Triumph Trident T160V
As the 70s decade drew to a close it also heralded a significant change for me after a period of work stability and almost hedonistic motorcycling. A completely new chapter was beginning.
There were many changes at this time. Work changes were precipitated by my section at Dunlop being taken over by Brush Power Equipment and moved to Banbury. I chose not to go with them but instead endeavour to find work more in keeping with my interests.
After a short time working for other companies, I made a speculative application for design work at the Triumph Meriden co-operative. I was delighted to gain an interview with Brian Jones and Geoffrey Robinson. At the end of the interview Geoffrey asked me what motorcycle I rode and I replied evasively
What kind? he pressed and I admitted it was a T160 Trident.
Sacrilege! he responded. But Brian Jones assured him that the Small Heath bikes were good and I landed the job.
I rarely used the Trident for commuting the 35 cross-country miles to Meriden but it continued to get good use in the evenings and weekends, so long as I wasn't putting test miles on a Meriden twin.
Early 80s the government had woken up to the popularity of powerful Japanese motorcycles and the subsequent alarming rise of motorcycle casualties among young men. To encourage greater uptake of training they brought in a two part test system and caused the collapse of the renowned RAC/ACU organisation. Typical !
The government had until then given some financial support to the RAC and they declared funds would now be made available to another training scheme.
I was on the Triumph stand at that year's NEC Motorcycle Show and made a point of finding Harold Booty to plead for the BMF to take up the RAC/ACU mantle as the most appropriate organisation. Harold didn't seem keen but either he was holding his cards close to his chest, or other voices eventually persuaded him.
RoSPA also threw their hat into the ring. Their assistant director for road safety was Ron Bryan, once Coventry RSO and a keen motorcyclist and good friend. Eventually RoSPA secured the funds... and a great deal of ill will from unsuccessful applicants!
Very quickly the RoSPA newspaper Care on the Road carried an advertisement for staff vacancies to support their as-yet non-existent training scheme. I showed the advert to John Wilmot, our county RSO and lately a club member, and he expressed an interest. But then I decided to make my own application.
Ron Bryan was a leading light in the Fellowship of Riders and I believe was disappointed by the decision to fold that organisation and bring in Individual Membership of the BMF. Rob Winnett and I were also members of the FoR and knew Ron. Rob Winnett took on the role of FoR membership secretary. So when I gained an interview at RoSPA, to this day I think Ron had me mixed up with Rob. Any-road-up, I got the job of the RoSPA Motorcycle Training Scheme (RMTS) Chief Examiner! For the rest of the decade the Trident was put to work travelling the length and breadth of Great Britain visiting training schemes.
On one occasion I planned a holiday in Cornwall with friends and while they drove there I spent a couple of days visiting training schemes in South Wales, Devon and Cornwall on the way. I was riding an eight valve Triumph TSS. Mid-week I was teaching the Motorcycle Training bit at the RoSPA Road Safety Officers course at Horncastle so had to return from Cornwall. By the time I was ready to go back to Cornwall for the second half of my holiday the journey had to be made on my much smoother Trident on the advice of my dentist!
The reason for two-abreast rather than echelon is so that your adjacent rider is not in a blind spot and you are well aware of what he is doing.
One year the instructors at the Slough RMTS arrange to visit the Assen GP and I was delighted to be invited to join them. Most of the instructors were police class 1 motorcyclists from Windsor Royal Escort Duty. Their idea of group riding on motorways was two-abreast at 90mph! They also parked much more neatly than most groups I have seen, lining up in a close formation. At one place we stopped I pulled up at the end of their line and put my foot down a pot-hole. I almost bust my gut stopping the Trident from skittling the lot.
The trusty Trident took a hammering in those years. Probably why it exploded on the way home from Birmingham one evening.
Searching for the venue of an end-of-course presentation in South Wales I came up behind a small motorcycle with a rider wearing a reflective sash. "We'll follow Sam Brown." I said. My companion asked incredulously "Do you know EVERY motorcyclist by name?"
When RoSPA dismantled its Road Safety section (announced on my return from honeymoon!) RMTS went with it. Again the government were tinkering with the licensing system. Two part tests had failed to encourage enough riders to take up training, accident rates remained unacceptable so their next measure was Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). Training became a full time professional business with costs that reflected this approach.
I persuaded RoSPA to continue supporting their affiliated RMTS centres until they had all been trained to conduct the new CBT curriculum. I carried on visiting the schemes at weekends between working full time at a new job.
Once CBT instructor training and certification was complete, and with our first child on the way, I more or less hung up my spurs.
To be continued...
- Ben Crossley