Wednesday, 28 January 2009

What are Classic Scrambles?

For those of you not familiar with the Classic Scramble scene, I thought I’d give a short explanation. Referred to by the Good Lady Wife as “a load of old gits riding old bikes round a field”, I prefer a slightly more accurate, “the racing of classic British motorcycles, recreating the sights, sounds and smells of the Scrambles meetings from the 1960s and early 1970s”. This was the heyday of off-road motorcycling when British bikes and riders ruled the World and races shown on BBC’s Grandstand and ITV’s World of Sport drew huge audiences. Riders such as Dave Bickers, John Banks, and Vic Eastwood became household names as people tuned in to watch them battle against the elements, (it always seemed to be muddy!) the course, and each other for that all important trophy.Sadly, as the British motorcycle industry declined, their influence on the sport diminished until, in the mid 1970’s, Japanese and European machinery became increasingly competitive and British machinery virtually disappeared. A few small manufacturers, such CCM, attempted to stem the foreign invasion but for the rank and file riders the options available for a competitive machine were no longer British.

Luckily, a few of the riders held onto their bikes, keeping them either for the odd practice ride or for sentimental reasons. In the late 1980s some of these riders got together to stage demonstrations where they could dust off their old bikes and race against their peers which led to the formation of a number of clubs, including the Pre65 Motocross Club which celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in 2007. Through the 1990s the Classic Scramble scene continued to grow and dedicated meetings were organised using, where possible, tracks that had been in use in the 1960s.

As the sport became more popular, the need for regulation led to the Amateur Motorcycle Association (AMCA) adopting Classic Scrambles and rules governing eligibility being formalised. At present there are three main classes for motorcycles: those manufactured before 31/12/1960 (the Pre60 class); those manufactured before 31/12/1965 (the Pre65 class); and those manufactured before 31/12/1974 (the Pre74 class). Within each class there are also subdivisions according to engine capacity.

Just about every weekend between March and October there is a Classic Scramble meeting being held somewhere in the UK, with some riders travelling extensively. The Pre65 Motocross Club, of which I am a member, organises around ten meetings a year in Essex and Suffolk and many of our members only ride in those meetings. Details of the club and where it’s meetings are held can be found on it’s website at .

Meetings are open to the public, and usually a small charge is made for spectators. So if you’re interested is seeing some ‘old gits’ on a variety of classic British (and the occasionally early European) machinery, come along a have a look. Just to prove the Shiny Stormer does get used, the two photos accompanying this entry were taken at our Marks Tey meeting October ’07.

Saturday, 24 January 2009


It's 2009. The excesses of Christmas, New Year and Burn's Night are gone and past and it's time to start thinking about the upcoming race season. This will be my sixth season with the Pre65 Motocross Club and I feel this will be the year that everything falls into place and I really start to get faster! It's all in the mind, of course, and I'm sure my physical shortcomings and the large yellow streak up my back won't hamper my progress at all!

To the right is my Shiny AJS Stormer that is my primary race bike. A replica of a 1972 model, it was built from new parts seven years ago and I was lucky enough to come across it in pristine condition. After a few years use and a couple of knocks it's not quite so shiny but near enough. My other bike is a BSA B50, the bike I lusted after in the 1970s when I last raced but couldn't afford. Notorious for being difficult to start, after many attempts it now seems to be fairly reliable and I look forward to using it more this season.

This blog will, hopefully follow the preparation for the seasion and the successes, and failures, of a complete duffer - always assuming I don't injure my typing fingers!

Anyway, welcome to my blog. Hopefully it will be at times informative, funny, interesting and worth following. If not, I'm sure you'll let me know.