A couple of years ago I decided it might be a good idea to build a bike specifically for flat track/Dirt Quake type events. I'd competed at four Dirt Quakes, three on my old Triumph chop, but I fancied something a bit more suitable/faster. As a small pensioner, a vintage two stroke should be ideal, nice and light and pretty affordable in comparison to old British stuff. A couple of Bultacos and a Honda Elsinore caught my eye but passed by. I only really fancied the Honda as I like the Elsinore name, like buying an album because you like the cover. I’ve done that more than once. Both would probably have been ideal. Another good move would’ve been to buy a bike ready to go, but I’ve nearly always built my own vehicles for motorsport. I probably enjoy the creation more than the taking part, in truth.
I kind of let the idea lie until last year's Dirtdiggers event at Scunthorpe perked me up a bit. I did it on a little Suzuki 250 I’d put together for my daughter to ride at DQ the previous year, then I saw an advert for an old Triumph in boxes… It was an ex-race sidecar outfit stripped to rebuild many years previously and left to vegetate, some of it in a shed some not. I went to Cambridge to have a look, it wasn’t nice but I was 200 miles from home with an empty van and a wedge of cash!
Once home with the rose tints on the bench the true condition of everything was apparent. Everything, EVERYTHING, was awful. I made two piles, one to keep and one to sell, no, hang on, there was a scrap pile as well. The keep pile consisted of the frame (twisted), the rear hub, footrests and some engine parts including a splendid cylinder head, the only really good thing. There was great temptation to put them on the sell pile too but by now i had a vision of Gary Nixon that wasn’t going away.
Fast forward nine months and endless hours of work and here we are: the frame was made arrow straight by Big Fingers John at JW. I built the engine and gearbox, bought a cool set of old 33mm Marzocchis. My friend Will did skilled tank modifications to an old moped fuel tank. Joe at Sore Bones sorted my wheels and everything else is stuff I already had or sourced from trawling eBay and autojumbles. It's a ’52 frame, same year as me, with a late ‘50s ironhead 650, single carb for now.
I wanted to reproduce the look of a ‘50s, early ‘60s rigid dirt track bike keeping true to period with drum brake, iron engine, skinny front end etc. I think we’re there in that respect.
Plans are to use it at Scunthorpe, my nearest track, on Sunday next for the first round of their summer series and see what falls off. I also have entries in for Race the Waves at Bridlington, Dirtdiggers and Rye House Summer Slam in June. I already have plenty of mods and improvements in the pipeline but for now it runs and rides. Updates later in the year.
Small update: Bike is sitting in the workshop with numbers on ready to go but yesterday i tried make a paddock stand more robust and resulted in crushing/breaking a finger in a press, three fingers on left hand now strapped together, debut postponed…
Pete is an old friend of ours, and is featured in the current magazine, Sideburn 36, with a feature shot and written by Dave Bevan. Buy Sideburn 36