Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Mike Hailwood on the real deal

King of the Clubmen
In the 1950s, Clubmen’s classes were the backbone of local road racing – a reflection of the Clubmen’s TT introduced at the Isle of Man in 1949. The rules prohibited pukka racing bikes like the Manx Norton, AJS 7R and Matchless G45 and called for catalogued road models, with virtually any modifications allowed. This gave great scope to the home tuner, and the result was some particularly innovative machinery, produced in home workshops with minimal resources. Favoured bikes were the B31 and B33 BSA, Ariel Red Hunter, Norton International, Matchless G80 (especially with the hard-to-get Shelsley parts) and the Triumph Tiger 100 twin.

The Tiger 100 was a formidable piece of equipment straight out of the box, but it became well nigh unbeatable with the addition of the factory-produced Racing Kit, which cost as much as the motorcycle itself. The kit comprised high-compression pistons, stronger valve springs, racing camshafts, twin carburettors with remote fuel bowls, megaphone exhausts, rear set footrests, rear brake and gear lever, and a close-ratio gear set. The kit turned the T100 into a virtual racer, but the cost was prohibitive to all but a few.