.
In addition to his Melville Club activities and his day job, Tommy also had a dance band, which specialised in ‘old time dance’ music and had regular ‘gigs’ in various clubs in and around Edinburgh and the surrounding townships. Members of Tommy’s band included pianist Tommy Merrilees, the brother of Edinburgh’s celebrated Police Chief Constable Willie Merrilees, and drummer Sammy Marks, whose brother Bob was captain of the Edinburgh Monarchs speedway team. The band would play at the Melville’s frequent social evenings at the Edinburgh Southern Harriers’ sports club at Fernieside in Edinburgh.
With the closure of the Port Edgar in the mid-seventies, Tommy transferred to Rosyth. In the Queen’s 1977 Birthday Honours he was awarded the Imperial Service Medal, recognising his 30 years of meritorious service.
Tommy decided to take early retirement in 1978 as he did not enjoy being a regular user of the Forth Road Bridge, having famously led a vigorous campaign against tolls prior to its opening in 1965! He had also started to take a back seat in Melville activities but continued to be involved in motorcycle sport and, especially, the Clubman magazine. In the mid-eighties he suffered a stroke from which he recovered but with some vision impairment which meant he could no longer drive.
For the first time in his life, he became a regular bus user, still getting around Scotland’s capital city. Although a non-smoker since his mid-thirties, Tommy sadly contracted lung cancer in 1993 and succumbed to this the following year, at 78 years of age.
Trials Guru: Tommy Milton was a 100% died in the wool motorcyclist of the old school. A respected member of the Scottish ACU, Melville MC (Scotland) and the Scottish motorcycle sporting community. He was a true enthusiast who was a stickler for fair play and sticking to the rules.
On one occasion, Tommy decided to prove a point. He inserted a clause to the standard rider’s declaration of the entry form at a Melville scramble which read: “I promise to pay the sum of five-pounds sterling to Thomas Milton on signing on at the start”.
When Tommy was signing the riders into the event he asked them for the five-pounds! Many asked what the extra five-pounds was for? Tommy had proved the point – many riders had simply signed the entry form without reading it!
Tommy Milton decided to encourage his son Tommy junior to stick in at school. He gave Milton junior a challenge, get good results at school and he would be bought a new trials bike of his choice. Young Tommy not only stuck in at school he became ‘dux’ at his school, the top performer. True to his word Tommy senior bought his son a brand new Greeves in 1962 straight from the Thundersley factory.
The article about Tom Milton Junior’s first Greeves TE250 is HERE
Tommy junior was one of only three Scot’s born people to have ever won the Sunbeam MCC Pinhard Prize in 1967 for his services to trials. The other two Scot’s born winners are: Gordon W. Phillip (Enduro) in 1978 and Paul Chatham (Enduro) in 2005.