When on holiday in Rye Harbour over the summer I was intrigued to see a gentleman with three interesting motorcycles in his garage immediately opposite our accommodation. I introduced myself as a motorcyclist and as being responsible for the LAM club magazine and he kindly agreed to be interviewed.
John Fuller learned his engineering and workshop skills when apprenticed to the firm of Pollocks, Marine Engineers based in Faversham Creek in the early 60s. He had an existing interest in motorcycles, having first ridden pillion on a flat tank Sunbeam at age eight and later built himself a three-wheeler which ran on lighter fuel!
He has had numerous bikes both ancient and modern over the years, memorably a Scott Flying Squirrel which he spent his lunchtimes repairing and a 1936 OHC Norton, modified to plunger suspension and obtained via a swap for fifty Player’s cigarettes.
Later, selling a pre-unit Triumph 110 to fund it he built a Triton from a slimline Norton frame, a unit construction engine sourced from one of the crashed Triumphs which were then abundant with the front end coming from a Yamaha TZ which had a four leading shoe drum brake. However; at the Isle of Man he was passed on the mountain by a Le Mans during early morning practice, bring home the advantages of more modern machinery, and in the nineties he rode a Kawasaki KR1s.
John has competed in a range of events including sprints and hill climbs and has a wall of awards to prove it. In the mid-70s he bought a 50cc racer to compete in classic events. This was based on a Testi frame with a water cooled DRM disc valve induction motor - power band between 12-15thousand RPM (!) which still occupies a corner of the garage. He now given up his racing licence but attends classic events with his 1920 Douglas 350 W20 - note the belt drive and laterally opposed cylinders - complete with original toolkit. He had to buy three to make one good one.
His other bike is also really interesting – a 1926 big port OHV AJS – the only bike to have won both Senior and Junior TTs, as ridden by Howard Davies, founder of HRD, predecessor of the better known Vincent company.
John’s bikes are beautiful examples of their era, without the over-restored look of museum pieces and a testament to his skill and hours of hard work. Keep a look out for one if you are in the Rye area!
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