Tag Archives: GOV132

ARIEL HT500 – Sammy Miller – 786GON

Rear view of 786GON showing the fibreglass mouldings by Butler. The Ariel was not a replica, it was Sammy Miller’s second string Ariel he used as often as GOV132, it is rumoured that Sammy simply changed the numbers over for different events. Photo courtesy of Roy A. Kerr.

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

Timing side view of 786GON when it was owned by Roy Kerr. The exhaust was made to blow mud off the rear tyre. The machine was fitted with Ariels alloy ‘Leader’ type hubs. Photo courtesy: Roy A. Kerr.

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.

The motor shows its pedigree. The engine number indicates that this is no ordinary HT5, but an experimental motor. (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)
The motor shows its pedigree. The engine number indicates that this is no ordinary HT5, but an experimental motor EXHS 99. (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)

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.

786GON at it’s current home in the Italian Alps with current owner/collector: Carlo Ramella. Photo copyright: Justyn Norek, Turin.

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.

“… 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.” – Justyn Norek (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)

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.
“…Chain guard in fibreglass, neatly styled with simplicity, weight-saving and functionality.” – Justyn Norek. (Image copyright: Roy Kerr)
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.

Capacity: 497cc

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.

Primary drive: Chain.

Clutch: multiple discs in oil bath.

Gearbox: Burman – separate, 4 speed ratios: 6:1; 9.5:1; 14.7:1; 19.3:1

Gearbox: Burman – separate, 4 speed ratios: 6:1; 9.5:1; 14.7:1; 19.3:1

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

Weight: 111kg.


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):

Article 786GON – Trialsport ©

© PDF version of article from Trialsport Magazine DE: Ariel 786 GON (1)

© Photos courtesy: Roy Kerr, Kelso, Scotland, UK.

© Photos courtesy: Justyn Norek, Turin, Italy.

For more photos of 786GON – See Justyn Norek Photos

Please be aware that the article on Ariel, 786GON which appeared in Trialsport magazine is copyright – Trialsport March 2014 – © 2013 TRIALSPORT Verlag, Odenwaldstraße 5, 97896 Freudenberg-Ebenheid

Additional information Words and photos copyright © – Justyn Norek, Turin, Italy.

© – Article: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2015 (All Rights reserved)

Sammy’s Museum

Words: John Hulme and Pictures: John Hulme + Iain Lawrie.

In 1996 Sammy Miller MBE took over the run-down premises of an old farm and converted the barns into a modern, prestigious building with picturesque surroundings. It is now accepted as housing one of the finest collections of fully restored motorcycles in the world, including factory racers and exotic prototypes. At the end of 2004 permission was granted for an extension to the museum which now allows it to house over 400 exhibits.

In autumn 2010 Trial Magazine called in to view this tribute to one man’s love of motorcycles.

Sammy Miller MBE and his wife, Rosemary. Photo
Sammy Miller MBE and his wife, Rosemary.

Welcomed by the warm hand of Sammy Miller himself the moment you walk inside the fabulous buildings, he immediately breaks into a documented history of the museum and its contents, the enthusiasm bouncing out from this motorcycle legend. Sammy’s life has always been dedicated to motorcycles. As a boy he followed motorcycle racing in Ulster and then went on to compete and win his first race in 1953. After a well documented period on the Road Racing Grand Prix circuits he moved into trials and went on to develop the world famous Ariel trials machine GOV 132 before moving on to Bultaco and creating the modern trials scene in 1965, and then on to Honda in 1970 to design the world championship winning trials machine. He is still active today and still competes when possible as well as demonstrating some of his prize collection.

Sammy on his GOV Replica Ariel HT5 on Loch Eild Path in the Pre'65 Scottish Trial. Photo: Copyright Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
Sammy on his ‘GOV Replica’ Ariel HT5 on Grey Mare’s Ridge in the Pre’65 Scottish Trial. Photo: Copyright Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

Unlike most other museums this is more than a static collection to be dusted and polished at regular intervals and displayed like butterflies with pins through them. This is a live museum, for whenever the opportunity presents itself these machines are run in classic bike events of one kind or another. Many of the racing machines are still fully competitive and capable of giving a good account of themselves in high-speed parades. Like any good museum the contents are changing constantly. Virtually every new acquisition represents a full-scale renovation with the attendant difficulty in finding missing parts or replacements to exchange for those that are badly worn. Apart from the motorcycles on display you will also see many interesting artefacts, all of which represent a link with motorcycling of a bygone era.

The Off-Road section, for me, was incredible as one of the machines in the collection was something that has been on my mind many times in the past. George Sartin of Talon products’ fame many years ago started to develop his own trials machine; he made a prototype which then just disappeared off the face of the earth and there it was, immaculately restored in the museum. There are the awesome Jawa ISDT machines from the mid-seventies, and another particular machine which caught my eye was the long track championship winning machine of the late Simon Wigg, current trials star Alexz Wigg’s uncle.


Always one to bring something new to the museum, Sammy had just acquired the famous 1961 SSDT-winning AJS ridden by Gordon Jackson when he recorded the famous single mark victory.

5 The famous Gordon Jackson AJS as it arrived at the museum.
Gordon Jackson’s factory AJS 187BLF in ‘as found’ condition, seen here at Sammy Miller’s ready for restoration. 

The machine was in a sad state of affairs but Miller restored it, quite rightly, to its original condition.

The Gordon Jackson AJS 187BLF rebuilt and ready to go!

The museum houses the finest collection of fully restored motorcycles in Europe, including factory racers and exotic prototypes, plus memorabilia spanning seven decades of motorcycling for sport and for pleasure. There are over 400 rare and classic motorcycles on display in four galleries.

Sammy with the AJS Porcupine racer

During all this he has still found the time to restore many rare and exotic machines to concourse condition and perfect working order. These he kept as a private collection until 1980 when he opened up a museum so that the public could have a chance to see and hear them. He even took some abroad to many locations, including Australia and New Zealand, so that they could be seen by as many people as possible.

4 The Talon trials machine
The Talon Mick Mar Trials Machine at Sammy Miller’s Museum at New Milton.

He has now placed the entire collection into a Trust to enable it to be kept together for future generations to experience and admire. There is no one more dedicated to motorcycling than Sam. He spends ten hours a day seven days a week working, promoting or restoring motorcycles and still finds time to compete (and win) races today.

Sammy with GOV132 Ariel HT5 developed from 1958 – 1964, the world’s most famous trials machine.

Sammy Miller was awarded an MBE for Services to Motorcycle Heritage in the 2009 New Year’s Honours List. The museum is open pretty much all year round and for me is a must to visit if you have not done so already. For more information please visit: Tel: 01425 620 777 – Web: www.sammymiller.co.uk – Mail: museum@sammymiller.co.uk

Sammy Miller MBE – Achievements

  • 11 times successive British Champion.
  • Twice European Trials Champion – the forerunner to the World Championship.
  • 13 times successive Hurst Cup winner.
  • 18 times successive Walter Rusk Trial winner.
  • 5 times winner of the famous Scottish Six Day Trial.
  • 7 times winner of the World’s most arduous trial the Scott Trial on the harsh and unforgiving Yorkshire moors.
  • Winner of over 1482 Trials events.
  • 9 Gold medals at International Six Day Trials.
  • Irish Motocross Champion.
  • Irish Sand Racing Champion.
  • Winner of most Irish Road races, including winning the North West 200 and the Leinster 200 three years in succession.
  • Third in the World Grand Prix Championships on a works Mondial
  • Sponsor of the British Classic Trial Championships.
  • Still rides today at retirement age and wins Trials and competes in classic road race events throughout Europe and as far away as New Zealand.
John Moffat has interviewed 10 times British Trials Champion, Sammy Miller on many occasions.
Trials Guru, John Moffat has interviewed 11 times British Trials Champion, Sammy Miller on many occasions.

© – All text copyright: Originally published in Trial Magazine – Issue 25.

Many thanks to John Hulme of Trial Magazine for his permission to re-produce this article.

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