Historic Motorcycle Brands

Greeves

 

Bert Greeves’ original business was making motorised, three-wheeled, invalid carriage, Invacar vehicles. The first Greeves ‘trials’ motorcycle was developed in mid-1951, powered by a two-stroke 197cc Villiers engine and rubber-in-torsion springing front and rear. 

 

The unconventional rubber springing came straight from the patented system used for the invalid car.

Rear wheel suspension was by a pivoted fork with rods connecting to torsion rubber mounted units just below the seat.

Friction dampers were also fitted which could be manually adjusted.

The front forks were also unusual, with short leading links to carry the wheel, pivoting on rubber-in-torsion spring units that were later known as ‘Banana Leading Link’ front forks.

The unusual fork design is obvious in the above photo of Bert Greeves on a 1965 Anglian 250cc model.

 

Greeves trials motorcycle

 

Motorcycle production began in the autumn of 1953 and the three new models  – scrambler, three-speed and four-speed road bikes – featured a unique frame made from silicon-aluminium alloy.

In 1954 came the Fleetwing, with a two-cylinder, two-stroke 242 cc British Anzani engine. 

 

Greeves 250cc 25 DC Twin

 

By 1962 there were eleven models in the Greeves range. The last of the Challenger models was produced in 1968, replaced by the 250 and 380 cc Griffon motocrossers in 1969. 

The original leading link fork was replaced by long-travel telescopic forks and a new frame of chrome molybdenum with a conventional down tube was incorporated.

Off-road competition machines dominated Greeves production.

The company won the Manx Grand Prix, the Scott Trial, the European Trials Championship and the Scottish Six Days Trial, winning gold medals in the ISDT and the ACU 250 cc Road Race.

 

1961 Greeves Trial 24 – Catawiki

 

In 1963 the Greeves factory was asked to provide the motorcycles for the British ISDT team. This was significant because the team had previously relied on four-stroke vertical twins. 

Greeves produced three special machines, powered by highly modified Villiers MK 36A engines. Brian Sharp and Peter Stirland won gold medals. The only woman to compete in the event, Mary Driver, was also riding a Greeves machine and won a bronze medal.

Greeves also made a successful entry into road racing with the 250cc Silverstone model. 

 

1960s Greeves Silverstone 250cc racer – Beebopallieuday

 

In 1964, Greeves launched the ‘Challenger’ and it won the Terry Cups Trial. In 1967, a 346cc version was launched, together with a road racer: a 350 cc version of the Silverstone, called the ‘Oulton’. 

The last civilian Greeves road bikes were produced in 1966, but in 1968 the company produced a batch of 19 24DF police bikes with 250cc Villiers single cylinder engines.

A special export model called the ‘Ranger’ was also developed, but by 1968 Villiers had pulled out of engine production and Greeves decided to concentrate on the development of a motocross model

As the Japanese entered the market place, with Suzuki dominating the European Championships from 1970 to 1973, sales began to slow. 

 

Greeves 250DCX Sportsman – Thruxton

 

Greeves received an order to supply motorcycles for the Royal Artillery Motorcycle Display Team and developed the ‘Greeves Griffons’. 

In the meantime, Invacar, which had been the mainstay of the company, was no longer legal for road use.

Bert Greeves decided that it was time to retire from the business and the company foundered in 1976, after a fire at the factory, resulting in receivership.

Older Greeves motorcycles were ideal for the new ‘twin-shock’ class of trials but parts were scarce and expensive, so trials rider Richard Deal started producing replica parts, and then a replica motorcycle called the Anglian. 

In May 1999, after he gained control of the Greeves name in the UK, USA and Europe, a new Greeves company started building and rebuilding Greeves motorcycles from 2000.

Continuing a tradition started by Bert Greeves, the heads, barrels, crankcases and aluminium frame beams were manufactured from new castings produced in a specialist foundry.

 

2009 Greeves 280

 

Greeves launched the 280cc Trials bike at the UK Classic Off-Road Show in 2009. 

The 280 specification included Marzocchi aluminium forks, Dellorto carburettor and a single shock absorber mounted centrally on the swing-arm. The frame, headstock, swing-arm, footrest hangers and engine components used aerospace-quality aluminium.

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