Ian's picture


Notes (and pictures) taken from a couple of emails I got from Les B

In the 1970s BP took to running competitions for schools to build their own cars (which were excellent) and tried extending it to bike competitions (which weren't). Loads of controversy at the time; they'd suggested they wanted advanced ideas, but the motorcycling judges just couldn't get their heads round the FF thing. They gave the (very considerable) prizes to such machines as Honda-powered Bantams and the like. After absolute dismay was expressed by their own engineering types they agreed to show our bike at the above show as an interesting entry. We spent several days answering the continual question "How come YOU didn't win?" but we DID get to meet Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood, and all BP's top brass at the time. And, of course, Ken (Leaman) and Malcolm (Newell)! D

We used a 150cc Lambretta engine mounted well forward (chain drive). You may recognise Geoff Duke in the big pic and also riding the bike with the front off for tweaking. He got rollocked for riding without a helmet! Also riding is Norton Commando man Bob Trigg and you can see the bike being tested through the cones. The judges then insisted we perform this test with our full pannier set on, which was effectively the kiss of death to the result. We were considerably miffed at the time, because nobody else had bothered to make panniers, and consequently went through on much slimmer bikes.... We used two wishbones much like the later Yamaha, and I have thought of trying again with Ital bits – can't see why they went to the trouble then built a conventionally-shaped bike. I thought the Honda Helix looked suspiciously like ours as well!

PNB adds: Former world motorcycle champion and multiple TT winner Geoff Duke is standing third from left in this photo.