Tigress In your Tank,?

Well the bike is named "Vera".

 

I have been going to do this page for ages but never got around to it.

 Well I have Now.

This is one of those tales that seem to keep on re-inventing itself, when you have forgotten about it, it then comes back again.

First who is "VERA"? well she is the bike below,

 

***Photo courtesy Al- U, or "Hammertight".

 

The tale starts for me  the first time I saw the bike, which was at the Classic Trials Show at Stoneleigh in 2010.

The bike was being ridden around by journalist Tim Britton,

He was entered on the bike but problems with a misfire meant he had to use is trusty BSA B40.

With all the rush of organising the event meant that I did not take that much notice of the little bike until the event was nearly over.

Then every Tom, Dick, and Harry, were riding the little bike up and down just to appreciate the rorty note coming from the exhaust.

So what is the bike? who built it? and what is the rest of the history of the origins of the motor.

Well the bike  uses a BSA Bantam D7 frame, and hubs, Metal Profile forks are fitted.

And the engine gearbox unit is from a Triumph "Tigress" scooter TW2 from the years 1959-1964. the engine was designed by Edward Turner and is a parallel twin four stroke engine 249cc with a bore size of 56mm and a stroke of 50.6 mm. and a four speed gearbox is fitted. compression ratio has standard was 6.5:1.

So what is it doing in a trials-bike?

Well back in the day as the phrase goes ,the BSA competition and development department under the leadership of Brian Martin decided to use one of these engines, in a trials bike as an experiment, I think they got a friend of the BSA comp dept Ken Sprayson to build the frame for the project out of Reynolds 531 tubing. 

 Well it was not as if Ken would have to pay for the tubing was it.

Anyway the bike was built, but stupidly they left it lying about in view of prying eyes.

 And one day on a snap visit to the department that was now linked with Triumph, Edward Turner spied the machine.

Not Good, "Cut that Bloody thing up" he bawled, what do you think your doing building things like that without my specific permission! Well that was what the British motorcycle Industry had become, not a place for inavasion but build to a price to penny pinch where ever it could.

So what has that got to do with "Vera" I here you saying.

 Nothing at all, but someone else with a much lower budget in the early eighties decided they would see if Brian Martin had not got things wrong.

 

***Photo Courtesy Jon Cull.

 

That guy by the name of Ken Brunt  and living in Kent, thought he would keep the plot within the family so to speak so used a BSA Bantam frame to keep the wheels apart.

 topping of the build with an-alloy Beamish Suzuki  tank, was perhaps not one of his better moves.

 However it did quite fit the build "Very well sir".

Well Ken was so proud of his little trials bike (and also his wife) that he thought he would weld her name into the left hand footrest, this way he could keep her under foot whilst riding the machine so to speak.

In the end like us all he got to old and despondent keeping his foot on things and went back to being under the thumb.

So the little bike had to go,

 

Photo Jon Cull again.

 

It found a new home on the Gloucestershire border in Stroud in the hands of the late Brian Lethbridge,  and later being passed on again spent a merry time going around the county shows of the area looking proud amongst the other "gleaming examples", in the hand now of a guy named Alan.

 It was at about this time that the little machine with the name "Vera" became semi famous in some third rate movies, but she thought she was a star.

 

Title; The Best Of Classic Motorcycles.

 

 So we get back to when I first saw her in 2010 at the CTS at Stoneleigh.

 The mystery of the little machine though still continues to me.

For although she has made appearances at the shows at Telford I don't really know who now looks after her.

 

 ***Photo "123"

I have been told the Cotswold Legend Dave Moy holds her keys. but I have no proof of that?

                      Engine Design.

Going back to the engine just quickly, I said it was designed by the iconic Edward Turner

So sitting at his drawing board with his minions of the time with a few sketches on the board.

He said; so how are we going to stop the exhaust pipes burning the riders legs chaps.

With the sketch showing two lovely curved pipes coming out just where the rider sits on a scooter, that was pencilled in around the motor drawing.

Little Arthur at the back who had only started in the drawing office a week ago after leaving school, piped up and said, stick them on the side Sir. A glare that could kill came from Eddy,

Yes you know what's coming next! YOU STUPID BOY he said.

After stubbing out twenty "Senior Service" Eddy  came around to the boys thinking.

A month later young Arthur left and went to work for Mr Porche.

But he had solved the problem of the scooter engine.

 

***

I must say Young Arthur knew his stuff, he had stood in the school playground one day and said to his mates pointing at the moon visible on a clear day, we will have men walking on that one day, Yes, a chorus of "You Stupid Boy"Artie.~Oo>

 

 This is the  "BSA Sunbeam Version" of a Bantam D 5 framed scooter engined trial-bike.

This bike was built by a true working class Legend UP-North who likes to be known as "Odgie"Danaan.

 

***Photo Stu.

The bike is to be ridden by Stuart Melling in the forth coming Scottish Two-Day Trial at the beginning of May2016.

Stu is going to send me some more better photos of the bike, and get "Odgie" to do a few build notes. Later 

 

Here is "Odgies" Sunbeam BSA when he first built it.

 

Stuart Finished the Scottish Pre65 two day trial in 126th place with a loss 92 marks.

So it proves how reliable the little bike was and it has had a hard life in trials. with "Odgie" riding it most week ends at one time.

 

If you want to get your self a really good read, and a book you wont be able to put down, and is that thick in volume you could use it has a coffee table, or need to reinforce the one you sit it on.

Buy "Odgie's" Book titled "Crazy Odge"

 

The price has increased for the second printing.

You can buy a copy on e-Bay it will cost you £30 with post and packing included. Just type in "Book Crazy Odge" and it will come up.

Mine is on the way. 

If you want a copy £2 less you will have to checkout Odgie's website.  odgie.com

 

 

You Just need to buy this guys book it is "Brilliant" ,You just have to keep reading it.

Chris Evans ,Guy Martin turned you down for Top Gear, right! well unless "Odgie" did the same , and he probably would: if not, He is "YerMan"  ~Oo>

 

 Back to the Plot.

BUT we still have not found that "works" bike that still could be about,Have we!

 

Photo Courtesy Don Morley.

Is the Registration number "32 YG" still on a Porche Merc or Aston martin??

Perhaps we should ask Little Arthur.

The works bike probably has more mystery about it than the other two?

But may be not.

Anyway the works bike was not cut up but quickly hidden in the cellars below one of departments where a load more half finished projects were dumped.

 At the week ends when some of the comp shop staff were working overtime mainly on the Championship Scrambles bikes, some of these project bikes would be brought back into the daylight and played around with in the spare time .

This is how a lot of problems got solved on the competition bikes Pat (Slinn) tells me.

And don't forget that it was Pat who thrashed the twin cylinder scooters round and around the M.I.R.A. track for hours on end  trying there utmost the break the machines.

That is how testing works, and has you know it was him that did the same job with the B40 Military bikes.

The "Tigress" eventually found an escape one would think through the back door, up to Yarksheer were well I am blessed one of the old work riders lived.

His name Tom Ellis, and he had been about BSA long enough to be able to pull a few strings.

Tom must have liked the little bike for he rode it a couple of times, and even gave it the kiss of death by registering it in York(west riding) office the registration number they gave the bike was  "32 YG".

well now reistered Tom was able to sell it on to another trials enthusiast who was in the army and based at Ripon Camp Tom Dicker was his name, and when he was posted Darn Sarth, the bike went with him. he rode it a bit but then bought another bike and it was passed on to another couple of dealers that moved the bike to other trials riders that wanted something different to ride and at the time probably a very cheap machine to purchase.

 Brian Verral gave Don Morley a call to pop in and look at another bike he had in is emporium.

And Don spied the old Bitsa lying against the wall. and realised that he had seen this machine before, it was in a picture that Brian Martin had given him when Don was researching his book Classic British Trials Bikes.

Not wanting to draw attention to this bike has he was getting exited inside thinking that he may get this "works" bike on the cheap, he casually asked Brian how much he wanted for the old beat up trials bike. £10,000 or somewhere near that mark has been bandied about.

Don went limp his plan had not worked,and through all the stuttering could not get Brian to budge on the asking price.

So the bike was sold onto a person that was willing to pay £10,000 for a clapped out old trials bike. Hang on, that is a bit like it is today!!! and the bikes have not got a plate like that.

There has been a Tigress Scooter in need of full restoration sold for £2770. that to had quite a good plate on it too.

*******

Stuart Mellings Pictures of Odgies" BSA Subeam.

Before he rode it in the Scottish Two Day trial.

 

Photo Courtesy Stuart Melling.

*****

Photo Courtesy Stuart Melling.

***

Photo Stuart Melling.

"Odgies" BSA Sunbeam Trials.

 

 

Another shot of "Odgies" bike.

 

Photo Courtesy "Odgie"

And here you can see I was right about a hard life on the Yorkshire Rocks.

"Odgie" riding.

 

Thanks Stuart , just hark at that Growwwwwwl.

 

 

 

Much more later this story is going to run and run.