We continue Rob Edwards’ story of a lifetime in trials. This is the part you have all probably been most interested to hear about – the Rob Edwards/Montesa connection!
My First Trip to MONTESA! The day finally arrived to set off to Barcelona. I met up with the lads at Charlie’s home in Redhill (Guru: Charlie Harris, Montesa UK based development rider) then off we went. It was the first time I had met Charlie. Previous to this, I only knew him as a top trials rider in the south of England. A friend of his was travelling with us, so we had a car full. There was plenty for me to see Paris: The Eifel Tower; Citroen cars and so on. I had not been abroad before, as I spent every penny I had on trials. Plus, I would be bored to tears! We arrived at the Montesa Factory in Barcelona and I felt as if I was on another planet! Two days later, it was the trial in Terrassa. The events for the European Championship were totally different to anything I had ridden before. The time limit was six hours, plus one hour with time penalties. Two laps had to be completed, approximately 50 sections (zonas) in this time. I was not hanging about, but it took five hours to complete one lap, leaving one hour to get to the finish. I didn’t think it was possible, but by riding flat out, I reached the finish losing only a couple of time penalty points. I finished second position overall, a result beyond my wildest dreams!
The following morning, we went to the Montesa factory before setting off for home. Alberto Mallofre and Pere ‘Pedro’ Pi took me into an office. After telling me how pleased they were with yesterdays results, Alberto spoke and I couldn’t believe my ears! Could I go to America for six weeks to promote Montesa and trials in the States? Montesa were owned by Permanyer s.a. and Senor Permanyer’s son Jorge would be travelling with me. He didn’t speak a lot of English and my Spanish was no better… if not worse! A month later, I had my American visa, my ticket and I was ready for the off. I only had one thing left to do – to tell Head Wrightsons that I was quitting! I jokingly asked the workshop manager if I could take six weeks unpaid holiday. “You have got to be joking”, he said but he did pass on the news to the top factory manager who decided it was time for me to be put in my place!
“That’s it”, he said, “I’ve had enough, I’ve had as much as I can take of you and motorbikes – YOUR SACKED!”. “I’m glad about that”, I said “because I’m going to America tomorrow for six weeks!”. I am sure I heard him whisper under his breath – “thank god for that” – Bye for now – Rob
To Be Continued…
To read all of Rob Edward’s story of his life in trials click… here
The fourth annual ‘Bob MacGregor Memorial Road Run‘ open for classic motorcycles (or anything special) will be taking place at Killin, Perthshire on Tuesday 28th April, 2015.
In memory of Bob MacGregor, the only Scotsman to have ever won the Scottish Six Days Trial, the event takes place two days before the preamble to the Pre’65 Scottish Trial at Kinlochleven.
MacGregor won the SSDT twice, in 1932 and again in 1935 on Rudge machines and had a greengrocers’ business in the town of Killin, the shop is still there.
Guest of Honour this year will be John Moffat, the Trials Guru, who will start the event and will travel along with local trials rider Bobby Lafferty, the event organiser. Bobby also organises the annual national trial named after MacGregor.
The route will traverse through the picturesque Glen Lyon and pass some old SSDT sections along the way.
Moffat intends bringing his 350 AJS, JSC905, which is the very bike his late Father rode in the Scottish Six Days in 1953 & 1954, the same bike that his son, David rode sixty years later, at the very wet 2013 Pre’65 Scottish Trial.
Those who want to join in the fun and nostalgia can do so by contacting event secretary, Peter Remington on 01539 560695 or click on the website: www.cumbriaclassic.co.uk
Hi Again, Many thanks for all your comments, I feel very honoured that so many of you have remembered me. Leaving Cotton Motorcycles was a necessary move if I was to improve, but I will always be grateful for the support Norman Crooks gave me. I knew exactly what I wanted to ride… a Montesa!
Plucking up courage, I telephoned Montala Motors in London who were the UK importers at that time. I told them my name and some of my results.
I asked if there was any chance of riding for them?
I was told that they simply had no vacancies. Montala’s ‘dream team’ being Gordon Farley, Lawrence Telling and Don Smith. However, I asked that if a ride became available I would like to be considered. I had set my heart on riding for Montesa but as this was a no-go, I would have to try elsewhere.
The only other top bike in my estimation was a Bultaco Sherpa, so I took a sharp intake of breath and phoned up Comerfords in Thames Ditton, Surrey, the Bultaco importers. Most of the male employees who worked at Comerfords were trials riders. So much to my delight, things started to look a lot better.
Having a bike could be sorted immediately and they were sure that Bultaco Spain would give me a contract. “We will be back in touch as soon as we hear anything”, were their parting words.
I put the phone down and gave a big sigh of relief, things were really starting to move. Then the phone rang, but this time it was Montala Motors boss John Brise. Apparently seconds after I had talked with them, Montesa Competitions Manager, Alberto Mallofre phoned them. Unknown to me, it appeared that Alberto had been a fan of mine for a long time and he had wanted me on a Montesa.
I don’t think John Brise really knew anything about me and was being polite when I phoned him, but the factory did and that was the break I needed!
It seemed that everybody knew about me at Montesa, they had been keeping an eye on my results.
They said everything was in hand, so don’t look elsewhere! Alberto was on the phone to me the next day asking me to go to the Spanish round of the European championships in Barcelona.
While I was there, he had a few things he would like to talk to me about.
I traveled there with fellow Montesa riders Charlie Harris and Ian Haydon.
Now that things were up and moving I was back on the phone to Comerfords to offer my thanks for trying so hard for me. I take this opportunity to thank everyone at Comerfords back then, even although I made the move to ride for Montesa. – Rob
Trials Guru: Montesa, by 1968, had made serious in-roads into the UK trials market with their Cota 247 Mk1 model. It was becoming a very popular machine which would allow British riders to make a name for themselves in national events. Rob mentions the Montesa ‘Dream Team’ and that is correct in that Lawrence ‘Sparky’ Telling, Don Smith and Gordon Farley had all left the Greeves marque for Montesa. Charlie Harris was effectively a development rider in the Uk for the Cota.
Alberto Mallofre, the competitions manager at Permanyer S.A., the company that manufactured Montesa, was a forward thinking individual. Don Smith was a well-known extrovert on the UK trials scene and promoted the Cota successfully from 1967-70. However, he became frustrated with the lack of development progress and quit the team in 1970 to develop his own machine called the Don Smith ‘Stag’. Utilising his own ideas and a Montesa Cota 247 motor with the ‘M’ symbol carefully removed from the crankcase covers, Smith entered the 1970 Scottish on the black and white machine.
Montala Motors ‘Montesa Dream Team’
Montesa ‘Ambassador’ Rob Edwards:
To Be Continued …
Words: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, John Moffat 2014.
Acknowledgement: Peter Bremner, Chairman Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd. For Montesa Photographs used in this article.
To read all of Rob Edward’s story of his life in trials click… here
Having ridden a 250 Bultaco in the 1966 Scottish, I moved on to ride Cottons and rode a 250 Villiers powered bike in the 1967 & 1968 events.
In the late sixties Cotton changed from the 250cc Villiers 37A motor to the Italian made 170cc Minarelli engine. I was given a large gearbox sprocket to carry in my pocket.
The idea was to fit it when we were due to do long stretches of road work.
The problem was, I was always so late on time I didn’t have the time to swap it!
On the final days’ lunch check, the thought of doing 30 miles an hour back to Edinburgh was very daunting indeed. It wasn’t helped by seeing the works Greeves fitted with minute rear sprockets.
Their cruising speed was around 70mph. Bill Brooker was the Greeves competition manager and he really had his finger on the pulse.
On more than one occasion he went out of his way to help me. My idea of a true sportsman and excellent competition manager.
It was short on ‘flywheel effect’ inertia and dreadfully low geared. Thanks to my pals at Head Wrightsons, a brass band was machined to fit onto the flywheel.
This made a big improvement to the engine characteristics, wheel grip and so on.
Entered by Norman Crooks Motorcycles, I rode with this modification in the 1969 Scottish and won the best up to 200cc class.
To solve the low top speed problem, I had sent Cotton a drawing of my flywheel modification but had heard nothing back. I wasn’t surprised when one week after the SSDT there was a half page advert in the Motor Cycle News, telling riders how good the modification was and how much they would sell you one for. I was gobsmacked!
However, I didn’t receive any thanks for the 200cc cup win or flywheel modification!
After winning the Alan Jefferies Trial, I decided to treat the Minarelli to a set of piston rings. I rang the Cotton factory up and in due course they posted them to me.
Unfortunately you’ve guessed it – I broke one when fitting them.
I rang Cottons for another set. Two weeks later they still hadn’t arrived.
When I phoned them, the top man answered the phone. ‘Mr. D’ said that he wasn’t going to send me anymore rings until I explained exactly what I had done with the others.
It was then I decided it was time to move on.
When Pat Onions was in charge of the competition shop there was never a problem.
Things were changing and it was time to abandon ship. But where to? – Rob
To Be continued …
Trials Guru: The factory Cotton Minarelli that Rob Edwards rode was to become the production Cotton ‘Cavalier’which was produced at around five machines per week. Supplied to customers in ‘kit’ form to avoid purchase tax. The 1969 Scottish– Rob Edwards came home in a creditable tenth position and another Special First Class award on 59 marks on his 170cc Cotton. The eventual winner was Yorkshireman, Bill Wilkinson who was to be the last British rider to win on a British built machine, a 250cc Greeves (WWC169F).
Rob remembers! : Isn’t it always the way? You start writing about one thing and another one pops into your head! Anyway, here is something I remembered about my Cotton days.
I traveled a lot with Brian Hutchinson. The problem was that Brian worked on the family farm. I would be at the farm at 4.30pm but it would be 6.30 pm before we started our journey.
One time in particular we set off for South Wales with light snow falling.When we reached the M1 motorway, the traffic was almost at a standstill. This didn’t bother ‘Hutch’ – he went straight across into the fast lane that nobody was using because the snow was too deep.
No problem! he had the Austin A55 pick-up to 80mph in no time and we had the fast lane to ourselves all the way to Sheffield!
We finally arrived at Merthyr Tydfil at 1.30am. No bed and breakfast or anywhere was open. It was freezing cold – you know its cold when your breath freezes on the windscreen. Close to death, we drove to the railway station and as luck would have it there was a gas heater on the wall.
You had to reset it every minute but this was the Ritz compared with the pickup. We took turns pressing the start button.
Unfortunately one time it didn’t ignite. I was woken up by the smell of gas and a hissing sound. The next second, there was a tremendous bang and the heater left the wall it was on and splattered against the opposite one.
We were last seen running flat out along the platform with the station master in hot pursuit shouting: “I’ve rung the police boyo you’ll not get away”. It was back to the “pickup hotel” after that! – Great memories – Rob
Words: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, John Moffat 2014.
To read all of Rob Edward’s story of his life in trials, click… here
Yorkshireman, Bill Wilkinson, the last British rider to win the Scottish Six Days Trial on a British machine, will be ‘Guest of Honour’ at next years’ Highland Classic 2 Day Trial. Organised by the Inverness & District Motor Cycle Club, this will be the ‘Tenth Edition‘ at the popular and picturesque Alvie Estate near Aviemore on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June 2015.
“Bill Wilk” rode his 250cc Greeves to victory in the SSDT in 1969, tipping Sammy Miller (Bultaco) into third place and Mick Andrews (Ossa) into runner up, when Wilky cleaned Pipeline on the final day of the trial. Bill lost 30 marks to Andrews 34 and Miller 35.
Entries will open on 20th February, 2015 and limited to 130 competitors.
The 1965 Scottish:A few weeks before the ’65 SSDT, I had an out-of-the-blue phone call from Hugh Viney, the competitions manager at Associated Motorcycles (AMC) who owned the AJS & Matchless brands; wanting to know if I would ride in the ‘works’ team in the forthcoming Scottish – WOULD I?
It seemed that they wanted Mick Andrews to either go scrambling or ride the 250cc James, which AMC’s also owned.
And so it came to pass that I became the third member of the AJS factory team.
However, there was no time for them to prepare me a bike and Mick’s bike 644BLB wasn’t available for some reason, so I needed to ride my own Ajay – not a problem!
Both the ‘Gordons’ – McLaughlan and Blakeway, had put my name forward to be in the team to Hugh Viney, so a big ‘thank you’ to them both for that gesture, which I have treasured all my life since.
My week was going well, I was clean on the Tuesday.
Later in the same day, we were looking forward to riding the new section ‘Pipeline’, introduced the previous year.
There were so many stories about ‘Pipeline’ that I wasn’t really sure if it had been cleaned yet or not.
I had teamed up with Alan Chant from Bexley-Heath who was on a 350 Matchless.
In those days all the ‘big bikes’ were grouped at the back of the field.
As we rode up to ‘Pipeline’, the spectators were all heading back into Kinlochleven.
Alan and myself walked the hill and both agreed on bottom gear.
Alan went first and he cleaned it.
I went next and after a bit of a shaky start, by trying to go too fast too soon.
I settled down and at the right speed things were a lot easier and guess what, I cleaned it.
I bet the spectators who left early were a bit peeved!
On the Thursday, I parked my bike close to the first section on ‘Mamore’ and went off to view the sections.
When I returned to my bike, there was a large pool of oil on the floor underneath!
A stone must have flicked up from the front wheel and hit the small alloy casting that the oil feed to the cylinder-head connects to and smashed it.
There was no way of fixing it, so I set off free-wheeling down to the road, expecting to retire from the trial.
I was sitting by the road side at the gate, that is the entrance to the famous Mamore path, when a car and trailer pulled up.
“Whats up Rob” the chap shouted over, I explained my plight.
“No problem mate, give me two minutes and I will take the one off my bike” he said.
In all the confusion and despair, I hadn’t noticed that the bike on the trailer was a 350 AJS, what a stroke of luck – for me anyway.
The engine had ‘gone bang’ and the fellow had retired from the trial.
You don’t have to be good with luck like that!
He got me going and I forget the lads’ name but I am indebted to his sportsmanship and generosity that day.
On the sixth day, we did Town Hall Brae in the centre of Fort William.
We were then faced with the long ride back to Edinburgh.
For me it had been a great week thanks to Gordon Blakeway and Gordon McLaughlan. – Bye for now! – Rob.
Trials Guru: 1965 was the effective beginning of the end for the ‘big bikes’ that Rob talks about. Sammy Miller had been victorious for the last time on his 500cc Ariel (GOV132) and had moved over in late 1964 to the Spanish Bultaco, the creation of Franciso Xavier Bulto.
Miller brought the 244cc Sherpa T (669NHO), home to victory in the 1965 Scottish losing 29 marks, the first win on a foreign machine in the trials’ history.
Second was Arthur J. Lampkin on his 249cc BSA (XON688) losing 33 marks and third was Mick Andrews, 250cc James (307AKV) on 37 marks.
It wasn’t all to go Miller’s way though, a year later, arch rival Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin was to snatch victory from Miller’s grasp on his 249cc BSA (748MOE).
In the ’65 trial, Rob Edwards rode number 207 as part of the works AJS team comprising of Edwards, Gordon S. Blakeway (No. 178) and Gordon O. McLaughlan (No. 177).
Rob rode his own machine registered 970PL with many of the works style modifications.
However, history records that it was Triumph that won the 1965 Manufacturers Team Prize, the Blackford Challenge Trophy.
From the Official Results of the 1965 Scottish Six Days Trial:
Award 16 – For the best performance by a competitor on a solo motor cycle from 251-350 c.c. – R. Edwards (A.J.S.).
In the 1965 Scottish, Rob lost 63 marks and gained a Special First Class Award, just 6 marks behind his friend Alan Lampkin who went on to win the following year.
Rob on AJS: When the SSDT started and finished in Edinburgh, on the sixth day after the lunch check at Crianlarich there were no more sections until the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill in the city. This was purely to see if your clutch still worked. You had to stop between two yellow lines and when the official dropped his flag you could move on – simple.
When you passed a third yellow line, that was the end of the observed hill. The path was so flat, nobody actually treat it like a section. However, I did see a rider who when the flag dropped he picked up the front wheel and tried to wheelie to the ends cards unfortunately he tipped his bike over backwards and his score went up by five points.
After Blackford Hill was the final scrutineering test when you wheeled the bike onto a wooden workbench for inspection.
The AJS had one big problem, the swinging-arm bushes, they wore out at an alarming rate!
If the scrutineer thought that there was excess movement in the bushes, your score could go up by five marks.
I can still see my Dad, Bob at the bottom of Blackford Hill, with a cup of tea in one hand and an industrial grease gun in the other.
After my cup of tea, I pumped the swinging arm full of grease. It only lasted for 100 metres, but it was enough to get through scrutineering!
To Be Continued …
Words: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, John Moffat 2014.
: Copyright: John Hulme/Trials Media – photograph at Scott Re-Union Dinner 2014.
: Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd for the use of the 1965 programme cover.
: Rob Edwards for the 1964 photo of Loch Eild Path. Brian Holder Photo.
To read all of Rob Edwards’ story of his life in trials click … here
Tommy Sandham, author of “Four-Stroke Finale, The Honda Trials Story” and “The Scottish” books, has produced a bespoke book on the Pre’65 Scottish.
Released in 2010, the photographs are all in colour, featuring the work of Colin Bullock, Donald Young and John Moffat to name but three with a full set of results, year by year included in this fine publication.
Tommy has some future work planned and needs the space, so he has reduced the price to sell the remaining stock.
Once they are gone – they are gone! He has no plans to re-print this book.