Icons of the dirt world

There are certain motorcycles which stand out from the rest and are generally regarded as pivotal points in our sport.

Dictionaries explain ‘icon’ as something regarded as a representative symbol and worthy of veneration be they people or artefacts. For the purposes of this series we’re defining ‘icon’ in a motorcycle sense and will highlight not just my thoughts but yours too. 

Dictionaries explain ‘icon’ as something regarded as a representative symbol and worthy of veneration, be they people or artefacts. For the purposes of this series we’re defining ‘icon’ in a motorcycle sense and will highlight not just my thoughts but yours too. 

Before setting this out there was some thought about what would be an iconic motorcycle and the criteria used to define such a machine. 

It would have been so easy to list factory machines which have won championships in the hands of riders they were built for, and there are machines such as Sammy Miller’s Ariel, Jeff Smith’s world championship BSA, Graham Noyce’s world championship Honda to name three. 

But that wasn’t what quite what was wanted here. You see, machines such as those three were hand-built for a particular rider and not really suitable for us ordinary competitors. Don’t get me wrong, they are still memorable motorcycles but having ridden some such machines they take a master to get the best out of them and that is something I’ve never been. 

Four such machines formed the series ‘Hand-built for a Master’ early on in CDB’s history and they were incredibly successful, but for this series it is the production bikes, the ones we could go out and buy, which will feature. Some will be works bikes but most won’t and we’d like your input in this, so our web team will be creating a way for you to send your thoughts to us which, once vetted, will appear on this page.

The criteria needed is as follows; the motorcycle needs to be from the dirt bike era covered by CDBwhich is mid-1950s to mid-1980s (though there is wiggle room on that), it has to be a production model which could be bought or ordered by the public. This opens up trials, MX, scrambles, enduro and trail disciplines and can be solo or sidecar. 

What is expected from you is the bike’s name, model and year and then a few words – 200 or thereabouts – about why you claim it is an icon, if you have a pic of it then so much the better, if not we should be able to illustrate it. Simple as that. Final choice as to what is acceptable is down to me… because I can. 

To kick the series off here is the first machine I say is an icon.

The first one!

Dictionaries explain ‘icon’ as something regarded as a representative symbol and worthy of veneration be they people or artefacts. For the purposes of this series we’re defining ‘icon’ in a motorcycle sense and will highlight not just my thoughts but yours too. 

Before setting this out there was some thought about what would be an iconic motorcycle and the criteria used to define such a machine. It would have been so easy to list factory machines which have won championships in the hands of riders they were built for and there are machines such as Sammy Miller’s Ariel, Jeff Smith’s world championship BSA, Graham Noyce’s world championship Honda to name three but that wasn’t what quite what was wanted here. You see machines such as those three were hand-built for a particular rider and not really suitable for us ordinary competitors. Don’t get me wrong they are still memorable motorcycles but having ridden some such machines they take a master to get the best out of them and that is something I’ve never been. 

Four such machines formed the series ‘Hand-built for a Master’ early on in CDB’s history and they were incredibly successful but for this series it is the production bikes, the ones we could go out and buy, which will feature. Some will be works bikes but most won’t and we’d like your input in this so our web team will be creating a way for you to send your thoughts to us which once vetted will appear on this page.

The criteria needed is as follows, the motorcycle needs to be from the dirt bike era covered by CDB which is mid50s to mid80s though there is wiggle room on that, it has to be a production model which could be bought or ordered by the public. This opens up trials, MX, scrambles, enduro and trail disciplines and can be solo or sidecar. What is expected from you is the bike’s name, model and year and then a few words – 200 or thereabouts – about why you claim it is an icon, if you have a pic of it then so much the better, if not we should be able to illustrate it. Simple as that. Final choice as to what is acceptable is down to me, because I can. To kick the series off here is the first machine I say is an icon.

The first one!

1979 Bultaco Sherpa 325 – World class winner

This is the Bultaco which Bernie Schreiber lifted the 1979 world trials championship on and it makes our series because it is a production motorcycle. 

Yes, you could actually buy just such a machine from your dealer, which makes Schreiber’s win all the more important from our point of view. Yes, we will allow the fact that the bike was under the care of the factory and as such received the attention needed to keep it at peak performance, but there was nothing ultra-special on the machine other than the rider. 

1979 Bultaco Sherpa 325
1979 Bultaco Sherpa 325. Pic: Tim Britton Media Ltd

This particular machine is the subject of a fuller feature in CDB 54 and on interviewing Bernie – and its current owner former world champion Yrjo Vesterinen – about the machine, what sprang up was how unremarkable it was. The rear frame loop was chopped mid-season, the foot rests were moved back and down slightly and a little extra length was built into the exhaust. These modifications could have been done by private owners as they weren’t secret and in that period I recall a couple of North East Centre riders using these mods to their machines. The very fact the bike was so close to the production model was testament to how good the machine had become and Bernie praised the efforts of the development riders who had been in the team before him. 


Submit your icon

the motorcycle needs to be from the dirt bike era covered by CDB which is mid-1950s to mid-1980s (though there is wiggle room on that), it has to be a production model which could be bought or ordered by the public. This opens up trials, MX, scrambles, enduro and trail disciplines and can be solo or sidecar. What is expected from you is the bike’s name, model and year and then a few words – 200 or thereabouts – about why you claim it is an icon, if you have a pic of it then so much the better. 

FORM HERE

YOUR NAME
YOUR EMAIL
BIKE NAME
BIKE MODEL
BIKE YEAR
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS BIKE IS AN ICON (200 WORDS)
PICTURE UPLOAD