The Greensmith Trophy Trial
With an early ten o’clock start at the Clee Hills start area in Shropshire the Greensmith Memorial Trophy Trial, promoted by the South Birmingham Motor Club, attracted a good quality entry for this national trial which enjoyed some nice September weather. With the ailing manufacturers in the UK falling by the wayside the ‘cottage industry’ had started work in earnest to supply the void in the market left by the likes of BSA, Francis Barnett, James, Matchless, Royal Enfield and Triumph who had all ceased production of trials models. In truth, the Spanish Armada of Bultaco, Montesa and Ossa were still in their infancy as the buying public were wary of motorcycles with metric instead of imperial fixtures and fittings. Greeves was struggling — and they knew it — as the Villiers engines they used were old and outdated. BSA could have had a world beater with the BSA Bantam that Mick Bowers had done so much work on, but the management had their head in the sand — reference the Yamaha TY 175cc that would surface with Mick Andrews in 1974. Good quality, reliable, small-capacity engines were available in Europe and at a competitive price. Just to give the readers a rough idea on pricing, when we were researching the Dalesman story with its builder Peter Edmondson he told us that he could purchase a Puch 125cc engine complete with ignition and carburettor for £33 in late 1967, and complete front forks were £6.50! What’s quite ironic is that in November 1968 the Greeves directors travelled to the Puch factory to look for a replacement for the Villiers engine, but typically they were a little too late. At the Greensmith the emerging ‘Micro’ machines were out in earnest to prove a point to Sammy Miller who knew that his future lay in Spain; in the meantime, the question was who could beat him? This part of the trials world is renowned for its water-filled gullies and steep climbs and banks; it would be a true test of the smallercapacity machines. Miller was out on the oversized 252cc Bultaco which had seen the cylinder capacity size increased so he could qualify for the over-250cc awards which were still very popular in the trials world. As the early numbers from the entry of more than 100 riders headed off from the star at the Three Horse Shoes filling station some eight miles from Ludlow, Miller was in a very determined mood. He’d had a very successful season, and he knew that he had the best machine with the Bultaco. As the results show, despite the threat from the smaller machines in truth they still had no answer to that man Sammy Miller, who scored an excellent clear victory.
Dennis Jones (128 Suzuki): A Midlands based rider ‘Jonah’ would soon become very well known as a small-capacity machine specialist. His ability was never in question, as he had shown on numerous occasions. He along with many other riders had become tired of the poor reliability from the Villiers engined machines he had ridden for both Greeves and Sprite. Even in the early days, the Japanese engines were well known for their superior build quality. As he demonstrated on the steep Clee Hills climbs it was only the power shortage that was stopping him threatening Miller’s supremacy in the trials world.
Sammy Miller (252 Bultaco): Miller was the man, it’s a simple as that. After some early friction with Bultaco, when he was approached by AJS in 1967 to replicate the work he had done for the Spanish manufacturer, he had built up a strong working relationship with Bultaco. The new gearbox with five available gears instead of four had proved reliable, and very little was left of the earlier radial head engine, with reliability the key factor in gaining confidence in the product. At the end of 1968, he would give Bultaco another the new European Championship title, the British Trials Championship, the Scottish Six Days and Scott Trial wins; Bultaco was the machine to have. The nails were being hammered into the coffin of the once proud manufacturing industry of the trials motorcycle in Great Britain.