The “WAY” it was

Interestingly there is a lot of talk about “what is/was the best trials bike” and the discussion
rages one way and another without any final conclusions. It is also true to say that the era of
bikes that this topic covers are predominately those bikes of the 70’s in their standard form and
the later twinshocks until the end of the era circa 84/85.

Suffice to say that during the 60’s nobody really thought much of the invasion of other countries
producing a Trials bike to rival the might of the British machine. “Proper ” trials bikes were the big
Aj’s, Matchlesses, Nortons, Ariels, Velos, Enfields and BSAs. Big Triumphs were a bit of a joke as
a “muck spreader” and the only other 4 strokes on the circuit were the Tiger Cub and the C15.

IT had to be BIG!

On the 2-stroke side there were the old faithfuls of Dot, Francis Barnett, Cotton, BSA Bantams,
James and  Mister Greeves………. and then comes the Bultaco?

Now where I grew up in Kent, The Garden of England, it was all mud, and more mud and during
the trials season of September to March it rained a lot making more mud. Sometimes it froze but
when the sun came out it very soon became mud! Old sages would say you needed a bike to be
heavy to get to the bottom and find some grip and these new fangled smoking 2T things just
weren’t man enough to get the job done. Smokey? yes, as it was 20:1 then, a far cry from our
current 100:1 thimble of oil and get every drip.

Sammy continued to win on his Bultaco’s and Greeves were also winning with Don Smith and the
likes of Malcolm and Tony Davies. The Bultaco is getting more popular and as British bikes went
from bad to worse private firms started making trials bikes with Sprite and Saracen using either
Villiers engines or variations on the Sachs motor.

By the end of the 60’s Montesas and Bultacos were at every trial and big bikes were getting to be
a rarity and even Greeves were using proper forks and moving away from Villiers engines.

So now we start the era of what is currently known as “Twinshock” and basically these are the
machines from 65 onwards that can’t compete in the Scottish  Pre 65. As each newcomer came on
the scene they all had their good and bad points and during the 70’s they were all “Flavor of the
Month” at some stage in their development. I of course can only speak from personal experiences
and watching others perform in competition.

The MKI Montesa with the “one position” levers

After my 3 year enforced layoff in Cyprus I rejoin the fray on the Mark 1 Montesa and this was a
good machine with it’s neat one piece tank and seat unit, pre set levers in the bars and forks that
worked! Generally a good bike that handled well and was very reliable until you take it to Scotland
and find the weaknesses! A lack of chain tensioner throwing the chain on Pipeline and individual
short reach swinging arm bolts that came undone on Blackwater.

So Montesa is established as a good machine, does nothing different from it’s competitors but is
reliable and wins events at all levels.

The 1972 OSSA MAR, that grips everywhere!

Mick Andrews has his run at winning the Scottish 70-72 with the Ossa and the marque went on
to be very popular at clubman level through the mid 70’s as it was an easy bike to ride and had an
amazing ability to find grip when everyone else was spinning. The wide set up of the betor forks
also made it ideal for rocks as it steered particularly well. Also a difficult bike to stall whatever you
did. To be critical the back end was a little weak and rear spindles could often bend causing a lot
of problems. Biggest weakness seemed to be the brakes or lack of!

One of my favorites that slimline Bult. The UK one didn’t have the rear box

Bultaco continued to develop and the 72 model with the slimline tank and seat unit was a real joy
to ride. For my money one of the best bikes ever produced. When set up correctly the handling
and performance was impeccable. The 325 was a big “clanky” lump by comparison but of course
was further developed into a fantastic machine by the end of the decade.

A replica of my 1974 (first in the UK) Yamaha

1974 saw the start of the Jap invasion and the outstanding machine just had to be the Yamaha
TY250A. Very powerful motor, totally reliable, well built and different with oil injection. Mine went
round Scotland like it was a regular Sunday event and required virtually no maintenance. At the
time the reed valve induction was difficult to come to grips with as the classic “down the hill, turn
at the bottom, up the hill and round the tree section” often resulted with rocket like response and
arriving with too much speed at the top of the bank. Not what we were used to and met with
different attitudes as to whether this was going to catch on or not. Of course later models went on
to become the Majesty’s and all of the 70’s Yams are very popular today and make up the majority
of entries in the Modern Classic Class due to their performance, reliability and parts availability.
The 74 model had a very “snappy” motor but from 75/76 this became much softer and more
manageable off the bottom end.

The other Jap entries were of course Suzuki, Kawasaki and the perhaps the already outdated
Honda. The Suzuki never really achieved very much and was a bit “tin and tinsel” although Gordon
Farley had some good rides on it and the later Beamish models looked good and performed well in
Southern England in the hands of Graham Fowler but never achieved much in Scotland or on the

The 1975/76 Kawasaki

Equally disappointing was the Kawasaki even though Don Smith developed it. Another marque
that never saw any major victories…… and if it doesn’t win it doesn’t sell. Simple as that.

Oooooh! now we are talking….. the MAJESTY!

From about 1976 it has become a 2 horse race between Montesa and Bultaco with the Majesty’s
and Ossas settling for the minor placings. The 2 major companies have it nearly all their own way
until Honda come back with the improved TLR series which other frame builders jump on and make
improved versions. Fraser, Seeley, Gollner are all names associated with the model. CCM produced
a cracking “BSA” lookalike with a modern twist, and then Italy joined in with SWM, Gori, Italjet and

The BIG BANGER from CCM circa 1978

My revamped 1980 350 CAGIVA

SWM was just about invincible for a period even though in my opinion it was an ugly replica of the
already excellent Bultaco. But, if you steal all the Bultaco factory riders what do you expect?

Maybe the overall best? I’ve just got to ride one! Fantaaaaaassssssstic

The Best from Bultaco

……. and then came the Fantic. So here we are at the end of the era, Montesa has some good
models the 330 being a great bike. The big Bultaco is excellent with all it’s development. Ossa
has just about given up after some weird models. The Italians have stopped most of their interest
in twinshocks and Suzuki and Kawasaki have withdrawn from the contest. Only Honda persist and
the last of the TLRs are superb pieces of engineering.

As a bike these take some beating, and of course I’m sold as it’s in Rothman’s colors

Of course any marque or model will have it’s devotees but as I see it the winners by time frame
are as follows;

1969-71      Montesa Cota 247
1972-73      Bultaco
1974-76      Bultaco/Ossa MAR/Yamaha
1977-78      Montesa 348/Majesty/Bultaco
1979           Bultaco
1980           SWM
1981-85      Fantic/Bultaco/Montesa 330/Honda TLR

So overall, if all these machines were to compete head to head, which of course they don’t, which
one would the Experts ride?

On reflection, as a stock bike from the 70’s my choice, the TY250A

Tony Down…… undecided?

You must have a view let’s hear it

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  • 6/7/2008 9:53 AM Doug Hunter wrote:
    Good article Tony.

    However, like chosing best sports figure or best fighter plane or anything else that has a legacy of many generations…you are not going to get a concensus here! It might come down to the age of the enthusiast you ask on whether that “greatest” bike is a Norton 500T, Ariel HT, Bultaco Sherpa T or Montesa 4RT!

    I’m guessing there’s a good chance there will be a “T” in it’s name though!

    Regards, Doug
    Reply to this

  • 6/7/2008 9:47 PM TooFastTim wrote:
    Ooh, Downs now you’ve opened a can of worms. First you tackle, err, legality in pre-65’s now this!

    Lets understand that I’m not of your “advanced” years and so will have a slightly different slant on things, mostly that I have no affection for any motorcycle manufactured prior to 1976. I also saw things from a very skewed perspective being in the colonies where not all bikes were present. So here we go:

    M159 Sherpa, a huge improvement over the previous models. Lovely motor. I could do things on it I could only dream of on the previous model.

    Cota 348: When released it stunned me with its attention to detail. It was also a real looker. Looked great from any angle.

    199A Sherpa: Another quantum leap in quality (the Spaniards were getting worried). That crisp sounding exhaust note was special.

    SWM: Sorry I disagree here. Another leap in quality. Brilliant motor, great chassis. Let down by the clutch.

    Fantic 240: Possibly the most important bike in trials history. Proved you didn’t need quarter of a ton of flywheel to make a good trials bike.

    Then I disappeared into enduros for 15 years and I won’t deliver comment on the modern bikes because I’m too subjective.

    Hope you’re well.

    Reply to this

  • 6/8/2008 9:55 PM Mark C wrote:
    Hey Tony,
    well, coming from your neck of the woods we always judged bikes on their ability to grip in the mud, started with Ossas, late 70’s, great mud bikes, then one day I tried a 1980 250 Beamish suzuki and I was sold, whisper quiet, docile and yet revved out nicely, fantastic in the mud. I later tried the 325 version but just could’t get on with it, so having been mightily impressed by the big blue Bults of the day I drove all the way to Wales to buy one, again I didn’t really get on with it where others seemed to. My last twinshock was an Armstrong/CCM 320 (Hiro motor) that was good but never as good all round as the 250 Beamish. As you know there are no rocks down that way so it might have been different had I lived elsewhere! I think there are so many variables that determine ones suitability to a particular bike… But that’s what makes it so much fun.

    Great site by the way, always look foreward to the next episode!

    Mark – Perth Australia
    Reply to this

  • 6/11/2008 2:25 PM Jack Knoops wrote:
    Hi Tony, Blast from the past!! Dick Clears told me about your web site so I have just had a look. “Rotten Cottons” brings back memories, not good. I dont ride any more competively, knee & back joints have called time. I take photos now and have a Beta Alp to get out to the sections. I moved up to Yorkshire when I came out of the RAF in 78 to work in Motor Transport then meet up with George Webb ex Army & we formed a Motorcycle Clothing Company, Sportex suppling the Trade. We sold up in 1998 and retired. George and I both live in Ripon so we still hang around and go to trials, shows ect. I think it’s in the blood.
    Well its good to hear of you we have been talking about a reunion sometime but whether it comes off or not remains to be seen.
    All the best,
    Reply to this
  • 6/19/2008 8:51 AM Brian wrote:
    Oh how I wish we were riding trials instead of motocross back in those days!
    Reply to this
  • 6/19/2008 8:56 AM Brian wrote:
    I wish we were riding trials back then instead of MX.
    Reply to this
  • 7/25/2008 10:43 PM Jose Alvarez wrote:
    Thanks for the history lesson, Tony. In my opinion, we all owe a lot to Mr Francisco Xavier Bulto, because he was the equivalent of Mr. Honda in the area of Trials. And let’s remember, they (Bultaco) were also offering streetbikes, roadracers, trail rider bikes, the mighty Pursangs, Astros and on and on. In terms of a broad offering, they were in a class of their own. Best regards, Jose.
    Reply to this
  • 7/26/2008 4:15 PM Glenn Swanson wrote:
    Hi Tony !I have to say , being a 240 fantic owner and having restored 2 swm 240’s for a freind , I really don’t know how Bernie did what he did on one !But I’ve yet to play on a jumbo …
    And thanks again for the ride on your Bullet , it’s a experience I’ll never forget ! My middle son wants a trials bike now too , and I’ve got a line on 3 mountain cubs to build him one out of !
    And next time we meet you must ride my old fantic , as (IMHO)she’s about as good as one can get at this point …
    Reply to this
  • 5/15/2009 4:12 AM David Lahey wrote:
    Hello Tony and other twinshock era bike lovers.
    That is an enjoyable history lesson and I hope you keep adding to it.
    I didn’t ride trials between 1981 and 1988 so have no affection at all for the Fantics, SWMs or TLRs, as good as I’m sure they are to ride.
    I can’t pick a single favourite. It’s like asking which is your favourite child. By process of elimenation I have listed my favourite few in no particular order:
    OSSA MAR 250
    Cota 348
    Majesty 250
    Sherpa T M198
    Reply to this
  • 2/8/2010 9:17 AM Dave Jones wrote:
    Dear Tony,
    I was actually surfin the net in the hope of finding something related to Tony Davis and his Late brother Malcolm, and somehow discovered this site. in the index of the Ask search engine your site mention the two boys, but i couldnt see any reference to them in the articles. Perhaps i missed it, or its not there. Sorry to be dim but could you explain where the link is? Cheers, Dave Jones Gloucester. Ps if you come back ill tell you why im interested in them.
    Reply to this
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Trialsmaster advises caution on 2….RiVETT!

A lovely bright sunny morning and quite warm compared to the miserable weather earlier in the
week. We are looking for an early start as the motor crossers need to get their practice in around
noon. Having seen the loop yesterday I’m planning on riding BOTH the Cub in Classic Exp and the
RE in Prem Heavyweight Int, of course this is going to be a rush whichever way you look at it trying
to get 6 loops done in the same time everyone else is doing 3. All LEGAL under AHRMA rule 13.3
para e.

Rushing on, Loop 1 on the Cub

The big problem will be making sure I give enough attention to detail and not missing any
markers. 0930 and away I go on the Cub. Another quick walk of the first section, just in case, and
in I go, simple left hander, little jink through the trees into a tighter left then reverse quickly into
a wider right, up and over a pile of brush and logs and out to the exit. First clean of the day, over
to 2 which is in the water but no checker so on to 3 which is dry, and has an adverse climb onto
the bank before dropping back to the lower level, around a flag and then up the bank to the exit.
Clean here so over to 4.

“Always the Bridesmaid” 3 second place finishes this year for Anthony King, a WIN soon?

The Lindemans tackle “that log” in Section 2

Like Father, like Son      Ryan on “that log”

Section 4 was my favorite last year in deep mud but today it’s dry and relatively easy. Drop in,
ease over the muddy area, wall of death bank, then drop back in and a squirt up the bank to the
exit. Another clean and now back to 2 where Neil is checking. Follow the natural line then keep it
straight with a bit of “on and off” on the throttle to the exit. 4 down in 10 mins and 4 cleans.

“DIVE DIVE DIVE!” MC Int Winner, Dan Straka  in the swamp 

Fred blasts through

Round the loop to 5 which is potentially the hardest with some log crossings which seem harder
on the 2 line than the 1. Seems a bit like “show jumping” with all the line ups for the “fences” but
the Cub clears them all for zero faults.

Section 6 looks like fun with some man made obstacles, a run around the edge of a big mound,
then turn to line up and up an over the 10 foot mound before a gated entry into a rock pile and
ride to the exit.

At 7 we have a whole load of irrigation pipes to get through and after watching some variations
of, how to, and how not to, I rush in and having got to the turn line up and sail the front over the
pipe but as I turn the back wheel spins on the pipe and I high side for a very undignified 5 !

Still fuming over not paying enough attention I arrive at 8 and now I need to think the exit as the
first portion looks easy enough with some turns through the trees before a wall of death turn in
loose dirt descending to cross one ditch into another. Ride the ditch, climb onto the bank then
cross over again before a tight turn to the exit. This ditch could easily break down with the
passage of riders but right now it’s in it’s virgin state so take the least likely 5 route and wriggle
through with a safety dab.

No 9 is like 2 sections in 1 with a series of up and downs around two big trees then 3 crossings
of the ditches again. That completes the loop for 6 and it’s taken me 45 minutes.

Somewhere through here?  Section 1

Tom Maddux in the brush Section 1

Going Down!

Loop 2 and clean through the first 4, another good clean on 5 which is taking a lot of marks,
through 6 without penalty and now try and do better on the pipes. Same line and take a “safety”
which in truth I didn’t need and then take another trying too hard to make a turn.  Clean the rest
and out on loop 3.

The only problem sections are 5 and 7 so time to take a bit more care on this last loop. 5 goes
well again so now another look at 7 …… and then I see it! A turn I have been making isn’t
required as there is no outside gate! and the problem pipe that has taken me for 7 can be
avoided with a different approach. Sure enough I ride it for a very easy clean! I wish I had seen
this earlier. Well a clean loop. Time to change from the Cub and the 2 line and see what the
Enfield can do on the PI line.


The PI line seems to be mainly 3 and Section 1 is no problem so the FIRST EVER CLEAN on the
Enfield. Section 2 in the water and mud is a little deeper on this line but the old girl plows through.

This is what I came for! Section 2, and it’s deeper

Section 3 has a gate on the adverse and with the high ground clearance I don’t touch a thing.
4 has us back on the 2 line and although a good 100 lbs heavier than the Cub I’m through.
Section 5 is maybe the biggest challenge trying to hump the beast through a hard 2 line.
However it amazes me and just climbs over all the logs on idle power from less than ideal arrival

Chuffing up the bank Section 3

Section 6 comes in front of the mound and then has a gate onto a wide builders plank, very
easy to ride off the plank and cross the tape for the 5. This looks very familiar to the MSF basic
rider course clutch control lanes and what I always teach is “head and eyes UP” concentrate on
something ahead or you will feed in a lot of unrequired steering commands.  Through for the
clean, a much easier line on 7 which the RE makes nothing of and over to see the new lines on
8 and 9. Both good and a clean loop.

Loop 2 and it climbs the logs again and sails along the problem plank and another clean loop
and I’m quite enjoying this machine.

The entry to 4

Through the Mud Hole

……..and round the “Wall of Death”

With 45 mins left I set off on my last loop and the sixth of the morning! A completely incident free
ride and after 5 & 6 it was plain sailing for a third clean loop and a virgin card for the event. So
now the Enfield can hold it’s head high as so far it has not lost a point in competition.

What a lovely day

……. and to add to a perfect day of 2 class wins my team easily wins the team competition with
me on 8 from the Cub ride and Ed Peacock coming home on 9 as the Int rider and our chosen
Novice of Forrest Bault winning his division on 5. Forrest is looking good for a National
Championship with 2 wins and a second, a lot of natural talent there.

The way home goes without incident and all is well on arrival Monday lunchtime.

If you rode it YOU will be on FILM!   

Tony & Brenda with a sled team of dogs

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Off we go again

 Up bright and early, and things on the face of it are looking good…… should be on the road by
0730 for the 700 mile leg to Trinidad Co. Despite being up at 0530 I can not do what I need to
and now we are forced to wait until people come to work at 0800. Finally around 0900 we leave
having completed a simple but infuriating insurance task. Now on the “walk round” the new front
tires don’t look good enough and they have only 95 in them and require 120. First stop can’t
inflate them, as like me, they only have a 120 tank. After the second stop we finally have 120 !

An awful lot of them!

So now it’s 0930 and we get under way having wasted two and a half hours. The route along
I40 is blowing a gale with 30-40 mph crosswinds and gusts and a shower of rain every 10 mins
or so. As we pass Holbrook a huge contingent of Harley’s enter the freeway, however this group
are actually dressed for the ride unlike so many Harley riders we see. The outside temp is dropping
and by the time we get to Grants New Mexico it’s cold at 45 and still very windy.

Yuk weather on I40

Time for an oil change, which only takes 15 mins tops, but another 40 to do the paperwork as
they have a new computer system and they require everything from Vin number to inside leg
measurement! Now we have another problem the oil change package includes the FUEL FILTER
that nobody had last year when it plugged up and of course I have already changed it. So now
they have to give it to me as they can’t deduct the price from the service!

Finally through Albuquerque but now with the time change everyone has gone home and rush
hour is over. Once again decide Trinidad is out of the question so decide on Las Vegas (NM) as
the night stop and enjoy the scenery and the fresh snow on the hills. Nice to see all he trees and
bushes coming into bud, but where are all the flowers that covered the median last year?

The Train, The Train! What stops in Vegas stays in Vegas

Friday morning and the weather is much more pleasant so we are on the road early and make
good time along I25. They have actually finished the roadworks in Colorado Springs and no hold
ups in Denver either! We arrive in Milliken at our planned ETA and sail into our berth next to Ed
and Evelyn. Only bad news for Brenda is the lillacs have all bloomed and withered this year so
nothing for the vases in the coach.

How High? Stadium

Out with the bikes and time to see what is on offer for tomorrow and whether I can get round 6
loops in the time frame. From what I can see on my first look it’s a short course and not too
difficult. Some of the water/mud sections could get nasty as the overflow from the reservoir is
seeping down to the farm and a section that had been laid out earlier is now completely under
water, including all the tapes!

Eventually find the layout team who are working on 8  & 9 and seem to have everything just
about wrapped up. Yes I think it’s worth a try so it will be Cub first then switch to the Enfield and
see how much I can get done in the remaining time.

Take the Enfield out for a test ride and things are looking up apart from the obvious of being
much heavier than any trials machine I can ever remember. A gentle potter around and then try
for something a little more adventurous. Down in the lower field there is a big pit with some high
banks and tires and debris in the bottom so this will be good for some classic practice. It chuffs
down and goes up the banks OK so now let’s add a few turns in the bottom to make the climbs
tighter…….  down the hill, turn, across the dry bottom when …….suddenly and without any
warning the back sinks right down to the swinging arm and I can see the whole surface of the
pit MOVING!! This is just a crust over something really NASTY….. no way back and with the front
wheel still on the surface I gingerly move forward and get out. Later I retell this story and they
tell me 3 motor crossers were in there recently and got stuck…. they managed to get ropes on
2 of the bikes and get them out but the third SUNK!

A little NASTY after the “nearly” in the hole

Tony Down …… and nine dogs and a happy wife with Full power!

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Today marks the start of some big and important changes! However more on that tack when it
happens. Things that must get done are get some new batteries for the coach as after all the
generator problems one of the lifetime sealed house batteries is dragging the others down with it.
They do have a 5 year warranty but I think they must be gold plated as they are $300 EACH!
Having made the decision to change them, guess what? The stockist has 3 !  Not exactly sure
what you would fit 3 in but he assures me I will have them by Tuesday. Also I need to get an oil
change and fuel filter change en-route and the air filter, which is about the size of a standard
trash container needs replacement.

Ready for it’s first outing

Bikewise for Milliken I’m taking the Royal Enfield for it’s first taste of competition and of course the
Cub to see if I can get some more points in Classic to go with the 3 wins and the annoying third.
The Cub is all cleaned and ready save for changing the front wheel which has gone a funny shape.
I’m still planning on cutting out the lower downtube under the engine and fitting a straight alloy
bashplate which Barry may be able to make me in time for Bull Hollow. Ray Iddon is sending me a
stealth tank and a right hand oil tank to fit on the Cub. Maybe a rebuild coming after Donner and
about time to chrome the frame! Purple barrel, gold head and purple cables maybe?

The good looking “Stealth” tank by Ray

The Matching Oil tank

I wish I could weld!

I need to put the Enfield footrests back some more and I’ll be after Barry on Monday to get this
done before Wednesday, assuming Barry is still a “free man” after his run in with the Mexican

The two old sheds

On the home front time to remove two old buildings and spin off the paddock area as all the
weeds have now burnt off and smarten up the place for a possible sale, assuming anything will
sell in this day and age. C’mon people it’s time to buy! Hopefully a friend of mine will buy the
Honda collection, the Cagiva and the Yam TYZ and maybe be persuaded to take the Ossa as well.
The KTM is sold in name and the prospective buyer now has 2/3 of the rquired cash. The gorgeous
MV F4 1000 may also have to leave as 2 crotch rockets is one too many. Then I’ll throw the 2
TY175’s on e-bay and see how they go.

All for sale except Brenda!

Amazingly NAPA had all the filters I needed for the coach so that’s the next job. Cub finished and
wheel changed out, Madam’s baby TY has a new rear fender after cracking the fiberglass one and
the motor is on the bench from the Babyglitz for some new main bearings.

All ready to start changing filters when I discover a support bar for some ducting in the engine
compartment has broken it’s weld. Jose will be here at 0900 and he can do all the filters at the
same time. I have to see Barry re footrests, get the batteries, then fit them and get some extra
info on resetting the inverter. Get to the Accountant and sort out payroll for the troops, other
than that a pretty standard day.

Plan A and Plan B went well and the buildings were demolished, the dead grass and weeds gone
and all other garden maintenance complete. Excellent visit to accountant! Beam welded back and
all filters changed. Collected the new batteries but, even with a photo of the layout I can’t tell the
wiring sequence…. 4 x 6 volt batteries do I link two in series? and then 2 in parallel? Better not
screw it up and as I will be in RV renovators area I’d better drop in and make one final check
before blowing the new ultra expensive power source!

A wiring crossword

The footrests were ready on time, I will fit them this morning and see if my new stand that I
fabricated will also work (quite pleased with myself on this one). Time for invoicing, delivery,
change one Napa Filter (one out of 4 can’t be bad) fit the batteries and then start loading. A
serious chance we may be ready on time!

I was very pleased with “my” stand

Back just a bit on the rests

1500, all batteries fitted, trailer back on, invoices delivered, topped up with water, even got my
clothes onboard, just tools and the famous three bikes to go. Then down to Napa and change
that filter, might even get some pool time this evening and the early morning start is looking
better than normal.

Tony Down

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Instruction Book from the Ark

Now that it runs it’s time to turn my attention to the fire breathing “Dragon from Redditch”. I know
a lot of you are saying why is he screwing around with a Mikuni and why doesn’t he buy a new
Amal?  ‘Cos it’s fun!

The Mikuni has exactly the same flange mounting as the Amal but on a 4 stroke is gets a little
cluttered up there under the tank but it is workable. A few mods and some serious fettling of the
jetting so testing begins as I’m keen to have a go on the old lady.

Nearly there

Now that I can start the machine life takes on a rosier hue. Find compression, switch on fuel
(no leaks), choke on, first kick ….. duggerdy, duggerdy, dug. Set up slow running with a slightly
bigger pilot and this tunes out using a 40. Next problem, it won’t rev out cleanly so off with the
filter and now mark the twist grip and throttle rubber for various slide positions, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4
and full.

Test 1 using a 190 main……awful, spitting, banging and overall very unpleasant

Test 2 using a 150 main ….. better, but not good and now the problem zone is just at 3/4 throttle
where it starts hiccuping….and after several runs and rapid throttle closings a serious backfire in
the exhaust. Seems like we are on “the cusp” here, either move the needle or come down again
on the main.

Test 3 using a 130 main……. pretty damm good! Clean all the way but in truth I can’t see that
many sections where I will be using full power. So a bit more running on these settings then check
the plug to see how close to “coffee” we are.

Back about 2″ on the footrests

After last year’s discovery on the footrest front, time for some adjustments in this area. The
height is good at around 12 and just above the bash plate, however with the frame shortening
and head angle change I need to come back another couple of inches which will improve the
handling, might have to shorten the rear brake pedal but we will see how that pans out.

On another tack, my possible benefactor from Spain, Javier Cruz, just purchased the “Gaunt” 500
RE Bullet after this year’s Pre 65 Scottish. I can’t say what he paid for it as I’m sworn to secrecy!
Like myself his knowledge of these big monsters is pretty limited but he has already offered it as
an alternative to the 2 James machines should I get an entry in the “2009”

The Ex Peter/Neil Gaunt 500 RE

Mine for comparison

Unlike mine, Peter Gaunt’s was a winner of the event in 2006 and does look fairly “trick”. The
frames are slightly different and who knows what lurks inside the fork tubes? I may get to have
a chuff round on it at the 2 day in Madrid next year if all the plans come together.

So just to really **** some of you off here are the machines that Javier is offering for me to ride,
and just so that you don’t think this is a one sided deal I’m offering him, and a friend, my “Yams”
to ride here in the USA for either the Casper Spectacular or maybe Donner or Dickson…. his call.

Choice 1 Javier’s baby James that he rode this year

Quite UNBELIEVABLE!! Choice 2, the other JAMES

I love it!

So a choice of THREE, and here is what I’m offering in exchange


The 320 Majesty

The 77

This just has to “Happen” or I will be so grumpy!

Tony Down (very, very lucky)

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  • 7/6/2008 11:29 PM Steveo wrote:
    Wow ,the 1st James i recognized,but the second”square-barreled” one,I’ve never seen.What is it?My first bike was a ’54 James,so I’ve got a special place in my heart for them.Good luck on getting to the Scottish!
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Dawn over Tucker Ranch

 A bit warmer this morning, and everyone has survived the night. Even warmer outside taking the
dogs for a walk. Those that had been staying locally make their way back and by 1000 we are all
ready to go again. Different Teams today so we will see what happens there. The loop is a lot
shorter and all the sections are closer together today and some of them are challenging as
requested by the 1 line riders.

Starting at section 1 which has some real mud! regrettably not anywhere deep enough for me to
get my teeth into but mud nonetheless. Around some simple banks on the edge of the mud, a
blast up some big rocks for the 1 men while 2 and 3 turn through a rock gully bringing all 3 lines
back together. 3’s and PI’s get a break with a straight ride out while 1 and 2 turn in the mud
before leaping up a difficult rock then turning round a tree to a rocky descent to the ends card.

From what I’m seeing it is an all or nothing sort of section and the problem rock is taking a lot of
marks. The first part goes well enough but I arrive in the mud off line and off balance and by the
time I have it corrected I’m too close to the big rock to attack as I wanted. The bike reluctantly
climbs the rock but I can’t get in position and can’t find anything to dab on and slide over the
back fender landing **** first in the mud for a disappointing 5 !

Not overly happy about that I move to section 2 which is a series of up downs and shouldn’t be
too tricky if the front doesn’t slip away in the loose dirt at the bottom of the downhill. I guess I’m
still smarting over the 5 and take a nervous dab on this one that I should have cleaned easily.

Section 3 nearly cost me a 5 as I hadn’t seen a side turn at the top of the hill which required a
legal line crossing left into ultra tight right. For some reason I take a dab on the left and then have
no problem on the ultra tight right. 3 down and 7 lost already…. not good!

The Ulta Tight Turn on 3

Section 4 is a line critical section and I make this look easy for my first clean of the day. Ever hard
working Evelyn is now checking on 5! Does this Lady ever rest? She was doing sign up just now,
results, awards and everything else!

Line critical on 4

5 I like the look of, a run across some jumbled rocks, tight left turn into an easy twisting uphill, or
a wider turn in more rocks which will make the uphill portion very difficult. I take the tight line and
have a perfect good feeling clean. Fred Martinson, who had a phenominal day, lost one of his
marks here on the wider line.

Fred losing 1 on Section 5……. but he only lost 4 all day!!!!

Super clean, first loop on 5

A small loop ride to 6 which had everyone discussing the Trialsmaster’s intentions. Everyone
eventually rode a line of their choice and despite the tight turns being easier than section 3
another dab is lost for no good reason.

Section 7 has the same turn that gave me a lot of grief last year, so with a bit of clutch I’m going
to turn tighter to get a good run through the rocks and avoid the reversing turn where most of
the marks are being lost. Part 1 goes well but as I try and set up I stall the engine and now I’m
really getting cross with myself.

Borderline on 7! Rich Palmer

Rick Field isn’t riding today but is checking 8 and at last I ride a section the way I intend and it
feels really good. So a ghastly double 5 and a loop total of 13. Time for some thought and try and
rethink some of those errors from loop 1. Saving grace is that my opposition lost 18 on the first
loop so I’m still in with a chance. Maybe it’s harder than I thought.

Clear Winner in MC Exp Dave Lindeman on “that” muddy rock Section1

Mike Wehling manhandling the battery operated Greeves Section1

Rewalk section 1 and now the mark grabbing rock is covered in mud and I’m seeing cleans and
fives one after another. I clout the rock in the first turn and once again I’m off line for the damm
rock and another 5 goes on the card. Same results on 2 and 3 and now this is getting demoralizing
as I’m dropping marks everywhere. Cleans on 4 and 5 again and this is good for the confidence
but drop another on 6 in exactly the same place and on an identical score to the first loop. More
walking of 7 and decide on the wider line which works and I escape with a dab but feel I could
have cleaned it with a bit more effort. Another good ride on 8 completes the loop with a 4 point
better score of 9. My opposition lost 19 on that loop so I now have a 15 point advantage going
out on the last loop.

Showboating on 5

Another perfect clean Section 5 on loop 2

Ryan Lindeman cleans Evelyn’s shoes Section 5

On the “3” line with Darrel Boone

Jim using everything on 5

I’m all set for the first section when Jim Wagner says come and see this. By going a little wider
in the mud there is a steeper but doable line up the rock face with a wriggle past the tree. Well
with a maximum on this section maybe it’s worth a go. Arrive in the mud totally in control, drift
round to the line and up we go, a little showboating for the camera and a clean at last! Boy how
that cheers things up.


A wider approach

Up the Vertical

….and easy round the tree

Stay where I planned and a clean on 2, about time, and now for 3. Still can’t get the left hander
but hey, that’s 6 better than both previous laps. No problems on 4 for the third clean and now
down to 5 which I’ve been riding well. A little off line going through the rock pile but nothing
critical and now look through the tight turn and somehow catch the fork leg on an outcrop which
rips the bars out of my hands and for the second time of the morning I stumble backwards and
down in a pile of rocks cutting hand, elbow and banging my pelvis too boot, and that’s to say
nothing of the bruised ego and pride.

A Classic Cotopaxi photo with snow on the Mountains

The start of the “Ego Bruising” fall Section 5  …….. (say nothing!)

Finally clean 6, again 2 silly dabs lost here but even with the loop errors I’m better by 2 on this
round. Section 7 and I nearly get it but end up with a double dab but I’m through, another clean
on 8 and a loop total of 8 giving 30 for the day and a class win by 22 points. Not my best effort,
some good rides and some awful ones as well. Must practice these ultra tight turns!

Overall 2 more Championship wins so the quest is on. Now to get that Enfield on song and start
into that one.

The way out goes well and the screens keep flicking and captions keep coming on. Inexplicably
as we go past the same area where everything went wrong on the way up (Poncha Springs) it
all reverts to normal, save for the generator, …… but that no doubt will be the subject of another

Great set of Trials, nice photo ….. thanks Brenda

Lots of pictures from this event;

Tony Down

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  • 6/3/2008 8:02 PM Fred Martinson wrote:

    Ask Brenda if its ok to use the
    picture of you turning (second picture), on a t-shirt?
    The Medidine Bow Cup t-shirt

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  • 7/6/2008 11:16 PM Steveo wrote:
    Looks like everyone had a good time,excellent terrain,good photo’s-wish that I could have been there!Tony,the rest of the bikes,in the stable must have their noses out of joint,I don’t recall the last time you were on any of them.Such is a mans love for his special bike,the other girl friends just have to wait.
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  • 7/25/2008 11:17 PM Jose Alvarez wrote:
    Very enjoyable account of Cotopaxi. Although it’s understandable that your pride took a blow after a fall or two, you can’t imagine the number and variety of the spills I took last year. And, while you were doing your level best to give us that Trials School, I almost ran you over in the big boulders! Talk about lack of control.
    I’ve been absent for the first half of the season, due to my wife’s illness with Pneumonia in April, and 2nd bout of it later in the Spring.
    I look forward to Mosteller Cup in August. Best Regards, Jose.
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Off we go again

 Collect the coach which has been made roadworthy, after the blow out, on Wednesday and
loading begins for a mid morning departure on Thursday with a simple 450 mile run to Walmart at
Durango Colorado. All the usual last minute things to get including a propane tank for Brenda’s
new “smoker” as she is planning brisket for the “Bring Something Bar-B-Q” on Saturday night.

A hassle free run to Walmart and take on fuel and settle down for the night which is surprizingly
cold. Midway through the night Brenda decides the newborn puppies need some heat and the
generator is back on line and stays that way until dawn. Walking the dogs I notice I now have a
large red sheet under the wipers which is a “Stop & Desist” notice from the City of Durango to tell
me that overnighting at Walmart infringes some city code.

Still a lot of snow at Wolf Creek

A pretty drive through Pagosa Springs then up the mountain to the Ski area at Wolf Creek and
still a lot of snow. Down the other side and the babbling brook is now full white water rafting and
on we go. Approaching Poncha Springs the instruments go haywire, lights flash, captions come on
and the generator quits!!! Needless to say the crew are less than amused as the generator has
just been serviced and now won’t stay on with yet more mystery fault codes from our nice friends
at Cummins. More phone calls and once again nothing we can do. Two failures in less than ten
months, this is getting beyond a joke.

Rally-Cross with the 60′ rig Tucker Ranch

Arrive at Tucker Ranch and remembering the drive in from last year decide to pop the TAG axle for
the ultra tight turns on the dirt road. The first right hander is the sharpest and we get round that
with a “Clang” but then cover the next mile or so without incident and soon we are on the top and
into our reserved berth next to Ed and Evelyn. On the walk round the V nose of the trailer touched
the ladder during the 90 turn and has bent it and sprung the bolts! I’m not a happy camper!!

If only we had POWER!

When some sort of normality returns I venture out with Ed to view all his hard work and take a
look at the Saturday sections and loop. Nicely planned, nothing dangerous, but plenty of traps to
take marks. Later we look at the Sunday route which has a couple that can go either way and
some that are just technical with some very tight turns….. which they seem to like up here?

The evening slides into the Peacock’s new RV for chili as it’s dammed chilly outside! Bed with no
power or heating and all the dogs and puppies join us in the “den” to survive the night.

Saturday and it’s warmer outside than in and this rough camping is becoming a bit like
“Survivor Man” and tempers are a little frayed surrounded by ammenities that won’t work without
generator power. I think I need to shake a Cummins engineer warmly by the throat!…….but we
do have gas and of course the other LP for the smoker so we can boil water and get some life
saving coffee going.

Temperatures are a little warmer today and the trial gets under way with 1 & 2 riders starting on
Wehling Falls right by the start. This is/was a beautiful water feature designed and built by Mike
Wehling and today it’s free of water but the rocks make a super section and the Tucker family use
this as a practice section on a regular basis.

No 4 liners at the trial so 1 & 2 men take on the challenge while 3 and the PI group go to Section
1. the 2 line rides around a couple of turns and then enters the main pool area before climbing the
steep and awkward waterfall between the big rocks. 1 liners go into the pool, over some rocks,
around the fir tree and up the waterfalls higher up. Young Linderman, riding the Ossa, gets away
with a clean followed by father Dave, who came off the first rock badly with a dab but then bounced
over the tape for a “5” on the very first section! I guess this got his “proverbial” together as he
went on to win the class with a total loss of 8 for the day!

Ryan Lindeman shows how on the 1 line at 8

Father Dave after his awful “5” doing better on the second loop

Entering the lower pool of “Wehling Falls”

Up the steps from the lower pool

I have a good trouble free ride for the clean and off down the path to section 1. A couple of turns
in wash sand with loose rocks before a squirt up the hill in the loose rubble to a turn at the top
before the exit. An extra turn at the bottom gives a cleaner line up the hill and I use this one for
the clean.

The Tucker family are checking 2 and 3 after a pleasant single track loop ride. Section 2 starts
simply with an uphill into a left and then right in loose dirt before an uphill into a rock track with
a left 90. Any error on the right turn is going to get you into trouble. Once on the path a couple
of rock steps to a left turn exit. 3 is just round the corner and after the opening right turn into the
downhill, a series of up and over rocks before a right, left, right series of turns between some big
rocks. Clean both of these and on to 4 down by the house.

Enter, then over a crazy paving rock path before entering a bowl with multiple choices of lines to
get out and to the next downhill hazard. The straight ahead looks easy enough but could have
problems turning on the top. The natural line in the groove looks doable but it’s very loose at the
top and any screw up with power is going to cost the unlucky. I see Rick Armstrong struggle on
this one and I take it a little tighter and the Cub makes nothing of it.

Still clean and now a super loop section uphill reminiscent of Scotland (without the water) and
away to 5 with a series of uphill turns before a meander through some rocks and the downhill
run to the exit. Another zero and away to 6 which is a variation of last year. The 2 line is last years
1 with a steep uphill into a right left before a ridge between some rocks and a round the tree exit.
A bit of clutch work (all new to me!) and off to 7 to complete the loop.

7 has to be the hardest of the day with a tricky turn at the bottom of the hill followed by a jink
around some rocks into an uphill blast in loose rocks, round the tree and a wriggle through some
footrest high rocks to the exit. The bottom turn goes well and I’m in perfect position for the rest
and complete the first loop clean.

Mike keeps the front down on 8

Bob Strohman getting it right on 8

Stop and watch the fun on Section 8 and then out for loop 2. Things are cutting up a bit on some
of the loose areas so take a bit more care and don’t get caught out by rolling stray rocks. Through
the first 5 without any problems but a little too fast on the entry to 6 puts me in an awkward
position, and although I fought it all the way I just could not get back in the comfort zone and
ended up with a dab!

Over to 7 and catch up with the Greeves duo of Mike and Dave who are now sharing as the
battery powered Greeves has run out of juice. The bottom corner is still “doable” despite more
rocks having been rotovated and some portions of the uphill are looking a bit tatty. Clean the
lower turn and loft my way through the jink and all set until a roller takes me for another dab!

The waterfall goes well so 2 loops complete and a score of 2. Plenty of time so a leisurely last
loop and as always in these conditions walk them all just in case. Section 2, first turn needs to
be tighter, no problems on 3, stay on line for that first turn on 4. Section 5 no change, and now
try and resolve what went wrong on 6. Better speed this time and a comfortable clean. Section 7
has cut up badly and new rocks are appearing in all sorts of places. Some have made the 3 line
more like a 1 line and I see Jim Solomon take a crunching 5 on the turn. Fred and Bob from
Wyoming get it just right on the 2 line and Bob is still smarting from a feet up stationary “5” on 6.
I get it right and no rolling rocks this time so just the waterfall section to complete the event. Back
to 8 and through for the clean and a 2 point total for the day.

Bill Anderson takes a dab on 8

Len Sims on his way to 3rd place  MC exp

Bailey, on home ground, making everything look easy!

Stay around 8 as Brenda is taking shots of all, while cooking the Brisket, which smells great. I see
Dan Straka riding 8 and as he drops into the lower pool his front wheel lodges in some rocks as
he looks to line up for the big step. A very sad 5!

Dan “just before….”

Scores are coming in and in the Team competition, something new for this event, my team looks
fairly invincible with team leader Bailey Tucker on Zero, me on 2, and just waiting on Hugh
Campbell to finish. Hugh finishes on a good score of 11, I believe, which wraps up the Team prize.

A winning team, Hugh, Bailey and yours truly

Bailey Tucker is thinking about doing more of the Vintage stuff in the future, and if he rides MC
Expert I think he would be very difficult to beat! Young Ryan Linderman is looking like he means
business after switching to the Ossa, fantastic to see so many young men on old bikes. Of course
there are still some pretty impressive rides from older gentlemen on old machines too, Mike had a
clean day in Prem Lightweight, Fred and Bob rode MC Int well, and a 6 rider field in MC Exp was
good to see.

A good fire and much talking over brisket, burgers and dogs ….. always amazing what a good
meal can be had if everybody brings something. The fire pit was especially welcome for those of
us without heat! More fun tomorrow.

Tony Down  with a Cold Wife, and 9 dogs!

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