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Communism, Cheating & Steve McQueen – Tales from the International Six Days Trial

The International Six Days Trials, often hailed as the ‘Olympic Games’ of motorcycling, were a series of annual events in which countries pitted their best riders against each other in a grueling six-day enduro-style race against the clock.

The isdt stands for international six days trial and it’s often been spoken of as the olympics of motorcycling it’s an event in which national teams from each country around the world that wants to compete take part against each other in a six day enduro the event is a series of special stages put together and the most important thing in a way is that the riders

Have to maintain their bikes themselves so they’re given a certain amount of time at the end of each day to do maintenance fit new tyres whatever but they’re responsible for working on themselves so it’s a real test of of man and woman and machine okay so how is the isdee was isdt structured well it’s obviously takes place over six days and covers are usually

About 1200 miles uh something like 2000 kilometers there’s also a speed event right at the very end and this is often regarded as one of the most important elements in the in the competition because it’s particularly used to tie to break up any ties so if teams or individuals are tied on a particular number of points then the time they make in the speed test is

What determines who comes out on top following on the olympics theme there are in fact gold silver and bronze medals awarded to the competitors according to their performances the gold medals go to competitors who finish within 10 percent of the best time of the fastest rider in their class silver goes to anybody who finishes within 25 of that time and bronze

Goes to anybody who’s still running after six days and that in itself is a pretty significant achievement here we are beautiful day at the museum bash league we’ve got a lineup of international six day bikes close to my heart and um we’ve really gathered this lot up in the last year which is quite exceptional this is the first one 1956 miller’s international six

Day royal enfield 350 bullet you had to remember your number in german 900 film from swansea still i still think about it in the middle of the night sometimes but uh heavy old brutal thing not great i was on the gold medal until friday when the frame broke across here as all the other factory bikes did so miller was the last night if that was any consolation so

All the frames broke not a good recommendation for uh enfield but however in those days that tried to use standard road bikes just modified so um not really up to it that was miller’s only uh ride on a royal enfield i was very quite pleased about that actually so after the enfield we’ll probably move on to something that’s a bit more familiar ron langston’s

International six day bike part and kirkin um gold medal winner we all won gold medals on them it was a very enjoyable event actually i don’t think we quite realized what an important event it was because we were we were youngsters and uh we sort of rolled up that we sort of went because there was an event on and it was a bit more of an important event than

What we realized that uh we just rode randomly yeah and uh it was part of motorcycle really yeah i mean it was just like tearing around the countryside really yeah the big point was you didn’t have to fall off yeah didn’t have to burn the bike if he fell off you always bent the levers or did some daft yeah that was the secret if the roid as quick as you could

Go without falling off because it was you were riding blowing there was you hadn’t been down the roads before that was a bit of judging if you could if you teared another 70 apart from that it was damn good for them more fun at night i really enjoyed this going around then the scenery you know the different villages you come to because every red every corner

There’s another picture as you go through different countries the houses are look slightly different and you know so everything’s that changes it’s amazing really to begin with the isd as it later became uh was held mainly in europe but in 1983 for the very first time it was held in the usa and that really denoted the fact that it a truly global competition

But it wasn’t always like that in the 1950s and 60s the former communist countries particularly czechoslovakia and east germany the ddr used it as a means of promoting their national excellence the endeavor was to prove the supremacy of a particular form of politics more than anything else getting in behind the iron curtain was quite uh tricky you know it was a

Inspection all around and everything and then coming out was a lot worse but while we’re in there you know those girls saying will you take us back you know what what what’s uh uh you know hamburg like when we came out of course the the the guards went over everything you know they had sticks in the wheels and everything to make sure that we weren’t bringing

Anybody out and then there was a an area of about half a mile i would think between of no man’s land which apparently was mined and you know i know this big guard pulls up and guys we’ve done stuff i mean anybody trying to get out and do a run i wouldn’t have made it either by the machine gunners or the you know the lines quite a lot of special features this

Was a lucas whaler mic and i remember when i worked at celio they had to be returned to lucas factory in birmingham and they kept them until the next year reconditioned them and then ariel had them back to fit on the bike so they were quite special we never in any electric trouble and um first time kicked wonderful bikes this bike’s got the original seals on

It that ron used and um these are qd spindles so you can get the spindle light just whip that round and knock it back in again wheels right because to get on the british team you had to change the tube within four minutes you always made sure you had plenty of heat in the tire so it came off easy tube in back on again off the stand and down the road so four

Minutes difficult but you had to do it to get in then they would say change the cable so you always had twin cables this was your tool bag in the top and you always had your root mark on the top where all the special tests were and generally speaking you had a wreck a man who would tell you where the tight checks were where you had to really get a move on and

Where you could take it steady so um i remember international sex day erfurt the american team came over with mcqueen and the buddhicans and dave akins and penton steve was just one of the boys which uh you know he just was not a famous person he just wanted to be one of the boys which was absolutely great and when we finish riding we sit around have a cup

Of coffee and these photographers were you know hovering around and he said how’d you cope with this dude he says what’s my job but he was good on the bike you know there’s no question he used to do some gravely areas and he used to be able to feet up go around in circles the bike broadside it was good fun with it yeah and um we were like practicing with

Mcqueen and all that lot the day before and uh they were going to show us what rolling police were and broadsides were so miller was interested to see um what all these americans were doing but they were covered with all the tv cameras were there so miller found it just a distraction but however the rolling pulley for the americans believe it or not if they get

Stuck in a rut they didn’t ride the thing out of their up they threw it on its side turned the bike over stood it up on dry ground take off but that time the whole front end was covered in mud the cables were all screwed up so bitter wasn’t too impressed with that so then the americans were going to show us how to do broadsides and um it ended up better showing

Them how to do broadsides and then davey can start it with me we started in paris he was on a trial and he just said stay behind miller for six days uh don’t bother about brook park anything just stay with him and uh he did and the crowds loved it it was mirror in the shadow for six days and uh at the end dave aiken was the only american to get a gold medal

Along with miller mcqueen crashed out on the second day bud akins lost time penton lost time so stuck with me dave or we got a gold medal that’s your gold medal miller’s pride to have eight of them so there you go aerials then we move on larry drivers greaves you’ve seen this before when we were rebuilding it um now i got it finished we’re very pleased the

Way it’s turned out i think a lot better than what turned out at the factory um so this is mary driver’s bike all finished um lovely little tool bag at the top that’s a photograph of mary in it so she’s going to try and get down to the museum have a ride on a road bike i look she’s getting rather mature at this present but challenge your engine four-speed

Gearbox albion rubbish really leading link forks lots of the original seals on it which is quite nice we’ve kept all those so after that we move on to the triumph um this has just arrived a few weeks ago it was donated to the museum by a real enthusiast and he brought it off ken haynes many many years ago 500 triumph um 1970 international six day isle

Of man miller won a gold medal with a little taco matador in those days cheney frames had changed a bit like the ricklings he made very special super strong lightweight frames so to put triumph motors in them as you see it’s still got the spur handlebar control lever on there you’ve got a screwdriver in there if your allen keys in there your dual cables and

This is your air bottle so if you’ve got a flat tire you’ve got some fresh air and qd bolts the marks on here so that you can find where your valve and security bolt is quickly without spending too much time and in here you’ve got a load of more stuff you ordered a spare chain you just pulled your chin like that and there you go you’ve got a spare chain you

Wouldn’t bother putting it back in again you just stick it on if you lost your chain and off you win but hadn’t got a chance what it was competing against because this was the jawa 1970 jawa this is about half the way to this magnesium hubs look at that beautiful magnesium hub cherry only tight box it’s got dual ignition system and uh so if you had any

Trouble with your ignition you switched to the other system so absolutely bulletproof on electronics in here if you have a look here that’s the inlet for your carburetor so that feeds through there into your air filter box so you couldn’t get a more sheltered protected area on the whole bike we had a look at the triumph they carried a big heavy chain what

They did was cover the chain in with um protectors so the chain is actually running in oil all the time the same as bultaco matador which miller used so when you had those on you did never touch the chain the entire week because it wasn’t running in modern grit and stones and stuff it was all protective these are all magnesium cases and um folding foot rests

It’s really way way beyond what the triumph was they’re running the 500 class the same as a trial you couldn’t have a 350 you had to bore it out so they bought it like the 360. so the jawas with all the riders were on the super lightweight motocross bikes and the british team were on these big triumphs and really the chess team they all use jawas you

See they of course the advantage of being on a jawa with a seize head instead of having five bites of the british team all different if you’re one of these terror wheels spare tank spare ring one of each if you want to have the same on the british lot you have ten wheels ten five air filters five exhaust pipes so you need a a really strong porter to carry

All the spares to each checkpoint which never happened because they couldn’t do it so and what was handy too when you were on a jawa especially in poland and czechoslovakia and germany if you rode into woods there was loads of these sitting about the place so if you had trouble you didn’t bother changing tubes or anything like that you just change wheels or

Change bikes cut the number on and off you win again and then towards the end of the evening they would give you your own bike your original bike back all rebuilt so you could plug it in at the end of the day scrutineered all passed yet you’d been using a different bike all week and the bridge team could never crack it because they were far too sharp and in

Those days it was really the military that was rolling the java and the and the police czecho police were on them too so it was really a military exercise and the javas never give any trouble because as i said you go to your woods and be one part of every other tree so you just swap bikes and off you went see there’s no no double cables in this one because

It was a load of rubbish here you wouldn’t bother changing cables you just change pipes much quicker much handier so nice little tool box on the top for your tools and your roots cards and um really really lovely bikes and way ahead of its time and they won literally all the international 60 events right through the 70s so and that would moderate their sales

Java sales throughout the world now one question is what’s the point of the isd doesn’t have any legacy the answer is very definitely yes because it makes motorcycles better if you can imagine 500 riders uh competing against the clock and against the conditions for six days that’s a pretty grueling test of of the machinery and one way in which manufacturers

Improve the product one of the most significant things was that it brought the two-stroke motorcycle to the forefront much lighter fewer moving parts so less to go wrong and frankly more enjoyable to ride because it was lighter now of course today there are very few two strokes taking part in the in the isde because there are environmental issues involved

With them but nevertheless for many many years two strokes ruled and it’s only in recent years that the modern generation of single cylinder four strokes has basically usurped them for environmental reasons but the isdt was responsible for developing two strokes into a position of eminence in off-road sport

Transcribed from video
Communism, Cheating & Steve McQueen – Tales from the International Six Days Trial By Sammy Miller Motorcycle MuseumliveBroadcastDetails{isLiveNowfalsestartTimestamp2022-01-19T143230+0000endTimestamp2022-01-19T145339+0000}