Tag Archives: El Donkey

Bultaco Sherpa in 2016 SSDT!

Moorhouse Bultaco - James Moorhouse
‘El Donkey’ at rest. The number painted on the exhaust is a nod to the way the numbers were used in the 1970s and 1980s SSDT
We set out to find out what made Skipton trials rider, James Moorhouse want to ride the the 2016 Scottish Six Days Trial on a 35 year old motorcycle.
Moorhouse: “Ever since I got the 340 Bultaco I call ‘El Donkey’ – I jokingly said I would do the Scottish and it just snow-balled from there. After breaking down on the Tuesday last year I knew I had to come back and finish what I started.”
Rachael Chamberlain Photo - Bultaco El Donkey
Taking a short breather is James Moorhouse with ‘El Donkey’ the 1981 Bultaco Sherpa in the 2016 Scottish Six Days – Photo courtesy of Matt Betts
What preparations had he to do to the bike prior to the Six Days:
Moorhouse: “Just about everything you can think of, the piston, main bearings, wheel bearings, chain and sprockets, brake shoes, tyres. All of these components were replaced by my ‘factory mechanic’ and friend, Robert Barber.
We sent the  rockshock dampers to be serviced and stronger springs fitted by manufacturer, Gary Fleckney in Bedfordshire and InMotion/Bultaco UK in Egham, Surrey both were very helpful, they have a fast postal service”.
James Moorhouse tackles Cnoc-A-Linnhe – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
“I had fitted fat-bars to an adapted top alloy yoke some time ago and the snaky exhaust pipe.
Because of last year it was always in the back of my mind it could go bang, but I knew we had done everything we possibly could so if she didn’t make it then it was simply wasn’t to be and I wouldn’t waste an entry on it again. Fortunately the entry wasn’t wasted!”
2016 SSDT – James Moorhouse on Pap of Glencoe – Photo copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
James continued:
“Tuesday afternoon over the moor, she got some water in the carburettor and would only run with the choke on. At the next section I drained out the carb, it must have whiskered the spark-plug so I had to replace that too – luckily I had a plug on me, in fact I carried a lot of spares in my bag”.
Running repairs through the week long event included: Welding the exhaust pipe, welding a snapped rear brake arm  and fitting a new rear tyre on Friday morning. The rear tyre and plug were the only components replaced during the week.
It was noticeable that James rode with a broken front mudguard:
James: “It didn’t affect the way it rode so thought I’d save some weight!
I thought on Friday she was running a bit weak but on Saturday she felt as good as new”.
When asked if he would do it again, James replied:
“I have achieved what I set out to do, it’s time to retire her from the SSDT, but I will compete again but next time on a modern bike”.
Many thanks to James for allowing Trials Guru to publish this article.
Finish El Donkey RC Photo
A happy James Moorhouse at the finish of ‘Town Hall Brae’ on Saturday 7th May with friends, Boyd Webster (left) and Alan Mudd (centre) Photo: Rachel Chamberlain

El Donkey Returns as #255

James Moorhouse 2015
James out front on his Bultaco in 2015, flanked by friends, Boyd Webster (183) and Alan Mudd (182) – Photo: Neil Sturgeon

El Donkey, the nick-name given to Skipton rider James Moorhouse’s Bultaco Sherpa 340 will be ridden in the forthcoming Scottish Six Days Trial (2-7 May, 2016) in Lochaber.

Allocated number 255 this year, the machine suffered engine failure on the tough Tuesday run which had stressed the 35 year old machine to it’s limit.

Moorhouse had to retire as the motor had suffered irreparable damage, but vowed to have the machine rebuilt for 2016.

James also has his own amusing nick-name which is ‘P***-Tank Frank’.

The SSDT ballot was run and James was successful in his entry. Last year he rode number 181 and the elderly Bultaco caused great interest with SSDT supporters, many who remember similar machines being ridden in the 1980s.

James’s usual riding companions, Boyd Webster and Alan Mudd are not far away at numbers 247 and 248.

Here is a full list of entrants:

SSDT 2016 Rider list TG


James Moorhouse wrote: “Wow! – Thanks for the support Trials Guru, much appreciated! Here are some details of the improvements I have undertaken on my 340 Bultaco.
Altered top clamp to change the rake. HFS internals in the front forks. I’ve re-lined the hubs fitted Rockshocks. Over sized frame tubes, tube-less rim on the rear. Right to left rod for brake instead of cable. Fat-bars with 6 inch rise. Electronic ignition. Lengthened front part of the exhaust pipe. Made straight through and narrowed the club-foot rear exhaust. Fitted a Keihin flat slide carburettor. Smaller seat“. Kind regards see you all in Fort William – James Moorhouse, Skipton, Yorks.


James Moorhouse - NS Image
James Moorhouse with ‘El Donkey’ in the 2015 SSDT – his 35 year old Bultaco Sherpa 340cc – Photo: Neil Sturgeon