A  History of Classic Racing  50cc Motorcycles


Name: Ian Plumridge 
Birth date: 20.11.1944 
Birth Place: Woking, Surrey. England 
Date of Death : Not Yet! 
Place of Death : Not Yet! 
Nationality: English 
Gender: Male

Ian is a very enthusiastic 50cc rider. He has a drive that has carried him, not only through his races in the past, but even through many classic events to date including parades and static displays in the UK and through out mainland Europe. He is married to Seiko who comes from Japan and supports him in this way of life. He is also a good and methodical engineer which has enabled him to build his two replica HONDA RC115R/ RC116R motorcycles.

This part of the page follows a Question and Answer session with Jeep

1. When did you first become interested in racing 50’s?

Answer: I first became interested when I was 14 years old, which is a long time ago.

2.When and from whom did you acquire your first Racing 50?

Answer: Before I left school I used to work in a motorcycle shop cleaning the bikes and bubble cars, they had a second-hand ‘ITOM’ Astor Super Sport. The deal was that I would pay for this machine by hours worked.  I started road racing on the 50cc ITOM in 1961 in Club & National meetings all over England. I remember they were great days, I wish sometimes I could turn back the clock to those times, no worry or stress in those times".

3.How many 50’s have you owned over the years?

Answer: As far as I can remember ‘6’, but I have been lucky enough to ride some special machines owned by other people. The ITOM Astor started it and then came an ITOM Competizione which I bought from Bob Smallcorn. This had been tuned by Frank Sheene and was very quick. The ITOM was the mainstay of the 50cc racing fraternity during the late 50's and early 60's. (Picture: Bob Smallcorn on the Itom Competizione).

"By the beginning of 1963 I had managed to get my International licence which allowed me to enter the 50cc Isle of Man TT race that year at the age of 18 years.

Although I did not own this machine I was fortunate to ride the Val Knapp CR110 Honda in the 1963 TT and came in ahead of the Frank Sheene's "Sheene Special" ridden by Bill Ivy.  I managed 6th place (No.36) on this new Honda CR110 production racer.

When I first looked at this bike, I thought that the engineering on this motorcycle was incredible and it gave the rider a comfort factor when riding it, allowing him to dedicate his skill and the capability of the machine to winning the race."

Then in 1964 I obtained my own, brand new, Honda CR110, which I rode in the 1964 ‘TT’, a great machine and ultra reliable. I came home in 10th place.

I rode in many races on the English mainland in '64, with some good results and also the Finnish GP at Imatra in 1964 (7th).


The un-faired Honda CR110 50cc Race Machine


Ian during the 1964 Isle of man 50cc TT


In Imatra on the Honda CR100

My main rivals in the National 50cc Class at the time were Charlie Mates, Jim Pink, Phil Horsham, George Ashton, all on CR110s and Dave Simmonds on the Tohatsu to name a few.

In 1965 I rode Frank-Sheene's 50cc Derbi into 5th place in the Isle of Man TT. This is one of my proudest moments in my motorcycle career. Mick Walker commented on this placing in his book Spanish Post-War Road and Racing Motorcycles when covering the Derbi marque.

"This racer is a true jewel carefully made by the team of mechanics in our racing department." The claims of Derbi were justified, for the advent of a competitive ‘over the counter’ racer certainly gained Derbi several new customers and admirers. The highlight of its results was the 5th place which it gained for English rider Ian Plumridge in the 1965 Isle of Man TT

I retired from racing in 1965 and it wasn’t until I was encouraged to join the ‘TTRA’ and a visit to watch the Lap of Honour in 1994, which rekindled my interest again,

I decided to buy an early 70's water-cooled Kreidler. This machine cost me a lot of money to get it to the standard that I like (many trips to Holland for correct parts and information). This machine is now in Northern Ireland in William McCombs' private collection.

The next machine was my 1978 model Kreidler van Veen, which I built from scratch using new & second-hand parts.

It completed the TTRA "TT" Lap of Honour in 1999 and was very reliable although there are many things to learn regarding setting them up. I have found it difficult to ride on short circuits, lack of experience on this type which is my fault, but quite exciting on the ‘Island’ where it really gets into its stride and where I feel more at home.

My move into the area of 50cc HONDA replicas began with the Honda RC 115R. This is now complete and the bike did run at Castle Coombe, the engine will be coming out soon for me to fit the 'HRC' parts that I now have for the ‘Dream’ engine including a recently arrived ‘Close Ratio’ 6 speed gearbox. Needless to say I am looking forward to riding it in the 50cc demo run from the ‘Creg’ in the Isle of Man next year (2002), 'Jeep I think you should wear some ear plugs!' Click the picture to see a larger shot of the bike and other photos of Ian and the HONDA RC115R (10). 

The latest machine is an RC116 replica (15). Again the heart of this machine is the HONDA 'Dream' engine with all of the modifications to bring it up to a competitive unit. Also it boasts calliper brakes in line with the factory machines and replica HONDA aluminium Tank and Fairing. The mudguards are patterned on the original HONDA items fitted to the factory machines.

I have enjoyed parading the HONDA RC115R and RC116R at the Isle of Man TT Races and at other race meetings. They have also been on display at functions: for example Wings and Wheels, Brooklands, and at various shows and demonstrations in Holland.

Ian Plumridge and his Honda RC116R

This film was made in May 2004 on the track of Rockanje, Netherlands. It is a beautiful replica of the Honda type RC116R from 1966. The amazing sound of this Honda is so  beautiful.

Outside the workshop

The Plumridge pair of Honda RC115R and RC116R

Calliper brakes in line with the factory machines fabricated by Ian.

Factory Honda RC116

4. What unique preparation, if any did you perform on your machines?

Answer: Nothing really, my ‘yardstick’ is always careful preparation and do things properly.

5. Details of tuning approaches you might have used and how successful. 

Answer: I think we all pick up tips over the years, but I am not a ‘Tuner’ as such. John Loxley has been a great help with advice over the last few years but as I said earlier my only skill is careful preparation. 

6. What memories do you have of the early 50cc scene and success? 

Answer: I have many nice memories, when I was a teenager I used to eat/drink & sleep 50cc racing much to my parents displeasure. I used to travel to race meetings on my Ariel VB 600cc side-valve with a platform on the side to carry the ITOM. My fondest memories are from the Isle of Man and they will live with me for ever they are very special and also my recent trip to Tokyo to ride Mr. Naito’s CR110, that was also a very special day for me, wonderful memories. I have ben very fortunate in having Naito san and Uno san as friends for many years and enjoyed my involvement in displaying their bikes.

At the Fuji Speedway 2005 with Naito sans  Honda CR110

Ian with Uno san and Luigi Taviri at the TTRA Parade IoM TT 2007

Ian Plumridge at the Time Tunnel in Japan wearing wets in 2003

Ian, Naito san and Arthur Lawn at the TTRA Parade IoM TT 

Naito san in Japan 2006

Tsukuba Japan on Naito san's Special Honda CR110 2003

Ian at the TTRA Parade IoM in 2007 when Uno san brought over his Honda CR110. Ian is on John Loxley's Honda 125. Colin Jones spectating and Phil Read Waiting to Go.

7. Have you been involved with any other class of racing or competitive Motorcycling? 

Answer: I did sometimes ride in the 250cc class but to be honest I wasn’t really good enough to become top flight.

 8. Who, if anyone has been the biggest influence in your racing career or in the racing 50cc scene in general? 

Answer: Without doubt Dave Simmonds, he was a gentleman always willing to help. A superb rider on the track and his machines were always prepared nicely. He would have made a great ambassador for our Club.  A great photo of Dave and Julie Simmonds recently posted by Michael Boddice.

9.What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given and by whom?

Answer: Without doubt from the ‘Late’ John Dixon’ who told me never to ride a bike that you have bought until you have stripped and rebuilt it, I know on at least one occasion that saved my ‘neck’. 

10. What piece of advice or tuning tips would you like to pass on to fellow members? 

Answer: As I said earlier I have no specific ‘tuning’ skills, so just take pride in what you do.

Thank you Alan.
I didn't see this photo before.
I traveled to Finland with Charlie Mates & Jim Pink .
It took us three days to drive to Imatra, day & night.
When we arrived at the circuit, the organisers said the start money agreed , was for the three of us.
Charlie told them that if they didn't honor their original offer , we would turn around & go home.
They changed their minds but I don't remember what they actually paid us.
It was cold there, I think end of Sept / beginning Oct , as the next weekend was the last meeting at Brands , that all three of us rode.

Top contributor
That sounds like Charlie! Tell em straight!
Top contributor
hello Graham, yes he definitely meant it regards.
Nice short story Ian. Hope all is well with you.

 Honda RC 116R 50cc

Reproduction of The Works Machine of 1966
Engineer: Ian Plumridge - England 

The group photograph is of the team that developed the RC115 / 116 and the solo rider is Stuart Graham, riding a Honda RC116 at the Festival of Speed, Goodwood England in 2017.

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