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From the Publisher
"Of interest to anyone who can remember watching motocross, trials and enduros way back in the 1960s, or indeed anyone interested in that era." – Nacelle, Triumph Owners’ Motor Cycle Club
This hardback book is composed of articles written for the ‘Classic
Motor Cycle’ and describes the achievements of certain riders of trials and scrambles. It is by no means a comprehensive list of the stars of off-road competition of the 1950s and 1960s, but it does give some interesting information about many top riders, especially those from the westcountry. Each chapter is about a particular rider and is written in a journalistic way that unfortunately means that if you read too many chapters in quick succession the contents become a little indigestible. On the other hand the style catches the atmosphere of the time and the character of the riders. There are many fine action photographs and for anyone who was involved in this period of motor cycle sport (and that includes many MCC members) this book will revive many memories. And for those who weren’t it will help you understand what others are talking about!
inter-bike.co.uk, November 2008
UK biker website
Anybody, who like me, was brought up watching Saturday afternoon ‘Scrambling’ on the TV, will love this hardback book by Andrew Westlake. The author, like many of us, progressed from the armchair to the often cold winter hillsides to see the mud-covered heroes of the dirt in action. That enthusiasm comes through in the 128 pages all liberally illustrated by very evocative period photos that bring the memories flooding back. Seventeen riders are profiled (mainly from the south) in well laid out chapters, which often bring the stories of these ‘greats’ bang up to date. Interestingly, many of the riders had not been interviewed for many years about their time as household names. Some maybe better known than others and deserve the tag more, but there is a good mix of both two- and three-wheeled riders in this very healthy dose of nostalgia. Although the text first appeared as features in 'The Classic Motorcycle' magazine, they still warrant reading; especially as virtually all the images that go with are new and were not part of those original features. The book clearly gives a flavor of the times when the sport was more important than money and riders rode more for fun than fame. Anybody who loved the 50s and 60s period of when off-road was as popular as tarmac racing will be totally absorbed and come away wanting more. Given the many top ‘names’ of the time not included in this volume, there is plenty of scope for at least one or two more books done in the same style. If these appear, it could prove a must-have historical series that will sit well on any dirt enthusiast's bookshelf, so my advice is get in at the start by adding this to your collection. As with any Veloce publication the quality is excellent and it is well worth the $39.95 asking price
The Classic Motorcycle, December 2008
A fascinating and nostalgic compilation of 17 rider profiles written over a three-year period, which originally appeared in 'The Classic MotorCycle,' and is now accompanied by a new set of over 100 previously unseen photographs by Gordon Francis. The late Ralph Venables described this exciting period from 1950 through to the mid-sixties as “The Golden Era,” and with justification, as Britain led the world with motorcycle production with 10 or more factories providing 'works' support for the top competitors of the day. All of the riders featured became top achievers in their field and many were multi-talented; none more so than the versatile Sharp brothers, Triss and Bryan. Renowned for both their smooth riding styles and immaculately prepared machines they won many trials and scrambles on works Francis Barnet, Greeves and Triumph machines, netting between them ten ISDT gold medals. AMC, we are told, were pretty tight-fisted when it came to money, paying only for wins and class awards, but Gordon Jackson had no complaints, saying he was supplied with superb machines that never let him down, an opinion shared by scrambles champion Dave Curtis. On the profile of the Cheney marque we learn that in 1950 the late Eric Cheney was paid £70 start money to ride his works Ariel at a meeting in France, where motocross was becoming very popular. It is interesting to read about Max King, now in his 90th year, author of the definitive book on trials riding and one of the first to give radio broadcasts on motorcycle competitions as well as being a regular award-winner in both one-day and long-distance trials. As a young man, Californian desert racing star Bud Ekins was amazed to read that European scrambles were held on wet muddy courses. He arranged for AMC’s comp shop to lend him a bike whilst Bob Manns and life-long friend Ken Heanes showed him the ropes. The 'barrow boys' are well represented with two profiles. Brothers Ken and Des Kendall, twice runners-up in the British trials sidecar championships, and Robin Rhind-Tutt, the world’s premier maker of sidecar motocross outfits. Somerset-born Andy Westlake is well qualified to write this excellent and most enjoyable book, having had nearly 40 years experience as both spectator and successful competitor.
realclassic.co.uk, November 2008
UK biking website
If you ever wanted to know who won an ISDT Gold Medal on a clutchless Tiger Cub, or what Steve McQueen’s toughest two-wheeled challenge was, then this is the book for you Written in the author’s usual accessible style, 'Off Road Giants!' is a series of short biographies of well-known figures from the golden age of British off-road motorcycle sport. Although previously seen as individual articles in ‘The Classic Motorcycle’, they work extremely well as a collection of glimpses into that wonderful era. Each is based on face-to-face interviews and each one includes illuminating direct quotes from the subject. Seventeen significant 1960s trials and motocross personalities are covered, including such stars as Triss and Bryan Sharp, Ivor England, Gordon Jackson and Bud Ekins. The book is lavishly illustrated with well-chosen contemporary photographs, many previously unpublished. Each personality is treated individually, with the course of their career summarized. Highlights are the amusing anecdotes and personal reminiscences which bring each account to life. The many stories that emerge contain answers to such intriguing questions as:-
– What did Edward Turner say when Johnny Giles quietly slipped his works Triumph engine into a BSA frame?
– Why did Triss and Bryan Sharp retire from the 1966 ISDT in the Isle of Man?
– When did Bryan Goss acquire his ‘Badger’ nickname?
– How did Steve McQueen respond when Mike Jackson asked him his toughest two-wheel experience?
– Where was John Burton awarded the Freedom of the City?
– Who won his first ISDT Gold Medal after riding most of the event with no clutch on his Tiger Cub?
Apart from the personal stories, the book gives an insight into just what it took for an individual to compete successfully at international level back in the sixties. One recurring theme is how dependent 1960s factory riders were on their own resources to continue in competition. Most of them had other jobs and usually had to provide their own transport to events, and none were paid vast sums for competing. 'Off-Road Giants!' is an enjoyable book to read in one go or to dip into when the fancy takes. If there is any regret at all it is only the great names from that era who are not included. That is hardly a criticism as the work depends on the face-to-face interview and not all candidates for the Westlake treatment are necessarily available. We can only hope that a second volume is planned. Above all it is the author’s genuine enthusiasm for the subject which really makes this book work. Andy started watching motocross in 1961 and was completely hooked. He was fortunate enough to see all of his heroes in action. By careful research and asking the right questions he really catches the flavor of the time. It is in some ways a historical record, but first and foremost it is a good read and a must for anyone with an interest in the heroes of 1960s off-road motorcycle sport.
"Andy's warm, affectionate but also sharp and fact-filled accounts are complemented by 100 or more crystal-clear action photographs quite superbly reproduced." – Western Daily Press
"Sixteen dirt demons profiled. The mud and mono action pics evoke the smell of Castrol R." – Classic Bike
"The book is a marvellous compilation of affectionate profiles of riders from the golden age of"motorcycle sport." – Blackmore Vale magazine
Have we read it? Yes, it's full of off-road stuff – hence the title – and is of interest to anyone who competes, or follows off-road sport or even used to enjoy the TV scrambles in the '60s." – Old Bike Mart
"I guarantee you will find it hard to put down once you have dipped into its content." – Pioneer Motor Cyclist newsletter
If you have enduring memories of old Brit bikes being raced in anger, then this book will have you re-living the glory days of your youth. For anyone too young to remember them, then it's a fascinating insight into a now defunct part of British social, economic and sporting history." – Trailbike & Enduro Magazine