The "EXIT' trials Bikes.

Part of the Seventy Years stories pages...

This is the story of my trials bike brand that never got launched... until Now...

 

MotorCycle 1967...

This is the DMW that inspired me at the time...

 

The “Exit” trials bike…

Way back in 1966-7 I had set up a small workshop to pursue my dreams of making a living working for my self, one day... I had been very  keen on the welding I had done firstly while doing my agricultural engineering apprenticeship at Youngs garage Banbury, and then again with the welding I had done at North Bar garage, also along with building the trials bikes I had built, and constructing trials sidecars using new tubing and sometimes tubing from old cycle frames.

 I had initially learnt the welding tehqnicues and the knowledge required  from my weekly lessons at the North Oxfordshire Tech College  where I was on an agricultural maintenance course for two days a week. This is when I was fourteen and fifteen years old. 

 

In 1967 I acquired a second hand set of gas bottles, and 

an old power hacksaw had also been bought from the local scrap yard. and an anciant floor standing pillar drill...from mate Owen Turney.  This was first all set up in a "Headon" steel framed double garage at the bungalow where we had not long moved. For the first couple of years this is where we started to do the odd jobs at weeknds has I was still working for North-Bar Garage at that time 1966-7...if you have read some of the other pages you will see that in 1967 one of my tasks at the garage was to build up the pair of new Cotton Villiers 37A engined trials bikes, for later to be my twin brother in laws... building these two bikes got me thinking that I could build trials bike frames like this and they where not has complicated as a road race frame like I had been dabbling in, and converting that Cub to a race bike had left me without a trials bike to ride and play with .

What we did not know at that time was that within a couple of years Norton-Villiers has they were now known, would be pulling the plug on the supply of these engines...

 

End of 1967 time to jump ship and start working for your self I thought, I had left North-Bar garage, and worked a couple of months for John Smith up the end of the same road, but did not get on with the camping salesmans job. 

I needed a decent ark welder to do some of the jobs that was offered me  so had to reluctantly sell my Cotton Telstar race bike to Bill Smith at Chester to be able to afford a new one, so bought the best at the time a Pickhill from a company in Newbury Wilts.

A new fabrication shop was needed, so a steel portal framed building  was made, the steel stanchions I made was the first job the Pickhill welder did,  and the second hand roof trusses had come from an old chapel in Adderbury that had been knocked down, and not far away from where we were. The roof was big six asbestos second hand sheets from a farm sale… I was in business to make anything at the time and do repairs on anything the local farmers brought to me.

I still had a couple of bikes tucked under the work bench the Ariel Leader that I was converting into a race bike and fitting twin carbs, and the ex Rodney Gould Gold Star that I had now fitted into a Norton featherbed frame…also my TR20 Triumph trials Cub that I had converted into a formula racing bike.  In my spare time I used to stare at that bike and regret at that time and now carrying out that operation, I should have built the Ariel race bike and left the Cub as it was.

I will build me that trials bike I thought. And you can just still get new Villiers engines from various outlets even 9E's from Pride & Clarke…

I had the pair of Ariel leader alloy hubs that I had thought of using on the Ariel Race bike but the front was just too small, and I had an Oldani magnesium hub tucked under my bed so was going to use that.

So I could use the Leader hub for my trials bike. I also had a spare Triumph Cub rear hub that I had kept has a spare for the racing bike along with a WM2 flanged alloy rim.

An advert in one of the weekly motorcycle mags at the time had Sprite selling REH new trials forks for what I  thought was a good price, and I had a job lined up with one of the farmers converting some artic trailers making up the front bogies for use as farm trailers towed by a tractor, so this job would finance a pair of the new forks. I had been playing with glass-fibre for a while since 1960 and had started making a few motorcycle parts like racing seats, number boards, and mudguards and still had the original trials tank I had made in 1960, so I thought I will make a GF tank to that pattern for the trials bike, and a pair of guards too.

 

The 1962 DOT frame that I loved so much...

So all I needed was a frame, and I still had an idea in my head from first looking at that 1962 DOT in the Taylor-Dow showroom, and the DMW-Ambassador frame I had seen in a 1967 Motor Cycle magazine  and also what I had seen on my past weekly rides most weekends during the winter and in mostly National trials as Dan Shorey's sidecar passenger… we always checked out the interesting solo bikes in the car parks before the start, as usually the sidecars started last more times than they did first.

  I had taken interest in the number of newly framed Villiers engined machines that had sprung up at this time, with British manufacturers trying to build a machine that would try to knock the ever increasing Spanish Armada off the top spots, some became winners, but most were just at best first class award winners against the mighty Miller and a few more Spanish bike pilots. But there now still seemed like a market for these re-framed Villiers trials bikes as I called them, and these had all stemmed from that Frank Hipkin Sprite a couple or three years before in 1964, and these and others were now turning up every week,  and New Brands still also appearing. Most interesting... And I had a dream of trying to jump onto this band wagon you know...

 

 

And the DMW -Ambassador frame I thought was interesting...

 

The idea was also fueled by my old mate Owen Turney saying if you build um I can sell um. I had still been buying a few bikes from him but I would own them one week and he would roll back up a couple of weeks later and persuade me to sell them back to him.. and I always wanted the money. I still to this day do regret selling him  back a fore and aft engined Douglas speedway bike and the biggest regret a BSA 440 Victor in as new condition. I should have kept that bike.

The reality was however that on a Monday morning the door would knock, or even before that, mother would say, such and such had been around, and could you weld this and that up, and the more you got into the day and then the week, more and more work would turn up…

I then was encouraged by a mate who had started an agricultural tractor Contracting business, drilling corn and hedge-cutting, along with the usual harvest duties. “Buy a tractor and give us a hand he said”… So the money earned for the forks were put into buying that David Brown 900 tractor, and the Triumph Cub race bike also had to go.

I got to draw up the frame I wanted to make for the trials bike on the inside of a Kelloggs Cornflake box, back in 1967, the frame mainly using 1 1/4” square RHS 16 guage tube for the main frame front loop, and top two tubes, and 3/4” 16 guage square for the seat tubes, with the only round tube the mudguard loop… and ERW rectangle swinging arm 16” inches long was to be used. I realised later how many were thinking along the same lines at the time… But they got the time to build their frames. Eventually  with me doing more and more welding repairs, along with the agricultural  contracting, even the Rodney Gould Gold Star Norton had to go to buy a blown up Fordson diesel Major that I bought and then fitted a Thames Trader 4D engine into it  for high speed corn drilling.

I was also into a new line instigated by that ecentric chap Owen Turney again, he had started buying from Buckingham mail depot Morris Minor Post Office vans, and said it is a pity they are not pickups or I could sell the lot. I scratched me head and had another "I can do that" moment. So I did, I used to cut the bodies down to pickup level fit a new pickup back cab scuttle panel that was used for the pick ups ,  just bolt on that part, then I fabricated new tail gates and edges for the sides... and those pick up conversions sold like hot cakes...

I had not rode with Dan Shorey as trial passenger since I packed up at the garage but was hoping we could start to ride again as I enjoyed it that much. 

Then in 1969 Dan decided to pack up racing full time, and only did a few of the English meetings as more of an hobby now than a business, he was fed up of the traveling abroad. And he had  set up a furniture removal company and this meant there was no time for the trials riding in the winter either, so that put an end to our trials career for a time I thought.

One of the farmers that we had grow up helping or hindering from an early age, and this was the farmer brother had visited more than me, I grew up on his cousins farm, anyway he had a big old shire cross horse he needed looking after for a while  so brother had volunteered for the job and converted part of the large garden shed where I had kept my bikes into a stable. Now this Old (young) horse was big, and if it had wanted to get out of this stable it had only needed to walk forward and the shed/stable would have gone with it………… I have told you this tale in the "Seventy Years Of "Page … But getting into horses  we got to meet a few of the gentry from the area, and I had already been doing repairs for some of them, and some work on the horse box trailers that they had. After going to a few of the local horse shows and getting involved following the local hunt as you did at that time growing up in the country. I started to take an interest in the construction of the motorised horse boxes there were at the time, and thought that using the knowledge I had gained with using ERW steel tube on a few projects along with the trials sidecars I had built, It would be a good idea using this tube for the frame work of these boxes, and the partitions, and could not see why some of the more established motoriesed  horse-box manufacturers had not thought of using it. I had copied a couple of methods that they had used using hot rolled steel channel and then filling them with wooden ash strips covering the bolt heads and nuts that held on the planking, and although they did look good, when painted and varnished they were very heavy and  a lot of work when you could just self tapper the boards into this ERW steel tube section. 

I went one step further by finding a manufacturer of large scarf jointed marine ply panels and used these instead of the planks of wood which made the structure not only lighter, but also more stable and robust.

So I became a motorised Horse box manufacturer nearly over night. And the first to use this method of construction that they eventually used… another bit of history… After one had sold everybody wanted one.

I was even buying some of the Bedford TK chassis from Dan Shorey and through his mate Jimmy Miller the fair ground boss from Bristol.. so Dan and I kept in touch... even when we had moved on from motorcyles for a while...

And the thought of building the EXIT trials bike frames got forgotten in time. Until I got back involved with the Now Classic trials bike scene in the year 2000…   You can read the later full story of  horse-box activities in my "Seventy Years Of" pages…

If I can get to make one of these Exit Trials frames to complete the story I will…   

 

 

More Later...

2022...

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