A four-stroke sen­sa­tion


A tri­als mo­tor­cy­cle with an elec­tric start, a press of the but­ton and we are away! Yes, it’s as sim­ple as that, a four-stroke sen­sa­tion. It’s the bug­bear of most tri­als rid­ers; you’re tired, you have just had a five-mark penalty for stop­ping, and you have to kick-start the ma­chine back into life. It is not the case with the lat­est of­fer­ing from Scorpa with its new 2019 model TY 125F, as it’s a case of just press the but­ton — oh, and the ma­chine also starts in gear with the clutch lever pulled in – sim­ples! I had spo­ken to the of­fi­cial UK im­porter of Scorpa prod­ucts Nigel Bir­kett about this new model, which comes very much as a trial or trail-based ma­chine. As you will see when you read the ar­ti­cle we have gen­er­ated on the his­tory of this French model, it’s been around with a good solid rep­u­ta­tion for many years. You can de­cide for your­self if it’s a trial or trail ma­chine, as it has been used over the years in both forms of off-road mo­tor­cy­cling.

Men­tion the name Nigel Bir­kett to any tri­als rider who has been around for a while, and they will know him. With knowl­edge of tri­als and the de­vel­op­ment of the ma­chines that go back to the early ’70s he has been around for what seems like an eter­nity.

Off the back of build­ing his own ma­chines as a young ap­pren­tice he would go on to be in­volved with the likes of Kawasaki and Suzuki, in the RL 325cc, where he stands in the his­tory books as the high­est placed fin­isher on the Ja­panese ma­chines in the world tri­als cham­pi­onship before mov­ing to Mon­tesa and Fan­tic with the 200 and 240 mod­els. It would then be a move back to Ja­panese ma­chin­ery with the Majesty Yamaha. Along with his good friend John Shirt Snr, they would then present the ground-break­ing mono-shock Yamaha.

A new project

With the in­tro­duc­tions over, it’s time for the man him­self to speak, Nigel Bir­kett: “The fo­cus over the last few years at Scorpa has been on the suc­cess­ful two-stroke model range, but I had made en­quiries as to when a new pro­duc­tion run of the four-stroke 125 model would be­gin.

“In Septem­ber 2019, the new model Scorpa TY 125F would start to ar­rive, and my prayers an­swered. Once I had taken it out of the box, it looked so tempt­ing that I had a ride around some Lake District coun­try lanes on it, tak­ing in the odd tri­als haz­ard, and what I found pleas­antly sur­prised me. It still car­ried the same at­tributes of the older model but in a much more mod­ern way. For it to be al­lowed into the coun­try as a ho­molo­gated model, it car­ries all the as­so­ci­ated parts fit­ted to it such as the rear-view wing mir­rors, etc. The en­gine very much repli­cates the older ones and is sim­i­lar in so many ways in both qual­ity and per­for­mance, but the rest of the ma­chine is much more mod­ern.

“My thoughts then turned to the tri­als side of the ma­chine. It comes sup­plied with a change of gear­box sprocket from a four­teen tooth to a nine tooth, which in me­chan­i­cal terms is quite a big dif­fer­ence. With this in mind, I de­cided to make it my new project”.

En­try level

“It would make an ex­cel­lent en­try level tri­als ma­chine, one to get ‘bums’ on seats and started in the sport, and the price is at­trac­tive enough at £4,200 re­tail I think you will agree!

“The ma­jor­ity of the com­po­nents come from the two-stroke range any­way. The rear end is very sim­i­lar, with the seat and mud­guard unit and the rear si­lencer. The wheels are the same, but the rear has a tube-type tyre fit­ted. The R16V front forks are fit­ted, which have the steel slid­ers. At the rear, the alu­minium swinging-arm comes once again from the two-stroke range and is at­tached to the frame via the link­age with the R16V sin­gle rear shock ab­sorber.

“My first job was to turn my at­ten­tion to the en­gine. It was trimmed and slimmed ac­cord­ingly, with the kick-start lever, and gear change lever moved more in line and away from be­ing caught on ob­sta­cles. The rear-view mir­rors were re­moved and all the as­so­ci­ated wiring, along with the front and rear lights. The ex­haust front pipe had the ‘cat’ re­moved in a cut and re-weld job, which was an­other ma­jor weight-sav­ing ex­er­cise. By the time I had fin­ished I had knocked 2.5kg off the over­all weight of 82kg, this brings it down to 79.5kg with a full tank of fuel on­board.

“The all-im­por­tant elec­tric start but­ton was moved closer to the throt­tle to make life eas­ier on the hand. The ma­chine comes fit­ted with the Mi­tas tyres front and rear, but I swopped the rear for a Dun­lop to aid with trac­tion and be­cause the walls are bet­ter suited to tri­als than the Mi­tas. With the front com­pe­ti­tion, num­ber board mounted I was very happy with my hand­i­work, and it was time for the test un­der the nose of Trial Mag­a­zine.”

Four-stroke fun fac­tor

“Trial Mag­a­zine editor, John Hulme, had asked me to per­son­ally test the Scorpa so that I could ex­plain the fun­da­men­tals of the ma­chine as I tested it. I had al­ready rid­den the ma­chine in a few lo­cal tri­als, and so I was quite fa­mil­iar with how it would per­form.

“First and fore­most, the fun fac­tor from the ma­chine has to bring some en­joy­ment into your rid­ing time. It runs very well, and it puts me in mind of how over biked so many rid­ers are; in real terms, they have too much power. You have enough power on hand with this ma­chine and it ‘tracks’ very well, as I demon­strated in a very slip­pery Lake District river. The ma­chine en­cour­ages you to de­velop your rid­ing skills, but at a much more re­laxed pace than a two-stroke coun­ter­part.

“The sus­pen­sion pack­age works very well to­gether, and the four-stroke power de­liv­ery is much softer, the ex­haust note is pure mu­sic to most peo­ple’s ears. You can put the ma­chine in first gear and on tick-over speed with no throt­tle, com­plete the sim­plest of tasks in a car park to learn about bal­ance, a much-needed at­tribute in low-speed tri­als. Sec­ond gear is slightly higher but still very us­able.

“The plus-point, as we have al­ready stated, has to be the elec­tric start for any rider of any abil­ity; the kick-start lever is sim­ply a me­chan­i­cal backup. Swop­ping the gear­ing and the re­moval of the road-go­ing equip­ment is easy enough to carry out by most peo­ple, but my thoughts are that once you have mas­tered the art of tri­als you can up­grade your Scorpa by way of spend­ing money on it, some­thing we can carry out in-house at Scorpa UK to each rider’s re­quire­ments”.

It has been rid­den in a few lo­cal tri­als by Nigel, and many oth­ers who have rid­den it reckon it’s good enough for clubmen na­tion­als!

If it looks good it usu­ally is good; wel­come to the Scorpa TY 125F.

Nigel uses the good old-fash­ioned body lean as the Scorpa finds its way up the river.

Ready for ac­tion, the Scorpa TY 125F after Nigel Bir­kett has worked his magic on it.

If the ma­chine has the Bir­kett Mo­to­sport sticker on it you can guess it goes very well!

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