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Colin Longfellow

1943-2022

Trials and enduro ace Colin Longfellow, who ran Parkroad Motorcycles, Southampton, from 1974 to 2021, died on 18 May, aged 78.

As a young car salesman, Colin spent his weekends trials riding and was good enough to be enlisted by European and British trials champion Sammy Miller to help develop the Miller products range of trials accessories, mainly for Bultaco.

Colin’s motorcycle enthusiasm and skills saw him switch from selling cars to earning a living selling two wheels when he took over Parkroad Motorcycles in 1974. He continued to ride trails, switching to Ossa and being supported by dealer Bob Gollner.

In February 1975, he moved to larger showrooms selling Suzuki, Triumph and Norton, becoming Norton’s leading Hampshire dealer.

The following year he started competing in long-distance road and off-road trials, going on to win the two-day Circuit des Pyrenees (BMW GS1000), which involved timed trials and hill climbs and was regarded at the time as the ultimate test of all-round motorcycling skills.

Customers respected Colin’s talents, and the 1970s were the boom years for bike sales, so business was good. He added BMW to his stable, becoming a regional dealer for 20 years and a top ten BMW retailer. In 1985 he switched from Suzuki to Yamaha and in 1990 added Kawasaki to his franchises.

In 2000 he decided to throw in his lot with Yamaha as a solus Yamaha Premier dealer and in 2005, aged 61, he celebrated his 30th trading anniversary.

Colin began losing his health in 2020. Son Carl, who had joined the business in 1996 and taken over the lion’s share of running the company since 2011, kept the business going, but father and son decided to close Parkroad last year. Thus, Colin retired aged 77 after a lifetime’s involvement on two wheels.

Speaking about his father, Carl said: “He was an ACU Centre trials champion and fun to work with. It wasn’t like going to work. It was more like a hobby. And what a great rider. I couldn’t keep up with him, even when he was in his sixties.

“He used to organise long-distance runs for customers in the UK, France, and Germany, starting from the shop. Customers on much faster bikes couldn’t believe it when he would come past them. It was the best of times with him. Our shop was a home for some of our customers. It was a proper motorcycle shop.”

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