Yes, this is not a TM, but it is a big part of TM UK and UK Motocross history in general, that we are proud to be a part of.
This story started nearly many, many months back after a conversation with a good family friend, that by the purest of chance and a complete ‘fluke’ if ever there was, just happened to be in the right place at the right time armed with the required knowledge to piece together a puzzle. A friend to whom we owe a massive debt of thanks to for ‘working the case’ and making this happen, it was a lot of work and we truly appreciate it. Speaking from a personal view, this is something I thought would never happen and I can safely say that neither did many others, we are very lucky indeed. Martin, we are truly grateful for all the effort you put into seeing this bike returned to us.
After months of phone calls, to-ing and fro-ing, negotiations and organisation, I finally had a reunion with a bike that was stolen from TM UK during a break-in some 15 years past. A bike that was already destined to be ‘a keeper’ that sat fully polished and prepared in full working order, right in front of Woody’s desk in his office from the end of the 2002 season.
However, since that reunion a few months back many early mornings and late nights juggling time have since past. With help from friends and colleagues who have helped us paint, re-anodise, rebuild, source parts, you name it – it has been a mission! – we are now at this point. I must take the time to express a special thank you to all who have assisted, it is greatly appreciated, we could not have done it without you all. I would also like to thank ‘Mini-me’ who has put the work in alongside me and more so, kept me sane throughout this, there have been times that we have had to walk away and come back another day, even another week, I have had tears in my eyes a few times, both of joy and frustration. Finally, after all the graft, we now have something that we thought we would never set eyes upon again, a very special bike to many people with a very special history, that upon first impressions appeared to be lost, is now nearly back to former glory, or at least the best we can all these years on.
The bike in question is a 2002 VOR 530 MX, a special and unique VOR and the very bike that took the legend that is Mark Hucklebridge, to his first British Motocross Championship win in 2002 when he rode this bike for TM UK. Many of you within the MX community will know this bike from all those years ago, whilst some who have only seen the bike in the flesh more recently during its time back here being restored, are only just learning about it. To all those that have helped me along the way and to those who have seen the bike here, I thank you all for keeping this little project to yourselves for all these months until I could do as I planned with it. And to those who have seen it, it has been great to see the looks on your faces, she is still a visually stunning machine, very ‘pretty’ and almost ‘younger looking’ than it’s generation.
This bike was ‘factory’, featuring a lot of very special parts to differentiate it from a ‘production’ machine, a handmade swing-arm, a one-off exhaust system, a special frame, a different carburettor, ‘Solva’ forks, clamps and shock absorber, a ‘twin’ air filter box with 2 filters to increase air intake, numerous little modifications and a ‘tuned’ engine. Mark raced the VOR’s during the 2002 season in the British Champs and GP’s with help from TM UK – Nick, Woody and myself, alongside Gini, who made most of the ‘one-off’ parts and of course, never forgetting the legend that is Dudley Witt, ‘The Captain’ put a massive effort into this bike for Mark and taught me a thing or two along the way as we worked together on it. It was not always easy, there were the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, a real roller-coaster of a season if ever there was, that I will admit. However everyone pushed forward and on the 8th September in 2002 at Culham, Mark finally took his maiden British Championship race win on this very bike.
It has been emotional and sometimes painful, both mentally and physically – she kicked me back a few times before we figured the stator had gone all SEM on the job, cow! – with numerous challenges to overcome along the way, but we are 99 percent there. After some 15 years sat in a cold, damp, exposed environment the bike was a mess… and I mean a royal mess. It was that bad I could not even bring myself to take any pictures of the bike ‘complete’ when we got it back, it was a late-night stripping it back to its component parts, purely so I did not have to look at it in the state it was in, devastating.
Now the bike is nearly back to how she was the day she was stolen, yes, there has been some ‘artistic license’ applied to some small parts, getting every ‘stock’ items was proving fruitless and some parts were way past restoring, but for the most, she is as she was the night she was taken, including her look, right down to the hand-cut number backgrounds and overlaid numbers (many a night sat at home making them back in the day – never thought I would have to do it again either!), the TM nuts and bolts we used back then, all the little modifications, all the ‘trick’ parts and as near as dammit, the sponsors and decals of the time. She has even had to have a full engine rebuild as the thieves did a very good job of thrashing her on the tarmac as well as the dirt and deliberately making a mess, both inside and out. Luckily, we found a source who had new parts to complete what we needed to rebuild the engine and to replace the plastics, bringing the bike back to life and looking like she should, complete with Mark’s dings and dents that all have story to tell. There are a few final touches and decals to sort, but we are getting there, nearly back to the ‘original’ look. The old girl is a little temperamental starting (we think the coil output is a little weak at ‘kicking’ rpm, hardly a surprise after sitting in the damp all that time) but when she fires into life…wow, she purrs on idle – with that distinctive ‘register gear’ whirr – and when you open her up she is still ‘The Monsters’ monster, she growls, barks and spits like she always did, noise testing nowadays would be an even bigger issue!.
So… Huck, we got the ol’ beast back and she has still been fighting us!.
And finally, the point of trying to keep this ‘off radar’ until now…
Nick, Merry Christmas, this one is for you, completed as a small gesture of appreciation and thanks from each and every one of us involved, TM UK, Electraction, CCM Racing, friends and family, teams, riders, everyone.
Full images of this restoration can be found on the TM Racing UK Facebook page.