The Readers Page .

For your e-Mails to me that you would like published.



Well who would have thought a few months back that we would have a Readers Page?

Well we do.


After the many contacts I have received, with tales of the bikes that you either own, or are it the process of building, or rebuilding. I thought we would share your tales with the rest of the followers of the site, so this is where the stories are going.




Charlie Prescott.

BSA Otter…


Let’s sum up what BSA Otter has achieved over ten years.

Has it been worth it and should we continue?

One day in June twenty ten, we were organising a lifetime dream of running a trials show event, that I thought would portray the machines of the past decades  that were now gradually being forgotten. So I spent a solid month on the phone to potential competitors for the trial. The idea was to get has many British four stroke machines as I could fine and ridden by the best trials riders on these machines the British Isles had produced. So a list of the hundred top machines and competitors was drawn up.

 Then starting at the top of that list I worked my way through ten or twelve of those names per day, some times more, not one of the people I phoned dismissed the invitation, and word soon got out about the event, and that meant that I even had individuals phoning me to say they should be on that top one hundred list, and then they would reel off their trials achievements. Great stuff, the list grew, and eventually we nearly achieved our goal of one hundred competitors willing to attend the event. Then I started getting others calling me, saying could we not include two-stroke bikes as well, and then riders of twin shock Honda’s asked if they could compete too. Lee started a website for the show “The Classic Trials Show.Com”, so I said I should convert my blog pages that I had started in about 2005 into a website for the BSA Otters that I now owned two of,  along with the Scott Ellis replica I was building, I also had started on frames for the Top Cat Cub version, and another BSA, the OOTC. So this is what I did, and then after the Classic Trials Show had ended, I decided to carry on with the BSA Otter site, as I thought I may find out more about the breed, than I knew at that time. Then over the next few years the site had shown so much interest that it grew like “Topsie”, so we also incorporated other aspects into the site, and eventually anything to do with Classic trials bikes, twin-shocks included. A full time job for an old man that still wanted to build trials bikes of a classic nature. Despite illness holding him back… But this BSA Otter website has kept him going when some days staying focused was very difficult… So, where do we go from here? It is a job to know at the moment, as trials sport has been effected so much by this world wide pandemic, and sport has had to take a back seat while we try to break free from its clutches. We may find that the rules of the sport needs to change into a different format, to be able to control any further developments of the disease.

The new bike builds last year seemed to increase, even with the lack of competitions, and this gave us with bikes in sheds something to do, and keep us sane. I am wondering with the amount of new Metisse frames that are being made and sold, that the emphasis is now swinging more to the side of green-lane-ing as a way to get out into the countryside on your motorcycle. Although scrambles bikes are also getting manufactured… The problem for both trials and scrambles is that we will now be restricted to competing in this country for some time, as I see it, and I know a lot of the truly Classic competitors loved to travel abroad to those week end events over seas. So the BSA Otter site will keep doing what it has always done, and go with the flow of what ever happens next, and we may even incorporate a couple of Metisse builds onto the pages…


Stay Safe…




Money Talks?

When it comes to UK P65 trialling in 2018 its pretty clear that money certainly does talk, as any idea of maintaining any sense of authenticity in relation to the specifications and appearance of the most competitive machinery being used, is something that has clearly been abandoned some years ago!

The knock-on effect of allowing what are essentially highly developed modern twin-shock machines to compete in even the highest-level UK “P65” events has been reduced entries, increased costs and ever greater numbers of more authentic machines falling into disuse or being sold to collectors or speculators keen to make a quick buck.

This has come about as obviously very costly Brit powered twin-shocks certainly don’t appeal to everyone, with the £8k+ price tags putting many off.

Curiously though we have a homologation process which suggests that a pair of billet cartridge forks or a chrom-moly chassis both produced in 2018 and bearing no resemblance whatsoever to anything ever produced by any motorcycle manufacturer prior to Christmas 1964, are astonishingly wholly acceptable, while taking issue with cheap and easily available parts such as late 60s Triumph/BSA forks which are far more in keeping with the original ethos of the P65 movement! There are many instances of this sort of thing and unless those setting the eligibility criteria are blind, it would seem that allowing the modern bikes and parts is quite deliberate, as is banning anything far less effective, much more era specific and of course far less costly?

While it would be very wrong to suggest that money (or in-kind inducements?) have been provided to enhance the possibility of modern day machines and parts being designated as “P65” this is something that has been suggested by people very close to those setting the eligibility rules and does perhaps explain the preponderance of brand new Brit powered twin-shocks competing in all UK P65 events nowadays?

It would be very interesting to hear any alternative views on this curious situation? However, perhaps its now too late to save P65 in the UK, as it does seem very clear that money certainly does talk and has a voice which is an awful lot louder than the voice of reason, which seems to be quietly saying there is a very urgent need for a “Britshock” class and for modern machines to be excluded from serious P65 competition!

 Cid  South.


Charlie.~Oo> Thank's Cid I feel you may have hit the Nail on the Head.




A response to my explanation about fibromyalgia. etc, from Steve Townsend.


Your message:
 Hi Charlie
Hope your feeling a bit better today. It's been a bit quite on your website recently and I can appreciate how much of your time it must take up with all your projects you have on the go but even though comments etc have been a bit quit lately I for one am still here following you. Although I don't get as much work done on my bikes as I should it's your website that gives me the inspiration to keep pressing on so keep up the good work.
Did you get much interest in the Otter frames you where going to build? I know you built the one for yourself but was interested to know if you had any orders.
I'm having a bit of a sort out of my parts at the moment as I find if I've got a set of Crankcases etc sitting around I need to build a bike from them and before you know where you are you have got half a dozen projects on the go and not enough funds to finish any of them! I've got some c15 and b40 stuff which is good usable stuff which would be better going to a good home to be used rather than sitting here tempting me to start something else which won't get finished so if your struggling to find something let me know and if I've got it I'll look after you.
Are you going to the the Banbury steam rally, normally a very good weekend with a nice relaxed atmosphere which takes you back to the way things where in the past. If you are I'll meet you in the beer tent and buy you a beer if your interested.
I have an interesting project in the future building a replica engine for what is believed to be a prototype of the 350 Ccm trials bike which a French friend of mine has. not convinced the frame is what he thinks it is and not sure I have the enthusiasm to build a replica of an engine that wasn't very successful in its day let alone competitive now but that's another story.
Keep up the good work Charlie
Regards Steve Townsend

Hi Steve.

 Thanks for your continued support.
My illness sees me up one day, and down the next, but in the summer most days are good.
Yes I have neglected the site recently, because of the above, I like to get stuff done while I feel OK. 
Then while at the workshop I get roped in to do stuff for my brother as well. He never gets around to putting most of his expensive bike projects together.
Steve Mc Queen replica Metisse, Hailwood replica Honda, several Ariel trials bikes, ETC, and now a Derbi fifty racer.
 So I have to sort things for them as well.
 Perhaps I should put some of these onto the website.
Otter frames, yes I still plan to build the five up for sale, and have interest from out of the country.
 Lee my son is going to build them in his new workshop at the yard along with his cycles.
 But after comments from a guy in the USA that wants one, I intend beefing up the swinging arm box first. this is why I need to get my frame up and running.
 To test the modifications.
I will try and get to the rally, as I need to se my mate with the BSA’s Ted Freeman there.
I will let you know if I can get there.
 Nice to here from you again.
Can I use the letter?
 As this leads into my explanation.
 Be in touch Steve. and thanks again.
 Regards Charlie.
Chris McConnell.
Hello Charlie,
Great to see how busy you've been on the site recently, it's my first port of call any time I sit down at the computer.
Wondered if you'd made much progress on the "Otter on the cheap" project - I'm really keen to see how that one turns out (and to start my own).
Sorry to see you've been under the weather with fibromyalgia recently - my mother-in-law suffers from the same, its a horrible condition. You have my complete respect for managing to get so much done!
Looking forward to following the Ariel build, all the best!
Hi Chris,
 Nice to hear from you.
Yes I have done a bit more on the OC Otter,
 Just need to get the front frame diamond done on the Foster jig as soon as I can get to it over the next couple of weeks,
 All the rest is there ready for the build, so need to crack on with it.
 I will try and update the page this week with some photos.
Even got the big tig welder installed now so I can weld the alloy tank Etc.
 Just need the sun to keep shining that helps a great lot.
Thanks for your support. 
Regards Charlie.
2 emails within 2 days....
I saw you had asked the question on the site about "how to keep the classic trials scene going forward" and I've had a go at writing a response to that.
I got a bit carried away, and wrote a lengthy response - the jist of it being why dont we start building Otter type twinshocks, but use the running gear from tatty modern bikes that can be picked up very cheap. A bit like how Mike Waller is building a Yamaha engined Norton at present, except you could build say an Otter type frame with most of the running gear from an old £500 Gas Gas or Beta.
Essentially classic twinshock style bikes, but with dare I say better running gear, which is readily available and cheap! Definitely not for the precious Pre 65 types, but maybe an idea for the shed tinkerers who like to engineer their own bike, and who prefer the look of the old bikes.
I've written a fair bit about the pros and cons of it all, I'll send it to you to read if you think it's a fair idea.
Interested to hear your thoughts, I know you like a bit of controversy as the man behind the pitbike engined Otter!
Hi Chris,
 Good man,
 Minds thinking along the same lines.
 I have had a conversation about just what you have said, with a Classic Trials friend for a long time. and we both agree that is one way to get interest back. with out spending a fortune on the “Trick Bike” parts.
I was only looking at my spare 250 Chinese engine sat on the bench yesterday, it was for the TSB sidecar but now they have pulled the plug on our charity ride this year it is just sat there.
And I have tied with the idea to put one of these into a “Otter” frame for a long time.
May be now is the time, If I can find the time to build another frame, but I did make two versions of the Foster Otter steering heads yesterday, and could cut two lots of tubes at the same time...
 We will see...
 Please send me what you have written and we can start the ball rolling, may be this is the shot in the arm we need.
 Thanks or your interest once again...
 Regards Charlie.
Chris> As per previous - here is my answer to your question - I hope it doesn't prove too controversial...
Hi Charlie
I see you asked for readers' thoughts on "how to keep the classic trials scene going forward."
I've got an idea that has been in my head since I first started browsing your Otter site. I'm sure that it will disgust some of your readers, but I'd be keen to hear your thoughts - please hear me out...
The classic bikes can be prohibitively expensive (or at least they can be - look at the Scottish...). The bikes and parts are in some cases 60 years old, and are pricey and becoming scarce. I think rather than the nostalgia, what we love about these bikes is the tinkering in the garage, and riding something that still looks like a motorcycle over challenging terrain.
For those with an interest in classic bikes, surely the answer is to build an "Otter" style bike using some - or all of - the running gear from a modern donor? It's a bit like the idea behind Mr Waller's Yamaha Commando really.
I don't know if anyone other than me finds this appealing, but I'd be really keen on a classic looking bike, but with disc brakes, good forks, and readily available spare parts. Built at home, on a budget. The sort of thing you could go exploring forest trails with at the weekend, take the kids a ride on, and still compete with at club level trials. It seems like a logical progression from your own pitbike engined "Otter."
I can imagine the detractors will be scribbling away furiously already, and I acknowledge this might seems a strange exercise to some.
You would be taking a serviceable modern bike, and rebuilding it in a pre-65 frame which would make it heavier and "less capable." It would also cause an uproar over which class to ride it in.
I think it would be a lot of fun...
I say that only a small percentage of club riders actually can or need to use modern bikes to their full potential (compare a club trial to an indoor championship round from the past 20 years and tell me I'm wrong), so even if the modern running gear was "handicapped" by the pre 65 type  frame, it would hardly make any difference to the majority of riders. They might enjoy their "modern classic" more!
The bikes would be ridden in a twinshock class - hopefully without any fuss, and might even gain some following.
The second hand market is full of tatty £500 modern bikes which do not age well at all. Broken, missing and irreplaceable plastics, peeling decals, and outdated looks as fashions change from year to year.
I think the best home for these would be in a shed built modern-classic twinshock. A useable, good looking bike which could be maintained at a reasonable cost.
I'd love to build an "Otter", but the prospect of investing in an old engine and sourcing the required "correct" parts scares me off.
However, having a mig welder, and lathe at my disposal, as well as a background in CAD I'm pretty confident a frame could be designed and built to accomodate a donor bike for significantly less than what an off-the-shelf new Cub frame costs. 
From the donor, if so inclined, you could use the majority of parts, including the wheels, forks, yokes, bars, controls, engine, cooling system, footpegs and brakes - unless you were a purist, or had some genuine pre 65 goodies in your shed, and could afford to mix and match.
You might even manage to sell the leftovers to offset some of the cost.
A "pre 65 style" bike with modern mechanicals is surely taking what I consider the best of the best and putting it together on a sensible budget.
Let those who have more money and skills than me argue about precious pre 65 classes and the Scottish.
I want a cheap and reliable, classic looking twinshock bike.
Not a modern interpretation of a Cub with hidden fork internals, or a modern "plastic fantastic" with fuel injection and multiple engine maps.
You need only look at the success of Mutt Motorcycles, and see how popular their chinese engined classic looking bikes are to get an idea how much traction this idea could have.
This idea of taking the best bits of a worthless "modern" donor and putting it into something more time-honoured is not competely unheard of.
There is a large community of kit-car builders fabricating clones of Lotus Super Sevens (know as "Locosts") in their garages at home using the guts from Ford Sierras, and latterly Mazda MX5s which have rotted away around sound, dependable mechanicals.
Again, look at the Britannia Yamaha Norton - see what fun you can have when not stifled by class regulations. 
This modern donor idea is something that appeals to me, and who knows, I might even build one.
Failing that Charlie, I'd love to see your own interpretation of a Gas Gas Otter, or even a ShercOtter.
I admit, Im not too familiar with the old bikes, and I haven't taken a new bike apart for a few years - so I hope there's not some fundamental flaw in my plan here... If there is, I'm sure someone will shoot me down soon enough.
Hopefully before I crank up the welder.
Would love to hear your thoughts...
All the best,
  Hi Chris, with what you had said to me this morning spurred me on to get the front Diamond for the "OC" Otter. project  started this afternoon, and also another steering head for the "250 Chinese engined "Otter" to follow.( No Name yet, not thought of one.)
Guy's please give us your comments on this subject ,It is interesting and one some of us have been considering for some time.
It is now time we made up the rules, and are not dictated to from people who have NO interest in the sport moving forward at all, unless they can make loads of money from it.





"Blinded By The Light"

Quote;> "Behind the scenes the ACU spends a lot of time trying to ensure that land access remains available for our sport." 
I think anyone who has bothered to take much notice of ACU operations over the years will be well aware of how ridiculous the above claim actually is!  Worryingly though the public admission that the ACU is essentially doing nothing whatsoever to properly represent member interests concerning land access is saying loud and clear the organisation is not fit for purpose! 

Motorcycle sport always remains the poor relation and this is ably demonstrated by contrasting the inaction of the ACU in regard to post Brexit land access matters to that of cyclists who use the countryside:  

The fact is that post Brexit when EU subsidies are withdrawn from UK farmers, things like access to the countryside will be perceived by the UK government as a "public good" and will become an important element in relation to calculation of future subsidies provided directly by the UK government. That the "behind the scenes" ACU types seem to be wholly oblivious to this, once more strongly suggests that the organisation is moribund, lethargic and is motivated only by profit!

Maybe its about time the dead wood currently blighting the ACU is replaced and rather than languishing in various bank accounts and paying for frequent and very lavish overseas travel trips, the substantial ACU financial resources are used to promote and advance the best interests of UK motorcycle sport, and the dead wood coming out with preposterous public statements on low traffic trials chat forums becomes a thing of the past

Very Best Regards

Chris Stevens.



Mike Waller,


Hello Charlie.

                I have just been reading the latest letters on the Pre 65 issue.

I think that two completely different problems are being conflated and people are looking for one solution. As I mentioned in my last letter I think that OUR idea of vintage trials is going to disappear because it does not appeal to younger riders.

Therefore we have the growth of the "modern" vintage trials bike and the type of trials that that engenders. That is one problem.

The second problem is Pre 65 rules, i.e. what constitutes a Pre 65 trial, and that is completely different.

I have people who will not ride my trial because it is "non stop" and, unbelievably to me, they consider the modern techniques, particularly hopping are the only way to ride.

They are looking for a vintage bike that rides like a modern one, and they should of course be able to have what they want.

To get them to attend a trial and so increase the numbers, organisers must put on what are basically modern trials for those bikes.

                The second problem is what is a Pre 65 trial.

And to me that is a stupidly simple question.

It is what it was meant to be in the first place, bikes and modifications that were available before 1965, and the sections that suited them.

Now this is where the two arguments overlap and become confused.

If you want large attendance you make a trial for everyone, if you want a trial for Pre 65 you restrict the bikes accordingly and simply accept the low attendance if that is what happens.

An analogy that I use here in the US is that a Pre 65 trial that allows all the modern equivalents is like a Civil War re-enactment where, instead of muskets and cannons, people have automatic weapons and rocket launchers.

Yes, you are on the site of the original battle, yes you are in the right uniform and yes you are replaying the battles tactics, but, and it is a big but, it could never have happened the way they are portraying it.

Pre 65 is more than about the bikes, it is about the trials, and you can't run a trial with bikes that did not exist in the event that you are trying to emulate.

                So people stop arguing.

Accept that the two things, Pre 65 and "trick" modern built bikes, are inherently incompatible.

Put on suitable trials and accept that the people who turn up are the ones that you want, whether it is 100 or 10.

Enjoy what you want to ride and stop trying to make everyone happy at once.




About the Survey.

Hi Tone, Doesn't first question answer the second?.

The new build bikes are more than capable of doing twin shock sections.

If you were setting out pre65 type sections the choice of venues would be greater as you don't need such tight and twisty sections.

And I think the owners of genuine machines only want to ride to the machines capabilities and not risk damaging their machines or them selves.

cheers Brian



I think the modern bike thing relates very much to freedom of choice. Without proper rules or machine classes going modern is realistically the only choice for anyone who is in the slightest bit competitive, and of course all the many also rans who are never likely to win anything ever and tend to ape the better riders.

Be good to have some sensible thoughts from modern riders, but I think as the majority seem to be rather selfish and stupid, that gibberish along the lines of "Dick Barton" is probably all that can be expected.



Charlie~Oo> Firstly Dick, I do look forward as well as back. have you seen my "Mini Otter pages.

And if you want to spend your money on a modern bike that is up to you, you could spend the same on a cruise around some exotic island.

I love innovation I used to work on F1 car parts,etc.

It is the categorising of the current scene, that needs to change.

It has been suggested that the modern take on Pre 65 should probably have a "S" added to the title and most bikes would run in that class Pre65 Specials.

This may even encourage more guy's to have a go at the sport, if buying a new bike is the way forward in this country of ours, and let the guy's on the continent take up our old mantle.

 It is up to you, I would like to hear from riders of the modern take on the sport because their opinion does count, to the way we should proceed.

So send in your opinion guy's... The page is here waiting.






I have been reading the letters on your page with interest.

 Talk about being one side argument. Or it would be anyway as bias as you are with your rantings.

 The time you are talking about belong with you and your age, god did you ever have a life? Or have you always lived in the past.

 Things move on you know and times change, if we all looked back like you the world would never move forward. Sport move on you know and if after working a life time int insurance office looking after your interest know doubt, have you got the few old bikes you obviously own insured?

 Anyway If I want to spend my retirement money ont newly built Pre 65 trials bike I will.

 I am not an expert rider but if I go out for trial on a weekend I want something I know I can start and it will keep running for duration of event.

 I don’t want to faff about adjusting point even if I could and the last thing I want is to own tool kit, other people do that for me. 

They enjoy building trials bike up, I don’t so why should I want to get my hands dirty messing with old antiquated machine.

The only reason there are fewer Pre 65 trials bike, and to be honest I think that is all in your head too, is because the more people harp on about it, the less people take up the sport. Would you go and spent you’re hard earned cash on a sport you say is in decline.

 Luckily most of us take no notice of you or your old cronies, and we just love comparing our new Pre 65 machines, to see how much better we can make them. The new forks I have just fitted now make riding over bumps much smoother and are worth every pound I spent on them the knows.

So why would want to ride bike like, with old forks and no springing.

So your argument is like told hovis loaf gone stale.

 Don’t expect put it on your coulomb any way. 

Dick Barrton.




Telford, Have you been to



Telford 2018?
"Over the weekend of 17th -18th February after a visit to the Telford show I would guess many more will have now decided to take the easy route to "P65" nirvana with purchase of a Scottish two day approved modern machine?

Its very difficult indeed to detect any resemblance between the 2018 take on a "P65" machine and anything made in the 1960s. That the modern machines are far more competitive and capable than anything even vaguely authentic is supported by a quick look at the results of any classic event in the UK (all run under Scottish 2 day eligibility rules).

This is all very well for the producers of modern day "P65" machines and parts, but means that anyone who cant afford a modern bike is going to be hopelessly outclassed machine wise even in the easiest of club competitions. From the ever reducing entries at some club level events though it looks like many riders of more authentic bikes who cant afford or dont want to go modern are staying away now?

Whether there is any commercial relationship between those producing modern day "P65" bikes and parts and those who set the eligibility rules is unclear. If there is no commercial relationship though perhaps visits to "Spec Savers" (Spec-Savers) would be in order for those determining eligibility matters here in the UK?

However musings on the possibility of commercial arrangements between rule setters and producers is not likely to reverse the trend of ever reducing entries, which has come about in the wake of almost all club level P65 events here in the UK being dominated by costly modern machinery.

A very easy way to address this would be for clubs to introduce a "P65S" class which would cater for the modern day machines, and essentially be open to anything with a P70 motor, twin-shocks and drum brakes. From the ever reducing entries its pretty clear that something needs to be done and if organisers continue to support Scottish 2 day thinking on eligibility that before much longer running events will be no longer be commercially viable in some cases!"

Looking forward from the back as always.
Yours Ray Furness.




After updating the Pre65 Rules page yesterday. I have received a letter from a fan of the original machines, and not a bike that was built up from New 2018 parts yesterday.

This is what he says, if you would like to comment, on this letter.

Just send me your feelings on this issue and I will publish it without alteration.


Dwindling entries?


It’s not really possible to seriously suggest that a modern day lightweight chassis kit fitted with a highly modified Bantam or Tiger Cub power unit, billet hubs, cartridge forks etc, etc, is anything other than a thinly disguised modern twin-shock! The fact that these machines are so much more effective than anything era specific is ably demonstrated by the large numbers being sold.

However, it would appear to be the view of those who have assumed the role of homologating P65 machines and parts for use in all UK competition (Scottish 2 Day organisers) that there is NO requirement for the modern machines to bear any sort of visual resemblance to authentic era specific bikes, or to use major parts such as motors produced in specific era?

While the STD (Scottish two day) organisers who have set themselves up as the de-facto authority who determine all P65 technical and eligibility issues in the UK, it would appear they are completely oblivious to the knock-on effects of defining modern recently produced machines as P65 which are allowed to compete in all UK events?

Several long-established UK P65 clubs now commonly run events where several classes are often comprised almost wholly of entrants riding STD homologated Brit twin-shock machines. For well off riders who may be unable to build an authentic bike or cope with the intensive maintenance schedule that is linked to P65, paying from £7 to £15k + for a custom made bespoke modern brand-new machine appears to be an attractive option.

One of the knock-on effects of running events catering mainly for what are Brit powered twin-shocks is that the going becomes far harder and that anyone unable to afford a modern machine is in many cases at a considerable disadvantage to those who do have all the very latest STD homologated bikes and parts.

Even though many riders of older machines no longer able to cope seem to have packed in, rather than the creation of a specials class for the twin-shocks to address this, the STD homologation process continues, entries carry on dwindling, and the idea of a sport where participants can enjoy themselves riding older bikes plays very much second fiddle to the propagation of back biting and bullshit!

It would seem the STD organisers are seen to be almost godlike by competitors and prospective competitors in the STD event! There is never any sort of criticism or comment regarding these people, as the majority seem to understand that speaking out of turn will mean the prospect of getting an entry is pretty much zero. Clearly this is one of the main reasons why the STD role in homologating modern machines and parts as P65 has never been challenged.

Should we allow this to continue or should we look toward a system similar to that used in the rest of Europe, where recently built modern machines are ridden in the specials class against similar bikes, and where there is no question of using a modern twin-shock bike to compete in era specific classes against far more authentic machines?

If things continue as they are and the STD is allowed to maintain its stranglehold over homologation matters it seems to me that the more authentic machines will be used less and less, entries to most UK events will reduce even more, and idea of being able to compete on an effective (and cheap) shed built machine will be nothing other than a memory related to the times before the sport was hijacked by the money men!

Regards Ray.



16:55 14/01/2018.
A letter reply form Steve Townsend.
 Hi Charlie
Just read your update on Pre 65 rules and Ray's letter on readers page. Have to say unfortunately I have to agree with everything you both say and believe we are seeing the end of classic trials.
I don't compete in so called Pre 65 trials but have been building a couple of Bsa C15 trials bikes in my shed with the hope of competing one day, the idea being one bike for myself and one to lend out to friends who are in to bikes to try and hopefully encourage to get in to trials. These bikes are being built on a very tight budget in what I believe is true to the spirit of Pre 65 trials.
Having a back ground in engineering and having spent some of my career building and restoring bikes I have a bit of a head start over sum of the guys building bikes in their sheds. My problem is when they are finished is it really worth bothering to enter a trial. I will never win a trial no matter what bike I'm on but you are made to feel you are wasting your time even turning up on a bike resembling a true pre65 bike and will be looked down upon by the guys with the trick bikes.
Pre 65 trials should be a cheap motorcycle sport open to every one, from what I've seen and read it would appear that sections are getting tighter to suit the new breed of pre65 bikes making it even more demoralising for any one on a genuine pre65 type machine.
You need people to enter events at all levels for the sport to continue not just the elite on seven grand bikes. The Scotish trial is a once a year event as are other big name events what the sport needs is peopl to turn up every week at club events if the sport is going to continue.
Having competed in Grasstrack racing in solo and sidecars race in the 80s it's heart breaking to see the state of the sport today, pretty much none existent at club level and very few national meetings. this came about by spiralling Cost(every wanted the latest gear and to look like a professional speedway rider) and lack of willingness to help set up and run meetings by riders so it came down to the same old few volunteers to put up tracks etc. 
Pre 65 scrambles is going the same way. Number of riders droping most competing on new frames with engine cases filled with very expensive special race parts. I help one guy with his engines and we do the engine building ourselves.He is a very good rider and our engines are built with off the shelf parts but I would estimate it costs about 4 to 5k to build an engine for Pre 68 B44 or B50 and this is just to be competitive, this isn't entry level sport for the average working man.
All classic motorcycle sport need to take a hard look at what's happening and act now before its to late, you have got to keep getting new blood in or your sport is finished.Why would any one want to spend 5K on a bike just to try a sport that they may not like? with a dwindling number of people to compete against.
Pre 65 class for bikes built in the spirit of pre 65, britshock for copy frames and trick bikes or trick bikes start with one point per section added to final score if competing againt pre 65 bikes.
Any way sorry about the rant apologies to any one I have offended who has spent their hard earned cash on a trick bike.
Thank you Charlie for an excellent Web site,really appreciate the hard work you put in to it. You really are an inspiration to all those building British bases trials bikes, a true legend. 
Regards Steve
11:32 15/01/2018. a Letter for Mike Waller.
Hello Charlie.

            I have just been reading the update to the Reader's Page and the two new letters on a subject which you know is very dear to my heart. As I have mentioned before, trials here is very different from the UK, partly due to the huge number of "dirt bikes" which have been sold over the years and the thousands of square miles of land on which they can be ridden. My friend Mike who runs The Tryals Shop here once told me that half of the trials bike that he has sold over 40 years have never seen a trial, they are bought as fun dirt bikes. For my trial I lay it out how I think a vintage trial should be and if they don't like that then they do not ride. Entries are never large and many younger riders try it once and do not come back, it is too tiring. I am fortunate in that it is on my land and I ride the sections constantly so the work in setting up does not go to waste. I can well see how someone setting up a trial and only having a handful of riders would soon stop doing it.

            So where does that ramble fit in with the discussion on bike homologation and attendance.  I have come to the conclusion that there is really no future for large attendance genuine Pre 65 events. Sad, but I believe that to be the case. People will always do what gives them the most pleasure. For us it was building our own trials bike and getting out with like minded people to ride them. For many now it is paying large sums to have a bike that is as close as they can get to a modern bike and then riding modern type sections, albeit gentler ones, but laid out to challenge the "trick" Cubs and Bantams etc. Just as you are not going to get people tto think of a phone as a device simply to make calls, or to realise that having a  thousand likes on your Facebook account does not mean that you have a lot of friends, so we are not going to get people to look on our idea of trials as desirable.

            It may sound defeatist but I think that it is only realistic for us to enjoy our bikes, and if possible put on trials, and not try to convert those who have already made up their minds on the bikes they want and the way they want to ride.



This is from Ian Ballard, who has been with us from day One. Thanks Ian.


Sorry I have not been in touch for quite a while, but have a Husky WR125 on which I play at Hare and Hounds, and a modern Sherco, so old bikes still lurk in the garage.

Used the "Otter" a couple of times since I first contacted you, still starts first kick and runs well despite being on points, cannot get my head around the things people get up to these days.


Enclose a copy of my C15T, now in bits for a rebuild, but as far as I know as per 1960 except for the following.

The oil tank, air cleaner and chain guard all of which were on the bike when I acquired it many many years ago.

I have been told they were perhaps "Taylor Dow" add ons as per Sammy Miller parts in later years.

The battery case and ignition box I had made and fitted.


Used this many times in the Talmag, before it became popular and you struggled to get an entry on a 250 cc, but could get in with a larger cc bike made from parts up to the present day.


Must stop this rant, but keep up the good work, look at the pages each week, well done.

Best Regards,


Ian Ballard.


And Michael Waller.


Hello Charlie,

Thank you for the reply and the compliments. I think you have an excellent website and I have added it to my favourites.

When I sent you the message I kept running out of characters so I thought that I would send this.

I wasn't sure if my bikes would qualify as interesting for your-websites readers, but I thought a nice Beeza is a nice Beeza.




Photo Courtesy Mike Waller.



Here in the states pre-65 is virtually non existent and my Beeza is often the only non Japanese/Spanish/Italian bike at vintage trials in the Northeast.

Also here ,they go completely overboard on bike classes, age classes, lines through sections etc.

I have a friend up in Middlesbrough,UK my home town, still riding his C15T at 74, who calls it "riding for pots", and I have to agree.

There is even a chap that I know who builds frames that use 70s forks, wheels and engines, but who describes his bikes on his website as being,

"For those people who would like to ride vintage style events but don't care for the feel of the old bikes "!!!

If interested his website is

My Beeza completely outride’s me. I think that it was more good luck than good management as far as the original test bike went.

Although a lot of thought and measuring went into the modifications, so I made a jig from the first frame, so that I could get future bikes to the same parameters.

The second bike, the one in the pictures came in at 205lbs with about 10 1/2" of ground clearance.

It turns very well, and on those rare occasions when I get my technique right it will go over some big obstacles, and I have gone up steps in the waterfalls around here that were pretty severe.

Anyway, I won't bore you any longer. I see Kerry Kubenas bike on the site.

I know him and his dad, Bud, and I have ridden the bike. It is very nice.

And finally, I completely agree about Mick Andrews, I have met him several times and spent some time with him at the weekend in Canada recently.

He complained about me saying that he was from the South, but as my American wife has discovered, anything that is not in the North Riding is in the south.


Best regards.Michael Waller. 342-7996


Charlie ~Oo> Britannia Motorcycles now have Two pages.


And Etienne Willems.


Hi Charlie.

Super superb site, an very usefull for the pre 65 trial lovers,

I also have a C15 trialbike but with the original factory frame and engine.

I do not know if you are interested to put it on your site, I also busy to built an Otter BSA trial bike with more ground clearance and a B40 GB engine.thanks in advance for your answer.

best regards Etienne,

Charlie~Oo> Etienne's bike now has a page 


Paul Adams, has sent this letter to me.


Hi Charlie,

We met at the Classic Trials show last year (great show Charlie, when is the next one?)

At the time I posted some photos on the show website and I see you have used some of them on the "Otter" site, this is a great site.Charlie, and it is very interesting to see how the builds develop.

(I bet there is more blood sweat and tears than we see in the pics though?!)

Due to a lack of time and skills Charlie, I took the easy route and bought a ready made Faber Cub built by Paul Balsillie.



I took up "Classic/Twinshock Trials" at the young age of 56! (two years ago) and love every minute of my time on the Cub.

I also have a TLR but I would say the Cub is a better bike by far.

I will be watching with great interest Charlie your build on the Faber Cub,

I have attached a couple of pics of my Cub taken before I started scratching it and getting it muddy, (what it was built for).

Good luck Charlie, and I shall look out for more "Otters" and perhaps send you pics?

All the best  Paul Adams.


Martin's View.

Hi Charlie,

You may remember that I was the one who answered your question on the Trials Forum about R. Langston driving up King John’s lane. I used to belong to the Leamington Victory Club and rode in a few Banbury club trials (late 60’s) when Frank Knight and John Gleed rode.

Attached are pictures of my bikes as you requested. The old picture is of my Firefly framed BSA, ( by Phil Jones and John Lee).



I bought it in the late 60’s for about 100 pounds and originally put a B40 in it, the picture was taken around 1972, I later replaced the B40 with a C25 and put MP forks on it, it wasn’t much good at at that time I knew nothing about detuning the engine for trials. I sold it soon after and bought a grass track bike (much easier to learn to ride, i.e. open throttle wide and hang on).




The Triumph and BSA may not be as pretty as most of the bikes on your gallery but my excuse is that I am limited to a hacksaw, drill, hand grinder, and stick welder (+hammer of course).

I have to make virtually everything myself since shipping from the UK virtually doubles the cost of parts and there is not much of a second hand market here for trials parts.

For both the Triumph and the BSA I have made the frames, tanks, exhaust pipe and silencer, inlet manifolds, tanks (AL welding by others), total loss electronic ignition for the Triumph from Yamaha parts, but purchased PVL for the BSA.

The Triumph’s alternator has been replaced by the biggest lump of external flywheel that would fit, i.e. about the size of a 2-stroke magneto, it makes quite a difference in softening the motor.

I use an E3134 inlet cam but have rotated it back a couple of teeth on the timing gears to get the inlet to open around 28 deg BTDC.

The CV carb gives better idling than the Mikuni and Amal’s and it also has an accelerator pump which gives it a bit of instant go when you need it, and reduces any tendency to stall after a long descent.






They both work quite well and as I said before, Mick Andrews quite liked the Triumph.

But unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to get him to try the BSA, since the event got hit by the edge of Hurricane Irene and we were washed out at the end of the weekend.


The BSA has the standard B25T cam but I have ground a slope on the cam follower to try and delay the valve opening to closer 30 deg BTDC.


The flywheel has been increased in diameter by 3/8 inch (to C15 size I think) and the CR is about 8:1 by putting a plate under the cylinder.

Push rods were lengthened by knocking the steel cap off, and putting an equivalent thickness spacer on top of the rod and replacing the cap.

(I hope this doesn’t offend your engineering sensibilities too much).

The gearing was lowered with 52 tooth on the back wheel, and a 15 tooth engine sprocket using a half link on the primary chain.

Both sprockets I made, the rear out of some hard Aluminium plate, and for the engine I ground off the teeth of an 18t sprocket, leaving just the hub and welding on two 15 tooth sprockets.

Making sprockets with a hand drill and file is even more frustrating than making frames without frame jigs. I was able to drill the chain roller centres accurately by using a side link as a drill guide although after about 5 or 6 holes I had to keep replacing the link due to wear.

I was rather amazed that this method worked since the tolerance on tooth centres is rather tight.

I had no choice for the engine sprocket since nobody makes a 15

tooth and it was quicker to make the rear myself than order one from the UK, plus everything from the UK costs twice as much here due to shipping costs.

As you can imagine a stick welder is not the best for welding frames particularly if you don’t have a frame jig.

One has to develop a delicate touch to weld thin walls and distortion is a big problem.

To overcome this I have found that if I build the main loop with engine mounts first, then fix the swinging arm pivots so that the rear wheel sprocket and engine sprockets align, and finally weld the steering head so that the wheels are aligned and the rake and trail are correct.


Regards Martin,


 And thanks for the work you put into your web site, without people like you the past would be forgotten and we would be left to ride just the current range of pogo sticks.


 Photos of Martin's bike and other in "Readers Gallery " .



Just editing a load more letters from you and will put them on shortly.


This is from Nick about the cam he has given us.


Hi Charlie.

Happy New Year to you and all in the club.

I've posted the cam today, look out for a registered padded envelope.

There may be issues with the amount of valve overlap :-)

This cam was made to utilise the standard cam wheel, but I would advise setting it up with a degree wheel with tappets set at 10 thou to get the inlet opening at approx correct timing position.

I'm sure it will give you hours of enjoyment, please keep in touch on its performance.

Regards Nick


Charlie ~Oo>

Hi Nick I have after all this time just fitted the cam into one of the motors, The engine is going into the Scott Ellis bike so this seems very appropriate.


 And from Martin, Again.

Hi Charlie,

I will be most interested to read your conclusions on this cam you are getting, and even more hopefully you will be able to tell us what is different about the timing.

It is very difficult to get information about what type of cam works best for BSAs,

Dave Woods once e-mailed me and told me that there are a few retired BSA workers that now make a living (or extra pocket money) by rebuilding and tuning engines, but they keep their secrets to themselves since it is their livelihood.

Cubs can work with high compressions and soft cams, or low compression and hard cams, but if you ask the question, nobody seems able to say what difference it makes to how the engine runs.

Whereas information about frame building is not so much a problem due to sites like yours.

When I was an apprentice in England and ran a BSA B40, I softened the cam by grinding and then re case hardening, and although the engine was very good around idle speeds, it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, and you needed power to get through the mud, so I am not particularly confident that softening is a good idea.

Also, back in Jeff Smiths day, the sections were different than today, and so what worked then may not be so suitable today.

And just to complicate the issue, with a change in valve timing, there may be a need to change the ignition timing slightly.

I use a PVL system, is their recommended setting the best?


Martin there is a new page coming up about both  the isues here you have raised, and even the one below.


Do you know how much material , if any, can be ground off a B25 cam without having to re-case harden it?

Normally cams are surface hardened. Is the BSA cam material such that you could just heat and quench to re-harden the surface?


Regards Martin



Dana Salsman.

 Reading about Dave Woods bike on your Otter site I saw mention of a special 4th gear.

I have the standard trials 18 tooth primary sprocket which of course lowers the entire overall gearing.

I would like to know if this is available for purchase.

We really don't have any "road" trials here in the US pacific north-west but there are some with long runs between sections.

My bike is a B40/B44 hybrid. It has a low compression piston, 18 tooth engine sprocket, a 22 mm Amal carb, Electrex ignition, and the head sleeved to match the 22 mm carb. I am still in the process of dialling in the carb. Sleeving the head really helped to create a smooth run up off the bottom.
I check in to your site frequently to see what is new with the BSA and Cub trailers and was sad to see the motor build article removed.
I use a modified B40 frame and would like to run an Otter type frame, but that would require me to run in the next higher class with the Bultacos and such.
Keep up the good work as I enjoy your efforts.
Dana Salsman 
 Toledo Washington USA




 Over the time above I have managed to answer several questions from people interested in the Otter site, and over the past month I have had loads of new visitors  asking about BSA, and the BSA Trials scene.

 It seems that we are now one of the favourite sites, for Classic trials  bikes, of this breed.


So if you have a picture of your BSA trials bike send it to me and I will place it onto the reader’s page, as anyone that finds this site, are also interested in your machine, and details.


Charlie~Oo> and the same still applies today  04/01/2018., So send me a picture of your bike, and story and we will get this page up and running again.

If they are really interesting you may have a page your self.


Jon Capelin ,

has sent me this picture of his BSA. So come on do the same.


A very "Classic" looking BSA, Jon.


 This is Jon Flowers BSA that also sent me a message of congratulation.



Nice Bike Jon!!

I Repeat

If You want to Mail to me the story about your bike the space is waiting, and for photos...

And if it is that Good, you may get a page for yourself,

which some of the above now have.


More Later.