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.

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