You need…

You prob­a­bly don’t re­al­ize it, but a big four-stroke sin­gle is what you need in your life right now and the AMC ver­sion is pretty damned hand­some.

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents -

… a big Match­less. Once the main­stay of the tri­als world, the big sin­gle was rel­e­gated to a sup­port­ing role when lighter bikes gained re­li­a­bil­ity.

Surely ev­ery­one must know the story of how the up­start light­weight bikes came along in the Six­ties and knocked the big bangers off their seem­ingly unas­sail­able perches? Yes? No? Well, it wasn’t quite like that as the smaller bikes had been there and there­abouts for a few years, and in the end it was the for­eign­ers who did it for all the Bri­tish ma­chines and rel­e­gated them to the sheds and out­houses be­fore the pre-65 move­ment took hold. Nor in­deed were the riders of the big­ger bikes blind to the need to carve an ounce or two off their ma­chines, and Gor­don Jack­son’s leg­endary 187 BLF SSDT win­ning 350 AJS was reck­oned to be, at 225lb, lighter than a C15 BSA. When some­one builds a bike to use in pre-65 tri­als, it is rarely a cat­a­logue cor­rect model. In ac­tual fact, to ride a cat­a­logue cor­rect bike in mod­ern pre-65 tri­als would be an achieve­ment in it­self. Rather it is the works ma­chines which are looked at, which is all well and good, but even in the day not ev­ery­one could han­dle works ma­chines.

There is a fa­mous tale of one tri­als su­per­star try­ing Gor­don Jack­son’s su­per trick short stroke bike and declar­ing it ‘un­ride­able’, yet Jack­son won on it. Hand-built for the Ken­tish lad’s style, AMC re­alised few riders had Jack­son’s skill and in­stead car­ried on with the long stroke model.

In AMC’S de­fence, even other mem­bers of the works team pre­ferred the older, long stroke bike, and when 187 BLF went to Gor­don Blake­way as his works bike, AMC had set­tled on us­ing the older bar­rel over­bored to take the short stroke pis­ton to make a 410cc ma­chine – most of the AMC tri­als bikes were 350cc.

The one in our fea­ture is a 410, owned and built by Peter Lock­wood and pic­tured at a test day with Mick An­drews. It dis­plays many of the clas­sic works tweaks which AMC sanc­tioned for Jack­son, such as cen­tral al­loy oil tank mounted be­tween the rear en­gine plates, al­loy brake plates, lighter sub-frame and high-level ex­haust, along with al­loy wheel rims. Peter’s bike wears a con­i­cal air fil­ter where AMC used a rub­ber sheet to cover the

carb mouth as they felt a fil­ter could be­come clogged and spoil the car­bu­ra­tion. Peter has also mounted his footrests much fur­ther back than would have been the norm in the Six­ties and in or­der to have max­i­mum kick­starter move­ment a mod­ern cranked one has been fit­ted. If you’ve never rid­den a well sorted big sin­gle, then make friends with some­one who has one, beg a ride on one or some­how con­trive to sling your leg over the sad­dle of a tra­di­tional ma­chine. Then, back the throt­tle off, let it plonk and I’d be sur­prised if you didn’t agree you need one in your life.

An al­loy oil tank, set­tled be­tween the en­gine plates saves weight. Doesn’t ev­ery­one use fold­ing footrests these days? AMC’S Tele­draulic forks are as good as Nor­ton Road­hold­ers. High- level ex­haust with an al­loy end can is shorter and lighter. Fuel tank is ac­tu­ally glass fi­bre and light. Match­less colour scheme is un­der­stated and clean. It takes ded­i­ca­tion to prune even a lit­tle weight off what is po­ten­tially a mas­sive bike. Peter Lock­wood’s ver­sion of AMC’S big sin­gle is pretty neat and tidy, much like the works bikes of the day. The older longstroke bar­rel, in al­loy, can be bored out to take the short stroke pis­ton. Mick An­drews was part of AMC’S works tri­als team in the Six­ties.

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