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Classic Ads: Bultaco Sherpa T trials bikes

Submitted by on August 23, 2009

If you were a serious trials rider in the 60s and 70s there was only one bike for you, a Bultaco Sherpa T.  The iconic Spanish brand was king of the trials bike manufacturers, winning the Trials World Championship in 1968 and 1970 and then blitzing a record seven straight Championships from 1973 to 1979.

Arguably the most famous Bultaco model of all is the Sherpa T, which revolutionised the sport when first introduced in 1965.  At that time trials was almost exclusively a British sport, using big heavy four-stroke machines. Irish trials ace Sammy Miller worked with Bultaco founder Francisco “Paco” Bultó to produce a lightweight two-stroke machine which, overnight, rendered the heavy four-strokes obsolete. Miller had been working with the Ariel factory, but after rejecting his ideas for a new model he jumped at the chance to share his expertise with the visionary Bultó.

The superior performance of the Bultaco was demonstrated immediately by Miller in 1965 when he won the Scottish Six Day Trial, the first ever win by a foreign marque and the first by a two stroke.

The Sherpa T stimulated the growth and the popularity of trials in Europe and later the USA, which provided a lucrative market for Bultaco in later years.

As you can see in these classic ads, Bultaco used its competition success to promote the capability of its machines. Bultaco had a very deliberate “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mentality, with innovations developed by the top riders appearing on production models the following year.  The 1974 ad shows how dominant the marque was that season with seven major Championships being won on the beautiful Spanish bike.

Interestingly, the 1974 Finnish Champion was Yrjö Vesterinen, who went on to claim three straight World Titles for Bultaco in ’76, ’77 and ’78, whilst the A.T.A (US) Champion of ’74 would later become the first and only American to win the World Championship, Bernie Schreiber.

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