“The story of the Royal Enfield in the International Six Days Trial 1948, 1949,1950, 1951, 1952, 1953” is the title of a palm of a hand sized original publication produced by Royal Enfield in 1953 that recently fell into our hands and is of such great interest we reproduce it here. Royal Enfield, who could boast not only great bikes but a factory team that contained some of the sports greatest factory riders of the time including Vic and Johnny Brittain as well as Jack Stocker show how their successful domination of the results sheet at the ISDT meant the commute to work was going to be a lot more successful on a Royal Enfield than it might be on a lesser qualified motor cycle.
The World’s Toughest Motor-Cycle Event
THE INTERNATIONAL SIX DAYS’ TRIAL is acknowledged as the longest and most strenuous of all motor cycle competitions, and the winning of a gold medal in this event (awarded for completing the course without loss of marks) is esteemed the highest honour in the world of motor cycle trials. And no wonder, for the main ingredients of the “International” (ever since its inception forty years ago) have always been rough mountain tracks, water splashes, loose stones and rocks, steep hills, hairpin bends, slimy mud or choking dust – depending on the prevailing weather conditions-and a total distance of anything up to 1,500 miles. To add to an already arduous week, the whole contest is run on a series of rigidly enforced time schedules which are so calculated as to allow insufficient time for anything but the very hastiest adjustments and maintenance if the competitor is to avoid loss of marks for lateness at the frequent time checks. The rougher sections of the course are interspersed with many miles of fast road work where “flat out” speeds are required if the tight time schedules are to be maintained, and there is a final speed test of one hour’s duration to test the capabilities of each machine and to decide the destination of team awards in the event of more than one team remaining unpenalised. It needs no expert on the subject of motor cycle sport to realise that any machine which proves itself capable of carrying its rider safely through to the finish of an International Six Days’ Trial is possessed of a performance and reliability far in excess of normal requirements, a fact which in itself affords the owner the comforting knowledge that for ordinary every-day use his machine has a “safety margin” second to none.The performance of Royal Enfield motor cycles in the ” International” is outstanding, and on no less than four occasions has this event witnessed the debut of a new model. In 1948, when the trial was held in the Italian Alps, the new “350 Bullet” made it first appearance and two of these machines ( in the capable hands of Vic Brittain and Charlie Rogers) were chosen by the Auto-Cycle Union to represent Great Britain in the “Trophy” team. Selected for the “Vase” team was Jack Stocker, on the 500c.c. Model J, and the trio of Royal Enfield completed the course unpenalised. Conditions that year were so hectic that the trial was known as the Italian “Grand Prix,” and any machine which stood up to such prolonged high speed hammering on rough surfaces was indeed a fine example of British workmanship. Great Britain won the coveted “Trophy,” and British prestige was given a splendid boost throughout the world. Both Vic Brittain and Charlie Rogers had represented their country in pre-war “Internationals,” and Vic decided that 1948 should be his last year of active competition work. Charlie elected to carry on for one more year, and 1949 again found him a member of the victorious British “Trophy” team, on his “350 Bullet.” Jack Stocker was again chosen for the “Vase” team, and these two – in company with Stan Holmes – won a Manufacturer’s Team award for Royal Enfield. The trial was staged in Wales that year, and again in 1950 – and on both occassions five Royal Enfields got through with “clean sheets”(a particularly meritorious achievement in 1950, when such appalling weather conditions prevailed that a mere 38 gold medals were awarded out of 213 starters!). Now it was Jack Stocker’s turn to graduate to the “Trophy” team, and British supremacy in the realm of motor cycle sport was emphasised by a sweeping victory. Eighteen-year-old Johnny Brittain – son of the famous Vic – entered the picture that year, and on his “350 Bullet ” gained a gold medal in company with Jack Stocker and Stan Holmes.
Easily the fastest three-fifties in the British team , these “Bullets” had covered themselves with glory for 1948, 1949 and 1950. Royal Enfields were not content to rest on their past successes, however, and for 1951 their contribution to maintaining British prestige was the now famous “500 Twin.” Three of these machines – again ridden by Jack Stocker, Stan Holme and Johnny Brittain – formed the victorious Royal Enfield team and a fourth “500 Twin” in the hands of Borje Nystrom (the popular Swedish rider) was equally successful.
As a debut of an entirely new model, this must surely have been as outstanding as any in recent motor cycle history, and for the second year in succession Jack Stocker was a member of the victorious British “Trophy” team.
Another feather in the proud Enfield cap was occasioned that year by the fact that out of all the 350c.c. machines competing at the higher (“team schedule”) speed, two Royal Enfield “Bullets” were alone in accomplishing this admittedly difficult task without loss of mark – the successful riders being Chick Gibson and Bill Clarke member of the “Vase” team fielded by the Motor cycle Union of Ireland).
The trial was again staged in Italy, and some particularly vile road surfaces were encountered – but it only served to lend emphasis to the fact that we stood a better chance of winning when conditions were really tough.
Although, by virtue of the British “Trophy” victory in 1951, Great Britain was entitled to organise the International Six Days’ Trial for 1952, the Auto-Cycle Union elected not to avail themselves of the opportunity, and the event was held in Austria.
Very extreme changes of temperature and almost ceaselessly wet weather resulted in wholesale loss of marks, and although, on this occasion, Great Britain failed to bring home the “Trophy,” a Royal Enfield was one of the three British “Trophy” machines to finish a disastrous week unpenalised. Jack Stocker was the rider in question, and his mount was the newly introduced “Meteor700” – so that 1952 marked yet another successful debut for a Royal Enfield even though for once the fates were unkind to Great Britain.
Not so much as a solitary “works” team completed the week without loss of mark, so the severity of the 1952 “International” was self-evident.Only twice, post-war, have two machines of the same make been chosen to represent Great Britain in the “Trophy” team. In 1948 it had been Vic Brittain and Charlie Rogers on their “350Bullets,” and for 1953 it was Jack Stocker and Johnny Brittain ( now a hardened veteran of 21! ) who were entrusted to play their part in the all-important task of regaining the “Trophy” on this vital occasion when the I.S.D.T. was staged in Czecholovakia.
In addition to the two “Trophy” teamsters, Don Evans was chosen to represent Great Britain in the “Vase” team – all three riders mounted on “500 Twins.”Sweden selected the newly introduced “500 Bullets ” for their “Vase”teamsters (Borje Nystrom, Rudolph Nystrom and Ake Elgebrandt). All six Enfield exponents completed the arduous 1,500-mile course at a higher speed shedule than had ever been imposed in the “International” before – without mechanical trouble, but Elgebrandt had the misfortune to find himself among the group of competitors who were involved in a melee on a particularly severe hill where the unavoidable delay resulted in loss of marks for late arrivals at the next time check.
Apart from this, the 1953 I.S.D.T. was a triumph for Royal Enfield riders and for Great Britain. Victorious for the 16th time out of the 28 occasions on which the International Six Days’ Trial had been organised, the British “Trophy” team finished an eventful week unscathed. As a member of the winning team, Jack Stocker collected his sixth succesive gold medal for a faultless performance, and young Johnny Brittain carried the burden of his responsibility with outstanding skill and determination. In company with Don Evans, they yet again won a Manufacturer’s Team Prize – the third for Royal Enfield in the past five years -and the total “bag” was five gold medals and one silver medal (all at “team” schedule). Since 1948, then, there have been no fewer than 2 Royal Enfields which have completed the International Six Days’ Trial without the loss of a single mark. These machines, comprising six different models (ranging from Frank Carey’s 11-year-old 350c.c. sidecar outfit to Jack Stocker’s powerful “Meteor700” have between them covered close on 70,000 miles. And what miles those were! Every one of them covered at high speed – the vast majority along precipitous mountain roads and cart tracks – with the additional handicap of choking dust in Italy and Czechoslovakia, and seemingly limitless rain in Wales and Austria. Steep hills, loose surface, punishing rock outcrops, deep fords, blind bends, slimy cobbles . . . How many gear changes, how many sudden brake applications, how many moments of “flatout” engine revving in those 70,000 strenuous miles?Twenty-six machines, some of them pukka “works” entries and some of them no more than a reliable means of everyday transport for the private owner! A mixed bag, certainly, yet all possessed of that same vital factor – lOO% dependability. We might pardonably expect the works-prepared machine of famous competition riders to complete their arduous tasks without a falter, but when the non-professional competitor also gains his objective with flying colours it becomes obvious that a motor cycle which will stand up to the punishing conditions imposed in an International Six Days’ Trial will be more than equal to any normal requirements. Nobody in his right mind would embark upon 70,000 miles of rough mountain track at break-neck speeds – but what satisfying reassurance there is in the knowledge that one’s Royal Enfield is fully capable of proving itself more than equal to the freak condition . The most fastidious and exacting owner could scarcely seek greater proof of performance and reliability.