About The Scottish Six Days Trial
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The early history of the Scottish six Days Trial runs alongside the history of the motorcycle in general. In the early 1900s early bikes such as Triumph, Matchless, Ariel and Douglas were primitive, and the original SSDT was mainly a test of reliability. Ever since those early days, the SSDT has attracted factory involvement from the major manufacturers as the sales benefits of winning the SSDT were, and still are, a major selling point for their machines.
In the early years the trial started and finished in Edinburgh, but rather than being a series of daily routes returning to the starting point each day, the trial took in the whole of Scotland. It was a six-day journey from Edinburgh to John O’Groats and back, with designated stopping points for overnight stays throughout the week. In 1914 the rules changed somewhat, introducing time penalties and deductions for machine faults and in the 1920s light cars were permitted to take part in the event for a short while.
1932 saw the introduction of individual award winners, and the first individual winner of the SSDT was Scotsman Bob MacGregor. In 1938 Fort William was chosen as a new central point for the trial, although the start and finish of the week were still in Edinburgh. This didn’t take effect immediately as the trial was halted during the Second World War, but in 1947 the event resumed and grew from strength to strength.
By the 1970s the popularity of the SSDT had exceeded all expectations and entries had to be limited by ballot as it became impossible for all entrants to complete the daily route within daylight hours. The next change came in 1977 when the link with Edinburgh was finally broken and the event started and finished in Fort William rather than having the traditional runs from and to Edinburgh at the open and close of the week.
In the 1980s the international flavour of the event came to the fore, with the first overseas rider winning the event, a theme that was to continue for nine consecutive years. The early 1990s tested the SSDT when the focus shifted to world trials - entries diminished and many predicted the demise of the event, but that didn’t last for long and by the time the mid-90s arrived the event was more popular than ever before.
The trial has grown steadily in stature and popularity ever since, and continues to grow today.
Milestones from the past one hundred years
1909 Edinburgh MC runs the first five-day trial around Scotland
1910 Edinburgh MC expands their trial to cover six days rather than five
1911 Edinburgh & District MC is formed and the first official Scottish Six Days Trial takes place
1926 Brake tests and checks on machine condition are introduced
1931 Observed hills are introduced
1932 The awards system is changed to recognise individual winners
1947 The trial is based in Fort William due to the post-war fuel shortages
1950 The trial is moved back to Edinburgh when the fuel shortages ease
1961 Gordon Jackson wins the trial dropping just a single mark
1969 A Greeves, ridden by Bill Wilkinson, is the last British bike to win the SSDT
1973 The trial entry is decided by ballot for the first time
1977 The trial base is moved from Edinburgh to Fort William, where it remains today
1980 Yrjo Vesterinen is the first foreign rider to win the SSDT
2001 The SSDT is cancelled due to foot and mouth disease, the only cancellation outwith wartime
2011 Edinburgh & District Motor Club celebrate their Centenary Scottish Six Days Trial!