If you have only looked at our front page, you will only have seen a small proportion of the total content of Trials Guru.
We have been putting information, photos and articles on this website since March 2014, which is almost six years and the content is considerable, thanks to the photographers, article writers and professional journalists like John Hulme and Sean Lawless to name but two.
Use the search facility to find out more, please give it a try:
Tommy Robb is a well-known Ulsterman who rode for Honda, Yamaha, Seeley, Bultaco and a whole host of private sponsors, including Terry Hill in a career that started in 1950 and went on until the mid 1970s.
In 1962, Robb was the first non-Japanese factory rider to be signed by Honda, the year he was runner-up in the 350cc World Championships. He is a five times winner of the North-West 200 and has won the Lightweight 125cc TT in 1973.
He wrote an autobiography called ‘From TT to Tokyo’ a fascinating recount of a works riders life on the ‘Continental Circus’
Tommy been friends with Trials Guru representative John Moffat for some years now, having been interviewed by Trials Guru at the Scottish Motorcycle Show near Edinburgh.
What is not generally known is that Tommy was also a keen trials competitor both in his youth and in later years to keep fit when not travelling the world racing motorcycles.
Recently Tommy had a very pleasant surprise and contacted Trials Guru.
Here is what Tommy sent Trials Guru:
“Hi Big John, – A very happy New Year to you, your family and Trials Guru’s everywhere!
I thought the attached Certificate (Factory Rider) would be of interest to you. This arrived on the 2nd January 2016, from the DOT Motorcycle Club, whilst all the major personalities were getting their Knighthoods, MBE’s, and OBE’s I was delighted to receive this award, from 1954 -1958 and inscribed:
‘Special Award made to Tommy Robb, from the DOT Motorcycle Club in recognition of your Achievements as a rider representing the DOT Motorcycle Factory in the Golden age of British Motorcycle Competition’.
This, believe it or not, dates back to the mid-fifties when I rode factory 196cc and 250cc DOTS in grass tracks, scrambles (in those days) and trials in Northern and Southern Ireland. When Burnard Scott Wade was the MD of the Company.
It was a pleasure to receive this recognition some 62 years after the period concerned when I was 18 or 19 years old at the time. To have it in my trophy cabinet at 81 years of age, amongst my TT Replicas is indeed a surprise and an honour”.
We are always looking for something different, special or unusual at Trials Guru, so we thought Trials Guru readers would enjoy this.
Words – Copyright: Trials Guru & Tommy Robb – 2016
Dedicated to the hardest motorcycle trial riders can take part in, the Scott is regarded as an annual classic. One route for all, fastest rider sets standard time. All in the Swaledale, North Yorkshire.
Part of the Mortons of Horncastle Limited group, Mortons Media Group Limited is a commercial operation which produces a large range of magazine titles in classic & modern motorcycle areas, scootering, heritage railways, heritage transport, lifestyle and farming.
They have an extensive archive of motorcycle images and own the late Brian Nicholls Collection, which is a large trials and off-road motorcycle sport collection. Many of the stars of yesteryear are captured in action, many in black & white but also colour images taken over 100 years of motorcycle sport.
The archive is a combination of staff photographs taken by photographers of The Motor Cycle, Motor-Cycling and many other titles over the years. All these images are now copyright Mortons Media Group and may only be used by express permission and payment of fees.
Trials Guru thoroughly recommends viewing this archive, there is a search facility to find riders or machines.
You can order prints on line without the protective water-mark and these are of high quality.
Site Recommended by Trials Guru – Dedicated to the sport of Motorcycle Trials.
Trials Guru is always looking for something new or old, unseen or forgotten….
We have just added two new ‘selections’ on the front page which link into photo collections of ‘Kimages – Trials Photos‘ and ‘Heather Mead – SSDT Photos‘.
Both are female photographers who have built up a sizeable archive of trials photographs over the last couple of years, particularly at the Scottish Six Days as these are Scottish based photographers.
Kim has lived in the Fort William area most of her life and has a love for motorcycle sport and trials in particular having grown up with the SSDT passing her door-step. Her brother rode in trials too, so there are family connections.
Heather became involved taking photos at the Parc Ferme in Fort William, a place that is usually inaccessible to spectators, so we can see SSDT competitors preparing for their daily battle with the terrain and elements.
Heather Mead and Kimages (Kim Ferguson) have recently given Trials Guru permission to display their handy-work. Please remember photographs are copywritten and are the property of the photographer, so please be respectful of that. There is no implied permission to post these images anywhere else unless by express permission of the copy-holder. This also applies to our other photographers, Jimmy Young, Armadale; Jeremy Whittet; Neil Sturgeon; John Hulme; Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven or any other images on this website.
Trials Guru have used some individual photos, which are the property of Mortons Media, Hornchurch this was done with their prior and express permission, for legal reasons, these are not for onward publication.
During the ninteen-seventies, Honda Motor Company decided to create a purely ‘Racing’ division, separate from their normal motorcycle production activities and core businesses. This saw the advent of Racing Service Center Corporation or ‘RSC‘ for short. Later, in September 1982, they developed from RSC, Honda Racing Corporation or HRC for short, which exists to this day and controls the racing activites of Honda. HRC produce and sell racing/competition motorcycles and spare parts. The parts, although well made and of high specification, are by their nature, not warranted for street use as they are for ‘racing applications only’. HRC European headquarters are based in Aalst in Belgium. The world HQ is at Asaka, Saitama, Japan. Below we can see some of RSC & HRC’s creations over the years.
The RTL250SW was for factory Honda riders only, not available for general sale and had the single down tube frame with offset exhaust port.
The 1982 Honda/HRC RTL360 shown above was once the factory machine of World Champion, Belgian, Eddy Lejeune.
Jean Caillou, a French trials enthusiast who has a passion for the Honda brand was fortunate enough to meet with Lejeune at his home in Belgium. It was during this meeting that Eddy revealed that he still had the 1982 ex-factory machine in his possession. The RTL360 was disassembled, but all the parts were there at Eddy’s house.
Jean Caillou: “I met with Eddy Lejuene at his home and he explained that he had just bought his daughter a horse. So he presented me with the invoice for the horse and said that if I paid him the same figure that he had just recently paid for the horse, then I could have the Honda. I did not hesitate further and the deal was agreed. I had effectively paid for Eddy’s daughter’s horse, but I now owned the Eddy Lejeune 360!”
Eddy Lejeune from Verviers, Belgium was three times FIM World Trials Champion (1982-1984) and seven times Belgian National Champion (1980-1986). He rode Honda for the majority of his trials career, switching to the Spanish Merlin in 1988 and then to the Honda owned Montesa for 1989/90 when he retired from top flight trials.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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):
You may be forgiven if you haven’t realised that in May this year it will be fifty years since Samuel Hamilton Miller won the Scottish Six Days Open Reliability Trial on his 244cc Bultaco Sherpa registered as 669NHO.
Miller had left Ariels to ride for the Catalunian manufacturer based at San Adrien De Besos, part of Barcelona in late 1964 to develop the Bultaco Sherpa into a machine that was to change the face of motorcycle trials forever.
The defection to the lightweight Bultaco signalled the end of the big four-stroke single as the bike to win at trials.
There is a celebration of the marque in July this year at the Circuit De Barcelona.
Sammy went on to further develop the machine and many British born riders followed him to ride for the Spanish factory, riders such as Malcolm Rathmell and the first winner of the world championship, Martin Lampkin with Frenchman Charles Coutard and Finland’s Yrjo Vesterinen who was to win three world Championships for Bultaco.
The Bultaco Sherpa was a revelation as it weighed much less than its competitors with a 52 inch wheelbase it handled and steered much better than its rivals and pulled well from low revs. It turned novice riders into award winners.
Well restored examples of the four-speed Model 10 Sherpa still command high prices, if you can find one for sale as these are very much collector’s items.
Miller had written into his contract with Senor Bulto, that if he didn’t win more than 50% of all events he entered, then Bulto was not obliged to pay Miller’s salary! Of course, Sammy did win more than 50% of the events and was so confident of doing so.
Miller told Trials Guru: “If I didn’t win all those events on the Bultaco, it wasn’t worth my time competing in the first place”.
However, Sammy Miller wasn’t the first to compete in the famous Scottish Six Days Trial on a Barcelona-built Bultaco, it was a Lancastrian rider called Tommy Ollerton who rode a 200cc Bultaco Sherpa N in the 1962 event. Ollerton’s machine was registered in the UK as PDV700. Tommy Ollerton rode in company with Oriol Puig Bulto, nephew of Senor Bulto, having travelled all the way from the factory to Edinburgh in a Fiat 500 car with a two bike trailer attached, carrying two Sherpa N models, one for himself and the other for Ollerton, who was supported by Anellays of Blackburn, Lancashire.
Having said that, it was Miller who gave the factory it’s first Scottish Six Days win and that is a major part of both the event and motorcycle trial history.
The Premier Trial Website – Recording the History of the Sport 'Since 2014'