September 2019

‘Disciplined in many ways'

In an era where every facet of motorcycling has been splintered into tiny niches within an overall niche, it helps to jog the memory that there was a time when competitors (or fans for that matter) didn’t stick to one discipline.

We tend to forget that prior to the 1970s you often weren’t just a trials rider or road racer or scrambler, you were a motorcycle competitor.

Nothing brings this alive more than John Westlake’s interview with Sammy Miller talking of those days when competitors would ride a different bike each weekend – or even the same bike in different disciplines if you were a busy clubman. In fact, some clubmen might even ride the bike to and from the meetings.

Sammy, of course, was a cut above the regular clubmen and, as such, had access to top class bikes. But what a fabulous time it must have been where someone like Sammy, possessing such boundless energy and enthusiasm for motorcycling, would ride as many different bikes in as many different disciplines as he could possibly cram into a season.

One of the enduring charms of working on CB is the massive difference in how people approach the hobby – and two features this month really brought this home. On the one hand, there’s Keith Owen who builds delightful Bantam specials with a mix of minimal budgets and massive enthusiasm, while Robert Iannucci (with equal enthusiasm) maintains the most fantastic stable of classic racing machines, including the two featured in this issue: Ago’s MV 350-4 and the AJS special built by John Surtees.

Robert’s racers stir the soul and remind us of great times in racing. My ears beg to hear that unsilenced MV one more time (I was there to see it at Brands on an October weekend in 1976, as well as writer Alan Cathcart) yet Keith’s prove you don’t need exotica to live your classic dreams.

Enjoy the issue.

Gary Pinchin, Editor, Classic Bike

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