The Original "GOV 132" in Sammy Miller's Motorcycle Museum
GOV 132 as displayed at the British National Motor Museum, showing the bike as it looked at the height of its fame in the sixties. Photo from Doug Hunter.
This is the earliest picture I've seen of an Ariel HT5 with the registration number GOV 132. It's Ariel factory rider Dick Bradley photographed in 1954. The bike appears to be a rigid-framed model, as was usual then (I believe that Royal Enfields were the only trials bikes with swing-arm frames at that time). The picture was given to me by Ian Lewis, who works with Dick Bradley's son.
Here is my Mk3 version in action during Sept 2003. This model uses a Bartram frame, my own alloy cub & Rickman hubs, and Norton sliders with Ossa internals. I made the gears for the box (same as GB47), all-alloy belt dv clutch (action lighter than hydraulic). It has a 350 NH bottom end with over-size (86mm) bore to give 498cc. The cylinder is made from magnesium. I made the replica cylinder head along with Mick Grant, who's a close friend. He also made the air box and muffler. Iam now on with Mk4 as this bike has been spoken for by a mechanic for Valentino Rossi (honest), although I am still in possession of the bike, and rode it in a Pre-65 event last Sunday. It's a wonderful machine to enjoy and great fun.
For those of you not familiar with the system of vehicle registration used in Britain, the registration (license plate) number stays with each vehicle for its entire life. Sammy Miller's Ariel is registration number "GOV 132". So this page is in honour of "GOV 132" and the 161 international and national championship trials which it won between 1958 and 1964. I don't know of any other single machine in any type of motor sport with a record like that.There are now hundreds upon hundreds of clones of "GOV 132", and they're used every week in classic trials, including Sammy Miller's own Ariel which is in regular use.
Sammy Miller built "GOV 132" when he was a factory rider for the Ariel motorcycle company in Selly Oak, Birmingham. At that time he was employed in the Ariel competition shop.The standard 500 cc Ariel trials motorcycle manufactured at that time was known as the model HT5. It was based upon the single-cylinder overhead-valve 500 cc "Red Hunter" Ariel. Once Sammy Miller had developed "GOV 132" from a standard HT5, everyone who liked to ride 500 cc trials machines wanted a "Millerised" Ariel.
Today, there are probably more "Millerised" Ariels than were HT5 models built. It's now possible to buy a frame that's a replica of Sammy Miller's, and there were plenty of 500 cc Ariels of various models built over the years, which provide the engines and gearboxes. Usually the forks are Norton, the front hub is REH and the back one is often from an Ariel Leader. Wide ratio gear clusters (needed for trials competitions) are available, as are the oil and fuel tanks, sprockets and all the other items needed to build one of these magical machines.How are these "GOV 132" replicas to ride? I'll tell you--they're fantastic! I have the good fortune to have the use of one whenever I visit England, which my brother there looks after and often rides.
Back around 1984 I rode a 280 cc SWM, similar to the model which Bernie Schreiber had used to win the world championship a couple of years previously. At the time I was confident that this was the best trials motorcycle that I had ever ridden, and I'm sure that I was right. The "Millerised" Ariel (of about 1956 vintage) is definitely every bit as good as the SWM. It's much better if you include certain advantages such as the incredible music from the exhaust!
I actually owned an Ariel HT5 back in 1961, but it was not "Millerised", and it didn't really compare with the "Millersed" versions.After Sammy Miller left the Ariel company, he eventually went to work for the Bultaco factory of Spain. There he developed the incredibly successful Bultaco machines. I used to own a 1976 Bultaco Sherpa T, and I was happy with it (except for the lack of brakes once the chrome plating had removed itself from the aluminum brake drums).
The frame geometry which Sammy Miller had designed for the Bultaco became the standard offering from all the manufacturers of trials motorcycles at the time. These included SWM, Montesa and Ossa. This near-perfect frame geometry is also shared by the "GOV 132" replicas.There are a number of reasons for the popularity of the "GOV 132" clones. Firstly, there's the popularity of classic (or "Pre-65") trials, in which a well-built Ariel is an extremely competitive machine. There is also a good availability of parts for these machines. Perhaps, though, the most important reason is because of all those youngsters back in the late fifties and early sixties who dreamed of one day owning a "Millerised" Ariel. They couldn't afford it then, but they are now in their late fifties and early sixties, and they are not to be denied now!
Well, enough talk about Ariels. We also have a few pictures of them. Scroll down to enjoy the sights.There are a few new pictures added below, which I took on my recent trip to England (June, 2000), where I rode the Ariel in no less than three trials in two weeks.
One Saturday, June 10th we competed in the Golden Valley Classic Motorcycle Club's pre-65 trial in the scenic Cotswold Hills, near Sroud in Gloucestershire. This was designed as a fun trial prior to a more serious event scheduled for the following day. The trial was very easy, but a great deal of fun. Observers were stationed at each section, but I've never seen any results for the trial. I have included a picture of me aboard the Ariel taken at the trial.The following day we moved to Surrey, where we competed in the annual "1-3-5 Trial" organised for the Star Group at Bagshot Heath. It was, in fact, a standard "1-2-3-5" trial, but the traditional name for this annual event has been retained. Although this event is open to all classes, the pre-65's outnumbered the others at the trial. This really was an enjoyable day, with the sections combining the right mix of difficulty along with the possibility of cleaning each of them. Unfortunately, the Ariel's return oil-pump decided to quit on the third and final lap, resulting in the phenomenum known as "wet-sumping". We did eventually get the bike going again, and managed to finish the trial. I have included a picture of a beautiful 410 cc Matchless which was among three similar ones at the trial. The 410 engine size is a popular modification of a 350 AJS or Matchless, and was used by the factory trials team back in the good old days.
The final Sunday in England was taken up with another modern trial which had a very good pre-65 entry. The return (or "scavenge") oil pump again played up (it has now been replaced with a rebuilt unit) causing me to retire from the trial. This was okay, as it was a very hot day, with most of the sections on very slippery clay slopes in and out of a stream. I was ready to cool-off and rest awhile...The newer pictures are included below:
This is Sammy Miller's own "Millerised" Ariel which he rides regularly. Photo taken outside Sammy's shop
This is me in action aboard the "Millerised" Ariel in a classic "Pre-65" trial
This is Dick Hutcheson, who built the beautiful Ariel which I have the privilege of riding. The photo was taken at a snowy Southern Experts Trial in December, 1999
Here's me getting some practice aboard the Ariel in June, 2000
Now here's a very special treat! Click HERE to see some pictures of classic Ariel trials bikes built by Jim Susans, of Bikecraft . Jim has built more than a 100 classic trials bikes over past 26 years. I've put a few pictures here of some of Jim's creations; keep an eye on this page, as there will be more to come in the future. We have some of Jim's Ariel, A.J.S. and even Noriel pictures still to come! Jim tells me that he has retired now, although he's sometimes to be seen at classic trials.
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