Inspiration: Festival

Malle Mile 2018

Sun-drenched hills and wide-open throttles

Everyone’s favourite classic motorcycle garden party delivered again in incredible style. In the midst of a heatwave, this year saw more dust than mud.

Dust devils

The beauty of the Malle is the run-what-you-brung element. With off-the-shelf Bonnevilles, customised Bobbers, and original and unrestored Tiger T100s, the Malle is a gold mine of incredible Triumphs.

This year’s long, hot summer turned a southern-England muddy sprint, slalom and hill climb into something reminiscent of a desert race. Plumes of dust were kicked up by all manner of vintage machines that would otherwise be in museums and new bikes that usually only see tarmac.

Attention to detail

The Malle Mile is a release for anyone wanting to race their bike. It’s a slick and well-organised event, yet retains the feeling of turning up at a good friend’s house – albeit a picturesque Georgian manor.

Walking around the paddock you’re greeted with the smell of hot engines and the unmistakable brap-brap of scramblers a few metres away, squirming their way around the slalom. What the Mile does well is attention to detail. Nothing looks out of place. A rustic corrugated tin-fronted burrito van and ice creams sold out of a tiny caravan help convince you that you’re part of a nostalgic dream.

Get racing

As one of the few events to offer run-what-you-brung, for many it’s quite literally the stuff dreams are made of. Roll up and go racing. FTR caught up with two riders dipping their toes for the first time in competitive off-road motorcycling.

David Methley hops off his Steve McQueen 2012 Special Edition: “As a complete novice you can compete on a bit of grass. My main aim was not to drop it – and I didn’t! It was really exciting, I was on road tyres so I wasn’t competitive, but I had a lot of fun. I kept it in first and blasted along, but I changed up just over the line. It felt incredibly fast on my road tyres.”

On something a bit older, Ashley Bond finished the sprint on his 1936 T100C: “It’s a really relaxing environment. I feel like I’ve stepped through a time portal. I trailered the bike here in a 25-year-old Range Rover, so I’m embracing the retro life! It’s been a really special experience to get this motorcycle doing what it was built for. The T100C was made as a competition machine, so I thought I have to enter it in a competition once in its life.”

Motorcycle royalty

Some of the world’s most famous Triumphs were displayed as part of the Dick Shepherd Collection. In immaculate condition stood the Speed Twin that broke the Brooklands speed record in 1938 and the Thruxton 500-mile winner T110 that inspired the Thruxton name.

With its Gary Nixon paint job and combination of old-meets-new, a 2004 Bonneville caught our eye. It turns out it’s from the mind of Ace Classics’ custom builder Kev Rushworth: “We specialise in classic Triumphs, but we’ve decided to do something different. This is a 2004 Bonneville that we’ve put an original T140 tank on, headlight and handlebars on to make it look a bit like an original desert racer.

Ace Classic’s Custom Bonnie

“We slimmed down the mudguards, put tiny indicators on it, blanked off the rear footrests and made lots of tiny changes. We are so pleased with it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it initially, all I knew is that I wanted that old Gary Nixon paint job from the 70s. The matte finish gives it a more modern update, but I think it looks surprisingly close to those old racers.”

Triumphs made up a good portion of the line-up at 2018’s Mile and demonstrates how well the modern bikes sit alongside the classic T100s, Rickman-Metisse Scramblers and original Bonnies.

As the dust settled it became clear that the Mile punches well above its weight for a motorcycle festival, with some of the most historically significant Triumphs and close, competitive racing. Is there anywhere better to be on a sunny weekend in July? It has our vote.

John Giles – International Six Day Trial legend – is a regular at the Mile