A recent video posted on Facebook suggesting it was in 1953 is clearly taken at an ISDT which after cross referencing the entry list after a suggestion on our Facebook page confirmed it most likely to be 1963. Whilst I have been unable to identify a copy anywhere on YouTube to share it can be seen on our Facebook page.
Yep it’s that time of year again and we start getting excited to see the legendary off-road speed iron that’s been going dusty in a barn or polished in a heated garage come out into the open giving everyone a chance to see delectable examples and wannabe projects of the full history of the off-road motorcycle.
Our Remembrance Sunday article. We always pay respect to those that took part in war and made the ultimate sacrifice when asked. Many of these were keen and active off road motorcyclists who in civilian times were keen competitors in events. With this year being the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war we no longer have those who were there to remind us of the great sacrifices made by even those who survived it.
With 24/7 access to information of where in the most remote corners of the world we can get a map of where we are , we can find out where our friends are and get messages in text audio or visual form from whoever we need speak to its going to be hard to convince the children of tomorrow that people would often wait hours or days to get details of what they were to do next or what might be happening outside their line of site. At War communications has been as important as keeping troops fed and fit.
Photo – Dispatch riders of the Royal engineers on service in the Dardanelles Campaign at Gallipoli against the Turkish Ottomans 1915-16
At an early stage of the development of the motorcycle it was evident it could get from point to point rapidly and getting it over the most difficult of terrains, whilst not easy created competitions that developed skills and and developed machinery that excelled better every year. It was an obvious component that would help in the necessary hand delivery of hand written messages that were necessary to enable military planners deliver their next tactical move. We saw in World War One across all campaign war fields the motorcycle taking a leading role replacing horses to help keep communications moving. The Army initiated the Royal Engineers Signals Service which eventually years later morphed into the Royal Signals Regiment delivering both messages and technology for delivery of messages. In many cases the motorcycle riders were already keen motorcyclists who would be racing in competitions testing the speed and off-road capability of their bikes. In August 1914 the War Department asked Motorcyclists to volunteer with their bikes. Many Owner-riders were recruited and asked to bring their bikes along to help form this new service 400 saw service in 1914.
Photo – WW1 Dispatch rider collecting message
The story of one of these groups of volunteers, with bothers Cecil and Aleck Burney and Oxford undergraduate WHL Watson who joined the British Expeditionary Force is given in the recent book Two Wheels to War by Martin and Nick Shelley (Helion Publishing 2017.
‘British Pathe‘ News newsreel below of the testing of Motorcycles in the Midlands for the British Army
The role of the ‘Dispatch Riders’ became vital to the success of a campaign where their speed, agility and stealth meant they were often less prominent than vehicles or horse riders as well as being able to tackle a wide range of ground conditions. Later companies such as BSA, Royal Enfield and Triumph made machines specifically constructed and modified to serve this purpose and the military motorcycle is a common site even today
‘British Pathe‘ News newsreel below with some more testing of Motorcycles in the Midlands for the British Army
DR’s as they were know had a tough job requiring supreme handling skills whilst also active at the front line they were vulnerable to enemy fire such as snipers. It required resilience and stamina along with navigational skills at any time of the day they are required. Service was often exposed to more treacherous conditions and were paid accordingly higher than an infantryman
Whilst the ISDT was stopped in its tracks when its 2nd edition fell victim to the global conflict in 1914, after the war the Army quickly saw the benefits in rider development with reliability trials and the Army teams were regular entrants to many national and international reliability trials as well as running their own events to test riders ability for speed and self reliance.
‘British Pathe‘ News newsreel below featuring an Army organised reliability trial that was the forerunner of modern army organised events such as the Natterjack Enduro held on Army tank ranges in the South of England
For more information on how the Dispatch Riders help win at war can be found in this article recently published by the British Motorcyclists Federation.
H & H are holding their beloved auction at the National Motorcycle Museum on the 9th December 2017.
A number of worth period pieces for the inter war years can be seen including a BMW R35 from 1939 and a Velocette MOV from 1938 which appears to have had only two owners since new.
photo – NSU OSL 251 Sport 1938 – (HH Auctions)
My attention was however drawn to Lot 33, this delightful German NSU in the above photo and very much a dream ISDT machine of the inter war year German motorbike industry. From Germany there is little detail of its heritage but it clearly could have given a good performance in the ISDT with an estimate of £7500 – 8500 with bidding starting at £3750 I can see it being a popular piece for any off-road heritage collectors
The famous Lampkin dynasty of off-road stars will be known to nearly all readers of this blog, all of them famous far beyond their home in Yorkshire. The family also has connections over the border in Lancashire.
Photo – Graham Lampkin and BSA in 2014 ridden to Lerwick, Shetland and back from Colne Lancashire
Graham Lampkin is one of the less well known Lancashire Lampkins and a regular classic bike long distance trailer and in 2014 undertook a ‘there & back’ ride to Lerwick in Shetland on a favourite BSA to raise funds for Cancer Research.
On 24 May 2016 he is planning to head to Santander in Northern Spain by ferry from Plymouth then will head back home in Colne via the Picos de Europa, Pais Vasco and Rioja then crossing the Pyrenees heading up France to cross the channel in Brittany. As much of the route as he can do will be off surfaced highways. Rather than choosing the soft option of taking along one of those plush BMW or KTM adventure trail bikes, he’s decided to go a bit ‘off-grid’ by taking a 500cc Royal Enfield he rebuilt himself along with Chris Nutter on an ex-WD BSA B40.
This report appeared in the December 1926 issue of ‘Motor Sport‘ of a Sporting and Classification Trial held by the Liverpool M.C in North Wales starting from Chester. This trial shows that the riders by even today’s standards rode for a considerable distance on machines that today many would be surprised to find out how versatile these machines were.
Photo – BSA S26 500cc 4.95Hp 1926 still going and ridden in VMCC Trials similar to the BSA ridden by J B Donaldson 1926
This report of the Hill Cup Trial, a reliability trial organised by the Sale and District MCC was found in the December 1924 issue of ‘Motor Sport‘. There are no images available with this report. The event is quite an epic starting in South Manchester. The ‘Colonial Sections’ were public road where a low speed average was maintained due to frequency of other traffic) A number of riders appear mentioned here also featured in contemporary event reports.
“SALE & DISTRICT MOTOR CYCLE CLUB.
This Club’s Annual Hill Cup Trial was run off recently, in an interesting way, on lines which the Committee of the Club have found to be most generally acceptable to the average member. There were no checks on those portions of the route which ran along good main roads. There were some stiff hills to be observed and some short stretches of colonial section had to be traversed in order to reach them. Checks were instituted over the Colonial Section and hills only. The route led over Helsby Bluff and Glyn Ceiriog, and lunch was taken at Llangollen. After lunch Allt-y-Bady had to be negotiated and the run home from there was comparatively easy.