Women who mattered: LOUIE McCLEAN

Everybody’s favourite and a wonderful rider, Mrs Louie McLean is no longer with us.

When the trials rider who rose to prominence as Louie Ball died in 1932, Motor Cycling noted: “Everybody’s favourite and a wonderful rider, Mrs Louie McLean is no longer with us. It is the sad duty of Cyclops to record her passing.”

And Motor Cycling’s correspondent Cyclops did so, in a column full of praise for a remarkable motorcycling lady.

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As 15-year-old Louie Ball, she was the subject of a decent sized article in The Motor Cycle of July 1, 1915, by which time she was working in her father’s bicycle shop in Birmingham.

Mr Ball was also an agent for Scott motorcycles and young Louie was pictured riding a Scott, with two of her siblings in the sidecar, and it was also explained her father and she would ride to Shipley to collect a new Scott.

The publicity generated by the article for the Ball family business (which also made its own bicycle, the ‘Speedy’) must have been phenomenal.

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Adept at tuning and repairing motorcycles, come the end of the First World War and the resumption of competition, Louie was there, an early important event being the first ACU Stock Machine Trial, campaigning a two-speed Scott.

Her family training clearly had paid dividends and before long she was signed up for the Greet, Birmingham, based James concern, its neat 500cc V-twins proving much to her liking.

Her star was much in the ascendancy and in the 1925 International Six Days Trial (ISDT), held in Wales, the west country and then Brooklands, she was one of only nine riders to finish with a clean score card, and in 1926 she was duly recruited by BSA for its works team – which was also the employer of one George McLean, who was a fellow factory rider.

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Soon Louie was Mrs McLean; indeed, the newlyweds’ honeymoon was spent at the 1926 ISDT, where she was part of the all-female vase team, with Marjorie Cottle (Raleigh) and Edyth Foley (Triumph).

Read more in the August 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!

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