Royal Enfield-related sporting reports

Here you can find reports of various events that REOC members and their machines may have taken part in.  Click on the title bar of the article you wish to read and it will open on your screen.

Classic Motorcycle Trials, a report from January 8th 2023

‘Trials’ Royal Enfield’s premier motor-sport success story.

If we consider the most widely known model name from the one hundred and twenty year history of Royal Enfield motorcycle production most of us surely default to the Bullet models. Post war Bullet developments progressed into the use of swing arm frames setting the model apart from the field as much as its star riders ever did. The thoroughbred credentials of the road going Bullet were born from the many trials successes of its off-road forebears. If you want to know more about that fact or even if you simply have an interest in Royal Enfield history, you need to own a copy of Gordon May’s book of RE related excerpts from Don Morley’s publication on various British Trials machines. Buy a copy and your pride in Royal Enfield ownership will swell. Furthermore you are highly likely to gain a new insight into yet another reason why the Bullet is such a great and enduring motorcycle.

 

Here is the good news; the glory is not all consigned to the history books! Regardless of the fact that the company no longer sponsors a works trials team, RE riders across the country campaign their machines in events ranging from technical trials to road trials every weekend. Albeit an amateur pursuit these days there are some notable names out there riding trials with aplomb; the affable and talented Ian Brittain, son of RE works rider Pat, wins trials in the BMCA leagues and does so against the ubiquitous Drayton Bantams, a near impossibility for us mere mortals. Our very own Andy Berry, Bullet genius, mine of RE information and all round good egg successfully campaigns both 250 and 350 REs as well as preserving important ex-works bikes for posterity. The pre-65 trials scene positively vibrates with the presence of RE thumpers, still capable and still victorious.

 

 

The accompanying photographs offer the uninitiated as a small window into our own corner of the world of pre-65 trials. Hopefully you will be enticed to at least go and spectate at a pre-65 trials event or better still give it a try. It really is the cheapest motor sport to enter and a lot safer than road riding. A tumble in the mud at walking speed is rarely a matter for concern. If you are interested then offering your services as a ‘section observer’ would be welcome at virtually any pre-65 trial and there is a lot to be learned by watching the good guys.

A few of us Midshires Branch Members regularly compete in the VMCC Taverners trials amongst others. The events are located in the glorious undulating countryside to the east of Leicester. An area that guarantees a pleasure-drive to an event that will be backed up by decades of experience. Not only are the Taverners a very welcoming group but they ride their fair share of REs competitively. The club’s mantra is to keep the trials ‘accessible to pre-57 machines’. They actively discourage trick machinery and discount entry fees in support of older motorcycles. Long may it last.

On Sunday January the eighth, Committee Member and Webmaster Sean accompanied Ray Barrett and I to the Taverners trial at Eaton, Leics. A cool morning presented itself, never a problem given the heat a body generates lugging an old four-stroke single for four or five hours. The rain managed to avoid us for the duration of the event so all in all it was an ideal day for off road motorcycle pursuits.

The Taverners trials are as much a one day endurance event as a technical trial. Riders undertake eight laps of eight sections so sixty four sections in total. A six lap option is open for the maturing rider. Sections are less technical than most, a necessity given the target demographic, but in most cases they are longer than the average. The Eaton location benefits from a disused railway line, a canyon of about twenty feet and an utterly horrible swamp area. The swamp is created by the level ground around a permanently running stream. It is bad in the dry season let alone the wet one. On this occasion Clerk of the course Peter had taken the sensible option of avoiding that area. He was heard observing that the swamp had been about chest height the day before. Having previously witnessed a good rider perform a forward roll from his machine leaving it standing vertically in the swamp I was glad of Peter’s mercy.

Allow me to make a confession; I am a poor clubman trials rider at best. My regular trials companion Ray has about ten times the experience that I do and makes me look like the village idiot at every outing. No matter…. trials is one of the few sports, motor or otherwise, where ability has little or no bearing on the level of fun you gain from participation. In fact being blessed with sparse natural aptitude may be an advantage. I say that because when I look around I see that no one seems to be having a better time than me regardless of my regular residence at the bottom of the score card. Old motorbikes, mud and enthusiasts, perfect.

Another joy of trials is that it is of little consequence if your machine is ‘original’ or whether it looks as though Keith and Bill mackled it together in the shed with little more than hope and a stick welder after a long evening in the pub. Granted there are some well-engineered jewels competing but they are neither a prerequisite nor always an advantage. The sport really is engaging in so many ways. Ride, wash, maintain. We can all do that much.

Trials are mainly a winter sporting activity. Pack a sandwich and a flask and head out to watch. You will be entertained, if nothing else and you will certainly see some interesting Royal Enfields.

JD

Hits: 167