Editor’s note: Quoted stories are taken from Motor Cycle unless stated otherwise. ‘Nitor’ was a well-respected columnist. Readers will also find reference to editor Harry Louis, technical editor Vic Willoughby, Midlands editor Bob Currie , sports editor Mick Woollett and staff writers including John Ebbrell, avid Dixon and Stuart Burroughs. As time allows I’ll include essays on them in the A-Z. They were fine journalists who, in their different ways, did a lot for motor cycling and they should not be forgotten. This was the year I took to the road, on a 1959 Villiers 2T-powered Ambasador,. It was also the year I went to my first bike show, the Racing & Sporting Motorcycle Show at the Horticultural Halls in Westminster. There I stood in my brand new Pride & Clarke leatherette flying jacket holding my Stadium Project 4 skidlid, among a crowd of older, wiser motor cyclists. We gazed up at a shiny ‘Candy Gold’ Honda CB750 as it revolved slowly, displaying its four-pot ohc lump, electric starter and disc brake. Life would never be the same again.

AN ITALIAN FILM COMPANY wanted Giacomo Agostini to star in a major movie. Ago agreed—provided filming could be scheduled to work round his racing commitments. Mile Hailwood remarked: “I don’t know why he doesn’t take up acting with his looks. He’d make more money and I’d have nothing to worry about!” Soon after, Hailwood retired from motor cycle racing to concentrate on four-wheelers (though he would race on the Island again). In an extensive eulogy Motor Cycle said: “Nine world championships; a dozen TT wins; countless other victories plus lap and race records on practically every major motor-cycling circuit in the world—the statistics alone stamp the hallmark of greatness on Mike Hailwood. But, it was the way in which those statistics were piled up, above all the phenomenally few short seasons it took him that made Mike a living legend: probably the greatest racing motor cyclist of all time.”

Ago had the looks; rumour has it he could handle a bike pretty well too. So could Mike the Bike—their duel in the 1967 Jubilee Senior TT is commonly regarded as the best TT race in history.
Bridgestone reduced production and stopped all domestic sales to concentrate on making tyres; every bike the factory made would now go the USA. The GTR 345cc disc-valve two-stroke twin was an exceptional middleweight with a claimed top sped of 95mph, but it cost as much as a Bonnie.

YAMAHA STARTED THE YEAR by quitting the road-racing world championship, despite dominating the 125 and 250cc classes in 1968 with in-line fours. However, Phil Read and Phil Ivy were offered 250 and 350cc twins for production racing.

1969 YAM 350
Yamaha was happy to concentrate on its roadsters (they would, of course, get back on track): the R3-C 350 two-stroke twin was a at least as fast as the Bridgestone. Yamaha’s YR3 had a claimed top speed of 100-110mph. Mind you, as Motor Cycle technical editor Vic Willoughby pointed out, it was geared to do 95mph at peak revs in top, and it was faster in 4th than 5th.

KAWASAKI LAUNCHED A POTENT 500cc two-stroke triple and entered the Daytona 200 with a Brit, Dave Simmonds, in the saddle. The first examples to reach Europe were put through their paces on the Zandvoort circuit courtesy of Dutch importer Henk Vink, who used one in the first sprint of the Dutch season. He won the stock machine class (400m standing start) in 13.48sec/104.82mph. Motor Cycle noted: “The exhaust note on full throttle is reported to be like that a a racing four-cylinder Yamaha.” Even in the open class only two bikes were kwika than the Kwaka: a 998cc JAP (12.08sec) and a 650cc Triumph (12.91sec).

1969 KAWA 500:3
Kawasaki’s 500cc two-stroke triple took the market be storm.

“JAPAN’S TOP CONTENDER FOR America’s booming big bike market, the new 750cc Honda four, will soon be on sale in the States. And it will cost between £100 and £150 less than the BSA and Triumph three-cylinder 750s, Britain’s main USA export challengers. The five-speed Honda four, fitted with an electric starter, was unveiled by the company’s chief, Soichiro Honda, at a dealer convention held in Las Vegas last week to mark 10 years of marketing in the States and the sale of one million Honda’s in North America.”

“HONDA’S FABULOUS FOUR—THE CB750 roadster—made its British debut in front of television cameras at Beaulieu, Hants. With it, also in England for the first time, was the 1,200cc Munch Mammut, as well as other big-capacity machines lined up for a BBC Wheelbase recording session…The 736cc Honda, with bore and stroke of 61x63mm, and compression ration of 9:1, is claimed to develop 67bhp at 8,500rpm—less power than originally rumoured…tyres are Japanese Bridgestones, 3.25x19in front, 4.00×10 rear. The Beaulieu machine was specially flown in from America…The mighty 1,200cc Mammut has a modified sohc NSU engine which, says Friedl Munch, produces 92hp at 5,800rpm…Other machines at Beaulieu were a 750cc BSA Rocket 3, a 750cc Norton Commando and a 500cc Suzuki Cobra.” A Motor Cycle columnist commented: “The recording session at Beaulieu gave a splendid opportunity to compare different approaches to accommodating a multi-cylinder engine between two wheels. Viewed side on the Honda CB750 must be one of the most beautiful motor cycles ever, taut and well-proportioned as a girl athlete. But step round to the front and the lissom maiden becomes a busty, brassy blonde. In other words, the across-the-frame straight-four engine looks a bit out of proportion…other four-cylinder configurations have their problems, such as overheating of the rear pots in a square or vee formation or a too-long wheelbase, Perhaps a good try would be a shallow-angle vee with the cylinders staggered, so each was directly exposed to the air-stream.”

1969 CB750
“Viewed side on the Honda CB750 must be one of the most beautiful motor cycles ever.” (Right) “One of the four prototype Honda 750s shown in the USA arrived in the Netherlands; Rins de Groot, manager of the Dutch importer, is pictured freewheeling the 750 four as Honda had warned it must not be started.”
1969 WOLLETT CB750
Motor Cycle sports editor (later editor and my boss) Mick Woollett was the first British journalist to ride the Honda CB750. “It’s delightfully smooth and easy to ride,” he said. “As you’d expect from a 67bhp four-cylinder engine there is plenty of urge though I got the impression that the bike is a luxury tourer rather than an out-and-out sports model.”

A ROADTEST OF THE BSA A65L Lightning recorded a two-way mean top speed of 104mph and a one-way top speed of 112mph “with a strong following wind”. The Lightning was described as “the most potent model for home buyers”, Rocket 3s being export only. “Big bike fans may feel they are deprived by the absence of the Rocket 3 from the British market…but the Lightning in its 1969 guise is a first-rate substitute and, for British roads on which the full performance of the three can rarely be used, could be a better proposition.”

The A65L Lightning wasn’t as quick as the Bonneville but out on the track Beeza twins could beat Triumphs.

RIDERS HEADING TO THE DRAGON Rally were offered free overnight accommodation by the Double Zero Club in Coventry. Snow was forecast; promised entertainments at the site included a torchlit parade (a la Elefantentreffen), bonfire sing-song and a “beat-group performance”. John Ebbrell, Motor Cycle’s man on the spot, reported: A 59 club party, on the way to the Dragon Rally on Friday, had stopped at Watford Gap after a brisk run up the M1. “We’ve come some 80 miles, one-third of the way, said Father Graham Hullett. “And it looks like being the best third,” retorted Jacquie Blendell as the first flakes of snow came flurrying down the motorway. How right she was. All three days pf the Dragon were reminiscent of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. On Friday, slushy sleet became a raging blizzard; main roads were soon blocked with slithering lorries. Many baffled rallyists sought relief at the Double Zero Club, whose young members did sterling work running an all-night buffet. Those who made a start early on Saturday morning were lucky, particularly if they were from the West Country. Tudor Rees of Bristol, a Harley sidecar driver, left home at 5am, crossed the Severn Bridge and encountered little serious snow until Shrewsbury. Norton Villiers teamsters John McDermott (Commando) and John Wood (Mercury) made the 250-mile journey from London in 12 hours flat. However, Saturday did bring mini-blizzards of astonishing ferocity. The Llanberis Pass was officially closed to traffic when Jean-Marie Debonneville reached Pen-y-Gwryd with his BMW-VW special at 1am. But this lion-hearted Frenchman recruited a

The Double Zero provided food and shelter to Dragon riders—Dragon 69 badges were hard won.

group of like-minded sidecarrists and together they heaved each other’s outfits to the summit. “It took us four hours to make 12 kilometres,” exulted Jean-Marie when he and his friends reached the rally site. By the afternoon conditions in the pass were easier, thanks largely to the sturdy efforts of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team who hacked a rideable trail through hard-packed snow and frozen slush. Under such conditions they were indeed a hardy band at Glyn Padarn. The final count, nearly 1,900, was the smallest ever recorded, but as Yorkshireman Colin Bembridge succinctly pointed out, “Every one you expected to get here has, and those you didn’t couldn’t.” As the traditional bonfire flames crackled skyward in the frosty night air, snowballs flew in tremendous volleys. Everyone joined in the glorious battle, Sunday morning came, and bikes had to be dug out of still more snow. Yet another struggle over the Llanberis Pass glissade lay ahead. Across the wild moorland by Cerrigydrudion snow squalls reduced visibility to a matter of yards. Yet still occasional headlights would loom out of the murk, pressing steadily into the mountains towards Glyn Padarn. These stragglers had fought long, desperate battles against weather and mechanical disasters. And the Conway Club kept the control open long after sunset to award that covered prize—badge of the Dragon 69, fiercest rally of them all.”

1969 DRAGON 1
“Instant boot drying session by Sutton Wheelers clubmen at Glyn Padern.” (Right) “Terence Roberts and Dave Evans from Abergele surveying a spectacular blow-out on the A55 coast road. “

Awards: Overall long distance, H Klaus (BMW R60) from Hanover; British long distance, R McCullah Triumph 650) and D Milligan (Honda 450) from Irvine; women’s long distance, J Stevens (Maicoletta 250) from Surbiton; veteran machine, S Rogers (1937 Rudge 500) from Hanworth; oldest rallyist, L Star, 69 (Triumph 200) from Gosport; club turnout, Guildford (57% of membership).

1969 DRAGON 2
Motor Cycle staffer John Ebbrell with the Beeza factory hack outfit. (Right) “Well-known international rallyists Jean-Marie and Helene Debonneville proudly pose with their 1,200cc BMW-Volkswagen sidecar outfit. The Frenchman modified a BMW R60 gearbox to raise top gear by 30%, mated up an R75 clutch in a specially-cast housing, and lengthened the wheelbase by 3in. Jean-Marie claims a top sped of 90mph with Steib chair attached.” Debonneville, known by rallyists across Europe as Le Druide, showed his leadership qualities at Llanberis Pass.

NITOR SUBSEQUENTLY OPINED: “If this year’s Dragon Rally wasn’t the best of the lot, I’ll eat my new American bone-dome, detachable peak and all. The clerk of the weather obliged with blizzards on all three days; as one rallyist put it, with enough snow to make it an achievement to get there, yet not too much to drift everything solid…Sidecarrists should really take a modest back seat, for they had little to worry about save the odd snowblocked pass to push their outfits through. It was tough for most of those who rode solo. Colleague Stewart Burroughs did just that on his Super Rocket, but by happy chance he chose to go by way of the Severn Valley where the snowfall had been less intense. Some heroes actually dared the adventure on customised roadsters, complete with clip-ons, rearsets and ribbed front tyres. Among this select company was our new Midlands advertising man, Howard Middleton, who rode his Velocette Thruxton. As for Ron James of Llangollen, he pulled off the feat on a 1916 2.5hp Clyno with belt drive. It’s perhaps a pity there wasn’t a special plaque to clip on to the souvenir badge, like that awarded for the beach ride in the Dutch Starfish Rally. Imagine the hush in the clubroom when the battle-seasoned warrior proudly displays his Dragon badge with clasp, campaign of 69!”

JOHN EBBRELL ALSO REFLECTED on his expedition to the Dragon, reporting that he started his run north on a roadtest BSA Rocket 3 “that glorious snorting stallion…After Watford Gap the snow began to settle and my speed fell to a mere 20mph trickle in second; on the Coventry Bypass I found myself confronted by the first jack-knifed artic”. He wisely detoured to Small Heath and swapped the shiny 500lb solo for a a well-worn Lightning-Palma outfit which had to be taken through Birmingham where “every main-road junction in that city of little hills seemed choked solid with its queue of grinding, slithering, helpless lorries and cars”. Ebbrell made it through, with “the priceless advantage of direct power drive and turn-on-a-sixpence manoeuvrability, a sidecar outfit is well-equipped to wriggle through snowbound traffic.” Following a freezing ride, taking refuge with a chum and problems the next morning restarting the well-worn Lightning he made it to the site where “old friends had many stirring tales to relate about their adventures…As we were going home on Sunday, even in late afternoon, there were still bikes heading in the opposite direction, struggling to reach Llanberis. However long had they been on the road? What lessons in winter riding must they have learned?”

1969 DRAGON 3
“On the last lap: these soloists gingerly pick their way down the Llanberis Pass on Saturday afternoon.” (Right) I dug up this pic of Colin Bembridge, chairman of the Federation of Sidecar Clubs, taken during a mini Jumbo Run in North London that he organised and marshalled using his Difazio BMW combo. During the lunch break I bought some taramasalata, which is a favourite of mine, Bembridge hadn’t tried it before, I made the mistake of letting him try it and he ate most of my lunch. This was some 40 years ago but I haven’t forgotten.

MANY AN ELEPHANT RALLYIST must have sniffed last week’s mild breezes and groaned, “ This year it’s going to be just too easy.” But the great German get-together did not completely fail its reputation. Christmas snow still lay thickly about the Nürburgring road-racing circuit. At dusk on Friday an iron-hard frost clamped down on the Eifel Mountains, turning the steep, hairpin roads into dicey skating rinks. For some Britons, adventure began even before they left England. This mournful catalogue of misfortunes befell Stockport Clubman Alun Turner’s Norton-Steib outfit. At Luton the speedo broke; in the Dartford Tunnel the primary chain came off; before Dover, clutch slip set in. Things went no better on the other side. “My petrol tank sprang a leak in Bruges, and the exhaust pipe split near Liege,” he was heard to complain. “Oh yes, and the sidecar fell off at the German frontier.” This year will surely go down as the biggest Elephant Rally ever. Official estimates of the attendance ran to five figures. One of the best-ever club turn-outs from Britain was provided by the Conway Club: 18 rallyists out of a membership of 49. A capacity crowd thronged the trade stands, talking, shouting, laughing and haggling in a dozen languages, turning the racers paddock into a cross between an Eastern bazaar and a super-cosmopolitan Earls Court Then imagine the sensation when a large truck from a Nuremburg circus rolled up to disgorge (yes, you’ve guessed it!) a real, live baby elephant. At nightfall, Ernst Levercus performed that solemn and very German ceremony, the oration for riders who have passed on since the last rally, and lit the torches of remembrance which are borne in procession round the circuit. Spectators who’d climbed the towering battlements of the Nürburg castle enjoyed a truly grandstand view as the spectacular headlight parade set out. And what a caper it became, as machines skated and slithered round 14 miles of snow-packed curves and frozen gradients. Leverkus, father of this great event, will long cherish the memory of this Elephant. At an informal ceremony round one of the many camp fires, a group of German admirers presented him with an exact replica of an 1807 Prussian dragoon’s carbine, hand made specially for the occasion by gunsmith-motor cyclist Karl Johnsdorf. Leverkus collects antique firearms. It is common for riders to codge up an old bike just to do the Elephant. Most of the Ashfield (Southampton) Club’s contingent arrived in one body, mounted on no fewer than eight solo BSA Bantams—but only 7½ went home. As Terry Endein’s bike reached the Ring, the rear hub collapsed irreparably. But the engine-gear unit was still in good order, so they brought it home in a fellow member’s sidecar and left the rest to rot! [You’ll find comprehensive coverage of this Elephant Rally (and many others) with an astonishing selection of pics at lpmcc.net.]

Mick Norman (left) and Reg Turley, who drove from Coventry on an ex-AA side-valve BSA outfit, build up their camp fire. (Right) “Well, if that thing was good enough to get you here I suppose it’s good enough to go round on,” the flagman seems to be saying to a German couple who had lapped the Nurburgring.

“A RIPE SLICE OF NOSTALGIA comes from reader Eddie Ricketts, of Ware, Hertfordshire,” Nitor reported. “It is a long paean of praise for the dear, departed Panther. ‘The greatest bike ever made in England,’ he says. His 1957 six-hundred served him well—70,000 miles pulling a Busmar Devon “complete with six cwt of humans and half cwt of wife’s stuff”. Now Eddie has bought a six-fifty Panther and looks forward to another 15 to 20 happy years. ‘My point is this,’ he goes on. ‘Can anyone visualise a Japanese buzzbox working, pulling like a Panther?’ All very charming, we appreciate, but the gigantic long-stroke single had become a dead duck long before the famous Cleckheaton manufacturer stopped production of bikes a few years ago. Everything was against it, including fashion. Farewell to the days when an ignition advance-retard lever was as good as a second gear pedal! Most popular sidecar today is the single-seat sports; and, for that, a potent parallel twin makes the best sort of workhorse.”

Phelon & Moore had gone but Panthers lived on [including my 1936 M100, I’m pleased to say.]

“‘BORN 1880 AND STILL GOING STRONG’ could be a fitting slogan for 88-year-old George bucket of Knighton, Isle of Wight, particularly when he is astride the Triumph which he has owned for the past 41 years. He bought his first machine—a single-cylinder belt-drive Clyno—in 1906. In 1927 the spanking new 494cc Triumph outfit was delivered to his cottage door by George Siggery, now managing director of Borrough Hall Newport, Isle of Wight, who was then a mechanic for Stanley Russell, motor-cycle distributors. George Bucket well recalls his first trip on the Triumph, with his wife in the sidecar. It was a tour of Devon; he did 160 miles on the first day. During the Second World War he was a member of Ryde Home Guard and inevitably ended up as company despatch rider. That grand old Triumph even served on occasion as a Bren gun carrier! George works for The Ryde Borough Council’s water works department. After 70 years’ continuous service he has no thought of retiring; nor, it seems, from his motor cycling. Last November he drove over from his Isle of Wight home to Reading. He says he does his own routine maintenance and has no difficulty getting insurance. So is George Bucket Britain’s oldest active motor cyclist?”

George Bucket with the 1927 Triumph combo he’d owned from new.

MAJOR DAVID GOODEM FORMER secretary-general of the FIM, warned: “Unless drastic action is taken quickly, the FIM as we have known it in the west for over 50 years is a dead duck. Ot is fast becoming a political tool of the Russians. With the bloc vote and support from fellow-travellers, the Russians are pushing our sport around.”

EVEN THE NUMBER 8 HATS at Motor Cycle couldn’t get it right all the time: “The facts are that the Japanese factories went into roadracing to gain publicity and, having done just that, they have quit. It is no good whining and asking them to come back. They have gone, and in my opinion they have gone for good. The few remaining Japanese manufacturers are fighting to keep in business and can no longer afford grand-prix racing…Racing will go ahead as well as ever without the Japanese.”

“I AND MANY OTHERS ON their way to the Elephant Rally really appreciated the free soup served up at the docks in Dover by a couple of local riders. It went down a treat,
—Peter Gannet, London SE2.”

COMMENTING ON ADS FOR a 1939 990cc V-twin Matchless at £100 and a Series B Vincent Rapide at £190 (by comparison a new Bonnie was listed at £395) ‘Nitor’ of the Blue ‘Un opined: “Prices are kept up by a passion for good old-fashioned quality and character against the garish yet drab world of mass production.”

BMW CEASED PRODUCTION OF its 500 to concentrate on the 600, 750 and 900. Electric starts became standard on 750s and 900s; a 12V alternator replaced the dynamo.

“SPEED STARVED FANS who braved the near-zero temperatures to watch the first road-race meeting of the season, at Brands Hatch on Sunday, were rewarded with five hours of top-class short circuit dicing.”

“Croxford and Commando—a formidable new partnership. Here Dave whistles the Gus Kuhn Commando around South Bank Bend.” The King of Brands won the 1,300cc race.
“Well tucked away, Ray Pickrell cranks his Dunstall Domiracer round Clearways and on to second place in the 500cc race.”
1969 SMITH
“Tony Smith hurls his Daytona style 654cc BSA racer into a left-hander during the 1,300cc race.” He was second past the flag.

SAMMY MILLER WON THE CALTEX Motor Sport Award (for Ireland’s most successful contestant in two and four-wheel sport), not least for winning the British solo trials championship for the 10th year running.

PIG FARMER ANDREW CHAPMAN, 19, entered his first sidecar race (at Brands Hatch); for his passenger, Bob Rowden, this was his first race of any kind. They were up against some of Britain’s fastest charioteers so, inevitably, they won.

AS PART OF A GOVERNMENT austerity campaign the Department of Transport ordered local authorities to cut their road maintenance budgets by 15%.

A BRACE OF BSA ROCKET 3s Ridden by Dick Mann and Yvon Du Hamel set American Motorcycle Association stock-machine records at Daytona. Du Hamel averaged 127.95mph over 10 miles and 127.6mph over 50 miles. Mann set 100 and 200-mile records at 125.99mph and 123.41mph respectively. A Rocket 3 also carried Darrell Triber of Spokane, Washington on a 1,393-mile run from Blaine, on the US-Canada border to Tijuana in 23hr 35min to average just under 60mph, knocking more than four hours off the 28hr 7min ‘three-flag’ record which had been set in 1936 by Fred Ham on a Harley. The first three-flag record was set by the legendary Cannonball Baker, who took 81hr 15min in 1915. Meanwhile in Austria a university techie Peter Karlau rode a Trident 767 miles from Vienna to Hamburg in 9hr 40min, an average of 79.2mph. That included fuelling stops and a broken chain. Actual riding time was 8hr 37min (88.5mph).

It was a good year for the Rocket 3.

BSA GROUP CHIEF ENGINEER Bert Hopwood explained why he had designed a triple, rather than a four: “Width and cost. We decided the engine should be as narrow as possible. Besides, the more cylinders, the more expensive the engine is to produce…The Triumph engine was readily adaptable to three cylinders by reason of its camshaft layout…The BSA twin, with its single camshaft and cast-in pushrod tunnel, was a less suitable basis.” Hopwood added that he had stuck to an ohv configuration because he felt a move to ohc as a way of boost power output was unnecessary: “Surely 60bhp—say 75 with further development—is power enough? Who is going to use more performance than that anyway?”

CALIFORNIAN PUBLISHER FLOYD CLYMER announced plans for a range of bikes to be built in Germany and Italy for the UK market. Munch would supply its 1,200cc four-pot Mammoth, and would build a bike round a modified Horex 600cc ohc vertical twin using Ceriani forks. There was talk of a vee-twin to be marketed as an Indian but at the heartr of the range were Indians powered by 500cc Velocette and 750cc Royal Enfield engines. The Enfield Interceptor chassis was designed and built in Bologna by Leo (Italjet) Tartarini who also chipped in with three ‘US-style’ 50s: the Papoose, the Ponybike and the Boy Racer. Munch, also developed a 500cc dohc vertical-twin racing engine with a bolt-on gear box and sent it to be framed at Rickman Bros. Fewer than 20 Interceptor-powered Indians had been completed when Clymer died a few months later; the remaining Enfield engines were put to good use by the Rickman Brothers.

The Indian 600 roadster was to be powered by a Munch-modified Horex ohc twin engine, with a 750 in the pipeline. The Indian Velo had a 500cc Thruxton lump. Both were to have Tartarini-designed frame with Ceriani forks and brakes.”
Motor Cycle staffer John Ebbrell astride the Munch Mammoth with constructor Griedl Munch.
Some European-made Indians were sent to the USA. The mini bike next to the Interceptor is a 50cc Bambino.

THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE CYCLE condemned the TT course as “full of treacherous decreasing radius and off-camber bends and bordered by solid, saw-toothed walls and fences”.

IN HIS ROADTEST OF the MZ ES150 Willoughby remarked: “You only have to look at the distinctive lines of the ES150 to recognise it’s an MZ, the marque that carried the East German Trophy Team to an incredible sequence of five victories in the International Six Days’ Trial from 1963-1967…The MZ reflects its rugged cross-country heritage in traits that appeal strongly to the all-purpose rider.” Handling, he described as “magnificent”; top speed was 67mph. “Lines of the RS150 are saucy and it looks gay with its tank and headlamp shell, red seat, gold lining and ample chromium plating…all in all a remarkably fine lightweight for the no-nonsense rider.”

1969 MZ150VW
Vic Willoughby reckoned the MZ ES150 was a magnificent lightweight, and having used one for some months as a two-up commuter I agree with him.

“THE MAN WHO PROMOTED the world’s first speedway meeting, Johnnie Hoskins, is to be made president of Britain’s second division. Hoskins, who now organises meetings at Canterbury, ran the first speedway meeting at an agricultural meeting in West Maitland, Australia, in 1923.”

“WERE HE STILL IN HARNESS, Edward Turner, Britain’s outstanding designer for some 30 years from 1936, would plump for a 500cc four-in-line with 40bhp, vivid acceleration up to some 70mph (the speed limit not on in Britain but in much of the US too) and a top whack of 100mph for unrestricted roads.” Turner shared his ideas during a talk to the Ringwood MCC. “Turner is dismayed at the extent of recent American influence on design. Today’s high-performance machines, the threes and fours, are too expensive, he said, and 750cc is too large a capacity for a vertical twin…two-strokes he dismissed on account of the difficulty of combining high performance with reasonable fuel economy.”

PUCH LAUNCHED THE twist-and-go automatic Maxi moped in the UK but warned that licensing legislation was hindering sales. Motor Cycle editor Harry Louis agreed: “For years now there has been talk of lowering the licence age to 15—even 14—and waiving the driving licence, provided mopeds were limited in performance to, say, 30mph, so bringing Britain into line with the practice in many other countries. This would be a real safety boost, with young people getting used to power on the simplest and most easy-to-ride machines.”

In most European countries Puch’s twist-and-go Maxi did not require a driving licence.

FOR THE FIRST TIME since it was established in 1966 the ice racing world championship was held outside Russia. The new venue, at the West German ski resort if Inzell, in the Bavarian Alps, made no difference to Russian champion Gabdrakman Kadyrov who became world champion for the third time. Britain’s first-ever world ice finalist, Andy Ross, British 500cc grasstrack champion, was runner-up in the last heat after bouncing back from two spectacular crashes. He finished equal 10th and announced: “I’ve ridden my last race on ice now that I’ve reached my ambition of competing in the world final.” The 1967 world champ, Russian Vladimir Zibrov, was disqualified from a heat after touching the start tapes. “The crowd erupted against the decision, jeering and throwing bottles and can cans until the police moved in to restore order.” East German riders were absent—they were refused visas for travel to West Germany.

Gabdraman Kadyrov using a blow lamp to warm up his ESO engine and (right) passing Zibrov on the inside en route to his third world championship.
The Royal Signals ‘White Helmets’ display team switched from Triumph TRW sidevalve twins to Tiger 100s fitted with low-compression pistons, softer cams and Monobloc cars rather than the standard Concentrics. They team took delivery of 22 Tigers and within hours put on a display for Triumph staff in front of the Meriden factory.
1969 BSA250TWIN
BSA FINANCED DEVELOPMENT of a 250cc water-cooled twin described as “the most potent 250cc racing engine ever built in Britain”. Dr Gordon Blair’s team at Queen’s University, Belfast used a computer to achieve a predicted 55bhp at 12,000rpm. The design included a Reynolds frame and five-speed Albion box.
Motor Cycle reviewed off-the-peg racing bikes. Top row: Crooks Suzuki 250, Gus Kuhn Norton Commando 750, Egli Vincent 1,000. Bottom row: Aermacchi 125, Curley Norton 750, Dudley Ward Triumph 500.
1969 500 GILERA
Gilera launched a civvy version of its police/military model. The 483cc lump developed 35hp at 7,500rpm; the spec included a five-speed box and electric start.
Bill McAlinden was collecting tickets at Carlisle station when a motor cyclist boarded a train, leaving him with a 350cc Ariel NH, complete with riding gear, promising to send the logbook. “He walked up to me and simply asked me if I would like a motor cycle,” said McAlinden. “He said he had intended to ride it to Portsmouth, 400 miles away, but had decided to catch a train instead.” Bill, who had never ridden a bike, had to push it a mile home.
Rickman Bros developed a four-valve top end for the Bonneville that was said to boost peak power from 47 to 70bhp.
1969 SKI CZ
This CZ 250 was used Norwegian dealer Maarten Mager, who explained: “The fastest vehicle on winter roadfs is truly a solo with skis.” Mager also used a BMW combo with spiked tyres.

“THIS YEAR’S SHAMROCK RALLY was a great success, I gather from Gerry Kennedy,” Nitor reported. “Entries were up to 300 (200 of them from across the Irish Sea, by the way); Ireland’s greatest road-racer Stanley Woods added lustre to the gathering, pleasing his hosts mightily by declaring that if he were a younger motor cyclist again it’s rallying he’d be going in for, not racing. Even the weather played its part magnificently by providing Co Kerry with the most brilliantly sunny weekend of the year. “It only rained once,” said Gerry. “That was at 2am Sunday. I remember the time because the pubs had just started to close.”

Stanley Woods: Winner of 10 TTs and 29 Grands Prix was just another frustrated rallyist…

“MY WIFE AND I have returned to motor cycling after a gap of 10 years. Our last machine was a Tiger 110, but now we have a couple of 150cc Hondas, and excellent little machines they are—though we wish the importers were a little more co-operative and quicker off the mark when asked for technical information. But where have all the real motor cyclists gone? Where’s all the old friendliness, the readiness to help, the camaraderie? This morning I had a minor breakdown. It took only 20 minutes to put right but in that time 11 bikes went by, not one stopping to assist. And the number of burn-up merchants is startling. In the two weeks we have been riding we have seen the most appalling behaviour—deliberate cutting-up of other road-users, unnecessary throttle-blipping and noise, and dangerous showing off. We’re not old-timers but from all we’ve noticed in the past two weeks, we feel like a couple of over-cautious old fogies who still believe in safe riding. The whole fraternity seems to have changed beyond all recognition.
Dave and Dusty Wiseman, London W3.”

“I AM DISTRESSED by the lack of information in Motor Cycle about the current range of Phoboph motor cycles. I heard a rumour that a new model was to be announced at the Brighton Show; the Phlexidrive. Phoboph’s answer to the Norton Commando. As well as the engine being rubber-mounted, the crankshaft, con-rods and pistons are made of rubber. This breakthrough in engine design is said to give a far more phlexible power-band than for any previous engines. The new Phoboph uses a constant-mesh gearbox. In fact it is so constant that it can’t be got out of mesh. Hence the need for a more phlexible power band.
MC Cox, Brighton, Sussex.”

“I WAS THOROUGHLY revolted by the bike-riding hooligans at the Brighton Show who were decked out in imitation Nazi helmets and insignia. Even so long after the war there are plenty of people for whom such tasteless aping will evoke painful and unpleasant memories. I don’t blame the clods who wear this stuff with such satisfaction; they probably know no better. But whatever organisation is selling it should be put out of business as soon as possible.
D Harvey, Eastbourne, Sussex.”

1969 TRIKE
“Copper chopper! This is the macabre result when a California chopper buff gets to work on an ex-police Harley Davidson Servicar trike. We can’t make up our minds whether the queer padded thing in front of the lounge chair is some sort of seat or upholstered roll bar.”

“SIDECARS SURVIVE, BUT ONLY JUST, Nitor warned. “Watsonian soldier on as Britain’s last manufacturer, and the position on the Continent is no better. Even Steib have ceased production. Nevertheless, through the cloth-cab, rock-bottom-price family transport brackets seems to have shifted to three-wheelers, a hard core of dyed-in-the-glass-fibre sidecar enthusiasts remain. And a keen lots they are, comparable in their enthusiasm with the vintage brigade.”

1969 YAM 650
“Yamaha’s long-awaited 650 has been unveiled in Japan. After experimenting with big two-stroke twins the company decided on a four-stroke…The new model, a SOHC parallel twin, closely follows British big-bike styling…familiar-looking features are the Gold Star-type silencers and a dual-seat similar to that fitted to current Triumphs.”
1969 JAMATHI 50
Amsterdam became home to a new marque—say hello to the Jamathi. Pictured are (left) Paul Ladewijka, who had ridden a Jamathi to victory in the 50cc class at the 1968 Dutch TT, and company founder Martin Mijwaart.
This heartwarming pic was taken on Madeira Drive at the end of the Pioneer Run; the original Motor Cycle caption says it all.

“YORKSHIREMAN BILL WILKINSON achieved his greatest victory last week when he powered a works 250cc Greeves to his first win in the Scottish Six Days Trial after one of the most dramatic and closely fought weeks in the event’s 60-year history. Wrecking British and European champion Sammy Miller’s bid for his sixth Scottish win and the hat-trick, Wilkinson winkled Miller and his Bultaco from the lead during Saturday’s final stage of the 692-mile Highland international…ending a run of mechanical failures in his previous nine Scottish rides. His effort brought Greeves their first victory in the trial after about 15 years of effort—and the first British machine success since 1966…Still without a production trials machine on the market after Villiers engine supplies were axed two years ago, Greeves sent no mechanic or executive in Support. And when Greeves director Derry Preston Cobb was telephoned with the news of Wilkinson’s win, he did not believe it….all but one of the next nine places were filled by Spanish Bultaco, Ossa and Montessa machined or British-modified Japanese Suzukis…the Montessa trio of Gordon Farley, Don Smith and Lawrence Telling aced the Barcelona factory’s first Scottish success by winning the manufacturer’s team prize after a week-long ding-dong with the Suzuki team…Mick Andrews (250cc Ossa) stole up from fourth place on the final day to seize second spot under Miller’s nose…Miller finished one mark down on Andrews with Don Smith, the leader for the first two days, taking fourth place, seven marks behind Miller. Best 150cc rider was 17-year-old Martin Lampkin (126cc G aunt Suzuki) , with Miller (252cc Bultaco) leading the 350cc battle from start to finish and Rob Edwards (170cc Cotton), 10th overall, having a runaway success in the 200cc class. Top newcomer was 21-year-old Darrell Stobbart (250cc Bultaco) from Barrow-in-Furness…The Edinburgh Club’s event is run against the clock, with average speeds ranging between eight and 24mph and a one-mark-per-minute penalty for riders outside a one-minute allowance at time checks…The course, which started and finished in Edinburgh but was centred 150 miles away on Fort William during the week, turned out to be less gruelling than those of the past two years. But the sections were plenty tough.”

From the left: “Bill Wilkinson eases his 250cc Greeves up wet Glenogle. Mick Andrews (250 Ossa) prepares to take to the water at Edramucky. Sammy Miller (Bultaco) keeps on the move at Edramucky, moments before being docked a controversial five.”

“WORLD-CHAMPIONSHIP ROAD RACING is at the crossroads,” Mick Woollett warned. “The Japanese have pulled out and it is now up to the European factories and private equipes to make a success of the series—just as it was when the championship began in 1949.”

ALEC ISSIGONIS, THE ITALIAN guru who designed the Mini, was contracted to design the next generation of bikes from Norton Villiers. “And it is believed that this brief does not even rule out the possibility of new road-racers going on the drawing board.”

‘DETERMINED TO IMPROVE SPARES and service facilities, Lambretta-Trojan, new controllers of Suzuki (UK) Ltd, have flown a representative to Japan to bring back urgently needed parts to Britain. New Suzuki director Maurice Knight said he hoped that a spares service would be working within a fortnight.” Knight promised to “get the complete service up to Lambretta standard”.

GREEVES WORKS MOTO-CROSSER Richard Hughes was forced to put his racing career on hold for 18 months because his mum and dad wouldn’t sign his contract. Hughes, 19, left home, near Maldon, Essex “to stand on his own two feet”; he planned to ride for Greeves again as soon as he turned 21.

MOTOR CYCLE’S MIDLANDS ADVERTISING rep Howard Middleton rode a 1966 Velocette Venom Thruxton. Top-of-the-range Thruxtons were selling so well that the Hall Green factory would not spare one for roadtest. Motor Cycle was particularly keen to test the latest Thruxton. And that’s why Middleton’s bike was stripped, refurbished and rebuilt to 1969 spec at the factory (the main changes concerned cylinder-head tracts and valve diameter). Velo singles had been about for decades but in 1967 Neil Kelly had ridden a Thruxton to victory in the 500cc Production TT at 89.89mph with a 90mph-plus lap. With a spec including an Amal GP carb, twin-leading-shoe front brake, close-ration box, ally rims, rearsets and clip-ons “the Thruxton is, in essence, a road-going racer…traditionalists to a man, Velo fans were dismayed when, a few months ago, the factory abandoned the hallowed magneto and…installed direct-current coil ignition. It was an enforced choice following a stop to magneto manufacture by Lucas, yet…as a result the Thruxton has become much more civilised. Formerly, starting was an acquired art, the secrets of which were passed down from Velo-owning father to son. Now, it is a first- or second-kick exercise calling for nothing more in pre-kick drill than a flooded float chamber and a gentle easing over compression…This particular Thruxton was used by Middleton for the 1969 Dragon Rally…plodding along through deep snow at 15 to 20mph without missing a beat…Many times on that trip the coil ignition showed its worth, keeping the engine pulling strongly and happily from as low as 1,500rpm…The semi-racing crouch defeats wind pressure without placing too much strain on the wrists and arms. The Velo is. above all, an enthusiast’s machine and, given an experienced rider, can out-perform most other models on the road, six-fifties not excepted…with its two-way damped front fork the Thruxton is superior even to the Venom. It can be cranked over safely until the footrest ends touch down, and that is way beyond the limits of lean found in normal riding…The legal 70mph limit can be held indefinitely, the engine turning over lazily at a mere 4,000rpm…Given freedom from speed limits, as at the MIRA circuit, and the bike cruises comfortably in the nineties. Top whack? Our two-way 104mph figure was recorded on an exceptionally windy day, and though an exhilarating 114mph was recorded when running with the breeze, the opposite-direction run came down with a bump to just under 95mph…under calmer conditions the two-way speed could well have been a couple of miles an hour higher…The Thruxton brakes were first class…offering plenty of feel and a reassuring freedom from fade…Big surprise of the test was the meagre fuel consumption…the recorded 96mpg at a steady 30mph would have done credit to a touring 250 (even at 60mph consumption was 63mpg)…To condemn it to a life among city streets would be sheer cruelty to machinery, but owner Howard Middleton is a long-distance rally addict, and for fun of this nature the Thruxton must come very close indeed to the ideal mount.”

The Velocette Thruxton had proved itself on the Isle of Man and the Dragon Rally.

“DESPITE BEING CUT TO A ONE-DAY event with no overnight camping , Sunday’s Brith Motorcyclists’ Rally at Woburn Abbey, Beds, attracted over 2,500 entries. Voted Miss Federation 1969 was Vincent Owners Club member Heather Benyon of Trowbridge, Wilts. Outright long-distance award went to Canadian C Cuthbert (BMW), who started from Munich. Ladies’ long-distance award winner was Hillary Musson of Grimsby, and NHJ Shaw of Bromsgrove topped the veteran-vintage distance contest with a 75-mile run. Concours d’Elegance class winners were Robert Tucker (250 BMW), Ian Lane (1,000 Vincent), Michael Green (350 BSA, 1927), Alexander Ayers (350 Velocette, 1937) and Ron Payne (500 Triumph, 1926). Special-of-the Year award went to David Blanchard (EMC Excelsior.”

“Those were the days…BMF vice-president Bill Slocombe refreshes his memory of a 1922 550cc Triumph’s controls, while BSA-Triumph sales manager John Hickson and his wife examine the sidecar of John Caswell’s immaculate outfit.” (Right) “Picking the winner. Helped by his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Linda, BSA Group publicity chief Phil Cross awards top marks to James Marshall’s 1954 1,000 Ariel Square Four; overall winner of the concours d’elegance.”

“THREE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE outfits on the British grass-track sidecar championship trail this year are the unorthodox car-engined specials of Nobby Golden and Dave Langley and the immaculate 998cc V-twin JAP plot of the Miell brothers, John and David. All three made their title debuts at Easter’s Yeo Valley meeting. But it was Golden’s Renault-powered machine, finished at only 2.45am that day, which caused the biggest stir. This was mainly because of its twin rear wheels, which consist of two 3.50x16in Dunlop rims spoked to a common hub and shod with two Dunlop knobblies. Mounted transversely, exhaust ports facing to the rear, in a frame of mixed channel and square-section members, its 845cc four-cylinder engine drives from a sprocket on the left end of the crankshaft, through a four-speed AMC gearbox. Robbed from his own Ford van, Dave Langley’s 998cc engine is mounted in the sidecar…A large part of the outfit’s frame also originated in the four-wheeled world—as propshafts. A Dodge shaft was used as the backbone and the front downtube is part of a Ford Consul shaft. The Miells’ rare JAP unit…is mounted in the duplex frame with the front cylinder vertical and the other sloping rearward. This arrangement will allow the brothers to install their 650cc Triumph engine as a spare if the JAP blows up in a big way.”

1969 GRASSCARS 2+3
“Nobby Golden’s outfit has a water-cooled 845cc Renault car engine fitted with two SU carburettors.” (Right) “Dave Langley’s Ford van supplied the 998cc four-cylinder engine for his outfit. Mounting the unit in the sidecar allows the chain primary drive to be taken off the right-hand end of the crankshaft.”
“The Miell JAP reflects many hours of work and attention to detail.”

“THRUXTON SIZZLED WITH SPEED on Sunday when Motor Cycle’s international 500-mile Grand Prix d’Endurance returned to the Hampshire circuit. Overcast skies and a spattering of rain midway through the race did not stop Percy Tait and Malcolm Uphill on the winning 650cc Triumph Bonneville from shattering all previous records with a searing average of 84.3mph. It was the first time in the 15-year history of the event that it has been won at over the 80mph mark. The factory prepared Triumph led almost throughout the race, but at one stage Welshman Uphill abandoned all hope of victory. ‘The engine seized and locked the back wheel. I pulled the clutch in and coasted for a while. My heart sank. I said that we were out of the race,’ said Malcolm. After coasting almost to a standstill he dropped the clutch. The engine fired and he toured into the pits. There, under the vigilant eyes of Triumph development chief Doug Hele, the plugs were changed, the bike was refuelled and Percy Tait took over. After a couple of cautious laps Tait opened up and from then on the Triumph ran faultlessly to the end…the bike bikes dominated the dominated the race, taking the first five places with Triumphs first second and third. Sixth home and winner of the 500cc class was yet another Triumph, the Daytona entered by Hughes and ridden by Ray Knight and Martin Carney…Pickrell, lying second to the Tait-Uphill Triumph, arrived at the pits on the pillion of a marshall’s bike. He reported that he had abandoned the Triumph after it had clanked to a standstill with a gaping hole punched through the crankcase by a broken con-rod…Minutes later a completely exhausted Tony Smith staggered into the pits area pushing the works BSA Spitfire that he was sharing with Pat Mahoney. He had run out of fuel and had shoved the 400lb BSA for well over a mile. He collapsed in the pits, the bike was refuelled and Mahoney got away as a BSA mechanic carried Smith to the ambulance room…Barnett, on the other factory Lightning, came in only a lap after taking over from Spencer. The BSA was jumping out of gear; the bike was withdrawn. This incident was quickly followed by news that the Ossa that was leading the 250cc class by a lap had been eliminated by a crash. In the 500cc class the Knight-Carney Triumph continued to run perfectly. It was four laps clear of the Suzuki Cobra ridden by Dave Browning and Grant Gibson with the Whiteways-Woods Suzuki Suzuki a similar margin ahead of the Ducatis of Clive Thompsett and Ron Baylie and Ken Watson and Chas Mortimer.”

“The 59-strong field gets away with Ron Wittich in the lead on a Norton Commando.” (Right) “Percy Tait in action on the winning Triumph. It was his second win in three years.”

Overall: 1, P Tait/M Uphill (650 Triumph) 212 laps, 5hr 55min 39.2sec; 2, JH Cooper/S Jolly (650 Triumph) 208 laps, 5hr 55min 40sec; 3, L Phelps/C Carr (650 Triumph) 207 laps 5hr 56min 17.4sec; 4, AJ Smith/P Mahoney (650 BSA) 200 laps, 5hr 55min 53.6sec; 5, K Buckmaster/G Collis (650 Triumph), 199 laps, 5hr 56min 36.2sec; 6, R Knight/M Carney (500 Triumph) 199 laps, 5hr 56min 52.8sec. 750cc: 1, JH Cooper/S Jolly (650 Triumph) 208 laps, 5hr 55min 40sec; 2, L Phelps/C Carr (650 Triumph) 207 laps 5hr 56min 17.4sec; AJ Smith/P Mahoney (650 BSA) 200 laps, 5hr 55min 53.6sec; 4, K Buckmaster/G Collis (650 Triumph), 199 laps, 5hr 56min 36.2sec; 5, R Avery/C Dixon (750 Triumph), 198 laps, 5hr 56min 37.6sec; 6, A Jeffries/J Barton (650 Triumph), 193 laps, 5hr 56min 50.4sec. 500cc: R Knight/M Carney (500 Triumph) 199 laps, 5hr 56min 52.8sec; 2, D Browning/G Gibson (Suzuki), 196 laps, 5hr 56min 41.4sec; 3, P Butler/D Dixon (Triumph), 188 laps, 5hr 55min 46.8sec; 4, G Green/R Guy (Triumph), 187 laps, 5hr 56min 40sec; 5, P Smart/T Dickie (350 Ducati), 187 laps, 5hr 56min 58.2sec; 6, C Williams/A Peck (441 BSA), 183 laps, 5hr 57min 5sec. 250cc: 1, F Whiteways/S Woods (Suzuki), 191 laps, 5hr 57sec 35.2sec; 2, K Watson/C Mortimer (Ducati) 187 laps, 5hr 55min 46.8sec; 3, C Thompsett/G Hunter (Ducati) 186 laps, 5hr 57min 5sec; 4, T Loughridge/P Walsh (Suzuki) 174 laps, 5hr 56min 32.6sec; 5, E Pitt/C Bond (Yamaha), 173 laps, 5hr 57min 11.6sec; 6, H Kist/T Lablans (Honda) 173 laps, 5hr 57min 18.6 sec.

“With both wheels off the ground, Frank Whiteway (Suzuki) leaps to victory in the 250cc class. (Right) The very standard Triumph Trident which finished seventh is refuelled by Colin Dixon (right) as Rex Avery holds the bike.”

“AS A SUBJECT FOR METICULOUS RESTORATION, a vintage speedway Rudge might seem an odd choice,” Bob Currie admitted. “As Dave McMahon of Coventry, who spent nine years on the project, admits: ‘There’s not a lot I can do with it, now the job is finished. There are no brakes, so I can’t even use it for vintage grass-track meetings—and it’s too big to sit on the mantlepiece!’ However, there’s a historical angle. This is a 499cc four-valver with iron barrel and head, dating from 1928, the infancy of British speedway. At that time nobody had a clear idea of what sort of bike was needed, hence the abundance of extra frame struts to give absolute rigidity. Only later was it discovered that a degree of frame whip was, in fact, an advantage. Details include an ML racing magneto…and a genuine quick-action twistgrip with rack-and-pinion operation. The fuel tank is of polished brass. The centre-stand is quite authentic. No neutral is available with the Rudge single-speed countershaft and clutch unit; the practice was to warm up the engine in the pits on its stand and with the rear wheel spinning. Immediately noticeable is the vast area of chromium-plating, on the front fork, frame struts and mudguards. Again, this is as should be. Chromium-plating was a none-too-successful novelty in 1928, but the Rudge factory had their bright parts plated by a specialist cutlery firm in Sheffield.”

The four-valve Rudge—a thoroughbred from the dawn on British spedway.

“ALLEGING BAD SPORTSMANSHIP by Giacomo Agostini and MV, Innocenzo Nardi-Dei, team manager of Benelli, withdrew works rider Renzo Passolini from the 350cc class of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix. When Benelli arrived at the Jarama circuit, near Madrid, on Friday Agostini was practising although the official training did not start until Saturday. Anxious to learn the circuit, being used for the first time, Pasolini asked track officials if he could practice also. He was told that MV and Ossa had the exclusive use of the course and that he must ask them. His request was turned down and Benelli immediately withdrew. ‘If Agostini wants to practice alone he can race alone,’ said Nardi-Dei. Agostini replied: ‘For weeks we have tried to book the circuit and finally came to an agreement with Ossa. If we had let Passolini on all the others would have wanted to join in.’ Two crashes and two wins—that was MV-ace Giacomo Agostini’s score after the Spanish Grand Prix. The first spill came in practice when the double world champion dropped his 350 and went bowling end over end down the track. Within five minutes he was out on his reserve machine…The second came in the 500cc race, soon after he had won the 350cc class…he was pressing Kel Carruthers (Aermacchi) hard when Kel slid off right under the MV’s front wheel. Down went Agostini. ‘I helped him pick the MV up and give him a hand starting it. That was the least I could do,’ said Kel, whose 382cc Aermacchi ended up jammed under a wire fence.” Carruthers was runner up to Agostini in the 350cc race; Bergomonti was runner up in the 500cc race on his Paton.”