Having a lot of time spare around 1966/67, I lived quite close to Mallory Park and a regular at the Wednesday practice was John Hartle. He was making a return to racing after a heavy fall, so I sort of latched on, helped bump start his bikes, lug jerry cans and get the bike stands ready on his return. They were Metisses, one was a G50, the other a Triumph unit 680; both had oil tanks, and no pipes to the frame, unlike the scramblers.
Well, he got chucked off on one or both bikes, on Gerrards bend, and said: “I think it is tyres,” and limped into his van, just a little detuned. He said they were not steering well. He was there a couple of weeks later, with both bikes in the van. Off he went again, and ended up on the floor again. Still detuned he packed up and went home.
Enjoy more Classic Racer reading in the monthly magazine.
Click here to subscribe & save.
A few weeks later John was back, again two bikes in tow. Now he was really flying, he was riding well. I asked him what had been done, he did not or would not say (this is probably the frame mods that Derek Palmer mentions in Jan/Feb Classic Racer).
He was there again later, again with the two bikes; he was again flying, but quicker. I again asked him what had been changed, this time he said he had asked for the swingarm bushes to be rubber bonded like a road featherbed frame. John said it was handling so well he could not feel where the limit was. I was shocked, as I thought the faster the rider the more he liked to feel where the limit was.
I found John Hartle a really nice guy and certainly no prima donna. Sadly not long later we would lose his life at Oliver’s Mount.