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28th May 2004

Sammy Miller Museum Two Stroke Day

Seems that everywhere you look there are strokers in full swing. Russ Gannicott peered through the smoke to inspect the ones on offer at the Sammy Miller Museum...

Riding out across the forest that morning with the sun breaking through the clouds, I quite lost sight where I was going. Wiping my goggles to remove the grime failed to achieve the desired result and I lifted them to get a clearer view of the road. When this also failed to work and I noticed the blue tinge to the air and the mild stinging in my eyes. it all came back to me. It was two-stroke day at the Sammy Miller Museum.

I'd taken the MV for a run as, lacking a two-stroke myself, the little Turismo Rapido does a fair impression of a stroker with its fully finned rocker cover and often gets mistaken for one… except it's louder and less smokey!

The everso 'umble Bantam. Where would we be without them.

Anyway, back to the event; I think this was the first time that a Two-stroke Day has been held at the museum, and unfortunately it clashed with a number of other local events. So, considering the weather forecast, it looked doomed to a low turnout. I'm not sure about the idea, I feel it's a little too generalised and has insufficient identity to become a regular fixture. Having said that, despite a rather disappointing turnout, the quality of the machinery there was awesome!

KH750 and Russ' MV Tursismo Rapido.

I snuk the MV in alongside a stunningly restored 750 Kwak and an astonishing RD350. The Yamaha was like new, with around 8000 miles on the clock and registered on an M-plate. I'm not sure if it might have been one of the South American imports from a few years ago. It was so clean, I'm sure it had never seen a wet road in its life!

Belt-drive Banshee. Suzi not pictured.

There was of course the expected smattering of Bantams, James' and FBs in the car park, plus some pretty amazing stuff wheeled out of the museum for the day. The earliest bike there was a Banshee, the most glorious a Scott 3S.

Scott 3S - so much engine, so little frame.

This is the pre-war superbike which was the brainchild of Bill Cull. At 986cc the three-cylinder two-stroke produced 40bhp and propelled the monster to just short of the ton… quite an achievement, but one which sadly never went into large scale production.

V-Twin Bantam. What? How? Why??

Without doubt, the most bizarre bike of the day, and one which I would have given anything to have a blast on, was a V-twin Bantam! The bike has been around for a while and was built as a sprinter by using two Bantam motors welded together in tandem, driving via the rear engine's original gearbox. There were plenty of people scratching their heads and asking 'how?' -- but the big question is 'why?' I never did find out the answer but I'm so glad there are still engineers around who are eccentric enough to embark on projects like this. The bike was fired up and Sammy took no time at all to grab the chance of a quick blast around the car park. Great stuff!

Lightweight James. Tidy.

There were a couple of tidy trials bikes on show which displayed the Villiers motor in what I believe is its true home. Somehow, those engines just look so right in a lightweight trials frame… and so small in a road bike! The most eye-catching example was a lovely 197cc 1956 James built by Bill Buskell. Bill is a well known character and famous for his exploits racing Scotts, grass track Velos and trials James and FBs.

Sublime and Ridiculous. But which is which?

As usual, Sammy had a range of bikes for sale and one particular pair which were both priced at £2750 each were a lovely example of 'the sublime to the ridiculous'. A Sunbeam S7 and a BSA B50 Goldstar. I'll let you decide which was sublime and which… well, you know!

This would be RealMart's bike of the day, even though it's not a 2-stroke.

My bike of the day? Hard one this. The obvious answer would be the Scott triple, but that V-twin Bantam -- well, there was just something so unholy about it!

Miller and assistant look a bit nervous to me. I don't blame them.

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