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Ivan Mauger's Famous Bikes

 
The following bike pics are shown with Ivan's permission.  They are part of the "Ivan Mauger Australian Museum", which you can visit here www.ivanmauger.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Steve Magro says: The pic of Jim Airey's bike which at the time was owned by Ivan Mauger, says Jim won the 1973 Australian Championship. This is in fact false, as John Boulger won it that year. However, Jim Airey did win the 1973 NSW Championship in 1973, I assume on that bike. It was the night Jim retired and the venue was the Sydney Showground. Geoff Curtis was also killed in that same event.
 
 
Ivan Mauger says: Gordon and Jim rode for Mike Parker at Sunderland in 1964,when that closed they rode for Mike at Wolverhampton. Jim later rode for Sheffield and Gordon at Poole. Both rode at Brough Park several times each season. Gordon was killed in 1970 at Liverpool near Sydney.
 
Ivan Mauger Works Weslake Rider
 

Ivan's Weslakes

 
Ivan's great talent meant he was in constant demand for all manner of things.  During 1981-1984  Ivan was a "Weslake Works Rider". He had 6 machines like the one shown below.  Britain's best bike of that era, ridden by the worlds best ever rider.  What happened to the great British marque? Do you know why Weslake went to the wall?  John
 
Courtesy of Ivan Mauger "One of my Weslakes"
 

One of Ivans 1982 Weslakes

 

Courtesy of Ivan Mauger

 

John says: Thank you Ivan for sending me these bike pictures. The Weslake briefly rivalled the JAP as British machinery at it's best

 
Ivan, in action on a Weslake
 

Courtesy of Ivan Mauger

 
Ivan says: This action photo is of Larry Ross and me leading Kai Niemi and Olli Tyrvainen at the Semi final of the World Pairs at Vojens on 6th June 1982.
Cheers, Ivan
What a great looking surface for racing on.  Top marks to Vojens. Ivan's Works Wessy leading the way.
 

 

Rudge

 
The Coventry-based Rudge Whitworth Cycles company was founded by George Woodcock in 1894, after a merger between the Whitworth Cycle Company and D. Rudge & Co. bicycles of Coventry. D. Rudge & Co. was the result of a merger between the Tangent & Coventry Tricycle Company and Rudge Cycles, which was founded in 1870 by Daniel Rudge (1841—1880).
Rudge Whitworth produced high-wheel (penny farthing) bicycles, notably the 'Rudge High,' and safety bicycles until 1909, when the company entered the burgeoning motorcycle market. Daniel Rudge's company retained its value long after his death, due primarily to his invention of the adjustable ball-bearing (patent #526).
 
So with Rudge we have a bicycle pedigree and from 1911 a manufacturer of early motor bikes. The Rudge 'Ulster' was introduced in 1929, and was one of the company's most famous models. The Ulster was named after Ulster Grand Prix winner Graham Walker who won with an average speed of over 80 mph. The following year the company also introduced two models using J.A. Prestwich (J.A.P.) engines; a 250 cc model and a parallel 4-valve 350 cc model.
 
Courtesy of The World of Motorcycles
 
A Rudge frame with a 500cc JAP engine
 
Rudge Engine
 

Courtesy Les Medland

 
Les Medland says: Hi John. This Engine has the wrong Cylinder Head fitted but I thought it maybe of interest to you. I bought it in the mid 1960s in Plymouth from a Chap called Vic Skinner. (any relation) He used it to Sidecar D/Track race with his brother. It's a 1930/31 Works Long Stroke Rudge Dirt Track 500 Engine. Les Medland.
John Skinner says:  Wouldn't it be great if I could say Vic Skinner was my uncle!  Sadly he is not!  What a pity Rudge could not keep the ball rolling after the early 1930s with investment in speedway.
 

 

Dutch Museum

 

Courtesy of Koos Meijer

 
Koos Meijer says: - I send you a picture from the engines ot the Speedway-Grasstrack-Museum-Holland. The museum has a collection of 33 different engines and 15 compleet bikes. Bikes and engines with a lot of history. Big names have done donations, like Erik Gundersen, Ivan Mauger, Egon Muller, Peter Collins, Hans Nielsen and more. The museum is in the north of Holland near the German border.  The place is called Winschoten. Full adress is:
Speedway-Grasstrack-Museum-Holland
M.J.van Olmstraat 35
9672 AE Winschoten
0031-652637994
 

 
Reg Fearman's Gear ratio chart 1948
 
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
 

Reg's Gear ratio chart as used by him in 1948.  Is the info useable with today's machines?  Riding the tracks has always been a balance between the skill of the rider and the technicalities of set ups of the machines.  The best riders possessed mechanical know how or employed someone who did the business with the bikes for the rider.

 
Bob Andrews says: From memory I think Reg must be about right? 8.95 on a JAP. To get it, you divide the teeth of the front sprocket into the teeth on the clutch. Then divide the sprocket behind the clutch into the back sprocket. Then multiply the two answers together. So 20t on front into 40t, on clutch is 2.15t clutch into 60t.back is 4. Multiply 2X4 is 8.00.  (But clutches were 44t.) But I suppose you already knew that.?? Bob
Nah I know nothing! but I am impressed that setting up a bike is left to a rider/mechanic who may change the set up before a riders next race.
Giffy says: Hi John, if the memory serves me right at Brough we pulled a gear ratio of  8.8 to 1 on the JAPS and 9.3 to 1 on the two valve Jawa,  regards old mate,   giffy
Rob Best says: I have just asked Clarkie (Roy Clarke) what they are running this year (2009) at Brough and its 62 as its so slick.
 
So where does this get us?  I can hear the yawns from my websites browsers who are not into teeth on sprockets etc even if I am interested in it
 

 
Sprouts 1970 Jawa
 

Courtesy of Dave Gifford

 
Dave Gifford says: This is the bike that "Sprouts" (Ivan Mauger), rode in the US in 1970, a two speed two valve Jawa. The bike was owned by Dan Cotterman and tarted up by George Wenn for Ivan to use. The inscription on the tank reads, Ivan Mauger, World Champion, 1970.     Giffy
John says: Hi Giffy, Not many 2 speed speedway bikes around.  I presume the low gear was used for starts and the bike ran the rest of the 4 laps in the higher gear?
 
Cary Cotterman says: I was looking at various speedway websites and happened to run across a photo I took (passed on to you by Dave Gifford) on your site of the 2-speed Jawa Ivan Mauger rode in the U.S. in 1970 (with the orange fuel tank that has 'Ivan Mauger, World Champion, 1970' written on it).
Your question after Giffy's description asks how the two speeds were used.  
 
Cary Cotterman  continues: On speedway tracks up to normal size (400 meters or shorter), only the second (higher) gear was used, and the bike was just left in that gear all the time and ridden just like a single-gear bike. On long tracks (like the 800-meter Ascot Park near Los Angeles), sometimes the lower gear was used to start, then the bike was shifted into the high gear for the remainder of the race.  
This particular bike was a 1969 model, bought new by my dad, Dan Cotterman, for $900.00. George Wenn indeed 'tarted it up' with his tuning expertise, and the custom paint job was by Molly. After Mauger was finished with it, I bought it from my dad, rode it during the 1971 season in California (mostly disastrously), and sold it in 1972. I don't know what ever happened to it after that.
Cary Cotterman says: Great website! Love the photos of all the speedway machines!
 
Cary Cotterman
Redlands, California
USA
 
John says: Hi Cary, thank you for the info.  I am delighted that you enjoyed browsing the website.  I love the old bikes pages too.
 
The USAs Cary Cotterman Section
 

Cary's unusual 1955 JAP! Testing John's Knowledge

 
 

John says: The cylinder barrel looks shorter than a normal 50's JAP and I love the big airfilter not seen on JAPS to my knowledge

 
 

John says: This shot does not look like a JAP at all, The cylinder is very short, but what is it?

 
 

John says: It's definitely not a Jawa/Eso their barrels are squarer, and we are told it is a JAP?

 
 
John says: Now from this angle I would say it's a JAP, but the photos from the other side baffle me.  It looks like two different bikes to me!
 
Cary says: Hi John,  I found some negatives of that JAP I was telling you about with the unusual cylinder, and scanned them (his 4 attachments are shown above). Unfortunately they are not very good quality, but I think you can see enough. If you look closely at the cylinder barrel, you can see it's not a stock JAP type. Have you ever seen one like it? I don't think it's a one-off that some fellow made in his garage, because like I mentioned before, I saw another one like it in a photo of Jimmy Gooch from the early '70s.
 
I bought this JAP for $500.00 USD in 1970 from a guy who told me it was a 1955. I don't know the engine serial number, so I have no way of verifying its age. I guess that's a Rotrax frame and forks, although I don't think the rear mudguard is the proper original one. As a novice I found this machine to be a monster to control and I soon replaced it with that ex-Mauger Jawa you have a photo of on your site, which was easier to ride. The JAP was beautiful to hear, though!
 
Cheers, Cary Cotterman
 

John says: Hi Cary,  Whatever this bike is, it is beautiful none the less.  We talk of long stroke Japs maybe this was a short stroke model?  I will ask around John
Suggestions please!

My friend Terry Stone from down south says: "On viewing your JAP on defunct speedway I think the barrel on the engine.  It may be a COOPER CAR barrel. Hope this is correct. If you have had any other comments on this do let us know".
John says: any further comments will be shown on this webpage
Dave Gifford says: Hi John mate. hope all is well with you and things are getting warmer. re the JAP, it just looks like a normal 4 stud motor with a home made cylinder barrel to me. I don't think the stroke has been altered judging by the gap between the inlet rocker cover and the frame. It was a simple job to make a barrel either from a casting or a solid billet. That's my guess for what it's worth.   take care,   giffy
Bob Andrews says: Hi John. Well it's not a Rotrax frame, The Motor has a short barrel on it. Ronnie Moore had a shortened JAP that he took over to England in about 1968 that was given to George Greenwood and they made a short JAP copy of it to sell. It "revved" a lot. It was to try and match the E.S.O. ( Jawa) But it never caught on. So some one has put a shorter Con Rod in this motor and was a little earlier than Ronnie's Hope that helps. Regards Bob. In the Ronnie Moore Book by Rod Dew. the first chapter ( I think) Tells of Ronnie winning the N.Z. Champs at Palmerston North, and in the race against me.( I got second) Rod writes that Ronnie was on an "old" 1947 JAP and beat me and that I had the latest equipment. But I also had a 1947 motor. as they were the year when they very best.  Flywheels were made and that gave them their speed. But Ronnie's bike had the short rod and had been worked on by the speed gurus in Christchurch and he had a far superior bike. But of course it made great reading and Ronnie was the hero in the story.
Jim Henry says: Is it a 350cc JAP? JAP's of this capacity were built for grass track racing.  
Pete Gay has sent this picture (below) and says:  Hi John think the cylinder is off a Cooper JAP, (2nd vote for the Cooper)
 
 

John says: It is very likely that Terry and Pete are correct, unless of course you know better, if so send me an email John

 
Cary Cotterman, the past owner of the "unusual" Jap has read the above suggestions and has this to say about his unusual JAP:
 
Cary says: Well, John, since I emailed you a short while ago I've done some research based on the idea that the cylinder barrel on that JAP might have been like one used in a Cooper racing car. If you go to www.500race.org/marques/JAP.htm and scroll down a short way, there's an old advertisement on the right side for a JAP 'Type 6 500cc car racing engine', which I have attached to this email. The barrel in the photo is rounded and has ten cooling fins with polished edges, exactly like the one on my JAP bike. The advert even says the barrel was alloy, which was also the same as the one on the bike.I feel on the verge of concluding that someone replaced the stock barrel on the bike with one from a Type 6 car racing engine (or, even more bizarre, perhaps the entire engine in the bike is one of the car racing engines?).  
Best,
Cary

John says: Hi Cary, Thanks for this very interesting section.  I think that we have identified, via the website, your old bikes engine. It was a "Cooper JAP",  How did it go by the way. Could it keep up with the conventional bikes of the day. and do you have any data about how it performed in a car?  I presume the cars would have used gearboxes with the engine
John

Cary says: Hello John,
As to your question, 'how did it go', I can only reply that I was a mere novice rider with very limited ability and I had only ever ridden one other JAP, very briefly, so I don't have much of a foundation for judging. It seemed to me to have a lot of power, but that sensation could be attributed largely to my lack of experience. As I mentioned before, it was much more difficult to ride than the 2-valve Jawa I switched to.  Cary  
 

Pete Gay says:  HI John just had another look at the first photo and I think the engine my have come out of a Cooper, if you look at the Mag cover the hole and mounting bolts are there for the rev counter cable.

 
 
 
500cc Jap engine fitted in the Cooper.
Pete Gay says: It was the start of the Cooper race cars , then Mini Cooper S and today we have the BMW Cooper.
John says: British engineering was so good in the first half on the 20th century.  A link between JAP and Cooper is very interesting.  I am a little bit unsure that a 500cc car class was worth the effort? but doesn't the little car look good?
 

 

1960's Rotrax Jap

 
Now! regular visitors to my websites will know that I am a fan of Rotrax JAPs.
 
 
There are plenty of examples of Rotrax JAPs like this one from an age when chrome plating was the preferred finish for steel.  The chromed British JAPs were beautiful for us petrol heads!  Modern speedway bikes just don't measure up to the JAPs to look at.  Also the long cylinder upright engines have the edge over lay downs.  Sadly engineering has progressed over the years and the older technology had to give way to the modern machines which just don't look as good, they do however perform much better than the chromed dinosaurs of the 1950s and 1960s.
I am a fan of the JAP and the ESO/Jawa that replaced it.  The upright Czech bikes also looked good compared to the modern laydowns.
 

 

Giffy's Restoration

 
 
 
 
 

The Blue Jawas are courtesy of ace restorer Dave Gifford

 

 
Speedway Engines from Alf Busk a Danish Collector
 
 
Below: 2 pictures from Denmark the sender is building a Godden drag bike for the drag race series over there.  In the course of the e-mails he sent me a photo from a friend of his who has a collection of speedway engines on the wall of his garage (see above).  
Jan Staechmann says: Hi John,  The picture you have from Denmark, with a collection of engines on the wall, is my friend Alf Busk’s collection, who used to ride for a.o. Coventry. Great website John Cheers Jan
Thanks for the assistance  Jan, John
 
The Hybrid Engine
 
 
A picture from Denmark showing a Jawa crank, barrel, and head grafted to a Royal Enfield crankcase.  This is run in some sort of drag racing "street" class over there. 
 

 
Jack Winstanley's LFS (Louis Foster Special)
 

Courtesy of George Winstanley

 
Jack rode for Newcastle 1948 and again in the early 1960s.  He could turn his hand to anything and his son George has sent me the image of Jacks Sand Racer shown above.
 
Jacks son, George Winstanley
 

Courtesy of George Winstanley

 
George Winstanley says: Here's a pic of me aged 13/14 on my 150cc Villiers grass bike. I was a member of the Lancashire grass track junior riders club.
John says: Young George astride a Villiers-engined grass-track bike.  I had a Villiers engined James Captain when I was 16 in 1968 with the same flywheel magneto engine.  Villiers and Jap were the UK's independent premier engine makers and the two companies joined forces but couldn't stave off the Honda led Japanese invasion in the late 1960's.
 

 
Godden NZ Longtrack Winning Bike
 

Courtesy of John Abel

 

Ivan Mauger and son Kym's Aussie/NZ Han Zeirk Godden Antig. Kym won the New Zealand Long Track Championship on this bike.

 

 
1976 World Championship Winning Long track Bike
 

Courtesy of John Abel

 

1976 World Championship Long track Bike -First 4 Valve Jawa Engine to be raced and win on debut. Eng No 001.[Background light spoilt this photo a bit.]

 

 

Ivan's Gold Bike at home after restoration.

 

Courtesy of John Abel

 
Ivan Mauger says Hello again John: Re the other photos that John Able has sent to you. John was David Bargh's mechanic all the time Barghy was at Newcastle. John now helps me restore a lot of my Bikes and as you can see he does a great job. He done most of my 1976 Long Track bike and tidied up my Gold bike before I put them in the Christchurch Museum in Sept 2007
Hope this helps
Yes it helps, thanks Ivan (and John Able).  I am really pleased about the help you are giving me with the websites.  I am amazed Ivan that it is 51 years ago that you started riding at Newcastle way back in 1963 and I was there watching you ride.
 

 
Some 1930s Bikes
 

1930's Bike possibly a Rudge

 
 

1930's maybe a Douglas

 
 
1930s Scott
 
 
This bike was quite technologically advanced for the time, it was a 500cc water cooled two stroke.  Two stroke engines make a completely different noise to the more common 4 stroke speedway bikes they are a lot louder.
 
Possibly a Rudge?
 
 
I think this is a Rudge but maybe it isn't? The pic is not very clear.  If you can supply info on these 4 bikes I would be pleased to hear from you John
 

 
Rudge/JAP
 
 

Photo taken at the Primer Nationals, The frame appears to be half Rudge with a newer swinging arm fitted? Also the wheels look odd but it is still a fine looking bike.

 

 

1974 Jawa 890

 
 

Pictures of this Jawa, courtesy of Geir Overby

 
Norwegian Geir Overby has restored this Jawa 890.  The engine dates from 1974 and the frame 1968-74 it is beautiful to look at.  Well done Geir.
 

 

Weslake Land Speed Record

 
 
Bill Anderson says: I moved home to California and started racing my converted speedway Weslake at El Mirage dry lake.  I run it on race gas (petrol) VP C12.  It holds the record there at 129.817mph.  Which brings me to a question.  I don't know the year of the motor.  Its not really important but I'm curious.  Is there anywhere that I could find records of Weslake motors?
Many thanks for setting up such a wonderful site.
Bill Anderson
John says: If anyone can help Bill send me an email John
 

Weslake Land Speed Record Sidecar Racer

 

Photo Courtesy of Bill Anderson the owner of this Weslake

 
Bill says: The Weslake engine I'm using in the Norton (see bike with number 592) has proved so reliable not to mention fast I've been building a sidecar for land speed racing.  Its a later pushrod engine.  I had it in the Norton to check it out and it ran 125mph at El Mirage.  Plus several other runs all over 120mph.  Again I just thought I'd throw it in for a laugh.  I was at a speedway shop in Garden Grove on Thursday last to get some castor.  He had a nice collection of speedway machines.  One that caught my eye ws a 1930 Rudge 4 valve speedway machine.  I had never seen one before.  I am planning a return trip to have a closer look.  I had the Weslake sidecar to Bonneville a couple of weeks ago and had a wonderful time.  The Weslake ran a best time of 125.715 mph (202.3 Km/h).  A first for it!  It also raised the gas record from 98 mph to 119.668 mph and the fuel record from 101 mph to 117.168 mph.  And best of all nothing broke!
 
 

If anyone else is using an ex speedway engine for another purpose, please email me John   Bill has been in touch again about his drag bike, he has sent the two pictures shown below.

 
 
 
Bill Anderson says: I finally got the sidecar out for the SCTA El Mirage dry lake meet in June.   It failed scrutiny in May.  So changes were made.  Its been out for the June, July and Sept. meets.  The Sept meet was very good.  It picked up its skirt and ran to the tune of 122.240 mph (197 km/h if you are metric).  There is about 15 mph left in it.  Maybe by the end of the year it will do it.  You have to love speedway singles!
John says: Thanks Bill for the photos.  Looking at the above pic I note that you lie down on the job! 
 

 

Weslake Engine For Sale

 
 

Weslake engine for sale ex Anders Michanek. email Tommy for details

 

 

Old Frame in Republic of Ireland

 

Courtesy of Bill Anderson

 
Bill Anderson says: Hello John, I stumbled across this old photo I took when living in Dun Laoghaire many years ago.  Since "discovering" your site it was rattling around in my head.  I know it's an ancient speedway frame.  The front wheel is not part of it (obviously!).  It came out of the basement of a house in Mount St., Dublin in the early 70s.  The house was to be demolished so I "rescued" it rather than see it go to the dump.  I can't remember what I did with it.  I think I gave it to a friend when I left Ireland and I think he still has it.  I must give him a shout and find out.  Just thought you might like to have it for your files.
Bill
Hi Bill I think the frame is a 1940's Jap? some riders used a grasstrack front wheel hence the brakedrum.  I can remember Newcastle rider Russ Dent using a front wheel like this one and that was in the 1960's so maybe the frame is 40's but the front wheel is later.  If your friend still has the bike ask him to take a few more pictures.
John
 

 

Vintage Bike Auction

 
Cheffins Auctioneers say: Dear Sir, I thought you may be interested to learn that Cheffins Auctioneers have consigned a number of machines and spares from the estate of the late Sid King and amongst other things will be auctioning on the 18th October 2008 a 1928 Dirt Track Douglas plus another dismantled (restored parts ready for re-assembly), a c1930Rudge 4 valve speedway machine, c1932 Commerford JAP speedway machine and a c1935 Martin JAP speedway machine, there are also a quantity of JAP engines.
Sid King was not a rider but seems to have been fairly well known in the VMCC and restoration circles, he restored a number of Brooklands machines as well as early Dirt Track and Speedway. I understand he worked for Vic Martin (as per the bike) in 1949-50 which is where the passion for all things JAP came from.
Jeremy V P Curzon MNAVA
Cheffins Auctioneers
Clifton House
1 & 2 Clifton Road
Cambridge CB1 7EA
01223 213777
 
There are 5 bikes for sale as at 5th September 2008 pictures follow below:
 
Lot # 1  1932 Comerford Jap
 
 
 

Lot # 2  1928 Douglas DT

 
 
 

Lot # 3  Douglas in Pieces

 
 

Lot # 4  1935 Martin Jap

 
 
 

Lot # 5  1930 Rudge

 
 
 
My thanks to the Auctioneers for sending me the images
 

 
 JAPs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
ESOs
 
 
 
1966 Eso Speedway. Czechoslovakian built.  The bike that signalled the end for the British Jap.  The Eso (Czech word meaning Ace) wasn't any faster than the Jap but it needed less work to maintain and could do more meetings between rebuilds.  The Eso firm later amalgamated with Jawa and the Eso name was lost in favour of Jawa.  The early Jawa /Eso 890 continued to dominate for most of the 1970's.  Engine conversions such as Neil Streets 4 valve head became well known amongst riders wanting extra power. 
 
 
 

A trademark of the Eso was the two-piececlippon handlebarson handlebars

 

1967 Eso Ice Racer

 
 
 

 
The Godden 
 
 
 

1981 Godden Mk2  If you have any photographs or stories about the Godden please scan and email to me John

 
 
 

 

WeslakeWeslake

 
 
 

1976 Weslake

 
 
 

Weslake, a small British company, took on the mighty Jawa corporation in the mid 1970's and for a few years their bikesvieddsuccessfully with the Czech's although byalthough by 1983 Weslake had more or less had it's day.  If you know why the Wessie disappeared please let me know John

 

 
JAWA 
 
 
 
Jawa makes a point of outliving its opponents.  British companies, JAP, Godden and Weslake were all seen off by the Czech Republic bikes from the JAWA works.  Currently in 2014 we have Jawa and GM.  What price JAWA sees off the Italian GM company too?
 

 
Norwegian Geir Øverby's JAWA Bike 
 

Here is an resturatoinobjekt from Norway. It is an 1968 Jawa 890, 2 valves.  Regards Geir Øverby, Kongsvinger

 
 
 
 The 1979 Jawa 894 4 valve
 
Hi Geir, your bike looks amazing.  It is far better to look at than the modern laydowns 
 

 
 
 
BSA were an armaments maker (BSA = Birmingham Small Arms) who in the 1900s turned their resources to motorcycle manufacturing.  Over the years BSAs have appeared on speedway tracks albeit largely unsuccessfully
 
 
 
The "poor mans speedway bike" James Carnie aboard a dirt track BSA complete with back stand and what appears to be the rear brake drum.  The rules of the day said brakes must be made inoperative, so if it was a brake drum it would have been disconnected. 
 
 
 

A different BSA model with a shorter stroke engine and a lower frame

 
1929 BSA Sloper 
 
 
 
This Beesa had a forward tilted cylinder.  Did the BSA engineer who designed this have a premonition of Laydowns in 21st century! 
 
BSAs Final Attempt 
 
 
 
BSA's Last effort as far as speedway was concerned.  We think this bike was c1970.  Did you own one?  Do you know of anyone who raced one?  Send me an email if you can help John 
Jim Henry says: Alan Graham raced a BSA in the 70s. His machine, fully restored with a North frame is in Scotland. 
John says: If anyone can take a picture of it I will put it on this webpage John 
Terry Stone says: This bike may have been ridden by Bill Landells who rode for Edinburgh or Berwick. 
 Dan Nichols says: I found your speedway page on the Internet. You asked for info about the BSA project of the 70s.  My understanding is that it was first put into the hands of Nigel Boocock, riding for Coventry at the time. It was found to be hard to ride (The story goes that BSA looked at the mild steel and prayer of a Jawa frame, threw up their hands all horrified and made one out of Proper Steel. It didn't work.), and ended up falling into the hands of Alan Grahame of Birmingham, then I think his brother Andy. What happened to it after their time with it, I don't know. 
 
John says: And so BSA had a go on a couple of occasions but their bikes did not turn the heads of the speedway racing fraternity.  A shame as a good BSA speedway bike might have saved Birmingham Small Arms from closing down?
 

 

Matchless

 
Another British bike marque that dabbled in speedway bike making. 
 
 
 
 
 
Top English rider Nigel Boocock experimented with the Matchless in 1965.  Has anyone any photographs or do you know why it wasn't a success  John 
Tony Webb says: -
Jack Emmott      Tuner and  MATCHMAKER builder
Jack Emmott was well known for his connections with developing a Matchless engine for speedway and the production of his Matchmaker frames, his life was closely weaved around road racing, grass track and speedway. In fact it was rare for an engineer to be associated with the completely different disciples of road racing and speedway as there are very few similarities. Road racing was his first love but later he switched almost entirely to building frames and tuning engines for speedway and grass track.
 
 
Jack spent most of his working life in London, but he was a West Yorkshire man by birth, born in  Keighley in 1924. He served with the Royal  Engineers in Scotland where he met his wife. They moved south to work for Lord and Lady Bray. They then moved to Godalming in Surrey where Jack started in the motorcycle trade working for a local dealer Graham Brown. Australian road racer Bob Brown loaned Jack the funds to buy a house in London. Bob was later killed in a road racing accident while practising for the 1960 German Grand Prix in Stuttgart. Jack had a strong connection with road racing and had many lasting friendships with road racers. The well known Australian Kel Curruthers, who was 1969 250cc World champion,  stayed at the Emmott's while racing in the UK. 
 
The area of London where Jack lived was known as Little Australia due to the number of road racing and speedway riders in residence there. Sydneysider, the late Geoff Curtis and Australian test star Ray Cresp, road racers John Dodds and Mike Duff and scramblers Roy East and Jack Pringle were all residents of Little Oz. 
 
An opportunity arose at  Associated  Motorcycles Company at Plumstead road  Woolwich in the race shop , a chance that Jack grabbed with both hands. It was there he developed the Matchless G85 CS for speedway with the help of Nigel Boocock and Malcolm Simmons and also worked on the AJS 7R and the Porcupine.  The  G85 CS was developed from the standard G85 series engine that could be obtained off the shelve from the AMC Woolwich factory.  Jack’s modifications were intended for grass track and speedway but could also be suitable for Moto cross. The standard cast piston was replaced with a lighter forge piston more suitable for high compression. Machining 0.25" off the cylinder base and using plates ratios of 11-14.5 to 1 were obtained. A floating engine sprocket carrier eliminated primary chain mis-alignment. Under testing the OHV rocker assembly was found to stress, this was solved by modifying the camshaft, which did not increase power but it did eliminate valve float and enabled the use of a lighter valve spring, which in turn benefited acceleration.   
 
Another modification was the magneto mountings which were located directly on the rear of the timing case, the engine could then be removed without disturbing the magneto and timing, the general specification was 497 cc [86mm x 85.5], 50 b h p on methanol, alloy cylinder head and piston. After a few years with AMC  he joined Swan Vesta, the match making company, as an engineer and that is where the name Matchmaker was born for his grass and speedway frames.  Jack went into business on his own after leaving Swan Vesta, he gained a reputation as an excellent tuner and a innovative frame builder. 
 
The Matchmaker frame found its way to all parts of the world. Argentinean rider George Kisling came to London to collect one, and Australians Jim Ryman and Roy East both took Matchless engines back to Sydney around 1970. However Matchless engines were a popular choice for short circuit racing in Australia from the early sixties. A program I have for a short circuit meeting at Arthur Park in Brisbane shows 5 Matchless mounted riders including Bob Sharpe, the late Lex Fielding, George Chadwick, Les McKenna and Matt Niblock. Jacks son Neil recalls the existence of a log of all the engines and frames that were sold and is trying to track it down. There were other products that Jack pioneered including a solid  clutch  plate to replace the metal plates with a fibre insert which were used in the AMC clutch. 
 
Jack also designed a speedway type forks with grass track type rubber band suspension that were trialled by Australian  Ray Cresp and Kiwi Graeme Smith and found to be very suitable for the rough tracks , that were shared with stock cars  in the early days of the provincial league Jack was the official machine examiner at West Ham speedway 1964-65, where he gained the respect of the riders for his fairness and his mechanical knowledge. The stars at West Ham at the time were  Olle Nygren, Ken McKinlay and Malcolm Simmons. Former Canterbury/Crayford speedway  and grasstrack/longtrack rider John Hibben recalled that Jack was a great mentor to him and tuned his engines for him. Jack Emmott sadly passed away at the age of 47 in March 1972, he left a legacy in road racing and speedway, he was truly one of the unsung heroes of motorcycling sport.
Copyright Tony Webb Brisbane January 2009  binbooks@iinet.net.au 
 
References and resources
Neil Emmott son
John Hibben Canterbury rider
Paul Burton. Collector
Speedway star
West ham programs 1964\65
 
 

 

Royal Enfield

 
John says: Like BSA, Royal Enfield started by making firearms  before turning to motorbike manufacturing in the 1900s.  Of all the British Bike makers Royal Enfield was my favourite.  I bought an Enfield around 1969 and I loved it!  I believe Enfield was sold to a scrap dealer and that was more or less the end of the marque.
 
Royal Enfield Speedway 
 
 
 
 
 
Dave Ramsden has sent these 2 pictures which show a big single cylinder Royal Enfield engine and also unusually mounted handlebars. The bike looks pretty handy though.  Wonder how it went? 
Dave Says: The Enfield was built primarily for something to do, not to race. To be honest the Enfield engine is not suitable for speedway - they are a big heavy engine and not very responsive, though some people have used them for scrambles. I have no doubt that someone could make it go faster. I make frames, I leave engines alone wherever possible. It's a standard 350 Indian Bullet engine that I got in payment for fitting a diesel engine in a friend's bike. I made the frame, as well as the countershaft and the engine plates. The wheel hubs and forks came from a grasstrack bike. The standard Enfield clutch is operated by a BMW clutch arm through the modified standard main shaft sleeve. The final drive sprocket is bolted to the back of the clutch on a boss. Apart from the wheel builds and the seat covering I did everything myself. The frame was TIG welded by my wife.
My regular transport these days is a Russian Ural fitted with a BMW R80/7 engine.
 
John says:  I am a life long Royal Enfield fan. I would have loved to assist with building Dave's bike.  If Enfield had kept going and made speedway bikes we may just have had a real bike industry in the UK
 

 

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