The mission of SpeedTrackTales is not just to capture as a record the history of the people the bikes and places of the International Six Days Trial. It is also important we learn of, and reflect on the social and cultural conditions of those times that contributed to both the development of the sport of Reliability Trials and its evolution to be renamed Enduro as well as the history of land access and the impact of the modernisation of highways and land management during the era. In many cases the sports happily co-existed with local people going about their own daily business.
The road twists and turns all over the place, and it seemed to be full of country folk shepherding home animals from Corwen market.
For this article reproduces an article written and published in the weekly ‘Motor Cycling‘ 28 November 1934. The article is a test of two models of Triumph the 5/5 and the Twin models for 1935. The test compromised of a tour around North Wales, but in particular it took in the classic roads in regular use by the ISDT and reliability trials of the time such as ‘the Reliance Trial’
Early on Wednesday morning we were skirting Bala Lake and heading for Hirnant Pass, en route for Lake Vyrnwy. The lane we traversed were shockingly surfaced. It was an endless procession of large culverts, cart ruts, slimy mud, rocks and everything else imaginable.
It is clear that by 1934 the area was very familiar to many in the Motorcycle industry as a place to both test Motorcycles and to undertake adventure tours by motorbike. It goes without saying to do this motorbikes were required to be reliable and handle well where road surface conditions were still poor. Places like the Bwlch y Groes, Eunant Pass and the Allt y Badi regularly feature in both test articles and event reports.
Long, gruelling climbs made no difference, either. Taking the Eunant Pass from Lake Vyrnwy,” we climbed another 1,000feet, which brought us out near the top of the famous Bwlch-y-Groes.
The article, coincided with the holding of the annual ‘Reliance Trial’ in the North East Wales area, the report for this event can be found here.
The Article as published
THE idea was Harry Perrey’s: who, by the way, and just in case you have not been introduced to him before(which is very doubtful), is the assistant sales manager of the Triumph Company, Ltd., of Coventry. He wrote to the Editor of Motor Cycling thusly: ” What do you think of the idea of a member of your staff and myself road-testing a couple of our 1935 machines over a really severe route in Wales? In order to do the job thoroughly, I suggest that the testing be spread over a couple of days, if that is agreeable to you?”
The Editor’s reply was,briefly, as follows: “Yes, I like your ‘plot’ – but on one condition, and that is that the machine to be used shall be absolutely standard models, selected at random by Motor Cycling. Will you agree to this proviso?”
Two mornings later, the postman brought along another letter from Coventry, the contents of which made it quite clear that Mr. Perrey had no objections whatsoever to anyone choosing the models. In fact, he welcomed the suggestion, because it would completely rule out any possible shadow of doubt that might arise on the question of the standardisation of the mounts.
So everything was fixed up and, on Tuesday morning of last week, a member of the editorial staff of Motor Cycling reported for duty at the offices of the Triumph works in Coventry, instead of his own in Rosebery Avenue, in London.
His first job of work was to pick out the machines for the trip and, as the mileage to be covered was likely to be pretty high to say nothing of climbing long mountain passes, it was deemed advisable to select two models of as nearly the same performance as possible. His choice fell upon a 500c.c. o.h.v. Model 5/5 and a 650c.c. o.h.v. twin, the Model 6/1.
With the aid of a few rubber bands, the luggage or what there was of it – was soon strapped on; tanks were filled, and in an incredibly short time the models were being “warmed-up” preparatory to starting-off. Meanwhile the registration numbers were painted on.
Harry Perrey got astride the twin and our tester bestrode the Model 5/5, and the first objective was Alt-y-Bady (sic), near Llangollen, where an appointment had been made with one of Motor Cycling’s photographers for 1 p.m.
But let our tester tell the story himself:-
“From Coventry we aimed for Stonebridge, about halfway to Birmingham, and then followed the main, and very straight, road to Holyhead. It was ideal for a little speeding, but as the machines were brand new and consequently on the stiff side, we were quite content to amble along in the thirties and forties for the first 60 miles or so. The weather was cold, but dry, although the roads in many places were streaming wet, and barring one or two stops to warm ourselves up, our journey progressed perfectly smoothly. In my case, the 5/5 definitely improved as the miles increased. Harry said the same of the twin.
“Our photographer was waiting for us at the foot of Alt-y-Bady, which hill, incidentally, was used for the stop and restart test in last Sunday’s open Reliance trial. You will appreciate it, therefore, when I say that for a machine fitted with standard tyres it is a really stiff proposition. The gradient is very severe, the surface, especially on the steepest part, is loose and rough, and it is long into the bargain. On Tuesday the surface was even more treacherous, because it was wet and therefore slippery, yet both machines sailed up with ample power to spare and without the need for any super-jockeying. We did, however, take the precaution of slightly lessening the pressures of both rear tyres.
“My first ascent was, of course, on the 5/5, and I was greatly impressed with the marvellous way it steered on the rough-stuff. It is not always that a machine which steers really well on a main road behaves in exactly the same way on colonial going; but the Triumph did. So far as power is concerned; suffice it to say that I finished the climb with second gear engaged.
“I next tried the twin and, because of the extra power at low revs., the climb, if anything, seemed even more simple. This model also steered admirably and, although its weight is appreciably more than that of the 5/5, it passed unnoticed once the model was underway. In manoeuvring round in the middle of the hill, however, this extra weight naturally made itself felt.
“While the photographs were being taken I stopped and restarted on various parts of the hill, first on one model, then on the other. Not once did the task present the slightest difficulty, thanks largely to the ratchet device fitted to the brake-pedal of each model. This cunning attachment enables one to lock the brakes (they are inter-connected)hard on, and so restart the engine without having to struggle hard to keep the model from running backwards at the same time. No matter how steep the gradient was this scheme never failed to work. To release the ratchet all that is necessary is the application of a little extra pressure on the brake pedal itself.
From Llangollen we moved onto Corwen, a small market town at the foot of the Berwyn Mountains, which we reached just after lighting-up time. Then, taking what is known as the “High-road,” we pushed on to Bala, and more than once we thanked our lucky stars that our Lucas electric lamps threw out nice long beams. The road twists and turns all over the place, and it seemed to be full of country folk shepherding home animals from Corwen market. For the first few miles the brakes and gears worked overtime.
“At Bala we decided to spend the night, which we did at the White Lion Royal Hotel, where we were made very welcome and comfortable
“Early on Wednesday morning we were skirting Bala Lake and heading for Hirnant Pass, en route for Lake Vyrnwy. The lane we traversed were shockingly surfaced. It was an endless procession of large culverts, cart ruts, slimy mud, rocks and everything else imaginable. Harry, leading on the twin and having the advantage of knowing the roads well, set a cracking pace. I did my best to follow suit, and that I succeeded was due more than anything else to the superb way the 5/5 handled.
“As a test of forks and frames, engines and gearboxes, it would be hard to beat, yet both machines carried on for mile after mile with the precision of the proverbial clockwork motor. So far as the machines were concerned, it was obvious that such conditions could be taken as being all in the day’s work.
“Long, gruelling climbs made no difference, either. Taking the Eunant Pass from Lake Vyrnwy,” we climbed another 1,000feet, which brought us out near the top of the famous Bwlch-y-Groes. At the top the engines were as fresh as they were at the bottom, and the whole distance was covered, in my case on the 5/5 anyhow, on the indirect ratios.
“I made several climbs of Bwlch-y-Groes on both the 5/5 and the twin. In each case it was possible to finish the climb in third gear; one’s actual speed was limited mainly by the last sharp lefthand bend near the top. Which is pretty good going after climbing 1,950feet; the average gradient of which is 1 in 4, on practically full-throttle all the way.
“Before leaving Bwlch-y-Groes we decided to carry out some brake tests on the hill itself. The surface, incidentally, was inclined to be loose and rather slippery. What we did was to draw a line across the road, and this was crossed at 28-30 m.p.h. from a rolling start in neutral, farther up the hill. Immediately the line was reached the brakes were applied.
“Using the foot-brake only, the twin stopped in 54 feet. With the front brake lever also brought into operation the distance was 35 feet. On the 5/5, the figures were 49 feet and 37 feet respectively.
Following a spot of lunch at Dinas Mawddwy, which is near the foot of Bwlch-y-Groes, some speeds were clocked over a quarter-mile. On its 4.6 to 1 top gear the twin registered a mean speed of 78.1 m.p.h., equivalent to 4,650 r.p.m. On third gear (5.7 to 1) the mean speed was 65.3 m.p.h. (4,700r.p.m.).
“The 5/5 was slightly faster in each case. On top (4.8 to 1) the mean speed was 81.2 m.p.h. (5,050 r.p.m.); and on third (6.0 to 1) the speed worked out, at 68.2 m.p.h.(5,300r.p.m.).
“Since Bwlch-y-Groes I had been riding the twin and,in fact, I continued to do so until we reached Coventry again. This we did via Welshpool, Shrewsbury, Wellington and Shifnal, the majority of the journey being done after dark.
“I have already said that the twin handles as well on
rough going as the 5/5. The same applies to main roads. In fact, for high speed work over hilly and twisty roads I definitely preferred it on account of its amazing top gear performance. On gradients and corners where Harry had to change down to third, and even second, on the 5/5, the twin still continued to purr merrily along on top without a trace of snatch in the transmission. In fact, it is quite safe to say that, except in out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, the twin is absolutely a top-gear performer as a solo. The power development at low revs. is really astonishing.
The Final Check
“It also possesses ample acceleration in top, a feature that is overlooked at first, because of the smooth running and mechanical silence of the power-unit. For several long stretches at a time, Harry motored as fast as conditions would permit on the 5/5. The twin followed with the greatest of ease the whole time and with never a change of gear.
“On reaching Coventry the petrol consumptions were carefully checked over and worked out at 81 m.p.g. for the twin and 86 m.p.g. for the 5/5. These figures, remember, embrace every type of going the average motorcyclist is likely to negotiate.
“It merely remains to be said that the only adjustments made throughout the two days were to the brakes, after the linings had bedded down, and to the clutch cable on the 5/5, which was rather too slack. Both models came through the arduous test with flying colours. What more need be said?
Brief Specification of the Model 5/5 500c.c. o.h.v. Triumph
Engine: Triumph two-port: 84mm. bore by 89mm. stroke = 493c.c.: over-head valves with enclosed push-rods and oil feed to inlet; Triumph dry sump lubrication operated by double plunger pump, incorporating tell·tale on fuel tank, and five-pint oil tank on seat tube; Amal down-draught carburettor operated by twist-grip; Lucas 6-v. Magdyno with instrument panel on tank.
Gearbox: Triumph, four-speeds operated by positive-stop foot control. Ratios: 4.8, 6.0, 8.7 and13.3 to 1; handle-bar-operated clutch.
Transmission: Primary chain enclosed in aluminium oil-bath case; rear chain with steel guard.
Frame: Duplex cradle type constructed from heavy-guage tubing.
Forks: Taper-tube construction, with single compression spring: hand operated friction dampers and steering damper.
Brakes: Eight-inch interconnected brakes with cooling fins.
WheeIs: Fitted with 26·in. by 3.25-in. Dunlop tyres (competition type optional).
Tanks: 2 3/4.-gallon fuel tank; five-pint oil tank; large knee-grips on fuel tank.
Saddle: Lycett spring seat.
Exhaust Pipes: Downswept or upswept optional.
Finish: Usual bright parts chromium plated; plum panels to tank; rims chrome and plum.
Price: £66 complete with lights.
Brief Specification of the Model 6/1 twin o.h.v. Triumph
Engine: Triumph: 70mm. bore by 84mm. stroke : side-by-side twin with push-rod operated valves and single exhaust ports: dry-sump lubrication with tell·tale on fuel tank: main oil supply in four-pint sump; auxiliary one-pint tank at rear of engine: Amal carburettor; Lucas Magdyno, gear driven from timing case.
Gearbox: Triumph, four-speed hand-operated. Ratios: 4.6, 5.7, 8.5 and11.6 to 1; multi plate clutch.
Transmission: By two double-helical gear wheels with shock absorber; oil-bath lubrication.
Frame: Duplex cradle frame.
Forks: Single compression spring. and heavy-guage taper-tubes: hand operated friction dampers and steering damper.
Brakes: Eight-inch interconnected ribbed for cooling.
WheeIs: Fitted with 26·in. by 3.25-in. Dunlop tyres. Chromium plated rims with black centre.
Tanks: Fuel three gallons; auxiliary oil tank, one-pint oil tank.
Saddle: Lycett spring seat (with back rest)
Finish: Black and chromium plated; chromium plated rims. Centre strip on mud guards chromium plated.
Price: £77 complete with lights.
This feature includes material reproduced from ‘Motor Cycling’ issue of 28 November 1934 which is being used here with the consent of Mortons Media Group of Horncastle who hold the publishing rights for the archive of ‘Motor Cycle’ and ‘Motor Cycling’ Publications and from whom consent should be obtained before any reuse is made of this material to obtain their consent.