Beezumph might seem like a strange name for a motorcycle rally but Beezumph is a very, very odd sort of rally.
The name comes from a combination of the BSA and Triumph marques: hence Beezumph. Beezumph celebrates all that is good about the iconic BSA/Triumph Triples which were the progeny of Doug Hele, Triumph’s genius Development Engineer, and there was every variation of Triple that one could imagine; from the double overhead cam prototype to the very first Triple produced.
Beezumph is not a conventional bike rally, with owners sat around all day next to their bikes. In fact, it is difficult to find anyone with a static bike! So, if you want to see a Triple during Beezumph the best place to look is out on the track where everything from the trickest of trick race bikes can be found running alongside touring Triples complete with full luggage sets and tall screens. It’s a truly wonderful experience for anyone who loves to see motorcycles being used.
Beezumph is held at the Anglesey Circuit, which is one of the world’s great tracks, it really is. You probably won’t have heard of the circuit but imagine a British version of Phillip Island with rather fewer penguins!
The problem is that that the Anglesey Circuit is stuck right out into the Irish Sea – it’s actually surrounded with very wet, wavy water on three sides – so the weather is a lot more than variable.
The day kicked off wet and cold – and it was properly chilly for July. Then the rain stopped but it was dripping damp which was closely followed by sunburn inducing sun and a finale of fog whipped up by a strong wind carrying sheets of sea mist. How’s that for a single day?
For me, the most interesting bike at Beezumph was the very first prototype Triple. In an example of all that is best, or maybe worst, about British engineering Doug Hele shoehorned the Triple engine into a Bonneville chassis in 1965 – a full four years before the launch of Honda’s CB750.
This was exactly what Edward Turner had done, by squeezing his twin cylinder engine into Triumph’s existing Tiger 90 running gear, in 1938.
The Bonneville Triple looks very well – a little bit different from a Bonnie but not too much. Customers would have got a faster, smoother Bonneville whilst still being a product they recognized and could accept. Instead, delay and obfuscation meant that the Triple was delayed until 1968 when it was too late. What a golden opportunity missed!
Regardless, Beezumph is all about celebrating the success of these three cylinder motorcycles and there is no better way to do this than feeling quite smug as you set up your bike for the circuit’s 90mph right-hand sweeper – only to be passed by a wailing Triple with its Rob North frame providing handling as good as anything in the world. The BSA/Triumph Triples might well have been a commercial disaster but in the hands of superstar riders in America and Britain, they became some of the most evocative racing motorcycles ever produced.