In the latest edition of Classic Dirt Bike – CDB (Winter 2016, Issue 41) is an article penned by Trials Guru’s John Moffat entitled: An Hour with… Rob Edwards.
Moffat met up with Rob at the Centenary Scott Trial and over a cup of tea in the refreshment pavilion, Rob recounted highlights of his sporting career as a professional trials rider and brand ambassador for Montesa Motorcycles.
The article features fantastic action photographs taken from the Nick Nicholls Collection at Mortons Archive in Hornchurch, the owners of the CDB title.
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.
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
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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
If you haven’t done so, why not take a look at Trials Guru’s Rob Edwards Story. It truly is the story of a lifetime in trials.
Written by Rob himself it gives a fascinating insight to how a young lad from Teeside went on to become a professional rider, eventually contracted to ride for Montesa Motorcycles in the sport world-wide.
Trials Guru is grateful for the co-operation by Mortons Media and also Classic Trial Magazine and many more photographers and personalities in the sport for their assistance in creating this story of one of Britain’s favourite riders in the sport of trials.
Montesa’s former world-wide ambassador, Rob Edwards recently sent Trials Guru a tranche of his personal photographs, taken over a number of years for his section on this website.
Among them was a photo taken high up on a hill of his friend, Barry Overy who died recently at the age of seventy.
Rob: “Barry Overy, from Stockton was a stalwart of our local club, the Middlesbrough and he was also a supporter of the East Yorks Centre, ACU of which he became President in November 2015, a position in which he took great pride. Barry was a good friend and a tireless worker in our sport of trials. I have known Baz a long time and will miss him.”
Rob: “I have also enclosed another photo from my personal collection, it shows me in real trouble on day one of the 1970 Scottish when I lose five marks as I am clearly past the dabbing stage! The reason for sending you this photo is that it shows the late Stephanie Wood in the background, that is her standing on the left of photographer, Brian ‘Nick’ Nicholls. I am reliably informed that the observer writing ‘five’ in the book is Dunfermline man, Willie Dewar who worked at Angus Campbell’s motorcycle shop”.
For Rob Edwards story of trials on Trials Guru, follow this link HERE
A tribute by Rob Edwards, close friend of H. Martin Lampkin (1950-2016)
“Where do I begin to describe such an incredible person as Martin Lampkin? We all know that he was capable of doing the impossible on a trials bike of that there is no doubt, but everybody loved Mart because he loved them.
It would take him twice as long as anybody else to walk up the section Pipeline. Not because he was looking at the section, but because he had to stop at every family group and chat.
I would say that his personality was on a par with his riding ability. Another thing that made him unique has to be his sense of humour and all these things coupled up make the incredible person we know as Martin Lampkin.
Our deepest sympathies to Issy and all the Lampkin family and I’m sure that the thoughts of millions are with you”. – Rob and Bev Edwards – 4th April 2016
Something different for Trials Guru readers. We occasionally collaborate with other trials enthusiasts and here is something special for you.
Not a lot has been written about the 1980 FIM World Trials Champion, Swede, Ulf Karlson. However that has changed recently when James Brown of the ‘retrotrials.com’ website went across the sea to Sweden to interview Ulf at his home.
Read about the quiet man of trials who let his results do the talking for him.
Karlson was faithful to the Montesa brand throughout his career.
Read about his achievements and what happened to him when he disappeared from the trials scene.
Ulf Karlson’s story is exclusive to retrotrials.com, read the Ulf Karlson interview:HERE
It is true to say that some trials riders will be remembered for being not just good, but for beating the seemingly unbeatable. One of these riders is Gordon Farley. For eleven years, trials riding in Britain was literally dominated by one person, the great Sammy Miller. Other good riders came, tried and went away unsuccessful but Farley was determined that his name was not going to be added to that long list when he set his sights on Miller’s supremacy. “It was without doubt the most satisfying moment of my career when I knew I had won the British title and had beaten Miller”, Farley commented recently. Miller had won the trials championship eleven times on the trot; it had a psychological effect on the other riders – they got to the stage where they thought he could not be beaten so they did not try. Farley said to himself “I am going to do it!” and that was what he concentrated on. Every trial he rode in was to beat Miller but it was hard to get close to him. Eventually when he did it was unbelievable, but then he retired and the trials scene was never quite the same.
Farley, like Miller, was attracted to road racing before he found himself in trials. However, he turned to trials because it was “a lot cheaper”. Although he would not call his family a motorcycling one, his father did own a machine and his brother did compete in a few trials, although he never reached the level of Gordon. At thirteen he purchased his first machine, a 197cc Francis Barnett – in trials trim, of course. This was replaced two years later by a Triumph Tiger Cub, a machine that will be remembered as the one Farley got not only his first taste of competition on but also his first taste of success, back in 1961. It was the first trial he had competed in and he came third; the event was the Sunbeam Novice Trial. Shortly after this he entered his second trial, the Wickham Harvest, and taking second place elevated him out of the novice class into the expert class. Farley remembers these early events clearly but when asked which was his most memorable and why, he said “I think that would be the one I rode in France. It was at a place called Nemour, which is about sixty miles south of Paris, and it was the first time I had competed abroad in an international trial. The event, I think, is still run today and I remember the French treated me very well; mainly because in France you were not allowed to ride a motorbike until you were seventeen, you could only ride a moped, and here was a sixteen-year-old riding in a trial along with much older men”. “Do you remember your result?” “Yes, I won!” One may wonder how Farley could afford to go to France when he had previously said he had chosen trials because it is a cheaper form of sport. In short he was being supported by a dealer in Folkestone called Jock Hitchcock. Gordon has always been friendly with Murray Brush, a trials rider well known in the south-east of Britain, and it was through him that Farley was introduced to Hitchcock.
He sponsored Gordon from the age of sixteen until he was nineteen, and it would be fair to say that it was Jock pushing all the time that got him his first works contract.
A Works Ride
That was a nice surprise as he got a letter from Henry Vale, who was then the Triumph Competition Manager, on Christmas Eve offering a works machine, and it made a very nice present. He tried out the new machine in January and signed a contract. Farley was to enjoy four works contracts during his career: Triumph, Greeves, Montesa and finally Suzuki. During those first years as a works rider the world of trials was absorbed in an era of radical change, as the domination by the large capacity four-stroke machines such as the AJS, Ariel, BSA Gold Star, Matchless, Royal Enfield and Triumph Trophy (all actually slightly modified road models) was superseded by the Spanish and Italian two-strokes specifically designed and built for trials. Organisers had to rethink most of their sections, usually opting to make the turns tighter and sudden climbs steeper. Gordon Farley never rode one of the big old four-strokes, so he effectively grew up and learned his craft with the new style of riding.
He soon found the Triumph Cub had its limitations, it was after all simply a modified road model that had been developed from the Triumph Terrier, and its greatest handicap was – and remains – the lack of an effective set of trials-suitable gear ratios. Farley worked hard to improve his Cub, mainly by losing unsprung weight. He used alloy petrol tanks, alloy oil tanks, alloy air filter boxes and alloy front brake plates. Many of the items were copied and sold by Comerfords; indeed at one stage they added to his list of sponsors and he rode a ‘Comerfords Cub’.
With the Greeves it was a machine specifically designed for trials but with the bugbear of relying on the Villiers ignition system – for younger readers imagine putting a plug and socket in the ignition wire to the sparkplug and mounting the socket on the front edge of the crankcase cover, just where the front wheel plasters everything with wet mud. Yes, that is the measure of incompetence that prevailed! In 1967 the Montesa importer John Brise approached Gordon Farley to become their number one works rider but he had just signed a twelve-month contract with Greeves to compete for them during the 1968 season, so they would have to wait until the end of the year for him to join. It was a fantastic year for him on the Greeves as he took the runner-up spot in the Scottish Six Days Trial behind Sammy Miller, as well as third place overall in the European championship. In the December of 1967 Montesa had also approached another Greeves works rider, Don Smith, to join them.
He tested the new machine and was offered a contract as the company waited for Farley to join them in a new works team. 1969 would see Farley eventually join and he would win the opening trial of the new season, the Vic Brittain, mounted on the new Montesa Coat 247. He took second place in the 1969 European Championship (now World) and followed this by winning the British Trials Championship in 1970 which went all the way to the wire at the final round, the Knut Trial, where he beat Miller; he again took home the title for Montesa in 1971.
Carrying superb credentials and with the Japanese trials invasion about to take off Suzuki opened talks with Farley in 1971 with a view to him helping with the development of a new machine. They thought they had struck gold when they managed to get British Champion Gordon Farley to sign on the dotted line to develop their new trials machine in late 1972. More importantly he came with a good reputation, having previously ridden both Triumph and Greeves works machines. He was also well known for his machine development skills and this would prove vital to Suzuki as they were so new to the trials scene. After many secret trips to Japan and the Suzuki headquarters Farley’s new machine was finally taking shape. Various meetings had taken place in the closed season as they wanted a competitive machine from the outset.
The prototype machine was very much based on the TS series trail bike range which was a single cylinder two-stroke that they decided would be ideal for the trials project. With Farley under contract to Montesa until June 1973 he could not officially ride in competition for another manufacturer until the July. This gave both himself and the factory plenty of time to develop the new machine. When the two new machines arrived he was full of enthusiasm for the work the Japanese had carried out. The venue Farley chose to debut the new machine was a local centre event, the Horsham Club’s Ray Baldwin Trophy Trial. The debut was not a success and Farley finished second, four marks behind local centre rider John Kendal on a Bultaco. Farley was leading the trial at one stage but he had an unfortunate crash over the handlebars, which resulted in five marks lost and the win was gone. The machine was then ridden in the British and European Trials Championships but with very little success. Farley became disillusioned with this and the lack of support from the factory. With no major success and Farley wanting to concentrate on his booming trials shop it was rumoured at the end of the year he was going to retire from the sport, which he duly did. In 1972 he had opened up a shop in Ash near Aldershot, Hampshire, selling motorcycles with Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha franchises. He understandably also specialised in trials machines with Bultacos, Montesas and Ossas much in evidence, in addition to the Japanese mounts.
After his official retirement he opened another shop and just wanted to ride in trials on a very low-key basis, and the UK Bultaco importers, Comerfords loaned him a new 350cc Sherpa to ride whenever he wanted. His last real outing was in 1978 at the SSDT where he finished in a creditable 45th place. He admitted recently it nearly killed him! Gordon is now approaching 67 but is still involved with the shops, which take up most of his time, and can still be seen observing at local events. Farley ended an era in trials when he knocked Sammy Miller of the top spot in the British Championship, a subject still much talked about to the present day.
Article: Gordon Farley, Copyright: John Hulme/Classic Trial Magazine UK
John Hulme/Trials Media
Peter Bremner, Inverness
Eric Kitchen (all rights reserved)
Mike Rapley (all rights reserved)
Trials Guru/John Moffat
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Here is a message direct from Rob Edwards, former Montesa factory rider.
Thanks for the great support you have given me throughout our story on the Trial Guru website.
The ‘Trials Guru’ whose idea it was for this story is more than happy for us to continue until we all get our fill.
I am honestly amazed at your response. My only problem is that I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your response but of course that’s not possible, but the one person I can thank is ‘The Guru’.
When he said that he was interested in me doing my story back in October 2014, I wasn’t sure if we had enough material to keep you occupied. I now know there was!
The response both locally and overseas has been fantastic. The fantastic Thornaby gang who have followed the story from day one. There has been a list of riders who during my riding career I used to see most weekends but since then we went our separate ways.
The group would have in it is Steve Robson, Chris Griffin and Mick Illing who keeps us stocked up with yesteryear’s photos, thank you very much indeed.
Thornaby’s Tony Clarke’s three pictures of his drowning Dot. These are fitted in among the various stories by The Guru, John Moffat.
As 16 year olds, we used to ride in the woods from morning till dark.The woods at one time were part of Thornaby Airfield.
In one section we dropped down into the beck, turned across a large piece of wood and back up the bank. It was years later that we discovered that the wood was the propeller off a Spitfire aeroplane. It has since been retrieved, renovated and is on the wall of the Spitfire Public house. – Rob Edwards