All posts by bigjohn2014

The oldest five year old

Trials Guru is now five years on the web!

Opened in March 2014, Trials Guru was a new venture, dedicated to motorcycle trials the world over. It’s popularity has grown and so has it’s follower base.

We don’t claim to be the biggest trials website in the world as we are just happy to bring you information and news from the world of trials.

Still free of any subscription or charges, Trials Guru is still doing what it set out to do with no frills, no hassle and no politics. We are still forum free, which allows us more time to bring you information and photos from the sport.

Made by trials riders and enthusiasts, for trials riders and enthusiasts

We are the oldest five year olds in the sport! Happy Birthday to us!

TRIALS GURU – Dedicated to the Sport!


SSDT warm up

SSDT 2019 sticker
Main photo credit: Nigel Pearson/Trials UK Media
Excitement builds as the 2019 Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) gears up to continue its long history when it takes place from Monday 6th May through to Saturday 11th May.
280 riders from the far corners of the world will descend on the loch side town of Fort William to face the annual challenge that this iconic event delivers in the rugged Scottish Highlands every year.
This unique and hugely popular competition remains the most famous and one off event in the international trial calendar more than one hundred years after it was first run.
The complete entry list has been released by the Edinburgh and District Motor Club organising committee including the most successful SSDT rider of all time, reigning and twelve times winner Dougie Lampkin.
Doug said recently, “I am burning to win another Scottish to equal a record of World Championships set by Spanish racer Angel Nieto. He won thirteen titles but being superstitious he called it twelve plus one. It would be really cool to have 12 plus 1 Scottish Six Days victories.”
However, The stage is now set for another epic head to head with fellow British rider, James Dabill but there is a very strong line-up with the likes of brothers Dan and Jack Peace, Jack Price and Michael Brown.
The Continental threat looks like coming from young Spanish rider Francesc Moret while countryman and former winner, the ever popular veteran Amos Bilbao will ride a factory Montesa in the event. Bilbao won the event in 2002.
No fewer than nine Ladies are proud to take their places including World Champion Emma Brisow and German challenger Theresa Bauml.
The Scottish Six Days Trial’s standing in the World attracts an eclectic overseas invasion. 2019 is no different and no fewer than 58 riders from outside the British Isles representing a total of 12 countries.
The largest foreign country represented is Spain which boasts 20 entries, led by the popular Carles Casas who this year, along with lesser-known countryman Cesar Lopez, will be competing in his 30th SSDT. Francesc Moret, an experienced Spanish rider on the European and World Championship scene will certainly be a contender for a top 10 place.
Another interesting newcomer is Italian Beta rider Filippo Locca.  Vet Dennis Sweeten is a regular from the United States and other familiar faces include Swiss Dominique Guillaume, German Jan Peters and former SSDT winner and World Champ Gilles Burgat from France. 
Kevin Gundry and Gary Samson represent New Zealand while fellow Antipodeans Luke Anderson and Connor Hogan fly from Australia. Stir in several entries from Costa Rica and Daniel Santos representing Guatamala and you have a truly International field heading for Scotland in May.

John Brittain dies

 Johnny Brittain with Gordon Blakeway; Sammy Miller & Nick Jefferies at the Centenary Scott Trial in 2014. – Photo copyright & courtesy of: Barry Robinson, Ilkely.

John V. Brittain 1932 – 2019

It is with great sadness that Trials Guru has to announce the passing of one of the UK’s finest trials and ISDT riders, former Royal Enfield works rider John Brittain.

John Brittain, or ‘Johnny’ as he was affectionately known, was a regular national trials winner on the swinging arm framed Royal Enfield Bullet, when most riders were still preferring to compete on rigid framed machines. It was not until 1955 when Bob Manns won the West of England national on his AJS scrambler fitted with his trials motor, that the other factories strated using swinging arm frames on their trials machines. Brittain won the SSDT in 1952 & 1957 and the Scott Trial in 1955 & 1956 on the Redditch built machines. He was also a regular in the ISDT.

The SSDT committee made Brittian the ‘official starter’ of their centenary event in 2014 to honour his achievements in the sport.

Son of legendary Vic Brittain who was a pre-war factory rider and rode for Sunbeam, winning the Scott Trial in 1929 and 1931. John started riding on a DMW then a James, his first Scott Trial was 1949, but quickly secured factory support from Enfields in 1950.

In 1956, John won the ‘ACU Trials Star’, the equivalent of the British Championship.

Brittain competed in fifteen consecutive International Six Days Trials winning thirteen gold medals for his country.

Trials Guru extends sincere condolences to John’s younger brother Pat and the extended Brittain family.


Scott Trial Charities Benefit

Photo: Charlotte Brown, Richmond.

Richmond Motor Club’s Scott Trial committee were pleased to host their annual Charity Presentation evening on Friday 8th March 2019 at The Buck Hotel, Reeth.

The evening started with John Fraser, Scott Trial Chairman, welcoming everybody and giving a résumé of the history of The Scott Trial and how Richmond Motor Club came to take on the running of it some 28 years ago. John thanked all involved in the running of the Scott Trial and also the landowners, tenants, farmers and gamekeepers for their continued support. He then introduced local trials legend and former factory rider, Richard Sunter who, along with his family, has competed in numerous Scott Trials.

Richard presented the cheques to representatives of the various charities, many of whom expressed their gratitude and explained how the donation would be used.

A total of £10,000 raised from the 2018 Trial was given out on the night. This brings the grand total of charity money raised by the Scott Trial since RMC took it on in 1991 to a fantastic sum of over £180,000.

Beneficiaries of this year’s donations are (in no particular order):

Swaledale Scouts, Swaledale Mountain Rescue, Friends of Reeth and Gunnerside Primary Schools, Reeth and Gunnerside Schools Fund, Ravensworth C of E Primary School, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Great North Air Ambulance, Reeth Young Farmers Club, Swaledale Seedlings, The Bridge (previously St. Johns Community Centre), Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Hambleton and Richmondshire MS Society, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Luncheon Clubs Association, Richmond Cricket Club Youth , Moorland Association, St. Teresa’s Hospice, Deaf Education Through Listening and Talking, Holmedale Pre-School, Richmond Cricket Club, Wensleydale Rugby Club Development Fund, Gamekeepers Welfare Trust , ACU Benevolent Fund, The Mowbray Suite at the Friarage Hospital, The Alistair Bullen Memorial Fund, Homestart, Just The Job, Robert Dent Memorial Fund, Marrick Parish Council Village Hall Fund, The British Lung Foundation, Reeth & District Community Transport Ltd, Rape & Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre CIO, Dementia Forward, Upper Wensleydale Sports and Recreation Association and Reeth Literary Institute Trust.

Jimmy Ballantyne ISDT and SSDT regular

It is with sadness that we bring the news that James Lockhart ‘Jimmy’ Ballantyne, an Edinburgh born trials and enduro rider has died following a heart attack suffered in France while he was watching an international rugby match in Paris. He was 77 years of age. He suffered a more severe heart attack on 3rd March, 2019.

ISDT Team 1974
1974 – Scottish ISDT team for Italy. Jimmy Ballantyne is third from the left. He rode a Monark in the event.

J.L. Ballantyne had ridden three ISDT events by 1964 and went on to ride many more after then.

In the 1969 ISDT at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, he had problems with his 250cc BSA Starfire, riding for the Scottish ACU Vase B Team. Unfortunately the forestry authorities assumed that all riders had cleared a forest area and sent in heavy equipment, Jimmy met one head-on while trying to make up time. The resultant collision saw Jimmy break both legs and the BSA was immediately rendered a total wreck.

Jimmy rode in several SSDT events on a variety of machines including a Polish built WSK and Austrian Puch 125. He was an all-round off-road motorcyclist, having competed in scrambles, trials and enduro.

Born in the Borders town of Moffat, Dumfries-shire, Ballantyne was an inspector with the Inland Revenue service when he resided in Newbridge near Edinburgh, he left the service and bought the Blue Bell Inn and Commercial public Houses in Annan which he ran successfully for many years before retiring to enjoy support work at various ISDE events across the globe for the British teams.

Jimmy was the Chairman of the SACU Enduro committee, a man who put more back into the sport after he stopped competing.

Trials Guru send sincere condolences to his widow, Linda at this very difficult time.


Funeral arrangements: Jimmy’s funeral service was held in the Crichton Church, Bankend Road, Dumfries at 12:00 noon on Thursday, 14th March 2019.

Campbell Chatham delivered a very fitting eulogy to a congregation of many competition motorcyclists.

The final tune played was a recording of ‘Highland Cathedral’ by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the coffin was taken away to a private cremation.

Afterwards Jimmy’s family and friends celebrated his life at the Crichton Golf Club just a short distance away.



Peter Gaunt a life in Trials


3rd August 1936 – 20 February 2019

It is with great sadness that Trials Guru website has to announce the passing of Peter Gaunt. He was 82 years of age.

peter gaunt on a very early 125 dalesman 1971
Bike builder of note, Peter Gaunt in 1972 when he rode Dalesman for Pete Edmondson, this is a Sachs 125cc engined version – Photo: Barry Robinson

Peter Gaunt was a renowned ‘special’s builder’, or so it was coined in the motorcycle press. However, Peter or ‘Top Gear’ as he was universally known in the trials community was much more than that. He was responsible for creating his own trials machines out of motorcycles that were not even designed for the purpose and was capable of winning on his creations, a feat he achieved many times.

Gaunt developed the James trials machine for the factory as well as creating the Gaunt Jawa; Gaunt Suzuki; Gaunt Ducati and the Otley based Dalesman concern made use of his skills to further develop their Sachs engine trials model for boss, Pete Edmondson. He also converted Honda’s production XL250 Motorsport trail model into the ‘Allan Jefferies Honda’ for the Bradford motorcycle dealer.

Peter Gaunt on Loch Eilde Burn on his own Royal Enfield 250 Crusader in 2007 – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Peter Gaunt also rode for the Royal Enfield factory on their 250cc Crusader trials model along with fellow Yorkshire-man, Peter ‘Fearless Fred’ Fletcher.

Gaunt was a skilled mechanic and regarded as a great ‘fettler’ of machines, knowing how to set them up for peak performance, right through the rev range.

Few will remember that Peter rode in the International Six Days Trial for the AJS factory team on a 500 AJS in the Swedish event in 1966. He rode again a year later at Zakopane, Poland on a 250cc Suzuki twin.

Classic Trial Magazine Issue 23.indd
Classic Trial Magazine featured Peter Gaunt on his Ducati in December 2017

Gaunt suffered a stroke in December 2016, but had fought a brave battle against cancer to which he succumbed on Wednesday, 20th February.

Our sincere condolences go to the Gaunt family at this difficult time.

Peter’s funeral arrangements are: 12.20 on Thursday, 7th March 2019 at Stonefall Crematorium, Wetherby Road, Harrogate, HG3 1DE. Thereafter at The Mill Tavern, Lido Leisure Park , Wetherby Road , Knaresborough, HG5 8LR which is approx 2 miles distant from the crematorium. The family have not placed any restrictions on attendance, all friends and acquaintances will be made most welcome to attend.

Who better to write a tribute to Peter Gaunt than his friend Barry Robinson. Barry spoke to Trials Guru:

Very few people are aware that I was an expert ranked trialler, scrambler and grass track champion passenger and even fewer are aware that Peter Gaunt and I practiced together on Otley Chevin. The Chevin is the very large hill south of Otley. We met purely by chance one summer evening. I lived in Otley and Peter lived at Horsforth about four miles from the quarry in which we tried the impossible. Peter in those days, 1957, had an uncanny talent at making two strokes go at low revs and yet rev out at the top end.

He was finicky about footrest positions and handlebar heights. As it was my playground I set out sections. One section up a wall side defied all Peter’s efforts and I could ride up it with ease. Peter never ever forgot that section. It was brought up in a conversation with Rob Shepherd and Chris Bradley last year at Fellbeck. And, it was Peter that raised the subject. I always point out that when red and blue section flags have to be navigated Mr Gaunt was on another planet.

I know for a fact that he took a hacksaw to the top tube of a works machine, to alter the steering head angle so that the machine turned, as Peter wanted it to do. I do know that the competition manager penned Peter a letter pointing out that they knew better than their contracted teamster.

In the heady days of Rathmell, Hemingway and others I watched Peter ride his Gaunt Suzuki up a muddy section and clean it in the trial and after. The respected Ralph Venables exploded when the same machine climbed a hill in his parish clean. All the other competitors were in second or third gears from the adjoining field.

Who else would have created the Gaunt Suzuki or Gaunt Jawa and made a success of it. None other than Yrjo Vesterinen has his leg over a Gaunt Jawa last year and but for detached brake shoes from their carriers would have ridden the machine. Peter also competed in the Isle of Man on a Bill Bancroft machine, so he could motor on tarmac as well.

I have told Peter Gaunt many times that he was brilliant at setting up trials machines but not commercial enough to profit from his unlimited talents.

Rest in Peace Peter.” – Barry Robinson, Ilkley, Yorkshire

Photo credits: Barry Robinson, (Ilkley); Iain Lawrie (Kinlochleven)

Credit: Classic Trial Magazine UK for the use of their cover design.

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