Tag Archives: Honda

Highlander’s Glass is Full


The Twelfth annual Highland Classic Two Day Trial is becoming a very popular event, with the maximum entry being surpassed in less than 48 hours of it’s opening just after midnight on Wednesday, 1st February.

The go-ahead organising committee of the Inverness & District club were surprised at the take-up of entries of which they changed the format after protestations last year that it favoured previous years riders.

Club and company secretary, John Moffat said: “In 2016 we were accused of nepotism where we sent out paper-based entries to every rider who competed in the 2015 event and the Royal Mail were very quick at their delivery for some reason. The official entries opened a day later although this wasn’t the overall intention. Quite a few prospective competitors felt that this was unfair. However, I’d like to point out that quite a few regular riders have supported our event since it’s inception in 2005 when it went from a one-day trial to a two-day affair.”

Moffat continued: ” We are quite overwhelmed at the response this year as we were full by the Thursday evening. We made a conscious decision to reserve some of our entry for special ‘Guest’ riders which has been kept to a minimum and are over and above the 150 rider maximum. These riders were chosen for their contribution they have made to our sport of off-road motorcycling or were nominated by our ‘Trial Partners’ – that is Apico Factory Racing; Putoline Oils UK and Classic Trial Magazine who have been very generous in their support of the 2017 event. As a contingency, we have a 15 place reserve list in opertion, just in case any competitor pulls out, pre-event”.


The ‘brainchild’ of Inverness Chairman, Malcolm Smith who thought up the original idea of the event which takes place on 10/11 June on the shooting estate, Alvie, near Aviemore which is run by the enthusiastic Laird, Jamie Williamson and managed by Estate Factor, David Kinnear.

This year the theme is ‘The Honda Edition’ and the Guest of Honour is 1977 British Trials Champion and Honda factory rider, Rob Shepherd. A special award will be made to the rider making the best performance on a Honda who has not won any other award. there is also a Best Female Rider award.

Shepherd will ride  a specially prepared Honda TLR250, but it is very likely that his ex-works TL305 will be there and it is hoped that Rob will demonstrate ride it during the end of one of the days.

Jean Caillou from France will be there, having entered on the ex-Marland Whaley factory Honda.

The ‘Guest’ riders announced so far are: Rob Shepherd – Honda (Guest of Honour); Yrjo Vesterinen – BSA (3 times FIM World Trials Champion); Vic Allan – MV Agusta (1974 – British 250cc and 500cc Motocross Champion); Chris Milner – Triumph (former Comerford Bultaco rider); John Hayden – Yamaha (Putoline Oils UK); Nick Shield – Yamaha Majesty (Classic Trial Magazine tester). It is still a possibility that Nick Jefferies – Honda may appear if TT committments allow.

Other notable successful entrants are former TT winner, Iain Duffus (Fantic) and Yamaha Motor Company’s Rob McElnea.

The event is billed as the ‘Friendliest Classic Trial in Scotland’ and that is helped by a relaxed atmosphere, a great place to ride off-road, sensible flowing sections, a ‘Specials’ category in case some machines don’t fully comply with class boundaries, cheese and wine at the end of Day One and for this some sections lost to the event a few years ago which are very traditional to Scotland.




Highland Classic goes HONDA


The Highland Classic 2 Day Trial, Scotland’s premier event of its type will pay homage to Honda Trials with their HONDA EDITION, when the event is once again promoted by the very active and go-ahead Inverness & District MCC on June 10/11 at Alvie Estate, near Aviemore.

The Guest of Honour will be ROB SHEPHERD, British Trials Champion on Honda in 1977.

Rob Shepherd (Honda) seen here on ‘Muirshearlich’ in the 1981 SSDT will be Guest of Honour at the 2017 Highland Classic Two-Day in June – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

The decision was taken by the organising committee to continue to feature motorcycle trials brands as their headline theme and have announced the guest of honour, Rob Shepherd who is from the era when Honda was active in British and World trials with their twin-shock TL and RTL300/360 machines which were hand-built by their subsidiary company ‘Honda Racing Corporation’. Since 2013, there has been Bultaco; Greeves and Yamaha with The Thorpe Edition which paid homage to Dave Thorpe in 2014, a regular competitor at the Highland Classic.

Alvie’s Laird, Jamie Williamson (second right) welcomes the riders to his estate in 2016 – Photo: Lorna Brackenridge

The event now enters its twelfth year as a two day trial and permission has been granted by Alvie Estates CEO, Laird Jamie Williamson who is an enthusiastic supporter of the event which now attracts an entry of 150 competitors from a variety of regions of the UK and Europe.

Mick Andrews was guest at the Highland Classic in 2016 at the ‘Yamscot Edition’ – Photo: Lorna Brackenridge

The Highland Classic, sometimes referred to as ‘The Alvie’ or even ‘HC2DT’, has remained firm in that it accommodates Pre’65 and twin-shocks only. There are no classes for mono-shock machines and any motorcycles which have been heavily modified are put to the ‘specials’ category, although there have been very few times that the organisers have had to relegate entries to this class.

The entries will open on Wednesday 1st February and will only be available online as a pdf document from the club website, (www.idmcc.co.uk) and their facebook and event pages on social media. Previous entrants will not receive a hard copy by post. Return of the entry forms are to be made by post to the entry secretary on an ‘earliest receipt’ basis. It is expected that entries will fill rapidly as in 2016 they were full within 5 days! Entries will close when full, or Saturday, 15th April whichever is the sooner.

The first 150 entries received by the secretary will be informed of their receipt of entry and there will be a 15 strong ‘waiting list’ of reserve riders, which represent a 10% fall-back facility. E-mailed entries will not be accepted and all entry forms must be complete and accompanied by the appropriate entry fee, which will be £45.00 (50 Euros) for two days of fantastic trialling in the Scottish Highlands.

For 2017, there will be a ‘Best Female Rider’ award and ‘Best Honda’ cup.

The ‘trial partners’ for 2017 are Classic Trial Magazine; Putoline Oils and Apico Factory Racing.

Six Days Honda





Sammy Miller with a TL250, a publicity shot for Honda Motor Company in 1975

Reproduced and updated with the permission of Trial Magazine UK (from Issue 57)

Article words: Carlo Ramella – Justyn Norek Jnr (JN) – Tommy Sandham – John Hulme

Photos: Justyn Norek Snr – Honda Motor Co – Alistair MacMillan/West Highland News Agency, Fort William (with permission of current copyright holder: Anthony MacMillan, Fort William – All rights reserved)

A Honda definitive photo of the production TL250 Honda

John Hulme: “Names are usually registered and remembered when you make a note of something that interests you, and the name Carlo Ramella was one that I had taken on board. It was many years ago, when my interest for collecting trials sales brochures from 1965 onwards started, and this man Carlo Ramella had send me a really nice letter asking if I could help to find some machines after he had seen my ‘wanted’ advert for sales brochures. I emailed him and he sent me a list of machines, I think around 20 years ago. Around two years ago Justyn Norek Jnr contacted me to tell me he knew where there were many interesting machines we could test for my publications, and the collector’s name was Carlo Ramella. If you receive Classic Trial Magazine you will have seen some machine tests on motorcycles from his collection. When Justyn mentioned this ‘Scottish Honda’ I thought it would be quite appropriate to use the test, so please enjoy.

Left to right: Giuseppe ‘Pippo’ Bartorilla, the creator of the Moto Guzzi Trial Special; Justyn Norek Jnr (Tester) and Carlo Ramella – Photo: Justyn Norek Snr

As an introduction to the Honda TL 250 test we will let Carlo Ramella take up the story as to how he came to be in the position to add this machine to his collection.

A Fascination

Carlo: “I have always had a fascination for all Honda trials motorcycles, and several variants of the TL models occupy my collection. I have a special place in my heart for the four-stroke machines, and their association with my trials hero Sammy Miller whose prototype caused such a sensation in the sport. When Miller moved to the two-stroke Bultaco from Ariel in 1965 it killed the big British machines forever. Miller can also be held responsible for the significant year, 1965, that would return in more recent times with the new class for Pre-65 machines. Word has it that Miller designed the world-beating Sherpa T trials model in one week, and its modern lighter weight and easy to ride two-stroke attributes changed the course of the trials motorcycle forever“.

Publicity photo of the Honda TL250 when launched in 1975 – Photo: Honda Motor Company

Carlo: “The purchase of the Honda TL 250 came about when I spotted a web advertisement in 2009. My excitement came when I found out it had a competition history with it and the fact that it had been ridden in the Scottish Six Days Trial. I quickly contacted the seller Alan Jones who confirmed that this was the machine belonging to Derek Edgar, who had competed on it in the 1977 SSDT. The details of the email were: ‘Carlo, this machine competed in and finished the 1977 ‘Scottish’ and was ridden by Derek Edgar. The attached photo shows Derek on the machine registration number LFS 5P. Regards, Alan’. I could not believe it, such was my elation at finding a machine with such a sporting heritage!

Derek Edgar finished 128th on LFS5P in the 1977 Scottish Six Days Trial seen here on ‘Kilmonivaig’ section – Photo: Alistair MacMillan/West Highland News Agency, Fort William/copyright holder: Anthony MacMillan.

Carlo: “However, Alan didn’t want to sell the machine outside the UK and he wanted to avoid all the hassle with paperwork, customs, packaging etc. I am well accustomed with international goods transportation due to my job and know many truck drivers and haulage companies, so I told him that I would take care of transportation, asking him to provide some protection of delicate parts such as the cylinder head, aluminium fuel tank, carburettor, etc. Eventually I managed to convince him to sell me the machine; we agreed a price and I arranged the shipping. When the Honda arrived I had another ‘dream’ in my garage, and it was exactly as I imagined: still with the ‘Scottish’ markings, all original, including the riding numbers for the event. I started the engine and it was so sweet, despite its age. So it was another dream fulfilled, and I rode it in many classic events before this test with my good friend Justyn Norek Jnr.”

Fitted with an aftermarket KW front mudguard, Justyn Norek testing the 1975 Honda TL250 – Photo: Justyn Norek Snr

Justyn Norek Jnr:

Justyn: “Like Carlo, I am a keen Honda trials enthusiast and especially four-strokes. When Carlo asked if I wanted to test the Honda it was a very easy ‘yes’. Having ridden many Honda trials models it would be interesting to test this one as it was the model which started the adventure. The venue would be one I am very familiar with, at Puy village in the Italian Alps. Carlo has some accommodation here and I also knew his love of red wine would make for good after-dinner conversation! As with most Hondas it started with a soft use of the kick-start lever. I was surprised that it started first time due to its age but the ‘clockwork’ engine was as sweet as a nut, with a very nice ambient exhaust note. I had a quick warm up and it once again confirmed my love of the four-stroke engine“.


JN: “The hazards we tested on I have ridden before, such as the river and rocks. I entered the fast flowing river and once again the superb suspension found on most Honda trials models was evident. This machine is over thirty years old and yet the suspension’s action is still very good. Despite its obvious heavy weight it handles pretty well, but you do have to be precise with your movements. Straight-line riding is okay but you have to pre-plan any sharp corners, such is the weight factor that you have to always take into account. The super-soft power delivery makes up for the handling and, as always, the feel good factor is immense“.

LFS5P has had very little changed to it since its 1977 SSDT adventure – Photo: Justyn Norek Snr

JN: “Out of the river and riding the nearby by river banks is where it’s the happiest as it feels very confident on this type of terrain. The relationship between the fuel tank and seat is very comfortable. Performance wise it could do with around another 100cc as, on very steep climbs, it simply runs out of power. The brakes were once again very good, considering the machine’s age, and as with the majority of Japanese motorcycles the gear selection was very ‘slick’ and positive. As with other machines from this era the clutch is not really for use in the hazards“.

The Honda TL250 is still in fairly standard condition except from a little scalloping of the side panels and the non-standard front mudguard – Photo: Justyn Norek Snr.

JN: “In conclusion this model is one which needs to lose so much weight to be competitive but that’s maybe why we see so many Honda ‘Special’ trials machines. It’s a pleasure to ride and the quality standard is very high. Sammy Miller worked his magic on the Honda TL 250, producing the Miller Honda which took Rob Shepherd to the British title in 1977. As the rain came down we retired for a lunch of grilled meat and a glass of red wine, and the topic of conversation took us back to the winning years of Sammy and Rob Shepherd“.

Justyn Norek Jnr. puts the 40 year old Honda through its paces in Italy – Photo: Justyn Norek Snr.

Carlo Ramella told Trials Guru that Honda TL250 UK registration LFS5P has now been passed to his good friend and Honda collector, Andrea Merlone and remains in Italy.

Who is Derek J. Edgar?: He is the younger brother of three times Scottish Trials Champion and former Clerk of Course of the Scottish Six Days Trial, Norman F.W. Edgar. Both sons of Norman Edgar senior who had a motorcycle business in Edinburgh (Edgar Brothers) and were DMW, Bultaco, AJS and Honda agents. Derek Edgar worked for Puch Motorcycles and then Montesa Motorcycles in the USA, before returning to live in Scotland to set up his company ‘Derek Edgar Developments’.

He wanted another crack at the SSDT when he was still in the USA and as his father Norman Edgar Snr had imported from the USA under Derek’s direction and assistance, a brace of two TL250s in 1976, a machine was sitting waiting for him to use, registered in Edinburgh as LFS5P.

The other machine from the personal imported batch was LFS4P, purchased at one time by author, Tommy Sandham who had a liking for Honda trials machines. Sandham described the TL250 as: “… heavy, had low ground clearance but was the most fun you could have with your trousers still on“.

Sandham loaned LFS4P to his friend Kenny MacNamee who rode one of the first motorcycle enduros to be held in Scotland, at Rhins on the Galloway coast in 1978. The TL250 was a fine general purpose off road machine, perhaps heavy and low for trials, but for the early enduros, a handy bike to have!

Derek Edgar is now retired to Linlithgow with his wife Theresa. Their daughter Kim Edgar is a well known musician. We hope to bring you the full story of the Edgar Brothers in 2017.

LFS5P is still a useable trials machine in the right hands – Photo: Justyn Norek Snr.

Our thanks to Carlo Ramella, Justyn Norek Snr & Jnr., Tommy Sandham and John Hulme of Trial Magazine UK for this article.

In collaboration with Trial Magazine UK: HERE

Want to read more on Honda Trials machines? Then don’t move, click: HERE

Last of Sandham’s Honda book sold


Tommy Sandham who wrote many motorcycle trials books has been in touch recently and informed us that the last three copies of his world famous book, Four Stroke Finale – The Honda Trials Story have been sold to purchasers in Germany!

He said that there are no plans to print any more, having printed a further 100 copies, the very last copies were dispatched to German buyers with an interest in the Honda brand.

Original first editions were changing hands on online auction sites in excess of £100 a copy at one time.

Written in conjunction with Trials and Motocross News staffman, John Dickinson, Sandham also worked at the Morecombe based paper in the late 1970s and into the 1980s.

Sandham was fortunate to test Rob Shepherd’s factory Honda RTL305 along with fellow staffman, Mike Rapley.

Tommy assisted Trials Guru to compile the Honda Trials special section HERE

Tommy Sandham’s website: HERE


Honda ramp up Montesa supply for 2017


Honda (UK) has doubled the size of its specialist Montesa dealer network and appointed a new Off-Road Sales Manager to further support continued growth in the UK’s trial bike market.

Five new dealers have recently been awarded a Montesa franchise, extending the network across the UK to ten. Each franchisee has been selected due to its specialist knowledge and experience in off-road motorcycles, and is exclusively able to sell the revered Honda Montesa models loved by high-adrenaline two-wheel enthusiasts.

In a further move to focus more on the off-road market, Honda (UK) has also this month confirmed the appointment of new Off-Road Sales Manager, Graham Foster-Vigors, charged with supporting and developing the Honda and Montesa network. Working within Honda’s UK motorcycle business in various customer and dealer-facing roles since 2007, Graham also has experience in competing in and management of two-wheel motorsport including Enduro and MX. In his new role, Graham will be the principal contact for wholesale and retail performance for Honda and Montesa, as well as overseeing Off-Road Racing, Off-Road Experience Centres and events, such as the Dirt Bike Show, to deliver the best possible promotion for the two brands.


Nick Campolucci, Head of Motorcycles for Honda (UK) comments: “The Honda and Montesa brands are heavyweights in trial biking, and with the sector currently experiencing such strong growth we are in an ideal position to capitalise on this and continue to delight customers with the very best products and technologies from both stables. The expansion of the specialist Montesa franchise network underlines our ongoing commitment to offering our off-road customers the very best in advice, service and expertise; while the appointment of Graham to look after our dealers and keep a dedicated eye on our racing and other promotional activities ties our whole offering together very nicely.”

The five new dealers recently awarded the Montesa franchise are as follows:

Thunder Road Motorcycles, Hempsted, Gloucester

Colwyn Bay Motorcycles, Clwyd

Derbyshire Off Road Centre, Buxton

Kestrel Honda, Coventry

Marsh MX, Merthyr Tydfill

Honda (UK) currently markets four models bearing the revered Montesa badge – the Montesa Cota 4RT260, 4RT Factory Race Replica and 300RR, and the Montesa 4RIDE.

Each model is manufactured exclusively for worldwide distribution at the Montesa Honda facility, in Santa Perpetua de Mogoda, Barcelona.

The Montesa Honda Cota 4RT began a revolution in trial biking on its introduction in 2006, bringing the environmental benefits of four-stroke technology, along with strong power and torque, to a world previously dominated by two-stroke. The 260 model carries a reputation for performance, quality and proven reliability, while the Factory Race Replica offers the more demanding customer the exclusiveness of its superior equipment and the look of the race bike. Such is the reputation of the Cota 4RT, that of the last 17 Trial World Championships won by the Montesa team, the last nine were all achieved on this model.

Moving up the performance scale, the Montesa Cota 300RR (‘Race Ready’) is an exclusive and unique race-oriented machine which builds on the success of the 4RT models but with a focus on increased power and reduced weight to meet the needs of the most demanding racers, particularly those competing against two-stroke models.

Making up the Honda Montesa range is the most recent addition, the 4RIDE. This versatile off-roader, aimed at the ‘pure adventure’ seeker, is light yet strong, powerful yet manageable, and comfortable and easy to handle. Along with strong Dunlop tyres for plenty of grip, the front axle is light and agile with strong suspension to deal with the most uneven and demanding terrain.


For further information on the Honda Montesa off-road motorcycle range please visit www.honda.co.uk/motorcycles.

LOOK! Trials Legends – Volume 2

Latest release from Trials Guru is Trials Legends – Volume 2, which will be extended over the next few weeks.

Rob Shepherd - Honda - 1977 SSDT
Rob Shepherd – Honda – 1977 SSDT – Photo: Rhosalyn Price, Abergavenny

We kick-start Volume 2 with the Legend known as ROB SHEPHERD.

In collaboration with Trial Magazine UK

Trials Legends – Volume 2 is HERE

SSDT – Where are they now?

Where are they now?

1966 - SSDT - Sammy Miller Bultaco EAA60D - 2
1966 Weigh-In at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa 252cc (EAA60D) – Photo courtesy: Kenny McNamee, Motherwell

The Scottish Six Days Trial is one of those events that every trials rider not only wants to take part in at least once in their lifetime, but to win it, well that is something really special.

Motorcycle manufacturers have entered works machines to the event with the sole aim of achieving victory, pure and simple.

Tommy Sandham, who has written four books on the subject, has asked me to undertake a tricky task – to find out how many SSDT winning machines still exist!

2011 - 187BLF- GOV132 - IL
SSDT Centenary 2011 – Two of the most famous trials machines, of all time – 187BLF (350 AJS) which won the 1961 SSDT ridden by Gordon Jackson losing only one mark. GOV132 (500 Ariel) Sammy Miller’s famous machine that won the SSDT (1962 & 1964) – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

We know of a few that are still around, these are as follows:

1946/47/48 – HughViney’s 350 AJS (HXF641)

HXF641 - 2 - David Lewis photo
Hugh Viney’s AJS with some details painted on the front plate of HXF641 as it is to this day – Photo: David Lewis, London

HXF641 - 1 - David Lewis photo
Hugh Viney’s factory AJS HXF641 on which he won three successive SSDTs post-war – Photo: David Lewis, London

1957 – Johnny Brittain’s 500 Royal Enfield Bullet (HNP331) – National Motorcycle Museum.

1962/64 – Sammy Miller’s 500 Ariel (GOV132) – Sammy Miller Trust.

1961 – Gordon Jackson’s 350 AJS (187BLF) – Sammy Miller Trust.

1963 – Arthur J. Lampkin’s 249 BSA C15 (XON688) – Owned by A.J. Lampkin.

1965 – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa (669 NHO) – Owned by Sammy Miller Trust.

1966 – Alan R.C. Lampkin’s 249 BSA C15 (748MOE) – Owned by A.R.C. Lampkin.

1967/1968 – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa (EAA60D) – Owned by Yrjo Vesterinen.

1969 – Bill Wilkinson’s 250 Greeves – (WWC 169F) – Owned by Bill Wilkinson.

1981 – Yrjo Vesterinen’s 349 Montesa Cota – Owned by Yrjo Vesterinen.

2005 – Sam Conner’s 290 Sherco – Owned by Paul Rays

So where are the rest?

Some SSDT winning machines – but where are they?

1954: Artie Ratcliffe’s 350 Matchless (OLH721)

1959: Roy Peplow’s Triumph Cub (RUE923)

1970-1971 : Mick Andrews’ Ossa (B775073 – Barcelona registration)

1972 : Mick Andrews’ Ossa (B-1681-C – Barcelona registration)

1973: Malcolm Rathmell’s 250 Bultaco (XWW34L)

1974: Mick Andrews’ 250 Yamaha (CRA33L)

1975: Mick Andrews’ Yamaha (JGF729N)


Use the Trials Guru CONTACT page to let us known – HERE

Guardian of Trial Memories – Charly Demathieu

World famous, the manual magnetic scoreboard of Charly Demathieu, wearing his Ecole de Trial Happy shirt provided by TRAP – Transfers Racing Adrien Prato

The Guardian of Trial Memories – Charly Demathieu

Thirty years in the world of trials, if one man has made his mark it’s the Belgian, Charly Demathieu. The absolute reference point for the scorecards at both the Belgian and Spanish Championships as well as all the World rounds, he is the true living memory of our sport. The guardian of trials history he has put his treasured archive on his fabulous website www.trialonline.org This is the story of an encounter with a genuinely passionate individual that does not only live by numbers.

“I was the first minder in the history of trials with Jean-Marie Lejeune.” – Charly Demathieu

“Trialonline has 4000 pages and almost all the results of all the big events since the birth of our discipline.” – Charly Demathieu

Words: Philippe Pilat – John Hulme – Charly Demathieu
Pictures: Delui – Haussi – Eric Kitchen – Colin Bullock and private collections.

Who is Charly Demathieu?

Charly: “I was born on 12th June 1952 at Cheratte (North of Liege – Belgium), in fact I still live there. I followed my humanities course until the sixth year, which is the equivalent of ‘A’ levels in the UK. Then I got my driving licence and I became a truck driver for the Public Welfare Centre of Liege for whom I worked for twenty years. The centre later closed and I found myself as an archivist in a psychiatric hospital, completely different but really not an obvious career change at first but it was a very rewarding experience to live in contact with patients with severe drug and alcohol problems. I learned a lot through these people that we really do not need to be afraid of them, yet they frighten almost everyone … Another twenty years passed very quickly and for the last two years I have been a pensioner, but not quite retired!”

Before the computer revolution, the world trials series was covered by a 400 page book

Which is the source of your passion for trials?

Charly: “Oh, I feel a bit like Obelix, I fell into a tiny cauldron filled with a potion (passion!) for the magic of trials. Still in my pram, my mother often took me to see my godfather, Rene Georges, and my cousin Roger ride. Later there was one man who gave me a really genuine passion for the sport, Jean-Marie Lejeune (Eddy Lejeune’s elder brother). In 1975 I was a spectator at the Grand Prix held in Sommieres and Jean-Marie was looking for a driver to take him to the next round in Sweden. It started well and I was soon driving the Lejeune family truck to all the Grand Prix’s and once there I tried to occupy myself so I started making small rankings of the results”.

You rode trials in the seventies … why did you stop?

Charly: “I just rode as a Novice and then Intermediate but without any impressive results. In fact at the time I was especially fond of my road cycle. My claim to fame is that I was the first minder in the history of trials with Jean-Marie but my job was so very different from their current duties. I followed my rider between sections with my backpack filled with essentials as this was the time when motorcycles were much less reliable than today. I helped with repairs for Rathmell, Lampkin and Karlson. Solidarity amongst riders was much stronger than today. I was almost never seen in sections, I stood at the ends cards, ready to intervene if necessary. I watched the lines and rides of his competitors but I never set foot inside the section. I remember one time when Jean-Marie made me stand in the middle of a river with water up to my waist to mark the deep hole where he should not ride. We were very close to each other and then we lost contact for nearly fifteen years since I was often on results duty in Spain and rarely in Belgium. We met again by chance in 2011 during the GP of France at Isola 2000”.

1970s shot of (from left) Jean-Marie Lejeune, Charly Demathieu and Jean Lejeune

How do you convert from competitor to official – organiser?

Charly: “I rode events for a few years. I drove the Lejeune family to all events using holidays that I could earn by working on other weekends of the year. For a long time I looked after the Belgian Championship but I finally stopped because it took me too much time. I was race director, timekeeper, starter and closer of the event too, you know the one who leaves after the last rider to remove and collect the section markers. I also worked with the setting out of sections; at the time we marked the inter-section route with methylene blue mixed with plaster. You finished the day blue all over; the colour did not want to wash off! I also managed entries for the GP’s, allocation of riding numbers; I standardised the various documents for the Championship so we could use the same media everywhere”.
You became the “Grand Vizier” of the scoreboard with your famous magnetic board….

Charly: “It was with Jean-Marie Lejeune that we came up with the idea of a magnetic board to display the scores but I did not actually put into practice until 1982. On one side there were the rankings of the day, on the other those of the Championship and I got to the final result by sliding my magnets up or down. I managed to calculate the score very quickly so when riders brought me their score card I put the results on the famous board and everyone could see where they had finished compared to their competitors in almost real time. I was doing all this alone at many events. At Bilstain for the Belgian GP I arrived with a large format magnetic board that I installed on the podium. The Italians asked me to do the same at their home round: I said yes, then it was the turn of the Finns … and I was away, I did it all over the world. It lasted nearly twenty years and then one day the truck of the Spanish Federation was stolen in Poland along with the famous scoreboard that was in it. I then finally moved onto the computer but suddenly I could not see the riders as I did before and I was no longer on the podium with the public: I was tapping on my keyboard in a corner”.

What is your current status? Are you an employee of the FIM, do you still work for the Spanish Federation?
Charly: “I work for the FIM at the World rounds. I am in a team of three with Jordi Pascuet and Jake Miller: it’s a package imposed by the International Federation (FIM), it is not I who makes the decision to go or not to a particular GP. It may not suit the organisers who prefer to use the services of ‘locals’ who are more often than not very competent, but they do not calculate the overall rankings throughout the season. In addition we represent for them a significant cost. A few years ago I took my car and I went to the other end of Europe but with age I can no longer do things in the same way. So the organisers of the GP must support our airfare, accommodation etc… This represents a budget they would like to distribute down to the volunteers already in place. I did the same job for the Spanish Championship for eighteen years; I stopped only four years ago. I was away twenty seven weekends a year. Since I am a pensioner I have more time but there were still two years that I spent all my holidays to travel. I was always away but I loved it. I loved certain events such as the trial of Montmartre in Paris in the nineties. I found it wonderful to be able to bring trials machines here! They should have done the same thing in Barcelona. The urban trial at Cahor’s in France is superb it seems but I never went there. We must find a way to introduce trials to the public who know nothing of our discipline”.

What were the various stages or changes in your work?

Charly: “There came a time when I was forced to stop organising events in Belgium due to a lack of time, I was spending so many weekends at the Spanish Championship whilst working at the hospital in Liege during the week. I was often with Jordi Prat; it is we two who have defined the current format of the Trial des Nations. Before we took only the top three total scores of the four members of the team, later we decided to only take into account the three best results of the four teammates in each section. Our principle was tested and finally accepted by Ignacio Verneda then President of the FIM, it was he who insisted on my presence at each Grand Prix. That gave me more time to spend on the road!”

Charly explains the scores to Gas Gas UK boss, John Shirt Jnr at a world round

Any anecdotes, vivid memories?

Charly: “Many, inevitably, there are often amazing things that happen at a trial! For example at the GP of San Marino in 2008 when the local club wanted to refuse the technical controls being undertaken by the Italian Federation as it obviously did not please them, they had a real zealous approach, so they thoroughly checked all the dates of various documents (insurance, motorcycle registrations etc) of all foreign riders, it was a massive panic, as some of the riders feared they would be excluded from starting! Eight days later in Foppolo for the Italian Grand Prix, it was again the same controllers; they finished at lightning speed without any real checks. Still at the same event, we went back home on Sunday evening without being able to send out any results. Italian TV had saturated all internet connections; it took ten minutes to send an email of three words!”

1982 Scottish Six Days, Charly with Eddy Lejeune (Honda)

You created ‘Trialonline’ and have written dozens of books: you’re a pretty verbose boy!

Charly: “It is only for personal pleasure that I did all that. I’ve always loved creating stories from the passion that I witnessed. I have written fifteen books on Belgian, Spanish and World events, but I have even more to give. I have created a CD Rom containing all the results from around the world, which works in the same way as my website that I created at the request of the FIM in 2004. Since then I keep feeding Trialonline the results of trials in the most diverse countries such as Israel, New Zealand and even some South American countries. I update the results of the latest events even those held last weekend. You click on the flag of a country and you get the corresponding results, you click on the photo of a rider, you know his record. Trialonline has 4,000 pages through which we find almost all the results of all events since the birth of our discipline: it is only missing 21 ranking events!  Sometimes it is very difficult to obtain results; I often prefer to speak to organising clubs rather than National Federations who are not really making big communication efforts in this area. You can find the results of the year, but not those from previous seasons! In France, it is Oliver de la Garoulaye who took the trouble to dig through the archives of the FFM to find the results since the first World round. Here I absolutely have all the results, but only thanks to fans like him, not because of the Federation”.

Charly chats to Thierry Michaud at the Belgian world round in 1988

What are your plans for the future?

Charly: “To finalise my archives, finding the 21 results I am still missing. I am also concerned about what will happen if I stop Trialonline work with the FIM. I renew the partnership each year, but I may not want to one day, it worries me to leave because there would be nobody to take it on after me. I’m also a big fan of Asterix: I have 600 volumes published in 42 different languages, I am very proud of my collection and I have some very rare specimens. I need to update my rankings for Trialonline; right now I’m working on a trial in New Zealand. I also plan a new grading program offering a choice between two or three rounds, a variable number of sections, all this is a lot of work”.

Takahisa Fujinami pops into the FIM Press office to say ‘Hi’ to his old friend Charly Demathieu

What is the state of health of Belgian trials?

Charly: “As elsewhere, is too often a single person who takes care of everything in his club and when this guy stops, the club dies. We also have the organisation related to ecological constraints that are huge in Belgium, much worse than your problems. For example, in the province of Liege, in the eighties, there were more than ten events per year, now we have only one quarter and in the rest of the country, it is the same problem. There is still a trial in Mons, Aywaille, and Bilstain and in Wavre and that is almost everything. You really have to go to private land such as Bilstain for young people to ride legally. This is the only way forward. Obviously the financial crisis is even worse for young people who have much difficulty in finding the budget to ride. It is certain that Belgian trials have seen better days!”

How do you feel about the disappearance of the GP in Belgium?

Charly: “This is something that really saddens me the as last GP was already six years ago and I look forward to the next one in Comblain-au-Pont close to Aywaille on the 13th July this year. At the last Bilstain round there was a strong divergence between the organisers and the FIM in particular with regard to the departure time. Since then the FIM does not want to go back. There was later a GP at Spa – Francorchamps in 2006 but that also ended badly. In the late afternoon there was an anti-doping control which lasted a long time and the prize ceremony could not take place until the test results were known. Inevitably the public became impatient and left without waiting for the podium presentation, the party was spoiled! It struck me as a tough decision as the results had been ready for a long time…. So I’d like to set the record straight, contrary to what has been said by many, it is not the fault of Charly Demathieu that there were no more Belgian GP’s! In 2007 the request by the organisation for a date was too late and the GP has not occurred since. This is obviously very unfortunate, if only because of the central location of our country, it is not such an expensive event for the vast majority of participants”.

If you could see the realisation of your three wishes, what would they be?

Charly: “To make the most popular trial by creating attractive and free to spectator trials, so not really like our current indoor circus … Reaching out to people I do not know and of course find the 21 results I miss between 1964 and today”.

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Charly Demathieu “I love Yrjo Vesterinen, the first truly professional rider”. Vesty seen here at the 1981 Scottish Six Days in the paddock – Photo: Colin Bullock/CJB Photographic

What else would you want to say?

Charly: “I wanted to tell you about my favourite riders. Obviously there is Jean-Marie Lejeune but Mick Andrews for his ability to adapt quickly to different machines whilst remaining competitive. I love Yrjo Vesterinen, the first truly professional rider. I also appreciate Fujinami as he is someone who respects everyone and always passes by to say hello. Thank you and hello, they cost nothing, but it is important to all the hard working enthusiasts who create our sport. I would also like to take my hat off to people who have the courage to write about trials, just like you at Trial Magazine!”

Charly Demathieu, happy in his work


This article was first published in Trial Magazine Issue 45 June/July 2014, we are grateful to John Hulme and Trial Magazine for the cooperation and use of this article.

You can subscribe to both Trial Magazine and Classic Trial Magazine: www.trialmaguk.com – who knows what you have been missing?

For Charly Demathieu’s Trialsonline website – HERE


Fifteen Minutes with Carlos Casas


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Carlos Casas in a familiar place, the parc ferme of the Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo: Trials Media/John Hulme

An addiction in life usually needs a fix, something to make your life feel good. Motorcycle trials becomes an addiction for many people, be it young or old. They may need a new machine, maybe some new riding kit, who knows? In many cases the older you become the more the addiction takes hold as more time becomes available in your life. Many years ago a Spanish motorcycle trials rider by the name of Carlos Casas came to ride in the Scottish Six Days Trial. A foreign adventure to the ‘Highland’ trial. The pleasure and enjoyment of riding in this location became so strong that over thirty years on, this enthusiastic man returns every year to the ‘Scottish’ for his fix to feed his addiction for motorcycle trials. 

John Moffat of Trials Guru was the SSDT secretary in 2002 and that year at the Highland Council reception in Fort William, Moffat introduced  Carlos Casas to guests and councillors as “the Ambassador for Spain for the Scottish Six Days.

Words: John Hulme with Carlos Casas

Photos: Carlos Casas Collection – Trials Media – Eric Kitchen – Kim Ferguson/Kimages

Carlos Casas has had a long association with the Montesa brand, seen here in 1978 on a Cota 348 – Photo: Carlos Casas Collection

Why the Scottish Six Days Trial? 

Carlos: “For many reasons, it’s the biggest trial in the world, I love Scotland, the scenery, I love trials, good sections, friendly people as riders, observers, public, organisers and friends  from all around the world…and all of this I can meet in the SSDT. This is my favourite event by far and my best holiday every year”.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat interviews the SSDT Ambassador to Spain for Nevis Radio during SSDT week – Photo John Hulme/Trials Media

How well do you remember your first trip to the ‘Scottish’?

Carlos: “My first trip to ride the SSDT was in 1979. I was the winner of a challenge/competition for the best private rider at the Santigosa Three Days and Cingles Three Days trial in Spain. We travelled with the Montesa factory riders who were Jaume Subira, Miquel Cirera, Pere Olle and Josep Jo. I remember that we travelled by car and van and it was a long trip from Spain”.

Watched by observer, the late Bill Reid, Carlos Casas in the 1979 SSDT on the Montesa 348 Cota.

Was the week’s competition a tough one?

Carlos: “I rode a Montesa Cota 348 and the weather was horrible as each day the route was very long and it was extremely cold with rain and snow. At the end of the week I was happy about the experience and finished in the top fifty with a Special First Class award”.

Carlos climbs Pipeline in the 1979 SSDT, the first of many to come

When you returned home did many people ask you about the event?

Carlos: “Yes, all the trials riders and many people asked me about the SSDT – I was a minor celebrity – Carlos laughs at this! This event is very popular in Spain and for many trials riders it is like a dream. It’s incredibly expensive to travel and compete from Spain but at every event we are always talking about the ‘Scottish’. It’s an event that you’ll love or hate. I always say that every trials rider must ride this event at least once. The problem could be that if you then enjoy it, you’ll repeat the experience every year and that’s when the addiction begins or as I always say, an incredible experience”.

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Camaraderie at the SSDT – Paul Nicholson, Gary Pears and Carlos Casas carrying a fellow competitors mount through a swollen river – Photo: John Hulme/Trials Media

Did Montesa support you in the early days?

Carlos: “I have always had good support from Montesa. I have never been a good enough rider to make a wage from the sport but I won the Spanish Veterans class over twenty eight years ago, a championship I have won fourteen times. I have also had some other good results and based on this and my loyalty to the brand, they are always happy to loan me a machine. I think of Montesa as family”.

How good did it feel to win the Best Foreign rider award?

Carlos: “I can remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I won the Best Foreign rider award. I have won this award four times and my highlights from the event are two thirteenth place finishes. The last time I achieved this result I had tears of joy in my eyes on the last sections on Ben Nevis I was so happy”.

The Spanish are keen supporters of the SSDT and Casas has encouraged even more to come, hence his nickname, “The SSDT Ambassador”

You continued to support the event even when it went back to full ‘No-Stop’ in the nineties.

Carlos: “Yes, I like the ‘No Stop’ rules at this event and I believe it was the correct decision”.

Carlos: “The last years of the event when they were using the ‘Stop’ rules the sections became tighter, difficult, dangerous and boring because of delays at the sections. Each year less competitors entered and I think the SSDT committee made a good job and the decision to go back to ‘No Stop’ was correct for the future of the event. Since then the SSDT is oversubscribed every year and it needs a ballot. One year I suggested to the committee that there should be two SSDT trials, one in May and one in October – Carlos laughs again as he explains he just loves the event!”

How important in Spain and to Montesa was the win of Amos Bilbao in 2002?

Carlos: “It was very important for Montesa/Honda to win the SSDT as it’s a very prestigious event, classed by many as nearly as important as the World Trials Championship. Montesa won the SSDT in 1979 (Rathmell), 1980 (Vesterinen), 1983 (Toni Gorgot) but for both Amos and Montesa/Honda the victory in 2002 was more important because it was a Montesa Honda machine and Dougie was contesting the World Trials Championship”.

1995 SSDT Carlos Casas on the Honda powered Montesa Cota 315

Have you ridden all your Scottish Six Days on Montesa/Honda machines?

Carlos: “I have ridden the Montesa Cota 348, Cota 314, Cota 315 and Cota 4RT, twenty four times in total. I rode a Gas Gas one year because there was no support from Montesa. My good friend Manel Jane loaned me his Gas Gas. It’s very important for foreign competitors to know that the manufacturers, through the importers, have full facilities available”.

When did you first ride the Pre-65 Scottish?

Carlos: “My first year was 2004 and since then every year after”.

Carlos loves the Pre-65 Scottish as much as he does the SSDT

What machines have you ridden in the Pre-65 Scottish?

Carlos: “I have always ridden a Triumph Tiger Cub usually loaned from my good friend Walter Dalton, but one year I used a ‘Cub’ loaned from Peter Remington. I love all the machines and one year I’d like to ride in the event on a rigid”.

Many people think you can win the Pre-65 Scottish – Is this your dream?

Carlos: “Around twenty riders could win the Pre-65 Scottish. It’s one of my dreams to win it but the most important thing for me is to be there and enjoy every section and every minute of this fabulous event – you would not believe the smile on his face when we talk about the Pre-65 Scottish”.

We know you are very good friends with the Vertigo brand owner Manel Jane. How do the Spanish trials riders feel about Vertigo?

Carlos: “People in Spain waiting patiently for the Vertigo to arrive because they understand that it would be well made, good quality, lighter and perform well. They were not disappointed. Manel is a real trials enthusiast and his dream was to build his own machine and build a good strong team”.

Manel Jane and Carlos Casas have been friends for many years

Why the loyalty to Montesa?

Carlos: “Because the motorcycles produced are always superb quality, very reliable and nice to ride. The people from the Montesa factory are always very good, friendly and professional”.

How much longer will you come to Scotland and compete in the Six Days and Pre-65 events?

Carlos: “As long as my body allows me to! I love both events and every year the memories are with me forever. I am getting old but the addiction just gets stronger”.

Carlos Casas negotiates Ba House in the 2000 SSDT on his Montesa 315 – Photo – worldwide copyright: Eric Kitchen

Before we finish; the question that gets asked so many times – Stop or No-Stop?

Carlos: “For me as a rider, No-Stop, it is without doubt correct. But sections whatever the rules must be well thought out to make them challenging and interesting, you must try to always make the rider think about the challenge”.

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Carlos Casas, the “Spanish Ambassador to the SSDT” – Photo: Kim Ferguson/Kimages

This article was generated for Trial Magazine issue 50 in April/May 2015 and we at Trials Guru thank John Hulme for the use of his article on this website.

Why not subscribe to Trial Magazine or Classic Trial Magazine, contact: www.trialmaguk.com

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‘Papa’ Lejeune passes away

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Jean ‘Pepe’ Lejeune riding one of his special Honda machines around 1966 – Photo courtesy of Lejeune family Dison, Belgium.

JEAN ‘Pepe’ LEJEUNE – 20 October 1926 – 6 July 2016 – “Thank You for Everything”

Jean ‘Papa’ Lejeune, known by the moniker ‘Papa’ by UK trials enthusiasts, but he was also known to all in Belgium as ‘Pepe’ the father of the three famous Belgian trials riders, Jean-Marie, Eddy and Eric Lejeune and daughter Chantelle, has passed away at the age of 89 years. He was the undisputed head of the Lejeune family.

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Eric; Jean ‘Papa’; Eddy; Jean-Marie and Mrs. Lejeune at the 2011 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo courtesy: John Hulme/Trial Magazine UK

Lejeune was an enthusiastic competitor on home built Honda machines and was a passionate supporter of the sport of trials in his own country and world-wide effectively creating a trials dynasty. He ran the successful family plastics business in Dison, near Verviers which was called Plastiflac-Lejeune B.E, this helped to finance his middle son, Eddy to contest the world trials series. Eddy became world champion three times in 1982-1984 during a career riding for the mighty Honda Racing Corporation with whom he signed in 1979 at the age of sixteen. Eddy was also Belgian national champion seven times and eldest son, Jean-Marie was Belgian national champion three times and was brother Eddy’s mentor.

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1986 Scottish Six Days – ‘Pepe’ inspects the RTL250 of youngest son Eric Lejeune – Photo courtesy of Mark Lamplough

The ingenious Lejeune made Eddy his first trials machine based on an SS50 Honda. In fact he built many special Honda trials machines for himself and his sons over the years.

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1986 Scottish Six Days, ‘Pepe’ Lejeune (Red sweater) in the middle of things with son Eddy’s factory RTL270S. Eddy Lejeune on the left, mechanic Derrick Edmondson in the Rothmans top facing away from camera – Photo courtesy, Mark Lamplough


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The three Lejeune brothers: From left, Jean-Marie; Eddy and Eric at the 2011 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo courtesy: John Hulme/Trial Magazine UK

Former World Trials Champion, Yrjo Vesterinen paid tribute and said: “The first time I had the pleasure of meeting ‘Pepe’ Lejeune was in 1970 in a bar in Dison, where the organising committee was based for the European Championship. It didn’t matter to him that I was a seventeen year old unknown youngster, who was struggling to understand where our Hotel was situated. Pepe straight away offered to take us there. It was the first time in my life I had sat in the back seat of a big Mercedes car. What a nice start for a memorable week-end in Belgium. ‘Pepe’ Lejeune was a larger than life character, a great ambassador for Belgium and the world of trials”.

Trials Guru will surely not be alone in sending sincere condolences to the Lejeune family at their loss.

13/07/2016 – Sadly, only seven days after the death of her husband, Mrs Lejeune slipped away.

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Mr. & Mrs. Lejeune – Photo courtesy of Eric Lejeune, Dison

Photos: John Hulme/Trial Magazine UK

: Mark Lamplough, Scarborough

: Lejeune Family, Dison, Belgium