Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Rudge "Dirt Track"

17th Aug

In the corner of my workshop, there is a little piece of motorcycle history.
Often overlooked by everyday urgency, meeting of deadlines and ensuring that projects conform to the "end of the month" customer expectations.It just needs a prompt from a visitor's unwitting comment, to remind me how lucky I am to be in the company of a.... 1930 Dirt Track Rudge.
This old racer sits quietly like an old boxer. A little battle scarred, a little attitude, but still "hard as nails".
You know that should you mix it up and go down the track with this pocket size bare fist fighter tumbling after you, it is really going to hurt.

Jacob, the next custodian!
The Rudge has a four valve 500cc Alcohol  engine, not too far removed from its modern day cousins.
The sharp, abrupt noise and Castor smell from the two port exhaust pipes shouts that you can only be on a speedway bike. Childhood memories of Swindon speedway nights on my big brothers shoulders, will always be immediately summoned. The unforgettable words from my hero and legend Barry Briggs " Yer pen don't write mate" as he hands back a Swindon programme without even a smudge!
And the proud memory of cycling to Swindon rider Mike Keen's workshop and earn 50p cleaning his bib, leathers and boots.
My Rudge has Swindon connections too, It belonged to Swindon rider, captain and coach, Bob Jones.I am not too sure if Bob raced this bike in his early days, more likely it was his second bike for demonstrations and commemorative events, certainly Bob had another, possibly more original bike.
I will not restore it, but it is my duty not to let it deteriorate.
 Apart from a suspected fault as the magneto warms up, the machine starts and runs very nicely.

Riding it is as you might expect, something of a time travel experience, very quick too, even by modern standards. Scarier than a lap on a modern ish grass bike, I always feel its physical, hard steel form, will not forgive you for any mistake. However I am sure that I would be proven wrong after many exciting races.

Bob Jones


  1. You're a very lucky man to have a dirt-track Rudge in your excellent garage - I don't often have pangs of jealousy, but... i wish I had one too.

  2. Thankyou for your comment, I am really lucky, in fact it was luck that I stumbled across the bike with a dealer not long after Bob died, I shouldn't have bought it but my wife really understands.
    I have to say for the record that I am not sure if it is a genuine dirt track frame, I think it may be a modified Rudge road frame,however the engine and counter shaft are dirt track Rudge.
    It is really difficult to say the real history but I do have a photo and personal account of an older rider competing with Bob Jones on this bike in a late 50's testimonial type meeting and the photo in the book (ie picture in blog) is directly identifiable as this bike? The wheels are not period as is the seat. I do have some wheels that are from an earlier period. Either way I am fortunate and proud to be custodian of this bike. Thankyou for the kind comment. Best Wishes. Eric..

  3. I'd Love to ride that olde prize fighter!

  4. Ben, when she is up and running I will happily give you a call :)