Recently, Mick Andrews held a trials school near Celle, Lower Saxony near to Luneberg and Hanover in Germany for the local ‘Celler Trial Club’. Some old friends also showed up in support, none other than Felix Krahnstöver, former 10 times German national champion and Montesa and KTM factory rider.
Accompanied by Rainer Heise friend and trials rider and was the photographer of Fahrerlager (Paddock) and Trialsport magazine from the beginning of the 1970’s to 2000.
No longer competing, but still an enthusiast Krahnstöver is still dedicated to the local club. Felix is still selling and dealing in trials machines and was editor of Trialsport Deutschland when it began in 1977. The magazine is still going now run by Hans Greiner based in Freudenberg-Ebenheid.
Rainer, being an enthusiast of the sport and a keen photographer, brought along his fantastic photo album for Mick and the other enthusiasts to look at.
Trials Guru has been in contact with Rainer Heise and shortly we will be featuring a selection of some of his work from the early 1970’s through to the 1990’s. So we have created a “Rainer Heise – Trials in Germany” page specially for this.
Mick Andrews is a name synonymous with the sport of trials since the early 1960’s. He has ridden for AJS; James; Bultaco (Rickman Brothers, 1966); Ossa and Yamaha, in a career that has taken him all over the world both as a competitor and a brand ambassador.
Andrews was twice European Trials Champion in 1971 and again in 1972 on Ossa, before the official World Championship commenced in 1975.
Nick-named ‘Magical Mick’ by the trials press many years ago and it stuck, he has won the famous Scottish Six Days Trial a total of 5 times, in fact he was only the second man in the events’ history to win it three times in succession, the first being B.H.M ‘Hugh’ Viney who was to become instrumental in Andrews riding for the AJS factory team in 1963, his AJS factory machine carried the index number 644BLB, registered as a 350 Matchless. Viney after retiring from active competition became AMC Competitions Manager.
Due to his SSDT successes, Mick was also dubbed ‘Monarch of the Glen’ after the famous oil painting by Sir Edwin Landseer by the motorcycle press of the day.
Journalist, Ralph Venables (see Trials Guru’s comments below) tipped Viney off about the young Andrews, whom he had been watching the progress of, closely. A phone call to Viney and that was good enough for Hugh!
Andrews began riding for AJS in 1963 and his first SSDT on the heavyweight four-stroke saw him bag a second place finish behind Arthur Lampkin on the factory BSA C15 (XON688). A feat he repeated in 1964, finishing runner-up to Sammy Miller on the 500cc Ariel. The next two years he finished third on the 250cc James (306AKV) and again on the Bultaco (DOT289D). In 1967 on the prototype Ossa Pennine (ORB222E), machine troubles forced him to retire, but he was back the next year and came home in third, and again in 1969, a second place.
His first win in 1970 was on his factory prototype (Barcelona registered: B775073) sporting a much neater tank/seat combination, modified frame and overall a much trimmer package. This particular machine formed the basis for the production ‘Mick Andrews Replica’ (MAR) launched in 1971.
Mick also kept his hand in motocross for the Spanish company, racing a 230cc machine when time allowed. Coupled to this his selection for the British ISDT team on several occasions. He rode a factory prepared Ossa in 1970 at El Escorial, Madrid, Spain. For the British team he rode AJS in 1968 in Italy and a 504cc Cheney Triumph in the Isle of Man in 1971.
Repeating his SSDT successes the next two years, Mick wondered if it was time for a change. The Ossa trials machine had been developed only because of the death of Ossa factory road racer Santiago Herrero in the 250cc Lightweight TT in 1970. This saw Ossa pulling out of racing. Ossa, which stands for ‘Orpheo Sincronic Sociedad Anonima’ switched its focus to off-road development and trials in particular and Mick had signed for them in 1967 with the help of UK importer Eric Housely.
Yamaha announced the defection from Ossa in 1973. Andrews was to further develop the trials Yamaha that had been kicked off by Frenchman Christian Rayer, but it was not to be the TY (Trial Yamaha) style that Mick would be given. Factory ‘pure racing’ Yamahas were designated ‘OW’ and it was the Yamaha OW series that Mick was to be given full reign of.
Yamaha’s European operation was called Yamaha Motor N.V., based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands where their race team was officially headquartered. Mick received full factory support and a contract which furnished him with Japanese technicians and a Ford Transit van, suitably liveried in Yamaha racing colours.
As confirmed by Ferry Brouwer, then Yamaha race technician to Phil Read and Tepi Lansivoiri, all factory contracted riders were supplied with Ford Transits, all Dutch registered and suitably sign-written with the riders’ name on the driver’s door. The enormity of Yamaha Motor Company was in stark comparison to the Spanish Ossa concern.
Surprisingly, all Andrew’s factory OW’s were all road registered in the UK, a must for many of the national trials Mick undertook in that time period.
Much of the development work was undertaken at Mick’s home near Buxton, Derbyshire with new prototypes built in Japan and freighted over to Amsterdam for test sessions.
In 1979 Andrews once again rode for Ossa in the Scottish Six Days much to the delight of spectators.
Andrews also took young riders under his wing, including the Oakley brothers Nick and Peter. He also started his own ‘Trials Academy’ with the help of Yamaha, the first of it’s type in the UK. Called the ‘Mick Andrews Trials Association’ or MATA for short.
Mick’s bikes were ahead of their time in so far as Yamaha experimented with cantilever/mono shock suspension; fuel injection and reed valve induction systems. Much of the Yamaha development work is described in his 1976 book, ‘Mick Andrews Book of Trials’*, which has become a collector’s item with good copies fetching around £100 per copy.
Trials Guru on Andrews: I asked Mick when we were together in Robregordo in Spain 2006; did he ever have a job? He replied with a broad smile: “What, you mean an ordinary or proper job? – yes, I did have an apprenticeship to become a motor mechanic when I was sixteen, but then I received the offer of the AJS works ride and I only really had two employers after that, Ossa and Yamaha”.
Trials Guru on Ralph Venables: Before he passed away on 4th February 2003, I spoke to Ralph (pronounced Rafe) at length about his unofficial ‘scouting’ for trials talent. “If I see a rider who has promise, I kept an eye on him for some time, not just results, but his approach and style of riding”. “If I thought a rider had the necessary qualities, I would have an idea which manufacturer was looking for riders and I would simply phone the competitions manager and give them details.”
Ralph Venables had the ‘ears’ of all the factory comp managers and his opinion was highly-valued; such was his stature in the sport.
Venables: “I didn’t quite like Sammy Miller’s riding style; he always appeared to crouching over the handlebars compared to other riders of his era, but there again he amassed quite a substantial amount of wins in his career. It just goes to show that one can be incorrect occasionally!”
Ralph was a blunt individual and was quite cutting with his comments at times. This earned him the reputation in Scotland of being ‘the poison pen’ at times such were his comments on certain Scottish-born riders!
He once told me that I, “…wrote too much” and asked if I was being paid by the word! “John, why use ten words when one will suffice?” he quipped. “Read your scripts over twice and cut them down, time is short!” he informed me. I took his advice, when Ralph spoke, people were wise to listen.
I had the utmost respect for Ralph Venables, his knowledge of the sport and the people in it was endless. It was a privilege to have known him. – Trials Guru.
(*) – Mick Andrews Book of Trials by Tom Beesley & Mick Andrews (ISBN: 9780917856006) Published by: Trippe, Cox. – Now out of print.