A Guide to "Pre 65 Rules" as I see them...


And Now what should be

A"Classic Trials" format.

Or even, "Britshock" class of Machine...




                   This machine should not be classed has a Pre65 trials machine.


                               This is a "Brit-shock" bike? very loosely.


But this guy, uses this machine in the so -called Modern day trials, and I am told does very well.

Now take a look at the Third bike down.


This is also classed has a Pre 65 machine, Is it?


Just compare it with the 1963 bike below to make up your mind if this is so?




This Triumph TR20 Cub is a 1963 bike and correct in every way.


How many Triumph Cub's do you see like this today competing, and still calling the machine a so called Pre 65"trials bike...













This is a brand New 2015 built Triumph Cub, but in some quarters classed as Pre 65. Is that right?


The below was written in 2010, and things have continued to change from this date. So I will slot this e-mail in this from today 14/03/2021,

where John sent me this message to answer, and then you can see if most of the below still is more or less right...



Your message:

From John...

 Purely as a matter of interest; I read some of your thoughts on the question of what makes a pre-65 machine. Being new to trials I am at a loss to understand the whole debate. Please can you tell me why the classification doesn't follow the guidelines of normal, or 'road', registration for built up machines?

For example; if you wish to register a 'built up machine' at the DVLA you will need a V765 and ultimately the machine will, if application is successful, be age-related-dated, to the newest major component. Straightforward...

So your 1964 BSA Bantam with a 2020 frame gets a 2020 reg and therefore cannot be classed as pre 65. Likewise with the wheels and forks. Why is it more complex than that?










John. It is not more complex, and as you say if the frame is say 2020, yes that bike is indeed twelve months old and should be classed as that year of motorcycle.

Then to go and label it if for instance for sale on ebay as a Pre 65 bike to my mind is wrong, because has you say the bike or most components are NEW.

And to say it is built in a similar way to a bike that was built by any countries motorcycle trade before 1965 is also very wrong, unless it is an exact “Replica” of a machine built with the same materials and components from that age...

Even so, this machine is new, and should receive a new registration.

If machines are using an old registration from a bike previously wearing that number, this is wrong in most cases, has you say most components are usually new, so this machine should also be registered again with the appropriate year of manufacture.

I just think the people using the term Pre65 for a modern classically styled trials machine should take a close look at what they are actually stating, and if they also looked closely at what they were referring to as Pre 65 machines, and did a bit more research into how and when the majority of machines were built, they should realise that the term is very wrong, and Classic styled machine is a better description, and if made in Britain and using the old two shock suspension on the rear of the machine, “Britshock” is a much better description for this type of machine. And should get a much more favoured response...

Let me know what you think, should we drop this age related registration too? If like you say, the components are in-fact new.


Back to 2010...

OK... How I see what makes a machine Pre 65, and I am being lenient with some of my rules to just use common sense on some counts.

Don't forget that this was written in 2010 and with the amount of Newly built Classic Pre65 trials bikes that there now are in 2023... just. shows how we have streched the rule even greater in this time...


Now this is my definition of what I think should be the "Rules". and this could be pushing them to far?


A British Trials bike based on a image of a machine built before the end of December 1964.


 Now Image means,


 A machine, using an engine and gearbox available at the time, unit or pre-unit, or a derivative of this engine or gearbox (four speed, max).

IE, As per the BSA C15/B40 engine, The basic design, even though up rated  over the years past 1964, was still a development of that basic design...




 Should be one available or under test before 1965, this lets in the Amal Mk1-1,1/2  carb, and also some Italian- Japanese carbs that were fitted to bikes before the threshold.

And to my mind if these Carburettors were used on a motorcycle of any make before 1965 they should be alright to be used.




 Should be a silhouette of one built before 1965 but not necessarily one  in production, a replica of a known frame, (with Proof) should suffice?


We know that most frames are now so-called copies of a frame produced before this 1965 time line, but are they realy?

Most are made of lighter and better quality tubing than was about at the time, just cut open a Triumph Cub or BSA C15 frame and you realise that a modern day frame is nothing like the ones produced before the 1965 deadline.

And most have had the swinging arm lowered, or altered at the pivot, and the under engine frame modified or removed.

Subframes have been reduced in width, and swinging arms lengthened and widened.

 Brake drums, rims, etc should be ones available at the time no matter the nationality of manufacture, or sensible copies of the same?

 But do we really allow all of the billet parts now produced onto  a bike with a name Pre65.

 How many CNC milling machines did you see in the year 1965?


 An effort should be made to make the machine look has "British" as possible. IE, fuel tanks Etc.

Yes we did have replacment fuel tanks for our BSA's, the LYTA ones that the BSA and Triumph factory used.

 And yes, we had glass-fibre mudguards, but other types of plastic used was new to a motorcycle at that time...


Front Forks.


These should be of Pre 1965 appearance. and fitted with some protection for stanchions.

Internals can be of later manufacture, but must be stated as so on the entry form.

But should we again allow Brand Newl'y designed, and Manufactured forks hiding under a old brand name be fitted to a machine, and still call it Pre65?

 the answer is a definite NO....... but we have...

If the majority of the entry have internally altered forks, BSA/Triumph, Four stud forks will be allowed, along with other makes of fork available before 1972. If however an entry was made up of bikes fitted with genuine Pre 65 forks, the bikes fitted with the later 1971-2 forks would be able to compete, but with a penalty of 3 marks lost. Yokes to my mind can be any that are safe for the job in hand, no mater where the pinch bolts are.


Cycle Parts,


Ball ended levers (16mm) and folding footrests are a must.

(both of these for safety sake.)

Bars should be no wider than 840mm. The throttle must return to its stop, and the cable be free running.

Brake arms-rods,and cables, should be adequate for the job.


If, or should I say when, we run our own club trials,

these rules will apply, to bikes I call Pre65, others up to the seventies with British motors will be known has "Britshocks"...


It really is now time to Drop the Pre65 name tag on all forms of Classic offroad Competition.

Because we all know that the rules that have enthused ever since Deryk Wylde  coined the phrase, and he admits that mostly he was referring to the sections used at the time, and not the machines competing ...

as everyone riding in his first event's only could afford the genuine Pre65 machines then, as they were cheap, because no one wanted an old banger then...

How times change hey!




 This Ariel HT5 or the one below, or should both be classed Pre 65...?



Disagree then let me know.


Well, I have received  an unbelievable amount of interest in these rules.

And it has now spurned others with this way of thinking to try and persuade the AC-U or AMCA. to  set up a series for Club-men, with British Twin Shock machines up to 1970, with sections that are enjoyable to ride, on a machine that has not cost the earth to put together, or is still near original.

We suggest that this  series is named "Brit-Shocks".

Jan 2018.

Well we know that did not happen, and the AC-U have dropped the last so called Classic series, that was formally the Sammy Miller series of trials.

 This was said to have been dropped because of the lack of entries received for these events.

A couple of clubs including the Stratford upon Avon MCC, have decided to go their own way and run the old Sam Cooper trial using their own rules.

 I hope people will support this effort.

The BMCA still run their Classic series of trials as you know, and usually have a entry of at least thirty riders, with machines governed by their own set of rules. 

That every part of a competing machine must be of British manufacture...

This is all-right but it still lets in the dreaded billet parts, and even the NEW forks.

And I must say that the most prominent machine used now by most of the competitors, is a bike from the Now Super Brand Drayton.(2012)

I feel the series will become a one make Specials trial using this brand of machine. Am I wrong then?


The Yorkshire Classic club so I am told, seem to be having the same problem with a lack of entries to some of their trials.

Is it these NEW Super breeds of bike that has killed these entries, are the sections now being tightened even more for these money pits of machine.

And do the people that have spent £10,000 on a  brand New bike expect priority over lesser influentialy owned and put together machines.

 These two makes of lightweight machine have just flourished, through being just that, lightweight, and Mr BSA and Triumph must be turning in their graves to see what they could have done if they had kept going.

 But make no mistake about it, these two brands of New machines has killed not only the so named Pre 65 movement, but also the Classic trials scene of a whole.

And we won't start on the influence of what can be ridden in the Scottish Two day trial will we.

I have mails every day asking me what is allowed in their rules. 

And if I am going to build up a machine, and I need to build it so that I may use it in that trial.

All I say has guidance is, that the rules up there change with the wind, and unless you have a foreign passport, and a deep pocket to be able to spend a lot of money, on New billet parts, and fork and frames, etc...

 Just build a bike you can afford and ride in your local trials clubs trials that still caters for these type of machines...

The Ballet Explained.

Edinburgh Mcc Pre 65... 2018.


The ballot is not just a case of pulling 200 names out of a hat as a great many believe.

If only it was that easy! In actual fact it is a very complex procedure to ensure it is

done as fairly as possible and below we have tried to explain how we do it.

To ensure a varied mix of different makes of bike as well as riders, age, nationality,

newcomers and capacity class, all the entrants are put into different categories ready

for ballot. Our aim is to have a balance across all four of the capacity classes, ie,

approximately 50 in each cc class. This is the starting point but, by the time we

actually get to the trial, this balance won’t be as apparent due to withdrawals being

replaced by the next rider from the reserve list irrespective of capacity class.

  • When entries are received they are put into their capacity class.
  • Only those entries that arrive by the closing date and comply with the rules are

entered into the ballot. Any entrant who submits an entry with a bike that has

eligibility issues that cannot be rectified prior to the entry closing date, do not go

into the ballot. The entrant will be notified so that they can rectify it, if they wish

to do so, for the following year. Late entries are not balloted.

  • All Trophy winners (18) from the previous year’s trial are guaranteed a entry .

As long as the bike entered complies with the eligibility requirements.

  • A few places are reserved at the discretion of the committee. These are for our

sponsor’s riders, (not free of charge), and any special interest or unusual bikes to

ensure as many makes as possible are represented.

  • Riders who have been unsuccessful in the ballot for 3 consecutive years are flagged

up from the database, and given priority if their bike is eligible.

  • Approximately 25 Scottish riders are drawn from all Scottish rider applications to

ensure at least that number are in the trial.

  • Approximately 35 Overseas riders are drawn from all Overseas rider applications.

This is anyone who does not hold an SACU or ACU Competition Licence to ensure

at least that number are in the trial.

  • Approximately 35 Newcomers are drawn from all Newcomer rider applications.

This includes riders in all the categories that precede this part of the ballot to

ensure, at least, that number are in the trial.

  • All the remaining places are drawn from the remaining applications and this is

done by capacity class, to give approximately 50 riders in each of the four capacity


  • After the main ballot has been completed, another ballot takes place for the Reserve List>

These riders are notified of their reserve list number and should be aware

that they may get a ride at the very last minute.

Whilst we would love to accommodate all entrants, due to being so over-subscribed

each year, we unfortunately have to disappoint a great many. However, don’t despair,

we do have measures in place to ensure that you don’t go more than 3 years without a

ride if you enter every year with an eligible bike.




  1. Make sure your bike complies with the eligibility guidelines and, wherever possible, use genuine Pre ’65 parts and ensure that any modifications do not take it out-with the "parameters" of a “Pre ’65 design”. Remember you are entering a Pre ’65 Trial and in doing so your bike has to look like a Pre ’65 machine and keep to the spirit of Pre 65.



A total of 314 entries were received by the closing date for the 2018 Trial, and the capacity class breakdown of entrants was.

 Rigid - 5,

Up to 200cc - 76,

201 to 250cc - 124,

251 to 350cc - 54

and Over 350cc – 55.

With about 50 spaces in each of the four capacity classes available, it does not take a genius to work out that if, for example, there are only 54 entries in a class then there will only be a few disappointed, but in the case of a very over-subscribed class then your chances are greatly reduced due to the number of available spaces.



For a Classic type machine.

Faber Otter Triumph Cub is not Classed has Pre 65. But a Classic in my eyes.






Here is  some old 1960 trials footage which will give you some idea of the type of sections there were at that time.

I might add that, I can't believe the lack of grip in the latter part of the film.

So you see, you already have an advantage on us guy's back then, the tyres now-a-days "Grip".

Bring on the "TRAD" trials, but we know the time is passed, and this will not happen Now....



Don't think that it is bad news for Pre 65 Classic in all parts of the World, because it is just the opposite, which must say something.

 What we are getting wrong? When others are getting right.

 I have been told by several of our experienced Classic trials riders, that they don't bother with trials in this country (UK) any-more, but travel to the continent to do their trials riding, because they are excepted there, and people just ride what they have, and most machines are not in the super trick bracket of machine.

 Just take a look at these trials photos at a trial from Mons in Belgium in November last year.


 So what are we doing wrong not to have this type of support over here.

It has got to be what I have said above, basically too many "Trick" bikes over here.

And people are refusing to even enter a trial, with these machines treated like Royalty, while anything slightly original is frowned upon.




A few bikes that compete in France, Spain, Belgium, etc.






Just a fact that anything is ridden.

 Some superb machines, but Not just the two brands, that we seem to be obsessed with over here, and the machines in my mind that are causing the problem of entries here...



Photo's Courtesy Justyn Norek Snr.









Dick Ramplee competing at a French trial...

aboard his Foster BSA Otter...


So you see it is not all bad News, and the World is a smaller place.

But have you ever wondered why we only get continental trials riders over here for Three trials a year, and one of them is off shore....


Now with the Covid situation, most travel to compete in anywhere but your own country will be the normal for a while...

Thank goodness now over but the numbers in these so named Pre 65 trials are now far less it seems...

More Later.