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Off-Road Giants! Vol. 2 – Heroes of 1960s Motorcycle Sport | Review

Off-Road Giants! Vol. 2 – Heroes of 1960s Motorcycle Sport | Rider’s Library

Off-Road Giants! Vol. 2 - Heroes of 1960s Motorcycle Sport | ReviewBack in March of this year, we told you about Off-Road Giants! Heroes of 1960s Motorcycle Sport Vol. 3 by veteran moto-journalist Andy Westlake, a publication from Veloce Publishing of the U.K. (see Off-Road Giants Vol. 3 review here).

Westlake’s “Off-Road Giants” series is devoted to recalling the exploits and accomplishments of some of the greatest off-road motorcycle competitors the U.K. had to offer from the late 1950s to the beginning of the ‘70s.

As was the case with Vol. 3, Off-Road Giants! Vol. 2 Heroes of 1960s Motorcycle Sport is packed with black-and-white images — 123 in all—of competition from that era and some are truly spectacular, capturing the motocross, scrambles and grass-track racing action in high-flying big air shots, rooster-tail wheelies, bikes slogging through axle-deep mud, in lurid full-throttle slides and riders making what should be impossible to do on a bike happen in observed trials.

The 21 subjects in Off-Road Giants! Vol. 2 are more than accomplished riders with a lot of victories to their credit; they are extremely interesting people. For example, Arthur and Lyn Pulman one of the very few husband and wife duos in sidecar motocross competition, and certainly one of the most talented having won the 1959 and 1960 British Sidecar championships. Their derring-do and fearlessness with a sidecar rig in rugged country is captured in an image of the pair pulling a wheelie with their 500cc Matchless in traversing rocky terrain!

Women were no strangers to the rigors of individual off-road competition, either, as Westlake shows in his chapter on Mary Driver, one of the top observed trials competitors of the day. In 1961, she scored in a national trials event well enough to earn expert status. That year, she competed in her first International Six Day Trial (ISDT) and earned a silver medal.

In 1963, she captured a bronze medal in the ISDT in addition to competing successfully in scrambles events. 1964 saw her take the silver medal at the Scottish Six Day Trial and finished 9th out of 77 competitors in the ISDT held that year in East Germany; the event that saw Steve McQueen on the U.S. team. Driver went on to become the Competition Manager for the ACU.

Many of the names in Off Road-Giants! Vol. 2 are unfamiliar outside the U.K., with the notable exception of Derek and Don Rickman. The Rickman Metisse chassis became well-known around the world as being the frame of choice no matter the engine and transmission package being installed and whether the machine was for road racing, motocross, enduro, scrambles or nearly any other competition—or street riding, for that matter.

What is often lost in conversation about the Rickman brothers and their chrome-moly frames is brought to light in Westlake’s book — that they were successful motorcycle competitors in their own right.

Launched riding sponsored BSA and Royal Enfield bikes, the brothers were successful in scrambles events, but saw their successes increase when they built the first Triumph-powered Metisse with their own purpose-built frame in 1959.

Some of the other great riders of the time that are featured include John Avery, Colin Dommett, Bob Ray, Terry Cox, Bill Gwynne, Vic Eastwood and more.

Book Data

  • Title: Off-Road Giants! Heroes of 1960s Motorcycle Sport Vol. 2
  • Author: Andy Westlake
  • Published: 2011, 128 pages, hardcover.
  • Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
  • ISBN: 978-1-845843-23-6
  • MSRP: U.S. $39.95/ U.K. £19.99
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