Memories of a golden era


I started scrambling in 1956 with a Royal Enfield 350 comp Bullet, after a teenage period of cycle speedway.

The head inlet port was widened to 1 1/16in and inlet valve changed to 1 9/16in at Joe Potts of Bellshill, where I had a somewhat brief conversation with Bob McIntyre. He was not the most communicative of the riders of that era – as he sat on a 250cc Norton with all the Manx camshaft gear.

We mutually wished each other good luck, he to smash the 100mph lap at the IOM and me to carry on in the style of the privateer using the Bullet for additional odd hill climbs, sand race, and evening grasstrack meetings.

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You rode your mount to meetings, changing main sprocket on arrival. We latterly transported the Bullet on a 16h Norton float two up.

To further tune the Bullet found me obeying the crankshaft balance coefficients according to the bible of the time ‘Tuning for speed’ by P E Irving, by flywheel drilling and chasing the flywheels along the workshop floor to align them with a mallet.

The result was a low revving disaster requiring the drilled flywheels to be recaulked with lead in those holes.

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It was hard but all consuming and enjoyable, although my brother points out the dearth of meetings now compared to the Fifties and Sixties, where you could rely on the Scottish area to have one meeting per week in the spring, summer and autumn period – but I suppose we all have our magic era.

The photo shows Tommy Reynolds, from your area I believe, and myself C15-mounted at Carstairs, where bog mastery was a required skill and strangely enough the bog master of the Fifties was one Ian Bell, whose Bullets had the long stroke traction, where BSA Gold Stars would dig a hole.

The Bullet had grip in slippy conditions due to their engine characteristics – the late John Brittain being a trials example.

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I latterly found myself at the starting gate tapes at Glasgow White City Speedway, atop a vicious Erskine JAP, which in reflection, being aged 28, was a bit of a swansong. I was still second but much too old to be a wunderkind.

The sheer two-wheel indulgence that chases through your soul like a stick of rock is there for a lifetime.

Lauchlan Kennedy
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Lauchlan, I do recall Tommy’s name at least – I’m from co Durham – though he was a bit before my time as I didn’t start motorcycle sport until 1972 as an observer at trials, then a rider from 1974. Tim

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