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RealClassic magazine contributor Colin Sparrow has been quiet for a while, busy compiling his extensive marque history about Greeves motorcycles. There’s precious little Greeves information generally available, so this book will be a boon to owners and enthusiasts…
In 25 years from the early 1950s through to the end of the 1970s, Greeves produced less than 30,000 machines – a relatively modest number compared with some of their contemporaries of the original British bike industry, such as Triumph. However Greeves was not small in ambition or indeed achievement , themes which marque expert Colin Sparrow explores and examines in his new book, ‘Greeves – The Complete Story.’
From a tentative start in the early 1950’s, Greeves expanded through the 1960s, producing scrambler, trials, road racing and road bikes. Founders Bert Greeves and Derry Preston Cobb produced machines from their factory at Thundersley in Essex, establishing a worldwide reputation in motorcycle sport, particularly off-road competition. Greeves scramblers won the European Championship in 1960 and 1961 and numerous ACU Scrambles Stars. The trials bikes were consistent front-runners in competition and were a leading influence in the move from big four-strokes to lighter two-strokes in trials. Greeves bikes won the European Trials Championship in 1964 and 1967. In 1969 a Greeves was ridden to victory in the Scottish Six Days Trial, the last British bike to achieve that honour.
With an increasing reputation for success, Greeves machines could be seen in rising numbers competing in the International Six Days Trial and other prestigious events. Works machines were included in one or more of the British International Trophy or Silver Vase teams in every year of the 1960s. In all, 41 ISDT Gold Medals were won on Greeves machines. In 1963 Greeves put a 250cc road-racing machine into production. Intended as an inexpensive clubman’s mount it nonetheless succeeded in winning the lightweight Manx Grand Prix in 1964 and 1965, and numerous short-circuit races.
Greeves on Now…
As well as all these successful competition machines, Greeves also made some very attractive small capacity roadsters, which handled far better than their peers thanks in no small measure to the chassis technology the firm had developed through racing. The roadsters were lightweights mostly powered by Villiers engines, and Greeves twin-cylinder models were particularly pleasant machines to ride. Grab a copy of the June 2014 issue of RealClassic magazine, RC122, for Colin’s overview of Greeves roadsters and a roadtest of a 1961 Sports Twin.
In this hardback book, author Colin provides an in-depth review of the marque, including production histories and specification details for all the main models along with hundreds of photos. The text covers Bert Greeves, Derry Preston Cobb and the formative years from invalid carriages to motorcycle production; model-by-model specification guides for the main roadsters, scramblers, trials bikes and road racing bikes; an extensive competition history, and practical hands-on advice on owning and restoring a Greeves model today.
Colin has long been a dedicated Greeves enthusiast, riding various models in road racing, sprinting, trials and scrambles. He’s been the chairman of the Greeves Riders’ Association and currently produces the club’s publication, Leading Link. And of course, Colin has written several excellent articles on bikes of the marque for RealClassic magazine over the years. It’s not easy to cram all that experience between the covers of a single book, but he’s done his best…
‘Greeves: the complete story’ by Colin Sparrow is published by Crowood Press, ISBN 978-1847977410. RRP £29.95, it’s available to
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