The Butler "Tempest" 250 Trials.



The Butler Tempest was another of those little known about trials models of the sixties.

Always in the results but never to the fore in model advertising, so left in the shadows to do what it did best, put up as good a show as most of the more popular brands.


Photo's Courtesy Graziano Candidori...©...

Photo and machine owner Graziano Candidori.©



The other side of Graziano's Superb Butler Tempest...



BML Badge on The superb Butler Tempest...



Photo Courtesy  Justyn Norek©


I have in my files this photo of BUTLER  trials bike and gentleman, that I would like to know who is he.

Shot was taken few years ago in France on starting line at famous Mont VENTOUX Trial.

Charlie~Oo> do we know?

Best regards



We do now Justyn.

The gentleman is Frederic Brosset from France.

He has been riding the Butler Tempest for eight years, and enjoys every minute spent riding the little bike.

Frederic has said he will send me more information about the bike and more photos, so watch this space...


One rider that rode a "Butler" and always in the results, mostly First Class awards, was John Lee  from Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire.

Chris Butler also rode one of his machines with some success, both at home and abroad.


Photo Courtesy Offroad Archive. Deryk Wylde.


Here Chris Butler riding one of his Butler "Tempest" machines in Scotland.


 The story of Chris Butler's motorcycling life

told to a yachting forum a few years ago.

First Charlie> Chris Butler was born in the year 1932 in Bethnal Green, London's East End.

Education was secondary modern just under grammer school level,

His head teacher recommended him for a position in a design drawing office which  he took up.

But after being beaten up by the "Cray Brother's before they were notoriously famous,

Chris thought he better do something with his life.


Butler and Butler Mouldings.

In 1954 I learned of a new material, Glassfibre Reinforced Plastics. It was discovered just before the war but was still a very new raw material.

I experimented and applied it to manufacturing motorcycle accessories.

Since I was fourteen I had been hyper-actively keen on motorcycles and motorcycle sport.

Until I retired after twenty years from the sport of cross- country trials motorcycle riding owing to just too many injuries to my right knee, I had become fairly well known as a National and  International rider, though well below world championship standard;

However, I could claim close friendship with many champions by the end of my riding career, including the making of special components for their competition trials including ISDT and racing motorcycles. Charlie> The Famous Ariel GOV132 was clothed in Glass-fibre by Chris, has was the short lived "Scorpion" sports bikes, and the first company to make Glass-Fibre trials guards, as fitted to Greeves. I had mine in 1962. Racing fairings for a Banbury "Gold Star dealer"Eddie Dow was another customer.


By 1957 we had developed our small business based on GRP and moved from home in Cheshunt, Hants, back to the East End in Hackney London, living above the shop and factory.

In time, needing more factory space, we moved to Haverhill in Suffolk.

Whilst there I designed and built some 200 specialist motorcycles, including the Butler “Tempest” trials bikes.

Then after retiring from motorcycle sport in 1968 I took to building racing sailing dinghies, including the Olympic Finn, the 505, Cadet, and later, small 'cruiser-racer' sailing yachts.

Charlie> Chris went on to sail single handed  across the Atlantic three times once in 29 days. the other two in 30.


Why I turned to building boats.

The year was 1966 and I was still riding my motorcycles and continued to do so for another two years before concluding I was no longer "up to it" in 1968 at 36 years old.

My reactions were slowing down and I was getting dangerous.

Our fibreglass moulding business had been based on making motorcycle accessories but had expanded into making complete motorcyles, mostly with Villiers 250 engines until the supply dried up.

Some of these still perform today 45 years on - and I am pleased that those bikes still have a collectors value, still look good and are competitive to this day.

Chris Butler... (2008).



June 1967 Special Equipment Supplement  in Motor Cycle.




Here you can see the design of the frame using the 1. 1/2" square section front and top tube, Forks also used the same material 16 guage ERW steel tube. even the swinging arm was Rectangle  1 3/4" x 3/4" box section.

~Oo> The frame for my "Exit" trials bike was very much along the same lines, but I never did get them into production... What was the point when the engine supply from Villiers dried up... but I still have those drawings, and it is still not too late to now build one "Exit" Motorcycle trials bike up...

This machine above had been stored for fourty years before it was sold for a snip at £1200 last year. (for restoration).2015.




 This superbly restored "Butler Tempest" lives in a shop window of the owners. 2015...

(Not the red one).


Photo Courtesy Deryk Wylde Offroad Archive.


 Here, Mike Scott struggles with his Butler Tempest on the Rocks of Scotland.


Another well know Trials Expert and rider Mick Ash also owns a Butler Tempest.



1966 ISDT in Sweden.

Here Brian Bonny 250 Butler.


The 1966 International Six Days Trial in Sweden  was not a good year for "Butler".

Chris Butler himself riding a 500 "Butler" packed  up on day one.

Day two saw John Lee retire also riding a 500 Butler Triumph?

Brian Bonny riding the 250 Butler for the British Civil Service Team also retired when both chain adjusters  snapped... 



This machine just sold at Brightwells, is a ex ISDT Butler and still has the markings on the frame.



Here is the ISDT Markings on the headstock.



And the swinging-arm marking, and you tell me what the attachment is.



And this tidy "for restoration" trials bike was sold at the same sale.

You see these machines are still in existence, but don't make an appearance until the owner of a collection sells up, or it is sold after a death.


More news later.

Good shot this from Brightwells tidy machine.



The machine was a 1964 model registration  number AVE 703B...



This Butler with Ariel on the tank ... Could it have been Chris Butler's develpment bike fitted with a Ariel Arrow engine?

But the Ariel twin two stroke engines were suspended from the top frame tube.



And this shot of the other side, nice to know that there are more than one or two Butler's still in existence. I hope now some of these machines have been restored now in 2022...



And a Butler Scrambles bike.



 And the other side.




Bob Pearce's New Project.

 If you remember a few years back when I thought I would do some pages on the Villiers engined bikes of the sixties. I did a page on the Elstar trials bike and Bob had just bought a bike that was for sale in Coventry.

And in the next couple of years Bob set too, to rebuild this machine into the original condition, and while he did, the story began to grow and grow.

Then we even had the original owners of the bikes come forward, and help us with the story.

Well Bob has now bought one of the early Butler Trials bikes

So perhaps we can while Bob is re-building this machine, gain more information on another Brand of motorcycle built in that same time period early sixties..

Only two hundred of these machines were built, in a time when motorcycle trials were booming..

I am hoping that Chris Butler is still with us, but can not seem to trace him after 2008. (but he would be 86 years old now being born in Bethanal Green London in 1932) when he did the story of his Yacht building and racing career. 


Bob Pearce's Butler Trials Project.

Hi Charlie,   Well now the Elstar project is finished I decided to start looking for a new challenge, and came up with another British two stroke from the same era, a Butler, it's an early one, 1963 and is not the same frame design as the Tempest, but I have found a picture of another Butler of the same year and they are identical. 
         It's dog rough and will need an awful lot of TLC.
  The only thing that does not look right is the swinging arm, every Butler I have seen has the box section arm, this one looks like a Tiger Cub, I've attached a couple of pics, feel free to use them on the Web site.
Regards Bob Pearce...
Bob I think the swinging arm is from a B25 BSA the same as I used in the "Top Cat"
I think the Butler Swing-arms were 1 1/2" X 3/4 or 1" ERW.


Photo Courtesy Bob Pearce.

As you can see this is an early Butler, and probably not with the "Tempest" badge.


Photo Courtesy Bob Pearce.




I have been going through my old emails looking for the ones that I missed, and I do, because there are so many of you send me,"Great Stuff"...

 So the name slips me on this one for a while, but the reader said he had a Butler that they thought was a DOT. until looking at this page, and finding Bob's bike.

 So this is another pre Tempest Butler. And with the design I remember looking at when Chris Butler first used it in National trials...



The bike is probably rebuilt now. The forks were replaced with the BSA units.



Note: The clinched bend on the down tube...

 We made a roller to do this on the TSB side car ambulance we built.

And this is the method I was going to use all those years ago in 1966-7

on my "Exit" trials bike  that only got to the drawing board stage unfortunately...



If I can remember from the email, (and I will find it)...The owner wanted to rebuild the Butler bike for the memory of his friend who previously owned the bike, because he died at a very young age...



I have just been sent a load of photos to try and identify this machine for its owner...  

I just can't make my mind up if this is another "Butler" or not...


I am sure we will find out what frame it is... But for now we will put it down as an early 1963 perhaps, Butler trials frame... 



Photo Courtesy Off Road Archives...

Chris Butler 1964-6 Scottish.


More later on the Butler story.