GEN­TLE­MAN JOHN HARTLE ... NO PRIMA DONNA

Classic Racer - - READERS WRITE - Pete Owen Hinck­ley

Dear CR Hav­ing a lot of time spare around 1966/67, I lived quite close to Mal­lory Park and a reg­u­lar at the Wed­nes­day prac­tice was John Hartle. He was mak­ing a re­turn to rac­ing af­ter a heavy fall, so I sort of latched on, helped bump start his bikes, lug jerry cans and get the bike stands ready on his re­turn. They were Metisses, one was a G50, the other atri­umph unit 680; both had oil tanks, and no pipes to the frame, un­like the scram­blers. Well, he got chucked off on one or both bikes, on Ger­rards bend, and said: “I think it is tyres,” and limped into his van, just a lit­tle de­tuned. He said they were not steer­ing well. He was there a cou­ple of weeks later, with both bikes in the van. Off he went again, and ended up on the floor again. Still de­tuned he packed up and went home. A few weeks later John was back, again two bikes in tow. Now he was re­ally fly­ing, he was rid­ing well. I asked him what had been done, he did not or would not say (this is prob­a­bly the frame mods that Derek Palmer men­tions in Jan/feb Clas­sic Racer). He was there again later, again with the two bikes; he was again fly­ing, but quicker. I again asked him what had been changed, this time he said he had asked for the swingarm bushes to be rub­ber bonded like a road feath­erbed frame. John said it was han­dling so well he could not feel where the limit was. I was shocked, as I thought the faster the rider the more he liked to feel where the limit was. I found John Hartle a re­ally nice guy and cer­tainly no prima donna. Sadly not long later we would lose his life at Oliver’s Mount.

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