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UK

15/03/2019

Johnny Brittain, the second generation of a famous trials dynasty and a bike trade stalwart, sadly died during the first week of March in his 87th year.

His father, Vic Brittain, had been a leading trials star of the 1930s with a string of International Six Days Trial (ISDT) victories to his name — a member of the winning 1932 Vase team and then victorious British Trophy teams in 1936, 1937 and 1938. At the age of just 16 in 1948, Johnny began to follow the family feet-up sporting tradition and rapidly became a leading contender.

In 1952, he was one of the youngest-ever competitors to win the arduous Scottish Six Days Trial. And then in 1953 he was part of the last-ever British Trophy team to take top ISDT honours, competing in Czechoslovakia that year. The younger Brittain’s ISDT career developed into a legend, riding for his country across 15 consecutive years in the “Olympics of Motorcycling” and amassing a total of 13 ISDT gold medals. Along the way, he also won almost every blue-riband trials event imaginable on home turf, including the Scott and the British Experts, before retiring from top-level competition in 1965.

Johnny Brittain’s steed of choice was always a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet, unsurprising since he had a Royal Enfield dealership in the Black Country town of Bloxwich near Walsall (although he later sold Hondas during the early 1970s). His best-known trials iron, a Bullet with the registration number HNP331, is on display at the National Motorcycle Museum.