DON’T get me wrong, but because I’ve been around a good long time, and because many of my trialing companions seem to think I have all the answers (I haven’t), I get asked lots of questions about all sorts of aspects of this sport, but there’s one that crops up time and time again, and I’ve never covered it in any of my past columns.
Pre 65 bikes!!
Aaaaaargh, is there any subject that is more contentious? If there is, tell me, for the Pre 65 subject is one that seems to cause more debate, friendly and unfriendly, than any I know.
Basically there are three sides. Side one is the view that Pre 65 bikes should remain as they were on December 31st, 1965. Side 2 is the view that they should remain wholly Pre 65 but with some allowed alterations to take into account modern requirements and Side 3 is the view that as long as the bike looks remotely similar to a machine made 42 years (or more) ago, anything goes.
So what view do I take? Ha! You’re not going to get me on that one, or at least not as easily as that. First of all I have very little interest in the old bike scene, either Pre 65, Pre 75 or Twin-shock, no, modern bikes are my scene, simple as that.
You may consider that a strange remark having made an entry into the Pre 65 Scottish, but I consider that trial to be very special and it’s a trial that I have a desire to ride no matter what the machine requirements. It’s that good.
However, despite having been offered the loan of several machines for the trial, I shall again ride a bike that is essentially Pre 65 and certainly manufactured in the true spirit of the Pre 65 scene, courtesy of my good friend Michael Batty, who, rather embarrassingly for me, has not secured a ride!
I get all three views pressed upon me at trials and those doing the questioning always seem to expect an answer that conforms with their opinion. The most vociferous are usually those that want the Pre 65 scene to stay as it was 42 years ago, but I counter that argument with the view that no matter what you might like, the reality of life is that progress will always take place. You simply can’t run on 4-ply Dunlops, cables that break with regular frequency, Renold chains and ignition systems that are at best unreliable.
Once you take the step into the world of modern components, you have broken your vision. And as I have recently been told that Dunlop and Michelin no longer make tube type trials tyres, that fact alone will force many owners into the world of tubeless rims, and that seems sacrilege to many punters.
The bulk of the Pre 65 brigade seems to have found a compromise by keeping machines visibly approaching the original, but use modern components wherever they can. Electronic ignitions, modern fork internals, Japanese/Italian carbs, tubeless tyres etc all combine to make “old” bikes more rideable and more reliable, thus achieving the obvious aim of taking part and finishing an event on a reliable bike.
Those that go the whole hog and produce one-off specials, by and large keep clear of me, but they should not as I have every admiration of their ability in producing super-duper tackle.
And you still don’t know my personal view! But you should get an idea from the following.
As I’ve already said, it’s impossible to stay totally Pre 65. It can’t be done and anybody who thinks it can be achieved is in cloud cuckoo land. Whatever argument they come up with, I can counter immediately, simple as that.
I’ve no case against the super special builders who can churn out a new bike, bristling with all the very latest kit that improves riding, reliability and appearance. If they can engineer it, then so be it, go ahead boys and I admire you for the determination.
So that leaves the middle ground, which is where most folks are the most comfortable. Keep the bike basically pre 65 and modify where necessary to improve reliability and to keep the sport within the bounds of sensible costs. As it is, running a Pre 65er is more expensive than running a modern bike, so why on earth are we encouraging more cost by going down the genuine Pre 65/super special Pre 65 route. No, keep it middle for diddle as they say.
So there you have it, in a nutshell my views on the Pre 65 scene, for what they are worth.
Looking back over the previous seven columns for TC, it is easy to see that some subjects attract more views/comments than others. You folk seem to like contentious subjects, but they can’t be supplied every week. However, I think that the Pre 65 scene will bring in lots of comments, assuming the Pre 65 lads can stop fuming long enough to get out of their workshops where they spend every spare minute, to key a reply here!