The Story of the...


British Rival

 125 Competition Motorcycle.


Photo Courtesy Gary Dallow...

This is the motorcycle breed created by Midlander Ken 1977.

Ken himself was and still is a top rated Trials and more so Scrambles rider.

Also a ISDT rider for Britain riding  Greeves for one.

And has even been a racing driver in the early Seventies driving a

Formula 3 Chevron B17.


02/04 2018.

The story of this little make of machine has now become a whole lot clearer due to the input from Jon Harris who was in fact a works "British Rival" rider at the time 1977-8...

Here is  Jon's Story about the machines he rode and owned, and the vast album of photographs, that Jon has sent me many below, and there are loads more,  they are his Copyright© don't forget, but what great shots that record that thrilling time of School-Boy Scrambles.


Photos Courtesy Jon Harris. 1977 ©


Jon Posing with the trophy he had just won,in 1977.

Hi Charlie,
I remember seeing at various Shows Ken showing off British Rival's IN 1976 in white.
Know there were earlier ones possibly 1973/74 in blue.
1977 British Rivals 125 was £800
1978 British Rival GP was £900, I may have had the only one sold.
Fairly sure the works 1977 was modified to 1978 spec, it had a longer swing arm and white/opaque mid guards. 
I did see an Enduro at Ken's a few times powered by a 4 stroke 450 Honda engine. Think two were done, one was in another country not sure NL or Denmark?
Ken at the time lived South of Birmingham in Warwickshire, we visited a couple of times and had a small practice track nearby.
Ken used to hold test and practice days a various farms notably Kinlet, I have photos attached. Rob Andrews had a trial on one late 1977 along with Andy Jewkes both dismissed as slow and unreliable.
Mike Burbidge from Milton Keynes was sponsored by Ken to ride his bikes. Mike also had reliability problems and passed on the offer towards the end of 1977.
I pretty much took over late 1977 as one of the few still racing British Rivals . I used the works bike for Hawkstone Park New Years Day 1978 and bought one shortly after.
Biggest beef for me was lack of power in 1977 though quicker than the CR125 unchanged in years. Ken's' saying "make it up in the bends" never changed throughout 1978.
I had a mate when I lived in Sedgley West Midlands that also had a 1977 British Rival, Andy Whiles.
Forks were made at Metal Profiles in Sedgley West Midlands, mine leaked. Rear shocks from Girling.
In short these 1977 bikes taught me how to ride and set the way I carried on riding thereafter. Many a time on certain bends you could throw it in that fast the bars would drop or foot rest pegs and exhaust bottom out, they were that good.
Come 1978 I may have been the only buyer having the GP125.
It was way way down on power compared to RM and KX so much so they could come out of a bend over take, enter and exit next bend before you even got there. 17HP against 23HP with the KX massive difference.
Despite a port job and eventually an over head exhaust EST 18HP it was as far as it could go but no match for the KX still. Problem being it became even more unreliable, barely could complete a meeting. Pistons were £44 back then and took 3-4hrs to run in. In race mode the pistons cracked at front of the skirt at sub 3/4hr! Another £44 a lot of money back then think average wage was around £34 per week gives you some idea plus travelling and entrance fees etc then a wasted journey.
Mid 1978 switched to Kawasaki KX125 A4 from RIP John Fereday when he ran Kawasaki in West Bromwich. Best bike ever had and still used it AMCA in 1979 racing in with 750's big difference.
Despite parting ways in 1978 I kept saying to Ken go with the Rotax engine. Being small scale meant he would have had to redesign the frames, change drive from right to left and rear drums etc. 
 Photo later.
2nd attachment is Andrew Whiles.(Photo Later)
 Running in the new 1978 bike
Baggaridge 1978.
We used 4th and 5th gear  to enter and exit corners much faster to stand any chance of passing by 1977.

Next attachments were at the disaster ACU Schoolboy Champs near Brighton 1977. Gearbox selector meant stuck in 2nd gear.
I will send another email I have other piccies.
Glad to help...
Jon Harris


British Rival's Advert 1978.


Photo Courtesy "Otterman"

This is our British Rival machine, that we are so proud to have in the collection..............


Peter Cheethams Collection, Photo. 


These machines were built mainly to fill a gap in the schoolboy scrambles market.

But they were that good, they got used for the ISDT class as well.

The frames were commissioned from frame legend Eric Cheney.

These were very much like other frames Eric was building at the time, but built exclusively for Ken, with dimensions more suited to the scrambles bikes that they actually were.

A few good young riders at the time trying the machine had nothing but praise about the little machine, apart from the gearbox, that did have to many neutrals in the box, and not good to find one of these going into a sharp bend.

The cutting edge of design about the little bike stood out, with the sharp lines of the bodywork that could only be from that period of the seventies.

Ken Sedgley and an investment company had ploughed a lot of money, and pride, into this machine, but that period like I say was difficult to finance anything, and so we lost a brand of machine that was more than just a winner at that time, but was an example to anyone that if you have a dream just go out there and try to fulfil it.

So we know the frames were good.

Engines used were the German Sachs, mainly 125 because of the class, but the ISDT bikes may have been of a different capacity.



This is the ISDT   styled machine. used in the Welsh Three Day as a test.


Photo Lightened by "Otterman"

Here is a machine in ISDT trim, ready for the Welch Three Day Trials of 1974...

The bikes had the six, or some say seven speed, gearboxes fitted and modified exhaust system.

The motorcycle Press get things wrong don't they...

Italian engine NO, it is not,  German... Yes it is, but some say Austrian too...





These indexed cam adjusters were part of the Eric Cheney trade mark.

And the frames could have only been made by him.

I think the hubs are REH, and not Rickman as has been suggested to me.

(Confirmed now Rickman).



Photo Courtesy "Otterman"



I should have looked at my spare hub earlier, but it was one of the coincidences that happen on this site now and again. Mike Waller was going to use one this week end, and so I checked mine for him, and then Jon came along with his knowledge of the British Rival's breed, and  we have two answers in one.



Not really a One day long distance trials machine? But it would be worth a try, just for the ride.

It is just a pity we don't have ISDT's any more, this little bike would be ideal.


Photo Courtesy "Otterman".

The fork yokes on this bike are Metal Profile or REH. Legs and front hub could be Suzuki?

I have the MP 600 or Ceriani forks that could be fitted.


Here below, is the man who thought up the idea for a very promising little scrambles bike. Ken Sedgley, riding his four-speed BSA Bantam in the Colmore "Revisitation" a couple of years back.


Photo Courtesy Lee Prescott.


Photo Courtesy Jim Blockley.

Here is a Photo of that same Chevron B17 Formula 3 car that Ken owned all those years back.

Ken or any of Ken's friends reading this, Jim would love some information on this car...

Livery used at the time, ETC. Just contact me and I can put you in-touch with Jim.

 OK... back to the "British Rival's" but it is a small world is it not.



"The Boss," Ken Sedgley.

Photo TFT.


Here is the "British Rival's" machine with Ken sporting the stylish nineteen seventies hair cut to match.

It is such a shame that these machines were not put into serious production.

With the Eric Cheney frames and a Sachs motor that was good, but needed the gearbox sorting out, with its seven speeds being of fine cut and said to have eight neutrals.

This was probably its major fault, and lacking power against its "British Rival's" as we now know. Cycle parts were the ones used by most other British  small volume manufacturers at the time, and complemented the machine perfectly.

It was just one of those under financed projects at a time, when backing was hard to come by, what ever the trade....

I know, I had the same problem with a project at that time. 






Update from Jon Harris.

Jon with air on the right.

A practice day with Ken Sedgley.


Have fond memories of riding those British Rivals equally the most frustrating over about 12 months I used them.
I did a Kawasaki training camp at Hawkstone in 1977 shared a tent with Mike Burbidge and Chris Morris for the week.
1st lap coming off the Girling leap broke foot rest off and handle bars dropped on to tank.
Constantly breaking the left swing arm bolt, from memory 1/2" x BSW, the shear was on the thread total poor design.
Happened that often we acquired ken's screw extractors in wooden box,  and I still use them!
After 36 years on I found some others that used British Rival's back in the day (1977.) Only know of 6 that used them, apart from enduro's, suspect only 8 sold and I had two.
I had the 77 bike and the last GP125.
My GP125 was later modified and fitted with an overhead exhaust welded, it was the only one to my knowledge perhaps 1/3 through 1978. No piccies but had to cut the air filter box out.
On your site the bike with overhead exhaust looks blown or may be from a Jap bike modded to suit?
Front forks and hub definitely Jap and would have been changed since original build.
I had the 1977 and the 1978 GP125 at the same time during 1978.
One two day meeting in practice the crank sheared and fly wheel held in by the cover.
Subsequently my 1978 bike had my other 1977 engine in it.
The 1977 bike would have had no engine when we got rid of the thing.
Had Bel Ray stickers on fork legs to hold a bit of oil in.
Rear shocks on the softer side would only distinguish from all others along with a welded up left foot peg.
Haven't seen or spoke to Ken since 1978, heard he was selling oils some years back.
Andy Whiles 1977 ,"getting some air"...
I am still in contact with a 1977 buyer of a British Rival, Andrew Whiles, he moved to the less rare Maico for 1978 with Rob Andrews.

British Rival GP125 1978 Testing new bike at Kinlet.

In piccies above those were the red white and blue leathers that Ken bought me for Christmas 1977. Had my name on back and British Rival in Red down the white strip, duly ripped off when I jumped ship.
Broad Street Birmingham rings a bell to where they were assembled. This was  knocked down decades ago in what looked like an old back to back terraced house from Peaky Blinders.
If I come across any further info I will let you know, feel free to nick the photos© do as you see fit. We will use them Jon to tell the story ,Thank you...
Keep me in the loop.
Happy to help,
Jon Harris

Charlie~Oo> Thank's Jon, you have made this page, and given us a great insight to the foibles of the British Rival's...


Photo Courtesy "Otterman"

The finish of the frame is typical Eric Cheney. Just First class...

(shame about the left-hand spindle bolt,letting it down slightly.)


Photo Courtesy "Otterman".


Photo "Otterman"


I think by looking at the fork yokes they are"Metal Profile" with air damping, that was the in thing at the time in the seveties, and the system was developed by a Guy from Banbury named

Bill Hawtinfor friend Wilf Jennings for his son Alan's Schoolboy bike... 



Photo "Otterman".

You just get a glimpse of the quality of the bronze welding of the Cheney frame on this Steering head., Could have been done by the two chaps now that run Faber Frames... Miles Webb, and Howard Fawkes...

Frame Number "008"on our bike...


Photo. "Otterman"

Note: That this bike is fitted with the wide finned barrel, still doing home work on these motors.


Photo "Otterman"

Here you can clearly see the engine type, and cc 124 on the engine plate, this is the spare motor of ours mind.




These motors certainly didn't spare on the finning did they, but the motor was good, (although we now know underpowered against its "Rivals"), it was the gearbox that was problematical.


Photo Courtesy Dale Fisher.

The two bikes above are Cheney Scrambles bikes, specially built for the Fisher's by Eric Cheney... Two of about 25 that Dale's Father imported to the USA, and was distributor for the product.

Dale still has a good collection of these machines, and is always collecting others as he finds them.

You can see how close the relationship to the "British Rival" frame these are, well they would be, because the first Cheney frame built for the Fisher's was in 1972, so they were the guy's that had stood the development work of these frames.


Much More Later. with a report of how the bike rides.


 New material now arrived, on later. And the story.


Jon also sent me evidence that there was indeed a Honda powered British Rival in 1979, if I have it correct, and this too was with the cooperation of Eric Cheney.

This was at about the same time as Ken started driving the Chevron racing car, and what I can make out, this now had priority over the remains of "British Rival" shame, but the times were moving on then, and change was the nature of the game...






The last of another "British Brand" of motorcycle...

 Martin Ashfield...
 Hi, love the pages, I had googled ‘British Rival’ and it brought me to the article on “The BSA Otter”site, the one prototype 4 stroke Ken Sedgley built (Honda xl350 motor with a powerol conversion), I owned about 78’-79’ onwards until ashamedly I lost it, I bought the bike from I believe Ken’s accountant, or some such, when British Rival went bust... He owed this chap money, so he took the bike, and advertised it for sale, being local I zipped up to see the bike (plain yellow and white, bright white frame)... I struck a deal and paid over around the £700 pound mark, I used the bike for practice, as I had a new 440 Maico at the time, it wasn’t fast, the British Rival,  but great in mud, or heavy going, a badly broken arm put paid to racing for a while and the British Rival sat forlorn, the top-end needed work, and I put it into a shop in Willenhall... Sadly I went back to collect it sometime later, as we hadn’t heard anything from them, and it had walked.
I have kicked myself for the last 40 years over that bike !…


~Oo> It still may be lurking somewhere Martin...



Nothing is black and white is it...



Photo Courtesy "Otterman"


I now have photos and information about a bike currently being used in Classic MX fitted with a CZ engine in-place and it looks as if it is a winner.

I am having a problem getting these onto the page at the moment but we will get there I am sure.

Photos later.


Below are the Action shots of the British Rival's ridden professionally by Jon Harris.


Further piccies.
1st to 3rd attachment BSMA Champs 1978 GP125
1977 British Schoolboy Championship Brighton.
4th Gloucester BSMA 1978 lack of power...
 (Photo later)
Dylife 1977 ACU Schoolboys...
 Mike Burbidge left, and me right, at Palmers Farm 1977.
There was a write up in TMX, I think headed, "Rival's 1st and 2nd".
Photo later. 
8th Claverley otherwise known as Barnsley 1977.
Hey Oak Farm 1977.
Coalville 1977
10th Gloucester No49 GP125 big hill for 17HP.
(Photo Later)
12th Liveridge/Heightington practice track 1978
(Photo Later )
13th me in red jacket taking a prize
 (Photo later.)
14th Ken at top, same corner, me both on GP125 1978 Kinlet.

(Photo Later)

Still editing photos so Many more later.




Another new chapter has opened...


We have found another British Rival.. Yeaaaa...

 This one is a long way from the UK where it was constructed in the Midlands...

 It's home from New has always been Australia...


It Runs ... well done Carl... nice job...


New keeper Carl Statham, takes up the story...



I'm a personal friend of the original owner, Dave Harding, who imported the Rival in 77, for his son Paul to ride in "Juniors" (14-15 year olds, probably equivalent to your schoolboy class) I rode with, and against Paul on my Montesa VB125, making us the oddballs amongst the Yamahas, Hondas, Suzukis and the occasional Kawasaki of the day.

Paul progressed to senior C grade, and opted for a 250 Yamaha then, but the British Rival didn't rest. It was loaned to a few other youngsters making their way up to big wheels, and was finally retired in about 1981. It sat in their shed until I recently mentioned to Dave, that I'm thinking about getting back onto the track, in a gentle, recreational sense (at age 57), when he surprised be by mentioning that he still had the British Rival...


To the bike itself. It's in a bit of a sorry state, but very salvageable. Some rust showing on the frame, back shockies were removed and used on something else. Nobody knows where they are now.( Girling Gas ). Forks need rebuilding, as would the carby. Engine has very good compression, but we can't seem to get a spark at the moment. Front and rear sprockets have both seen their day, and then some.

Front mud guard has literally disintegrated, and the left airbox side cover/number plate was chopped away to allow fitment of a custom made upswept exhaust expansion pipe/chamber.

Other than that, it's a good solid bike. Never even had to replace the left hand swing arm bolt!


I've attached a 'few' more photos, which may be of interest to you.


I'll be sure to keep in touch as the resurrection progresses.


All the best, take care.


~Oo> Thank's Carl, we will look forward to the rebuild...

 Looks like the glass-fibre pot will be out to make new front guard and side panel...



Carl's British Rival... 



In need of a bit of TLC...



Frame Number stamped onto the steering head tube...




But with the full History of the little bike...



We are so glad that this information has been saved, this just brings the story to life...



Thank you Carl, we can't wait for the rebuild...



After the below show guide being on the collection British Rival at Telford ... we had contact from Gary Dallow saying he also had a British Rival one of the first of two prototype  bikes from 1974...the frames of the first two were built by a frame builder named Steve Wilde from Brierley Hill in the West Midlands... 

Gary had started to restore his little Rival that had sat in the corner of a saw mills shed for years, it was owned by his father in law...

In doing research into the British Rival machines for restoring his bike Gary has found another British Rival 125 that lives not far from him, and the owner of that machine gives it a couple of days out every year...

We will be doing the history on this bike later...

There is a two fifty version of the British Rival that Gary think's lives down South in England ... we may find that machine as well...



The Blue mud-guarded ISDT spec machine in the press cutting is said to be in a shed up in Yorkshire would be good  to find that machine too...


With the knowledge we now have it is said that there were 20-24 British Rival's built, two of these were the four-stroke Honda engined machines of which one we know disapeared in suspicious circumstances... 

Below are the photos of Gary Dallow's little machine...

Wow what an update to the British Rival story...

Thank you so much Gary what an ambassador for the breed...


Photos Courtesy Gary Dallow...




The British Rival works shirt that Gary has had recreated...



The little British Rival has Gary found it in the barn before being refurbished...Note: the different swinging arm on the first two frames...until Eric Cheney used his trade mark adjusters...


More Photos and update later...  

British Rival

of 1974 and 1978

These small 125 Sachs engined schoolboy scrambles bikes were built over a period of five years in the seventies...

They were also built up like this little bike as an ISDT machine... 

Designed by Midlander Ken Sedgley...

With frames built by Eric Cheney...

These machines set a few young scrambles riders on the road to Stardom, one was a young Jon Harris...

The story of this little make of machine has now become a whole lot clearer due to the input from Jon Harris who was in fact a works "British Rival" rider at the time 1977-8...

Jon...After 36 years on I found some others that used British Rival's back in the day (1977.) Only know of 6 that used them, apart from enduro's, suspect only 8 sold and I had two.
In short these 1977 bikes taught me how to ride and set the way I carried on riding there after. Many a time on certain bends you could throw it in that fast the bars would drop or foot rest pegs and exhaust bottom out, they were that good.
Thank's Jon as you see not many of these machines were built and only one or two remain, the first in 1974, and the last in 1978, the company went out of business in 1979...
For the full British Rival  story go to


More Later.