You wish your scrambler was this much fun.
On June 6, 1906, a motorcycle hero you ought to know about was born. His name was Oscar Bertram Greeves, or Bert to most people he knew. As you can plainly see in this video, the man was amazing. Those who are deeply steeped in classic British motorcycle lore already know of his greatness—but for everyone else, please turn the volume way up and spend 10 minutes with this video to learn more.
You see, Greeves had a cousin who was born paralyzed from the waist down, but who just wanted to get on with living his life. So Greeves did what any mechanically inclined man who loved his cousin would do: He took a lawnmower engine and built what would come to be known as the Invacar, a three-wheeled vehicle that allowed disabled people to get around more easily. That cousin went on to be the sales director you see in this video, Preston Cobb—and as you can quite easily see, he was incredibly hardcore.
Greeves’ mainly offroad motorcycle business was an offshoot of Invacar—it used the same factory facilities, and the company simply made the parts that it needed. Intricate metal bits? No problem. Invacar started in 1946 and the first Greeves motorcycle was built in 1951. Greeves bikes were lightweight machines with Villiers and British Anzani engines.
According to the Greeves Riders Association, the two technological bits for which Greeves was most renowned were its alloy beam frame front member and a rubber-in-torsion suspended leading link fork. Of course, as times changed, both those features did as well before the company’s eventual demise in 1978—but they’re still well-remembered by those who loved the marque. It's also worth noting that Greeves learned through his work on Invacars that using rubber for suspension mounts was a great idea five full years before Sir Alec Issigonis did so with that enduring British motoring icon, the Mini.
Probably the best thing I found while reading up on Greeves was this obituary from the Independent—and here’s the best quote from it: “Derry Preston Cobb shared Greeves's sense of fun, and at one time his Invacar was fitted with a 250cc racing engine that reputedly gave it a top speed of 80mph. He drove it with scant regard for his own safety and more than once had to be rescued from underneath, after turning it over.”
If spending 10 minutes watching some amazing 1960s scrambling action doesn’t set your mood right for the weekend, I don’t know what will. Stay safe, have fun, and go play in the dirt.