Seven Best Royal Enfield Builds.

This time we take a look at the seven best, in my opinion,

Royal Enfield trials bike builds,

From the early fifties onward.


So Coming up.

 I start with the 1952 John Brittian, ISDT bike ,

 Then the John Brittian 350 Bullet that got destroyed in the National Motorcycle Museum fire but then was rebuilt.

Number Three, we look at the Peter Fletcher Bullet engined trials bike shoe-horned into a Crusader frame.

Four is the Build that went wrong for the factory the 350 Crusader of Peter Gaunts.

 Five is the 250 Pre65 Crusader that Peter Gaunt, Built.

Six is Tony Down's rebuild of the Ex Don Morley Bike, Ex works I believe.

Now Seven is a toss up, because I want to include the man who as done more for Royal Enfield over the past few years than anyone else in Britain or abroad, Allan Hitchcock, and he has a very good trials kit if you wish to build an Enfield trials bike.

So as the other bike is connected in some ways to Allan's builds I am going to  tag it onto this number Seven, It is our own build of the Replica Gaunt Crusader.







The Royal Enfield Works 1952-3-4 ISDT twins.

John Brittain is probably the best ISDT rider Britain has ever had, with 13  Gold medals over an illustrious career spanning two decades.

These Royal Enfield twins built by the factory and used for the 1952 to 1954 seasons, was part of a purple patch that offroad (and on) was going through at that time. just after the second World war.

 A young J V Brittian was signed onto be a works rider in 1949, taking over from his  father.

 And it was this young man that started the wins coming for Royal Enfield that they had deserved for a long time but just did not get.

 Basically a New Star was born, in the trial world and not only now winning one day trials on the works Bullets. J V Brittian was also a star of the International Six Days game too and the reliable Enfield twins gave him his first three Gold Medals in consecutive three years.








The John Brittain  350 Royal Enfield "Bullet" trials with Magnesium crank cases.


HNP 331, was the registration of the first one day trials machine allocated to the young John Brittian. and this number followed him on every machine that he rode in one day trials.

 The ultimate machine seemed to be the one with the New lighter roadster frame of year 1955, this machine unlike the photo above sported BSA type forks and the magnesium crankcases along with the single sided aluminium hubs that had been cast in 1949, for the use on the works machines, but using the old trick of painting them to look like steel,the ones on the bike in the museum had been polished.

 As I say the Bullet that was in the National Motorcycle Museum was destroyed by the fire in 2002. the machine was later rebuilt, but a substitute engine did not have the Magnesium parts that were on the original machine.

I have a photo from the Museum catalogue that I will substitute later.




Scanned from my copy of Don Morley's book Classic British trials bikes.


Peter Fletcher's "Shoe-Horned Bullet engined Crusader.


Now this build was a semi works effort in 1967, Peter wanted a bike that suited his size and style of riding.

And that meant plenty of power so a 500cc Bullet motor was shoehorned into a Enfield Crusader road frame.

 The only real modification needed was to alter the rear engine mounting plates and move the swinging arm pivot point back a bit.

Front forks were Ceriani that had been used also on the Peter Gaunt bike of the time......

These were fitted into modified Royal Enfield yokes.

Rickman "Mettise" hubs were also non standard to any other Royal Enfield at that time.

 This was really a last ditch attempt to retain a competitive Works bike for the Fast failing Enfield group.

 The bike apparently handled precariously to be polite. But Peter is a big bloke and the machine suited his style with the throttle open when it could be. 







Photo later of the bike, with Mr Mike Peeling aboard.


Peter Gaunt's Works 350 Crusader.

What could have been a triumph for Royal Enfield, turned into a disaster.

 It was thought that If an increased capacity to the 250 cc Crusader was used this may overcome the problem of a lack of power with the little bike,that had not been selling well due to the power thing, and carburation problems from  day one.

So an effort  was made by the comp shop to increase the cc's to 350, this meant using the Crusader cases with a machined down "Bullet" crank assembly to fit them, but retaining the better and larger con rod and big end assembly, an extra main bearing was also added on the drive side because of the extra engine torque.

 Problems were great, firstly the smaller flywheel assembly needed to fit the crankcases meant that the motor did not plonk like the old 350 "Bullets",

 and needed to be revved more, and this did not help with finding grip,or keeping a sound big-end.

But the major problems were the gearbox and the clutch. Don't forget that the gears were the same fitted to the 197cc Villiers 8E engine, and could only except that sort of power.

So if the gears themselves did not throw teeth, the clutch cried enough and either fell from the main-gearbox shaft shearing the tiny retaining key, or in some cases snapped the gearbox main-shaft in two.

You can imagine not many of these machines were made.

However Peter's Gaunt and Fletcher working on their on back carried on with the project and bored their two machines out to 360cc to qualify the bikes for the now dwindling entry in the 500 class, and this was a chance to win the 500 cup awards in National trials.

 Just a Step Too Far in a cash strapped Motorcycle industry again.






Peter Gaunt's "Pre 65" Crusader Build.

Peter had been away from the trials scene after the British factories all folded and the Suzukies Jawa's and even the Wassel bikes had seen there day.

 He took up golf and flying model aircraft to the same standard has he had with trials bikes of the sixties,

So we all do it in the end we come back to what we grow up with in our youth.

 Peter was back with the now Pre 65 scene instigated by our old friend Deryk Wylde.

 This was a chance to show his talents once more as a avid Special bike builder.

 He built what he said at the time was the best trials bike he had ever built, and there will be more later in a New series that will include about this bike the Side-valve three speed rigid BSA. 

There were a couple of more builds before the "Crusader" I seem to remember

One a C15 BSA?

So what makes the "Crusader" Special?

 The builder mostly, and his approach to always do things his way and innovate where he can.

 A "Crusader" frame was firstly stripped of all unnecessary brackets, and the steering head and rear subframe angles tweaked.

 A set of Alan Whitton Cub type alloy hubs were acquired along with a pair of Ceriani forks, a Mick Grant tank finished the rolling chassis.

So what do we know about the engine.

 Only that it was a continuous development object, until the bike was sold on to it new owner in Spain.

A Yamaha clutch was allegedly fitted behind the new welded cover,

and the gear and  clutch mechanism altered to suit the  builder.

The old carburation problems that bugged the works bike way back was sorted by Peter and Mick Grant, by fitting a Villiers S22 carburettor,and probably modification to the inlet tract.

Knowing what later went into our engine it probably runs on PVL ignition and could have the Villiers splined main gearbox shaft, that cured the problem of the clutches falling off.

 I believe the bike ended up with an alloy barrel like ours too.

All in all what Peter would have done to his "Works Crusader" if we had wound back a few years.






Tony Down's superb rebuilt ex works bike.

Tony has pages about the rebuild of this superb and different machine.

Last used in anger over here, (Tony a Brit lives in the States). in the 2005 Pre65 Scottish trial.

I will get Tony to give me details on the  bike and build when I contact him.

So More later on this one.









 Allan Hitchcock"s

 Royal Enfield "Trials Kit"

The link between Allan's Trial  kit, and our "Peter Gaunt Replica Crusader" above, is that when we started the project I sent my brother of to "Hitchcocks"to buy a gasket set for the bikes engine that at the time I was going to rebuild.

 Two hours later brother arrived back not with just a gasket set but an alloy barrel that had been one from a batch that Allan had had cast. but that had been some time in the past, and the only reason this was still there was that the machining had been off centre, so the barrel was dumped, well our engineer machinist at that time Paul said he could sort the problem, with the barrel, which he did,

So to the short version, there is a page on this bike.

 Brother was up and down to Hitchcock' s on a regular basis while we were building the bike and in another conversation whilst  there, had been told that Ray at Redditch was the guy to sort the motor.

 So all the engine and gearbox parts were bundled into the pick-up and off to Ray , you need to read that story on that page.

 But there is a lot of parts in that bike from Allan Hitchcock's including the superb alloy tank, and I was in the progress of making one like the Mick Grant tank at the time it arrived , NO contest it had to have the Hitchcock tank too.



Write ups Later .


 But for now enjoy the Photos. Thanks, Deryk Wylde, Lee Prescott.

 Allan Hitchcock and Don Morley, last Tony Down.

also "Otterman" 



Seven Star,Production©.