What’s in a name?
Drayton… hmmm, is it a combination of two names as with ‘Bultaco’ which combined ‘Bulto’ and ‘Paco’ to make the name? As Drayton consists of Jim Pickering (bike builder), Pete Farraley (welding) and Rob Silver (machining) nothing we thought of worked so w
Turning up at the start of a trial with something new always creates a bit of interest. Blyth motorcycle dealer and trials rider, John Charlton, did just that when he arrived at the start of Castleside Trials Club’s round of CDB’S Northern British Trials Championship with a Drayton Triumph Twin instead of his usual C15. Even better for this debut he went clean all day and topped his class. Okay, he’s a handy rider but still to go clean first time out on an untried bike is some feat, it helps that Drayton has a good reputation and as well as the Pre-65 Scottish winner riding one this year there was also the top two places in the Manx two-day going to Drayton bikes. So, we got hold of John at the end of the trial and asked if we could come along to get the story.
Before popping over to Blyth we had a chat with Jim Pickering to get the factory scoop on Drayton. There’s no real secrets to the bikes and Jim was more than happy to fill us in on the details. For instance the geometry is based on BSA’S Bantam but with a few tweaks here and there to make sure the handling is spot on. “I spent a lot of time on the handling to make sure it’s right and also listened to feedback from riders. The frames are all similar but for the Triumph twin material is a bit stronger and the tubes are eased a little so the engine sites where I want it to,” Jim tells us.
So, I wanted to know, the material they’re made from, 531 or T45 or some such? “No, ordinary, seamless steel tube, which makes the frame feel heavy but with careful attention to weight distribution the bikes feel light. I’ve gone for the ‘over-engineered’ ideal with lots of high-quality accessories such as REH forks, Whitton hubs and Rockshocks rear units,” says Jim, “there’s nothing too fancy really.”
The same sentiment was apparent at Off Road Moto as we chatted to John about the build of the bike, which he finished two nights before his winning ride. He was more than happy to praise the kit and was surprised at the level of completeness with it. As well as the frame, sub frame and swinging arm, it came with footrest plates, engine plates, wheels, forks, both tanks – including oil pipes for the oil tank – seat, sump shield, exhaust pipes and silencers and a side stand. “It was a fairly simple build and all we needed to do was make the spacers up for the engine plates. In the end I used Raptor footrests rather than those with the kit but that was personal choice as were the mudguards.” He went on to say more about the kit and its level of specification, which seemed all aimed at being the best it could be with lots of attention to detail.
Triumph twin engines are not unknown in the trials world and factory riders Roy Peplow and John Giles both rode and did well on such machines in the Sixties. With the benefit of a factory behind them their bikes had a few special parts here and there – such as alloy barrels and alloy primary drive – does the Charlton engine have such fancy stuff? “No, not really,” grins John, “it’s actually quite standard in spec and pretty much what the 500 twin engine would be in 1964, the barrels are cast iron, it wears an Amal Premier carburettor, maybe the Electrex World ignition could be classed as trick but it’s an off-the-shelf one so available to anyone,” he
tells me. Also available is the all-alloy clutch drum and seven-plate conversion, which gives a light clutch action and gear cogs from George Emmott. George provides cogs to make a wide-ratio gear cluster, which has low first and second gears, standard third and a high top gear. “We could have built a tricker engine but there’s plenty enough power and I wanted it to be reliable, which isn’t always compatible with engine mods.”
Finishing off the job are Renthal bars with Domino controls, again, freely available and popular with the rest of the trials scene.
Like a lot of younger riders John prefers the foot brake to be on the right-hand side of the bike, like a modern machine and I’ve seen some interesting conversions to accomplish this. Rob Bowyer’s Pre-65 winning Triumph had a shaft through the centre of the swinging arm whereas Bultaco used a special cable and some brackets on the frame; this Drayton version is probably the neatest one I’ve seen and involves small diameter tubing. It’s been further modified by John and now has an adjuster in place, too.
I did get the chance to have a wobble round a practice section or two at John’s place and while nothing more fancy than a few steps and a grassy bank it did show the bike has certainly got enough poke for any rider, nor does it need the brakes all that much as shutting the throttle slows everything right down. The only problem I had with this bike – okay, Jim and John, steady on – the only problem was it showed up what a horrendous state my bike is actually in…
With everything tucked away there’s nothing to hamper the rider climbing all over the bike. Bringing up the rear are Rockshocks – NBBC series sponsor – and popular with the off- road world as they’re rebuildable, serviceable and tuneable for rider weights. The other side of the brake conversion sits on a simple lever, John modified the set- up a little and put an adjuster on the end. Inside the primary case sits an Electrex World ignition kit and a chain primary drive. Okay, so the clutch drum is all alloy and there’s a sevenplate conversion in there too.
Plenty of ground clearance and a substantial bash plate means little stops this twin. Problem with twins is there are two of everything to tuck away, like this exhaust, we reckon this is quite neat. Providing the fuel is the job of Amal’s Premier carb. The Premier range is light and works well. Drayton uses Alan Whitton hubs front and rear, Alan’s hubs are light and Pre- 65 eligible and they work too.