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Veteran rider Biddulph has his eyes on the Classic TT

By James Driver-Fisher | Grassroots | Published: | Last Updated:

Veteran racer Paul Biddulph is showing no signs of slowing down – in fact, he may even be getting quicker.

The 69-year-old was at the front end on both of his classic machines last year, competing against other riders who were sometimes half his age.

But the Telford star's racecraft and in depth knowledge of machines he raced ensured he was able to come away with more podiums – and he already has some big plans for 2020.

It was on board his Honda 250cc he enjoyed most success, eventually finishing third in the Classic CRMC 250 Euro & twin-cylinder championship, as well as fifth in the 350cc class.

"The 350cc to start with did not go very well," said Biddulph, who retired as a lecturer in engineering in 2018.

"A fellow rider went down in front of me during one of the races and I rode over the top of his bike and went flying in the air.

"I dislocated my shoulder, which made it difficult to ride for quite a while and it did knock my confidence a bit too.

"A lot of good riders in the series are only just 55 now and I'm 69, so it's getting more difficult."

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Biddulph, a multiple winner of the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club (CRMC) 350cc, over 55s championship, made the decision to enter the 250cc class as well last year.

It meant he would be riding a Honda CB350 and CB250, sometimes building up to eight races in a single weekend.

"They are pretty much identical bikes except for the size of the pistons," he said.

"The other thing is for the 250cc machines there are not as many manufacturers producing race parts.

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"They are heavier too so it was all a bit of challenge for me but I really started to enjoy my racing again.

"There's lot of internal part to modify and I believe I can still make it go faster but I'm down a lot of break-horsepower on some of the other 250cc two-stroke bikes.

"However, mine is more reliable and doesn't seem to 'blow up' like the two-strokes, so I was happy to finish most races in around second or third, which helped me claim third over all in the championship.

"Anyone of any age can enter the 250cc series too, which makes it even more challenging."

The classic 250cc four-stroke machines must have been built before 1972, with two strokes before 1966 and post-classic bikes up to 1986.

"There are talks about opening a new series up to the 1990s bikes to bring more riders in," said Biddulph.

"We're all getting a bit older and it's possible we need some of the newer bikes to keep the classes going.

"It's all about opening up the field but some of the old stagers want to keep it as it is."

Biddulph said he was pleased to have consistently finished near the top three, as well as winning a couple of races in 2019, despite his machine lacking in power against some of his rivals.

"A lot the two-strokes kept breaking down but mine was a four-stroke, which was more reliable but lacked a lot of the horsepower," he said.

"However, my 250cc has been a pleasure to ride – I can ride the nuts off it. I was a bit dubious at first but it's such a nice bike.

"A lot of the meetings were wet and I did come off at Cadwell Park at the bottom of the mountain section on my 350cc.

"The water in fairing oil catch tank transferred to the rear wheel and it whipped me off, sending me back to hospital but luckily there was no major damage done, just a dislocated collarbone.

"But in the end I finished fifth in the 350cc class and third on the 250cc championships.

"I hope to be able to get the bike going even better next year and I've managed to get someone to make me a new set of race pistons, which should make it go quicker.

"I plan to race both bikes next year again, which means eight races in total over each race weekend. It does get harder each year but I still really enjoy it."

And perhaps most exciting of all is Biddbulph's latest idea – entering a bike into the Classic TT for the first time, but as a team owner rather than a rider.

"I have just bought a new racing frame kit, called a Drixton, from Bartel Engineering in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The plan is to build up the race bike for the Classic TT next year, in the junior 350cc class. It's a strong frame so it should suit the circuit.

"He's not making the frame kits anymore, mine is 183 of 185 that have ever been produced.

"I have a friend from Stoke who I go racing with so he might be riding it as he's done the Classic TT before.

"I thought about it but at my age, starting from scratch to learn a twisty 37.73-mile circuit was probably not very advisable.

"He's just a young 60 year old and he went well last year, finishing about 17th first time out in the Classic Junior TT where I helped as pit crew

"I was teaching until 14 months ago but now I'm a retired engineer, although I'm still doing bits of work for people in my workshop and I'm probably more busy than ever.

"There are so few people willing to modify and make one-off parts for these bikes."

James Driver-Fisher

By James Driver-Fisher

Motorsport journalist and entertainment and food reviewer for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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