The Classic Dirt Bike Show, sponsored by Hagon Shocks, again proved its value to the classic community as thousands gathered at Telford’s International Centre to peruse the event’s enthralling assortment of attractions.
Words: MICHAEL BARRACLOUGH Photography: LEANNE MANDALL
This year’s Classic Dirt Bike Show, which took place on the weekend of February 20-21, was an especially memorable event for several reasons.
First off, a very impressive array of famous figures from the mud-splattered world of off-road riding turned up to show their support, with Nick Jefferies, Barry Briggs, Eric Boocock, Bill Brown and Sammy Miller (to name but a few) all appearing on stage at one point or another to spin a few yarns about their lives on and off the dirt, or else to engage in conversation with Classic Dirt Bike editor Tim Britton.
A three-way conversation between Bill Brown, Eric Boocock and Barry Briggs on the Sunday was one of the more popular stage-based events, with showgoers forming a large crowd to listen to the three iconic riders talk about their illustrious careers.
The diversity of the machines on display is a tremendous boon to the show, also. Whilst making my rounds I got up close and personal with Italian motorcycles (Bultaco, Maico, Fantic et al), German motorcycles (I spotted a lovely NSU sidecar outfit which I shall elaborate on later), Japanese motorcycles and a wealth of fabulous British motorcycles – though the notion of diversity extends far beyond the dirt bike bracket.
AMC machines were well represented, with one or two Matchless G80 models in scrambles trim cropping up here and there as well as a fascinating AJS 7R scrambler owned by Jan Norman, but it was the simply stunning G50 road racer that stood on the Classic Racer stand that drew the most attention.
The G50, which belongs to the National Motorcycle Museum, was a very well-kept 1962 model and displayed that distinctive café racer styling and eye-catching blood-red finish that really made it stand out amid the ocean of trials and speedway machines.
Talking of speedway, a catch-up with Paul Müller of All-Star Classic Speedway is one thing I always try and squeeze in when attending the Telford show, and he was all too happy to give me the tour of one of his star exhibits – a 1936 Excelsior Mark 1.
A 500cc JAP-engined speedway bike designed by Australian speedway star Max Grosskreutz, the chrome-festooned Excelsior was very successful on the track and has got to be one of the most attractive (it was certainly the shiniest) of all the speedway bikes on display.
Everybody loves a Brough Superior, and there were a couple of stellar examples on display which had tongues lolling.
Possibly the most popular of the Broughs was the 1924 ‘Brooklands racer’, as it was designated.
According to the literature included on the Brough display, the bike’s JAP KTOR engine is the earliest surviving example of such a power unit, and the American-made Schebler AMX racing carburettor actually pre-dates official factory records.
The beautiful Brough Superior was in good company, stood alongside a lovely International Norton in a clear bit of space, which seemed to imbue the pair of motorcycles with a bit more panache.
A wander around the International Centre at midday was enough to confirm that the show remains popular with younger people, as many a father-son combo was spotted moving between the stalls (the latter often with his arms full of mudguards, silencers and other such things) perusing all the various bits and bobs that the vendors had to offer.
This marks the welcomed continuation of a trend that was apparent at last year’s show and one that we fondly hope will continue in future.
It is strange how some motorcycles can create a powerful appeal which is somewhat inexplicable, and that was the case when I came across the NSU sidecar outfit that I alluded to earlier.
A 250cc model from 1955, the NSU is the property of Larry Gartside. I never got the opportunity to speak to Larry during the event, but Dales Motorcycle Club stalwart Henry Gaunt was on hand to provide me with a wealth of information about the intriguing German sidecar outfit.
The four-stroke NSU was assembled so that Larry could compete in the Talmag trial. He used the original engine and frame up to a point (the engine has been faithfully rebuilt by Larry – though he did stretch to a new cam) but he fabricated a new subframe for the NSU, as well as constructing the ‘chair’ himself.
This NSU has received a few modifications it seems, but these are for the sake of practicality as opposed to aesthetics as this classic is built to be used.
It has a larger front wheel than would have come as standard, as well as new forks and gears. Larry started working on this NSU last easter, Henry informs me, and since its completion it has been taken for a few turns at local club trials as well as Talmag.
“It’s all homegrown, and more than okay for club trials,” Henry said as we look over the bikes’s inclined single-cylinder engine.
Larry, who is an ex-motocross rider , also has a 348cc Montesa which he has made a few minor alterations to as well.
It was a close call as to who would scoop that most coveted of accolades, the Best in Show award, but in the end it was Adrian Moss for his fabulous 1964/65 Rickman.
Adrian, who is the managing director of Rickman Motorcycles, was understandably very pleased with his award, and very proud of his Rickman.
He said: “The bike has been rebuilt from scratch over the past two years and has yet to be ridden. Now the project is complete, we expect it will be used in competition by Andy Robertson.”
Adrian had owned the bike for years before thinking of restoring it, and the two-year rebuild has yielded spectacular results. This is not the first time Adrian has won Best in Show at Telford; he scooped the same award in 2011.
The show gradually wound down on Sunday afternoon and the showgoers – many of them still chatting animatedly about bikes they had seen and bits they had purchased – began to float away from the stalls and drift towards the International Centre’s large glass door.
This year’s Telford show was another resounding success and seemed to have been received well by all (“It was a very good show and one that we are happy to be associated with,” said Martin Hagon of Hagon Shocks, who sponsor the event).
The show certainly looks like it is going from strength to strength – here’s hoping that next year’s event will be even more enjoyable.
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